Wednesday, September 21, 2005

September 20, 2005

Katrina Free Zone

I don't know about you, but I need a break from hurricane news. The final straw for me came during last night's NBC Evening news with the story of Hero Barber. It was a "touching" story about a barber giving free haircuts to New Orleans refugees. I'm sorry, I'm sure this guy is a fine fellow and yes, it's a nice thing to do. But holy moly, that was four minutes out of an already too short 23 minute prime time network newscast -- for a feel good fluff piece.

By all means, celebrate Hero Barber, just not on the evening news. Give the nice barber man a half-hour slot on Ophra or Dr. Phil. But for Christ sake not the evening news. These are perilous times. Lots of genuinely important things happened that day, things that eclipse the virtues of personal grooming. NBC could have – should have -- used those precious minutes to better explain any one of them.

But, no, I had to sit through four minutes of Hero Barber. What are we going to have to endure next as the frantic mainstream media producers try to squeeze fresh stories out of Katrina's already well-squeezed grapes of wrath? Hero proctologist? Hero Cab Driver? Hero Paper Boy? Hero Pedicurist? How about Hero News Anchor, someone who knows the difference real news and fluff?

(UPDATE: I have already gotten one complaint for dissing the Hero Barber. I wasn't dissing him. I was dissing NBC for wasting precious news minutes on a story that wasn't news.Jeeze Louise!)

Anyway, that's why there's no hurricane or FEMA gripes today. I am hurricaned out. Believe it or not, other news is happening. I kid you not.

Blood In The Water – Sharks Circling
Some very interesting things have been afoot while our attention was focused on New Orleans. There's big trouble brewing in the House of Bush. A slow, but steady unraveling has begun. Fall guys are refusing to fall unaccompanied. Lips are getting loose. Secrets are coming out. Fingers are getting ready to point. Blood has been let, and there's lots more to come.

You may recall that just before Katrina knocked everything else off the front page, some key GOP's Capos had attracted law enforcement attention. House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, (R-Tx) was under criminal investigation back home for gross violations of Texas campaign contribution laws.

Then, in what must have been DeLay's worst nightmare, his bagman, Washington ubber-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, got himself indicted down in Florida in a gambling company scandal that included a mob hit, former Washington bigs hots and assorted Miami Vice plot twists.(More on all that here)

"Abramoff was indicted by federal prosecutors in Miami last month on unrelated charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. He remains the linchpin of an 18-month probe by a federal task force that includes the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department and the Justice Department's fraud and public integrity units.....Abramoff's allegedly improper dealings with Indian tribes -- which netted him and an associate at least $82 million in fees -- prompted the federal probe. But investigators have found that his documents and e-mails contain a trove of information about his aggressive efforts to seek favors for clients from members of Congress and senior bureaucrats." (Full Story)

Will Abramoff spill the beans? Will he bargain his way out of trouble by bargaining DeLay in? Abramoff knows where most of DeLay's trouble is buried, because he helped buried it. If Abramoff starts talking he proably knows enough to send DeLay up the river for decades.

But Abramoff won't talk until he is convinced the feds have the goods on him, which they may not. But if someone else can supply the goods on Abramoff, and he suddenly faces ten years or so in the slammer, Abramoff would turn on his own mother to save himself.

Well, guess what -- that "someone else" was arrested yesterday. And he turns out to be no ordinary "someone," but a top Bush White House official.

"The Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday, accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government. It was the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington...The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002."

If Safavian cuts a deal and provides the goods on Abramoff then Tom DeLay is toast. You may recall, there's no honor among thieves. And when these thieves start telling on each other the feds will need a platoon of stenographers on meth to get it all down.

The unraveling has begun and there's no telling who it may implicate, or high up the administration food chain it will go. But it's going....

Meanwhile over the CIA
Will George squeal on George? That's the question that must be haunting the White House as the CIA Inspector General's report on pre-9/11 intel failures nears release.

"The leaders of the House Intelligence Committee want CIA Director Porter Goss to provide a public version of his agency's hard-hitting report on the failures leading up to Sept. 11, 2001....Spanning hundreds of pages, the report calls for disciplinary reviews for former CIA Director George Tenet and current and former officials who were involved in faulty intelligence efforts before the attacks...The report was sent to Congress last month. Limited details have been provided by anonymous officials. (Full Story)

This is an unraveling of a different kind than the DeLay/Abramoff capers. Instead of revealing political and financial corruption this one threatens to implicate the highest reaches of the administration as architects of the web of lies they used to justify an otherwise unjustifiable war. The CIA report in question does not directly deal with the lead up to the the war in Iraq. But that's where it could take us, and here's why.

Leaks indicate that the report lays the blame on former CIA Director Tenet, who resigned before the report was done. But if Tenet was anything, he was a team player. And his team was the Bush League. Few knowledgeable Washington hands believe Tenet was anything but a "yes man" during the lead up to the war of Iraq. When his administration handlers, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, needed WMD to justify the war, Tenet declared their existence "a slam dunk."

Which is why, when he resigned the last thing George W. Bush did before letting Tenet leave town was to stuff a Medal of Freedom in his mouth to keep him quiet.

But the CIA Inspector General was investigating pre-9/11 intel failures. That fat was already in the fire. Congress had ordered the report and they were waiting. Someone was going to have to take the fall, and who better than lonely George Tenet.

The only trouble with that plan is that would be a deal breaker -- for Tenet. He agreed to go quietly as long as the administration hang the blame for 9/11 around his neck for all history to record. The implied threat from Tenet was, if they tried that he would talk --- and talk and talk.

But, oh what a tangled web they had woven. The administration could only go so far protecting Tenet without letting him off the hook, thereby putting themselves back on the hook. So, the secret report still lays the blame on Tenet for failing to deal with Bin Laden before he struck.

Friends describe Tenet as "locked and loaded," and ready to come out swinging.

That CIA report can't remain secret for much longer. Members of both parties are demanding it be declassified and released, and soon. Republicans want it out so they can say, "See, 9/11 wasn't our fault." The Dems want it out because they know Tenet will defend himself, and in so doing, implicate the White House, not in 9/11, but for knowingly falsifying intelligence on Iraq's WMD to justify the war.

Depending on how much documentation Tenet kept when he left as insurance, his revelations could theoretically, trigger demands for impeachment domestically or war crimes investigations internationally.

So, let's review. Here's what we have cooking:

* A lame duck President whose approval ratings plumbs new depths with each passing day;
* Mid-term elections looming in 2006,
* Key GOP functionaries either indicted or about to be,
* Who among them possess five years of accumulated secrets, back room deals, graft and corruption,
* And now prosecutors center stage, shouting, "Come on down! Let's make a deal!

Stay tuned, because I suspect this is going to get bad – which means of course, good.

Bush Sings, "Fly Me To The Moon"
Wait. Let me just get my pocket calculator out and add this all up.

* War in Iraq: $300 billion
* Hurricane relief: $300 billion
* Projected 05 Deficit: $300 billion

Well that's not a very round number, $900 billion. Let's make it a cool trillion. How?

Bush says, "Hell, let's borrow another $100 billion and send it to barren rock in space."

"NASA yesterday released its master plan for returning humans to the moon by 2018 and eventually sending them to Mars, choosing rocketry from the space shuttle era and drawing inspiration from the Apollo program that first put humans on the lunar surface 36 years ago...NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin said the plan would cost $104 billion over the next 13 years, with increases for inflation..." (Full Story)

A prudent person might ask "why?" A really prudent person might ask both "why" and "how ya gonna pay for it?" George W. Bush is neither. He will pay for his moon trip the same way he's paid for everything in his life, with other people's money. In this case, ours and our grand kid's money.

Does he have any ideas on any other way to pay for it? Sure. Cut taxes. Bush is a one-trick poney. His solution to any problem, real or perceived is always the same; "cut taxes," and if that doesn't work, "cut them more." He's like having a quack for doctor who, when you show signs of anemia, recommends more leaches.

Remember Iraqi Freedom?
Oh right, Iraq. We nearly forgot. How have things been going over there while we were consumed with Katrina over here?

Well, the fighting and dying continues on all sides. Who's winning? Who knows. Who's losing? Hard to say --except in one case, women. Women are losing big time and their losses are about to be codified into Iraqi's new "democratic" constitution.

While the new constitution pays lip to "women and their rights,' (because the US insisted it do so,)' it also mandates that all laws in Iraq must comply with Shairiah Islamic religious law. (Ever read the Koran? It's to democracy what black is to white.)

Giving Shairiah the right to trump civil constitutional protections would be als if the US Constitution stipulated that everyone had the right to pursue happiness, as long as the Jehovah Witnesses agreed.

None of the three major religions have shown much faith in the abilities or rights of females. But of the three Islamic law is the most repressive, and its defenders the most disingenuous about it.
When challenged they shamelessly cloak female subjugation to male rule as their way of actually "honoring and protecting" women – which is, of course, pure, unmitigated, misogynistic nonsense

But there we are, with American soldiers, many of them our women, fighting and dying so Iraqi men can codify their right in law to keep their little ladies in line. Under the Iraqi constitution one of Bush's claims is true, Iraqis will have rights they did not enjoy under Saddam. They will have the right to restrict when women can leave the house, with whom they can associate, what they can wear, deny them higher education, deny them careers of their own, divorce and leave them penniless, beat the crap out of them, even take their children away ... all completely legal under Shairiah law.

Nicely done George. History will record you were the first modern president to sanction and enable the enslavement of half the entire population of a another nation -- making you sort of Abe Lincoln, in reverse.

The depth and breath of your incompetence, sir, knows neither national nor international bounds. You are truly a worldwide calamity – who now has plans to expand to outer space as well!)

I have to lay down with a cold cloth now. See you tomorrow.

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