Tragedies Waiting To Happen: Yesterday Minneapolis, Tomorrow Your Town?

Right now, according to ABC News, the federal government acknowledges that about 35% of this nation's major highways are in desperate shape; this in addition to the tens of thousands of bridges, countless thousands of stretches of railway, and other parts of the infrastructure that have been left to decay and are now at best "structurally unsound" and more likely flat out very dangerous.

It's only a matter of time before we see the disaster on the I35W bridge in Minneapolis repeated, perhaps with far more deadly results.

Department of Homeland Security? I dunno; al Qaeda supposedly attacked us ONCE. But can these terrorists do anywhere near the damage our federal government has, just in its total irresponsibility regarding the failing infrastructure?

I think not. President Bush's plan? Why, to tell us to pray, of course.

"I Cannot Answer Your Question Because To Do So Might Require The Truth; We Can't Have That"

And, as we all know too well, the truth (and accountability, and responsibility, and words with more than one syllable) is the worst and scariest form of terror to the Bush Administration.

If you missed the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing this morning where Karl Rove was supposed to appear, yet did not (big surprise, eh?), but where his deputy (J. Scott Jennings) did show up just to say, "Screw you!", here's a Recap for Dummies:

Chairman Patrick Leahy: What is your name?

Rove's ASSistant: I respectfully (chortle) decline to tell you this because it might endanger national security, cause terrorists to stop fighting us over there and come fight us over here, AND possibly make the president mess his pants (again) at a time when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is not available to change his ultra-small Pampers.

Leahy: You're trying to tell us you can't even state your name for the record?

ASSistant: No, I'm stating I won't. I mean, who the fuck elected you and gave you any constitional right to question the authority of the Absolute Monarch, God's boss and mine, George Bush?

Leahy: Moving on, please state your job title and your specific responsibilities.

ASSistant: I can't tell you that.

Leahy: Why?

ASSistant: Because I don't like you. Nobody likes you. Remember when Vice President Cheney, the only man who can tell God to take a freaking hike, told you to go fuck yourself? Just as promised, sir, the Bush Administration restored much needed maturity, accountability, and leadership - not to mention a colorful disregard for just about everything without a billion dollar check attached - to Washington.

Leahy: I see. So your job is to stonewall?

ASSistant: Did I mention that in the latest revision of the Patriot Act, we plan to place all Democrats and just about anyone who earns less than a cool three million a year on a list of terrorists to be denied jobs, services, constitutional protections, AND breathing privileges? Now, if you'll excuse me (and it's not like you've got a fucking choice, you old shit), I need to go so I can get Karl's Starbucks and his daily 50 lb bag of Skittles. It's a tough job subverting democracy and making a mockery of all America claims to hold dear, but Karl and Cheney are damned good at it!

Oh, one more thing: Impeach this! [holding crotch, jiggling it]


As The Worm(s) Turn: Rove Flips The Bird While His ASSistant Refuses to So Much As Identify His Job Function

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post offers a good take on Karl Rove's middle finger flip to the Senate Judiciary Committee today in the continuing, ever more baffling U.S. Attorney purge scandal that Rove and Bush clearly orchestrated for partisan gain; God forbid someone - anyone - in the Bush White House be held accountable for his or her actions.

For my take on how Rove's hench-weasel responded to the simplest questions posed by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA and Scotland (cough)), see this post. The fellow seemed unwilling to so much as give his name. The contempt these folks hold for anyone not part of them is just astonishing. I have to say I can find no real precedent for the extensiveness of the clear and utter disregard for any accountability for their felonious actions.

At the same time, the Bush Administration is apparently pumping its set of huge brass balls ever larger because, as it becomes clearer with each passing day that U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales cannot tell a truth and certainly has NO capacity for performing his job ("I serve at the pleasure of the president; I nap when he does!"), the Bushies want to give this dolt even MORE capability for spying on us all under FISA, without due cause and definitely without any accountability.

Elsewhere, Time Magazine states what is all too obvious to those of us paying attention: Bush won't boot Gonzo because to do so might bring some very nasty, impeachable, perhaps fully treasonous facts into the light of day. How terrible that would be - for them, that is.

Of Disasters And Playing The Fear Card: Did You Notice?

Wednesday night, as the tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis played out in prime time, gave what (at least for me) seemed a potent example of how badly the media, especially hopelessly partisan and misleading venues such as virtually anything and everything Rupert Murdoch owns like Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security, AND the Bush Administration serve us in times of tragedy.

I've addressed my complete disgust with the Bushies on this subject in earlier posts today, so let me turn to the rest, starting with the Department of Homeland (Incompetence and In)Security, which took rather long Wednesday night to say they doubted terrorism was at fault for the devastation.

From what I could tell, more than 90 minutes elapsed before the DHS managed to say that probably Osama bin Laden - or a liberal blogger, for that matter - was responsible. Now that might not sound too bad, but this message came SIGNIFICANTLY AFTER one cable TV news source, notably Keith Olbermann doing live coverage on MSNBC, bothered to check the Minnesota DOT's Web site and learned important details like the fact significant pile-driving, which can cause fierce vibration and therefore could be a major contributing factor to such a structural failure, was to take place that very night. I flipped between MSNBC, CNN, and Fox for the better part of three hours, and I have to say Olbermann's crew was almost always not just ahead of the game, but putting out important and verifiable details that put the disaster in much better perspective. For example, they seemed the first to report that this bridge had been considered at only 50% of its structural best several years ago and was on a list with tens of thousands of other bridges throughout the country in dire need of repair or replacement. In Bush's America especially, little things like basic safety take a huge backseat to getting Halliburton ever greater unprecedented profits thanks to no bid contracts awarded by the Bushies. Was this information magically available globally to the World Wide Web somehow not available to the idiot DHS director Michael Chertoff and his band of corrupt incompetents calling themselves by a department name they aren't fit to wear? So yes, I wonder if the slowness by them wasn't convenient to the fear campaign.

Fox, on the other hand, at best behaved almost hysterically and at worst... well, I have to say that I seriously wondered whether they were deliberately playing into the fear card as part of the great leadup to the nonstop terror scare fest we must expect as we edge closer to the 2008 presidential election. It seems to be part of the Republican playbook to scare the bejesus out of everyone with the silliest of potential terror events (exploding cheese and grandmas with bombs in their Reeboks, for example) while completely ignoring the gravest of present dangers like the Bushies and Fox News. At one point, Shep Smith filling in for O'Reilly was as breathless as a scared schoolgirl talking about explosions and all but suggesting that Osama bin Laden had decided that the way to hurt America most was to make it tough to get to Minnesota's Mall of America. They had a terror alert banner running that seemed suspiciously like something to be used to scare the not-so-bright into thinking al Qaeda wants to win its war one structurally unsound American bridge at a time.

Folks, we're being played and for far worse than mere fools. Fox plays us, the Bushies play us, and our own desire to not worry about all this "pesky political stuff" also plays us directly into the hands of those who want to peddle fear while reaping huge profits for doing nothing more than none too talented sleight-of-hand, hoping you're too busy watching American Idol or the latest ball game to notice.

As Rome And Bridges Burn (And Collapse), Bush Fiddles But Without The Talent of Nero

[Ed. note: For more on this issue, read my posts here and here.]

As a person of faith, I happen to believe in the power of prayer. I make no bones or apologies about this. I also have no desire to shove it in your face, whether we think alike or not.

However, when President Bush finally appeared, sandwiching in time for a comment about the tragedy on the I35W bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis Thursday evening - hard to schedule between his naps, bike rides, Condi Rice still helping him read "My Pet Goat" (he's still trying to finish it lo these six years since he began it on the morning of 9-11 but, written for small children, some of the words probably prove quite a challenge to him) along with (of course) his myriad lies and machinations - Bush was once again quick to cite that he was praying and telling us we should do so as well.

Now, I'm certainly not going to say it's inappropriate for the leader of the free world to pray. However, I rather expect that same leader to do MORE than pray. And I sure as hell don't need him telling ME to do so since the decision to pray, or not, is one that is intensely private and personal.

Time and again, whether on the subject of September 11th or the horror he's caused in Iraq (and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and here, there, and everywhere), the U.S. Constitution he and pal Alberto Gonzales have used for toilet paper, or whether his favorite Texas team wins the playoffs, Bush shoves prayer at us like he's our moral compass (well, he does seem to believe he sits not just at the right hand of God, but on His - or Her - lap, fiddling dangerously with the control panel, wondering what happens if he presses that big red button - indeed, as Gonzales says he serves at the pleasure of the president, our president thinks God serves at the pleasure of Bush's "decider" omnipotence). Why bother to actually lead when you can just spout prayer and then return to his nap, right?

Let me suggest that Bush should be looking at the nation's infrastructure; for example, the thousands of OTHER bridges out there ruled as structurally questionable if not more so than the one that collapsed yesterday. And not just LOOK at the infrastructure and rush to award lucrative no-bid/no-work/no-good-results contracts to his bestest pals in exchange for money in Bush & Cheney's pockets, but start implementing a real plan to address these issues. The ever-accelerating decay of the nation's infrastructure did not begin with the Bushies, but in the name of the ridiculously incompetent "Homeland Security", everything thing else has gone to goo while he sees terrorists everywhere but where we have the greatest concentration of terrorists these days: namely, HIS administration.