Daily Archives: June 13, 2004

Women Blog, Too!

This week’s featured female blogger is Kathy at Random Thoughts. One of a growing coterie of female political bloggers (either they’re growing in number or we’re growing in the attention we pay to them, probably both), the truth is that Kathy’s thoughts are anything but ‘random’. Whether she’s keying on small facets of a large story–

I’m sad for Nancy Reagan and her family. I respect that they gave the country and the world a chance to say good-bye. I’m amazed that they had so little private time to say their own good-byes…

–or the hot center of a massive debate–

You have to wonder what made Sanchez believe that this treatment was legal, especially the “pride and ego down” which is the label used to cover actions designed to humiliate prisoners, and the withholding of religious items which contravenes the Geneva Conventions. Perhaps he thought it was legal because the administration said it was.

–Kathy’s pre-occupation is with the the anomalies in the pattern, the things that don’t add up, the deviations from a logical progression: hypocrisies, rationalizations, and excuses. She rarely attacks them so much as she questions their validity. Sometimes they seem to bemuse her; there’s a ‘Would any reasonable person really act like this?’ undertone in a lot of her posts. But at others, what she considers deliberate and aggressive distortions, she is less bemused than royally pissed off. Here she is on a recent Bill Kristol column in The Nation: after quoting Kristol writing that–

It’s not just that in Europe every leftist anti-American creep and every world-weary phony sophisticate wants and expects Bush to lose in November, and America to lose in Iraq. Surely the American people won’t give them the satisfaction of having their wishes granted.

–she answers:

I’m tired of bulls**t like this. We’re going to vote for Bush so that we don’t give European weenies the satisfaction? Yeah, I make my decision about who should hold the most powerful political office in the world by figuring out who I can spite. Kristol does follow up by saying that’s wishful thinking. But who would wish for this?

There’s a fine edge of righteous anger here that’s honed like a laser both on the weakness in Kristol’s argument and the elitism of his tone–a Kristol characteristic that too many miss too often; why haven’t more writers mentioned that? For all his fulminating against the ‘liberal elite’, Kristol is about as elite as they come. Any more ‘elite’ and he’d be a Bush or William F Buckley’s cousin.

She doesn’t show that level of anger very often. Most of the time you can feel her struggling to be reasonable while discussing the un-reasonable. It’s a tension that spices her writing in a subtle way that works as more obvious tactics–like mine, for example–don’t: even when you agree with her, you can’t just fall in line and parrot. You have to think first. It makes her an intriguing read.

Bush Admin Endangers 1000-yr-old Paintings for Energy Corp

Further proof, if you needed it, that corporations don’t give a damn about anything except the bottom line.The Bill Barrett Corporation, a Denver gas exploration and development company, wants to set off 5000 explosions in an attempt to find ‘images of natural gas’ under Nine Mile Canyon in Price, Utah. The inconvenient fact that Nine Mile Canyon happens to contain caves with 1000-year-old Anasazi drawings on its walls like these–

–is of no importance for them. But it is to Blaine Miller.

PRICE, Utah – Blaine Miller, a quiet, slow-talking 57-year-old archaeologist, has made a career of studying the haunting scenes of net-wielding hunters and sinuous horned snakes on the smooth rock faces of Nine Mile Canyon near here. His colleagues consider him a leading expert on the 400- to 1,500-year-old images etched and daubed on the canyon walls. But Mr. Miller’s bosses at the Bureau of Land Management barred him from evaluating recent proposals for natural gas exploration around the canyon after a gas company executive complained about his work.Mr. Miller said he had sought more stringent protections for the rock art than the government eventually required. His bosses said he had the appearance of a conflict of interest.

‘Conflict of interest’. Right. His interest in preserving an irreplaceable archeological site ‘conflicted’ with Barrett’s interest in blowing it up to–maybe; they’re just ‘exploring’–make a buck.

Last July, the manager of the Price field office of the Bureau of Land Management sent out a memorandum saying that the evaluation of an energy exploration proposal for Nine Mine Canyon by the Bill Barrett Corporation, a Denver gas exploration and development concern, was its “No. 1 priority.”

Mr. Miller was not allowed to participate in the seismic evaluation after his work on an earlier Barrett project was called into question. The Price office of the agency, where Mr. Miller has worked for two decades, is divided over his treatment; outside archeologists are concerned. Kevin Jones, Utah’s state archaeologist, said in an interview: “If the person who knows the most is taken off the project, it sends the message that perhaps he knew too much. Perhaps they didn’t want to hear what he had to say.”Duane Zavadil, Barrett’s manager of government and regulatory affairs, said Mr. Miller had been an obstructionist, overestimating the impact that the company’s proposals would have on the art, which the government is required by law to protect. Mr. Zavadil said the art, in places, had been “highly compromised from its original condition” by vandals long before Barrett arrived. He said Barrett had already taken steps to protect it, for example suppressing the dust on the dirt road through the canyon.

“I was uncomfortable with not only his performance but his attitude, his opinion about oil and gas,” Mr. Zavadil said. “It was very clear what his opinion was and that he was deeply, personally interested in those resources and really didn’t have any objectivity.”

Ah, yes–‘objectivity’. Mr Miller wasn’t willing to risk the destruction of ancient Native American art that belongs to all of us for the sake of furthering private corporate profits belonging only to Mr Barrett, so Mr Miller is therefore ‘not objective’.

Don’t you just love the way these guys define everything they want, no matter how destructive or venal, as an ‘objective good’ and everything that gets in the way of their profits as ‘non-objectivity’?

Miller is doing the job he was supposedly hired to do.

Mr. Miller’s employer, the Bureau of Land Management, which is part of the Interior Department, is charged with balancing the need to exploit energy and mineral resources against the need to preserve cultural and environmental bounties. The bureau’s approximately 200 archaeologists must inventory and decide how to protect cultural resources. They also assess whether a site merits inclusion on the federal government’s National Register of Historic Places. Nine Mile Canyon’s archaeological complex is a candidate for this designation.

Oops. Once the canyon is on the register, which it inevitably will be, resource exploitation will be off the table. Barrett is engaging in a simple swindle, using the political power he can buy for a song in an ultra-conservative state like Utah to sneak in under the wire and do what he knows he will soon be forbidden to do: blow the place up for the natural gas he thinks may be under it. There is, after all, a lot of money at stake.

Barrett’s financial appraisal of the area’s gas reserves, whose initial development will cost it an estimated $80 million by the end of this year, suggests there are 50 billion to 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the 57,500-acre project area. In April, Barrett registered a $172 million initial pubic stock offering; the more proven gas reserves a company has, the higher the value investors are likely to assign to it.

With that much loot hanging in the air, the BA took the case over in March.

Official interest in Barrett’s project has been palpable. In March, a top official in the Washington office of minerals, realty and resource protection inspected the site. A bureau spokeswoman said that the inquiry into Mr. Miller’s possible conflict of interest was largely handled in Washington.An Interior Department spokeswoman, Tina Kreisher, said the agency could not comment on the specifics of the case. But a department ethics official said that if a government employee or a close relative helped run such an organization, the employee’s work should not involve issues of concern to the outside organization without special dispensation.

The ethics inquiry began in June 2003 after the field office rejected an environmental assessment of Barrett’s first proposal for drilling seven wells.

The explanations for the rejection vary. Some bureau employees, who would not speak on the record for fear of retaliation, criticized the Barrett environmental document’s overall quality.

Patrick Gubbins, the bureau office manager, said, “There was a myriad of reasons that I didn’t feel comfortable going forward with it.” (emphasis added)

Note that ‘Washington’ was only interested in Barrett’s accusation that Miller had a ‘conflict of interest’, not in the bureau office’s accusation that Bartlett’s environmental ‘study’ was seriously flawed. They were apparently not concerned about that.

Once again the Bush Admin proves where its priorities are:


Nails in the Coffin

For three years, Junior’s blunders have come thick and fast, one after the other, each one bigger and more disgraceful than the last. He has openly sold the WH to the highest bidder, handed govt agencies over to the industries they’re supposed to regulate in exchange for hefty campaign contributions, and started a war on a country from which there was no conceivable threat because, well, we’re still not really sure but seemingly because he just…wanted to. His governing has been, literally, in a way we’ve never seen in this country before, built on lies–image has replaced substance, promises have replaced results, and what you know has been replaced by how much you’ll pay. He has single-handedly trashed our reputation around the world, making us for the first time a pariah nation, a country other people in the world look on with fear and loathing rather than jealousy and longing. He has done all this–and more–in three short years, undoing decades or centuries of good will and progress in the name of…what, exactly? Empire? Corporate hegemony? Aristocratic privilege?

His contempt for the Constitution is so profound, so penetrating, so much a part of his ‘character’, that I was surprised a bolt of lightning didn’t strike him dead when he took the Oath of Office. He has demeaned the Presidency and denigrated our laws, side-stepping them and wrinkling his nose as if they were buckets of night-soil. He has evaded responsibility with every fresh disaster. This ‘compassionate conservative’ has gone out of his way to prove how cruel and lacking in compassion conservatism is at its root, in the meantime extolling the virtues of theft and greed. He admits no mistake, brooks no dissension, and insists that ‘god’ told him to do it. If so, it is a god few of us would recognize.

His arrogance has been open and unashamed, his avarice rampant, his almost total disconnection from reality demonstrated in public every time he opens his mouth, yet despite all this–and a lot more–the vast majority of moderate Republicans and genuine conservatives, whose beliefs and policies have been just as casually violated by Bush as any progressive’s, have said…nothing. We waited and we waited and…nothing. Not a peep. Not for three whole years.

Now, suddenly, it seems they have turned against him. First there was the callous rebuff of the Republican governors’ request for Federal aid, then the rumblings over the enormous deficits, then the open defections of McCain, Snowe, and other moderates, followed by the House Republicans rejecting two of his key proposals, and now, finally, we have this: a public call to dump him from 26 former Reagan/Bush I diplomats and military officials. Twenty-six.

WASHINGTON — A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America’s national security and should be defeated in November.The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush’s foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

“It is clear that the statement calls for the defeat of the administration,” said William C. Harrop, the ambassador to Israel under President Bush’s father and one of the group’s principal organizers.

Those signing the document, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, include 20 former U.S. ambassadors, appointed by presidents of both parties, to countries including Israel, the former Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia.

Others are senior State Department officials from the Carter, Reagan and Clinton administrations and former military leaders, including retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East under President Bush’s father. Hoar is a prominent critic of the war in Iraq.

Some of those signing the document — such as Hoar and former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak — have identified themselves as supporters of Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. But most have not endorsed any candidate, members of the group said.

It is unusual for so many former high-level military officials and career diplomats to issue such an overtly political message during a presidential campaign.

A senior official at the Bush reelection campaign said he did not wish to comment on the statement until it was released.

And probably not much afterward.

This is unprecedented, a blow from which no recovery is possible. The rats are deserting the sinking ship by the dozens now.

This isn’t an election any more. It’s a death watch.