Sunday, February 26, 2006

School's In Session

It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. That is, it is only when we are truly mentally and spiritually ready to absorb and comprehend new information that we will recognize that information. Kind of an awakening. Or better, the removal of a block.

I don't think the Shrub Crowd is at that point yet with regard to their "liberation" of Iraq, but they have to be darned close. The latest developments there have to be turning the heads of all but the most goosestepping loyalists, making it very hard to blame the failures on a few "dead-end kids" (as the fearless hunter Cheney once did) and making it clear that the powers that be (for now) understood nothing about the culture and environmental complexities of the region. Pictures of purple fingers are not going to turn this around. W's dad, a man of world experience got it. W, a man of privileged playboy experience (with no life accomplishments), may be starting to.

Come on in W, school's in session!
WaPo's take
SeaPI's cartoon

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I saw him on 60 Minutes a month or so ago, and I could not figure the reason he was singled out for feature (although the show has definately lowered its standards after Don Hewitt retired). This seems to confirm my reaction.


Or am I a deserter? Oh, where have I been???!
(Maybe here?)
What does my expat reader in Dakar, Singapore think?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Does Porter Goss Have a Clue??

Anyone who has ever held political office or served as a business executive knows that some of the most effective assistants or advisors you can have are qualified people with whom you have had a long, trusting personal relationship. The key is that they are not just someone with whom you have close ties, they must also have the knowledge, aptitude, and skills to excel in the position with which they are to be entrusted. Anything less is simple cronyism.

Among the many failures in leadership by the Bush administration is the rampant cronyism at all levels of appointed government positions, from Bremer and the whole Heritage Foundation greenhorn types he dragged over to the Green Zone with him to "heckuva job" Brownie, now singing his heart out before a Senate committee today.

One of the lastest examples emerging of someone who might not have the horsepower to do the job for which he was appointed is the CIA's new chief, Porter Goss. Among the signs are his asinine statement last week to the Senate Intelligence Committee that public disclosure of the illegal domestic wiretapping program has caused "severe damage to our capabilities to carry out our mission". I can't imagine in what way. I'm picturing two bad guys in a cave in Pakistan, rubbing their hands together in glee because they now know that the U.S. is eavesdropping on its own citizens without getting warrants. Should make their job much easier. Now in its NPR-like attempt to appear "less liberal" the New York Times today printed an editorial by Mr. Goss regarding the "leak epidemic" he sees. The article is one of the most poorly written I've ever seen, it sounds childish. I thought the editors gave those the once-over, but apparently that was not the case here. And his logic is so classic Bush its starting to sound tired: We have to keep everything secret to protect national security, even down to what we may or may not have in the lunchroom fridge. I hold out hope that my first instincts are wrong about him. In the meantime, he can start his cleanup work here.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Herding Sheep

President Bush was apparently one of the many watching his Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refuse to answer questions this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, making the whole illegal domestic wiretapping issue look that much worse. Even some of the regressive legislators are jumping ship on this issue, in this mid-term election year.

So W has decided to go back to the tried and true rightie playbook which guides him in crisis, the one that has served him well over the years, as well as such public service icons as Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay.

That book only has three chapters which cover variations on three tactics: Blame the Clintons, destroy the messenger, or scare the hell out of the sheep in the country. This time he realized that the first two would not meet the test (though his man Gonzales reminded us in the Senate hearings that there is precedent in the country's history for this broad use of presidential authority, citing the electronic surveillance conducted by the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln administrations among others), and realizing that the 9/11 shroud was wearing thin, he trotted out a retread of last June's story about a now 4 year old alleged plot to strike the L.A. area, apparently to scare us yet once more into "trusting him". I sincerely hope that for the sheep, this will be one wolf cry too many.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006


If there is any humor or entertainment value in the tragedy that occurred in the city of New Orleans this fall hurricane season, it must surely be in the antics and shenanigans of Mayor Ray Nagin. Here is a man who would not warrant even regional attention normally, but through this catastrophic event has been granted a global stage, and he's playing it for all its worth. Just as he seems to wear out his headline welcome, he manages to pull another rabbit out of his hat. Cindy Sheehan could learn a thing or two from him. I don't know whether he's sincere or just an opportunist, but he's never dull.

The latest rabbit seems to be a promising attempt to shame D.C. into fulfilling pledges to assist with the rebuilding of the Big Easy. He's entertaining world leaders, trying to get them to purchase a bit of the Louisiana Purchase. To say the least, the results will be amusing.

But beneath the prank is a familiar theme: W is long on political show (such as his pricey Jackson Square performance), but short on performance (even as he plans to spend still more on "national defense"). Assistance is critical now, before the city loses its character forever, and its residents lose their home forever. NOLA burns, Nero continues to fiddle.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fiscal Fake-Out

Much attention is focused (and rightfully so) on the human cost of the invasion & occupation of Iraq, at least on the U.S. side, but little analysis is done on the monetary cost, which for all practical purposes is borne solely by the U.S.

Among the myriad of lies, gross miscalculations and misrepresentations the Beltway crowd sold us this arbitrary, elective war was the pledge that Iraqi oil revenues would pick up the tab. Well like the big bad WMDs, that promise has vanished into thin air.

Now I know most of us yawn or blanch (maybe both!) at the thought of a little financial analysis (SVT excluded), but please bear with me while we look at a couple of numbers from a report discussed on a recent conference call conducted by the OMB:

  • Since the invasion this has cost us an estimated $250B
  • The military operation alone is costing about $144M per day!
  • No large scale reconstruction costs are included in these estimates
  • Iraqi oil revenues are able to fund only a fraction of the reconstruction costs
  • This is over and above the projected annual Pentagon budget of nearly a half trillion dollars!
  • Some perspective? The total estimated U.S. government expenditures in 2005 (excluding the wars) is $2.47T (on revenues of $2.12T, btw)
The most sobering part of this? No end in sight.....

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