Sunday, October 23, 2005

Gap Between Rich and Poor Grows

For the fifth straight year the gap between the richest American’s and the rest of the work force continued to grow. Recently released I.R.S numbers for 2003 show that only Americans in the top 1% of the income bracket, or those who make over $327,000 per year saw a significant income increase. The bottom 99% of the workforce only saw their incomes increase by less the 2%, which didn’t even match the overall inflation rate of 2.3%.

The wealth disparity is so large that the top tenth of the richest 1% made more money then the poorest third of American workers combined. In contrast, the 1979 I.R.S report showed that the poorest third made more then the top tenth 1% of our wealthiest citizens. Between 2003 and 2004 the poverty rate of U.S. workers also increased by 1.1 million citizens, bringing the total number of Americans living at or below the poverty line up to massive 37 million. Meanwhile the number of Americans without healthcare of any kind increased to 45.8 million in 2004.

What’s happening to the U.S. workforce? Why is the gap between rich and poor, or even the middle class and mega wealthy growing so wide? A major problem is that the federal minimum wage is stuck at a sickly $5.15 an hour, with some states adding a dollar or two on top of that wage. With the current cost of living in certain regions of the country such as the Northeast, the minimum wage is not enough to survive on. The average house cost in Rhode Island is close to $300,000 with most houses going for well over that price. The cost of gas has skyrocketed in recent years, and the price of goods and services have increased, yet the workers wages remain stagnant, not even increasing high enough to match the inflation rate as the I.R.S points out. It’s not just those working for minimum wage or slightly above that are suffering the crunch, all workers white collar and blue collar alike aren’t seeing their wages increase much. However, as New York University economist Edward N. Wolf points out, most of the wage increases have come in the from of stock market gains and sharp rises in pay for chief executives. American workers can’t afford homes in their own states any longer, nor the gas to fill their cars, but we can all take comfort that the CEO’s of the country have seen their salaries go up by 9.5% in single year!

While the bulk of American’s flounder, the Bush administration continues to push its tax cuts for the wealthy and seeks to make them permanent. Even in the light of a growing massive deficit and the declining welfare of a majority of its citizens, the powers that be will not remove the damaging tax cuts or even consider raising the minimum wage to a livable standard. The administration and its wealthy masters are playing a dangerous economic game at their own risk. Even Alan Greenspan as quoted by the Christian Science Monitor recently stated at a Joint Economic Committee hearing that, "The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.... The Fed chief than added that the 80 percent of the workforce represented by nonsupervisory workers has recently seen little, if any, income growth at all."

As Greenspan stated, Democratic Capitalism itself is threatened by the ever-increasing income gap. This problem has gone far beyond partisan jabs and political bickering, the entire structure of the system is on the verge of collapse. A nation that has such incredible wealth owes a certain level of security to all its citizens. It needs to be mindful that the poverty numbers decrease and do not increase, that its citizen’s wages rise above the inflation rates or at the very least match those rates. A nation such as this owes healthcare to its citizens so that they do not get struck with massive medical bills when an untimely emergency strikes them from their work or family life. And last, this country’s leaders need to understand that this is a nation of the people and by the people, not of the billionaires, and for the corporate elite.

Travis Roberts
Blacksheep01@gmail.com

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Scott McClellan Enters the Spin Cycle

But it was Scott McClellan who took the brunt of Bush's tomfoolery at the White House press conference which followed the teleconference. (source) Unfortunately for Scott, he didn't know that the reporters already knew that the event was staged. (source) Hilarity ensued:
Q: Scott, why did the administration feel it was necessary to coach the soldiers that the President talked to this morning in Iraq?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're suggesting.

(snip)

Q: ...we asked you specifically this morning if there would be any screening of questions or if they were being told in any way what they should say or do, and you indicated no.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I don't think that's what the question was earlier today. I think the question earlier today was asking if they could ask whatever they want, and I said, of course, the President was - and you saw -

Q: And I asked if they were pre-screened.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: You saw earlier today the President was trying to engage in a back-and-forth with the troops...

(snip)

Q: But I also asked this morning, were they being told by their commanders what to say or what to do, and you indicated, no. Was there any prescreening of -

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of any such - any such activities that were being undertaken...
Worst. Press Secretary. Ever.

By the way, don't miss this Keith Olbermann segment on Bush's teleconference travesty - I promise you won't be disappointed!

Olbermann Part One
Olbermann Part Two
Olbermann Part Three

Videos hosted by CanOFun.com.

Worst Photo-Op Ever

What's a president to do when faced with growing public discontentment and crashing poll numbers? If you're George W. Bush, the answer is clear: try to focus the nation's attention away from what a jackass you are, and regain some of that pre-election military mojo.

Which is exactly what Our Great Leader attempted to do last week, holding a live teleconference with some troops from the 42nd Infantry Division, all of whom coincidentally happened to agree with all of the Bush administration's current talking points on Iraq. (source)

Here's George, participating in a totally spontaneous back and forth chat with the troops:



Wait a minute... the president appears to have dyed his hair. And lost some height. And turned into a woman.

Okay, you got me. That's not George W. Bush, that's Allison Barber of the Defense Department. And what was she doing there? Unfortunately for the Bush administration, the answer was revealed by the raw satellite feed streamed to news outlets before the teleconference began. The feed showed Ms. Barber carefully coaching the troops on what Bush was going to say, the techniques they should use when responding, and giving them an opportunity to rehearse their answers. (source) Some choice quotes:
"Master Sergeant Lombardo, when you're talking about the president coming to see you in New York, take a little breath before that so you can actually be talking directly to him. You've got a real message there, okay?"

(snip)

"If the question comes up about partnering how often do we train with the Iraqi military who does he go to?"

(snip)

"...if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit the hometown and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?"

(snip)

"But if he gives us a question that's not something that we've scripted, Captain Kennedy, you're going to have that mic, and that's your chance to impress us all."
Hmmm. "Not something we've scripted," eh?

Funnily enough, even though the event was totally stage-managed and pre-packaged, Our Great Leader still managed to make a complete hash of it. (source) Bush forgot about the satellite delay and talked across soldiers, stumbled over words and phrases (as usual), offered a completely disingenuous invitation for the troops to drop by and visit him any time they're in Washington, and at one point lost his earpiece. I mean, check out this exchange:
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something. Were you there when I came to New York?

SERGEANT LOMBARDO: Yes, I was, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought you looked familiar.

SERGEANT LOMBARDO: Well, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: I probably look familiar to you, too.
You know, sometimes I think the word "asshat" was invented specifically for George W. Bush.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Rogue Democrat: On Science

Life first appeared on this planet 3.8 billion years ago. You have no way of comprehending how mind-numbingly vast an expanse of time that is. If you could reduce each one of those years into a single second, you'd still be left with over 120 years.

Needless to say, a lot can happen in that amount of time. In that unimaginable collection of time, your ancestors at one point were uni-cellular, lived underwater, had scales, scampered about in the night and lived in caves. The hundreds of millions of generations between you and that first bacteria 3.8 billion years ago can be charted in continuous successions of pairs lucky enough to find each other, healthy enough to reproduce and fortunate enough to live just as long to repeat the process.

Of the species that once lived on Earth, 99.99 percent are gone now. And you have been presented with unbelievably favorable circumstances to be among the 0.01 percent of species still around.

These are facts, undeniable in the fossil record. But there are some people who choose to ignore facts and create a conflict between science and religion. But there shouldn't be a conflict because there's no such thing as science.

Pick up an object in front of you and let go. It falls to the ground. There, you're a scientist! You just observed something and formulated a theory. Things fall down: The Simplified Theory of Gravity. What you just did is no different that what scientists have done for centuries to figure out how stars burn or build nuclear submarines.

The very same rules that allow that submarine to traverse the ocean are the rules that govern how the sun generates heat and how that thing you dropped fell and how the trillions of atoms in your body don't fly apart and reduce you to a fine powder.

And yet many people create a conflict between science and religion. Many people of faith see science as a competing religion. And, in my opinion, I think some of them are afraid the scientists are winning.

They see scientists who cure diseases, put men on the moon and level cities with atomic weapons and become jealous. All of our miracles in recent years have been scientific ones. But how those miracles came about is no different than how you figured out how things fall down. There's nothing more than that. And it should be nothing to marvel at.

Science as a thing doesn't exist. Science is a process, not a set of statements. In that process (which we are still progressing), there are things that are not observable, and therefore, not knowable. Over the centuries, people of faith have filled in the gaps of those unknowable things with their own faith. That is why over the years we have believed that the earth is the center of the universe, demons cause disease and Intelligent Design exists.

The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is observable and falsifiable. Intelligent Design (ID) is not. It's not science. It's not even a theory. It's an idea, and it's based on poor thinking. One of the claims of ID proponents is that such complex biological systems such as your eye or the flagellum of a bacterium are not capable of being produced by chance.

That's a falsifiable claim. And it's been falsified. Scientists have plenty of data on how multi-cellular organisms with radial symmetry and no central nervous system developed light-sensitive cells to tell day from night. These cells are extraordinarily similar to the rod and cone cells in our retinas that allow us to see. It is only a short stretch to see how those cells could evolve over hundreds of millions of years into our eyes.

The core tenant of any theory is that it must make a prediction that is supported by evidence. That right there means that ID is not a theory. The best claim that ID can make is that because scientists don't know everything (yet), they can fill in the gaps with God. That is the same circular logic that led to people believing that demons caused disease and that you could cure them by drilling a hole in their head.

And yet proponents of ID believe it should be taught in our nation's science classrooms along with evolution. That's like teaching alchemy in chemistry class, astrology in astronomy class or flat-earth theory in geography class.

Would you like direct evidence of evolution? Go to BISC and get some bacteria. Put them on a slide and spray them with Lysol. Then watch as the bacteria that survived are now immune to the Lysol. You just watched evolution in action.

It's not as impressive as watching a rabbit give birth to a duck, but considering that life has been evolving for 3.8 billion years in such continuous steps as our Lysol-resistant bacteria, it becomes that much clearer how complex things such as your brain came about. Now I hope you use it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Rogue Democrat: The Neocon Agenda Failure

It sure sucks to be a conservative right now. President Bush's approval rating is again at an all time low, with the latest Gallup poll showing his approval at 40 percent and his disapproval at 58 percent. Of those polled, 59 percent said it was a mistake to go into Iraq and 63 percent believe we should pull all or some of our troops out now.

This is damning evidence of the failure of the neoconservative agenda. One of the main points for the neocons is to convince the people that their policies are what the people want; they're just following through on our mandate. But when the people make it painfully clear that the actions of our neocon leaders are anything but welcome, they have to shift the spin machine into overdrive.

"It's just that damn liberal media!" they yell. "The liberals are just using this catastrophe to hurt the president politically!" Because God forbid we blame people when they screw up. "These crazies in Washington are on the radical fringe!"

If there are any crazies on the radical fringe in Washington, it's the rally held by Kristinn Taylor of Free Republic. With headline speaker (and convicted felon) G. Gordon Liddy, her rally was supposedly about supporting the troops and honoring their sacrifices. But the funny thing is, they believe the best way to support the troops is to keep them in Iraq and make sure more of them come home sans limbs or in body bags.

The odd part about it is, the people at this rally were so oblivious to a little thing called reality, Taylor "said organizers were prepared for 20,000 people to attend the pro-military rally" when only a few hundred showed up.

Meanwhile, across town (and in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) a slightly larger rally took place in which speakers applauded the troops for their sacrifices and prayed for their safety. They promoted peace, protested George W. Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq, and pressured the administration into ending the bloodshed in Iraq by bringing our troops home. And they had slightly more than 20,000 people. Approximately 100,000 to be exact.

When you have hundreds of times as many people at a rally promoting bringing the troops home versus your rally which wants to keep them in harm's way, how can you call them "a radical fringe"? The same people at that rally must dress up and go to Star Trek conventions. It seems to me they're on the same level of reality.

This was especially evident in their bashing of Gold Star Mothers for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan. It seems these people honestly believe she is more responsible for soldiers dying in Iraq than Bush is. And I must admit I laughed when one of the speakers addressed the dozens gathered and called the 100,000 across the Mall, "out of the mainstream."

This is good news for America. Now that more and more are seeing how the Bush administration has failed the people of the United States time and time again, it makes it that much harder for the neocons to push their agenda on the populace. The people are seeing the agenda for what it is: a wolf in sheep's clothing. While pretending to be a mandate from the people, it is actually coming from the true radical fringe.

The thing is, if the architects behind the war in Iraq actually cared about the troops (or victory, for that matter), they would have a working exit strategy. Every day that goes by that the Pentagon doesn't release an exit strategy is another damning reason Donald Rumsfeld should be without a job. As Defense Secretary, he has failed miserably.

From the false assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to his reports that Iraqi citizens would greet us as liberators with sweets and roses as if we were a Valentine's Day date, he has neglected his duty countless times. If Bush wanted to save his political skin, he would fire Rumsfeld promptly.

Bush has already gotten slight praise for his taking responsibility for Katrina (not from me, though); maybe if he sacked Rumsfeld and hired someone who knew more about defense than handing out contracts, we might actually win the day in Iraq and bring our troops home that much sooner.

That is, if there actually is the possibility of a victorious outcome. Things aren't going particularly well over there, and the proposed Iraqi constitution is a massive blight in a war supposedly fought for freedom. Article 2 states that "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation ... No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam."

In an interview in the Christian Science Monitor, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Rend Rahim is worried about this development, and said that this passage could give way to "some interpretations [that] allow for men to beat their wives, give men more inheritance rights than women and consider a woman's testimony to be worth less than a man's when it comes to legal disputes."

Safia Taleb al-Suhail, the Iraqi woman who sat next to Laura Bush at the 2005 State of the Union Address, said in August, "When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment." But don't worry; Bush says "Freedom is on the march."

But nothing is too big to spin when it comes to neocons, as evidenced on the Aug. 28 episode of Meet the Press, in which director of PNAC's Middle East Initiative Reuel Marc Gerecht said to David Gregory:

"Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective."

So as you can see, freedom is on the march in Iraq, but only if you have a penis. But Gerecht's comments do strike me as almost wistful. It seems maybe he wishes America was more like it was in 1900.

So now that the anti-war movement is the mainstream, you can hold your head high, America. The neocon-driven nightmare is almost over, just as long as you keep fighting the good fight. As environmentalist Edward Abbey once said, "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Rogue Democrat: Hell has frozen over

An amazing thing happened last week. During a Sept. 13 meeting with the president of Iraq, President Bush said, "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." Later that night, reports started coming in that Hell was under a sheet of ice.

In the second debate during the 2004 election campaign, Bush was asked what he thought was the single biggest mistake of his presidency and he couldn't think of anything.

This is the same administration that has ducked and dodged responsibility since their start in 2001, placing blame on everyone but themselves, including those who were victims of the administration's blunders.

But Bush is a shrewd one, and this latest stunt has paid off. The mass media, doing their job for a change and calling the President on his crap, has been so impressed by Bush's little gesture that they're getting off his back; as if they felt bad for being so hard on him.

Who cares if an entire city is under five feet of toxic waste with hundreds of dead bodies floating around due to his incompetence? The poor guy took responsibility! So it seems that once again, journalism (the reason we have a mass media) has taken a back seat so we can again watch the talking heads kiss Bush's ass.

But don't worry about me. I know that a few platitudes aren't going to wipe the slate clean. Why's that? Because I have a little something called memory, which I tend to use, this being college and all.

My memory is full all the things Bush hasn't accepted responsibility for over the past four and a half years. I'd list them all, but I don't think the Cigar has the budget to publish a 30-page paper.

But while Bush was pretending to be president for a change, the republicans in the Senate were doing what they do best: being apathetic.

You'd imagine that after the worst natural disaster in a century and the massive recovery failure to follow, Congress would be able to put aside partisanship and get down to business finding out what screwed up. Even Bush himself said that Katrina "exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government." Wouldn't that light a fire under them?

Apparently not. When Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) proposed an independent, non-partisan commission (in the same vein as the very successful 9/11 Commission) to find out what went wrong in the Gulf, the republicans in the Senate killed the proposal. I guess they really don't care about finding the truth. Or maybe they have something to hide.

But unfortunately for Mr. Bush, a couple words won't fix anything. So he had to do something in order to a) make things better and b) get his approval rating out of the toilet.

So on Sept. 15, he proposed "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." When his colleagues on Capitol Hill heard this, they estimated that it would cost more than the war in Iraq, which has already cost this country over $195 billion.

So the first thing on the minds of the fiscal conservatives should be, "how are we going to pay for this?" We could have easily with a little something called the Clinton surplus, but that's deader than Zoomba pants and jelly shoes. (I like giving the fashion column a two-for-one deal.)

Right now government expenditure is so much higher than revenue, it's pointless to discuss it. For fiscal year 2004, the government spent $412 billion it didn't have. With Hurricane Katrina relief soon to hit the ledgers, we will have gotten to the point where talking numbers is irrelevant. The entire cost of the project will be borrowed from foreign banks, and it will be the responsibility of our children to pay off the debt.

Now don't you wish Bush never passed those tax cuts for the rich? We might as well pass another one now. And don't worry about paying off all the money we're borrowing. We'll just borrow more from other banks to pay off the interest.

It's a Ponzi scheme on a global scale. And luckily for us, we'll all be dead before we have to actually pay for any of this. Bush's fiscal irresponsibility astounds me.

But I would like to bring up one more thing about the actual response. The only federal official to get the boot after the government's shameful showing was FEMA Director Michael Brown. The man pushed the term incompetence to a new level.

But it appears now that the feds sacked the wrong guy. According to federal documents leaked to the Knight Ridder wire service, "The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief." The document is quite complicated, but I would like to summarize it for your benefit.

Michael Brown didn't have the authority to start a response in the Gulf until Michael Chertoff gave him the authority. And Chertoff didn't give him that authority until Aug. 30, a full day and a half after Katrina made landfall. So what was Chertoff doing the entire time? Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security have given any reason as to why Chertoff sat idle. But I must say, Chertoff found the perfect fall guy. Sorry, Brownie.

But I would like to end on something other than Katrina and discuss another major issue facing the federal government: the confirmation of John Roberts. Bush has nominated him for Chief Justice, the highest position in the Judicial Branch. So you'd think we'd learn a lot about him at his hearings. But so far, we haven't. I would like to give a few samples of the answers he has given the Senate Judicial Committee:

"I'm not going to comment." "I can't address that." "I feel the need to stay away from the discussion." "I don't remember." "I do not feel it appropriate for me to comment." "I don't want to discuss anything." "I can't answer that." "I don't know." "It's a matter I can't talk about." "I can't answer that." "I don't remember." "I don't recall." "I think I should stay away from discussions of particular issues."

I've gotten more detail from the instructions for Easy Mac.

Eventually, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) got upset with Roberts' lack of answers and told him so. Arlen Spector (R-PA), chairman of the committee, then told him, "They may be misleading, but they're his answers."

I think Spector hit the nail on the head. Roberts' confirmation shouldn't be the breeze the talking heads are saying it will be. He's getting a lifetime appointment to a job where he can overturn laws in Congress; he should have to answer honestly some simple questions. And yet some pundits think that he's perfect for the job precisely because he is so secretive. I think they must have worked for Dick Cheney.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Rogue Democrat: Bush and Brown mishandle response to Katrina

Does anything more need to be said about the massive failure of the Bush administration to respond properly to Hurricane Katrina? I think so. It needs to be said because one of the reasons given to Bush's narrow reelection was his crisis management skills. What happened to them the last two weeks?

The biggest problem is the typical administration response to incompetence: Deny its existence (Or it may just be they can't get past the first stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model, denial). When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Bush to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown, he replied, "Why would I do that?"

"Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week," Pelosi responded. The President of the United States then asked, "What didn't go right?"

Now as much as I hate to admit it, Bush is the President of the United States. He is supposed to be the most powerful man on earth and yet his information-gathering infrastructure is again lacking. I like to think that the same people who told Bush everything was fine in the Gulf were the same people who told him Saddam had sought to acquire uranium from Nigeria.

We all know Bush doesn't read any newspapers (by his own admittance), but when a massive human tragedy occurs on his watch and he's too busy clearing brush from his ranch to notice, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

But when it finally is time to swing into action, what is a non-aware (or possibly non-caring) president to do? Fly in 50 firefighters from Atlanta for a photo-op. And so far, the only quote I could find from Our Great Leader regarding actual tragedy was about Trent Lott's house: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house ... there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Because that's what Bush likes to do when times get rough.

But if you really need to know what went wrong, how's this for an answer: Everything FEMA has done for the last two weeks. But since you're not Bush, you already knew that. So many reports have come in about FEMA refusing aid from Amtrak, out-of-state firefighters, Wal-Mart, the Coast Guard and even the Red Cross. Even FEMA's Web site reads, and this is a direct quote, "First Responders Urged Not To Respond."

Now how could you bungle a response to a disaster that bad? What people are to blame? Well we can't blame Bush of course. He took Truman's "The Buck stops here" and passed it halfway between Abu Ghraib and Valerie Plame.

But there are the Bush buddies at FEMA (which stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency, by the way) who have no idea how to handle emergencies. Deputy Director and Chief of Staff Patrick Rhode was a staffer with the Bush-Cheney campaign. Deputy Chief of Staff Scott Morris did public relations for them.

And then we get to the Director of FEMA himself, Michael Brown. Not counting the lies on his credentials, his most impressive job was commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association. Because when you want a guy skilled in disaster response, you think horses. And the really sad part is, Brown did such a horrible job at the IAHA, he was fired.

Bush and his cronies have told us so many times that national security is his number one priority that you'd think something like his appointment to FEMA would be important. But this guy screwed up so bad, even the mass media noticed. The same people who brought you the Michael Jackson trial and American Idol actually took note of something important for a change!
And when Bush was actually pressed to comment on Brown's incompetence, he shook his hand in front of the cameras and said, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" (Remember what I said about Bush's detachment from reality?) It only took two weeks and thousands to die, but someone finally took charge and sent Brown back to Washington, where he promptly resigned and was replaced with someone actually qualified for the job, former firefighter R. David Paulison.

The thing is, many Americans voted for Bush in 2004 because they thought he would be able to keep us safe. He wouldn't just talk tough; he'd be a man of action and take the fight to the terrorists and we'd all be safe in our homes and SUVs and never have to worry about anything.

But when we finally are faced with disaster on a massive scale again, we don't get Bush shouting into a bullhorn. We get him stumbling through his words as he rambles about Trent Lott's house or tells a bureaucratic flunky he's doing a good job. Now that the wheels are coming off the wagon, I wonder how many regret that decision they made back in November.

As I said earlier, the mass media is finally doing its job and calling the administration on their ineptitude in this tragedy. One of the best ways they're doing this is by showing talking heads spout out-of-touch crap that is at best insensitive and at worst downright idiotic.

The crown must go to former first lady Barbara Bush, who was interviewed on American Public Media's Marketplace. When asked about the evacuees in Houston she said, "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this-this is working very well for them." I certainly hope this isn't going to become part of this administration's doctrine.

Lastly, I would like to say that our thoughts and prayers are still with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families. Anything you can do to help ease their suffering is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Idiotic Like a Fox

On Fox News, coverage of last week's terrorist bombings in London was, as you would expect, deplorable. Fox News anchors could barely contain their glee as news of the destruction filtered in. To Brit Hume, the death of dozens of Londoners meant one thing - money in the bank. (source)

"My first thought when I heard," said Brit, live on air, "just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"

Really? Funnily enough, my first thought when I heard what Brit Hume had to say was, "Hmmm, what an enormous asshole."

How the Bush Administration (Doesn't) Fight Terror

"Our strategy in the war on terror is based on a clear understanding of the enemy, and a clear assessment of our national interest." - Dick Cheney, July 2003 (source)

"Either we take the war to the terrorists and fight them where they are – at this moment in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere – or at some point we will have to fight them here at home." - Donald Rumsfeld, August 2003 (source)

"America is more secure. The world is safer." - George W. Bush, January 2004 (source)

"...we are making ourselves more secure, because we cannot fight the terrorists in New York; we've got to fight them out there." - Condoleezza Rice, February 2004 (source)

"The question is do we fight them over there - or do we fight them here. I choose to fight them over there." - Gen. Tommy Franks, September 2004 (source)

"The number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled last year, according to U.S. government figures, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks that the State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week." - The Washington Post, April 2005 (source)

"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." - Dick Cheney, May 2005 (source)

"In total, for the year from the handover of sovereignty on June 28, 2004, until June 23, 2005, there were at least 479 car bombs, killing 2,174 people and wounding 5,520. ... Last month was the most violent for Iraqi civilians since the U.S.-led invasion to remove Saddam Hussein from power in March 2003." - Associated Press, June 2005 (source)

"There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them before they attack us at home." - George W. Bush, June 2005 (source)

"...the Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda." - classified CIA report, June 2005 (source)

"This shows that president Bush is doing exactly the right thing, or they wouldn't be making these kinds of attacks." - CSPAN caller, July 2005

"There were nearly 3,200 terrorist attacks worldwide last year, the Bush Administration said yesterday, using a broader definition that increased fivefold the number of incidents that Washington had previously tallied for 2004." - The London Times, July 2005 (source)

Somebody wake me up when these people figure out what the hell they're doing.