Saturday, December 13, 2003

The pallor of the press

With the ink not yet dry on the report of the Pentagon's investigation of Halliburton for overcharging the US on gasoline purchases, Bush demands repayment and touts that this development shows how diligently his Defense Department is monitoring the Iraq reconstruction contractors. The WaPo, supposedly a watchdog of the administration, reports the foregoing today as if it's the entire story.

But of course it isn't, and WaPo knows it. California Congressman Henry Waxman has been complaining for months about the gasoline overcharge only to be rebuffed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Reports of Waxman's claims were even published in WaPo, but no mention is made in today's story of the earlier charges and their denial.

The inference, of course, is that Bush and his cronies are dutifully minding the purse, when the opposite is true. They're pulling their hands from the cookie jar only when mommy catches them--and then claiming they were only counting the cookies.

This can be expected. But it's not expected that the press would let them come away from the report looking like auditor-heroes.

There's bad news and there's bad news

The failure of the summit of the European Union to reach a compromise on a constitutional provision dealing with voting power could have disastrous effects on the viability of the EU, particularly as it nears the date when a large bloc of east European nations is about to join. The deadlock pits France and Germany, in particular, against Spain and Poland, the former wanting a voting system that takes into account their greater populations (like our House of Representatives) and the latter wanting to stick with the method that counts each nation's vote equally (like our Senate). (A note: The split parallels those nations' attitude toward the US invasion of Iraq. Coincidence?)

This failure affects the US directly, it seems to me. A robust EU, with a strong economy, a large and vocal population, and political influence could operate as a counterweight to the US in world affairs, could contain the out-of-control pickup truck that Kyle describes below. Without it (witness the recent war in Iraq, where it was split severely on the advisability and propriety of US policy) our nation can blunder on with impunity.

Some say the Cold War was less dangerous than now because the two blocs contained each other. I'm not certain of that, but I am certain that with Bush at the wheel and no cops on patrol, get the hell off the road!

Friday, December 12, 2003

Boomerang Boneheads

I can't agree that this is the most ugly event in American history. I think the Civil War will always hold that title. But Jan 2001 to the end of the Bush fiasco may go down in history as a close second. We are living in a time of insanity. This Administration is a big menacing pickup truck, tearing across the ranch and loosing lug nuts and hubcaps in every direction. How long before we're running on the rims? Are we now?

I don't think George W. Bush is really at the wheel at all. I think he's sittin' on the hood, takin' potshots at trees and hollerin' at the cattle. So who's drivin'? Beats me, but that ol' rattlesnake Rumsfeld has run roughshod long enough. Time for that boy to turn in his spurs.

"It is equal to live in a tragic land to live in a tragic time."
--Wallace Stevens

Bush's "peurile taunts"

WaPo's essay about the substance of my "Bring 'em On Redux" post says it all. The "incoherence" of Bush's handling of "postwar" Iraq (in addition, of course, to his monstrous invasion in the first place) has finally gained some traction.

Maybe the Bush-lovers don't care how many young Americans die in Afghanistan and Iraq, or how many Afghanis and Iraqis are killed by our troops. Maybe they don't care how mad it is to try to impose our version of democracy on a populace that yearns to govern itself, in its own way. Maybe they don't care how many tax dollars are burned up in support of our supposed war on terr'r. But this, by God, they care about: Fraud, corruption and waste of our tax dollars.

Here's what I think. This Halliburton/BKR overcharge issue is going to open up the entire question of the misuse of our money in Iraq, the failure to use Iraqis and their business for rebuilding, the skimming of dollars for unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork, etc. I think we have a real scandal in the making, which, together with the rebuff Bush gave to France, Germany, Russia and Canada in the rebuilding contracts, could turn the tide against this most ugly event in American history.

Time for a bit of Humor?

Care to end your worried week on a light note? Here are a bunch of signs spotted at the peace march in Washington in January. And if you get to the bottom and go to page 4, there's a handy list of the differences between the US Govt and the Terr'rists. It helps to be able to keep them Humor section

And remember, It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

"Bring 'em on" redux

From The Independent:

Bush laughs off critics of 'spoils of war' bidding
George Bush poured fuel on the flames of the Iraq contracts dispute yesterday with a sneering dismissal of a suggestion by the German Chancellor that the decision to bar Germany, France Russia and Canada from bidding might violate international law.

"International law? I'd better call my lawyer," the American President joked in response to a reporter's question at the White House.

The lunatics are running the war on terr'r

We drop bombs on kids in Afghanistan (again). We spend millions of dollars to train Iraqi troops, only to have one-third of them desert before they see duty. We announce that the upcoming contracts for "rebuilding" Iraq will be delayed, after massive complaints about the Pentagon's decision to allow only coalition countries to bid on them; on the next day, we ask the same countries we excluded to forgive Iraq's debt to them. We direct the Iraq ministry to stop tallying the country's war dead.

Meanwhile, our dead are piling up, killed by "toy cars, Coke cans and animal carcasses."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A diversion

Even I, an inveterate Bush-bashing websurfer, need an occasional vacation, and so I surf over here, where all is revealed.

Many of you have already found the site, I'm sure. Those of you that haven't--enjoy. But don't forget to come back here if you can pull yourself away.

Consider the source

It's arch-conservative, Bush-backing William Kristol, in a WaPo column--and he lucidly points the way to a Dean victory over Bush in 2004. He doesn't wish it, of course, but he demonstrates that it could indeed happen.
Read it and rejoice!

I persist in doubting the obvious

The latest madness: The Pentagon (Wolfowitz) has determined to exclude from bidding on Iraq reconstruction contracts any companies from nations that didn't support our invasion, most notably, by name, France, Germany and Russia. Part of the payback that Colin Powell warned them about.
I am amazed, again, again, at the audacity--the unvarnished, arrogant exercise of power--of this Administration.
I am amazed even more that I am amazed. I feel like the Jewish family in prewar Germany who kept saying, "It'll blow over," "They don't really mean it," and "They wouldn't dare." Well, next time I doubt, even for an instant, the utter evil of these madmen, please, somebody, hit me over the head with something--preferably soft, however, like a paperbackcopy of Mein Kampf.

An afterthought: Shouldn't the Iraqis have something to say about this?

Just Another Day of Capitalist Empire

Let's see.
Halliburton just got another $1 billion extension in its Iraq "reconstruction" contract--the third delay, to the dismay of its competitors who are still cut out of bidding.

The US Army is using Israeli special forces to train our troops in counterterroism tactics in Iraq. That's sure to calm Islam's doubts about our intentions.

The US Army is launching a massive assault in Afghanistan to dislodge the re-emerging Taliban forces.

The "Coaltion forces" in Iraq have jailed unfavorable locally-elected officials and are keeping them incommunicado in prison, unavailable for interview even by the network media, such as Sixty Minutes.

The Pentagon is seeking to establish new military bases in India and Pakistan to establish positions closer to "unstable areas."

Meanwhile, the dollar slides to new lows against foreign currencies, so that it now takes almost $1.225 to buy a euro. One effect of this 40% gain in the cost of foreign currencies is, of course, to imprison Americans here. No escape to Europe, the Far East, Australia--anywhere--at these rates.

A strongman with a moustache

A leading Australian newspaper predicts this develpment: The abandonment by the US of the creation of a "democratic" regime in Iraq in favor of rule by a single leader or group of tribal chieftans, a la the British means of imperial dominion. The "realists" in the Administration have taken charge over the Wolfowitzers, and have decided upon a course that will cause us to withdraw our troops "with dignity" to avoid the constant killings and yet maintain control over Iraq's resources.

It'll be amusing to observe Condi and the gang at work, shifting the rhetoric and with it the public's expectations, here and in Iraq.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The War on Terr'r

Okay, although it's cutesy to point out that our Harvard MBA President still can't pronounce his chosen term for his mortal enemy, there's a serious point to be made (many points, actually) about why this concept of a "war on terrorism" or "on terror" is a conceptual/political/intellectual fallacy that is doomed--and may be fatal to the warriors. This site sets forth a thorough and detailed exposition of the danger, indeed the idiocy, of such a concept. I ascribe to its analysis entirely.

Neocon 101

Who are the neoconservatives, anyway? I wanted some names, so I saddled up and went Googlin’.

Enjoy. Then vote ABB – Anybody but Bush.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

The miserable failure

I'm not sure how long it will remain so, but try Googling "miserable failure" (click "I'm feeling lucky") and check out whazzup. And speaking of same, here are the true job figures as analyzed by experts:

The upshot is that Miserable Failure's predictions about job creation due to his tax cuts are--you guessed it--a miserable failure. The specific numbers are found on the "Job Watch" link of the above website.

What's better than Teflon? The Memory Hole.

Reagan, the "Teflon President," managed to remain unblemished through scores of scandals, including Iran-Contra, the S&L collapse, and proven conflict-of-interest charges against members of his cabinet and staff. But at least some of these transgressions were aired in public forums: the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Finance Committee, the courts; and a few people (Keating, North, Poindexter, Abrahms, others) were made to face the music.

Not so with Bush. To name just this year's litany (so far), not including the items that haven't been inquired into at all, like Halliburton and Bechtel:
(1) The 9/11 investigation? Stonewalled, heading toward oblivion.
(2) The WMD--not their existence in Iraq, which slid below the radar months ago--the prewar intelligence (and its misuse) by the spooks, the neocons and the administration. Gone.
(3) Cheney's Energy Task Force. Disappeared.
(4) The Valerie Plame leak. Who's she?
(5) Kenny Boy. Ditto.

At some point, I believe (because I must believe it in order to retain my sanity) the mainstream press will awaken and inquire and persist, like they did during the Nixon years, the latter Johnson years and--with inordinate ferocity--the Clinton years.

I believe it, but so far see little evidence of it.

Orwell is amused

So, the present administration of the US government is creating its own TV channel to broadcast "the good news" from Iraq. Of course it is. At some point, the similarities to 1984 (as well as to 1939 Germany) will overwhelm. But until then, it's simply fun to watch Bush awash in his own false imagery, complaining that the news contains only blood and gore while he exploits blood and gore to his benefit.

I wonder how many viewers will tune into the new channel to watch paint dry on an Iraqi school?

Has it come to this? Apparently so.

Demolishing homes, holding relatives hostage, issuing ID cards, establishing checkpoints, creating razorwire barriers--Israeli tactics in Gaza and the West Bank--are now our tactics in villages in Iraq. How dumb can we be? We're supposedly trying to win the "hearts and minds" of the Muslim arabs, and yet we're imitating their enemy.

I'm convinced that by a year from now there will be continuing deaths in Iraq, the place will be in political shambles and because of the election Bush will try to cover all this with favorable spin. It's our job not to allow that to happen.