Saturday, November 05, 2005


Mired in Controversy, Bush Turns to Miers

The Administration's standard "just ignore it and hope goes away" approach to reality having failed, Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings. Too little, much too late.

I find particularly interesting the person running these seminars: Harriet (Bush is Intelligent) Meiers.
A senior aide said Bush decided to mandate the ethics course during private meetings last weekend with Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and counsel Harriet Miers. Miers's office will conduct the ethics briefings.
(Source: Washington Post Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings, Nov. 5, 2005. Emphasis added.)
An appropriate response immediately after the Plame affair started, this feeble response smacks of Karl Rove's weakening influence on policy. After all, Karl apparently wasn't at those meetings and has always been of the "don't apologize, just tell more outrageous lies about the opposition" school of crisis management. (There's an old joke about a politician in a close race ordering a naive campaign aide to start a whisper campaign about his opponent's carnal attraction to barnyard animals. The aide was shocked: "We can't accuse our opponent of being a pig-f**ker - besides, nobody will believe it!" "I know" the politician replied, "but let's make that idiot go on TV and deny it!" Karl Rove's success stems from viewing this story as a template rather than as a joke.)

Friday, November 04, 2005


More Republican "Values"

Don't any of these people have any morals?
Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Washington investigating the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff, it was announced on the floor of the House of Representatives today.
Ney has received campaign contributions from Abramoff and has accepted favors, including dinners at the lobbyist's downtown restaurant, fundraisers such as one at the lobbyist's MCI Center box, and a golfing trip to Scotland in August 2002, according to public records, e-mails, interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
If statements made by Abramoff to tribal officials and in an e-mail are to be believed, Ney sought the Scotland trip after he agreed to help Abramoff's Texas Indian clients. Abramoff then arranged for his charity to pay for the trip, according to documents released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating the lobbyist.
(Source: Washington Post Ney Subpoenaed in Abramoff Probe, Nov 4, 2005.)
Of course, none of these people would ever have taken questionable payments if only the 10 Commandments were posted in public schools... ;)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Cornered Rats

The party of "values" marches on:
Norton Ex-Aides Clash on Lobbyist's Influence
Lawyer Says He Accused Griles of Aiding Abramoff

By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 3, 2005; Page A19

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton's former legal counselor yesterday accused J. Steven Griles, the department's recently departed second in command, of improperly trying to meddle in decisions affecting tribal clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Former legal counselor Michael G. Rossetti, seated beside Griles before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he repeatedly rebuffed Griles's efforts and, at one point, confronted him in front of other officials. He accused Griles of attempting to do Abramoff's bidding on an issue affecting the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana, an Abramoff gambling client.
Pay to play...


More Rats Desert Sinking Bush Yacht of State

Too bad we weren't hearing this in 2004:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States risks losing sight of some key foreign policy issues, including relations with China and the Muslim world, because of its "single-minded focus" on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former senior Pentagon official said.

"We have to put the search radar on again for the rest of the world," said Suzanne Patrick, who resigned as defense undersecretary for industrial policy in July.
Patrick blasted the Pentagon's management of its biggest weapons programs, saying the Defense Acquisition Board tends to look at individual weapons programs rather than taking a broader view of the military's ability to fight and win wars.

"At no point is the enterprise truly managed," she added.
(Source: Reuters Iraq focus imperils US, ex-Pentagon official says Nov. 2, 2005.)
Not that this wasn't obvious before, but why wasn't it being covered until after Hurricane Katrina?


Tort Reform Needed for New Orleans Levee Builders

Looks like a bunch of "frivilous" lawsuits are about to be filed. Terrible how people try to shift blame from their own decision to live behind flood walls to the folks that told them those walls were safe:
Levees' Construction Faulted In New Orleans Flood Inquiry
Contractors' Misdeeds May Have Led to Breaches, Panel Is Told

By Joby Warrick and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 3, 2005; Page A03

Investigators yesterday added a possible new explanation for some of the flooding that devastated New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: contractors who may have skimped on construction materials in building the city's floodwalls and levees.

Experts probing the cause of the flooding have received at least a dozen allegations of major cheating by builders and possibly others involved in levee construction, two investigators said in testimony before a Senate panel. They said these were potentially criminal acts that may well have contributed to the collapse of the city's flood-control system on Aug. 29.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Another Day, Another Crony

Bush uses the Katrina disaster to pay off yet another crony:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 - The Bush administration on Tuesday named Donald E. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission and a former Texas banker with long ties to President Bush, to coordinate the federal role in rebuilding the parts of the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Before being named by Mr. Bush in 2001 to lead the deposit insurance agency, Mr. Powell was chief executive of the First National Bank of Amarillo. In the 1990's, as governor of Texas, Mr. Bush named Mr. Powell to be chairman of the Board of Regents at Texas A&M University. Mr. Powell was one of Mr. Bush's leading fund-raisers in the 2000 presidential campaign.
But he has no direct experience overseeing large-scale rebuilding efforts of the sort being undertaken by officials in Louisiana and Mississippi.
(Source: New York Times F.D.I.C. Chairman Picked to Oversee Gulf Recovery, Nov. 2, 2005)
Maybe Bush felt a banker would have experience evicting despirate people from their homes...


Geneva Convention - Just a Scrap of Paper?

Apparently the Bush Administration has just as much trouble following international law as it does following domestic law:
The Bush administration is embroiled in a sharp internal debate over whether a new set of Defense Department standards for handling terror suspects should adopt language from the Geneva Conventions prohibiting "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" treatment, administration officials say.

Advocates of that approach, who include some Defense and State Department officials and senior military lawyers, contend that moving the military's detention policies closer to international law would prevent further abuses and build support overseas for the fight against Islamic extremists, officials said.

Their opponents, who include aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and some senior Pentagon officials, have argued strongly that the proposed language is vague, would tie the government's hands in combating terrorists and still would not satisfy America's critics, officials said.
(Source: New York Times Detainee Policy Sharply Divides Bush Officials, Nov 2, 2005.)
The really interesting thing here is that dissident BushCo folks are apparently leaking to the press in an attempt to rein in Dick Cheney and the cattle prod gang. Is this the first group of rats deserting the sinking BushCo ship of state?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


US Human Rights Record Sinks Further

Don Rumsfeld says only "Scooter" Libby is entitled to a fair trial:
Rumsfeld defends UN visit curbs
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he will not allow UN human rights monitors free access to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
Mr Rumsfeld said he was rejecting the monitors' request for free access because the Red Cross had "complete and total access".
The Red Cross does not make its findings public in order to preserve its access to prisons that might otherwise be closed to them.
(Source: BBC News Nov. 1, 2005 (emphasis in original)
The Bush Administration's position looks alot like pre-Katrina New Orleans: one good storm will breach their defenses and flood them out. Hopefully soon...


Supreme Court Nomination Battle Obscures Plame Leak?

After all, if we're all paying attention to Scalia Lite, we're missing little gems like this:
Cheney's new security adviser linked to bogus information on Iraq

By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel

Knight Ridder Newspapers (Oct.31,2005)

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as his national security adviser on Monday with an aide identified by a former Iraqi exile group as the White House official to whom it fed information on Iraq that turned out to be erroneous.
The White House announced on Monday the elevation of John Hannah to replace Libby as Cheney's national security adviser. ...
On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group through a U.S.-funded effort called the Information Collection Program. Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the letter and previously reported on it.

The letter, written by Entifadh Qanbar, then the director of the INC's Washington office, identified 108 articles in leading Western news media to which it said the INC had funneled the same information that it fed to Hannah, as well as a senior Pentagon official.
So much corruption, so little competence - Maybe voters would pay attention to it if Paris Hilton was involved.


Orcinus Explains Our Peril

From Orcinus's post The Ultimate NewSpeak
Our collective forgetfulness about the economic nature of fascism is also dangerous at a more philosophical level. As contradictory as it may seem, fascist dictatorship was made possible because of the flawed notion of freedom which held sway during the era of laissez-faire capitalism in the early twentieth century. It was the liberals of that era that clamored for unfettered personal and economic freedom, no matter what the cost to society. Such untrammeled freedom is not suitable to civilized humans. It is the freedom of the jungle. In other words, the strong have more of it than the weak. It is a notion of freedom which is inherently violent, because it is enjoyed at the expense of others. Such a notion of freedom legitimizes each and every increase in the wealth and power of those who are already powerful, regardless of the misery that will be suffered by others as a result. The use of the state to limit such "freedom" was denounced by the laissez-faire liberals of the early twentieth century. The use of the state to protect such "freedom" was fascism. Just as monopoly is the ruin of the free market, fascism is the ultimate degradation of liberal capitalism.

There's a lot more, and it is all very frightening.

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