Saturday, April 22, 2006


Some news of note ...

ITEM: Associated Press reports that a contractor in Iraq pleads guilty to providing money, sex and designer watches to U.S. officials in exchange for more than $8 million in reconstruction contracts. Philip H. Bloom admitted to paying more than $2 million in bribes to U.S. officials with the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ruled Iraq after the American invasion in 2003. It’s the latest development in a corruption scandal centered on civilians and military officials who worked out of a coalition outpost in the south-central Iraqi town of Hillah. This came to light because of the special inspector general for the reconstruction of Iraq. In January 2004, Bloom began paying bribes to Robert J. Stein, a civilian contractor who controlled $82 million in reconstruction funds as the comptroller for the coalition’s headquarters in Hillah. Stein had a previous conviction for fraud when he was hired. One audit determined that the coalition government, which was run by L. Paul Bremer III, could not account for the disposition of almost $9 billion from the development fund.
THOUGHTS: Much has been made about the comments of the retired generals, who contend that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should go because his plans sucked, he misread or ignored intelligence that didn’t fit his preconceived notions, he deployed an undermanned, underarmored force and created an atmosphere where dissent was tantamount to disloyalty. And moreover, after demanding control over all reconstruction instead of State, he has failed to achieve any stated objective save for one – regime change. The response has largely focused on criticism of these former generals, now civilians, for disloyalty in raising their voices after the fact. Each allows that they share the responsibility for the unarguable failings of policy – and execution. The indictment clearly stands, even if you agree that the generals were out of line for handing it up.
But as a civilian and one of Mr. Rumsfeld’’s many employers, let me just say that I am damned tired of the atrocious management of this war – and the alleged “reconstruction” of Iraq – by Rumsfeld and his band of merry men. How do you hire a guy like Bloom – a convicted fraud artist – for anything? And how do you defend your administration of a provisional government that can’t account for “disposition” of $9 billion? I am not going anywhere near the questions of whether the policy was appropriate, the strategy sound, or the tactics skilled. I’m just sitting here as a director asking the CEO of this enterprise what the hell is transpiring on his watch – and holding him accountable for one screw up after another. Because this “agent of change” seems particularly adept at transforming billions of MY money into diddly squat.
Are the President and the GOP saying they can find no one out there in their “Big Tent” who can step in and manage this operation? It is critical that this job get done and promptly – and this man has been in charge of an operation that has consistently failed to perform. Loyalty is an admirable quality, but blind loyalty to the detriment of the mission is irresponsible.

Let Reagan be Reagan?
ITEM: Also from the AP -- a group of Baptist leaders calls on its members to “speak positively about public education” in response to a conservative movement to pull Baptist children out of public schools. Fifty-six pastors and organizational leaders -- some from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention and others from the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship -- signed a letter supporting public schools. The document posted on the Web site of the Baptist Center for Ethics says: “We believe Baptists should recommit themselves to public education, not as a means toward converting school children, but because it’s the right thing to do. We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote sectarian faith, such as state-written school prayers and the teaching of neo-creationism.” Ed Hogan, pastor of Jersey Village Baptist Church in Texas said he signed the letter because dozens of public school teachers, principals and other staff attend his church. “I think the Southern Baptist Convention has become increasingly involved in conservative secular politics. A national convention ought to be about how we can minister to and help people and not how we can further political agendas.”
THOUGHTS: Public schools need help to succeed in the mission we, as a community, charge them with – equipping all students with the secular tools they will need to succeed in life, and lead this nation. Those same students – and their educators -- need ministering to strengthen and reinforce the faith and moral groundings imparted in the home. These, I think, are tasks best accomplished separately, unless a parent chooses to merge them in a private school environment. I say this because public schools are a community institution, with a mission we commonly agree to, if fractiously. Since very quickly after the landing at Plymouth Rock, we as a people have been unable to agree on one faith, one interpretation or one set of rules governing observation of it. That is why the founders set up a government with a “shall make no law” mandate regarding “establishment” of religion in its functioning. Recognizing that agreement on all matters of faith was unlikely, they opted to exclude this from the community compact to prevent such a volatile matter from undermining the commonwealth with never-ending struggles for supremacy of belief and its practice. Under God, yes, but without further definition.
Thus the wisdom of people like Pastor Hogan. Let schools be schools, and let us all strive to make them the best they can be in the execution of one clear mission. And let us minister to souls as we always have, in many forms, in many settings appropriate to that mission. And let each take the lessons and values imparted there into the classroom or workplace or legislative halls as guiding principle. Each must come to a faith. They cannot be driven to it or indoctrinated into it – or out of it – by sergeants, DMV clerks or schoolmarms.

This is helpful ...
A suburban San Diego teenager who was barred from wearing a T-shirt with anti-gay rhetoric to class has lost a bid to have his school’s dress code suspended. The code prohibited clothing with slogans that might be provocative and disruptive. The lad – and his parents it would seem – claimed the code violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion. His shirt said “homosexuality is shameful.”
THOUGHTS: Why is this even an issue? Why would these parents send their child to school wearing a shirt looking to pick a fight, a shirt almost guaranteed to distract and diminish from learning? Who declared a “cultural war” employing such a total lack of common sense and basic manners anyway?

A cheapskate to boot...
A small-town Oklahoma man got his neighbors all in an uproar by posting a sign in his yard saying he’d pay $1,000 for a virgin bride between the ages of 12 and 24. He told the AP he was “looking for a born-again, God-fearing virgin between the ages of 12 and 24 who can bear me children." He said: “What’s the problem? I just think I have some wicked neighbors.” Someone stole his sign so he put up another saying he wasn’t interested in a “pig-worshipping, heathen, white-supremacist wife.”
THOUGHTS: How could a catch like this guy reach age 46 and still be brideless? How about a reality show where 12 women struggle to win this dude’s heart?

A lock for Foreign Relations ...
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has decided he won’t run for the U.S. Senate, after being courted by a gaggle of Democrats who thought he was the cat’s meow to replace Republican Sen. John Ensign. Just so you know: Goodman is a former mob lawyer known for squiring around a bouquet of showgirls on his official rounds.
THOUGHTS: Might be just the guy to resolve Red-Blue impasse on most issues. Would seem to be capable of multi-faceted offers unlikely to be refused in D.C.

"Associated Press reports that a contractor in Iraq pleads guilty to providing money, sex and designer watches to U.S. officials in exchange for more than $8 million in reconstruction contracts."

What the hell, Washington is raping the American taxpayers to pay for the war !

The Delaware legislators screwed us re: Delmarva.

Senator Sokola take contribution from Exxon-Mobil and Snonco as we're being scewed a the pump !

I hear they are going to produce Vaseline in Delaware and put Minner's face on the front and Sokola's on the back of the bottle.
I think it's going to sell under the brand name Delrape !
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