Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flip, Flip, Flop - Bush criticizes his policy on Strategic Petroleum Reserve policy - "Bad public policy", "risk to national security"

Whenever I read a news story about our current president changing his position (and it's so often your head spins), I'm always struck by the completely unprincipled positions he takes. He's going to do what he decides to do, on who knows what basis, to be honest, and then makes something up to justify it.

Just to document the latest atrocity, here's Bush on "deferring deposits" to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve today:

Bush said the nation's strategic petroleum reserve had enough fuel to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months.

"So, by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps," he said.

Here's Bush in 2000, (behind the Times Select wall) critizing Clinton/Gore for using the SPR for "short-term political gain" - as opposed to just using it until the critical fall 2006 election to desperately clutch to power to avoid the beginning of the cascade of investigations, indictments, convictions, impeachments, and in all likelihood in either case, pardons. Here's a link to evote on the same topic in 2000. You'll note that Bush notable calls the behavior he's now engaging in as "bad public policy" and a risk to national security.

I think the Bush admininstration will be remembered as the Froggy Presidency. Who's Froggy? A character in a set of children's books whose movement is frequently onomotopeized (hmm - never used that as a verb - expressed using onomotopeia) as "Flop, flop, flop."

Bush, similarly, moves politically with Flip, Flip, and with every boneheaded policy he's ever implemented and ultimately his presidency, Flop.

Friday, April 14, 2006

President Bush reverses policy on providing commanders what they request

Today, in a public statement President Bush apparently finally put to rest a policy of providing military commanders with everything they requested to win the Global War on Terror and the War in Iraq.

Responding to the increasing calls by the upper echelons of the US Military arguing for the resignation and/or firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield as an ongoing obstacle to progress in the war in Iraq , President Bush flatly refused, backing Rumsfield strongly.

Senior administration officials quickly denied that this reflected any substantive change in the longstanding administration policy with respect to supporting our military and satisfying all the requests of the leaders of our brave men and women on the front lines.

To which most astute Americans said, "Duh."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Great Mistake (and the Curse of Paris)

This was a post I started in April regarding a feature on the San Francisco Earthquake that, well isn't quite topical anymore, but given the Curse of Paris and the catastrophe that is still unfolding in the Paris of the Ninth Century and the lingering aftermath in the Paris of the South is certainly still relevant.

The promos running on Salon for “The Great Quake” make the series look quite compelling and I'd watch it had I the appropriate channel. However, it was the copy that goes with the show that, well, gave me pause.

Key excerpts:

One hundred years ago, San Francisco suddenly awoke to the destructive power of a 7.9-magnitude earthquake. It was the beginning of 74 hours that would see 26 aftershocks, one of the worst urban fires in American history and drastic measures to save the largest city on the Pacific coast. What's worse, the stunned people of San Francisco put their faith and trust in a corrupt mayor who had been more interested in lining his pockets than preparing the city for a disaster of this scale.

The Great Quake brings to life in high definition this epic story of heroic survival, the terror of catastrophe and political manipulation. Based on personal testimonies of survivors and drawing on present-day experts, The Great Quake depicts the calamity that tore San Francisco apart at the seams. This world premiere event transports viewers back 100 years to what was the largest and most influential city on the Pacific coast, often referred to as "The Paris of the West."

1) First, “Paris of the …” That phrase sounds familiar. That's right, the “ Paris of the South". Corrupt politicians? Check and check. Lining their pockets - hmm, check. Unprepared for catastrophe. Double, dog check. What's that about those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

2) Incidentally, it's, um, apparently not so great to be “the Paris of” someplace. See also, “Paris of the Antilles”, the “Paris of the East”, the “Paris of the Middle East”, the “Paris of the Orient” or the “Paris of the Midwest”. Most telling however is what has happened to “ Paris of the Ninth Century”. Seriously, I’d be packing up the moving trucks if I were Buenos Aires, Tromso, Kansas City, Shanghai, Bucharest, Asheville or Carrboro in North Carolina, or even Deep River, ONT (though I think there alternative nickname might provide some protection)

But back to the synopsis:

The Great Quake also details how the city was betrayed by its inept and corrupt mayor, Eugene Schmitz. Rushing to rebuild San Francisco and his tarnished image, Mayor Schmitz was seemingly driven by the fear that money and business would desert a withering city proven vulnerable to earthquakes.

A massive campaign of deceit was orchestrated to conceal the true nature of the tragedy. The Great Quake reveals how photographs were retouched to downplay the destruction caused by the quake. City officials referred to the event as the "Great Fire" rather than the "great earthquake." The official death toll was underestimated at less than 500, even though experts now state that the number of dead reached well into the thousands. And the deception continued even further. The lessons of that tragic April day in 1906 were deliberately and successfully buried.

Unfortunately, the lessons from the Great Quake of 1906 have not been fully learned. A significantly weaker earthquake struck the city in 1989, and many buildings fell as a result of some of the same construction flaws that were a factor in the 1906 devastation.

The Great Quake takes a close look at the lessons learned from these and other great catastrophes brought on by natural disasters. Is our government prepared to take an active role in preparing our cities for emergencies, or will the burden of survival again lie with the common person?

Betrayal by a public figure, campaign of deceit to conceal the full nature of the tragedy, rebuilding a tarnished image, failing to learn from and even concealing the lessons of the tragedy…. Plus ça change, plus la méme chose. The answers, tragically, to the final questions would probably depend on the current leadership. Let's see, who is president again? Ah, then the answers would be, "Sadly, No", and then almost certainly yes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In stunning news, President Bush fires, emprisons himself, Vice President

(from a future Onion, I'm sure) In an unprecedented and, by all accounts, stunning turn of events, President George W. Bush fired himself, Vice President Dick Cheney for their roles in outing covert CIA operative as multiple sources began to reveal the roles that the President and Vice President played in revealing the identity of Valerie Plame in their attempts to discredit and retaliate against her spouse, Joseph Wilson, for his role in questioning information presented in the President's 2003 State of the Union address. The transcript of the press conference follows:

My fellow Americans, as the President, it is my personal responsibility to protect the safety of the people of the United States. Moreover, I have the unfettered authority to do whatever I think is necessary to ensure that safety (link). As recent news have increasingly suggested, high ranking members of this administration played a pivotal role in revealing the identity of a covert operative working on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction program related activities. These individuals have struck a blow against the security and safety of every American. Normally I avoid commenting on ongoing investigations, except, of course, when I do. However, the facts as they have presented themselves leaves me with no doubt as to what has happened.

Consequently, I have no choice but to protect the American people from these breaches in National Security by firing those responsible, as I have previously pledged to do so. Consequently, in keeping with my responsibilities as President and unfettered power to act in the interests of National Security, effective immediately, I have fired both myself and Vice President Richard Cheney and ordered them held, without bail or hearing as enemy combatants.

At this point the press conference broke into pandemonium - unable to regain control of the press conference, former President Bush motioned to someone and Capitol Hill Police entered the room, took something from the President which appeared to be his keys to the Oval Office (unconfirmed), and the President was escorted from the building.

A senior administration official, whose identity is being protected so that he is not taken hunting with the Vice President, indicated that former Vice President Richard Cheney remained at large. The release indicated that Capitol Hill Police had called in the FBI for assistance in apprehending the former Vice President but apparently they were unable to determine his whereabouts because, as usual, he was in an undisclosed location. However, he did issue a brief statement through a spokseman arguing that since President Bush fired himself first, he no longer had the authority to fire the Vice President, effectively making Cheney the President.

The whereabouts of who to most observers was now the 44th President, former Speaker of the House now President Hastert was unknown but many in Washington were eagerly anticipating a rematch of his infamous slumpoffs with Vice President Cheney during President Bush's State of the Union Addresses.