Saturday, January 31, 2009

the Blind leading the Blind

image credit: Bushwater, an expose' of Geo W. Bush's pre-blind trust financial connections. click image to enlarge.

On January 13th, Bush told Larry King that he doesn't know if our economic decline has eroded his wealth. Because his assets are in a Blind Trust, he said he would not know until January 21st (the day after inauguration).

My ears pricked up at this comment because how Bush's Blind Trust money has fared is something I've been waiting to hear about for 8-yrs. I thought this would be made public very quickly. I was wrong.

I waited all day Wednesday, January 21st. Nothing. Then I thought for sure it would be included in the Friday news dump, January 23rd. Nope. This past week, I was too involved in my own dramas to take much notice, but thought once again, surely Bush's Blind Trust would make the Friday news dump of January 30th.

Well (sigh), I guess it's up to me. I just can't let January end without a stab at it, as best as I can piece it together...

First let me note: a blind trust is a financial arrangement utilized by many public officials. The official decides which of his assets to put into the blind trust. He meets with the blind trust fiduciaries to review, among other things, what investment risk level he is comfortable with. The blind trust takes that information to heart as their directive of how to invest the official's assets. At the point that the assets are invested in the blind trust, the official becomes a client of the blind trust. While the client receives no information on exactly what their assets are invested in and cannot direct the management of their blind trust assets, they do receive quarterly reports on the total value of their investment. The wise client monitors these reports because he is not a prisoner of the blind trust. He can always cash his assets out or move them into another blind trust. So I guess Bush was just joshing about having no idea of the value of his blind trust until January 21st because he would've received a report of the total value as late as December 31, 2008 (gee, what a surprise that he would lie).

In 2000, when Bush decided he would become President, he entered into a blind trust arrangement with Northern Trust Co. (his daddy had used Bessemer Trust, a blueblood firm, but their avg account is $22million and Georgie may not have wanted to admit he was that rich). At that time, Bush put $5million into the blind trust. His other assets, including Crawford Ranch, were excluded from trust investment management. What were those "other assets"? ....

At the trust inception in 2000, Bush reportedly held at least $15million outside the blind trust, for a total of at least $20million in assets. This amount was mostly accumulated through his investments in Harken Energy, Texas Rangers, and Carlyle Group connections.

The $20million is probably a gross underestimate, because like most GOP bigwigs, Bush subscribes to "corporate socialism". He helped himself to public-sector capital while lecturing the rest of us on the virtues of hard work and self-reliance. The plundering of public assets (like the University of Texas) for private gain was and is his business model.

As those links imply, there is really no telling exactly what the value of Bush's "other assets" were in 2000. That is important, because the question of what his blind trust is worth now does not even take into consideration all the assets NOT placed in the blind trust ... assets that could've directly profited from his presidency, like investments in defense war stocks, etc.

But let us, for the sake of conservative estimate, consider that Bush's total assets at the beginning of his presidency were the $20million reported ($5million in a blind trust and $15million held outside the blind trust). What might those assets be worth now, after engineering the Iraq War?

To get at that answer requires knowlege of what Bush has been investing his assets in during the past 8-yrs. Does anyone believe that his blind trust assets as well as his non-blind assets were not heavily invested in Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Blackwater suppliers? These three are the most notorious of the no-bid war profiteers, earning billions from captive US taxpayers, not to mention the blood of US soldiers. And don't forget, these firms also profited from Katrina, so add the misery of that drowned city into their profits.

Finally, the problem of trying to put a dollar amount on Bush's total investment value requires knowing when his financial advisors advised he get out of the market. Halliburton peaked in June 2008; ExxonMobil in Sept 2008; Blackwater figures are not available as it is a close corporation, but can be extrapolated from these other two.

If Bush's investments were competently handled, with the benefit of a little inside information (nod, nudge, wink), the estimated profit over 8-yrs might be a whopping 3,281%!!!

Yes, while your personal investments may have lost 30-40% over the last 8-yrs, Bush could've been earning 3,281%!

So, Bush's original $20million could be worth as much as $676million by now, if he played his cards right. Does anyone think he would not haved scrupled to personally benefit from his "Iraq War-by-Design"?

And let's not forget Cheney! He makes Bush look positively bush-league. Ignoring all his other assets, Cheney's Halliburton stock holdings alone could be worth $1.2billion today. Yup, those Bushes and Cheneys, they sure know how to bleed a country dry!

And where are their assets? Swiss bank accounts? Offshore shell banks? Convoluted diversionary holding companies? Billions are missing from Iraq. Did some of that missing money end up with Bush? Will we ever really know, or are we doomed to blindness?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

DAY ONE, there's a new game in town!

Yes, there's a new game in town : it's called "competence". This is what a competent president can accomplish, especially when he has a competent team. I like competence. So refreshing!

Item One: trash that stupid Jacket Required Rule imposed by Bush in the Oval Office.

Day One Team Obama Accomplishments:

New website up with all policy proposals… and a blog.

Ordered federal agencies to halt all pending regulations from the Bush administration.

Suspended special military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees.

Ordered new ethics rules for “a clean break from business as usual.”

Announced a change in policy that will require each federal agency and department to give full attention to Freedom of Information requests, potentially revealing secrets hidden by the Bush administration.

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration,” Obama said in a statement to reporters.

Circulated a draft executive order to close extra-legal prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year.

Made phone calls to Mahmoud Abbas and other Middle East leaders.

Met with economic advisers in the Roosevelt Room.

Held a meeting to discuss Iraq withdrawal plans with the National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top commanders in the Situation Room.

Decided to appoint George Mitchell as a special Middle East envoy.

Set White House pay freeze and lobbying rules.

Retook the Oath of Office because Chief Justice Roberts garbled it.

Oh, and the President also attended a nice White House Open House.

Now MY question is: should Obama keep the Bush Sun-King Rug in the Oval Office?

Bush was quite fixated on this rug, never failing to tell visitors all about how Lady Laura commissioned it to reflect his optimism (cough, obliviousness).

What do you think? Send it and the magnolia china down to Dallas?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DAY "O" = OBAMA!!!

This is the face of our new president. It is also the official face of America as of noon today, EST (about 9-hrs from now). I'm all goose-bumpy just thinking about it. Here comes the sun! Yes, we are finally on that mountaintop The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr spoke of.

Of course, the Bush Cheney Crime Lords are scuttling back to their secret ratholes and undisclosed burrows ... evil scam artists taking America down a very dark path right to the bitter end and beyond. The half-life of their kind of poison will be long indeed. But as we bid their TV images goodbye today (with a carefully lobbed pair of soft slippers), there is one more thing I'd like to acknowledge:

I thought for sure my patriotism had died in 1968 with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. I ridiculed the my-country-right-or-wrong crowd, despising their knee-jerk mentality. My feelings had been so sublimated that when Bush came along and told me I was unpatriotic if I didn't accept his Forever Wars, illegal wiretapping, trashing of the constitution, concentrating our wealth in the hands of a few, religifying of politics, etc/etc, I believed him. I thought I must be unpatriotic because I hated all those things he was shoving down our throats.

Well, as I find myself responding so emotionally to the national symbols of this Obama Inauguration, everything from the flags to the music, I realize I AM PATRIOTIC! I do believe in America! Seeing the wonderfully diverse throngs of people celebrating in D.C., I am finally proud of my country! And damn the Bush crowd for ever making me feel otherwise.

The DK Family will be spending today watching it all unfold before our eyes. Kleenex boxes have been placed in all accessible locations. It's finally happening! Barack Hussein Obama is our 44th President!

And just think, in addition to the millions of people who are witnessing history in person in D.C. today, there are hundreds of millions more watching it on TV or online here and around the world! What a beautiful day for all ....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Countdown: One Day until Inauguration

Before Deke slinks away, she notes that as of the time of this post, we are 33-hrs away from the swearing-in oath of Barack Hussein Obama. The newly elected president's term officially begins at Noon EST on Tuesday, January 20th. To learn more about this inauguration ceremony, guests, balls, and many interesting facts about previous inauguration events, click: Guide to the Inauguration of our 44th President, a multi-page PDF-file.

One factoid Deke read is that during George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration, even though signs & placards had been banned, two people managed to display messages painted on their bodies by ripping off their shirts in the freezing weather. One read "No Mandate" and the other "Hail to the Thief". For his 2004 inaugural, angry protestors cried, "Warmonger" and "Impeach Bush" as they scuffled with 13,000 police and soldiers. These scenes were carefully edited from our network news coverage. Of course!

But to finish her countdown list, since it is now one day until inauguration, here is one final thing Deke is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama administration:

1. DICK CHENEY! Yes, how relieved Deke will be that Dick is no longer on the case. From secret energy meetings to secret 911 testimony, from stove-piping of intelligence to setting up his own little fiefdom of thieves, Cheney made sure the wheels were well-greased for Calamity Dub. His impact was felt far and wide, but nowhere more fouly than in the performance of his cabal members, like Condoleeza Rice (worst NSA and Sec State EVER), Donald Rumsfeld (former Cheney mentor whose offer to resign over Abu Gharib was countered by Cheney's insistence that they "all stand together"), Scooter Libby (traitor), John Ashcroft (Dept of No Justice), David Addington (devising the language of signing statements for "the unitary executive", John Yoo (secret author of the Torture Memo), Alberto Gonzales (whose sole concern was to provide legal cover for the bush/cheney agenda), and Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and every other PNAC neocon whose agenda for the new century of Forever War was embraced, sanctioned, and promoted by Cheney. This cabal's actions personally enriched their corporate friends while failing in their most basic duty of giving good advice and impartial counsel to their president, thus enabling Dub's feckless gutting of the U.S. Constitution, the very constitution he swore an oath (twice) to protect and defend. Cheney's insistence to this day on a connection between Iraq and 911 reeks of lawyer-client-advice (i.e., never admit guilt). Deke does not like to think about war in phallic terms, but notes that Cheney & Tenet's WMD fixation allowed Dub to ram into the Middle East like a horny teenage boy finally finding a willing partner. Their biggest regret is not "entering" Iran, especially after hearing that she "puts out". So of this last thing Deke is more than pretty sure: neither Dick Cheney nor his undisclosed shadow will be involved in the Obama Administration.

Well, that wraps up the Final Day of Deke's Countdown! It may not have been a complete list, but considering the vast menu available, it made Deke feel better to present a few things she is happy to say goodbye and good riddence to. Now she can truly enjoy the Obama Inauguration. Maybe she can even stop talking in Third Person!

Scroll down for details of Deke's Countdown of things she is pretty sure she won't have to endure in a Obama Administration ... or ... here is the brief summary: The Crawford Ranch; Texas Cowboys; Christmas Barney Cam; Idunt,Dudunt,Cudunt,Wudent; New-Kyoo-Lure; Referring to the U.S. Constituion as a "god damned piece of paper"; Tax Cuts for the Wealthy; Scienceless Science; Non-Alcoholic Drinks; Secret Meetings and Lost Emails; Katrina Excuses; Media Confrontation; Clear Skies,Healthy Forests,Wilderness Protection; Thinking our President wakes up every morning with one goal, "How to fuck up the world today"; Dick Cheney (and his whole cabal)!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Countdown: Two Days until Inauguration

DEKE BLINKS! Why? Because she just had an outrageous thought, the same one that is probably keeping many republicans awake at night ... what if Obama kept that whole Unitary Executive idea alive for just a little while longer? Just long enough to use the provision Dub set up that allows the president to detain, arrest, imprison & seize assets of anybody he wants, on his say-so, if he and he alone deems them to be a national security problem or other risk, during wartime. Obama could then use this Unitary Exec Power to send Dub, Dick and their whole cabal off to limboland. Deke does not recall and is too lazy to research which signing statement expanded the presidency into a dictatorship, but that's not surprising considering virtually every piece of legislation Dub signed carried a caveat about not being construed as impinging on the Unitary Executive. Obama's team has signaled they want to renounce signing statements. It sure must be tempting to keep this particular one around ... just for this one purpose!

But to continue with her list, since we are now 2 days away from inauguration, here are 2 things Deke is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama administration:

1. Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, Wilderness Protection. Dub's definition of these nice sounding environmental protections are the exact opposite. Deke thinks he actually thought the american public was so dumb, we would just nod our heads like good little citizens over such blatent attempts to turn the environmental clock back to the good old days of unregulated auto & industry emissions, clear cut logging replanted with trash pine, and unlimited resource drilling in or near our national parks (where we can no longer escape the loud roar of off-road vehicles ripping up pristine wilderness & destroying wildlife havens). Such a pattern of thought-control would probably send Orwell screaming back to The Animal Farm. Two of many more examples: No Child Left Behind and Free-Speech Zones. Obama should drop this Dub habit and adopt non-misleading names.

2. Thinking our president wakes up every morning with one goal, "How to fuck up the world today" .... whether Dub actually had that daily thought, or through worldclass incompetence just managed to conduct his presidency as if that thought were always uppermost in his mind, Deke does not know. However, rather than Deke listing Dub's bugfuckery, here is Keith Olbermann's excellent summary of the batshit insanity of the last "8-Years in 8-Minutes":

After 8-yrs of Dub, the mere thought of a president who actually cares about the world is enough to make Deke get all misty-eyed. Throw in some economic recovery, industry regulation, fair trade, and national health care, and she is apt to break down completely.

That wraps up Two Days until Inauguration. Scroll down or click links to read Deke's Countdown:Five Days, Countdown:Four Days, and Countdown:Three Days.

Deke's little series has about run its course. Boohoo. Any guesses as to who or what will be Deke's Last Thing she is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama Administration?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Countdown: Three Days until Inauguration

DEKE SPEAKS thrice! Yup, still talkin' trash 'bout Dub. And why not? If Deke was any good at math, she might be able to apply Euclidian principles to her Bush Time Dilation Theory. Alas, Deke's mouth often gives voice to theories she has no formal knowledge of. All she knows is the last 8-yrs have been the slowest she's ever experienced. Perhaps our whole planet was trapped in an Einstein Relativity experiment?

Since we are now 3 days away from inauguration, Deke is continuing her countdown list with 3 more things she is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama administration:

1. Secret meetings and lost emails. A hallmark of Dub's administration was secrecy. From Cheney's secret energy meetings, to the Dub-Cheney secret 911 Commission testimony, right up to the current secret disbursal and undisclosed use of TARP money, and everything in between, the american people have been excluded from Dub's considerations. We were only good for funding his empirical neocon wetdreams, it seems. Does anyone doubt the disappeared emails, when and if they are ever produced, will have been carefully scrubbed to reinforce whatever BS has been done in our names over the last 8-yrs? It is with great relief that Deke notes Obama's often stated obligation to include we-the-people, to make information available to us, to make transparency and accountability into business-as-usual, not some aberration in government. That is something we never heard from Dub, ever.

2. Katrina excuses. There is NO EXCUSE for what happened in New Orleans. NONE! Only Dub apologists trying to write legacy history attempt the twisted mental path that requires suspension of everything you saw with your own eyes and heard with your own ears. But that's Dub & his incoherent weevil-eaten brain for you. Deke has never even heard him apologize. The most he will say is there were disappointments. So, one colossally incompetent man's disappointment results in another few thousand lives lost. Not to mention a lost city. Not to mention neighboring countries who were so aghast that the U.S. couldn't even bring water or food or medicine to the trapped NOLA citizens that they offered to bring in supplies by boat and air across the Gulf of Mexico but were refused, because to accept foreign aid would mean we were no longer the superest of superpowers (if we ever were). Deke is pretty sure an Obama administration would move heaven and earth to immediately mitigate such a disaster should one occur on its watch, or better yet, anticipate and prepare. It would not be an afterthought to playing air-guitar & sharing birthday cake with McCain. Obama's Secretary of State will not be penciling in viewing hurricane damage while purchasing some kinky prada heels. And Biden will not be greeted with "Why don't you go fuck yourself, Mr. Vice-President", unless it takes him a week to emerge from an undisclosed location.

3. Media confrontation. The occasional Dub media contacts were always a study in pathological psycho behavior. Chin jutting, smirky smirk, winky wink, driving the podium, manfully flipping each page of his prepared remarks as if to finish a page was a huge accomplishment, challenging or purposefully misunderstanding of legitimate questions, castigating the questioner, the constant implication that god was at the podium with Dub, that screwed up painfully pinched look Dub displayed when it hurt his head to think ... say goodbye to all that! Obama loves to think .... and you could hardly find two more dissimilar speaking styles. Say hello to reasoned thoughtful answers to press questions. Say hello to appreciating the mission of the fourth estate. No more speaking-from-the-gut-bypassing-the-brain ... except from FOX newswhores, of course.

That's it for today, Three Days until Inauguration! Scroll down or click links to read Deke's Countdown:Five Days and Countdown:Four Days.

Deke is also happy to share the news that even here in Bush-lover-land (Utah), Bush's approval rating has sunk, and in a place full of W'04 pick-up trucks, that is really saying something! We'll even be having some local inaugural events, incl toss-a-shoe-at-bush.

Could Deke be any shallower? Tune in tomorrow. But don't be expecting anything earthshaking like world peace or prosperity. Deke leaves those deep subjects to the Beauty Queens. Until then, remember you can Obamiconize yourself at pastemagazine

Friday, January 16, 2009

Countdown: Four Days until Inauguration

DEKE SPEAKS again! She may not have much to say, but she is determined to keep saying it. Besides, after listening to President Terra give a nationally televised fear speech tonight, Deke feels, as strongly as she has ever felt about anything, that Dub crawling away from the White House will be his finest presidential moment. Tonight's list of accomplishments, delivered directly into your living room by Dub himself, rang as hollow as his promise to smoke Bin Laden out "dead or alive". Dub is oblivious to the dripping irony of everything he says. "Afghanistan is a young democracy and Iraq is an Arab democracy" ... right, democracies with no freedom to exercise democratic rights. "When people live in freedom, they do not choose leaders who engage in terrorist violence" ... yeah Dub, that's why Hamas was elected. "We must reject protectionism" ... code for free trade because the looming depression/financial meltdown has not dampened Dub's friedman fanaticism. He is proud of "faith based programs for the addicted and hopeless" ... Deke confesses confusion about this statement but notes it was strongly delivered with typical Dub bravado, challenging us to prove him wrong. He is also proud of appointing "wise leaders like Justices Alito and Roberts" ... OK, by that point in his farewell speech, Dub was just rubbing it in, gleeful about leaving a sulphurous imprint on justice that we will all be enduring over the next few decades. He then bid us farewell as "a citizen of the United States of America". Deke is wondering under what circumstances his citizenship could be revoked.

Since we are now 4 days away from inauguration. Deke will continue her list, with 4 things she is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama administration:

1. Referring to the U.S. Constitution as a "god damned piece of paper". Yes, the man who used his thesaurus at Andover to come up with a description of the "lacerations running down my face" upon learning of the death of his sister .... that same man thinks the document that forms the basis of our country, a constitution admired and emulated the world over, is just a "god damned piece of paper". Deke cannot imagine Obama, as a former Professor of Constitutional Law, EVER making such a reference.

2. Tax Cuts for the Wealthy .... or as Deke likes to put it, Warfare on the Middle Class. Tired of being used as the milk-cow for the whole country, the once vast middle class of america is drying up. Time for the top 5% to get back in the game. They've had such a free ride under Dub, they seem to have forgotten the middle class is all that stands between them and mere anarchy. Deke may be dumb about money, but she knows when her purse is empty and is pretty sure Obamanomics will be sunseting that vicious Bush voodoo.

3. Scienceless Science. Can we please keep "Intelligent Design" and "Creation Science" at home on the bookshelf with other myths and legends? This type of bad science is no science at all. There really is such a thing as scientific theory, with hypotheses that are constantly tested and revised as new data is analyzed. Something that has to be taken on faith does not belong in science class. Deke believes scienceless science is what makes people so reluctant to recognize important issues, such as global warming. It is a real disservice to use the FOX method of science, i.e., to line up one member of the lunatic pseudo science fringe against one member of the 99% of other scientists, and act like both views deserve equal time. What a relief to see REAL SCIENTISTS on Obama's team!

4. Non-Alcoholic Drinks. Have you ever tasted one of these things? The fact that we've had a dry drunk in the White House for 8-years has made these bottled carbonated urine drinks, like O'Doul's, unavoidable. Seeing Dub clinking his O'Doul's against other heads of state's legitimate alcohol drinks looks like someone who makes a solemn promise, on their so-help-me-heart, while secretly crossing their fingers behind their back. Deke is looking forward to seeing the Obamas cheerfully toasting with real wine in a real wine glass!

So that's today's list. Deke's first 5 items were posted yesterday ( Countdown: Five Days until Inauguration ). You might notice a bent toward listing Dub's personal quirks. Well, you've been warned not to expect brillance from Deke. She does note that you can Obamiconize yourself at pastemagazine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Countdown: Five Days until Inauguration

DEKE SPEAKS! Since the ever vigilent D.K. is so pre-occupied with her damn revenooer stuff, it's time to let Deke do some bloggin'. Deke doesn't know a 1040 from a dog's ass and she's not afraid to to show her ignorance.

Deke's been thinkin' 'bout REDHEADS for OBAMA, so she decided to Obamiconize her redheaded self for blogmortality. If this bleeding red-eyed image doesn't scare the hair off your heinie, you can obamiconize yourself by clicking: pastemagazine.

During the Countdown to Inauguration, Deke's only other thoughts (she's not really very complicated) are about all the things she will no longer be enduring once Dub crawls away from the White House.

Since we are now 5 days away from inauguration, here are 5 things Deke is pretty sure she won't have to endure in an Obama administration:

1. The Crawford Ranch. No more photo ops of Dub strappin' on a spankin' new pair o' LL Bean workgloves, rollin' up his Abercrombie & Fitch plaid shirtsleeves, and crankin' up the chainsaw. Watchin' him administer the final blow to some pre-cut mesquite limb is an insult to all serious brush-clearin' Texas cowboys.

2. Texas Cowboys. No matter how interested in horses he might be, Deke cannot see Obama ridin' fences on Ol' Paint. Deke has no idea if Obama has a horse interest, but she is sure Dub does not. As his bestest furrin' frien', Vicente Fox, once said, Whorehay Boosh is the only cowboy he ever met who is skeered a' hosses. His spotless cowboy boots are a dead giveaway that Dub and horsehit are only compatible in the verbal sense.

3. Christmas Barney Cam. Actually Deke likes Barney, but hates the way Dub and Pickles manufacture hokey words from his canine mouth every holiday season. Deke thinks Barney should make himself available to the Obamas as their dog adoptee, but realizes he is not hypo-allergenic enough. Deke is sure if Barney was her doggie, he would not be bitin' anyone but Miz Beezley.

4. Idunt, Dudunt, Cudunt, Wudent .... listening to Dub speak Bushlish has caused temporary ear damage around the world. At least Deke hopes it's temporary. When does a Yale History Major and Harvard Business School graduate talk like an illiterate thickwit? When he is a carpetbaggin' fake texan! Idunt Dub sumpthin? America dudunt torture! Cudunt y'all bring me a barf bucket? Wudent ya luv ta send Prez Cabbagehead to the International Criminal Court?!!

5. NEW-KYOOO-LURE .... this was pure stubborness on Dub's part. Due to his insistence on new-kyoo-lure threats being included in most of his speeches, Deke has seen "noo-kyoo-lar" in a few online dictionaries as "an alternate acceptable pronunciation"! In fact, Deke has never heard one person say new-kyoo-lure that wasn't jonesing for armageddon, have you? (note: you might think this word belongs up above with the many other words Dub mispronounces, but it so singularly pissed Deke off, every single time she heard it, it had to be listed separately) ...

Well, there you have today's list. Over the next few Countdown Days, Deke plans to post more things she's pretty sure she won't have to endure during an Obama administration. Some of them might extend beyond Dub's personal quirks. Then again, maybe not. Deke is really very shallow. She can't spell for shit and she talks like a ditz.

ps, since she is far too stupid to figure out how to completely take over, Deke will be forced to use D.K.'s avatar in comments. She is semi-crafty, though, so she may be able to fool you once, but but but a fool fool-me can't get fooled aggin!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Medal of Freedom, or THE STING ... you decide

Apologies and a slight blog lapse explanation: those who know me, know that this is my busy season, from now through April 15th. Yes, I'm afraid I have disappeared into my tax dungeon again.

Today I needed a break, so I started watching Hillary Clinton being grilled in the Senate. Quickly tiring of that charade, which I'm sure you'll be seeing snips of on a variety of TV channels, I browsed up to C-Span2 to catch today's Medal of Freedom ceremony. See, I watch these things so you don't have to!

You can watch it on C-Span yourself, or read my *cough* report:

Bush charged down the aisle and took the stage, nodding to Blair, Howard and Uribe who are seated to his right. A voice-over tells us the Medal of Freedom was created by Executive Order in 1963.

Bush says it's the highest civilian award, conveying utmost esteem of the people and president of the united states for exemplary achievement. Given to eminent citizens of the U.S. and some foreign countries, of which past examples include Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela, for statesmanship at home and abroad. [notice he does not mention MoFer George Tenant as an example of exemplary achievement at home or abroad]

Now it's time for Bush to cite a few reasons why these three are receiving the MoF today...

He calls Blair his "gallant friend" as he fondly remembers finding out they both use Colgate Toothpaste [I'm not kidding, that was his Blair personal story moment]. He says Blair understands the stakes of the War on Terror, says he is dedicated to democratic values and cites his position as Quartet Envoy for Peace in the Middle East [yo! Tone! how's that working out for ya?] ....

Bush then turns to former Australian P.M. Howard, calling him a "sturdy friend" [nicer phrase than "that bald guy" which Bush has called Howard in the past]. He explains that Howard has spent a lot of years in politics [oh, so an MoF criterion is longevity?], making a comeback 2 decades ago "like Lazarus with a triple by-pass" to eventually serve longer than all other Australian P.M.s but one [where's THAT guy's MoF?]. He cites Howard's commitment to the free market [give me a break], readiness to repel those who would take our freedoms away, and braveness in defence of freedom, as stated by Howard himself on September 10, 2001, a fact that much impresses Bush. He says the two of them enjoy a close relationship of honesty and moral clarity [okay, getting weird now]. He likes that Howard stands his ground [said wistfully, as if we should all be recognizing that Bush, too, stands his ground and is, therefore, worthy of our respect, maybe even some kind of medal]. Bush fails to mention how Howard stood with him to prevent the Obamas from settling into some of the 119-rooms at Blair House during transition, even though both Blair and Uribe had agreed to stay elsewhere. Yup, Howard is a real team player!

On to Uribe ... Bush attempts an accurate latin pronunciation of Alvaro Uribe's name, managing to provoke a small audience chuckle. Calling him "mi amigo", Bush lists some of Uribe's accomplishments as Presidente of Colombia, a failed narco state. Bush cites Uribe's campaign themes of: Strong Hand! Big Heart! Resolute! Uncompromising! [once again it is like he is asking us to see these things in himself, forget Uribe]. Thanks to Uribe, according to Bush, the people of Colombia are reclaiming their country from forces of violence. Bush then launches into what he calls one of the most memorable events of his presidency: a phone call from Uribe saying a group of hostages, including 3 americans, were rescued. [hmmm, I guess this would be a highlight of an otherwise dismal 8 years]. Bush closes with how Uribe has refused to allow his country to be destroyed by an enemy from within [once again, this feels like Bush's view of himself] and how Uribe opposes terror, blah blah ....

[anyone else notice Tony Blair got the shortest review by Bush?] ...

OK! Part I is over, on to Part II, wherein a Military Aide formally reads the citations [Bush does not speak again until the very end; his part here is to hang the friggin medal around ea recipient's neck] ...

TONY BLAIR [stands up looking at audience, but before they can acknowledge him, Bush calls him over to his side with a hand gesture strongly reminiscent of how a master calls his faithful dog ... audience laughs heartily]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to Tony Blair for helping to secure freedom for the people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone [I'm sure they'll all be relieved to know who "helped" them], for establishing a new peace in Northern Ireland [ditto], and promoting peace around the globe, especially in Africa and as Quartet Representative to the Middle East. [Bush then tries to hang the Medal of Freedom around Blair's neck, working from the front side, face to face. Blair bends forward a little to make it easier, so it looks like a man-kiss moment. Tony does a quick nodding bow and walks back to his seat having the decency to look slightly embarrassed] ...

JOHN WINSTON HOWARD [jackrabbits out of his seat, straightens tie, stands up tall, striving hard, but failing, to reach Bush's height. Howard is sweating, obviously nervous]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to John Howard for unwavering dedication to democracy and freedom. As P.M. of Australia, Howard helped deliver unparalleled prosperity to his people through free market principles [wait, aren't these the same free market principles that have resulted in the current global economic meldown?]. He combats terrorism, promotes democracy and rule of law [that must be the arcane "Heywood Jablome Rule of Law"], and lifelong efforts to spread hope & freedom throughout the world. [Bush approaches from the rear this time, apparently not wanting a Howard man-kiss, but fumbles and ties the MoF a little too tight, causing Howard to laugh & pretend to choke. Bush then claps Howard on the back, a reverse Heimlich, and sends him scurrying back to his seat] ...

ALVARO URIBE [looking very serious, Uribe slowly walks over to Bush's side. Bush stiff-arm punches him, provoking a small smile & audience chuckle]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to Uribe for championing the Rule of Law [gag], deep commitment to prosperity and peace, being a courageous partner of the U.S. [probably a reference to Colombia not joining the International Criminal Court], and being a model for his country, seeking reconciliation and respect for human dignity. [Bush fastens the MoF around Uribe's neck, from the rear, finally getting this act down on the 3rd try. Both Uribe and Bush display phony forced smiles. Uribe walks over to shake hands with Blair & Howard while Bush stands to the side, stiff ape arms akimbo; audience gives polite applause, Cheney in the front row] ....

Part III: Bush grabs the podium to announce, "Laura and I invite you all to stay for a RECEPTION!" [yes, emphasized, all caps, he yelled out & carefully enunciated the word, R.E.C.E.P.T.I.O.N., obviously a highlight for the Bushes, a chance to use that gaudy china!]...

[everyone wanders offstage ... while the "President's Own" Marine Corp Band plays music vaguely reminiscent of THE STING ... again, I'm not kidding ... someone in the band has a great sense of humor]

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill ... Hillary Clinton is still being grilled by the Senate, and Obama is signaling he wants the 2nd TARP tranche released, hopefully with greater oversight this time.

OK, back to the tax dungeon!

Friday, January 2, 2009

will life find a way?

Just wanted to share these amazingly beautiful flowering rockplants ... Calceolaria Uniflora, growing in the high-altitude harsh environment of Torres Del Paine, Chile ... they look even more amazing when you click the pic to enlarge:
It seems no matter how hard we try to kill off plants and animals (and we humans do seem to excel at this sort of thing), new species are being (re)discovered all the time. Here's a one-minute view of some of the 1,000 New Species Discovered in the Greater Mekong River Region over the last decade ...

... including a spider as big as a dinner plate, a cyanide-laced shocking pink millipede, and the re-discovery of the Laotian Rock Rat, thought to have gone extinct 11 million years ago, being offered for consumption at a local food market. No, these were not sightings of Dick Cheney! has an extensive website for anyone interested in this subject. One of many of Bush's parting "gifts" is an attempt to gut endangered species protection. How long before we homo saps become endangered species?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year - New President - New World

Before we begin 2009, listen to a quick 1.5 minute vid of Geo W Bush one more time, as David Letterman reviews his presidency:

Why should W's presidency be any different than his real life (i.e., failure at everything)? But at least when he was personally failing, only he & his family suffered. He used his presidency to eff up the world. Nice going, George! He's like the football player who got the ball and ran it into the wrong end zone. I'm trying hard to think of one thing that is better after 8-yrs of Bush. And puh-leez, no more revisionist rhetoric about no terra attacks in the US since 911. His whole presidency has been one long terra attack against the US (and everywhere else)!

If we're lucky, this will be the last we see or hear from him and his whole family. I won't voluntarily endure him anywhere in the future except in a criminal court. If he shows up anywhere else, he should expect shoes. Let him become the UFO Ex-President (vague rumors of sightings in faraway places).