Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Queen's Toast--or Roast?

Oh, that Queen is a crafty old fox. Elizabeth II may not be the brightest jewel on the tiara (at least as depicted by Helen Mirren in the Academy Award-winning The Queen). But she--or her majesty's ye olde wordsmith--concocted a rather intriguing toast for last night's state dinner at the White House.

George W. Bush went first in the exchange. He began folksy: "We're really glad you're here." (How's that for eloquence?) He praised her "long reign" and remarked:

Our alliance is rooted in the beliefs that we share. We recognize that every individual has dignity and matchless value. We believe that the most effective governments are those that hold themselves accountable to their people.

Yes, the British do enjoy a parliamentarian democracy. But the royal portion of its government is hardly accountable to the people. Bush added, "The American people appreciate Your Majesty's commitment to our friendship." In other words, he didn't say much. Then Bush said, "Your turn, Your Majesty."

The Queen began by praising the first President Bush for having seen at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union "the potential for what he called, a Europe whole and free." She hailed the expansion of NATO and the European Union. She paid deep respect to FDR and Harry Truman for having reached out to England and Europe. "For those of us who have witnessed the peace and stability and prosperity enjoyed in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe over these postwar years," she commented, "we have every reason to remember that this has been founded on the bedrock of the Atlantic Alliance." She continued:

Today the United States and the United Kingdom, with our partners in Europe and the Commonwealth, face different threats and new problems both at home and abroad. In recent years, sadly, both our nations have suffered grievously at the hands of international terrorism. Further afield, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, climate change, or the eradication of poverty, the international community is grappling with problems certainly no less complex than those faced by our 20th century forebears.

And what is her hope for the challenge-ridden future? She said:

I have no doubt, however, that together with our friends in Europe and beyond, we can continue to learn from the inspiration and vision of those earlier statesmen in ensuring that we meet these threats and resolve these problems.

Queen E. did not say anything about Bush's ability to meet these profound and demanding challenges. In fact, she said not a single positive word about the president. She thanked him for no more than his warm words and hospitality. Instead, when referring to the troubles of today (some of which have been caused by the fellow at the head table), she nostalgically recalled American statesmen of yesteryear, noting they provide the example to follow. Was there a message here: don't look for inspiration from this White House?

Elizabeth had managed not to say anything that could be interpreted as supportive of the current American president, as she celebrated his predecessors (including his father). Then she raised her glass to Bush and wished for "the happiness of the people of the United States of America." She seemed to realize that the people of both the United States and England would be happier if her toastee was toast.

Posted by David Corn at May 8, 2007 11:27 AM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Crusader Bunnypants is going to get his feelings hurt. The GOP debate left him and his name out while the candidates held hands and tried to resurrect Reagan, now the Queen talks around him no mention and certainly no praise for his expert management of the successful military action.

I would feel sorry for him but humanity demands differently.

Thanks for all of your work!


capt said...

Bush gaffe marks visit by a very, very old friend


The crowd erupted in laughter, and the President and the Queen turned to each other for a long, silent gaze. Then, Mr Bush turned back to the crowd. "She gave me a look," he said, "that only a mother could give a child."

Mr Bush had been the recipient of such a look once before in the Queen's presence - from his own mother, in 1991, when the first President and Mrs Bush played host to their own state dinner for the Queen. Barbara Bush told the Queen that she had seated her son far away from her majesty, for fear he might make a wisecrack. Then, to his mother's horror, he told the Queen that he was his family's black sheep and asked "Who's yours?"


*****end of clip*****

Some things will never change.


capt said...

Money becomes evil not when it is used to buy goods but when it is used to buy power... economic inequalities become evil when they are translated into political inequalities: Samuel Huntington - Political Scientist

The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors. : Plutarch (46 A.D.-127 A.D.) Historian of the Roman Republic

Most people would rather opine a lie and "fit in" than profess the truth and be excluded. Just as the majority would rather be lied to and made comfortable than be told the truth and made uncomfortable. Liars have held humanity in the throes of illusion for countless centuries. Governmental, religious, and academic officialdom can and do transform basically decent human beings into unconscious automatons bereft of free will. They do this successfully because a majority of humans are terrified to assume personal responsibility: Michael Godspeed


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

Robert S said...

Why do I have this urge for a belly full of wine and a walk from speaker to speaker...

capt said...

AIPAC on Trial

The lobby argues that good Americans spy for Israel.

by Justin Raimondo

Is there a First Amendment right to engage in espionage? Dorothy Rabinowitz seems to think so. Describing the actions of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former top officials of AIPAC, the premier Israel lobbying group, who passed purloined intelligence to Israeli government officials, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist characterized them as "activities that go on every day in Washington, and that are clearly protected under the First Amendment." If what Rabinowitz says is true—if passing classified information to foreign officials is routine in the nation’s capital—then we are all in big trouble.

On Aug. 4, 2005, Rosen, Weissman, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin were indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with violating provisions of the Espionage Act that forbid divulging national defense information to persons not authorized to receive it. The indictment traces the treasonous trio’s circuitous path as they met in the shadows—in empty restaurants, at Union Station in Washington, on street corners. Rosen and Weissman sought out and cultivated Franklin, milking him for information that they dutifully transmitted to their Israeli handlers. According to Rabinowitz, however, they were merely "doing what they had every reason to view as their jobs"—which is true, assuming they understood their jobs to be spying for Israel.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 7. As the day of reckoning approaches, the Israel lobby is ratcheting up the rhetoric. So, too, is the defense: in a duet of hysterical accusations and frenzied rationalizations, the accused spies’ defenders have described the proceedings as a frame-up, the result of an intra-bureaucratic struggle within the government, and a plot by anti-Semites in Bush’s Justice Department to carry out a Washington pogrom. None of these flights of imagination are any more convincing than the Dream Team’s defense of O.J. Simpson. Yet the noise level continues to rise, as if sheer volume, instead of logical arguments, could overwhelm the copious evidence of the defendants’ guilt.


capt said...

Infant mortality in Iraq soars as young pay the price for war

Two wars and a decade of sanctions have led to a huge rise in the mortality rate among young children in Iraq, leaving statistics that were once the envy of the Arab world now comparable with those of sub-Saharan Africa.

A new report shows that in the years since 1990, Iraq has seen its child mortality rate soar by 125 per cent, the highest increase of any country in the world. Its rate of deaths of children under five now matches that of Mauritania.

Jeff MacAskey, head of health for the Save the Children charity, which published the report, said: "Iraq, Botswana and Zimbabwe all have different reasons for making the least amount of progress on child mortality. Whether it's the impact of war, HIV/Aids or poverty the consequences are equally devastating. Yet other countries such as Malawi and Nepal have shown that despite conflict and poverty child mortality rates can be reversed."

Figures collated by the charity show that in 1990 Iraq's mortality rate for under-fives was 50 per 1,000 live births. In 2005 it was 125. While many other countries have higher rates - Angola, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, all have rates above 200 - the increase in Iraq is higher than elsewhere.

Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh have made the most progress in tackling child mortality, while Iraq, Botswana and Zimbawe have regressed the most.

Sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime were imposed by the UN in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and remained in place until after the coalition invasion in 2003. The sanctions, encouraged by the US as a means to topple Saddam, were some of the most comprehensive ever put in place and had a devastating effect on Iraq's infrastructure and health services.

Precisely how many children died because of sanctions is unknown but a report in 1999 from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), suggested that between 1991 and 1998 an additional 500,000 died.

Denis Halliday, who resigned as the UN's humanitarian coordinator in protest at the sanctions, said at the time: "We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral."

Kathy Kelly, an anti-war campaigner with Voices in the Wilderness, said last night: "The punishment of children through the economic and military war against Iraq has been the greatest scandal."

Save the Children's report, State of the World's Mothers 2007, found the majority of child deaths occur in just 10 countries - either those with large populations such as India and China, or those with sparse health services such as Afghanistan and Angola. Aids remains one the central factors affecting mortality rates.

"More than 10 million children under age five still die each year. That's almost 28,000 a day, almost all in developing countries," said the charity's US president, Charles MacCormack. "Vaccines, oral rehydration therapy and insecticide-treated mosquito nets are not expensive. Yet, sadly, many mothers and children lack access to these life-saving measures."

The 10 worst countries

Nine of the 10 countries with the worst infant mortality rates are in sub-Saharan Africa. The other one is Afghanistan, which has the second-worst rate.

1. Sierra Leone: 282 (per 1,000 live births)
2. Afghanistan: 257
3. Niger: 256
4. Liberia: 235
5. Somalia: 225
6. Mali: 218
7. Chad: 208
8= Democratic Republic of Congo: 205
8= Equatorial Guinea: 205
10. Rwanda: 203


*****end of clip*****

Bunnypants and the neocons are pro-life? They are the culture of death.


capt said...

Paul Wolfowitz, Riza, World Bank, And Honest Graft

U.S. President George W. Bush sometimes makes decisions by asking, "What would Jesus do?" And U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton admits "channeling" the "spirit" of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for advice.

I bet World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz channels George Washington.

No, not the George Washington as in America's Founding Father and first president, whom every schoolchild reveres for his scrupulous honesty. Not the "I cannot tell a lie" George Washington.

No, no no.

Wolfowitz seems possessed by George Washington Plunkitt, a nineteenth-century state senator from New York's notoriously corrupt 15th district--Tammany Hall. Just as Wolfowitz now lectures the Bank that his sweetheart deal for his sweetheart, Shaha Ali Riza, was supposedly legitimate, Plunkitt similarly argued in 1905: "Everybody is talkin' these days about…men growin' rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin' the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft."

"Honest and dishonest graft"--this is the unique distinction that the Bank obviously needs to learn, and Wolfowitz is now ideally positioned to teach them.

"I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': 'I seen my opportunities and I took 'em," Plunkitt famously explained.

Wolfowitz says he wants to clean up corruption. So did Plunkitt—in his way. Like Wolfowitz, he disowned outright corruption, which he termed "dishonest graft." "I'm gettin' richer every day," he infamously declared to a reporter, William L. Riordon, "but I've not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin' gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc." Instead, Plunkitt used his party's "power in the city" to "tip" him "off" to valuable real estate opportunities in "public improvements." "I see my opportunity and I take it," Plunkitt declared. "I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before."

Anticipating by almost a century the fortunes made by politically-savvy contractors like Haliburton in the Iraq War, Plunckitt asked: "Ain't it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is.

Well, that's honest graft. Somehow," the Tammany boss winked, "I always guessed right, and shouldn't I enjoy the profit of my foresight?"

How many "Bushies" came by their millions and even billions by winkingly "guessing right" and having Plunckitt's brand of informed political "foresight" during the Iraq War? And if the World Bank's highest office is Wolfowitz's share in the spoils of that war, why shouldn't he take full advantage of that, and reward his friends?

Plunkitt considered handsomely rewarding loyal followers with jobs as just another form of "honest graft."

So the fact that Riza and Wolfowitz's colleagues Kevin Kellems (who resigned today), Robin Cleveland and others came to the Bank through Wolfowitz's appointments and made "higher salaries than bank officials with Ph.D.s and 25 years of development experience" (as journalist Fawaz Turki points out) is not evidence per se of Wolfowitz's corrupt favoritism. No! As Plunkitt explains: "Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn't isn't likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend.

Why shouldn't I do the same thing in public life?"

Why hire some qualified brainiac who can pass a civil service exam filled with "questions about Egyptian mummies and how many years it will take for a bird to wear out a mass of iron as big as the earth by steppin' on it once in a century," insisted Plunkitt, when you can give the job to a loyal "constituent" or "friend?"

Indeed, Wolfowitz seems to have followed Plunkitt's dictum to a fault in negotiating Riza's deal. According to The Nation's David Corn in "Wolfowitz and Riza: How Sweet It Is," Wolfowitz's "Riza deal"

included "a 36 percent pay hike—which raised her annual salary from $132,660 to $180,000—and guaranteed yearly pay raises of 8 percent" to what is now $193,000 a year. Corn reports Wolfowitz claims this initial "compensation boost" was justified "because when he came to the Bank, Riza was short-listed for a promotion to communications advisor," and "such a promotion would entail a jump in pay grade."

Is that nothing more than "honest graft?"

But was Riza qualified to be short-listed? Just two years earlier, Corn says, the Bank had rejected Riza for a similar position on the grounds that she lacked "an advanced degree in communications and 15 years of experience." Since then, Riza's "qualifications" remained essentially unchanged.

Corn estimates that Wolfowitz's "Riza deal" also "exceptionally guaranteed Riza subsequent promotions to higher pay grades" and "yearly pay increases" that, by the end of Wolfowitz's second term, would have Riza making "close to $400,000, possibly more."

Additionally, because Bank pensions are computed from an employee's last three years at the Bank, Riza would likely retire with a pension of $110,000 a year, versus the $56,000 she would receive without Wolfowitz's special deal.

With modest living, Riza could have retired a millionairess.

How sweet it is, indeed. Why should such a lucrative job go to "fellows who can tell about the mummies and the bird steppin' on the iron" when there are friends to reward?

Riza and Wolfowitz seen their opportunities, and they took 'em.

Will the Bank now have the courage to take it all back?


capt said...

More Britons travel to Switzerland to die

LONDON, May 8 (UPI) -- A group in Britain advocating euthanasia says that the number of people traveling to a Swiss assisted suicide clinic doubled in 2006.

A total of 76 Britons with terminal illnesses have ended their lives at the Dignitas Clinic in Zurich since it was founded in 1999. Between 2003 and 2006, an average of 14 people a year made the trip, The Independent reported, while 34 have done so since January 2006.

"It is appalling that the current law in the UK means that terminally ill British people who want to end their lives are being forced to travel to a strange country to do so," said Rose Brocklehurst of Dignity in Dying. "Their lives are being ended more prematurely than would otherwise be necessary because they have to be able to travel."

People who want to use the Swiss clinic must fill out extensive paperwork to show that they are terminally ill and that their decision to end their lives is not coerced. At Dignitas, they have a final medical interview and are then given a lethal barbiturate cocktail, which they drink themselves.


*****end of clip*****

There are people suffering and in great pain. Their doctors and they know all that is left is suffering and death. How can any doctor prolong suffering? How can that be the only option legal or otherwise?


David B. Benson said...

I enjoyed the way the Queen dissed George XLIII...

Dav Cor said...

Maybe the world will blame W for our horrifc performance over the last 6 years. We have a lot of fences to mend and a lot of problems to solve. Atleast, George did not attempt a soothing shoulder massage on his esteemed guest.

Chris said...

Personally, I thought it would be cool if dickwad had asked the ol' bag for a blower, whipped it out, and slapped the lectern with it. Just kidding. But, I'll bet she can take her teeth out . . . Anyway, wouldn't it have been cool if he had positioned himself behind her, thrusting into her bum while grabbing her tiara and putting it on while shouting, "I'm the king of the world!" Ehem. I'm sorry again.

Lori said...

Everyone should read Chris's comments, and agree most heartily. That jolly joker says it better than any so called 'smart guy's wisdom' anyday. Of course, he's my bro. Can't attack the bro.

capt said...

New Thread