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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No Shake Up at White House. More a Ruffle.

Yesterday President Bush anounced the resignation of Chief of Staff Andy card, the first major defection from the Bush team which has remained almost intact since he took office. Long rumored on the hill, a shake-up was talked about for weeks as the President's second term looked more and more on the way down. Card oversaw everything from the ports deal bombshell, to Katrina's failed response. Increasingly, most people on the hill believe that it was just too much. Card was the second longest serving Chief of Staff, servung for five and a half years in a job that averages 18 months. It is a burnout job, hence the short average serving time.

More interesting or surprising was Card's replacement, Josh Bolten. Bolten was the White House budget director, more importantly an insider. That is the real story here. Bush has not shaken things up. More like reshuffled the chairs. He has not brought new blood in. Bolten has been with the President since he was elected in 2000. Hardly comforting. You cannot change a bad atmosphere by using a component of the same old filter. You need a new filter. Bolten is not a new filter. He is in the mold of everyone inside the bubble. Definitely not a shake-up.

The question is why? Why choose someone who will bring the same ideas that got you in trouble the first time around? Is it a question of comfortability? Are we dealing with a President that cannot deal with people outside his sphere, is he scared of more realistic assessments? Is he just stubborn? Well, he is, but this stubborn? Maybe. Or is he aware that bringing in someone from outside will expose that person to everything inside this very secretive administration, and possibly something he doesn't want known? Something for you conspiracy theorist to ponder.

Bolten to Replace Card As Chief of Staff

Yes! Saddam Is To Blame For Insurgency! Finally We Know!

Why not just blame it on aliens? They can't defend themselves. Or why not on God? After all isn't he supposed to be our ally in this war according to Bush? President Bush today proceeded to blame yet another party, not himself or his administration for the troubles in Iraq. He blamed Sadaam Hussein for the insurgency and all the violence in Iraq. Hussein? Huh? I thought he was in prison and on trial.

The democrats? They didn't make the decision to go to war so not viable. The terrorists? They only comprise about 10% of the insurgency, and people know it. The media? That backfired last week when the White House looked like fools, and when that cute little story about Talafur was not entirely accurate. Saddam Hussein? Yeah sure, why not? Let's blame the original bad guy. I knew that guy was doing something everytime he ranted during his trial and then when he starved himself for a few days. Telepathy!! That's what he was doing, communicating telepathically with his followers and giving them orders! Didn't see that one coming. Impressive, very impressive.

But don't you dare blame Bush. After all he tried everything to prevent invading. Like waiting out the U.N. inspector's results, like looking at ALL the intelligence objectively, like telling the public the truth, and most important, communicating with God. God TALKS TO HIM so he knows what he is doing. This is just a test of his faith and if he stays the course God will reward him. Remember if you don't have faith you then you GO TO HELL!! AND YOU BURN FOR ALL ETERNITY! AND SADDAM HUSSEIN IS THE DEVIL!

Bush blames Iraq's instability on Hussein

Lobbying Reform My *&#!@#

The Senate passed an ethics patch bill (they call it lobbying reform but it is far from such) today. The BS bill is heavy on disclosure of lobbying contacts, but easy on prohibitions. As if what got Congress in the hot seat were contacts, not gifts and trips, and yachts, oh... and campaign contributions. Yeah sure, the way to influence lawmakers the most is by contacting them. They do not really care about the meals. They do not really care about the sports stadium skyboxes. They do not care about campaign contributions. No, what they really care about is having some quality time with those wonderful K Street leaches. Of course, because what those leaches really care about is the in the best interest of the nation. And the worst, no independent committe or office to keep tabs on all these activities. What fuels special interest influence in D.C. is money. The Senate has not curbed the major avenues for lobbyists to provide money, in the form of trips, lodging, contributions, etc. This bill is the equivalent if fixing the engine of a car by changing a flat tire.

Senate Passes Election-Year Ethics Package

Democrats and Real Security? Or Wimpy Democrats and Real Security?

Today, 54 months after 9/11 and three years after the Iraq war began, the Democratic party has finally unveiled its national security strategy. Too bad it looks like everything else they do: wimpy. Not because it is wimpy, after no one really knows what is in it, but because its unveiling was rather unimpressive and more comedic than enlightening. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pulled a page right out of Bush's Book of Presidential Blunders. She talked about the Democrats providing "real security" while holding a sign that said: real security. Only the sign was upside down. DOOHH!!(for those of you Simpson fans). OK that is not terrible, but it will give birth to a Republican counter attack that will most likely go like this: Real Security? Again the Democrats are upside down on the issue.

The Democrats should have taken the time to make an explosive statement, an in your face, dare me to, approach in introducing proposed policies on the one issue that has lost them the last two electiona. At a time when the Republicans are losing ground on national security and terrorism, when the time is right to take an aggresive swing, they jab. The sound bites sound like everything the Republicans have said before. It doesn't resonate because there is no substance in the message. Eliminate Bin Laden? Hmm... where have I heard that before? How about finding him first? Can Democrats really expect us to believe they will do a better job without actually providing details of their plans? The party of Real Security? Show me the money! Tell me how you are going to do it, not just that you are! Details, plans, something palpable, not just rhetoric. We've had enough of that for five years. Look at where it got us.

Is their proposal good? Maybe. But how are we supposed to know?

If I were in charge of getting the message out, I would have used about $500,000 of the Democratic National Committee's account to print a booklet of approximately 50 pages containing the more important security issues and the democratic proposal, in detail. The rest of the issues (along with the important ones too), I would direct interested people to log on to the DNC website and review a more in depth explanation. These booklets I would distribute for free at libraries, bookstores, grocery stores, Congress, or anywhere that I can find people who want to listen. I would not, I repeat would not, utter stupid little phrases like "eliminate Bin Laden" or "real security'. Why? BECAUSE WE JUST DON'T BELIEVE YOUR RHETORIC BS!

Democrats Offer National Security Strategy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush Levels With America, Blames Media

It seems that every time I am out of town or unable to update this site for a period of time, armageddon arrives. It has been 20 days since I last updated it and all hell seems to have broken loose.

From the falling apart of the Dubai ports deal, to the Republican revolt against the White House, these must be trying days for the West Wing. President Bush's approval numbers are going down faster than the Titanic and show no signs of improving. He has even lost his edge on the one issue that got him reelected and gave the Republican party a powerful majority in Congress: terrorism. Some revel in the President's woes and the Republican's apparent downfall, but let me remind you that the ones that ultimately pay the price are the people. A dysfunctional government cannot get anything done, the bad stuff no problem, but the necessary issues big problem. How do you get a country on the wrong track back on the right track when there is no accountability and no admission of mistakes, no concerned effort to right the wrongs? That seems to be the case in the White House lately. Iraq looks to be descending into civil war, not full blown yet, but you can see the beginnings of one. Yet, the White House will not consider the notion. If our military forces are to stave off a potential civil war (and I honestly do not know if it can be done), the White House first needs to acknowledge that the possibility is there. You cannot try to fix a problem that you refuse to see. Iraq is only one of the many major problems that are in our horizon, but it is most definitely the one that will define President Bush's legacy, therefore he has staked everything on its outcome, to the detriment of every other issue, especially domestic ones. Among those are the current federal debt. Congress just raised the debt ceiling to almost 9 trillion dollars, the fourth time it has been done under this administration. Currently, it would take every American $30,000 to pay the debt off. Sound bad? It's worse. The amount that the ceiling was raised is already spoken for, meaning that should any emergency spending need arise, the ceiling would be tapped once again. If this doesn't make any sense to you, try looking at it from a credit card point of view. I you keep paying your bills by using your credit card without paying it off, you will eventually be so far in debt that you will be unable to pay your dues and have to declare bankrupcy. A government cannot go bankrupt, but it can lose its borrowing power, meaning that the U.S. would be in a budget crunch and unable to finance its operations. Five years ago we had a huge federal surplus, today a huge deficit, a huge debt. Yes, I know, 9/11, Iraq, blah blah blah. Excuses. You have to have a responsible fiscal policy to run a government properly, and fiscal & operational preparedness to respond to catastrophic events or else you run the risk of hurting the Nation more. Prioritize! Iraq or tax cuts (9/11 was an obligatory response). Not both. Get my point?

In April, the new Medicare prescription drug program will face heavy troubles. On April 1, drug companies will have more latitude in denying coverage on certain prescribed drugs that until now they have had to fulfill. This on top of the extreme cost and complexity of the program that essentially benefits drug companies. The ones who get hurt directly are the elderly who need medicines, and indirectly the taxpayer who funds the outrageously expensive program.

Among the other domestic issues of great concern are: rising health care costs, stagnating wages, high gas prices, rising interest rates, Katrina recovery efforts. There are more. Jobs are not really an issue since they are being created, but unlike previous economic periods, unemployment is no longer a correct measure for the health of this particular economy. People are having to work two or more jobs to stay afloat. Wages have become the measure in this economic period. They are the measure of economic health in the American family. America has fallen deeply into debt. Many are in over there heads. Wages are stagnant and are causing an economic crunch that is shrinking the middle class and increasing poverty. The people have jobs, but they are still struggling and they feel that the economic recovery is only limited to the top.

On the domestic front, the interests of the White House are not in accordance with those of the "mainstream", as they like to call the majority. You constantly hear RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman (the biggest liar/spinmaster and hypocrite on the planet, and I do not say that lightly) talk about the mainstream and how the Republican agenda is molded to it. NOT TRUE. The Republican agenda is driven by the religious right and the neo cons, neither of which are in the "mainstream". In fact, they are not even the mainstream of the Republican party. Point-to-fact, Bush has begun to lose people in his own party. I never thought his poll number would go below 40% because he would always have his base. Well, they have dropped to low 30s. The only way for that to happen is if he loses his base support. Let me also point out the fact that those who blindly support the President have a far less reaching education (and by extension are either ignorant or non-understanding of the issues) than those whose support has eroded, as shown by a CNN poll conducted last week.

The one good thing that has come out of all this bad news is the fact that the President has been forced to face the media and the American public or risk having his endangered legacy doomed beyond repair. Bush went on a PR campaign beginning this week in which, for the first time, he has faced unsympathetic crowds in Ohio (as opposed to the sympathetic screened ones he is used to), and yesterday at the White House press room, he called on ruthless reporters such as Helen Thomas, which he hadn't called on in three years. He paid the price, for they asked some tough ones and Bush got caught in contradictions to previous statements, but at least he seemed more in tune with reality and more willing, by force, to level with the public. Then strangely Bush went back to his friendly crowds today. I guess like any good political strategy, the White House had an aim in allowing Bush to speak. Their intent seems to have been to shift the blame to the media. They cannot blame the Democrats for all their problems, after all they were self-inflicted and it is a Republican White House, so they focused on the media. This push began yesterday morning during NBC's Today Show with an interview by David Gregory (my favorite). The interviewee, conservative talk show host Laura Ingram launched accusations that the media only showed the deaths and explosions because they were limited to their balconies in hotels and so forth. They were met with heavy opposition from Gregory. Later that day, somebody reminded the idiot Ingram about David Bloom and all the other journalists who have been killed in Iraq, not in their balconies or hotels, but in the field. During his speech, President Bush also leveled the accusation to the media, although in a much more respectful way as to not antagonize further a scorned media. The President does have a somewhat valid point. You do see more blood and death than progress and good news. It is an expected reaction by the media to cover that which is more impacting. But the President's point aside, that does not mean that the media is wrong in the coverage. The bad news outweighs the good news. Do you not think that the White House would be doing its best to get the good news out there to counter the bad? Openings of schools, women voting, etc. Yes there are some things improving, but along with the news coverage of the explosions and killings the media also puts less focus than it can on all the other bad stuff happening such as the lack of progress in getting oil supplies back up, the fact that there is shortage of electricity and water, that there is money misappropriated or more bluntly: lost, that three months after elections there is no government, that sectarian violence is increasing, etc. I mean, point by point, the bad news outweighs the good by at least 2 to 1. Would it be right to dedicate a newscast 1 to 1 ratio good to bad if bad is 2 to 1? That would not be an accurate representation of the field, would it? Even now, let's speculate that the media were to dedicate their coverage proportionately, 67% bad news, 33% good news. What sticks? What is going to remain in that head of yours after watching a newscast? Exactly. There is such an overwhelming amount of bad things happening that it is hard to justify the progress being made in limited areas when everything is going to hell everywhere else. As long as more bad stuff happens than good, this conflict will not end. Blaming the media, who has lost more than 80 journalists (more than the entire Vietnam war), by suggesting that they cannot get out there (they are not getting out there because it is so dangerous) enough is an indictment of the mission's shortcomings.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

FEMA's Brown Not The Devil. White House Is!

I'll be the first to say that maybe the Bush Administration pulled a fast one on me, and all of you too probably. Maybe Michael Brown, ex-FEMA chief, widely seen as an idiot and the reason for all of FEMA's failures, was not as dumb or as liable for the disastrous response as the White House and Homeland Security want everyone to believe. I do know and have said in the past that Brown was made a scapegoat, but before I thought he was an idiot too. Now, maybe not so. There is now footage showing Brown in a more active and leading position than previously depicted. In contrast, video footage shows that BUsh and Chertoff were both warned about the possible destruction, in instances warned by Brown himself. Remember Bush and Chertoff both said that nobody warned them. Well, they are liars, with their pants on fire. How are they going to spin there way out of this one? Trent Duffy, White House spokesperson, was on Hardball with Chris Matthews today trying to defuse the explosive video. Duffy tried, unsuccessfull and stupidly, to diffuse the video by pulling a Clinton: he tried to redefine the meaning "situational awareness is". Situational awareness is just that: being aware of the situation. Plain and simple. This was in reponse to Bush's televised interview a few days ago where he said that there was no situational awareness, i.e. he was not aware of the situation!!! Then, the explosive video prooving his and Chertoff's aloofness to the "situational awarenessness"(Ha ha ha... I think that's funny) is released and BOOM!!! all hell breaks loose. Duffy said President Bush was aware of the situation, that the situational awareness he was refering to was on the ground, with comunication between teams on the ground. Duffy went on to define situational awareness as awareness of the lack of communication on the ground because cell phone towers were down. What the hell? Since when does the military use cell phones? The military uses SATELLITE PHONES WITH SATELLITES IN SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A hurricane ain't gonna go to space and knock our satellites out! If it does, then I'll name it Hurricane. E.T., I lay royal claim to the first alien hurricane in the world! You could see Duffy cringing as he tried to morph the phrase into something that did not sound completely and utterly imbecilic, yet still worked to get the president off the hook. He failed.

If Michael Brown was unfairly made a scapegoat by the Bushies, I truly apologize. And I do think that there is reason to believe Brown was demonized unfairly. That said, Brown was still a Bush crony that got the job through connections, not qualifications. His performance would have to be evaluated now that this new information is out, it might have been good, bad, I don't know. But when he came in he certainly did not have the experience and qualifications for the position. My criticism in the regard stands. Would someone else have fared better during Katrina? WHo knows? You do not always have to be a professional to do a good job, othewise people would never know that they can be good at more than one career. It is not up to me to judge Michael Brown performance during Katrina, but it is fair to say that I no longer view him as the failure he was made out to be. I am sorry for that. My shift has moved on completely to the White House and Michael Chertoff at Homeland Security. Not only did they screw up the response, and as a result many people died, and many are still missing, and many lost everything, and the reconstruction is still a mess, they also lied and are still trying to lie in an effort to saved their lying asses!!

Ex-FEMA chief says video vindicates him

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