Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Oh no, not for me. And not so much resolutions as what some of the notables of our past few years can do once they're out of power.

Rod Blagojevich: Why pussy foot around this one. If there was every anyone who is made to be a "made man," it's Rod. Get yourself down to the local branch of the mob and get to work. One thing about the new work, it's considered bad form to be in the press so much, not good.

Donald Rumsfeld: Donny has been quite the war afficionado. But why waste all this time watching from afar? Don, the age limit has been lifted just for you - you ship out in 3 days. And don't worry about not having a flak jacket or any protection on your vehicle. After all, "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." Good luck with that, BTW.

Karl Rove: For a guy who loves throwing his opponents into the political mud and debris, it seems only right that Karl spend the next few years of his life down in New Orleans' 9th ward, where broken houses, garbage and mud are still piled up waiting for help and action years after Katrina. Have fun Karl, and remember, keep those tetanus shots up to date!

John Bolton: It was bad enough that Bush sent a guy who was well known for being unable to control his temper to the UN. Bolton, who once said "if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," seemed stunned that he couldn't win Senate confirmation to the post. So let's forget the UN John - there seems to be a bit of a scuffle going on right now in Gaza. I think your new job is going to be offering to mediate a solution by strolling into Hamas HQ and sharing your thoughts. You'll have some common ground to work with, for as you said, "US would reject any attempt to regulate the trade in firearms or non-military rifles as it would "abrogate the constitutional right to bear arms." And I'm sure they can't agree with you more. Maybe they'll even show you some of their weapons up close.

Michael Brown: aka "heck of a job Brownie." No doubt Bush believed Mike's great background as a Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association (before they asked him to resign - poor Mike seems to get a lot of that) offered him just the right experience for leading the nation's emergency response team. I think Karl could use some of your help in cleaning up down there. But you might want to use an alias, that is if you'd like to survive the first night. Oh, and watch out for rats crawling into your sleeping bag at night.

Alberto Gonzales: Al has some serious memory problems "I don't remember," "I don't recall," "I can't seem to remember that." Perhaps he was not dodging the issues, but is, in fact, suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease. I'm sure he'll have no problem with stepping up to be a human guinea pig for several potential Alzheimer drugs. The riskier, the better for this stolworth, who, as the Atlantic Monthly noted during his Texas general counsel days, "repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." So I'm sure you're fine with doing all these drug tests without bothering the FDA with it.

Harriett Miers: Ah, just slink back into obscurity and live your life, Bush screwed you over enough for several lifetimes already.

George Tenet: George, you really fowled up there on the intelligence for international terrorism. But lucky for you, John McCain has a plan for capturing bin Laden. So we're going to partner the two of you up, drop you into the Afghan mountains, and you give us a call when the job is done.

The Two Pauls: Paul Bremer, America's viceroy in Iraq, and Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense certainly deserve mention and attention on this list. Few contributed more to the utter collapse of the early Iraq invasion and rebuilding efforts than Bremer and Wolfowitz. Sure some might say that placing a couple of guys who didn't know the country, culture, history or language into such critical positions in Iraq was just asking for trouble. Since the pair have since blamed problems on the other, it's time to team them up again. Paul & Paul, we'll be sending you into Iraq, no, not the Green Zone, but out into the countryside. You'll be giving lectures explaining the invasion to community groups. Extra credit if you survive the first lecture.

Dick Cheney: There just has been too much confusion over the years as to what constitutes "torture." Cheney himself can't figure it out - "Was it torture? I don't believe it was torture." So thanks to Mr. Cheney for volunteering to be the "detainee" in a series of studies in which a variety of techniques will be tried. If Mr. Cheney believes a technique is "torture," he will signal that to the guards by passing out.

"W": It would be a waste to let the Decider slink into retirement down in Texas. There are so many areas he could be put to work in. After all, more than 61 percent of the historians in a recent survey concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. So which failure, error, misjudgment, or boneheaded stubborn move do we send "W" out to reflect upon or correct? Send him into Ohio or Indiana with $1000, no credit rating and tell him to get a job and buy a house? Or send him on a "good will" trip out of the country without first mentioning that he's mistakenly been placed on the "no fly" list - good luck getting off that, btw George. Send him down to clean up the sludge mess in Tennessee with a pail and shovel? Nah. I think for George who just can't seem to get anything into his head except that he tells himself, it's much simpler. Send him on a tour of the country. He gets to meet with Americans household by household and hear from them how they're doing. It's no fun just letting him go off and live amongst his family and sycophants. Let's have him spend quality time with the people who have tried their best to survive under his administration.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yup, That Was Fun

And interesting. A well played move by Roddy. I loved the line, "Please don't let the allegations against me taint this good and honest man." Burris was followed by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago encouraging Burris' seating. And, of course, my favorite, the use of the term "lynching" for those who would work to keep Burris (who would be the only African American in that body) out of the Senate.

The spinmeisters and analysts were rushing to their various judgments even before the press conference was over. Several have painted Burris as an opportunist. The Chicago Tribune seems to be of that mind, noting that:
Burris made known his interest in the Senate appointment but was never seriously considered, according to Blagojevich insiders. In the days following Blagojevich's arrest--and despite questions over the taint of a Senate appointment--Burris stepped up his efforts to win the governor's support.
Louisiana, has Illinois given you a run for your money these past few years or what!

Rod Blagojevich - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

In about an hour (3pm eastern time) Rod is going to go on TV to apparently announce he has selected someone for Obama's empty Senate seat. This is just too much fun to stop watching. The US Senate of course has said it wouldn't seat anyone Roddy picked, but that's not stopping our boy from Illinois, is it.

The man Roddy is naming to the seat is Roland Burris, a 71-year old former Illinois Attorney General. I have NO idea of Burris has even said he'd take the seat. I'm eagerly anticipating this press conference. Should be great fun!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Experience can be overrated

In today's Washington Post, freelance writer Anne Glusker addresses the Caroline Kennedy Senate controversy with wisdom and insight. The constant harping on the need for "experience" in politics, by which proponents seem to mean years and years and years on a vertical ascent, moving from dogcatcher to city council to county commissioner to state legislator to--you get the picture--has always irritated me, especially this year. Barack Obama brought to the Presidential race a terrific education and luminous intellect, a gift for clear and inspiring expression and a remarkable diversity of experience, encompassing community organizing, teaching at a prestigious law school and brief stints in the state legislature and US Senate. Yet because he hadn't served 20 years moving steadily up the ladder, he was routinely mocked and dismissed as "inexperienced," "unqualified" and "not ready" for the White House.

Especially in this day and age, when the bipolar, Cold War world and its rules are no more, when globalization has put an end to the 35-year career at the same workplace and when the kings of the world are nimble-thinking, tradition-disdaining software engineers, it would seem that people would recognize that a non-traditional set of skills would be a plus rather than a minus for the people who want to represent us and make our laws. Caroline Kennedy is a lot like Barack Obama--she was educated at two of the world's top universities, she has written two excellent books, she has spearheaded a fund-raising campaign to improve public education in her city. What she doesn't know about the nuts and bolts of the process, her staff of legislative professionals will be able to teach her. She's eminently capable of representing New Yorkers and offers a real-world example of what lots of aspiring legislators like to proclaim about themselves: she's not a career politician!

Friday, December 26, 2008


Among one of the more stunning bits of news I come across from time to time these days is that small but steady percentage of Americans who still think Bush is doing ok. In this case, it was a poll asking if people will be glad to see Bush leave office. While 75% logical and sane people answered yes, 25%, or one out of every four people asked, said they were sorry to see him go.

Now that's a pretty high number. Look around you - can you find one out of four people who will be sorry to see Bush leave? Well probably not, because most of you aren't comics, cartoonists, or oil company executives. Some of those 25% are like a guy I know who just keeps saying that Bush will be proven right "in the end." That's a whole lot of hope from someone who sees emotionally, not logically. No argument I have made so far, no piece of news, can change his mind. He's wrapped in a cocoon of denial, which I guess isn't surprising, he's just following Bush's lead. W hasn't stepped outside his cocoon since he arrived in office almost 8 years ago now. That protection has been so complete, so warm and comforting, that it makes me wonder what steps his family and people will have to take to keep him comfy and insulated once he leaves the White House.

How does someone look at year after year of polling data showing how little faith his country has in him. Or wide-spread hero-worshiping response to the shoe-hurling journalist across the globe? Will he ever comprehend the damage he has done? Will he come back to the public one day twenty years from now to say, "I blew it? I'm sorry?" Or will he slink into obscurity, dragged out once and a while when history demands the presence of an ex-president, before slipping back into his warm Texas cocoon?

And of that 25%? . . .

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tracing the Truce of l9l4

A propos of the previous post--sorry, alliteration OD--I found something of the essential meaning of Christmas two years ago, on a battlefield in Belgium. I suppose this story includes within it both a reaction to violent conflict and the Franciscan's interpretation of Christmas and Christianity as animated primarily by charity. Anyway, in the spirit of shameless self-promotion--this appeared in the Kennewick, Wa. Tri-City Herald last Sunday--here is "Tracing a Truce."

Sometime before New Year’s, many of us will again gather to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and wonder what happened to the true spirit of Christmas. Ironically, I found it in December 2006, on a visit to Snoopy’s dreamland, the battlegrounds of World War I. I was searching for two famous bomb craters near the town of Ypres, Belgium when I happened upon a small homemade cross. It turned out that I was standing on sacred ground: here, on December 24, l9l4, British and German soldiers stopped shooting at each other and celebrated Christmas. World War I re-enactors had erected this small monument to the “Khaki Chums,” German and British soldiers who had taken part in this remarkable interval(you can see it above this text).

Christmas l9l4 marked the fourth deadly month of what everyone assumed would be a six-week war. “We’ll be in Paris for lunch, St. Petersburg for dinner,” the German Kaiser bragged. In August l9l4, German forces had invaded Belgium and France, hoping to knock the French out of the war quickly. The small British Expeditionary Force rushed across the channel to block the German offensive. Neither side could advance, owing to new, lethal weaponry--machine guns and high-intensity shells—that had already killed thousands. Thus they dug themselves deep into the earth, creating huge trenches that stretched for hundreds of miles from northern Belgium to east central France.
The soldiers huddled in these trenches once believed, like their leaders, that they could win the war and return home with a medal by Christmas. Now they knew they were in for a long, hard slog in dreadful conditions. They lived several yards below ground, in constant danger from the elements, shells, snipers and rats and in close proximity with the corpses of their comrades, which often lay unburied for weeks in “no-man’s land,” the hundred or so yards separating the German and British trenches. They could look forward only to periodic assaults against the enemy across the line, which only got more men killed; there was no end in sight. Then suddenly, with the approach of Christmas, came a remarkable series of events that held the promise of at least a temporary deliverance.

It started in mid-December, with a phenomenon known as “live and let live.” A number of units began to suspend hostilities briefly--they would stand down their snipers and shell the enemy only at certain times, for example avoiding the dinner hour. This was partly because Germans and British knew each other well; many British tourists visited Germany each year, and German students often worked summers at British seacoast resorts before l9l4. The holiday spirit grew with the arrival of gifts from the respective governments. British soldiers received a tin containing chocolates, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and a greeting from King George V. A German newspaper reported on the delivery of German soldiers’ gifts with tongue firmly in cheek:

“yesterday about 4 o’clock in the afternoon there was a fierce and terrible onslaught of Christmas packages into the trenches. No man was spared. However, not a single package fell into the hands of the British or French. In the confusion, one soldier suffered the impaling of a salami straight into his stomach. Another had two large raisins from an exploding pastry right into his eyes, and a third man had the great misfortune of having a full bottle of cognac fly into his mouth.”

A few days before Christmas, German soldiers near Ypres launched a veritable friendship offensive, slipping cakes and candies across the lines with an invitation: “We propose having a concert tonight as it is our Captain’s birthday, and we invite you to attend, provided you give your word of honor as guests that you agree to cease all hostilities between 7 and 8:30 pm. Look for the candlelights across the line at 7:30, put your hands above the trenches, and we will do the same.” And so they had their concert of Christmas music, the Germans singing and the British applauding. Then, on Christmas Eve, all up and down the trenches, hundreds of German and British soldiers did the unthinkable: they stopped fighting and started celebrating. German soldiers sang British songs in German; British soldiers followed with favorite drinking songs. In some places, German soldiers came to British trenches bearing Christmas trees, briefly alarming Hindu and Moslem troops unfamiliar with Christian traditions. But almost everyone reported an infusion of genuine Christmas spirit. An officer of the Scots Guards wrote in his diary, “the Germans in our sector protested that they had no feeling of enmity at all towards us, but that everything lay with their authorities, and that being soldiers, they had to obey. I believe they were speaking the truth when they said this, and that they never wished to fire a shot again. “

The next day, Christmas Day, the two sides continued the truce, opting first to bury their dead. This had proved impossible, because snipers targeted anyone emerging from the trenches. Afterward came more drinking and fraternizing. In one area, British and German officers shared a meal consisting of pheasant, foie gras and plum pudding, washed down with fine champagne, while the enlisted men drank beer together. Elsewhere, soldiers arranged soccer matches, even though balls were hard to come by and their playing field was pockmarked with shell holes.

Of course, this peaceful interval was fleeting. On December 26, commanders pulled the most enthusiastic revelers from the line--lest they insist on a permanent truce--and the armies resumed their grim march towards genocide, revolution and mass slaughter. Indeed, when I turned around to take in the countryside around the Khaki Chums cross, I saw signs leading to three large British military cemeteries(see photo above). But I carry with me the memory of that cross and the brief outbreak of humanity it commemorates, because they speak to the best instincts in my fellow humans and to a revival of that elusive Christmas spirit, the hope for a better world that was born in Bethlehem so long ago."

Christmas food--for thought

Trying to stay as far away as possible for the yearly revival of the "war on Christmas"--the loony notion that somehow, somewhere, Evil Secular Forces are trying to rob good, churchgoing Christian people of the ability to wish everyone Merry Christmas--I am impressed with two recent columns which meditate on the meaning of this day beyond doctrinaire Christianity. They make good food for thought to accompany the goodies from your Christmas table.

In the Boston Globe, James Carroll interprets the story of Jesus as a reaction to life at the crossroads of empires--the Middle East then as now was a battleground, with successive imperial forces fighting it out at the expense of helpless local residents. In Carroll's view, Jesus Christ presented a radical new way of negotiating one's way through the world. Since the invading empires used military force to solve problems, he preached the gospel of non-violence, of turning the other cheek, of walking a mile in your enemy's shoes. I found that reading compelling because that's exactly what we have been living this century and last, nation-states trying to impose their will on others through military means. Iraq is just the latest example.

That alternative--non-violence, creative compromise, whatever you would like to call NOT living by the sword--is still out there for people, still available, still viable. It's just that it's a bit harder to live in the short term--it's always more satisfying somehow to whack people, knock them down, make them knuckle under.

Then, in yesterday's WAPO, E.J. Dionne writes about St. Francis and the Franciscans, who posited that Jesus was born in materially poor circumstances and that consequently the meaning of Christ and Christmas lies in simultaneously liberating yourself from material concerns and helping the poor with life's basics. Dionne profiles some modern-day, lay Franciscans, Catholic Relief Services workers in Afghanistan, who decline to preach Christianity or Catholicism in favor of helping bring water, adequate nutrition and education to the peoples of that benighted land. The CRS principal there declares, memorably, that they are not there to help people find Heaven, but to get them out of hell--the earthly, Taliban-plagued hell they live in. I have definitely heard narrower, less generous views of Christmas than that in my life.

De-emphasized materialism, non-violence and charity, the first of all human virtues...if these values can serve as the foundation for your New Year 2009 as well as your 2008 Christmas, you will indeed have found the real reasons for the season.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Year in Review

Thanks to Bucky for alerting me to the latest fun from the folks over at Jib-Jab. Here's hoping that 2009 helps wash away the memories of 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stop sniveling!

I'm calling b------- on all these words(and images)of gloom and doom Popessa has offered up in those previous posts. Don't you buy into it, 'cause there IS Light in the Darkness, gaiety amidst the gloom. There's a sudden spike in job creation to report tonight. Okay, so the jobs are in TURKEY, but technically, you can trace their origin to l600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the man who ducked the flying shoes last week. George Bush's humiliation is Istanbul-based Baydan Shoe Store's gain...even the angels want to wear those black shoes!

Cartoons of 2008


Hey, don't look at me like that - everyone's doing it. That end of the year wrap it all up into some sort of piece that gives it all meaning. So that we don't feel as though we've stumbled through yet another year half blind and confused, not knowing where the heck we're going or where we came from. We started the year as confused as usual these days, wondering who had killed Benazir Bhutto at the end of December, watching the price of a barrel of oil hit $100 for the first time, and looking at a late January stock market plunge that experts tied to something called "subprime mortgages."

We survived more signs of irreversible (and unanswered by Bush admin) climate change, renewal of Patriot act "spy on Americans" as a new and still toothless Congress sat by. Bill Gates left Microsoft to concentrate on helping humanity and Robert Mugabe "won" reelection in Zimbabwe and continued to thank his people by driving the nation further into the dirt. Michael Phelps let everybody forget their troubles for a while as we watched in him amazement. Texas won the year's hurricane lottery when Ike plowed through the state.

Frozen water was found on Mars and scientists were finally able to take a shot in a particle accelerator, one more step in helping us understand how we all got here in the first place. At about the same time, a Gallop pole showed that 44% of Americans think that God created man "in present form" and 36% think God merely "guided" man's development.

2008 was definitely not the year to stay in a hotel in Pakistan or India. A suicide truck bomb destroyed Islamabad's Marriott Hotel, killing 60 and injuring 266. From November 26-29, 173 were killed and 308 injured in the Mumbai attacks that included hotels Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident.

And, of course, Obamamania turned out to be a national fever, even as a mal-speaking, right-wing fevered beauty queen flew in from the far north to energize the psycho right.

Finally, we end the year watching our retirement funds disappear and those who still have jobs being grateful for that. And peaking out tentatively from under the blankets in our darkened bedrooms to ask - what will 2009 bring?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


As the Bush administration crawls to an end with barely a month to go I have three big regrets that override all others from the past almost 8 years.

1. Bush escaped unimpeached and is not being held legally accountable for his actions.
2. Cheney escaped unimpeached and is not being held legally accountable for his actions.
3. Rumsfeld escaped unimpeached and is not being held legally accountable for his actions.

Part of my tries to say it's ok - as long as they're soon gone (in Rummy's case, long gone), that's what really matters. But when you listen to Bush & Cheney talk about the past 8 years, it's clear that neither man think he was wrong or made mistakes in their reactions to 9/11. Reading or listening to them answer questions over the past months is stunning. How many among us have the hubris to insist we are right in the face of miniscule approval ratings, studies and white papers, evidence upon evidence that they made wrong move after wrong move? I'm sure they would feel the same way even after successful legal actions against them. And it wouldn't change the past. So why do I regret it never happened? For a couple of reasons. One good - it would have been the right thing to do. One selfish - it would feel good.

In the spirit of the dying embers of this administration I'm doing my best to put it behind me and move on. But it's not easy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Watch Out for Visiting DC in January - part II

Today's WaPo has one more in a series of articles relating just how unprepared the area is for the millions of folks we're anticipating to show up for the inaugural party in January. I live about a mile from the White House and am not sure I'll even go down to watch any of this. But for those who are still thinking of coming into the city - here's a few things to keep in mind.
  • Bicycles will not be allowed within the still-to-be determined security cordon.
  • Anyone planning to drive in from Virginia might consider a boat: the Roosevelt, Memorial and inbound 14th Street bridges will be restricted to buses and authorized vehicles.
  • Maryland and D.C. officials are considering bus-only corridors.
  • Widespread street closures will severely restrict driving, parking and taxi availability, and delays are likely to be extensive.
  • City officials are working to designate pedestrian-only streets.
  • If 1 million people try to board the subway at the same time after the main festivities end, it could take more than eight hours to move everyone.
And from the "good news" folks at DC Metro:
The most the subway system can carry is about 120,000 people per hour, officials say. And that doesn't factor in the inevitable delays caused by out-of-towners confused about how to use the system. That number also assumes "nobody gets sick, no one jams the door and all the people cooperate," Metro Board Member Peter Benjamin said. "What do you think the odds are for that to happen if we get 4 million people?"

Glitches can be caused by a number of other factors. Metro has just two tracks, like a two-lane highway. When trains are taken out of service, delays can be lengthy. Doors often malfunction because passengers mistakenly think they are like elevator doors and try to hold them open. And if a passenger becomes sick and can't move, emergency personnel must be called and passengers have to get off the train.
So if you absolutely positively have to come to the inauguration - pack your winter gear, and a whole lot of patience.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Now it Gets Interesting

After a weekend of hints that Blagojevich was going to resign in the next day or so, a spokesman has apparently said that there is "zero chance" that such a resignation is imminent. Blagojevich met yesterday for four hours with one of Chicago's most noted defense lawyers, Ed Genson.

I know what you're asking yourself - why would Blagojevich need to hunt for a lawyer? Surely this man of all men has a law firm already on retainer. Well yes and no. Apparently the Gov. owes his regular law firm (Winston & Strawn) about $750,000 for various fees. Winston & Strawn, by the way, is the firm that defended former Ill. governor George Ryan into a corruption conviction in 2006.

So is Blagojevich looking to go down fighting? Only Rod knows, and I have to say, part of me wishes he would - in a world of such depressing economic and world crisis news, couldn't we all use the fun of watching what would promise to be quite the entertaining trial?

Writing History

Today's NY Times notes one of the hottest reads in the city these days is a 513-page history of Iraq's US-led reconstruction titled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience.” The unpublished manuscript takes a look at the Bush administration's rebuilding efforts (I know what you're thinking, there actually WERE planned rebuilding efforts? It wasn't just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks?) and comes up holding its nose. From the preface -- the prewar planning for Iraqi reconstruction was “blinkered and disjointed.” In essence, Bush & Co., didn't have a clue as to what they were doing, or how to do it. Which, of course, didn't slow them down in their frenzied rush to oust Saddam and . . . well, do something instead of Saddam once they got there.

The findings are scheduled for presentation at a Commission on Wartime Contracting hearing. Take a look through the online version, also courtesy of the Times, here. Since they've been out of the public eye for a while, the utter idiocy of Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz & Ambassador Bremer may make you nostalgic (or is that nauseous?) for the good ol' days two of Bush's favorites. Here are a few pieces from the manuscript.
Andrew S. Natsios (2001-2005 Administrator for USAID) told the group: “If this thing gets approved, you’ll have no money for elections, no money for rebuilding local governance, no money for building the university system, no money for the health system.” Calling the plan “a recipe for disaster,” he recommended reserving some of the money for non-construction projects and contingencies.” Natsios strenuously objected to the CPA’s [Coalition Provisional Authority] big infrastructure approach to reconstruction, arguing that it flouted the lessons learned from decades of international development experience. . . . Two weeks later, Natsios received an angry call from Ambassador Bremer. . . . Bremer retorted that under his original plan, the CPA could begin construction by March. . . . Natsios, who had managed Boston’s “Big Dig,” one of the largest and most problem-ridden construction projects in American history, replied that the CPA timetable “was utterly ridiculous.”
Helping the Iraqi People is job one. . . or not.
All funds not obligated to a specific project or re-obligated to specific sectors by September 30, 2006, could only be used to pay adjustments toward existing contracts. In a move reminiscent of the rush to spend DFI funds in 2004, the Project Contracting Office (PCO) launched a drive to meet the deadline, raising concerns in Congress that the “race to obligate” would lead to waste and extranvagance. “Oblicator” posters, in which PCO sector heads superimposed their photographs on a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator” movie character, adorned the office’s halls, and a massive banner, reading “Obligating ‘R’ Us: Getting ‘Er Done (by 30 Sep 2006),” hung in PCO’s main workroom.

The irony was not lost on those working on reconstruction. “The goal of PCO isn’t to complete projects – it’s to obligate the money.” Lt. Col. Otto Busher said. “Do you see on the walls, “Quality Projects for the Iraqi People by September 30?” No – you see the ‘obligator; posters.
Tennis anyone?
The CPA’s haphazard recruitment practices yielded too few people qualified for the jobs to which they were assigned. . . . Rodney Bent, who worked for OMB in Washington, . . . finding that none of the staff had ever worked on a budget before being deployed to Iraq. “I had relatively young staff that was completely inexperienced and had no particular training either in the Middle East or on budget matters.” . . . The CPA’s Office of National Security Affairs [was charged] with creating a new Iraqi Ministry of Defense. . . . Two of the three people assigned to establish the new Ministry of Defense were missile-defense experts with no relevant experience. And the person tasked to negotiate agreements to demobilize militias was a U.S. homeland-security expert, while the Director for National Security was a former professional tennis player with very little national security experience.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stop Reading This and Go Have Sex!

Intel Corp. just released a survey of 2,119 adults - 46% of women & 30% of men surveyed said they would rather give up sex for two weeks than go without the Internet for the same period of time.

Television apparently doesn't rate as high as sex in our lives. Sixty-one percent of adult women in the survey said they'd rather give up watching TV for two weeks instead of giving up the Internet for just one week.

I know what I'm wondering - how many of those who said they'd give up sex before the internet assumed that did not include the option of sex through the internet and were choosing one form of sex over the other in their minds?

Think Twice Before Coming to DC for Inauguration

It's an exciting time, and it's going to be an exciting inauguration. And if I didn't live in DC, I'd probably want to come to see it. But please be forewarned. Unless you've got a place to stay lined up by now, coming to DC for that weekend may end up being one of the worst times of your life. The park police won't let you camp on the mall, and the hotels, B&Bs and everybody with a spare bedroom have been booked up for weeks. Lots of folks are checking out Craig's list, and I just took a look myself. There are places being advertised as close to the activities that are not only miles and miles away, but not close to any public transportation to get you into the city.

The city is currently expecting 10,000 buses coming to the city with folks from around the country (and those are ones that register ahead of time, not local church & group buses). So even if you get here and find a place to stay somewhere in Virginia or Maryland someplace, it's going to be hard as hell to get into the city to see anything unless you're using the metro, and that's going to be a mess (it's already a mess on good days during rush hour, and that weekend is going to be testing it way and beyond how it's been tested so far).

Come to be part of all of this if you have someone to stay with, some place already lined up, and know how to get to the metro from where you'll be staying. DO NOT COME if you think you can just "find a spot" to stay when you show up (you'll be having your fun in southern Virginia or Pennsylvania), or if you're looking at some Craigslist offering that is "close" to downtown for hundreds of bucks, but isn't anywhere near public transportation. Trust me, there will be noplace for you to park that car anywhere near the city.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mugabe's Mess

On Monday afternoon yet one more (this makes 18) member of MDC opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's advisors was abducted. Gandhi Mudzingwa was forced into a car by nine gunmen and has disappeared. Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has been negotiating with the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) over power-sharing negotiations for over three months now (MDC would recognize Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai would become prime minister). No fool, Tsvangirai hasn't returned to Zimbabwe since he left last month for a South African summit.

Because it's not enough that Mugabe has driven a once prosperous nation into poverty and hell, the nation is suffering a cholera epidemic. Calls for Mugabe's ouster now are being resisted by the strongman who says they are using the epidemic as an excuse to overthrow his government (which, just to be clear, is standing on a very flimsy and broad-based fraudulent election). But all should soon be well because as the VOA tells us, "U.S. President George Bush has joined other world leaders calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down." Wow, talk about being on the cutting edge of an issue George! Don't you just sense an end to the Zimbabwe national tragedy just around the corner now?


Is it just me? Or have the nation's governor's taken the lead in cable news' favorite game - political suicide? Sure many governors have a long history of playing it fast and loose in the past, and is there any US governor who can stand toe to toe with Willie Stark (oops, I mean the kingfish himself, Huey Long's reign of corruption, bribery and his own particular brand of good ol' boy fun & frolic)?

No, but recent years (and hours) have shown far more gubernatorial scandals than you would think, given that there are only 50 states in the union. In 2004 NJ Gov. James McGreevey came out in front of the press, setting the standard for future governors to follow with the public humiliation of the long-suffering but still supportive wife (wearing pearls, of course), standing by his side. In an attempt to prove that gay men don't have the patent on betraying a public legacy for sex, this spring, NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer's $80,000 escort service bills became the talk of the nation. [And as much as we like a scandal, we still seem to like the heterosexual ones better. Unlike the playmate in McGreevey's scandal, Spitzer's latest escort used her noterity as a boost for her nonescort side career.]

The year 2004 also brought the resignation of Conn. governor John Rowland (seen here with supportive pearls-wearing wife) after admitting he "made bad choices" in accepting gifts from state contractors (makes you wonder where Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens was when this news broke - but Senatorial misbehavings is another blog for another time).

All of this, of course, brings is to the latest governor behaving badly - Illinois' Rod Blagojevich, who can currently be seen boasting that " I should say if anyone wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it." (Ok, I know it's ancient history to some folks - but has Rod never heard of Gary Hart, who responded to rumors of his fooling around on his wife by daring people to follow him - "follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." They followed, they saw, they took pictures.) I'm still wading through the government's 78-page indictment of Blagojevich (give it a shot yourself if you like), but it certainly looks like enough to send Rod out to the press with his long-suffering, pearls-wearing wife to announce that he too will be resigning his position.

Who's next?

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