Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bush's Self- Backlash

As I read this article and then thought back to my own analysis of the climate talks Bush held this week, I began to wonder if there wasn't a metaphor playing out here that stretches well-beyond the global warming crisis:
"It is striking that the (Bush) administration at the moment in the international conversation seems to be pretty isolated," said John Ashton, Britain's climate envoy. "I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally."

Bush's rejection of mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that warm the planet is at odds with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and with many who attended on Friday.

"Our message to the U.S. is this: what they placed on the table at this meeting is a first step, but is simply not enough," South African Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in a statement. "We think that the U.S. needs to go back to the drawing board."
The theme of isolation is a curtain draped across the backdrop of history during the Bush years, and speaks to an issue that should trouble even the most strident, ardent defenders of this administration: what is Bush so terrified of?

On a strictly psychological basis, Bush is the most powerful man in the world. A healthy, well-balanced person would exude confidence, and would be able to view world events through that lens: things happen, but at the end of the day, the US is all-powerful, and I lead this country.

Instead, the recurring trope for Bush has been an ill-at-ease demeanor, and a reflexive "I'll show YOU who's boss" attitude that says something to me that this is a man who doesn't want to be "found out".

I once played Risk with a couple of friends, one of whom gradually began to take a large lead over us (I had never played the game before, and didn't understand the strategy, so I just played for the lark). As he neared total domination, a curious thing began to happen with him.

He began to shiver. Nearly uncontrollably. Finally, it became clear (I had been eliminated and the other opponent held Burkina Faso or some such territory) that he would win, he relaxed.

I think about that game now nearly everytime I see Bush give a speech or take questions from the press. Here is a man clearly uncomfortable with his success, as if any minute now, someone would come along and take it away from him. Just as my friend had all but expected to lose a game he had won within fifteen minutes of playing, so too has Bush panicked from day one in the White House.

In the past, I've accused Bush of being a wimp, a charge I think still stands on its own merits.

Now I think that has a new layer added to it: the man can't help himself. He's had so much failure and gotten out of so many scrapes with the help of his family name and connections, that now that he's stuck in a terrible and terrifying situation, there's no one who can extend a hand and lift him out of the morass.

The only person more powerful than himself one. And any group of people who might rally around him, say, like the leaders of the EU, have been so alienated and would face such domestic strife from within their own countries, that Bush is radioactive to them: get away and stay away.

So here we have a situation fairly dripping with irony and long term peril, being handled by someone who's afraid of his own shadow right now: he stands off in one corner, screeching from his soapbox about "voluntary" emissions caps and free market solutions, and the rest of the civilized world, the adults, stand off in the middle of the room discussing how to save the planet.

You'd think Bush would welcome impeachment at this point!

Hm. Maybe Pelosi taking it off the table isn't such a dumb idea after all. Force Bush to deal with his own mess, or quit.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Let's Go Mets!


Guys, ya gotta believe that Tug McGraw is looking down from high holy heaven and while he may have won one world championship with the Phillies, he knows, he knows, he's a Met, through and through. Remember, he was in TWO World Series with you.

And he's grinning that idiotic grin of his. This is precisely the kind of situation he would have loved.

Ya gotta believe, you're going to win this thing, that it's out of your hands and your bats and that fate has given you an opportunity to pull this out of the fire. You've set a record for despair now, but it has been at times like this that the Mets have always prevailed. Give a Mets team a chance at the brass ring, and they'll grab it and hold on tight.

1969. 1973. Game six in 1986, of both the playoffs AND the series.

Ya. Just. Gotta. Believe!

We do.

Friday Music Blogging

B.O.C. - Don't Fear The Reaper

Best song about teen suicide ever written. It's ghastly in its beauty.

Friday Kitten Blogging

Dadby got a new cambera.

I don' thnk he nos how to oose et yet.

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) When you see a headline "Court Won't Declare Chimp a Person", you keep hoping it means that Nancy Pelosi will be declared President by a court.

2) While not so lucky, it's still a pretty interesting story, and probably the first of many to come. The idea is that, while not a human, this chimp could conceivably be declared a legal person, with the rights accruing to such status, in this case, the right not to be sold without consent of a guardian.

3) Most people move TO Florida from Long Island...

4) She probably produces better paintings than Mark Rothko.

5) Not good news for Michael Vick.

6) In human animal news...apparently Pervez Musharraf has made peace with the ruling Pakistani courts.

7) Very quietly, OJ Simpson has crept to the top of the best-seller list, like a thug about to kill his wife and a friend of hers.

8) And don't that say more about America than all the silence about the September 11 attacks and our failure to capture the criminals who perpetrated it?

9) John Edwards is getting desperate. Seeing Hillary with a 20 point lead in New Hampshire and opening up a big lead in (for now irrelevant) Florida, facing a difficult challenge in Iowa from Barack Obama, the former Senator is looking to South Carolina for an early win. The victory would be Pyrrhic if the polls break in the other early states the way they appear to be.

10) It's nice to see a wireless company join the 20th century.

11) I may have to go to Shea to give the Mets a piece of my mind tonight.

12) On the other hand, the NHL season starts next Thursday, and the Rangers look to be a lock for the Cup.

13) HOLY SHIT! Poor mom!

14) Say goodbye to polar bears.

15) It could be a black hole. Or it could be Hotblack Desiato & Disaster Area.

16) So much for koffkoff "cheap gas"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, MissC!

Go over and give her her birthday due, everyone.

Paying Lip Service


In what would have to be considered one of the most monumental waste of time and petroleum products (shuttling people back and forth), President George W Bush convened a meeting of the world's largest global polluters to talk about global warming and greenhouse gases.


This, of course, comes just as the Clinton Global Initiative opened, which of course includes plenary sessions with regards to global climate change and how to help poorer nations grow economically without becoming polluters in their own right.

That Bush, always trying to out-Clinton the Clintons! Naturally, Clinton's meeting this year lacks the star power of Bush's...hey, when a President calls, you don't tell him no, even if you'd rather hang out with an ex-President instead...and Bush's meeting comes after a carefully orchestrated speech by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon Monday.

What makes this meeting so ridiculous is the simple reality of Bush's situation: he has zero credibility on the global warming front, he has less than one year of legislative docket to put to use for any initiative he might deign to impose on the nation, and he already has his escape in South America under construction.

What's at stake for him besides some face time near the words "Climate Change Solution"?

In fact, it's almost as if this is a sop to the United Nations for his harsh and hypocritical words on Tuesday:
The declaration of universal rights at the heart of the UN's mission ``is not being upheld,'' Bush said today in his annual address to the 192 member states of the General Assembly. ``We're not doing our duty in the world.''

The president focused on Myanmar, announcing new sanctions against the military regime that he said has imposed a ``19-year reign of fear'' and urging all member states to use diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about democratic change there. ``Americans are outraged by the situation,'' Bush said.

He also urged UN members to support the fledgling democracies in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and help moderate Palestinian leaders take the steps necessary toward establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Oppressive regimes elsewhere must be confronted, he said. ``Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship,'' Bush said, citing Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran. [...]

Bush also chided the UN for being ``silent on repression'' in regimes ranging from Caracas to Tehran, ``while focusing its criticism excessively in Israel.''

To be credible, Bush said, ``The United Nations must reform its own human rights council.''
The UN had its, very diplomatic, say:
"U.S. leadership in the area of climate change is essential, not only because it is a big emitter of greenhouse gases, but because the U.S. is on the cutting edge of developing technological solutions and bringing them to the global market," said special U.N. climate envoys Gro Harlem Brundtland, Ricardo Lagos Escobar and Han Seung-soo at a Capitol Hill briefing.
The subtext, of course, is that Bush has not done nearly enough "leadering" in this area, despite the fact that he could have easily made it a free market dynamic, offering incentives for green technology and climate-cleansing solutions.

But he'd rather focus on ANWR and Iraq, apparently. But naturally, he has some form of policy:
The two-day meeting was called by President George W. Bush, whose administration has been criticized for its refusal to adopt mandatory limits for climate-warming emissions. The White House favors "aspirational" targets.
"Aspirational"...see that quote by me at the very top of this blog? "Democrats Work For Solutions; Republicans Pray The Problem Will Go Away" - Actor212 It's not just whistling Dixie!

Naturally, leave it to a democrat to point out the lack of imperial garb:
A letter to Bush from members of Congress, led by Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, who chairs the House of Representatives global warming committee, urged mandatory curbs on carbon dioxide emissions: "We need actual reductions in global warming pollution, not aspirational goals."
And when you've pissed off the Brits, look out!
"What would really galvanize the international efforts on climate would be a set of policies in the United States to put the United States on a fast track to building a low carbon economy," John Ashton, Britain's climate envoy, said in a telephone interview. "We now need to stop talking about talking and start deciding about doing."
(emphasis added)

Unfortunately, Messrs. Markey and Ashton, you'll need to wait for President Hillary for any serious action to be taken.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

It had to happen, I suppose...

How Bush Still Matters, Apparently

I know I've puzzled over some of his political manuevers, particularly when it came to taking on some of his own party (particularly with immigration), and some of the apparently unnecessary posturing Bush has done since the 2006 elections, like agreeing to have two biographies written about him (one by buttboy Bill "Big Stretch" Sammon, the other by Robert Draper.

This article gives us a clue to what little effectiveness Bush has in politics today:
"Bush will have a large role, after there's a nominee, to help unite the party," said Republican strategist Scott Reed. "And he will still be a strong fund-raising draw with segments of the party. His real strength will be in helping turn out the hard-core base of the party."
The so-called "29%ers" who still think of Bush as a godsend, literally.

Could less than one-third of the party, plus whatever celebrgasmic minions who just want to rub elbows with the (in)famous, really bring in millions of dollars?

And yet...
"Let's face it, you've basically got a president who is radioactive," said Norman Ornstein, a political expert at the American Enterprise Institute. "I'm sure he'll be active, as he said, on the campaign trail. But frankly he's not going to be very visible on it."

If this election has any resemblance to the past, Bush's role will be limited, because the Republican candidate in the November 2008 election will need to escape the shadow of the president.
Which brings me to another former President.

You may recall that, in the 2000 election, Al Gore treated Bill Clinton like a radioactive device, begging him not to campaign with him, in an attempt to step out of Clinton's shadow...and also, it must be admitted, to divorce himself from the dummied up scandals the Republicans had saddled Clinton's second term with.

Clinton's approval ratings at that time were 63% and better. Bush? 29% now, and slipping further still. We can't expect Bush, who's sole salvation from having the worst approval ratings on record is probably the fact that many of the more thick-headed of our brethren still give him credit for handling terrorism, to recover to even the 40% level.

So the question must be raised: despite his ability to raise money --P. T. Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute, why would ANY candidate want to be seen anywhere near George W Bush?
Charlie Black, a Republican strategist advising McCain's campaign...said the real question will be how to use Bush after Republicans nominate their candidate next September.

"That'll just depend on what the political circumstances are then. With any president, you have to see what his popularity is, which issues he's popular on and which issues he's not. Some states are better than others for him," Black said.
Well, what issues DOES he poll well in? There's the question.

Probably not many. He's made a case for a stronger economy now than four years ago, and that case does seem to resonate in certain quarters where champagne is served in crystal flutes at dinner. Of course, ask Joe Lunchpail and he'll tell you he's working harder and seeing less of his pay than eight years ago, before Bush's tax cuts.

His handling of terrorism? That probably resonates simply because we haven't had an attack on our soil. Whether that's due to diligent work by his administration or whether we've just seen a lull in the action is debatable....highly debatable. For those who are already prone to be sympathetic to this numbnuts, he'll be credited with keeping us "safe".

Of course, the likely targets for any future terror attacks are all blue states, so it's not likely he'd be campaigning in New York City for anyone anytime soon. But scare enough people in a Nebraska corn belt, and you can rustle up some bucks, I'm sure.

There aren't many other areas that Bush can easily claim a clear-cut improvement to any one sector of people. He's in New York City today to tout "No Child Left Behind," which is due for renewal by Congress this session, and indeed, based on test scores, things have improved slightly in nationwide education.

But those test scores are deceiving. For one thing, it's only math that's improved and we lagged much farther behind in math than in reading and English. That was probably the easier of the two scores to bring up, and it came at a cost, several costs, many costs, in fact: teachers suspended for cheating on the test scores, teaching to the test to the detriment of other essential education areas, ignoring things like civics and the arts for a mundane, dronish classroom that will put off more and more children the older they get, things like that.

So we can see that Bush's impact on the 2008 elections, while not zero, will be highly targeted, very specific, and will probably be under the radar.

Unless the Democrats can successfully tie whatever candidate runs to Bush. Then all bets are off.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not Visiting The Grave

(Posted with a

Following up on my post yesterday, where I pointed out that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had the courage to confront a hostile crowd (and apparently, it took its toll, if news reports are to be believed), both President Bush and President Ahmadinejad will speak today at the opening of the United Nations.

By luck of the draw...koffkoff...Bush will speak first, then disappear long before Ahmadinejad gets up.

So you'd imagine this is an opportunity for Bush to launch some pre-emptive rhetorical strikes against a country he has called a "grave threat" to our national security.


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - President George W. Bush is set to announce new U.S. sanctions against Myanmar over human rights as the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders gets under way on Tuesday.

Bush is one of the first speakers on a list that later features Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and diplomats will be watching to see if the leaders of the two bitterly hostile countries cross paths or exchange words.

But despite the United States leading efforts for more U.N. sanctions against Iran to curtail its nuclear program, Bush will only make a brief mention of Tehran in his speech, the White House said.

"The speech is not about Iran," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "The speech is about liberation and how liberation from poverty, disease, hunger, tyranny and oppression and ignorance can lift people up out of poverty and despair."
Oh really? Darfur, Ms. Perino? Ring a bell? Nigeria? IRAQ?!?!?!?! (feel free to chime in if I missed any).

Now, that's not to say Myanmar isn't a troubled area and doesn't need some of the world's attention:
YANGON (Reuters) - Chanting "democracy, democracy", 10,000 monks marched through the heart of Myanmar's main city on Tuesday in defiance of a threat by the ruling generals to send in troops to end the biggest anti-junta protests in nearly 20 years.

The streets were lined with people clapping and cheering and there were no overt signs of police or soldiers and no trouble as the campaign against 45 years of military rule swelled in size and scope.

But after the demonstrators left the area around the Sule Pagoda in central Yangon, the focus of a week of marches by the revered maroon-robed monks, riot police and troops moved in.

Eight trucks arrived with police carrying shields, batons and rifles, a Reuters witness said. Eleven army trucks packed with soldiers also drove in, suggesting the junta was filling up the city centre to counter any attempt at a repeat.

In another possible sign of looming confrontation, a well-placed source said detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was moved to the notorious Insein prison on Sunday, a day after she appeared in front of her house to greet monks.
Yes, this long-festering conflict appears to be ready to boil out.

You might recall, or maybe didn't get a whole lot of attention in the States with Bush the Elder in 1988, nearly 3,000 Myanmaris were killed by government troops cracking down on pro-democracy factions.

Bush's solution? Sanctions...which worked nicely against Saddam Hussein basically until Bush's cronies in the oil business started circumventing them.

Not to worry, of course: Myanmar has no oil to speak of, producing only 9,500 barrels a day. It does have some fairly sizable natural gas reserves, however (283 billion cu m), as well as major jade, precious gem, and timber industries.

So we're talking "C" list on the economic impact scale: large enough that local governments and politicians can live nicely by Western standards, but not enough for America to bother invading and raping.

Geopolitically, there's no real advantage to be gained in supporting the pro-democracy forces in Myanmar...the ruling junta has no real allies (China comes closest, but even they keep an arm's length), aside from a "See? We really DO support free people!" posturing.

Which raises the question, "Why is Bush bothering to spotlight this crisis?"

Well, it's clear he's ashamed to face the international community on the 800 lb gorilla in his closet: Iraq. The last thing he wants is to remind people of how his "Coalition of the Bribed Willing" fell apart this past year and how it's been five years and only now are we starting to see even a plateau in the level of violence, much less a consolidation and unification of Iraq under a democratic government.

In other words, he's going to avoid his "miserable failure" like the plague.

So why not Iran, Mr. President? Why not talk about arguably a real threat to the world's security, something the UN might want to actually get involved with, ahead of some insane aggression you would want to indulge your G I Joe fantasies over?

Surely it can't be that you're afraid to say in person to Ahmadinejad's face that which you've plastered all over CNNinternational and every major newspaper in the world?

Hell, even Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, had bigger grapefruits than that!

Or are you? All your life, you've ducked controversy after controversy and then refused to face up to your critics and victims in a confrontation.

Can you say "passive aggressive"?

You've refused to go to Viet Nam, and then refused to work your full shift in the namby pamby detour that your daddy arranged for you. You've failed in every single business you've gotten involved with, needing family and friends to bail you out, even to the point where you took the Texas Rangers from last to even worse: the laughing stock of the American League.

And here, now, as President, rather than engage in dialogue with anyone who might disagree with you, all signs point to the fact that if you don't have toadies and chimpanzees doing your bidding, you fire them or make life so miserable for them, they leave.

This is not the mark of a President. Hell, it's not even the mark of a good gang leader!

So go. Talk about Myanmar until the heat gets too great and you have to leave the kitchen.

America and the world will be much better off once you're out of the driver's seat and in our rear view mirror.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Words, Words, Words... the Bard said.

An odd confluence of words is at the heart of world events today.

First, finds us contemplating the appearance of, as the Daily News today describes it "evil"Ahmadinejad is scheduled to make an appearance at Columbia University to speak to a forum there, where undoubtedly he will face hostile questions after his remarks and undoubtedly, barring a miraculous maturity on the part of the protestors, some trouble will erupt:
Plans for him to speak at New York's Columbia University have drawn protests from some who say the university should not give a platform to a Holocaust denier accused by Washington of supporting terrorism
Speak he will, however, and I wonder that it's not a good thing that he does.

We (and by we, I mean the American dialogue) spent decades demonizing Saddam Hussein to such an extent that he became an easy mark once we had an excuse to go after him (you'll notice that when an adult was in office, while he was still demonized, that adult was willing to contain him to his crib).

I wonder how willing we would have been to go to war with Hussein if he had spoken, even once, before a hostile American audience or indeed, in front of the United Nations? We as a people would have been able to hear his words and judge him for what he was-- a pompous fool with delusions of grandeur.

Too, with Ahmadinejad, let us hear what he has to say to us. I have no doubt he'll have polished up his words to placate Americans (and to show Iranians back home that he can be conciliatory ahead of an election there), but in front of a hostile, a truly hostile crowd, I have no doubt his views will be fully explored.

Columbia, after all, isn't Liberty University.

More to the point, even just showing up in front of a hostile crowd will make Ahmadinejad twice the man our alleged President is, which brings me to our second set of words:
“She's [Hillary Clinton] got a national presence and this is becoming a national primary,” Bush tells author Bill Sammon in the bombshell book, EVANGELICAL PRESIDENT, set for release Monday. “And therefore the person with the national presence, who has got the ability to raise enough money to sustain an effort in a multiplicity of sites, has got a good chance to be nominated.”
(no link to the book)

One wonders what febrile seizure clamped onto Bill Sammon's brain to make him do what journalists worldwide would tell you is a no-no: "pipe" a quote, or put words in the mouth of someone in your article/book.

Unless you are marking it as "fiction," and considering that Sammon is a Fox News correspondent, one wonders if that line has become blurred in Sammon's smoked mind.

I mean, come on, Sammon! Bush? Multiplicity???? He probably thinks that's a town just north of New Orleans!

"Big Stretch" Sammon, you might recall, was the reporter at Bush's press conference last week who asked Bush about the ad, which allowed Bush to end his press conference with a savage attack...about a newspaper advertisement.

Must be slow on the right wing these days. "Big Stretch" appropriate nickname for Sammon.

I'd prefer "Red Herring" but that's just me.

Contrast, tho, the styles of the two "world leaders", both of whom are ineffectual in their own lands, save for a small but rabid minority who would die rather than admit the liberalization of their countries. Ahmadinejad would face down his critics, and confront them.

Bush hides behind the skirts of "Big Stretch" and others who are dumb enough to take the potshots that ultimately make their way to Bush's feet anyway.