The Talking Dog

September 29, 2005, Catch the Wave

Or waive, as in waiver, provided by Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, who allegedly finally waived confidentiality of co-conspirator, war criminal, and New York Times employee Judith Mililer, who reached a deal with the Valerie Plame case special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and accordingly, Ms. Miller was released jail, agreeing to testify about her conversation with Mr. Libby.

Well, well. With Tom DeLay actually under indictment, and Bill Frist under a cloud, and the Bush Administration still reeling from its mishandling of Katrina in every possible way (including its blank check to Halliburton after the fact to rebuild, which irritates actual conservatives, whoever they are...) now... this...

What gives? Alas, its looking like the deal is that Scooter may be the sacrificial lamb here... taking the bullet for Karl Rove the Bush Administration (it's just that what with his new portfolio as Propaganda Minister of Hurricane Katrina Political Damage Control, Karl is just too important to go down for this one; I mean, for gosh sake, it was Karl who thought of having Laura appear on that home remodeling game show.)

While the wagons are circling, rest assured that the Democrats will be (unintentionally) taking the advice of "when your enemies are self-destructing, get out of their way..." The fact is, as disastrous a month as the Republicans are having, the Dems have, unbelievably, not managed to score any points. Why? Well, the fact remains... while the Republicans are a malignant force in national politics, and we have just learned, horribly incompetent in an actual crisis situation... they are disciplined, and consistently stand for something. Of course, as we learned from Katrina, what they stand for is the holy alliance of racism and rich people. And even with that obvious nastiness exposed to all... somehow... the Democrats manage to be even more inept...

Will Rogers said it best: "I belong to no organized political party; I'm a Democrat."

Well... there's a wave to catch... even "at least we're not thieves..." SOMETHING! SOMETHING! Please?

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September 28, 2005, Kills Bugs Dead

Oh, what a day... ethical corruption in high places has taken it on the chin...

First, close to home, Brooklyn Democratic kingpin Clarence Norman was convicted of felonies related to campaign law violations, and will have to relinquish his state assembly seat and his law license. Indeed, your talking dog had been advised from time to time that the cost of obtaining a job as a judge in (his home borough of) Brooklyn was around $75,000, payable to Mr. Norman, his friends, relatives and/or their "consultancies". With Norman convicted... hey... who do you have to bribe to become a judge around here? (Here in Brooklyn, we don't tolerate corruption... we demand it...). But, in the huge, throbbing, Earth-shattering news...

Well, before we get there... this (via The Poor Man Institute) note about how Senate Majority Leader Bill "Here Kitty, Kitty" Frist is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible wrongdoing surrounding his (massive) sale of HCA stock just before it tanked... but, as great as that is... it's still not as great as...

House Majority Leader Tom "Bugs" DeLay was indicted on one count of felony conspiracy, and hence, must step down as majority leader (to be replaced by a gay man, no less...)

What a happy day for those of us who live for the occasional justice in the universe... it's days like this that make life worth living... that's right, Mr. President... to paraphrase... you, Sir... in Texas, we call that put-on arrogant swagger of yours... "perp-walking"...

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September 27, 2005, This is diet?

After years and years of telling us we can have everything (and free pie too), i.e., tax cuts for the super-rich, drugs for Granny, a strong and overpriced defense, homeland security, a huge discretionary war, big new education spending (no child left behind), and now, a coupla hundred billion to give away to friends and GOP contributors at Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, et al. pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery and rebuild the Gulf States... finally, the President has called for some level of national sacrifice. "Don't drive, " sayeth the President. Unless you really have to, of course. None of those discretionary trips, you know, like, just taking the car out for a few hours just for, like, the hell of it, because at $3.50 a gallon for gasoline, well... I mean... why wouldn't you? But please don't. It's now your patriotic duty to drive less.

What is this? The President of the United States is suggesting that Americans conserve energy? What the hell is next? He's going to tell us to eat our vegetables? I mean, this namby, pamby whining and moralizing , coming along with the massive new government spending program which might inadvertently benefit Black people (albeit as an accident)... I mean, is this guy a Republican at all? I mean, as Dick Cheney has told us, it is our God given duty as Americans to squander as much of the Earth's wealth as fast as humanly possible (and preferably on borrowed money).

Has the President gone soft on us? What gives?

I mean-- his people are certainly holding up-- good old former (and now disgraced) FEMA Director Mike "Brownie" Brown blasted every single Democrat in sight as the cause of the catastrophic failure of governmental response to Hurricane Katrina in his Capitol Hill testimony (which also revealed that Mike is still on FEMA's payroll as a consultant!)

I mean, come on Mr. President: the team is holding together, from Brownie to the downward-delegating "no one above the rank of sergeant is responsible for anything" army that convicted ex-Pfc. Lynndie England of various Abu Ghraib related counts... GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado proposes selling off parts of the national park system to pay for Katrina relief... GOP Senators Sessions and Kyl were searching for a rich corpse to justify the estate tax repeal, even in the face of Katrina's devastation and the need for a sound public fisc to repair it...

The team is playing like a well-oiled machine (pun intended)! This is no time to be giving up, Mr. President with nonsense that a little bad weather should make Americans alter our God-ordained lifestyle even a little.
Pull yourself together, man. Maybe a few weeks of brush-clearing might clear your mind...

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September 26, 2005, The people under the umbrella

Two groups of people, both of whom expected (or probably didn't actually expect, but had a right to expect, legal, moral or otherwise...) the help of the United States government, and won't get it: (1) Gulf area residents who, thanks to Republican largesse, will find it difficult to impossible to take advantage of bankruptcy protections..., and (2) Iraqis, in general of course, Shiites specifically, of late, five schoolteachers rounded up and murdered, execution style, in their school, along with the usual day's atrocities, bringing American soldiers killed in the Iraq adventure ever closer to the 2000 mark, a grim death toll on its way to passing the War of 1812's 2,280 dead (though a much smaller number were wounded in the earlier war), and into 9th place all time (behind the Civil War, WWII, WWI, Vietnam, Korea, the Revolutionary War, the Spanish American War and the Mexican War) in casualties, moving well into its third year in length.

And there you have it. Prosperity with a purpose. The purpose, it would seem, would be to provide fewer and fewer assurances of security, financial or personal, or any, frankly, to a greater and greater number of people, be they here, or in our foreign protectorates.

In some sense, this is simply the way of the universe: security really is an illusion anyway. Of course, let us all remember that our current government secured its reelection in large part with the help of "security moms", or, in shorthand, people who knew that a party that they disagreed with as far its crass fiscal irresponsibility, environmental irresponsibility, regressive social policies, and dismal economic prospects as compared to those available from the more egalitarian "other party" would, nonetheless, somehow make them more secure from the (virtually nonexistent, of course) risk of (swarthy) foreigners committing further acts of terrorism here.

Reality has a funny way of asserting itself. Simple, plain old foul weather, of the kind we get in some variety every single year in this country, intervened, and revealed just how empty the promises of competent handling of "our security" were. And suddenly, millions of Americans woke up.

Of course, there is a core group that, no matter what, needs to believe... they seem to morph the former actor who turned into a creditable politician into the current actor who cannot morph into a creditable politician... nonetheless, the President must be competent: we voted for him, so therefore, it would be a reflection on our own incompetence if we admitted his imperfections (just as it would be if he himself ever did). One is reminded of the Monty Python routine where an apartment building stands solely on the faith of the residents; any wavering, and the building begins to collapse...

And there we are. Eastern mysticism takes its place, ladies and gentlemen. Prosperity with a purpose. The purpose of this government, it would seem, would be to remind everyone not to get too attached to anything...

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September 24, 2005, It beats as it sweeps and cleans

Our long overdue return visit to our comrades at Pravda gives us this piece on Iranian nuclear derry-do (derring-do?) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which observes that the big bad EU nations (and the USA) are being mean to Iran by threatening to take the issue of Iran's purported violations of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to the UN Security Council.

Of course, Iran has already lined up the support of (UN Security Council veto holders) Russia and China, to naysay such a referral in the first place, and prevent too much isolation if it occurs. The Pravda piece notes that India is also interested in joining the side of Iran, should this come to a full international brouhaha, in part, because India is eyeing Iranian gas reserves. Which means that governments representing a huge part of the world's population are already lining up on the side of... Axis of EvilTM member

We have a troubling situation. Our friend and running mate Bruce the Veep notes the ominousness of our overall situation: having shot our wad on a discretionary war in Iraq, which has already cost us stateside in terms of a vastly reduced array of "first responders" in the event of a domestic disaster, we have seriously weakened our own hand in dealing with the rest of the Axis of EvilTM. Hence, observe: North Korea, with which we have recently inked a deal (evidently in erasable ink!) seemingly identical to a "real current food, energy and money in exchange for illusory promises of future behavior" that Republicans blasted the Clinton Administration for entering; and of course, Iran. (We won't even talk about Pakistan, home of an arsenal of nuclear weapons, millions of hard-ass Islamist fundamentalists, and quite likely, Osama bin Laden. Nope... best not talk about that.)

So, there you have it. It looks like after years of selfish "we're exceptional so screw the rest of you" chest-banging (for domestic political purposes) thereby pissing off the rest of the world and thereby reducing our moral authority and diplomatic leverage, and after years of squandering our military capacity (on what has proven to be an unnecessary war and will soon prove to be a vastly counterproductive war...) we find our options... limited. A true Macchiavellian might simply suggest that this is all about "money", and that Russia and China (and even India) just see Iran as a source of investment capital and business opportunity, and if we were only willing to replace those business opportunities, perhaps they would play ball in isolating Iran... Of course, did I mention that we've also spent years squandering our economic capacity on non-stimulative tax cuts, and thereby, don't have that much ability there...? (Picture stepping up to the loan desk at the Bank of Beijing and asking for a multi-billion dollar loan to bribe China with... come to think of it...)

The brave new world, ladies and gentlemen... might just make cowards of us all.

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September 23, 2005, A toy surprise in every box

By a not unexpected 13-5 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the President's nominee to be Chief Justice of the United States, Judge John Roberts. Voting against confirmation were senators either from uber-liberal states seeking to head off possible attacks (some day) from their left flank (Schumer of my home state and Feinstein of California, and Durbin of Illinois, as well as chief uber liberal Kennedy of Massachusetts) or possibly running for President (Biden of Delaware). All Republicans (surprise, surprise) voted to confirm, as did Democrats Leahy of Vermont, and Kohl and Feingold both of Wisconsin. Given that the committee chairman is Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania... am I missing something, or aren't the Jewish people a tad overrepresented on the Senate Judiciary Committee? This might explain our representation on the Supreme Court (2 of 9). But I digress.

Elections have consequences (even when stolen with the help of John Roberts somewhat controversial). And not only did the Republicans win the Presidency in 2000 and again in 2004, they managed to expand their lead in the Senate. As such, they get to appoint judges, and other governmental officials, barring really unusual or insane circumstances (like Bernard Kerik).

To the extent that the Democrats had a reasonable basis to oppose Judge Roberts, it would not be, as Senator Feinstein (and the other "nay" voters) so whinily offered, for his likely vote to repeal Roe v. Wade (a decision in which the man he clerked for, and is replacing, dissented), but for the fact that his view of the Constitution is that it consists of Article II (the power of the executive branch) and little else, as envisioned in his outrageous decision in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case permitting military tribunals to go forward at Guantanimo Bay for no other reason than the President says so.

Of course, did our great liberal heroes Kennedy and Schumer and Biden and Durbin and Feinstein manage to force Judge Roberts into a defense of this outrageous willingness to toss the Bill of Rights out with the bathwater in the interest of expanding the power of the guy who appointed him? You kind of know the answer...

Judge Roberts, ladies and gentlemen. It's as if Bill Rehnquist just got another few decades of life expectancy...

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September 22, 2005, The Fastest Way to Send Money...

Just convince the GOP that (preferably unconstitutional) faith-based spending is involved, and the House will quickly send beaucoup bucks their way, as in the case of a measure approved by the House to providers of "Head Start" pre-school services even if the providers discriminate on the basis of religion (i.e., a sectarian program might wish to hire only adherents to its own sect.)

The fact of the matter, with all due respect to my good friend the Raving Atheist, this is actually important, whereas nonsensical tripe about whether or not the words "Under God" are in the pledge of allegiance... is not. (BTW, I suppose RA also celebrated his fourth anniversary of blogging recently, albeit not on his own blog, but on this one where he served as the "Rabid Dog" alter ego to my own "Left-Leaning Dog" for the first several months of this blog's existence... but I digress...)

You see, our First Amendment's provision against the establishment of religion by the state (small s) was specifically intended to combat exactly this: the Congress itself picking and chosing religions it wishes to support (the money going to religions based providers, as I understand it, will go overwhelmingly, if not entirely, of course, to Christian service providers). This is precisely the sort of thing the Founding Fathers knew they didn't want to happen: actual meat and potatoes establishment of religion by direct state support of religious activities.

By contrast, of course, controversy over nonsense like the pledge of allegiance... is bullshit. What serious person could possibly care? And frankly, just what we need when the house of cards is crumbling under the incompetent and venal religious right... to hand it a stupid issue like the God damned (pun intended) pledge of allegiance to get some oxygen back. Thanks.

BTW, for those of you who believe in a supreme being, let us hope that said supreme being will take it easy on us with that Hurricane Rita... especially the people already hit hard by Hurricane Katrina... for those of you who don't... well, I suppose you can hope for the same thing...

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September 20, 2005, Nothing comes closer to home

There are reminders out there that there is evil... and then, there is evil. One of those reminders reminded us that time marches on, as famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal died at 96. Wiesenthal devoted his life to the pursuit of justice against those responsible for the Holocaust... the standard-setters for evil for all time. He was most famous for his role in hunting down the architect of the Holocaust, Adolph Eichmann (who was duly captured by the State of Israel, kidnapped from Argentina, tried, and to this day, the only prisoner ever formally executed by Israel.)

The fact of the matter is that it has been sixty years since the conclusion of World War II; those who have lived to tell the tale are, sadly, dying off around us.

This is most unfortunate. Most of us in our comfortable imaginary little worlds somehow think that the challenges we face are uniquely special and daunting, be they high gasoline prices, or the remote possibility of some terrorist attack. But they're not. Not even close. Not even a little. The Holocaust didn't happen on live t.v., I'm afraid, so the fact that it killed over 6 million Jews, and that same number of non-Jews, or roughly twice as many people as killed on 9-11 every day for six years doesn't mean anything to most of us anymore because, hey, if it was that important, we would have seen it on live t.v., right?

There are people still alive today who saw the ultimate face of evil, and who tried to make damned sure the rest of us knew it was out there, and what it looked like. Sadly, we now have one fewer of them. And it's all of our loss.
Rest in peace, Mr. Wiesenthal.

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September 19, 2005, The Penalty of Leadership

Well, well.

We'll start off with this heated Frank Rich rant laying out the usual liberal story line, which has now become undeniable for the President, that his public relations first, actual meaningful responsibility and attendant responsible action a distant second, has finally backfired, apparently, as reflected in the President's now record (for him) dismal polling numbers.

That precise observation, the "Operation Hug a Black Person" is backfiring on all cylinders, is also reflected in this great piece by Billmon, noting that while Bush's ratings among liberals can't go much beyond where they are (perhaps a 10% approval rating?); no, no... what matters now is that for the first time, the combination of undermining both of the core values of so-called Republican values (i.e. government cheapness about spending money (1) in general and (2) toward the benefit of dark-skinned people particularly) is actually costing Bush among his hardened base. (That, and as I've pointed out before, high gasoline prices will do that.)

We, of course, shudder at just how big a jerk New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin must be to have to actually be wrong when the Bush Adminsitration is right, but such is the case as Nagin halted his ahead-of-schedule directives to businesses in New Orleans to try to get people back into the devastated city. Something about... Hurricane Rita or something. (Has anybody noticed that we're already up to "R" in hurricanes, and we're still in September? Just asking...) I hate to say it, but New Orleans could have used a guy like Rudy Giuliani (though, thankfully, they now have Vice-Admiral Thad Allen, albeit way, way too late). Of course, as they say about the Big Easy (similar to what they say about my home County of Kings): we don't tolerate corruption... we demand it.

Anyway, there you have it. The President, right now, albeit around 11 months too late, is hopelessly damaged goods. While it's a little too late to do anything about John Roberts, the President may well need another publicity stunt for O'Connor's replacement... time will tell... (My suggestion is a former Watergate prosecutorial staffer... now the junior senator from New York... wouldn't that be something?)

So much else going on in this wild and crazy world... elections in Germany and Afghanistan, the latest "deal" with North Korea... Actually, the link is pretty balanced from our friends in Beijing who brokered the deal...

The thing is, in substance, I am at a loss as to distinguish it from an apparently identical deal reached by the Clinton Administration around ten years ago, that was widely derided by Republicans as some sort of "appeasement". But, as with everything else from record deficits to treason, I suppose IIOKIYAAR...

My fellow Americans, you can vote for a Democratic House in '06... the only hope we have of neutralizing, if not impeaching, this Damaged Duck of a President... the choice is yours, America...

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September 17, 2005, It takes a licking, and keeps on ticking...

In this case, we'll take a rare (or, as some might say, nowhere near rare enough!) moment for a meta-solipsistic view. You see, this blog commenced postings on September 18, 2001... meaning we are now at our fourth anniversary (which is like 28 in talking dog years)... and a freaking eternity in the warp-speed world of blogs, let alone allegedly liberal blogs, of which this here is most likely an eminence gris.

Much has gone down in your world, and in ours. When we started the blog, Mr. & Mrs. TD were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary; in a few weeks... our 14th. The Loquacious Pup was a toddler; now, a grade number attaches (worse... the LP might even be able to read this blog... ) We're still at Casa Talking Dog, but we've gone through three jobs during the course of this blog (before finally landing in the perfect, responsible day job, serving the people... )

In that time, the nation has gone from a cohesive unit rallying together in a moment of national horror and grief to its usual divisive, self-interested self, with a peculiarly venal cast of characters in charge threatening the very viability of our constitution via a number of wars, actual, and ideological...

And we have been at the forefront of trying to bring you news from the fronts of these wars... with our day in day out commentary on the world and s***, and with our feature interviews, including with attorneys representing "unlawful combatants", a term not found or recognized in our constsitution or statutes because it is the very definition of arbitrary abuse of power, with a soldier in the field, with a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, and of course, way back when, with political operative Dick Morris.

And we have had occasion to blog about blogs... our Dog Run, with its capsule summaries of hundreds of great blogs (some of which even still exist!) and our dog breed nomenclature was actually revolutionary... for whatever reason, no one else had bothered to try to catalog a large number of web logs in quite that way... had it been kept up, might well have made this blog popular beyond the select discerning few who are smart enough to read what they know is without doubt the most important fount of wisdom currently available on the planet. (And what the hell is with the "We" anyway?)

Mostly, we have made friends through blogging. Not merely on-line acquaintances (and we are delighted with those), but actual, real live flesh and blood human beings... The solitary pursuit of a lone blogger at the keyboard has led to actual social interaction between human beings... and quite a few... and some of the most interesting, lively and intelligent people I have had the privilege to have met...

So there you go. A world of fun, in every department. Four more years? At least... God willing... I wouldn't miss it for the world.

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September 16, 2005, If you think its butter, but it's not...

The President has now made it clear that neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds...
oh wait. Neither massive category five hurricanes, nor outrageously expensive discretionary wars, nor massive deficits, nor anything else... will stop the inexorable flow of irresponsible tax cuts for the super-rich; certainly, the President has declared that it would be unthinkable if the 12-digit pork-barrel spending now envisioned for the Gulf (of Mexico... maybe we can call this "Gulf War III?") were be funded by actual taxes.

Once in a while I'm reminded that there are, in fact, things about George W. Bush that I admire greatly. For one, I have to admire the size of the pair he carries around. Quoth the President: "We got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes," Mr. Bush said. Working people have already been subject, in effect, to a tax increase through higher gasoline costs, he said, "and we don't need to be taking more money out of their pocket." Man, you just can't top a statement like that...

Anyway, I suppose I should follow the President's own logic to its natural fallacy and point out that by it, if one pays for their gasoline with a credit card, why it's not like their paying for it at all! So you see, Mr. President, since most Americans pay for everything on their credit cards, why, they really haven't suffered a tax increase. Because we all know that if the government spends money (thereby siphoning goods and services out of the economy for its own ends) and choses to issue government bonds in lieu of actual cash for those goods and services, well... that doesn't cost the taxpayers anything right?

I'm most impressed that there's a new meme going around: aw shucks, goes the meme, George W. Bush has just had to deal with so much on his watch! Look at all these disasters he's had to deal with! Again, one can't top these things.

There really is something gone wrong in our national character. As a nation, we used to actually be winners. We admired winners. Pieces of shit losers, who might cut and run, blame easy target third world countries for our problems, crap in their pants and tear up our own constitution at the first sign of danger... were beneath our contempt. The smug rich boy pricks who thought they were better than the rest of us because they had no force of character because they were rich and hence never tested... were never considered "regular guys": most people didn't like them. We used to admire character-- not bullshit "I call myself a Christian (that's spelled with a K, btw) so you crackers know you can trust my crypto-racist bona fides" that we now call character (think "family values"); no, I'm talking... well, let me stick with Republicans. I guess I'm talking about... Ike? Or Gerald Ford? Or even Colin Powell? Men of decency... actual character... Perfect men? God no. But forget that.

Not anymore. Now we're apparently just a nation of whining cringers, willing to cower in fear about anything, even to the point of fear of terrified people literally trying to flee for their lives... We used to be a better country than this.

For one thing, we used to pay for things we spent money on.

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September 15, 2005, Plop plop fizz fizz

The President, in one of his spontaneously totally stage-managed appearances amidst his usual fortress of solitude, in this case, Jackson Square in New Orelans' somewhat depopulated French Quarter, announced a massive, massive infusion of federal aid into the "Gulf Opportunity Zone". For good measure, the President noted the history of racial discrimination associated with poverty in the region (and, frankly, the rest of the nation).

One might be tempted to say "fool me once, shame on you..." But that would be incorrect. The President promised a massive federal infusion, and we will see a massive infusion of federal cash. In this case, Halliburton already has a large presence in the Gulf region (the Gulf of Mexico, region, that is) as its principal business (at least, before Dick Cheney made its principal business "bid rigging") was [oil] rig building. Similarly, our friends and mercenaries from Blackwater Security are also on hand in New Orleans, making sure that the property rights of affluent White people take precedence over... well, anything else. Frankly, Bechtel and Dynegy are probably already in town too, so we have the full cast of characters associated these days with... large scale federal reconstruction projects. Perhaps "from Fertile Crescent to Crescent City", or "Baghdad to Bayou" will become corporate slogans (and hence, post titles!)

Of course, given that there wasn't any money in the federal budget to, say, shore up the levees and flood wall system in such a way as to have, say, resulted in less damage in the first place, one wonders where the massively greater amount of money to clean up the mess will be coming from. I think the answer there will be "from Beijing to Bayou" (via Bechtel, of course). Deficits don't matter... Ronald Reagan proved that.

When politics give you lemons... well, Karl Rove just sees the opportunity to mix some Tom Collinses (virgin Collinses for our esteemed reformed alcoholic President, of course...) In this case, the triple play of (1) Cindy Sheehan calling attention to our... problems... in Iraq, (2) Hurricane Katrina and the non-federal response (in the usual course of events, when someone like the President "takes personal responsibility", one might ask where his resignation letter is; of course, we haven't had anything resembling the usual course of events since December of 2000 when the Supreme Court elected him President), and worst of all (3) record high gasoline prices... were causing some trouble (like an inconceivable 38% approval rating, two points below the level of people who would support Bush if he knife-raped a nun on live t.v.; of course, Presidential misdeeds are one thing; high gas prices are another matter.)

Anyway, with all this, the Bushmen just figure we'll see (1) a smilin' new Supreme Court Chief Justice, a virtual clone of the late prior Chief Justice (not to mention his law clerk!) and (2) more opportunities to get Karl himself off the front page, and now, (3) a massive new government spending opportunity! I won't even start with "you know what they'd say if a Democrat proposed this..." What would be the point? (Turns out Brownie was doing a heck of a job! But for his criminal incompetence, this massive pork-barrel sweetheart contract program might have been less politically palatable.)

The party of small government, ladies and gentlemen... it'll be here all week (at least). Well, it's small in the sense of its response to the needs of the people, anyway. Especially in times of dire need. At least we can be sure that we'll get the same great level of government service from the Bush Administration in the next 3 1/2 years as we have received in the last 4 1/2. I knew there was a reason the post titled referenced Alka Seltzer...

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September 11, 2005, A mind is a terrible thing to waste

And so here we are: four years after 9-11, to the day. I occasionally let loose on the subject, and my current thoughts are in this post over at The American Street.

I do, as I periodically do, want to take a moment to remember a particular hero of that horrible morning: Richard Pearlman, a volunteer medic, who, unlike the other rescuer-heroes of that date, wasn't paid to risk his life. It wasn't his job: it was his love. He was a volunteer medic with an ambulance company in Queens, and he was (literally) an Eagle Scout. On that morning, he was making a delivery for his job with a law firm and found himself downtown near police headquarters, when he took out his "EMT" badge, and took himself to, and into, the burning World Trade Center, to try to help whoever he could, making the ultimate sacrifice in the process.

Compare and contrast our current national leadership. And please try not to puke in the process.

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September 10, 2005, Coats, soothes, relieves

Bye, bye, Brownie. The President pocket-vetoed Mike "Brownie" Brown's continued service as coordinator of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, by recalling Brown, a man who managed to stand out as an incompetent among an otherwise universally incompetent administration, to Washington.

For the moment, a Coast Guard Vice-Admiral, who presumably knows what the hell he's doing, will be in charge of federal recovery efforts in the Gulf region. The people have spoken: there apparently is a limit to cronyism and the attendant incompetence thereof. Poll numbers for approval of Bush's Katrina [mis]handling have approached the stratospherically low numbers for Bush's [mis]handling of the Iraq war fiasco. Something had to be done-- and even if this is windowdressing and Brown really isn't gone (he is; he had already promised "to retire after hurricane season), its a showing that the President can run, but he can't hide. The American people have made it clear that evil has a name, and that you are either with them, or against them.

And so we approach the fourth anniversary of the act of gross negligence committed in the first year of the dark era known as "the George W. Bush presidency." Usually, I link back to my September 2001 archive for those who want to see what the world looked like from my perch yon four years ago; interestingly, this blog came into existence exactly one week after 11 September 2001 (a coincidence; the domain name was first purchased around September 4th of that year.) But as of early September, 2001, the President was slogging along with his "big initiative" being his "compromise" about stem cell research funding, and the big news of summer 2001 were Bush's five or six week vacation (the one during which he ignored warnings about you know what and you know who) and... shark attacks.

And what followed was a preternaturally clear and sunny Tuesday morning, in which yours truly found himself across the street from history (literally; at 100 Church Street, a block north of the first World Trade Center tower to be struck by an airplane; around an hour and a half later, I was on the Manhattan Bridge, from where I watched that same building implode and crumble), followed by job loss, nightmares, breathing bad crap, fear of follow up attacks, and other experiences similar to hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers, and not experienced by over 99% of the American people, whose fantasies about suffering what they watched on t.v. are and were just that: it happened to someone else. People who lived in one particular place.

Just as we can all fantasize about the victims of Katrina being part of our large American family, while watching first hand that this is nonsense. When push came to shove, it became every man, woman and child for his or her self.
BTW: we in NYC at that time seem to recall an amazing absence of the President of the United States himself, just as the people in the Gulf have recently experienced. He made one chicken-shit appearance on the night of 9-11, assuring us only that we were led bya chicken-shit. While other countries had moments of silence for us, we didn't have one for ourselves. And President Chicken-Shit than went on to... well, you know the rest.

So here we are, four years later. There are American citizens incarcerated without charge or trial (and for a while, counsel). We are detaining hundreds (maybe thousands) of non-citizens in the same limbo status. We have launched a war of aggression against an irritating, but non-threatening nation not involved in attacking us, while making the apprehension of those who did attack us as low a priority as we have made the infrastructure of vast parts of our own country.

Screw it. As I've said to many who would listen, it really is too much trouble to fret about this. Too many of the American people will rally around the President no matter how apparent it is that he's not worth rallying around, out of sheer knee-jerk partisanship (it's a sporting event after all, right?) I've proposed to myself that my mission is to do my job, raise my child, live my life, improve my writing, maybe see if I can get some more interviews in there, and not get too worked up about too much, on the blog or otherwise. We approach 9-11 + 4.0 four years older, but as a nation, not a jot wiser. As individuals, we'll have to live with this, and do the best we can.

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September 8, 2005, How do you spell relief?

Impeach Bush.

Sure, this guy would take over. But if trouble were brewing, at least he might show up; of course, our current President has a long history of being AWOL.

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September 7, 2005, The headache medicine

That would seem to be what the White House Budget Office would need right now according to this analysis of Katrina-related economic impact from the Grey Lady. Estimates range that Katrina may cost the nation around 400,000 jobs, and around 1% of all economic activity, while the colossal mess in the Gulf Coast is cleaned up and remedied.

The part I won't abide is the suggestion that Katrina and the appearance of crassness and cruelty caused by simultaneous enactments of massive windfall tax breaks to the super-rich at the time the social safety net is being shredded for the most vulnerable Americans will cause the Bushmen and their allied Congressional enablers (both parties, btw) one moment of pause while they continue tax cuts for the super-rich and shredding the social safety net.

Indeed, one major issue is whether Congress may belay the effectiveness of bankruptcy repeal, scheduled to kick in on October 17th, for Katrina's victims. Answer, as I see it: not a chance.

Short answer (answer to everything): we'll continue to cut taxes to the super-rich until they're not paying any taxes at all, while we continue to shred those irritating programs like Medicare/Medicaid and poverty relief (and the Army Corps of Engineers and its damned flood control projects) until... the budget is balanced. And the Chinese will be delighted to keep loaning us money until they feel like stopping. Or something.

Prosperity with a purpose. Compassionate conservative. Canned goods, bottled water, ammunition.

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September 4, 2005, Because some days are better than others

Unbeknownst to many, Familia Talking Dog spent the previous fortnight in an undisclosed location, a fortnight which comes crashing to an end (for Mr. TD) tomorrow (and for Mrs. TD Tuesday) as the affairs of state draw me back to a most unwelcome Labor Day at... labor. One of the select few aware of the FTD's undisclosed location, Julia, has one of the most monumental and comprehensive link dumps on any subject I have ever seen, in this case, her link dump on Hurricane Katrina and its horrifying aftermath.

Interestingly, when the Bush Administration took office, its supposed three "worst case" scenarios were (possibly in order), a major hurricane and flood in New Orleans, a major terrorist strike on New York City and a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, two out of three in under five years... those considering a move to the Bay Area may want to wait three and a half, four years, maybe...

Perhaps our late Chief Justice might have some words of wisdom for the schmuck he appointed as president on that awful day in December, 2000, when remaining doubts about the viability of American democracy were answered "Nyet" (5-4). BTW, while many express plaudits to our late Chief Justice, all I'll say for him is that he was consistent, and evidently, he was polite. As a jurist, he helped remind the nation of some of the High Court's greatest achievements, like the earlier courts that gave us Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson, and later struck down those (awful) New Deal laws, and that sort of thing... As a practical matter, Mr. Justice Rehnquist will be replaced by an ideological clone, to be named later... not too much later...

Well, the hell with it. The unspoken truth about 9-11 was that our national government was simply incompetent: too incompetent to head it off, too incompetent to deal with it while it was happening, too incompetent to track down and apprehend the perpetrators (believing them to somehow be in Baghdad), too incompetent to capitalize on the political and diplomatic goodwill available in its aftermath, too incompetent even to investigate it years later. And so, it comes as a surprise to... no one whatsoever... that the national government's handling of Katrina and its aftermath is... too incompetent to manage a major natural disaster (largely of its own making).

Anyone arguably competent (Paul O'Neil, Larry Lindsay, Christy Todd Whitman... Colin Powell and even the affable Tom Ridge comes to mind) has just been shoved out of the government, in favor of those personally loyal to the President, period. The ultimate irony, of course, is that the Harvard MBA President does, indeed, run the nation's government like a business. An all too typically American business. Brown-nosing the boss, or perhaps having served the boss's family in some way, and making sure the boss looks good, are all that matters. The customers, the bottom line, the shareholders, the product, the community... well, does worrying about any of those things really get you ahead in modern day America? Or (with some pleasant exceptions) isn't the way Bush is doing things... those responsible for the worst cock-ups are never held responsible if the boss likes them because they are good brown-nosers... the American way?

Is it a small wonder that the American people will almost certainly not hold the party of small-time but big-money graft, and perpetual incompetence, responsible for the debacles hoist upon them? Well, enough of that... Happy Labor Day, to all. Workers of the World... think about where your bread is buttered... In George W. Bush's America, the Congress will this week take up the sorely urgent issue of repealing that awful estate tax that those poor multi-millionaires have to pay...

The mind boggles. The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast lack fresh water... let them drink gumbo? Or raw sewage or salt water perhaps? America, she's a great country.

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September 1, 2005, When it rains, it pours (II)

Nothing much to say about the horrors affecting New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast region, devastated beyond belief by Hurricane Katrina, and now, by its own citizens who are taking pit-shots at rescuers (because, it has been suggested to me, that they are pissed that help has been so long in coming).

For those who believe in prayers, this would be a good time for them. It might also be a good time to consider giving to the Red Cross.

For some updates, you might want to try the New Orleans Met Blog (via dog run member and New Orleans resident Ernie "the Attorney" Svenson.)

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