Sunday, December 14, 2008

Iraqis bid farewell to Bush - with shoes

"This is a goodbye kiss, you dog"

- Iraqi journalist Muthathar al Zaidi, who was called 'courageous' by fellow Iraqi journalists, gave Bush an appropriate Iraqi farewell - with both his shoes.

Watch it - it's hillarious

Bush desperately tries to rewrite history on the Iraq war while his administration covers up the war crimes by denying the Obama transition team documents on wiretapping and torture.

Unfortunately for Bush and America, this history of failure will be with us a long time. It was an expensive failure and America is hurting for it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Official US gov't historical document: Iraq reconstruction a $117 BILLION failure

More of the Bush legacy...

A 513 page federal history on the Iraq reconstruction was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who regularly travels to Iraq and has a staff of engineers and auditors based here. Here are some of the accounts in this first official federal historical document on the Iraq reconstruction entitled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience" -
  • Ignorance: Pentagon planners efforts were crippled by spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

  • Lies: when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures. Colin Powell said the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week"

  • Incompetence: The Bush Administration has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

  • Politics over planning: Republicans put a greater priority on making things "look good" for Bush because of the 2004 election instead of efficient and competent use of money. Office of Management and Budget balked at the American occupation authority’s abrupt request for about $20 billion in new reconstruction money in August 2003, a veteran Republican lobbyist working for the authority made a bluntly partisan appeal to Joshua B. Bolten, then the O.M.B. director and now the White House chief of staff. “To delay getting our funds would be a political disaster for the President,” wrote the lobbyist, Tom C. Korologos. “His election will hang for a large part on show of progress in Iraq and without the funding this year, progress will grind to a halt.” With administration backing, Congress allocated the money later that year.

  • Poor planning: As an example of the haphazard planning, a civilian official at the United States Agency for International Development was at one point given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would need to be reopened and repaired. The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan.

  • Early miscalculations: The history records how Jay Garner, Chief of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, presented Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq. “What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”
"...the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure.”
And to think in the midst of this recession in America, billions of dollars are flying out of America every week to try to repair the damage of the Bush legacy.

Nashville Scene: Don’t Trust a Politician Who Hasn’t Tried Drugs

Gotta love the Scene - our hometown Nashville weekly.

This article in the Scene: Don’t Trust a Politician Who Hasn’t Tried Drugs, begs the question…

Have you smoked marijuana?


G.W. Bush - no comment

Bill Clinton - “I didn’t like it and didn’t inhale.”

Barack Obama - “I inhaled, frequently. That was the point.”

OK now, question: based on these answers, which politician would you find as the the most honest and trustworthy?

Check out what the top question for Obama was in an online poll.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blagojevich case reveals Republican hypocrisy - authoritarian loyalty and politics more important than the rule of law

Patrick Fitzgerald is now the hero of conservatives. The conservative Hot Air blog says the arrest is "staggering" and "Fitzmas arrives early this year." The conservative American Thinker had several articles of this triumph of justice on their website - the arrest of Blagojevich. The Democrats applaud the arrest and are united against Blagojevich. Liberal host Rachel Maddow suggests Blagojevich is mentally ill, a sociopath.


Wait a second. Isn't that the same prosecutor that when indicting Republican Scooter Libby, the conservatives called Fitzgerald "beneath contempt"?

From the American Thinker - 3/08/07:
Patrick Fitzgerald is a disgrace both to the legal profession and to the human race. His partisan allies, such as Senator Chuck Schumer and certain nameless bureaucrats at the CIA, are beneath contempt.... Patrick Fitzgerald fulminated in court about a cloud over the Vice President in an effort to suggest that there was something dark and sinister about administration officials discussing Valerie Plame with reporters after her husband injected her into a national controversy. That suggestion is pure left-wing fantasy.

Conservatives went after Patrick Fitzgerald as the noose tightened around the office of the VP in Plame case. Conservative Tucker Carlson, who once had glowingly approved Ken Starr's inquisition of Bill Clinton, said of Libby's prosecutor:
"You shouldn't have these freelancers, like the lunatic Fitzgerald, running around destroying people's lives for no good reason. I hate this trial."

Weekly Standard editor and New York Times conservative columnist Bill Kristol went after Fitzgerald over his inquiry into the Plame affair:
"You know, the leak story is absurd, but I now think the whole prosecution is absurd. ... I now think it's a politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration."
What is truly beneath contempt are the wingnut Republican bloggers, like the pathetic Bill Hobbs, who breathlessly try to tie Obama to this corrupt governor.

Obama has called for Blagojevich to resign. It has been reported that the Obama camp tipped off authorities to the corruption. What does Bush do about Scooter Libby? He commutes his sentence.

What this shows is that conservatives are very happy to overlook corruption, abuse of power, ignoring subpoenas, etc... when it involves Republicans. This clearly shows that for conservatives, authoritarian loyalty trumps the rule of law nearly every time.

The difference here is when a Bushie get called on corruption, conservatives circle the wagons because of their authoritarian loyalty. We've seen it time after time. When a Democrat gets charged, Democrats unite against the criminal. We can see which party values the rule of law over politics and ass-kissing authoritarianism.

The Republican Culture of Corruption under Bush remains unprecedented.

H/T: C&L

Friday, December 5, 2008

TBR Chancellor tries to pull a fast one - gets slammed by academic community

The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) is the is the sixth-largest system of public higher education currently operating in the United States. MTSU is the largest University in the system and largest undergraduate University in the state.

Facing state budget shortfalls, TBR Chancellor Charles Manning proposed a “New Business Model” [pdf] for the TBR system that was potentially so destructive to sound academics, that he earned the “Turkey at the Top” Award in the Chronicle Review as the worst academic leader of the year. (Nashville Scene story). To put it in perspective, Manning beat out University of Louisville Dean Robert Felner, who was indicted for conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering and tax evasion to the tune of $2 million. Manning’s proposal was to be approved by the TBR Board on Thurs Dec 4, but it didn’t happen.

Some of Manning's proposals included:
  • Requiring students to take a certain number of online courses en route to their bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.
  • Turning online learning into an entirely automated experience “with no direct support from a faculty member except oversight of testing and grading,” and providing financial incentives for students to voluntarily accept teacherless education. Even initiating mandatory online classes.
  • Cutting salaries and permitting furloughs as a short-term expedient in dealing with budget reductions
  • Use 'advanced students' to teach 'beginning students' and build that requirement into curriculum and financial aid packages.
  • Increase faculty workload, initiating a "students-taught” metric to supersede courseload, and “revise” summer compensation
  • Formalizing a system that anticipates even greater use of adjunct professors where the remaining tenure-stream faculty into their direct supervisors

Attack on education - shot down, for now

Apparently due to public and faculty outcry, and a whole lot of bad publicity, the TBR's plans to formally approve a new business model on Thur 12/4 were inexplicably rescinded.
(Nashville Scene story , MTSU Sidelines article)

So what is wrong with Manning's plan?

1) It was sneaky and timed to be pushed through before anyone noticed. Everyone noticed. As MTSU Faculty Senate Prez Alfre Lutz wrote:

Chancellor Manning's memorandum was released as late as November 20, a week before Thanksgiving and about two weeks before the Board "will formalize its approval of this undertaking" at its December 4 meeting.... It is shocking to realize that TBR would (a) initiate fundamental changes to the work faculty members do ("new business model") without so much as informing, let alone consulting, them, the experts on this work; and (b) consider adopting a radical change to the Personnel Policy within two weeks, again without soliciting faculty input. This constitutes a serious breach of trust, and we will certainly no longer assume that TBR values faculty members as stakeholders crucial to the future of higher education in Tennessee.

2) The proposal would create a 2-tiered system: students will receive a tuition discount if they 'work online with no direct support from a faculty member,' setting up a scenario where the wealthier students would be able to consult faculty members, and, as a result, receive a superior education and graduate with higher GPAs.

3) TBR professors are already underpaid compared to the national averages. Adjunct professors are outrageously underpaid. As the Chronicle article stated:
...the reality is that if you’re really experienced and qualified, teaching 10 courses a year for Chuck Manning nets you about 15 grand without benefits, or less than you’d make at Wal-mart. That’s quite a bit less than half the $33, 960 that the extremely useful Living Wage Calculator says is necessary to support one adult and one child in Knox County.
Here is one professor who worked as an adjunct for nearly 10 years at MTSU for $15,000 and had to get family help, food stamps and bear the indignity of bagging groceries for his own students and their parents at a part time job. And the TBR wants more professors like this?

Disgusting. I’m glad to see students both liberal and conservative speak out against this attack on education.

Check out the interview on YouTube:

Personally, I wonder how one gets to be a member of the TBR - the governing body of a major academic system. Most of these board members don’t have anywhere near the level of educational achievement and scholarship that the majority of the faculty that they’re directing have. Also, it is not a diverse group - mostly people involved in business, politics, law, and athletics, but very few individuals with backgrounds in the arts, sciences, and humanities. I don’t think I saw a single board member with any background in the arts. We sincerely hope they do the right thing.

More from NIT and here on MTSU student protest.