Monday, December 22, 2008

George Will doesn't like it either

George Will is not known as a flaming leftist liberal.
But he has often been a harsh crisitc of GW Bush.

And he thinks very little of the administration's use of TARP funds for the auto industry. At least the fact that the administration has made Congress moot:

The president is dispensing money from the $700 billion Congress provided for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The unfounded assertion of a right to do this is notably brazen, given the indisputable fact that if Congress had known that TARP -- supposedly a measure for scouring "toxic" assets from financial institutions -- was to become an instrument for unconstrained industrial policy, it would not have been passed...

The administration has not confined its aggrandizement of executive power to national security matters....

Most of the administration's executive truculence has pertained to national security, where the case for broad prerogatives, although not as powerful as the administration supposes, is at least arguable. With the automakers, however, executive branch overreaching now extends to the essence of domestic policy -- spending -- and traduces a core constitutional principle, the separation of powers...


Read the whole article here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blunders everywhere

An unpublished, 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.


This report was written by a Republican, and contains many quotes attributed to men like Rumsfeld and Powell. The accuracy of those quotes is not denied. They are shocking.

Click here for the article and to read the actual report.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The hanging

President Bush is almost gone.
On Saturday a painting of him was unveiled in the White House.
He began his remarks like this:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Welcome to my hanging. (Laughter and applause.)

Finally.

(Note: please do not think I want the President dead. That is not the intention of this blog post. I repeat: I DO NOT want the President dead. I prefer he serve out his sentence as most impopulair president ever while remaining alive.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unthaw

Our President continues to amaze with his ability to torture the English language.
In a rountable meeting on the economy yesterday he said the following:

As I said Friday, this thaw -- took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw. But it's -- but the attitude here is a little different than it might have been a week ago.

First of all - I think he meant "freeze". Our economy is freezing up, not thawing out. Freezing is a longer process than thawing.
And of course the opposite of "thaw" is "freeze". Not "unthaw".

But who cares?
Nobody is listening to him anymore.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Michael Palin for President

After all, anyone can become President of the US!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Absolute disaster

Hopefully I won´t have to write (or think!) about the disaster of the Bush presidency very much longer.
The absence of GW from the presidential campaign of McCain and Palin says more than enough.
And now the disaster with the banks and Wall Street: the same kind of incompetence that characterizes the war in Iraq, combined with the lack of leadership that shows an understanding of the facts and a capability to deal with them properly. Just read this incoherent answer of GW to a question from a reporter (here is the whole press conference):
At first I thought we could deal with this -- deal with the problem one issue at a time. We made the decision on Fannie and Freddie because there was systemic risk to our mortgage markets. And then obviously AIG came along -- and Lehman came along and it was -- it declared bankruptcy; then AIG came along and it -- the house of cards was much bigger, beyond -- started to stretch beyond just Wall Street, in the sense of the effects of failure. And so when one card started to go, we were worried about the whole deck going down, and so therefore moved, and moved hard.
And now the proposed solution: abandon the principles of a free capitalistic society and put the financial power in the hands of the government, and, in reality, one man: the Secretary of the Treasury.
Fortunately it seems that some Senators - Republican and Democrat - are desiring to think twice about this plan.

"This is what I love about this whole thing. This is what Congress said today. 'The days of getting money just for the asking are over.' And then they asked for $700 billion. See, you know the way a bailout works? Here's the way a bailout works. A failed president and a failed Congress invest $700 billion of your money in failed businesses. Believe me, this can't fail." --Jay Leno

"As if all this news is not bad enough, today, President Bush announced he's on the case. Because if there's one name that comes to mind when you're in a no-room-for-error crisis, it's George Bush." --Bill Maher

"Oh, and he is pissed about the trillion dollar thing. Usually, when he spends that kind of money on a country, he gets to bomb the shit out of it, too." --Bill Maher

Monday, July 07, 2008

Well, it has started...

Started is probably not the best word, because it has been going on for a while.

I think I have in this weblog predicted that McCain will win the presidency (I am not saying I want him to win, I don't know who I would vote for). He will win it the same way GW won it - by scaring the (the shit out of the) American people (to death) about Muslims and terrorism (take your pick of expressions).
Yesterday I got my first forwarded email with the "facts" about Barak Obama. Its one of those mails whose content you can't verify, because most of the sources are not mentioned, and those links you can click on lead you to expired pages or super-conservative websites that sell T-shirts to young tight-breasted teenage girls with the slogan "Up your arsenal" on them.
Just a few of them, because I don't want to promote this stuff, but you get the idea:
Obama's cousin Odinga in ran for president and tried to get Sharia Muslim law in place there. When Odinga lost the elections, his followers have burned Christians' homes and then burned men, women and children alive in a Christian church where they took shelter.. Obama SUPPORTED his cousin before the election process here started.
My Grandmother Has Always Been A Christian - NOT EXACTLY, she does her daily Salat prayers at 5am according to her own interviews. Not to mention,
Christianity wouldn't allow her to have been one of 14 wives to 1 man.
My Name is African Swahili - NOT EXACTLY, your name is Arabic and 'Baraka' (from which Barack came) means 'blessed' in that language. Hussein is also Arabic and so is Obama.
I Never Practiced Islam - NOT EXACTLY, you practiced it daily at school,
where you were registered as a Muslim and kept that faith for 31 years, until
your wife made you change, so you could run for office.

I guess it was too much to hope this could wait until after the summer....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Toning down

Mr. Bush is toning his rhetoric down, even to the point of admitting that he regrets some of his rhetoric in the past. See this article in The Times, and also this one.

In his "joint press availability" with Angela Merkel of Germany yesterday, he said this:

Q Mr. President, on the way to Europe, you gave a very interesting interview for The Times newspaper in which you basically said that you regret your war rhetoric. Now I'm wondering, do you actually just regret your war rhetoric, or do you regret having gone to war with Iraq?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't regret it at all. Removing Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place. And yes, I told the guy -- the guy said, now what could you do over? First of all, you don't get to do things over in my line of work. But I could have used better rhetoric to indicate that one, we tried to exhaust the diplomacy in Iraq; two, that I don't like war. But, no, the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision.

Yeah, what can one say?
Good direction.
Too late.

P.S. Language remains a problem with him. The word rhetoric has a negative connotation (think propaganda). I would think a president would want to avoid all rhetoric if he (or she) could, not wish for better rhetoric.
It's like saying you want better torture.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hillary and June

There's a lot of nonsense and idiocy that goes around in Christian circles about Bill and Hillary. This, for example.
And now the criticism about her remarks about the history of presidential primary contests that were not resolved until June. Any reasonable reading of her comments (see them below) cannot lead to any other conclusion than that she was making a very legitimate historical reference.
I still don't understand the Christian vitriol against a woman who remained married, and, as far as we know, faithful to her husband. If you want to attribute sinful motives to that, then you should provide substantial background for your argument. Or you should be one of her elders who can help her.
Otherwise it is gossip.
And gossip is not very Christian.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Golf court

This is making the rounds big time on internet these days, but if you haven't seen it: Bush shows solidarity with the families of those killed in Iraq.



And Keith Olberman's comments:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Qualified

Boy,the last 8 years have sure proved the truth of this quote.
Aren't you worried about the future?

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

Douglas Adams

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

O.M.G.

As of today only 258 more days.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Quit Complainin'

Most expensive places to buy gas

Rank

Country

Price/gal

1.

Sierra Leone

$18.42

2.

Aruba

$12.03

3.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

$10.86

4.

Eritrea

$9.58

5.

Norway

$8.73

6.

United Kingdom

$8.38

7.

Netherlands

$8.37

8.

Monaco

$8.31

9.

Iceland

$8.28

10.

Belgium

$8.22

111.

United States

$3.45

Friday, April 25, 2008

They will get a candidate.....

"The primary race is dragging on and on and on.
But the Democrats are trying to put a good face on it, they're confident, they say now, absolutely they will have a nominee for president by McCain's second year in office.
So there.
They're ready to go."

--David Letterman

Monday, April 21, 2008

Woodcarving

My wife asked me to get a woodcarving for our mantel while I was in Ghana.
It was not an easy thing to do, because we did not want a tacky souvenir wooden evil-looking mask.
I finally found these. We like them very much.
They are Chiwara carvings, from Mali. Male and female antelopes, who according to the legends advised the Bambara people about agriculture and social values at the beginning of the world. The sun and the moon meet and unite, and peace and prosperity reigns.
We hope that peace and prosperity also reign in our house.
And we will keep on praying for that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A new wall

Is this the only thing the Bush administration can think of to create and ensure security in in Sadr City?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

America's weapons

On Sunday evening I saw the film "Why we fight", a documentary about America's military-industrial complex.

I was sitting on a bed in resort hotel 25 miles to the west of Accra, with my friends Alan and Sally Lee. We were watching the film on a laptop, each person with his own set of headphones. This is how the family Lee watches movies when traveling, or at home and when they don't want the neighbors to hear the film's dialogue or soundtrack (apparently the neighbors can hear through the walls).

Anyway: pretty good film. Not at all Micheal Moore. A serious documentary, to be taken seriously.

It begins with an articulate and passionate speech by President Dwight Eisenhower: his farewell speech given in January 1961. In the speech he warns America about building up an industrial military complex, in which, for the first time in history, weapons will be produced just to have them, and not because of a specific war threat. He warns about the moral and spiritual implications of that for the country, as well as its impact on economics and peace issues. Great speech.

Well, as you can guess, America didn't listen, and the weapons industry has become big business. And the film asks the question what kind of influence these big businesses had on the decisions surrounding the Iraq war.

I could easily connect this film with what I had experienced that Sunday morning, in an international church in Accra. It was "International Sunday", in which the congregation was paying respect to all the countries represented in the church. At the beginning of the service (which lasted 3 hours, including a good sermon by a Nigerian), the representatives of each country paraded into the church, while a woman gave facts about the country.

When the American group paraded in (I didn't join them, as I was traveling on my Dutch passport), it seemed the clapping was a little less. And I felt shame when the lady read the list of primary exports of the United States, and weapons was prominent on the list. The only country to have that on the list.

This is really too bad. What can a simple citizen do about it?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Accra

Here are some pictures of Accra, taken from the Jamestown lighthouse. this is one of the oldest and poorest sections of the city. You can see it in the pictures. Not particularly shocking for me, I've seen lots of this kind of stuff before, but you sure wonder what might happen if the West took some of the money being spent in the Middle East and spent it effectively here. (I am experienced and smart enough to know that that is a simplistic thought, and the folks on the ground here in Africa share a lot of responsibility also. But still.....). 



Monday, April 07, 2008

Ghana

Today I leave for a week in Accra, Ghana.
I need to get a change of scenery, and out of all the options this seemed the best one.
I will meet a couple of friends there - an American couple we have known for years, and a Dutch man who is setting up a business there.
I'm looking forward to warm weather, renewing freindships, and making aquaintance again with West Africa.
It's been almost 21 years since we left Nigeria, so I am interested to see how things are there and what kind of memories rise to the surface.
I am also interested to see how missions has changed.
Hopefully it has........
Maybe I can blog from there, I don't know yet.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Criminals?

I thought we were fighting a War against Terrorists.
Now I will grant you that a terrorist is a criminal.
But a criminal is not necessarily a terrorist.
A terrorist commits his or her crime for political reasons.
A criminal commits his or her crime mostly for personal reasons.

Yesterday President Bush kept calling the people the Iraqi government is trying to get rid of in Basra criminals.
...any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law. And that's what's taking place in Basra and in other parts of Iraq. I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq.
...And one of the early questions I had to the Prime Minister was would he be willing to confront criminal elements, whether they be Shia or Sunni?
...And of course, routing out these folks who've burrowed in society, who take advantage of the ability to be criminals, or the ability to intimidate citizens, is going to take a while.

So why does Bush use the word criminal?
It is one thing to help the Iraqi government root out criminals.
It is quite another to be engaged in getting rid of terrorism.
So which is it, Mr. Bush?
Could you, for once, be clear on something, and give us some confidence you know what you are talking about and can explain it?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Questions

President Bush made a speech today, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war.
I have a few questions regarding some things he said (quoted verbatim):

"The men and women who crossed into Iraq five years ago removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors."
Is the country liberated? The oppression of Saddam is gone, but is the country now liberated?

“The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated”
Why didn’t you anticipate that?

“The terrorists who murder the innocent in the streets of Baghdad want to murder the innocent in the streets of America.”
How do you know this? And why would they, when they didn't want to do that before April 2003?

“The gains we have made (because of the surge) are fragile and reversible.”
What are you doing to make sure they are not reversed? Because in the same paragraph you say: “The surge is working. And as a return on our success in Iraq, we've begun bringing some of our troops home.”
A quote from somebody else: "There are those who say the Iraqi Army can control Iraq without the Americans. But they are liars. Without the Americans it would be impossible for us to control Iraq."
COL. ALI OMAR ALI, an Iraqi battalion commander in Mosul.



“For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al Qaeda rallied Arab masses to drive America out.”
Can you show this is so, in the light of the fact that Iraq housed no al Qaeda before April 2003?

“By spreading the hope of liberty in the Middle East, we will help free societies take root -- and when they do, freedom will yield the peace that we all desire.”
Can you give any examples of this so far, or show any demonstrable progress since September 11? (Besides the Iraqi elections, on which the verdict is still out, and which needed massive American support.)

“The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary, and it is just.”
Was it necessary to eliminate the threat of WMDs? Aside from the bravery and skill of our troups (which they would show in any battle anywhere), what has been noble about this war? There are very few world organizations or leaders, even (or especially) religious ones, who call it just. Why is that?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Rockin in the free world

I have long wanted to place this clip on my weblog, but I haven't found it until now.
It's from Fahrenheit 9/11 (I didn't care for the film that much, mostly because I thought it was not so well done.)
This is at the end of the film, with scenes from the film shown around the music. I had heard that Micheal Moore wanted to use the song by The Who, Won't get fooled Again, but didn't get permission from the rock band.
Neil Young was willing to let this song, written at the time of G. Bush Sr., to be used. (By the way, I think Sr. was a much better president than Jr.)
Anyway, here it is.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Money! Bombs! Jesus!

Great article today on PoliGazette about the Republican Party.
Click here for the whole article.
A few lines to give you an idea:

The Republican Party consists of three wings.

First, there’s the Money! wing, whose guiding principal is: “Money. More.” Then the Bombs! wing, whose guiding principal is, “Grrrr! Rrrowf! Rrrowf!.” And finally the Jesus! wing which believes God made gays on the seventh day at a wild post-creation party. (During which God did several things even He can’t remember. And woe unto he who remindeth Him.)

We are down to three Republican candidates, and each is not only a representative of one wing of the party, but the mathematically precise representative of that wing. Each of the three is the perfect embodiment, the distilled essence, of his wing of the GOP. Quite frankly, it’s eerie.

Money! Mitt Romney.
Bombs! John McCain.
Jesus! Mike Huckabee.

Most election years you get a candidate who represents Money! and one for Bombs! and one for Jesus! And in the end, the GOP weights their selection, with Money! naturally carrying the most weight, while Jesus! gets lip service and one chance to embarrass the country before all of western civilization. But this year there is no compromise. No synthesis. No candidate who represents anything other than his own wing.

The only uniting factor this year is that Bombs! and Jesus! really, really despise Money!
Bombs! and Jesus! united in a burning hatred of Money! Wow. I don’t know who wrote this script, but I have to say, as a Democrat, I’m liking it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Deficits

News Item:
President Bush introduced a $3.1 trillion budget on Monday that supports sizable increases in military spending to fight the war on terrorism and protects his signature tax cuts.
Bush projects that the deficits, which had been declining, will soar to near-record levels, hitting $410 billion this year and $407 billion in 2009. The all-time high deficit in dollar terms was $413 billion in 2004.

According to FactCheck.org the Clinton Presidency did balance the budget and erase the federal deficit:

This chart, based on historical figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows the total deficit or surplus for each fiscal year from 1990 through 2006. Keep in mind that fiscal years begin Oct. 1, so the first year that can be counted as a Clinton year is fiscal 1994. The appropriations bills for fiscal years 1990 through 1993 were signed by Bill Clinton's predecessor, George H.W. Bush. Fiscal 2002 is the first for which President George W. Bush signed the appropriations bills, and the first to show the effect of his tax cuts.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ninehundredthirtyfive false statements


The Center for Public Integrity reports on its investigation into the information disseminated by the Bush Administration in the run-up to the Iraq War.
The web page is here.
They count 935 false statements, 232 made by GW himself.
According to this report many of these statements were made in spite of what was known, or should have been known, on a day-to-day basis.
From the web page:

Bush and the top officials of his administration have so far largely avoided the harsh, sustained glare of formal scrutiny about their personal responsibility for the litany of repeated, false statements in the run-up to the war in Iraq. There has been no congressional investigation, for example, into what exactly was going on inside the Bush White House in that period. Congressional oversight has focused almost entirely on the quality of the U.S. government's pre-war intelligence — not the judgment, public statements, or public accountability of its highest officials. And, of course, only four of the officials — Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz — have testified before Congress about Iraq.
Short of such review, this project provides a heretofore unavailable framework for examining how the U.S. war in Iraq came to pass. Clearly, it calls into question the repeated assertions of Bush administration officials that they were the unwitting victims of bad intelligence.

It will be very interesting to see what the Republican candidate for President does with GW during the campaign this coming fall. And the role Iraq will play.
It's already clear that all the candidates, including Republicans, are calling for honesty en bipartisanship in Washington, and using hard language to describe the mess there. The same language GW used in 2000.

I still maintain that on a moral scale of nature of wrongdoing and effects on people's lives these false statements are far worse than lying about a blow job in the Oval Office.
Pardon my French.

P.S. If you look on the website of The Center for Public Integrity, and read about mission and staff of the Center (click here to do that), and decide that this is all propaganda of the liberal media, you are welcome to do that.
I would then sure like to see some proof from you that this data is not accurate (other than your screams of: "Liberal, biased media!").

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beggar

Imagine the President of the United States of America, with hat in hand, begging the leader of a third world country for anything.
Today George HW Bush did just that.
Click here for the rest of the story/commentary.

I don't know what you think of Maureen Dowd.
Sometimes you hate her, sometimes you love her.
This, from yesterday. Click here for the whole thing.

It took Mr. Bush almost his entire presidency to embrace diplomacy, but now that he’s in the thick of it, or perhaps the thin of it — given his speed-dating approach to statesmanship — he is kissing and holding hands with kings, princes, emirs, sheiks and presidents all over the Arab world and is trying to persuade them that he is not in a monogamous relationship with the Jews.
His message boiled down to: Iran bad, Israel good, Iraq doing better.
Blessed is the peacemaker who comes bearing a $30 billion package of military aid for Israel and a $20 billion package of Humvees and guided bombs for the Arabs.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Desmond Tutu

Archbisshop Desmond Tutu was interviewed last night on Dutch television.
If you want to watch the interview, you can. It lasts about 80 minutes, and you'll have to be patient through the first 2 or 3 minutes, as that is in Dutch. The rest is English.
Click here.
Well worth seeing.
Great interview, great person.
I'm sure he's not perfect, but he glows with a supernatural (I'd say it was divine) strength, love, grace, peace and joy.
Amazing, when you consider the difficulties under which he has had to live and work.
We all were able to follow the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision in the 90s.
The work of this Commission was, during those years, very impressive.
Still is.
I am struck again by the combination of grace (amnesty) and truth.
The goal of the Commission was to be graceful, but they knew that could only be accomplished by having the truth be exposed.
Liberating for victim and perpetrator.
If this isn't gospel-driven, I don't know what is.
Great inspiration for 2008.