Monday, April 30, 2007

Arianna Nails Tenet

After watching George Tenet's interview hawking his new book last night on 60 minutes - I've been too angry to formulate an articulate response. Then I read Arianna Huffington's post today - and she says everything I wanted to say. Here is a snip:

Tenet seems to believe there's a major distinction between lying and standing by silently while others lie, and then proudly receiving a Medal of Freedom from the liars.

He could have simply resigned and freed himself to "tell the truth." Tenet acts as if resignation were not an option. But it was. And the passion and anger he displays now in the service of book sales could have been used then in the service of his country.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bush’s Veto and the Next War Funding Bill!

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For the record, I’m with John Edwards, who is unequivocal about the need to keep sending the President bills requiring him to get the troops out of Iraq until his veto pen runs dry!

In fact, any candidate who backs down to Bush’s latest bluster will not get my vote in the primary (and that means you, Senator Obama!)

Bush was trying to channel a young Clint Eastwood yesterday, with this remark:
If the Congress wants to test my will as to whether or not I'll accept a timetable for withdrawal, I won't accept one.
And a young village idiot with this one:
I'm just envisioning what it would be like to be a young soldier in the middle of Iraq and realizing that politicians have all of the sudden made military determinations.
Um, you’ve got a point there. Just wish you could have envisioned it four years ago! He continued with his other big rationale for his veto of the current bill:
The idea of putting all kinds of extraneous spending on a bill, the purpose of which is to fund our troops, I just don't accept that. So if they want to try again, that which I have said was unacceptable, then of course I'll veto it.
After hearing everything the President has to say about his intention to veto any bill that doesn’t give him exactly what he wants, I can’t help but think back to his speech on April 10, when he claimed to give us his bottom line:
The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to our veterans, it's unacceptable to our military families, and it's unacceptable to many in this country.
Another good point. It's unacceptable! That’s why I think Congress should respond to his veto by immediately passing another funding bill that is stripped of everything but the funding for another six to eight months in Iraq, along with a binding resolution to have the troops returned home to their loved ones within that time frame. End of story!

If Bush is going to veto a funding bill because it forces him to bring the troops home to their families, he should have to come out and say so. Clearly, he has no intention of trying to reunite our military families. In fact, he seems willing to use the troops as hostages in order to get what he wants! Earlier, in the same speech, he trotted out this quote from a member of his war cabinet:
In a letter to Congress, the Army Chief of Staff, Pete Shoemaker, recently warned, "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures, which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our soldiers and their families."
It all sounds pretty clear. Failure to give Bush everything he wants is a “failure to support the troops” because if Congress doesn’t give him everything he wants, he is going to punish the troops with “increasingly draconian measures!” Sounds like blackmail to me! So who, exactly, are the terrorists again?

So far, his other main arguments talking points in support of the veto are that he can’t accept an “artificial timetable,” and that leaving Iraq is “accepting defeat.”

But complaining about “artificial timetables” is like whining about an artificial limit on the amount of money in your checking account! No, Mr. President, it’s a real timetable, and nearly 70% of the American people want you to follow it!

Many of today’s conservatives like to talk tough about how early withdrawal would be accepting defeat and behaving like a loser, but they might as well be saying that a decision to stop beating our heads against a brick wall is a defeatist admission that we can’t knock the wall down! If only you would use your own head, Mr. Bush, we might give the argument a bit more time, but by now your war has given us nothing but a raging headache and we want you to stop!

As others have noted, the President’s current aversion to timetables is at odds with another famous statement he made in 2003:
Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.
At this point, Congress should tell the President that he can have the necessary funding but that he must get the troops out of Iraq within 6 to 8 months, or his refusal to do so will result in impeachment and removal from office, commenced at the time of their choosing.

Yeah, I can dream!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Need a Good Laugh?

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In case you are feeling deprived from a lack of funny video clips from the recent White House Correspondents' Dinner - as last year’s hilarious performance by Stephen Colbert was followed up this year by the dreadfully dull (and I would have guessed already embalmed) Rich Little - here’s something to fill the void:

John “The Next Domino” Doolittle has posted this lengthy list of “unprecedented attacks on his character,” along with “the facts that dispute them.”

Here’s my personal favorite:
ATTACK: Congressman Doolittle won’t return campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff, his clients or associates.

FACT: John refuses to give even the slightest appearance that he may have done something wrong by returning money that was accepted legally and ethically. He won’t give credence to claims that he has taken tainted money, no matter how much the media tries to pressure him to do so.
Brilliant, Einstein! You won’t give credence to the appearance that you may have done something wrong by giving back tainted money, but you’ll give credence to it by posting a 2300 word manifesto restating everything bad that has ever been said about you or your wife, along with petulant, defensive responses to each of them!

Like this one:
ATTACK: A former staff member named Kevin Ring left Congressman Doolittle’s office to go work for Mr. Abramoff and then turned around and lobbied the congressman.

FACT: Kevin Ring worked for John as a legislative aide and then legislative director for about three years starting around 1994. When he left the office, he held two other jobs before going to work for Jack Abramoff, including working for former Senator John Ashcroft. Years passed between the time he left Doolittle’s staff and when he worked for Mr. Abramoff.
Years passed? That's your defense? So Ring had a couple of other jobs before he began lobbying you on behalf of Abramoff? I don't think the speed at which he "turned around" is your problem, Mr Congressman!

Read the whole thing. It’s a riot!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hey Congress – It’s Time to Administer a Spanking!

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After listening to the President’s response to Gonzo’s testimony, I can’t help but think of him as the bratty kid who is willing to wait out a lecture by his parents for some offensive behavior, because he knows the parents won’t follow through with any actual punishment if he continues the same behavior.

After Gonzo spent nearly a full day of shucking and jiving with a defense based on little more than managerial incompetence, here’s Bush’s assessment of his little buddy:
"This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence"
In other words, “I don’t care what you say Dad, Mikey the Dealer is a good guy and you can’t pick my friends!”

Bush continued:
"As the hearings went forward, it was clear the attorney general broke no law, there's no wrongdoing"
Translation: “You can’t prove he did anything wrong, so get off my back old man!”

I just hope the Congress eventually responds by taking away the President’s allowance if and when he continues to find ways to say:
“Leave me alone, you f**ker! You’re not the boss of me!”
[Update] Looks like Congress may be listening. They just pulled off the belt!

Monday, April 16, 2007

What I Hope Someone Asks Alberto Tomorrow Thursday.

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On the eve of Alberto Gonzales’ testimony before Congress about his involvement in the federal attorney purge, I just want to make one point that I really wish someone would throw at him when he starts to blather about “his best recollection,“ about “an overblown personnel matter.”

If this were really about “job performance,” he would have purged the loyal Bushies . . . . and then resigned himself!

I’m not going to recount all of the evidence of poor job performance available to support what has become obvious to all but the few remaining cretins who support this President – that Bushies are incompetent!

Just look at the poll to the right and note how difficult it is to pick the one most shamefully inept Bushie from the list! And those are just the ones we’ve seen in high profile public roles. Just think about all the pathetically incompetent, but loyal, Bushies behind the scenes, f**king up the future of the country in a million little ways!

So when Alberto weasels around behind statements like “I’ve made mistakes, but nothing improper,” I sure hope someone has the balls to point out the simple equation:

Mistakes in your job = Poor job performance!

So if the fired attorneys aren’t going to be re-hired, then why isn’t Gonzales included in the purge?

Friday, April 13, 2007

“War Czar” Simply the Administration's Way of Making The "Bush War” Permanent!

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For years, conservatives have talked about the importance of “making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent.” With their recent call for a “War Czar,” they seem to have similar hopes about George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.

While it makes some kind of sense to have a “Drug Czar,” or a “Terrorism Czar,” because drugs and terrorism are insidious problems that will always be present at some level, war has always been a temporary response to a world crisis. A war is something that most of us expect to occur only as a last resort. If conducted well, a war should end as soon as a desired de-escalation of the crisis is achieved.

Naming a “War Czar” gives the psychological impact of permanence, in the same way that the “Drug Czar” and the so-called “War on Drugs” have been woven into the fabric of American society.

However, it makes about as much sense as naming a “Flood Relief Czar” during a flood, or a “Power Outage Czar" during a power outage!

If we really want to look for an insidious, long-term, problem requiring its own Czar, how about naming Patrick Fitzgerald as our nation's “Corruption Czar?”

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Who Will Be The First To Go - Sanjaya or Alberto?

With the the controversy surrounding Alberto Gonzales and his Department of Justice - I can't help but see the parallels surrounding this years American Idol situation.

Gonzo has proven to be unable to coherently explain his role in the firing of eight US attorneys.

Sanjaya continues to prove week after week that he cannot sing.

Gonzo with seemingly very little talent as a lawyer somehow rose to be Attorney General of the United States.

Sanjaya with very little singing talent - week after week gets enough votes to remain on American Idol.

So I ask the question - who will be the first to go - Sanjaya or Alberto?
For that matter - who would be a better Attorney General?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Left-Over Presents: You Make the Call!

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Although most of the commentary on Tuesday’s press conference has been about Bush’s stubborn unwillingness to consider leaving Iraq (or even to consider that the American people want to leave Iraq), I’d like to highlight a couple of exchanges that relate to a more trivial topic.

And then I will leave you with a question for your consideration.

First, this brief exchange:
Q: Since General Pace made his comments — they got a lot of attention — about homosexuality, we haven't heard from you on that issue. Do you, sir, believe that homosexuality is immoral?

BUSH: I — I — I will not be rendering judgment about individual orientation. I do believe the don't ask/don't tell policy is good policy. Sammon, yes.
Interesting that, aside from the mention of comments by General Pace, the question had nothing to do with homosexuals serving in the military but was about morality. Still, the only response the stuttering Bush could muster was to say he believes in “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And then he quickly moved to another reporter, and preferably another line of questioning.

But consider that the question came after the following exchange had occurred just moments earlier:
BUSH: Bill?

Q: Mr. President, a lot of the disagreement...

BUSH: Wrong Bill.

Q: Which one, him?

BUSH: No, you. The cute looking one.

Q: Thanks so much.
Or this one:
BUSH: Dancer. Dancing man. That would be David Gregory. For those of you not aware, Gregory put on a show the other...

Q: Everybody's aware, Mr. President. Thank you.

BUSH: Well, maybe the listeners aren't.

Q: Yes, that's all right.

BUSH: That was a beautiful performance, seriously.

Q: Thank you. Thank you very much.
And so the question on which I’d like you, the reader, to make the call, is this:

Are all of the people on this list ranked at least one slot too high?

Monday, April 02, 2007

This is What He’s Done For His "Friends!"

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As if there aren’t enough opportunities to be reminded of the disaster that has been the presidency of George W. Bush, I had another glaring reminder this week.

While attending a Symposium on Enterprise Risk Management, I was present for a discussion panel consisting of a number of corporate executives who also serve on the Boards of other publicly traded corporations. The audience was made up mostly of Risk Managers and Quantitative Analysts for major banks, insurance companies and energy companies. There were probably 800 to 1000 people in the room, as members of the panel were presented a series of questions on the role of the Board in assessing and managing risk for a large firm.

One of the questions was a pretty basic one: What are your main concerns today regarding risk assessment?

The most striking answer to this question came from a man who has spent 35 years as a private equity investor and valuation expert, who also serves on the Board of three other companies, and who specializes in purchasing and turning around failing companies, often after leveraged buyouts. He is clearly a very wealthy and successful man – one of those who might be considered by our President to be among “the haves and the have-mores.”

His answer was quite telling about the impact of the last six years under the current administration. He prefaced it by recounting a lunch that he had with five business acquaintances, all of whom happen to be chairpersons of one of different Federal Reserve Banks across the country. He noted the surprise he felt at hearing of their shared fear over the possibility of a financial meltdown in the US economy.

His answer to the question can be paraphrased as follows:
“I worry that America is more vulnerable and more disliked than at any time in our history!”
Hearing the bluntness of this statement, and the ease with which the audience seemed to nod its collective head at the response, I could not help but think that this is going to be the Bush legacy – leaving the country with a precarious economy in a world without friends!

And this is going to be the Bush legacy for Bush’s proclaimed friends, not just his political enemies and detractors!

And all but a small, and shrinking, group of Bush’s proclaimed friends already know it!