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Soccer Dad quotes Jeff Jacoby and the late Michael Kelly to find, why yes it is. It's bad bad bad to call someone a "Chickenhawk".
Jeff Jacoby's reasoning as to why being a Chickenhawk is okay (as quoted by SD is pathetic) but then that's to be expected of Jacoby. I guess the standards in right wing punditry are a bit low.
Therefore, it's at least better that the blogger focuses on dear old Mike, who, well since he died in the hellish conditions of our invasion of Iraq for oil and democracy, I guess has wiped the stain of "chickenhawk" away.
He was embedded even i believe, so almost a soldier, though from what I read, a lot of embeds reported what the lieutenant claimed to have seen instead of getting on the front lines and seeing things for himself. At least, though, he tested his less than fit body and paid the price for messing in war.
SD even links to Mike's report about why he was proud to be a chickenhawk over Iraq. It was because of the tortured bodies he saw in Kuwait.
I'm not so sure those bodies were all that much worse than the ones our people produced at Abu Ghraib. I guess Republicans have forgotten about that nasty little incident though.
They've also forgotten what we've seen with our own eyes. And they haven't read much from intelligence experts on blowback. Basically, intelligence (you know CIA etc.) folk know that if you beat the hornets' nest you are going to be attacked a lot more often than if you don't.
This doesn't mean just your troops in the field, but in today's world of terrorism it means Americans at home and abroad, and indeed we saw such an uprising of terror aimed at westerners especially nations that contributed to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions since we made the fateful decision to enter into them.
The invasion of Afghanistan is widely believed to be necessary, but the Iraq invasion has shown to be the disaster that our president's father was told in '91 it would be.
BTW, if you follow SD's link to Mike Kelly's editorial, you will see what kind of minds the late pundit was allied with.
I wonder if the mainstream venues will tire of repeating the news about this study before Christmas.
Though other studies can show that more Republicans than Democrats are interviewed and/or quoted in TV, audio, and printed news reports and on the Sunday pundit shows, according to a new "study", there isn't any bias in mainstream news and analysis.
In fact, the more you think there is bias, the more there isn't according to a Washington Post report by Shankar Vedantam.
It has also been shown that white males dominate the experts questioned, interviewed, and quoted by journalists, too, though that's not so important as shown by Ann Coulter and Larry Elder. Right wing bias can be spread by any sex or race.
Mr Vedantam's source, Mr. Lee D. Ross, a Stanford Psychologist, doesn't have to show us methodology or or any reason for us to trust the people who analyzed his data.
Because in print journalism just putting a lot of words down and stamping it all over with "mainstream" serves the same purpose. In audio and TV the cool "smarter than you voice" works the same way, cutting off debate.
The latest controversies of bias in science should show us to not just jump on 'findings' that help may tend to help the finder or those who trumpet the results loudly.
Mr. Ross also says that uncommitted people are not easily swayed by bias.
Does Mr. Ross know about the studies done after the 2000 presidential debates in which people who heard the debates only, believed Al Gore had won them, but those who listened to the debates and commentary (which was done consistently by the major news anchors, I know I scanned them all) afterwards thought George Bush had won them. That does show that the public are easily swayed. I think anyone should be able to see that. (BTW, Mr. Ross does Stanford not have Nexis search? When I was in a major with heavy research responsibilities we learned that the first thing you do is scan all the available information on your subject. The study about the presidential elections was reported by AP and therefor should be somewhere via Nexis. I don't have an account right now. Maybe, I have something better, a memory.
Does Mr. Ross not follow the ratings of major political players after speeches. Immediate jumps of 10% or more can be seen after speeches if the speaker hasn't destroyed his or her own credibility. (The latter problem is a complication that the president and many GOP members have discovered lately).
Does Mr. Ross know about the daily conference calls and emails that the GOP in the white house and RNC send out to journalists and news makers?
I think those show the opposite than what Mr. Ross found. But then again we almost had a great stem cell breakthrough in Korea, didn't we? Except for the inconvenient fact that the data was bad.
Many pundits and lazy journalists are repeating the Israel line that Israel can continue to hit Lebanon because Hezbollah's missiles struck Israeli cities where civilians were likely to be killed, but note the timeline.
July 2006: Hezbollah militants cross into Israel, kill three Israeli soldiers and kidnap two others in a bid to negotiate a prisoner exchange, a demand rebuffed by Israel. Another five Israeli soldiers are killed after the ambush. Israel responds with a naval blockade and by bombing hundreds of targets in Lebanon, including Beirut's airport and Hezbollah's headquarters in southern Beirut. Hezbollah responds with rocket attacks targeting northern Israeli cities. Fighting leaves dozens of Lebanese civilians dead and coincides with a two-week-old Israeli military campaign in Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants
Their actual only claim for justification is that their military was so incompetent as to allow a Hezbollah attack to kidnap soldiers to succeed. And then they couldn't pull off a rescue attempt.
That is not a reason to justify killing civilians, though some journalists are trying that one too.
Israel's military campaign is unlikely to succeed. In fact, it will probably backfire. Once before, Israel -- under the pretext of a justifiable military response -- harbored ambitious goals and expanded a local conflict into something larger. It didn't work then and it won't work now. Only U.S. diplomacy then prevented a bad situation from getting even worse.
n 1982, Israel invaded southern Lebanon in order to raze Palestinian Liberation Organization bases used to fire rockets into Israel. But just like the bombing of Tyre and Beirut now, the true goal of the Israelis then was something different. That goal was to destroy the PLO and drive the Syrian Army out of Lebanon.
Convinced that the United States would not interfere, Israel continued with its audacious gambit. The mighty Israeli Defense Force rolled into Lebanon.
2 key Americans see 1982 in Lebanon '06Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon did succeed in scattering the Palestine Liberation Organization - its leaders, its rank-and-file, its guns - to distant corners of the Arab world.
But along the way Israel's occupation spawned a new Lebanese enemy, Hezbollah, and it's these Shiite Muslim militants who are being targeted in Israel's current offensive.
"That's how it's been throughout Israel's history," Lewis told The Associated Press. "Things settle down for a while, and then the problem re-emerges in a more threatening form."
Dillon said Lebanon's foreign minister at the time, Elie Salem, seemed to foretell 2006 a generation ago as the Shiites of the Lebanese south, rid of the PLO, asserted their own power.
"Salem told me, `The Israelis have let the Shia genie out of the bottle and will live to regret it,'" Dillon recalled.
The ambassador personally felt the pain of that emerging power. He was among the wounded when his Beirut embassy was destroyed by a truck bomb in 1983, an attack that killed 63 people, 17 of them Americans, and was blamed on the Iranian-supported Hezbollah.
Not only did a new adversary rise up on Israel's northern border in the 1980s, but eventually Palestinian terrorism arose anew in a bloodier, suicidal form in the Israeli-occupied territories.
Looking back, Dillon said, "I'm sure lots of Israelis don't think the 1982 operation was worth it."
...I lived here through 15 years of civil war that took 150,000 lives, and two Israeli invasions and years of Israeli bombardments that cost the lives of a further 20,000 of its people. I have seen them armless, legless, headless, knifed, bombed and splashed across the walls of houses. Yet they are a fine, educated, moral people whose generosity amazes every foreigner, whose gentleness puts any Westerner to shame, and whose suffering we almost always ignore.
They look like us, the people of Beirut. They have light-colored skin and speak beautiful English and French. They travel the world. Their women are gorgeous and their food exquisite. But what are we saying of their fate today as the Israelis -- in some of their cruelest attacks on this city and the surrounding countryside -- tear them from their homes, bomb them on river bridges, cut them off from food and water and electricity? We say they started this latest war, and we compare their appalling casualties -- 240 in all of Lebanon at the start of last week -- with Israel's 24 dead, as if the figures are the same.
And then, most disgraceful of all, we leave the Lebanese to their fate like a diseased people and spend our time evacuating our precious foreigners while tut-tutting about Israel's "disproportionate" response to the capture of its soldiers by Hezbollah.
the slums of Haret Hreik and Ghobeiri and Shiyah that have been leveled and "rubble-ized" and pounded to dust, sending a quarter of a million Shiite Muslims to seek sanctuary in schools and abandoned parks across the city. ...did the tens of thousands of poor who live here deserve this act of mass punishment? For a country that boasts of its pinpoint accuracy -- a doubtful notion in any case, but that's not the issue -- what does this act of destruction tell us about Israel? Or about ourselves?
Across the Mediterranean, two helicopters from the USS Iwo Jima could be seen, heading through the mist and smoke toward the U.S. embassy bunker complex at Awkar to evacuate more citizens of the American Empire. There was not a word from that same empire to help the people lying in the park, to offer them food or medical aid.
Across them all has spread a dark gray smoke that works its way through the entire city, the fires of oil terminals and burning buildings turning into a cocktail of sulphurous air that moves below our doors and through our windows. I smell it when I wake. Half the people of Beirut are coughing in this filth, breathing their own destruction as they contemplate their dead.
The anger that any human soul should feel at such suffering and loss was expressed so well by Lebanon's greatest poet, the mystic Khalil Gibran, when he wrote of the half million Lebanese who died in the 1916 famine, most of them residents of Beirut:
My people died of hunger, and he who
Did not perish from starvation was
Butchered with the sword;
They perished from hunger
In a land rich with milk and honey.
They died because the vipers and
Sons of vipers spat out poison into
The space where the Holy Cedars and
The roses and the jasmine breathe
And the sword continues to cut its way through Beirut. When part of an aircraft came streaking out of the sky over the eastern suburbs at the weekend, I raced to the scene to find a partly decapitated driver in his car and three Lebanese soldiers from the army's logistics unit. These are the tough, brave non-combat soldiers of Kfar Chim who have been mending power and water lines these past six days to keep Beirut alive.
I knew one of them. "Hello, Robert. Be quick because I think the Israelis will bomb again, but we'll show you everything we can." And they took me through the fires to show me what they could of the wreckage, standing around to protect me.
A few hours later, the Israelis did come back, as the men of the small logistics unit were going to bed, and they bombed the barracks and killed 10 soldiers, including those three kind men who looked after me amid the fires of Kfar Chim.
And why? Be sure -- the Israelis know what they are hitting. That's why they killed nine soldiers near Tripoli when they bombed the military radio antennas. But a logistics unit? Men whose sole job was to mend electricity lines? Then it dawns on me. Beirut is to die. It is to be starved of electricity now that the power station in Jiyeh is on fire. No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive. So those men had to be liquidated.
Beirutis are tough people and are not easily moved. But at the end of last week, many of them were overcome by a photograph in their daily papers of a small girl, discarded like a broken flower in a field near Ter Harfa, her feet curled up, her hand resting on her torn blue pajamas, her eyes -- beneath long, soft hair -- closed, turned away from the camera. She had been another "terrorist" target of Israel and several people, myself among them, saw a frightening similarity between this picture and the photograph of a Polish girl lying dead in a field beside her weeping sister in 1939.
I go home and flick through my files, old pictures of the Israeli invasion of 1982. There are more photographs of dead children, of broken bridges. Yes, how easily we forget these earlier slaughters. Up to 1,700 Palestinians were butchered at Sabra and Chatila by Israel's proxy Christian militia allies in 1982 while Israeli troops, as they later testified to Israel's own court of inquiry, watched the killings. I stopped counting the corpses when I reached 100. Many of the women had been raped before being knifed or shot.
Dear Readers: This post is an example of an unsolicited post that we accepted. It does not reflect the views of forum/blog members. See comment for reply. Now we will let you continue to Anonymous' message:
The US Constitution does nor forbid our elected government officials from overt religious acts on government property in the name of the American goverment and American people. All such expressions, however, must be non-sectarian.
Here is a reasonable and fair appeal for prayer by an elected official. It is worth noting that this issue is long-settled law.
I hope we can all come together to honor God or stay separate and honor God as Americans and patriots seeking God's blessings of peace.
What do you think? Can we liberals and conservatives agree on this appeal? I think we can.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day.
Bush Proclaims Memorial Day Prayer for Peace
In honor of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting the U.S. through military service -- and those who have lost their lives in that service -- President Bush declared May 29, 2006, as a day of prayer for permanent peace.
"Those who lost their lives in the defense of freedom helped protect our citizens and lay the foundation of peace for people everywhere," proclamation states. "On Memorial Day, a grateful Nation pays tribute to their personal courage, love of country, and dedication to duty."
The president encouraged people to gather at 11 a.m. local time to unite in prayer, observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time and display the flag at half-staff.
The link I originally used to the Austrailian is dead, the article put into archives and payment required for viewing.
It was based on a Washington Times article though, and I have found that via web search.
And if the Bush people get the WT one taken down (after more than a year) let them note it's been copied and will be saved and will be represented whenever topical.
First I will copy the original report I made on the original article here:
Fair Use Excerpt:
Mexico al-Qa'ida 'back door' to US
Terrorists may have found a new American blind spot, reports Robert Lusetich
October 16, 2004
INTELLIGENCE reports that 25 Chechen terrorism suspects have illegally entered the US from Mexico have refocused attention on a porous border from which many believe the next major attack on Americans could come.
Despite the $US9 billion ($12.326 billion) budget, and assurances from President George W. Bush that border security is tighter than it has ever been, public figures of all political stripes in the border states say the danger of al-Qa'ida infiltrating the US from Mexico has never been higher.
The Washington Times newspaper reported that a source told US intelligence officers the Chechens, seen carrying backpacks, were shepherded from northern Mexico in July through a remote mountainous region of Arizona that is notoriously difficult to patrol.
It is not known if this intelligence was behind the warning issued by the US Education Department for American schools to be vigilant after Chechen militants took over a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, last month, a tragedy that cost at least 344 lives, half of them children.
The Chechen report has angered those who have been warning for months that US borders are insecure.
"In the name of national security we must do something about our wide-open southern border," said Arizona Republican congressional candidate Stan Barnes. "We are now in a war mentality. The first duty of a country in a war situation is to protect its borders."
Experts say it is not difficult for terrorists to blend into a vast sea of an estimated 13million illegal aliens, most of them impoverished Mexicans seeking work.
To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security is so hopelessly overstretched that it has taken to releasing what it calls OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) because it cannot house them until it arranges for deportation hearings.
"If they're deemed not dangerous, they're given a notice to appear in court, and the border patrol agents even have to drive them to a bus station and watch these people get on buses for New Jersey or California," said Cathy Travis, a senior aide to veteran Texas congressman Henry Ortiz.
Fewer than 30 per cent of the OTMs released into the US actually show up for their hearings, meaning an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens are currently in the US after being caught and released.
Officially, fewer than 100 border jumpers apprehended along the Mexican borders within the last year were from nations associated with Islamic terrorism.
However, Travis said that few of these people had identification papers, and many lied and said they were from South America in order to evade attention and have a better chance of being released.
"We have heard from border patrol agents that they're being told to let people who look like they're from East Africa and the Middle East go because they say their name is Juan Pablo Garcia from Guatemala -- except that they don't speak a word of Spanish," she said.
Congressman Ortiz has said that intelligence shows al-Qa'ida working with El Salvadorean criminal gangs as well as reports of Brazilians being recruited to accompany Arabs to illegally cross the US border. If they are apprehended, the groups say they are Brazilian -- knowing there are few Portuguese-speaking border patrol agents -- and are usually released into the US.
Sheriff D'Wayne Jernigan, of Del Rio, Texas, last month publicly blasted the dubious policy after being ordered by the Homeland Security Department to release 17 captured Brazilians before they had been interrogated.
Congressmen Ortiz, a Democrat, and Henry Bonilla, a Republican, also of Texas, wrote to Mr Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last month seeking an urgent solution.
"We simply cannot continue allowing US citizens to be under the mistaken impression that OTMs from countries that should raise suspicion are being detained in the US when, in fact, they are free to roam the nation at will," the congressmen wrote.
But the issue, surprisingly, has hardly made the front pages. "It's an election year," Travis explained.
The FBI and CIA, however, are apparently very interested, especially after intelligence reported that a key lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, Adnan El Shukrijumah, was seen in Honduras and northern Mexico in recent months.
U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.
The Chechen group is suspected of having links to Islamist terrorists seeking to separate the southern enclave of Chechnya from Russia, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Members of the group, said to be wearing backpacks, secretly traveled to northern Mexico and crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona that is difficult for U.S. border security agents to monitor, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The intelligence report was supplied to the U.S. government in late August or early September and was based on information from an intelligence source that has been proved reliable in other instances, one official said.
A second U.S. official said the report is being investigated, but said it could not be determined whether the group of Chechens actually entered the country, as the intelligence source reported.
"We don't know whether or not that report is true," this official said.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the intelligence report was provided by another government agency, but said Border Patrol agents were unable to verify its accuracy.
It could not be learned whether the reported infiltration is related to the recent Education Department warning to school officials to examine security in the aftermath of the attack last month by pro-Chechnya Muslim terrorists on a school in Russia, in which more than 300 people were killed and some 700 wounded.
In the Russian attack, heavily armed Islamists took over and wired with explosives the school building in Beslan, North Ossetia. It is believed that an accidental explosion set off a battle between Russian security personnel and the terrorists, who set off several explosions and shot schoolchildren and teachers as they tried to escape.
U.S. officials believe the Beslan terrorists included some al Qaeda-linked foreign terrorists.
The Education Department letter said that school officials should examine "protective measure guidance" for helping to prevent and respond to a similar terrorist attack, were it to occur in the United States.
The notice said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are "currently unaware of any specific, credible information indicating a terrorist threat to public and private schools, universities or colleges in the United States."
The letter stated that indicators of terrorist surveillance before an attack include interest in site plans for schools, bus routes and attendance lists from persons who don't normally request such information.
Authorities also were advised to remain alert for "static surveillance" by people who may be disguised as panhandlers, shoeshiners, newspaper or flower vendors, or street sweepers who seem out of place in a particular area.
Other indicators of terrorist surveillance can include spying on school security drills, people staring at employees or vehicles in parking areas, and surveillance by pedestrians.
Fears of an attack on American schools also were raised by the recent discovery in Iraq of a computer disk containing data showing the layout of six schools in the United States, including districts in California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey and Oregon.
Officials believed the disk may have been part of a terrorist plot. However, FBI officials said on Friday that there did not appear to be a terrorist threat connected to the computer disk.
The Iraqi who had the disk, a member of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, apparently was collecting information from the Internet sites of American schools that would be useful for emergency planning for Iraqi schools, U.S. officials said.
U.S. security officials have been concerned in recent months that al Qaeda or other terrorists are planning to enter the United States from Mexico.
Intelligence officials said a suspected al Qaeda leader who has been in the United States was spotted recently in Mexico. Officials believe Adnan Shukrijumah, whom the FBI wants for questioning, met with alien smugglers in Mexico and Honduras and was seeking ways to bring al Qaeda members into the United States. Shukrijumah was seen in August in the Sonora province of northern Mexico, officials said.
Since October 2003, authorities have arrested five Arabs attempting to cross illegally into the United States from Mexico.
In July, officials dismissed as untrue an Internet report that said a group of Middle Eastern men were recently caught trying to cross the border from Mexico.
The report apparently was based on a group of Oaxacan tribesmen who were stopped as they tried to cross the border in Arizona. The tribesmen spoke an Indian language native to southern Mexico that may have been mistaken for Arabic, officials said at the time.
As locals struggle, illegals find work in New OrleansNew Orleans -- Two weeks ago, Geremias Lopez was picking grapes near Bakersfield, but when he saw an advertisement on Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network, for work on the Gulf Coast, he and a friend called the 1-800 number flashing on the screen and were soon aboard a Greyhound bus headed east.
Lopez and the 80-some other Mexican and Honduran immigrants in his crew are now earning $100 a day covering torn and mangled roofs with blue tarps until the roofs can be re-shingled and restored to some semblance of what they looked like before Hurricane Katrina struck six weeks ago.
For New Orleans residents, most of whom have yet to return, life remains very hard, and very uncertain. But for Lopez and his migrant workmates, it's a noticeable improvement over their minimum-wage jobs as California fruit pickers or as poultry processors in Arkansas.
They and Latino immigrants from all over the United States have been flocking to the region, often working for out-of-state companies which received the initial round of cleanup contracts.
Recognizing the demand for migrant labor, and to help speed reconstruction in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily suspended rules mandating employers to prove that workers they hire are citizens or have a legal right to work in the United States.
In addition, President Bush suspended application in the Katrina-affected region of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, under which employers must pay prevailing wage rates on federally financed construction projects -- in order, Bush said, to "permit the employment of thousands of additional individuals."
The Louisiana Department of Labor says it has received requests from contractors to certify 500 illegal migrants. Agency officials estimate that the actual number of illegal migrants already working for contractors is far higher, because many employers are not bothering with the paperwork.
This is adding to the unhappiness of local contractors trying to re-establish their own businesses and hire local workers, after being evacuated or otherwise losing their ability to operate for weeks.
"The local people can't participate in their own recovery," said Jack Donahue, whose Mandeville, La.-based firm Donahue Favret Contractors Inc. specializes in such construction tasks as sheetrock and flooring removal and mold remediation.
Part of the problem, Donahue said, is that local construction workers scattered during the evacuation and are just beginning to come back. Many are returning to destroyed or severely damaged homes and have discovered that the hotels in the region are full of out-of-state workers, including migrants.
"There's no room for local people in the hotels," Donahue said.
Lopez, originally from the Mexican state of Chiapas, sleeps on the floor of a dank motel room with four other migrants in Gretna, La., just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. The motel, which lost its sign, was flooded in the storm, forcing the removal of all of the furniture, including beds. But it is packed with migrant workers.
Jose Morillo, a Honduran who came west from Arkansas, is one of the motel's residents. His first job involved removing foul-smelling refrigerators full of rotting food in Slidell, La., two weeks after the hurricane hit. "Roofing is much better than cleaning," he said. "It's also much better to be in a hotel instead of the outdoor camps where we were getting bit by mosquitoes."
Of the 80-some roofers in Lopez and Morillo's motel, few are legal residents or possess temporary work visas, according to Morillo. Rarely was their immigration status an issue in their hiring.
"We're here doing this work for the same reason we have jobs back home: We're willing to do the dirty work, and we'll work 10 or more hours a day seven days a week," said Morillo.
But Morillo and Lopez may be among the luckier ones, according to immigrant rights activists in the region.
"Many of the ... contractors are just unscrupulous, promising all unskilled workers, not just the Latinos, a place to live, food and a per diem rate to work," said Victoria Cintra of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA).
But not all outside contractors are hiring illegal migrants.
Mario Vargas leads a team of asbestos removers from Phoenix, employed by PDG Environmental Inc., based in Pittsburgh. His 10 employees here, all of Mexican descent, have lived in the United States for an average of 10 years and are legal residents.
"We'll be here until January for sure," Vargas said. "We've been hired to perform a particular task of removing asbestos at a mall, but then we'll all go back to Phoenix. Still, there's tons of work for us here if we want it."
But even as local contractors like Donahue scramble to get rebuilding work, other companies who have contracts have run up against a labor shortage, particularly of workers with specialized skills.
Hispanic Connection Inc., a Baton Rouge-based agency that recruits Latino laborers from abroad through the H2B temporary visa program, has been flooded with requests for laborers since the two hurricanes hit, said director Maria Edwards.
"I've received applications from firms that wanted to hire 30 people but were only able to find one," Edwards said. "They even posted in the shelters where evacuees are housed." H2B paperwork usually takes four months so applicants will not be receiving workers until January, she added.
Some local social service agencies say the situation is likely to continue for some time because many local residents may never return, deciding instead to relocate and start new lives in new cities. For those who do want to return, few of their old jobs exist.
"There is a big disconnect between the available jobs and the jobless people," said Valerie Keller, who runs the Arcadia Outreach Center in Lafayette, La., which currently has an estimated 27,000 evacuees from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "Everyone throws money at the response, or the food, clothing and shelter, but what is more difficult to provide is the recovery services like matching the jobs with people who need them."
But Morillo says he has found his match.
"I cleaned up the beaches in Pensacola (Fla.) after Hurricane Ivan, so I know that there's always lots of work after a disaster," he said. "It's good money, and I can support my family here and back home in Honduras."
Some observers have predicted that after migrants spend months in the region with a steady stream of work, and earning a relatively good wage, they'll be tempted to stay, changing the area's demographics.
"If New Orleans reaches a critical mass of migrants, it could become a destination point for new migrants," said Mark Rosenblum, a fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and a professor of political science at the University of New Orleans.
However, Rosenblum thought it unlikely because New Orleans has historically had few Latino migrants, so there are few existing social networks to which Hispanic migrants tend to gravitate.
None of the migrant roofers interviewed by the Chronicle brought their families with them to New Orleans because they said the work here would dry up eventually.
Lopez, the Bakersfield grape picker, said he didn't plan to stay in New Orleans long, much less the United States.
The dark side of faith
By ROSA BROOKS
IT'S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing.
This is the implication of a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University's Center for the Study of Religion. The study, by evolutionary scientist Gregory S. Paul, looks at the correlation between levels of "popular religiosity" and various "quantifiable societal health" indicators in 18 prosperous democracies, including the United States.
Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services. He then correlated this with data on rates of homicide, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, abortion and child mortality.
He found that the most religious democracies exhibited substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction than societies with larger percentages of atheists and agnostics. Of the nations studied, the U.S. — which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) — also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
This conclusion will come as no surprise to those who have long gnashed their teeth in frustration while listening to right-wing evangelical claims that secular liberals are weak on "values." Paul's study confirms globally what is already evident in the U.S.: When it comes to "values," if you look at facts rather than mere rhetoric, the substantially more secular blue states routinely leave the Bible Belt red states in the dust.
Murder rates? Six of the seven states with the highest 2003 homicide rates were "red" in the 2004 elections (Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina), while the deep blue Northeastern states had murder rates well below the national average. Infant mortality rates? Highest in the South and Southwest; lowest in New England. Divorce rates? Marriages break up far more in red states than in blue. Teen pregnancy rates? The same.
Of course, the red/blue divide is only an imperfect proxy for levels of religiosity. And while Paul's study found that the correlation between high degrees of religiosity and high degrees of social dysfunction appears robust, it could be that high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiosity, rather than the other way around.
Although correlation is not causation, Paul's study offers much food for thought. At a minimum, his findings suggest that contrary to popular belief, lack of religiosity does societies no particular harm. This should offer ammunition to those who maintain that religious belief is a purely private matter and that government should remain neutral, not only among religions but also between religion and lack of religion. It should also give a boost to critics of "faith-based" social services and abstinence-only disease and pregnancy prevention programs.
We shouldn't shy away from the possibility that too much religiosity may be socially dangerous. Secular, rationalist approaches to problem-solving emphasize uncertainty, evidence and perpetual reevaluation. Religious faith is inherently nonrational.
This in itself does not make religion worthless or dangerous. All humans hold nonrational beliefs, and some of these may have both individual and societal value. But historically, societies run into trouble when powerful religions become imperial and absolutist.
The claim that religion can have a dark side should not be news. Does anyone doubt that Islamic extremism is linked to the recent rise in international terrorism? And since the history of Christianity is every bit as blood-drenched as the history of Islam, why should we doubt that extremist forms of modern American Christianity have their own pernicious and measurable effects on national health and well-being?
Arguably, Paul's study invites us to conclude that the most serious threat humanity faces today is religious extremism: nonrational, absolutist belief systems that refuse to tolerate difference and dissent.
My prediction is that right-wing evangelicals will do their best to discredit Paul's substantive findings. But when they fail, they'll just shrug: So what if highly religious societies have more murders and disease than less religious societies? Remember the trials of Job? God likes to test the faithful.
To the truly nonrational, even evidence that on its face undermines your beliefs can be twisted to support them. Absolutism means never having to say you're sorry.
And that, of course, is what makes it so very dangerous.
The bus, run by Global Limo of McAllen, Tex., burst into flames and exploded on the side of Interstate 45 early Friday morning. It was carrying 38 frail residents of the Brighton Gardens home in Bellaire, Tex., away from the expected path of Hurricane Rita to another facility in Dallas.
Mark Cross, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said Saturday morning that the bus's registration expired in July and that the vehicle had been taken out of service. But it was allowed back on the road because of a waiver signed last week by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas intended to get as many vehicles as possible involved in the hurricane evacuation and relief effort.
"I direct that all requirements concerning motor carrier registration, single-state registration, and international registration plan, and international fuel tax agreement be suspended for motor carriers traveling within or into Texas to assist with relief efforts," the governor wrote in a letter to Richard F. Williamson, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission.
The waiver - for all commercial vehicles, not just buses - also temporarily suspended limits on the number of hours those vehicles could be operated. The bus that exploded had been on the road for more than 14 hours, traveling from Bellaire, a few miles southwest of downtown Houston, to within 15 miles of its destination when the accident occurred at 6:30 a.m. near Wilmer, Tex.
"I ask all Texas law enforcement and other federal and state officials to honor this letter as a blanket permit," Mr. Perry wrote.
There were no indications of safety problems with the bus, only that its registration had expired, Mr. Cross said.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that drivers for Global had been ordered to stop driving five times in the last 33 months, mostly for infractions regarding bus logs. In its most recent federal inspection, in 2004, the company was rated as "satisfactory," with no evidence of major safety problems in recent years.
Global filed for bankruptcy in February, although a lawyer for an owner said Friday that this had not affected the safety of the vehicles.
Johnny Partain, a former oil industry engineer who now runs a company that installs generators in McAllen, has been embroiled for years in a lawsuit with Mr. Maples over a 1997 investment he made in Global. Mr. Partain said he warned a judge more than a year ago that Global's buses were dangerous and ill-maintained.
The president won't be happy until he dons a yellow slicker and actually takes the place of Anderson Cooper, violently blown about by Rita as he talks into a camera lens lashed with water, hanging onto a mailbox as he's hit by a flying pig in a squall, sucked up by a waterspout in the eye of the storm over the Dry Tortugas.
Then maybe he'll go back to the White House and do his job instead of running down to the Gulf Coast for silly disaster-ops every other day.
There's nothing more pathetic than watching someone who's out of touch feign being in touch. On his fifth sodden pilgrimage of penitence to the devastation he took so long to comprehend, W. desperately tried to show concern. He said he had spent some "quality time" at a Chevron plant in Pascagoula and nattered about trash removal, infrastructure assessment teams and the "can-do spirit."
"We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job," he said at a briefing in Gulfport, Miss., urging local officials to "think bold," while they still need to think mold.
Mr. Bush should stop posing in shirtsleeves and get back to the Oval Office. He has more hacks and cronies he's trying to put into important jobs, and he needs to ride herd on that.
The announcement that a veterinarian, Norris Alderson, who has no experience on women's health issues, would head the F.D.A.'s Office of Women's Health ran into so much flak from appalled women that the F.D.A. may have already reneged on it. No morning-after pill, thanks to the antediluvian administration, but there may be hope for a morning-after horse pill.
Mr. Bush made a frownie over Brownie, but didn't learn much. He's once more trying to appoint a nothingburger to a position of real consequence in homeland security. The choice of Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with virtually no immigration, customs or law enforcement experience, to head the roiling Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency with its $4 billion budget and 22,000 staffers, has caused some alarm, according to The Washington Post.
Ms. Myers's main credentials seem to be that she worked briefly for the semidisgraced homeland security director, Michael Chertoff, when he was at the Justice Department. She just married Mr. Chertoff's chief of staff, John Wood, and she's the niece of Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As a former associate for Ken Starr, the young woman does have impeachment experience, in case the forensic war on terrorism requires the analysis of stains on dresses.
Julie makes Brownie look like Giuliani. I'll sleep better tonight, knowing that when she gets back from her honeymoon, Julie will be patrolling the frontier.
As if the Veterinarian and the Niece were not bad enough, there was also the Accused. David Safavian, the White House procurement official involved in Katrina relief efforts, was arrested on Monday, accused by the F.B.I. of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into the seamy case of "Casino Jack" Abramoff, the Republican operative who has broken new ground in giving lobbying a bad name. Democrats say the fact that Mr. Safavian's wife is a top lawyer for the Republican congressman who's leading the whitewash of the White House blundering on Katrina does not give them confidence.
Just as he has stonewalled other inquiries, Mr. Bush is trying to paper over his Katrina mistakes by appointing his homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, to investigate how the feds fumbled the response.
Mr. Bush's "Who's Your Daddy?" bravura - blowing off the world on global warming and the allies on the Iraq invasion - has been slapped back by Mother Nature, which refuses to be fooled by spin.
When Donald Rumsfeld came out yesterday to castigate the gloom-and-doomers and talk about the inroads American forces had made against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, he could not so easily recast reality.
In Afghanistan, the U.S.'s handpicked puppet president is still battling warlords and a revivified Taliban, and the export of poppies for the heroin trade is once more thriving.
Iraq is worse, with more than 1,900 American troops killed. Five more died yesterday, as well as four security men connected to the U.S. embassy office in Mosul, all to fashion a theocratic-leaning regime aligned with Iran. In Basra, two journalists who have done work for The Times have been killed in the last two months.
The more the president echoes his dad's "Message: I care," the more the world hears "Message: I can't."
GW- -Genocide WimpPresident Bush doesn't often find common cause with Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. But this month the Bush administration joined with those countries and others to eviscerate a forthright U.N. statement that nations have an obligation to respond to genocide.
It was our own Axis of Medieval, and it reflected the feckless response of President Bush to genocide in Darfur. It's not that he favors children being tossed onto bonfires or teenage girls being gang-raped and mutilated, but he can't bother himself to try very hard to stop these horrors, either.
It's been a year since Mr. Bush - ahead of other world leaders, and to his credit - acknowledged that genocide was unfolding in Darfur. But since then he has used that finding of genocide not to spur action but to substitute for it.
Mr. Bush's position in the U.N. negotiations got little attention. But in effect the United States successfully blocked language in the declaration saying that countries have an "obligation" to respond to genocide. In the end the declaration was diluted to say that "We are prepared to take collective action ... on a case by case basis" to prevent genocide.
That was still an immensely important statement. But it's embarrassing that in the 21st century, we can't even accept a vague obligation to fight genocide as we did in the Genocide Convention of 1948. If the Genocide Convention were proposed today, President Bush apparently would fight to kill it.
I can't understand why Mr. Bush is soft on genocide, particularly because his political base - the religious right - has been one of the groups leading the campaign against genocide in Darfur. As the National Association of Evangelicals noted in a reproachful statement about Darfur a few days ago, the Bush administration "has made minimal progress protecting millions of victims of the world's worst humanitarian crisis."
Incredibly, the Bush administration has even emerged as Sudan's little helper, threatening an antigenocide campaigner in an effort to keep him quiet. Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain, served in Darfur as a military adviser - and grew heartsick at seeing corpses of children who'd been bludgeoned to death.
In March, I wrote a column about Mr. Steidle and separately published photos that he had taken of men, women and children hacked to death. Other photos were too wrenching to publish: one showed a pupil at the Suleia Girls School; she appeared to have been burned alive, probably after being raped, and her charred arms were still in handcuffs.
Mr. Steidle is an American hero for blowing the whistle on the genocide. But, according to Mr. Steidle, the State Department has ordered him on three occasions to stop showing the photos, for fear of complicating our relations with Sudan. Mr. Steidle has also been told that he has been blacklisted from all U.S. government jobs.
The State Department should be publicizing photos of atrocities to galvanize the international community against the genocide - not conspiring with Sudan to cover them up.
I'm a broken record on Darfur because I can't get out of my head the people I've met there. On my very first visit, 18 months ago, I met families who were hiding in the desert from the militias and soldiers. But the only place to get water was at the occasional well - where soldiers would wait to shoot the men who showed up, and rape the women. So anguished families sent their youngest children, 6 or 7 years old, to the wells with donkeys to fetch water - because they were least likely to be killed or raped. The parents hated themselves for doing this, but they had no choice - they had been abandoned by the world.
That's the cost of our passivity. Perhaps it's unfair to focus so much on Mr. Bush, for there are no neat solutions and he has done more than most leaders. He at least dispatched Condi Rice to Darfur this summer - which is more interest in genocide than the TV anchors have shown.
One group, www.beawitness.org, prepared a television commercial scolding the networks for neglecting the genocide - and affiliates of NBC, CBS and ABC all refused to run it.
Still, the failures of others do not excuse Mr. Bush's own unwillingness to speak out, to impose a no-fly zone, to appoint a presidential envoy or to build an international coalition to pressure Sudan. So, Mr. Bush, let me ask you just one question: Since you portray yourself as a bold leader, since you pride yourself on your willingness to use blunt terms like "evil" - then why is it that you're so wimpish on genocide? A Wimp on Genocide
(About paid hecklers sent to interupt campaign stop) Edwards gushed: "That was great. That was fun. When they were booing 'hope' and 'optimism,' I knew it was an interesting [group]."
It's a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax.
Still, even conservatives admit that deregulation, tax cuts and privatization won't be enough. Recovery will require a lot of federal spending. And aside from the effect on the deficit - we're about to see the spectacle of tax cuts in the face of both a war and a huge reconstruction effort - this raises another question: how can discretionary government spending take place on that scale without creating equally large-scale corruption?
It's possible to spend large sums honestly, as Franklin D. Roosevelt demonstrated in the 1930's. F.D.R. presided over a huge expansion of federal spending, including a lot of discretionary spending by the Works Progress Administration. Yet the image of public relief, widely regarded as corrupt before the New Deal, actually improved markedly.
How did that happen? The answer is that the New Deal made almost a fetish out of policing its own programs against potential corruption. In particular, F.D.R. created a powerful "division of progress investigation" to look into complaints of malfeasance in the W.P.A. That division proved so effective that a later Congressional investigation couldn't find a single serious irregularity it had missed.
This commitment to honest government wasn't a sign of Roosevelt's personal virtue; it reflected a political imperative. F.D.R.'s mission in office was to show that government activism works. To maintain that mission's credibility, he needed to keep his administration's record clean.
But George W. Bush isn't F.D.R. Indeed, in crucial respects he's the anti-F.D.R.
President Bush subscribes to a political philosophy that opposes government activism - that's why he has tried to downsize and privatize programs wherever he can. (He still hopes to privatize Social Security, F.D.R.'s biggest legacy.) So even his policy failures don't bother his strongest supporters: many conservatives view the inept response to Katrina as a vindication of their lack of faith in government, rather than as a reason to reconsider their faith in Mr. Bush.
And to date the Bush administration, which has no stake in showing that good government is possible, has been averse to investigating itself. On the contrary, it has consistently stonewalled corruption investigations and punished its own investigators if they try to do their jobs.
That's why Mr. Bush's promise last night that he will have "a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures" rings hollow. Whoever these inspectors general are, they'll be mindful of the fate of Bunnatine Greenhouse, a highly regarded auditor at the Army Corps of Engineers who suddenly got poor performance reviews after she raised questions about Halliburton's contracts in Iraq. She was demoted late last month.
Turning the funds over to state and local governments isn't the answer, either. F.D.R. actually made a point of taking control away from local politicians; then as now, patronage played a big role in local politics.
And our sympathy for the people of Mississippi and Louisiana shouldn't blind us to the realities of their states' political cultures. Last year the newsletter Corporate Crime Reporter ranked the states according to the number of federal public-corruption convictions per capita. Mississippi came in first, and Louisiana came in third.
Is there any way Mr. Bush could ensure an honest recovery program? Yes - he could insulate decisions about reconstruction spending from politics by placing them in the hands of an autonomous agency headed by a political independent, or, if no such person can be found, a Democrat (as a sign of good faith).
He didn't do that last night, and probably won't. There's every reason to believe the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, like the failed reconstruction of Iraq, will be deeply marred by cronyism and corruption. Not the New Deal
But unfortunately they represent more of the Bush administration.
The lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina revealed to everyone that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which earned universal praise during the Clinton years, is a shell of its former self. The hapless Michael Brown - who is no longer overseeing relief efforts but still heads the agency - has become a symbol of cronyism.
>But what we really should be asking is whether FEMA's decline and fall is unique, or part of a larger pattern. What other government functions have been crippled by politicization, cronyism and/or the departure of experienced professionals? How many FEMA's are there?
Unfortunately, it's easy to find other agencies suffering from some version of the FEMA syndrome.
The first example won't surprise you: the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a key role to play in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, but which has seen a major exodus of experienced officials over the past few years. In particular, senior officials have left in protest over what they say is the Bush administration's unwillingness to enforce environmental law.
Yesterday The Independent, the British newspaper, published an interview about the environmental aftermath of Katrina with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst in the agency's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, whom one suspects is planning to join the exodus. "The budget has been cut," he said, "and inept political hacks have been put in key positions." That sounds familiar, and given what we've learned over the last two weeks there's no reason to doubt that characterization - or to disregard his warning of an environmental cover-up in progress.
What about the Food and Drug Administration? Serious questions have been raised about the agency's coziness with drug companies, and the agency's top official in charge of women's health issues resigned over the delay in approving Plan B, the morning-after pill, accusing the agency's head of overruling the professional staff on political grounds.
Then there's the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, whose Republican chairman hired a consultant to identify liberal bias in its programs. The consultant apparently considered any criticism of the administration a sign of liberalism, even if it came from conservatives.
You could say that these are all cases in which the Bush administration hasn't worried about degrading the quality of a government agency because it doesn't really believe in the agency's mission. But you can't say that about my other two examples.
Even a conservative government needs an effective Treasury Department. Yet Treasury, which had high prestige and morale during the Clinton years, has fallen from grace.
The public symbol of that fall is the fact that John Snow, who was obviously picked for his loyalty rather than his qualifications, is still Treasury secretary. Less obvious to the public is the hollowing out of the department's expertise. Many experienced staff members have left since 2000, and a number of key positions are either empty or filled only on an acting basis. "There is no policy," an economist who was leaving the department after 22 years told The Washington Post, back in 2002. "If there are no pipes, why do you need a plumber?" So the best and brightest have been leaving.
And finally, what about the department of Homeland Security itself? FEMA was neglected, some people say, because it was folded into a large agency that was focused on terrorist threats, not natural disasters. But what, exactly, is the department doing to protect us from terrorists?
In 2004 Reuters reported a "steady exodus" of counterterrorism officials, who believed that the war in Iraq had taken precedence over the real terrorist threat. Why, then, should we believe that Homeland Security is being well run?
Let's not forget that the administration's first choice to head the department was Bernard Kerik, a crony of Rudy Giuliani. And Mr. Kerik's nomination would have gone through if enterprising reporters hadn't turned up problems in his background that the F.B.I. somehow missed, just as it somehow didn't turn up the little problems in Michael Brown's résumé. How many lesser Keriks made it into other positions?
The point is that Katrina should serve as a wakeup call, not just about FEMA, but about the executive branch as a whole. Everything I know suggests that it's in a sorry state - that an administration which doesn't treat governing seriously has created two, three, many FEMA's. All the President's Friends
Hitchens Galloway, trade barbs in New York"It is a disgrace that a member of the British House of Commons should go before the United States Senate sub-committee and not testify, but decline to testify, and to insult all those who tried to ask him questions with the most violent, cheap, guttersnipe abuse. I think that's a disgrace," Mr Hitchens said, to cheers from the 1,000-strong crowd.
Typical talking points. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't have to say "May I, Mr Rove?" afterwards. Mr Galloway used colourful language of his own. To laughter and applause, he brought up Mr Hitchens's support for the 1991 Gulf war, noting: "What you have witnessed since then is something unique in natural history: the first ever metamorphosis from a butterfly back into a slug. I mention 'slug' purposefully, because the one thing a slug does leave behind it is a trial of slime."Galloway and Hitchens rouse New York crowd
The president, as he fondly recalled the other day, used to get well lit in New Orleans. Not any more.
On Thursday night, Mr. Bush wanted to appear casually in charge as he waged his own Battle of New Orleans in Jackson Square. Instead, he looked as if he'd been dropped off by his folks in front of a eerie, blue-hued castle at Disney World. (Must be Sleeping Beauty's Castle, given the somnambulant pace of W.'s response to Katrina.)
All Andrew Jackson's horses, and all the Boy King's men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. His gladiatorial walk across the darkened greensward, past a St. Louis Cathedral bathed in moon glow from White House klieg lights, just seemed to intensify the sense of an isolated, out-of-touch president clinging to hollow symbols as his disastrous disaster agency continues to flail.
In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background?
The slick White House TV production team was trying to salvage W.'s "High Noon" snap with some snazzy Hollywood-style lighting - the same Reaganesque stagecraft they had provided when W. made a prime-time television address from Ellis Island on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On that occasion, Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer, and Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman and a lighting expert, rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used for "Monday Night Football" and Rolling Stones concerts, floated them across New York Harbor and illuminated the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop for Mr. Bush.
Before the presidential address, Mr. DeServi was surveying his handiwork in Jackson Square, crowing to reporters about his cathedral: "Oh, it's heated up. It's going to print loud."
As Elisabeth Bumiller, the White House reporter for The Times, noted in a pool report, the image wizards had put up a large swath of military camouflage netting, held in place by bags of rocks and strung on poles, to hide the president from the deserted and desolate streets of the French Quarter ghost town.
The president is still looking for a tiny spot of unreality in New Orleans - and in Iraq, where a violent rampage has spiked the three-day death tally to over 200.
The Oedipal loop-de-loop of W. and Poppy grows ever loopier.
With Karl Rove's help, Junior designed his presidency as a reverse of his father's. W. would succeed by studying Dad's failures and doing the opposite. But in a bizarre twist of filial fate, the son has stumbled so badly in areas where he tried to one-up Dad that he has ended up giving Dad a leg up in the history books.
As Mark Twain said: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
Of course, it's taken Junior only five years to learn how smart his old man was.
His father made the "mistake" of not conquering and occupying Iraq because he had the silly idea that Iraqis would resent it. His father made the "mistake" of raising taxes, not cutting them, and overly obsessing about the federal deficit. And his father made the "mistake" of hewing to the center, making his base mad and losing his bid for re-election.
Bush père did make a real mistake in responding slowly to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but that blunder has been dwarfed by what the slothful son hath wrought. Because of his fatal tardiness, W. now has to literally promise the moon to fix New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, driving up the federal deficit and embarking on the biggest spending bonanza and government public works program since F.D.R.
In his address from the French Quarter, the president sounded like such a spendthrift bleeding heart that he is terrifying the right more than his father ever did.
Read my lips: By the time all this is over, people will be saying that Poppy was the true conservative in the family. Disney on Parade
Must read this: I have been glued to this entire situation since it passed through Florida, watching it make its final path into the Gulf Coast. It was surreal, a feeling of impending disaster looming in the distance. Our government was totally unprepared perhaps even uninterested in ensuring the best response was given from the top-down. Sure, the Red Cross has stepped up to the plate and the brave people of the Coast Guard, and the people on the ground in the cities. The storm blew through and all of the talking heads were proclaiming that this was "nothing like we thought", even though all around them were scenes of incredible destruction and even an impending disaster with the levees. Now, we see the destruction, the loss of life that is going to be staggering and the lives that have totally been sent into chaos. It truly is a sad and emotionally charged scene that many are struggling with, including myself.
I have been to New Orleans, just this past October was the last time for business. The city is amazing and filled with some amazing people, largely recpetive and welcoming to all of us. Watching the scenes today, I saw so many places that I recognized it really ripped at my heart. Seeing the people displaced, in shock and totally torn apart made me really look at the state of our country. I came home, kissed my wife and spent some time just holding my two month old son, thinking about how lucky that I am to be able to come home to an actual house and be able to hold my family.
While I feel lucky, I am also very, very pissed about how this disaster has been treated by this administration. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, but part of me thought that the partisan and neocon mindset would be cast aside to deal with true, human tragedy in our own backyard. Our President, who is supposed to lead, decided that he would rather play politics, hit the links and pal around with John McCain rather than do the "Presidential" thing by giving aid, support and comfort to the people of the affected areas. He gave a few canned responses about the hurricane and then quickly ran on to other pet subject, such as our Iraq debacle. He even had the gall to compare himself to Franklin Roosevelt and compare Iraq to World War II. Unbelievable, but not surprising at the same time. We have sent our National Guard and their equipment to Iraq, when they could have and should have been used here, in these circumstances. We are blowing billions of dollars in Iraq, when it will cost much much more to rebuild the city of New Orleans alone. Bush has cut the funding that could have helped avoid or at the very least, better prepare to respond. This disaster could have even been lessened had a mere 14 billion dollars been invested in a program that called for the channeling of the Mississippi river back to its natural flow areas in the southern-most marshes. We are blowing that in Iraq every 2 weeks. 2 weeks in Iraq are worth more to this administration than the possiblity that a catastrophe of these proportions could have been avoided. Oh, thats right, doing something like that would cause a hardship on the oil facilities in that particular area. Nevermind they could adapt, we are all about profit now. Bush's actions were clear before the storm, when his people called the Mayor of New Orleans to inquire about the oil infrastructure preparation.
WASHINGTON - Could the salt that preserves hot dogs also preserve your health? Scientists at the
National Institutes of Health think so. They've begun infusing sodium nitrite into volunteers in hopes that it could prove a cheap but potent treatment for sickle cell anemia, heart attacks, brain aneurysms, even an illness that suffocates babies.
Those ailments have something in common: They hinge on problems with low oxygen, problems the government's research suggests nitrite can ease.
Beyond repairing the reputation of this often maligned meat preservative, the work promises to rewrite scientific dogma about how blood flows, and how the body tries to protect itself when that flow is blocked. Indeed, nitrite seems to guard tissues — in the heart, the lungs, the brain — against cellular death when they become starved of oxygen.
It doesn't mean artery-clogging hot dogs are healthy.
But the NIH researchers have filed for new patents on this old, overlooked chemical and are hunting a major pharmaceutical company to help develop it as a therapy — even as doctors await the enrollment of sick patients into research studies in coming months. The scientists are so convinced of nitrite's promise that lead researcher Dr. Mark T. Gladwin says the government will pursue drug development on its own if necessary.
"We are turning organs into hot dogs," Gladwin jokes. Then he turns serious: "We think we stumbled into an innate protection mechanism."
If it works, "this drug would be pennies to dollars per day," says Dr. Christian Hunter of California's Loma Linda University. By January, Hunter hopes to begin studies of nitrite treatment for babies with an often fatal disease called pulmonary hypertension. "It's so easy to use."
Gladwin and an NIH cardiologist, Dr. Richard Cannon III, discovered nitrite's effect by accident while studying a related compound, nitric oxide, long known to improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels, but difficult to use as a drug.
Gladwin and Cannon injected sodium nitrite into healthy volunteers. Tiny doses almost tripled blood flow. Moreover, when people exercised, nitrite levels plummeted in the muscles being worked — the body was using it.
The researchers were stunned. For 100 years, scientists thought nitrite had little medical relevance.
High doses are an antidote for cyanide poisoning, but they're also toxic. In 1944, 11 New Yorkers literally turned blue, their blood struggling for oxygen, after they accidentally ate the meat preservative instead of table salt.
The low levels that naturally occur in the human body were thought to be inert, unimportant. Not anymore.
"This has led to an avalanche of work," says Gladwin, who this week hosts an NIH meeting where scientists will compare nitrite research.
The work done so far is "sufficiently encouraging to warrant a full-court press," says Dr. Franklin Bunn, a Harvard Medical School professor who has reviewed much of the research.
When oxygen levels drop, the body's natural stores of nitrite convert to nitric oxide, in turn dilating vessels so that more blood — and more oxygen — gets through.
That's Step 1. Then there's tissue preservation.
Consider: Even after doctors clear a blocked artery to end a heart attack, heart muscle continues to die for a while.
Nitrite interrupts that chain reaction, caused when harmful proteins spewed by dying cells in turn take out their neighbors, says David Lefer of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
But the heart's nitrite stores are depleted quickly.
"When you have a heart attack, you use it all up in the first few minutes keeping the organ alive," Lefer says. "You need to add some more."
So Lefer bred mice with low nitrite levels, clipped off the rodents' main heart artery for 30 minutes, and infused nitrite before opening the artery back up.
The salt cut by 67 percent the amount of heart muscle that died.
Gladwin says it worked as well in dogs, whose hearts are similar to people's. He hopes a study in people suffering heart attacks could begin next year.
The first human patients to test nitrite have sickle cell disease; another piece of the nitrite puzzle is its connection to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein that makes blood red.
Doctors have long thought the bouts of crippling pain suffered by sickle cell patients resulted when their abnormally shaped red blood cells clumped together to block blood flow.
But these red cells also dump large amounts of hemogloblin into blood plasma, where it gobbles up nitric oxide, Gladwin found. That constricts blood vessels, causing more pain as sickle-shaped blood cells push through.
At NIH's hospital in Bethesda, Md., Gladwin has infused nitrite into six sickle-cell patients. This first-stage study is designed to test safety, not nitrite's effect on pain, but it is dilating participants' blood vessels, he says.
Other ailments under study:
_Babies with pulmonary hypertension today are treated with inhaled nitric oxide, to lower blood pressure in arteries connecting the heart and lungs. It's difficult, costs more than $1,000 a day and requires complex machines available only at certain large hospitals.
Loma Linda's Hunter mixed nitrite into nebulizers, inexpensive plastic containers that asthma patients often use to breathe in medicine through the mouth. In sheep, this easier nitrite therapy treated pulmonary hypertension better than nitric oxide.
_The few people who survive a burst brain aneurysm face another big hurdle: Within two weeks, their brain arteries spasm and about half suffer a stroke. There's no prevention; doctors merely keep patients in intensive care, poised to treat a stroke as soon as it happens.
NIH neurologist Dr. Edward Oldfield engineered monkeys to mimic a developing spasm, and then infused the animals with either nitrite or salt water for two weeks. None of the monkeys given nitrite had one — but all of the saline-treated monkeys did.
"We were surprised at how complete the protection was, and with no toxicity that we identified," Oldfield says. "The beauty of sodium nitrite is it seems to interact with the hemoglobin in a way that permits it to be released only where it's needed."
Doctors are e-mailing NIH to ask how soon a human study could begin, Gladwin says; one is in planning stages.
It's a surprising revival for a substance once suspected of spurring cancer. But sodium nitrite also is found in leafy green vegetables, Gladwin likes to note — although no one knows if eating it would bring any of the possible pharmaceutical benefit.
So would a lot of people Read following to find out how you could get free (or greatly reduced cost) health care. (This is not and ad for a product.) :
Several years ago, two Harvard researchers, Susan Starr Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle, set out to interview people without health-care coverage for a book they were writing, “Uninsured in America.” They talked to as many kinds of people as they could find, collecting stories of untreated depression and struggling single mothers and chronically injured laborers—and the most common complaint they heard was about teeth. Gina, a hairdresser in Idaho, whose husband worked as a freight manager at a chain store, had “a peculiar mannerism of keeping her mouth closed even when speaking.” It turned out that she hadn’t been able to afford dental care for three years, and one of her front teeth was rotting. Daniel, a construction worker, pulled out his bad teeth with pliers. Then, there was Loretta, who worked nights at a university research center in Mississippi, and was missing most of her teeth. “They’ll break off after a while, and then you just grab a hold of them, and they work their way out,” she explained to Sered and Fernandopulle. “It hurts so bad, because the tooth aches. Then it’s a relief just to get it out of there. The hole closes up itself anyway. So it’s so much better.”
The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve.And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier.
What Loretta, Gina, and Daniel understand, the two authors tell us, is that bad teeth have come to be seen as a marker of “poor parenting, low educational achievement and slow or faulty intellectual development.” They are an outward marker of caste. “Almost every time we asked interviewees what their first priority would be if the president established universal health coverage tomorrow,” Sered and Fernandopulle write, “the immediate answer was ‘my teeth.’ ”
The U. S. health-care system, according to “Uninsured in America,” has created a group of people who increasingly look different from others and suffer in ways that others do not. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. Half of the uninsured owe money to hospitals, and a third are being pursued by collection agencies. Children without health insurance are less likely to receive medical attention for serious injuries, for recurrent ear infections, or for asthma. Lung-cancer patients without insurance are less likely to receive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. Heart-attack victims without health insurance are less likely to receive angioplasty. People with pneumonia who don’t have health insurance are less likely to receive X rays or consultations. The death rate in any given year for someone without health insurance is twenty-five per cent higher than for someone with insur-ance. Because the uninsured are sicker than the rest of us, they can’t get better jobs, and because they can’t get better jobs they can’t afford health insurance, and because they can’t afford health insurance they get even sicker. John, the manager of a bar in Idaho, tells Sered and Fernandopulle that as a result of various workplace injuries over the years he takes eight ibuprofen, waits two hours, then takes eight more—and tries to cadge as much prescription pain medication as he can from friends. “There are times when I should’ve gone to the doctor, but I couldn’t afford to go because I don’t have insurance,” he says. “Like when my back messed up, I should’ve gone. If I had insurance, I would’ve went, because I know I could get treatment, but when you can’t afford it you don’t go. Because the harder the hole you get into in terms of bills, then you’ll never get out. So you just say, ‘I can deal with the pain.’ ”
One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year—or close to four hundred billion dollars—on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.THE MORAL-HAZARD MYTH
Hopefully now you know what you need to do to get free (or greatly reduced) health and dental care.>
That is to make voting decisions that will lead the country to offering a National health care plan! When Americans start voting for their own most important rights, then we will get them.
Niven is standing with another gentleman at the base of a staircase as two ladies in evening gowns descend.
Niven says: "That's the ugliest woman I've ever seen."
Other man replies: "That's my wife."
Niven: "I meant the other one."
Other man: "That's my daughter."
Niven: "I didn't say it."
Like Niven, Robertson backed off his now famous — would that it were apocryphal — remark that the United States should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. His exact quote from his Christian Broadcasting Network program was:
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he (Chavez) thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
Seems clear enough. That is one ugly woman. But, no, on Wednesday Robertson said he didn't say it. He said he was "misinterpreted":
"I said our special forces should, quote, 'take him out,' and 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping," said Robertson.
But then Robertson apparently reconsidered — or re-remembered — and apologized for what he didn't say: "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."
Well, we've all had days like that. You think it might be a good idea to "take someone out" when they're giving your country a hard time ... and then you recall that it's illegal, against U.S. policy and, well, a tad un-Christian.
Robertson, of course, is well known for his spontaneous foot tastings. This is the same Pat Robertson who has urged his flock to pray for a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy "one way or the other."
The same Pat Robertson who in 2003 responded to a book criticizing the State Department by saying, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer. I mean, you get through this (book), and you say, 'We've got to blow that thing up.' "
And the same Pat Robertson who agreed (by nodding his head) with fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell when the latter said that the Sept. 11 attacks were the consequence of "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America."
The White House quickly distanced itself from Robertson's latest, pointing out that private citizens have a right to speak their minds, but that their remarks shouldn't be construed as representing U.S. policy. Noted. Americans know this without being told and, besides, are used to televangelists saying ridiculous things. It is factually true that televangelism is the reason God invented the mute button.
But Robertson is a problem on the world's stage where some audiences may be less sophisticated and where politicians (or dictators) are happy to embrace useful idiots.
"See?" they say, pausing between beheadings and stonings. "President George W. Bush and his imperialistic, oil-grubbing Christian constituency want to assassinate foreign leaders who disagree with them. Allahu Akbar!"
In an act of inadvertent Christian charity, Robertson has performed a service for the world of Islam, not so much by lending credibility to those who insist the United States is conducting a religious crusade against the Muslim world. But by making vivid the necessary distinction between radicals who exploit religion to advance a political agenda and those who practice their religious beliefs in less dramatic, more peaceful ways.
When Robertson says something outrageous, we recognize that he speaks for himself and not for all the Christians. We wouldn't condemn Christianity, in other words, just because one man said something extreme, irrational and murderous.
Which should remind us that when Osama bin Laden or other radical extremists gripping Qurans invoke Allah while murdering innocents, they are neither speaking nor acting for all followers of the Muslim faith. And though Americans know that Robertson and bin Laden are clearly not of the same school, the rest of the world — and especially our enemies — either does not know or is cunning enough to exploit Robertson's words to further fuel the machinery of jihadist hatred.
HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, popular with the poor at home, offered on Tuesday to help needy Americans with cheap supplies of gasoline.
"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," the populist leader told reporters at the end of a visit to Communist-run Cuba.
Chavez did not say how Venezuela would go about providing gasoline to poor communities. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owns Citgo, which has 14,000 gas stations in the United States.
The offer may sound attractive to Americans feeling pinched by soaring prices at the pump but not to the U.S. government, which sees Chavez as a left-wing troublemaker in Latin America.
Gasoline is cheaper than mineral water in oil-producing Venezuela, where consumers can fill their tanks for less than $2. Average gas prices have risen to $2.61 a gallon in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Chavez said Venezuela could supply gasoline to Americans at half the price they now pay if intermediaries who "speculated ... and exploited consumers" were cut out.
Venezuela supplies Cuba with generously financed oil and plans to help Caribbean nations foot their oil bills.
Chavez, in Cuba to attend the graduation of Cuban-trained doctors from 28 countries, was seen off at the airport by Cuban President Fidel Castro. Washington has accused the two leaders of being a destabilizing influence in South America.
Ignore. That’s what the vast majority of Germans did in the 1930s as Hitler curtailed civil liberties and launched aggressive wars. I was born in August 1939, a week before Hitler sent German tanks into Poland to start World War II. I have studied that crucial time in some detail. And during the five years I served in Germany I had occasion to ask all manner of people how it could possibly be that, highly educated and cultured as they were, the Germans for the most part could simply ignore. Why was it that the institutional churches, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran, could not find their voice? Why was it that so few spoke out?
A few did...and they provide good example for us today. Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out, plotted against Hitler, and was executed. Also executed was a more obscure but equally courageous professor from the University of Berlin, Albrecht Haushofer.
Like Bonhoeffer, Haushofer was arrested for speaking out. The SS prison guards were required to extract a confession from prisoners before they were hanged or shot, but Haushofer refused. When they removed his body, though, a paper fell out of his pocket. It was his admission of guilt written in the form of a sonnet:
...schuldig bin ich Anders als Ihr denkt.
Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen;
Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen;
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt...
Ich habe gewarnt,
Aber nicht genug, und klar;
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war.
I am guilty,
But not in the way you think.
I should have earlier recognized my duty;
I should have more sharply called evil evil;
I reined in my judgment too long.
I did warn,
But not enough, and clear;
And today I know what I was guilty of.
At Riverside Church 22 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began by quoting a statement by Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Dr. King added, “That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”
And that time has come for us in relation to Iraq. But where are the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Iraq? Where are the successors to Dr. King, to Bonhoeffer, to Professor Haushofer? “There is only us,” says Annie Dillard, and she is right of course. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Dr. King was typically direct: “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak....there is such a thing as being too late....Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity....Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.”
I believe Cindy Sheehan provides prophetic example for us all. She let herself be guided by the spirit within. President George W. Bush had said that the sacrifice of our dead soldiers, including Casey, was “worth it.” And earlier this month he added that it was all in a “noble cause.” Cindy, while giving a talk at a conference in Dallas, spontaneously asked if someone would come with her to Crawford, because she needed to ask the president what it was that he was describing as a “noble cause.” You know the first chapter of the rest of the story. The point I would make here is simply that she was open to the spirit within, decided to follow its prompting, and did not hesitate to claim the help she needed. Cindy used her conference speech to speak out clearly, as she has been doing for these past several months, and then she acted.
Is it not time for us—each of us—to be open to such prompting. Is it not time for us, amid the carnage in Iraq, amid a presidentially promulgated policy permitting torture “consistent with military necessity,” amid growing signs of an attack by Israel and/or the U.S. on Iran—is it not high time for us to speak...and to act. How, in God’s name, can we not act?
Dr. King enjoined his listeners at Riverside Church to “seek out every creative means of protest possible,” in matching actions with our words.
Not all of us can join the march to Selma...I mean Crawford. So let’s be creative.
I wear a t-shirt with a representation of Arlington West on the front. At 7:30 AM every Sunday, Veterans for Peace in the area of Los Angeles bring white crosses, stars of David, and crescents, down to Santa Monica beach as a poignant reminder of those troops killed in Iraq. The crosses, stars, and crescents are arrayed respectfully in lines as hauntingly straight as those here in our own Arlington Cemetery.
When a few months ago I had the privilege of helping my veteran colleagues set up Arlington West, there were 1,600 crosses, stars, crescents, and it took three hours to set them in place. We are fast approaching 1,900; I don’t know how long it takes to emplace them now. When the veterans of Arlington West heard of Cindy Sheehan’s courageous witness in Crawford, they packed up 800 and drove all night to ensure that a large slice of Arlington West could be emplaced in newly created Arlington Crawford at Camp Casey.
That’s creative, no? Here we already have “Arlington East” to honor the dead. But what about the thousands and thousands of wounded? Can we be imaginative enough to discern visually creative ways to witness to and honor our wounded? And what about all the Iraqi civilians—“collateral damage,” in military parlance—who, absent the war, would be alive today? The number of civilian dead was put as high as 100,000 a year ago. Our government does not consider Iraqi casualties worth counting. Is this a way of saying that, in our country’s view, Iraqis don’t count? Have we become so callous as to ignore, and thus acquiesce in that?
These are some spontaneous thoughts...the only suggestions that occur to me this evening regarding things we might consider doing to walk the talk. No doubt, you will have more imaginative, more creative ideas. Don’t wait. Remember: there is such a thing as being too late. There is Such a Thing as “Too Late”
That "problem," quite simply, is that Chavez, a radical populist who has been voted into office repeatedly by huge majorities in his own country, controls the largest reserve of petroleum outside the Middle East.
Neither Robertson, nor former oil executives George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, nor their buddies at Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, etc., are happy about all this.
Even more scandalous for Big Oil, Chavez is using Venezuela's windfall not to fatten his own country's oligarchy but to benefit the Venezuelan poor and help neighboring countries.
Yesterday, while Robertson was issuing his half-baked Chavez clarification, the Venezuelan president was in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he announced a new oil agreement with that country's prime minister, P.J. Patterson.
Under the agreement, Venezuela will supply 22,000 barrels of oil a day to Jamaica for a mere $40 a barrel. That's far lower than the current world price of about $65 a barrel. With the price of gasoline in that destitute nation already more than $3.50 a gallon, the Chavez plan means more than half a million dollars a day in savings for Jamaica on oil imports.
Chavez also announced his government will provide $60 million in foreign aid to Jamaica and finance the upgrading of that country's oil refineries.
The agreement is part of a broader Chavez plan called Petrocaribe, which he unveiled at a Caribbean summit in Venezuela last June.
At that conference, Chavez offered the same kind of deal to the leaders of more than a dozen other neighboring nations, including Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Fernandez jumped at the offer because his government is nearly bankrupt from oil prices. Last year, the Dominican Republic spent $1.2 billion on oil imports; this year, it expects to fork out more than $3 billion. The price of gasoline in Santo Domingo has zoomed past $4 a gallon in recent days.
Pat Robertson looks at Chavez and sees a devilish danger. He wants our government to "take him out." Over at the White House, Bush and his aides may use more restrained language, but their goals are not much different.
But there's a whole different view down in Latin America, where a half-dozen nations have seen liberal and populist governments swept into office in recent years.
Down there, Chavez has become the new miracle man of oil. Unlike Exxon/Mobil and the Big Oil fat cats, who wallow in their record profits while the rest of us pay, Chavez is spreading the wealth around.