Thursday, January 06, 2005

George W. Bush: The Ugliest American

The Ugliest American by Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate

Worthy of re-posting in its entirety:

His 'actions speak louder than words'

By Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly every nation in the world -- rich and poor, big and small, former ally and former foe -- came rushing to America's side. At few times in modern history have so many disparate peoples rallied behind one nation, this spirit of unity captured by the headline that appeared in Le Monde , France's largest daily newspaper, on Sept. 12: "We Are All Americans Now."

And yet that global goodwill vanished almost as swiftly as those four jets pierced America's bubble of invincibility. Now, three years later, the situation is completely reversed: Nearly every nation in the world has replaced goodwill with ill will, deep distrust if not outright fear and loathing.

The reason for this reversal of fortune is obvious: The Ugliest American resides in the people's house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Whether we like it or not, whether it's fair, whether it squares with any of our own feelings, George W. Bush is America's face around the world. He's our Nike swoosh, our golden arches, our Ugly American brand. Never was this more apparent than in the wake (literally) of the tsunami that has, at last count, killed nearly 150,000 people in south Asia.

What an opportunity for a real American leader! What a chance, when so many innocent people had suffered -- so many Muslims, too -- to deflate the ticking time bomb of terrorist recruitment efforts. Imagine the reaction throughout the billion-plus populace of the Muslim world had Bush flown to the area, heading a flotilla of cargo planes with food, medicine and hope. Four measly planes, let's say, and what a public relations coup that would have been! Al Jazeera would have been back-pedaling furiously on its newscasts, moderate Muslim leaders would have rushed to the front to grab this olive branch ... wait a minute ... I was dreaming of a time when we had real leaders. What was I thinking? We're stuck aboard this aircraft carrier for four more years with the Ugliest American.

So, where was George when the tsunamis hit? Oh, he spent the day pedaling his bicycle around his fake ranch like Pee Wee Herman. He could not be bothered to attend to an international crisis, not unless it involved oil. Finally, he took a break long enough to pledge, via his White House posse, a measly $15 million to the rescue effort -- one quarter of the cost of his coronation, er, inauguration on Jan. 20. Bush claimed he could adequately "monitor" the situation from his ranch (read: "I'll set out on the back porch and watch Fox News while I'm drinkin' my iced tea. I ain't givin' up my vacation for a buncha Third Worlders, especially if they ain't got any oil.").

Sadly, as I followed the news of the breaking events on the the Internet, a poll posted by America Online found that 72 percent of the respondents agreed that Bush's $15 million was an "adequate response." Putting aside politics and religion and corporate spin, isn't it about time the American people looked in the mirror and asked: How did we become so mean and ugly so soon? Are we really built in Bush's image?

Because this $15 million was America's first response, and it came belatedly and begrudgingly, any followup efforts and funds, no matter how great (at last count, Bush has been guilt-tripped into upping the ante to $350 million), can't erase that clank that Bush's initial actions sounded around the world. And yet it was in keeping with his character. The only other major crisis during his presidency came on Sept. 11, and what did he do then? He sat, glued to his chair, reading My Pet Goat , then flew quickly as far away as he could get from Washington, D.C. The leadership vacuum he left was filled by Mayor Giuliani, who helped the nation get through the agony of the next week.

Because, after the tsunami hit, action was so slow in coming -- and, yes, because he basks in world adulation -- former Pres. Bill Clinton tried to pull a Giuliani by calling for an international effort spearheaded by America. Because he -- despite all his other psychological baggage -- possesses the instincts of a real leader, Clinton correctly sensed the opportunity that this crisis provided. But Bush, sensing he was being upstaged, turned this disaster into a pissing contest. He did it in his typically craven way, too. He had his spokesman release the statement: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' He believes actions speak louder than words."

Alas, the truth.

Copyright © 2005 New Mass Media.

Reprinted from The Hartford Advocate:

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Our President: Hear No Evil


The Nelson Report is a daily political tip sheet and analysis written for the past 20 years for the (US and Asian) corporate and government clients of Chris Nelson, a former Capitol Hill staffer and UPI reporter. (He was actually the first to break the looted explosives story before the election; Josh Marshall then posted it to his blog.) This Monday, he wrote:

There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear “bad news.”

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. “That’s all he wants to hear about,” we have been told. So “in” are the latest totals on school openings, and “out” are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that “it will just get worse.”

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.

Genuinely scary.

Ben Wikler

We Got Al Qaeda Right Where We Want 'Em

From the Boston Globe:

Bomber of US mess hall said to be Saudi student

CAIRO -- The suicide bomber who killed 22 people when he blew himself up in a US mess hall in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul was a Saudi medical student, an Arab newspaper reported yesterday.

Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat identified him as 20-year-old Ahmed Said Ahmed al-Ghamdi, citing unnamed friends of the man's father. The friends said members of an Iraqi resistance group contacted Ghamdi's father to tell him his son was the suicide bomber who carried out the Dec. 21 attack, the deadliest on a US installation in Iraq.

The father told the newspaper his son had gone to Iraq to fight the Americans and had died there. The family held a mourning ceremony, the paper said. US officials have said their preliminary investigation indicates the bomber was dressed in an Iraqi military uniform -- but was not an Iraqi soldier -- when he slipped into a mess tent packed with soldiers.


The Ghamdis are a large Saudi clan, three members of whom were among the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Yes, three of his family members were among the September 11th hijackers.

Hey, if Bernard Kerik "I'd sell government influence for a lousy $7,000 New Jersey wedding reception" could be nominated as Homeland Security chief, anybody with a backpack & an Iraqi uniform could get into a military base in Iraq. FUBAR, under Prances in Flightsuit it's all FUBAR. Chilling.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Bush is a simpleton

A 'good' adjective

Funny piece from The Carpetbagger Report about Bush & his limited vocabulary:

Ron Suskind raised a point the other day in a New York Times op-ed that I wanted to follow up on.

The president chose Bernard Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland Security because he was "a good man," an intangible, gut-check standard that the president also applies to judicial nominees and world leaders.

I think that's absolutely true. One recent report explained in great detail that the president met Kerik, decided on the spot that he liked him, and that this initial meeting effectively ended the vetting process. Bush, as we know, relies on his "gut" far more than facts, so the man with poor instincts was satisfied with the conclusion that this incompetent criminal should head the Department of Homeland Security. As far as the president was concerned, he's "a good man." No other information was needed; no other standard need be met.

The fun part, however, is seeing how often he relies on this silly little phrase as a standard for qualification. Suskind noted that Bush uses the "good man" standard to size-up would-be judges and foreign heads of state, but the amusing thing is realizing that the president uses the same phrase to describe just about every man for which he has any fondness at all.

This link shows that Bush refers to almost everyone as "a good man." The president relies on the line so often, he's used it, on average, about seven times a month throughout his first term.


It actually suits Bush perfectly. He's a simple person with a simple worldview: people are either good or bad. Complexities are for the "reality-based community." For the president, labeling someone a "good man" isn't just deep insight into a person's character, it's the only insight necessary.

We Lost One of the Great Ones - RIP Shirley Chisholm

Chisholm, 80, Is Dead; 'Unbossed' Pioneer in Congress

I loved Shirley Chisholm. She was one of my first feminist heroes. I remember being thrilled when she addressed the Democratic Convention in 1972. She ran for the Democratic nomination that year, and even though she didn't win, it was a big blow for women's rights. I think I believed that by now a woman would have run for if not been elected President. I've always been an optimist.

Shirley Chisholm never took s**t from anyone. A role model for all us Democrats. Speak truth to power.

Here's the DailyKos thread on Chisholm, with many good photos & quotes.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


The 2004 Falsies Awards: Remembering the people and players responsible for polluting our information environment.

Interesting list of media foibles in 2004. But where is the New York Times Ahmed Chalabi-loving Judith Miller? Bob (Traitor) Novak? The media's fawning coverage of the Swift Boat Liars? Bill O'Reilly buying back the tapes of his you-say-loofah I-say-falafel conversations? Actually, Faux News Channel alone could fill an entire Top Ten list.

Inquiring minds want to know.