Tuesday :: Sep 13, 2005

Only The Echoes Of His Beautiful Mind


by pessimist

King George certainly has to have a lot on his mind lately, especially since he's trying to cope with having to publicly accept responsibility for the first time in his sorry life.

That had to hurt. A Lot! (A Lott?)

But as John Lennon once sang, "Instant Karma's Gonna Get You!" - and boy is Dumbya's karma bad!

The mysterious response

Some people say that when trouble comes, it comes in bunches. President Bush has had his share in this second term, but the recent spate may exceed anything his administration has experienced before. It continues up to the moment, with Halliburton and other Bush supporters' companies being given no-bid contracts for Gulf Coast cleanup just as they were in Iraq.

The point of all this is not a study of Bush's record; that could go on for days. What is amazing is the way Bush supporters can't seem to deal with reality. They will not acknowledge that this administration has been a mess. They won't truly consider the seriousness of what this administration has wrought and the lengths it has traveled to accomplish its predetermined agenda.

It goes on and on, but you won't hear that from the 39 percent (AP-Ipsos) who still say George W. is doing a good job as president. Despite a George W. Bush presidency filled with lies and inexcusable fiascos, his supporters usually answer with one thing:

"At least he didn't use the White House to get a (insert favorite name here for Clinton's favorite sexual act)."
They'll simply continue telling us that the president is not having sex in the White House.

Thank goodness for that.

While the followers still revel in ignorance, thanks to the pRedzident accepting responsibility for the federal foul-ups, at least a small measure of the reality mentioned below has certainly seeped in:


Reality finally bites Bush

Reality has finally caught up to George W. Bush. The bubble in which the president has been governing has finally burst, or, more aptly, has gotten so waterlogged it is too heavy to drag around.
Bush has been shoved awake from his long national daydream to find that, to his surprise, the country cannot be governed effectively by giving high-ranking officials cutesy nicknames and engaging in determined wishful thinking.
Remember how Bush's crew sneered at the process of understanding reality through the serious examination of known facts? How passe that all was, they said.

In 2004, journalist Ron Suskind recalled in the New York Times Magazine a conversation he had with a senior adviser to Bush in 2002. Suskind was pointedly told that guys like him were in 'the reality-based community', which, the aide defined, as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."

"That's not the way the world really works anymore," the aide continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality "judiciously, as you will' we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."
Here is the Bush agenda come home to roost - on a roof. And it's caved in. Can't get much more real than that.

Welcome to the real world, Mr. President. Any ideas on what to do now?

My guess is no, but that isn't going to be seen clearly in light of the Roberts confirmation hearings, which have dominated the news coverage so far this week. From now on, our SCLM is going to be asked 'What about Katrina?', and the response will be 'Who's Katrina?':


Anger rises as Katrina's waters recede

President George W Bush headed to the United States Gulf Coast on Sunday to confront a region where the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina were receding but anger and frustration still overflowed. [H]e faces withering criticism for a bumbling governmental response to the August 29 hurricane and is suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama said Bush seemed to lack empathy for those stranded by the hurricane, which devastated a large swathe of the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, driving around a million people from their homes. "It's puzzling, given his immediate response during 9/11, that he did not feel a greater sense of empathy towards the folks that were experiencing this enormous disaster," Obama said on ABC's This Week.

Obama, despite his fawning obeisance expressed through voting in favor of several Bu$hCo initiatives in Congress, shows that beneath that political cowardly lion exterior there still is an astute political mind:

He said the Bush administration was excellent at public relations but less effective when it came to action.

So true:


IN BUSH'S WORLD, PR EQUALS ACTION

When George Bush made his first, belated stop in New Orleans, touching down at the city’s airport, he actually viewed his visit as an appropriate occasion for a little light comedy. It was, of course, just the latest highlight in his career as chief marketing officer for the Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld neo-con agenda. It’s a job that entails always sticking to a breezy, upbeat storyline.

It’s no surprise that Bush took this PR-trumps-action tack for Katrina. For much of his five years in office, he’s seen that putting a faux-cheerful, faux-hopeful spin on even the worst calamities (see also: the war in Iraq) meant that a cheerful, hopeful spin would automatically float to the top of the memepool, at least momentarily. If he kept repeating these faux-cheerful, faux-hopeful things ad nauseum, he’d have a great shot of at least partially obscuring all the actual rotting nastiness lurking below the surface.

Sure, as Nicholas D. Kristof noted in The New York Times, the deeper scandals are New Orleans’ grinding poverty, and the fact that nationally “the number of poor people has now risen 17% under Mr. Bush,” after having declined sharply under Clinton Administration.

But from the Bush P.O.V., there’s a simple solution for that hateful reality: Sell ‘em something else. Here’s the pitch: close your eyes and imagine Lott, in an SUV, driving to the nearest Home Depot to pick up some TimberTech all-weather composite decking. It’ll be grey. With white railings. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you, too, like to sit on a porch like that?

Redstaters certainly would! But in their country, high school football would take precedence over anything resembling responsible behavior like saving their nation from disaster. Thus, few heard the words of former Bu$hCovite Colin Powell last Friday confirming in part Micholas Kristof's allegations:


Powell slams US storm effort

American political figures from both major parties have assailed the slow response to the hurricane's assault last week on the US Gulf Coast, which devastated New Orleans and killed hundreds, possibly thousands, in the region.

Colin Powell, the former United States secretary of state seen as a potential leader for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, has joined the chorus of Americans criticising the disaster response at all levels of government. "There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels; local, state and federal," Powell said in an ABC interview for the 20/20 program to be broadcast on Friday evening.

Some black leaders, including Democrats in Congress, have charged that racism contributed to the misery of New Orleans' predominantly black storm victims. "I don't think it's racism, I think it's economic," Powell said.

"But poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor."

As the first columnist noted, troubles come in bunches. Here is a short list of troubles that will add to those already on the Bu$hCo desk in the Oval Office:


Experts Warn Salvadoran Volcano May Erupt

The 7,812-foot peak, also known as the Santa Ana Volcano, emitted clouds of gas and vapor and apparently spat out some glowing rock Aug. 27-29.

The head of El Salvador's Territorial Studies Service, Antonio Arenas, said the volcano began to show unusual activity in early August, and activity increased last Saturday. He said the seismic tremors are "characteristic of volcanos that have or that are going to have some kind of volcanic eruption."

Interior Minister Rene Figueroa said officials are starting to practice evacuations and are preparing shelters for the estimated 10,000 people living near the volcano, some 30 miles west of the capital. "There is a map of shelters that could be used if that is an event that we hope to God does not happen," Figueroa said.

Should this volcano erupt, and if the Salvadorian officials successfully evacuate the vast majority of their affected citizens to safety (as the Chinese just did), the comparisons will resonate in the world's press about how third-world countries take better care of their citizens than the world's most powerful nation did in New Orleans.

Another black eye!

Volcanoes in El Salvador aren't the only geologic event that will affect GOP Beautiful Minds. This article points out something much larger, very similar to a recent major disaster - and much closer to home:


Seismic event on Vancouver Island could lead to better earthquake predictions

Residents may not feel it, but Vancouver Island is in the middle of moving west in what seismologists call a tremor and slip event. The phenomenon is equal to an earthquake of 6.5 to 6.7 on the Richter scale, but instead of happening in 10 seconds, it happens over two weeks.

"We think that it's one of these events that will trigger the big mega-thrust earthquake," seismologist John Cassidy of the Pacific Geoscience Centre in Sidney, B.C., said Tuesday. "We just don't know which one of these events will trigger the giant earthquake."

The Cascadia subduction zone runs beneath the waters off Canada's West Coast and large earthquakes of a magnitude nine or more occurs every 500 years, on average. The last major quake was Jan. 26, 1700.
A similar subduction zone, where an ocean plate pushes beneath a continent, runs along Indonesia. Cassidy said they're trying to make some connections between the devastating Indonesian earthquake last year and the tremor. "We just want to be prepared."

That's more than Bu$hCo will demonstrate anytime soon! Should another storm like Katrina come along, and with so much of the available resources already expended, this news isn't going to ease beautiful minds either:


'Katrina may be sign of worse things to come'

Hurricane Katrina may be one of the worst natural disasters on US territory, but the Atlantic hurricane season is far from over and the worst may be to come, experts said.

"We expect that by the time the 2005 hurricane season is over, we will witness seasonal tropical cyclone activity at near-record levels," said William Gray, Colorado State University professor of atmospheric science. "We are continuing the bad news by predicting above-average activity for September and October," Gray said.

Not all agree, but their position isn't particularly comforting:

Not so, said Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri, because hurricanes form in the tropics.

"There is no reason at this time to suspect a huge increase in hurricanes numbers or strength, and that is because most of the warming is going to occur in polar regions as opposed to tropical regions," he said.

That was supposed to make us feel better??? It isn't working:


Retreating Glaciers Worrying Greenlanders

The gargantuan chunks of ice breaking off the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier and thundering into an Arctic fjord make a spectacular sight. But to Greenlanders it is also deeply worrisome. The frequency and size of the icefalls are a powerful reminder that the frozen sheet covering the world's largest island is thinning — a glaring sign of global warming, scientists say.

"In the past we could walk on the ice in the fjord between the icebergs for a six-month period during the winter, drill holes and fish," said Joern Kristensen, a fisherman and one of the indigenous Inuit who are most of Greenland's population of 56,000. "We can only do that for a month or two now. It has become more difficult to drive dog sleds because the ice between the icebergs isn't solid anymore."

"Greenland was perceived as this huge solid place that would never melt," said Robert Corell of the American Meteorological Society, a Boston-based scientific organization. "The evidence is now so strong that the scientific community is convinced that global warming is the cause."

What is clear is that the average ocean temperature off Greenland's west coast has risen in recent years — from 38.3 degrees Fahrenheit to 40.6 F — and glaciers have begun to retreat, said Carl Egede Boeggild, a glaciologist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, a government agency.

So what does this have to do with adding to King George's list of things that aren't troubling his beautiful mind?

The Kyoto Protocol that took effect in February aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the 140 nations that have signed the pact don't include the United States, which produces one-quarter of the gases.

What they really care about is displayed by this response to that criticism:

The Bush administration says participation would severely damage the U.S. economy.

Explain to me how any of these other things are going to NOT affect 'the recovery', Yore Hindni$$!

But I digress.

Many scientists say that position undermines the whole planet and they point to Greenland as the leading edge of what the globe could suffer. "Greenland is the canary in a mine shaft alerting us," said Corell, the American meteorologist, standing on the edge of the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier which he is studying. "In the U.S., global warming is a tomorrow issue. ...
"For us working here, it hits you like a ton of bricks when you see it."

Canary in a coal mine ... hit like a ton of bricks ... Could we make such an analogy concerning this Bu$hCo stool pigeon and memories of the onset of the Great Depression? [I wasn't able to locate his birthdate, but I believe that the author is almost old enough to remember those years]


A Price To Be Paid For Folly
By David S. Broder

The warning signs of impending economic calamity are every bit as evident as the forecasts of ruin for New Orleans when a major hurricane hit.

For all the deserved criticism the Bush administration has received for its tardy and ragged response to the storm's ravages on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the long-term costs to the nation of the reckless disregard both the president and Congress have shown toward paying the nation's bills may be even greater. [O]ur children and grandchildren will pay a continuing price for the refusal of our leaders to face the reality of an out-of-control budget.

When you look at that record, the self-congratulatory tone of the Republicans who have been running Washington seems absurdly unjustified.
These judgments were faulty at the time. They made no provision for the continuing costs of the war in Iraq, or for the Republican plan to end the estate tax and make all the previous Bush tax cuts permanent. And, most of all, they did not realistically calculate the costs of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and the looming obligations to the millions of baby boomers who are nearing retirement age. Now those pre-Katrina estimates have been rendered even more ridiculous. In the first 10 days since the storm hit, the president asked Congress for emergency appropriations of $62 billion -- and the bills are just starting to come in. Some Republicans in Congress are appalled at the fiscal wreckage, but the leadership on Capitol Hill has yet to assert its constitutional power of the purse or do anything but increase the damage by cutting taxes while simultaneously boosting spending.

At a private dinner the other evening where many of the men and women who have steered economic and fiscal policy during the past two decades were expressing their alarm about this situation, one speaker summarized the feelings of the group:

"I think it's 1925," he said, "and we're headed for 1929."

Anyone want to talk about a 'New Pearl Harbor' now? No? Wait until this New 1929' hits. When it does, we can talk about an event getting the attention of potential Bu$hCo supporters - they will feel it the most of all of us.


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