Sunday, December 31, 2006

Deadliest Month

(AP) Dec 31, 4:15 AM EST
...The military reported the deaths of six more American troops, making December the deadliest month this year for U.S. forces in Iraq. At least 2,998 members of the U.S. military have been killed since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. ...
But as James Wolcott wrote yesterday: "... It's as if we're trying to soothe ourselves into believing that we're still the country we used to be, that's there's a higher seamlessness to American life undisturbed by the staccato rhythms of bad news. What happens in Iraq stays in Iraq. A flag-draped coffin is acceptable viewing only if a dead president is inside."

C-span is covering every moment of Fords funeral extravaganza, but news photographers aren't allowed anywhere near the coffins of Troops kill in Iraq or Afghanistan. Aren't those Troops, who made the ultimate sacrifice, just as entitled to be publicly honored?

Ford lived to the ripe old age of 93, thanks to the best healthcare taxpayers money could buy. What kind of care will the Troops, who come home alive, get?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lonesome George - No Plan, No Friends

Even the military is increasingly down on the 'Decider'-in-chief. A poll reveals that the Troops are losing faith in Bush as they realize that the invasion of Iraq was based on lies and that the occupation has been botched by civilian leaders (meaning Bush and his neo-con buddies).
Poll of military finds dimmer view of Iraq war

By Robert Hodierne
Military Times

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military, once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war, has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory, a new poll says.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll respondents said success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number is down to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42 percent said they disapprove. ...

... Whatever war plan Bush announces next month, its ultimate goal likely will be to replace U.S. troops with Iraqis. The military is not optimistic that will happen soon. ...

... Almost half of those responding think the United States needs more troops in Iraq. A surprising 13 percent said the United States should have no troops there.

As for Afghanistan force levels, 39 percent think more U.S. troops are needed there. But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters of respondents think the military is stretched too thin to be effective. ... (full article)

freedom is on the march.......

two stories from inside Iraq, specifically Baghdad, sound exactly the same.....our ongoing occupation is creating a living hell with no end in sight. america is asked to shop more and after we all have a nice holiday the people responsible for this ongoing nightmare are going to roll out their shiney new plan.....just in time for the best weather for warring in the middle hope for the new year and the future is for people all over the planet to put a stop to all the senseless killing, stealing of resources, and wealth amassing by a handful of men in the shadows. wake up america!!!!!!!! ....freedom is coming here too......

Riverbend from Iraq....

Friday, December 29, 2006
End of Another Year...

You know your country is in trouble when:

  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
  6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour
  8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

full post

posted on Thu, Dec. 28, 2006

Reporter returns to Baghdad to find it far different - and worse off
By Hannah Allam
McClatchy Newspapers

Hannah Allam in Baghdad in June 2004.

........Survival is their chief concern, and it's reflected even in greetings. Local custom calls for a string of flowery salutations, but these days the response to "Shlonak?" - How are you? - is shortened to one word: "Alive."

Electricity is on for just a couple of hours a day in most districts. Gas lines stretch for block after block. Food prices are higher than ever, especially for fresh produce, which requires rural farmers to make the treacherous drive to Baghdad markets. The water is contaminated. Gunmen in police uniforms stage brazen mass abductions, evaporating faith in the Iraqi security forces.

full article

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's Friday

- and the sunrise was gorgeous.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dec. 28, 1869: America's First Labor Day

Today in History - 1869 : America's first Labor Day

And now: a few words from one of my favorite Texans.
Throw the Bums Out and Change Direction

By Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown. Posted December 28, 2006.

The voters had their way: Now there are reasons to be cheerful -- and vigilant -- about a Democratic Congress.

At an October fundraiser in Topeka, the Republican faithful lined up to shake hands with the headliner, Dick Cheney. But before getting to the Veep, they had to get past the wife of the local Congress critter. She was standing adjacent to Cheney, holding a big bottle of Purell, a hand sanitizer that claims to kill "99.99% of most common germs." Each person waiting to get their grip-and-grin with the honoree first had to accept a squirt of the goop from this lady to purify their hands! After the meet-and-greet was over, Cheney ducked backstage and rubbed a generous dollop of the antiseptic onto his own hands, cleansing him of the human contact he had just endured.

On November 7, however, it was voters doing the cleansing, washing their hands of the Bush-Cheney regime. Yes, I know that Bush & Gang are still there, and they'll be trying to do all the damage they can in their remaining two years. But by losing the House and Senate majority, they have hit a serious speed bump. ...

Progressive surge

The establishment media pundits, clueless as ever, have tried their damndest to contort the Democratic sweep into a victory for conservatives! They claim that the Dems who won in red areas were victorious only because they adopted Republican-like positions on guns, abortion, or religion.

Your average rutabaga has a sharper analytical ability than that. If these pundits would venture out and talk with anyone besides themselves, they'd find that people aren't one-dimensional stick figures. Being a hunter and a defender of gun rights in a so-called red state, for example, doesn't turn you into Dick Cheney. ...

...Now is the time for progressives to be more vigilant than ever -- focus on what the Democrats are doing and not doing, make loud and clear demands that they do more, and keep organizing at the grassroots level. Just a few months ago, George W. declared, "I'm the decider." No, he's not. Neither are the Democrats. You are.

Monday, December 25, 2006

US Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9-11 Count

ABC News

BAGHDAD, Iraq Dec 26, 2006 (AP)— Two more American soldiers were killed in Iraq, officials said Tuesday, pushing the U.S. military death toll to at least 2,974 one more than the number killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The tragic milestone came with the deaths of the two soldiers Monday in a bomb explosion southwest of Baghdad, the military said.

The deaths announced Tuesday raised the number of troops killed to 2,974 since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes at least seven military civilians.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks claimed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Opponents of President Bush have criticized him for raising the attacks as a justification for the protracted fight in Iraq. ...(More)

Now take a little look back at how things got this screwed up.

The Unbuilding of Iraq
PERFECT STORM: Wrongheaded assumptions. Ideological blinders. Weak intelligence, missteps, poor coordination and bad luck. How Team BushÂ’s reconstruction efforts went off the rails from day one
By John Barry and Evan Thomas
Updated: 3:32 a.m. PT Sept 28, 2003

Oct. 6, 2003 issue - The Iraq war had yet to begin, but some nasty fighting was already going on back in Washington between the Department of Defense and the Department of State.

LAST FEBRUARY, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner was trying to put together a team of experts to rebuild Iraq after the war was over, and his list included 20 State Department officials. The day before he was supposed to leave for the region, Garner got a call from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who ordered him to cut 16 of the 20 State officials from his roster. It seems that the State Department people were deemed to be Arabist apologists, or squishy about the United Nations, or in some way politically incorrect to the right-wing ideologues at the White House or the neocons in the office of the Secretary of Defense. The vetting process “got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion,” recalled one of Garner’s team. ...

... How did we get in this mess? NEWSWEEK interviews with top government officials involved in the planning and execution of the reconstruction of Iraq point to a “perfect storm” of mistakes and bad luck: wrongheaded assumptions, ideological blinders, weak intelligence and poor coordination by White House national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Much of the damage was done at the outset—in the first days after the war, when political infighting and wishful thinking prevented the United States from taking control of a bad situation that was turning worse.
... (full article)
Q: Can any sane person think that Bush & Co. can be trusted to fix things in Iraq?
A: NO!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

healthcare profiteering

with almost 50,000,000 Americans without health insurance the pigs are gorging themselves.....shameful....right up there with war profiteering....guess which party mcguire funds?

Published: December 20, 2006
The UnitedHealth Group widened its estimate of earnings restatements for the backdating of stock options yesterday and projected higher 2007 profit on gains in market share.Income for 1994 through 2005 may be reduced by as much as $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion to correct improper accounting for options awarded to executives and employees, the company, based in Minnetonka, Minn., told analysts. Net income next year will rise more than 13 percent, to $4.7 billion to $4.75 billion, UnitedHealth said.UnitedHealth’s former chief executive, William W. McGuire, was removed last month, to be succeeded by Stephen J.Hemsley, after an independent review found that Mr.McGuire might have manipulated the dating of options worth hundreds of millions of dollars. how much is enough?
full article

With McGuire gone, UnitedHealth regroups by Martin
, Minnesota Public Radio
December 8, 2006
Amid investigations by federal prosecutors and securities regulators, William McGuire officially stepped down last week as UnitedHealth Group's CEO. His departure is part of a
company effort to address a scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars in stock options granted to McGuire and other executives.

.........Earlier this year, UnitedHealth said it would cost about $286 million to correct its accounting for back-dated options. Now, the company says the cost will be significantly higher. How high, it's not saying yet. Whatever the eventual cost, analysts expect UnitedHealth could likely absorb it without too much trouble. The company is one of the largest, strongest and
most profitable health insurers in the nation. Through the first nine months of this year, UnitedHealth had about $54 billion in revenue. And it posted a profit of $3 billion.
full article

Estimated Annual Retirement Benefit: $5,092,000*
*Calculated by The Corporate Library for the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch

UnitedHealth Group CEO William W. McGuire will receive an annual supplemental retirement benefit for his lifetime. If he retires at age 65, his pension benefit will equal 65 percent of his average cash compensation over his past 36 months of employment. This special pension benefit is part of McGuire’s employment agreement.[1]

Ironically, this special pension guarantee probably will not be necessary for McGuire to have a secure retirement. On paper, McGuire is a stock option billionaire with $1,776,547,635 in unexercised stock options as of Dec. 31, 2005.[2] how many people could have healthcare if not for this obscene compensation?

Until 2005, UnitedHealth Group permitted McGuire to choose the day of his own option grants by giving “oral notification.” In 1997, 1999 and 2000 he received stock option grants on the day of the single lowest closing price of each year, and a grant in 2001 that came near the bottom of a sharp stock dip. According to The Wall Street Journal, “the odds of such a favorable pattern occurring by chance would be one in 200 million or greater.”[3] sweet!
On McGuire’s retirement, all his stock options will immediately vest. His employment agreement also provides for additional retirement perks. For the first 36 months of McGuire’s retirement, UnitedHealth Group will continue to pay his insurance premiums, provide him an office and a secretary and allow him personal use of the company jets.[4]

Should UnitedHealth Group need McGuire’s services after he retires, his employment contract provides for a consulting agreement for up to 36 months. During this period, he will be paid his full cash compensation that he earned as UnitedHealth Group’s CEO.[5] However, the provisions of his consulting agreement will ensure this consulting work does not impose on McGuire’s retirement.

Under McGuire’s contract, the UnitedHealth Group’s
requests for consulting services “shall not unreasonably interfere with the personal, charitable or other business activities” of McGuire or interfere with him “pursuing other full time employment.” Moreover, UnitedHealth Group will continue to pay for McGuire’s consulting services to his beneficiaries in the event of his death during the consulting period.[6]

Lastly, McGuire’s contract requires that UnitedHealth Group provide him and his spouse with health care for the remainder
of their lives at no cost to McGuire. Should UnitedHealth Group terminate its retiree health care plan, the company must reimburse McGuire for the full cost of alternative insurance coverage.[7] Unlike McGuire's coverage, the retiree health care of UnitedHealth Group’s 55,000 employees is not protected by
full article

Category: Healthcare Hospitals

Total Compensation
Alan B. MillerUniversal Health Services, Inc.
Jack O. BovenderHCA Inc.
Kenneth C. DonaheyLifePoint Hospitals, Inc.
James D. SheltonTriad Hospitals, Inc.
Wayne T. SmithCommunity Health Systems, Inc.
Trevor FetterTenet Healthcare Corporation
Joseph V. VumbaccoHealth Management Associates, Inc.
Ken P. McDonaldAmSurg Corp.
John H. ShortRehabCare Group, Inc.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

War (on Xmas) is a Racket

The Carpetbagger Report has the numbers; the "War on Christmas" isn't a secular humanist plot, it's a religious-right fundraising scheme. The 'culture warriors' are turning a buck by scaring the religious-rubes.
Basic math says the Liberty Counsel has pulled in an estimated $300,000+, the Alliance Defense Fund an estimated $500,000+, and the American Family Association an estimated $600,000+ from selling their “War on Christmas” wares.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gov Bill Richardson

i just had to respond to this piece i was sent in an email.....really bugs me the way things get framed sometimes......i responded to an editorial at the at San Antonio Express-News. i got a call from them today and they wanted to print it.....i will link to it when it happens but this is what i said.....

Response to: Presidential material? Web Posted: 12/16/2006 12:00 PM CST.
Rebeca Chapa Express-News Editorial Writer

The author does a nice piece on Gov Bill Richardson and concludes with a quote from Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst and editor of the online nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. “He's got kind of a college guy, frat guy persona," Rothenberg said. "Sometimes he comes off as too informal. He's a fun guy, but the office isn't a
fun office."

It is amazing to hear that characterization of a man with so many accomplishments during his life. Especially when you compare it to what we have been suffering for the past 6 years. The current so called "president” gets away with mocking WMD MIA while people are dying for a lie. see video at He sneaks up behind foreign female heads of state and cops shoulder rubs. see video at Richardson would have a hard time beating that in the touchy-feely category. Bush constantly appears looking stupid, ignorant, and arrogant. The nicest thing you can say about having him represent you is, it’s extremely embarrassing.

Now let’s see…a guy who can talk to everyone. I know because he met with Washington state bloggers when he was in the state. Then there are 4 nominations for Nobel peace prize. Congressman for 7 terms…Secretary of Energy…United Nations Ambassador…. current Governor ….etc, etc, etc……….I say we go for someone who has the job qualifications and, hey, if a bit fun comes with him, that’s a

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"McCain "Dead Wrong" About Troops"

New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson has the credentials (former congressman, U.N. ambassador and energy secretary in the Clinton administration) and the courage to confront chickenhawk's like John McCain.

From: Hotline On Call

In New Hampshire this a.m., Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) will confront Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Iraq.

The White House is leaning towards adopting McCain's proposal to add tens of thousands of combat troops to U.S. forces in Baghdad in a final effort to secure the city.

Here's what Richardson says:

“The leading advocate for escalating the war is Senator John McCain. I have served with John in Congress and I respect him. But John McCain is wrong, dead wrong to think that we can solve Iraq’s political crisis through military escalation.”

“There are no quick or easy answers to the crisis in Iraq. Our choices are between bad options and worse ones. Some prefer military escalation. Some choose staying the course. These options are illusions. The only realistic choice we have is to stand down militarily and let the Iraqis stand up and face the political crisis which only they can resolve.”


I find it morally reprehensible that McCain would advocate wasting the lives of more American troops just so he can look tough. It's way past time for realistic assessments to carry more weight than the macho posturing of presidential wanna be's!

And speaking of realistic vs. macho; Richardson also appears to be helping the Bush Administration get real about negotiating with the North Koreans:

— North Korean officials told him "everything's on the table" as the country heads back into six-nation talks about its nuclear future, Gov. Bill Richardson says.

Richardson on Friday said he pressed the two North Korea officials during a two-hour session at the governor's mansion to take specific steps, such as inviting United Nations weapons inspectors back to the country and shutting down its nuclear reactor.

The six-nation talks begin again Monday in Beijing after 13 months, and the governor - a former congressman, U.N. ambassador and energy secretary in the Clinton administration - said he is "cautiously optimistic" that progress would be made. ...(full article)

UPDATE: I just noticed this headine - "Iraqi government reaches out to Saddam regime members"

It seems that the Iraqi government is standing up and facing the political crisis which only they can resolve.

..."Supporters of the plan said it will not only dispel simmering Sunni unrest by giving the once-powerful sect a positive role in Iraqi society, but also raise the skill level of the army, which has been criticized for its dependence on U.S. forces."...

..." Many Sunni politicians greeted the announcement with enthusiasm.

"We should help those who initiated this process. It is a step toward success," said Naseer Ani, a member of parliament from the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party."...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Free Trade - Chinese Style

The repressive totalitarian government of China allows tons of pseudoephedrine to be smuggled out. Can someone explain to me why China has permanent most-favored-nation trade status.
Mexico halts meth chemical at port
19.5 metric tons -
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mexican officials inspecting a cargo container shipped from China have uncovered a 19.5-ton cache of pseudoephedrine, enough to make a dose of methamphetamine for every adult American.

Hundreds of barrels containing the essential meth ingredient were seized Dec. 5 at the Lazaro Cardenas seaport in Michoacan after a citizen tip, according to Mexico's attorney general. It was the largest seizure of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine in Mexican history and one of the biggest on record worldwide. ...

... U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said the massive leakage of pseudoephedrine from Chinese commerce underscores that "we need to go to the source" and ensure the chemical is as tightly controlled in China as it is in North America.

"It cries out for law enforcement attention being paid to the entire supply chain," said Larsen, co-chairman of the congressional Methamphetamine Caucus.

Such an enormous seizure suggests that Mexican traffickers, struggling under tight restrictions on legal imports of pseudoephedrine in Mexico, have found illicit sources in the handful of countries that manufacture the chemical. ...

... China "may have very stringent laws, but the question is whether those stringent laws are enforced properly and monitored properly," Wong Hoy Yuen, head of the United Nations project on precursor chemicals in East Asia, said in an interview with The Oregonian earlier this year. ...

... Larsen said the seizure reflects Mexico's effectiveness in reducing legal imports of pseudoephedrine and blocking illicit smuggling of the material into the country. But he said it also has a negative connotation.

"This can be seen as a bit of a feather in the cap of the Mexican authorities, and we should be thankful for that," Larsen said. "But it is also a recognition that there is a huge international trafficking problem for chemical precursors for methamphetamine and that we have a lot of work left to do." (full article)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

did i mention?....Kucinich is running for president....

as i mentioned in the earlier post about the study grope Rep. Dennis Kucinich has the exact right questions and if you're asking the right questions you have a chance to find the he has stepped up small thing......thank you, Dennis Kucinich, for your self-less gift to the U.S. and the world.....the earth is a beautiful place and at my age i spend alot of time thinking of those to come after me.....
"we have one earth and it belongs to all of us".....learn more at The Community Solution

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Iraq study grope

...... the most important word in the title is Iraq....nowwhere should U.S. interests be mentioned. after all the Iraqis are the people we cared so much about that we went to liberate and democratize them .....well, that was the reason after the WMD excuse for attack, invasion, and occupation of a country who did not threaten us, our allies or it's neighbors. and what kind of a greeting is "shock and awe"??? now almost 4 years later we have been thru "mission accomplished" ....."free and fair" elections while under the occupation of a foreign military, the arrest and trial of their evil dictator, again while being occupied?????!!!! and of course never mind that he was our guy before he was our enemy. soooo bush crime family....prop them up, then take them down(course, it's all done with the American people's credit cards) .....the only thing that's missing in Iraq is the robust drug trade(the bushies love that one) ...oh that's right Afghanistan is handling that. and then there are the 650,000+ dead innocents that we loved so much...and the destruction of their infrastructure....and the torture and rendition....oh and the tons of depleted(not) uranium spread all over their country....the gift that keeps on giving!! and then there are the almost 3000 of our troops dead and 20,000+ injured and thousands more changed forever with psychological scars and of course depleted uranium contamination they are bringing home to their families. and then there are all the unsolved needs caused by the diversion of our treasure to the immoral, illegal adventure perpetrated in our name. (ie..climate change, resource depletion, hunger and starvation increasing as our petroleum "green revolution" agriculture is in decline, with no end in site as we face worldwide peak oil, and peak water, increased population and increased energy demand)

so we do not need to worry about "victory" "US interests" or even saving face. this is not about us. we were never asked to sacrifice. in fact we are only asked to shop and put magnet on our cars. we have not been asked to host a war or fight in a war....we are not even asked to pay for the war(going on the credit cards of Americans not even born yet) and the same people who are war profiteering are also awarded huge tax cuts.(same tab) and $9,000,000,000 of it went "missing". some say that is enough to see from space.
we owe a huge apology to the people of Iraq, followed by reparations for a long time!!! and that is right after we end this occupation completely and NOW!!!!! ( boats and planes)

and what do the "bipartison" study grope group want.....PRIVATIZATION!!! surprise surprise...........

About that Iraq Study Group Report
Not in Our Name National
StatementDecember 12, 2006
The underlying assumption put forward by the Iraq Study Group is that U.S. forces are truly in Iraq to spread democracy and make life better for the Iraqi people. Upheld with equal import is the work of “protecting American interests.” In this statement, we will explore the nature of these assumptions and explain why Not in Our Name continues to demand that the United States pull out of Iraq now and completely.
.......The issue of Iraq’s oil is given it’s due in the report. The group essentially suggests a rapid privatization of the Iraqi oil industry and the opening of this market to foreign investment. It has been no secret that perhaps a primary reason for the
U.S. attack on Iraq was to gain control over the natural resources of this oil-rich nation. Four years later, the task hasn’t been as easy as first anticipated by the U.S., but the objectives remain.
full statement

Rep. Kucinich (running for president)asks the right questions .........

Privatization of Iraqi Oil Resources

Dennis Kucinich speaking from
the Floor of the House
Dec 7, 2006
"On October 25th, President Bush cited oil as a reason for our continued presence in Iraq. The Iraq study group is recommending Iraq law be changed to facilitate privatization of Iraq's oil wealth."The Iraq Study Group report says as much as 500,000 barrels per day -- that is $11.3 billion per year -- in Iraqi oil wealth is now being stolen, which is interesting, since the Ministry of Oil is the first place our troops were
sent after the invasion of Iraq and we now have 140,000 troops there."How can we expect the end of the Iraq war and national reconciliation in Iraq, while we advocate that Iraq's oil wealth by handled by private oil companies?"It is ironic that this report comes at the exact time the Interior Department's Inspector General says that oil companies are cheating the US out of billions of dollars while the Administration looks the other way.

"Is it possible that Secretary Baker has a conflict of interest, which should have precluded him from
co-chairing a study group whose final report promotes privatization of Iraq oil assets, given his ties to the oil industry?

"Is it possible that our troops are dying for the profits of private oil companies?"
Link to this entry in the Congressional Record

Where's the Liberal Media Bias?

USA Today has an article titled "USA more pessimistic on Iraq war". In it the reporters writes that:

... Most predict the administration won't implement the bipartisan commission's proposals, however. And fewer than 1 in 5 have "a great deal" of trust in Bush to "recommend the right thing" for the United States to do in Iraq.

Confidence in Democratic congressional leaders to chart the proper course is even lower, at 14%. ...

It sounds like the American people have simply lost confidence in government... If you don't actually look at the survey data! In reality, the survey asks: "Still thinking about Iraq, how much do you trust each of the following to recommend the right thing for the U.S. to do in Iraq – a great deal, a fair amount, not much, or not at all?"

True enough, 18% said they had a great deal of trust in 'President George W. Bush' and only 14% had a great deal of trust in 'The Democratic leaders in Congress'.

But when you look at who had a Fair amount of trust, 28% said 'President George W. Bush' while 28% trusted Bush "not at all".

By contrast there were 44% who said they had a fair amount of trust that 'The Democratic leaders in Congress' would recommend the right thing for the U.S. to do in Iraq.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Leave it to the Germans to say what the Beltway blowhards won't... Bush should stop lying! What a concept!
December 11, 2006


About Those Other Problems

The Iraq Study Group didn't just advise Bush to change strategy in Iraq. It also urged the president to stop lying to the American people.

The Iraq Study Group advised US President George W. Bush to stop lying. Here, a woman holds a poster at a protest in California over the weekend.

The Iraq Study Group advised US President George W. Bush to stop lying. Here, a woman holds a poster at a protest in California over the weekend.

No one could ever suggest that James Baker lacks ambition or self-confidence. So it is not surprising that along with its effort to salvage Iraq, the report from Baker's Iraq Study Group offers some strong advice on how to fix George W. Bush's dysfunctional Washington - and the president's dysfunctional relations with the rest of the world.

We were particularly drawn to Recommendations 46, 72 and 78. Under separate headings dealing with the military, the federal budget and the nation's intelligence agencies, they share one basic idea: Government officials should not lie to the public or each other, especially in matters of war.

One should not need a blue ribbon commission to know that. But the fact that it had to be said, and so often, in the report goes a long way toward explaining how Bush got the country into the Iraq mess and why it is proving so hard to dig out of it. ...(full article)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is the Republican Party in its "Last Throws"?

Bush's poll numbers continue to sink as he and his political allies cling stubbornly to their failed dreams of world domination.
Released: December 08, 2006

Bush Job Approval: 30%

President slips to all-time low in the Zogby Poll as key demographic groups jump ship

The national job approval rating of President Bush has plummeted to 30%, an all–time low in the latest Zogby International telephone poll, sinking below the 31% approval rating he dropped to in early June. ...

... Support for the President waned in key demographic groups, the Zogby poll shows. Among all Republicans, just 60% gave him a positive job rating, while 39% gave him negative marks. Just 9% of Democrats and 22% of political independents gave him good marks for his work. Among married respondents – typically a group who favors Republicans – just 35% said Bush was doing a positive job. Among men, another favorable GOP demographic, just 31% gave him positive marks, while 69% gave him a negative rating. Even among stalwart Born Again respondents, just 43% had positive ratings for the President on his overall job performance. ... (full article)

It appears that the Bush Administrations incompetence in handling the occupation of Iraq is beginning to tear the Republican Party apart:

Dec. 9, 2006, 11:13PM
Report reveals widening GOP division on Iraq
Republican right decries Iraq Study Group suggestions

New York Times

WASHINGTON — The release of the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group last week exposed deep fissures among Republicans over how to manage a war that many fear will haunt their party — and the nation — for years to come.

A document that many in Washington had hoped would pave the way for a bipartisan compromise on Iraq instead drew sharp condemnation from the right, with hawks saying it was a wasted effort that advocated a shameful American retreat.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page described the report as a "strategic muddle," Richard Perle called it "absurd," Rush Limbaugh labeled it "stupid," and The New York Post portrayed the leaders of the group, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic member of Congress, as "surrender monkeys."

Republican moderates clung to the report, mindful of the drubbing the party received in last month's midterm elections largely because of Iraq. They said they hoped President Bush would adopt the group's principal recommendations and begin the process of disengagement from the long and costly war. But White House officials who conducted a preliminary review of the report said they had concluded that many of the proposals were impractical or unrealistic.

The divisions could make it more difficult for Republicans to coalesce on national security policy and avoid a bitter intraparty fight going into the 2008 campaign. ...(full article)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Democrats Screw Working Folks, Again

It seems that the 'New Democrats' are proud about collaborating with Republicans to make it possible for corporations to outsource more American jobs. Yes, it's really something to be proud of... making a trade deal with Vietnams totalitarian government because the totalitarian government of China has allowed the cost of labor to get too high. Mind you; in this case too high still means a Chinese factory workers pay is less than $300 per month.

David Sirota is on the ball and on the case, as usual:
VOTE ALERT: House Passes Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

The House tonight caved to K Street and passed the Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. I received a copy of the New Democrats’ press release trumpeting the passage. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) claims that the deal “will help American workers and our economy by opening up a huge market for American industrial and agricultural goods and services.” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) said he voted for the deal because “Vietnam will further open its market to our banking, insurance, telecom and delivery industries, creating more opportunities for both our nations.”

Oh yes, IÂ’m sure the push for the bill had nothing to do with how, according to Businessweek, Corporate America is desperate to open up VietnamÂ’s market to exploit its dirt poor workers who have no basic rights:

A big reason for the change is rock-bottom wages. As labor shortages in some regions of China drive up costs, factory hands in parts of the mainland can earn more than five times the $55 per month that Vietnamese workers in foreign-owned factories are paid. That differential is a big reason why Sparton Corp. (SPA ) of Jackson, Mich., chose Vietnam over China last year when it made its first investment outside North America. It sank $8 million into a 50,000-square-foot plant to produce chemical diagnostic equipment. "I think productivity and quality will far exceed the U.S.," says Jason Craft, managing director of Sparton subsidiary Spartronics Vietnam Co.


I've never been able to understand how the U.S. could have 'Free-Trade' agreements with countries who's people aren't free. Having diplomatic relations; sure. Having limited trade relations; Ok.. But making special trade deals? That sound to me like propping up totalitarian governments and working against the spread of democracy.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What Do The Germans Think of the Iraq Study Group?

A look at the Iraq Study Group Report from SPIEGEL ONLINE:
America Faces Up to the Iraq Disaster

By Bernhard Zand and Georg Mascolo

In the US on Wednesday, all eyes were on the members of the Iraq Study Group. And in Iraq? Ten more soldiers died, at least 50 Iraqis lost their lives, power came on for only an hour in Baghdad and another 2,000 refugees left. Just an average day as the country disintegrates. ...(more)

Son of ex-President Indicted in Torture Case

Is this indictment of the son of Liberia's former Presidents a warm up for the indictment of a U.S. ex-Presidents son? And when will H.W. be going to the Hague? Or is it all just a legalistic smoke-screen dreamed up by torture-guy Attorney General Gonzales?

Son of Liberia’s Ex-Leader Charged in Miami Under Anti-Torture Law

Published: December 7, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The son of Charles G. Taylor, Liberia’s former president, was charged Wednesday with two counts of torture and one count of using a firearm in a violent crime during interrogation of an opposition figure in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, according to a federal indictment brought in Miami.

The case is the first in which federal authorities invoked the anti-torture law, which bans extreme interrogation methods. The law gives American courts jurisdiction over reported abuse overseas by American citizens.

Mr. Taylor’s son, Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was born in the United States. Mr. Emmanuel, 29, has pleaded guilty to passport fraud and is in federal custody awaiting sentencing, scheduled for Thursday, on that charge.

Mr. Taylor, the former president, is awaiting trial in The Hague on war crimes charges.
...(full article)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why Do Republicans Hate America?

While the Washington Beltway Punditocracy is busy admonishing the Democrats to be bipartisan in their approach to governing, Congressional Republicans are busy sabotaging the government. Some House Republicans are spending their final days in the majority on vengence and petty politics. Republican's true-colors are really showing; they're willing to saddle tax-payers with mountains of debt and disrupt the business of the Nation in the hope that later they can blame the Democrats.

From the Wall Street Journal (of all places):
Some Republicans Take a Scorched-Hill Tack
Leaving Budget Decisions
To Democrats Could Disrupt
New Leadership's Agenda
December 6, 2006; Page A8

WASHINGTON -- Like a retreating army, Republicans are tearing up railroad track and planting legislative land mines to make it harder for Democrats to govern when they take power in Congress next month.

Already, the Republican leadership has moved to saddle the new Democratic majority with responsibility for resolving $463 billion in spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. And the departing chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Bill Thomas (R., Calif.), has been demanding that the Democrat-crafted 2008 budget absorb most of the $13 billion in costs incurred from a decision now to protect physician reimbursements under Medicare, the federal health-care program for the elderly and disabled.

The unstated goal is to disrupt the Democratic agenda and make it harder for the new majority to meet its promise to reinstitute "pay-as-you-go" budget rules, under which new costs or tax cuts must be offset to protect the deficit from growing. ...

... There are individuals who want to blow up the tracks, and there are more of those individuals in the House," said one Senate leadership aide.

The collapse of the appropriations process will be felt soon in the Justice and Commerce departments, food-safety agencies and veterans' health care. "It's not just a mess. It's a mountainous mess," complained Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, the next House Appropriations Committee chairman.

In the Medicare dispute, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) has aligned himself with Democrats against Mr. Thomas and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R., Texas). Talks continued last night in hopes of reaching agreement this morning on the physician issue and a larger $38 billion tax-and-trade package important to business. ...

... With Congress turning off the lights this week, there seems no chance of saving the appropriations process. Instead, most of the government will remain on a stopgap bill through Feb. 15, and in kicking this can down the road, the Republican leadership has no idea where it will stop rolling.

"It's a demonstration of the irresponsibility of Republicans that they would leave this country with this mess," said the next House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). "But we won, we will deal with it." ...(full article)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Indo-US nuclear deal Meets Condi's Skullduggery

I'm really pleased to see that our very own (WA-02) Congressman Rick Larsen is one of those pushing to keep all of the nonproliferation provision in the legislation for the Indo-US nuclear deal. He's part of a group of Congressional Democrats headed by Ed Markey.

It seems that Bush, with the help of Condi, is up to nukular no-good:

Apparently, the Bush Administration has entered the nuclear twilight zone! It can go to war in Iraq to disarm imaginary WMD, but then turns to give a huge nuclear gift to India and specifically tells Congress NOT to ask India to stand up to Iran’s WMD programs? Whose foreign policy is the administration promoting? " (FROM: STATEMENT BY REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA))

'Maintain nonproliferation provisions in nuke deal'

Washington, Dec. 5 (PTI): Ahead of the US Congress meet to work out a legislation on Indo-US nuclear deal, a group of Democrats have asked Chairman of the House International Relations Committee and the Ranking Member to make sure that nonproliferation provisions contained in the Senate and House bills are included in the final legislation.

"This has always been a bad deal. It's a nuclear giveaway to India that strikes a harsh blow to efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and technology. Now President Bush trying his best to make it even worse," leader of the group Edward Markey said in a letter to Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde and Ranking Member Tom Lantos.

The group of law makers asked Hyde and Lantos to make sure that some areas of the current legislations that are seen as problematic and outside the scope of the July 2005 agreement between the leaders of India and US are retained.

" ..all of us consider halting the proliferation of nuclear materials and technologies to be a paramount national security and foreign policy interest of United States. We therefore wish to strongly urge you to ensure that several critical nonproliferation provisions contained in the Senate and House bills are included in any final conference report," Markey and his colleagues have maintained.

"Why in the world would Secretary Rice ask that Congress remove all of the provisions which would strengthen nonproliferation, such as requiring India to help the United States prevent Iran from going nuclear?," the Massachussetts Democrat said in reference to a recent letter written by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to some senior law makers.

Apart from Markey those who signed the letter included Jane Harman, Adam Schiff, Rick Larsen, John Spratt, Ellen Tauscher and Robert Andrews.

Rice in that letter cautioned law makers against retaining provisions in the final legislation that would be unacceptable to India or force the re-opening of negotiations on a deal that is generally seen as a historic move in the bilateral relationship.

She further made the point to law makers that relations with India would suffer if problem areas in the legislations are not addressed.

Congressman Markey and his colleagues are pressing to retain several key provisions including a requirement that India fully support US efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. ...(full article)

WA State - House Committee Chairs

The Strange Bedfellows blog at the Seattle PI has a list of the Washington House Democratic Caucus committee chairs for the '07 session.

Of special interest to us up here in Whatcom County are:
Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Audit Review – Rep. Kelli Linville (Bellingham) 42nd LD
Education – Rep. Dave Quall (Mt. Vernon) 40th LD
Technology, Energy, and Communications – Rep. Jeff Morris (Mt. Vernon) 40th LD

healthcare profiteering

what exactly does an executive do in an hour to be rewarded so handsomely?????hmmm? and why should humans be expected to pay for such profiteering in healthcare??? right up there with war profiteering in my book.

nicely explained, as usual, by Thom Hartmann

November 19, 2006 at 08:00:13
Low Minimum Wage Killing the Middle Class
431 Times the Rest of Us
...........Let's turn this question around the other way. Let's ask the cons: would it be better to pay ten executives $100,000 per year and invest the rest of the company's profits in the company and its workers and shareholders; or would it be better to pay ten executives $1 million per year and claim you'd gotten the best leadership money could buy?The nation's top executives now make an average of $11.8 million per year-- each. That's just their salary; it doesn't count bonuses, perks, stock options, and so forth. For example, the Washington Post tells us in a June 27, 2005, story that many top executives get whatever they ask for. The article cites several examples, among them the case of a health-- care executive:
Coventry Health Care Inc., an HMO company, gave chairman and former chief executive Allen F. Wise a deal that includes as much as $12,000 for
legal, tax and financial planning, an unspecified automobile allowance, 75
hours of personal airplane use and a "tax equalization bonus" to ensure that those other benefits entail "no net cost to him," according to a regulatory filing.

Why do executives making $11 million per year need an automobile allowance? Can't they pay for their own financial planning?

full article

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Peace on Earth.....dangerous idea???

seems to be an idea that is out of control......
HOA Bans Christmas Wreath With Peace Sign
HOA President Says
Peace Sign Is Anti-Iraq War, Symbol Of Satan

and an idea that is widely popular.....

Colorado Couple Win Battle to Keep Holiday Peace Wreath on Home
Friday, December 1st, 2006

A Colorado couple has won their battle to keep a holiday wreath shaped like a peace sign on the front of their house. Lisa Jensen and Bill Trimarco recently received a letter from the board of their homeowners association threatening them with fines of $25 a day unless they removed the peace wreath.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

America vs. Centrism

Right-wingers have tried to say the '06 elections were a victory for 'Conservatism' because the winning candidates weren't strawman Hollywood Liberals. But that notion isn't getting any traction.

The Beltway Punditocracy is arguing it was a victory for 'Centrism' and, since they are the MSM's go to people, that construct is getting a thorough airing. It seems 'Hotline' is ready to lay on some more threadbare thinking:
The American Democracy Conference

Once again, The Hotline has partnered with the Univ. of VA's Center of Politics to present our 9th annual American Democracy Conference. It's a unique year-end event in that it doesn't just look back on the year that was but looks ahead to the election that will be.

This year's ADC will feature a keynote address by James Carville, ...
Yeah, that's the same Carville who wanted DNC chairman Howard Dean removed because Democrats won majorities in the both the U.S. House and Senate. Carville might be good at making a sow's ear look like a silk purse, but when it comes to ideas about political movements, look else where(!).

David Sirota has pointed out what's wrong with the Beltway idea of Centrism.

David Sirota: The "Center" of What, Exactly?

David SirotaTue Nov 28, 1:42 PM ET

That's really the problem with the term - and with Washington's definition of it. "Centrism" as defined in the political dialogue today means "being in the middle of elite opinion in Washington, D.C." But if you plot this "center" on the continuum that is American public opinion, you will find that it is nowhere near the actual center of the country at large. The center of elite Washington opinion is ardently free trade, against national health care, opposed to market regulation, for continuing the Iraq War, and supportive of the flattest tax structure we've had in contemporary American history. That center is on the extreme fringe of the center of American public opinion, which is ardently skeptical of free trade, for universal health care, supportive of strong market regulations, insistent that the war end soon, and in favor of making the tax system more progressive.

This is not some conspiracy theory I'm putting forward here - it's all out in the open, proved by public opinion data readily available to anyone who looks for it (I wrote an article on this for the Nation with some of it a few years back). I've long hoped for a day when the media references to the "center" meant the center of the United States of America, not merely the center of K Street, the National Press Club Building, The Palm at Dupont Circle and Fox News's Capitol Hill studio green room. Perhaps that's too wishful. ...(full article)

Beyond the Beltway, out here in (no color code added) America, there's something happening that doesn't fit the pundits worn-out explanations:
- Des Moines Register -
Whatever it's called, stand up for the little guy

November 28, 2006
An interesting shift in the political lexicon has accompanied the change in control of Congress. The new Democratic majority isn't being described as liberal, but rather as centrist. Some members also are embracing a label that hasn't been heard much lately: populist.

Populism has been out of favor for a long time, perhaps because it carries connotations of demagoguery, of rabble rousing with popular but unsound proposals.

But the original meaning of populism was to stand up for ordinary people against powerful, moneyed interests. The country could use a little of that right now.

There certainly is a general belief that government responds only to moneyed interests and that the average American is powerless against big corporations.

Congress has occupied itself in recent years with confirming those suspicions by letting industries write their own legislation and generally working to make the rich richer.

If the new populists in the next Congress can govern with the interests of ordinary people foremost in their minds, it will be a welcome change. ...

... The test for the new Democratic populists will be whether they live up to the label. (full article)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

could it be "civil war"??????

here's what our so called pres says.......
President Bush told Wolf Blitzer that he "rejects the notion that [Iraq] is in civil war" and that he "can't learn it from the newscasts" and instead trusts "the commanders on the ground" for their assessments.
full article

this video of Michael Ware from Iraq is stunning.......he is risking his
life to tell us the truth.
Michael Ware on Iraqi Civil

more Michael and wanna-be's.....

Time reporter, Michael Ware,: Iraqi resistance finely organized, cutthroat

Monday, December 8, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Attacks on coalition forces in Iraq are expected to increase leading up to the transfer of power in July, according to the top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. Time magazine reporter Michael Ware gained exclusive access to the Iraqi insurgents, spending months with them for this week's cover story. Ware shared his experiences and observations Monday with CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien

.............These guys, some of them are from the Fedayeen. Indeed, the leader of this unit is a former Fedayeen. They're very cutthroat. These guys mean business and they're blood thirsty. But the bulk of the commanders and the bulk of the fighters are former military, former intelligence, former security staff. These men are well trained and committed. The Fedayeen are fighting for revenge and for the dream that one day perhaps, Saddam fantastically might come back. However the ex-military officers are fighting, as they say, for Iraq. Saddam or not, they want foreign occupiers off their soil and they're going about it with some precision. Certainly a lot more than we've seen before.
full article

interesting reporting on presidental wanna-be's...........can these rethugs be painted paletable by 2008????

..........Senator John Warner (R-VA) made that observation in a November 15 meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, when he noted that Sunday would mark the day when U.S. involvement in Iraq exceeded that of World War II. "I remember the period well. I was a young sailor in the following year of that war," said Warner of World WarII. "And accordingly, I note that on November 26th, 2006, this year,but a few days away, our involvement in Iraq will surpass the length of this historic World War II period."America's only longer wars have been the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years). At least 300 Iraqis were killed over the extended weekend, including 200 in a series of bombings on Thursday. Six Sunnis were burned alive by Shiite militiamen on Friday after leaving worship services -- and right in front of Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene.Meanwhile, two U.S. Marines were killed Saturday in Anbar province, raising to at least 2,875 the number of U.S. servicemen who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war. Fifty-six American troops have died so far in November.

One of the only Republicans in Congress with a shred of integrity when it
comes to this war is Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been a steady critic of the Bush administration's conduct of the war for the last two years. Writing in a Washington Post editorial yesterday that "the future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans," Hagel made the point that "there will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq."Here's more from Hagel: "The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose. "We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans.Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government." Near the end of his column, Hagel says what most Americans now understand: "The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq." This kind of realism has never been much of a surprise coming from someone like Hagel who, unlike most in the Bush administration, is actually aVeteran who has seen combat.

full article

Privatizing the Fish in the Sea

A reminder why we don't like Alaska's Senator Ted Steven (Rrrrrr) or his 'partner in crime' Rep. Don Young

Ted Stevens, Don Young and MSA's Dirty Big Secret

...privatizing a public resource and micromanaging the market like they were the Communist Party or something. ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The "Free-Trade" Rip-Off

Free-Trade is a scam. The whole "Free-Market" pitch is a scam, designed to rip-off working people. GATTS, NAFTA and other "Free-Trade" agreements are taking the assets of the whole of society, accumulated over generations, and putting it into the pockets of a wealthy elite. And what's worse, ordinary working people have been sold the fairy-tale that their declining economic situation is their own fault.
Revisiting NAFTA
Still not working for North America's workers

By Robert E. Scott, Carlos Salas, and Bruce Campbell; Introduction by Jeff Faux


by Jeff Faux

Despite its name, the primary purpose of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was not to facilitate trade among separate sovereign societies. Rather, it was to promote an integrated continental economy and establish the rules to govern it.

As a former foreign minister of Mexico once remarked, NAFTA was “an agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.” It should, therefore, be no surprise that NAFTA rules protect the interests of large corporate investors while undercutting workers’ rights, environmental protections, and democratic accountability. Hence, NAFTA should be seen not as a stand-alone treaty, but as part of a long-term campaign by the conservative business interests in all three countries to rip up their respective domestic social contract. ...

... Americans were promised that NAFTA would generate large numbers of net new good jobs. Instead, over a million jobs that would otherwise have been created were lost, and wages were pressured downward for a large number of workers with less than a college education.

Mexican employment did increase, but much of it in low-wage “maquiladora” industries, which the promoters of NAFTA promised would disappear. The agricultural sector was devastated and the share of jobs with no security, no benefits, and no future expanded. The continued willingness every year of hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens to risk their lives crossing the border to the United States because they cannot make a living at home is in itself testimony to the failure of NAFTA to deliver on the promises of its promoters. ...

... The reality is that the denial of social protections in the rules of an internationally integrated market inevitably undermines the protections established in the previously separate domestic economies after decades of political struggle. In that sense, the “vision” of NAFTA is profoundly reactionary: it pushes nations back toward a 19th century ideology in which government’s economic function is to protect the interests of investors, while working people—the overwhelming majority in each nation—are left to fend for themselves. ... (full article)
But, there's hope! At least We hope there is.

Here Come the Economic Populists

Published: NYT - November 26, 2006

FOR years, the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, exercising a lock on the party’s economic policies, argued that the economy could achieve sustained growth only if markets were allowed to operate unfettered and globally. ...

... With the Democrats now a majority in Congress, and disquiet over globalization growing, a party faction that has been powerless — the economic populists — is emerging and strongly promoting an alternative to Rubinomics.

The populists argue that the national income has flowed disproportionately into corporate coffers and the nation’s wealthiest households, and that the imbalance has grown worse in recent years. They want to rethink America’s role in the global economy. They would intervene in markets and regulate them much more than the Rubinites would. For a start, they would declare a moratorium on new trade agreements until clauses were included that would, for example, restrict layoffs and protect incomes. ... (full article)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bush's top 5 Pseudo-Events

Published on Friday, November 24, 2006 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Pseudo-Events Define Six Years of the Bush Regime
by David Benjamin

Now that the overthrow of Congress has launched President Bush into a two-year slough of lame-duck limbo (or, in NBA terms, "garbage time"), it's appropriate to ponder what has befallen America in the Bush era. My guiding light, throughout the ordeal, has been Daniel Boorstin's 1961 book, "The Image."

Boorstin grew alarmed by the ability of Sen. Joseph McCarthy to titillate the press with slanders and fabrications about fictional commies in the government. In "The Image," Boorstin noted that McCarthy got press because he always scheduled his bombshells conveniently for reporters' deadlines. Boorstin referred to McCarthy's strategic incursions into the news cycle as "pseudo-events."

Boorstin defined a pseudo-event as having four qualities: not spontaneous, planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the purpose of being reported or reproduced, having an ambiguous relation to the underlying reality of the situation, and usually intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Boorstin wrote, "We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in place of reality."

If this all rings familiar, it's because we are six years into an administration composed almost exclusively of unreality - smoke, mirrors, and staged events before invitation-only audiences. Bush staffers got into the habit of mocking the press and public as "the reality-based community."

Boorstin might well have dubbed this White House the pseudo-presidency. ...

Here are my choices for the Top Five Pseudo-Events of the Bush regime:

5.Plastic Turkey for the Troops. On the first Thanksgiving of the Iraq war, Dubya surprised the troops with a turkey dinner. Except, well, the turkey, which photographed beautifully, was fake. And Dubya didn't actually hang around for dinner. Nice uniform, though.

4. Dubya's Ground Zero Grandstand Play. Bush got years of media mileage for showing up at ground zero in New York three days late. Dressed like a manly man and yelling through a megaphone as firefighters cheered and cops wept, Bush promised to hunt down Osama bin Laden and avenge this outrage. Since then, Bush has exploited the victims of Sept. 11, cut funding for first responders (firefighters and cops) and, um ... Osama? Still out there.

3. Bush v. Gore. The perfect TV pseudo-event. Talking heads suffered a case of the collective vapors while reading the Supreme Court decision that handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush. You could cut the suspense with a knife, but only if you neglected to note that all the justices on Dubya's side (except, of course, for William Rehnquist, proud product of Tricky Dick) had been appointed by administrations in which Bush's father was president or vice president.

2. The Jackson Square Light Show. Three days late (again), Dubya coptered into the Big Easy. Stagehands set up a thrilling array of klieg lights, powered with giant generators. Dubya knitted his brow, clenched his fist, made a speech and blew town. Then the stagehands packed up the lights and took away the generators. Rescue teams went back to hunting for dead bodies in the dark.

1. "Mission Accomplished." Ah, the USS Abraham Lincoln. The glorious landing. The flight suit. The boyish smirk. The banner. The declaration of triumph in Iraq, with only 2,500 more American kids (give or take a thousand) left to kill. Brilliant! Dazzling! Mwah!

...(full article)

It may still take some time to get the MSM to do their job instead of taking the easy path. As Molly Ivins notes about reporting on Bush's visit to Indonesia:

...Thanks from a grateful nation for an obedient press corps that failed during Bush’s six-hour, carefully orchestrated visit to Indonesia to register the fact that there were massive demonstrations against his administration and its policies toward Muslims. The demonstrators during his short visit forced him to stay behind the presidential palace wall all day and—due to concerns for his safety—not spend the night. ...(full article)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Things to be Grateful For

The 2006 election:

U.S. House
D 231 Gain +29
R 200

U.S. Senate
D 51 Gain +5
R 49

State Governments:
• Democrat 28 Gain +6
• Republican 22

Legislative control: 24D, 16R, 9 split, 1 nonpartisan.

Chambers controlled: 56D, 41R, 1 nonpartisan.

Total control, legislature and governor: 16D, 10R, 23 divided, 1 nonpartisan.

Net gains of legislative seats: +321D (+148D East, +107D Midwest, +21D South, +73D West).

Ballot Measure Results: A Bad Night for Many, A Great Night for a Few
November 8, 2006 6:12 am MST

Ballot measure results are in for most races. One of the most striking features of this year’s results is the unusually low number of initiatives approved by voters. Between 1990 and 2004, an average number of 48 percent of citizen initiatives passed. This year it’s looking like it’ll be more like 35 – 40 percent. It’s likely that voter fatigue from long ballots contributed to this – there were more initiatives on the ballot this year than in any other year besides 1996 and 1914. In both of those years, there were 87 initiatives on the ballot; this year, there were 76.

Reducing the Power of Government

Another remarkable trend this year is the nearly complete failure of a spate of initiatives that sought to limit the power of government. These included

  • the broader, more controversial property rights measures called regulatory takings (the narrower, more straightforward eminent domain measures are not included in this group),
  • term limits,
  • efforts to expand the initiative process,
  • limits on the judiciary,
  • tax and spending limitations (aka TABOR), and
  • major tax and revenue cuts.

Of the 17 measures in this vein, just one passed – a combined regulatory takings/eminent domain initiative in Arizona. Similar measures in California and Idaho failed, as well as a simple regulatory takings initiative in Washington. Legislative term limits failed to pass in Oregon, which will almost certainly prove to be the nail in the coffin of the term limits movement. Measures to rein in the judiciary failed in three states, including South Dakota’s sweeping “judicial accountability” measure. This would have let a panel of volunteers draft rules for how judges, juries, prosecutors and certain local officials must make decisions. The panel would also be empowered to decide who followed the rules, and to punish those who didn’t with fines, jail time, and the loss of public pension and insurance benefits. The three TABOR proposals on the ballot all failed to pass as well.

This might seem like a surprising result, given the obvious anti-incumbent sentiment and frustration with government that were expressed in candidate election results. So why did they fail? These were faux-populist measures. Rather than arising from a grassroots movement and popular demand for these policy changes, the initiatives owe much to out-of-state supporters. Most petitions were circulated by out-of-state circulators, paid by out-of-state groups. Campaigns were also largely financed by out-of-state money. This fact was widely criticized in the media. Out-of-state influence in initiative campaigns is certainly not a new tendency, but has been growing steadily over the past decade. Perhaps voters finally said “enough is enough.” Another negative influence affecting the vote in these campaigns may have been the large number of measures in this vein that were blocked from the ballot by the courts for irregularities or outright fraud in the petition process (there were at least eight TABOR and regulatory takings measures blocked in five states). Again, this was widely reported in the media, and contributed to negative voter attitudes toward these issues this year. ...(more)

From Hotline... the Democratic trend continues even after the election
How Many Others Will Flip?

More proof that New England Republicans are in danger of taking up permanent residence at the margins comes this morning when a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives switches from Republican to Democrat. North Stonington Republican Diana Urban, elected to a fourth term two weeks ago, often voted with Democrats in the legislature. Her departure from the ranks of the GOP reduces their number to 44 of 151. ...(more)

And the BIG reason behind Democrats winning:

Published on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Populism's Revival
by James Lardner

Now that the Democratic victory has sunk partway in, maybe we can begin to process another result of this remarkable election: After a quarter-century of growing economic inequality, America decided to talk about it.

It's "the main issue that drove me to run," said James Webb at one of the 12 churches he visited a couple of Sundays before his squeaker victory over Virginia Sen. George Allen.

In Montana, Jon Tester ran as an old-fashioned populist -- a species long considered extinct in his part of the country. When the incumbent, Sen. Conrad Burns, accused him of fomenting class warfare, Tester delivered one of the more pungent putdowns of the political year. "I'm about the middle class, Sen. Burns," he replied. "You're about your rich crony lobbyist friends on K Street."

While few candidates talked as tough as the two underdogs who finally put their party in charge of the Senate, the home stretch of the campaign saw Democrats across the country picking up where John Edwards left off in early 2004 (before party strategists advised him that his "two Americas" message was too harsh)... (more)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

billmon on Riverbend

i just had to link to this post because i think he does an amazingly accurate description of our national shame where Iraq is concerned. i know i feel deeply and bitterly ashamed of myself. i have referred to myself as a lazy-ass chicken-shit in the past. that being said, i do hope i will rise to the occasion more and more. my life has already changed soooo much in the last 4-5 years. everyday i ask myself what i should be doing. life will never be the same. and still, i say that from the comfort of a peaceful, abundant lifestyle. will i stand up and be counted???

........Riverbend's topic is the Lancet study on war deaths in Iraq, and she curtly
eviscerates the conservative Holocaust deniers:

......We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations,
car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons -- with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?

Nor does she have any kind words for any of the rest of us here in God Bless America, whether on the left or the right, who posture and bloviate while her country dies a slow, agonizing death:

.......They write about and discuss Iraq as I might write about the Ivory Coast or Cambodia -- with a detachment and lack of sentiment that, I suppose, is meant to be impartial. Hearing American politicians is even worse: They fall between idiots like Bush -- constantly and totally in denial, and opportunists who want to use the war and ensuing chaos to promote themselves.

That last one hits too close to home. A bulls eye, in fact. I've probably been as guilty as anyone of thinking of the war as some sort of strategy game, or a domestic political issue or a fascinating, if bloody, story -- a news junkie's next fix. When you're 8,000 miles and an existential light year away from the war, it's easy to distance yourself, intellectually and emotionally, from the stench of blood and the bloated corpses.There's also a natural tendency, which I touched on yesterday, to make it all about us -- to consciously or unconsciously treat the Iraqis like extras
(or worse, bloody mannequins) in a Mad Max remake produced and directed by

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