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Archive for November, 2007

White House Seeks 56% Cuts in Anti-Terror Grants; Slashes Port Security, Police, Emergency Services; ‘Dead on Arrival,’ Scoffs Incensed Senator Boxer

Friday, November 30th, 2007

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File this one under ‘Are They Really Serious?’

The Associated Press reports that the White House plans to cut Homeland Security’s counterterrorism funds by more than half next year—slashing grants for police, rescue departments, firefighters, port security, transit security, and other anti-terrorism programs.

For its 2009 budget the Department of Homeland Security requested $3.2 billion to help states and cities protect against terrorist attacks, but the White House plans to ask Congress for less than half of that: $1.4 billion. (To put this funding request in perspective, for 2008 alone the White House is requesting $196 billion for the Iraq + Afghanistan wars and $481 billion for the Pentagon’s annual operating budget.)

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Naomi Wolf on ‘The End of America’

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

LNW_Sherffius.Mistakes Were Made

“. . . if tomorrow you read in the New York Times or the Washington Post that New York Times editor Bill Keller has been arrested, the staff will all be scared, others will get scared. . . . [P]eople still think it’s a democracy, even while the martial law steps have begun. And that’s where we are at, unless we get it.”

Presidential elections are less than a year away—perhaps you’ve heard?—and Democrats show a disturbing complaisance, an unwarranted confidence that in 2008 they somehow will win the White House (even with Hillary Clinton as their candidate?). After 2000 and 2004, how can they be sure?

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Grinch Wins Plastic Turkey Award: Pentagon Demands Repayment of Disabled Vets’ Signing Bonuses

Monday, November 19th, 2007

[courtesy of 2millionth web log]

[courtesy of 2millionth web log

Remember the Commander’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad in 2003, when the perfectly Norman Rockwell turkey that he held on a platter turned out to be plastic (supplied by a contractor)? In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we offer a new use for that fake bird: As an award for bureaucratic idiocy + callous penny-pinching. (We thought Rumsfeld had left the Pentagon, but the following story makes us think the streamlining, privatizing CEO–SecDef is still in the bunker.)

Pittsburgh’s KDKA reports that the Defense Department is demanding that thousands of disabled U.S. soldiers return parts of their signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments. They had to go and get blown up so bad the army couldn’t patch them up well enough to push ’em back out on the streets of Baghdad as they do with other wounded soldiers. It is well known that the army has had to resort to signing bonuses of up to $30,000 to attract new soldiers to an increasingly unpopular war (though the army continues to fall short of its recruiting goals).

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“Conservatives cannot govern well . . .”

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

“Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.”

—Alan Wolfe, “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern
Washington Monthly, July/August 2006

LNW_IWantFDR2-1We have long believed that if either party takes governing seriously, it is the Democrats. Conservative Republicans do not seek office in order to govern but rather to hold power—power to cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations, to privatize the functions of government that can’t be abolished outright, to weaken labor unions, and to give the oil industry and the military/security complex anything they want.

The article below by political scientist Alan Wolfe explains in convincing detail the deadly consequences of the conservatives’ unbelief in governing and reveals why a deliberately weakened FEMA was unable to respond to the destruction and suffering wrought by Hurricane Katrina:

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Omigod! Operation Iraqi Freedom Isn’t Free!

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

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Remember when the president’s economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was fired for estimating that the cost of the impending Iraq War might reach, at an “upper bound,” 100 to $200 billion?

And former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, unwilling to acknowledge that the war might cost anything at all, assured Congress that Iraq’s oil revenue could finance its reconstruction? Those were the days . . .

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Celebrate! Good News for Water Works! (A One-Two Punch for The Decider)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Mardi Gras parade float, Knights of Momus, 1907.

Mardi Gras parade float, Knights of Momus, 1907.

November 8, 2007

We haven’t had much practice lately at reporting good news, but we’re happy to re-learn: Within two days, the two chambers of the U.S. Congress have voted to override the president’s veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)—the first water projects bill in seven years (normally passed every two years), and the first override of a presidential veto since 1998. Today the Senate voted 79 to 14—an overwhelming margin similar to that of the House’s 361 to 54—to authorize spending levels for about 900 projects nationwide, including about $7 billion for Louisiana coastal restoration and flood protection. Bruce Alpert of the Times-Picayune notes, “Congress still must approve individual appropriations to get the work done.”

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An Open Letter to President Bush: Don’t Come Back Till WRDA Passes

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Aug. 31, 2005. Photo by Susan Walsh/AP

Aug. 31, 2005. Photo by Susan Walsh/AP

[ The following letter has been faxed to the White House (202-456-2461). Please see below for a letter faxed to leaders in the House and Senate urging an override of the president’s veto. (The House has done it! 361 to 54—ninety votes more than needed to override.) Please see our ‘Political Action’ page for fax and phone numbers of the White House and Senate. Help us press for a Congressional override of the president’s veto—it would be a first. We’re halfway there. Thank you. ]

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Interview with Mark Schleifstein
Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of
‘Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans
and the Coming Age of Superstorms’

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Mark Schleifstein in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, 2005. In the background is a barge that broke through the breach in the wall of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal into the neighborhood during Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2005, crushing the front end of a school bus (far right). Photograph by Ellis Lucia, courtesy of the Times-Picayune.

Mark Schleifstein in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, 2005. In the background is a barge that broke through the breach in the wall of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal into the neighborhood during Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2005, crushing the front end of a school bus (far right). Photograph by Ellis Lucia, courtesy of the Times-Picayune.

Mark Schleifstein joined the Times-Picayune in 1984 as an environmental reporter after five years at the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi. Since 1996 he and his Times-Picayune colleague John McQuaid have written numerous major environmental series for the paper, most recently in January 2006. Schleifstein and McQuaid won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their series “Oceans of Trouble: Are the World’s Fisheries Doomed?”—a comprehensive eight-day series about the threats to the world’s fish supply, including the effects of coastal wetlands erosion on fish in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1998 the Picayune published their series “Home Wreckers: How the Formosan Termite Is Devastating New Orleans,” a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer.

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