Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bush's Blame Game: Saddam's Fault

Boy King George and the Cheney misadministration have exhausted the market on their blame game against wicked Bill Clinton (sex is evil; war is good) and the biased liberal media (facts and events disproving BushCo lies are propaganda of biased liberal terrorist sympathizers). With Furious George's approval rating below Nixon's during Watergate and 60% of Americans believing invading Iraq was a mistake, the public is no longer buying what they are selling. So, fraudulent advertiser and national security risk, Turd Blossom decided it was time to pull out the bogeyman. Three years after toppling Saddam and 27 months after having him in custody, the new advertising slogan for the blame game, Saddam's Fault. Obviously, Saddam Hussein is responsible for all the mistakes of the Cheney misadministration's War in Iraq.
Bush blames Iraq's instability on Hussein (from CNN)

President Bush said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein, not continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence that is threatening the formation of a democratic government.
Larry C. Johnson* exposes the "depths of goofiness" in the latest Bush's blame game on his blog, No Quarter (originally seen in a diary at Booman Tribune):
When in doubt, blame the guy in jail. So, at what point did George discover that Saddam's previous grotesque behavior spawned sectarian strife? Is there any chance he heard about this before launching the invasion in 2003 or was he still reading from the script that promised Iraqis, regardless of their sectarian beliefs, would be dancing in the streets?

It would be nice to get an answer on this point. Why?

If the President truly believed that "Saddam was a tyrant and used violence to exacerbate sectarian divisions to keep himself in power, and that as a result, deep tensions persist to this day", then why did he fail to send enough troops to keep the warring factions under control? Since our invation in 2003, almost 2400 of our brave sons and daughters have died in this misadventure. I think it is appropriate to ask President Bush to explain why he was unprepared to deal with the sectarian strife since he knew that Saddam's dictatorial polices sowed the seeds of civil war. Or, is this something he just got briefed on. Maybe the new Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten, gave him a heads up.
The CNN story also has this laughable quote from Bush, "I want the Iraqi people to hear I've got great confidence in their capacity to self govern," considering his interference with the Iraqi government’s choice for Prime Minister (from the LA Times):
U.S. Tells Shiite Bloc It Opposes Jafari as Premier

In Washington's most overt effort to influence who will lead Iraq, the ambassador relays a 'personal message' from President Bush.

In an effort to break a deadlock in forming Iraq's new government, the Bush administration has notified the leading Shiite Muslim alliance that it opposes the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari for another term in office, a U.S. official and Shiite politician said Tuesday.

The message from the White House relayed by the U.S. ambassador comes amid growing strain on relations between the United States and the Shiite bloc that heads Iraq's transitional administration. It is the most overt U.S. bid thus far to engineer the choice of a less divisive leader for a four-year government.

* a registered Republican, formerly of the CIA and US State Department's Office of Counterterrorism who broke ranks with the BushCo over the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Barbara Bush and GOP Tradition: Funneling Charitable Donations into Their Own Pocketbooks

The Houston Chronicle, in an article on Thursday, wrote about Barbara Bush's donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, Former first lady's donation aids son:
Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.

Since then, the Ignite Learning program has been given to eight area schools that took in substantial numbers of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
In a follow up article on Friday, Katrina donation ignites debate,The Houston Chronicle reports on why the controversy has arisen:
As Barbara Bush spent two hours championing her son's software company at a Houston middle school Thursday morning, a watchdog group questioned whether the former first lady should be allowed to channel a donation to Neil Bush's Ignite Learning company through Houston's Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

"It's strange that the former first lady would want to do this. If her son's having a rough time of it, couldn't she write him a check?" said Daniel Borochoff, founder of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a Chicago-based charity watchdog group. "Maybe she isn't aware that people could frown upon this."

Some critics said donations to a tax-deductible charitable fund shouldn't benefit the Bush family. Others questioned whether the Houston Independent School District violated district policy by allowing the company to host a promotional event on campus.
Barbara isn't just helping her son, but is helping herself and putting money into her own purse because she one of the "investors" in Neil's company scam.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo sums it up this way:
So how is it exactly you get away with making a tax subsidized contribution that you stipulate must be used to purchase products from a company in which you are a partial owner?

Isn't that a scam of some sort?
Paul Kiel at the TPM Muckraker is looking into Neil Bush's Investors:
The company declines to name private investors, but documents filed with the SEC show that it raised $7.1 million from 53 investors. There are a number of unnamed investors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the British Virgin Islands.
Kiel has composed a list of known investors, including Neil's parents. Here are few from his list:
-- Hamza El Khouli, an associate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and chairman of First Arabian Development and Investment Company (Lawrence Journal World)

-- Mohammed Al Saddah of the Ultra Horizon Co. in Kuwait (Houston Chronicle).

-- Winston Wong (alternately, Winston Wang), a Taiwan businessman who started the Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. with the eldest son of China's president, Jiang Zemin (Washington Post)

-- Boris Berezovky, a Russian billionaire living in London with ties to many Russian politicians, including Boris Yeltsin. He is sought by Russian prosecutors and Interpol for fraud (Moscow Times, Washington Post)

-- Knowledge Universe, a company chaired by former junk bond king Michael Milken (Philadelphia Inquirer, AP)
I wonder if the investors from the UAE and China have any connections with Dubai Ports World and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.

Just today, in the Washington Post, is another example of this GOP tradition, Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit:
A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.
These must be GOP examples of "compassionate conservatives" and "family values".

Friday, March 24, 2006

Will any Republican stand up for the Constitution?

Will Democrats stand behind Russ Feingold?

Can we investigate, censure, and impeach Bush now?

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement
(from The Boston Globe)
In addendum to law, he says oversight rules are not binding

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Future is Now!

In yesterday's press conference, Bush in reply to a question asking if U.S. troops will ever leave Iraq stated that it would be up to “future presidents.”

Monday, March 20, 2006

BushCo Fables

Censure -- Editorial Cartoon by Kirk Anderson

(via BuzzFlash)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years of War in Iraq: A Timeline

Think Progress presents a powerful indictment against Bush's folly and the lies of the Cheney misdaministration. There is nothing I could possibly add or excerpt that wouldn't detract from the impact of viewing it yourself.

The Iraq War: Three Years and Counting

Riverbend has a new post at Baghdad Burning, which belongs on the front page of every newspaper, for people to read about the reality of life in Baghdad for an Iraqi today. Instead, the only news contains pictures of Bush's latest photo-op, repeatedly quoting his hollow words and his continued straw man arguments to justify the Cheney misadministrations' lies that led this country into war in Iraq.

I recommend clicking through and reading her entire post, Three Years...:
The thing most worrisome about the situation now, is that discrimination based on sect has become so commonplace. For the average educated Iraqi in Baghdad, there is still scorn for all the Sunni/Shia talk. Sadly though, people are being pushed into claiming to be this or that because political parties are promoting it with every speech and every newspaper- the whole ‘us’ / ‘them’. We read constantly about how ‘We Sunnis should unite with our Shia brothers…’ or how ‘We Shia should forgive our Sunni brothers…’ (note how us Sunni and Shia sisters don’t really fit into either equation at this point). Politicians and religious figures seem to forget at the end of the day that we’re all simply Iraqis.

And what role are the occupiers playing in all of this? It’s very convenient for them, I believe. It’s all very good if Iraqis are abducting and killing each other- then they can be the neutral foreign party trying to promote peace and understanding between people who, up until the occupation, were very peaceful and understanding.

Three years after the war, and we’ve managed to move backwards in a visible way, and in a not so visible way.

In the last weeks alone, thousands have died in senseless violence and the American and Iraqi army bomb Samarra as I write this. The sad thing isn’t the air raid, which is one of hundreds of air raids we’ve seen in three years- it’s the resignation in the people. They sit in their homes in Samarra because there’s no where to go. Before, we’d get refugees in Baghdad and surrounding areas… Now, Baghdadis themselves are looking for ways out of the city… out of the country. The typical Iraqi dream has become to find some safe haven abroad.

Three years later and the nightmares of bombings and of shock and awe have evolved into another sort of nightmare. The difference between now and then was that three years ago, we were still worrying about material things- possessions, houses, cars, electricity, water, fuel… It’s difficult to define what worries us most now. Even the most cynical war critics couldn't imagine the country being this bad three years after the war... Allah yistur min il rab3a (God protect us from the fourth year).

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Another Casualty of the Republican Theocracy

Missouri Drama Teacher Resigns in Play Flap (via The Guardian):
A central Missouri high school drama teacher whose spring play was canceled after complaints about tawdry content in one of her previous productions will resign rather than face a possible firing.

"It became too much to not be able to speak my mind or defend my students without fear or retribution," said Fulton High School teacher Wendy DeVore.
What had she scheduled for the spring play?
DeVore's students were to perform Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," a drama set during the 17th Century Salem witch trials.
That's right, the student's were being denied to opportunity to perform Arthur Miller's classic, "The Crucible."

What was this play with tawdry content and who was making the complaints?
But after a handful of Callaway Christian Church members complained about scenes in the fall musical "Grease" that showed teens smoking, drinking and kissing, Superintendent Mark Enderle told DeVore to find a more family-friendly substitute.
Yup, the play "Grease", which was one of the longest running plays on Broadway, as well as Miller's classic, are too tawdry for high school students according to the Gendarmes from the Radical Religious Right of the Republican Theocracy.
DeVore chose Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Shakespeare appears to have inflamed the religious zealots who were not yet satisfied with their previous conquests because the play was:
a classic romantic comedy with its own dicey subject matter, including suicide, rape and losing one's virginity.
So, they pressed their attack on further to achieve their righteous victory:
DeVore, 31, a six-year veteran teacher, said administrators told her that her annual contract might not be renewed.
Aside from DeVore, Miller, and Shakespeare, other casualties include the entire student body of Fulton High School, who will now be forced into a life of ignorance and servitude.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on the Republican Theocracy at War

(Thank you, for the inspiration of this post!)

There is no doubt that Republican Theocracy is at war against women, but their ultimate goal doesn't stop with abortion and contraception. They really seem to be guided by Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, a novel that when I first read it 20 years ago was considered a dark science fiction, but has now become a social condemnation of the Radical Religious Right who have adopted it as doctrine to use in their war against all sexuality other than their own mandate of forced matrimonial sex for Christian procreation only.

This extends to their opposition of the HPV vaccine, which “appears to be virtually 100 percent effective against two of the most common cancer-causing HPV strains” to opposition of research and funding for a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS to their attack against science (here also) to asserting the right to everyone’s privacy so they can know exactly what your doing with who anywhere, especially in your own bedroom.

From a New Yorker article not available online (by the author in the interview linked here and above):
Religious conservatives are unapologetic; not only do they believe that mass use of an HPV vaccine or the availability of emergency contraception will encourage adolescents to engage in unacceptable sexual behavior; some have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine, if one became available.

"We would have to look at that closely," Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. "With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition" -- a medical term for the absence of fear -- "would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care."

Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations.

Why not vaccinate the Right against wrong? (via the Chicago Sun-Times):
From quashing stem cell research to promoting the teaching of Christian creation myth in public schools, from gagging government scientists to stifling anti-global warming efforts, the Bush administration is leading a theocratic assault on rationality that we would snicker at in another country but barely notice unfolding here.

The really jaw-dropping part is the administration's view of any medical advance that might lessen the wages of sin. Merck is trying to get FDA approval for a vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer and is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country. Lives would be saved by the vaccine, but the politicized Bush FDA will probably deny approval, as the disease -- like all VD -- is a handy ally to the Religious Right in its battle against sex.

I knew that the moral mullahs of this country point obsessively to disease and pregnancy in their campaign for sexual inhibition. But I didn't quite realize -- and it embarrasses me to admit this -- that they are also against curing such diseases, so as not to encourage sin. An anti-HIV vaccine, rather than being celebrated, might actually be denied FDA approval -- in this country, of course. The rest of the modern world, unencumbered, moves steadily into the future without us.
Clicking through to read the articles and reading the books is frightening and depressing, but reveals more of the Radical Religious Right's extreme agenda.

Incompetent: It’s not just Bush, but the GOP

Some of the bloviating blowhard Bush supporting cable pundits are finally facing the reality that Bush is not a popular President.
Chris “Tweety” Matthews was incredulous and "amazed" by the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, from the March 15 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews (via Media Matters):
MATTHEWS: I always thought Bush was more popular than his policies. I keep saying it, and I keep being wrong on this. Bush is not popular. I'm amazed when 50 percent of the people don't like him -- just don't like this guy. Thirty-nine percent like him. Are you surprised? Does that fit with the world you walk in?
It is interesting that Tweety differentiates between popularity and policies, which presumably is the difference between favorability ratings and overall job ratings, because Bush's job approval has been in the negative throughout his second term. It was even negative the week before and after the November 2004 Presidential election. Its enough to make you wonder about the dispute between the exit polls and voting results all over again, but let's not go there any further. Bush's job approval continues to spiral down with the latest polls having an approval in the range of 33-39% and disapproval of 51-60%.

The most interesting poll is the latest from the Pew Research Center. Aside from the usual survey questions, which showed Bush's job approval dropping to 33%, there was a one-word description for Bush.
The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is "incompetent,"and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: "idiot" and "liar." All three are mentioned far more often today than a year ago.
It is heartening to finally see people waking up to the reality of the Idiot from Crawford, as I have called Bush for nearly 5 years now. However, I doubt we will see Tweety or many his peers talking about Bush the Incompetent, Bush the Idiot, or Bush the Liar anytime soon. Who cares? Fuck Tweety and the cable talking pundits anyway! The important thing is that people have reached the realization and begun to talk about and describe Bush for what he is: an incompetent, an idiot, and a liar.

Now, the question is: How to get people to realize the shared responsibility of this incompetence by the GOP?

Incompetent, idiot, liar.
It's not just Bush, but the GOP!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent wrap up of the Democrats' and Media's response to Feingold's Censure Resolution

Everything you ever wanted to know about how our government and media work:
This Feingold Censure Resolution is unmaking the hideous underbelly of almost every Washington institution as vividly as anything that can be recalled. Each of the rotted Beltway branches is playing so true to form that the distinct forms of corruption and dishonesty which characterize each of them are standing nakedly revealed. As ugly of a sight as it is, it is highly instructive to watch it all unfold.
Making matters much more inexplicable, and infuriating, is this list, compiled by Liberal Oasis, of the 24 Senators (19 Democrats, 4 Republicans and Jeffords) who are still in the Senate and who co-sponsored Dianne Feinstein's resolution to censure Bill Clinton (not just for lying but expressly for having an "inappropriate relationship" with an adult woman). Included on the list are many Senators who are afraid thus far to support Feingold's resolution -- including Schumer, Reid, Landrieu, Feinstein and Kennedy. Most political positions are subject to reasonable debate. Favoring a censure of Bill Clinton while opposing a censure of George Bush isn't one of them.

Abbott and Costello present "Who's in Iraq?"

General Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says no proof Iran behind Iraq arms:
The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday the United States does not have proof that Iran's government is responsible for Iranians smuggling weapons and military personnel into Iraq.

President George W. Bush said on Monday components from Iran were being used in powerful roadside bombs used in Iraq, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel had been inside Iraq.

Asked whether the United States has proof that Iran's government was behind these developments, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon briefing, "I do not, sir."
This is from Voice of America:
General Pace and Secretary Rumsfeld also acknowledged they do not have any proof that the Iranian government is involved in sending weapons or specially trained soldiers into Iraq. But Secretary Rumsfeld said the material and people have been found in Iraq, and it is 'reasonable' to conclude that could not be true without official support from Tehran.
If it was true that "the material and people have been found in Iraq" then they would have proof! Yet, both Pace and Rumsfeld admit they have no proof. Why does this resemble a remake of the Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" routine updated to "Who's in Iraq"?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jesse Jackson joins Russ Feingold's efforts to embolden Democrats

Jesse Jackson today in the Chicago Sun-Times:
It's not the heat, it's the timidity

Americans are calling for a new direction in large numbers. They are looking for bold leadership -- and bold new policies to deal with the challenges we face. Support for President Bush is near its lowest levels. Support for the Republican Congress is declining below even the Republican base level. Yet there is no lift in this for Democrats -- and that's no surprise. Faced with the epic catastrophe wrought by this administration and this Congress' policies, Democrats have yet to lay out any compelling alternative.
None of this is news. But Democrats have, as of yet, been too timid or too divided to do much about it. With America in desperate need of bold leadership and a new direction, their slogan for the 2006 election is, hilariously, "We can do better." Even after conservative Rep. Jack Murtha, the Pentagon's favorite ex-Marine, spoke up, they dance around raindrops on Iraq. They seem unable to offer a coherent alternative to the president's ruinous tax-cut policies. They say nothing collectively about the hole that we're in from the catastrophic trade polices. Even on Katrina, they have failed to provide a clear alternative.
But a lot of this is simple cowardice -- the belief that Bush and the Republican Congress have fallen so low and failed so completely, that Democrats can inherit power without ever committing to anything. That is bad politics and bad policy. Democrats who want to run for president are about to learn from core supporters that dancing between raindrops on issues of vital national importance won't get them there.

Russ Feingold to a Fox News reporter (via Think Progress):
Feingold Accuses Senate Democrats of “Cowering” To Bush

I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues. … [Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists.

I encourage people to Co-Sponsor Feingold's Resolution to Censure the President.

Unfortunately, anything written to Missouri's Senators, Christopher Bond and Jim Talent, would simply be turned over to the FBI to add to their anti-war and Bush enemies list.

US to INCREASE troop levels in Iraq

CBS Evening News just reported that they have found out from Pentagon officials that the US is INCREASING the troop levels in Iraq in response to the current security situation.

I'm sure General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will point to this as further evidence that things are 'going very, very well' in Iraq.

As with every other statement and speech by Bush, this directly contradicts his speech yesterday on the transfer to Iraqi forces.

U.S. Troop Levels In Iraq May Rise (via CBS)

March was supposed to be the month when the U.S. commander in Iraq made a recommendation to pull more troops out of Iraq. Instead, he has asked for more troops to be sent in, reports CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin.
U.S. officials say Gen. George Casey asked for more troops because of a convergence of events, and danger, surrounding the third anniversary of the American invasion.
In the last 24 hours at least 87 bodies have been found in Baghdad, most shot dead execution style, and Iraq's interior ministry has announced it will once again ban private vehicles from Baghdad in an effort to hold down the violence.

Pentagon officials say they expect the extra troops to remain in Iraq about a month. So it's a small increase and it's supposed to be temporary, but putting troops in instead of taking them out does not sound like progress, Martin says.

Rumsfeld Hints Troop Level May Increase Slightly in Iraq (via NYT)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave a strong hint today that American troop levels in Iraq may be increased in coming days, perhaps only slightly and temporarily.
Mr. Rumsfeld did not specify which holiday or pilgrimage was prompting the security concern, but many Muslims observe a holiday commemorating the birth of the prophet Mohammad, which falls this year on April 10. Coincidentally, this year it comes one day after a secular national holiday on April 9, the day the government of Saddam Hussein fell three years ago.

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments seemed to suggest the possibility of a higher American profile in the wake of continuing sectarian violence that senior military officials say now poses a greater security threat than terrorists or the insurgency. Until the recent surge of violence, there had been talk of additional, incremental reductions in the numbers of American forces this spring and summer.

Officials said no final decision on troop movements had yet been made by Mr. Rumsfeld or Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior commander in Iraq. Three officials involved in the discussions said that a leading proposal was to send a battalion-sized group — about 800 troops.

"We move troops in and out depending on events, like we did for the referendum, the election," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "General Casey may decide he wants to bulk up slightly for the pilgrimage."

Pentagon civilian and military officials said any extra forces that might be ordered into Iraq would come from an armored brigade of about 3,500 to 4,000 troops now stationed in Kuwait for just such a need if conditions deteriorated.

If the troops are ordered into Iraq, this would be the first time the brigade, a unit of the First Armored Division, left its standby status and entered the fight.

One reason for concern, Mr. Rumsfeld said, was the number of pilgrims from Iran who come to Iraq. President Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld and other officials have said in recent days that Iran is intervening in Iraqi affairs and fomenting attacks.
Interesting how Rumsfeld ties the increase in troops to concerns about Iran (my emphasis in quote).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bush Signs Executive Order for Faith-Based National Security

Just when you think you think it's impossible to be surprised by any BushCo action in the name of "National Security" there is now the bizarre addition of an Executive Order to create a center for faith-based initiatives within the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, this makes sense with the way the Cheney misadministration is running the country and their total lack of any real concern on security issues, especially port security where still less than 5% of all shipping containers are searched. If you pray hard enough maybe someone will respond and take National Security seriously.

Setting aside reality-based questions related to what faith-based initiatives have to do with Homeland Security, I'm particularly intrigued by the order's stated purpose:
Sec. 2. Purpose of Center. The purpose of the Center shall be to coordinate agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services.
Eliminate regulatory, contracting and other programmatic obstacles. Regulatory would be laws. Sounds to me like another Bush declaration that he is above the law or as it is written here, "programmatic obstacles".

Complete text of the Executive Order (posted by The White House):

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 7, 2006

Executive Order: Responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security with Respect to Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to help the Federal Government coordinate a national effort to expand opportunities for faith-based and other community organizations and to strengthen their capacity to better meet America's social and community needs, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment of a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Homeland Security.

(a) The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall establish within the Department of Homeland Security (Department) a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (Center).

(b) The Center shall be supervised by a Director appointed by Secretary. The Secretary shall consult with the Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (WHOFBCI Director) prior to making such appointment.

(c) The Department shall provide the Center with appropriate staff, administrative support, and other resources to meet its responsibilities under this order.

(d) The Center shall begin operations no later than 45 days from the date of this order.

Sec. 2. Purpose of Center. The purpose of the Center shall be to coordinate agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services.

Sec. 3. Responsibilities of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In carrying out the purpose set forth in section 2 of this order, the Center shall:

(a) conduct, in coordination with the WHOFBCI Director, a department-wide audit to identify all existing barriers to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the delivery of social and community services by the Department, including but not limited to regulations, rules, orders, procure-ment, and other internal policies and practices, and outreach activities that unlawfully discriminate against, or otherwise discourage or disadvantage the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in Federal programs;

(b) coordinate a comprehensive departmental effort to incorporate faith-based and other community organizations in Department programs and initiatives to the greatest extent possible;

(c) propose initiatives to remove barriers identified pursuant to section 3(a) of this order, including but not limited to reform of regulations, procurement, and other internal policies and practices, and outreach activities;

(d) propose the development of innovative pilot and demonstration programs to increase the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in Federal as well as State and local initiatives; and

(e) develop and coordinate Departmental outreach efforts to disseminate information more effectively to faith-based and other community organizations with respect to programming changes, contracting opportunities, and other agency initiatives, including but not limited to Web and Internet resources.

Sec. 4. Reporting Requirements.

(a) Report. Not later than 180 days from the date of this order and annually thereafter, the Center shall prepare and submit a report to the WHOFBCI Director.

(b) Contents. The report shall include a description of the Department's efforts in carrying out its responsibilities under this order, including but not limited to:

(i) a comprehensive analysis of the barriers to the full participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the delivery of social and community services identified pursuant to section 3(a) of this order and the proposed strategies to eliminate those barriers; and

(ii) a summary of the technical assistance and other information that will be available to faith-based and other community organizations regarding the program activities of the agency and the preparation of applications or proposals for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and procurement.

(c) Performance Indicators. The first report shall include annual performance indicators and measurable objectives for Departmental action. Each report filed thereafter shall measure the Department's performance against the objectives set forth in the initial report.

Sec. 5. Responsibilities of the Secretary. The Secretary shall:

(a) designate an employee within the department to serve as the liaison and point of contact with the WHOFBCI Director; and

(b) cooperate with the WHOFBCI Director and provide such information, support, and assistance to the WHOFBCI Director as requested to implement this order.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented subject to the availability of appropriations and to the extent permitted by law.

(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.



March 7, 2006.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The UN-Diplomat: John Bolton Threatens Military Strikes Against Iran

This story is running in the UK's Monday morning The Guardian:
US envoy hints at strike to stop Iran

· Bolton says nuclear plant can be 'taken out'
· UN agency meets to send report to security council

The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has told British MPs that military action could bring Iran's nuclear programme to a halt if all diplomatic efforts fail. The warning came ahead of a meeting today of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which will forward a report on Iran's nuclear activities to the UN security council.
Yesterday the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said: "Nobody has said that we have to rush immediately to sanctions of some kind."

However the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, visiting Washington last week, encountered sharply different views within the Bush administration. The most hawkish came from Mr Bolton. According to Eric Illsley, a Labour committee member, the envoy told the MPs: "They must know everything is on the table and they must understand what that means. We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."

It is unusual for an administration official to go into detail about possible military action against Iran. To produce significant amounts of enriched uranium, Iran would have to set up a self-sustaining cycle of processes. Mr Bolton appeared to be suggesting that cycle could be hit at its most vulnerable point.
Yesterday Mr Bolton reiterated his hardline stance. In a speech to the annual convention of the American-Israel public affairs committee, the leading pro-Israel US lobbyists, he said: "The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve ... we must be prepared to rely on comprehensive solutions and use all the tools at our disposal to stop the threat that the Iranian regime poses."

I can already hear Bush saying, "Boltie, you're doing a heck of a job." What will be Bush's next excuse starting with "I don’t think anybody anticipated..."?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Republican Theocracy in South Dakota

Digby at Hullabaloo has a post, The Sodomized Virgin Exception, which exposes the extremely whacked beliefs of the Republican theocrats and the new South Dakota law to ban abortions. I highly recommend clicking through and reading Digby's complete post.

South Dakota:
(From a PBS News Hour interview by Fred de Sam Lazaro with South Dakota Republican state senator Bill Napoli --DinStL)
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Someone should ask this man about this. He seems to have given it a good deal of thought. I suspect many hours have been spent luridly contemplating the brutal, savage rape and sodomy (as bad as it can be) of a religious virgin and how terrible it would be for her. It seems quite clear in his mind.

Armando at Daily Kos has commented on Digby's post in a diary entitled The Party Of Dobson:
This is a cynical post. This post points out why a Lincoln 1860 strategy will work. This post points out why Dems can run as strong proponents of the right to choose and gain political advantage. This post will remind you who Justice Scalito's favorite Doctor is. If, by some chance, you feel moral outrage, that is entirely an unintended consequence.
The man is a GOP State Senator from South Dakota.

This man IS the Republican Party.

This man is the Party of Dobson.

This man should become the face of the anti-choice movement.

UPDATE (March 6, 2006): Crooks & Liars has the video of Bill Napoli's SD virgin rant:
When you hear Napoli's little monologue, he sounds like a man from one of those Satanic cult movies.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Republican Theocracy in Missouri

State representative David Sater, a Republican from Cassville in the southwest of the state, has introduced the legislative bill, House Concurrent Resolution 13, which proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion (via KMOV-TV, News 4, St. Louis):

The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.
KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt's office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.

Blunt's clan continues to legislate their hatred for women, Blacks, gays, and now Jews, Muslims, or any other non-Christian.