Showing posts with label Bush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bush. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Excuse me while I puke

This was on Jezebel's page on Facebook.

I am happy to report that I don't read Jezebel, and happier to report that neither does my wife.
But the missus is
Facebook friends with someone who does read Jezebel and thought this hathotic bit of bad-art-meets-Obamadolatry was da bomb.

Frankly, a bomb is the only thing that could improve this.

Yes, as you might guess, the editors of
Jezebel are happy President Obama came out of the closet in favor of an oxymoron, that being "gay marriage." They chose to express their pride in our god-king's change of heart in an amazingly (but predictably) lame and stupid manner.

I mean, really. Riding a unicorn? This looks like something out of a bad Chinese children's book.

FOR THE RECORD, I don't care what gays do or with whom they shack up. I am not the morals squad. I would not be opposed, generally, to gays entering into "civil unions." I would support the state getting completely out of the marriage business, and leaving the civil benefits of domestic partnership to a state-sanctioned civil union and the eternal benefits of marriage to the church, with the state keeping its bleeping nose utterly and completely out of it.

I don't hate gays, and some are my friends, but I have neither the ability nor the inclination to rewrite a couple of millennia of historic Christianity, a millennia and change of historic Islam, a few more of historic Judaism, and an untold swath of civilizational taboo just to offer 5 percent of the population who bear a heavy cross cheap --
and ineffective -- grace.

I guess that's why I'm not in politics.

Unlike Barack Obama, who apparently thinks -- like too many modern American presidents -- that savior of the world is an elective office. What's more disturbing is that many Americans think so, too -- and to varying degrees always have. (See artwork above.)

Or that Jesus is on the White House staff. (See artwork below.)

I THINK I just threw up in my mouth . . .
a lot. I doubt that Jesus is amused, either.

Oy veh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I told you so

A Revolution 21 tip o' the hat goes to Col. Robert J. Ruch, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Omaha district.

It's not just anyone who can make your Mighty Favog look like a clairvoyant and prophetic Mighty Favog. In other words, I called it, and it was the good colonel who made it so.

I said that the Corps would "blame this mess near Hamburg, Iowa, on the levee having been compromised by damage from beavers or badgers (or something), then say Iowans should have inspected it better."

was coming came to pass this morning in the Omaha World-Herald:
Downtown, a nearly 10-foot pile of dirt and plastic tarp surrounded the Blue Moon Bar & Grill.

The pub's wooden floors and pool table have belonged to Vicki Sjulin and her family since 1972. Dad runs the grill most mornings. Mom works behind the counter.

“It's been the local watering hole for a long time,” Sjulin said Monday. “Now it's just going to be a water hole.”

Sjulin said she planned to keep the business open as long as possible, until the local utility company cuts power. Frustrated residents poured in and out of the bar to discuss the rising water and their plans to escape them.

“People here are angry, and they want to know why we're at the point we're at,” she said. “This is a total man-made flood, in spite of the high snowfall and rain. Everyone's question is, who made these choices?”

Built by the corps in the 1940s, the levee sustained three recent minor breaches before Monday's incident broke a section one mile south of the Iowa-Missouri state line. About two hours after that breach, floodwater broke through a levee farther south in Holt County, Mo. Officials there planned to intentionally breach t
he levee downstream to take pressure off a secondary levee built in recent weeks.

“There is risk behind any levee,'' Ruch said. “That is assumed.''

Monday's rupture, however, was not an indicator of what landowners and residents along the Missouri can expect in coming weeks when higher flows arrive, Ruch said.

Ruch said the levee break came as a surprise because the levee had handled higher water during flooding last year.

He said a hole created by a badger or gopher could have eroded the integrity of the earthen structure.
THUS, the first part of my prognostication has been fulfilled. The second part -- blaming the locals -- will come to pass after the locals start taking sufficient shots at the Corps' "your guess is as good as mine" levees.

And isn't it the case that the badgers and gophers always take the fall whenever something bad happens? If I were a
Wisconsin or Minnesota fan, I would be pissed.

Of course, I am no expert on the levee-eating capabilities of Wisconsin or Minnesota student athletes, or their furry inspirations. But I am pretty sure that gophers, badgers, beavers or muskrats -- not to mention Big 10 linebackers and tackles -- encounter virtually insurmountable difficulties in burrowing through asphalt, concrete or rock armoring on levees.

That, however, would leave the Corps (and the politicians who'd rather spend money on Wall Street and the military-industrial complex than on vital infrastructure) with no one or nothing else to blame when yet another "heck of a job" turns into yet another heck of a mess.

Meantime, I'm still trying to process the irony of George W. Bush coming to town Saturday for the opening of the College World Series.
You think Michael Brown might be available, too?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Мы все теперь русские

The headline says "We are all Russians now."

Afghanistan did it to us. That and our failure to learn from history -- once again indulging the fatal American impulse to "nation-build" nations that don't want to be built. Especially by outsiders.

If not for Iraq, perhaps we could have taken care of our al-Qaida business and gotten the hell out -- or at least botched the whole thing much less badly -- before we turned into Russians (as the Russians 20 years ago turned into British, who turned into etcetera and so on).

BUT NO. President Obama has his hands full of George W. Bush's Afghan mess now, and there ain't no good way out. Read this story in The Times of London and note that American soldiers are saying about Afghanistan what GIs said about Vietnam . . . and what Russians said about their "Vietnam."
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

“They feel they are risking their lives for progress that’s hard to discern,” said Captain Sam Rico, of the Division’s 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion. “They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through.” The chaplains said that they were speaking out because the men could not.

The base is not, it has to be said, obviously downcast, and many troops do not share the chaplains’ assessment. The soldiers are, by nature and training, upbeat, driven by a strong sense of duty, and they do their jobs as best they can. Re-enlistment rates are surprisingly good for the 2-87, though poor for the 4-25. Several men approached by The Times, however, readily admitted that their morale had slumped.

“We’re lost — that’s how I feel. I’m not exactly sure why we’re here,” said Specialist Raquime Mercer, 20, whose closest friend was shot dead by a renegade Afghan policeman last Friday. “I need a clear-cut purpose if I’m going to get hurt out here or if I’m going to die.”

Sergeant Christopher Hughes, 37, from Detroit, has lost six colleagues and survived two roadside bombs. Asked if the mission was worthwhile, he replied: “If I knew exactly what the mission was, probably so, but I don’t.”

The only soldiers who thought it was going well “work in an office, not on the ground”. In his opinion “the whole country is going to s***”.


The soldiers are angry that colleagues are losing their lives while trying to help a population that will not help them. “You give them all the humanitarian assistance that they want and they’re still going to lie to you. They’ll tell you there’s no Taleban anywhere in the area and as soon as you roll away, ten feet from their house, you get shot at again,” said Specialist Eric Petty, from Georgia.

Captain Rico told of the disgust of a medic who was asked to treat an insurgent shortly after pulling a colleague’s charred corpse from a bombed vehicle.

The soldiers complain that rules of engagement designed to minimise civilian casualties mean that they fight with one arm tied behind their backs. “They’re a joke,” said one. “You get shot at but can do nothing about it. You have to see the person with the weapon. It’s not enough to know which house the shooting’s coming from.”

The soldiers joke that their Isaf arm badges stand not for International Security Assistance Force but “I Suck At Fighting” or “I Support Afghan Farmers”.

To compound matters, soldiers are mainly being killed not in combat but on routine journeys, by roadside bombs planted by an invisible enemy. “That’s very demoralising,” said Captain Masengale.

The constant deployments are, meanwhile, playing havoc with the soldiers’ private lives. “They’re killing families,” he said. “Divorces are skyrocketing. PTSD is off the scale. There have been hundreds of injuries that send soldiers home and affect families for the rest of their lives.”

The chaplains said that many soldiers had lost their desire to help Afghanistan. “All they want to do is make it home alive and go back to their wives and children and visit the families who have lost husbands and fathers over here. It comes down to just surviving,” said Captain Masengale.
HERE'S WHAT the Russians were saying in 1989:

IN FACT, the American commander in Afghanistan already is borrowing heavily from the Russian playbook. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's new strategy of pulling back to "protect" Afghan population centers is pure, uncut Red Army 1980-something.

Watch and find yourself getting queasy:

LET US PRAY Barack Obama is worthy of his Nobel Peace Prize. He's going to need all the mad Nobel skillz he can muster just to keep all our heads above water.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time to cut out our national cancer

Newsweek says Attorney General Eric Holder is leaning toward appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush Administration's torture regime.

Praise God.
Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."


Holder began to review those policies in April. As he pored over reports and listened to briefings, he became increasingly troubled. There were startling indications that some interrogators had gone far beyond what had been authorized in the legal opinions issued by the Justice Department, which were themselves controversial. He told one intimate that what he saw "turned my stomach."

It was soon clear to Holder that he might have to launch an investigation to determine whether crimes were committed under the Bush administration and prosecutions warranted. The obstacles were obvious. For a new administration to reach back and investigate its predecessor is rare, if not unprecedented. After having been deeply involved in the decision to authorize Ken Starr to investigate Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, Holder well knew how politicized things could get. He worried about the impact on the CIA, whose operatives would be at the center of any probe. And he could clearly read the signals coming out of the White House. President Obama had already deflected the left wing of his party and human-rights organizations by saying, "We should be looking forward and not backwards" when it came to Bush-era abuses.

Still, Holder couldn't shake what he had learned in reports about the treatment of prisoners at the CIA's "black sites." If the public knew the details, he and his aides figured, there would be a groundswell of support for an independent probe. He raised with his staff the possibility of appointing a prosecutor. According to three sources familiar with the process, they discussed several potential choices and the criteria for such a sensitive investigation. Holder was looking for someone with "gravitas and grit," according to one of these sources, all of whom declined to be named. At one point, an aide joked that Holder might need to clone Patrick Fitzgerald, the hard-charging, independent-minded U.S. attorney who had prosecuted Scooter Libby in the Plamegate affair. In the end, Holder asked for a list of 10 candidates, five from within the Justice Department and five from outside.
OF COURSE, if Holder, a former District of Columbia trial judge, goes forward with this, President Obama likely will not be pleased . . . and the Republicans are going to go absolutely nuts.

They will go from merely unhinged to insurrectionary.
So be it. The continuing, imperfect sanctification of America -- if such a term may be used in the context of the political and social -- has nothing to do with going along to get along.

Usually, it has come about through the blood of martyrs.

America's original sin -- chattel slavery -- finally was expunged at the cost of a bloodbath, a four-year-long civil war. Even so, we still suffer from the legacy of that original sin unto this present day -- and it required the blood of untold modern-day martyrs to beat back Jim Crow, Satan's counteroffensive against the equality of man and the American ideal.

The Bush Administration's torture regime in the wake of 9/11 has been scarcely less destructive of American ideals, notion of human dignity and the rule of law. It is a cancer upon constitutional
rule and the American soul, and it will require the kind of hard medicine eradicating most cancer requires.

It's time to take our medicine or die. If the Republicans choose to cast their philosophical lot with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Tojo, Mao and Pol Pot, it will be their funeral.

Or, perhaps, ours.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Divine Comedy (Central)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
We Don't Torture
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Again, what does it say about us that the most cogent, honest commentary in the American media comes from Comedy Central?

BE THAT AS IT MAY, I think there is one clear-cut, indisputable observation we can make about both those who run and those who observe United States of America: Torture Regime. The main thing American elites take away from their excellent educations at excellent schools is ever more witty, smooth and sophisticated ways of denying a fundamental thing their mamas told them when they were 4 or 5 -- that two wrongs don't make a right.

And what part, exactly, of
waterboarding Kalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in a month just screams "Mama would be so proud"?

Well, maybe if Mama were Eva Braun or
Ma Barker. . . .

The Good Book warns us "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Al Qaida isn't the only bunch who ought to be scared s***less on that count.

HAT TIP: Catholic and Enjoying It

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A tortured interpretation of the law

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

It would appear the United States' long Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union -- and Korean War experience fighting the Red Chinese -- was extremely important in at least one respect.

IT TAUGHT US how to be just like what we purported to abhor, according to a Washington Post report on just-released U.S. government memos on "enhanced interrogation."
The newly released Justice Department memos place medical officials at the scene of the earliest CIA interrogations. At least one psychologist was present — and others were frequently consulted — during the interrogation of Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, a Palestinian who was captured by CIA and Pakistani intelligence officers in March 2002, the Justice documents state.

An Aug. 1, 2002, memo said the CIA relied on its "on-site psychologists" for help in designing an interrogation program for Abu Zubaida and ultimately came up with a list of 10 methods drawn from a U.S. military training program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE. That program, used to help prepare pilots endure torture in the event they are captured, is loosely based on techniques that were used by the Communist Chinese to torture American prisoners of war.

The role played by psychologists in adapting SERE methods for interrogation has been described in books and news articles, including some in The Washington Post. Author Jane Mayer and journalist Katherine Eban separately identified as key figures James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two psychologists in Washington state who worked as CIA contractors after 2001 and had extensive experience in SERE training. Mitchell, reached by telephone, declined to comment, and Jessen could not be reached yesterday.

The CIA psychologists had personal experience with SERE and helped convince CIA officials that harsh tactics would coerce confessions from Abu Zubaida without inflicting permanent harm. Waterboarding was touted as particularly useful because it was "reported to be almost 100 percent effective in producing cooperation," the memo said.

The agency then used a psychological assessment of Abu Zubaida to find his vulnerable points. One of them, it turns out, was a severe aversion to bugs.

"He appears to have a fear of insects," states the memo, which describes a plan to place a caterpillar or similar creature inside a tiny wooden crate in which Abu Zubaida was confined. CIA officials say the plan was never carried out.

Former intelligence officials contend that Abu Zubaida was found to have played a less important role in al-Qaeda than initially believed and that under harsh interrogation he provided little useful information about the organization's plans.

The memos acknowledge that the presence of medical professionals posed an ethical dilemma. But they contend that the CIA's use of doctors in interrogations was morally distinct from the practices of other countries that the United States has accused of committing torture. One memo notes that doctors who observed interrogations were empowered to stop them "if in their professional judgment the detainee may suffer severe physical or mental pain or suffering." In one instance, the CIA chose not to subject a detainee to waterboarding due to a "medical contraindication," according to a May 10, 2005, memo.

Yet, some doctors and ethicists insist that any participation by physicians was tantamount to complicity in torture.

"I don't think we had any idea doctors were involved to this extent, and it will shock most physicians," said George Annas, a professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University.
IF WE ARE STILL a nation ruled by law and not the strongman of the month, there will be consequences for those whose tortured interpretation of federal and international law permitted the torture of "high-value" detainees.

That includes George Bush and Dick Cheney.

If there are no consequences for serious violations of federal and international law, the consequence of that inaction will fall upon the rule of law itself.
We will indeed be a banana republic with nukes. Or perhaps much worse.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm sensing that you'll be broke. Soon.

What's the difference between Internet psychics and George W. Bush?

Internet psychics will cost you considerably less than $1 trillion. And they can't legally get you into a disastrous little war.

Other than that -- to point out a few similarities -- neither our former president nor Internet psychics have any idea what's going on, won't tell you anything you don't already know . . . and will leave you a lot lighter in the billfold than before you got hooked up with them.

America, what a country!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If they can blow up the Trib. . . .

Journalists: Enemies of the state.

Obviously, George W. Bush and the National Security Agency figured the ink-stained wretches would do to the "homeland" what they've managed to do to newspapers.

The effectiveness of journalists' demolition training is demonstrated by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann -- and not the Times or the Post or the Tribune -- being the one to ferret out allegations that reporters were the target of America's super-secret spy agency . . . right along with al Qaida.

MEANWHILE, there's this floating around out there, as reported by the Telegraph in London:

Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, called on the US authorities to pursue the former president and his former defence secretary for the treatment of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.

"Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation," he told German television.

He said that the US had ratified the UN convention on torture which requires "all means, particularly penal law" to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

"We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld," Mr Nowak claimed.

"But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this."

Mr Bush left office on Tuesday as Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States at his inauguration ceremony in Washington.

Asked about the prospects of legal action being brought against Mr Bush and Mr Rumsfeld, Mr Nowak said: "In principle yes. I think the evidence is on the table."

At issue, however, is whether "American law will recognise these forms of torture", he added.

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Mr Rumsfeld and other senior Bush administration officials responsible for the abuse of Guantanamo detainees.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who. Gives. A. S***?

America is reeling during these last 100 days of the reign of King George the Decider.

King George does not rule over a happy land; he rules over a troubled land, an anxious land.
Bad King George reigns over a kingdom growing poorer, it seems, by the minute.

AMERICANS NOW are in the midst of a momentous campaign to see who will succeed the monarch who has brought endless war to his kingdom and given torturers free reign over his dungeon. Whomever we pick to rule this uncertain principality will face hard times and mighty challenges.

He will become chief executive of a land no longer respected in lands far across the sea, for its robber barons have brought financial ruin to their shores.

At this perilous hour, what crucial word doth thou bringest unto us, o town crier?

And sayeth the crier, MSNBC:
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Joe the Plumber, America's most famous tradesman, said Thursday he doesn't have a license and doesn't need one.

Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday's presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn't need a license, he said.

His boss, Al Newell of Newell Plumbing and Heating Co. of Toledo, is a licensed plumbing contractor in Toledo, records show. But anyone working under Newell should have a journeyman’s plumbing license or an apprenticeship license, officials said.

And the county Wurzelbacher and Newell live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses, but neither is licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo.

Wurzelbacher, who voted in the Republican primary and indicated he backed McCain, was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democrat Barack Obama's tax plans. Wurzelbacher said he was surprised that his name was mentioned so many other times.

"That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans," he told reporters gathered outside his home.

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn't have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he's worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

"There's a lot I've got to learn," he said.
YEAH, LIKE WE'RE no longer a serious people, informed by a serious press and, therefore, are screwed. Oh, so screwed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey, Boo Boo! Don't mess with the Russians

The Bush Administration ought to have thought about how badly Russia can screw over the United States -- every day in every way -- before America started messing around in the Bear's neck of the woods, trying to humiliate Yogi in front of Boo Boo and everybody.

And George Bush has big trouble now, because Yogi Bear (a.k.a. Vladimir Putin) -- who's "smarter than the average bear" -- is in the process of stealing his "pic-a-nic" basket, as
The Times of London now tells us:
Russia defied the United States yesterday by announcing plans to sell military hardware to Iran and Venezuela.

The head of the state arms exporter said that he was negotiating to sell antiaircraft systems to Iran despite American objections. Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems under a $700 million (£386 million) deal with Iran in 2005.

“Contacts between our countries are continuing and we do not see any reason to suspend them,” Anatoli Isaikin, the general director of Rosoboronexport, told the RIA-Novosti news agency at an arms fair in South Africa.

Reports have circulated for some time that the Kremlin is preparing to sell its S300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, offering greater protection against a possible US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The missiles have a range of more than 90 miles (150km).

Sergei Chemezov, the head of the state-owned Russian Technologies, also disclosed that Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chávez, wanted to buy antiaircraft systems, armoured personnel carriers, and SU35 fighter jets when they come into production in 2010.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Kommersant, the financial newspaper, said that Russia was forming “alliance relations” with the two antiAmerican regimes as a response to US involvement in former Soviet republics.

The Russian moves mark a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, threated to block Russia’s membership of key international organisations. She told the Kremlin that its “authoritarian policies” could prevent it from joining the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which coordinates economic policies among industrialised countries. In an outspoken speech to the German Marshall Fund, an institution promoting greater cooperation between America and Europe, Dr Rice said: “The picture emerging is of a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad.

“Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation is now in question. And so too is its attempt to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

She added: “Russia’s international standing is worse now than at any time since 1991.”
HEY, CONDI! I don't think Russia really cares. It has the oil . . . and your pic-a-nic basket.

Was Georgia, Kosovo and the Ukraine
really worth riling up Yogi? Not even Ranger Smith can help you now.

Monday, August 25, 2008

You broke my heart! You broke my heart!

A member of the stopped clock that is the Bush Administration comes up with the correct time regarding the ongoing disaster that is New Orleans.

YOU'LL NOTE I didn't say the ongoing disaster that is post-Katrina New Orleans. At any rate, The Times-Picayune asked federal recovery czar Douglas O'Dell what time it was, and he said it's late.

Late, indeed:
On one of his frequent visits to New Orleans, federal recovery coordinator Douglas O'Dell delivered a bruising critique of the Nagin administration on Thursday, saying "there is growing frustration" in Washington with the speed, efficiency and competence of City Hall's efforts to manage the local recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

O'Dell, who consults with dozens of federal, state and local agencies and troubleshoots regulatory logjams, said Mayor Ray Nagin's recovery director, Ed Blakely, often does not return his calls and seems to be operating under the premise -- erroneous, O'Dell thinks -- that a new presidential administration next year "will reload the cannon and start shooting money down here."

O'Dell's critique, developed over several interviews, came as The Times-Picayune accompanied him on an all-day New Orleans visit Thursday. The coordinator visits the area at least every other week to discuss a wide range of recovery issues with regional officials, his aides said.

O'Dell's most recent visit included a problem-solving technical session with local, state and federal housing officials; a discussion of education issues with state Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek; meetings with local business leaders and law enforcement officials; and consultations with Paul Rainwater, his state counterpart as director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

O'Dell praised the work of some local and state leaders, such as Pastorek, who recently unveiled a massive school reconstruction plan involving 28 new or rehabilitated schools and $685 million in hand for construction.

And he singled out for more praise Bill Chrisman, the city's new capital projects director, and Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, who oversees capital projects as the city's deputy chief administrative officer. "She has her finger on the pulse," he said.

But in several interviews, O'Dell expressed continuing frustration with Blakely, an urban planning professor from Australia who once served as deputy mayor of Oakland, Calif.

He said Blakely is often absent and unavailable and leads an office that produces "ethereal visions" of recovery that cannot be financed with federal recovery dollars.

"I'm basically asking Blakely, who's probably getting paid a whole hell of a lot more money than I am, to do his damn job," O'Dell said.

"He's there not only to plan, but to execute. Not only to manage, but lead. He's not an elected official, but as a nonelected official he wields enormous influence over the future of this city and the speed of its recovery," he continued.

"And he's failing, in my view."


Asked why he chose to be so blunt about the work of Blakely's office, O'Dell said: "What I'm trying to do is plainly tell the federal view, the universal federal view . . . that the federal government has created $126 billion worth of response to this tragedy. And there are a lot of people in the federal government who are not happy with the way it's being applied -- with the speed it's being applied, the efficiency with which it's being applied. And there's great concern as to the transparency with which its being applied."

O'Dell said Thursday that Blakely's office sometimes seeks recovery money for projects "based on rough sketches, arm waving, 'imagineering,' whatever."

THERE'S ONE THING, however, that I couldn't tell you whether O'Dell grasps or not. It's the sad fact that this is as good as it gets in the Big Uneasy.

I don't know that the former Marine general apprehends that New Orleans is the slow-witted goombah in the godfather's coterie -- the one who's just as eager to skim a few Benjamins off the top of the weekly protection-money haul as he is clueless that the capo (that would be the Louisiana statehouse) knows the score and would have had him whacked years ago, except that N'Awly is mama's sister's baby boy, and even Michael Corleone doesn't need that kind of heat.

And even Michael Corleone doesn't need that kind of heat. . . .

And even Michael Corleone doesn't need that kind of heat. . . .

AS THE CIVIC-MINDED IDIOT with an admitted soft spot for N'Awly, I've been saying and saying, "N'Awly, cut that s*** out . . . the Big Boss is wise to you, and if he don't whack you, the G-Man will!"

And N'Awly, he say, "Aw, Favog! You worry too much. Ain't nobody gonna mess wit N'Awly. If Cuz get too mad at me, I'll shake Unk Sam down for a few thou more, and we be square. Chill, Cap!"

And den I say, "Cher, you don' unnerstand. It different this time. Unk Sam sick of coughin' up more protection money than what he owe da Capo. I hear he been talkin' to da feds, an' if push come to shove, da Big Boss gonna hang you out to dry wid da G-Man.

"Dat way, you outta his hair, and he don' have to tell his Mama he had her sister's baby boy whacked."

And then N'Awly say . . . well, N'Awly was gonna say sumptin', but right then the floodwall started leakin' through the newspaper expansion joint . . . and this wall a water started headin' our way . . . and I ain't ashamed to say I got the hell outta there.

Last I saw N'Awly, he was kickin in the door of da liquor store, tryin' to grab him a case of Early Times before the water got too high and rurnt it.

I GUESS UNK SAM -- not to mention Gen. O'Dell -- knew how to get N'Awly out of everybody's hair after all. Something tells me N'Awly's (and the Capo's, too) days in the "protection" bidness are numbered.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shooting craps for life in the Culture of Death

In the bitter cold of December 2000, as the disputed Bush-Gore election turned red hot at the U.S. Supreme Court, I was working in the peculiar world of Catholic radio. Pope FM, if you will.

Our little FM station was an affiliate of EWTN radio, and I recall that as the legal battle raged between George Bush and Vice-President Al Gore -- as the presidency hung in the balance -- the network aired a special rosary for life. It never was billed as a prayer for Bush's victory (and legally it couldn't be) but we all knew the score: This was a rosary for the "pro-life" Bush to prevail over the "pro-abortion" Gore.

At least that's what the entire Pope FM staff was praying for. Me included.

I DON'T THINK I ever thought politics could change America's "Culture of Death" into a "Culture of Life." I did, however, think the election was all about federal policy and potential Supreme Court nominations. I thought government could be used to fight a "holding action."

I thought Roe v. Wade could be rolled back, and I thought maybe the Republicans, through political action, could somehow hinder the nation's cultural disintegration so that maybe -- maybe -- revival might come to our culturally and religiously devolving land before it was Too Late.

We were pro-life, true-believing, orthodox Roman Catholics. We stood for Jesus, saving babies, the Pope and EWTN. And it was a given that we'd vote G-O-P in the name of G-O-D.

So in that bleak midwinter, there we sat in our dilapidated little studios in a shabby little strip mall in a ramshackle part of town -- there we sat in the Pope FM conference room reciting the rosary with EWTN, praying for the triumph of a man who ultimately would do little to roll back the tide of fetal homicide in America.

Praying for the installation of a president who would, however, go on to do awesome things in the fields of pursuing an unwise and unjust war, rolling back civil liberties in the name of national security, and in turning CIA "spooks" and Army "grunts" alike into torturers whom -- in a more civilized age -- it would have been necessary to try at Nuremberg.

In a more civilized age, it would have been necessary to try Bush and much of his administration at Nuremberg.

If we really cut to the chase here, I guess what we were after -- at least what I was after -- was forestalling America's judgment by a just deity. Call it what it was: lawyering up and gunning for a cosmic stay of execution.

"Look, Jesus! We voted Republican . . . you know, GOP -- God's Own Party. Well, yeah, we're all driving 2.5 cars and living in too-big houses and bitching about taxes . . . but. . . ." BZZZZZZZZZT . . . as the lights dim all across the New Jerusalem.

MY GOD, look what we did. The economy's even in the tank. It was the original Rickroll.

Looking upon our civic wreckage from a biblical crime-and-punishment perspective is especially interesting -- not to mention ironic. In our political quest to avert -- or at least defer -- divine judgment, we instead may have brought it about.

Because if George W. Bush is not God's judgment upon a wicked people, I don't know what is.

And now -- in the name of salvation through better jurisprudence -- some would have us again do what we did in 1980 . . . and 1984 . . . and 1988 . . . and 2000 . . . and 2004, only expecting different results this time with the GOP's presumptive nominee, John McCain.

Am I saying vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat -- the pro-abort?

NO. To tell you the truth, I suspect there is no morally justifiable choice between McCain and Obama. Maybe the sheer catastrophic potential of someone with McCain's penchant for both wrongheadedness and hotheadedness being in charge of American foreign policy is enough "proportionate reason" to vote for Obama.

Then again, maybe not.

All I know is this one thing: I won't get fooled again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do as we say, not as we do

The Worst President Ever is issuing ultimatums to Russia about how to handle affairs on its own border.

What makes George W. Bush's somber proclamation even worse is the mind-blowing hypocrisy of it all,
as evidenced by this Associated Press dispatch:

The Russian foreign minister said Thursday that Georgia could "forget about" getting back the two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Medvedev also met with their leaders in Kremlin this past week, raising the prospect that Moscow could absorb the regions even though the territory is internationally recognized as being within Georgia's borders.

Bush disputed the claim that two areas may not be part of Georgia's future. They are of Georgia now, he said at the ranch, and reaffirmed that they are within recognized borders. There is "no room for debate on this," the president said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who briefed Bush after a quick trip to Georgia, said that "when it is resolved, I mean the underlying conflict, it must be resolved on the basis of the territorial integrity of Georgia."
I'M SURE about half of the Serbian population just stroked out. A mind can wrap itself around only just so much.

Seems to me Kosovo used to lay within the internationally recognized borders of Serbia. Until the West decided it didn't. Now it's the world's newest, internationally recognized, independent narco-terrorist state.

Meanwhile, Americans follow the party line, tsk-tsking about the thuggery of Russia and praising our leaders' efforts to stick the American people's noses in everybody else's business. Even in everybody else's own back yards.

And we used to say the Soviets were brainwashed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

America speaks to the people of Georgia

As Russian bombs leveled their homes and Russian tanks scattered their army, residents of the would-be newest NATO member state wanted to know where their Western friends were.

GEORGIANS, as recounted by Newsweek below, wanted to know where was President George W. Boosh . . . er, Bush.
As civilians and Georgian military personnel fled Russia's expanding offensive, many were asking why the country's allies, including the United States, haven't come to their aid. The head of Georgia's National Security Council, Alexander Lomaia, told NEWSWEEK on Monday, "If all countries together said [to Russia], 'We are not buying your gas and we'll exclude you from all international organizations, you will be an international pariah,' [then] they would stop."

After surviving a bombing, David Tshimashvili, the commander of a military tank base in the capital Tbilisi, said, "We thought Bush was our friend. We supported them in Iraq. Where is Bush? Will he come here now?" Tshimashvili remembered when thousands gathered in Tbilisi's Freedom Square in 2005 to hear the American president, who declared that the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected."

Tshimashvili had his tanks evacuate the base two days ago, but he was still on site when Russian bombs hit, injuring him in his arm, shoulder and chest. From Tbilisi Central University Hospital, where he is recovering, the commander said, "I still believe in Democratic values, but never again in America. We feel very disappointed that there is no real help from the U.S. and Europe."
THESE GEORGIAN PATRIOTS, whose country picked an unwinnable fight with Russia, deserve an answer. Unfortunately, President Boosh . . . er, Bush could not be with us tonight to answer our allies' heartfelt questions. He did, however, leave us the following video -- his personal message of consolation and advice to the Georgian people.

Could somebody get the lights, please?

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and Sen. John Blutarsky:

Note: Contains some profanity.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What do we do now, Lt. Dan? Lt. Dan? Lt. Dan?

The United States has spent the last 17 years poking a stick into the Russian bear's eye, and now Georgie, and Dickie and Condi are shocked, shocked that it's done gone and ate somebody.

THIS, from an Associated Press think piece by Anne Gearan:
The Russian Bear is back, and the United States doesn't seem to be able to do much about it.

The United States saw trouble coming between Russia and Georgia, a former Soviet republic turned nemesis, but didn't have enough leverage, focus or resolve to intervene. Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a specialist on the old Soviet Union, may have misjudged the combustible combination of Russian grievance and ambition.

The Bush administration's assurances of solidarity with a young democracy also may have given Georgia's silver-tongued, U.S.-educated leader a little too much swagger as he picked a playground fight he never could win on his own.


In talking points on the conflict obtained by The Associated Press, the Bush administration claims it had no specific advance warning that Georgia would try to retake control of a breakaway border region largely loyal to Russia.

That doesn't mean diplomats, intelligence analysts and others weren't worried about worsening Russian relations with Georgia over the past two years and in particular about the shoving match over ethnic conflicts left over from the Cold War.

Rice went to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to try to calm things down in July, but infuriated Russia with a public endorsement of Georgia's "territorial integrity." Saakashvili used the visit to display his close relationship with Washington, the organizing principle for an imperfectly democratic government that has collected millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

U.S. officials say they gave Saakashvili a strong warning not to put a match to the ethnic tinderboxes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, even as Rice and others took Georgia's side in public. Bush backed the Georgian claim when he visited Tbilisi in 2005.

"The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone," Bush said then.
I THINK THE PART about a secretary of state who goes to the tinder box to "calm things down" but instead starts throwing around lit matches is rich, indeed.

The problem with the neocon cabal in Washington, as it wreaks havoc at home and abroad, is it's the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Without Lieutenant Dan.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If loving Georgia is wrong,
Bushies don't want to be right

Dick Cheney's mouth is writing checks that America's ass can't cash.

The Associated Press
has the details of exactly how moronically belligerent the Bush Administration is when it comes to sticking the United States' nose into affairs that are none of its business:
The violence appeared to show Russia's determination to subdue diminutive, U.S.-backed Georgia, even at the risk of international reproach. Russia fended off a wave of international calls to observe Georgia's cease-fire, saying it must first be assured that Georgian troops have indeed pulled back from South Ossetia.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was said to have told Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili that Russia's military actions in Georgia "must not go unanswered."

Cheney's press secretary, Lee Ann McBride, said the vice president spoke Sunday afternoon with Saakashvili. "The vice president expressed the United States' solidarity with the Georgian people and their democratically elected government in the face of this threat to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said.

Cheney told Saakashvili "Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community," McBride said.
IT TOOK ONE SEMESTER of getting a handle on "realpolitik" in Ramon Arango's world politics class at Louisiana State for me to know -- in about one second flat -- that foolishness like this from the American government will not turn out well for the United States.

It seems to me there are three things you'd better have a handle on before you screw with Russia:

* Are you right?

* Is it in America's vital interest?

* Is it worth the price you will pay for messing with the Russian bear in an area of its vital interest?

Looking at all three areas, you're left wondering whether President Bush and Cheney are stark, raving mad. Well, actually, I don't much wonder about that anymore. I'm sadly sure of the unfortunate answer.

First, the United States' position on this is dead wrong. I don't care how much of an "ally" Georgia is to the West, Georgians crossed a line and "
have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up."

The Georgian government violated its own cease fire to launch an all-out attack on the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Its forces killed hundreds, and probably more than 1,000, civilians . . . plus at least 10 Russian peacekeeping troops.

What the hell was Russia supposed to do? Georgian forces broke a cease fire, killing Russian troops in the process.

Then there is the Kosovo question. In 1999, NATO (meaning primarily the United States) went to war against Serbia -- thousands of miles removed from American shores -- to safeguard Kosovar autonomy and its residents' human rights, which Western nations saw as being encroached upon by Serb authorities.

Yet NATO and the United States now condemn Russia for going to war against Georgia -- on the Russian Federation's southern border -- to safeguard South Ossetian autonomy and its residents' human rights, which Russians saw being molested in a bloody military assault.

The scenarios are identical, yet the American government says it "must not go unanswered" when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev does in 2008 exactly what U.S. President Bill Clinton did March 24, 1999.

Second, does America's outrage at Russia's actions mean, in the name of principled consistency, we now have to
give nearly a third of the United States back to Mexico?

Inquiring minds really would like to know.

THE PROPER RESPONSE by Russia to the neoconservative busybodies in charge of U.S. foreign policy ought to go something like this: "Shut the #$&* up, and mind your own business. If you don't, we'll screw up your oil supply, re-create the Warsaw Pact and grant Mexico membership."

Some things are America's business. Other things aren't. The Bush Administration, of course, doesn't know which is which.

Unfortunately for all of us, the country that put these idiots in charge of its affairs certainly will deserve whatever "just deserts" the Bear serves up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Six of the 'TV Lady,' a half-dozen of Michelle

I always know when Michelle Malkin goes on a toot about New Orleans. There's always a spike in traffic for this December post of mine.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the traffic. And the subject of that 2007 post, New Orleans' "TV Lady" --
the racist, rabblerousing public-housing queen who now occupies a subsidized apartment nicer than my house and who watches her stories on a 60-inch high-def television -- remains a living, breathing affront to basic decency.


I'm damned sick and tired of self-righteous, hard-hearted "conservatives" rolling out the bad example of the "TV Lady" (and, by extension, my blog post about her) to justify inaction -- or worse -- in the face of a national scandal. That national scandal, which centers on New Orleans, is threefold.

First, it's scandalous -- and criminal -- that the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth can't adequately build or maintain levees sufficient to protect a vital coastal port city. Or Midwestern river cities . . . or hundreds of thousands of acres of the U.S. corn and soybean crops.

Second, it's scandalous -- and criminal -- that more than 1,500 people died because the government of the United States of America is comprised, in large part, of incompetent hacks and political cronies who couldn't organize a one-car funeral cortege, much less a massive relief and rebuilding effort in New Orleans and across the central Gulf Coast.

IN A LAND of McMansions and SUVs -- governed by neoconservative nincompoops who think we have the right and the wherewithal to spend nearly a trillion dollars on the fool's errand that is Iraq -- fat and self-satisfied Americans three years ago were treated to the ultimate reality-TV program. Millions watched as thousands suffered and scores died . . . on camera . . . because Machiavellian blame-gaming was so much more a priority than was saving lives.

That the vast majority of those anguished faces belonged to African-Americans added insult to injury.

And finally, it's scandalous -- and criminal -- that a nation of such outlandish wealth would, before Katrina ever struck, tolerate the existence of a Third World enclave in its midst.

Asked two millennia ago to cut to the chase of what the Father would have us mortals do amid this vail of tears, His own Son -- the second person of the triune Godhead --
boiled it down to two simple things (Matthew 22:34-39):

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,

and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

IT HAS BEEN SAID the opposite of love is not (as one might think) hate, but instead indifference. If that is so, and if massive indifference is the best America can offer a hardscrabble, basket-case city such as New Orleans -- one which America, through its incompetent government and lousy federal levees, bears the responsibilty for drowning -- where does that leave us?

We're antichrist. Not the Antichrist, an antichrist. But why split hairs?

That's not something we can face, however. No, far better for people like Michelle Malkin and the whole "F*** New Orleans Brigade" to justify their antichrist indifference by rolling out pathetic spectacles like the "TV Lady" to represent the city when a "
defaulting deadbeat Dem" visits and expresses concern over its plight:
Someone send a clue to the New Orleans Times-Picayune! They missed the story. They missed the delicious spectacle of defaulting deadbeat Democrat Laura Richardson–she who lives sky high on the hog, leaving a trail of unpaid bills in her wake– parachuting into New Orleans and clucking about the plight of its people.

Rich, just rich. . . .


Wonder if she’ll stop by 60-inch-tv-owning New Orleans “slum”-dweller Sharon Jasper’s place. I have a feeling these two would get along.
I'LL KEEP that example in mind if Michelle stubs her big toe and noted war criminal George W. Bush sends his condolences.

That ought to be reason enough to denounce her as a misanthropic, fascist harridan . . . before we haul out a rusty broadax to chop off her leg.