Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sure I Can Evacuate You... For A Price...

I held off on this story initially, but it's time to tell it, now that the details have become known. There was word that people being evacuated from Lebanon were being charged for their evacuation. According to a report I had read a few days ago, it seemed as though the U.S. Government was going to get Americans out of harm's way, transporting them from Lebanon to Cyprus, and then individuals would be responsible for the cost to their final destination, wherever that may be - and that soudned fair, so I left it alone.

Then, I found out that evacuees were, in fact, being charged several hundred dollars to be evacuated from Lebanon to Cyprus. Americans were asked to sign promissory notes, reequiring them to repay the United States Government within ninety days.

Before I comment on this, it should be noted that the State Department waived the fee late Tuesday night.

Why does the Bush Administration and the right wing continually feel the need to shoot itself in the foot over seemingly inconsequential details? The cost of evacuating Americans from Lebanon is probably no more than the profit margin on a case of Halliburton-produced frozen dinners. The government is spending over $300 billion dollars on a war in Iraq that has produced less than stellar results, and then balks when American lives are on the line?

The Bush Administration stated that it was simply following the law passed by the Congress. Never mind that the law was actually requested back in 2002 by the Bush Administration-led State Department. As we all know, the President has ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM ignoring the laws that Congress passes - why would this one have been different?

A Washington Times editorial suggests that we, the American taxpayers, will now have to foot the bill for the rescue of these Americans.

The last time I checked, I believe that the individuals being rescued were Americans, AND TAXPAYERS, as well. And take a look at some military contracts if you REALLY want to get irate at how the U.S. taxpayer's money is being used. I'll choose to rescue American lives with the money, thank you.

And don't let the right-wing pundits turn this into a story about having to rescue people from a place the State Department warned them against. Ask them to look at places like the American University of Beirut, which currently has about 6,900 students. Clearly, not everyone there is on vacation. Ask them why the State Department had dropped the travel ban to the country.

My main issue here is not a partisan one - it's simply showing another example of how the Bush Administration FAILS TO LEAD. This could have been a story about heroes, rescuing Americans and delivering them out of harm's way.

Instead, it became a story about $300 promissory notes and yet another inefficient operation.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 12:00 PM /


  • Blogger Carol Gee posted at 4:27 PM  
    Excellent post. This is THE most amazing group, isn't it. I found you via BlogExplosion, BTW.

  • Blogger Kuntry Konfession posted at 4:32 PM  
    welcome to coorperate america.... you didn't know that you're being charged for the air you breathe too?!?!?!?

  • Blogger Opinionnation posted at 6:07 PM  
    They have to's the law and is not unprecedented as clearly pointed out in the LA Times article. And I think your issue is obviously a partisan one.

    It was waived and it, in no way, prevented any rescue mission and for the Democrats to bring up Katrina is purely political hackery. Especially after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was caught red-handed by the AP trying to exploit the deaths of their fellow Americans during Katrina to raise money for political campaigns.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 6:40 PM  
    The only hackery I see are the comments that you're making in trying to defend this.

    First, they obviously DIDN'T have to charge them, as the fee was waived, wasn't it?

    Second, the intent of the Congressional law as it was passed in 2002 was NOT to have people being charged for evacuation from a dangerous or war-struck area.

    It is ABSOLUTELY relevant to bring up Katrina in the midst of this. Once again, the Bush Administration was caught with its pants down. We have the most sophisticated military in the world - that being said, why is it that all of the other countries are getting their citizens out of Lebanon at a MUCH fater rate than we are... maybe because they're not asking their citizens to sign promissory notes.

    As I stated, my issue is not partisan. What the Bush Administration has done here was a stupid gaffe... it wasn't a scheming political move. As such, my observations are of their ineptitude.

    And if the only way Apologists can defend their Administration is to bring up a web page from Fox News that NO ONE else reported on, in which an appeal to fire the FEMA Director on the DSCC page was followed by a donation request (they were TWO separate items), then I feel really bad for you. I love your "objective" characaterization of it, btw...

    You really DON'T want to play, "let's dig into the past," do you? Because you'll just be embarrassed.

    Wanna go toe to toe on it? Let's take a trip back to 2005, since you seem to like that year. Do you want to mention the conservative groups that were fundraising off of the death of Terry Sciavo, or should I mention it?

    On Trip to Visit Schiavo Family, Santorum Canceled Social Security Town Hall Because It Would Be "Inappropriate" But Had No Problem Raising $$$ for His Campaign.

    During his highly-publicized trip to Florida to visit Terry Schiavo's family at her hospice, Santorum cancelled a scheduled town hall meeting on Social Security "out of respect for the Schiavo and Schindler family" because it was not "appropriate to go into the region and do a big policy event at this time." But, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, Santorum "pulled in about $85,000" for his re-election campaign while he was on the trip. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Santorum's campaign put the figure at $250,000. "There was a luncheon in Orlando and a dinner in Miami on March 29 with Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a luncheon in Tampa March 30 hosted by Outback Steakhouse, which is headquartered there, and a dinner that night in Palm Beach hosted by execs from Revlon." [Tampa Tribune, 3/29/05; Philadelphia Daily News, 4/11/05; Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/22/05]

    Or maybe you'd prefer those generic campaigns that took place:

    Before removing the list from its web site, the Waynesboro, Virginia-based Response Unlimited (website) headed by Philip Zodhiates, was asking $150/month for 6,000 names and $500/month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Terri Schiavo's father, the Times reported. Advertising the list's availability and fundraising potential on its website the firm said: "These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri." The selling point was that the people on the list "are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

    The clients listed at Response Unlimited's website mostly consist of a large number of radical right wing personalities and organizations including, Alan Keyes 2000, Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Action Network, Christian Coalition of America, Christianity Today, Clinton Investigative Commission, Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer for President, George W. Bush for President, Heritage Foundation, Jerry Falwell Ministries, Jesse Helms for Senate, Judicial Watch, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, Parents Television Council, Pat Buchanan 2000, Pat Robertson for President, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Republican National Committee, Rudolph W. Giuliani for Senate, Rush Limbaugh, Traditional Values Coalition, Washington Times, and World Magazine.

    Hackery? Come back when you've got a point to make.

  • Blogger Lizbeth posted at 11:00 PM  
    This is not related to the current posting. I was wondering if there was any talk that you found of reinstating the draft? Anybody hear anything?

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 11:29 AM  
    Yay Lizzie - glad you're still around! I haven't heard anything concrete about an attempt to reinstate the draft, outside of the proposal that Rangel had set forth quite a while ago now... he did really as an issue of getting a vote on it, however, and not because he actually supported it, per se.

    Anytime our military is engaged in a significant way, you're going to hear talk about the draft being reinstated, and if you go to Google News and search under "reinstate draft" you'll see a variety of articles both in favor and opposing it, but I haven't heard anything specific being introduced - as of yet.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 9:08 AM  
    A couple things...

    I have held off on this one, mostly because I felt it was more a "you just don't understand" type of issue...

    Have you ever developed a NEO (Non-combatant Evacuation Order) plan? Ever executed one? My suspicion (based on background and experience) is that the paperwork that gets completed is "baked in" to the plan. Like so many other things attributed to presidential administrations, this was a bureaucratic response based on an "on the shelf" plan, and not a decision made at the White House for this specific incident.

    If you are interested in reading the more "human" side, I would recommend the story about one of the C-17 missions involved in the NEO.

    Two bottom lines on this one:

    1. Understand that there are different paradigms that help understand what drive actions in the government, and the Political Actor model is but one of them (recommend reading Graham T. Allison and Philip Zelkow's book "Essence of Decision" to see how the Cuban Missile Crisis is explained through bureaucratic and organizational lenses.)

    2. When we see bureaucratic responses that seem to violate our sensibilities, let's fix em, not finger point. One is easily reduced to "Bashist" status if one sees every bad thing as a "Bush" thing (just as one is perhaps an apologist when one simply plugs one's ears...)

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 11:24 AM  
    Once again, you make my point for me!

    YES - let's fix 'em!! Right! Of course!

    Oh wait - we have a President and an Administration that largely refuses to acknowledge the ludicrous notion of its human fallibility - it's essentially impossible for the Bush Administration to make a mistake.

    The finger gets pointed for THIS reason at this Administration. When something doesn't work, it is necessary to look at the mistakes honestly, and determine what the right corrective action might be.

    I'll ask you this... give me a few examples of times when this Administration has made mistakes (I can assist you with this portion, if you like). Then cite for me when they admitted those mistakes, and tell me exactly how they changed their actions as a result of those admissions of a mistake being made.

    The story of the evacuation that you point to, produced by the Air Force public relations office (says so right in the byline) is nice. And I don't think I ever mentioned the people carrying out the orders as being at fault here.

    It was you, in fact, who "just didn't understand." My point was the fact that the evacuees were being CHARGED for their evacuation. While right-wing pundits were carelessly tossing out rhetoric about the fact that you and I were paying for their evacuation, they would fail to mention that the Americans being evacuated were, in fact, taxpayers, as well. Their aim, of course was not to report facts, but to misinform and perform political sleight of hand.

    My point was sarcastic in stating that it was the actual signing of the promissory notes that was holding up the evacuation - perhaps I didn't make my sarcasm sarcastic enough for it to "play in Peoria."

    I asked why the Bush Administration continues to shoot itself in the foot over and over again - it could have easily waived this "evacuation fee" before it became an issue, and simply put the lives of the American citizens as its absolute first priority.

    It was the Administration who chose not to do that. They only did that once they were called on it - and then, only for political reasons.

    That choice wasn't made "off the shelf." And if it was, it was Bush's shelf, as the vote which was asked for by the State Department, took place in 2002.

    Please don't get snotty with me in your queries as to whether or not I've developed or executed an NEO. I'm fairly sure you haven't either, but that really isn't the point. If you re-read my post, you'll see that you read a completely different attack - perhaps one being made by those who felt the evacuation wasn't handled well on the ground - and maybe you jumped to defend it a bit prematurely. As you'll notice in my post, that wasn't the content of my writing at all.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 2:17 PM  
    *smile* as a War Planner, I have written my fair share, and executed a few.

    I was simply putting forth the point that the "promissory notes" provided were most likely one of the many forms identified to be filled out as part of the process of leaving the country. Forms--it's all about forms.

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