Friday, March 10, 2006



"Obviously, it's the winter of our discontent," Oklahoma Republican congressman Tom Cole moaned to the Associated Press. Cole-- and every other Republican up for re-election in November, must be lamenting Bush's steadily declining approval ratings in every part of the country-- including among die-hard Republicans. "More and more people," starts the AP story, "particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism."

According to the story "Republican Party leaders said the survey explains why GOP lawmakers are rushing to distance themselves from Bush on a range of issues — port security, immigration, spending, warrantless eavesdropping and trade, for example" and it points out that what they call "the positioning is most intense among Republicans facing election in November and those considering 2008 presidential campaigns." The congressloons who have rubber-stamped every single tragic diktat from the White House since he stole the election in 2000, are panicking (while John McCain, now firmly under the spell of Karl Rove, has planted his head right up Bush's posterior).

And it is looking so bad for Bush that it is unlikely someone would rather have a beer with him than with almost anyone-- short of Cheney! "The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency. Bush's job approval among Republicans plummeted from 82 percent in February to 74 percent, a dangerous sign in a midterm election year when parties rely on enthusiasm from their most loyal voters. The biggest losses were among white males. On issues, Bush's approval rating declined from 39 percent to 36 percent for his handling of domestic affairs and from 47 percent to 43 percent on foreign policy and terrorism. His approval ratings for dealing with the economy and Iraq held steady, but still hovered around 40 percent. Personally, far fewer Americans consider Bush likable, honest, strong and dependable than they did just after his re-election campaign." A good many now understand why Republicans resist "truth in advertising" laws.

It's not irrational for straight-down-the-line Bush asskissers like the aforementioned gentleman from Oklahoma to worry. Two-thirds of the public disapproves of the way the Republican-dominated Congress is doing their job, as more and more people wake up to the fact that the weak, ineffectual and corrupt president has no one watching him but a weaker, even more ineffectual and more corrupt-- on the surface, at least-- congress. Again, according to the AP story, "By a 47-36 margin, people favor Democrats over Republicans when they are asked who should control Congress."

The televised utter catastrophe of Katrina, and its equally horrific aftermath, pointed out to every American with 2 brain cells to rub together (i.e., anyone not brainwashed by a cult) that Bush is completely incapable (and uninterested) in protecting them. And right on the heals of this came the most politically tone-deaf act of Bush's reign: his attempt to sell 6 major American ports to a company owned by his family's business partners in the tyrannical, terrorist-coddling corrupt Dubai "royal" family. Trained by 5 years of Bush scare'n'hate tactics Americans reacted in horror and righteous indignation, except this time it wasn't (mis)directed towards John Kerry or Max Cleland but (appropriately) towards Bush and the Keystone Kops he's surrounded himself with. He was caught, red handed, disregarding national security and selling out the nation.

And the immediate political context in which all this is boiling over is a Republican political class drowning in a tidal wave of corruption, the likes of which have never been seen in this country before. With Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's bribery case and sentencing barely off the front page, today we get the latest bombshell sure to sink Bush's approval ratings even lower: the resignation of a corruption-tainted, far right hack from his cabinet! Gale Norton, a protege of the disgraced walking environmental catastrophe known as James Watt, and one of the more blatantly incompetent and corrupt members of Bush's ill-starred Cabinet, resigned today as law enforcement officials closed in on her. A close associate of confessed Republican rain-maker Jack Abramoff, Norton and her staff are implicated-- though not yet charged-- in many of the worst scandals associated with natural resources give-aways to GOP contributors and with rip off of the American Indian tribes her Department was supposed to protect.

Until this new series of scandals erupted, Norton has been best known for helping to guide the avaricious Bush Regime's initiative to throw open public lands to more oil and gas drilling. She has made a farce of the permit process meant to protect the public interest while she has steadfastly advanced the interests of big corporations eager to exploit government-owned resources in return for gigantic kickbacks to the Republican Party and individual elected officials.

After losing a bid for the U.S. Senate, Norton started a the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which is both a fake environmental organization and a group that was in bed with Abramoff and completely enmeshed in the Republican lobbying scandals. In her resignation letter, Norton doesn't mention her impending indictments, just that she and her husband yearn to spend time "closer to the mountains we love in the West.'' Perhaps Bush, who-- without even a trace of irony-- lauded her "wise use and protection of our nation's natural resources,'' can find a prison with a mountain view for her.

But Bush's troubles don't stop with finding appropriate institutions to house all his soon-to-be-sentenced political allies. A pal of mine who works for a U.S. Senator (not, Lieberman, I can assure you), sent me a brilliant analysis of Bush's lame and dissembling press conference today. Struggling to reassure Americans that his bumbling regime has the competence to tackle the challenges ahead, almost nothing he said stands up to even the briefest of fact-checks. Reiterating that he is using all assets to protect America, Bush somehow failed to mention that his weak, incompetent Regime has received dismally failing grades from the 9-11 Commission.

When Bush stated that the economy is strong, people, struggling with an increasing inability to make ends meet, recognize that he's trying to convince himself. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust, the "average family premiums for health insurance have increased 71 percent during the Bush presidency, rising from an average of $6,348 in 2000 to $10,880 in 2005." (Think about that next time a Repug mentions his "tax cut.") In fact, while you're measuring your "tax cut" against your skyrocketing family health care costs, think about the skyrocketing costs of education. Tuition and fees at four-year private universities have increased by almost $1,200 or 5.9 percent in 2005 and 32 percent since 2001. At four-year public universities, tuition and fees increased by 7.1 percent this past year and 57 percent since President Bush took office. Similarly, the Energy Information Administration reports "Prices at the gas pump have jumped 55 percent from $1.44 per gallon in January 2001 to $2.33 in late January 2006, while the price for a barrel of oil has more than doubled from $29.26 in January 2001 to over $65 in January 2006. The average household with children spent about $3,225 on transportation fuel costs in 2005, an increase of 69 percent over 2001 costs."

When Bush claimed that his tax breaks for multimillionaires balances the budget is could have been speakin' out of his ass (if Lieberman and McCain weren't so firmly lodged up there). "The best way to balance the budget," he deceived, "is to keep pro-growth economic policies in place, keep the taxes low so the economy grows, which generates more revenues for the treasury, and set priorities on the people's money.“ The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a different-- more realistic-- way of looking at it: "[T]he tax cuts have not paid for themselves, recent economic growth and revenue growth have not been particularly strong, and revenues remain lower than had been predicted before the tax cuts were enacted.”

Bush also was tellin' a tall tale when he started rambling on semi-coherently about fighting America's dependence on foreign oil. “When I'm sitting around the Oval Office talking about national security matters and someone says, ‘Did you see what the Iranians said about consequences?’ Really what they're talking about, I guess, is energy. So for national security purposes, we have got to become, you know, not addicted to oil.” According to the EIA's Overview of U.S. Petroleum Trade, this is all bunk. "Although the war in Iraq and the war on terror," they state flatly, "should serve to remind the Administration about the national security dangers of relying on foreign oil, America’s dependence on foreign oil has increased since this Administration took office. In 2000, 58.2 percent of the oil consumed in the United States was imported. That has increased to 61.7 percent today." On a related topic, Bush blathered on about having a "comprehensive strategy to get us off oil" (i.e., alternative energy sources). More bull. Bush and his cronies talk a lot about renewables, but they don't walk the walk. His latest budget request for energy efficiency, conservation and renewables is even lower than the amount appropriated in 2001! Bush budget negotiators opposed providing tax incentives for renewable energy like wind and geothermal and energy efficiency for the same duration as conventional energy sources. They also opposed a renewable portfolio standard. Both steps would have greatly enhanced this nation’s ability to generate more energy from wind, geothermal, solar, and other renewable sources. He hasn't done squat to promote energy efficiency or conservation. Energy consumption between 2001 and 2005 remained unchanged – approximately 339 MBtu per person.

The part of his charade today that probably got most people's blood boiling was his rosy, misleading assessment of Iraqi forces' capabilities. (“There's no question this is a period of tension in Iraq.   The Iraqi forces responded well, however, which is a second part of our strategy, and that is to let the Iraqis take the fight to the enemy.”) According to CNN, and widely reported everywhere, “The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up.” And THE WASHINGTON POST reports today that “Sectarian violence in Iraq has reached a level unprecedented since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and is now eclipsing the insurgency as the chief security threat there," according to John Abizaid, the top U.S. Commander for the Middle East, considered by many a Bush toady. Even the Army is now admitting that civil war in Iraq, which Rumsfeld was once allowed to get away with calling "remote," is "a central consideration for U.S. strategy in Iraq.”

It's been a bad month for Bush and a worse 5 years for America. When will the nightmare end? And at what cost?


Kelpie Wilson wrote a terrific essay on the unfathomable corruption of Bush's just-resigned (in disgrace) Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton. A taste: "As the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding's presidency was one milestone in the history of American resource piracy, the tenure of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior is surely another. Harding's Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, failed in his scheme to sell off the Teapot Dome oil reserves and pocket the money. He was prosecuted and sentenced to a year in prison. Gale Norton's timely exit on the heels of the Abramoff scandal that implicates top Interior Department officials could mean that she is worried, but it is not likely that she will face any prosecution for her giveaways to industry. Harding, like G.W. Bush, had little regard for proper English - Harding called for a return to 'normalcy,' while Bush says we should not 'misunderestimate' him. On Harding's death, the poet E. E. Cummings said: 'The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.' But just as Bush surpasses Harding as a mangler of language, so the Bush administration far outstrips the Harding administration in the game of looting." Can you resist reading the details?


At 4:34 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

The nightmare under this pathetic, ill advised, visionless administration may take generations to relieve.
When I think of all the equally pathetic, uninformed voters who are responsible for the mess, the thought that one single issue concerning women's rights is what got us here, makes me wonder if America is up to the challenge of anything at all.
A one issue voting public has no place on the world stage. They have no vision for the future of mankind.
It's possible that bush has done so much harm that even THEY realize what their vote has done. Even still, I doubt they are concerned. It's roe v. wade and the rest of the world be damned.
If only the fools could see the horror. If only they cared enough about innocent people such as
Daniel Pearl.
If only they cared what was happening beyond their simple minds that see no evil and hear no evil. They want to protect the innocent at all costs. And this is the cost. Our brothers, our sisters. Innocent people who wake up everyday to fight for the good life on earth, only to be slaughtered by ignorance brought on by a soul less administration, not curious enough or concerned enough to care about the origins of the problems on the world stage. But if the people don't have the vision or the balls to remove these fools from power, it's going to be an even darker world come tomorrow.
My own personal disdain for these people is summed up perfectly by Bob Dylan who said ...
"I wish that for just one night, you could walk inside my shoes, than you'd know what a drag it is, to see you."
Keep up the good work Howie. Some day, the uninformed will wake up. We pray it's not too late.

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Progger said...

Power Corrupts. When the Dems were in control, they were corrupt (but nothing like the Republicans). Now it is the Repugs that are robbing America and trying to impose a Totalitarian Bush Family Monarchy.


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