Friday, March 30, 2007

Bush Slays Audience Of Media Stooges And Sycophants

Jokes About Cheney Assassination Attempt And Sacked Attorneys Scandal

George W. Bush is really coming into his own as a stand-up comedian. Problem is, he's the President of the United States, and on most things related to his presidency, hes' a very good comedian. But most of America is not laughing.

At least, they're not laughing anymore.

From :

In keeping with the light-hearted traditions of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner, Bush poked fun at himself and a few others in remarks that drew laughter and applause at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Noting that Vice-President Dick Cheney was not in attendance, Bush said: "He's had a rough few weeks. To be honest, his feelings were kind of hurt. He said he was going on vacation to Afghanistan where people like him."

Taliban militants specifically targeted Cheney with a bomb attack when the vice president recently visited Afghanistan. Both the US and Afghani governments downplayed the significance of a major terror attack on the front gate of the Bagram base while Cheney was inside, though Cheney was not so reluctant to discuss his close call.

On the controversy over the Justice Department's firing of eight federal prosecutors, Bush said: "I have to admit we really blew the way we let those attorneys go. You know you've lost it when people sympathise with lawyers."

Okay, now that's funny.

Looking ahead to life after leaving the White House, Bush said he might follow President Clinton's lead and produce a memoir.

"I'm thinking of something really fun and creative for mine," he said. "You know, maybe a pop-up book."

Possible titles: How W. Got His Groove Back, Who Moved My Presidency? and Tuesday with Cheney.

Here's more from Bush's speech, minus the many brackeded references to (laughter) and (applause) that comes with the White House transcript :

I'm glad to see everybody here is enjoying themselves. Don't think I haven't noticed all the drinking that's been going on. In my State of the Union address, I said we needed to increase the use of ethanol.

Well, where should I start? A year ago, my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my Vice President had shot someone. Ahhh, those were the good old days.'s good to see Speaker Pelosi tonight. Well, some have wondered how the two of us would get along. Some say she's bossy, she's opinionated, she's not to be crossed. Hey, I get along with my mother.

But between the Congress and the press, there is a lot of scrutiny in this job. Not a day goes by that I don't get scrutineered one way or the other.

No matter how tough it gets, however, I have no intention of becoming a lame duck President -- unless, of course, Cheney accidently shoots me in the leg. Hey, I have 664 days left in the White House. So technically, I'm a temporary guest worker.

Hilarious stuff. What. A. Riot.
Censoring The Bush Bashers

By Darryl Mason

It certainly wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that President Bush has few friends left in the mainstream media. At least, there are few who will come out and praise him directly for something he's done.

One of Australia's most popular newspaper columnists and bloggers, Andrew Bolt, ran a blog post today about President Bush's appearance at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner where he cracked jokes, and talked about how he should make his eventual memoirs "a pop-up book".

Bolt's praise of Bush was gushing :

George Bush has been personally vilified beyond all reason and measure.

But he has retained an unusual civility and dignity - and a terrific line in self-deprecatory wit.

And he maintains a chivalry and graciousness that would put many of his critics to shame.

For examples of the vicious spite, malice and barbarity of the latter, read the comments. (The worst have been deleted.)
You can see those comments for yourself here.

It should be noted that as far as Bush having "a terrific line in self-deprecatory wit", it's highly unlikely that Bush wrote his own speech. Without a script in front of him, or one memorised, Bush is notoriously bad at making his thoughts and opinions come out in easy-to-understand sentences.

As Bolt mentions, his blog administrators have been censoring comments that Bolt has deemed to be full of "vicious spite, malice and barbarity". In censoring what he interprets to be un-acceptable comments, Bolt is doing what few media blogs in the world have yet done.

Short of calling for the assassination of the president, blogs on mainstream media sites from the Washington Post to the London Times regularly feature dozens, sometimes hundreds, of rabidly critical and furious comments about what the president has done to the US, to Iraq, and to the world in general.

The comments Bolt has allowed through are somewhat harsh, but I think his censorship is more to do with the fact that so few Bolt blog readers have anything good to say about Bush, that he is trying to even up the balance of opinion somewhat.

It's a hard task, as many of the comments praising Bush read like cut and paste comments that can be regularly found on other news blog message boards where the anti-Bush crowd hugely outnumber those with a good word to say.

Like these comments, for example, which include key right-wing, pro-WoT talking points :
"What a truly great and noble President GW Bush is. A remarkable man who stands for freedom and justice and is prepared to make the hard decisions despite the hollow mockery of our enemies."
"How can you compare a man who is trying to save the world from terrorism, a war which must be won. To one that enslaved millions, Hitler cannot be compared to Bush. Bush is fighting for freedom while Hitler went to fight for domination."

"I think he’s probably too nice for the job, despite what his haters say...despite the tirades of abuse he’s received over the war on terror, virtually all the errors he’s made in the conduct of that war have been errors of being too nice and too moderate, not too brutal."

"...imbeciles who hate Bush really just hate America and everything what America stands for."
It's also hard to know if Bolt is serious in his gushing praise for Bush :
....he has retained an unusual civility and dignity - and a terrific line in self-deprecatory wit.

And he maintains a chivalry and graciousness...
He may well not be.

Bolt found his large blog audience off the back of being a full-blown global warming sceptic, a near ceaseless blamer of 'The Left' for the all the world's ills, a faithful Israel apologist, and his endless promotion of the most extreme of Australia's Muslim clerics and spokesmen as being representative of the entire Australian Muslim community, which they clearly are not.

Bolt likes to tease and infuriate his audience, and then pretend to be outraged when he provokes angry comments which he then uses to bolster his absurd and clearly irrelevant argument that 'The Left' are obsessed with violence and constantly apologise for the brutality of the world's worst dictators and totalitarians.

To opinionsts like Bolt, an avid and faithless supporter of the Iraq Occupation, anyone with a bad word to say about President Bush, or Australia's prime minister John Howard, is a seething, vicious "Leftie" or Bush-basher or Howard-hater. Bolt clearly doesn't believe in shades of grey.

Likewise, anyone who criticises the appalling failure of the Iraq Occupation is not only a "Leftie" but may well be a supporter of Al Qaeda.

In BoltWorld, if you believe in global warming, or that the world is currently undergoing the first stages of severe and long-lasting climate change, then you have been taken in by a new religion designed to make money off dread and fear.

Bolt can be entertaining, but like most opinionists who avidly supported the Iraq Occupation and long denied the rise of the insurgency - citing Donald Rumsfeld quotes as proof that "The Left" was trying to undermine American forces in Iraq - Bolt now barely or rarely mentions what is happening in Iraq, despite the Iraq Occupation being the biggest story since 9/11.

And therein lies the greatest example of Bolt's credibility problem.

Such blind, blatant ignorance to what is now happening in Iraq can only lead you to wonder if Andrew Bolt actually has no problem with the full-scale slaughter of Iraqis, be they Christian or Shia or Sunni or Kurds.

Like many of his stripe, Bolt spent days mocking 'The Lancet' study into Iraqi civilian deaths, which concluded more than 650,000 people are likely to have perished during the Occupation.

Now it has been revealed that British PM Tony Blair's own advisers had accepted the credibility of 'The Lancet' methodology used to tally up the 650,000 + figures, Bolt has gone silent on the issue.

Again, it's a pattern of behaviour Bolt no doubt consciously uses to incite and frustrate a key percentage of his online audience. From a general overview of comments alone, it's easy to assume that more than half of Bolt's readers come to his blog because they get a kick out reading things that piss them off or make them feel outraged.

There would be next to no general audience for hard right-wing leaning blogs in Australia, the UK or the US, if their opponents didn't secretly enjoy getting wound up at such sites. But increasingly, as Andrew Bolt shows today, those visitors are being censored or locked out of the comment board debates.

Anyway, President Bush still has at least one constant and unquestioning friend in the mainstream media, even if he is half the world away in Australia.
Now Even The Saudis Are Getting Angry With Bush

Saudi King Calls US Presence In Middle East "Illegitimate"

Happier days...

Things are not going well in the House of Saud, or in the House of Bush. The Saudi royal family are frantically trying to maintain their grip on total power as the Middle East undergoes its biggest power shake up in decades. Islamist extremists are winning the Iraq War and stirring up trouble across the region.

The failure of the US-led Iraq War is so pronounced that key members of the Saudi royal family have cancelled a major visit to the White House and the Saudi king has announced the US presence in Iraq is "illegitimate"and called it a "foreign occupation."

At the same time, key Arab leaders have met and decided that the Israel must accept the 2002 Middle East peace plan, or accept renewed violence and even war. President Bush's close ally at home, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been all but frozen out of the most recent Arab-led Middle East peace meetings. One European official told the Washington Post Rice was now conducting "crisis management" instead of "grand diplomacy."

The Saudis are now seeking "common ground" with Iran, and are said to be quietly talking future plans with the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah (newly energized and popular after their victory against Israel last year). At the same time, the Saudis are firming ties with Moscow.

The shifts in the Middle East have become so tectonic, the Saudis appear to be on the verge of cutting at least some ties to the US, and are expected to cut all ties if the US and Israel go to war against Iran.

Iran is now the key to the future of the Bush and Saudi royal family relationship. The Saudis laid out their cards clearly in recent days when they announced they would not allow the US to launch attacks on Iran from within their territory.

From the Washington Post :

President Bush enjoys hosting formal state dinners about as much as having a root canal. Or proposing tax increases. So his decision to schedule a mid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah signified the president's high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend.

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good -- especially for Condoleezza Rice's most important Middle East initiatives -- is the clearest available answer.

Abdullah's bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warning sign that the Bush administration's downward spiral at home is undermining its ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad. Friends as well as foes see the need, or the chance, to distance themselves from the politically besieged Bush.

Abdullah's reluctance to be seen socializing at the White House this spring reflects two related dynamics: a scampering back by the Saudis to their traditional caution in trying to balance regional forces, and their displeasure with negative U.S. reaction to their decision to return to co-opting or placating foes.

Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas's Fatah movement.

A few months ago, Bandar was championing the confrontational "realignment" approach in Saudi family councils: Iran's power would be broken, the Syrians would have to give up hegemonic designs on Lebanon, etc., etc. Now the Saudi prince visits Tehran and Moscow regularly. He helped set the stage for the Palestinians' Mecca accord, which has caused Israel to reduce what little cooperation it felt it could extend to Abbas.

Here's some excerpts from a report on the remarkable statements made by Saudi King Abdullah, during a speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh, about the US in Iraq :

"In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war," Abdullah said.

He also said that Arab nations...would not allow any foreign force to decide the future of the region.

In the past, Saudi leaders including Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal have often criticised US policy in Iraq but have never described its presence there as "illegitimate."

If Arab leaders recover trust in each other and regain their credibility, "the winds of hope will blow on the nation, and then, we will not allow forces from outside the region to determine the future of the region, and only the flag of Arabism will be raised on Arab soil," Abdullah said.

Easily some of the strongest statements made by a Saudi king, or even a Saudi official, against the US in decades. That such statements have been made while a Bush family member is president of the United States makes the words only that much more remarkable.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

If Bush Vetos Troops Out Of Iraq Bill, He Will Deny The Demands Of Most Americans

With more and more senior Republicans abandoning the president by the day, Bush is now set to make what will prove to be one of the most unpopular moves of his entire presidency when he uses his veto power to try and kill off the Democrats 'Troops Out In 2008' war spending bill.

As Dan Froomkin from the Washington Post's White House Watch observes, "Bush is in a real bind" :

The combination of veto power and a sizeable Republican minority means the president can reliably block any Democratic legislation he dislikes from becoming law.

But in this case, Bush affirmatively needs Congress to send him a war funding bill so he can keep fighting the war in Iraq. Now that the Democrats have succeeded in attaching a timetable for troop withdrawal to the funding bill, he is left with two basic options: negotiate with the Democrats -- or play a hugely consequential game of chicken.

So far signs are that Bush is going with the latter option.

"Some Democrats believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely," Bush said in a belligerent speech to a boisterous bunch of beef barons this morning. "That's not going to happen. . . .

"The clock is ticking for our troops in the field," he added. "If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible."

In the same speech Bush said :
" the very moment that General Petraeus's strategy is beginning to show signs of success, the Democrats in the House of Representatives have passed an emergency war spending bill that undercuts him and the troops under his command.

"This bill would damage our effort in Iraq three ways. First, the House bill would impose restrictions on our commanders in Iraq, as well as rigid conditions and arbitrary deadlines on the Iraqi government. It would mandate a precipitous withdrawal of American forces, if every one of these conditions is not met by a date certain. Even if they are met, the bill would still require that most American forces begin retreating from Iraq by March 1st of next year, regardless of conditions on the ground.

"It's unclear what the military significance of this date is. What is clear is that the consequences of imposing such a specific and random date for withdrawal would be disastrous. If the House bill becomes law, our enemies in Iraq would simply have to mark their calendars. They'd spend the months ahead picking how to use their new -- plotting how to use their new safe havens once we were to leave. It makes no sense for politicians in Washington, D.C. to be dictating arbitrary time lines for our military commanders in a war zone 6,000 miles away.

"...the House bill also undermines the Iraqi government, and contradicts the Democrats' claim that they simply want to help the Iraqis solve their own problems. For example, the House bill would cut funding for the Iraqi security forces if Iraqi leaders did not meet arbitrary deadlines.

"The Democrats cannot have it both ways. They can't say that the Iraqis must do more, and then take away the funds that will help them do so. Iraq is a young democracy. It is fighting for its survival in a region that is vital to our security. The lesson of September the 11th must not be forgot. To cut off support for the security forces would put our own security at risk.

"...the clock is ticking for our troops in the field. Funding for our forces in Iraq will begin to run out in mid-April. Members of Congress need to stop making political statements, and start providing vital funds for our troops. They need to get that bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.

"I know when you see somebody in the uniform, you praise them, and I thank you for that. We need to praise those military families, too, that are strong, standing by their loved one in this mighty struggle to defend this country. They risk their lives to fight a brutal and determined enemy, an enemy that has no respect for human life.

"We saw that brutality in a recent attack. Just two weeks ago, terrorists in Baghdad put two children in the back of an explosive-laden car, and they used them to get the car past a security checkpoint. And once through, the terrorists fled the vehicle and detonated the car with the children inside. Some call this civil war; others call it emergency [sic] -- I call it pure evil. And that evil that uses children in a terrorist attack in Iraq is the same evil that inspired and rejoiced in the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. And that evil must be defeated overseas, so we don't have to face them here again.

"If we cannot muster the resolve to defeat this evil in Iraq, America will have lost its moral purpose in the world, and we will endanger our citizens, because if we leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here. Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy. Four years after this war began, the nature of the fight has changed, but this is a fight that can be won. We can have confidence in the outcome, because this nation has done this kind of work before."

Bush also enthusiastically talked up what he said were signs of stability and progress in Iraq. He cited two bloggers, in particular, whose posts, while they may have been genuine, read like they were the work of the same people who wrote Bush's speech. Presumably, Bush was not quoting the Iraqi bloggers directly.

But while Bush enthused about the "spreading" stability in Iraq, the violence there hit shocking heights : agencies reported a grim list of incidents of continuing insurgent and sectarian violence across the country.
For example, in Tall Afar, a northern Iraqi city that Bush has extolled as a model for U.S. pacification efforts, Shiite gunmen, reportedly including policemen, stormed a Sunni Muslim district and killed at least 50 people today in reprisal for twin truck bombings yesterday that killed at least 55 in Shiite areas of the city.

In Fallujah, two suicide bombers blew up trucks loaded with chlorine outside a local government building, injuring at least 15 Iraqi and U.S. personnel in the latest of a series of such makeshift chemical weapons attacks. In Baghdad, a car bomb killed two Iraqi civilians, and an American soldier and a government contractor died in mortar or rocket attacks on the heavily fortified Green Zone.

CORRECTION : Bush quoted a blog called 'Iraq The Model' and used the following passage in his speech, though he cherry-picked the quotes from a compilation of posts on Opinion Journal :
"Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve."

Bush Warns Against Iraq Timetable, Pelosi Tells Bush To "Calm Down"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bush Stripped Of Powers To Appoint Attorneys

When the USA Patriot Act was reauthorised in 2006, President Bush was "steathily" given authority to appoint US attorneys on an "interim" basis, with no oversight or need to seek permission from the Senate. Bush has now been successfully stripped of this "awesome" power.

From Raw Story :
In a 329-78 vote last night, the House of Representatives followed the Senate and stripped President George W. Bush of the authority to appoint United States Attorneys on an interim basis, ending the ability of the Bush administration to do an end run around the Senate in putting controversial US Attorneys in office.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) places a 120-day limit to the term of a United States Attorney appointed on an interim basis. Democrats allege that the previous authority to appoint interim US Attorneys on an unlimited basis, inserted stealthily into the 2006 reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, was used as a 'loophole' to insert Bush administration political loyalists into office.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the 'awesome powers' of the US Attorneys required Senate confirmation of their appointments.

"The bill before us today...will restore the historical checks and balances to the process by which interim U.S. Attorneys are appointed," he said. "It will repair a breach in the law that has been a major contributing factor in the recent termination of eight able and experienced United States Attorneys and their replacement with interim appointments."

Democrats cited e-mails from the Bush administration on the House floor yesterday as evidence that the interim appointment authority had been abused.

Rep. Berman pointed to an e-mail from Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who said "We should gum this to death. Our guy is in there so the status quo is good for us. Pledge a desire for a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney and otherwise hunker down."

Attorney General Gonzales Faces "Tightening Noose" Over Sacked US Government Attorneys Scandal

Bush Republican Allies Suffering From "Scandal Fatigue"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

George W. Bush : Alone

The CIA wiretapping abuse scandal. The Walter Reed wounded American soldiers abuse scandal. The Attorney General Gonzales sacked attorneys scandal. The Most- Americans-
Dont-Support-The-Iraq-War scandal. There is no shortage of scandals consuming President Bush's legacy, twenty months out from his final days in office. And it puts the president in an historically unique position. And it isn't a good one.

Robert Novak writes in the Washington Post that in 50 years of covering Washington DC, he has never seen a president more isolated and alone from his own party in Congress than George W. Bush. And that includes President Carter and President Nixon, at the height of the Watergate scandal :

Republicans in Congress do not trust their president to protect them. That alone is sufficient reason to withhold statements of support for (Attorney General) Gonzales, because such a gesture could be quickly followed by his resignation under pressure. Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), the highly regarded young chairman of the House Republican Conference, praised Donald Rumsfeld in November only to see him sacked shortly thereafter.

But not many Republican lawmakers would speak up for Gonzales even if they were sure Bush would stick with him. He is the least popular Cabinet member on Capitol Hill, even more disliked than Rumsfeld was. The word most often used by Republicans to describe the management of the Justice Department under Gonzales is "incompetent."

The saving grace that some Republicans find in the dispute over U.S. attorneys is that, at least temporarily, it draws attention away from debate over an unpopular war. But the overriding feeling in the Republican cloakroom is that the Justice Department and the White House could not have been more inept in dealing with the president's unquestioned right to appoint -- and replace -- federal prosecutors.

The I-word (incompetence) is also used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to cited a trifecta of incompetence: the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the FBI's misuse of the USA Patriot Act and the U.S. attorneys firing fiasco.

"We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"

A few Republicans blame incessant attacks from the new Democratic majority in Congress for that image. Many more say today's problems in the administration derive from the continuing impact of yesterday's mistakes. The answer that is not entertained by the president's most severe GOP critics, even when not speaking for quotation, is that this is just the governing style of George W. Bush and will not change while he is in the Oval Office.

Novak sees President Bush's infamous stubbornness as one of his greatest character flaws, as far as the most powerful Republican dissenters are concerned.

They want him to pardon Scooter Libby, but Bush will never do this. They want him to ask Attorney General Gonzales to resign, but Bush won't do this either.

There is no reason to expect that Bush will change his mind on either of these issues any time before his presidency expires in January, 2009. But how long will the Republican heavyweights tolerate so many refusals by Bush to do as they demand?

Bush may find out for himself as momentum for his impeachment grows in the coming months, if not weeks. Democrat firebrands like Chuck Hagel are already heavily hinting impeachment is on the cards, and he is rumoured to have some key Republican support. But the Dems won't make their move for impeachment until they know they will get the support of every Republican they need. Again, this may come sooner than President Bush may think.

Can President Bush veto his own impeachment?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hagel To Bush : "This Is Not A Monarchy"

Democrats Hint They Can Use Impeachment To Rein In Bush's Power

Talk and threats and speculation of President Bush being impeached were widespread and sometimes fever-hot in the months leading up to the US mid-term elections late last year. Little of that talk came from Democrats themselves, but the idea that the Democrats would impeach Bush the first chance they got was pumped by Democrat supporters, particularly on the internet.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, crushed any hope of impeachment action against Bush within days of picking up her gavel. The netroots crowd (online Democrat activists and campaigners) were furious, but the fever died down remarkably quick.

Now, however, on the back of President Bush threatening to veto any move by the Democrats, or the Senate or Congress, to end his War On Iraq one day sooner than he wishes, the impeachment issue has resurfaced as a retaliatory way for the Democrats to rein in Bush's psuedo-dictatorial powers.

Senator Chuck Hagel, a fierce and passionate critic of Bush, and one of the most influential "End The War" federal campaigners, has warned the president that "this is not a monarchy" and that he does not rule without being called to account for his actions.

Raw Story has good coverage of recent impeachment-zone chatter via Hagel :
"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore. He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."

"...any president who says 'I don't care' or 'I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else' or 'I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed,' if a president really believes that, then there are, what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that," Hagel said. Hagel added, "This is not a monarchy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Claim : US Army Left With No 'Ready' Brigade To Defend American Interests Internationally

Bush's War On Iraq Played Directly Into Al Qaeda/Bin Laden's "Destroy America" Strategy

Before the Iraq War began, there was no shortage of warnings from American and international military, war strategy and intelligence experts that such a war would play directly into the 20 year plan announced by Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden after 9/11 to "destroy America" by wearing it down morally, economically and militarily.

From testimony provided by leaders of America's military to the US Senate Armed Services committee in the past weeks, it is clear that the Iraq War, primarily, is the reason why the United States has now been left with no single brigade equipped and 'ready' to emergency-deploy internationally to defend America's interests.

A stunning revelation that leaves the United States extremely vulnerable and gives lie to the president's repeated claims that the Iraq War would make, and keep, America safe.

We've summarised a Washington Post report on the shocking state of the US Army and Marine Corps over at our 'Fourth World War' blog, and provided further comment.

As the United States, and the remaining Coalition of the Willing nations, enter their fifth year of the Iraq War tonight, it is a terrible reality to comprehend that President Bush has led the United States into exactly the kind of state of military decay and homefront chaos that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda hoped that he would.

They knew long, sustained wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as an international manhunt) would wear down the morale and resources of the United States military, and now military leaders have admitted that this is exactly the reality situation today.

Here's the summary of the main points from the Fourth War World blog report :

* The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the US Army in a such a state of disrepair, it will take years and tens of billions of dollars for the Army and Marine Corps to get back up to pre-War on Terror levels of efficiency, maintenance and readiness.

* Senior officers of the US Military warn the risk to the United States is "serious and deepening."

* The US Military has been left with a gaping deficit of reserve ground troops required if they are to deal "quickly and decisively with potential foreign crisis", with Iran, Pakistan and North Korea cited as being of particular concern.

* The Bush-backed troop "surge" into Baghdad is believed to have left "critical Army overseas equipment stocks for use in another conflict...depleted."

* Keeping the troop "surge" at the levels demanded by President Bush beyond August this year - more than 32,000 extra combat troops - would become "a challenge".

* The US Army currently does not have one single brigade standing ready and equipped to immediately deploy to a foreign "hot spot" should hostilities break out that put at risk American interests.

Go Here To Read The Full Story

Monday, March 19, 2007

Could President Bush Face War Crimes Trials At The Hague?

From Your New Reality :
In news that will cause millions of anti-war protesters to drool helplessly, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations has revealed Iraq is "actively considering" signing up to the International Criminal Court.

Why is this such a mouth-watering proposition for those opposed to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq?

If Iraq were to do this, the actions of the United States, the UK, Australia and other Coalition countries, during the Iraq War could be legitimately investigated in war crimes trials at The Hague. For example, in 2005, the US admitted to the UN that it had tortured prisoners inside Iraq. An illegal act commited during an illegal war.
And that's just the beginning.

President Bush may soon find himself in the uncomfortable position where Iraq uses the threat of prosecution through the Internation Criminal Court as a way of leveraging a better deal for Iraqis in the contentious battle over how Iraq's oil resources will be carved up.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

He Just Wanted To Become Baseball Commissioner

The future president takes in a ball game in Arlington, 1994.

In October, 2000, Vanity Fair ran an extensive profile on the man who wanted to be president. Well, first he wanted to be baseball commissioner, and his enthusiasm for becoming president of the United States, as shown in the profile piece, was not exactly overwhelming.

Interviews with friends, uni pals and former business partners reveal young George had virtually no interest in politics, the state of the nation or the world at large for most of his life, up to, and including, during his reign as governor of Texas during the 1990s.

But he sure did love clawing his way back from the brink of utter failure. In fact, a prime source of motivation for Bush during his 20s and 30s was failure itself. A pattern of behaviour was established in his childhood that has continued right through to his years as president.

So why did George W. Bush want to become president anyway?

Did he do it for his Ma?

To prove something to his dad?

Or simply to avenge the family dynasty, after the monumental trouncing his father suffered when the Democrats and Bill Clinton won the 1994 presidential election?

If the Vanity Fair story and Bush's own words are to be believed, a little of all the above.

As I said, it's a long piece, but I've excerpted below what I think prove to be the more interesting elements of the story, considering what we know now about the man, seven years on from his first successful run at the presidency :
Throughout his boyhood and the nomadic years of his 20s, and continuing through the wildcat years of his 30s as an oilman drilling on other people's money and boozing to blot out his failures, nothing engaged his attention for any length of time. He was lectured by his rich uncle, George Herbert Walker, a banker, on the concept that politics was the only occupation worth pursuing. "He didn't have any passion for running for Congress, or for governor," says Bush's personal accountant, Robert McCleskey. "I think it was in his blood, but I don't know if he had it on the brain," suggests Charlie Younger, the boyhood friend who in 1975 climbed onstage with Bush to dance with Willie Nelson. Even as an adult, George was so out of control that his mother, then the president's wife, removed her eldest son to the opposite end of the table at a state dinner for the Queen of England. Although sober by then, the First Son had introduced himself to the Queen as "the black sheep of the family."

* * * * *

...According to George's wife, Laura Bush, that he "always wanted to buy a baseball team, to be an owner like his Uncle Herbie." Hannah remembers another, even clearer dream expressed by his buddy. "He wanted to be Kenesaw Mountain Landis," America's first baseball commissioner, legendary for his power and dictatorial style. "I would have guessed that when George grew up he would be the commissioner of baseball," says Hannah. "I am still convinced that that is his goal."

One assumes that this close pal of the Republican presidential candidate is speaking with tongue in cheek. But no. "Running for president is a résumé-enhancer for being the commissioner of baseball," he insists. "And it's a whole lot better job."

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A close examination of Bush's life uncovers an interesting pattern, one that emerged in his school days and has repeated during his years as an oilman and in his recent political career. He seems motivated to make a real effort only when he is failing, or when he has gone too far in shaming his family, or when he is in a game he is sure he can win. His opponents, judging him by the careless, smart-aleck mode that he usually affects, size him up as a lightweight and are then caught flat-footed when he beats them. But once Bush figures out the game, says Roland Betts, he can lose interest and go on cruise control.

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The interest by his mother comes from the fact there was dyslexia in the family," confirmed Lenox Reed, former executive director of the Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, which won a grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation and trains Texas teachers how to teach reading to dyslexics. Although Reed was uncomfortable with looking at her governor through this prism, she said, "I do think you have every right to analyze his speech patterns." She referred me to a Houston speech and language expert who diagnoses dyslexia, Nancy LaFevers.

"The errors you've heard Governor Bush make are consistent with dyslexia," LaFevers says. "Put food on your family" and "claim the low road" indicate language that hasn't been processed. Dyslexics hear adequately but seem unable to process quickly all the sounds in the word. So when they go to retrieve a word they've heard, they will sometimes omit sounds, or transpose or even substitute sounds. They are highly verbal. But a language-disordered person is not particularly organized as a speaker.

Sue Horn, who has been diagnosing dyslexics for 25 years, agrees: "Bush is probably dyslexic, although he has probably never been diagnosed." Tom West says of dyslexics, "You're likely to scramble words, particularly if you're tired or under stress … or asked something cold. But if you're in an environment where you can be an 'actor'—with a script you've memorized—you can focus on connecting with the audience and be a much more powerful speaker than anyone else."

If Bush does indeed carry dyslexic traits, why would this be important?

It shapes one's whole life. According to professionals in the field, the brain structure related to dyslexia is laid down within the first few weeks of gestation. "The wiring is so deep, you can alter it, but you can't change the root structure," says West. A lot of dyslexics develop rigidity, needing the comfort of following a known path. Bush for many years followed his father's path. He is at pains to be punctual. His latter-day embrace of the evangelical Christian men's movement provided him further structure and a spiritual discipline. And now, as he runs for political office, strategists and speechwriters can provide him with almost foolproof verbal structure.

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There is an interpersonal fearlessness about Bush that is utterly disarming. The minute he enters a space, he is situationally hyper-aware. He works a ballroom better than any pol with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, making personal contact with people and reaching out for those too shy to come forward, spending up to twice as much time on being a "people person" as on delivering his short, rote stump speech. He violates the normal social distance and moves right in, four or five inches from the stranger's mouth or eyes, and he drinks in the face. He seems to be memorizing visual cues—modeling the person in his mind's eye the way a sculptor would. If this is his compensation for an unreliable verbal channel, it works, and particularly for a politician it works wonderfully.

If you've got the time, the whole story can be read here. There are plenty more fascinating insights to be found.