Recent Entries in Politics

The three top jobs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bush went to political cronies with no apparent experience coping with catastrophes, the Daily News has learned.

Even if Bush were to fire embattled and suddenly invisible FEMA Director Michael Brown over his handling of Hurricane Katrina, the bureaucrat immediately below him is no disaster professional, either.

While Brown ran horse shows in his last private-sector job, FEMA's No. 2 man, deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and White House. He also did short stints at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration.

New York Daily News - World & National Report - FEMA packed with W's pals

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

This is from their website, folks:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

American Red Cross

The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.

The Red Cross shares the nation's anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.

The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.

The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.

As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.

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A little cultural myopia is evident there. To return Bangladesh's gift of $1 million, for example, could be seen as generosity greeted with smug rejection. If a country wishes to give, and the amount is within reason, the response should be gratitude, not a putdown.

America is the fallen giant. It's OK to ask for a hand up. And it's more than OK to offer it.

Democrat & Chronicle: Editorials

In a stunning, historic decision, the California Legislature on Tuesday night became the first statehouse in the nation to approve same-sex marriage legislation.

The Assembly's 41-35 vote -- the one-vote majority needed to pass the bill -- forces Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the eve of a divisive November special election, into the awkward role of being the first U.S. governor to decide if gays can marry.

The bill would rewrite the state's definition of marriage as between "two persons,'' instead of as a union between ``a man and a woman.'' Schwarzenegger has 30 days to sign or veto the bill. If he takes no action, the bill would also become law, and California would become the second state behind Massachusetts to legally sanction same-sex marriage and the first to do so through legislation, not a court order. | 09/07/2005 | Historic OK for gay vows

Over at the blog of my soon-to-be employer, they've got a great discussion of the ideological ramifications of Katrina, both for big government liberalism and small government conservatism. Bush, of course, has been this strange mixture of government growth and administrative incompetence, almost as if he's running a kamikaze mission to prove the Republican case against government. But conservatives, generally, are all for the private market and individual charity. If Bush really was so uncomfortable with government involvement, he could still do a bang-up job relying on his church/industry connections to create a parallel and powerful rescue effort. The government could take care of the basics, but the private and theological spheres could provide much of the material, cash, and space. In doing, Bush would help discredit Big Government and legitimize the conservative philosophy.

He hasn't. And that he's hasn't demonstrates his basic absence of a driving ideology. He's neither able to effectively deploy government or call on his friends outside of it. He's just incompetent, as I said before, a small man in a big office. He speaks the language of small government conservatism because it gets him elected, pushes big government solutions because they prove easiest, but is so separated and uninterested in the whole enterprise that the result is a wreck of incoherence and unexpected outcomes. So when something like Katrina comes around, he's neither creative enough to deal with it in an innovative way or competent enough to deal with it in the old way. So he just doesn't really deal with it.

Ezra Klein: Ideological Casualties

Even Republicans were criticizing Bush and his administration for the sluggish relief effort. "I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The California Senate voted on Thursday to allow gay marriage, giving an initial legislative boost to one of the state's most contentious issues.

The Democrat-dominated Senate voted 21-15 in favor of making marriage in California "gender-neutral," thus open to couples of the same sex. All Senate Republicans and one Democrat opposed the measure.

The legislation now advances to the California Assembly, where legislators say the measure will have a more difficult time gaining enough votes for passage. The Assembly killed a gay marriage bill in June.

Calif. Senate votes to legalize gay marriage

A cameraman for Reuters in Iraq has been ordered by a secret tribunal to be held without charge in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison until his case is reviewed within six months, a U.S. military spokesman said on Wednesday.

But another Reuters cameraman was released after being held for three days by U.S. troops following an incident in which his soundman was shot dead, apparently by American soldiers.

Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani was arrested by U.S. forces on August 8 after a search of his home in the city of Ramadi. The U.S. military has refused Reuters' requests to disclose why he is being held. He has not been charged.

His brother, who was detained with him and then released, said they were arrested after Marines looked at the images on the journalist's cameras.

My Way News

Well, there you have it, folks....

Bush: U.S. Must Protect Iraq From Terror - Yahoo! News

President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields that he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.


Bush said the Iraqi oil industry, already suffering from sabotage and lost revenues, must not fall under the control of Osama bin Ladenand al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. "They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

Finally, we've decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives.

My opinion David Stoeffler: Opinion pages get a makeover | The Arizona Daily Star �

Perish the thought that Americans would actually *support* terrorism and harbour terrorists....

Politics News Article |

A U.S. immigration judge ruled on Monday that if an asylum-seeking former CIA operative from Cuba is deported, he would be sent to Venezuela -- where he has been charged in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner -- and not returned to his Communist homeland.

The decision by U.S. Immigration Judge William Abbott came in advance of a hearing on the asylum application of 77-year-old Luis Posada Carriles, which was expected to last three to five days.

The case has placed President George W. Bush's administration in a difficult position as it tries to balance its support among the politically powerful anti-Castro Cuban-American community with its global campaign against terrorism.

In a mammoth 5,500-word piece Thursday headlined "A CIA Cover Blown, A White House Exposed,"� Tom Hamburger and Sonni Efron lay out in The Los Angeles Times what happened in the days leading up to, and beyond, the now infamous July 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the press.

"Beyond the whodunit," they write, "the affair raises questions about the credibility of the Bush White House, the tactics it employs against political opponents and the justification it used for going to war."

The article includes some fresh revelations or comments. For example, it notes that allies of Karl Rove defend his talks with reporters in which he tried to counter claims by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Then it adds that "some of Rove's colleagues say that he and others used poor judgment in talking about Wilson's wife. 'With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear our focus should have been on Wilson's facts, not his conclusions or his wife or his politics,' said one official who was helping with White House strategy at the time."

'L.A.Times' Offers Mammoth Piece On Plame Leak

Here's an interesting piece of Flash animation. It's a funny, but chilling work, by Scott Bateman at Bateman365, with audio of the actual speech George W. Bush gave on February 6, 2003 � a month or so before the Iraq invasion � along with animated comments.


[Jon] Stewart likes to protest that he doesn't pay any mind to this. All he and his crew do, he says, "is try and put out a funny, well-written show about current events." But push a bit and he shows himself to be a savvy observer and critic of his industry. Not entirely surprising: He's spent 15 years in cable and syndicated television, a stint that includes three failed MTV projects. And his scorching critique of television on CNN's Crossfire last fall was so dead-on that the network's president cited Stewart's indictment when he canceled the show in January.

Wired 13.09: Reinventing Television

As more Americans wonder whether Cindy Sheehan is correct that the best way out of Iraq is to leave, President Bush reiterates, as he did in his most recent radio address, that the country "must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission."

The president's problem, strategically and politically, is that "their mission" has changed again and again. In fact, their original mission â.. to keep Iraq from using its stockpiled weapons of mass destruction â.. was "completed" by default. The president's first fallback, which he continues to hide behind, was that the Iraq invasion was a necessary response to 9/11. Wrong again. In fact, his invasion has turned Iraq into a recruiting and training ground for terrorists.

The last-resort mission President Bush has declared is "advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled region." But to have any chance of accomplishing that restated mission, Iraq's constitution � twice postponed � must embody the ideals the Bush administration has been advocating. The draft hastily submitted Monday and facing a new deadline today does not do so, regardless of the administration's claims to the contrary.

Sham Iraq constitution will not 'honor sacrifice'

In December 2002, [Afghan detainee] Dilawar died at the base - after suffering what an internal US investigation revealed were repeated beatings by American troops while chained to the ceiling by his wrists.

The BBC correspondent in Kabul, Andrew North, says two other soldiers have also been convicted in connection with the case, but neither were jailed - including one who faced more serious charges.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch said the two month prison sentence given to Specialist Wells was very disappointing.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US soldier jailed in Afghan abuse

So Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, thinks the United States should assassinate Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.
Let's see. What are the options? The 30-year-old Senate reports of a body known as the Church committee give some options.
How about a vial of poison, as ordered up for a proposed US assassination in 1960 of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba. Or perhaps supply some weaponry to a local hit squad, as Washington did for those who bumped off Dominican leader Rafael Trujillo.
And let us not overlook Fidel. Oh Fidel, that tough Castro case in Cuba. Through the 1960s, there were eight - count 'em, eight - separate US plots to kill him. Methods included a mob hit, poisoned cigars, an exploding seashell and a skin diving suit contaminated with deadly fungi, not to mention various rifles and explosives in the hands of Castro-hating Cuban exiles.
Yet Castro remains with us - which may prove the point that geopolitical hits are folly or, at least, never easy.

The Standard - Assassination a US fixation - Focus Section

Prisoner interrogations at Guant�namo Bay, the controversial US military detention centre where guards have been accused of brutality and torture, have not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to a senior Pentagon intelligence officer who worked at the heart of the US war on terror.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence, says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Guantanamo has 'failed to prevent terror attacks'


McCain Comes Out For Teaching "Intelligent Design" In Schools... | The Huffington Post

U.S. Sen. John McCain knows why he wants to be president.

He isn't running for the job - officially. That won't happen, if it happens at all, until after next year's midterm elections.

McCain, who turns 69 on Monday, said "there's no point" in formally announcing his candidacy until after the 2006 congressional elections.

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