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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Why Criminal Conspiracy for Tom Delay?

A few comments on Rep. Tom Delay's indictment. Mr. Delay has often blamed partisanship for all his woes. He says, and often I might add, that this is a political witchhunt. He claims to be the victim of a vast left wing conspiracy bent on destroying him. Funny that he should be the one to say so after he was the one that led the charge against Bill Clinton in the impeachment proceedings in 1998, OVER ORAL SEX, a movement that Hillary Clinton called, ironically, a vast right wing conspiracy. Can he really be that surprised that there is bad blood out there?

The prosecutor that led the charge against Delay, Ronnie Earle, is being called by Delay a partisan fanatic, a rogue prosecutor. But he fails to mention that Earle has prosecuted three times as many Democrats as Republicans, and has traditionally gone after those who are in power, Democrat or Republican, it just so happens that Republicans have been in power in the House of Representatives for 11 years. Delay also doesn't mention the fact that Earle did not indict him, a grand jury composed of regular citizens indicted him. Surely they are not all partisan fanatics like Mr. Earle supposedly is. I mean, would they indict someone just for the fun of it? No, they wouldn't. That means that these regular folks saw something in the evidence that pointed to a possible involvement on Mr. Delay's part.

Addressing the partisan aspect of Delay's indictment, do I think it is a partisan witchhunt? I do not think it is a witchhunt. Partisan? Possibly, but not from Mr. Earle's side of it. I think that Democrats in Washington are the ones really hungry for blood. It is just sad that they have to be delivered by a prosecutor in Austin, Texas because they are so pathetic in getting results themselves. Yes, I do think there are politics involved, but let me ask you: should someone be allowed to break the law (I'm not saying Delay has or not, that will come out in the trial) and get away with it because it is the opposing party that wants to hold him accountable? If Delay did break the law, should he be let off because it is the Democrats that want him to hang?

Finally I'll talk about the charge. Criminal conspiracy. A felony. One count. Punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was indicted with two other associates who were previously indicted, but in that indictment Delay was spared. Why was it criminal conspiracy, which alledges limited or indirect involvement or knowledge as opposed to direct commission of a crime? Well, we do not know what the evidence is, so it would be irresponsible to speculate as to whether Mr. Delay committed the crime or not. But Mr. Earle did not accuse Mr. Delay of the original charges of violating state electoral law and money laundering, which three of his associates were accused, and then indicted of. He did not even try to get him indicted. You must be thinking: Well, if he didn't try to indict him, then he must not have any evidence. Let me correct your assumption. Evidence against Delay, whether it exists or not, is not the issue here. The issue is that Mr. Earle is the prosecutor for Travis county, in Austin, Texas. Under Texas state law, Mr. Earle cannot prosecute Mr. Delay, who resides in Fort Bend county, because these charges fall under the state electoral code. Earle has no jurisdiction over the matter. Only the prosecutor in the Mr. Delay's Fort Bend county can bring those charges against him, and that prosecutor is Republican. On the other hand, criminal conspiracy charges fall under the state's criminal code, and those charges can be brought by any prosecutor in the state. Hence, Mr. Earle charged Mr. Delay with a criminal conspiracy count and when it was presented to the grand jury, Tom Delay, the hammer, was promptly indicted. But, like I said earlier, no one knows what the evidence is or isn't, so at this point it is useless to speculate as to what the outcome of the matter will be. For that we will have to wait for the trial, and it will be an explosive one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Idiot of the Week: Michael Brown

Former FEMA director Michael Brown went before Congress yesterday, a Republican hearing mostly because Democrats want an independent investigation, and came out swinging. Unfortunately he sounded more delusional than sane. In the process of angrying REPUBLICAN congressmen, if you can believe that, he blamed everyone else, including his dog and aliens (just kidding), except himself. He said his biggest mistake was failing to recognize that Louisiana was disfunctional. That was his biggest mistake? I thought it was failing to have FEMA move in fast enough to save hundreds of lives. Not only is he an incompetent idiot, he is an ARROGANT, incompetent idiot that is still on FEMA's payroll as a consultant. To me that is the equivalent of hiring Worldcom ex-CEO Bernie Ebbers, currently servign a 25 year jail sentence for corporate fraud, as a consultant on business ethics. Yep, the guy is still getting paid to consult on the very job that he screwed up big time. Why is that? Do you think it is possible that he is being kept on to take the blame and focus as little as possible on an already politically wounded President? Then as a reward he is still being paid? I'm not saying this is what is going on, but it is just a suggestion. I've heard it several times. Anyway, Brown, in his delusional blame game managed to really anger some of the Republicans on the panel and he got a tongue lashing by several of them. If the man still has an ego after this hearing, it will be an Ego waffle!

Brown blames locals for Katrina response
Quotes From Michael Brown's Testimony

TOM DELAY INDICTED!!!!

Thank God! They finally indicted the bastard. I'm not one to boast or behave in a shamelessly biased manner, but I have never liked Tom Delay. He has always been shady character and it is more than clear that he has had crooked dealings in the past. The problem has always been whether that could ever be proven in court. Now we will get to see whether it can. Delay was indicted today for criminal conspiracy. The move will effectively force him to step down as House Majority Leader according to party rules. In Texas, Delay was the mastermind in the gerrymandering of district lines (among other things) that netted the Republicans 5 more seats in Congress and gave them a 21-11 edge in Texas. Gerrymandering is illegal, but the way they conducted the move made it difficult for minority Democrats to fight it. This happened around the same time that Democrats flew the coup to Oklahoma and later to New Mexico in order to try and stop the Republican's push for redistricting. One of the admonishments handed down last year by the House Ethics Committee to Delay was regarding his misuse of the FAA to track down the fleeing Democrats. While this does not mean delay will be found guilty, it does put a very very ugly stain on his resume. If he runs again for a 12th term, he will have to run as an indicted candidate facing the possibility of up to two years in jail, a candidate with a record three admonishments by the House Ethics Committee, a candidate with shady dealings with an indicted lobbyist by the name of Jack Abramoff, etc. It does not look good for Delay's future in D.C. Hopefully the Republicans will come to their senses and put a more honest individual in that powerful position. But in this Administration and Congress, can we really expect it?

Tom DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Scheme
DeLay indicted in campaign finance probe
DeLay to step aside after indictment

Monday, September 26, 2005

Frist in Hot Water Over Stock Sale

Crooked deals in Washington politics raise questions and the politicians claim no wrong doing. It never changes and never will. The latest comes from Senate majority leader Bill Frist, whose sale of stock in HCA has prompted an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Frist sold his shares in HCA soon before the company released disappointing reports that sent the value of the stock down by 16%. Question's of insider information have prompted the SEC investigation. To my surprise, former Rep. Christopher Cox, the newly appointed head of the SEC and a fellow Republican, recused himself from the investigation to avoid any potential conflict. Wow, that is a first, something really nasty must be cooking for fellow Republicans to not protect each other.

Frist's involvement is also being questioned apparently because he received reports on his blind trust. A blind trust is usually set up for politicians because it prevents a conflict of interest. Since the politicians do not know what their holdings are, it eliminates the potential for improper behavior. Not so for Frist. He was apparently receiving reports on the holdings, as has been documented. Frist, as expected has denied any wrongdoing. Well see what the results of the investigation reveal, if it is not whitewashed.

Frist Denies Wrongdoing in Stock Sale

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita Nears While I Bunker Down and Others are Stuck

I have not been able to post anything because of preparations for Hurricane Rita. I am a Houston resident, and as such I contemplated evacuating. Contemplated for about 6 hours. This is not my first storm, nor will it be my last. Therefore I am more familiar with the drill and not prone to panicking like many of the people in Houston did during the week. Now we are seeing the results of a mass evacuation composed of a large group that did not need to evacuate. People are trapped on the highways, a situation that is worse than staying in Houston itself, specially now that the storm has veered east. A poorly prepared mass evacuation plan, along with an unusually large amount of people panicking (understandable because of what Katrina did three weeks ago), throw in stupid city officials, and you get a recipe for disaster. An evacuation that has resulted in a bus exploding and killing 24 or more folks, a shortage of gas that has caused cars to stall, no food, no water, cars overheating and breaking down because of the long wait. A woman had been on the road for 24 hours (a trip that normally takes 4 hours) and had still not made it to Dallas. A lot of these folks face the prospect of weathering the hurricane on a highway unless city officials figure out a way to provide shelter for them. Why and for what?

Hurricanes are very unpredictable, and projecting the exact path of a storm is almost impossible. Was the evacuation premature? Maybe, maybe not. What is a terrible thing is the lack of foresight by city officals in predicting the size of the evacuation. Once the size was apparent, they also failed to improvise to solve the problems that arose. They did not think to open all highways, inbound and outbound, to exit the city until yesterday morning. Then they ran into logistical problems in carrying that out. The only one that was opened anytime soon was I-45 at 1 p.m.. Police officers were also causing trouble by worrying about the minor, minor issues and not focusing on the evacuation. When I-45 southbound was opened northbound, only the evacuees that were before the point of direction change were allowed to change into the inbound lanes, while those that were further north (meaning they had evacuated earlier) were not allowed to get onto the other lanes. Officials did not have a plan in place to provide gas for motorists that were stranded. When the bus exploded southeast of Dallas, once they had placed the survivors in ambulances and removed the bodies of the victims, instead of moving it out of the road to let traffic pass, they blocked the entire highway for hours, adding to the problem.

Houston city officials were trying this morning to cleanse their hands of the mess by saying that they had not called for an evacuation of Houston (but they did call for evacuation of those who lived in areas prone to flooding, which is a large portion of Houston). OK, let's say they didn't, but they should have known that with Katrina fresh on everyone's mind, and a monster brewing in the gulf, people were going to panic and mass exodus from Houston would be the likely outcome. They were stupid beyond anything I have ever seen. Well, no that is an overstatement. FEMA and the federal government were stupid beyond anything I've ever seen in a disaster. But city officials were stupid and arrogant. Mayor Bill White self proclaimed Houston as the best prepared city for a hurricane in the nation. STUPID AND ARROGANT. The best prepared cities on the nation are in Florida. I know, I lived there. People know how to handle a crisis and evacuate properly. Why? Because of experience. Florida deals with this situation every year. Houston doesn't, at least not like Florida. So, Bill White, do not sit there and tell me that Houston is the best prepared city for a hurricane. You failed in the most important aspect of disaster management: plan for the worst and hope for the best. Well, you seem to be getting the best as Rita veers east and weakens, and you still managed to screw it up! A lot of people that died need not have had to!

The storm will be hitting in the next few hours. Good luck and godspeed to everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush Speech Will Provide Comfort, and Anger Others

President Bush looked nervous as he gave his speech yesterday. He wasn't wearing a suit. He didn't have his swagger. He looked shrunken. In fact, he reminded me of a FEMA worker. NO offense. His speech was a good one. I think it provided some measure of comfort for those who wish to derive that from it. Others will view it as too little, too late. One thing is certain: you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. The immense failure of the Bush Administration (and let's not forget state and local governments too) in responding to Katrina has already done irreparable damage to the President's image. At this point, what the White House can hope for is that the relief efforts from now on go smoothly and that Bush can gain back some of his credibility. But the images of Bush playing a guitar in California and hanging out in Arizona while New Orleans flooded will never leave the minds of those who witnessed the largest natural disaster in the history of our country. President Bush wants to be remembered in history. Well, he can rest assured that in this particular instance he will go down in history, as the president who failed to respond to the biggest natural disaster in American history when he was amply warned.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush on Katrina: Mea Culpa

It is not the time to play the blame game, says the White House after an outraged public looks for someone to blame in the aftermath of Katrina. Well, yesterday, President Bush took the blame for the slow response after the hurricane. Today, Louisiana Gov. Blanco, also took part of the blame for the slow response. Why? Why did Bush, famously known for never admitting a mistake, admit such a big screw up? Why did Blanco? I'll tell you why. In the face of extremely sharp criticism and anger, the only way that either of them, especially Bush, could save a little bit of face, was to accept the blame. It was the only option that would not have backfired as much. Don't get me wrong, both Bush and Blanco will not come out of this unscathed. By no means will that ever happen. But by humbling himself and admitting fault, Bush has softened the blow a bit, but not stopped it. Let's be very clear: MEA CULPA WAS THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to prevent the President from getting hurt further. That is why he admitted it. Not because he would particularly care to shoulder the blame of all those deaths, but because his back was against the wall. Do you think he would have admitted any wrongdoing if there was any other way? Heck, he hasn't done it with Iraq where thousands have died! And Iraq we know was a royal screw up on his part, but he has other outs or options other than admitting his mistake outright. Do not be fooled by mea culpa!

Roberts as Good as it Gets for Democrats

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the time for Democrats to block a Supreme Court nomination by Bush was in the november election. You failed, now suck it up. Be glad that the nominee is John Roberts. Although highly conservative, Roberts seems a sensible individual who is very talented from what I have observed. What he will ultimately turn out to be in the Supreme Court we won't know until he is confirmed. One thing is for sure, Roberts is about as good a nominee as the Democrats can expect from Bush. They had better thank their lucky stars that Bush did not nominate John Ashcroft for Chief Justice!

Friday, September 09, 2005

FEMA's Brown Going Back to Washington

As President Bush would say: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" In fact, so good a job, that Michael Brown has earned himself a trip back to Washington. Since his performance has been so outstanding, they feel that he has done enough and can head back to D.C. while others take on his already finished duties. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen will assume Brown's duties on the ground. Brown heads back to D.C. to oversee the "BIG PICTURE". You go Brownie! Show 'em how it's done in the Arabian Horse Association!!
FEMA director recalled to D.C.

Requirements To Work for President Bush

There are three requirements to get a job in the Bush Administration:
1) Be a Republican
2) Be Bush's crony or a crony to Bush's cronies
3) Show unwavering loyalty to Bush and never ever criticize anything he says or does.

Other minor factors:
1) Qualifications
2) Experience
3) Leadership qualities

If you get hired, you will receive with the post:
1) Unwavering Bush support, regardless of performance
2) A lot of money
3) Connections to make more money during and after you leave
4) Become one of Bush's cronies
5) Possibly a Medal of Freedom, depending on how poor your performance is.

Examples:
1) Michael Brown, head of FEMA. College roommate with Joe Allbaugh, ex-FEMA director
from '01-'03, and a Bush campaign manager.
Experienced in disaster management from his days as the commissioner of the International
Arabian Horse Association (because this organization has so much to do with disaster management). Oh yes, he was pretty much fired from this job.
2) George Tenet, ex-CIA director (although in this case he started in the Clinton White House),
and Medal of Freedom recipient for his outstanding work in the intelligence community pre
and post 9/11, and Iraq.
3) Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, long time Bush crony dating back to daddy's days as
president. Excellent work in planning the Iraq pre and post war effort. So good in fact that
the president will not accept his resignation.
4) Five of the top eight officials in FEMA have little or no experience in disaster management
and they are Bush cronies which is an excellent qualification.

Mrs. Bush Knows! She Lives With Him!

But of course you would know Mrs. Bush. After all, as you say, you live with the man. You probably know him best. God forbid that you, who as the President's wife would surely have the most unbiased of all opinions, wouldn't be able to see your husband's mistakes. After all, love doesn't blind anyone!

P.S. I like Mrs. Bush a lot. Always have. But I also take anything she says about the President with a grain of salt. After all she is his wife! I do agree with her on this though: I do not think racism was the factor in the slow response to Katrina, at least not the main one, I think it was just plain incompetence.

Wife Says Criticism of Bush 'Disgusting'

Delay's Cronies Indicted in Texas

In the aftermath of Katrina, everything else going on seems to have been pushed into the back pages of the newspaper. Iraq we have hardly heard anything about in ten or more days. Also, house majority leader Tom Delay's problems have been kept silent. Silent doesn't necessarily mean good. Delay's associates have been indicted by a Texas Grand Jury. As far as Delay goes, we will have to see where all this leads to.
Texas Grand Jury Indicts DeLay Associates

Great! Give money to those who do not need it. To hell with the rest.
AP: Companies Got Unneeded 9/11 Loans

Why Doesn't Bush Get It?

I've often wondered where George W. Bush's aloofness and complete misunderstanding of situations around him (most recently hurricane Katrina's devastation) come from. I finally found the answer: it is the way he was raised. The following article gives you an idea of just why George W. Bush doesn't seem to get it. I recommend reading it.
Barbara Bush: It's Good Enough for the Poor

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Long-term Effetcs of Being Shortsighted: Katrina and the Bush Administration

The past few days have brought a great deal of sorrow and tragedy to the folks down in the bayou. New Orleans, our southern mecca for jazz and a cultural flower, was destroyed by the wrath of hurricane Katrina and ultimately 80% of the city was flooded by the waters of lake Ponchatrain. New Orleans lies, on average, about 7 feet below sea level. Surrounded by water on three sides, the city was kept from flooding by a system of levees that were built to keep the water out. These levees gave way on Tuesday allowing the waters to ravage the city. As death, violence and destruction gripped the flooded city, bits and pieces of information trickled on to the front page of major newspapers across the country. The stories are more and more focused on the government's inability to properly protect the city, the slow response to the catastrophe that is costing lives every day, the fact that Bush as recently as February proposed cutting funding for pet projects in the Army Corps. of Engineers which included evaluation of New Orleans levees and flood protection, and most notably that the city has descended into anarchy because there is not enough law enforcement to keep the place in order. This last criticism is probably the most significant because it ties the Iraq war directly with the aftermath of Katrina. The United States National Guard, which composes a large percentage of the troops in Iraq, was created to protect the homeland, i.e. NATIONAL GUARD. The fact that our guard is picking up the slack for an Army that is falling short on recruiting to fight a man-made disaster has left us vulnerable to a natural disaster's aftermath. Those boys fighting boldly in Iraq are better served to help here, our homeland where they are needed direly today, than to fight in a country where most citizens do not even want us there. The lack of resources in New Orleans is reaching desperation levels and although troops are being mobilized, the chaos has escalated to such levels that it will be difficult to contain the violence.

The lack of preparation before Katrina and the slow reaction after it is symptomatic of what I like to call the Bush Administration's shortsighted approach to reality. We have seen this before: 1)with the intelligence memos that crossed the White House desks entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike U.S.", 2) with the assertions that our troops would be welcomed with flowers and cheers in Baghdad, 3) with statements that the war would last a few weeks, at the most six months (as Rumsfeld so foolishly said). These are just a few of the consequences of the White House's approach to governing. They do not seem to understand that short term actions have long term effects. They fail to see that their decisions might aid in achieving their goals in the short term, but might ultimately have a much higher price in the future when they are not responsible for the direction of the country. It is like patching a flat tire and selling the car with it. Eventually the new owner will have to deal with the problem caused by the old owner. One of the points being raised by Democrats and the press is that Bush proposed cutting the funding for the Army Corps. of Engineers as I mentioned earlier. Lets be clear, I doubt very much that the issue of the funding would have had much effect in stopping Katrina's rampage. But what it does show is that the Bush Administration does not concern itself with what might happen in the future, they fail to see warning signs and they practice reactive measures as opposed to preventive measures. Would reinforcing the levees or maybe improving New Orleans flood protection have stopped Katrina? Maybe not, but what if it could have lessened the damage?

Some people will counter my short-sightedness argument by saying that the Bush Administration is undertaking a long-term task in Iraq, thereby invalidating my argument. I say to you, when Bush invaded Iraq he did not expect it to be a long struggle. There are records everywhere you look that prove how the administration failed to see the aftermath of the invasion. The President declared an end to combat after THREE WEEKS!!! Thay failed to see that the real war started when the he declared victory. Once again, short-sighted. Then again, this administration functions in very much the same way that our society does, instant gratification. Passing bills that are half-assed (excuse my language), wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to appoint nominees, pressuring party members to support the White House policy, etc... all done to make it seem as if there is a lot being done. Instant gratification, what does it do for you after the high ends? You pay the price for your impulsiveness (in the people's case debt, in the government's case a floodgate of problems that arise in the future such as a skyrocketing federal deficit after Bush leaves in 2009, an explosion in the cost of Medicare, again after he leaves). The Administrations policies and actions are all designed to provide an instantly palpable result, regardless of the cost later. But even that has become increasingly difficult for them, and Katrina and 9/11 are examples of the consequences of being shortsighted. Could they have been prevented? Who knows? One thing is for sure, we would have had a better chance to protect ourselves if our governtment would have been aware.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I apologize for not updating the site these past few days. I will be up to speed tomorrow.
Thank You.

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