Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bush's Legacy - Iraq Reconstruction

This is un. Be. Lieveable. A new 513 page report on the history of the reconstruction of Iraq , or lack of, is about to be released with the New York Times obtaining an advance unpublished copy. The report basically states that the Pentagon's reconstruction efforts have been a complete failure. A complete $100 BILLION failure.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”


...In an illustration of the hasty and haphazard planning, a civilian official at the United States Agency for International Development was at one point given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would need to be reopened and repaired. The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan.


...The history records how Mr. Garner presented Mr. Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.

“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

In a way he never anticipated, Mr. Rumsfeld turned out to be correct: before that year was out, the United States had appropriated more than $20 billion for the reconstruction, which would indeed involve projects across the entire country.

Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment on the history, but a spokesman, Keith Urbahn, said that quotes attributed to Mr. Rumsfeld in the document “appear to be accurate.” Mr. Powell also declined to comment.

I really, really wish I could say this is a surprise, but when the Bush government loses $8 billion in cash that was flown to Iraq on pallets, nothing is surprising anymore.

Must Reads

David Leonhardt: $73 an Hour: Adding It Up

Gates: Don't Fuck With The Big O

NY TIMES: Mr. Gates arrived in Baghdad from Manama, Bahrain, where he warned that foreign powers should not try to “test” President-elect Barack Obama with a crisis in his first months in office.


Mr. Gates, who was speaking at a conference on regional security, said that Mr. Obama and his advisers had done more extensive planning across the government for the transition than at any time he could remember and asserted that they would therefore be prepared from their first day in office. Mr. Gates, who is staying on as defense secretary, has worked for seven presidents; Mr. Obama will be his eighth. “So anyone who thought that the upcoming months might present opportunities to ‘test’ the new president would be sorely mistaken,” Mr. Gates said at the conference. “President Obama and his national security team, myself included, will be ready to defend the interests of the United States and our friends and allies from the moment he takes office on Jan. 20.”

Nice to see that Gates has Obama's back... but then again, that's why Obama was smart enough to choose to remain with Gates.

Obama's Weekly Address - Dec. 13, 2008

T Minus 38 Days

"I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you're a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I - concerned."

- Philadelphia, PA, December 12, 2005

Friday, December 12, 2008

The GOP Obstructionism Continues

You can talk about Rod Blagojevich all you want. You can bring up Tony Rezko and the corrupt Chicago political system until Mrs. O'Leary's cow comes home. But after last night, the Republicans in the US Senate have proved once again that they are the armpit, or should I say the asshole, of American politics.

After the House voted to compromise their bill in an attempt to help out the auto industry with a $14 billion bridge loan with White House backing, the bill failed to come to a vote in the Senate 52-35, eight votes short.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader and Incredible Mr. Limpet of the Republican party said, “The administration negotiated in good faith with the Democratic majority a proposal that was simply unacceptable to the vast majority of our side because we thought it frankly wouldn’t work.” You got that? The Democrats and the White House were on board, but most Senate Republicans didn't think it would work. Now all of a sudden, they're economic experts.

And it's all because they think that the workers who actually make the product are making too much money.

The group came close to agreement, but it stalled over the UAW's refusal to agree to wage cuts before their current contract expires in 2011. Republicans, in turn, balked at giving the automakers federal aid.

The double standard is astonishing. A $700 BILLION bailout for financial institutions that caused the mess we're in was a no brainer, but a $14 billion bridge loan (2% of the TARP bailout that the Treasury Department has been frittering away with no discernable plan) for the continued survival of 3 million blue collar jobs? Well that is just too much.

How many of those douchebags in the Senate complained about the salaries of the bankers and the stock brokers and the CEO's when they forked over 700 billion taxpayer dollars? No one batted an eye. But those factory workers? Fuck them, they're the reason the auto industry is in this debacle, right? They make the decisions on which cars to manufacture, what the designs should be. They are the ones who said, "Fuck fuel economy, I want a Dodge Ram HEMI!"

The white collar/blue collar discrimination in this country just amazes me. There's a special place in hell for the obstructionist fuckwads in the Senate. And I hope they get there sooner than later.

UPDATE (8:05pm):

NY TIMES: President Bush and the Treasury Department signaled on Friday that they would consider dipping into the $700 billion bailout program for financial institutions to aid the Big Three car companies, after Republican senators refused to support a compromise proposal to rescue the automakers.
“Under normal economic conditions we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms,” Dana Perino, Mr. Bush’s spokeswoman, said in a carefully nuanced statement released minutes before the financial markets opened in New York. “However, given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary — including use of the TARP program — to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers.”

Also, MSNBC's Countdown just reported that talking points for Republicans in the Senate were issued to use the auto bailout as a union busting opportunity. The internal GOP memo, called "Action Alert," states: "...Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint... The message they want us to deliver is: This is the Demnocrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election... Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor... If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this."

So basically, as I said before, fuck the American economy, fuck 3 million jobs and double digit unemployment. We have the opportunity to bust the United Auto Workers Union, so why not?

Bettie Page Dies at 85

NY TIMES: Bettie Page, a legendary pinup girl whose photographs in the nude, in bondage and in naughty-but-nice poses appeared in men’s magazines and private stashes across America in the 1950s and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious ’60s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85.

T Minus 39 Days

"In other words, I don't think people ought to be compelled to make the decision which they think is best for their family."

- Washington, DC, December 11, 2002 - regarding smallpox vaccinations

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Obama Blago Bashing

From Bob Cesca:

Your 'Liberal' Cable News Network
Just now on MSNBC... Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said (paraphrasing), "Obama wants to change the tone in Washington? He couldn't even change the tone in Illinois!"

Yes, Mr. Whitaker, it was entirely up to the junior senator to change the entire political tone of the state of Illinois. Because he somehow had the power to do that.

Sheesh. Gimme something to break.

If Whitaker had bothered to do any research or maybe even pick up the New York Times yesterday, he would know that it was because of Obama that ethics legislation was passed in Illinois directly leading to the takedown of Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.
So, yeah, Whitaker, Obama actually did change the tone in Illinois. I think it's time Mark Whitaker started doing some actual research and journalism or shut the fuck up.

UPDATE (11:52am): The Rude Pundit nails it.

...Unless you have Barack Obama on a recording saying, "Hey, Rod, I'll give you a hundred grand and three blow jobs from Michelle if you appoint my person to the Senate," then the rest of the nation thinks, "Let Illinois work it out and leave us the fuck alone." Because, see, if you're facing foreclosure after whatever brief grace period your bank is giving you so they don't look like complete cocksuckers over the holidays, the imminent end of your unemployment benefits, a COBRA that's chowed up your savings and your credit card limits, and the only prospect for the future is that shit's gonna get worse before it gets better, do you really give a happy rat's fuck if the President-elect's spokesman was right or wrong on whether or not Obama said jackshit to Rod Blagojevich?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can The Freaks Drop It Now?

I couldn't believe it. It was so ridiculous, I never thought it would get this far.

AP: The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth. The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election.

Leo Donofrio has to be the biggest moron on the face of the earth. Yet, I suppose I do have to give him credit for not letting go of what he must have believed was the right thing and to take this charade as far as it could go.

But talk about frivilous lawsuits! I haven't heard one word about that from the right wing freakosphere. According to them, you shouldn't sue for malpractice in a wrongful death suit, but challenging the eligibility of a presidential candidate on the basis of not believing he is a natural born citizen and taking that unwinnable case to the highest court in the land is completely fair. Douchebags, all.

Remind me never to move to East Brunswick, N.J.

What's All The Blagojevichin' About?

Innocent until proven guilty. Sure. But in the political world, when your hands are so dirty that you aren't just brought in for questioning, but actually arrested, I think you're done. And to fan the flames, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrogance just one day before the corrupt shit hit the fan truly shows you how out of touch he was.

But what's all the Blagojevichin' about? According to the wingnuts, it seems that just because Blagojevich and his hair are from Illinois and Obama is from Illinois then *GASP!*, ipso facto, Obama's hands are dirty as well. Even though US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said there was no tie between Obama and the Blagman, and even though rumors surfaced that it was Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who blew the whistle on the Blagmeister (althought he denies it), even though Obama's push for ethic reform in the state legislature was the beginning of Blagoroonee's shakedown takedown, the wingnuts are frothing at the mouth with their usual guilt by association meme.

Let's take a quick stroll through the wingnut blogosphere, or as I like to call it, Dante's 8th Circle of Hell, and see what they have to say:

Michelle Malkin -"The Democrat culture of corruption" : ...Fitzgerald says President-elect Obama was not implicated in the plethora of charges against Democrats Blago and Harris. The national media went out of their way to absolve him, too. But declaring Team Obama’s hands clean — especially with Blago crony and indicted Obama donor Tony Rezko in the middle of it all — is premature. (And if you’re wondering why I keep putting “Democrat” in front of the accused corruptocrats, it’s because the mainstream newspapers can’t seem to remember to identify their party prominently the way they do when Republicans are nabbed.)

Chicago’s Fox affiliate reports that Obama Chief of Staff and Chicago hometown heavy Rahm Emanuel was the catalyst for the Blago takedown and suggests Rahm-bo tipped off the feds. If so, this raises more questions than it answers about who on the transition team may have talked to Blago and his shakedown artists about what and when. Needless to say, if it were the Republican Bush administration tied to the Blago bust, the White House press corps would be frothing like a pack of Michael Vick’s pit bulls.

Hoo-hoo! "Corruptocrats." She's so clever. And she writes as if this story is being completely ignored and not being covered for the last 36 hours straight. Same with the Cowardly Whale.
Rush Limbaugh: ...By the way, you have to look long and hard in the news today and on television to find that Blago's a Democrat. It's fascinating, but it's very difficult for the national media to find out his party affiliation.

Powerline: ...No doubt Obama would now say that the Rod Blagojevich who tried to sell his vacant Senate seat “isn’t the Rod Blagojevich I knew.” Maybe it’s time to take notice of the fact that Barack Obama is either 1) an astonishingly poor judge of character, or 2) a politician who swims comfortably and successfully in what must be America’s most corrupt pond. This is, apparently, the “change” that millions of Americans voted for.
You're right, John from Powerline. We really didn't want change. We knew all along that Obama's a poor judge of character and is corrupt. We got used to it and wanted more of the same after eight years of the Bush administration.

And it goes on and on from the wingnutosphere. I can't stomach much more so I'll stop there. Stop your whining and Blagojevichin', wingnuts. Obama will be President in 41 days. Get used to it. By the way, are any of them talking about the FBI's investigation into Norm Coleman? Didn't think so.

Why Jon Stewart Rocks

Mike Huckabee was on the Daily Show pushing his new book, "Do The Right Thing" (apparently no longer just a Spike Lee joint) and Jon Stewart calls him out on his "Do unto others..." hypocrisy regarding the issue of gay marriage. Awesome.

T Minus 41 Days

"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."

- The White House, December 10, 2001, at the annual lighting of the menorah

... and I can't imagine somebody like George W. Bush understanding... well, anything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Addictive Internet

Sorry for the non-blogging day. I was working on this and had internet access problems at work all day. It's amazing how you rely on something and when it's missing the functionality of your day just flies out the window. The tubes are an addiction! I am amazed at how people got along without the internet for so long!

Maybe I'll have more as I catch up on what I've missed today. I did hear about the F-18 crash in San Diego. Holy crap! I wonder what happened? No disrespect to the three people that died in the accident, but could the pilot be the future Republican presidential nominee in 2044?

Monday, December 8, 2008

T Minus 43 Days

"The great thing about America is everybody should vote."

- Austin, Texas, December 8, 2000

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Studio 360 - Nikola Tesla

My wife's co-worker introduced me to the Studio 360 NPR series and last week's show was a rebroadcast of the January 25th production of invention, centering on Nikola Tesla. He also recommended the Mike Daisey show I was raving about a couple of weeks ago.

Here is Daisey on Studio 360 with three short monologues regarding Tesla from his one-man shows. Enjoy.

Tesla vs. Edison

Tesla and Twain

The Death Ray

You can listen to the whole one hour Studio 360 broadcast here.

Meet The Press - Barack Obama Interview, Dec. 7, 2008

Douchebag of the Day: Greg Pollowitz

National Review's Greg Pollowitz has written a quick little item titled "While The Big Three Go Bankrupt..." with nothing other than three quoted paragraphs from an MSNBC article regarding Barack Obama's planned vacation for the holidays. He then adds his one line of commentary:

Let's see what the MSM's reaction is to the Obama vacation, but I bet it's slightly different than coverage of President Bush from 2005 and Katrina.

How many times are we going to go over this in the remaining six weeks before Inauguration Day? Considering that Barack Obama is the President-elect and is George W. Bush is still actually President, I think the MSM's "reaction" is going to be completely different in comparison to a sitting president who was clearing brush at his photo-op ranch while a U.S. city drowned. He then went ahead and had another photo-op with a certain Senator from Arizona before deciding to return to Washington.

The idea that Pollowitz would gripe about the media's treatment of Obama regarding vacation time is laughable at best and very sad at worst. Right now, the wingnuts are looking for anything to disparage the man for not doing something about our current economic crisis before taking office while the sitting Republican president actually had a complete day this week with nothing scheduled on his calendar. Nothing.

I will make a little wager with you, Mr. Pollowitz. I will bet you that from the time Obama actually takes office, he will spend less vacation time in his eight years (yes, I know I said eight years) than Bush took in his first two years.

National Review's Greg Pollowitz - Douchebag of the Day.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Adding - As a New Year's resolution, I think I'll make "Douchebag of the Week" a recurring post.

T Minus 44 Days

"Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die."

- Washington, DC, December 7, 2006