Saturday, October 1


Jeff Koopersmith, who wrote the book Corrobillusion about Bill Bennett and listens to his radio program every morning for three hours, has a different take on the former drug and education czar: he's just plain stupid.

"If it were your sole purpose to reduce crime," Bennett said, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."… "That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he added."

The key word here is "…" as it is the evidence of the split second it took for Bennett to realize his career was over and blurt out his too-late and very desperate attempt to recover and redeem himself by adding the "morally reprehensible" portion of his remarks.

I actually heard him stammer slightly as he added the excusing codicil, most likely knowing it would not save his sorry ass.

"we can add hubris to Bennett's growing list of moral calamities"

Hooray for the Austin American-Statesman. They knock the blocks out from under Bill Bennett.

Researchers long have pointed to socioeconomic factors as a primary cause for criminal behavior. But Bennett didn't say that aborting all poor children would reduce the crime rate, but rather aborting all black children — rich, poor or middle-income — is the way to lower the crime rate.

Bennett should apologize. Instead he blames the media for taking his comments out of context. Right.

With the heat in the kitchen rising over his statements, Bennett, who preaches much about taking personal responsibility, isn't doing that. Apparently, that advice is for others.


Well, I was pretty happy to be heading to my native state Florida tomorrow for a week's film shoot, especially since I planned to stay on over the weekend to visit with my wonderful mother and sisters. I had fantasies of filling my lungs with that marvelous Gulf Coast sea air I was raised on and recharging my spirit on the soothing sounds of the waves.

Then I read this and remembered the new law about to take effect. Basically, it means that if someone in Florida thinks you look or act threatening, they can shoot you. So I'm going to be especially careful when I take an eight-person film crew, one of whom looks as if he could be Arab, and accompanying equipment into public places, particularly the three major airports among the locations we'll be filming in. I'll be especially cautious about pointing the light meter, carrying lenses and so forth -- I sure wouldn't want any one of them mistaken for a gun.

Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State. Please avoid unnecessary arguments with locals. Starting today, they may be more inclined to shoot you — at least that's essentially the message from a national gun-control organization as a Florida law goes into effect empowering people who feel threatened to use force, including firearms, to protect themselves.

Before, if possible, they were supposed to back down or run away.

"It's unlike any supposed self-defense statute in America," said Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It empowers people who are on edge and have violent tendencies to presume a situation is dangerous to them that may not be."
The Brady Campaign argues that Florida's "Shoot First Law," as its foes have labeled it, threatens to make life in the nation's fourth-most-populous state riskier, not safer.

To alert visitors and potential visitors, the organization is placing advertisements in newspapers in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Britain, all major markets for Florida's tourism industry, and plans to begin handing out leaflets to arriving passengers at Miami International Airport on Monday.

"In Florida, avoid disputes," recommends the newspaper ad. "Use special caution in arguing with motorists on Florida roads.

"If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude, and do not shout or make threatening gestures," says the flier.


All this defending of Bill Bennett's remarks is absurd. In the past few days I've heard Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and others furiously spinning that (a) they were taken out of context; (b) that Bill Bennett is a fabulous American worth a hundred of any blood-sucking, war-opposing freak of a liberal and how dare anyone criticize the czar of virtue even if he IS a hypocritical compulsive gambler and racist; and/or (c) he didn't mean what he said, it's been misinterpreted.

Well, I was listening to his original broadcast, I've listened to his like-minded radio hosts play it again and again, and I still hear only one thing: Bill Bennett singling out African-Americans, not whites or any other minority group, to associate them with crime: "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Yes, he said that would be morally reprehensible; yes, he was speaking about specious theories and extrapolations of data that link abortion and economics. None of that matters. He's being criticized for linking blacks, and blacks only, to crime.

"These are the facts. And they are not in dispute."


Have voters finally rejected the Bush doctrine?

The poll shows that a vast majority of Americans, while believing that democracy makes life within a country better for its citizens, don't think increasing the number of democratic nations necessarily makes the world safer. And they don't support the notion that establishing a democracy in Iraq was a sufficient reason to go to war.

Republicans, by a large majority, agree.



The Red Cross "Money Pit." Raises a lot of interesting questions and at least partially answers a few that have been bothering me since the Katrina story began to unfold.


Watching the post-Katrina events unfold, I've remarked to The Sage several times that the Bush administration would use the opportunity the disaster presented to disperse African-American voters, most of whom vote Democrat, in order to elect more Republican House and Senate members from Louisiana. Others agree:

Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of "500,000 people for a long time," and "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

Rep. Danny K. Davis, Illinois Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, quickly took issue.

"Anybody who can make that kind of projection with some degree of certainty or accuracy must have a crystal ball that I can't see or maybe they are more prophetic than any of us can imagine," he said.

Other members of the caucus said the comments by Mr. Jackson, who is black, could be misconstrued as a goal, particularly considering his position of responsibility in the administration.
Mr. Jackson, a former developer and longtime government housing official, said the history of urban reconstruction projects shows that most blacks will not return and others who want to might not have the means or opportunity. His agency will play a critical role in the city's redevelopment through various grant programs, including those for damaged or destroyed properties.

In the storm's aftermath, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, charged that relocating evacuees across the country was "racist" and designed to move black people, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, out of Louisiana. The state elected its first Republican senator, David Vitter, in nearly a century in 2004.

Both the preacher and the congresswoman suggested that the residents be housed at the closed England Air Force Base at Alexandria, La., to keep them closer to home.

Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illinois Democrat, said Alphonso Jackson's remarks and the prospects of real-estate speculators and developers in New Orleans are "foreboding."

"Gentrification is a demon that is looming on the landscape, and we have to be aware of it and vigilant. ... Right now, I don't know if the resistance to it is strong enough," Mr. Rush said.

He said a history of forced removal of blacks from their homes and property cannot be ignored as the reconstruction moves forward.

Two weeks after Katrina, the Congressional Black Caucus issued an eight-point action plan that calls for residents to get the first right of return to the area, that New Orleans residents get first choice of construction jobs and rebuilding contracts and that voting rights be protected.


A young staff writer at the Weekly Standardwrites that since the 1994 Contract With America that ushered in the decade-long Republican Congressional majority, the GOP has spouted the "warts of power."

It's quite a fall, no doubt about it: from agile insurgency to bloated establishment in just over a decade.

So what went wrong?

The K Street Project was a means to an end. The means was harnessing the political energies of the private sector and its agents. The end was a lasting Republican majority that would limit government and increase individual freedom and responsibility. But, as tends to happen, the means became an end in itself.

Young conservatives in particular will react to the new, post-DeLay reality in different ways. I know I have. First, looking at your party's troubles, you see perverse confirmation of conservatism's animating idea: that as the sphere of public decision-making expands, so do the opportunities for graft and wrongdoing. Next you note, with sadness, that while political power helped bring about some achievements - welfare reform, pro-growth tax cuts, an assertive, moralistic foreign policy - it may have also exhausted conservatism's fighting spirit, lowered the movement's intellectual standards and replaced a healthy independence with partisan water-carrying.

But then you take solace in the idea that the Republican Party has once again bested the Democrats, who after all took 40 years to sprout the warts of power.

Personally, I take "solace" in the fact that it is the Democrats' own, more robust, proclivity for "healthy independence," our pro-individual and pro-human and civil rights positions, and our progressive agenda that makes us 75% more likely to avoid graft and corruption than the Republicans. Their unhealthy adulation of the fabulously wealthy and well-connected, their hunger to please that constituency and thus join the fraternity, and their fear and loathing of anyone outside their own circle of the like-minded, create a natural cesspool of their own making.


Dreier deemed not "conservative" enough for the House Majority Leader role.

But when a rump group of conservative members saw the reports, they banded together to block Drier, who one aide grumbled "is not a true conservative." Among Dreier's faults, in the eyes of this group: The Californian's pro-trade stance and his votes going against conservative "litmus-test issues." He supports stem-cell research, and he opposes a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage.
In the closed-door meeting at 1:30 that even key staffers were banned from attending, RSC members decided that they could not tolerate Dreier ascending to such a crucial slot, say inside sources. And even as DeLay was telling the media in a conference room overflowing with journalists that this had been "one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history," RSC leaders including Pence, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), and Representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) were marching unnoticed up a back hallway to give their thoughts to Hastert.

By then, however, Dreier's ascension may have already been doomed. All across Washington, reps from conservative groups were flooding the Speaker's office with e-mail and phone calls opposing the Californian.

Jeb Hensarling is Congressman for my district (notice I don't say "my" Congressman). I really think I'm going to have to do something about that before the 2006 elections.

Thursday, September 29


The unsinkable Molly Ivins.

And, inspired by Molly, here's (with apologies to Hank Williams' Jambalaya) Baghdad On The Bayou
(Dedicated to Joe Allbaugh, Jack Abramoff, Halliburton, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Michael Brown, Tom DeLay et al)

Goodbye, Joe, you've gotta go, oh-me-oh-my-oh
And old Jack, you'd best jump back, you felony-oh
No-bid jobs, that's for slobs, someday they'll fry-you
Oh what a drag, they'll make Baghdad on the bayou.

Tell me why they have to ply the mumbo-jumbo
Took a big whack at old Iraq and look like dumbos
Gov'mint run by cronies, that you can't deny-oh
Oh what a drag, they'll make Baghdad on the bayou.

The same old stars that lost dinars by the billions
They're hired in haste and they will waste our hard-earned zillions,
And with guile go hog wild, suck us dry-oh
Oh what a drag, they'll make Baghdad on the bayou.

Play guitar, name a czar, and run away-oh
Exercise, reel off some lies and some cliche-oh
Construct a frame, divert the blame to some small fry-oh
Oh what a drag, he'll make Baghdad on the bayou!

"Honesty is not too much to demand of men in government." -- Barry Goldwater

Xpatriated Texan has a thoughtful post about corruption in government.

I simply don't think that Congress can effectively investigate Congress. Much is made about how the Attorney General is caught in an automatic conflict-of-interest when the White House is being investigated (because he's appointed by the President), but we seem okay with the idea that a few Congresspersons who are hand-picked by the rest of Congress will do a good job of policing its members. Hogwash. It's like telling the convicts to elect a warden and then not expecting a jailbreak.

There's more good stuff there.

Wednesday, September 28


I just love to catch the attorneys at Powerline flaunting their ignorance.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in connection with the same campaign finance investigation that Earle has been conducting for a long time.


n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a Grand Jury based upon a proposed charge, witnesses' testimony and other evidence presented by the public prosecutor (District Attorney)."

Ronnie Earle didn't indict anybody -- the Grand Jury did. He just presented the evidence.


637 - number of days since Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to lead the Plame investigation.

288 - number of days the Watergate investigation lasted.

84 - number of days Judy Miller's been in jail.

So why is taking Fitzgerald so long?

‘Although the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is staying silent, it is well known that Fitzgerald is digging deep into an assortment of serious improprieties among many Bush administration figures, based, in part, on subpoenaed testimony provided by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
‘However, sources close to the federal grade jury probe also allegedly told Heneghen a host of administration figures under Bush were indicted, including Vice President Richard Cheney, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, imprisoned New York Times reporter Judith Miller and former Cheney advisor Mary Matalin.

I don't have any idea how accurate this info is, but it's explosive, if true.


Re Robert Bonner's resignation as Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Lou Dobbs just said on CNN that Bonner has been undercut on every front by "an administration that has been derelict, almost to the point of criminality, in ignoring border security." Lou wryly remarked that the administration would probably fill the job with a 36-year-old know-nothing.

Bonner left office today, which means three senior positions now need to be filled at the Homeland Security Department. The other two vacancies are Director of FEMA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, where the White House has picked inexperienced 37-year-old attorney and Bush crony Julie Myers to fill the post.

"Shouldn't somebody be serious about putting competent people in those jobs?" Lou later asked California Congressman Dan Lundgren.


Freshly-indicted Tom DeLay thinks Travis County DA Ronnie Earle is a "fanatic." Yeah, a fanatic for actually trying to make government less corrupt, when everyone knows that's a ridiculous idealistic fantasy.

DeLay called Earle a "unabashed partisan zealot," and "fanatic," and described the charges as "one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history."
DeLay is the first House leader to be indicted while in office in at least a century, according to congressional historians.

The indictment alleges that DeLay conspired with two of his political associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Virginia, to convert $190,000 in corporate money into individual campaign contributions through a transfer of funds using the Republican National Committee.

Colyandro and Ellis last year were indicted on a money laundering charge involving the transfer. They were reindicted earlier this month to add a criminal conspiracy charge each.

In taking its action today, the grand jury reindicted Colyandro and Ellis on criminal conspiracy charges and added the charge against Delay. Criminal conspiracy is a state jail felony.
DeLay has said he believes the investigation by Earle, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

Ronnie Earle has prosecuted 15 elected officials in his almost three decades as Travis County (Austin, TX) DA. 12 of those were Democrats. Yeah, the man's real politically motivated, Tom. Well, if you go by his record, he's partisan in the WRONG DIRECTION, you skanky moron.

I posted on Ronnie Earle, whom I know slightly and highly respect, back in November of last year. To quote Ronnie on moral values:

Every law enforcement officer depends on the moral values and integrity of society for backup; they are like body armor. The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job.

In terms of moral values, this is where the rubber meets the road. The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.

The thinly veiled personal attacks on me by Mr. DeLay's supporters in this case are no different from those in the cases of any of the 15 elected officials this office has prosecuted in my 27-year tenure. Most of these officials - 12 Democrats and three Republicans - have accused me of having political motives. What else are they going to say?

For most of my tenure the Democrats held the power in state government. Now Republicans do. Most crimes by elected officials involve the abuse of power; you have to have power before you can abuse it.

There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.

The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt.

Tuesday, September 27


The mood in the U.S. "is a little edgy."

The International Monetary Fund made it clear last week that it saw the world's largest economy as an accident waiting to happen. The US could not continue to live beyond its means indefinitely, and there were only two ways to deal with the unsustainable imbalances in the global economy: the nice way or the nasty way.

Well, BushCo can't be counted on to actually do anything actually constructive, or anything that they don't want to do, so get prepared for the "nasty" scenario.


Documents show that Michael Brown didn't act on a long-standing FEMA Hurricane Response Plan. Brown tried to lay the lion's share of the blame at state and local officials, but it doesn't wash.

Michael Brown, the outgoing head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said while testifying to a House panel today that local officials were more to blame than he was for a failed relief effort in the days following Hurricane Katrina. He suggested much of the chaos in New Orleans could not have been anticipated.

But a draft of a comprehensive hurricane plan prepared for the United States government foresaw almost everything that happened in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina. While the plan never became official policy, it surely put everyone on notice at FEMA about what could happen if a big storm hit New Orleans.

"My biggest regret is not getting the governor [of Louisiana] and the mayor of New Orleans to sit down and iron out their differences," Brown told the panel.

But FEMA has had a catastrophic hurricane plan since January, which warns that local government would not be able to cope with a huge storm.

"The response capabilities and resources of the local jurisdiction may be insufficient and quickly overwhelmed," the document reads.

Brown said it was unclear what Louisiana officials needed.

"I could not find out who was making decisions about what needed to be done," Brown testified.

But FEMA's own plan advises the federal government that if lives are at stake, it should not wait to be asked for help.

"This may require mobilizing and deploying assets before they are requested," the plan says.


Electronic signs on Dallas highway coming in to work today: "Houston travel discouraged. Gasoline shortage."

But there's no shortage for Chimp's photo-ops.

The president's seventh trip to the region since Hurricane Katrina comes a day after he urged Americans to postpone unnecessary travel to conserve fuel. He will use a jumbo jet, a fleet of helicopters and a motorcade of vans and SUVs.

Sunday, September 25



Billmon makes an important argument, one to which I subscribe. Essentially, he says that the reason we have to get out of Iraq is because it's destructive to our national character.

I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.
We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from fallling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent.
There was a time when I would have argued that the American people couldn't stomach that kind of butchery -- not for long anyway -- even if their political leaders were willing to inflict it. But now I'm not so sure. As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.

I don't know this for a fact, but after...reading the genocidal lunacy routinely on display at Little Green Footballs or - or your average redneck watering hole for that matter -- I'm not willing to rule it out.

Which means I should have gone to Washington today after all. Because we really do need to get the troops out of Iraq -- before hell is the consequence.

UPDATE: Juan Cole agrees.

The first reason to get the ground troops out now is that they are being fatally brutalized by their own treatment of Iraqi prisoners...The brutalization of the US military and of its prisoners is a brutalization of the entire American public. It is an undermining of the foundational values of the Republic. We cannot remain Americans and continue to behave this way routinely.
The second reason is that the ground troops are not accomplishing the mission given them, and are making things worse rather than better...
I conclude that the presence of the US ground troops is making things worse, not better.

Let's get them out, now, before they destroy any more cities, create any more hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, provoke any more ethnic hatreds by installing Shiite police in Fallujah or Kurdish troops in Turkmen Tal Afar. They are sowing a vast whirlwind, a desert sandstorm of Martian proportions, which future generations of Americans and Iraqis will reap.

The ground troops must come out. Now. For the good of Iraq. For the good of America.

FURTHER THOUGHT: Unlike during the Vietnam War years, this war has been visually sanitized for the American people. We're not allowed to see the coffins returning, there are no compelling scenes on TV of our troops shooting civilians, razing cities, and torturing prisoners. No movies have been made about the psychological effects of the killing on our troops. And this time there are whole TV and radio channels devoted to the elevation of the whole enterprise as a "noble mission." America is fighting a horrible war that exists only faintly in most of our citizens' consciouses. We've become a visual society over the past decades, and there are no visuals of this war for us to process, ergo the war just doesn't exist. Hence the lack of a public outcry.

It's up to us to make this war visible in the minds of our fellow citizens. We can't count on the media or the government to do so.


Molly Ivins starts her latest laughter-through-tears rant with the tale of a veterinarian (yes! by gosh) being named by Bush as head of the Office of Women's Health and goes on to tick off other agency-destroying appointments under this administration:

There's a doctoral dissertation to be written about Bush appointees named during the administration's frequent fits of Petulant Pique. These PP appointments are made in the immortal childhood spirit of "Nanny-nanny boo-boo, I'll show you." Wood resigns in protest over the politicization of women's health care? Ha! We'll show her -- we'll put a vet in charge instead.

The PP appointments are less for reasons of ideology or even rewarding the politically faithful than just in the old nyeh-nyeh spirit. You could, for example, put any number of people at the Department of Labor who are wholly unsympathetic to the labor movement -- Bush has installed shoals of them already. But there is a certain arch, flippant malice to making Edwin Foulke assistant secretary in charge of the health and safety of workers.

Republican appointees who oppose the agencies to which they are assigned are a dime a dozen, but Foulke is a partner from the most notorious union-busting law firm in the country. What he does for a living is destroy the only organizations that care about workers' health and safety.

Here's another PP pick: Put a timber industry lobbyist in as head of the Forest Service. How about a mining industry lobbyist who believes that public lands are unconstitutional in charge of the public lands? Nice shot.

A utility lobbyist who represented the worst air polluters in the country as head of the clean air division at the Environmental Protection Agency? A laff riot. As head of the Superfund, a woman whose last job was teaching corporate polluters how to evade Superfund regulations? Cute, cute, cute.

A Monsanto lobbyist as No. 2 at the EPA. A lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute at the Council on Environmental Quality. And so on. And so forth.

The Federal Trade Commission was finally embarrassed enough by demands from Democratic governors to start an investigation into recent price-gouging by oil companies. But the investigation will be headed by a former lawyer for ChevronTexaco. Is this fun or what? Nanny-nanny boo-boo.


Watching The Gangs of New York last night, at the end when Leo DiCaprio looks at the city as it burns from the Draft Riots and speaks a kind of epitaph: "And no matter what they did to build this city up again, for the rest of time, it will be like no-one even knew we was ever here."

I couldn't help turning to The Sage and asking, "Do you think the poor of New Orleans, who have lived there for generations and are now spread about in unfamiliar locations all over the country, are thinking the same thing?"

Some regard the reconstruction of New Orleans as a social and political experiment. Who will represent the evacuees in the decision-making? Who will be their voice? Isn't it THEIR city? Again, will only the wealthiest citizens, the top 1% or so, be consulted?


This does not look good for Governor Goodhair:

Federal investigators on Saturday were poring over the skeletal frame of the charred bus in which 24 residents of a living center for the elderly had died while trying to escape from Hurricane Rita. As they looked into the fire, fresh details were emerging about the vehicle and the company that operated it.
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.
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.

"I told them this was going to happen," Mr. Partain said. "I've personally driven those buses. I know what condition they're in."

Where's the logic in lowering safety standards for transport vehicles when what you're trying to achieve is the safety of their passengers?