Friday, September 30, 2005

Scooter's Been A Bad Boy

Of Course, the W is going stand by his pals, no matter what.
Ending her standoff with federal prosecutors after nearly three months in jail, New York Times reporter Judith Miller appeared before a federal grand jury on Friday investigating who in the Bush administration leaked a covert CIA operative's identity.

Miller agreed to break her silence and testify after receiving what she described as a voluntary and personal waiver of confidentiality from her source, identified as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Excuse Me?

Now, Scotty is ceasing to be entertaining and starting to piss me off. How arrogant. I am certain bloggers out there will be equally pissed at this statement:
Q The American people want answers to what happened and what went wrong --

MR. McCLELLAN: You're absolutely wrong. The American people recognize that sometimes here in Washington, people get all focused on the bickering and the finger-pointing, they get into this charged atmosphere. The President is --

Q Maybe they could be focused on more than one thing at the same time.

Excuse me Mr. McClellan - You, sir, are wrong! In fact, the American people demand and deserve answers, accountability, and to be assured that heads, will indeed, roll.

But DeLay is Still Great in the Eyes of the President

Does anyone else get the same flavor of the W, Rove and Co. hypocrisy dished in this latest press briefing exchange with Scotty McMessage McClellan? You will want to pay attention to Scotty's response to Hellen, in particular.
Q Scott, the President earlier this year, in April, called Tom DeLay a very effective leader. In May he called him a fine Majority Leader. Does he still hold those opinions --


Q -- even though he's been indicted?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people.

Q Has the President spoken with Speaker Hastert or other Republican leaders on the Hill today to talk about this interim time with DeLay stepping aside?

MR. McCLELLAN: When I left him just a short time ago, he was having lunch with his National Security Advisor and Secretary of State and the Vice President and Chief of Staff Andy Card. I don't believe he's had any conversations with those individuals. I think White House staff certainly has been in contact with members of Congress, as we are on a regular basis.

Q What's the President's reaction? You said you were with him --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep -- I'll come to you, Dana. Go ahead. Jennifer.

Q No, we'll share.

MR. McCLELLAN: Anybody else on the front row? Okay, go ahead.

Q Can you give us -- can you characterize the President's reaction, and especially with -- when you have so many legislative things you want to move forward?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. I think that the President's view is that we need to let the legal process work. There is a process in place, and we'll let that work. Go ahead, Helen.

Q The papers have been satiated in the last few days, again with another round of our abuse of prisoners and detainees and torture. Has the President ever issued a directive to all military prisons under our control that they should not torture and they should abide by the Geneva Accord?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Yes. In fact, we did that quite some time ago.

Q There is an actual directive?

MR. McCLELLAN: If people are involved in wrongdoing, they're going to be held to account. And that's exactly what -- that's exactly what this administration has done.

Q I asked you if the President has issued any executive order against torture. MR.

McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear that we do not torture and we do not condone torture. And if people --

Q But we do.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if people break the law, they are brought to account. And that's exactly what we've done in the instances that you're referring to.
It's a bitter taste, isn't it?

Here's some more from the same briefing. A good question followed by yet another distrubing answer:
Q Is the President concerned that there's a stench of corruption around the Republican establishment in Washington?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I don't think you can make such a broad characterization. There are some instances of individual situations, and we'll let those -- the legal process proceed in those instances.

Q But he's not -- he doesn't take it as seriously as he takes other allegations of wrongdoing?

MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't say that; you said that.

Q He did take it seriously?

MR. McCLELLAN: There's a legal process in place to address these matters.

Q Does he still have confidence in Leader DeLay? And what does he think the impact of this will be on his agenda?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just expressed his views. Again, the President considers him a good ally and a friend who we have worked with very closely to get things done for the American people.
No doubt, these folks are hoping some activist judge will rule in favor of DeLay.

Internet Fun

Got this from a friend via Email:

Breaking News


But Says Government Must Create Impression of Concern Even Faster in Future

In a televised speech to the nation last night, President George W. Bush praised the Federal government for responding swiftly to Hurricane Rita with well-crafted, high-quality photo opportunities showing him looking concerned, but said that the government needs to create the impression of concern even faster in the future.

Mr. Bush said the fact that the government provided the first images of him looking grave and engaged in the crisis even before Hurricane Rita slammed into the Texas and Louisiana coastline showed that it had learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.

"After Hurricane Katrina, it was hours before the American people saw the first photos of me furrowing my brow and looking serious," Mr. Bush said. "But with Rita, we had high-quality images of me looking worried right from the get-go."

While praising the swiftness of the government's photo-op response to Rita, the president said that "much work still needs to be done" to ensure that the government will produce high-quality post-disaster photo-ops even faster in the future.

To that end, he said he was creating a new government bureaucracy, the Federal Emergency Image Management Agency, which would provide the president with lighting, cameras, and dramatic backdrops within minutes of any national emergency.

"In times of crisis, the president needs to send the American people the following message," the president concluded. "Message: I look like I care."

Elsewhere, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher wed in a private ceremony over the weekend, vowing to love, honor and obey each other longer than Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney.

Time of Death

Listening to NPR's Morning Edition today, I heard a report from the NOLA coroner's office proclaiming that no matter the cuase or actual time of death, all bodies recovered will be given an official time of death that corresponds with the landing of Katrina.

This is a mistake. There will be, no doubt, many people who have legitimate claims of wrongful death. These cases will be complicated by death certificates stamped with an official ceremonial date rather than the actual time and date of death. Post Katrina dates of death may arguably be due to the negligence of the governmental response, or like the cases with the nursing homes, negligence of the hospital staffs.

It's a technicality. But in the legal world, technicalities end up getting criminals off the hook.

What's Good for Martha

While Martha got locked up for something else, serving time hasn't really damaged her standing. It could be good for DeLay, as well. Of course, he claims innocence. Most folks behind bars insist he/she didn't do it. What's interesting is that he has stepped down from a Congressional leadership role, but hasn't resigned his seat. His constituents should demand nothing less.
The powerful Republican, nicknamed "The Hammer" for his reputation as a tough party enforcer, could face up to two years in prison if convicted on the charge handed up by the Travis County grand jury in the Texas state capital, Austin.

DeLay was indicted on a single conspiracy charge tied to illegal fund-raising activities by Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC, a political action committee he created, the Travis County District Attorney's office said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Investigating Oneself

Is it me, or does it seem like Brownie consulting with FEMA on investigations and extracting lessons learned would be like a person caught for cheeting or insider trading conducting their own hearing or grand jury inquery? Truly, the taxpayers are getting screwed by Mr. Brown for the remainder of the thirty days he will be billing us for services rendered:
Q Does the President think it's appropriate that Michael Brown is doing consulting work for FEMA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that's a question probably to ask to the Department of Homeland Security; I think that they've responded to it. I think he's only on that for about a 30-day period from the time that he announced his resignation.

Q Does the President think that's okay, that 30 --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President supports Secretary Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security, and I think they're probably in the best position to answer any questions about it. I'm not sure that you can just simplify it into just a broad statement.

Q Any specific reaction --

MR. McCLELLAN: One of the things that they said that he's focused on is helping them with lessons learned.

This Quote Aught To Blow Your Mind

Rock City nails it. By the way, here's a taste of the deeply philosophical waxing toward genius:
I myself accept that maybe intelligent design may be behind the existence of existence, but I also accept that beyond that I cannot know anything else.

Interesting Equation

There's an interesting equation posted over at Bring It On that I thought would make for an interesting query in Scotty's next press bewildering (oop, I mean breifing).
Katrina + Rita + Iraq – Taxes = How Much?.
They also quote Barack Obama:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said September 18, 2005 on Face the Nation

"This I think is where the problem comes in. You can't fight a war in Iraq that's costing upwards of 200 billion dollars and rebuild Katrina-rebuild N.O. and respond to the aftermath of Katrina-and try to deal with all the other domestic needs that we have, and- then cut taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Americana. I mean there was talk right-immediately after the hurricane that the republicans in the senate were still going to push forward with the repeal the estate tax which is mind boggling I think. We need some adult supervision of the budget process...”

They also post a few solution suggestions lest you think all such bloggers do is lament:
1. At the very least, allow the tax cuts to sunset...
2. Cut the pork from the budget...
3. Re-address transportation bill...
4. Re-address the equally bad energy bill...
Any further suggestions can be posted in the comment section bellow this post. Thank you.

More on the Brownie Folly - Subtitle: Brownie's the Perfect Scapegoat

It seems as though there is a large amount of sychronicity and serendipity involved in the posting regarding the Failures of Mr. Brown (sounds like an appropriate movie title, no?). Found that QT posted about this and I replied over at that location as follows:
Independently, many folks have come to the same conclusions about the utter incompetence of this man. Then, I got to thinking. What if Rove et al. had ultimately made it difficult for Brownie to do "a heckuva job," drumming up the list of failures for which they could fire this man, thereby making him the perfect scapegoat for the reprehensible governmental response on all levels - thus, turning the fingers away from vacationaing presidents toward local officials. Ah, but that would have taken o - three to five days to dream up...which by the way, was about how long it took W to get off his vacation and back on the job.

File this under things that make you go hummm....


Brown is posturing to parry with the best of the responsibility deflectors stealing a page out of the W, Rove and Co play book: Part of the game behind the blame. When all fingers point toward you, start pointing your finger at others.

WASHINGTON - Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and blamed most coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
Hey, Brownie...what are you thinking?

Monday, September 26, 2005

How I Wish You Were Here

The Folks at Bring It On are getting creative with their blog posting video clips to distribute the message.
Video Clip 1: How I Wish You Were Here
Video Clip 2: My Home Town

Wish Yo' Daddy Had

I always enjoy a good protest banner. You have to love the green hair, and the message is funny. Found this via BigBrass Blog on Days. Any captions?

There are Expenses, and Then There's Debt

Which would you rather have: A) those alive today, pithcing in and help pay clean up the Katrina and Rita aftermath, or perhaps b) borrowing on those yet unborn Americans that will be saddled with an ever increasing debt caused by the actions of the W, Rove and Co?

There is a C) killing numerous social and government programs in order to make up the difference between what we have and what we don't to cover the cost - but we see how the levees in New Orleans were done a disservice by such manuvers. I don't think option C is a viable one.

Slice from a Move On email:
The cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, while huge, is far less than what President Bush has given away in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent.2 National crises like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are times for all Americans to stick together and put in our fair share.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Breaking All The Records for Dishonesty

Moxie Grrrl had a link to truth and liars post of Viggo Mortenson speaking about the W, Rove and Co. Given that I wen to see "A History of Violence" last night, I thought I would link up here. It does make me feel better about spending my discretionary dollars supporting Viggo's work.

Bursting Buttons on My Vest

Big Brother, yes my Big Brother - one of the persons that inspired my starting this blog, is receiving a Bronze Star for some of his work in Iraq. No matter what you think of the Iraq war, the mission is still producing heroes and providing, unfortunately, copious opportunities for heroic action.

My brother is modest and wasn't going to tell anyone, but his spouse called us up to fill in the details. That said, we didn't get any details on the actual rationale for the award. I asked my brother why he was getting it and he said, at first, it was for putting up with me all these years. I said, well, shoot, then I should be getting one for putting up with him. Joking aside, he did say that he would have to wait and see what the citation says, but they don't just hand these things out like candy at a birthday party for five year olds. He said, really, he did some things that were pretty dangerous and where he was getting shot at directly, but he didn't say more. When my brother declines to comment about things he has seen in Iraq and other parts (for we never really know where he goes when he goes away), I've learned its because he is shielding us from horrors we really don't want to know (e.g. when he did his tour in the First Bush War, he actually saw the killing fields on the road from Kuwait to Iraq). So, I don't ask - this is a bit more honorable don't ask, don't tell policy, I think.

Anyway, I am still a bit flabbergasted that my brother will be getting the Bronze Star. The buttons are bursting off my vest. And, I remain humbled by the work of our troops here, there, and everywhere. Glad they're on our side.

NYTimes Supporting Homophobia

Found this Op-Ed piece (in the free on-line section) of the NYTimes. Of course, the opinions on the op-ed pages are those of the author, but really, they didn't have to print this article. It's bad enough the Church is working to purge otherwise upstanding and honorable priests simply because they are homosexual. In fact, an argument could be made that homosexuals make better priests than heterosexuals. That may indeed make another fine blog post at a later point. The thrust of my argument and qualms for this particular author is that she has couched her homophobia in a rhetorical argument for seminary reform.

Sure, her points are well taken, but the subtext and subliminally laced homophobia should be identified and make us angry. And frankly, I am getting very tired of folks who think they are better than others simply becuase they like to have heterosexual sex (or practice - although not altogether successfully - celebacy or abstinance, if you will).

THIS week, teams of examiners, led by Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military, are beginning a visitation of all 229 Catholic seminaries in the United States. Judging by press accounts, the effort is all about uncovering and expelling homosexuals - a purge, simply put.

In truth, it's about far more than homosexuality. And it's badly needed...

...The same goes for the presence in seminaries of gay subcultures that draw their identity from secular values rather than the Catholic moral vision. Why is it considered unfair to expect priests and seminarians to live by the values of the institution they serve? Others may call it a purge, but I call it truth in advertising.

A seminary has a dual responsibility. It owes the future priest preparation for a life of sacrifice, unique witness and engagement with other human beings at moments of joy and pain in a society that has no respect for his vocation.

But a seminary also owes us, the people in the pews, psychologically mature priests who aren't engaged in an eternal and ego-driven struggle with their own problems, who are prepared to serve, to teach and preach - with integrity and honesty.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Massive Protests Voicing Dissent with W's Illegitimate War In Iraq

Today's flood of protests, no doubt, well be pooh poohed by the W, Rove and Co as just people exercising their first amendment rights. Brad Blog has many video clips, including Cindy Sheehan's message.

Largely, the mainstream media is ignoring the marches across the country. Still it's up to us to hold this administrations' feet to the fire and vote them out post haste.

I don't think Ms. Sheehan's speech was altogether inspiring, but the message is pretty clear: Not one more should die.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Is This an Effective Use of Taxpayer Bux?

Just wondering, since W, and his crew are not first-responders, is this an effective use of taxpayer dollars?

The Truth Is, It's Hard to Lie

Crooks and Liars has a nice capture of the Daily Show's rant on Press Secretaries and the ritual dance of the press briefing. Enjoy.

What about OBL and Other Known Terrorists? P.S. Who the Hell is Bianca?

Just like Scotty, W does a fine job of avoiding answers to good questions. From today's briefing:
Q Why has it been so difficult to catch bin Laden and Zarqawi? And can you really say that you are making progress in the war on terrorism when these people have been, you know, able to stay free for so long?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I can say we're making progress in the war on terror. If you look at the organizational structure of al Qaeda right after September the 11th and look at it today, you'll see a lot of people have been brought to justice -- Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, al Libbi. I mean, there's a series of these folks that had been plotting and planning and ordering attacks. And we have found them -- we being a coalition. So step one is there is a coalition. A lot of people around the world understand the stakes, that this is global war against people who've got a dark vision and a strategy to achieve that vision. Look, let me take a step back. People have got to understand that there is a global network of terrorists who desire to dominate a part of the world. They would like to see a Taliban-type relationships in countries around the world. They want to be in a position to impose their philosophy. The best way for me to describe what life would be like is to remind people what life was like for those poor Afghan citizens under the Taliban. That's what -- in other words, they have a strategy. We understand that. And we have a strategy. And part of the strategy is to call free nations together to form a coalition, to share information and to find people before they hurt. Now, look, they've been successful on attacks. They were successful here. They've been successful in London and Madrid. In other words, they have had attacks. On the other hand, we've been successful at bringing them to justice and finding some of the killers before they were able to strike again. And so there has been success at bringing awareness to the international community about what we need to do. There's been success about bringing people to justice. No question that some of their leaders are still at large, isolated, however, kind of in remote parts the world. But make no mistake about it, we're doing everything we can to find them. And when we do, we'll bring them to justice. We're now -- a part of that global war on terror is in Iraq. And the reason why is because these killers and these terrorists understand that the spread of democracy is their worst nightmare. See, democracy trumps their view of the world. Democracy trumps Taliban-type regimes, because it's free. Because when you live in a free world, you have hope. And so that's why you're seeing him -- a guy like Zarqawi, who has become a top al Qaeda fighter -- using every tool at his disposal, primarily the ability to get on TV screens with a massive suicide bombing, the killing of innocent people. And he does so because they want us to retreat. I mean, the strategy is clear. And we're not going to let him get away with it. We will work for democracy in Iraq, we'll hunt them down, we will train Iraqi forces so they can deal with those who are disgruntled with the march to democracy. But the war is beyond Iraq, that's what I'm trying to say to you. This is a global war. Afghanistan is a good example of progress being made. You might remember Afghanistan was the home base for the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda. And now we've got a democracy in Afghanistan and the world is better for it and safer for it. You bet we're making progress. We've got a lot of work. And this is a long struggle. To defeat this enemy, the United States of America must understand that it's going to take -- it's going to take time, just like it took time to defeat other struggles we had, other -- to succeed in other struggles we've had, like communism, and it's going to take a while. But what will accelerate the ability for the enemy to succeed is for the United States to lose its nerve, that's what I'm telling you. You got a question, sir?

Q Yes, sir, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: What might it be?

Q There is concern about the country's ability to pay for these hurricanes in the time ahead. Have you prioritized what may need to be cut?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to work with Congress to prioritize what may need to be cut. The other day I said that we're open-minded about offsets. What's a priority for me is to win this war on terror and secure the country, and to help the people down there to the extent that the law allows.
By the way, who the hell is Bianca? Must be some kind of press pool insiders joke? I don't know, but W sure does give a fair amount of attention to Bianca at the expense of tax payer dollars:

Q Mr. President, could we talk more about --

THE PRESIDENT: Are you Bianca?

Q No, I'm not. Anita -- Fox News.


Q Just a quick question --

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. I was looking for Bianca. I'm sorry.

Incidentially, Scotty seems pre-occupied with Bianca as well:
Q The observation is I've heard you say several times that the Judiciary Committee has acted in a civil and dignified way. Did you expect otherwise? Isn't that pretty condescending? And also, who makes up the list of reporters that the President can call on, or is allowed to? MR.

McCLELLAN: I think it's what the American people expect. I mean, we have seen at times where --

Q Why do you keep saying it?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- where things -- well, because, I think we all recognize here in Washington sometimes things tend to get down into the bitter, partisan debates. And the Supreme Court is our highest court in the land. The President has an obligation to nominate someone for the bench when a vacancy occurs, and it's the role of the Senate to move forward on confirming that nomination.

Q It's a free country where people can express themselves.

MR. McCLELLAN: And the American people -- and there -- that's absolutely right. But there's no reason why we cannot move forward in a civil and dignified way as we conduct the confirmation hearings. And the Senate, I think, has largely done that --

Q What hasn't moved forward in --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- they have largely done that on Judge Roberts, and we hope they will do that going forward. There are a lot of media reports talking about how there's going to be a very contentious hearing for the next nominee. We haven't even -- the President hasn't even made a decision on who will be his nominee for the vacancy on the Supreme Court. And so that's why. I think I'm speaking for a lot of Americans who want to see a civil and dignified process going forward.

Q -- be contentious and civil and dignified in a democracy --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I can also express my -- I can also express the President's appreciation to the Senate for moving forward in a timely manner and moving forward in a civil and dignified way. We commend this --

Q It's condescending.

MR. McCLELLAN: No. It's complimenting them on the process.

Q Who makes up the list of reporters that he is allowed to call on?

Q Yes, where's Bianca? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Who makes up the list? It depends on the reporters that show up. I don't think she had a question. But the President --

Q Who is Bianca, anyway?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President had his most recent press conference this afternoon just a short time before I was out here, took questions from I think everyone who was there. Q -- you count that as a press conference?

Launching Pad to Greatness

Jimmy Carter is still the only president to use the position as a launching pad to bigger and better things. Let's hope his orchestrated bi-partisan election reform measures recieves more traction.
With 87 recomendations, at least a handful should be initiated, no?
WE agreed to lead the Commission on Federal Election Reform because of our shared concern that too many Americans lack confidence in the electoral process, and because members of Congress are divided on the issue and busy with other matters.

This week, we issued a report that bridges the gap between the two parties' perspectives and offers a comprehensive approach that can help end the sterile debate between ballot access and ballot integrity. Unfortunately, some have misrepresented one of our 87 recommendations. As a result, they have deflected attention from the need for comprehensive reform.

If you are curious as to what those recomendations are, and wish to view the whole report, here's the link.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


GIs who can't vote in '06. Remember the Nobel Cause? (Hat tip to Bring it On for the ensuing video clip.)

Still waiting for the Rove Outcome

Video via michael moore's web location. Hypocrites? You be the judge.

A Couple of Nice Video Clips

Via Moxie Grrrl. Enjoy:

Donahue rakes O'Riely over his own coals: Just becuase you are loud doesn't mean your right.

Second one is self explanitory. The first classic version is also located here:

Scotty Must be Befuddled

As the Prez does another jaunt to Texas (will he be stopping by Crawford to relax this time around, I doubt it), Scotty McMessage McClellan must be getting befuddled by all the questions. He is - intentional or not - starting to mix up his Rovian message and indicating that they want to find out what went wrong first rather than what went right.

If you didn't have the chance to tune into the whitehouse press conference live today, there is a text version with all the fun and gory details:
Q Right, but the President has the ability to -- under the Insurrection Act, to --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q -- to make the military a part of the law enforcement operation. He can do that --

MR. McCLELLAN: There are a host of legal issues involved.

Q There are, indeed. But are you suggesting that he would like to find some other way to get them actively involved in law enforcement under special circumstances?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying that these are issues that need to be looked at as we look at the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. We need to look back, and we have been, at what went wrong and what went right,(italics and bold added) and then do a lessons learned review.

Q That's what he's looking at, then, some way to give them the authority to conduct the security operations.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's one of the issues that we need to look at, is the role of the military, because there is a -- there are responsibilities at all levels of government when it comes to responding to hurricanes. Typically, the first responders are the state and local first responders, and the federal government's role is to assist those first responders. But there are some unique challenges that Katrina exposed that we need to look at and we need to do a better job of in the future in terms of responding to.

Q So you're saying that he'd like to look at the question of whether the military should be involved in law enforcement?

MR. McCLELLAN: He indicated that last week. Q How is it going to help the people of Texas practically prepare for this storm that the President is going to fly in to take a firsthand look at preparations and show support for first responders? How is that going to practically help them do what they have to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we're going to have as minimal a footprint as possible. We're not going to get in the way of the ongoing preparations that are going on. We go out of our way when we travel to make sure that that doesn't happen. The President wants to go in there and be able to thank all those first responders as they are gearing up for the challenges that will be coming shortly thereafter. That's why we're going there first, for a short amount of time, and then going on to Colorado. And it will also give him a chance to see firsthand some of the preparations that are underway on the ground.

Q But it sounds like a bit of a photo op, one that he'd prefer over playing the guitar at the airport photo op before Katrina.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let's correct the record on that. There was a reporter from your news organization that was backstage during that event. That was an event to go and thank our troops and talk about the war on terrorism. And it was not an event, as you may have portrayed to some people that are watching this out there by this simple statement. It was --

Q He didn't pick up the guitar while the hurricane was rolling into Louisiana? MR.

McCLELLAN: -- much more than that. The person that was entertaining our troops there presented a gift to the President. So I think you need to make that clear to everybody who's watching this or to your viewers. And it was one of your colleagues at ABC News who was backstage taking a picture of that.

Q It was a very good picture and I'm proud of her, but the question I have --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but that picture was taken by someone -- hang on, hang on, Terry -- that picture was taken by some people way out of context. And it was portrayed that the President was simply doing that, and that's not the case, as you and I know.

Q The point was that he was over there and not --

MR. McCLELLAN: As you and I know, I had announced shortly before that, that we were returning the next morning. As you and I know, we had announced the President -- the day before -- all the briefings he was participating in. The President spoke the day before. He spoke that day about the hurricane. So let's just set the record straight.

Q Fair enough.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's unfair.

Q So the trip to Texas to take a look at the preparations and show support for the first responders is not a photo op?
The last half of this reparte is interesting. Really, there is no reason, other than political, for the president to fly down to Texas in advance of Rita. He's not a "first responder." By the way, as the W, Rove and Co has proven time and again, no where is it written that it has to be fair.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tax Cuts

By the way, if we stop tax cuts in order to pay for the Katrina foul up, is that the same thing as increasing taxes? That's what this administration would have you believe:
Q Does the President think there's any need to maybe just take a deep breath and think twice about estate tax reform, or wait until next year to, sort of, see what the fiscal picture looks like?

MR. McCLELLAN: What are you suggesting?

Q I'm not suggesting anything. I'm asking a question to elicit a response.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think there are some spending increases that we could look at that we believe don't need to be permanent, so that's an area where we can look. And there are number of areas where we're discussing with members of Congress about how to cut some of that unnecessary spending.

Q Without tax cuts?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I talked about the importance of keeping our economy growing. Our national economy is a key lifeline to the region that has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And you have the child tax credit and earned income tax credit -- those are important tax cuts for people in the region that have been deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina. We don't want to take those tax cuts away from them. The worst thing to do right now would be to increase taxes on the American people (bold italics added), because it would have a terrible impact on our economy.

So, it's okay to screw with social security but not the tax cuts becuase the wealthy would be affected. Only screwing with social security has no bearing on the wealthy becuase they don't need SS nor do they care about SS.
Q And one other topic. You mentioned Social Security. Most people out there, including a lot of members of the President's own party, say this issue is dead completely. What kind of timetable does the President have for getting this going? And why does he think that, presumably, next year, he's going to have an easier case selling it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I mentioned, in terms of -- well, I'm not going to necessarily agree with your presumptions, but this remains a priority. In terms of the timetables, as I pointed out, we've got a very high priority right now, and that is -- well, two high priorities: Hurricane Katrina, the ongoing relief and recovery and rebuilding efforts; and Hurricane Rita, making sure we're prepared and able to fully respond to the needs of the people after that hits. In terms of other priorities, there were other priorities. We remain firmly committed to those priorities. They are important priorities. One of the issues that keeps coming up in this room is, what are we going to do to address some of the issues of spending. This is an area where we can address a long-term deficit problem, and it's also an area that we have an obligation to act on for future generations, for our children and grandchildren, who right now recognize that they're not going to -- they're not going to see anything from their Social Security checks unless we act. And it's an additional $600 billion a year each year that we wait, so there's substantial savings right there.

Q Has the President put estate tax changes and extending the tax cuts, making them permanent, has he put those on the back burner with the Treasury Secretary?

See Above for more on tax cuts.

What Went Wrong Should Go Right, No?

I found an interesting line of questioning during today's whitehouse press slogging. Scott McMessage McClellan is still not willing to admit they did anything wrong. Let's hope they get it right with the Rita.
Q Are you confident that the lessons learned from Katrina will be applied in the case of this hurricane?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I might want to point out, too, before I come to that question, too, that the disaster medical teams are in the region. You have nine -- at least nine search and rescue teams that are in the region so that they can deploy quickly once the storm has passed.

Q So the lessons learned from Katrina will be applied in the case of Rita?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of Katrina, that was a storm that was unprecedented in size and scope and devastation. It is something that we want to make sure all the lessons possible are learned, and we want to make sure that we know exactly what worked and what didn't work. And that's why we are working closely with Congress as they move forward on their investigation. That's why the President has tasked his Homeland Security Council to make sure that there is a comprehensive review of the preparedness and response relating to Katrina, so we're doing that. Now, in terms of Rita, I just talked about the steps that we're taking. And we're going to make sure that we are doing everything we can to have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments as we prepared and respond to Hurricane Rita.

Q Well, Scott, continuing with what Steve said, how is what you're doing for Rita different from what you did from Katrina?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. A couple of things -- one, the President is focused on making sure we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments in the path of Hurricane Rita. We hope Rita is not devastating, but we must be prepared for the worst. Coordination at all levels needs to be seamless, or as seamless as possible, and that's what we're working to do. Homeland Security and FEMA officials are working closely with state and local governments so that resources can be targeted where they are most needed. They are redoubling efforts to make sure we have a full understanding of what the needs are so that we can make sure that those needs are met. And I went through several steps that were already taken to address these issues.

Q So that's -- you think that that's going to be an improvement over what was done in Katrina?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, in terms of Katrina, we're still focused on the immediate needs of the people in the region and working to make sure that they are getting back up on their feet, that we're moving forward on the recovery, that we're moving forward on the rebuilding to help people rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities. We are determined to learn the lessons of Katrina, and that's why we have been assessing what's been working and what hasn't been working and taking steps to address those issues. That's why we're also working closely with Congress, and the President is committed to making sure that there's a thorough investigation so that we can learn those lessons.

Q Well, can you distinguish what you're doing differently?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I just talked to you about where the President's focus is and what we are doing. We want to make sure that we're --

Q And these are things you didn't do in Katrina?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to make sure that we are better prepared and better positioned to respond to Hurricane Rita and that's what we're doing. That's why I outlined the several steps that we are taking. And that's why I just told you that the President is focused on making sure that we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local officials, and that we have --

Q Which you didn't have before, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- as seamless as possible coordination with state and local officials.

Q In other words, better than the last time?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just answered that question, Bill.
So, while there is no full out admission, we hope that what went wrong with Katrina goes right with Rita. Unfortunately, Scotty's unwritten credo must be: "When in doubt, obfuscate. When you know, obfuscate profusely"

War is a Noble Porno

Watched Tim Robbin's Embedded/Live last night, available only via Netflix. It was fun - if you like video of live stage performance. I think it would be better in person, particularly the spoof on the "special projects" committee (nee National Security Council).

It's worth a look as there may be many quote worthy phrases including the title to this post.

"I started writing 'Embedded.' And it came really fast."

"Embedded," which Robbins also directed, is a very smart, very screwball and ultimately very chilling comedy, dramatizing the interactions of journalists and U.S. troops during the invasion of "Gomorrah," an oil-rich rogue state ruled by the "Butcher of Babylon."

In the play, Robbins asks some of the tough questions that are still being debated about the pros and cons of the Pentagon's strategy of "embedding" journalists with military troops -- about the public's right to hear bad news along with the heroic, and about the feasibility of filtering the real stories through the spin in a modern-day, televised-round-the-clock war. "I found the television coverage of the war depressing," says Robbins, laying the blame not on what he saw but on everything he didn't see. "It just got numbing because of the attempt to make it action-packed, when in fact you weren't really seeing anything and you were just being told what to feel. So I just read a lot."

Oz meets Seuss

Found this quote in the NYTimes today:
"I'm not too sure if his heart is as big as his head."
the Senate Democratic leader, on Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

So, does Reid mean that Roberts is lacking heart like the Cowardly Lion or like the Grinch before Christmas?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


By the way, is there much of anything that the President does that is off the record? From the press gaggle today aboard Airforce One - headed to yet another photo op for the W:
Q Can you give us any more information about the business that he's visiting? The recovering business in New Orleans?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll get it to you later. It's an OTR event for now.
By the way, didn't the Mayor of NO issue an evacuation order? How can the Prez plan a trek to NO if they have been ordered to evacuate it?

The Color of Change

I had asked a simliar question a while back, but it deserves repeating. If Katrina hit Boca Raton, Fl instead of the poorest portion of our fair country, would the response have been as negligent? Here's an intersting group that bloggers out there might like to support and even join:

Our sisters and brothers were left behind to die, because no one answers to them.

It's time to stand together and make a change.

Politicians ignore poor Black folks because they can't make big donations or deliver votes. And, to be real: a whole lot of "us" have tip-toed out of the hood and left them behind too, making our folk invisible even to us.

But they weren't invisible after Katrina hit. The media showed us faces we recognize—people who look like us, who work, who have families. We saw survivors, not "looters." We saw folks who remind us of ourselves, doing whatever they had to do to make it, refusing to die.

But it shouldn't have been like that.

This government NEVER would have left rich, white people to die like that.

If there were ever a time to step up, that time is now.

We are asking 250,000 African-Americans and concerned allies to make a commitment. To ensure that our brothers and sisters are protected, and that they are never left behind again. To make sure that our folks in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have a chance to be a major part of the rebuilding effort, and that they are given a chance to thrive. To ensure that Bush cannot use this crisis as yet another way to fatten the pockets of his friends and supporters, and further erode our government's support for those that need it the most.

No matter what your race or income level, you know what you saw was wrong.

We are Black people calling out to every race and hue to stand against this injustice. Let's all become the color of change.

Let's Hope They Don't Rely on the Same "Intel"

Looks like the North Koreans are worried we will start carpet bombing them. Fear is the weapon of choice for big bullies. Let's hope the W, Rove and Co employ some other kind of veracity checks than the ones used to find WMD in Iraq:
"They have said, in principle, that they will abandon their weapons programs. And what we have said is great, that's a wonderful step forward, but now we've got to verify whether or not that happens."PRESIDENT BUSH, on a nuclear agreement with North Korea.

Frivolous Legislation - more proof of Presidential Malpracitice

At least Bolton now has to go through some kind of congressional oversight review, up holding a long standing tradition of checks and blanances - with which this administration is in dire need.


John Robert Bolton, of Maryland, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from July 29, 2005, to September 1, 2005.

John Robert Bolton, of Maryland, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from July 29, 2005, to September 1, 2005.
Now wait just one minute...didn't the General Assembly already happen? Why are they nominating him for something he has already done? Are they trying to snake him into the UN post with out a true review, or are they trying to clog up the Senate with frivolous legistlation?

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Game Behind the Blame: Or subtitle: Meanwhile, What's Uncle Karl Up to?

Dirty Tricks as Usual, or should we call it the Game behind the Blame:
Q Scott, it seems that Karl Rove has already made the assessment for the administration as to what went wrong with Katrina, because according to reports, he said in Aspen, at the Sportsmen's Annual Off the Record that the only mistake that we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government. If this is, indeed, true, what would have been done differently?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure that's an accurate account.

Q Well, there are reports that you guys are trying to blame it on the local government --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the report is put out by critics, so I'm just not going to --

Q `Well, what would have been done differently, then, if what Karl Rove is saying is true? If you would have taken over? The response was late, the federal government --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one of the issues that the President talked about that needs to be looked at is in a case like this where you have a storm of this magnitude and scope, one like we've never seen before, then -- and the local and state first responders are essentially overwhelmed, then what do you do to address that issue? Does the federal government -- we need to look at the role of the federal government, specifically the military. We set up the Northern Command after September 11th -- that was the first time the military had set up a Northern Command here to cover America. They have commands all across the world. But he said the other day that we need to look at this issue. And the military brings with it the logistics and capabilities needed to move in quickly and address some of these issues. So that's one of the areas that needs to be looked at as we move forward, to apply the lessons from this response effort.

Q So was that the only mistake, or are there more mistakes --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's what the investigation will look into. They'll look at all these issues so that we can make sure we're better prepared in the future.

P.S. Let's not forget that October, rapidly approaching, is the month we were promised results on the Plame Leak investigation. If they weren't basing their opperations out of the Gulf Coast, shouldn't they be coming out soon?

Good Question

One reporter sneaks in a decent quetion:
Q Scott, we all understand that the President has proposed cuts in his budget -- it's his budget and he has a desire to work with Congress. But the budget pre-dated Katrina. Given that his leadership has come under question because of the hurricane, why does he not articulate a vision for the future, beyond endless deficits? What are the cuts going to be?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, we've talked about this over that last couple of weeks, Ed, maybe you've missed some of those discussions, because we have briefed you all on it. Obviously, you have significant costs that are going to be borne by the federal government in the relief and rebuilding efforts related to Katrina, but we have an obligation to help meet the needs of the people. The private sector and individuals are also showing the generosity of America and providing significant support to the people who have lost all of what they had or much of what they had in the region, as well. And we've -- I'm sorry, what?

Q That's not what I'm asking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but I think it's important for your readers or the people watching this to be able to have a full understanding of the picture. And that's why it's important to talk -- all these are interrelated, Ed. And I think it's important for people to hear these things. But you're asking specifically about spending cuts, right?

Q Yes -- MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have proposed significant savings in our budget. As I said, that's a good starting point. But the President recognizes that the significant costs that we're going to -- that are going to be borne by the federal government relating to the Katrina rebuilding efforts needs to be offset by additional cuts elsewhere in the budget. And that's why we are working with Congress to identify areas where we can cut. And those areas would be the unnecessary spending. We've got important priorities that we've got to meet, and we will meet those priorities, but we need to look for cuts elsewhere in the budget. The President has always outlined budgets to fund our priorities and then hold the line on spending elsewhere, where they're not the essential or necessary spending that is needed. And that's a process that Congress has an important role to play in, and we've got to work closely with them to do that. But I think everybody recognizes, also, that the costs we're talking about related to Katrina are going to have a short-term impact on the deficit, they're one-time costs. But we believe we can continue to meet the President's commitment to halve the deficit by 2009.

Q Is he dusting off his veto pen?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you know, the President does not have line-item veto power. That is something that we have advocated and believe he should have, and that's something we continue to urge Congress to act on, as well. But he's also made it -- and Congress has been moving forward on the budget that we outlined to meet some of the overall budget framework that we outlined. But there are additional actions that can be taken on savings that we proposed. That's a good starting point, and then we'll also be looking at other areas we can cut, too. Q Just a quick -- one last question. Does the President, then, agree with Representative DeLay that there's no more fat in the budget?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually David asked that question at the beginning, and I talked about how Congress has yet to act on some of the savings that we've proposed, and that we also need to look at other unnecessary spending --

Q The answer is "no."

Did Scotty answer the first question? I don't think so.

Not only is it Worrisome, but...

The fact that the W, Rove and Co have no answer for Clinton should scare us more. Have a look at this nice exchange from todays McMessage briefing:
Q So I take it you're not going to talk directly about President Clinton, even though he was talking very directly about you all?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if we want to talk about policies, I'm glad to talk about that. But I think we've made our views clear and the results are helping all Americans.

Q Can I just follow on that? Can I just quote the former President? He says, "You can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people. If you tell people to do something that don't have the means to do it, you're going to lead the poor out," talking about the people who lost homes who have no property insurance. He said, "Everything they own was in their little home. If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out, and also lots of empty vans to save the belongings of those with no home or flood insurance." Now, you've said the President was unhappy with the effort. Does the President basically agree with what Bill Clinton is saying?

MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't say "the effort," I said, "the results."

Q "The results."

MR. McCLELLAN: You can't discount all the work that was done by the search and rescue teams and the Coast Guard and the first responders, the state and local people that were on the scene trying to save lives. And as the President said, the storm didn't discriminate, neither did the federal government response. We were trying to save the lives of all those who had been affected by this. The Coast Guard search and rescue teams were trying to save the lives of everybody they could in the city.

Q Well, given the President's unhappiness, does the administration basically agree that Bill Clinton is right?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've expressed our views. He can speak with his own views. But I think the President has clearly expressed our views. And in terms of the issue when it comes to the elderly and vulnerable and the poor, those that didn't necessarily have the means to get out of the area -- the President has spoken at length about that. He made it very clear that some of the greatest hardship fell on those individuals -- the elderly, the vulnerable, and the poor. And the rebuilding of the region is an opportunity to renew our commitment to equality and justice for all Americans by building a better and stronger region. And that's what he's committed to doing. There is a deep history of injustice that has led to poverty and inequality, and this storm has brought to light, in a more vivid way, some of that inequality and poverty that exists in the region. And it's not going to be overcome instantly. But this President, from day one, has been acting boldly to address these issues and to achieve results.

Q If he was so bold, why do we have 37 million people living below the poverty line? MR.

McCLELLAN: Well, do you want me to go back and talk about the economy?

Q I mean, if his policies are so great.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be glad to go -- more Americans are working than ever before, Helen. We've --

Q Thirty-seven million below the poverty --

...Q Following up on John's question about what President Clinton said, you've said and the President has said this storm did not discriminate. But the point that President Clinton was making isn't -- wasn't about the relief recovery after the storm hit, it was about the preparations beforehand. He was talking about the fact that buses should have been there to get people out who couldn't have done it themselves. So is that something that President Bush should have been more attuned to? Or is that something that he really relied on the Mayor --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's going to be a bipartisan investigation by Congress. They're going to do a thorough investigation and look at all these issues. There were certain -- there were responsibilities at all levels of government: the federal, state, and local. The President has made it very clear that he accepts responsibility for the federal government's role. He wants to see what went wrong and what needs to be fixed for the future so that we can make sure that we are better prepared in the future to respond to such situations, whether they be natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Q Does the President still think it was a good idea to get President Clinton on board and give him this kind of platform?

MR. McCLELLAN: We appreciate the efforts of President Bush and President Clinton to reach out to the private sector and individuals to encourage even more giving from the American people to support those who have been affected by this natural disaster. And, look, this is a difference over policies. I think when you boil it down to -- boil it down, it's just difference over policies. And that's why I said we welcome a discussion of the policies to address the causes of poverty and inequality that have occurred, that -- I mean, it's a long history that led to the poverty and inequality; it is a long history of injustice, that goes back to slavery and segregation. And we need to address these issues, and this President has been working to address those issues in new and bold ways. And all you have to do is go and look at the record and look at what we've accomplished for the American people, particularly for low-income Americans and people that are living in poverty. The Medicare is another one; seniors starting in 2006, low-income seniors are going to have virtually everything paid for when it comes to their prescription drug benefit.

This is Worrisome

Looks like we indeed are paying for Iraq on our Children's Futures as well as making sure the wealthy still get their tax cuts.
"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Meanwhile, on My AM Run...

You really can't make this stuff up. I started out midway past six AM for my Sunday Long Run. Headed down a vacant street - the one with the stores all closed up awaiting ten AM. Low about one mile in, I spotted a flock of mods (you know, youths dress like they live in the 80s mixed up with hairstyles from the 60s - moptops). Six or a half dozen clogging up the sidewalk like they own it, weaving - perhaps drunk.

So, I slunk out to the street - no cars there anyway and slip back on my usual path just ahead of the boisterous group. And I hear hoots and shouts - and quite surprisingly, they encourage one of their flock to tag along for about two blocks. I look back. One tall, shaggy blonde kid with a fez (yes, a fez) comes sauntering up. I waive him up. This is our conversation:

Me - What's up?

Fez - We've been up all night.

Me - Oh?

Fez - Been snorting coke all night. I don't usually do that, but...(gasp for air)

Me - Oh.

Fez - You get a lot of sleep last night?

Me - well, the kids woke us up about twice last night.

Fez - How many you got?

Me - Two.

Fez - Oh.

Me - I'm going for an hour or hour and a half. Glad to have your company. Don't get too many takers this early. How far you going?

Fez - Oh. To the corner and then slowly make my way back.

Me - (by that time, we had made it to the corner) See ya later (shaking his hand - it was limp, no calluses - like a man of leisure).

Fez - stops, wheezes over, hands onto his knees.

So, Fez occupied a large part of my thinking over the course of the run through the park and trails. The only cogent thought I came up with is that the youth of today have way too much disposable income if they can afford to stay up all night snorting coke. On second thought, they have a fine role model in the Whitehouse, no? What do you think?

Frank Rich Borrows from the Blogisphere

Folks in the Blogisphere have been using the Oz Wizard analogy for quite some time. Frank Rich borrows heavily from blog posters everywhere for today's NYTimes article:
ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush.
And goes on to invent some fine sentences of his own:
This White House doesn't hate all pictures, of course. It loves those by Karl Rove's Imagineers, from the spectacularly lighted Statue of Liberty backdrop of Mr. Bush's first 9/11 anniversary speech to his "Top Gun" stunt to Thursday's laughably stagy stride across the lawn to his lectern in Jackson Square. (Message: I am a leader, not that vacationing slacker who first surveyed the hurricane damage from my presidential jet.) The most odious image-mongering, however, has been Mr. Bush's repeated deployment of African-Americans as dress extras to advertise his "compassion..."

...Some of these poses are re-enacted in the "Hurricane Relief" photo gallery currently on display on the White House Web site. But this time the old magic isn't working. The "compassion" photos are outweighed by the cinéma vérité of poor people screaming for their lives...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Are they going to Beg, Borrow, or Steal from the American Taxpayer?

As to who will pay for the Katrina clean up and the ensuing FUBAR follow up? You guessed it, the almighty American Taxpayer. But does the W, Rove and Co have any clue how that money will be collected and distributed? Nope. Have a look:
Q Al, where's the money coming from for this?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Where's the money coming from? It's coming from the American taxpayer.

Q Right, but you're already spending more than you take in, so how much more is there to --

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, if you want to know the --

Q Are we going to have to borrow it, or are you going to raise taxes? I mean, if it's coming from the taxpayer that suggests maybe you're going to have to raise taxes.

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: The most important thing that we need to do is make sure that this economy remains very, very strong. A strong economy is what will provide the resources for the rebuilding for the disaster as a result of the Katrina storm. We're fortunate that the economy is very, very strong now; it will continue to be strong. But the last thing in the world we need to do is raise taxes and retard economic growth.

Q So where does the money come from? Obviously, you've got to borrow it or offsets in the budget, what?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, again, the money is going to come from the federal government, it's going to come from the federal taxpayer. This President is committed to, as you know, cutting the deficit in half. This in no way will adversely impact his commitment to cut the deficit in half by 2009. At the same time, unfortunately, because of the biggest national disaster I think we've ever faced, we're going to have to spend significant amounts of money on a one-time basis. And that's what's important: it's one time, it's not recurring. But the President is committed, and I know the American people are committed to doing everything that's necessary, but no more than is necessary, and doing it in a very prudent way.

Q -- significant amount? How much?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Pardon me? Q How much? Do you have a ballpark figure for how much this is all going to cost the American taxpayer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the overall costs?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think -- and we talked about it the last couple of days, in terms of the longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts, and the President made very clear last night that we're going to do what it takes to meet the needs of the people who have been affected by this and to meet the needs of the region. But as we do, we need to work with state and local officials to make sure it's done in a well thought out, well planned way. And that's why he emphasized we're going to make sure that the money is spent wisely and it's going to what it's supposed to go for. But in terms of the longer-term reconstruction needs, I think that we're still assessing what those needs are. It's not clear exactly what those longer-term needs are going to be. And so it would be speculating at this point and we're not going to get into speculating about it.

Q Is the $200 billion figure --

MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, it's speculating about it, and we're not going to get into speculating about it. What we are going to do is make sure that the needs of the people are met. Q So there were no internal initial investments for how much this will cost? None?

MR. McCLELLAN: For the longer-term? I think that's something that's still being assessed --

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Right. I mean, you know, you've got --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- as our OMB Director has said over the last couple weeks, too.

Q Allan, can I just clear this up? So the money will be borrowed, so it will add to the deficit, right?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, there's no question that this -- the recovery will be paid for by the federal taxpayer and it will add to the deficit. That's right.
Whelp, I think they have grossly underestimated the costs. And, they haven't even begun to calculate all the wrongful death suits that will be executed. Once the first one hits, the avalanch will fall.


Here's a video clip for your viewing pleasure.


FEMA = Lawsuit waiting to happen.
Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Shrub to Resign Tonight

Wouldn't it be nice and refreshing if the Prez steps up tonight and says, "I fucked it up. It's time for some one with a clue on how to fix it to step up to the plate. Thus, I and my entire first tier of this administration are turning in our resignations to the American people; effective immediately."

A friend pointed me to an artilce that was a fun read today. Don't hold your breath on the forthcoming resignation, however:
The president will address the nation tonight from the Gulf Coast. He will probably repeat what he said the other day: That he takes "full responsibility" for what went wrong with the federal response to Katrina. The obvious follow-up question: Does this mean he will resign?

...What would be refreshing is if the president could be honest and say, directly to the American people, "I blame my staff. They gotta tell me what's going on. I'm running a war, I got economy stuff goin' on, I'm packing the Supreme Court, you name it, plus I'm on vacation half the time, so I just can't be expected to know about every breeze blowing off the Gulf..."

If you Want A High Paying Government Gig

It helps to know the president. Perhaps Rove is getting himself a promotion. We'll know more this evening after W occupies more airspace and personnel in NOLA.
Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort, which reaches across many agencies of government and includes the direct involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development.


With a president like W, it's just too easy to make the jokes work. Moxie Grrrl has posted two videos that folks might find entertaining. Have a look.

Speechifying Bush

Ben Cohen on True Majority.


Lying with Statistics

It's easy to present a whole set of averages (mean, median, or mode) to skew your message. And, you can depend on folks to not bother to check your work if you provide the numbers in small print gathered in large charts. But you can't hide for too long. I have often said that the disparity between schools is atrocious. Here's an article that actually proves it:
Teachers working at San Francisco high schools serving mostly African American and Latino students will, on average, make $8,355 less per year than their more experienced counterparts at mostly white and Asian American high schools across town.
And you wonder why we have a difficult time attracting qualified teachers to work anywhere.

Can You Force Allegiance to a Flag or God?

Interestingly, a Federal Judge stipulated yesterday that forcing children to say the Pledge was unconstitutional. I had posted about this a long while back, but the thing about the Pledge that bugs me is that even if kids say it, they are not feeling or meaning it (likewise for the adults leading it).

How can a child get behind the ideology of the Pledge when our government is falling down on the job, role modeling less than ethical behavior, and publicly demonstrating immorality on a regular basis? We might be better off having them sing a chorus of "You're a Grand Old Flag," which is a bit more secular and focuses on what is great about this country rather than artificially manufacturing allegiance.

You're a Grand Old Flag
by George M. Cohan

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
Nothing about god or war in this song - perhaps it would make a fine replacement for the current National Anthem as well.

Swinging Dead Cats and Hitting Homosexuals

Is it me, or hasn't the Catholic Church been a safe haven for gays and lesbians since the dawn of celibacy as a policy? These folks might as well look under their own robes for you can't swing a dead cat near a church without hitting at least one homosexual. The only point to this "inspection" is to prove their bigotry:
Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching, according to a document prepared to guide the process.

The Vatican document, given to the New York Times on Wednesday by a priest who was granted anonymity because he feared retribution, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood...

...It is unknown how many Catholic priests are gay. Estimates range from as low as 10 percent to as high as 60.
To what end? So, if they find that the number is greater than 60% what will they do to the few pipelines for new priests as the old ones pass on to the great beyond?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Al Gore, Hero

No doubt, the repubs will not like the fact that they may have to hang a medal around Al Gore's neck for stepping up to the plate and helping a great deal more than our president following the Katrina aftermath. Martian Anthropologist has a nice post today that led me to Gore's 9 Sept speech. Here are some intersting snips:
...We are now told that this is not a time to point fingers, even as some of those saying, "Don't point fingers," are themselves pointing fingers at the victims of the tragedy...

...We're told this is not a time to hold our national government accountable because there are more important matters that confront us. This is not an either/or choice. They are linked together. As our nation belatedly finds effective ways to help those who have been so hard hit by Hurricane Katrina, it is important that we learn the right lessons of what has happened, lest we are spoon-fed the wrong lessons from what happened. If we do not absorb the right lessons, we are, in the historian's phrase, doomed to repeat the mistakes that have already been made...

...When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic floodwaters five days after a hurricane strikes, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe but to hold the processes of our nation accountable, and the leaders of our nation accountable, for the failures that have taken place. [applause]

The Bible in which I believe, in my own faith tradition, says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

...In the early days of the unfolding catastrophe, the President compared our ongoing efforts in Iraq to World War II and victory over Japan. Let me cite one difference between those two historical events: When imperial Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt did not invade Indonesia [applause].

I personally believe that the very fact that there has been no accountability for the horrendous misjudgments and outright falsehoods that laid the basis for this horrible tragedy that we have ongoing in Iraq, the fact that there was no accountability for those mistakes, misjudgments and dissembling, is one of the principal reasons why there was no fear of being held accountable for a cavalier, lackluster, mistaken, inadequate response to the onrushing tragedy that was clearly visible.

Truth cuts like a knife.

Meanwhile, Our Schools are Slipping

Don't know if many will catch this article given the Roberts hearings, but it looks as though our schools are slipping in comparision to the rest of the industrialized world.

The United States is losing ground in education, as peers across the globe zoom by with bigger gains in student achievement and school graduations, a study shows.

Among adults age 25 to 34, the U.S. is ninth among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group, the United States ranks seventh, with Belgium, in the share of people who hold a college degree.

By both measures, the United States was first in the world as recently as 20 years ago, said Barry McGaw, director of education for the Paris-based Organization for Cooperation and Development. The 30-nation organization develops the yearly rankings as a way for countries to evaluate their education systems and determine whether to change their policies.

McGaw said that the United States remains atop the "knowledge economy," one that uses information to produce economic benefits. But, he said, "education's contribution to that economy is weakening, and you ought to be worrying."

My next door neighbor is a public middle school teacher - you know, 13 year old population - I bumped into him on his way out the door as I was finishing my run this AM. He said, "I recently had to yell at one of them to get him to stop disrupting the whole classroom. It's the only thing that got his attention and him to stop."

My question is this, when a child, 13 years old, acts out in the classroom, who's to blame and who should be held accountable? Is it the student, the teacher or the parent(s)?

How Much For Your Wife?

Aparently, accidents also happen in war zones that are costing taxpayers money as well.
Three days earlier, two Afghan brothers had been killed in a collision between a U.S. Army truck and their motorcycle...

The Americans had been advised on a gesture of somewhere between zero and $2,000 per death. They had brought $500.

Pashtun code has it that parties do not speak directly to each other but instead through representatives. So, in response to the American gesture, Dr. Mohammed Nasir, a medical doctor trained in Kabul who works as Agha's translator, explained the family's expectations.

"You have two options," Nasir stated. "One is by the Quran, by Shariah. In that option, you give the driver (of the truck) to the father, and he can deal with him." One did not need to look at the Americans in the room to know that this was not an option.

"The second choice," he continued, "is our local tradition. You give either 90 camels or 2 women. So for the 2 boys, 180 camels or 4 women. Or the driver."

Not wanting to seem unreasonable, Nasir added that the price of one woman was $8,000, so a payment of $32,000 also would suffice.

...Dressed in an elegant charcoal turban, with his own graying father hunched down behind him, the man broke down almost immediately.

"You have the power. You have the tanks and the airplanes. I had only my two sons," he said, sobbing. "My wife is too old. Now I have nothing. Now I have only to wait for Allah."

Then he added, "You can help me in the way of the Quran."

He wanted nothing of the money. He had seen loss. Now he wanted only possession of the American driver and to see to it personally that loss was shared.

The warlord intervened, as did the uncle, in an attempt to repair the situation. They did not succeed.

Grief comes in many forms, but this poor man won't be getting his sons back. Meanwhile, no doubt, a US family could reap substantially more for another accidential death, this one killed Erika Hills.
The family of Erika Hills, the San Francisco socialite who was killed in a bizarre traffic accident in Napa County, has filed a wrongful death suit against the trucking firm and driver whose heavy trailer nearly ripped her Mercedes-Benz in half last month. The suit, filed Monday in Napa County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages from equipment and construction businesses owned by Glen and Shirley Ragsdale and from Arnulfo Avina, the driver of the Ragsdales' truck and trailer.

Maybe the father in Afganistan needs the same lawyer. Indeed, many survivors with relatives that were killed by presidential malpractice in the Gulf Coast will be needing similar services.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A House of Cards Usually Tumbles from the Bottom Up

This is the first report I have heard of the legal system engaging in a fixing some of the Katrina situation. No doubt, the W, Rove and Co. house of cards will tumble by it's own failures, unraveling under a tumult of legal challenges, wrongful death suits, and the like. While a house of cards usually tumbles when a small, seemingly insignificant piece falls, an avalanche starts with the smallest of vibrations. Let's hope the whole country does not founder as the legal dominos fall.
The owners of a nursing home where 34 people were found dead after Hurricane Katrina have been arrested and charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide for not evacuating those patients, the Louisiana attorney general's office said on Tuesday.
P.S. I do apologize for all the mixing of metaphors (okay, you're right, they are cliches), but it was fun to write.

The Wit of A President

Excuse me, but there is something rather troubling about the wit and wimsy of a president who makes light of his own ignorance with sarcasm disguised as light hearted banter:

Slice one:
Q (Question is asked in Arabic.) If I may, Mr. President, it's been a scathing attack from top officials of your administration on Syria yesterday for allowing foreign fighters to cross the border. We heard yesterday from Ambassador Khalilizad. Is this an escalation on the pressure that you're putting on Syria? And what more can you do when you say that all options are open?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Please, yes. You might want to try it English. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TALABANI: Well, I say it in Iraqi because the question was in Arabic. (Answers the question in Arabic.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Oops. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TALABANI: (Continues answering in Arabic.)

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure if I agree, or not, but...
Slice 2:
Final question, Mr. President. Q Mr. President, I hope you will excuse me, since you've never had Kurdish -- spoken Kurdish. I put my question in Kurdish. (Question asked in Kurdish.)

PRESIDENT TALABANI: With your permission, Mr. President, he's from America and his voice, American voice in Kurdish -- I must answer in Kurdish. PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Answer his question -- perfect.

PRESIDENT TALABANI: (Question answered in Kurdish.)

THE PRESIDENT: On that cheery note, the press conference is over. (Laughter.)

Thank you, Mr. President, good job.
Good Job? If these remarks were meant to be funny, why is my heart sick over them?

Like Water Off a Duck's Back

If W really is taking responsibility, I think we need to hold him accountable and present a long list of consequences worthy of the result.

But answer me this: Why is he still saying he wants to find out what went "right" as a matter of first priority over what went "wrong?" Is this a small symantic issue, or more Rovian speak from the master and puppet? If the man really wants to take repsonsiblity, perhaps he aught find out what went wrong first, and then worried about what went right. The lessons of failure, while more painful, are often the most powerful educational experiences.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility," Bush said. "I want to know what went right and what went wrong."

Just a Quick Question

Why is it that we can have an entire program of "Embedded" journalism during the opening salvos of the Invasion of Iraq, but the W, Rove and Co doesn't want reporters to follow them around in NOLA? Is it, perchance, that the tally of dead bodies (due to Katrina v. due to Government negligence) , in the Gulf Coast will lead to multiple wrongful death suits and they don't want any record of the process?

On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations...

...Government agencies may still refuse requests from members of the media to ride along, or be "embedded," on recovery boats as crews gather the dead. "But, to the extent the press can go out to the locations, they're free to do that," said Keith Wyatt, an assistant U.S. attorney, according to a transcript of the hearing. "They're free to take whatever pictures they can take."

Army Lt. Col. Richard Steele said the government's position as explained in court Saturday didn't represent a change in policy. Reporters can watch recovery efforts they come upon, but they won't be embedded with search teams.

"We're not going to bar, impede or prevent" the media from telling the story, he said. "We're just not going to give the media a ride."

Oh, from the same article on another issue, could it be that folks doing the work are simply too stressed out to think correctly, or are they just downright racist and disrespectful

Dean Nugent, of the Louisiana State Coroner's Department, who accompanied the soldier, added that it wasn't safe to be in Bywater. "They'll kill you out here," he said, referring to the few residents who have continued to defy mandatory evacuation orders and remain in their homes."

"The cockroaches come out at night," he said of the residents. "This is one of the worst places in the country. You should not be here. Especially you," he told a female reporter.

Nugent, who is white, acknowledged he wasn't personally familiar with the poor, black neighborhood, saying he only knew of it by reputation...

...After the recovery team took away the St. Anthony Street body, two workers urinated on the side of a neighbor's house....