Saturday, January 22, 2005

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Your Weekend Reading:
Karl Rove and the GOP Scams

(Note: I tried to post this yesterday, but Blogger was in the midst of one of its occasional hissy fits and wasn't cooperating. Anyway, here we go again.)

Fred Clark at the Slacktivist suggests we all read Rick Perlstein's The Eve of Destruction. In fact, Fred says, ". . . read it over and over and over again, my friend, if you don't believe we're on that eve."

Ah yes, it brings back memories:
You can bury your dead
But don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor
But don't forget to say grace.
Just the other day I was wondering if it wasn't time that we all took to the streets again. Reading Perlsteins's column is reinforcing that notion.

And I agree with Fred. You should read it several times. You need to know what these corrupt bastards are up to. You need to internalize it, so that when you hear the next round of White House talking points reported as news by the mainstream media, alarms go off in your head and you immediatly recognize it for the dirty scam that it is.

Here's a sample of what we're talking about:
"For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win . . . "

That phrase is a gun, and it's smoking. Written by Karl Rove deputy Peter Wehner in a leaked memo, it establishes as intention what administration officials have heretofore been most eager to cover up. What the Republican Party failed to do 60 years ago is to stop any federal program of guaranteed old-age insurance from existing. Social Security established a principle unacceptable to many Republicans: that government economic programs help people, and can become wildly popular. Now, however, Wehner writes, "We have it within our grasp to move away from dependency on government. . . . We can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of our country."

The smoking gun isn't pointed just at your grandmother.

When Americans have at a minimum almost a third of their retirement contribution in corporate investments—we now send 6.2 percent of our income to Social Security, and Bush's plan would have us putting four of those 6.2 points into the stock market—we will all be part of, in the apparently benign coinage of Republican propagandist Grover Norquist, the "investor class."

Blogger Nick Stoller describes the consequences thus:
When someone like Eliot Spitzer uncovers a major corporate scandal, a Republican will be able to say, 'He's attacking your retirement fund.'

When the employees of a company try to unionize, a Republican will be able to say, 'They are attacking your retirement fund.' (He will also be able to say they are attacking their own retirement fund.)

When a community refuses to let a Wal-Mart build in their neighborhood, a Republican will be able to say, 'They're attacking your retirement fund.'
Environmental regulations will be framed as an attack on your retirement fund. Liability law, too. Corporate taxes, certainly. Maybe even, someday, child labor laws (that's the brazenness: Conservatives never shy from putting forth agendas that seemed unimaginable a year ago). People will presume it is in their interest for the companies in which they hold a temporary position to goose their stock no matter the long-term cost to the corporation, to our institutions, to society as a whole—no matter the long-term cost for all the other classes we belong to, as consumers, as workers, as citizens. All but a tiny group of big-ticket investors would benefit far more on a net basis, as they do now, from the maintenance of a strong welfare state. No matter: The propaganda may prove irresistible.

Breaking Social Security is central to passing Bush's "tax reforms," which will remove taxes on investment income and shift the tax burden to wage earners who can't afford to save any money—thereby creating newly outraged tax-hating constituencies bent on decimating government's legitimacy yet further. Absent unrelenting Democratic resistance, in fact, the next four years will establish the leverage to fulfill another of Grover Norquist's coinages: to get the federal government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
Go read the whole thing. And as you read, remember that they hate you because you are different from them. You work for a living. And if that isn't enough to pay for all your health, education, and retirement needs, they're going to hate you some more. And they'll run every scam they can imagine to make sure that you pay the taxes for their wars of conquest and their corporate welfare so they never have to. That's really what the fights over Social Security and tax reform are all about.

If anyone tries to tell you differently, be sure and keep one hand on your wallet. My grandfather would have added, "Keep your other hand on your .45."


Friday, January 21, 2005

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A little humor to help you
crash into the weekend

via Suburban Guerrilla:
Remember when George Bush was told about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center, and he said, "That's some bad pilot"?

What's not as well known is, when the second plane hit the other tower, Bush said, "Jesus, it's not the same guy again, is it?" (Rim shot...)
Thanks Susie. Have a good one.

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Freedom is only for Good Christians --

It was never intended to cover liberals

In my youth, when I'd read a letter like this, I'd go out and buy another box of bullets. I figured that it wouldn't be long before they'd come for me, and, well ... you can figure out the rest of the scenario.

I don't do that anymore, but the thought did cross my mind this morning.

Via Atrios, here's a excerpt from a letter to the editor:
Surely those others would appreciate the opportunity to be saved. As God's chosen people, we Christians have the right to express our religion and praise tolerant, patient and merciful God, and I don't want to read any more letters from Liberals suggesting non-believers should be allowed to express their superstitions just because we Christians can express ours.

The Founding Fathers were God-fearing men and never intended the first Amendment to promote other superstitious beliefs.

Ridgecrest used to be filled with right-minded, polite and decent people.

I can't believe the vicious slander of some people who have the nerve to portray or suggest Jesus behaved as a Liberal.
There is often a blurry line between faith and insanity. I think our friend here just pole vaulted right over it without looking back. I understand that there are plenty of good mental health facilities in California. Unfortunately, the writer is not likely to walk in and sign up for treatment.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

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Four Years After:
Bush by the Numbers

The stars might lie, but the numbers never do. Complements of Numeralist:
January 20, 2005

By the Numbers: The U.S. After 4 Years of Bush

Poverty Rate
2000: 11.3% or 31.6 million Americans
2003: 12.5% or 35.9 million Americans

Stock market
Dow Jones Industrial Average
1/19/01: 10,587.59
1/19/05: 10,539.97

1/19/01: 2,770.38
1/19/05: 2,073.59

S&P 500
1/19/01: 1,342.54
1/19/05: 1,184.63

Value of the Dollar
1/19/01: 1 Dollar = 1.06 Euros
1/19/05: 1 Dollar = 0.77 Euros

2000 budget surplus $236.4 billion
2004 budget deficit $412.6 billion
That's a shift of $649 billion and doesn't include the cost of the Iraq war.

Cost of the war in Iraq
$150.8 billion

American Casualties in Iraq
Deaths: 1,369
Wounded: 10,252

The Debt
End of 2000: $5.7 trillion
Today: $7.6 trillion
That's a 4 year increase of 33%.
Well, shit then, let's throw a $40,000,000 party and celebrate!

Thanks to Kos for the link.

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We didn't have the right skills,
the right capacity . . .

During the Senate confirmation hearing (courtesy of Kos):
Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday the Bush administration made some bad decisions in Iraq and was unprepared for stabilizing the country in a rare acknowledgment of mistakes.

[. . .]

"We have made a lot of decisions in this period of time. Some of them have been good, some of them have not been good, some of them have been bad decisions, I am sure," Rice told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"We didn't have the right skills, the right capacity, to deal with a reconstruction effort of this kind," she said on the second day of hearings on her confirmation, which is expected to be easily approved by the Republican-led Senate.
In her own misleading way, Condi got that right.

At the risk of repeating myself, let me quote from Post-war Planning for Iraq: a Victory of Arrogance, a Failure of Imagination which I posted here back on March 7, 2004.
My personal interest in this begins about 10 years ago. Saddam had moved some divisions down near the border with Kuwait, sort of pulling America's chain to see if, with Clinton as President, we would be willing to mobilize all over again for another Gulf War. The U.S. did initiate a response. In addition, the Secretary of Defense directed CENTCOM to begin a revision of the U.S. war plans for the region.

When we went to war with Iraq in 1991, the plan under which the U.S. operated was geared toward the defense of the Saudi peninsula. The National Command Authority (the President and the Secretary of Defense) wanted the plan revised to include taking the ground war into Iraq and eliminating "the leadership of the Baath Party."

I was on the team that worked on the initial revision of the plan. In essence, we planned the invasion of Iraq. There were a lot of force-on-force calculations that went into it. The logisticians were there, working the math on how to support the force, knowing that a corps on the move sucks about two million gallons of fuel per day. Engineers pondered whether all the bridges between Kuwait and Baghdad would support the M1 Tank, which is considerably heavier that the Russian-built T-72 used by the Iraqis. Infantry and Armor guys worked out the maneuver parts. In the end, we envisioned a two corps operation that included Army, Marine, and Coalition forces pushing to Baghdad, and if necessary, Tikrit.

Over the next few years, the Army did what it does with a new plan, it filled in the concept with actual units, then ran a series of war game simulations, looking for problems that could arise in everything from moving beans and bullets to the troops in the field to the set up of the command, control, communication, and computer networks. When complete, the process produced two documents. One was the revised war plan, written in significant detail so that every necessary combat unit, every communications node, and every logistics support base had been spelled out in sufficient detail. The other document was the Time-Phased Force Deployment Data or TPFDD (pronounced "tipfid"). The is the actual list of units that are to be mobilized for a given operation and the timing of that mobilization. It is structured to support the operation plan by getting the units in place in the appropriate sequence.

It's appropriate to note that the Army has a bias: If you're going to do a mission, you do it right. That means anticipating what can go wrong, and planning for enough troops, weapons systems, equipment and supplies to win, even if you find yourself in a worst-case scenario. As a result, the TPFDD called for a force of around 400,000 military personnel. It was a heavy figure, for sure. But it had enough force built into it to ensure success, even if things started going wrong on the battlefield.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had an entirely different bias. He believed that a fast and lean force was superior to a large deliberate one. He thought it worked for him in Afghanistan, and he saw no reason why America needed such a huge force to defeat the Iraqi army. So he began to trim the force that had been painstakingly developed through years of planning. He eventually reduced it by half. And when something did go wrong, as was the case when the government of Turkey decided not to let the U.S. use Turkish territory to launch a second front from the north, there were some tense days for the senior American ground commanders, who were conducting an operation from a playbook that called a 400,000 troops, but were doing it with less than half that amount.

The fact that the U.S. army prevailed in combat against the Iraqi army didn't surprise anyone. But the smaller size of the U.S. force began to have consequences immediately following the defeat of the Iraqi army. While America brought enough troops to win the war, they were not enough to secure the peace. Issues of looting, securing suspected nuclear sites and arms caches, and the ability to provide security throughout a nation the size of California came to the forefront.

And it became immediately clear that the rosy scenario that Ahmad Chalabi and his friends in the Iraqi National Congress had painted for Dick Cheney and the Pentagon's civilian leadership, that of the Iraqi people joyously welcoming the American's as liberators, wasn't anywhere close to accurate. As a result, the effort to secure and rebuild Iraq was going to be a lot more difficult than Donald Rumsfeld and his chief assistants had imagined.

In their arrogance, they chose to disregard well thought out Army studies about the difficulty of winning the war, securing the peace, and the size of the force necessary to do it.

If not the seminal moment, certainly the most public one in spelling out the difference between the Army's leadership and the civilian leadership in the Pentagon is described by Fallows:
As the war drew near, the dispute about how to conduct it became public. On February 25 the Senate Armed Services Committee summoned all four Chiefs of Staff to answer questions about the war -- and its aftermath. The crucial exchange began with a question from the ranking Democrat, Carl Levin. He asked Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, how many soldiers would be required not to defeat Iraq but to occupy it. Well aware that he was at odds with his civilian superiors at the Pentagon, Shinseki at first deflected the question. "In specific numbers," he said, "I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements. But I think ..." and he trailed off.
"How about a range?" Levin asked. Shinseki replied -- and recapitulated the argument he had made to Rumsfeld.
I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required.
We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so, it takes significant ground force presence to maintain safe and secure environment to ensure that the people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this.
Two days later Paul Wolfowitz appeared before the House Budget Committee. He began working through his prepared statement about the Pentagon's budget request and then asked permission to "digress for a moment" and respond to recent commentary, "some of it quite outlandish, about what our postwar requirements might be in Iraq." Everyone knew he meant Shinseki's remarks.
"I am reluctant to try to predict anything about what the cost of a possible conflict in Iraq would be," Wolfowitz said, "or what the possible cost of reconstructing and stabilizing that country afterwards might be." This was more than reluctance -- it was the Administration's consistent policy before the war. "But some of the higher-end predictions that we have been hearing recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq, are wildly off the mark."
This was as direct a rebuke of a military leader by his civilian superior as the United States had seen in fifty years. Wolfowitz offered a variety of incidental reasons why his views were so different from those he alluded to: "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq's reconstruction," and "We can't be sure that the Iraqi people will welcome us as liberators ... [but] I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down." His fundamental point was this: "It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine."
Getting back to my personal end of the story, when our team had finished our work on the initial concept of the revised operation plan, we briefed it to Lieutenant General Steve Arnold. Arnold was the ARCENT (Army Central Command) commanding general. He was a soldier's soldier. He'd been with the 82d Airborne in Grenada and with the 10th Mountain in Somalia. And if we were to actually go into Iraq that year in response to Saddam's recent troop movements, he would have responsibility for the mission of the ground forces in the operation.

General Arnold listened closely to our presentation. Our closing remarks were, "General, when combat operations are complete, you will be the de facto military governor of Iraq and responsible for the largest civil affairs and nation building mission since we rebuilt Germany at the end of World War II."

"Gentleman," General Arnold replied, "that is not a mission that I want."

I suspect that he knew a bit more about what would be involved than those learned civilians in the Pentagon.
But then, those civilians, and the National Security Advisor, and the President himself, never had the right skills, the right capacity to do their jobs from day one. They still don't.

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Not One Damn Dime

It's Inauguration day in the U.S. -- the day the Repulsives throw a $40,000,000 party in the nation's capital to celebrate the re-election of the worst president in the history of this great country.

Well, at least they're consistent, even if they are consistently stupid greedheads.

I will mark the occasion by spending not one damn dime -- if only for this single day -- to express my displeasure at the slimeballs who pretend they are competent to govern.

Back in another era, another Repulsive presidency, Hunter Thompson said it so eloquently:
The scum also rises.
Today they will occupy Washington in full wingnut regalia, a pageantry of greed, slime, and arrogance, flaunting their imaginary mandate as though stealing an election was the same as winning one.

It was to be expected. Discretion can only be the better part of valor when there is actually some valor to begin with.

Let them have their gala freeper freak show, their $40,000,000 blow out, while soldiers in Iraq still ride in vehicles with no armor plating, counting the lies that brought them there and the days until they can return home.

I will not be celebrating. I will spend not one damn dime.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

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Condi tries to close the barn door
after her credibility and integrity have escaped

During confirmation hearings yesterday,
Condoleezza Rice, in response to Senator Boxer said:
Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.
This seems a little late in the game to me. Ms. Rice has spent the last 4 years demonstrating that she has absolutely no credibility or integrity. I'm just sayin' . . .

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"We're going to be riding
with the bad boys."

Read Billmon


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

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Bumper Stickers I Want to See:

Nixon was Re-Elected, too.

War Crimes are High Crimes.
Let the impeachments begin!

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War Without End

One of the problems of being engaged as a nation in a war that has no definable end is that all the measures one might be willing to accept during a time of war become permanent.

That's my essential problem with what BushCo likes to refer to as "The Global War on Terror."

Maybe it's time to be honest with the American people (and the rest of the world, as well) and acknowledge that, if we're actually buying into this War on Terror thing, then all this Patriot Act crap and
locking up enemy combatants and anyone else the administration doesn't like forever, and, of course, torture, are now permanent fixtures in our lives, and those of our children and their children, too.

I offer that as the preface of noting that
Phil Carter mentions a couple of excellent articles in the Atlantic Monthly. This section from James Fallows is both interesting and insightful:
For instance: This "war" will never be over, unlike the Civil War, the Vietnam War, or even the current war in Iraq. There will always be a threat that someone will blow up an airplane or a building or a container ship. Technology has changed the balance of power; it is easier for even a handful of people to threaten a community than it is for the community to defend itself. But while we have to live in danger, we don't have to live in fear. Attacks are designed to frighten us even more than to kill us. So let's refuse to magnify the damage they do. We'll talk about the risk only when that leads to specific ways we can make ourselves safer. Otherwise we'll just stop talking about it, as we do about the many other risks and tragedies inevitable in life. We will show that we are a free, brave people by controlling our fears. We admired Britain during the Blitz because people went about their lives rather than fretting at every minute that they might die. Let us be admirable in the same way.

In addition to being brave we have to be serious. We cannot waste any more time on make-believe. Make-believe includes arguing about whether our efforts should be like crime-fighting or war-fighting. They should be like both—and like a public-health campaign, a propaganda effort, and many other models that might prove useful. Make-believe involves measures that seem impressive but do not make us safer, such as national threat-level warnings and pro forma ID checks. The most damaging form of make-believe is the failure to distinguish between destructive but not annihilating kinds of attack we can never eliminate but can withstand and the two or three ways terrorist groups could actually put our national survival in jeopardy. We should talk less about terrorism in general and more about the few real dangers.
With BushCo making plans for covert military operations against Iran and other nations in the Middle East, we are likely to piss off a lot more people in the region than we already have (if that's possible). Osama will have no trouble signing up more recruits.

I agree with Fallows (and Richard Clarke, the author of the other AM article) that we face real dangers from terrorists. I also think we face grave dangers from the idiots who are running things here at home.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

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Ask not . . .

Rumor has it that Bush will include the following in his State of the Union Address:
Ask not what your corporation can do for you.

Ask what you can do for your corporation.

Thanks to Judith.

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Taking out Pakistan's Nukes:
Did it almost happen?

Good post by Rodger Payne on that consideration and the always-happening pissing contest between the south Asia WMD powers.

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Bush and Hitler

Billmon's at his best when he has them side by side. And have I mentioned that the Whiskey Bar is open again?


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