Archive for February, 2006

“Make My Enemies Ridiculous

Monday, February 27th, 2006

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” –Votaire

US leader crashed by trying to ‘pedal, wave and speak at same time’


HE MAY be the most powerful man in the world, but proof has emerged that President George Bush cannot ride a bike, wave and speak at the same time.

Scotland on Sunday has obtained remarkable details of one of the most memorably bizarre episodes of the Bush presidency: the day he crashed into a Scottish police constable while cycling in the grounds of Gleneagles Hotel.

The incident, which will do little to improve Bush’s accident-prone reputation, began when he took to two wheels for a spot of early-evening exercise during last year’s G8 summit at the Perthshire resort.

After a hard day’s discussion with fellow world leaders, the president was looking for some relaxation. Instead, he ended up the subject of a police report in which the leader of the free world was described, in classic police language, as a “moving/falling object”.

It was “about 1800 hours on Wednesday, 6 July, 2005″ that a detachment of Strathclyde police constables, in “Level 2 public order dress [anti-riot gear],” formed a protective line at the gate at the hotel’s rear entrance, in case demonstrators penetrated the biggest-ever security operation on Scottish soil.

The official police incident report states: “[The unit] was requested to cover the road junction on the Auchterarder to Braco Road as the President of the USA, George Bush, was cycling through.” The report goes on: “[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting ‘thanks, you guys, for coming’.

“As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers… then assisted both injured parties.”

The injured officer, who was not named, was whisked to Perth Royal Infirmary. The report adds: “While en-route President Bush phoned [the officer], enquiring after his wellbeing and apologising for the accident.”

At hospital, a doctor examined the constable and diagnosed damage to his ankle ligaments and issued him with crutches. The cause was officially recorded as: “Hit by moving/falling object.”

No details of damage to the President are recorded from his close encounter with the policeman and the road, although later reports said he had been “bandaged” by a White House physician after suffering scrapes on his hands and arms.

At the time Bush laughed off the incident, saying he should start “acting his age”.

Details of precisely how the crash unfolded have until now been kept under wraps for fear of embarrassing both Bush and the injured constable. But the new disclosures are certain to raise eyebrows on Washington’s Capitol Hill.

Jim McDermott, a Democrat Congressman, last night quipped: “Not only does he break the law over here on eavesdropping and spying on our own citizens, but it seems he can’t even keep to your law when it comes to riding a bike. It’s another example of how he can’t keep his mind on the things he should be thinking about.”

Bush often takes to two wheels for exercise, after pain in his knees forced him to give up running. He regularly rides at secret service training facilities near Washington, and the G8 accident is just one in a long list of mishaps. In May 2004, he fell off his mountain bike, grazing his chin, upper lip, nose, both knees, and his right hand, while riding on his ranch in Texas. In June 2003, he fell off his hi-tech Segway scooter.

In Scotland, an accident such as the one at Gleneagles could have led to police action. Earlier this year, Strathclyde Police issued three fixed penalty notices to errant cyclists as part of a crack-down on rogue riders. Legal experts also suggested lesser mortals could have ended up with a fixed penalty fine, prosecution, or at least a good ticking-off from officers.

John Scott, a human rights lawyer, said: “There’s certainly enough in this account for a charge of careless driving. Anyone else would have been warned for dangerous driving.

“I have had clients who have been charged with assaulting a police officer for less than this. The issue of how long the police officer was out of action for is also important. He was away from work for 14 weeks, and that would normally be very significant in a case like this.”

No-one was available for comment from the White House.

Bush Policies Weakening Guard, Governors Say

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Bush Policies Weakening Guard, Governors Say - New York Times

Governors of both parties said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.

Governors of both parties said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.

“Night Stalker” McGavin Goes into that Good Night

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Whether you remember him from “The Night Stalker,” “The Delicate Delinquent”, “A Christmas Story” or “The X-Files,” we hope you will agree he will be missed. Rest in peace, Mr. McGavin.

ABC News: Prolific Actor Darren McGavin Dies at 83

Darren McGavin was painting a movie set in 1945 when he learned of an opening for a small role in the show, climbed off his ladder, and returned through Columbia’s front gates to land the part.

T-Shirt of the Week

Saturday, February 25th, 2006


Order here.

DINO Dan Strikes Again

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Yet another example of how OK Democrat (?)Rep. Dan Boren is out of touch with Democrat issues… - Winning Often Not Easy for Handful of ‘Green’ Republicans


At the other end of the contrarian scale were Democrats who scored poorly on the LCV scorecard. They are disproportionately from the conservative South and from states where the energy production industries are a major presence. The lowest scores were turned in by Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Robert E. “Bud” Cramer of Alabama (28 percent).

Did the Bush administration “authorize” the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward?

Friday, February 24th, 2006

whatever already!

Did the Bush administration “authorize” the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward? And did those leaks damage national security?

The vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made exactly that charge tonight in a letter to John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. What prompted Rockefeller to write Negroponte was a recent op-ed in the New York Times by CIA director Porter Goss complaining that leaks of classified information were the fault of “misguided whistleblowers.”

Rockefeller charged in his letter that the most “damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies.”

Later in the same letter, Rockefeller said: “Given the Administration’s continuing abuse of intelligence information for political purposes, its criticism of leaks is extraordinarily hypocritical. Preventing damage to intelligence sources and methods from media leaks will not be possible until the highest level of the Administration cease to disclose classified information on a selective basis for political purposes.”

Exhibit A for Rockefeller: Woodward’s book “Bush at War”.

Here is what Rockefeller had to say:

In his 2002 book Bush at War, Bob Woodward described almost unfettered access to classified material of the most sensitive nature. According to his account, he was provided information related to sources and methods, extremely sensitive covert actions, and foreign intelligence liaison relationships. If it no wonder, as Director Goss wrote, “because of the number of recent news reports discussing our relationships with other intelligence services, some of these partners have even informed the C.I.A. that they are reconsidering their participation of some of our most important antiterrorism ventures.”

I wrote both former Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet and Acting DCI John McLaughlin seeking to determine what steps were being taken to address the appalling disclosures contained in Bush at War. The only response I received was to indicate that the leaks had been authorized by the Administration. The CIA has still not responded to a follow-up letter I sent a year and half ago on September 1, 2004, trying to pin down which officials were authorized to meet with Mr. Woodward and by whom, and what intelligence information was conveyed during these authorized exchanges.

Were leaks of classified information “authorized” to Woodward? Rockefeller’s letter says exactly that. And among other things, it is well known and has been reported long ago that one of Woodward’s sources for both of his books about the Bush presidency was then-VicePresidential chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, who is portrayed in quite a flattering manner in both.

George, Get A Clue

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Republicans Split With Bush on Ports

Faced with an unprecedented Republican revolt over national security, the White House disclosed yesterday that President Bush was unaware of a Middle Eastern company’s planned takeover of operations at six U.S. seaports until recent days and promised to brief members of Congress more fully on the pending deal.

One day after threatening to veto any attempt by Congress to scuttle the controversial $6.8 billion deal, Bush sounded a more conciliatory tone by saying lawmakers should have been given more details about a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates purchasing some terminal operations in Baltimore and five other U.S. cities.

Black Monday Arrives at Oklahoma City GM Plant

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Stream of Consciousness
By A.F. Greenwood
Special to SoonerThought

Black Monday has come and gone for the Oklahoma City GM Assembly Plant.
This plant survived many hardships and did so with grace and years of profits and productivity. The plant managed to turn the lemons of bad products, dated engineering from Detroit, saggy union bosses, bloated corporate leadership, shortsighted local corporate management and even tornadoes into lemonade.

No lemonade this day.

Finally, no matter what its record, Oklahoma City became the whipping plant of corporate executives who were not in touch with the wants and needs of the vehicle buying public in these United States. It was first of several that will trickle closed over the next few years across the USA.

Back in the 1980’s, when General Motors had their head in the sand in much the same way they do today, the OKC plant built more than 20 percent of the best-selling GM products.

Without the hard work of this plant, GM would have then been in the same condition they are in now. Workers were asked to work twelve-hour shifts in the name of productivity; sometimes even double shifts. The plant won numerous productivity awards due to the hard work of the employees.

But hard work does not trump innovation. Hard work does not beat market forces. GM continued to roll out vehicles that were dated in their styling, unresponsive to buyers’ desires or were just outright gas hogs. Don’t get me wrong, GM often made some fantastic cars, but their marketing of the occasional great new car was pathetically ineffective.

It is unconceivable that a corporation with the massive market research resources available to them is so blind to the wants of the buying public.
But that time is over. The assembly line is now scrap metal. That day is done.
There is only today, Black Monday. A day when nearly 3,000 jobs are lost because of the short sightedness, lack of leadership and apathy of the corporation. Not only are the direct workers affected, but also the contracts with other companies and their employees are now dust in the wind. Don’t forget local and state tax collections.

So the sale of the Middle American jobs continues.

Can all of Middle America work for the company store? Can we all get retail jobs at the Seven-Eleven?

Greenwood worked at the Oklahoma City General Motors Assembly Plant and was a member of the UAW from the plant’s opening until retiring last year.

Shooting Eyewitness Comes Forward

Monday, February 20th, 2006


See it here.

First of Twelve GM Plants Closes in Oklahoma City

Monday, February 20th, 2006

A sad day that could have been avoided.–Editor

By Paul Monies, The Daily Oklahoman

Feb. 20–Taxis are a long way from sport utility vehicles, but one of Jo Worthen’s favorite memories of working at Oklahoma City’s General Motors plant was when the factory had a contract to build taxis in the early 1980s.

“There was yellow cars as far as you could see,” said Worthen, who will join 2,400 other workers later today as the last vehicle rolls off the assembly line.

As the vehicle — a white Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT — makes its way off the line and onto the loading dock, it will close the book on 27 years of automobile manufacturing history in Oklahoma.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Worthen said of the plant idling. “It still hasn’t soaked in yet. I’m still in a little bit of denial about it.”

The Oklahoma City factory is the first of 12 facilities GM plans to close by 2008. The automaker, with too many factories as its market share slides, plans to cut 30,000 jobs. Most of the job reductions will come from attrition.

Like other union employees, Worthen an electrician who has worked at the plant since 1979, will enroll in GM’s Jobs Bank The program allows workers to collect full GM pay and benefits as they attend classes or volunteer at community agencies. Workers are covered until the union contract expires in September 2007.

It’s been almost 27 years since the first vehicle, a white 1980 Chevrolet Citation came off the line in April 1979. More than 5.67 million vehicles later, production will come full circle as the white 2006 Trail Blazer becomes the last one made in Oklahoma City.

A collage of pictures, comments and mementos line a wall of the plant’s front lobby. Among the items were an employ ee’s first paycheck, dated April 22, 1979 Net pay was $223.22.

“Do you remember how good you felt when you received your first 40 hrs check?” wrote Jeff Mays, an employee on the second shift.

Another note asked employees if they remembered the time two skunks showed up in a break room.

The mood on the line was somber Friday afternoon as the last vehicle came out of the body shop and began its journey through the plant, said Bob Alexander, president of United Auto Workers Local 1999.

Employees are expected to have a “quiet celebration” today as workers from the body shop to final assembly complete their jobs and take pictures with the final vehicle. It’s an emotional time for everybody involved, said Nancy Sarpolis, a GM spokeswoman.

For Bruce Arnold, a skilled tradesman who has worked at the plant since October 1978, explaining the plant closure to his 9-year-old grandson, Luke, is hard. Luke’s been up to the factory a couple of times for “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work” days.

“He sees the news and asks what’s going on,” Arnold said. “It’s difficult, but I tell him it’s just that the vehicle isn’t selling and they have to idle the plant for a while.”

Darrell Mason’s first job was installing steering columns in the “X” cars, the Chevrolet Citation and Pontiac Phoenix. He wanted to quit after the first couple of weeks in 1979.

“When I first started, I didn’t realize how hard the work was,” he said. “But it was hard to beat getting $6.82 an hour. Pretty soon I realized it was going to be my career. I really liked the industry, and it was like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. We have built some great vehicles.”

With just 12 years of service, Ray Owens is one of the “newbies” at the plant. He was among the last group of new hires in the mid-1990s, starting as a temporary worker in the cushion room. Now, Owens is in charge of the worker call center, where employees call new vehicle owners to ask them about customer satisfaction.

“I’d like to maybe go to Detroit and work with OnStar, stay on the people side,” said Owens, who plans to use the Jobs Bank time to finish his master’s degree in counseling. “I have to be more willing to move. I have to be more flexible, and my family is still young.”

Owens, who is an assistant pastor at Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church, said he’s proud of the support GM workers have received from state officials. In a nice twist, customers have provided words and prayers of encouragement.

“Once the news got out that these were the last models being built, customers would ask about us,” he said “People were real nice. We’re calling them to thank them for buying GM and they are concerned about us.”

Copyright 2006, The Daily Oklahoman
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

Harry Shearer: Setting Katrina Crime Record Straight

Monday, February 20th, 2006

The Blog | Harry Shearer: Correcting the Record, Again | The Huffington Post

For those who chose to believe the early, fevered rumor-filled reports on New Orleans during Katrina Week, the facts have caught up slowly, if at all. Here’s the latest attempt to correct the record, in, of all places, Popular Mechanics, part of their large takeout on Katrina myths and facts. The gist:

In reality, although looting and other property crimes were widespread after the flooding on Monday, Aug. 29, almost none of the stories about violent crime turned out to be true. Col. Thomas Beron, the National Guard commander of Task Force Orleans, arrived at the Superdome on Aug. 29 and took command of 400 soldiers. He told PM that when the Dome’s main power failed around 5 am, “it became a hot, humid, miserable place. There was some pushing, people were irritable. There was one attempted rape that the New Orleans police stopped.”

The only confirmed account of a weapon discharge occurred when Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt was jumped by an assailant and, during the chaotic arrest, accidently shot himself in the leg with his own M-16.

When the Superdome was finally cleared, six bodies were found–not the 200 speculated. Four people had died of natural causes; one was ruled a suicide, and another a drug overdose. Of the four bodies recovered at the convention center, three had died of natural causes; the fourth had sustained stab wounds.

Anarchy in the streets? “The vast majority of people [looting] were taking food and water to live,” says Capt. Marlon Defillo, the New Orleans Police Department’s commander of public affairs. “There were no killings, not one murder.” As for sniper fire: No bullet holes were found in the fuselage of any rescue helicopter.

Popular Mechanics. A magazine NASCAR fans believe. Maybe.

Is This Cheney’s Chappaquiddick?

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Oh this is interesting–could the Veep be covering for his girlfriend?

Here are some of the “C” (for Chappaquiddick) factors in the Cheney shooting:

1. Someone with a documented history of drinking problems causes a serious accident, and then avoids the authorities for a period of time - one that happens to be long enough to get the alcohol out of his system.
2. The first stories of the accident are confusing and self-contradictory. (In this case, since Cheney didn’t speak himself, the most glaring inconsistencies are Armstrong’s. Specifically, she - and now Cheney - describe her as an eyewitness, although she told the Associated Press she thought at first Cheney had suffered a heart attack. That would mean she never saw the shooting.)
3. A powerful figure holds himself out as being above the law, and - at least for a time - appears to get away with it.
4. When the powerful person finally speaks, allegedly to ‘come clean,’ there are still inconsistencies and glaring contradictions in his story.

It’s about power, drinking, irresponsibility, and dishonesty. If there was no romance going on, the issues are still the same. As the song says: What’s love got to do with it?

Here’s more:

The Blog | Cenk Uygur: What if Cheney Wasn’t the Shooter? | The Huffington Post

The “other hunter” is Pamela Willeford, /archives/date/2006/02/willeford.jpg
former ambassador to Switzerland, and current companion to Dick Cheney on this weekend getaway. She was apparently his “hunting partner.”

Now, I am clearly not the first person to suggest that the Vice President might have been hunting a little more than quail with Pamela Willeford. For the record, I’m not even really suggesting it, I’m just offering up a possibility - a possibility that has gained more credence because of Cheney’s cult of secrecy. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

But what’s clear is that Willeford’s name didn’t arouse much attention until the fourth day of the cover-up. Now imagine the kind of attention she would have received if she was the shooter.

There would have been a lot of questions directed at her. Who is she? What was she doing there? Why is the Vice President on a weekend get together with this woman? What is the history of their friendship?

A lot of news story have described the 28 gauge shotgun as a smaller, less powerful gun. Some have called it a woman’s gun. What if it was? What if Willeford was less experienced with a gun or if she was the one that was drinking a little too much?

It’s possible that the only thing more damaging than the Vice President shooting someone might be his mistress shooting someone. I know this is terrible. Sheer speculation. How dare I? I’m a bad, bad man.

None of these questions would have even come up if all of the evidence were turned over to the sheriff’s office right away. If the Vice President and the “other hunter” had talked to the authorities that night and undergone breathalyzer’s tests, then there would be no doubt. Is the Vice President not savvy enough to realize this? Of course, he is. Then, it is perfectly natural to ask what he was trying to hide in the meanwhile.

Has anyone ever even looked at the guns the two hunters on the scene were carrying? Which one was the shooter’s gun? Whose fingerprints were on it? Where did they shoot it from? Where did Mr. Whittington get shot?