Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, March 23rd, 2006.


Unbelievable

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Bush Administration, Hurricanes

I heard this on Countdown tonight — as reported by Cynthia Garza in the Houston Chronicle

Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.

It’s sweet the way she goes out of her way to help her kids, isn’t it?

Regarding the fact that Bush’s earmarked donation also benefited her son’s company, Becker said, “Mrs. Bush is obviously an enthusiastic supporter of her son. She is genuinely supportive of his program,” and has received many letters from educators who support it. Bush “honestly felt this would be a great way to help the (evacuee) students.”

Barbara and Neil Bush presented the donated programs to Houston-area schools this winter.

“Becker” is Jean Becker, former President Bush’s chief of staff.

There are 40 Ignite programs being used in the Houston area, and 15 in the Houston school district, said Ken Leonard, president of Ignite.

Information about the effectiveness of the program, through district-generated reports, was not readily available Wednesday, according to an HISD spokeswoman.

Two years ago, the school district raised eyebrows when it expanded the program by relying heavily on private donations.

In February 2004, the Houston school board unanimously agreed to accept $115,000 in charitable donations from businesses and individuals who insisted the money be spent on Ignite. The money covered half the bill for the software, which cost $10,000 per school.

The deal raised conflict of interest concerns because Neil Bush and company officials helped solicit the donations for the HISD Foundation, a philanthropic group that raises money for the district.

Can we say “scam,” boys and girls? I think we can.

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Misguided

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Bush Administration, Middle East, Religion

The case of the Christian convert under threat of execution in Afghanistan may be putting more cracks in the Bush base. For background, see Pamela Constable in today’s Washington Post:

The case of an Afghan man who could be prosecuted and even put to death for converting to Christianity has unleashed a blizzard of condemnation from the West this week and exposed a conflict in values between Afghanistan, a conservative Muslim country, and the foreign countries that have helped defend and rebuild it in the four years since the fall of the Taliban.

The case of Abdul Rahman, a longtime Christian convert who lived in Germany for years and was arrested last month in Kabul, has also highlighted the volatile debate within Afghanistan over the proper role of Islam in Afghan law and public policy as the country struggles to develop a democracy.

My understanding is that Rahman is not in trouble for being Christian, but for converting from Islam. I dimly remember hearing (in a seminar I attended years ago) that under traditional Sharia law, converting from Islam is punishable by death. It may be that the Afghan constitution doesn’t mind if people who have never been Muslims practice a religion other than Islam.

According to Constable, it appears at the moment that Rahman is unlikely to be tried or executed. However, at the New York Times Abdul Waheed Wafa writes that the judge in the case has vowed to resist international pressure when he makes his decision.

There’s no question that the execution of Rahman would be an atrocity. It would also likely stir up more anti-Islamic feeling in Europe and cause the Christian Right to re-evaluate our military adventures in the Middle East, which would be a disaster for the Bush Administration. I take it from the Wafa article that Condoleezza Rice is pulling every string she can pull to set Rahman free.

Word that the Afghani government — the one that the U.S. fought to establish — could execute someone for converting to Christianity hit the American religious Right like a ton of Bibles. Constable writes at WaPo:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, complained in a letter to Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “How can we congratulate ourselves for liberating Afghanistan from the rule of jihadists only to be ruled by radical Islamists who kill Christians? . . . Americans will not give their blood and treasure to prop up new Islamic fundamentalist regimes.”

Hasn’t someone explained to Mr. Perkins that that’s exactly what we’re doing in Iraq?

Wafa writes at the Times, “In the United States this week, Christian talk shows and advocacy groups rallied their supporters, who flooded the White House and the Afghanistan Embassy with complaints.”

Initial reaction from the Bush Administration was tepid, writes Constable:

On Tuesday, a State Department spokesman urged the Afghan government to “conduct any legal proceedings in a transparent and fair manner.” R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said that the Afghan constitution “affords freedom of religion to all Afghans” and that the U.S. government hoped for a “satisfactory result” of the case.

However, Judd at Think Progress says the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom repeatedly tried to warn the Bushies that the Afghan constitution amounted to “Taliban Lite.” The Bushies ignored them, until now. (Nobody could have anticipated that Afghan judges would adhere to Sharia law, even though the Afghan constitution says they can.)

Rightie bloggers are, of course, all a-twitter. “Where is the outrage from the Left?” says this one.

Oh, I dunno … maybe in the same place as the outrage from the Right on the death of Dilawar the cab driver.

But another had some pointed words for Republicans —

Also, I’d like to make a quick suggestion to Republicans: get on top of this story now. Not just because you should be anyway–obviously, it’s the right thing to do–but also because this story has the makings of another Dubai Ports World scandal written all over it. Fool me once. That’s all I have to say.

In other Christian news — you may remember Tom Fox, the Christian peace activist who was killed while being held hostage in Iraq. Today U.S. and British Thursday freed three more Christian peace activists.

You’d think the righties would be pleased that three Christians have been saved. Guess again.

The Christian peace activists are not “good” Christians because they don’t support the war (be sure to read the comments to the linked blog post, too. Verily I say unto thee, unless thou shalt support George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and vote Republican, thou shalt not be admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.).

Here’s my favorite blog post on the subject:

One would think that the military that saved these people would recieve a huge thank you, but their press release doesn’t even mention the rescue. They do take the time for mentioning how much they love the enemy however.

    Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families.

That in itself can be viewed as an admiral conviction to their faith, even if misguided …

Got that? Jesus’s teachings are misguided.

Update: See also the Green Knight.

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Fire Thunder

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abortion

Via Paul the Spud — the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, is fighting back against the South Dakota abortion law.

A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she said to me last week. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”

President Fire Thunder is taking donations to help build the clinic. What better way to kick the Fetus People in their collective butt?

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Tick … Tock … Tick … Tock …

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Bush Administration

Let me tell you about what I think my job description is. I think my job is to confront problems, not pass them on to future Presidents and future Congresses. (Applause.) I know that’s what the American people expect of their leaders. — George W. Bush, August 3, 2005

Q Will there come a day — and I’m not asking you when, not asking for a timetable — will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq. — press conference, March 21, 2006

There was a rumor — I haven’t found the primary source — that after the 2000 “election” president-presumptive Bush was told the state of Texas had run up a nasty budget deficit on his watch. “That’s not my problem,” he is said to have said.

Molly Ivins explained (in October 2003) how Bush used the Texas economy as part of his presidential campaign:

Between GeeDubya Bush’s second legislative session in 1997 and the official beginning of his run for the presidency in 1999, the state of Texas pissed away much of a $6 billion surplus. …

…Governor Bush made good use of the surplus, at least for his own political purposes. In a state known for low taxes and no income tax, he gave a big chunk of the surplus back to taxpayers. Then he ran for president saying, “I passed the largest tax break in the history of the state of Texas.” And why not? The economy was booming. Enron stock was going to hit $100 and split. Streets were filled with trucks laying fiber-optic cable. …

Dubya Bush arrived as governor after the party started. By the time it ended, he had ridden the Texas tech boom all the way to the White House. The first big Austin campaign bash in the summer of 1999 featured bad country music and a stump speech heavy on Bushonomic blather: “… the largest tax cut in the history of the state of Texas … give tax dollars to the people who earned them … ,” etc. Bush budget director Albert Hawkins, who had just left the state’s payroll to join the campaign, stood at the back of the crowd. Hawkins is a veteran capitol numbers-cruncher who knew better. Asked why none of the record surplus was banked in the state’s rainy day fund, Hawkins dismissed the question. The state’s finances were in good shape, he said. “We didn’t see any need to put any money in the fund.”

Then the stock market tanked, the Supreme Court named Bush president, tax revenues disappeared, and Texas went broke. As we write, we’re looking at a $10 billion deficit in Texas … As Bush rolled out his second big tax cut in Washington in 2002, the state he left behind was being ravaged by the deficits he created.

We are all Texans now. As in screwed.

In today’s Boston Globe, David Martin writes a tongue-in-cheek humor piece that suggests maybe we’d be better off if Bush sat on his hands and did nothing for the rest of his term. ”Anything I tried to do now would just need to be fixed up by some future president anyway,” says Bush via Martin.

But it’s only too true that Bush has skipped merrily through life without having to pay for his mistakes, since Daddy’s influence and money were always around to bail him out. As a result, Dubya is still the spoiled brat who expects the help to clean up his messes. The next president, whoever he is, will be faced with the biggest mess since FDR inherited the Great Depression and Lincoln was socked with the Secession Crisis. Trillions in debt, global nuclear proliferation, escalating violence and anti-Americanism in the Middle East — and we’ve got almost three years to go. This is frightening.

And even if Bush did sit on his hands until January 2009, the messes he’s made so far are going to get worse and worse without competent, pro-active leadership to deal with them. The deficit ain’t gettin’ smaller, Kim Jung Il still has plutonium, and today the Associated Press reports that “al-Qaida terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground.” Yes, just what the world needs.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government is, in effect, hostage to a powerful cadre of Bush bitter enders and enablers who continue to intimidate news media, Congress, and the insider Washington pundit/consultant industries. Irrationally, given his negative approval numbers, conventional wisdom still says that taking on Bush and the VRWC could be fatal to careers.

However, not taking them on could be fatal to the nation.

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