Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Murder is in the Eye of the Beholder

Looks like the American Legion is being used for political gain one more time this month, making it twice in four days used by the W, Rove and Co as a platform to spin their propoganda. Here's a slice of the Big Dick's speedifying - do note, he starts by spanking that nine eleven monkey one more time:
And so they continued to wage those attacks -- making the world less safe and, of course, eventually striking the United States here at home on 9/11 and killing 3,000 of our fellow citizens. Now they're making a stand in Iraq -- testing our resolve, and trying to shake our commitment to democracy in that country. And while the terrorists are seemingly random and cold-blooded in their attacks, we have to realize they are also pursuing a strategy with a clear set of objectives.

By methods of murder, they hope to overturn Iraq's democratic government and return that country to the rule of tyrant, and then use Iraq as a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own image of tyranny and oppression -- by toppling governments, driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror.

Our own strategy in the conflict is clear: We're hunting down high-value targets like al Zarqawi and his lieutenants. Our soldiers and Marines are conducting smart, focused, aggressive, counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are known to be concentrated.
But I have some questions. Indeed, what if the "terrorists" actions were not "random or cold-blooded," but purposfully executed, military operations? Certainly, the definition of murder in war-time is confounded by which side of the sword one falls on, no?

Incidentially, how do we know for sure it was "terrorists" that bombed the mosque last week? Is it not beyond the stretch of imagination that it could have been the work of the "good" guys to incite support for the "good" side?
The terrorists understand what is at stake in Iraq. That's why they commit acts of horror, calculated to shock and to intimidate the civilized world -- beheading men, murdering mothers and children, and killing innocent Iraqis in police stations, mosques, buses, restaurants, stores and on street corners.

Last week terrorists attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims, in a clear attempt to ignite a civil war. We can expect further acts of violence and destruction by the enemies of freedom. Yet the Iraqi people have expressed their own desire for liberty by voting in free elections three different times over the last year, and we remain optimistic that Iraq's political factions will work together in forming a stable, viable representative government. We expect, as well, that as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal, and the advance of democracy in Iraq will inspire reformers across the broader Middle East.
Perhaps, the "terrorist" activity in Iraq - which wasn't there before we got there, by the way - is simply good old fashioned target practice at the expense of our GIs.

And here we have more spanking of the Nine Eleven monkey and some good old fashioned Rovian spin. Enjoy:
Another imperative in the war on terror is that we learn the intentions of our enemy. We've heard it said many times that our government failed to connect the dots prior to the 9/11 attack. We now know that two of the hijackers were in the United States and placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas prior to 9/11. We did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- and based on authority given him by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief and by statute -- the President authorized a terrorist surveillance program. On occasion you hear this called a domestic surveillance program or domestic spying. That is inaccurate. It is not domestic surveillance.
If they say it enough times, do you believe them more?

The Final Arbiter - Shady Texas Ethics

Looks like the Shrubmeister is sticking to his sixguns on the UAE ports deal.
Q Mr. President, since you're the final arbiter of the Dubai Ports deal, are you still inclined to approve it? And do you stand by your veto threat?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My position hasn't changed to my message to the Congress. And I appreciate the fact that the companies concerned have asked the Congress for a review of all the security implications.

Let me just make something clear to the American people. If there was any doubt in my mind, or people in my administration's mind that our ports would be less secure and the American people endangered, this deal wouldn't go forward. And I can understand people's consternation because the first thing they heard was that a foreign company would be in charge of our port security, when, in fact, the Coast Guard and Customs are in charge of our port security. Our duty is to protect America, and we will protect America.

On the other hand, this company is buying a British company that manages the ports. And by the way, there are a lot of foreign companies managing U.S. ports. And so my question to the members of Congress as they review this matter is, one, please look at the facts. And two, what kind of signal does it send throughout the world if it's okay for a British company to manage the ports, but not a company that has been secure -- been cleared for security purposes from the Arab world? So I look forward to a good, consistent review. You don't need to interpret. That's a U.S. question.
Looks like the W doesn't want the Italians to hear his answer: Note his last two sentences. Why?

By the way, I finally had a chance to view the film "Enron: The smartest guys in the room" last evening. Given that Lay and Skilling are in front of the judge as I type this, I thought it would be a nice refresher. What it really was was a lesson in Texas Ethics. Given how close the W and Kenny Boy were, I was left wondering who was the pupil and who was the teacher?

Either way, it put me to thinking that there has to be something more to this UAE ports deal that puts more cash into W's control or friends of his that the "investigative journalists" are missing. If Bush is taking lessons from his pal, we have reason to be concerned and suspicious. If Lay was taking lessons from Bush, we have reason to be concerned and suspicious. I would love to ask W the following: If you are such an ardent supporter of the UAE ports deal, what do you have to gain by it? How much money to do stand to win as a result of this deal going through?

Incidentally, if you think that the W, Rove and Co are here to support us, the American Taxpayers, guess again. Have a gander at Jim Hightower's commentary regarding the Corporate Welfare (which the white house glosses over as "Coporate Responsibility") - they very kind they are suggesting they do away with for poor, American taxpayers.

Shady Texas Ethics Lesson 1
Shady Texas Ethics Lesson 2
Shady Texas Ethics Lesson 3
Shady Texas Ethics Lesson 4

Chaos or Unity

So, after nearly half a trillion dollars spent on Iraq alone, and countless dead bodies piled high in the name of some noble cause, it comes down to a choice between "chaos or unity?" It seems to me that the dualistic nature of W to paint only two choices for the Iraqi people is rather juvinile and simplistic. Again, we see, that simply becuase the President says something does not make it so. Do you believe the W?
Q Mr. President, there was some more sectarian violence today in Iraq. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands, killed since the bombing of the mosque. Do you fear an all-out civil war? And will the events of Iraq of the last few days affect prospects for a U.S. draw-down?

And to the Prime Minister, do you still want to withdraw Italian troops by the end of the year?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The United States strongly condemns the bombing of holy sites. We believe people should be allowed to worship freely. Obviously, there are some who are trying to sow the seeds of sectarian violence. They destroy in order to create chaos. And now the people of Iraq and their leaders must make a choice. The choice is chaos or unity. The choice is a free society, or a society dictated by the -- by evil people who will kill innocents.

This weekend I spoke to seven of the Iraqi leaders. They understood the seriousness of the moment. They have made their choice, which is to work toward a unity government. The Iraqi people made their choice. Since last December, 11 million people, in defiance of the terrorists and the killers, went to the polls and said, we want to be free.
Incidentially, we see once again that the president draws conclusions from speculative evidence and faulty correlations. We most certainly don't have unity here in the US of A, but do we have chaos? Why would he suggest that these are the only two options present for the Iraqi people? Are members of the W, Rove and Co simultaneiously dualistic and nihilistic? Either way, it does not bode well for the Iraqis or us.

Oh, and by the way, the make that one less for the coalition in Iraq:
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: (As translated.) We have announced a plan to progressively withdraw our troops, which should be completed -- we have to be completed by the end of this year. And this plan has been agreed upon also together with our allies, and with the Iraqi government. Because this what is going to be possible -- (in English) -- why this will be possible.


PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: (As translated.) Why is this going to be possible? Because we have all together with our allies trained Iraqi troops and Iraqi soldiers and the law enforcement so that the Iraqi government itself will be able to guarantee the security of its people through their own forces.

Revovling Whitehouse Doors

Every week, it seems, there's a small post (like this one) at the whitehouse web location describing more appointments made by W to fill vacant seats in his administration. I have three questions: 1) Who are the people he finds to replace the vacancies? 2) Why are the people resigning so frequently? 3) What stories might these exiting folks tell about what's wrong with the government du jour?
John G. Emling, of Pennsylvania, to be An Assistant Secretary of Commerce, vice Brett T. Palmer, resigned.

Timothy Anthony Junker, of Iowa, to be United States Marshal for the Northern District of Iowa for the term of four years, vice John Edward Quinn.

Patrick Carroll Smith, Sr., of Maryland, to be United States Marshal for the Western District of North Carolina for the term of four years, vice Gregory Allyn Forest, resigned.

William Ludwig Wehrum, Jr., of Tennessee, to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, vice Jeffrey R. Holmstead, resigned.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Today's Posts Require a Soundtrack

I hate blogs that automatically pipe music through your speakers when you are not expecting it. Mine will never do that. I do have a recomendation instead.

Most entries in Educational Whisper today were composed while I had Nirvana's Nevermind cranked through my Altec - low tech but awesome - Lansing speakers. I suggest, before you start plowing through these, click on your itunes (or do it the old fashioned way if you must) and crank it up.

A healthy dose of Nirvana goes well with today's posts - just what the doctor ordered.

Blog on all.

What's the Point of A 45-Day Investigation When the Fix is In?

Good question raised at today's press briefing. If the shrubmiester has already said he would veto any legislation or action that stops the UAE Ports deal, and the shrubmiester has the final up or down vote that carries the day, then what's the point of some charade of an investigation?
Q Scott, two questions, one on the ports and one on India. On the ports, under the 45-day review that you're now going to start, the way the law is written, it's up to the President to be the final arbiter of this, the committee then reports to him. Since the President has already expressed his views on this deal -- and you've just reiterated those today -- can he be a neutral judge on this issue? Should he recuse himself from this, since he's already expressed his opinion, much the way a judge might --

MR. McCLELLAN: This is a congressionally mandated process; they put this law in place. And the company voluntarily asked for a 45-day investigation, so this is at the request of the company. And it will go to the committee --

Q You see my point, you're in the odd position of the President has already declared his view on something he's supposed to judge at the end of the investigative process.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but it's going to go through the Committee on Foreign Investment -- because this is a new transaction that they are notifying the committee about. And the committee will review it, and at the request of the company, go through the investigation. That will involve additional people. And then, as you point out, I expect it ultimately would go to the President, as called for under the law. This is the way -- the law has been in place for some time.

Q So he's got to keep an open mind that maybe the committee will find something different than --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he stated his views. The views that he has previously stated remain the same. But we will see, as it goes through the Committee on Foreign Investment, where this goes...

Q Scott, a follow-up on Dave Sanger's question earlier on the ports. How can the new second study or investigation be considered objective when the President has already reached a conclusion and Cabinet Secretaries have already said that it poses no risk? How do you --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, we went through a very thorough review when the initial notification was made. This is a new notification being made by the company. And because of the request by the company to do a 45-day investigation, I expect that that will bring in additional people into this process.

Now, remember, previously no one raised an objection at the end of that process. No one said -- no one had any national security concerns that weren't unresolved by the end of that review process, and that's why it went forward. It's a consensus judgment of all those different departments and agencies that have expertise in national security matters in various areas. And so that's the way the congressional process was set up.

But this will likely bring in deputies and principals that maybe had not been involved in that initial review period. And then, as I said, ultimately, it will go to the President and we'll be looking very closely at what the review and the investigation says.

Q But getting back to what David said --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you asked me to speculate about a review and investigation that has not been done with the new notification.

Q No, we're asking if there is a conflict of interest because the judge has already --

Q The judge has already judged it.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I would reject that wholeheartedly
Oh, I see. Becuase you reject that wholeheartedly, Scott, do we stand correct or corrected? Excuse us for being concerned about national security.

Special Investigations

So, what is Scotty saying here? Does he want a special investigation or not?

Incidentially, why have we not seen one similar to the Valarie Plame affair related to the leaking of the NSA secret program - particularly since they knew it was leaked over a year ago when the Times came to the whitehouse and said they were going to publish the article and then were told not to?
Q Let's move back a couple controversies to the NSA matter. A group of Democratic congressmen have called on the President to order a special prosecutor to investigate. What's your response?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, a couple of things. First of all, the President talked about the importance of the terrorist surveillance program earlier with the governors. The President's number one priority is to protect the American people, and this terrorist surveillance program is a critical tool in our efforts to prevent attacks. And the President has spoken about how it is a hot pursuit effort aimed at detection and prevention of attacks before they occur. And it's one tool that we are using. This is a comprehensive war on terrorism that we're engaged in and this tool helps us to connect the dots and save lives. And that's why it's so important.

It was carefully tailored. It is focused solely on international communications that involve a known al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda terrorist or affiliated al Qaeda terrorist. And it went through a careful review process. There were a lot of legal officials that were involved in this at the National Security Agency, at the White House, at the Department of Justice.

And I think that where these Democrats who are calling for this ought to spend their time is on what was the source of the unauthorized disclosure of this vital and critical program in the war on terrorism, because what it has done is signal to the enemy some of what we're doing to try to save lives. And I really don't think there's any basis for a special counsel, and I think the Attorney General has spoken about that, as well. But the fact that this information was disclosed about the existence of this program has given the enemy some of our play book, and that is very dangerous in the war on terrorism.
So, where's our investigation?

One Mysterious Question

Here's a mysterious question asked by Helen Thomas at today's whitehouse press briefing. Of course she gets the usual non-answer from Scotty McMessage McClellan. Does anyone have any idea what this might be about?
Helen, go ahead.

Q Did the German intelligence give the U.S. Saddam Hussein's military plans, defense plans, war plans?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President was asked about that at a news conference with Chancellor Merkel, when she was here visiting and he didn't have any -- he didn't know anything about it, nor did I. I don't have anything else on it.

Go ahead, David.

Shaping the Future

You know, I told the people, we don't need to fear the future because we intend to shape the future.
Is that like spreading freedom? You know, if the W, Rove and Co are going to "shape the future," don't you think they should take responsibility for creating the immediate past that feeds our current status quo?

Why do I get the sneaking feeling that the W, Rove and Co's drive to "shape the future," will include a vociferous abdication of all culpability when judgment day cometh?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meanwhile, All's Well In Iraq

"Remain calm, all is well (points to the blogger who can identify the movie and scene this quote comes from)." Not in Iraq.
Mortar fire killed 15 people and clashes erupted around two mosques in Baghdad on Sunday but pleas for unity and a third day of curfew in the city seemed to dampen sectarian violence that has pitched Iraq toward civil war.
What about for folks at home with family members serving as GIs over in there? Nope.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bomb blasts and gunfire killed at least 27 people, including two U.S. soldiers, in Baghdad and nearby towns Sunday as an emergency daylight curfew was lifted in three provinces following the bombing of a Shiite shrine and a wave of retribution against Sunnis.
I guess this is proof that the W, Rove and Co strategy of invading countries for no particular reason or a cooked up one is working. Or is it?

Well, at Least There is One Thing Reassuring About the UAE Ports Deal

So, explain to me why the W, Rove and Co is so hot about the UAE corp running our ports:
"How do you bring good inspection on the millions and millions of boxes? Nobody has it in the whole world."EDWARD H. BILKEY, chief operating officer of Dubai Ports World, which is seeking to manage terminals in six American cities.
This is what I was saying a few days ago. The ports are not safe to begin with, why would we bring in a corporation with a shady past to run them?

Democracy's Parents

I was flipping through the sunday paper this AM. No run allowed as the spouse is on a weekend retreat for a non-profit board of governors. Some one has to make the lemon zest, carrot, and blueberry pancakes for the kids.

Found this little tidbit on the "Two cents" column that I thought was rather pithy and insightful:
Accepting that pernicious nonsense casts critics as disobedient children who deserve punishment for disrespecting their elders. In a democracy, government is not our parent; we are its parents. Would you tell a parent that trying to prevent or correct its child's delinquency will destroy the child?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

More Bullshit From Washington - Subtitle: P.S. "We Respect Human Life."

Of course, because they granted an interview with the Prez for a Pakistani news outlet, they had to do the same for an Indian News agency. Here's another great question that the shubster bumbles all over. Have a gander at the bullshit the Indians are being fed:
Q I think the -- terrorism is one area a joint working group has been working excellently, even before the unfortunate incident of 9/11, between India and U.S. But the terrorist training camps and training infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, has not been totally dismantled. How about a -- and from the Pak-Afghan border, sir, also, troops are being -- your troops are being targeted. So how --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, I understand the war on terror is universal, and it's very important for all of us to work together to stop the advance and the goals of these terrorists. And you bring up Pakistan -- it's an interesting moment in our relationships with each other. It used to be that if America were close to Pakistan, then the Indian government --

Q Yes, that zero-sum game, that is over.

THE PRESIDENT: It was zero sum. And now I think President Musharraf understands that it's important for me to have a good relationship with India, and vice versa. Prime Minister Singh understands. And we do have a good relationship with both. But on my trip to Pakistan, I will, of course, talk about the terrorist activities, the need to dismantle terrorist training camps, and to protect innocent life, because one of the real dangers of the terrorist movement is that they'll kill innocent people to achieve an objective. And India and President Musharraf, as well as our country, cares deeply about innocent life. We respect human life.
And, the Shubster becomes very prophetic in the lighthearted segment of the interview:
Q While preparing to visit India, and political negotiations, have you discussed with Mrs. Bush how to negotiate hot Indian curry? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm going to have to -- I'll have to try that on. I'll tell you afterwards. My one regret is that I'm not going to go see the Taj Mahal. And that's not the fault of the Indian government, that's the fault of the George W. Bush schedulers. And obviously, it goes to show sometimes the President doesn't get all his wishes.

But I am really looking forward to going to the country. I am looking forward to meeting members of the government. I'm looking forward to having private time with the Prime Minister. And I know Laura joins me in telling the Indian people thanks for friendship, and we can't wait to come to your country.

Q Thank you very much. And welcome to India, you and Mrs. Bush. And I think there will be many more visits after this.

THE PRESIDENT: I hope so. Thank you, sir.
Here's hoping the President doesn't get all his wishes while he finishes out his term, eh? Or better yet, his term comes to an abrupt halt for impeachement proceedings.

17 Minutes I'll Bet The President Wishes Never Happened

I had four titles to this post before I hit the one above: 1) What's the President been smoking? 2) "Freedom defeats an ideology of hatred," oh my! 3) Watch out, the President is having visions again. And finally, 4) WTF?!?

Which title you would have selected is beside the point. My bet is that this seventeen minute interview with a Pakistani news outlet are seventeen minutes he would like to have gotten back - or at least a do-over. Have a gander at how he bumbles all over himself.
Q Coming to another subject, what strategy the United States has adopted for conquering terrorism in Pakistan, in a very holistic manner?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, freedom defeats an ideology of hatred. And the enemy -- I say "the enemy" because they'll kill -- they innocent Pakistanis, they kill innocent Americans. We need -- more Muslims have died at the hands of al Qaeda and these extremists than anybody else. These -- I don't view these people as religious people. I view them as people who have taken a great religion and kind of twisted it to meet their means.

And so they have a vision. And it's not a vision -- it's a vision that doesn't recognize the freedom of people to worship. It's a vision that doesn't understand the -- that recognize the importance of women in society, or free speech. And so the way to defeat that vision is with a better vision, more hopeful, and democracy provides that vision.

We are in close coordination, of course, with the government of Pakistan. We share a mutual interest. Nobody should want foreign fighters in their soil wreaking havoc. And it's hard for a part of a country to develop if there are people in that part of the country that are willing to kill innocent life to achieve an objective. And so we share short-term objectives with the Pakistani government. We also share the long-term objective, and that is -- that's freedom.

Q Thank you, very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm looking forward to the trip. And I really appreciate you coming.

Q Thank you, very much. I'm grateful and honored.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.

Q Thank you, very much.
Instead of the pleasantries exchanged after that last A in the Q & A, I would have liked to have asked the following: Gee Whiz, Mr. President. Can you prove that "freedom defeats an ideology of hatred?" If so, please do so. And secondly, how do you know that spreading freedom is actually the outcome of what you and your "allies" are delivering in Iraq and the greater middle-east?

Not Surprising

If you think about our own democratic experience, particularly in this overly charged past five years, this quote out of Iraq is not altogether surprising:
"Everybody seems to be imprisoned in their own sectarian or political affiliations. They don't seem to be able to rise above these things." ADNAN PACHACHI, the former Iraqi foreign minister and current Parliament member, on talks about sectarian violence.
And I thought the W, Rove and Co would bring their "I'm a Uniter, not a divider" exeprtise to Iraq too? Oops, I guess they did.

Illegitimate War and A 1980s Flash Back

Just for fun, I thought I would read Art Buchwald's romp through the late 1980s titled, "Whose Rose Garden Is It Anyway?" As it turns out, if you bother, you get a nice humorous retrospective look at some of the issues of the day.

Here's some interesting tidbits that may ring true today - given that the Shrub is leading us down the toilet into the cesspool whereas then, it was his father (as Veep to Reagan and then as Prez)- who actually did a substantially better job as prez than his son has ever done, I might add.

On page 26 of my copy:
Does the conservative wing have a monopoly on patriotism? I asked.

I should hope so. This country is divided as it has never been before.

Between those who think that September seventh is Pearl Harbor Day and those who have always thought it was December twenty-fifth?

No, it is divided between card-carrying members of the American Civil Liberties Union, and those who drink Coors beer.

Frogle, I've never brought this up before. But do you think I'm a good American?

Do you have a picture of Ollie North hanging in your living room?

Not yet, but I'm looking for one.

Frankly, I've never trusted you.

Why not?

You don't put your falg out to commemorate the day Grenada attacked the United States.

That's because I'm never sure whether it took place on Columbus Day or Lincoln's Birthday.
How about this little slice from page 47:
Washington School of Applied Ethics and Morality. Can we help you?

My son is coming to Washington this summer and I would like to know if you are giving any courses in hypocrisy, betrayal and sleaze?

Yes, we have an excellent curriculum that will lead either to a bachelor's degree in stonewalling or a master's degree in perjury.

Can you give me some idea of what you're offering?

We have a popular class in lying. We hold moot congressional hearings in which the student is challenged to wriggle out of answering any compromising questions.

How does he do that?

By using the Elliott Abrams defense. When asked a question the student is taught to reply something like, "It probably happened but I don't remember it," or, "I don't remember it but if you say it took place I'll accept your word."
How about this one from page 103:
Mr. Vice President, you are not doing so well in the polls. Rumor has it you're trying to get President Reagan off your back.

That's a damn lie. The thing I believe in most is loyalty. President Reagan has made mistakes - we all do - but they are his mistakes and nobody else's. I would like to get the record clear right now that I was out of town when the errors were made, and by the time I got back it was too late for me to do anything about them. I'm not one of those vice presidents who says those are the President's mistakes and these are mine - because I didn't make any. But that doesn't mean I'll turn my back on the President even if he refuses to back me for the nomination after all I have done for him in the last seven years.
And finally, for today we have a slice from page 110 (you will note, this book is a quicker read (more like brain candy) than Eleanor Roosevelt's "This I Remember:"
The phone rang and Moondecker picked it up. "yes I know who you are," he said. "You're Ogilvy of Beeswax Honey and you want me to introduce a bill barring all Japanese honey from the United States. How do you expect me to do this without a war chest? Do you think honey bills grow on trees? Ogilvy, how would you like to be an admiral in the S.S. Moondecker Navy? It would cost you twenty-five thousand dollars and you get to sit on the deck of all Senate trade meetings. Thanks, Ogilvy, your bees are safe with me."

Moondecker said, "This is not my idea of fun, but if I don't do it somebody else will and heaven knows what kind of senator he'll turn out to be. At least I can be trusted.

Do all senators do their own fund-raising? I asked.

All the ones I know do. Of course those who sit on the Armed Services Committee can raise a lot more than those who stuck with investigating Judge Ginsburg. Some of the big fellows even have their own PACs and they channel money to other senators - then you really owe them for being nice to you.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ohh, I Have A Great Idea: Let's Set Up Some More of Them Sturdy Straw Men for the Prez to Knock Over

While you and I are working our day away, the President was busy playing politics with the Foreign Legion. In his speechifying today, the Shrubster and his writers, once again, successfully set up straw men through out, so the prez can look good blowing them over. Here's one for example:
Some critics have pointed out that the free elections in the Middle Easthave put political power in the hands of Islamics and extremists, in the case of the Palestinian elections, a notorious -- notorious terrorist organization. Critics argue that our policies of promoting democracy are backfiring and destabilizing the region. I strongly disagree. First, their argument rests on the false assumption that the Middle East was a bastion of stability before the United States came in and disturbed the status quo by promoting democracy.
How many people assumed that? Same number of folks who suggest the Holocaust never happened? If you don't name the people who are suggesting this, all you’re doing is playing politics, and haven't the W, Rove and Co said time and time again, that they are above that? Right.

Here's another:
Secondly, the idea that lasting stability can be achieved by denying people a voice in the future control of their destiny is wrong. It is, in large part, because people in the Middle East have been denied legitimate means to express dissent that radical extremism has flourished. And it's only by giving people in the Middle East the freedom to express their opinions and choose their leaders that we will be able to defeat radical extremism. As liberty spreads in the broader Middle East, freedom will replace despair [sic] and hope. And over time the terrorist's temptation will fall away.
Okay, who said that? Any one? By the way, can you prove that liberty is spreading and that in doing so it does what you claim? Doubt it.

Here's another:
It will take time for the people of this region to build political parties and movements that are moderate in their views and capable of competing in a free democratic system. Yet free elections cannot wait for perfect conditions. Free elections are instruments of change. By giving people an opportunity to organize, express their views, and change the existing order, elections strengthen the forces of freedom and encourage citizens to take control of their own destiny.
Who said that these elections were free? Near as I can tell, they have cost us nearly half a trillion dollars in hard earned, yet to be paid out taxpayer bux and buckets of GI blood - not to mention innocent civlians KIA as well. Okay, I know I'm bending the meaning, but again I suggest the ROI in Iraq is not, nor ever has been, worth the outlay.

Oh, and here's another:
Finally, as democracy takes root, the responsibilities of governing will have a moderating influence on those who assume power in free elections. It's easier to be a martyr than a mayor, or a cabinet minister. When you're responsible for building roads and bridges and power stations and educating people and providing help, you're less likely to blow up health clinics and schools and bridges.
Oh, really? Prove it. How do you know it is easier to be a martyr? That is about as outlandish a claim as I have ever heard uttered by a president.

Oh, and does this next slice sounds like bigger or smaller government to you?
To support the Iranian people's efforts to win their own freedom, my administration is requesting $75 million in emergency funds to support democracy in Iran. This is more than a fourfold increase over current levels of funding. These new funds will allow us to expand radio and television broadcasts into Iran. They will support reformers and dissidents and human rights activists and civil society organizers in, so Iranians can organize and challenge the repressive policies of the clerical regime. They will support student exchanges, so we can build bridges of understanding between our people and expose more Iranians to life in a free society.
Is there not a better, domestic use for these funds than this new expenditure?

Finally, here's where the reprehensible W, Rove and Co automatons pull out all the stops to play politics with the American Legion and trump any contrarian view or opinion by showering us all with guilt:
In this war, we've lost some really good men and women who left our shores to defend liberty and did not live to make the journey home. Others have returned from war with wounds the best medicine cannot heal. As veterans, you've lost friends and comrades in the field of battle, and you understand the sadness that has come to some of our nation's military families. We pray for the families of the fallen, and we honor the memory of all who have given their lives in freedom's cause. And we will honor that memory by defeating the terrorists, and spreading liberty, and laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. (Applause.)
Dead men and women can't vote, but they sure to make shinny political pawns for the W, Rove and Co, No? It's sickening.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Pre-1776 World View

I had to grab these two pargraphs becuase they are very rich. Consider at a teaser to check out the whole post here:
I proudly have a post-1776 worldview, which by definition is pre-9/11 though I’d argue that Rove and I are talking past each other. In my post-1776 worldview I value the American constitution and the decision of our founders to separate the government into three branches that serve to check each others power. In fact, I think this system of government was a fan-freaking-tastic idea. Something isn’t made legal by the fact the president did it and when the president acts illegally, like say by spying on American citizens, I think it’s the right and duty of the Congress and judiciary to hold him accountable for his illegal acts.

Holding a post-1776 worldview insulates me from being paralyzed by fear of a few cave dwellers with shoe bombs and box cutters. I believe the structure of my government — whose principles are laid out in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights — is capable of protecting me physically from threats abroad while at the same time guaranteeing my civil liberties and privacy. I know, it’s a radical notion to think that something written by men far wiser that George Bush, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney over two hundred years ago might still be true today. Nevertheless, I proudly embrace my post-1776 worldview today in a post-9/11 world.

Don't You Think Five Years Is Enough?

I don't know about you, but if you have been working at doing something for five years and you still can't get it right - especially when you hold a "majority," in Congress, maybe you aught step asside. Have a gander at these lousy excuses provided by the W, Rove and co:
Q If I could just maybe follow up, given the political sensitivities that are now blatantly obvious, do you wish that somebody would have given you a heads up, as the President's Homeland Security Director, so that perhaps you could have said what you just said to us perhaps to members of Congress a little bit earlier?

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, we're looking at how we can communicate better with members of Congress. There are briefings going on today, we're getting them the facts, and I think once people are satisfied that they have the facts -- and we've got to look at that process going forward -- they'll be satisfied that the security concerns have been addressed.

Q A two-part question on this aspect that she just raised. The top of page one headlines this morning report, "Bush learned of port deal from press." This news also reported that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow both say they didn't know about it until it was approved. And my question, first of two: What will be done, if anything, to those responsible for this being done without the knowledge of the President or the Secretaries of Defense and Treasury?

MS. TOWNSEND: Okay, the first question. I can't speak to what will be done to them. I will tell you that there are tens of these every year. They are handled and they only come up to the President and to the senior -- to the members of the Cabinet if there's an objection, if the concerns can't be addressed in some way and can't be resolved. This is how the process has worked, and so I can't speak to, having -- I wasn't personally involved in it, so I can't speak to what the process -- how it performed.

Q On page 11 of the 9/11 Commission's report that you're undoubtedly familiar with, it says, "From 1999 through early 2001, the United States pressed the United Arab Emirates, one of the Taliban's only travel and financial outlets to the outside world, to break off ties and enforce sanctions. These efforts achieved little before 9/11." And my question: Why should we now give this nation any control of our ports, which so refused to help in stopping a worse killing of Americans than at Pearl Harbor?

MS. TOWNSEND: There is no question that their performance has changed since 2001 in the war on terror. They have been critical allies in Afghanistan. They have been critical allies in fighting the financial war against terror. They've been critical allies in terms of our military-to-military relationship, as General Pace has talked about.

I don't take issue with the 9/11 Commission's characterization prior to September 11th, but I will tell you, prior to September 11th, Pakistan also recognized the Taliban. They, too, are now a critical ally in the war on terror, without whose support we would not have enjoyed some of the successes we've enjoyed, in terms of capturing or killing some of al Qaeda's leaders. So I would caution you against judging forever one's performance prior to 9/11.

Q What will happen if Congress overrules -- what if Congress overrules the President?

MS. TOWNSEND: That was two. You've got other colleagues. Yes, sir.
Icidentially, why is it now, that the President threatens to use his veto for the first time? It's political, no?

Meanwhile, In Iraq

There are at least seven more GIs that won't get a vote this November:
Four U.S. soldiers were killed in the Iraqi town of Hawija while on patrol, the military said.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed near the Iraqi town of Balad when their vehicle struck another roadside bomb.

The deaths bring to 2,287 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led war that toppled
Saddam Hussein in 2003. Roadside bombs are some of the most effective killers of U.S. troops in Iraq.
The ROI in Iraq has never been worth the outlay.

You're Fired

You have got to love the blind, or is it shortsighted, nature of the W, Rove and Co - they would rather have one of their key conservatives fired than listen to an honest critique of their behavior and actions. Have a listen to Bruce Bartlett:
Calling President Bush an opportunist who lacks a set of political principles like those that guided Reagan, Bartlett worries that the country -- and conservatives in particular -- are being hurt by the president's mistakes. He faults Bush for increasing federal spending -- with programs like the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill -- while also cutting taxes.

Bartlett, who supported Bush in the 2000 election, was a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration; he also served as deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury Department under the first President Bush.

Until recently, Bartlett was a senior fellow at the conservative think tank the National Center for Policy Analysis. He lost the job in October because, Bartlett says, he was increasingly critical of President Bush.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You Don't Even Need A Bullshit Detector for This

The Pakistani journalists asked the Shrubmiester several challenging questions. Really, you don't need a bullshit detector in this case to know that you need hipwaders to travel through this text. Have a gander at two great questions that get the usual W, Rove and Co rhetorical rinse:
Q Does it mean that at some date you could decide to take military action against Iran? Would you --

THE PRESIDENT: Diplomacy is our first option.

Q Mr. President, the recent incident in which U.S. military made a strike in the Pakistani tribal area, in the Bajaur area. This has happened before also, and there was some outrage in Pakistan that there was no remorse from the U.S. government on the action. These actions, when they are taken, is it because -- the unilateral action that the folks on the other side do not trust their colleagues on the side of the border, or it's the timing, is it intelligence, or the lack of operational capabilities on the side -- on the Pakistani side, that such actions are taken?

THE PRESIDENT: We are -- we're partners in the war against terrorists, some of whom tried to kill your President. We coordinate. We're allies and we coordinate. Nor do we talk about sensitive anti-terror operations. Of course the United States mourns the loss of innocent life.

Can Any One Have Pre-Nine Eleven View on the World?

With Rove's dirty finger prints (which always involve the same kind of "politics" they suggest we should not be about) all over the spin, you can catch a preview of the talking points we will need to refute. The W, Rove and Co are not above wild accusations to leverage the politics of the issue, as you can see:
From Rove's January 20 speech:

ROVE: [S]ome leading Democrats have made wild and reckless and false charges against the president, and some even call for his removal from office. Let me be as clear as I can: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree.
Is it possible or impossible to have a pre-Nine Eleven view of the world? Certainly us as taxpayers aught be very aware that we are sinking closer to a trillion dollars spent on the illegitimate war in Iraq? And, OBL is still alive and kicking. Here, the spin bubbles up in today's press briefing:
Q Let me just follow on this point. There's bipartisan consensus that monitoring the ports, the seaports, is very difficult, and it's a vulnerable area of our homeland security strategy. Karl Rove said, memorably, recently, that Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world; Republicans and this President have a post-9/11 view of the world. So a lot of people wonder on both sides of the aisle, how is it the President could allow a sale like this to go through with country that has clear ties to terrorism?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President doesn't view it as a political issue. The President views it as the right principle and the right policy.
Everything the W, Rove and Co does is political, no? Wouldn't it have been more right to find a US company to scoop up the port opperations? It could have been a win-win: A) domestic economy boost for an American Company keep the profits at home rather than exporting them to the UAE, and B) increasing, not decreasing the separation between US soil and very real terrorists.

I have several more concerns about this whole deal. At what point did the President care about this? Only after it became a political hot potato: So, don't buy it when they say it's not political for them.
Q So he found out through the news coverage, is that what you're saying? How did he find out about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think, initially, Steve, when this was becoming more -- it was getting more press coverage, that's how he found out about it.
Port security is perhaps one of the weakest areas in terms of homeland security. You could ship an atomic warhead and detonate it underneath the Golden Gate Bridge if you were crafty enough and got lucky that some one believed your manifest. So, what are the W, Rove and Co doing to boost security in that area?
Q You talked about checking cargo and that they say they'll allow cargo to be checked. There's clearly not the manpower to check cargo. About 5 percent to 7 percent coming in this country are ever checked. So what does the U.S. need for this company to do? Hiring and firing? Do they vet people? Do you know all that?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is the company that manages the terminals. They'll manage the terminals --

Q So can they hire and fire?
If this UAE company can select their own people, how do we know they won't hire people specifically who were/are part of some sleeper cell - you know, the kinds of people the W, Rove and Co want to wiretap?

Incidntially, is the President being usurped in matters of national security?
Q Scott, there were some questions raised about information flow to the President during Hurricane -- after Hurricane Katrina and questions about when he learned that the Vice President had shot a man. And now there are questions about when the President learned about this. Is there some sort of systematic issue here where information --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think there's a systematic over-analysis sometimes in this room, and I think that's over-interpreting things and drawing the wrong conclusions, Peter.

Q Will that be --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- false impression on each of those issues. I'll be glad to address each of those issues individually, but I think it's totally wrong to try to draw conclusions and over -- overanalyze this thing in that manner.

Q -- should be looked at in the report coming out tomorrow about information flow to the President during Katrina?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you will have the report tomorrow, and you'll hear the briefing tomorrow from Fran Townsend. You'll have an opportunity to ask her questions about it.
Was this a wise decision?
Q Thank you. Scott, my question is, was it really necessary or wise to issue the ports contract to a UAE company? Isn't it risky and taking a chance since many terrorists are believed to be in the UAE?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part of your question. Isn't it risky for this transaction to go forward, is that what your question is?

Q Yes, is it wise?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, for the reasons that I've stated throughout this very briefing. The President believes it should go forward because all the security issues were looked at...
Why not find an American Contractor to handle these contracts?
Q Scott, why was an American company not chosen for this job?

MR. McCLELLAN: This was a transaction involving a British company and a company from the UAE. And this company wanted to purchase this British-owned company, or purchase the terminal -- management of the terminals at these sites. And now they made a number of agreements in this process, too, as I pointed out. But you'd have to ask those American companies if they didn't want to purchase it. It doesn't change -- it doesn't change who controls the ports or who's in charge of security. So let's be clear on that.
This doesn't change the fact that the US Government does not have to support this transaction. Certainly, other bids can be sought for these contracts, but this is an Administration that is very familiar with the "no-bid" situation, isn't it?

Let's let Martha finish up for us. Indeed, if the President and the whole of the W, Rove and Co is telling us not to hold the UAE organization to a different standard, this is a legit question:
Q Just to clear up -- back on the ports again -- you said at one point, these additional measures that the company will take, security measures. Are they doing exactly the same thing at the British company did? Are these actually additional measures? Were they looked at in a different way?

MR. McCLELLAN: I understand in their agreement there were additional security measures that were reached with Dubai.

Q That the British didn't have to. Then why should you hold a company from the Middle East to a different standard?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about the transaction proceeding forward. The top priority of this administration is the safety and security of the American people, and that was a top priority when it went through this review process. But as we move forward, we look at these issues and look at these transactions, and there was an agreement reached with this company to provide those additional security -- those additional security -- those additional security assurances.

Q That went above and beyond what the British company had to do.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'll let the Department of Homeland Security or Treasury can probably talk more about specifics. Some of this, as I said, is proprietary information so I don't want to get further into it, but I don't think you can leap to that same conclusion. This transaction is going forward. They went through the process. Part of the process is that if you come to an agreement like this, you can put additional security measures in place.

Q So they were under greater scrutiny than the British company? They were held to a different standard?

MR. McCLELLAN: They were closely scrutinized --

Q They were held to a different standard than the British?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- through this review process. This review process provides for us to be able to reach agreements like this for transactions to move forward.

Q But, Scott, back again on -- so they were held to a different standard? The President is saying we should not hold a company from the Middle East to a different standard -- they, in fact, were?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's talking about the review process. If you go through the review process and all these issues are thoroughly addressed and thoroughly reviewed, and it poses no national security threat, we shouldn't be holding them to a different standard. So I think you're taking it to a different step than what I was suggesting.

Q Wait a minute. She's saying that the President who took the step of buttonholing every Cabinet agency involved in to say, are you sure we're not going to get in trouble -- presumably he did this because there were some questions about --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, he didn't say, are you sure we're not going to get in trouble. He said, are you comfortable with this transaction.

Q Are you sure that this is safe?


Q Right. What I'm saying is why did he do that if this was a company operating out of --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, to ensure these transactions proceeding forward. There's no national security threat you're concerned about.

Q Does he do that for every transaction?
Oh, and of course, they are going to skirt the answer to this question:
Q One final point about the ties that Treasury Secretary Snow and your nominee, Mr. Sanborn -- David Sanborn has to this company. Did that in any --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what Secretary Snow --

Q Well, CSX, where he was CEO, had port deals with Dubai Ports, as well.

MR. McCLELLAN: After he had left the company, is my understanding.

Q Okay. So in your view, is there any reason to suspect that ties -- administration ties to the company might have put this on a fast track in some fashion?

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. It went through the normal review process and was carefully checked.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Witness the Dichotomy: Let the Irony Unfold

Is any one else troubled by the dichotomous strategy by which the W, Rove and Co seems to want to protect us from terrorist attacks?

Here's one side: Warrant-less wiretaps that violate our Fourth Amendment Rights; where supposedly they are only monitoring conversations that involve an overseas connection.

Here's the other: Letting an Arabian Company run our ports; necessitating more overseas discourse with possible telephone conversations between domestic and arabic speaking people.
Q No, I'm sorry, the ports issue.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q But there clearly are members of your own party who will go to the mat against you on this.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q Why are you -- to make this, to have this fight?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't view it as a fight. I view it as me saying to people what I think is right, the right policy.

Q What's the larger message that you're conveying by sticking to this UAE contract, by saying that you're not going to budge on this, or you don't want to change policy?

THE PRESIDENT: There is a process in place where we analyze -- where the government analyzes many, many business transactions, to make sure they meet national security concerns. And I'm sure if you -- careful review, this process yielded a result that said, yes, a deal should go forward.

One of my concerns, however, is mixed messages. And the message is, it's okay for a British company, but a Middle Eastern company -- maybe we ought not to deal the same way. It's a mixed message. You put interesting words in your question, but I just view -- my job is to do what I think is right for the country. I don't intend to have a fight. If there's a fight, there is one, but nor do I view this as a political issue.

Q I say it because you said you'd be willing to use the veto on it.

THE PRESIDENT: I would. That's one of the tools the President has to indicate to the legislative branch his intentions. A veto doesn't mean fight, or politics, it's just one of the tools I've got. I say veto, by the way, quite frequently in messages to Congress.
I have a litany of questions for the W, Rove and Co:

A) Which is the right approach to protecting our borders from terrorists?

B) Which "solution" provides a bigger win-win situation for Americans?

C) Might they not have tried to find an American Company to run our ports?

D) My goodness, if we can federalize the TSA, can't we federalize the ports?

E) Is their any good to come out of either approach?

Incidentially, here's where the irony unfolds for me:
The transaction should go forward, in my judgment. If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward.
Isn't this the same man who asked us to trust him about his WMD assessment as the reason to invade Iraq? Right.

Playing Politics - It Ain't Tiddlywinks

I love it when politicians complain about people "playing politics," and then go ahead and catapult the propaganda in an effort to play politics. A recent post over at Pissed Off Patricia's location got my brain burning. Really, if you think about it, the recent ploy by the W, Rove and Co to co-opt the very liberal ideas of solar and wind and other alternative power sources is a very brilliant Rovian political ploy. Here's what I said in a comment over at PoP:
The W, Rove and Co is really trying to politically co-opt the liberal agenda in anticipation of having to spar with folks during the Aught Six elections. That's what this whole propoganda junket is all about. So, they can say, hey, we talked about solar, and wind...just like they said, "hey, we briefed members of Congress" on the illegal spying program. It mollifies the public, but certainly doesn't make it legal. They are executing a classic Rovian ploy to deflate the argument in anticipation of it being played.

Damn, they are not stupid, but brilliant political strategists. Playing politics all the time makes it seem like you are not playing politics.
Like NOLA crawfish who get put into cold water and the flame turned on, we must be carefully aware that the W, Rove and Co is not so stupid as they put us all into the pot and turn on the natural gas burner on us. We must stop them - before we are completely cooked - by following the money to expose where the W, Rove and Co's agenda truly lies.

Bleepin' Great

Found this video linked up via Bring It On. It's bleepin' great. Enjoy.

Today, I Agree With The President

Last afternoon yesterday, the Shrubster said this, to which I concur:
As most folks know, there's a lot of needless politics in Washington, D.C. There's a lot of finger pointing and a lot of zero-sum attitude amongst the people up there.
Sounds a lot like the vacuous style of blame game played by the Rovian strategists trying to co-opt another liberal idea - solar technology. But, I wonder to whom he is referring? If he doesn't name names, isn't he also playing politics? Certainly, as the latest assessment of the W, Rove and Co to come out of Congress stipulates, there is enough blame to stick to everyone in power. And, who's at the head of it there in DC?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Windspike's President's Day Challenge

Who's your favorite President?

List the reasons why in less than ten sentences in a comment to this post. Blog on all.

Why Wait Until 2007 to Upgrade the CAFE Standards?

Today, the Prez is gallivanting about on the taxpayer dime speechifying on issues such as this:
Some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments, or fundamental differences with the United States. These countries know we need their oil and that reduces influence. It creates a national security issue when we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us.

Energy is also part of our economic security, as well. That's obvious. I mean, the global demand for oil has been rising faster than supply because there's new economies that are beginning to gin up, new economies growing, like China and India. Oil prices rise sharply when demand is greater than supply. And when they do, it strains your budgets. It hurts our families, it hurts our small entrepreneurs. It's like a hidden tax. And so we're vulnerable to high prices of oil, and we're vulnerable to sudden disruptions of oil. What I'm telling you is oil -- the dependence upon oil is a national security problem, and an economic security problem. And here's what we intend to do about it.
If that is so - which he actually does have a point, a legit question would be when are we going to adjust and leverage the Cafe Standards to fix this problem?
Q Some of the critics say, though, that what you're proposing is all incentives, and that maybe you need to do some things like tighten up regulations and change the CAFE standards, and things like that. Why not pursue that approach, as well?

MR. HUBBARD: Well, as you know, we've recommended -- and there's going to be a CAFE increase for light trucks and -- and SUVs, right. That begins in 2007, and we proposed increasing it further after 2007. We don't control the -- we don't control the CAFE standards for automobiles. But we believe what's most important is -- well, number one is the high cost of fuel is encouraging people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. And secondly, what's most important is that we invest in technology so that the American people can continue with the lifestyles they currently have, purchasing fuel that is non-polluting and that comes from sources that are independent from unreliable foreign countries.
My question is if we want to get off mid-East oil, why wait until 2007? Is there a special lobbyist who needs to wine and dine some senators before the CAFE standards go up? Is it because this is an election year? Oh, and by the way, can any one interpret what Hubbard was saying in his answer? What does it mean?

Incidentally, we see the W, Rove and Co, once again, effectively sprinkle in some liberal agenda ideas lashing them to some very conservative ideas. Things like solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cells. But, if you want a review the priorities the W, Rove and Co regarding "new" energy, have a gander at the snazzy titled "Advanced Energy Initiative:"
However, several important elements of the President’s National Energy Policy remain to be addressed:

ANWR: The President continues to support Congressional action to authorize environmentally responsible oil and gas exploration within a small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) located in northern Alaska. Using modern technologies and subject to the world’s most stringent environmental protections, ANWR could produce as much as 1 million barrels of oil per day to help meet our future energy needs. Opening ANWR will also create tens of thousands of new jobs for American workers.

Refineries: Due to consolidation in the refining industry and increased demand for gasoline and diesel fuels, refineries have operated at more than 90% capacity in recent years. This has strained the existing refinery system, particularly during times of unforeseen disruptions, and led to high and volatile fuel prices. The President has called for new investments in refinery capacity, either through expansions at existing sites, or through construction of new facilities on former military sites. The President has expressed his desire to work with Congress on legislation to help accomplish this, and believes that we should develop a one-year, EPA-led permitting process that can provide expedited decisions while maintaining high environmental standards for review.

New Source Review: The New Source Review (NSR) permitting program creates regulatory uncertainty because it is inflexible, its applicability requirements are confusing, and it can impose high costs due to delays in the permit process. Such discouragement results in lost capacity, as well as lost opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce air pollution. As called for by the President’s National Energy Policy, EPA has continued a vigorous program of NSR improvements designed to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to modernization in the energy sector, thereby helping to address the extreme demands being placed on our Nation’s energy supply infrastructure. However, litigation has slowed the implementation of these rules. These rules should be adopted in legislation, so that private industry is encouraged to invest more quickly in upgrades that will make our energy sector more efficient and productive.

Offshore Oil and Gas: The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is a significant source of oil and gas for the Nation’s energy supply, providing more than 25 percent of the country’s natural gas production and more than 30 percent of total domestic oil production. Estimates of oil and gas resources in undiscovered fields on the OCS total 76 billion barrels of oil and 406 trillion cubic feet of gas. The President continues to support existing moratoria on OCS production where states do not wish such activity to occur off their immediate coasts. However, the President also supports increasing OCS production in cooperation with states that support such development.

Alaska Gas Pipeline: The North Slope of Alaska has an estimated 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is currently stranded due to the lack of a pipeline to transport it to market. At present, nearly all of the natural gas produced during oil production operations at Prudhoe Bay is reinjected and used to increase oil recovery. Approximately 3 billion cubic feet per day (equivalent to about 30% of current Gulf of Mexico production) could be brought to market through an Alaska natural gas pipeline. Although the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act signed by the President in 2004 contained numerous incentives for the industry and the State of Alaska to reach agreement on those items needed to build the pipeline, no agreement has been reached yet. The President continues to encourage all parties to resolve remaining issues as soon as possible, so that stranded gas resources from Alaska can soon be brought to the Lower 48 states.

Clear Skies: To ensure that we meet growing demand for electricity while protecting the environment, the President has called on Congress to enact Clear Skies legislation to cut power plant pollution of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and, for the first time, mercury by an unprecedented 70 percent. Clear Skies will significantly expand the Clean Air Act’s most innovative and successful program to further reduce emissions from more than 1300 power plants nationwide by as much as 9 million tons annually. Utilities will achieve these reductions by spending almost $50 billion on cutting-edge pollution abatement technology. Clear Skies will also help promote new investments in cleaner coal technologies.
Follow the money and you will see where the priorities lie.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Last Little Juicy Bits From Eleanor

I've finished and reluctantly set down Eleanor Roosevelt's memoir, "This I Remember." I can recommend it to you. You can tell why she was contracted to write a syndicated column in the newspapers of the day. Here are some of the remaining bits and pieces that will round out my lessons for the W, Rove and Co:

Starting on Page 49 - Frugality:
Franklin could see no sense in spending money in a restaurant when he had a home to eat in, and he had a lot of little economies. For example, he never paid more than two dollars for a shirt, and boasted when he found he could get one for $1.50, and he never would buy more than two pairs of shoes...
Page 61 - Politics:
This idea may seem preposterous but in political life you grow suspicious. The strategists on both sides weigh how far they can go without awakening the people a feeling that the rules of fair play have not been observed...

I remember vividly shaken with anger after an interview with an ambitious and intriguing man who, through gossip, had caused a fine public servant to resign because, true or false, the gossip and publicity would have hurt his family. This ambitious gentleman - call him X - had come to see Franklin to ask when he was going to be appointed to the new position he coveted. Franklin, deeply angry, said: "X, if I were St. Peter and you and Y came before me, I would say to Y, 'no matter what you may have done, you have hurt no one but yourself. I recognize human frailties. Come in.' But to you I would say, 'You have not only hurt another human being, but you have deprived your country of the services of a good citizen; and for that you can go straight to Hell!" The man turned and left the room and they never met again. When I saw Franklin shortly after this episode, he was still white with wrath...
Page 63 - On Rove's Slanderous Strategies:
All people in public life are subject to this type of slander. Circumstantial evidence can almost always be produced to make the stories that are circulated about their private lives seem probable to the people who want to believe them. A man who chooses to hold public office must learn to accept the slander as part of the job and to trust that the majority of the people will judge him by his accomplishments in the public service. A man's family has to learn to accept it also. In my husband's case, even his little dog, Fala, came in for his share of false accusations.
Page 321 - On Privilege:
I had a chat with a boy who was getting his last orders before leaving for India, where he would be flying the Hump - one of the most dangerous trips of all. He had just been home on leave, and told me that when flying low over some of the Midwestern country on his way back to a base near his home, he had looked down and said to himself: "I wish I could say to you people below me 'do you know how lucky you are? What wonderful lives you have? How rich is your security in comparison to the millions of people I have seen in India and China:'" He was one of the many boys who in India saw famine at first hand; I doubt if any of them will forget it.
Page 337 - On the cult of personality:
I was really worried about him that day, but instead of being completely exhausted he was exhilarated, after he had a chance to change his clothes and get a little rest. The crowds had been warm and welcoming and the contact with them was good for him. People seemed not to mind at all standing in the rain so long as they could get a glimpse of him as he waved at them. That must give anyone a very warm feeling. People love you when they believe you have done something really worth while for them, and there was not question the people of New York City had been telling him that day how much they cared. Men, women and children had stood for hours, and as far as I could tell it had made no difference that the sun was not shining.
Page 346 - On Death and Spirituality:
I am quite sure that Franklin accepted the thought of death as he accepted life. He had a strong religious feeling and his religion was a very personal one. I think he actually felt he could ask God for guidance and received it. That was why he loved the 23rd psalm, the Beatitudes, and the 13th Chapter of First Corinthians. He never talked about his religion or his beliefs and never seemed to have any intellectual difficulties about what he believed. Once, in talking to him about some spiritualist conversations which had been sent in to me (people were always sending me their conversations with the dead), I expressed a somewhat cynical disbelief in them. He said to me simply: "I think it is unwise to say you do not believe in anything when you can't prove that it is either true or untrue. There is so much in the world which is always new in the way of discoveries that it is wiser to say that there may be spiritual things which we are simply unable now to fathom. Therefore I am interested and have respect for whatever people believe, even if I can not understand their beliefs or share their experiences."

That seemed to me a very natural attitude for him to take. He was always open-minded about anything that came to his attention, ready to look into it and study it, but his own beliefs were the beliefs of a child grown to manhood under certain simple influences. He still held to the fundamental feeling that religion was an anchor and a source of strength and guidance, so I am sure that he died looking into the future as calmly as he had looked at all the events of his life.
Page 349 - And Finally:
All human beings have failings, all human beings have needs and temptations and stresses. Men and women who live together through long years get to know one another's failings; but they also come to know what is worthy of respect and admiration in those they live with and in themselves. If at the end one can say; "This man used to the limit the powers that God granted him; he was worthy of love and respect and of the sacrifices of many people, made in order that he might achieve what he deemed to be his task," then that life has been lived well and there are no regrets...I have come to believe that Franklin stands in the memory of people as a man who lived with a great sense of history and with a sense of obligation to fulfill his part as he saw it.

Lastly, I leave this post with the opening paragraphs of the plan for a "society of nations" the opening salvo that begun the united nations on page 353 and the first appendix to the book:
The United States of America views with anxiety the failure of the world either to restore order in the economic and social processes of civilization or to carry out the demand of the overwhelming majority that wars shall cease. We seek not to become involved as a nation in the purely regional affairs of groups of other nations, nor to give to the representatives of other peoples the right to compel us to enter upon the undertakings calling for or leading up to the use of armed force without our full and free consent, given through our constitutional procedure.

Nevertheless, we believe that the participation of the United States with the other nations in a serious and continuing effort to eliminate the causes of war, is not only justified but is called for by the record of our history, by our own best interests, and chiefly by our high purpose to help mankind to better things.

So believing, it is our duty to confer with other peoples, not in gatherings hastily summoned in time of threatened crises, but in continuing permanent society. In such a way only can we assist in improving the underlying ills which contain the germs of war. In such a way only can we assist when nations, losing reason, take up the sword.
Perhaps this is what Kerry meant when suggesting the Iraq invasion should have stood a stronger, global test? After all, the reasons for invading Iraq have all proven false.

Economic Hit Men

Did you know there was such a thing as Economic Hit Men? Certainly, their existence is not beyond the stretch of believability. I was listening to "Work with Marty Nemko" this Am and he was interviewing John Perkins. The realaudio is not up yet over at Nemko's location. But here's a slice from another interview:
John Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.

20 years ago Perkins began writing a book with the working title, "Conscience of an Economic Hit Men."

Perkins writes, "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.

John Perkins goes on to write: "I was persuaded to stop writing that book. I started it four more times during the next twenty years. On each occasion, my decision to begin again was influenced by current world events: the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1980, the first Gulf War, Somalia, and the rise of Osama bin Laden. However, threats or bribes always convinced me to stop."
I think I'm going to put his book on my must read list. One question for bloggers: Is this really how our government works?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

When Liberal Notions are Lashed to Conservative Ideas

The W, Rove and Co are experts at propaganda. You have got to hand it to them there. They have built a stellar catapult for that. Another of their strengths is their ability to use the bully pulpit to paint wide swaths of good individuals as bad, or even more slanderously, as traitorous, treasonous, non-patriots. But beyond the lies, the mismanagement (otherwise known as presidential malpractice), the shoddy responses to numerous national and personal disasters, the W, Rove and Co's slippery, and I would suggest sleazy, political strategy really works to trick people into supporting things that they ordinarily wouldn't.

Take for example, today's presidential radio address. Here we see the president spending more money on another new initiative - and they say they are for small, not big government. Really, let's be honest here. What the W, Rove and Co is really all about is small government that helps ordinary people and big government that benefits them and their pals in whatever industry they are trying to prop up. Which leads to another question aside: Why can't repulicans hold their own to their tirelessly espoused and documented standards, ethics and morals?

All that aside, what the W, Rove and Co works to do is lift up an otherwise very bad idea (supposedly conservative) by lashing it to several high minded, and fairly - dare I type it - liberal notions. But if you look at where the president is saying he will appropriate the funds, you see that one is part of the real agenda. The rest is fluff to make that expense look good.

When you read through the slice below, ask yourself why nuclear power? Why not 120 million of solar power advancements and another 120 million for wholly green vehicles leaving another 10 million for research on new technologies that don't leave toxic residue? Or for that matter, why is W not forcing legislation that pushes a higher MPG in the CAFE standards - which doesn't take any additional taxpayer dollars at all?
To meet these challenges, my Administration has announced a bold new proposal called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Under this partnership, America will work with nations that have advanced civilian nuclear energy programs, such as France, Japan, and Russia. Together, we will develop and deploy innovative, advanced reactors and new methods to recycle spent nuclear fuel. This will allow us to produce more energy, while dramatically reducing the amount of nuclear waste and eliminating the nuclear byproducts that unstable regimes or terrorists could use to make weapons.

As these technologies are developed, we will work with our partners to help developing countries meet their growing energy needs by providing them with small-scale reactors that will be secure and cost-effective. We will also ensure that these developing nations have a reliable nuclear fuel supply. In exchange, these countries would agree to use nuclear power only for civilian purposes and forego uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. My new budget includes $250 million to launch this initiative. By working with other nations under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, we can provide the cheap, safe, and clean energy that growing economies need, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation.

As we expand our use of nuclear power, we're also pursuing a broader strategy to meet our energy needs. We're investing in technologies like solar and wind power and clean coal to power our homes and businesses. We're also investing in new car technologies like plug-in hybrid cars and in alternative fuels for automobiles like ethanol and biodiesel.
If you are really going to "invest" in solar, wind and other clean/green energies, it wouldn't be on the same list as coal and it would have a dollar figure attached as an appropriation, no? But, I guess that is what happens when liberal notions are lashed to conservative ideas: Follow the money, not the rhetoric. It tells the whole story.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Life at 60 MPH

Just testing to see how I can get my image uploaded as a gravitar to various locations. This is me out on the 1 Dec 2005 - with gusts to 60 MPH. Yup, it was a hair on fire, hang on for dear life day - and more fun than Hugh Hefner has at one of his parties.

What Many Are Thinking and Some are Wishing

Image by Neil Shakespeare.

Have a look at the three series set of images over at Neil's location. I think it says more than three thousand words.

Perhaps Scotty McMessage McClellan needs to have a gander to see if he really can or cannont justifiably "speak" for the American people.

When Hollywood Gets it Right, There's No Need for a Sequel

Netflix rocks. But aside from that, I had Tim Robbins' film "Bob Roberts" sitting next to the television for days waiting for a moment to watch. No late fees! If I had done this with our old corner video store, I would have had to pay fees equivalent to the cost three times the DVD purchase price.

Anyway, as I was watching the film, which was shot in the early nineteen nineties, and was periodically struck with the eerie sense that Robbins was predicting the future by telling a story for the present. I had watched it long ago when it was in theaters and found it side-splittingly funny. Last night, I found it to be a sad statement about how it really is - morose in a way that comedy can be when it is spot-on true. Check this paraphrase (as close to a quote as I could get) out from most of the way through the film:
The corruption is so deep they send soldiers to war to protect their prurient business interests.
Then, as I am want to do, I clicked on the "out takes" feature on the main menu. The very last
segment of this deleted scenes section was both eerie and troubling as it was a strong statement that resonates for today's government. I'm not going to tell you what it was, but am going to conduct a first for Educational Whisper: I'm giving y'all a homework assignment! Let's call this:
Windspike's Fun Political Homework for the Weekend

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to:

A- Rent the film "Bob Roberts" from your favorite purveyor of films (DVD with outtakes a must).

B - Watch the film (note Jack Black in a very young role...along with some other noteworthy celeb types).

C - After watching the film click on the "out takes" segment in the special features component. Skim through the batch, and make sure you watch the closing soliloquy from the "senator" defeated by Bob in the film. You may want to watch it twice to absorb the powerful sentence or two.

D - After doing all the above, come on back and tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment to this post.
This post will self destruct in thirty seconds after the NSA taps it for subversive content.

Enjoy and Blog on All.

Let the Presidential Love Fest Begin

I don't know how the W, Rove and Co keep landing in the front of their own choir, but hey, here's today's Qs from the Q & A portion of today's Taxpayer supported Presidential Propoganda fest. Really, I nearly fell over in my chair when I read through these questions. The W Lovefest starts at the outset of the Q & A and keeps rolling. Carefull you don't fall off your chair reviewing these (oh, and I didn't include the answers provided by the Shrubmeister as I don't want to be one to help "catapult the propoganda").
The President...Okay. That's what's on my mind. Now, what's on yours? Yes, sir. Go ahead and yell it.

Q Mr. President, I just wanted to take an opportunity to tell you I think our country is blessed to have you as our President.

Q We are very thankful that you don't make your decisions based on the polls, like previous Presidents have.

Q And my comment is, is that I'm a homebuilder. I'm very happy right now.

Q But I wanted to just keep you apprised that things are good now, the economy is good, interest rates are low. There are people that still can't afford homes in our country today. Affordable housing is very important. We, as homebuilders -- I served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Homebuilders.

Q We'll be up in Washington in about a month or so to see you guys. But we're concerned with the environment just as much as anyone else is, and -- but there's got to be a balance to make sure that we can develop land and provide homes -- affordable homes. And also Congress is working on some things now that has an effect on financing and interest rates for people buying their first homes. And let's make sure that we have affordable homes for people.

My daughter is a school teacher here in Tampa, and it's important to people like her, people that protect us -- the fire department, the sheriffs, they need homes. The times are good now, and I was a builder when your friend, Jimmy Carter, was President, and interest rates weren't so good back then, and those were tough times. And I just want to tell you that I'm blessed to be here today with you in this room, and we all love you. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, you mentioned a trip next week to visit the sources of renewable additional technology to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We have a not-so-renewable resource, which is our precious Florida coastline. And because of your great brother, we do have an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent. How can you work with us to protect our Florida shoreline with respect to offshore drilling?

Q I'm from Winter Garden in the central part of the state.

Q Pressed into service by your brother, Honorable Jeb Bush.

Q I thought about calling him to ask him if he'd like to have the job back.

Q The concerns from the central part of the state is, we've got a really unprecedented growth rate there in the middle part. The challenge is for mass transportation to free us from the oil that you talk about. Unfortunately, the proportionate share of funding that we're able to secure seems to be tied into pork barrel like light rail, which -- Congressman Mica needs to buy into the fact that it's not realistic. So how do we get free from that so we can get direct funding for mass transit?

Q Mr. President, welcome back to Tampa.

Q And my question is, you've talked a lot about our addiction to oil today. You've also talked about advanced alternative fuel sources, in particular for household vehicles as a potential mitigant to that dilemma. But we have a very robust industrialized economy -- air, rail, shipping, trucking -- that has depended on oil, frankly, for generations to be successful and vibrant. So my question is, how do we maintain the most advanced industrialized economy on Earth, and actually reduce our dependency on oil going forward?

Q -- it seems to me that we are facing in this country -- I've had the opportunity to interface with people of Muslim countries, and the war is bad enough, and I applaud what you're doing, because freedom is important, but what concerns me is if the youth in these nations are being taught that you and I and us Americans are, in fact, the devil incarnate, or Satan, himself -- I guess my question is, what can we do about that, to win over the people, the children, the youth, so that the next generation will not be facing the same dilemma? I think this is an incredible problem.

Q I know that you and First Lady Bush have talked much about our hurting generation of teens and our unproductive teens in our communities. Just wanted you to talk a little bit about the efforts being made with the work that you're doing in initiatives --

Q -- that will help that.

Q Mr. President, it's an honor to be here with you today, and I thank you so much for the time that you take to share with us. I'm a 40-year-old father of a three-year-old.

Q And I'm also an adopted child. And it seems that, anymore, through the results of legislation from the bench, that maybe the unsafest place for a child in this country is in his or her mother's womb. And my question for you is -- and I commend you for your Supreme Court picks. I thank you for your bold stance in who you picked -- (applause) -- my question is, with my son, this is the future of America. And my question is, where do you believe we're headed? Long after your term of serving us has ended, long after we've had other Presidents serve this country, where do you think we're headed in the areas of abortion, the areas of traditional marriage, in the areas of faith and the foundations that this country was founded upon that are so under attack anymore? Where do you believe we're going?

Q Thank you for being our President. We are all way better off and very safe --

Q Thank you.

Q We appreciate it. How do you -- earlier you shared with us some intimacy about how you make decisions, and I felt that was heartfelt. How do you keep it together? What do you really think about when the biggest story this week was Dick Cheney's hunting trip, and not Al Gore blasting our troops and being treasonous in his regard to this war on terror in the Middle East? (Applause.) How do you keep it together?

Q In light of national security, some of us baby boomers are going to retire in the next three to five years.

Q And the number of people replacing us is only at about 63 percent. So what are we going to do with immigration to make sure we have enough people to fill those positions?


Q I did not do that.

Q It's a small part of the world, but it's very important to me -- I'm concerned about the children in northern Uganda who are the victims of the rebel Joseph Kony. And I'm wondering if you can bring any pressure to bear on President Museveni to stop that 20-year war and free those children from the bondage that they're under.

The President - All right, I've got to go. Thanks for your time. God bless. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

END 2:44 P.M. EST
It's astonishing isn't it. Not a single challenging question in the whole lot. What's the country coming to?