Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush: More of the SAME

On September 15, 2005, President Bush addressed the nation to discuss the task ahead to rebuild New Orleans and Gulf Coast of the United States. This was a golden opportunity for him to energize and unite the nation, as he unwittingly did on September 11, 2001, standing on the rubble of the Twin Towers with a bullhorn.

Well, four years later and where are we? Record deficits, record oil and gas prices, record tax cuts for the least needy among us, a winless war in Iraq that is soaking up hundreds of billions of dollars. And now, after spending billions of your money and mine on "homeland security," we find that even that system is broken, doesn't work, can't communicate, doesn't make timely decisions do to a combination of incompetence and bureaucratic baloney that Bush and his so-called conservatives have failed to fix.

Yes folks, this is the Bush legacy. And we will pay for it for generations.

Here are some of the more laughable points from Bush's 9/15 farce and liefest:

"And tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

Sound familiar? It should.

July 10, 2003: "We're making steady progress," he said. "A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it's very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course."

September 7, 2003: "We will do whatever is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our nation more secure," Mr. Bush said.

April 4, 1004: "But we will stay the course," he said. "We will do what is right. We will make sure that a free Iraq emerges, not only for our own security, but for the sake of free peoples everywhere."

April 16, 2004: "And that's why we're going to stay the course in Iraq. And that's why when we say something in Iraq, we're going to do it, because we want there to be a free society."

Time and again, in speech after speech to carefully selected audiences, Bush's rata-tatat rehearsed drone, from 2003 through 2005, he has pounded away at this inflexible, illogical course. What do they say, the first sign of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over, expecting a different outcome?

Well perhaps we are beginning to see a different outcome. Even Republicans are beginning to question their blind loyalty to this man.

More Bush from 9/15:

"I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job and for child care expenses during their job search."

What? Is he kidding? $5,000? "Up to" $5,000? For job training? I recently looked into a training program for veterinary technicians. This short program can cost as much as $20,000! And guess what! Upon graduation you are lucky, quite lucky, to earn $20,000 a year. Sorry Mr. President. $5,000 won't buy you a loaf of bread's worth of training and education. Is he for real? Is he suggesting that the people decimated by Katrina need to be retrained? Perhaps because they were all deadbeat unemployed? You know the kind, the worst kind. Mississippians and Louisianians with bachelors and masters degrees in computer science who saw their "good jobs" sent off to India. Yeah, so now, according to Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly, they turned into drug addicts who wouldn't leave New Orleans for fear of losing their suppliers!

Some less advantaged people along the Gulf Coast might benefit from job training, but they will get none of it for "up to $5,000."

More Bush from 9/15:

"Four years after the frightening experience of September 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution. So I have ordered every Cabinet secretary to participate in a comprehensive review of the government response to the hurricane. This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes, so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people."

He is "responsible for the solution"? He and his friends, in government, at Halliburton and other large corporate friends of Bush, have had exactly four years to at least begin to fix things. They have failed. They still can't get sufficient body armor and Humvee armor into a theater of war on the other side of the globe. How are we supposed to entrust the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, just a thousand miles from Washington, D.C., to these people? Already billions of dollars of no-bid contracts to "friends of Bush" have been let or will soon be let. To the same folks that are doing such admirable work for us in Iraq.

Bush wasn't finished on September 15. Nope. Here is what he said today, on 9/16:

"We got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes.

"Working people have already been subject, in effect, to a tax increase through higher gasoline costs, and we don't need to be taking more money out of their pocket."

"You bet, this is going to cost money..."

"But I'm confident we can handle it, and I'm confident that we can handle our other priorities."

"It's going to cost whatever it costs, and we're going to be wise about the money we spend."

Wise? With MY money? With YOUR money? Since when? So he's going to make further federal budget cuts, eh? Social Security? Medicare? Veterans Administration? SBA? Education? Certainly not interest on our debt! Tax cut rollbacks are out of the question to him. Former President Bill Clinton spoke recently regarding Bush's position and he was incensed. He would happily give back the multiple tax cuts from which he has benefited.

There is no free lunch, no free breakfast, no free dinner, no free housing or land, no free levees, certainly no free Iraq war. You and I and our children, etc. etc. will have to pay for the incompetence of Bush and his so-called conservative friends.

What I would like to know is what happened to conservative politics in the United States anyway? Used to be that conservatives were noted for the fiscal prudence. But Bush and company has transformed conservatism, unsurped their shared ideals and delivered to us Americans by far the worst financial and security legacy in our history.

Do you actually believe that America can survive three years and four months more of George W. Bush?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

2005 UN Human Development Tragedy

Do you recall the scene in the motion picture, The Thing from Another World? Not the cheesy 1990s remake, but the 1951 classic. There is a scene, late in the movie, where the ingenious Air Force crew, led by Captain Hendry, finally melts The Thing, played by James Arness. Captain Hendry turns to the original Scotty, a news reporter, and tells him he can take photos now. The camera pans to Scotty, he stands there, his glove drops out of his now gasping mouth, and he passes out.

That’s the outcome of reading the Human Development Report 2005, prepared by the United Nations Development Program. Certainly there are some bright spots to report. But the tragedy of life for so many fellow humans on planet Earth is so compelling, it cannot but shake your heart and hopefully call you to some form of action.

Now for some highlights. Or shall I say lowlights?

· 10.7 million children every year do not live to see their fifth birthday

· more than 1 billion people survive in abject poverty on less than $1 a day

· one-fifth of humanity thinks nothing of spending $2 a day on cappuccino while another fifth live on less than $1 a day where children die for want of a simple anti-mosquito bednet.

· The world’s richest 500 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million.

· The 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day – 40% of the world’s population – account for 5% of global income. The richest 10%, almost all of whom live in high-income countries, account for 54%.

· (They) estimate a cost of $300 billion for lifting 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day above the extreme poverty line threshold. That amount represents 1.6% of the income of the richest 10% of the world’s population.

· Rich countries collectively now spend 0.25% of their gross national income on aid – lower than in 1990. (How many individuals in America tithe as much 10% of their incomes to their local churches?)

· For every $1 that rich countries spend on aid, they allocate another $10 to military budgets.

· Spending on HIV/Aids, a disease that claims 3 million lives a year, represents three days of military spending.

As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is quoted in the report as saying in his second inaugural address in 1937, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Perhaps someone should have mentioned that to the non-elected President-by-Supreme Court-fiat George W. Bush before he pushed through hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts for the 2% wealthiest, least needy among us.

Tom Tancredo-eese

When will the voters of the 7th Congressional District in Colorado wake up? Tom Tancredo is a racist. Most intelligent people have known that for years. His stances on immigration policy would have us virtually close our borders to people of Hispanic origins. Not only that, he'd sweep the country for "suspected" (no doubt through his eyes alone) illegal immigrants and toss them out wholesale.

Mr. Tancredo has a simplistic solution for all of America's "problems." None of which, by the way, include us taking a long hard, insightful look at how we engage the rest of the world.

In July, during a radio interview, Tancredo said that the U.S. should threaten to bomb Mecca if Islamic terrorists successfully detonate a nuclear device in America.

Tancredo subsequently "clarified" his statement with everyone's favorite "fair and balanced" news reporting/creating organization, Fox News: "If this (terror attack) happens, and if, in fact, we can prove that it was perpetrated by some fundamentalist Islamic - 'Islamo-fascist' is really I think what we should call them - then you might think about this as a threat, the retaliation on their holy sites."

The Fox News interview was a follow-up to a Florida radio interview with host Pat Campbell of WFLA in which Tancredo said, "You know, there are things that you could threaten to do before something like that happens - and then you may have to do afterwards - that are quite draconian."

"What if you said something like: If this happens in the United States and we determine that it is a result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims - you know, you could take out their holy sites."

And when asked if he was talking about bombing Mecca, Tancredo replied, "Yeah."

On September 12, 2005, Mr. Tancredo, whose mouth clearly runs faster than his brain and heart, embarked on a new campaign of xenophobic, religious paranoia. He has come out against the newly unveiled design of the Pennsylvania 9/11 memorial of Flight 93, called the Crescent of Embrace.

Here is Mr. Tancredo’s recent letter to the National Park Service:

The Honorable Fran Mainella
National Park Service
U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Director Mainella,

I am writing in reference to the recently unveiled design to commemorate the victims of Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11. The final design for the memorial recently received preliminary approval from the 15-member selection committee.

As you know, the design for the memorial is called “Crescent of Embrace,” and was created by Paul Murdoch Architecture. The appropriateness of the design has been questioned by many people because of the crescent’s prominent use as a symbol in Islam – and the fact that the hijackers were radical Islamists. Indeed, it has raised questions in some circles about whether the design, if constructed, will in fact make the memorial a tribute to the hijackers rather than the victims whose mission the flight’s passengers helped to thwart. The architect has stated that the crescent design is meant to be a symbolic circle – broken by the path of Flight 93.

Nonetheless, the memorial is a powerful symbol for the whole nation and a testament to the courage and will of the passengers of the flight. That said, it seems to me that the Department ought to direct the committee to choose a different design rather than moving forward with a design that could make the memorial a flashpoint for controversy and criticism.

Regardless of whether or not the invocation of a Muslim symbol by the memorial designer was intentional or not, it seems that such a symbol is unsuitable for paying appropriate tribute to the heroes of Flight 93 or the ensuing American struggle against radical Islam that their last historic act and the “Let’s Roll” effort has come to symbolize.

I hope that you will reject this recommended design, and urge the committee to select a more appropriate design.

Sincerely (Your good ole Christian buddy – that’s my editorial comment, by the way),

Tom Tancredo, M.C.

I’d like to amplify Tancredo’s concerns because this really really, gee wiz, concerns me. I propose that we scour America for any outward signs of Islamic crescents. I mean you know how concerned President Bush has been about subliminimal (his word, not mine) messages in our society.

  • Demolish all football and baseball stadiums that are crescent shaped.
  • Outlaw the baking of crescent rolls.
  • Destroy all crescent-shaped buildings.
  • Bomb all Red Crescent humanitarian services offices (you know, the Islamic sister organization of our Red Cross?) and ban their presence in non-Islamic countries.
  • Best of all, halt the reconstruction efforts in hurricane ravaged New Orleans, dubbed the “Crescent City.” Hmmm….was that all a wrath of God thing?

Is Tancredo’s brain damage the result of syphilis or some other degenerative disease? Physical trauma? Or just plain bigotry and xenophobia?

It harkens me back to the not-yet-forgotten days of the Middle Ages and, oh, the 20th century. You recall, during which Christian church fathers – the mothers had all been burnt at the stake for witchcraft – spread stories such as Jews stole and murdered Christian babies and used their blood to create the lovely brown spots in their holiday matzah?

But I digress. The solution to Tancredo’s ugly brand of 21st century witchcraft is not to scorn him and call him names – alright I admit it, I just did. We need to become active members the electorate and un-elect him and people of his ilk. We need to pray for him, so that his heart may be awakened to the simple fact that all humankind are members of the same family, regardless of by which name we refer to God or “Intelligent Design,” regardless of which symbols we choose to use to honor and reflect upon our chosen spiritual paths.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

W - Don't buy gas

"Americans should be prudent in their use of energy during the course of the next few weeks. Don't buy gas if you don't need it." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 2005

Please help me out here! Please!! How many of us buy gasoline that we don't need? And even if we do, how much "excess" gas do we buy? What constitutes gas that we don't need? Does Bush actually believe that if we buy less gas that his own oil industry will reduce prices to consumers? gas prices have NEVER been sensitive to American consumer demand. If it was, that would evidence elasticity of pricing (my securities analyst training coming to the surface) and gas prices ain't elastic. I think we all know that gas stations and the oil industry are not sensitive to our appetites, at least if we choose to "drink" less.

Now a real energy policy might include something like, oh let's say Manhattan project-style development of western states shale oil deposits, now considered technically and economically viable by many experts. These deposits dwarf those of the Middle East (I do not own any oil stocks at this time, by the way) and their development would virtually eliminate the need to shed American blood in that far-off region in defense of the Bush family's oil interests.

A real energy policy would accelerate development support of hydrogen fuel cells - and without the use of oil and gas, by the way, as its fuel source. A real energy policy would increase the burden of the automobile industry to increase fuel economy; it would accelerate development of wind, water, tidal and other alternative energy sources; it would accelerate development and use of all energy conservation measures.

"Don't buy gas if you don't need it?" How can I argue with that logic?

W - Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house

"Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." --George W. Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

I simply could not make these things up, no matter how hard I tried. Bush's sensitivity, fair and balanced, was made decisively clear when, having toured some of the Hurricane Katrina devastation along the Gulf Coast, and its impact on the predominant middle- and lower-class, could only think of wealthy Senator Trent Lott and the loss of his no doubt "modest" home. Poor senator Lott. Do you think that he might reconstruct a more modest home, using some of his own money to help reconstruct homes for those less advantaged? Now that's an idea!

W - We're problem solvers

"We've got to solve problems. We're problem-solvers." --George W. Bush, Cabinet meeting, Washington D.C., Sept. 6, 2005

Hmm...let's talk about solving problems. Killing or capturing Osama Binladen; improving disaster readiness in the United States; devising an energy policy to wean ourselves off foreign oil dependance; developing an effective national healthcare policy and providing affordable prescription drug benefits to senior citizens; assuring the solvency of Social Security; winning the war in Iraq; winning the war in Afghanistan; achieving a permanent peace agreement in the Israel/Palestinian crisis; guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote, and to have all votes count; eliminating record federal budget deficits...

Problem-solvers? Who was Bush talking about? Himself? His cabinet? Republicans in Congress? For that matter, Democrats?

Where are the problem-solvers anyway? Certainly not in public service. He wasn't a problem-solver when he ditched his Air National Guard service (or was he?). Bush wasn't a problem-solver while his first three oil companies failed. He wasn't a problem-solver while governor of Texas, overseeing one of the worst public school systems in the nation. He wasn't a problem-solver when he sat in a school, reading about a goat while the nation was under attack on September 11, 2001. He wasn't a problem-solver when telling the nation that not buying gas unless we needed it was a solution to our energy problems. He wasn't a problem-solver when he failed to fire Michael Brown, the now departed head of FEMA.

I haven't yet seen a posting in any classified ads for "problem-solvers" by any government agency. I suppose that's because the government has already employed all available problem-solvers. God help us all!