I can see nothing at all! That is terrible. Am I stupid? Am I not fit to be Emperor?

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We seem to be stuck in some kind of thick puddle of mud when the conversation turns to which way Bush or conservatism or Bush conservatism manages the tax money that ,you know, like makes civilization possible. We have the one camp that is claiming, a year after Bush's assumption of a second term that Bush is a free spender so do not blame "us", the real conservatives. Then there is the camp that thinks Bush is doing great because since he cuts taxes, economic nirvana is just around the corner, much like victory in Iraq. Fiscal conservatism is the giant yeti of economics, it doesn't really exist. In every incidence in which conservatives have had power in the last 40 years either on the federal level or state, they've tried and sometimes succeeded in running the economy into the anti-tax sand bar. Medicare is not and never will be a cute little program that serves at the king's pleasure it's an integral part of what keeps a good part of the population's head above water. To refer to Medicare as discretionary spending is like saying health is an option. The cynics that see selling reorganization of Medicare as a government guaranteed revenue stream for health and pharmaceutical companies as a necessary lie in advertising as the new reality model are the same people that snicker at funerals. Conservatism itself has tried to stand for so many contradictions that at the heart of the conversation is a realization that even many liberals find hard to believe, that conservatism has never really had guiding principles. Cultural conservatism is just the movement that has been with us since Cotton Mathers to turn America into a theocracy that is every bit as repressive as the Taliban or the old Holy Roman Empire. Using Medicare as our example; while we call it a government program as a kind of shorthand, what it is actually is something else. Some folks in Savannah and Seattle and all the towns in between saw the need for this kind of program. Way too huge to be handled by 50 different beaurocracies, so how bout' we get those folks in the city on the Potomac to put it together with some consistent national standards. How could conservatives attack what the people want? You label Medicare anything else you do not like, for reasons that have never been made clear as big government, an intrusion into your freedom. I am not sure how relieving some of the physical and financial pain of your fellow citizen makes anyone less free, but such is the nature of conservative doublespeak. Wrap this up in a little ribbon and call it the crusade against big bad government and you have a political philosophy of Ebenezer Scrooge, not a nation of the common good. I realize the "common good" as a concept can be used as a blunt instrument like prohibition, but it seems that programs like Medicare, school lunch programs, and setting aside land for preservation have been more then marginally successful. Big Government , at least when its effective and efficient is the conscience that haunts Ebenezer in his dreams, that he is welcome to run a business, to make a profit, but his greedy and anti-social tendencies need to be reigned in. That has been at the core of conservatism since Eisenhower. Liberalism's faults lie more with its execution rather then the core of its philosophy. Conservatism has actually been practiced in his present form in a previous incarnation; it was called The Gilded Age or better the Age of Robber Barons. The Gilded Age just didn't die from its own bourgeois proclivities it was literally built on the bones of the working class. If the middle and low middle working want to return to the good old days that never were all they have to do is keep believing in the fairie tale of conservatism.

The real journalists are finally coming out of the shadows

CBS News' Lara Logan did the smackdown of Howie the Whore Kurtz on Reliable Sources this morning, and gives the odious Laura Ingraham some more of what she so richly deserves.

We're finally starting to see some passion from the journalists who are putting their lives on the line trying to cover Bush's botched Iraq adventure….

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Remember this from March 21st,

"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong … with all due respect," he told a reporter. "No president wants war." To those who say otherwise, "it's simply not true," Bush said.

I suppose his defenders can always blandish the canard that Bush had to lie America into a war for the good of the nation. This Orwellian side trip into Iraq has made America and the world less safe. Bush can repeat unsupported assertions all day, trying his best not to have the usual condesending smirk, that is not going to make them any more truthful.

“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can see nothing at all! That is terrible. Am I stupid? Am I not fit to be Emperor? That would be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me. O, it is very pretty!” he said aloud. “It has our highest approbation.” And he nodded in a contented way, and gazed at the empty loom, for he would not say that he saw nothing. The whole suite whom he had with him looked and looked, and saw nothing, any more than the rest; but, like the Emperor, they said, “That is pretty!” and counseled him to wear the splendid new clothes for the first time at the great procession that was presently to take place. “It is splendid, excellent!” went from mouth to mouth. On all sides there seemed to be general rejoicing, and the Emperor gave the rogues the title of Imperial Court Weavers. 21
The whole night before the morning on which the procession was to take place, the rogues were up, and kept more than sixteen candles burning. The people could see that they were hard at work, completing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the stuff down from the loom; they made cuts in the air with great scissors; they sewed with needles without thread; and at last they said, “Now the clothes are ready!

from The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen