Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PortGate: The story that wouldn't go away...

Even after his approval ratings have hit an all-time Presidential low (34%… say it out loud and it sounds like heaven) and support for the war in Iraq is also at a new low, the “President” still refuses to actually look into the U.S. Ports Deal.

“President” Bush reaffirmed his support for allowing a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company control operations at many key-US ports despite a storm of political opposition from both parties and polling data that shows widespread public opposition to the arrangement (Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern at the port operations falling into foreign hands with polls saying the US public opposes the sale as well)

The UAE-based company (Dubai Ports World, or DPW, which is owned by the UAE government) has requested that the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which approved the sale, conduct a broader, 45-day review of the transaction in order to calm fears and appease the American people.

Commander Cuckoo-Bananas has even gone so far as to threaten a veto on any legislation blocking the deal and stated: “My position hasn't changed.”

He-who-must-not-be-named also reiterated that the US Coast Guard (who originally opposed the plan due to “intelligence gaps”) and Customs Services would still be in charge of security when DPW takes over a British company that manages the terminals at the ports.

Also, the director of US national intelligence, John Negroponte, was asked back in November to weigh the threat posed by Dubai Ports World's proposed takeover of the British firm, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P and O), which currently manages the ports in Baltimore, Miami, New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

After looking into it, Negroponte said that his services had assessed that the deal posed only a low threat to national security.

Wait a minute… now it’s a low threat, before weren’t they telling us there was no threat?? Now it’s a low threat??? Here’s an idea, get your collective heads out of your collective asses, open your eyes and actually LOOK INTO SOMETHING!!!!!

But I digress…

I digress and ask; do you think too big a deal is being made of the whole U.S. port situation? Leave us a comment and vote in our poll up above and let us know.

Poll Position

Don’t you hate it when you respond to a poll on a website and you never find out the results? So do I, that’s why we have Poll Position, our bi-weekly attempt to inform you of the results of our 2-week polls.

Speaking of which, it’s been two weeks, so it’s out with the old poll, in with the new. The previous poll asked the question: What is your take on the Muslim Cartoon controversy?

We asked, and you responded.

31% of respondents believe that the cartoon is being used as a shameful excuse for violence, which it is.

Next came 25% of you believing that Muslims have the right to be upset, but need to stop spreading violence because of the cartoon.

22% say that the cartoon was a political cartoon and the main purpose of them is to ignite thought and debate.

The final three areas were neck and neck with 8% thinking that it’s wrong to draw cartoons inspired by people’s religions, 7% of you think the cartoon should have never been drawn in the first place and another 7% saying that the controversy doesn’t affect me so why should I care (nice)

We at TBWA thank you for, not only voting in our polls, but for taking the time out of your busy schedule’s to read our posts.

The next poll question is: Are people making too big a deal of the UAE Port Deal?

Read it, think about i t, a n d v o t e

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

It's the weekend, end of the week, time to relax...... and be as busy as during the week when we are all working. So without any further fanfare I present The Weekly Rewind.

Heckle: IL Gov Ron Blagojevich for being SO out of touch that he didn;t know The Daily Show was satirical... One word: schmuck

Applaud? or Heckle? We'll have to wait and see: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced Friday that it will hold a final vote March 16 to determine the rules governing political communications on the Internet.

Heckle: President Bush who earlier this week changed his position at least 3 times on his attitude/ opinion/ knowledge surrounding the Port deal.

Heckle: to DHS Secretary Michael "I know nothing" Chertoff, who true to his name stated that he was unaware of his agencies signing off on the Port Deal. Let's see, he didn't know about how bad Katrina was he didn't know about the Port deal...what does this guy know??

Heckle: to all the potential 2008 Presidential candidates. Ah, I hate to tell you folks but the election is more than 2 years away and if you start banging the drum now we are going to get very tired of hearing you yap. Let us get though the mid terms first can you?

Heckle: to the administration for it’s internal ‘Katrina’ response analysis. Must be nice to be able to point the finger at yourself, without actually pointing your finger at yourself.

Applaud: to Louisiana Lt. Gov Mitch Landrieu who announced that he will run against Ray Nagin for Mayor of New Orleans. The city deserves a leader that will ‘engage brain before opening mouth”.

Heckle: to White House Chief of Staff Andrew 'What a Tool" Card for putting the brakes on a briefing for the House Intelligence Committee regarding the Bush Domestic Spying program. Hey Andy, if there is nothing to hide, then why keep a congressional committee in the dark on this highly questionable issue??

Applaud: to Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) for raising $6.5 million for other democrats and democratic organizations. This guy lives the philosophy of helping others and we sure could use more like him!

Heckle: to “Scooter” Libby’s attorneys, who this week had asked a judge to dismiss the charges against “Scooter” on the grounds that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald did not have authority to bring the charges. In that same vein of thought we would like to ask the President to step aside as he did not receive the majority of the popular vote (read that- the votes of the American People) and does not have the authority of the people to govern…. (Don’t like it too much when the tables get turned do you.??)

Applaud: to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) for raising talk of proposing a legislative measure that would force the Presidents now 4 year old ‘illegal’ wiretapping program under the jurisdiction of the court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (While we still dont' trust the Senator, you gotta love a conservative who can jump a fence like an Olympic hurdler.)

Heckle: to the escalating violence in Iraq following the explosions at one of the main Shiite Mosques in that country. Interesting that earlier this week we here at TBWA said that this was a prelude to civil war and wouldn’t you know it, later that same day many news organizations were saying the same thing.

That's it... quick, down and dirty. As Kemp would say, "Take them as you will".

Be good, stay informed....later.

Friday, February 24, 2006

PortGate? VisaGate? Nah... PlameGate

I was originally going to write a post about how former Senator and thrice-Vice-President/Presidential nominee/candidate Bob Dole (R-KS) has offered to whore himself for the UAE port deal and how that infringes on the role his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-SC) will play in the deal… but then I thought, nah… let’s wait to see how it plays out now that the firm (Dubai Ports World) has offered to delay the deal indefinitely.

Then I thought about writing a post on how the U.S. has approved the VISA of an Indian scientist.

Instead, I’ve decided to post about how seemingly desperate ‘Scooter’ Libby’s lawyers are becoming.

Yesterday, attorney’s for Vice President Dick “Dead Eye” Cheney's former top aide (‘Scooter’ Libby, who faces five counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice charges) requested that a federal judge dismiss Scooter’s indictment on grounds that the special prosecutor in the ‘PlameGate’ case “lacked authority.”

(Why do Scooter’s lawyers say Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald lacks authority? Because they claim that the president, along with Senate consent, didn’t appoint him)

Scooter’s lawyers (doesn't that sound like the title of a bad TV-show from UPN or the WB?) also argued that Scooter’s indictment violated the Constitution and added that the attorney general did not supervise Fitzgerald.

The lawyers said the “illegal” assignment of “unsupervised and undirected power” given to Fitzgerald requires that he now be relieved of his duties and that all actions he has taken be voided (isn’t that convenient for them… even after Scooter as-much divulged that he did leak the information but that the Veep ordered him to do it)

(Want a little background on how Fitzgerald was appointed? Ask and you shall receive: Fitzgerald, or Fitz as he is known to his friends, was appointed December 2003 after former Attorney General John “These Camps are made for Kicking” Ashcroft excused himself from the investigation due to his close ties with the White House. Deputy AG James Comey, acting in Ashcroft's place, selected Fitzgerald and gave him extensive powers to conduct the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity)

Scooter's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to conduct a hearing and explained how Judge Walton may have to require the Justice Department to turn over all records, even secret letters between Comey and Fitzgerald, in order to determine whether the special counsel's appointment is legal.

An intelligent legal maneuver this may be… but it still reeks of desperation in my opinion…

As always, stay tuned…

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Brief Post about Mid Term Elections

Even though the mid-term elections are still months and months away, the possible implications could be so far-reaching that they warrant some early looks and discussions…

And that’s why we’re here.

Take a look at the political landscape right now and you see quite a few incumbents who are running scared and are very, very nervous. Politicians such as:

  • Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who has been running behind his challenger for months and seems destined to crash and burn in November.
  • Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) who is on the defensive and has been linked to the Jack Abramoff scandal, which is starting to signify a death-knell for anyone who is being proven to have link with.
  • Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) who is struggling to overcome a toxic environment of scandals that have tarnished the state Republican Party.

It’s been a while since the party with all the power (meaning they have the majority in the House and Senate AND the presidency) has faced such a daunting task in the mid-term elections as the GOP is facing this November… and the possibilities are very dispiriting to them as many factors are in play against them, factors such as President Bush’s incredibly low approval ratings and constant in-fighting with the Republican party, the constant bombarding the White House is getting from report after report criticizing their response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina, the GOP’s scandal-plagued members, polling data that suggests many voters want a change in the country’s direction, and more polling data that indicate many voters think the Democrats are more competent to handle the country’s troubles.

The result is a midterm already headed toward what appears to be an inevitable conclusion: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the House and in the Senate for the first time since 2000.

The difference between ‘modest gains’ (a few seats in the Senate and fewer than 10 in the House) and ‘significant’ gains (half a dozen in the Senate and well more than a dozen in the House) is the battlefield where the fight to control Congress will be waged.

The contest begins with Republicans holding 231 House seats and Democrats holding 201 (with one Democrat-leaning independent) and 2 vacancies.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats to dethrone the GOP majority in the House.

In the Senate, Republicans hold 55 seats to the Democrats' 44, with one Democrat-leaning independent.

Democrats need six more seats to take power in the Senate.

As of now, the most daunting challenge that the Democrat’s face is the tapered size of the battlefield. In order to win control of the House or Senate, Democrats must either capture the overwhelming percentage of genuinely competitive contests or find a way to put more races “in play” than exist now.

Let’s get it in gear everyone

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon

If it’s Wednesday, that must mean it’s time for Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon… and away we go…

Reregistering? Seems that there is a group in Washington (the state) that is filing an initiative that would require all voters to prove they are U.S. citizens and reregister to vote. It should be mentioned (but not surprising) that a Conservative think-tank, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, is behind the plan. I think it’s just their way of helping all the Ann Coulter-types NOT look like mindless bimbos

Veto-Man! “President” Bush is threatening to use his ‘veto power’ (does that come with tights and a cape?) to block any potential legislation aimed at stopping his Crony-plan of allowing a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to run a handful of U.S. sea-ports. Now we find out that Bush was unaware of the ports deal before it was approved. (Ignoring the fact that that shows a serious lack of knowledge about what his people are doing…it seems that everyone else, Republicans and Democrats, can see the problems with this plan… why the hell can’t he?? Wait, that’s right… he’s a buffoon)

Uh-oh. A group of men dressed as Iraqi police commandos set off explosives at a Shiite Mosque on Wednesday morning that heavily damaged the site and sparked instantaneous and extensive Shiite protests across Iraq. The attack will almost certainly fan the flame of fighting (alliteration alert!) in the country. Next stop: civil war.

It starts. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq laid blame on Iran Monday for providing weapons, training and support to insurgents responsible for the continuing violence and instability in Iraq. This is not the first time the US or an ally has made this accusation. Back in October, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his government was investigating Iran and the possibility that the country had sold bombs to various Iraqi insurgent groups.

No meeting for you! According to Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden (who is a top intelligence official) was ready to tell the House of Representatives intelligence committee about Dubya’s domestic spying program last December but was stopped by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card. Why? I guess a meeting just wasn’t… in the cards…

Obama is da’ man. Freshman US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is on a roll. Sure, he’s a best-selling author and a Grammy winner, but it also appears that he has a certain touch when it comes to helping other Democrats with fundraising. All told, Senator Obama has helped bring in close to $6.5 million for his political action committee, other Democratic candidates, party committees and state Democrat parties from New Jersey to Virginia to Florida. Repeat after me…

A sneak peak into the future? Several senators have been traipsing the country this week to, presumably, boost their parties' prospects in November's mid-term elections. But, look at their schedules closer and you can see a pattern. The states being visited are so-called Battleground States for the 2008 presidential election. At least three battleground states are drawing visits from several hopefuls this week as Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have visited or will soon visit Florida. Senators George Allen (R-VA) and John Kerry (D-MA) have scheduled visits to Colorado and Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Kerry (again) have trips planned for Minnesota. Methinks this race is gonna be crowded and un-inspired. Neither party has a clear-cut favorite and, if that doesn’t change before 2008, it’s gonna get ugly on both sides. Stay tuned…

This race just got (even more) interesting. Current (and beleaguered) New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has just gotten another challenger… and this one could be the most formidable one yet from a Louisiana political dynasty. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu will soon announce that he is going to run against Mayor Nagin in the April election. The Lt. Gov. is the son of former New Orleans Mayor Maurice Edwin "Moon" Landrieu and also a brother of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). This is shaping up to be a classic-style political showdown so stay tuned…

$5 million for a Scooter? A gaggle of Republican heavy hitters are lending their names (and I’m sure their checkbooks) to help raise $5 million for the defense of ‘Scooter’ Libby, VP Dick “Dead-Eye” Cheney's former top aide. (We don’t need to tell you who Libby is, do we? The Cheney-patsy that was indicted back in October on counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements related to ‘PlameGate’) The Libby Legal Defend Fund (rolls of the tongue doesn’t it?) has raised $2 million dollars since November to help pay for Libby’s defense… now, it would be nice to say that no amount of money could help Libby, but seeing as how this is American politics, that would be implausible.

Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau of Land Management (the caretaker of more land and wildlife than any other federal agency) often curbs the ability of its own biologists to monitor wildlife damage caused by surging energy drilling on federal land, according to BLM officials and bureau documents. Does that surprise anyone reading this??? I would think not… then why am I telling you all this?? I have no idea…

Just the (spin-dried) facts. The White House will make a plethora of recommendations on how the government could have reacted better to Hurricane Katrina on Thursday in a report that will cover the catastrophe and the Bush administration's response (or incredible lack thereof) to it. A White House source said the report is expected to be critical of the government's response - but not as harsh as a separate House report (released last week) was. Big shock…. I’ll wait to offer opinion until after I see the report. But, having said that, and knowing this administration, I’m sure it will be filled with plenty rhetoric and spin.

Take them as you will…

I'm sorry, I thought the idea was to protect our ports?

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a [British] company"

With those words, George W. Bush has set into motion the phrase “Huh?” from coast to coast among Republicans and Democrats alike. His comments were in response to growing questions on how the administration could approve/ authorize the transition of the management of six major U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World which has it’s headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. Bush also stated that he would veto any legislation presented to him if Congress tries to kill a deal his administration has blessed.

Wait just a second, isn’t this the same administration that was going to bomb al-Jazeera headquarters, which happens to be in Qatar? So, we can bomb a television network in an Arab country on one hand, but on the other hand you are going to ‘give the keys’ to the 'cargo doors of America' to a company headquartered in another neighboring arab country without a second thought.

To understand the irony (and yes the absurdity) of these comments and actions let's take a look at what Bush has said in the past regarding safety and security concerns. Here are a few quotes from Clueless George:

"This is one of the busiest container ports in our country, it's an important hub of commerce," Bush said, his suit coat and hair raked by stiff winds. "We will make sure that not only is the port strong for economic reasons, we will make sure that the port defends the people — is ready to defend against the threats of a new era, that this port is secure and safe for not only the people of South Carolina but for the people of the United States of America."- George W. Bush in a speech touting the administrations efforts to keep dangerous cargo out of the United States at the Port of Charleston, February 5, 2004. (USA Today)

"What I'm telling you is that we're focused here," Bush said from the Port of Baltimore, where he got a waterside demonstration of cargo-screening techniques. "When you're at war, you can't lose sight of the fact that you're at war."- George W. Bush talking about the need for increased security of port cargo in a speech at the Port of Baltimore, July 20, 2005 (WBAL-TV)

“We’ve intensified security at the borders and ports of entry”- George W. Bush in his State of the Union address, January 29, 2003 (The White House)

What initiatives has the administration taken with regards to increasing port security?

  • 2002- Maritime Transportation Security Act
  • 2003- Operation Liberty Shield
  • 2004- Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act,2005

And now in February of 2006 this same administration, this same ‘President’ intends to hand over the ‘keys’ if you will to a company that has it’s headquarters in the heart of the middle east.

Isn’t it bad enough that we have only a fraction of the cargo inspected at this time? Do we have to give free reign to an entity that might have employees with ties or sympathies with our stated enemies?

I would like to draw conclusions and make analogies to anything similar during World War II, but I can’t… and to do so would be an insult to the brave people who lived and died for our freedoms over 60 years ago.

I had hoped that in the last sixty years we could have only become even smarter and even more pro-active in our defense than our forefathers. I guess not. How I wish we had their wisdom to guide us at this time.

Or am I simplifying this too much….

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Presidential visit means keeping your job

A Presidential visit can change many things… such as getting to work late while the Presidential motorcade stops rush hour traffic… or losing out on dining at a certain restaurant when the Prez suddenly decides to eat there.

Sometimes the change is much larger… like being able to keep your job.

Last week, 32 people were fired from high-paying positions at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. To them, all was lost and their worlds were put on its end.

That was until President Bush decided to visit the laboratory on Tuesday to promote his proposals for renewable energy (which, by the way, would require a good bit of new research by this very institution)

All of a sudden, the universe expanded, the planets aligned and the earth moved… and by that I mean someone in the White House deduced that the president might be coming to Colorado with a mixed message, talking about the promise of renewable energy while some of the very people working on it just got pink-slipped.

And so Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) announced that the thirty-two jobs that had been slashed are being restored immediately… if not sooner.

How were these thirty-two jobs, jobs that had been paid very high wages mind you, restored?

Easy… by shifting around “unused funding” from other Energy Department Accounts… at least that’ what Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told him. (Never mind that that raises a separate question of why there is any “unused funding” in the department in the first place while other programs promoting energy efficiency are seeing cuts in the president’s new budget, but that’s fodder for another post)

So there you have it… President Bush was personally responsible for lowering the Colorado unemployment rate by thirty-two this week. Good for you George… now if only you could do that for the rest of the country…

Monday, February 20, 2006

Any Port in a Storm?

“I think the anxiety and the concern [over the ports deal with the United Arab Emirates or UAE] that has been expressed by congressmen and senators and elsewhere is legitimate.”

That wasn’t a quote from a Democratic Senator… it’s a quote from former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge… who is a republican… and a Bush supporter…

Ridge went on to recommend that the Bush (Whacked) administration needs to go to Capitol Hill to show how America's security will be improved and why national security wouldn't be hurt by the deal that gives a company based in the UAE management of six major U.S. ports.

Ridge said that during his tenure as secretary of homeland security he sat in on deals with similar national security concerns and officials would not jeopardize national security and rejected the requests (what's changed since Ridge left the post? Absolutely nothing)

At issue is that earlier this month, shareholders of British-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O – which has been running ports in the United States since 1999) approved the company's acquisition by a group owned by Dubai Ports World, which is based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (BTW, the six affected ports are in New York; New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) While several lawmakers consider the UAE to have possible terrorist ties, the Bush administration says the country is a key ally in the war on terror.

Sunday, several lawmakers (Democrat & Republican) questioned the deal, with two of them calling for a congressional probe.

On Friday, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) announced a plan to introduce legislation that would essentially ban companies owned by foreign governments from controlling operations at U.S. ports.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News on Sunday “We certainly should investigate it. I don't know if we should block it. But it's unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history, four years after 9/11, to entertain the idea of turning port security over to a company based in the UAE, who avows to destroy Israel.”

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) agreed, stating, also on Fox News, “I think we've got to look into this company.”

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) also denounced the deal, saying the UAE has “a sad history with terrorism” and asked for “President” Bush to intervene.

Not surprisingly, Homeland Security Secretary, and Bush Whipping Boy Michael “xx” Chertoff said the sale was reviewed by several federal agencies.

So… we have a former head of DHS (who’s a Republican)… a well-known Republican Senator… and many Democrat Senator’s asking (on Fox News no less) for this plan to, at the very least, be reviewed before it’s put into place. What does administration do? What it always does… ignores all of it, goes to the extreme right of some of it’s own party-members, and sends their latest whipping boy (who’s already been through the ringer this week) onto all the Sunday talkers to praise the plan and hype its safety.

A lot of people drank the kool-aid over this agreement… let’s hope not everyone does…

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

No pageantry today, just a simple intro to this week’s ‘Weekly Rewind.’

APPLAUD: to this site for getting over 500 visitors on Monday, 2/13. Not bad for a political blog by two laymen… (insert own “Brokeback Mountain” joke here)

HECKLE: to the horrific landslide in the central Philippines. Pray hard everyone… pray hard.

APPLAUD: to the news that the GOP’s stranglehold in Florida (them of the hanging chads’ and the Katherine Harris’) is diminishing. Why? Three words: ‘wet-foot policy’

HECKLE: to phony populism. Click HERE to get the explanation.

APPLAUD? HECKLE? Little of both: to Vice President Dick “Shooter” Cheney for coming clean about shooting his friend. And to think, it only took a ‘scant’ 95 hours and 10 minutes for him to speak publicly about it.

HECKLE: for Cheney’s choice of confession sites... Fox “News” What? A college news report wasn't available?

HECKLE: to the mild myocardial infarction (heart attack) suffered by Cheney’s victim. We were praying for him to get well… and he did, for which we throw an APPLAUD out there… but then we have to…

HECKLE: to Cheney’s victim. Speaking for the first time since the accident, Whittington told reporters he was sorry for all the trouble Cheney had faced over the past week. All the trouble… that… Cheney…. faced??? Wow, the lengths to which Republican’s will cover for these guys is absolutely amazing. He gets shot because the Veep is a lousy hunter, was drinking while hunting and apparently was not paying attention, and he apologizes??? Give me a friggin’ break…

APPLAUD: To numbers falling faster than an American’s score in Olympic figure skating. Usually, a President can expect a post SOTU-bounce for their approval numbers. Not so with Commander Cuckoo-Bananas… He actually dropped from 43 to 40 percent in the past month, according to the brand-new Harris poll (and to 39% according to the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll) For those of you scoring at home (or even if you’re alone) his February approval ratings back to 2001 go like this: 56%, 79%, 52%, 51%, 48%, 40%… and dropping faster than Lindsey Jacobellis.

HECKLE: to Senator Pat “Call me Oral” Roberts (R-KS). In his world, if you’re a friend of his and you rob a bank, he'll “work with you” to “reach a deal” and change the law making it legal for you, and only you, to rob banks. This explains how Bush is now getting a free pass for ignoring the FISA law and spying on innocent Americans---much the way, say, a dictator would. Thanks Bill in Portland Maine.

APPLAUD: for breakdowns in the making. Yet again, Scott “Me fail speech? That’s umpossible” McClellan became hostile towards a reporter during a press conference this past week. How much longer will the administration allow this train wreck to act as Press Secretary? The winner of Best in Show could do a better job than McClellan…

HECKLE: to abuse of power. The Bush(Whacked) Administration disrupted a Senate bid to look into the Administration’s wiretapping program. Why? Sounds to me as if they have something to hide, but apparently we’ll never know now. (Secrets. Damned lies and secrets are what this administration does best… that and cronyism)

HECKLE: to Michael “Don’t blame me, I didn’t do it” Chertoff. The head of the Department of Homeland Security appeared on Capitol Hill this past week to speak of his department’s incredibly piss-poor response to Hurricane Katrina. While his acknowledgement of the department's lapses deserve a little APPLAUD, his overall response boils down to: Mistakes were made. What do you want me to do about it now??

APPLAUD: to DHS for suggesting some changes to FEMA. About frickin’ time Mr. Chertoff... even though it does come about 6 months too late.

HECKLE: To Tom Malin. He’s running in the Democratic primary for Texas state representative and recently acknowledged that he once worked as a prostitute. Although, it didn’t hurt Jeff Gannon’s career any, so what the heck, maybe it should be an applaud…

HECKLE: (Eep) to the Patriot Act, which is moving closer to renewal. Run and hide everyone, run and hide… or just hide your civil liberties in a hole in the backyard.

APPLAUD: to Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby for pointing fingers where they should be pointed. Rather than take the fall for his boss, Libby did something that many politicians find hard to do… he told the truth. This didn’t bode well for Cheney at first, but then Cheney did something that leads to an…

HECKLE: to Veep Dick “Dead Eye” Cheney. After hearing Libby’s testimony, Cheney suddenly got religion and stated that he has the power to declassify classified information. What was it I said above about secrets and lies? Add making up their own laws in their head to that as well…

APPLAUD: to this quote from Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper: “… and anonymous sources are usually synonymous with cowards who don't want to go on the record.” Brilliant!

That’s all for this week. It’s been a crazy week… from a vice-presidential shooting, to strange weather, to a show dog on the lam, to [insert your own' strange lifely occurance' here]... this week has been full of surprises and shocks.

Wonder what’ll happen next week?

Political Contemplation of the Day

"The White House is giving George W. Bush intelligence briefings. You know, some of these jokes just write themselves."- David Letterman

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rice's Checks

Secretary of State Condoleezza "I loved Spamalot" Rice told a Senate panel on Wednesday that she is going to ask for $75 million to promote democracy in Iran. Simple request, right? Not really as she was met with some pointed questions from Democrats about whether the President’s administration policies were promoting the rise of anti-American governments around the world. Rice unsurprisingly refused to respond to those inquiries... (I know, you're all shocked to hear that, aren't ya?)

Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the money for Iran, which would be in addition to $10 million already provided in the current budget, would be used to “support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people” and to offset the political weight of Tehran's new hard-line regime.

Most of the money, according to a state department official to be about $50 million, would go toward the establishment of a round-the-clock television broadcast into Iran in Farsi, along with improvements to radio and satellite broadcasting.

Rice, along with other members of the administration, have raised the level of criticism aimed at Iran in recent weeks; pressing for U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program and blaming the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for fueling violent protests over the publication of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. (France recently lashed out at the Iranian nuclear situation as well, click HERE to read more about that)

Secretary Rice said in a prepared statement that the extra $75 million “would enable us to increase our support for democracy and improve our radio broadcasting, begin satellite television broadcasts, increase the contacts between our peoples through expanded fellowships and scholarships for Iranian students, and to bolster our public democracy efforts.”

We at TBWA agree that more attention, and most likely more money, needs to be spent monitoring the situations in Iran. But one can only hope that the administration would allocate enough time to allow the situation to resolve itself peacefully rather than go into Iran with guns blazing… like we did in Iraq.

Having said that, seeing as how Bush’s daddy was never embarrassed by Iran the way he was by Iraq… I’m sure Dubya would give the Iranian situation as much time as it would need to resolve itself peacefully...

In fact, I'm sure Bush would give an amount of time roughly equal to the amount of time it took for the Secret Service to allow Cheney to talk to local police after last weekend's accident...or the amount of time it took Cheney to address the matter publicly on Fox "News"... or the time it took for Cheney to sober up...

(I'm sorry, those were cheap shots... just like Cheney's... wow, that was another cheap shot. But you all understand, with this administration, cheap shots are like shooting lawyers in a barrell... Hmmm, even I think that last one was in poor taste)

Anyhow, stay tuned...

The arrogance of power unchecked

In perusing the Washington post I came across two interesting Op-Ed pieces. One by George Will and the other by David Ignatius. These two raise genuine (though not new) thoughts on the administrations abuse of power.

They each outline the abuse of authority and more importantly 'perceived authority' that is pervasive among the President and his minions.

The points raised by each author beg the question of how far is too far? How much do we as a society allow before we call the administration 'on the carpet'?

Both of these articles are worth reading.

Maybe he can change straw into gold as well

Yesterday V.P. Dick Cheney gave an interview to Fox News Channel in which he accepted responsibility for the weekend accident in which Harry Whittington was shot in the face by Elmer Fudd, err Cheney and his shotgun.

Also raised during the interview with Brit Hume was the subject of ‘Scooter’ Libby and his claim that he was directed to leak information to the press. Some of which had previously been ‘classified’. Cheney’s response was that an executive order gives him, and President Bush, power to declassify information. (I am sure that Clueless George doesn’t declassify anything until he runs it by ‘Dead-Eye’ Dick first.)

What is next for the conservatives, walking on water? or maybe turning water into wine?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

UPDATE to 'If I stand real still and don't say anything maybe it will go away...'

Quick update for all of you loyal readers. V.P. Dick Cheney broke his silence on the shooting incident this past Saturday.

Talking with Brit Hume on Fox news Channel, "You can't blame anybody else," Cheney said in an interview with Fox News Channel. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. It's a moment I'll never forget.". The V.P. also went on to say "You could see where the shot had struck him... It was one of the worst days of my life."

While we at TBWA applaud the V.P. for standing up and accepting responsibility we along with democrats and republicans alike are still wondering why it too so long for Cheney or anyone in his staff to break the silence and speak to the incident.

Meanwhile, Harry Whittington remains in ICU following a heart attack yesterday which occurred as a result of a shot pellet lodging in his heart.

A question has to be raised also regarding the condition of Mr. Whittington. Should he die what if any, would the resulting charges be against Dick Cheney? We all know what would happen if the average American was out hunting and accidentally shot someone in the field.

Hopefully Mr. Whittington makes a full recovery and that issue never has to be addressed.

Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon

It’s Wednesday, time for Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon.

Here we go.

Poll position part 1 – Job approval. President Bush, despite his efforts to alter public opinion on the Iraq War with speeches that highlight the successes of that country have, thus far, failed as a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows his approval rating at 39%… (Try not to laugh… try not to laugh… try not to laugh… What’s this? Could this possibly be Karma coming back to bite Bush in the ass??? Hee hee hee hee… sorry, couldn’t stifle the laughter any longer)

Hackett out. Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, a candidate in Ohio's closely watched Senate contest, announced on Tuesday that he was dropping out of the race and retiring from politics due to pressure from Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) who asked him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent. It should be known that it was Schumer and Reid who talked Hackett to enter the Senate race last August. (Smooth move there everyone… one question; are you TRYING to make the Democrats look like a party in disarray? Just because the Ohio GOP is in a state of disorder doesn’t mean the Democratic Party has to be as well…get it together)

Annan offers opinion. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned “President” Bush, during an Oval Office meeting the other day, to not “escalate” tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions. This was immediately followed by White House press secretary Scott “Where is Ari” McClellan railing against Iran stating “Iran has shown that they can't be trusted with nuclear technology because they have hidden their activities for some two decades. They failed to comply with their international obligations.” (In one ear and out the other… just like a 3-year old)

White Hunter, black heart. Vice President Dick Cheney's sluggish and impenitent response to his accidental shooting of a 78-year-old Texas lawyer is turning the quail-hunting “snafu” into a political liability for the Bush administration, even to the point that some White House officials are pressing him to address the issue publicly, adding that Cheney should have disclosed the shooting Saturday night to avoid even the possibility of a cover-up. (Well, duh! About time the hamsters started to spin the wheel in the GOP’s brains…) Meanwhile…

Get well soon. The fellow hunter who was shot and wounded by Vice President Dick Cheney suffered a minor heart-attack on Tuesday after a piece of birdshot migrated to his heart. The victim, Harry Whittington, 78, remains in stable condition in intensive care and will remain in the hospital for up to seven days. (We at TBWA wish Mr. Whittington a quick and speedy recovery; get well soon Sir, we’re praying for you…)

Chertoff under fire. Besieged Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is facing some tough questions from both Democrat and Republican senators today about how he, and his department, dealt with Hurricane Katrina. This comes on the same day that the ‘official’ release of a House report that accuses Chertoff of gaffes in his response to the storms comes out. (Leaks from the report began surfacing Sunday, and with the official release coming on the same day… things could be getting a little hot in D.C. Two words: ‘Karma, baby!”)

Poll position part 2 - Wiretaps. According to that same CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday, twenty-one percent of the 1,000 adults polled said it was very likely or somewhat likely their conversations had been wiretapped. 52 percent said it was not at all likely. Now, this is troubling because…well, you should know, and if you don’t know why these numbers are troubling then I’m not gonna waste my time trying to explain it to you.

Bush’s host Valentine’s Day party. President Bush and his Stepford wife Laura spent yesterday entertaining friends and associates at a “ritzy” White House formal dinner. Singer Michael Feinstein capped the romantic evening by serenading the crowd, including new Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, actor Chuck Norris (yeah, whatever…) Wayne Newton (ewwwww) and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT). Feinstein (the singer, not the politician) brought a big smile to the first lady's face with a version of Johnny Mercer's "Laura." (Ok, the amount of things wrong with this whole article are too numerous to mention. First; the words ‘ritzy’ and ‘President Bush’ have no business being in the same paragraph together. Second, what the hell is Sen. Lieberman doing there? And Justice Alito, isn't he suppose to act non-partisan? And third… Norris, Newton? Is this a party or a collection of third-tier stars? Sheesh… why them hell am I even writing about this??? I can honestly say I have no freakin’ idea…)

The Force is with them. As they begin to tighten themselves up for the looming mid-term elections, Democrats are hoping that the Force will be with them as they looked to a Jedi film master in their preparations. “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas joined House Democratic leaders at a town hall meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday to roll out an “innovation agenda” that aims to prepare the next generation of technological entrepreneurs. (As big a Star Wars fan that I am, I’m still a little uncomfortable with some of the imagery in this story…)

Asbestos bill on life-support. The Senate decided Tuesday night to all but kill legislation that would have created a $140 billion fund to compensate victims of asbestos poisoning. Bill supporters, including Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Bill Frist (R-TN) fell just short of the 60 votes (final vote was 58 to 41) that were needed in order to waive a budget objection raised about the legislation. Frist changed his vote from yes to no at the last moment so he would (allegedly) have the option of calling for a recount “at some later date.” Stay tuned…

Poll position part 3 - Iran. And the numbers continue to plummet for anything even closely related to the Bush(whacked) Administration…in the same polls mentioned earlier in this post, the responders were asked How confident are you in the Bush administration’s ability to handle the situation in Iran? 28% responded that they are ‘not at all confident.’ Also, when asked How concerned are you that the U.S. will be too quick to use military force in an attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons? (you know, like we did regarding Iraq) An incredible 34% responded that they are ‘very concerned.’

Take them as you will…

If I stand real still and don't say anything maybe it will go away...

Sorry folks, I was out of commission with a 24 flu bug yesterday, but I am back and ready to go.....so let's get down to business.

This is now day 4 since V.P. Cheney shot one of his hunting partners in the face.

In the past 3 days the administration has gone from, Shooting...What Shooting? to 'Ohh, that Shooting!', to 'We want to move past that shooting and focus on the business of the country' (Why start now? ) and finally to 'We better have Dick say something about this as it looks like we are trying to hide something'.

Really!...what ever gave the White House that idea!?

This accident and the ominous silence that followed has raised the ire of the party faithful to turn on the party and the White House demanding answers as to why this was handled so poorly. Marlin Fitzwater, a former Republican White House spokesman, told Editor & Publisher magazine that Cheney "ignored his responsibility to the American people" and Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he referred to Cheney as the "shooter in chief" in a meeting with members of Congress yesterday morning. When you have Fitzwater and Sen. Lott breaking bad on you, well... it's not a good sign.

Cheney is possibly, maybe, potentially going to speak or release a statement on the whole issue today.

Remember I said maybe.....

Later....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

AMEF

Since Scott is unable to post today, I’ll be taking over his afternoon posting duty. Enjoy…

FEMA is currently in shambles and appears to have been run, in the last few years, in the most ass-backwards way imaginable (now do you understand the title of this post?)

First comes news that some of the Federal Aid that was aimed at helping victims of the hurricanes were used improperly.

Add that to the fact former FEMA head Michael Brown made an appearance on Capitol Hill earlier this month where he attacked FEMA, his former boss Michael “Not Brownie” Chertoff (Head of Department of Homeland Security or DHS) and the White House… all the while stating that talking to Chertoff during the hurricanes was “a waste of time.”

All of these culminated with a 600-page report by a special Republican-dominated House inquiry panel that found unheeded warnings, poor planning and general apathy in recognizing the scope of Katrina's destruction, led to the slow emergency response from the White House down to local parishes. The report goes on to say that late arriving state and local evacuation orders exacerbated what was already a grossly untrained and inexperienced group of emergency responders.

Additionally, the report also stated President Bush received poor and incomplete counsel about the crisis (with no clear chain of command being in place) and that, overall, the federal government's response to Katrina was marked by, according to a summary of the report acquired by The Associated Press “fecklessness, flailing and organizational paralysis.”

Furthermore, the House investigation criticized Chertoff directly by stating his overall responsibilities for the federal disaster relief during Katrina were fulfilled “either late, ineffectively or not at all.”

It concluded that Chertoff unnecessarily delayed naming a top federal coordinator for relief efforts and the activation of an internal disaster management group. More prompt action by Chertoff would have quickened the relief effort, the report said.

Chertoff has now announced sweeping changes to the nation's embattled disaster-response agency that range from a full-time response force of 1,500 new employees to establishing a more reliable system to report on disasters as they unfold. Most of the changes are scheduled to be complete by the start of the 2006 hurricane season on June 1st.

Additional changes that were announced on Monday include the use of satellites to track trucks carrying emergency supplies such as ice, placing FEMA employees at shelters so victims can apply for aid in person rather than by phone or the Internet (because after a natural disaster it’s so easy to get access to either of those) and the order to create a database of pre-approved contractors so cleanup can start quickly (wild guess on my part that Halliburton or one of its subsidiaries will be on that list, but that’s just a guess)

I refrain from judgment until I see how the changes at FEMA are enacted…but I believe that it’s a good first step, but this is by no means the final piece of the puzzle. The disastrous follow-up to Katrina was not the sole fault of the Bush Administration or the Federal Government. The local and state governments must share some of the blame as well, and changes need to be made in those areas as well.

Stay tuned…

Smaller, yet still needed, health programs on budget chopping block

President Bush, despite putting off some of his top agenda items the administration had planned for 2006, still submitted his (slanted) budget a couple of weeks ago and as everyone and their brother dissect it, more and more limitations and eliminations are being discovered.

While Shrub (sorry, I mean Bush… I really have to stop doing that) has asked for billions more to prep for potential disasters such as a biological or nuclear attack or a pandemic of some sort, his proposed budget for next year would kill many much-needed and popular health projects.

The 2007 budget that he submitted would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, a rural area defibrillators program, an educational campaign to teach people about Alzheimer's disease and centers for traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, it would cut almost $1 billion in health care grants to all states. (Specifically, Bush wants to eliminate, or significantly scale back, 141 relatively small programs, most of which have been targeted by the administration before and were saved by both sides of Congress)

This is progress? This is helping the American people? Don’t get me wrong (and I know a few conservative trolls on this site will get me wrong… as they always do) I’m all for National Security and protecting the citizens of this country… but how is eliminating federal health programs that help millions of people protecting citizens?

Senators and Congressmen from both sides of the aisle have already identified this budget as being reckless and uncertain, and we need to take steps to make sure that it does not get approved as is and that changes are made… changes that work for the American people, not against them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Second update to "And the excuse is..."

Turns out that "President" Bush was informed about Cheney shooting a hunting companion on Saturday night... yet the information wasn't made public until the next day... and not by the White House.

Add to that the fact that WH Spokesman Scott "I really, really miss Ari" McClellan was informed that same night... but he (supposedly) was only told that someone in Cheney's hunting party was involved and maintains he didn't know that Cheney was the shooter until the next morning, when he then urged the vice president's office to get the information out "as quickly as possible."

Believe it... or not.

I choose not, but that's just me.

Poll Position

It’s the end of the 2-week polling period, and the results are in and, wow, the readers really responded and reacted to this poll, garnering the most votes of any poll we at TBWA have ever posted.

We thank you for offering your opinions.

The question for the past 2-weeks was: Does “President” Bush have the constitutional power to approve wiretaps and spying without a court order?

  • 80% of the more than 300 votes show that the majority of people believe that Bush does not have that authority and is trampling on the civil liberties of U.S. citizens.
  • 9% believe that the President does have the authority and believe that ANYTHING is okay in order to keep the country safe.
  • 9% of responders are split on the issue and think that spying on a non-domestic basis is fine, but are against it from a domestic standpoint.
  • And 2% of the over 300 voters do not think that this has any effect on them and don’t care what the president does.

Scott and I respect all the answers given, though the individuals who selected option 4, that this doesn’t affect them and they don’t care, need to get a clue. To act and respond with that much torpor is insipid and moronic.

Again, thank you for responding.

Please take a moment to respond to the poll above as we present to you the new 2-week poll question. As vandals in Denmark desecrate Muslim graves and an Iranian newspaper calls for cartoons about the Holocaust, we pose the question: The Muslim Cartoon controversy: what is your take on it?

And the excuse is?

Many folks, including us here at TBWA, are wondering why did it take the White House so long to report that V.P. Cheney shot fellow quail hunter,Harry Whittington in the face? The shooting took place late Saturday afternoon while the V.P. was hunting with a group on the Armstrong Ranch in Texas. However the White House did not publically acknowledge the incident until it was called by a reporter from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper on Sunday.

How did the reporter know of the incident? The paper was called by ranch owner Katharine Armstrong.

By the way, the folks at the Armstrong ranch need to brush up on thier stories before giving interviews.

In an interview with CNN, Ms. Armstrong told CNN that "Whittington was a guest of hers, not someone Cheney invited, and she did not know whether the two men had met before. " However in another interview, Katharine's mother Anne, said that "she had invited Cheney and Whittington to the ranch, which she manages, to go hunting. She said the two men were "dear friends" of her late husband, Tobin Armstrong, and that they had known each other for 30 years and hunted together before."

Mr. Whittington is said to be in stable condition, but remains in Intensive Care. Initial care was given on scene by members of Cheney's detail. Good thing the traveling cardiologist knows how to treat shotgun wounds.

Get ready for more backpeddling than you would see at the circus.

UPDATE from Kemp: Scott, maybe we should take into consideration that the Vice President had an hallucination and thought Whittington was Patrick Fitzgerald… or former VP Dan Quayle (he was quail hunting after all… sorry, bad pun)... or a "liberal-media" reporter...

Or maybe it was because the friend is an attorney and attorneys aren’t some of the Veep’s favorite people right now.

Or maybe the Veep was unfocused while thinking about how his former Chief of Staff (Scooter Libby) has sold him down the river by stating that Cheney and others told him to leak confidential information to reporters and that has led some Senators to call for Fitzgerald to investigate Cheney.

Or maybe it’s because authenticated photos of "President" Bush with ├╝ber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff have surfaced.

You have to wonder how long Dick’s ticker can withstand this kind of abuse… we should all stay tuned…

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

Well this past week was a busy one. Not only was there the funeral for Mrs. King, but we also had many events, stupid comments, episodes of cranial-rectal inversion and just plain, what the hell were you thinking!

So without any further ado, I give you The Weekly Rewind.

Heckle: to V.P. Dick Cheney. Nice shooting Dick! Note to self, never, ever go hunting with the V.P. !

Applaud: to Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Word is that the Senator is starting to explore a possible run for the White House in 2008. We at TBWA respect the Senator and would welcome his name to the 2008 campaign field. Senator Barack Obama (another Senator we at TBWA respect) thinks differently.

Heckle: to D.H.S. Secretary Michael Chertoff. Not only did former FEMA Director Michael Brown state that talking to Chertoff was a “waste of time“, but a report to be released this week by House Investigators looking into the response failures surrounding Hurricane Katrina singles out Chertoff for blame. Heckuva job Mikey!!

Heckle: to the continuing saga of Jack Abramoff. Even with the release of photos, the President had said that he really didn’t know Jack (go ahead, word play with that statement is good!) Abramoff stated that in his meeting(s) with Bush, our dear old president joked with him about his children. Ooops !

Heckle: to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In a speech at the New School, James Hansen, NASA’s lead climate scientist stated that NOAA essentially has censor’s shadowing it’s scientists when they discuss findings with the media. I’m sorry I didn’t know that the Third Reich escaped 1940’s Europe and is now running the U.S. Government’s weather bureau of the 21st century. This has to be a bad dream right?

Heckle: to V.P. Dick Cheney (yes again). This time for suggesting that the NSA wiretapping program should be an election issue in the upcoming November congressional elections. Sorry Dick, but these are civil liberties we are talking about, not a school district referendum.

Applaud: to Rev. Joseph Lowery. During his remarks at the funeral for Coretta Scott King, the good reverend, in a slam dunk on the president, remarked that "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here." Basically, for a time, the funeral turned into a 'Bush Bashing event'. All this while sitting right in front of the president and the first lady…..

Heckle: to being a lemming. “Scooter” Libby testified that his superiors at the White House had essentially order him to leak information to the press. One of these superiors was his former boss, Dick Cheney.

Heckle: to questionable contacts. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), has disclosd his ties to Jack Abramoff and clients of the lobbyist. Sen. Reid has been an outspoken critic of the Republican ties to the lobbyist and is stating that all of his contacts were routine and regular and were in no way influened by donations that he received totalling nearly $68,000.

Applaud: to thwarting terrorism. Heckle: to distraction techniques. Earlier this week the president released details regarding the government stopping a '9/11 type attack' on the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles. The tallest building west of the Mississippi river. Ok, we all approve of stopping the terrorists, but is this supposed to make us 'feel better' about unchecked domestic spying?

There were many other things to heckle and applaud this past week. Instead of rehashing them all why not take a look at the our postings of last week as you scroll down this page. You will find insightful commentary and interesting rebuttal comments.

Until next week. Be Good, stay informed....later.

A Tip of the Hat to Aaron Burr?

Ya know, there are so many jokes to be made out of THIS STORY… I can’t pick just one… so I invite all of you readers to make up your own and leave it as a comment...here's a snippet of the story, click HERE to see... the.Rest.Of.The.Story (I always wanted to do that... thank you Paul Harvey)

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on Saturday while the two were hunting at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Whittington was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest, and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Whittington was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Scooter is Back in the News

First I have to ask, am I the only one who find themselves singing the Libby, Libby, Libby on the label, label, label jingle when they see this name? I am… that’s what I was afraid of. But I’m getting off track…

Former White House aide “Scooter” Libby, who was charged of outing CIA agent Valerie Plame, has testified that Vice President Dick “Darth” Cheney gave him the okay to leak classified information in 2003 in order to bolster the case for the US-led war against Iraq (I am shocked… shocked and appalled)

NBC television news, citing sources familiar with the case, said that Libby will partially be basing his defense on claims that Cheney advised him to give classified information to reporters and that Libby and his attorneys discussed this revelation with federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, along with the judge that is overseeing the case in a teleconference call.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, is of course denying charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements in an stratagem tied-up in the Bush administration’s drive to war with Iraq. (It should be noted that the trial is slated to start sometime in January 2007, naturally after November's mid-term elections… but I’m sure there’s no connection between the two events…and if you believe that, I have some nice property to sell you in Afghanistan)

For those of you who forgot or for those of you who can’t see your party for what it really is, critics charge that senior US officials deliberately blew Plame's cover in an attempt to punish her husband, ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson, who had criticized the White House's reasoning for going to war with Iraq.

My first reaction to the Libby news is… why the hell isn’t anyone paying attention to this?? Libby admits that his boss, who just happens to be the Vice President of the United States, gave him the order to leak the information… am I missing something here? This should be big news am I right? I said, am I right??

Apparently not as the Bush Media-Whores do their best to bury this story in the trash. Well, all I can say is, and I’ve said it many times before on this site… ‘Karma, baby!’

By the way, the “president's” top political strategist, Karl Rove, is still under investigation over the leaking…

So stay tuned…

Do I smell 'Brownies' burning in the Senate?

Former FEMA director Michael Brown (aka: Brownie) goes before a Senate committee today to answer questions in the ongoing investigation as to the failings of the federal governement follwoing the Gulf Coast hurricanes last fall.

Brownie had requested that the White House assist him by offering a claim of 'executive priviledge'. That request was rebuffed by White House Counsel Harriet "I could have been a Justice" Miers.

Browns response was that without any protecttion or assistance from the administration he will essentially spill his guts when asked questions.

Let's see if he keeps to his word on this one. This could get interesting.

UPDATE: In Testimony to the Senate committee, Michael Brown blamed the DHS, and specifially said that talking to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff was a "waste of time".

I told you this would be interesting....stay tuned.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Another swing and miss...

It seems that the newly minted House Majority Leader John Boehner rents a basement apartment from a lobbyist whose clients had an interest in legislation overseen or sponsored by Boehner (R-OH) who pays $1,600 a month rent for the apartment owned by lobbyist John Milne and his wife, Debra Anderson. (I am shocked! Shocked to find gambling in this establishment!)

Boehner, it should be noted, is heavily involved in GOP efforts to reform lobbying rules which have been born as a consequence of influence peddling by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff (Remember him? The black trench coat, black fedora wearing lobbyist who looks like he just walked off the pages of a Mickey Spillane novel… or at least WANTS to look like he just walked off the pages of a Mickey Spillane novel) This is THE Abramoff, the lobbyist who has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a Capitol Hill corruption investigation after pleading guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud last month.

Lobbying records show that Milne represented a couple of restaurant companies in their lobbying on the minimum wage… which is handled by the Education and the Workforce Committee… which just happens to be chaired by… who can guess? Anyone? Anyone? How about you there in the back… you know it; Boehner (you see how all of this is tying together now?)

Once again the GOP strikes and misses. They have an opportunity to spin things in a positive light and elect someone to take over for disgraced (and disgruntled) Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) who isn’t in bed with a bunch of lobbyists (which is easier said than done, I know)

The thing that is aggravating many people isn’t necessarily the fact Boehner has ties with lobbyists (I mean, let's get real now, you show me a politician who doesn’t has ties with any lobbyists and I’ll show you a poor politician) but the way Boehner tried to paint himself as someone who is clean and not tainted by the wicked ways of lobbying…

You got it wrong again (right)wing-nuts… wrong again…

A new element ?

The recent hurricanes, gasoline issues and general confusion in Washington is proof of the existence of a new chemical element. A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element has been named "Governmentium." Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. The smallest amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that under normal circumstances would normally take less than a second, to instead take over four days to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of four years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each organization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium -- an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Ok, that explains a lot…..

(A shout goes out to PK for bringing this new discovery to our attention!)

A Short Post about Secret Courts and FISA Judges

In the last few years the presiding judge of the secret surveillance court was told on two separate occasions that information that had been obtained via the “President’s” domestic eavesdropping program “may have been” used inappropriately in order to get additional wiretap’s from the court, this according to a special article in the Washington Post (or WaPo for those of you in the know)

Naturally, these disclosures have pissed-off U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (who is the current presiding judge of the FISA court that issues the aforementioned wiretapping warrants)

Seems Judge Kollar-Kotelly has, in the past, expressed some doubts as to whether or not the warrant-less monitoring ordered by BushCo was legal. (It should also be noted that her predecessor as presiding judge, Royce C. Lamberth, also expressed severe reservations about the legality of the program)

Now, you would think that if the judge(s) that presides over the FISA court is herself unsure if the wiretapping is illegal or not, that the Bush(Whacked) administration would get a clue… not so… at least not so as long as Commander Cuckoo-Bananas is in charge.

Read the complete article and decide for yourself.

More to come…

Now the truth comes out

Remember during the State of the Union address when our fearless leader stated that his budget plan would cut the federal deficit in half by 2009?

You had to ask yourself how this was going to be accomplished with the continued spending on the 'police action' in the middle east and the tax cuts that have been thrown around by the administration. Basically it comes down to more money going out and less coming in. Well we at TBWA were asking the same thing and now the administration has given us the answer.

The White House has released documents saying that in order to achieve Bush's goal, significant cuts would be needed throughout the rest of this decade to many domestic programs, even some of the Presidents own favored programs. Others that would be cut include Veterans Heath Care and funding for the National Institutes of Health. Many of the affected programs are slated for funding increases in 2007, but would then be hit with drastic cuts in 2008-2010.

Just another case of "look at the shiny object in my left hand and pay no attention to the trickery taking place in the right".

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it's probably a lie.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Eep

For those of you who don't know what the term 'staring daggers' means, take a glance at Laura Bush...

Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon

Wednesday is here and we all know what that means, Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon…so without any pageantry or ado…away we go:

McCain vs. Obama. In this corner; Senior Republican Senator and Vietnam veteran John McCain, and in this corner; Freshman Democrat Senator and the next-big-thing Barrack Obama… let’s get ready to rumble. It seems the two opposing Senators are squaring off in a grudge match over efforts to enact a new set of ethics rules after Sen. McCain accused Sen. Obama of being "disingenuous" for reneging on a pledge to help craft a bill that could be embraced by both parties. Following a meeting between the two, Obama sent McCain a letter expressing support for a proposal by Harry Reid (D-NM) and NOT the bipartisan task force that McCain (and other GOP leaders) had suggested. More letters were exchanged between the two and now, on Wednesday, it seems as though both men have made nice-nice. I don’t buy it and think that this little incident will come to a head very, very soon. As always, stay tuned…

Bush: Stop cartoon violence. “President” Bush on Wednesday asked for a suppressing of the violence that has spread regarding anger over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The rise in tension is also being blamed for adverse effects on the U.S. and their relationships with Muslims and the Middle East. I honestly don’t have an opinion on this, so I leave it up to you to make up your own minds.

A Challenge to Mayor Nagin: This just got interesting… Audubon Nature Institute CEO Ron Forman announced yesterday that he will join the list of candidates that are lining up to run against incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin this April. Nagin has come under fire for his performance (or lack thereof) in the lead-up and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and has (seemingly) fallen out of favor with business and community leaders. Forman decided to make the run this past Sunday after supporters persuaded him that he would have the financial support and backing of a multiracial coalition of the city's business, civic and religious leaders. (Nagin seems to be someone who enjoys the spotlight but who has also put his foot into his mouth a few too many times to govern effectively. Stay tuned…)

No Lemmings Allowed. Chairwoman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence (which oversees the National Security Agency) Heather Wilson (R-NM) is calling for a full Congressional inquiry into the Shrub (sorry, my bad) Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program. said in an interview that she had "serious concerns" about the surveillance program. By withholding information about its operations from many lawmakers, she said, the administration has deepened her apprehension about whom the agency is monitoring and why. (I don’t know what’s harder to believe… that a Republican is not acting like a lemming going over the cliff and is going against the grain of her own party… or that there is someone named ‘Heather’ in Congress… your call)

Asbestos Bill Moving Forward. The Senate voted overwhelmingly (98 - 1) on Tuesday to consider a bill that would halt asbestos lawsuits and create a $140 billion fund for people who suffer from asbestos-related diseases. Great idea and all, but many hurdles remain before the bill can be approved. The incredibly lopsided vote came after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) dropped an objection and encouraged other Senators to bring the measure to the floor. It should also be noted that the House has a differing bill that would still allow asbestos suits but only if claimants meet certain medical criteria. Stay tuned…

Budget Wars. The administration submitted their budget the other day (all 15 pounds of it) and, not surprisingly, Shrub proposed a defense budget that is the largest ever (and slashed the budget for pretty much everything else) with farmers, teachers and doctors pissed as you know what. Click HERE to see reaction to the administration’s budget from both sides of the aisle. Also in the new White House budget are submissions to eliminate or significantly diminish 141 domestic programs in the next fiscal year.

Nixon who? (Now you would think this story would get a lot of attention, but, with the media being in bed with Bush and Dick – insert own sophomoric joke here – it’s not, save for Keith “ESPN who?” Olberman) On his MSNBC show Tuesday night, KO spoke about Bush Strategist Karl Rove and his attempts to blackmail Republicans into submission over the issue of illegal wiretaps. Seems Rove, according to Conservative magazine Insight is telling Republican Senators and Congressmen that if they don’t see Bush’s way on wiretapping, they will be ‘blacklisted.’ Hmmmm… sounds a lot like something akin to the Alien & Sedition Acts and the dark days of blacklisting during the Joe McCarthy era. Goodnight and Good luck indeed…

Take them as you will…

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A couple of milestones...

Yesterday marked two events that we at TBWA are especially proud of. What happened you ask? Well thanks for asking, I'd be happy to tell you.

First, yesterday at 4:17 pm central time, we had a visitor from Rhode Island ! It wasn't from Quahog, but from a reader in Wakefield.

Why are we making a big deal about a visitor from Rhode Island? Well, as of the 1st of the year we had visitors from every state except Rhode Island. We even had visitors from Guam and Puerto Rico. So as of yesterday afternoon, we have had visitors to the blog from every state in the nation ! We have also had vistors from every continent except the Arctic and Antarctic..... come on South Pole science stations !

Secondly, yesterday afternoon also marked our 4,000 visitor to our little blog. Not bad for a site that started back on September 23, 2005. Just two guys from the midwest who happen to have a passion for calling things as we see them, and thought why not let the world know what we think? Hopefully we also open some people's eyes along the way, or at least get people to question 'why?', instead of just following the crowd.

Kemp and I started on this endeavor with the purpose of letting people know our opinion on politics and current events. While we do slant to the left side of the political spectrum, we both consider ourselves to be more or less open to great ideas from either side of the aisle. Hell, we would even settle for a good idea coming out of Washington or even state governments from time to time. We hope that you enjoy what we do and you will keep coming back, why not tell a friend or two ! That way you will have something to talk about amongst yourselves.

So eveyone can relax, we have hit the 4,000 mark in roughly 4 months (not bad) and we have had a visitor from Rhode Island....thanks Wakefield! However, we are only 5 weeks into 2006 and it appears the roller coaster ride is just getting started.

Make sure your seatbelts are fastened and keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times...it looks like the ride is going to get a bit bumpy.

Be good, stay informed....later.

Billions and billions...

Commander Cuckoo-Bananas sent his budget to Congress yesterday (all 15 pounds of it)

Not surprisingly, Shrub proposed a defense budget that is the largest ever (and slashed the budget for pretty much everything else) with farmers, teachers and doctors pissed as you know what.

Why are they pissed? In pushing for his massive defense budget, Bush is cutting other group's money in an effort to stave off the deficits his administration has bred.

More to come later...

UPDATE: In a previously released statement, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Chief Patricia Harrison said she was disappointed in the Bush(Whacked) administration's budget proposal that would cut $53.5 million from the $400 million due to be doled out to public TV and radio stations in 2007 and another $50 million in 2008 (it should be noted that Harrison is a past co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee)

With this news comes a very strong statement from Jeff Chester who is the Executive Director of the public-interest group Center for Digital Democracy. Upon hearing news of the CPB’s cuts, Mr. Chester stated “The Bush White House is taking an axe to help chop off Big Bird's head and turn Elmo out into the streets.” (Nice imagery there Jeff)

Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) released this statement on his website, “In a world of fast-and-furious television with content often inappropriate for young children, the public broadcasting system represents the last stronghold of quality, child-oriented programming -- we owe this free over-the-air resource to America's children and their parents.”

Stay tuned as there is still more to come...