In outlining her vision to legislators during her opening-day address, Blanco noted that she and many lawmakers won't be coming back next year. ...
Thank Jeebus. Blanco is probably overcriticized for looking "bad" after Katrina, and undercriticized (even still) for her Road Home fiasco.
There was no mention of the many shortcomings and budding scandals in her Road Home program. Not one word about New Orleans' many infrastructure needs. Nothing about the urgency with which local civic, business and political leaders are working to keep the VA Hospital downtown.
It was as if she woke up last Monday in a wonderful new state where everything is just fine.
Her failure even to mention New Orleans or southeast Louisiana -- which gave her more than her margin of victory in 2003 -- was seen as a slap in the face to local lawmakers, some of whom compared it to President Bush's snub of Louisiana during his last two State of the Union addresses. The anger among local legislators was palpable.
"Not one word about New Orleans or southeast Louisiana"? Are you kidding me?!
Then came news that her much-maligned Road Home program could fall more than $3 billion short. ...
Uggh. She is so disappointing. So lame. And as much as I bash the GOP, I want to make my position clear: if Blanco ran for re-election against Jindal, I would vote for "Bobby" without hesitation. It's not even close, in my book. That's how lame she is. But one of the things I REALLY hate about Blanco is how her mistakes provide political "cover" for Ray Nagin and Duhbya's crew.
For example, here's Nagin:
Mayor Ray Nagin has often violated his Jan. 11 promise to stop blaming federal and state officials for the city's post-Katrina woes. However, the intensity of his attacks against Baton Rouge appeared to reach new rhetorical highs during the April 28 march through the Lower Ninth Ward. "We're going to have to get angry! ... We're going to have to find the right bullet and the right target!" Nagin said in a fiery speech to a small crowd of marchers.
Those are some real responsible sentiments-- especially for a mayor who can't control gun crime in his own city. Yeah Ray, let's get the crowd "angry" and go to Baton Rouge looking for the "right target" for our "bullets"! No one has ever done that before.
I understand it's a metaphor, but it's a truly awful one.
Blanco also provides an easy scapegoat for Recovery Czar Donald Powell. World Class excerpts one of his letters to the Editor of the Times Picayune:
The president's commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast remains strong, but so does the need for Louisiana to effectively use the resources it's already been given before appealing again to the already overwhelming generosity of the American taxpayers.
Thankfully, a couple days later the T-P printed a fine reply , which I will reprint, because it contains my sentiments (and I'm tired and need to go to sleep):
Federal recovery coordinator Donald Powell has done it again when he refers to the "overwhelming generosity of the American taxpayer."
He still doesn't get it. We are American taxpayers.
And we are suffering because those who are paid with our tax dollars failed in their responsibility to protect us by properly building and maintaining canals and levees.
Whether we had direct damage to our property or are paying higher insurance premiums, we, the American taxpayers, have suffered because of failures at the federal level.
Yes, Mr. Powell, we, the American taxpayers, have been very generous.
We have funded rescue efforts all over the world without batting an eye.
And yes, American taxpayers have individually been generous in coming to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild the lives, homes and businesses of those who live here.
But the federal government is not doing anyone a favor by providing funds to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Those funds are ours to begin with.
Our state leadership has not been without error. But Donald Powell and President Bush are not our benefactors. They are our employees. Get over it and get on with it!
Kevin Drum gives us some helpful background to this unsettling news from CNN:
Iraq's top Sunni official has set a deadline of next week for pulling his entire bloc out of the government....Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made his comments in an interview with CNN. He said if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.
I hate to be pessimistic about our Freedom and Democracy-building project in Iraq, ... but, given this top Sunni official's threat, shouldn't we at least consider the unwelcome possibility of political dissolution in Iraq? On the off chance we need to revise our definition of "victory" there and radically adjust the current objectives of our mission... do we have a "Plan B"?
"I have no Plan B." -- John McCain, on his support for the Iraq surge, April 13, 2007.
"Plan B was to make Plan A work."-- Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace, on Iraq, March 5, 2007.
"Plan B is to make Plan A work"-- President Bush, on Iraq, April 24, 2007.
"I don't think you go to Plan B. You work with Plan A." -- Secretary of State Rice, asked what the U.S. should do if the Iraqi government does not live up to its assurances, March 5, 2007.
"By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this [Surge strategy] is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B." -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), May 6, 2007.
In other words, it seems "Plan B" is basically waiting for political necessity to force Republicans to totally break from Duhbya, and adopt the "surrendercrat" positions which Dems are offering right now.
Wait. Hold the phone. I stand corrected. Apparently Rep Phil Gingrey (R-GA) says the Republicans DO in fact have a "Plan B". They definitely have one, it's just they need to keep it a secret so the enemy (and Dems and Independents and the media) won't find out. Rep. Gingrey explains:
Let's give victory a chance and then in August of 2008, if it's not working then, indeed, this President and the Republican majority from the last Congress, we do have a plan B. But we're not gonna give it to the enemy!
In the past 4 years it has become clear that neither these pundits, nor the political leaders they lauded, understood that:
Blind optimism is not a strategy.
Entering a country is not the same thing as controlling it.
Driving through a capital is not the same thing as winning hearts and minds.
Pulling down a statue is not the same thing as building up a democracy.
Ignoring the possibility of insurgency and guerrilla warfare practically guarantees its emergence (borders must be secured, looting prevented, large masses of young men must not be alienated, everyone must feel invested and protected in this new country).
Counterinsurgency is counterintuitive; a minimum of force, used surgically, is often the best tactic.
Killing insurgents is not the same thing as eliminating an insurgency.
I believe General Petraeus understands these precepts better than any of the previous commanders, because he used them successfully in the past. Now he has been given operational responsibility over Iraq, but it's at least 3 (if not 4) years too late. Due to the mistakes of Bremer, Sanchez, Rumsfeld and Bush... the possibility of success in Iraq has been made exponentially more remote, even if we put the right "commander guy" in... it's likely too little, too late.
--- I made a few edits to this post after the initial publishing.
Our hearts go out to the tornado victims, but after reading this news, I still must ask: what's the matter with Kansas?
GREENSBURG, Kansas (AP)-- Four soldiers and a reserve police officer were arrested Sunday on suspicion of looting cigarettes and alcohol from a store in this tornado-ravaged town, state officials said.
Didn't they get "the message" Judge Hans Liljeberg sent to looters after Katrina, when he sentenced three liquor looters to 15 years in prison each? I would think 15 months would be more appropriate, but I guess I'm soft on looting.
And, yes, for the record, we did get looted after the Federal Flood. It's not a pleasant feeling, and I don't wish it on anyone, but "looting" wouldn't be among the top 25 things that angered me after the storm.
Some of the most celebrated levee repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina are already showing signs of serious flaws, a leading critic of the corps says.
The critic, Robert G. Bea, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, said he encountered several areas of concern on a tour in March.
The most troubling, Dr. Bea said, was erosion on a levee by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a navigation canal that helped channel water into New Orleans during the storm.
Breaches in that 13-mile levee devastated communities in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, and the rapid reconstruction of the barrier was hailed as one of the corps’ most significant rebuilding achievements in the months after the storm. ... [Dr. Bea] praised the corps for much of the work it had done since the storm, but he added that the levee should be armored with rock or concrete against overtopping, a move the corps has rejected in the short term.
Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.
"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight-- that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.
The Iraq parliament's recess, starting this July, would likely come without Baghdad politicians reaching agreements considered key to easing sectarian tensions. Examples include regulating distribution of the country's oil wealth and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because of Baath party membership. ... Talk of the adjournment in Iraq comes amid a heated debate in Congress on the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq. ... More than 3,350 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. April was the deadliest month for the military this year. ... On Monday-- the same day Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., issued a statement urging the Iraqi politicians to reconsider their summer break-- the Iraqi parliament called for a ban on U.S. troops near a holy Shiite Muslim shrine. Protests were led by the radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc after U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted a raid near the shrine.
Nassar al-Rubaie, from the al-Sadr Shiite bloc in the parliament, said in a phone interview that there is a possibility that the recess could be put off or limited to 15 days.
"We support abolishing this vacation whether the (U.S.) Congress demands it or not," said al-Rubaie. "However, Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only."
So, let's review: Iraq's parliament may recess for 2 months without making much-needed political process, but not before warning our troops that they can't go NEAR a Shia shrine. This comes after Prime Minister Maliki "vetoed" certain security tactics the U.S. army was employing in Baghdad. Yet, Bush insists on an open-ended commitment in Iraq, as our armed forces get shot at while their Parliament dilly-dallies, and contemplates a long summer vacation. And when our Congressional leaders are rightfully angered by this planned holiday, Iraqi parliamentarians have the gall to tell us that "Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only".
Read that again: America is told to butt out, because "Iraqi issues" (like security) are not "our concern". Think about that. "Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only". Are you kidding me?
Well, if that's the case, then I think it should be unanimous. Everyone should say "Fine-- have at it, Iraq. Sorry to interfere with your Parliament's handling of Iraqi issues. We have better things to do than occupy a civil war-torn country we barely understand. Guess we'll be going, then. Good luck. Buh-bye now."
(And yes, if we leave that means Iraq becomes a rickety client state of Iran... but that's the likely outcome of this tragic misadventure anyway, even if we occupy Iraq until our army breaks. I mean, at this point exactly what endgame scenario are you envisioning? This?)
So, again, it appears we must review:
The Iraqi Prime Minister tells the U.S. how to fight, and that's fine.
The Iraqi Parliament tells us where to fight, and that's fine.
But it's not fine for the U.S. Congress to say we should redeploy out of Iraq next year. That's crazy talk.
Bush refuses Congress' attempts to curtail his vanity war, and he's certain that al Sadr's puppets will make the political progress necessary for Bush to realize his panglossian dream of "victory" in Iraq. We're relying on the same folks who are telling us to "butt out". How can this possibly work? Americans are disgusted by Bush's Iraq misadventure and our army is tired. Even the people we supposedly liberated want us out of there. But Bush is resolved to try this (third) "Surge strategy". Why will it work this time? "Because", Bush says, "I told them it had to".
See, this time, the Surge will work because Duhbya told Maliki it "had to" work. That's why it will work. So brilliant, so simple-- we should of tried that earlier! (I suppose if your name is Beavis and you're from Vancleave, Mississippi, then you might be comforted by that logic. But that circular reasoning is not good enough. And neither is this absurd "puppy dog" rationale.)
Seriously, at this point, continuing to "hope" that Bush's faith in Maliki (and therefore Al Sadr) will "pay off" is not patriotic... it's self-delusional. Hope is not an exit strategy, Republicans. Ask yourselves honestly: How have your "hopes" for Bush paid off thus far? How bad does it have to get before you abandon this sinking ship?
The majority of Iraqis want our troops out within a year. The majority of Americans want our troops out within a year. Congressional majorities want our troops out within a year. But Bush clings to this idea that our military will stay in Iraq until "victory" is achieved-- but not one day longer. He doesn't talk about the fact that his notion of "victory" is tied to his faith in Maliki and Company. We're betting our blood and treasure on al Sadr's puppets and Bush refuses to hold them to account.They're making vacation plans while our men are dying trying to manage a hornet's nest of sectarian micro-wars! Has it really come to this?
A new commercial straightforwardly asserts that "To keep American soldiers in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, being attacked by an unidentifiable enemy is wrong, immoral and irresponsible.
I must agree.
But Conservatives look at this situation and decide that Democrats who strive for accountability in Iraq are the real enemy. As the 2008 elections near, these same conservatives will come around and decide benchmarks and accountability are not necessarily treasonous positions. They'll come around... eventually (after much more blood and treasure are wasted, of course).
Imagine if a Democratic president led us into a costly nation-building quagmire, and some foreign Prime Minister told us where and how we could fight... the howls from conservatives would be deafening! They'd talk about this moment for decades! But if a Republican does it, then it's ok. After four years of deluding themselves about phantom "progress" in Iraq, they have started to frown on Bush... but they won't do anything about it. They won't oppose him. In fact, they'll support Bush's plan to throw more troops at the problem, and they'll soothe themselves by watching videos of Sanjaya dressed as a cheerleader mocking the "Defeatocrats". Eight months from now they'll be supporting the same proposals for "benchmarks" and "redeployment", but then it will be OK to hold those positions.
So, instead of telling Iraq that THEY have "one last chance to get it right", Republicans are telling Americans that "Bush deserves one last chance to get it right". But why does Bush's awful management of this war merit another chance? Why should we put more blood and treasure into this morass on some far-flung hope? Because Bush says "we have to"?
Let's be clear. The bill Congress sent Bush fully funds the troops, and funds them at a higher level than Bush had requested. But with spending comes accountability. Bush has refused to provide that accountability. Congress is providing it for him -- and for the American public and its troops.
What Congress was reacting to was last November's election, which sent a clear message: Voters want to be done with Iraq. Iraqis, too, want to be done with the American presence. The latest poll by the Washington, D.C.-based World Public Opinion research group shows 58 percent of Americans wanting troops out of Iraq. Among Iraqis, 71 percent want American-led forces out within a year.
Congress was also reacting to the Bush administration's endless confusion about what it's doing in Iraq. The administration has no exit strategy at all. It barely has an in-country strategy....
Against all the administration's confusion, Congress is at least providing a strategy: Give the Iraqi government one last chance to seize control of its capital and armed forces, give the government all the assistance it needs to train its armed forces and police, but beyond that, leave.
I was impressed with the performance of the top tier GOP candidates, and thought Romney and Huckabee had the best night. I think President Bush's name was mentioned once, which is still more attention than the recovery of the Gulf Coast received. Here's a quick summary:
McCain: Don't think I'm not spry enough to follow Bin Laden to the gates of Hell, and get back in time to invade Iran before dinner's ready!
Giuliani: I crow about reducing crime in NYC during the Clinton 90's, when national crime rates plummeted. Unfortunately I don't equate being pro-choice with infanticide, so despite my crime-fighting credentials many in the GOP will still think I'm soft on babykilling.
Romney: When I smile and don't say stupid things, people forget that I'm a Mormon who has gone hunting fewer times than Rudy's been married.
Huckabee *: Yes, I'm still using my exploratory committee web site named ExploreHuckabee.com. , which I'm proud to say is now back up and running!
Thompson:My reaction when they asked me about whether an employer can discriminate against gay employees was priceless. I was thinking "How do I not alienate the homophobes?" My answer was a shameful blunder, which my campaign quickly retracted. My only hope now is that voters will confuse me with Fred Thompson.
Paul: I'm an authentic conservative who doesn't pander and therefore has no chance to win.
Brownback mountain *: I'm your smiling values candidate.
Hunter: At every opportunity, I will talk about the military and mention the growing China menace (which endangers Panama).
Tancredo *: If you don't favor rounding up 12 million brown illegal immigrants and shipping them back to Mexico... you support amnesty.
Gilmore: I've been very consistent and would be deeply honored if someone-- anyone-- thought I had a chance of winning. I am not Rory'sgrandfather.
President Bush recently took some "questions" from supporters while several journalists observed. One supporter asked the President "I would like to know why and what can be done about we, the American people, receiving [more good news about Iraq] from the media."
Bush answered: "Information is moving-- you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it’s also moving through the blogosphere, and through the Internets."
Then, another supporter asked the President "What do you pray about? And how can we pray for you?"
Bush replied* "Did you misplace your A Christian's Duty in a Time of Warpamphlet? Be sure to order another one or borrow a pamphlet from one of the Christian soldiers returning from Iraq. Many of them have fulfilled their religious duty to pray for me, because, you know, I'M the one who needs THEIR prayers. But in the meantime, you can hop on to the Internets and join my Presidential Prayer Team, and participate in National Day of Prayer events, including the Online Prayer Rally for me. The Online Prayer Rally for me is wonderful because it encourages Christian Americans like you to unite in prayer... for me. The rally 'allows you to be praying with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ simultaneously' which is 'the most effective and powerful prayer possible!'
"So, the short answer, sir, is: Pray for me, and the troops who are praying for me. Pray for mental peace for me and painful boils for Pelosi. And do it through Christ... and preferably in English.
"Now, you also asked 'What do I pray about'? Well, before I pray I retire to my dark closet, and then I meditate on the Nazarene's words. You know, stuff like this:
You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
"Then I reflect on the Nazarene's words, and read excellent essays which help me to understand Biblical topics. Doing these things helps me improve my judgment so that I can wage a more Christ-like War on Terror. And don't forget that I couldn't do this without supporters like yourself. Thanks a million. Or, better make that: thanks a trillion."
A White House spokeswoman chided the reporters who were there for "rolling their eyes and smirking" during the questioning. Then she said a prayer** for the media.
--- * The last quote is fake. Bush actually just answered: "Wisdom and strength, and my family, is what I'd like for you to pray for."
I'm seeing "occupation" appear with increasing frequency... This is a good thing. ... Harry Reid's remark that "the war is lost" was a terrible (and easily avoidable) mistake. He should have said that the war was won four years ago. But by continuing to play by Bush's rhetorical ground rules, he got burned. If the Democrats and others trying to effect change keep using words like "war" and "front lines," they'll keep stumbling into the same trap that snared Harry Reid.
Message to Dems: redefine the basic terms of the debate.
"I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks!"
Back in college my friend Karie saw a nine year old boy riding his bike along the road loudly yelling to the world: "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage!"
Imagining that scene always cheers me up.
--- One of the very many things I adore about David Bowie, as an artist, is that he offered to open for the Smashing Pumpkins on their "Infinite Sadness" tour. Like little wankers, they refused.
I went to see the Pumpkins at the Sunken Gardens theater in San Antonio in '93. It was across the street from my college, and if you were willing to quickly climb down an old quarry wall, you could sneak into the show for free. I did that several times to save money and feel really cool. One of the better shows I saw was the Black Crows opening for Roger Plant, which seemed like a big deal at the time. [Actually, I think Robert Plant made a surprise guest appearance at Tip's recently.]
In any event, I definitely would of paid to see Bowie. ---
Oh yeah, speaking of quarries, Moz has scheduled a tour date in Dallas later this month. Three years ago, Morrissey expressed some unkind wishes for our beloved President Bush, and I worried for the Moz's safety the next time he toured Tejas.
Of course, that was three years ago and a lot has changed. Now, even a majority of Texansdisapprove of Duhbya.