September 30, 2005

Right-Wing Week In Review

As I was pondering my topic for this week’s article, I kept my eyes and ears open around the news as I usually do, and came to the conclusion that I could simply do a week-in-review and highlight the corruption & incompetence of the Bush Administration, the Republicans in Congress, and the right-wing religious ideologues. So here’s my roundup of this week’s events.

Bill Frist Pulls A Martha Stewart

Dr. Frist gets my vote as most corrupt politician for the week. Of course selling stock just before it tanks because you have inside information is nothing new. Sure, it’s illegal (just ask Martha Stewart), but I have no doubt that it’s done all the time.

But this particular scandal is different. Regardless of whether or not Bill Frist was privy to inside information (think about it – his father and brother formed the corporation), there’s a special twist to this story. The investments were being held in what is called a ‘Blind Trust’. For the uninitiated, a ‘Blind Trust’ is a special kind of investment portfolio specifically for politicians who might otherwise be in position to legislate to the betterment of the industry and/or companies with which they hold investments. The whole intention is to control the appearance/perception of a conflict of interest. Not only was Frist apparently privy to inside information, but the so-called ‘Blind Trust’ wasn’t exactly blind as he was both receiving updates and directing the trustees to make specific trades.

Ladies & gentlemen - this is the epitome of corruption. It’s all about wielding power for profit. The Republicans do that well. And to think, this guy is thinking of running for president in ’08. Then again, insider trading doesn’t disqualify you from being president. Just ask George W. Bush about his sale of Harken Energy stock just before that stock tanked. Of course Dubya wasn’t held accountable on that scandal. Why? Because daddy was president!

Tom Delay Indicted

It’s about time this scumbag came to justice. One of the most corrupt politicians still in office, Tom Delay has come to symbolize the reason I loathe Republicans. He squeezed hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside corporate interests to finance his re-districting scheme in Texas which took house seats away from Democrats and handed them to Republicans.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Delay has been in trouble in Congress. He’s been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee for slimy kickbacks from lobbyists for lavish vacations. He tried to change the rules in Congress to keep his position as House Leader even after being indicted, but that scheme kicked back as the rest of the House didn’t want to be associated with his corruption. Now Tom Delay has stepped aside from his House Majority Leader role and will fight his case. He’ll probably win his case since the Republicans control Congress & the Supreme Court, but as long as he keeps Republican corruption in the news, I’m okay with that. Maybe it’ll make a difference in 2006.

The War on Porn

I guess the FBI has too much time on their hands. And since idle hands are the devil’s tools, George (and I’m sure his religious, right-wingnuts) had to give them something constructive to do. We don’t need them to investigate scandals, keep our country safe, or bring dangerous criminals to justice. We need them to police the country for pornography!

Yes, I’ll rest comfortably knowing the country is safe from nudie pictures.

Lyndie England Convicted

This week we’re once again reminded how those in the Bush Administration step on people as they grab power. The atrocities at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are a symbol of Bush’s arrogance and one of many catalysts for the rest of the world to hate us (if they didn’t hate us enough already).

Lyndie England was one peon, amongst many, who participated in the mistreatment of the prisoners in this particular prison. Her face came to symbolize the prisoner abuse scandal as she posed for pictures in the act. However, the abuse of prisoners was not an isolated incident that only happened at Abu Ghraib. It was a systemic strategy of mistreating & torturing prisoners in Bush’s war on Muslims…. er… s’cuse me… War on Terror. It had to have originated right from the top because we saw the same patterns of abuse at other prisons.

The person who wrote the book on forgoing the Geneva Convention and opening the door to prisoner abuse was Alberto Gonzalez. Was HE punished for an illegal & immoral strategy of abusing prisoners and inciting worldwide hatred? Noooooo…. He was promoted, of course.

Hurricane Katrina Hearings

This natural disaster reminded us of several facets of corruption in the Bush Administration. Not only is our country far from being protected in the event of an emergency (with billions of dollars spent on homeland security and not much to show for it), and not only has Bush filled critical roles in government with loyalists instead of qualified people, but once again we saw a Bush crony not accepting responsibility for his own incompetence as Michael Brown went before the senate committee and blamed everyone except himself for the poor preparation and response in the early days of the catastrophe.

By the way, we also saw how the Republicans refused to have an independent investigation on the Katrina disaster. Instead, they would rather investigate themselves. Sure, that’ll work.

Geena For President

This week saw the premiere of a new show on ABC (Tuesday nights @ 9:00pm EST) called “Commander In Chief”. There was no secret about the premise of the plot – a woman (played by Geena Davis), who was Vice President, becomes President of the United States after the president dies. Conservatives cried foul because they think it’s a liberal conspiracy to pave the way for Hillary in ’08. And what if it is?

I’ve long since thought that our country would do well with a woman in the Oval Office. First of all, no one could screw things up any worse then George W. Bush already has. But I think a woman as the leader of our country might bring real compassion to the office; as opposed to the ‘compassionate conservative’ lie that Bush used as empty rhetoric.

We should have a leader who ISN’T hell-bent on wielding power and making his/her cronies wealthier. We should have a leader who DOESN’T speak out of testosterone and think with his penis. We should have a leader who is brilliant, intellectual, curious, compassionate, forward-thinking, sensitive, and overall decides what’s best for the country and the people, instead of what’s best for big business and religious, evangelical zealots.

What I didn’t know about this show until I finally watched the first episode is that she’s also an Independent. I immediately thought – “What a great idea!” Not only is the new President a woman, but she’s also NOT a partisan crony. In fact, she’s a Washington outsider. How better to bring the country together!

I wouldn’t be surprised if the balance of the series is all about her battling stereotypical bigotries, but for right now I’m simply tickled with the creativity of the concept. I just hope the show has her governing with sensibility, heart, and passion, instead of back scratching, paybacks, and cronyism. We have enough of that in our real government.

September 23, 2005

Tax & Spend (neo)Conservatives

As the “Tax & Spend (neo) Conservatives” have been bankrupting our country for the past 5 years, let’s take a look at the similarities between the Iraq & Katrina debacles.

After all the shellacking the Democrats took from Republicans, being called “Tax & Spend Liberals”, I thought it was time to return the favor. Since the ‘fiscally conservative’ Republicans have been in charge of all three branches of government, have they not earned the title of “tax & spend”? Sure, you might have been the beneficiary of some tax cuts if you’re rich, but haven’t you been paying for it so many other ways? And surely, won’t our descendents will be paying for it for years to come?

And what about the spending? Have the ‘fiscally conservative’ Republicans held the line on spending? Or perhaps the $300b+ on the debacle in Iraq just doesn’t count. Now we have the Katrina disaster in the Gulf to clean up, followed by another in Hurricane Rita, and another $200b-$300b+ or so to borrow. The truth is, under the Bush Administration, the colossal spending won’t end. As we dump another couple hundred billion into Iraq over the next couple of years to pay for Bush’s war, our deficit & debt will balloon out of control, and he’ll continue to refuse to back off of tax cuts for rich people.

Two Disasters – Iraq & Katrina – What’s Changed?

What really strikes me as uncanny, are the similarities between the Iraq & Katrina disasters. In each debacle the most affected & impacted people were the poor/minority/underprivileged, of whom George and his henchmen couldn’t care less about. And in each debacle, Bush’s rich corporate-pilfering cronies were/are able to capitalize.

The Underprivileged

If you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, chances are you’ve been screwed over by the Bush Administration. If you’re an Iraqi Muslim, chances are you were killed when Bush bombed the crap out of your country, or you’re in a prison being tortured. If you’re still alive and not in prison, you’re living in fear with minimal running water & electricity.

If you’re black and/or poor in New Orleans, chances are you’re dead after waiting so long for a federal response to the hurricane, or you’re displaced and living out of a shopping bag with no home to return to. If you’re a blue-collar tradesperson, trying to find work again in the hurricane relief reconstruction effort, chances are you’re earning minimum wage after Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which would ensure prevailing wages (Bush claimed it was a way to speed development, but it was really a rouse for fucking over workers).

The Privileged

Without a doubt, Bush’s main priority in everything he does and every decision he makes, is to benefit his already-rich political cronies. In both debacles the rich, Republican-led companies were able to profit on multi-million, even multi-billion dollar contracts. And in both debacles, Bush suspended the standard governmental bidding process, opening the door for corruption & profiteering. Of course he claimed it was an effort to speed up the process, but it was really a way to give no-bid contracts to Halliburton, Bechtel, and the like. After all, why should they have to compete like normal companies?


In each debacle the Bush Administration was ill prepared. This is largely because Bush puts absolutely no credence in planning. He doesn’t think about what it would take to accomplish a given result, and makes no attempt to prepare for the tasks to get there. In the Iraq disaster he stormed in with no real plan of how to get beyond the initial invasion, and in New Orleans he repeatedly cut funding that might have secured the levees and preserved the wetlands. It’s impossible to predict if adequate funding to the Gulf region flood-control projects would’ve kept the levees from faulting, but it’s a common opinion that the damage in New Orleans would have been lessened.


We all know how George sat in a classroom for 7 minutes reading “My Pet Goat” as the United States was under attack. We all know how George attacked Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and lied to the American people about how Saddam was harboring WMD’s and had connections to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attack. We all know how George and his henchmen have completely, repeatedly, and utterly bungled the war effort making it colossal disaster for years to come.

Now we know how Bush ignored the hurricane relief effort in the first 4 days after Katrina hit. In that time he was going about his business of politicking, fund-raising, playing guitar, and ignoring Cindy Sheehan. Why the rush anyhow? After all, it was just a couple hundred thousand poor & black people? No need for urgency.

Is this what you would consider the performance of a leader?

Blame & Responsibility

It might have sounded like Bush was “… accepting responsibility…” for the federal government’s incompetence several days after the Katrina hurricane decimated New Orleans. It was a half-hearted, lame attempt to con the American people while his approval ratings sank below the New Orleans toxic sludge. He didn’t really accept responsibility, and certainly has never admitted he did anything wrong. In the Iraq debacle, Bush has never admitted he did anything wrong, even though his rationale for going to war was debunked and subsequently changed… repeatedly. Of course it was never his fault. It was all due to faulty intelligence. Yeah George, you have faulty intelligence. I’ll buy that!

Then there are the people Bush chooses to head up critical tasks. We all know by this point the incompetence of the person Bush put in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Clearly, that lack of ability severely impacted the response and performance of FEMA and the lives of thousands of people. But Brownie did a heck of a job, didn’t he! In Iraq, Bush put Paul Bremer in charge of the Coalition Provision Authority (CPA), which was tasked with transitioning the country between the conclusion of ‘major military operations’, and the handover to the interim government. Before Bremer concluded his assignment, $8.8b was mysteriously missing. It’s fair to judge a person by the people they select and surround themselves with. Look at who Bush has selected and surrounded himself with, and you’ll see incompetence & corruption.


Whether it’s the Iraq or Katrina disasters, nothing has changed on so many levels. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent, underprivileged people will get shafted, rich people will get richer, there’ll be massive impact due to a lack of planning & poor decision-making, and neither Bush nor his cronies will ever be at fault as they lie at every juncture.

What has changed? Well, the enemy for one. In the Katrina disaster, the enemy was a mammoth hurricane. Fortunately, Bush can’t declare war on Mother Nature. Then again, since he doesn’t believe in Global Warming and refuses to do anything in an effort to protect the environment, I guess he already has.

September 16, 2005

Scandals, Corruption, & Lies. Oh My!

It must’ve been a long hot summer for George W. Bush, plagued with so many detrimental events that made his approval ratings plummet. Now that the summer is over, I thought it would be a good time to review and ‘summer-ize’ what happened in the name of neo-conservative governance.

What I found particularly ironic was that each time a scandal broke out and made George & Co. look bad; they got bailed out… by another scandal! No really – when was the last time you heard about the Downing Street Memos? Not since the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove scandal dominated the headlines. And when was the last time you heard about Val & Karl?

So, here’s my summary of the summah…

Social Security Privatization….er….Reform

The summer started out with George going on tour to promote his pet project to make his Wall Street buddies richer and decimate the New Deal. The country didn’t buy it, and his approval ratings plummeted.

Terri Schiavo

A woman in Florida lay helpless in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, kept alive only by feeding tubes. Her husband did everything he could for her, but finally decided it was time to move on. However, her parents still weren’t ready to let go.

As he tried to ‘pull her plug’ and let her die in peace, a national uproar emerged when the Republicans stepped in to grab the spotlight and ‘save’ Terri Schiavo. Even George W. Bush went out of his way to fly back to Washington ahead of schedule, to sign a bill steamrolled through by the Republican-dominated Congress, to keep Terri Schiavo’s feeding tubes in place. It was their “...culture of life…” statement.

In the end the ‘activist’ judges ruled that it was a private family matter and Congress had no business getting involved. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly how the people in this country felt by all accounts in the polls. But as the scandal heated up, the Republicans had egg on their faces, and their approval ratings plummeted.

The Downing Street Memos

Many of the people in this country already knew that George & the Neocons had duped us into war on Iraq with falsified intelligence. That’s right - FALSIFIED intelligence, not FAULTY intelligence. The 9/11 Commission didn’t have the chutzpah to come out and say that the Bush Administration deliberately lied, but they came pretty close. Instead they just blamed the ‘faulty’ intelligence.

The Downing Street Memos are clear-cut positive proof that Bush lied. He “.. fixed the intelligence around the policy..”. I thank the brave Brits who shared these documents with the world. As the Downing Street Memos gained momentum, Bush’s approval ratings plummeted.

The Valerie Plame Outing

Although this actually happened in 2002, this summer it was revealed that Karl Rove was the ‘Senior Administration Official’ who deliberately leaked the identity of an undercover CIA operative. Bush didn’t keep to his word and do anything about it. There’s no way he would consider firing his mentor – Karl Rove. Instead, his lies and hypocrisy bled through, and his approval ratings plummeted.

Cindy Sheehan & the Anti-War Movement

The anti-war movement was limited to the blogosphere until Cindy Sheehan stepped up and assumed the role of anti-war leader of this country. She’s simply an articulate, passionate lady who lost her own son over the quagmire in Iraq, and had the courage & backbone to take Bush to task. As George spent the entire month of August on vacation, Cindy spent the entire month on his doorstep, bringing attention to the sometimes-forgotten war he’s waging in the Middle East.

Keep an eye on this one because the anti-war movement is only going to get stronger. How do I know? Because it’s not going away. And as the anti-war movement strengthens, Bush’s approval ratings plummet.

Skyrocketing Gas Prices

This is the one that touches everybody. We all have to buy gas for our vehicles & heat/cool our homes, and the outrageous price of gas has had a huge impact to our collective pocketbooks. As Dick Cheney once said: “High gas prices are a sign of a failed presidency”. Let’s not forget that the price of gas began to soar long before the Katrina hurricane hit the Gulf coast. And as the price of gas rises, Bush’s approval ratings plummet.

The Iraqi Constitution

I won’t harp on the fact that the Iraqi National Assembly missed the deadlines Bush set for them… repeatedly. However, I will harp on the fact that the Iraqi Constitution, as it appears in draft, is a joke. Not only is it not supported by Sunni’s who are the basis of the insurgency, but the draft of the Constitution reportedly installs Islam as the country’s official religion. Doing so makes Iraq another Islamic Republic, akin to Iran... a theocracy where women are second-class citizens. The people in our country see right through this quagmire in Iraq, and as they do, Bush’s approval ratings plummet.

Hurricane Katrina

What started out as a deadly hurricane, turned into a complete disaster, and largely because of the way the Government handled it. The common opinion is that the Government failed at every level, but in particular, Bush himself was (and still is) heavily criticized for the way he leisurely went about his politicking and fundraising while poor black people in New Orleans suffered and died. There’s a truckload of more criticism to go around, certainly too much for this short essay, but suffice to say - you guessed it - Bush’s approval ratings plummeted.

Yeah, the summer couldn’t be over soon enough for George. Now that fall has arrived, we have to ask ourselves: What scandal will next divert our attention from the Katrina catastrophe?

September 09, 2005

A Matter Of Priorities

The last 2 weeks have been an eye-opener for me. Yeah, I despise George W. Bush and his whole administration, and I’ve given so many examples why over the course of my column, but these past 2 weeks I’ve seen a particular arrogance that deserves special attention.

Prepare or Attack?

It started with a horrible catastrophe out of the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve read so many accounts of how the Bush Administration is to blame for what you’d normally think was an act of God. After all, how can anyone control the weather? Whether it’s preparation or response or anything in between, clearly George W. Bush hasn’t done anything right over what is arguably the worst natural disaster in United States’ modern history. There can be no arguing the undisputed fact that a disaster like this was well warned, and the Bush Administration chose to avoid doing anything about it. Instead, they chose to wage war in Iraq. Instead of protecting the homeland, they chose to lie to us about national security, and bomb the crap out of a sovereign nation that was no threat. Instead of addressing domestic issues of vital importance, they chose to concentrate their resources on grabbing the Middle East oil.

It’s a matter of priorities. Instead of aiding the poor, needy, sick & elderly, George would rather help his rich friends get richer. Instead of securing the levees in New Orleans and preserving the wetlands to protect the Gulf coast from a major catastrophe, George would rather give his oil company friends subsidies to drill in ANWR.

So where are we now? If the price of gas hadn’t climbed up enough over George’s complete-and-total-fuck-up in Iraq, his complete-and-total-fuck-up here at home caused the natural disaster of Katrina to be utterly catastrophic, and that opened the door for his oil buddies to gouge the price of gas even more. Has there been a shortage of gas? I certainly haven’t seen any gas lines like the early 70’s… just outrageous prices. And you can mark my words – these gas prices will have an immense impact on our economy. We haven’t even begun to see the domino effect of the skyrocketing cost of energy.

Appointments: Competence or Loyalty?

Another one of Bush’s many complete-and-total-fuck-ups was appointing someone as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who was (and still is) utterly unqualified. We’re hearing recently that what little experience Michael Brown had dealing with emergencies was fabricated… er … exaggerated on his resume. Before heading up the government’s critical agency for disaster preparedness, Michael Brown served in the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA)…. where he was fired.

This has been one of the many hallmarks of Bush’s fucked-up priorities – appointing people to responsible positions based on loyalty instead of qualifications, capability, competence, & experience. And if you don’t believe that, do a little research on the extent of former Enron executives attaining positions in the federal government long after that scandal broke. In addition, Bush has consistently & repeatedly appointed people to positions of regulation & oversight, who came from the lobbies or industries they are tasked to regulate & oversee. In addition, Bush has consistently & repeatedly appointed judges who have previously attacked the very fiber of our civil rights.

And speaking of judicial appointments…

Once again, it’s a matter of priorities. George barely cut his 5-week vacation short by a couple of days, but long after the worst natural disaster in history had already destroyed much of our Gulf coast. However, no sooner did William Rehnquist’s dead body hit the floor did George have John Roberts’ nomination upgraded to Chief Justice. When I heard this, I simply could not believe my ears.

John Roberts, who has just over two years of judicial experience, is questionable to even be on the Supreme Court in the first place, and now George wants him to take over the highest court in the country? This is the same John Roberts who heard arguments involving the Bush Administration’s Guantanamo Bay torture policies, while at the same time interviewing for the Supreme Court job.

Clearly this is a power play move to control the last bastion of our government (as if he didn’t already have enough control over the Supreme Court). He’s already taken over the Legislative branch with Tom Delay, Bill Frist & company doing much of his scandalous dirty work, and now he’ll completely control the Judicial branch too, for years to come.

I guess any semblance of ‘checks-&-balances’ in our Government just went right out the window, right behind conflicts-of-interest. Can you say “dictatorship”? How ‘bout “fascism”?

September 02, 2005

Throwing Good Money After Bad

George W. Bush’s most recent justification for his stay-the-course ‘strategy’ was to “…honor the lives of our fallen troops by completing the mission…” (in so many words). Cindy Sheehan paraphrased his remark by saying that George W. Bush justifies continuing the war and sending more troops to die because so many have already died. I’d like to paraphrase it a little differently…

Yet another ‘used car’ analogy

Let’s say you bought a used car with over 90,000 miles on it. In the first 3 months you found that you had to replace the tires, brakes, and exhaust system. A couple of months later you had to replace the carburetor & valve-cover gasket. Then the fuel pump. Then the air conditioning broke and you decided not to fix it because it would be too expensive. A couple of months later you found you had major engine problems and the cost to fix it would be over $3,000. When do you decide that the cost of fixing this lemon isn’t worth it? When do you decide not to throw good money after bad?

This is how I look at the Iraq invasion/occupation/war/quagmire (and please don’t think I’m equating our fallen troops with a problematic used car or ‘bad’ money). It’s about making decisions. We make decisions every day about what to do and how to do it. We make decisions all the time about what to buy and how much to spend… or not to spend. Often we make decisions that reverse our earlier decisions, if we realize that the earlier decision was not the correct one. That’s called ‘learning from our mistakes’.

George W. Bush has not learned from his mistakes because he exists in some kind of bubble that constantly reinforces that he hasn’t made any mistakes. This is both pathetic and dangerous. It’s pathetic because the leader of our country, and arguably the most powerful man in the world (if that wasn’t pathetic enough), thinks he’s infallible, never makes any mistakes, and never learns. It’s dangerous because the decisions he has made have been worldwide catastrophic and have already cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

The New Iraq

The ever changing rational for invading Iraq has evolved to “… bringing democracy & freedom to the people of Iraq…” (in so many words). We’ve already been through the WMD / threat to our country / linkage to al Qaeda, 911, & OBL / and regime change rhetoric. Now the whole reason is to bring democracy & freedom to the Iraqi people, and somehow that will protect our way of life. Yes, we’re ‘liberating’ the Iraqi people, and it’s only costing us $186,000,000 / day.

But what will the ‘new’ Iraq be like? Well for one, we know that the new Iraq is already destined for perpetual violence as the Sunni faction of the population refuses to succumb to the American-coerced government. They boycotted the election, continue to perpetuate the insurgency, and snubbed the new constitution.

And what about that new constitution? Early reports are that the constitution, assuming it successfully prevails, will install Islam as the official religion of Iraq and the basis of their government. So after we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars to facilitate a regime change in this country, we’re replacing a secular dictatorship with an Islamic Republic. We’re essentially replacing a government that was NOT religion-based, with a government that IS.

And what about the Islamic religion?

First of all let me reiterate something I’ve said repeatedly in previous articles. I fully advocate that everyone in the world should be able & free to practice their own religion, whatever it is, privately, bound only by the constraints of respecting, and not interfering in, the rights of others. That includes human rights by the way. Every human being should be allowed to pray to God, Adonai, Allah, Buddha, or whoever or whatever they want. Every human being should be allowed to have their own faith in what they believe or not believe if they so choose. However, I’m vehemently opposed to any religious beliefs being infused into government, law, or public policy. Religious beliefs are much too diverse to be forced upon anyone, but that would be the case if a religion were controlling the government.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not an expert on the Islamic religion. One thing that I do know however is that the Islamic religion does not treat women equally to men. While I personally oppose such a belief, I continue to support the Islamic religion’s prerogative to believe it. However, I don’t support the Islamic religion (or any religion for that matter) as a basis for government. This would mean that women would continue to be treated as second-class citizens, with minimal rights compared to men.

Mr. Bush, is this what you meant by bringing democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq? Did you really intend to bring democracy and freedom to just the men of Iraq? At what point do you decide that you’ve made a bad decision? At a cost of $186m / day, when do you decide that you’re throwing good money after bad?