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Monday, May 31, 2004

Attention Wal-Mart shoppers!,

Before you spend your next dollar at Wal-Mart, you should read the linked article. As most of you know, there is a 'Super Wal-Mart' coming to town and I worry what is going to happen to my favorite store, Basha's. We can't stop the Wal-Mart train but we can refuse to get on board.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=18816

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

More Bush/Cheney double speak!

Stolen from www.dailykos.com

Which of the following three claims are true?
1. John Kerry is one of the if not the most consistently liberal Senators, even more consistently liberal than (nasty music here) Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

2. John Kerry is a major flip-flopper who changes his positions 180 degrees faster than the Car Talk hosts can change a flat tire.

3. I dunno about Nos. 1 or 2, but I do know that they both can't be true.
Answer, of course: #3.

And yet, folks, aren't these the two versions of spin the Bush-Cheney WMD (Wistful for Major Distortions).

Spin away if you must, fellas. But at least try to make sure the spin itself is something more than the most consistently conservative flip-flop of all time. It's insulting.


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Friday, May 28, 2004

The Bush/Cheney gang accuse Kerry of ‘flip-flopping’ on the issues! Let’s have a look at the Bush/Cheney ‘double-speak’.

In the vice-presidential debate of October 5, 2000, Dick Cheney remarked that his successful business career (referring to Halliburton) had nothing to do with the government! The fact is that the government had everything to do with his success. When Cheney was CEO of Hallibuton, Halliburton doubled its earnings from government contracts from $1.2 billion in the five years prior to $2.3 billion durning Cheney’s five year tenure. In the last two years alone, Halliburton won $1.5 billion in federal loans and insurance subsidies compared to $100 million Halliburton received before Cheney joined them.

More ‘double-speak’ to come in the days ahead.

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To Al: Welcome to the Blog. Everything seems to have worked out okay. Looking forward to seeing you inputs.

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Friends,


Should local law enforement be involved in chasing illegals?

It would be a public policy nightmare to make police officers into ad hoc immigration agents," Marshall Fitz of the American Immigration Lawyers Association told United Press International. "The chilling effect it would have on crime reporting by victims and witnesses from immigrant communities would be disastrous for law enforcement, and the fiscal implications on cash-starved local police departments don't bear thinking about.”No!
No police officer wants to know that criminals are on the loose simply because their victims are afraid to speak up and report the crimes. We urge you to remind Congress that the real experts in keeping our streets and communities safe are local police, and that asking them to enforce civil immigration laws takes them away from their primary mission.”

Please vote NO in the Arizona Daily Star Poll @ http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/border/

All of you Snow Birds can vote!!!!

Rick Ernst

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Amnesty condemns U.S. terror war

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/05/26/amnesty.reut/index.html

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Monday, May 24, 2004

New Yorker Article by Seymour Hirsch, 5/24/04

Rumsfeld was frustrated with the war on terror and authorized the establishment of a highly secretive program that has given blanket approval to kill or capture and if possible interrogate “high value” targets in the war on terror.

SAP Special Access program is composed of Navy Seals, Army’s Delta Force and CIA paramilitary experts

No tracability, no budget and never briefed before Congress, very secretive with fewer than 200 in the program including Rumsfeld and Myers.

Rules: Grab who you must. Do what you want.

Stephen Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence authorized most of the activities. His military assistant is Army Lieutenant Colonel William (Jerry) Boykin who equated the Muslim world with Satan.

SAP was successful in Afghanistan then SAP got tough with Iraq’s prisoners.

Major General Geoffrey Miller from Guantanomo Bay was summoned in August 2003 to “review prison interrogation procedures.” He changed the procedures to place Military Intelligence in charge of prisons. Miller is quoted as saying “detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation.” “Gitmoize” the prison system in Iraq---make it more focused on interrogation.

In the prison it was difficult to determine who was who. MI and MP and the civilians.

It was such a bad plan that the CIA pulled out of SAP in the fall of 2003.

Why did the Army humiliate those Arab men? These men regard sex as a taboo vested with shame and humiliation. The separation of sexes, the veiling of women and all the other rules that restrict contact between men women have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world. Neocons thought Arab men only understand force and the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation. They wanted to use the prisoners with the threat of humiliation hanging over their heads. That is probably why they took pictures of the torture.

Rumsfeld’s disregard for the requirement of the Geneva Convention wile leading the war on terror led a group of senior military legal officers from Judge Advocate General’s office to pay two surprise visits to Scott Horton, chairman of the New York City Bar Association Committee on International Human rights. The JAG wanted to challenge the detention and interrogation standards. JAG was most alarmed about growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process. There was legal ambiguity as to their roles.

The SAP was given vast, vague power that, Rumsfeld did not authorize directly. Stephen Cambone did give the directives. This is a further diversion on the war on terrorism.

Best quote, “ we are giving the world a ready made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Counting the cost
This from the The Guardian
"The foreign secretary yesterday, speaking on the BBC Today programme, had some useful thoughts on a sensitive subject - the extent of civilian casualties in Iraq during and since the war. Jack Straw does not share the view, expressed famously by General Tommy Franks of US Central Command last year, that "we don't do body counts". Mr Straw's own estimate is in the region of 10,000 civilian deaths, as of about three months ago, and he readily acknowledged that "it is odd that coalition forces have not kept consistent records."

It is odd indeed. Neither the British nor US forces have any difficulty in announcing swiftly that they have killed a fairly exact number of "enemy" or "insurgents". British troops were said at the weekend to have killed 20 "militants" in a clash near Amarah. On Wednesday, the Americans said they had killed "20 to 25 fighters" in Kerbala. There is no reason why estimates of civilian deaths should be any more difficult to make.

Fortunately we are not entirely in the dark. Western media - and perhaps some governments too - have grown accustomed to rely on the Iraq Body Count (IBC) which tabulates civilian deaths in Iraq on its website IraqBodyCount.net. This operation, run by volunteers on a shoestring budget, only records incidents reported by two or more sources and its figures are likely to be conservative. (A similar operation run by US researchers at Lunaville.org provides information on coalition military fatalities in Iraq). The current IBC site, accurate to the end of March, shows a low estimate of around 9,000 and a high estimate of around 11,000 civilian deaths since the war began. This will probably be updated by up to another thousand deaths attributable mainly to the onslaughts on Falluja and Najaf".

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

G.W. Bush - A Short History

bushisms
The Misunderestimated Man
How Bush chose stupidity.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004, at 6:54 AM PT

Adapted from the introduction to The Deluxe Election-Edition Bushisms,
published by Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster. Reprinted with permission; ©
2004 Jacob Weisberg.

The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms is, "Do you really
think the president of the United States is dumb?"

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is yes and no.

Quotations collected over the years in Slate may leave the impression that
George W. Bush is a dimwit. Let's face it: A man who cannot talk about
education without making a humiliating grammatical mistake ("The illiteracy
level of our children are appalling"); who cannot keep straight the three
branches of government ("It's the executive branch's job to interpret law");
who coins ridiculous words ("Hispanos," "arbolist," "subliminable,"
"resignate," "transformationed"); who habitually says the opposite of what
he intends ("the death tax is good for people from all walks of life!")
sounds like a grade-A imbecile.

And if you don't care to pursue the matter any further, that view will
suffice. George W. Bush has governed, for the most part, the way any airhead
might, undermining the fiscal condition of the nation, squandering the
goodwill of the world after Sept. 11, and allowing huge problems (global
warming, entitlement spending, AIDS) to metastasize toward catastrophe
through a combination of ideology, incomprehension, and indifference. If
Bush isn't exactly the moron he sounds, his synaptic misfirings offer a
plausible proxy for the idiocy of his presidency.

In reality, however, there's more to it. Bush's assorted malapropisms,
solecisms, gaffes, spoonerisms, and truisms tend to imply that his lack of
fluency in English is tantamount to an absence of intelligence. But as we
all know, the inarticulate can be shrewd, the fluent fatuous. In Bush's
case, the symptoms point to a specific malady—some kind of linguistic
deficit akin to dyslexia—that does not indicate a lack of mental capacity
per se.

Bush also compensates with his non-verbal acumen. As he notes, "Smart comes
in all kinds of different ways." The president's way is an aptitude for
connecting to people through banter and physicality. He has a powerful
memory for names, details, and figures that truly matter to him, such as
batting averages from the 1950s. Bush also has a keen political sense,
sharpened under the tutelage of Karl Rove.

What's more, calling the president a cretin absolves him of responsibility.
Like Reagan, Bush avoids blame for all manner of contradictions, implausible
assertions, and outright lies by appearing an amiable dunce. If he knows not
what he does, blame goes to the three puppeteers, Cheney, Rove, and
Rumsfeld. It also breeds sympathy. We wouldn't laugh at FDR because he
couldn't walk. Is it less cruel to laugh at GWB because he can't talk? The
soft bigotry of low expectations means Bush is seen to outperform by merely
getting by. Finally, elitist condescension, however merited, helps cement
Bush's bond to the masses.

But if "numskull" is an imprecise description of the president, it is not
altogether inaccurate. Bush may not have been born stupid, but he has
achieved stupidity, and now he wears it as a badge of honor. What makes
mocking this president fair as well as funny is that Bush is, or at least
once was, capable of learning, reading, and thinking. We know he has
discipline and can work hard (at least when the goal is reducing his time
for a three-mile run). Instead he chose to coast, for most of his life, on
name, charm, good looks, and the easy access to capital afforded by family
connections.

The most obvious _expression of Bush's choice of ignorance is that, at the
age of 57, he knows nothing about policy or history. After years of working
as his dad's spear-chucker in Washington, he didn't understand the
difference between Medicare and Medicaid, the second- and third-largest
federal programs. Well into his plans for invading Iraq, Bush still couldn't
get down the distinction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the key religious
divide in a country he was about to occupy. Though he sometimes carries
books for show, he either does not read them or doesn't absorb anything from
them. Bush's ignorance is so transparent that many of his intimates do not
bother to dispute it even in public. Consider the testimony of several who
know him well.

Richard Perle, foreign policy adviser: "The first time I met Bush 43 … two
things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was that he
had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much."

David Frum, former speechwriter: "Bush had a poor memory for facts and
figures. … Fire a question at him about the specifics of his
administration's policies, and he often appeared uncertain. Nobody would
ever enroll him in a quiz show."

Laura Bush, spouse: "George is not an overly introspective person. He has
good instincts, and he goes with them. He doesn't need to evaluate and
reevaluate a decision. He doesn't try to overthink. He likes action."

Paul O'Neill, former treasury secretary: "The only way I can describe it is
that, well, the President is like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people.
There is no discernible connection."

A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is that he doesn't want to
know anything in detail, however important. Since college, he has spilled
with contempt for knowledge, equating learning with snobbery and making a
joke of his own anti-intellectualism. ("[William F. Buckley] wrote a book at
Yale; I read one," he quipped at a black-tie event.) By O'Neill's account,
Bush could sit through an hourlong presentation about the state of the
economy without asking a single question. ("I was bored as hell," the
president shot back, ostensibly in jest.)

Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush's
mentality: laziness. Again, this is a lifelong trait. Bush's college grades
were mostly Cs (including a 73 in Introduction to the American Political
System). At the start of one term, the star of the Yale football team
spotted him in the back row during the shopping period for courses. "Hey!
George Bush is in this class!" Calvin Hill shouted to his teammates. "This
is the one for us!" As governor of Texas, Bush would take a long break in
the middle of his short workday for a run followed by a stretch of video
golf or computer solitaire.

A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it does not think. The
president can't tolerate debate about issues. Offered an option, he makes up
his mind quickly and never reconsiders. At an elementary school, a child
once asked him whether it was hard to make decisions as president. "Most of
the decisions come pretty easily for me, to be frank with you." By leaping
to conclusions based on what he "believes," Bush avoids contemplating even
the most obvious basic contradictions: between his policy of tax cuts and
reducing the deficit; between his call for a humble foreign policy based on
alliances and his unilateral assertion of American power; between his
support for in-vitro fertilization (which destroys embryos) and his
opposition to fetal stem-cell research (because it destroys embryos).

Why would someone capable of being smart choose to be stupid? To understand,
you have to look at W.'s relationship with father. This filial bond involves
more tension than meets the eye. Dad was away for much of his oldest son's
childhood. Little George grew up closer to his acid-tongued mother and acted
out against the absent parent—through adolescent misbehavior, academic
failure, dissipation, and basically not accomplishing anything at all until
well into his 40s.

Dubya's youthful screw-ups and smart-aleck attitude reflect some combination
of protest, plea for attention, and flailing attempt to compete. Until a
decade ago, his résumé read like a send-up of his dad's. Bush senior was a
star student at Andover and Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, where he was also
captain of the baseball team; Junior struggled through with gentleman's C's
and, though he loved baseball, couldn't make the college lineup. Père was a
bomber pilot in the Pacific; fils sat out 'Nam in the Texas Air National
Guard, where he lost flying privileges by not showing up. Dad drove to Texas
in 1947 to get rich in the oil business and actually did; Son tried the same
in 1975 and drilled dry holes for a decade. Bush the elder got elected to
Congress in 1966; Shrub ran in 1978, didn't know what he was talking about,
and got clobbered.

Through all this incompetent emulation runs an undercurrent of hostility. In
an oft-told anecdote circa 1973, GWB—after getting wasted at a party and
driving over a neighbor's trash can in Houston—challenged his dad. "I hear
you're lookin' for me," W. told the chairman of the Republican National
Committee. "You want to go mano a mano right here?" Some years later at a
state dinner, he told the Queen of England he was being seated far away
because he was the black sheep of the family.

After half a lifetime of this kind of frustration, Bush decided to
straighten up. Nursing a hangover at a 40th-birthday weekend, he gave up
Wild Turkey, cold turkey. With the help of Billy Graham, he put himself in
the hands of a higher power and began going to church. He became obsessed
with punctuality and developed a rigid routine. Thus did Prince Hal molt
into an evangelical King Henry. And it worked! Putting together a deal to
buy the Texas Rangers, the ne'er-do-well finally tasted success. With
success, he grew closer to his father, taking on the role of family avenger.
This culminated in his 1994 challenge to Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who had
twitted dad at the 1988 Democratic convention*.

Curiously, this late arrival at adulthood did not involve Bush becoming in
any way thoughtful. Having chosen stupidity as rebellion, he stuck with it
out of conformity. The promise-keeper, reformed-alkie path he chose not only
drastically curtailed personal choices he no longer wanted, it also supplied
an all-encompassing order, offered guidance on policy, and prevented the
need for much actual information. Bush's old answer to hard questions was,
"I don't know and, who cares." His new answer was, "Wait a second while I
check with Jesus."

A remaining bit of poignancy was his unresolved struggle with his father.
"All I ask," he implored a reporter while running for governor in 1994, "is
that for once you guys stop seeing me as the son of George Bush." In his
campaigns, W. has kept his dad offstage. (In an exceptional appearance on
the eve of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, 41 came onstage and called his
son "this boy.") While some describe the second Bush presidency as a
restoration, it is in at least equal measure a repudiation. The son's
harder-edged conservatism explicitly rejects the old man's approach to such
issues as abortion, taxes, and relations with Israel.

This Oedipally induced ignorance expresses itself most dangerously in Bush's
handling of the war in Iraq. Dubya polished off his old man's greatest
enemy, Saddam, but only by lampooning 41's accomplishment of
coalition-building in the first Gulf War. Bush led the country to war on
false pretenses and neglected to plan the occupation that would inevitably
follow. A more knowledgeable and engaged president might have questioned the
quality of the evidence about Iraq's supposed weapons programs. One who
preferred to be intelligent might have asked about the possibility of an
unfriendly reception. Instead, Bush rolled the dice. His budget-busting tax
cuts exemplify a similar phenomenon, driven by an alternate set of
ideologues.

As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He
chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration,
he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.

Correction, May 7, 2004: This article originally misstated the date of the
Democratic convention where Ann Richards twitted President George H.W. Bush.
It was 1988 not 1992. Return to the corrected sentence.

Related in Slate

For more, see "The Complete Bushisms."
Jacob Weisberg is editor of Slate and co-author, with Robert E. Rubin, of In
an Uncertain World.

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