Sunday, September 17, 2006

Joe Roberts Blog

Long promised but silent throughout the summer, at last 1st District congressional candidate Joe Roberts has begun posting regular articles on his Joe Roberts candidate's blog.

The first entry, about Hurricane Katrina, was published on August 30. Right away, it reminded us of something we had noticed at the time and then forgot:
"[Incumbent Jeff] Miller's dismal record on hurricane relief for residents of Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties hit a new low last year when he supported a Bush administration bill that cut out the counties in the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005."
So much for the advantage of sending a Republican congressman to join the corrupt Republican majority in Washington. Miller didn't even have the muscle to help his own hurricane-devastated district when Congress was spreading billions around the whole Gulf Coast.

The latest entry on Joe's blog is about "the hard truth" concerning Bush's Iraq disaster:
"Caught in the middle of a bloody civil war and virtually restricted to the Green Zone, and with Iran waiting in the wings, our troops are facing a potential disaster."
Potential? Potential, Mr. Roberts? Our troops have been victimized by an on-going disaster for the past three years, as yesterday's front-page feature story in the Washington Post makes painfully clear. And one of the reasons comes down to the incompetent boobs the Bush administration hired to staff that restricted "Green Zone."

"Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq," screams the headline. The article is adapted from a forthcoming book by veteran war correspondent and WaPo editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran, titled "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone."

As excerpted in the Post, the book is about how "the decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest... to stabilize and rebuild Iraq [is] one of the Bush administration's gravest errors." At the center of this alarming tale of how the Bush administration deliberately recruited America's 'Worst and Dumbest' is Pentagon Jim O'Beirne, the spouse of conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne and a rug-chewing ideologue in his own right.
"To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience."
Examples of the staff O'Beirne -- with the active encouragement of the White House -- wanted and got are detailed in an accompanying book review. They are enough to make you weep for our soldiers (and their loved ones).

A "clueless 24-year old in charge of reopening the Baghdad stock market" ... a thoroughly incompetent anti-choice ideologue who left the Iraqi hospital system "as decrepit as the day the Americans arrived" ... "ten young go-fers" hired to handle "minor administrative tasks" suddenly appointed to manage "Iraq's $13-billion budget"... the corrupt Bernard Kerik, who, it turns out, played cowboy all night long on the streets of Baghdad but slept-in throughout the day instead of overseeing the training of a new Iraqi police force... etc. etc. etc.

On the other side is the example of "Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a Navy reserve officer and physician with two Bronze Stars whom a colleague describes as 'the single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government'. He was fired after just one week "because the White House preferred to have a Bush 'loyalist' in charge of health matters in Iraq."

For the Bush administration, it's all about ideological purity and loyalty to "The Leader" rather than competence. Too much like George Orwell's 1984:
"Parsons was Winston's fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended."
This is no way to run a republic, whether from the Green Zone or from Washington D.C.

If there is a common theme that ought to unite voters of every partisan persuasion in Northwest Florida, it's our desire for competence in government during disaster, whether natural or man-made. We sure haven't seen any from the incumbents who hold national office the last several years.

It's time for a change. Check in on Joe Roberts' blog from time to time to see if his candidacy offers a good place to start.

Amplification Dept.
Sept. 18

Inspired by Chandrasekaran's WaPo piece, Billmon recalls his "favorite" Green Zone incompetence story "when the CPA couldn't even get its own name right on its own web site, and thus informed the world that it was the Coalition Provincial Authority."

And, importantly, he reminds us that --
"it wasn't the Washington Post or the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or any of the other corporate media that originally broke the story. It was the blogosphere's own Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen (of War and Piece) and Colin Soloway, writing for the Washington Monthly, in December 2003. That was almost three years ago. And now -- only now -- it's showing up on the front page of a major national newspaper."
Why tolerate laws that wink at the increased concentration of "corporate media" into fewer and fewer hands, when the news they bring us is 3 years and 2,683 American soldiers' lives too late?

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