Thursday, November 10, 2005

Political Hits, Hypes, Misses and Messes

Two of the main characteristics of this administration seems to be choosing persons who are either cronies or ideologues, preferably a combination.

Katrina did more damage, caused more suffering and deaths, in part, a not insignficant part, because we had Michael Brown (photo on the right) whose expertise was based on the supervision of judges for the International Arabian Horse Association.

Today on Democracy Now, Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist, who writes for The Nation and is a frequent contributor to Amy Goodman's progam, made this comment about Brown:

"We certainly saw the horrible scenario that played out in New Orleans, as Michael Brown, the former director of FEMA, was running around trying to find the best place to eat crawfish in Baton Rouge. People were drowning, starving, dying, and he had his own officials calling him up and saying, ‘This has reached past critical,’ and Michael Brown is worrying about what he's going to wear on the Scarborough show. And so, I think that there's a lot of awareness now in this country to the impact that this cronyism can have."

The latest appointment in the mold of "Brownie," is Stewart Simonson. (photo on the left.)His actual title--if he survives scrutiny--will be Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services. In plain English this means he will be Bush's man, this country's man, to make wise and informed decisions to protect us as much as possible from the impending pandemic of Avian Flu. Also, to protect us from biological weapons which are no where near the danger though of a repeat of the Flu Pandemic of 1918, which was also an avian type flu.

His credentials are, well, he's a crony and a ultra-conservative ideologue. Anything else??
Yes, he was a lawyer for Amtrak and became a buddy of Tommy Thompson, who is a pal of George II (W). The prior holder of this position was a medical man, which makes sense. It's always good to have an administrator who knows something about what he will administer.

In October, 2004, the former rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena CA gave a guest sermon. Because of what he said the IRS this past June sent the church a letter indicating that their tax exempt status may be revoked. Apparently Rev. Regas' sermon crossed the line.

The Los Angeles Times reported this:

"In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support. But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster." On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections. The letter went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article." The IRS cited The Times story's description of the sermon as a "searing indictment of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq" and noted that the sermon described "tax cuts as inimical to the values of Jesus."

I can remember when Nixon ordered an "enemies" list be drawn up. Those unfortunates deemed enemies of the State would have the IRS on their backs ---constantly.

Bush Inc. does not suffer wisemen gladly.

Most of us are aware that the BASEF ( Born Again
Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist) churches made it very clear in many of their sermons, in special tables filled with advice on how to vote. In the last Presidential election there was even in a traveling super trailer filled with videos and computers on which you could type in your religious beliefs and find out which candidate was on God's side.

Liberal churches usually are too polite, too tolerant, too fearful to express themselves.

What is happening to All Saints Church is unjust----that any fool can see the disparity of treatment, the utter unfairness of it. I continue to be amazed at the right wing being so oblivious of being obvious.


I wonder what "democracy" means. I have heard that it means one man, one vote. I have also heard that a person or a corporate person should be able to spend as much money on political propaganda as he/she wants because ---- it's a violation of his/her free speech. Somehow, to me, that's nonsense.

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire extraordinaire, spent up to 100 million dollars to win the mayor's race in New York City. Democracy Now reported:

"Elections were held across the country Tuesday. In New York, billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg was re-elected over Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer by a margin of 59% to 39%. The New York race marked the most expensive non-Presidential campaign in American history. Bloomberg spent up to $100 million on his re-election - ten times the amount spent by his opponent."

It probably was thirty years ago at Green High School in Ohio, in the "men's lounge"(before desegregation) that I tried to convince four fellow teachers that they should vote for the "bottle tax" which would a boon to the environment and conservation. They told me they could not believe that I would be in favor of this proposal ---since everything they had seen on television gave good reasons to vote against it. In fact, they could not remember seeing anything or anybody on the tv set in favor of it.

I asked them if they were aware that the supporters of the bill, mostly Ohioans, had $230,000 to spend, whereas the bill's opponents, mostly out-of-state corporate interests. had $1,500.000.00 in their coffers.

Sorry, but teachers are not always politically astute. Just ordinary folks.

----- How are terrorist leaders created? Amy Goodman today interviewed Loretta Napaleoni,who is well informed on terrorism. She is an Italian journalist and economist and author of "Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation" and "Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks".
Al Zarqawi was interested in fighting Americans in Iraq, chiefly to provide practice to prepare for his goal: returning to Jordan, his homeland, where he wanted to establish an Islamic state. He had been to Afghanistan. He did meet Ben Ladin, but he did not join his group Al Quaeda. However, the Taliban provided him a training base, where among other things he developed his speciality: suicide bombing.

Saddam did not know Al Zarqawi until he heard that the latter had accused Saddam of being
a cruel dictator and an oppressor of his people. So ---there was no link betweed Saddam through Al Zarqawi to Ben Ladin.

Here is an excerpt from today's program for Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: In the run up to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq, then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. It was February 5, 2003. In his speech, Powell mentioned Zarqawi by name and said there was a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. COLIN POWELL: What I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants. AMY GOODMAN: Then Secretary of State Colin Powell making his push for war at the U.N. on February 5, 2003. Now, since then, Powell has called that speech a stain on his career. LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes. Well, I think he's correct. None of this information were actually true, in particular, the connection represented by Al Zarqawi between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Now, of course, the myth of this individual was created that day, because that day the entire world was presented with this new boogieman, with this new evil man. And that is true not only in the West, but also in the Muslim world. All of a sudden money start flowing to him, and also people start joining his insurgency in Iraq. So, in other words, we created this monster who now we can't control.

The Bush administration, the neocons using (misusing) Colin Powell made Al Zarqawiinto an important figure Money began to pour in from Arab sources once they found out that he was, apparently, a leader of the freedom fighters.

Amy asked Loretta where are the terrorist money comes from.
The Italian journalist and author provided some interesting information:

They (the terrorists) don't need a lot of money. Suicide missions at the moment are at rock bottom prices. The cost is basically a cost of transportation from the border to the location of the attack plus the cost of the explosives. These people train themselves outside Iraq. Osama bin Laden actually calculated how expensive is the insurgency of Al Zarqawi. And it's only 200,000 euros, which is roughly $250,000 per week. The United States is spending $1 billion per week.

The terrorists which through this invasion of Iraq and by other stupidities are our part have grown in number, and although we are a rich country: $250,000 is A LOT less than a BILLION!

One final excerpt from Amy's interview of Napoleoni:

"And above all, I think what is really dangerous is the spreading of the ideology. Al-Qaeda does not exist anymore, I mean, the so-called highly hierarchal armed organization that carried out 9/11. Al-Qaeda today is an ideology, it’s the only anti-imperialist ideology. We should call it al-Qaedaism, and Al Zarqawi is one of the icons, and we can't deny that."

You can watch Democracy Now with Amy Goodman Monday through Friday. It is an hour long, and, I think, the best news show on television. Unfortunately, it is not on cable, at least to my knowledge. It IS on both satellite networks: DISH and DIRECT TV.

You can also view a transcript of each program, or if you have a fast connection the entire program at this site