In his State of the Union address, President Bush told his Iraq critics, "Hindsight is not wisdom and second-guessing is not a strategy." His comments are understandable. Much of the Iraq fiasco can be directly attributed to Bush's shortcomings as a leader. Having decided to invade Iraq, he failed to make sure there was adequate planning for the postwar period. He never settled bitter policy disputes among his principal aides over how postwar Iraq would be governed; and he allowed competing elements of his administration to pursue diametrically opposed policies at nearly the same time. He used jobs in the Coalition Provisional Authority to reward political loyalists who lacked professional competence, regional expertise, language skills, and, in some cases, common sense. Most serious of all, he conducted his Iraq policy with an arrogance not matched by political will or military power. These shortcomings have led directly to the current dilemmas of the US both in Iraq and with Iran. Unless the President and his team—abetted by some oversight from Congress— are capable of examining the causes of failure in Iraq, it is hard to believe he will be able to manage the far more serious problem with Iran.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Back in the run up to the election in 2004, Bu$h spoke in Wilks-Barre Pennsylvania, with the trancript provided to us via CNN. Bu$h said,
Our differences are also clear on issues of national security. When I took office in 2001 ... Since that day we have waged a global campaign to protect the American people and bring our enemies to account. Our government has trained over a half a million first responders. We tripled spending on homeland security. Law enforcement intelligence have better tools to stop terrorists thanks to the Patriot Act -- which Senator Kerry voted for, but now wants to weaken. The Taliban regime that sheltered Al Qaida is gone from power and the people of Afghanistan will vote in free elections this very week. ... A black market network that provided weapons materials to North Korea and Libya and Iran is now out of business. ... After September the 11th, America had to assess every potential threat in a new light. Our nation awakened to an even greater danger: the prospect that terrorists who killed thousands with hijacked airplanes would kill many more with weapons of mass murder. We had to take a hard look at everyplace where terrorists might get those weapons and one regime stood out: the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. ... We'll confront governments that support terrorists and could arm them, because they're equally guilty of terrorist murder. ...In our debate, Senator Kerry said that removing Saddam Hussein was a mistake because the threat was not imminent. The problem with this approach is obvious: If America waits until a threat is at our doorstep, it might be too late to save lives. ... My opponent has also announced the Kerry doctrine, declaring that Americans actions in the war on terror must pass a global test.Under this test, America would not be able to act quickly against threats because we're sitting around waiting for our grade from other nations and other leaders.I have a different view. America will always work with allies for security and peace, but the president's job is not to pass a global test. The president's job is to protect the American people. ... This mindset will paralyze America in a dangerous world. I will never hand over America's security decisions to foreign leaders and international bodies that do not have America's interests at heart. ... I wake up every morning thinking about how to make our country more secure. I have acted again and again to protect our people. I will never relent in defending America whatever it takes.
Apparently now that Bu$hCo has some financial interests in play for his Big Mule backers we'll see the subtle side. And it may be that this arrangement is appropriate. Still, given how Bu$h has lived in a black and white world and painted with such a broad brush I hope to see the Progressive community make him squirm. Bu$hCo will readily shred civil liberties guaranteed by the "goddamned piece of paper" in his post-9-11 world plus invade a country that is no threat to the United States yet when money is at stake then he tries the intellectual approach!
As for other resources on this issue ... Digby sends us to Robert Parry for a connection with the assassins of Lebanon's former PM perhaps escaping through the UAE. Katrina vanden Heuvel gives us "The Truth about Dubya and Dubai" focusing on the failures to enact real security reform and also the role of corporate profits for any Bu$hCo decision. Marty Kaplan, posting at HuffPo, works with W's "my" government describing it not as a Freudian slip but rather an Orwellian siren. Common Dreams' Kevin Phillips gives us "The Barreling Bushes" that provides detailed insights into the apparent entanglements of the family with Mideastern power structures. Michael Smerconish, often an apologist for Bu$hCo, writing at HuffPo today however, sends us to page 138 of the 9-11 Commission report suggesting that the UAE might have prevented the US from killing Bin Laden back in 1999. Larry Johnson at No Quarter tells us that Dubai World Ports hardly has a solid record on contraband. While the Captain hates to link to the Moonie Times, this article points out the dueling interests of this committee vetting the deal. I feel somewhat the same hesitancy about the National Review yet Andrew McCarthy gives abuse to the left and right in "The Politically Correct vs. the Politically Ridiculous: No heroes in the port drama". Think Progress has suggested that Bu$hCo did not complete the 45 day investigation required by CFIUS. Nor was Treasury Secretary John Snow even present for the meetings as required by the CFIUS laws. He's the Chairman and he wasn't there? So out of Bu$h, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Snow ... none knew of the deal until it was hitting the papers this week?
This seems like a classic Bu$hCo disaster and might indeed be a tipping point for much of middle America. Worst administration ever! Peace ... or War!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I think I detected a flash of anger in Jeffy B. when I mentioned his failed appointment to the federal bench in 1986. I got this reminder in via the context of telling the Senator I was still smarting over seeing Justice Alito reach the Supreme Court. No, I didn’t call Judge Alito “Stripsearch Sammy”. As for the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised to see even some local established Republicans express displeasure with Bu$hCo on energy, the UAE/Dubai port issue, health care, etc. Senator Sessions took exception with any suggestion that the military was broken and assured the crowd the troops would not be over there a day longer than necessary. Apparently he has not read much on the apparently clear fact that several massive permanent (of course Bu$hCo is a master of framing so they don’t use the p-word) super bases are being built in Iraq. He did say that his common sense suggested that the UAE/Dubai plant deal was not wise, offering that if Dr. Bill Frist wanted the votes that he’d get them. Of course he might have forgotten about the asbestos trust fund bill, another item that was supported by Senator Sessions.
I did not have time to ask many questions or press the Senator as I’d have liked yet it was good to see a consistent apologist for Bu$hCo in the flesh. No surprises in the meeting. Sessions was perfectly polite, relatively well spoken, and apparently smarter than his President, although that is hardly a high standard. That being said I could easily crack both he and W quickly under cross. I hope to be able to push Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representative Rogers and … on any issues where they do not support the Progressive ideals that can still perhaps save our country. However, here in Alabama my main effort will be toward framing the issues and intelligence in a way to connect for our many "values" voters. These guys have some serious money and it will take a whole lot to get them out of DC. Peace … or War
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The most remarkable thing about the old dog, and he was a legend around our place, is that we had a rather set routine to our feeding where we'd usually head first to feed the pastures at "the back place". The old dog learned, despite his damaged faculties, that he could cut across one field, cross a dam to a pond, run through some planted pines behind my oldest sister's house, and get to that first back place pasture about the time we did by taking the paved and then dirt road. It was maybe a fourth of a mile as the crow flies and a third as the dog dashes but a mile over the roads. Of course at times we broke the pattern, admittedly enjoying the idea that the hound had been fooled. Yet regardless of our getting there at the same time as the old dog (or an hour or longer later) this mutt was so loopy that it thought it had done some amazing stunt. He was so very pleased with himself that he had beat us to the back place that it mattered not if he'd been there all day. Since my Old Daddy checked the cows several times a day we never found out if the dog would have just stayed should we have not finally arrived on the scene. He was a simple creature indeed and was missed when he finally met his maker. I think the meeting came via a Ford Crown Vic that lived up the road. This dog was certainly due!
I've truly often used the expression "crazy as a ran over dog" when I speak or write of Ann Coulter. Yet last night when I saw her on Faux News with Vannity Hannity and Cowardly Colmes I saw that old dog's same eyes and expression. Reincarnated as Ann Coulter? The damn dog deserved better! Nodding her head, flipping that hair, rolling those googly eyes, she's bent more than a bit. But she's that same crazy run over dog. Ann is always seemingly so happy that she is able to say something outrageous. She loves to chase cars and could seemingly care less about where she runs to ... or under. She's like the old dog in that she just can't help it. Run through the brambles and just wait Ann. Think you are outsmarting everybody. Be so very proud of yourself. Pat yourself on the head and better yet get your adoring masses to keep buying and booking to show you your merit. I'd rather them spend those Bu$hCo tax breaks on your narrow ass and mind than on somebody with more in the game than just being able to chase a damn car. We'll enjoy or at worst tolerate the shows you'll put on and perhaps even look back on your loopiness with some measure of nostalgia. "Grandpa, tell us about that woman that was crazy as a run over dog."
Until then, I'll just send you to News Hounds for the rough summary/transcript of the Faux session and respond to some of the distractions and dirty dealings of Hannity and Coulter. I have not offered up Alec Baldwin or Richard Dreyfuss as spokespersons for the left and yet I can hear and follow some of their logic. Seldom do these Faux News regulars do that much for me. Ann and Sean can roll out "undermine the troops" and "pre 9-11 mindset" and the talking points with Rovian discipline as a big part of the Mighty Wurlitzer yet they can seldom if ever have a reasoned discussion. Ann Coulter tried to drag in Robert Wright's NYT Editorial "The Silent Treatment" and then misquote, with I think a little help from Hannity, the ideas he offered. Robert Wright works out of the New America Foundation and if nothing else I've discovered a nice resource. Thanks Ann! Part of this outfits mission statement, with my emphasis added, reads:
Powerful forces - from rapid technological change to massive demographic shifts, from economic globalization to terrorism - are remaking America. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a robust public debate, one that does justice to the complex challenges and opportunities of this unfolding era. Yet there remains a dearth of new thinking on both sides of the political divide, as well as a lack of investment in developing the creative young minds most capable of crafting new public policy solutions.
No, I guess you don't get it Ann. Complex, creative, robust debate, ... You'd just rather chase cars! Go deal with your potential felony for voting in the wrong polling station. Go offend even moderate Muslims with your frequent racist remarks using "jihad monkey, camel jockey,and/or tent merchant". Or use "raghead" as eventually you'll alienate enough folks, even some of the wingnut fringe, so perhaps we can put and leave you out to pasture. And take that Surly Sean with you when he gets back trying to save the Sinking Senator Santorum ... who just got nailed by American Prospect for his $643,361 McMansion outside of DC. It Takes a Family and Good Neighbors indeed.
The back place for you all! Peace ... or War.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Glenn Greenwald reminds us that the FISA/NSA oversight issue is hardly over and in fact may just be heating up. While I’m sure Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, whom I might actually try to visit with on Wednesday when he come near the Highlands, will cover for Bu$hCo. I certainly will be tempted to ask Jefferson Beauregard about Stormie and now also Scarlotte. Jeffy is apparently THE MAN! You know what they say about men with big ears. And puppets!
Kos sends us to Simon Rosenberg for “It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the GOP” and Kos’ Georgia10 hits Bu$hCo on the United Arab Emirates’s Dubai Ports World purchasing, for 6.8 billion, the keys to several major East Coast ports.
Michelle Pelicki posting at HuffPo reminds us that Ann Coulter is a liar. Angry Ann’s recent “raghead” remarks earned her a bit of a scolding from Michelle Malkin, another flamethrowing ReThuglican shrill in a skirt, and yet Ann keeps cashing in enough to be able to afford Palm Beach property. Why doesn't Ms. Coulter live in the good old Heartland Red States that she professes to value so much?
Josh Eidelson serves up, via TPM Café, a nice piece on Bu$hCo’s “fair weather federalism” showing us how this administration, prompted by one of many conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, has actively encouraged limits on state power that threaten the pocketbooks of the Big Mules. This Eidelson work tied in nicely with a Nathan Newman and David Sirota In These Times article that dropped today reminding us how the business interests are hemming up progressive efforts at the state level. Big money has a firm hand on many of the states just in case their hold at the federal level starts to slip. I am very interested in Progressive Legislative Action Network, an organization set to launch soon that might help counter this effort.
Peace … or War.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson’s reasoning on the idea that a private store could be mandated to carry a product seems flawed at the very least for those areas where Wal-Mart is essentially the only resource. Maybe Jon Stewart was right to call him a “dick” yet I’ll go with Dana Stevens calling him a “weenie”. Returning to my young scholars’ ignorance, in one class I played a clip of Carlson doing the above “interview”, being shown as we struggled with the construct of federalism, with many of my kids thinking Tucker was kicking butt. I thought it interesting that a good number of my especially goofy kids believed Tucker was “winning” the discussion when it seemed to me he would veer away from or simply talk over arguments that did not suit him. All too typical I’d suggest.
This morning the LA Times gave us commentary by Anne Lamott, who is admittedly a bit of a nut from what I’ve gathered in her Christianity Today interview and likely irreverent and cranky from this Sojourners piece, titled “The Rights Of the Born” where she writes, in part, the following:
… Plus I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies — some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for — when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the current administration. Most women like me would much rather use our time and energy fighting to make the world safe and just and fair for the children we do have, and do love — and for the children of New Orleans and the children of Darfur. I am old and tired and menopausal and would mostly like to be left alone. I have had my abortions, and I have had a child. But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women is a crucial part of that. It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society. …Here in the South, and increasingly across the “Red States”, we often don’t see faith associated with affirmations of a woman’s right to choose. Here is one organization that does: The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice There are others and yet this one seems to be solid enough to merit a link.
Terminating a pregnancy is a terrible choice and surely adoption might be the most immediate way to resolve a poorly planned pregnancy whenever this is possible. And making it commonly possible can be a legitimate goal for us all. I recall handling an adoption at the time of a child’s birth. What a grand feeling for an attorney and one which I hope to feel again. Also, resolving social/economic conditions where abortion is not viewed as the only realistic option for a women is perhaps the ultimate solution. Sex education built exclusively or mostly around abstinence is foundationally flawed!
For many years, and now as Captain Plaid, I've resolved this quandary firmly on the side of a woman making her own reproductive decisions. Given how this issue has often wedged our voters, often those that really need some relief from the Big Mules, into pulling the lever for the Bu$hCo cabal and others that have in no way helped resolve real issues of poverty and justice and … makes it critical that the issue be taken on directly. Peace … or War.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
“Clearly, we need to improve our public diplomacy and information age communication in the Muslim world,” Kennedy said in a statement. “But nothing has done more to encourage increased al-Qaida recruitment and made America less safe than the war in Iraq and the incompetent way it’s been managed. Our greatest failure is our policy.”
Why is Rummy still in this disaster of an administration? His relationship with Dead Eye Dick likely is the start of the explanation. We know Bu$h hates to admit a mistake and that his White House tends to rewards loyalty above experience or competency yet surely there’s a tipping point even for W. This week we’ve seen yet another illustration of how The Veep is often seemingly in charge in this administration. Earlier in the week I was telling some folks (unfortunately hemmed up with me when national news came up!) that Dick selected Dick (In this link, John Dean, and indeed my old Daddy is spinning in his grave that I’d refer to a minion of Tricky Dick, urges attention be given to the minority report Congressman Cheney gave the House on the Iran-Contra hearings back in 1987!). My colleagues, "learned educators" that they are, were surprised by this fact. Of course 50% of our citizenry was clueless enough, at least per Diebold, to send this cabal back for another four years.
I am almost certain most Americans don’t know the long history of Rummy and the Snarling Scattergunner. Here is just one image via materials apparently housed in part at the University of Texas. The Ford Presidential Library and Museum is at Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan where Gerald Ford bumped heads, possibly too hard, on the gridiron for the Wolverines before heading off to Yale to eventually earn a law degree. Something is bothering me (Is the Captain getting conspiratorial?) about this conduit though Texas yet I guess it is just that the LBJ is at Texas so the Horns get their own gateway.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National gives us (Isn’t it interesting that we have to go aboard to find this sort of thing? Even here in the Highland sticks the Bubbas and Bubbettes can stumble across Big Fat Idiot and Snarly Sean and …) an interview where Cheney is described as Rummy’s protégé. Stan Correy on a Background Briefing, from back in the day, actually just in May of 2003, gives us a long transcript of some conversations on Dead Eye and Rummy with Victor Davis Hanson and Brookings’ Peter W. Singer and Defense Policy Board’s Ken Adelman and … Wil Hylton (who tore into this pair in Esquire with his “Dick and Don go to War” piece from 2002 that I can't link to unfortuantely) that is just fascinating. Here is just one section:
Stan Correy: Lingering conservative ill feeling hampered Rumsfeld’s reform agenda when he got the job of Secretary of Defense in early 2001.
Wil Hylton: Bush Senior hated Rumsfeld so much that he prevented Rumsfeld from being in any kind of significant role during the entire Reagan term of eight years, and Bush Senior’s term of four years. So for 12 years, followed by another 8 years of the Clinton Administration, Rumsfeld had absolutely no voice, plus preceding the Reagan Administration, Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, was in office. So now it’s something like 24 years where Rumsfeld was out of Washington. Then he shows up in Washington and it’s hardly surprising that he didn’t have a lot of allies at that point.
Stan Correy: His only ally was his younger protégé, Vice President Dick Cheney, who arm-twisted the Bush camp to give Rumsfeld the job of Defense Secretary. It was Cheney that Wil Hylton was concentrating on for his Esquire profile in September 2001. Rumsfeld was the supporting act, but then history intervened.
Dick arm-twisted. I’m shocked, shocked! At least he didn’t shoot anybody!
Rolling Stone also has a fascinating view into Cheney from back in 2004. The Apocalyptic image, which was part of the 2004 Rove campaign strategy and yet also his long history of mistaken views as blogged by The Nation’s John Nichols, accompanying the story of Dead Eye and Rummy and … is worth a visit. I think I saw some if this T.D. Allman piece a few years back but damned if it doesn’t resonate even more after last weekend brought Dead Eye fully back in the public eye. PBS-FrontLine and The Washington Post gave us “Rummy’s War” a while back that is worth a visit as well. If formicating, and yes fellatio does count, can be how the ReThuglicans wiggled back into the White House then a bungled bird hunt might be a chance to remind the American public that Bu$hCo principals have a whole heap of ‘splaining to do. Whittington’s wounds and Dead Eye’s delays become a metaphor maybe? Might be a way to start to break through to Joe and Jill Sixpack yet we've still got to offer an alernative to the DLC's Republican Lite.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is likewise showing her ineptness and misperceptions yet she’s being dangled as a response to Hateful Hil. Dr. Rice can fall back on academia, where our stakes aren’t as high, as her reputation is not yet fully trashed. Rummy has made tons with Tamiflu! And Dick can go back to Halliburton. Rummy might get him on with ABB in Switzerland which built nuclear reactors for North Korea back when Rummy was on their Board. Tricky Dick 2.0 can be even closer there to one of his hunting buddies Mrs. Pamela Willeford where she serves the diplomatic interests of our nation with Switzerland and Lichtenstein. He can’t think of a more beautiful setting except for “perhaps my own valley in the Grand Tetons”. So he’s a Tetons man? And he has his very own valley? His own little piece of Halliburton Heaven!
Worst administration ever! Best cabal ever! Peace … or War!
Friday, February 17, 2006
Bush is seeking another $68 billion for Iraq (and a little for Afghanistan). This thing is costing each American thousands of dollars. And it is certainly making the US less secure over time. Bush's terrorism incubator in Iraq has already produced an increase in the sophistication of guerrilla attacks in Afghanistan. Now UPI says that the more canny techniques are even showing up among rebels in southern Thailand! The world will be living with the aftermath of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib for decades.If you are interested in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole, and bless your hard heart if you aren’t, then be sure to check back with Dr. Cole often. Then there’s also Iraq Coaltition Casualty Count. 2272 US soldiers dead and 16,653 wounded as of this post. Thousands of innocent Iraqis killed and maimed! Worst administration ever! Peace … or War!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Architect, Metrosexual Mehlman, Dead Eye Dick, and the balance of Bu$hCo however have apparently decided to try a little jujitsu on the NSA/FISA issue and are gradually picking off or co-opting those in the GOP that have dared question Our Leader’s commitment to that “just a goddamned piece of paper”. Glenn Greenwald and Peter Daou have given the Progressive community a great focus on how reason and facts are being replaced with labeling and the like from especially the right-wing fringe. Truly I must work very hard to find a real “conservative” that can defend Bu$hCo from what seems like an honest intellectual standpoint. Lately the right leaning people I know simply can’t so they avoid or attack. Wonder where they learned that one? Libertarian slanted folks are bailing out on him more and more and yet the Mighty Wurlitzer stands ready already to take out Hagel types. Old Arlen is now in a lobbyist mess of his own, one involving his own appropriations aide and her defense industry lobbyist husband, so he’ll either put down the Kool Aid in order to try the moderate reformer approach or belly up to bar in the hope the true believers will save his hide. He got Stripsearch Sammy and John Roberts through the Senate so he's got some chits to burn.
I’ve renewed my lapsed membership in the ACLU and intend to rant and rave about my civil liberties every chance I get. Bu$hCo and his next reincarnation, probably Virginia’s George Allen (Lovely wife and kids at least so the Librarian and her Bu$h twins can exit stage left!) from a very early guess, might very well have Diebold and The Supremes covering them yet Congress can at least slow down this cabal long enough to give The Constitution a chance. The Big Mules have installed Our Leader and they'll have a hard time turning away from the trough. George Version 2.0? Peace … or War!
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Bloomberg reminds us, from an April article, that cheap, docile workers might be more important to many GOP donors than having healthy workers.
Restaurants such as Tampa, Florida-based Outback Steakhouse Inc. and Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. support changes to the law that would allow them to fill empty positions with immigrants and provide a way for those illegally in the country now to get legal documentation, said Lee Culpepper, senior vice president for public policy at the National Restaurant Association in Washington.
Serious schism in the GOP over immigration looming yet I’d bet the Big Mules win this battle, all the while using their brainwashed branchheads to stay in power. And then they'll blame the left and mainstream media for the problem. Peace … or War!
David Cloud of the NYT tells us of the Lincoln Group of DC, owned by young pups Christian Bailey (originally Jozefowicz) and Paige Craig, that has won multi-million dollar contracts to develop propaganda in Iraq. A rags to riches story built on fudged connections and shoddy work. From living in a “half-renovated Washington group house, with a string of failed startup companies behind them”, one now has a million-dollar G-town crib and the other drives a Jag. They have office space on PA Avenue and they sponsor polo matches in Virginia! CNN Money covers them as well wondering how this PR firm will salvage their own media mess. That the group has massaged their Republican contacts into big bucks is likely no surprise.
The hall of shame champion is David H. Brooks of DHB Industries (defective body armor maker with shareholder derivative suits pending) throwing a ten million dollar bat mitzvah for his thirteen year old daughter. Pictures are here. Common Dreams’ Sarah Anderson is certainly not happy with any of these war profiteers.
Some Senators, at least those not controlled by Karl Rove, weren’t that happy with Secretary Rice today on Iraq and ….
And we can't leave out Dead Eye Dick's Halliburton! A joke floating around today is that Kellog, Brown and Root got the contract to dig the lead out of Counselor Whittington.
Peace ... or War! And it will be a brutal battle to attack avarice!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Snotty Scotty was left out of the loop as was most of the White House it would seem. One has to wonder if too many Shiner Bocks had been tipped. Or did Dick trip? Did the Secret Service really stall the fuzz in their efforts to talk to Big Dick? Why let the well-connected female landowner spill the beans many hours later? What about newly minted Ambassador Pam Willeford, AKA Swiss Miss, being there to boot? When if ever will the press, and no OxiRush and Vanity Hannity don't count, get a crack at the Veep?
Still, the never ending harm to our world delivered by Bu$hCo and the ReThugs seems a touch ignored. Dick's Aaron Burr moment is likely no more than a distraction. Raw Story reports, with admittedly little certain sourcing, an interesting tidbit on Valerie Plame related to her work on IRAN. Now that Scooter's Grand Jury testimony shows Dead Eye Dick trotted out clearly classified materials to shoot down (not literally this time) Joe Wilson there's surely an especially Grumpy Gunslinger around DC. We've got lots to focus on these next few days and weeks. This fall's elections approach rapidly! I understand Able Danger may finally see the light of day this week. We'll soon see more Black Jack photos I expect. There will be much on the Katrina reports rolling out this week. NSA/FISA concerns are getting traction with the Congress in that some of the GOP are apparently willing to bump heads with Karl Rove and Bu$hCo. The Medicare Drug Plan drafted by Big Pharma remains a disaster. The Hammer and The Boehner still need our attention. Bill Frist still has some SEC issues. Bu$hCo slipped Social Security privatization in his budget. Bu$hCo's poll numbers are back at or under 40%. And we are still losing men and women in Iraq plus civil war remains an issue. The loss of treasure and wearing our military capacity out is of course a concern as well. Iran is a serious mess and darned if we are in shape to deal with the threat, although planning is apparently ongoing. We'll only kill 10,000 Persians and brown people really don't count it seems, especially in Africa. Hamas is in control of Palestine's government. A United Arab Emirates based company is being given responsibilty for six major ports in the US (please note this is ever reported by Faux News). Sharon's unilateral peace efforts are as comatose as he is. Radical Islamists are in many places still on a tear over the Danish cartoons. Karen Hughes efforts in the Middle East might need some tweaking as well. Surprised? Business Week's David Kiley warned us! Heck of a job Hughesie! Peace ... or War!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
It gets better ... turn up your speakers and experience how truly blessed we are to have President Bush Our Leader placed to do the will of God (not the brown people's God) and of course Clear Channel.
Surely none have snarked on the Cult of Bush as Our Leader as often as Jesus' General. Today The General wants us to Have Fun with Dick and Maim so worth a visit just for that disaster. I'm glad the other old geezer was just peppered but I bet they were both already pickled. Five deferments from hunter safety school or just lots of Lone Star?
Peace ... or War.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Four years into this misadventure, admittedly not breaking totally new ground in the accountability movement that has been gaining ground for twenty plus years, No Child Left Behind, more accurately No Data Obsessed Bureaucrat Left Behind or maybe No Pundit Left Behind, is perhaps at best a well-meaning program. NCLB however focuses on the symptoms rather than the causes of kids being left behind. It’s the Poverty Stupid! I forgive, up to a point, Ted Kennedy and some of the other Democrats like John Kerry as they were likely so motivated to get some federal money, which of course was pulled back from Bu$hCo, that they glossed over the many concerns raised by education policy experts. Nearly anybody watching this debacle today knows NCLB is likely yet another reform destined for the scrapheap that seems to characterize modern public education.
Research clearly show educators that out of school factors have the most significant influence on the learning of students. But Bu$hCo and the Chester Finn, Diane Ravitch, Milton Friedman, … performance based accountability crowd have won the war it seems and they didn’t do it based on their skills with the weapons. Damned if my Scots heritage isn’t preparation for being a Progressive! Advisors were hardly the best and the brightest in education policy yet nobody was so blatantly wrong as now infamous Rod Paige, Secretary of Education for the first term of Bu$hCo, elevated from his position as Superintendent of Houston City Schools who had there gamed the testing sytem in Texas. Of course it is comforting to know another experienced educator was selected by Bu$hCo to replace Rod the Nod. At least Margaret Spellings watches PBS enough to comment on their work as her first official act! Heifer!
The one thing that chaps my hide the most is to see how the conservatives have benefited the Big Mule textbook companies, canned curriculum providers/testing consultants and surely those that prepared these damnable tests. A kicker is that NCLB make the actual school required to provide proof that public schools aren’t doing that well. This is like a wet dream for Milton Friedman and some from the libertarian voucher and/or faith based crowd. Another few years down the road when many students are still rolling in and out of school with little or no learning having occurred these same conservatives will be situated to move public education even further toward their vision of reform.
To show just one fault of the legislation, NCLB holds some schools accountable on whether parents and caregivers make the kids come to school. The irony is that many schools selected attendance as something they could most easily address and yet my experience shows efforts from the school aren’t that effective. That a sorry adult has to be threatened with truancy officials and the like to do that basic part of the equation might show the politicians what educators all too often have to work with. I’ve yet to meet a politician that didn’t have an education plan and many from the business community think they could solve the problem if just given a chance. Standardized testing and accountability seems to be the conservatives answer to most of the mess yet I still think many are lurking about waiting to roll out vouchers and privatization.
Promises to close, meaning end not just reduce, the academic achievement gaps among groups of students from different ethnicities and circumstances plus assuring that every child has a high quality teacher sounds grand yet NCLB will likely drive many good educators out of the field and simply do far more harm than good. Innovative approaches such as reducing poverty concentrations seem to work yet that is a tough sell for some places, this being especially so I’d think in rural areas. Remember the ground that Nixon and the ReThuglicans (Tricky Dick’s Southern Strategy was of course borrowed from George Wallace per Professor Dan Carter! Plus Dr. Carter covers us up to Newt to boot!) gained with busing backlash and other connections with the Silent Majority? Don’t forget George Lakoff’s work on framing at The Rockridge Institute. I’ve also become very interested in High Schools that Work from a piece off PBS and then further inquiry into the Southern Regional Education Board.
Reduced teacher-student ratios, clerical help for professional educators to give them time to teach, alternative educational opportunities for especially demanding students, serious investments in early education, demanding curriculums, high expectation, tough teacher training that is learning theory based, good resources, safe and comfortable schools, healthy meals for students, top drawer pay for educators, and the like seems to help yet again the main factor remains apparently what is going on at home. Add all of this to the fact that the USA has a long history of anti-intellectualism and simply a dreadful popular culture and we’ve got a disaster in many places. From over-indulged kids to those that are used to constant stimulation from video games and other entertainment to some that simply have lazy dripping off them to the rare kids with snakes in their head to those bouncing off the wall to those … and the Captain has had his fill. Yet, working with the all too commonly unmotivated, poorly informed, marginally prepared, … and finally innovation resistant faculty members and bureaucrats has been the most frustrating experience. And don’t get the Captain started on bus duty, watching the lunchroom, making copies, and all the other wasting of my time and energy! So I’m bolting the school where I’m currently doing time and expect that I’ll hang out the shingle again. Still, I’m planning to remain in the fray and stay connected to education as I’d argue that true learning remains basically the foundation for effective democracy.
More to follow on this one! Peace … or War!
Friday, February 10, 2006
Peace or ... War will still often be how I close my posts yet this article reminds us on the dangers of not seeking reconciliation as these efforts, and it is hard and long work often, are truly the only way to avoid the failures of war. We've surely seen the damages done by projecting power when it was surely avoidable and how more harm than good often results. Mr. Rosenberg comments on and gives us this man's words as follows:
Frankenthal believes in communication. He thinks that both Israel and the United States should open up a dialogue with Hamas as soon as it “removes its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. Israel should challenge the Hamas in positive and constructive ways." ... “My son, Arik, was born into a democracy with a chance for a decent, settled life. He loved his life and believed that we had to achieve peace with the Palestinians or we would not survive. Arik’s killer was born into an appalling occupation, humiliation after humiliation, ethical chaos. Had my son been born in his place, he may have ended up doing the same. Let all the self-righteous who speak of ruthless Palestinian murderers take a hard look in the mirror.”
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The central issue in the budget controversy is not military increases versus cuts in social programs. The central problem with this budget—a problem that has marked every Republican budget since 1980—is that total spending is fundamentally out of line with total revenues. We will hear that the cuts in Social Security, medical care and the rest are “necessary” because we are fighting a war and we have limited resources. But resources have been squeezed, via unaffordable tax cuts, exactly to provide the excuse for slashing non-military spending.
Maybe Grover Norquist is going to be able to drown government in a bathtub after all? His old College ReThuglican buddy Black Jack Abramoff and his connection to Bu$hCo and ... have really paid off! The Century Foundation also recently gave us, via Lorelei Kelly, America's Broken Democracy where she wrote,
It is, after all, difficult to have a discussion about inherently government functions with a group of Americans who don't believe in the public sector.
There's the bottom line perhaps? So many Republicans truly don't see the public good as much if anything in the equation it seems. Of course, the government can apparently still serve the Big Mules up some measure of quality. That's just one example of what seems like several a day! WTF? Is this country really going to hell in a handbasket this quickly? A civilized people doesn't let a government stay in power that performs like this one does it? Yet I expect Jesus Land and the Big Mules will send another version of morality along for 2008! At least I can say that it isn't my fault since my candidates never win!
The Captain is tired. Lots of angst with my efforts at serving the public good today. I think a good Scotch might be in order. Peace ... or War!
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Where would the Bush administration be without terrorism? Like the Cold War before it, the “war on terror” is a conveniently sweeping rationale for all manner of irrational governance, such as the ...
Mr. Sheer(with my emphasis added) continues,
To begin with, we must remember that this “war” was launched against an enemy, still mostly at large, who on Sept. 11 accomplished phenomenal destruction and suffering with armaments no fiercer or costlier than some box-cutters. Their key weapon, in fact, was suicidal fanaticism. ... Yet, rather than sensibly investing in aggressive global detective work, collaborating with our European allies, engaging meaningfully with an independent and skeptical Arab world, and working to protect vulnerable U.S. sites such as nuclear power plants, our leaders decided to turn logic on its head and make ignorance about the enemy into a virtue, slash civil liberties and recklessly invade a major Muslim country that had no connection to the attacks.
The Captain has initially located commentary on the Bu$hCo budget at HuffPo from Katrina Vanden Heuval, Tom Paine from Robert L. Borosage, MyDD from Scott Shields, ... More to follow yet many real conservatives (I'll not link to these sources for the present time) are outraged, even if staying on the team, by many actions of the Preznit and his band of C-plus enablers. Progressives see the way this administration continues with carrying water for the Big Mules. Worst ever! Peace ... or War!
Monday, February 06, 2006
During one recess Jefferson Beauregard version 3.0 allegedly trotted out Debra Burlingame, a former attorney who regretably lost her brother in the 9-11 atacks, as a bit of a prop. Or maybe Jeff was her tool? He looks the part. Ms. Burlingame's brother, Naval Reserve Captain Charles Frank Burlingame III, who had served the Navy well and proudly from all I've gathered, was piloting American Airlines Flight 77 that eventually was crashed into the Pentagon. Captain Burlingame, known as Chic, was a graduate of Annapolis. Ms. Burlingame seems to have appeared first on the national scene when she took on the Army over their initial refusal to provide burial space for her brother in Arlington National Cemetery.
I wonder if Stormie Janzen (try Wonkette for a small blurred image of the thong that likely set off a storm over Stormie in the polite circles of Senator Session's Alabama) schededuled Ms. Burlingame for Just Kill 'Em Jeff? Crooks and Liars has the video clip if anybody wants to see Alabama's junior Senator make Roy Moore look like an enlightened mind. Of course Senator Session is such a fine American that he was willing to exploit Katrina deaths to get estate tax issues off the table for his Big Mule backers.
Ms. Burlingame has recently offered her opinion (in that bastion of truth at the WSJ.com's Opinion Journal) with her missive telling us that Al Qaeda is a greater threat than the FBI. On Monday the 30th she wrote,
Furthermore, it was the impenetrable FISA guidelines and fear of provoking the FISA court's wrath if they were transgressed that discouraged risk-averse FBI supervisors from applying for a FISA search warrant in the Zacarias Moussaoui case.
Provoking the FISA court's wrath? Impenetrable guidelines? I'll confess she fully loses me with her reasoning. Silly ACLU it is the Court's fault! Or Clinton? Or liberals? Or James Madison and ... ?
Ms. Burlingame once shared her frustrations with the 9-11 Commission, again writing at the WSJ Opinion Journal, and she has also recently appeared on Faux News Hannity and Colmes. Originally frustrated with President Bush being hesitant to support the formation of the 9-11 Commission, Burlingame has clearly come to the aide of the Bu$hCo supporters. Yet now I fear she's being rolled out by various folks that frighten this Scot just a bit. Here's Mudville Gazette and The Moonie Times and Mad Malkin and Bu$hCo 2004 and ... You get the point I reckon.
We've heard tonight that Karl Rove had a black list threat held over certain GOP Senators to keep them in line with Bu$hCo but I expect Jeffy B was easy.
Peace ... or War!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
$150,000,000,000.00 is a lot of beads! Oil/gas, mining, forestry (and likely agricultural if the Captain is guessing) Big Mules have been able to delay (Delay indeed!) an accounting of the Indian Trust Fund land issue (via access in part to the actual industries books since many Department of the Interior documents have been destroyed) to check for underpayment, fraud, and other nefarious deeds. Courts have ordered this yet the Big Mules have Richard Pombo and John McCain and others to try to force a settlement.
Casino Jack could have worked both ends on this one! Peace ... or War indeed! It seems like war is about all to do as this is hardly peace. I'm about ready to go all Billy Jack on these folks.
I do like two things the Ohio Congressman is reported to suggest. As I understand it, he urges the following: Stop the budgetary earmarking at the eleventh hour plus have full disclosure of the ways lobbyists, engaged to a point in activities protected by the First Amendment, gain influence. It is not the lobbying that should be the focus but rather the way our representatives focus on interests that are seldom that of the branchheads back home.
Efforts like Open Secrets from the Center for Responsive Politics are useful yet having things even more open seem wise. I still think having some mechanism for elections being publicly funded might be a good start, especially given how expensive, plus sound bite and horserace oriented, a campaign is in our current system.
The scale of warrantless surveillance, and the high proportion of bystanders swept in, sheds new light on Bush's circumvention of the courts. National security lawyers, in and out of government, said the washout rate raised fresh doubts about the program's lawfulness under the Fourth Amendment,because a search cannot be judged "reasonable" if it is based on evidencethat experience shows to be unreliable.While I appreciated a need to work on some approach to connect the “degrees of separation” it does seem that this approach is far too intrusive and certainly very ineffective to justify. The reporting ends with Jeff Jonas, now chief scientist at IBM Entity Analytics, who invented a data-mining technology used widely in the private sector and by the government stating, “so far from reaching the level of accuracy that's necessary that I see them as nothing but civil liberty infringement engines.”
Georgia10 at Kos has a nice take on this for Abu Gonzales as he prepares to fake (not a typo) the Senate at hearing tomorrow.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Here's an example of the stuff I want to share from TPM Cafe via Greg Anrig Jr. following up on a report that suggest that kids in regular old public schools outperform those in charter or private schools in standardized math testing once the data are adjusted for family income and ethnicity and ... No surprise to this educator and yet I want to read a little closer before I am prepared to comment. Anrig points out nicely the reactions for various "experts" to the study might need to be taken with a grain of salt. It hard to imagine money having a role!
Certainly a work in progress and mostly practice for now. Peace ... War.
Dick may be especially grumpy these next few days yet Lynne can remind him that Scooter will not be in the dock until January of 2007. I know delays are part of the practice yet can’t help but think of my old Daddy’s saying, “Two continuances are as good as an acquittal.” In this case, as long as it is past November of 2006, at least the Preznit can perhaps pardon with less damage. David Johnson of the New York Times also has a take on the article that doesn’t bode well for The Architect.
Also, Plaidsters might want to read Murray Wass of The National Journal for a recent summary (February 6, 2006) of the whole mess of PlameGate. Wass is also blogging over at HuffPo. And then we have Downing #2 that seems to suggest Bu$h and his BFF Blair were talking about invading Iraq regardless of what the Un inspectors reported.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get Snotty Scotty or Our Leader or Big Bad Dick to respond to real questions about all of this! Dan Froomkin of the WaPo offers his own fantasy via his “White House Briefing” titled It’s the Credibility Stupid on this ... on plenty of others.
Here’s hoping Joe Sixpack can find time during Stupor Bowl weekend to notice some of this mess. Give them bread and games! The Captain gives you “Peace … or War!”
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
What I take out of the article is the damage this administration has actually caused to the legimate (that's a reality-based word for any Bu$hCo apologists that are still angling toward what has lately been labeled by Colbert as "truthiness"!) goal of spreading democracy. Mr. Dickey writes (with my emphasis supplied to what I think is worthy of note) the following:
"Journalists from the region are trapped in a sort of twilight zone between these two relentlessly opposite versions of the past and proclamations about the future. "You are caught between two extremes and neither is right," says Ayman Safadi, editor in chief of Jordan's Al Ghad newspaper. The United States comes with its agenda, but with no real understanding, while the old guard in the Middle East is unwilling to admit it has failed, decade after decade, to deliver on its hollow promises of dignity and progress. In the midst of contradictions, people cling to traditions "in their bubble of anachronism," says Safadi. Those who are attacked or denigrated by the Bush administration, like the Baathist regime in Syria, find themselves lionized by the Arab public. Those applauded by Washington are dismissed as pawns. The result on the ground is often the opposite of the Bush administration's stated desires. "Democracy has a new enemy in the region, which is the support [for democracy] by the United States of America," says Safadi." .... "Ultimately, democracy is taught better by example than by declaration, and here, too, the Bush administration has failed in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims. It's not that people in Iraq or Lebanon, Iran or Egypt do not want a voice in their governments, clearly they do. And they want change. They pray for it. But none of the changes they've been shown so far have been adequate to their hopes. Nor has their ever-growing contact with truth and justice the American way led them to see it as a shining example. The essence of democracy is public accountability. Bush famously said after the 2004 elections, when the Iraq debacle was clear for the world to see, that he'd had his "accountability moment" and been vindicated by popular vote. Perhaps so. But since then, tolerance in the Middle East for his preaching, or that of the American public, is very low, leaving Arabs and Muslims to continue searching elsewhere for the answers to their prayers."