Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Media's Fault??
That's the new speaking point with this Administration? Everything bad that has happened in Iraq was predicted by many folks who warned that things weren't going to be a cakewalk. Dubya rolled the dice, and so far it's snake eyes. The media's fault? Have Bill O'Reilly go to Travelocity and book a flight to Baghdad, walk the streets and bring us the good stories the "liberal media" is missing......

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Blast From the Past!
As the third anniversary of the start of Gulf War II looms, it's good to go back to a much more simpler day. Take a gander at this walk down memory lane, compiled by the folks at FAIR:

Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.

"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."

Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.

"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?"
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03)

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)

"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

"Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we'd seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking."
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation--Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)


"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

"Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)


"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

"I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war....

"Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that -- quote, 'The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated.' Sorry, Scott. I think you've been chasing the wrong tail, again.

"Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don't call them 'elitists' for nothing."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
(Fox News Channel's Dick Morris, 4/9/03)


"Well, the hot story of the week is victory.... The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray."
(Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

"Some journalists, in my judgment, just can't stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

"Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn't figured out we won the war."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)

"Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them."
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

There's plenty more at that website......go read them. But we will end the excerpts with this beaut from Bill O'Reilly:

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

Hmmmmm....how many dinners did Bill end up buying?

Monday, March 13, 2006

One additional Dubai Ports deal item of note:

The Euro strengthened against the U.S. Dollar today when the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates diversified 10% of its currency reserves into the single currency, the Euro, in response to the failed ports deal.

While I don't expect enduring and serious consequences from the latest chapter in America's "Freedom Fries Meet the World" debacle, this event gives notice to America: we are inter-dependent, we need others, and we can't be too selective while we're carrying massive global debt and dependency on other nations to finance our life-styles.

It's disheartening that U.S. political leaders would create the assumptions now at work in Americans' minds. From George Bush, that we're to go it alone in a stupid war in Iraq and the Arab world is the enemy; from the spineless, useless Democrats, that America is at greater risk because the ownership of a port operating company is being transferred from British hands to U.A.E. hands. How foolish.

America's "leadership" right now is not up to the task, sadly for us all, sadly for the world.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Best Words Ever Written By Newt Gingrich...

"Why New Orleans Needs Saving;
the City's Natural Vulnerability Is Also Its Greatest Strength"

Time Magazine
March 6 2006
Newt Gingrich John Barry

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert wondered aloud whether the Federal Government should help rebuild a city much of which lies below sea level. The most tough-minded answer to that question demonstrates that rebuilding and protecting New Orleans is in the national interest. Reason: The very same geological forces that created that port are what make it vulnerable to Category 5 hurricanes and also what make it indispensable.

One such force is the Mississippi River. Once, the Gulf of Mexico extended north to Cape Girardeau, Mo., but the river gradually deposited enough sediment into a receding sea to create tens of thousands of square miles of land stretching south to the present mouth of the river. Long after New Orleans was first settled, the entire region remained above sea level and safe from hurricanes. Engineers prevented river floods by building levees and kept shipping channels open by constructing jetties two miles out into the ocean so that the river dropped its sediment into deep water. Before the jetties were built, 100 ships at a time often waited days for deep enough water to pass over sandbars blocking the Mississippi's mouth. The levees and jetties stopped sediment from feeding the deltas; the land sank, and coastal Louisiana shrank. Similarly, other great ports on deltaic rivers, like Rotterdam, are also below sea level; the airport serving Amsterdam is 20 ft. below sea level, lower than any part of New Orleans.

If engineering the Mississippi made New Orleans vulnerable, it also created enormous value. New Orleans is the busiest port in the U.S.; 20% of all U.S. exports, and 60% of our grain exports, pass through it. Offshore Louisiana oil and gas wells supply 20% of domestic oil production. But to service that industry, canals and pipelines were dug through the land, greatly accelerating the washing away of coastal Louisiana. The state's land loss now totals 1,900 sq. mi. That land once protected the entire region from hurricanes by acting as a sponge to soak up storm surges. If nothing is done, in the foreseeable future an additional 700 sq. mi. will disappear, putting at risk port facilities and all the energy-producing infrastructure in the Gulf.

There is no debate about the reality of that land loss and its impact. On that the energy industry and environmentalists agree. There is also no doubt about the solution. Chip Groat, a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, says, "This land loss can be managed, and New Orleans can be protected, even with projected sea-level rise." Category 5 hurricane protection for the region, including coastal restoration, storm-surge barriers and improved levees, would cost about $40 billion--over 30 years. Compare that with the cost to the economy of less international competitiveness (the result of increased freight charges stemming from loss of the efficiencies of the port of New Orleans), higher energy prices and more vulnerable energy supplies. Compare that with the cost of rebuilding the energy and port infrastructure elsewhere. Compare that with the fact that in the past two years, we have spent more to rebuild Iraq's wetlands than Louisiana's. National interest requires this restoration. Our energy needs alone require it. Yet the White House proposes spending only $100 million for coastal restoration.

Washington also has a moral burden. It was the Federal Government's responsibility to build levees that worked, and its failure to do so ultimately led to New Orleans' being flooded. The White House recognized that responsibility when it proposed an additional $4.2 billion for housing in New Orleans, but the first priority remains flood control. Without it, individuals will hesitate to rebuild, and lenders will decline to invest.

How should flood control be paid for? States get 50% of the tax revenues paid to the Federal Government from oil and gas produced on federally owned land. States justify that by arguing that the energy production puts strains on their infrastructure and environment. Louisiana gets no share of the tax revenue from the oil and gas production on the outer continental shelf. Yet that production puts an infinitely greater burden on it than energy production from other federal territory puts on any other state. If we treat Louisiana the same as other states and give it the same share of tax revenue that other states receive, it will need no other help from the government to protect itself.

Every day's delay makes it harder to rebuild the city. It is time to act. It is well past time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Every other breathing mammal in the nation is discussing the Dubai ports deal, so I thought I'd join in too, but fair warning: Most readers of this blog will disagree with me.

Though muscles in my fingers cramp when I type this, George Bush is right about the foolishness of blocking this deal. There are many objective reasons to agree with the president on this item.


The emotional and knee-jerk reaction to this event is another display of American ignorance of global realities and of misplaced patriotism, the same qualities exploited by Karl Rove that has given his boss unprecedented power and two terms in office. Though the Bush team butters its bread with "us vs. them" marketing, Bush is now reaping what he has sown from fear mongering. Americans have bought into his misinformation, and on this item Bush is suffering the consequences. Nearly all port operations in the United States are run by foreign nationals.

The United States runs a deficit of about $15 billion a week, which means that we rely on over $2 billion each day in foreign investment to keep the lights on in this superpower. That heavily in debt, it is only arrogance and ignorance that could allow this beggar nation to reject investment money and pick and choose investors.

We run a massive trade deficit and we have a trade SURPLUS with only ten nations on the globe. The United Arab Emirates is #2 on that list, behind the Netherlands. So a good trading partner and arguably the most moderate, pro-Western nation in the Arab world has been punched in the nose by misinformed American patriots.

Don't be fooled by the insincere Republicans; they don't care about port security. Their motivation is to not be outdone by Democrats who saw an exploitable and emotional issue with a gullible public. There are elections in November and Bush's numbers get lower by the weekly poll.

Don't be fooled by the insincere Democrats; they don't care about port security. Their motivation is to outdo the Republicans by exploiting an emotional issue with a gullible public. There are elections in November and the Democrats can't score a run with the other team still in the bus.

The same way Karl Rove has manipulated the public, so are the opponents of this deal manipulating the public and exploiting the national ignorance. There are no greater security risks with the U.A.E. owning a company that manages portions of the operations of six American ports. Surely, with the Bush team in control, how could security get worse?!!

Think America. This is nothing else but a "Freedom Fries" moment in American history. Just think! Don't be duped again by those who seek to take advantage of you.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld, Mr Warm and Fuzzy, complained yesterday about Iranian interference in Iraq, a stunning example of the arrogant gall the world is accustomed to from the Secretary of Defense. Is he suggesting that Iranian "interference" with its neighboring state is a worse sort of offense than American interference from half a world away? That somehow American belligerence is copacetic but Iranian efforts to influence the condition of its neighboring state is unacceptable? That America can cross the world to unseat a head of state and push the brink of civil war but Iran cannot cross a border to work in its self-interest with others of similar culture and religion?

I'm making no apology for Iranian intentions but "opportunism" should be expected, no?

We know that we know what we know. And we know that we don't know what we don't know. And we know there are things we don't know that we know and don't know that we don't know them.

Yes, the mind of Rumsfeld.... But hey, you go to war with the secretary you got!

Friday, March 03, 2006

This Sums It Up.....
Taken right from Gilly's blog, this piece from Paul Krugman sums up this Administration's run of "bad luck":

In short, our country is being run by people who assume that things will turn out the way they want. And if someone warns of problems, they shoot the messenger.

Some commentators speak of the series of disasters now afflicting the Bush administration — there seems to be a new one every week — as if it were just a string of bad luck. But it isn't.

If good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, bad luck is what happens when lack of preparation meets a challenge. And our leaders, who think they can govern through a mix of wishful thinking and intimidation, are never, ever prepared.

Isn't that the truth? If ever there was an administration who embodies "the ends justifies the means" mentality, then this one is the boldest by far.

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