Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dana Reads Like George

Blinded by the light of George's brilliance, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino addressed Iran's statement it would retaliate against any attacks by Israel in a press briefing.

Q You said Iran's comments about a plan to retaliate against Israel were -- those comments almost seemed provocative. What does that mean? Does that mean you think that Iran is trying to start something by saying that?

MS. PERINO: I can't think of any other motivation for why somebody would say that. I won't ascribe motives to them, but it does seem provocative. And I will tell you that Israel doesn't want war with its neighbors. And what the world has asked for is for Iran to comply with its Security Council obligations to stop its movement towards a nuclear weapon. And that way, the people of Iran, who can do much better than the government that they have now, would be able to prosper and have a free and good life.

I can't tell you why somebody in Iran would say something like that about Israel. It was totally unprovoked and unnecessary.

Apparently, Ms. Perino is shut off from the greater outside world, like much of the White House not sharing hot buttered rolls with Tony Blair. Last summer the Middle Eastern democracy attacked its democratic neighbor to the north, Lebanon. As a going away present, it left millions of unexploded carpet bombs, illegal to use on civilians in international law. Speaking of which, Israel is not a signatory to the U.N. Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and doesn't allow IAEA inspectors into the country. But those are asides, the issue is Israeli statements about attacking Iran. These come from a column in this week's Asia Times.

On June 9, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Saul Mofaz stated that "the military option is on the table". On January 21, 2006, Mofaz had stated publicly: "We are preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program." His boss, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told the press in April that "nobody is ruling out" a military strike on Iran by Israel, adding: "It is impossible perhaps to destroy the entire nuclear program, but it would be possible to damage it in such a way that it would be set back years ... it would take 10 days and involve the firing of 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles."

Olmert's foreign-policy speeches are increasingly filled with blunt threats against Iran, continuing a trend. Last October 19, Olmert was quoted by the Israeli press as stating that Iran will have a "price to pay" for its nuclear program and Iran's leaders "have to be afraid" of the actions that Israel might undertake against Iran's nuclear program.

Can we get people in important government administrative jobs that keep up with world events and can speak intelligently on such? Curious George's staff is remarkably incurious, and repeatedly not credible.

Ari's Group Sets Sights on Iran

The hugely funded, conservative group Freedom's Watch will shift their aim from Iraq to Iran in October. The New York Times reported on an upcoming gathering of experts to discuss radical Islam.

Next month, Freedom’s Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States, according to several benefactors of the group. Although the group declined to identify the experts, several were invited from the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington research group with close ties to the White House. Some institute scholars have advocated a more confrontational policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including keeping military action as an option. Last week, a Freedom’s Watch newspaper advertisement called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran “a terrorist.” The group is considering a national advertising campaign focused on Iran, a senior benefactor said.

Where does freedom seem most in jeopardy today? Shouldn't FW be training its eyes on Myanmar for its heavy handed put down of pro-democracy demonstrators? Meanwhile, Chevron has free reign to profit from the natural resources of Myanmar. Via production sharing agreements signed under the first President Bush's term, the military dictatorship gets valuable funding. The democratic oil minister from India inked oil and gas exploration contracts with the junta's leadership while protesters marched in the streets. While Presidential hopeful John McCain wants every sanction possible enacted, George Bush won't close the spigot of oil or money. And Freedom's Watch turns its head away so it can focus on Iran. So goes the the U.S. Senate. While Ari's group plots, George W. frets....

Mad Passenger Disease Cannot Be Allowed to Spread

Air travel passengers have long been treated like cattle, especially since 9/11. Customer service plummeted in the airline sector this past year with more cancelled flights and fewer on time arrivals/departures. So what happens when a passenger gets angry as a result?

A woman was arrested Friday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after a conflict with gate crews who refused to allow her to board a plane, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a Phoenix police spokesman. The airline said the plane was already preparing to depart. She was rebooked on the next flight, but "she became extremely irate, apparently running up and down the gate area," US Airways spokesman Derek Hanna said Saturday.

The angry passenger was handcuffed and taken to a holding room, which apparently was unsupervised. There the woman tried to free herself of the restraining device, choking herself in the process. She died. Yes, America you can have freedom or security, but not both.

Those who exercise their freedom to anger in response to poor customer service, may lose more than liberty. Carol Ann Gotbaum, 45, of New York paid with her life. At least they didn't hit her with a cattleprod, I mean taser. The herd should also pay no attention to the race to the bottom on "customer service", as managers pursue the lowest common denominator on pay and benefits. Recall what happened to Independence Air? It's permanently grounded. Which may happen to you, should you anger over airline over promises and under delivery...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fight Climate Change Like Terrorism Says Condi

U.S. Secretary of State indicated America would shift its efforts to fighting terror to coincide with its climate change strategies. From now on all baggage and personal searches in airports will be voluntary. The Bush administration will request permission to monitor your phone calls, e-mails and bank accounts. "If voluntary methods are good enough for the climate change fight, and immunizing people against the flu, then they're good enough for terrorism", said Sec. Rice.

All suspected terrorists are encouraged to voluntarily register with the State Department. However, in the future they may be able to trade "carbon life form credits" with well behaving citizens. This provides an overall acceptable level of damage while providing the financial incentive to "not terrorize". Is this all clear? In case you don't get it: Terror=climate change=global disease fight. At least, that's what Condi says...

The Never Ending Nauseating Story

Can we float this idea to the media?

Democrats and Republicans compete for high dollar donors, who then funnel their money to partisan groups charged with communicating their positions in the never ending campaign.

Sorry, that's guaranteed to loose lots of lunches. And that's if they stay awake.

Wait, there's one more thing. There will be lots of advertising buys.

Son, now that's a great idea. You've got a deal!

The American public has MoveOn and Freedom's Watch, each with their own version of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Those with a brain can move on and do their own research. Hopefully we'll have the freedom to find the real information in a few years. With media control of the internet, it may be hard to find an informative, ad free page...

Bush Wants Freedom for Rich People

Two new statements by President George W. Bush streamed across "the internets" the last 24 hours. The first came from Rev. Jim Wallis in regard to his conversation with the President shortly after his inauguration.

Jim, I don't understand poor people. I've never lived with poor people or been around poor people much. I don't understand what they think and feel about a lot of things. I'm just a white Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it?

Rev. Wallis knows George W. hasn't gotten it by his threatened veto of children's health insurance legislation. In his seventh year, the American President remains a white Republican guy. So why all the talk about freedom and the need to impose it behind the sight of a gun?

The Washington Post reported on a transcript from a meeting at the Western White House between American and Spanish leaders. During the session George clearly indicated his frustration with U.N. talks and preference for tanks to roll. We now know the intelligence was cooked to get boots on the ground. The Spanish leader encouraged President Bush to pursue diplomatic means, including an offer by Saddam to leave with $1 billion and information on WMD's.

That $1 billion seems like chump change compared to America's investment in the Middle East's newest democracy. Now, a different military dictatorship in Southeast Asia torments its people. George Bush won't pull the lever cutting Chevron's and Total's supplying Myanmar's junta oil revenues. Those production sharing agreements were negotiated during Poppy's term. It's hard to see Bush cares about freedom for the poor. The right to drill and sell oil, now that's a horse of a different color.

When challenged by the Spanish leader before invading Iraq, he said, "I'm optimistic because I believe I'm right." The world has had enough of George's rightness...

"Tell Kofi to call the Syrians and tell them to cut that shit out", said with his mouth full of dough from a hot buttered roll.

"We're kicking ass in Iraq" to an Australian leader

"It's like Chinese water torture, (regarding the U.N. negotiations), we've got to put an end to it."

Jacques Chirac "sees himself as Mr. Arab."

"Civilized Nations" Excludes Companies

In regard to the violence in Myanmar, American President George Bush said "every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under a brutal military regime like the one that has ruled Burma for too long. I call on all nations that have influence with the regime to join us..."

What about every civilized corporation? George W. Bush is yet to call on Chevron or Total to cut off the daily flow of over 17 million cubic meters of oil from the oppressive country. Under a 1992 production sharing agreement which occurred on Poppy's watch, proceeds go to the ruling junta. The oil field became operational in 2000 so the Myanmar government enjoyed oil revenues for eight years, seven under George's term in office.

There's another lever there, Mr. President. If you won't pull it, at least come out from behind the curtain. That holds for you as well, Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bush Leaves Big Lever for Freedom in Myanmar Untouched

President Bush announced a series of measures appearing to hurt the military junta ruling Myanmar, as the country continues its violent crack down on protesters. But George failed to touch his greatest lever, Western oil companies doing business in the repressive country. France's Total and America's Chevron own 60% of a field producing 17.4 million m3/day in 2006. Under their production sharing agreement how much went to Myanmar's dictatorial rulers that same year? The following information exists on the Total website:

Elections were held in 1990, but when ruling authorities lost to the National League for Democracy, a coalition led by Aung San Suu Kyi, they refused to transfer power to the winners. This occured on Bush Sr.'s watch.

In late May 2003, during a political tour in the provinces, members of the NLD were attacked and imprisoned. The number of victims is unknown. (Bush Jr.'s first term.)

Total/Unocal-Chevron Project Milestones include:
1. Basic agreement (Production Sharing Contract) signed in July 1992. President George H.W. Bush is in the White House.
2. Construction work (1 Billion USD investment) implemented between October 95 and June 98
3. Production reaches commercial stage in 2000: 17.4 million m3/day produced in 2006.

Did you pay close attention to the above dates? Given the events of the last few days, one certainly would expect President Bush to call his conservative French counterpart to ensure the spigot is cut off for Myanmar's strongmen. That is if he truly believes in freedom? From this data it appears Bush's favors oil over freedom. Something has to power that dynasty.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baghdad Electrical Service Headed to U.S.?

The new fear is hackers disabling the U.S. power grid, according to a new government video previewed by V.P. Dick Cheney. Are Baghdad levels of electrical service soon headed our way? Not if Mr. Amit Yoran can help it. The ex-cyber chief for Homeland Security cited the impact of the video's theoretical attack. "You can see it catch fire."

Amit happens to be CEO of NetWitness, a firm which makes network monitoring software. According to the company's promotional material, NextGen detects both external and internal threats. It costs $40,000 a pop. Now how many networks would need to be protected to cover the whole grid?

What did the folks who currently manage our power grid have to say about the video? "The video is not a realistic representation of how the power system would operate," said Stan Johnson, a manager at the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the Princeton, N.J.-based organization charged with overseeing the power grid.

But NetWitness has a product it wants to sell to the government. It happens the federal government created the product to begin with, as the NextGen is "a new, commercial version of a network forensics and monitoring tool that was first built for the intelligence community nearly 10 years ago." Several NetWitness executives and their new, just weeks old product have their roots from Mantech. How much does this leaked video help them with their promotional efforts?

Did Mantech Board member Richard Armitage open the door for Amit to enter the V.P.'s office. Without reliable electricity will we be thrown back to the Stone Age?

Or did Richard Kerr grease the way for Mr. Yoran to make his presentation to Dick? As a high up in the CIA, Mr. Kerr headed the intelligence efforts prior to the Iraq War. You mean he has the gall to put that on his resume? Either way, I see two Mantech Board members with questionable histories.

Guess who invested in the spin off? Private equity firms rolled $10 million into the company nearly a year ago. And ManTech held on to a chunk as well, less than 5% according to their SEC filings.

Given this information, why the nonfactual fear based video? Are Baghdad levels of electricity really headed our way? Or does NewWitness want to promote its new security software product priced at $40,000? How badly do all those investors with high political connections want to grow their smoking returns? Likely bad enough to make a movie...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More for Wars

Apparently freedom comes with an ever increasing price tag in the world's newest democracies. The White House plans to ask for $195 billion to support operations in the two theaters, Afghanistan and Iraq. This is an increase of over nearly $50 billion over prior 2008 estimates.

Compare that to Bush's proposed $5 billion increase in state run CHIP programs over a five year period. George stood on his high horse twice this past week to threaten a CHIP veto. Yet, his mount is but a statue, fixing in place a system that already fails 47 million U.S. residents. President Bush fancies himself a rough rider, but it looks like the people are the ones with a rough road ahead. It may be time for more ads by Freedom Switch.

U.S. Tries to Silence Middle East Elected Leaders

Recent actions by U.S. officials may be targeted to silencing elected leaders in neighboring Iraq and Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the revocation of Blackwater Security's license after an incident killing many of his citizens. Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice responded by limiting diplomatic forays outside the green zone for several days. However, by Friday Blackwater was back to full operations. It appears the Iraqi President has less power in his own country than the U.S. Secretary of State.

The second incident involved American soldiers capturing an Iranian representative on official visit to the Kurdistan region. The U.S. military said the detainee is a member of an elite Iranian unit that has been accused of training and equipping insurgents in Iraq, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force. The capture upset Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who demanded the guest be released. Another Iranian is traveling for diplomatic reasons. Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heads to New York to speak at Columbia University before taking the podium at the United Nations General Assembly. He happens to be Commander in Chief of the Iranian military which incorporates the elite unit.

Of the recent capture, an Iraqi said "Occasionally Americans do this sort of operation or abduction, which is against international norms." Might this be a message to Mr. Ahmadinejad as he comes to American turf, where he too could be easily grabbed by a government interested in regime change. The Bush administration has toyed with naming the Quds Force a terrorist group. What if he slaps the designation while Mr. Ahmadinejad visits, then has the Iranian PM captured for being supporting terrorism? It might be against international norms, but then again so was pre-emptive war based on fabricated evidence.

So what does everyone do, given the sorry state of world leadership modeled by Bush, Ahmadinejad and Chavez? Well, it seems the best thing to do is act like nothing's happening. With Sec. Rice, Prime Minister al-Maliki and Iranian officials all in attendance, none of the above situations were discussed at a UN meeting focused on future assistance to Iraq. Let's continue to walk gingerly around the elephants in the room, otherwise they'll get mad and stomp on somebody. So, silence please!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Whose Order Stuck?

After a Baghdad security incident in which numerous bystanders were killed, two leaders gave orders in the Middle East's newest democracy. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki revoked Blackwater Security's license to operate in the country and U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice ordered another famous Bush investigation to get to the bottom of what happened. Guess which one stuck? Condi's did as the firm continued working in Iraq on Friday.

Blackwater continues to operate in country, escorting U.S. State Department teams under normal operations. So how does this happen? Besides the gaping holes provided private security firms in U.S., Iraqi and international law, Blackwater works for the State Department. They can leverage international diplomatic agreements and the undemocratic practice of diplomatic immunity. Consider it a double shot of unaccountability. When you add in the Bush administration's intransigence toward existing laws and disdain toward the basics of a competent investigation, it turns into an alcoholic's dream with abundant shot glasses of hubris.

So good try, weak Prime Minister al-Maliki. When you can't control who does business in your country, someone else is running the show. So that's where Condi's been hiding!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Democracies on the Brink

Al Qaida declared war on yet more countries in a new videotape. Their list of opponents is already lengthy but apparently the terrorist group has the resources to fight a worldwide battle. Prior to the latest declaration al Qaida had its sights on 11 countries with 1.8 billion people. With the addition of France and Spain the total grows by another 100 million. A complete list is below. According to the CIA Factbook the countries at war with al Qaida have the following population characteristics.

U.S. has 301 million people, 1% of which are Muslims
Britain has 61 million people, 3% Muslim
Israel has 6.5 million people, 76% Jewish and 16% Muslim
India's population is 1.1 billion people, 130 million are Muslim.
Pakistan has 164 million people, mostly Sunni
Iraq is populated by 27 million most Shia Muslims
Afghanistan has 32 million people, 99% Muslim with 80% Sunni
Somalia has 9 million people Sunni Muslim
France has 64 million people, 5-10% Muslim
Spain has 41 million people, 94% Catholic

The group has also denounced:

Egypt with 80 million, mostly Sunni
Jordan has 6 million, mostly Sunni Muslims
Saudi Arabia populated by 28 million, all Sunni

While al Qaida may be a credible domestic terror threat, like America's Ku Klux Klan in the past, they are not in a position to take on the combined military strength of the countries above. While Iraq remains a horrible mess, al Qaida is only 3-5% of the insurgency. The rest is fighting between rival Sunni and Shia groups, both within and between sects.

Also with their call to overthrow Pakistani leader Musharraf, it seems that country is ground zero for defanging the terror group. That Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have books and video equipment in their caves shows Bedrock has evolved. Is it time to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age?

Update 5-1-11:  The U.S. killed Osama bin Laden and took his body into custody.  The raid took place in Pakistan.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bush's Democracy Fest in Middle East

The news is replete with harbingers of freedom. American Chief Diplomat Condi Rice snatched away the international atomic watchdog's freedom of speech with a "butt out" to its leader, Mohamed el-Baradei.

Democratic Lebanon found itself bombed by its own citizens in contrast to the pummeling it took from its neighbor to the south last summer. A lawmaker perished in the blast.

Israel, the aforementioned neighbor, ratcheted up its siege on the Gaza Strip by declaring it an "enemy entity". Now they can withhold electricity and fuel, in addition to taxes. For selecting the wrong party in free elections in early 2006, the Palestinian people continue to pay.

Meanwhile Iran lacks the freedom to retaliate should Israel attack it. While they may have plans, the mighty U.S. military presence in the region will contain Iran's retaliatory impulse. And the Iranians lack democratic style freedom, that in Iraq could only be delivered using cruise missiles in a campaign of "shock and awe".

Given Ms. Rice earlier smack down of the IAEA chief, could a similar round of nuclear tipped freedom be on order for Iran? This is supported by free France which recently warned Iran that war is a logical consequence of its intransigence. In classic French fashion they surrendered the threat by waving the white flag of negotiation.

Meanwhile the American people are free to visit Senator Larry Craig's stall in the Minneapolis airport. Senator Craig, despite offering his resignation, returned to the hallowed stalls of government in Washington DC. And that sums up the state of freedom...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Freedom to Drill

BBC video reported ex-Fed Chief Alan Greenspan said the Iraq War was largely about oil. (The President's good friend Ray Hunt knows a little about that, having recently signed an oil deal in the Kurdish region of Iraq.) The American media picked up the story and the White House remains continually "surprised". Are they shining the letters FW into the night sky? Will Ari come to the rescue and give a big "Sock" or "Pow" to that Joker, Alan Greenspan? Stay tuned...

Friday, September 14, 2007

WaPo Fact Checks Bush Speech on Iraq

This was too good to pass up. Are you listening Ari?

The President Asserted Progress on Security and Political Issues. Recent Reports Weren't Often So Upbeat.

By Glenn Kessler Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, September 14, 2007

In his speech last night, President Bush made a case for progress in Iraq by citing facts and statistics that at times contradicted recent government reports or his own words.

For instance, Bush asserted that "Iraq's national leaders are getting some things done," such as "sharing oil revenues with the provinces" and allowing "former Baathists to rejoin Iraq's military or receive government pensions."

Yet his statement ignored the fact that U.S. officials have been frustrated that none of those actions have been enshrined into law -- and that reports from Baghdad this week indicated that a potential deal on sharing oil revenue is collapsing.

In a radio address to the nation less than a month ago, the president himself complained that the Iraqi government was failing to address these issues. "Unfortunately, political progress at the national level has not matched the pace of progress at the local level," Bush said on Aug. 18. "The Iraqi government in Baghdad has many important measures left to address, such as reforming the de-Baathification laws, organizing provincial elections and passing a law to formalize the sharing of oil revenues."

Bush also asserted that Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province, was once an al-Qaeda stronghold but that "today, Baqubah is cleared." But in a meeting with reporters on Aug. 27, the head of the State Department team in Diyala said the security situation was not stable, hampering access to food and energy, though he acknowledged that commerce was returning to Baqubah.

"Everything is based around security; if we have security, then we can bring in agencies like USAID," John Melvin Jones said, referring to the U.S. Agency for International Development. "It's going to take a while before the security situation gets stable enough so that you can have a lot of these other agencies involved."

Bush also thanked "the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq." But the State Department's most recent weekly report on Iraq said there are 25 countries supplying 11,685 troops -- about 7 percent of the size of the U.S. forces.

At one point, the president cited a recent report by a commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James Jones, saying that "the Iraqi army is becoming more capable, although there is still a great deal of work to be done to improve the national police."

But the report said Iraq's army will be unable to take over internal security from U.S. forces in the next 12 to 18 months and "cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven." It also described the 25,000-member national police force as riddled with sectarianism and corruption, and it recommended that it be disbanded.

The commission also recommended that U.S. troops in Iraq be "retasked" in early 2008 to protect critical infrastructure and guard against border threats from Iran and Syria, while gradually turning responsibility for security over to Iraqi forces despite their deficiencies -- advice the president did not follow in last night's speech.

The president also painted a relatively favorable picture of Baghdad, saying that a year ago much of it "was under siege" but that today "ordinary life is beginning to return." He did not mention that much of the once-heterogeneous city has been divided into Shiite and Sunni enclaves.

The president also said that groups of "Iranian-backed militants" are "being broken up, and many of their leaders are being captured or killed." In congressional testimony this week, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker emphasized that Iran poses a looming menace in Iraq.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Battle of the Barney's

The bumbling enforcer goes after the impotent caveman, year 7. Barney Fife seeks to arrest Barney Rubble for crimes against humanity. Yet the scene plays over and over again like the famous one from Mayberry RFD:

[Andy and Barney are at the Darlings when a rock comes through the window]

Barney Fife: What was that!
Andy Taylor: I think Ernest T. Bass is paying us another visit.
Briscoe Darling: Ernest T. Bass! You're a low down skunk! [Turns away from the window, then turns back] Doggone ya!
Andy Taylor: Listen here, Ernest T. Bass! This is Sheriff Taylor! Go on home and leave these people alone! You're keepin' 'em awake!
Ernest T. Bass: Tell 'em to go back to bed! Charlene's the one I want to talk to!
Barney Fife: Listen here, Ernest T. Bass! This is Deputy Fife! I'm armed and if you don't go home, I might just take a shot at you [another rock come flying through the window]

Barney Fife: Stop that! [Another rock hits the window]
Briscoe Darling: Sheriff, tell your deputy to be quiet before he gets us all stoned to death!

Dr. Deming and the Petraeus Report

General David Petraeus testified before Congress today on the progress of freedom in Iraq. In his testimony the officer used graphical slides to show data over time. As he spoke a number of items struck me. First he mentioned "refining data". Having seen the Bush administration wipe out nearly 2 million uninsured Americans using data refinements, I wondered what calculations has been changed, when and why. Did any of his charts show data operationally defined in different ways over time?

The second thing he said was U.S. intelligence agencies called his data "the best in Iraq". That could be a very low bar, given the poor governmental infrastructure. One could be the best, but also be a very low performer.

Conservative columnist Jay Ambrose recently cited Dr. Deming's "techniques of measurement" in a recent column on the poor quality of Chinese products. Yet, Dr. Deming pioneered and taught for decades robust statistical analytical methods for leaders. I saw none of his tools applied to General Petraeus' data. From a cursory review, what the military leader cited as a trend, Dr. Deming would call common cause variation.

I suggest the Pentagon have a respected statistical follower of Dr. Deming analyze the data. Then have such a person report to Capital Hill. This would give the American people a chance to gain knowledge, instead of hearing someone say what the President wants to hear. George Bush gave us "unprecedented disaster" regarding Katrina while David Petraeus ended his testimony characterizing Iraq as "the most complex and challenging environment imaginable". It's a shame our leaders consistently fail at complex and challenging tasks.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

No Country Left Behind

"We will set high standards and hold people accountable" is the basis for the President's education policies. Yet, this doesn't transfer to foreign policy in the case of Iraq. For four years President Bush touted the "progress" being made in spreading freedom to the Middle East. Recently released reports characterize performance on key Iraqi benchmarks as mostly "failure to achieve".

One U.S. official drew the football analogy, "We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field." The problem in football is enough progress has to be made to keep the drive going, otherwise a team has to punt. That forward movement is in question.

President Bush cites "slight progress", accomplished mainly by redefining the measure or dropping it altogether. If this were a classroom, the pupil went from a 50 to a 55. Despite slight improvement, the student continues to fail. Therefore the school should get more $50 billion more in resources to help this "student" in need. The logic pushed by Bush advisors is "we must hold the gains". To change course would place the 55 in peril.

But that's not the way No Child Left Behind works. Schools are punished for failing to meet high standards. Why is Iraq different? I'm sure Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch will explain this in one of their commercials. But is he believable? There is a track record:

“[T]here’s no question that if force is used, it will achieve the objective of preserving the peace far faster than the current path that we’re on.” [2/14/03]

“[G]iven the chance to throw off a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, people will rejoice.” [3/21/03]

“[W]hen you take a look at the level of violence inside of Iraq, it is impossible to argue anything other than violence has, indeed, come down as a result of America’s military operations.” [6/25/03]

“My point is, the likelihood is much more like Afghanistan, where the people who live right now under a brutal dictator will view America as liberators, not conquerors.” [10/11/02]

“There have been contacts between senior members of — senior Iraqi officials and members of the al Qaeda organization, going back for quite a long time. … Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development. There are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda.” [1/27/03]

“There is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. … And all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.” [3/21/03]

“The fact of the matter is, one of the reasons the Iraqi people are supportive of the efforts we’ve had there is because of the effort that’s been done in the reconstruction phase.” [7/1/03]

“I think that if you look at the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly pleased with the fact the United States has helped them to get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime. That was clear from their dancing in the streets, from the way they tore down the statues. And I think that is the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.” [7/1/03]

“[N]o, I don’t think there’s any chance of losing the peace, but it is going to be a battle to continue to win the peace.” [5/19/03]

Stay tuned for more Ari. Speaking of which, can someone open the window? Something smells

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Stories We Tell

Ari Fleischer told a few dandies in his day as White House Press Secretary under President Bush and according to news reports he intends to tell a few more as a founding member of Freedom's Watch. The group intends to tell the story of freedom's advance in Iraq as Congress debates next steps. It will do so via a $15 million ad campaign.

But that's not all. Freedom's Watch plans to stay together through the 2008 Presidential campaign in order to "be a major force in shaping those issues that galvanize voters." Translation: galvanize = manipulate. And the first casualty of freedom is truth, proven so many times by this administration. Thus Ari's Freedom Switch will attempt to provide truth whenever possible on galvanizing issues identified by Freedom's Watch.

In describing the need for the group, FW emphasizes military force and free markets. If President Eisenhower were here today, he'd witness the evolution of the dangerous Military Industrial Complex into the now media savy Government Industrial Monstrosity. Politicians and business leaders have their hands so deep in each other's pockets, they should avoid airport restrooms for fear of being arrested for lewd behavior. Freedom's Watch is such a group.
The organization would have us believe free enterprise and overwhelming military force are founding tenets of our country. They purposefully mask our founder's true intent of freedom and a deliberately constrained federal government. It will be interesting to see what else they distort!

For past examples of Bush lies and misdeed see State of the Division with its over 1,400 posts. The PEU Report chronicles the influence of private equity and major investment houses on the Bush administration. It also highlights poor management practices so widespread in our country. Hold your nose if you go there!