oppression on every hand; injustice everywhere; hypocrisy at the altar; venality on the bench, tyranny on the throne

Part of the probably universal appeal of the pulp-fiction of writers like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and others, is the almost instant gratification of justice. Often times it is an uneven justice, but in the end the worst of the scoundrels, deadbeats and murderers get their get their dose of righteousness. Unlike in real life where a guy in a ski mask that steals a couple thousand dollars gets a ten year sentence while a guy that wears a crisp white shirt to church every Sunday and sells values like a cheap suit rips off taxpayers for millions and either gets a slap on the waist or gets appointed to to a new high paying job with benefits the average worker could only dream of. Competence works much like justice in crime fiction. Sure the bad guys might be clever, but the detective as a metaphor for the everyman uses hard work and patience. Eventually no matter how clever or how well connected, the miscreant slips up and the gum shoe is there is make sure he takes a fall. It doesn’t work that way in the Rovian world of conservative politics. The reverse is true, the average man pays the price for the greed and machivelian conniving of the the little princes, U.S. Blunders in Reconstructing Iraq Are Staggering

I often recall a meeting in October 2003 in Baghdad with an Iraqi engineer who had a master’s from Ball State University and loved America. He wanted to talk to me about corruption in reconstruction projects in Iraq.

Hamid spoke with anger at seeing U.S. officials on the bases pay cash to fly-by-night Iraqi agents to cart away new vehicles and spare parts – along with generators – that had been left behind by Saddam’s army. The Iraqis then sold the valuable equipment in Syria and Jordan and paid kickbacks to the U.S. officials. “You are helping criminals,” he complained, “and wasting your money and ours.”

I never had the opportunity to investigate Hamid’s accusations. He was murdered by Sunni insurgents for working with Americans. Now the sad tale of corruption and wasted billions in America’s Iraq reconstruction program has been laid bare in a spate of new books, and by the U.S. inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

Bob Woodward’s State of Denial details the incredible lack of planning for the postwar, in which the Pentagon team tasked with running Iraqi reconstruction met together for the first time only a few weeks before the invasion.

To understand what these Pentagon civilians wrought, read Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City about the Bush team’s decision to send “the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest” to rebuild Iraq.

Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief of the Washington Post, describes how Republican connections were the ticket to a job in Baghdad’s Green Zone in 2003-2004, in the occupation era of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). There were some competent folks inside the Green Zone, but they played second fiddle to political appointees.

More typical was James K. Haveman Jr., a 60-year-old Republican social worker and Christian antiabortion activist, who was picked to head the Health Ministry over a physician with degrees in public health and experience in third-world disaster relief.

Haveman treated Baghdad as if it were an extension of his home state of Michigan: He pushed for more maternity hospitals instead of refurbishing Baghdad’s ill-equipped emergency rooms. He pressed for an anti-smoking campaign – and tried to limit the number of drugs distributed to hospitals, ensuring that essential medicines stayed out of stock. He was in over his head.

To get the full flavor of the mismanagement of the postwar, however, you need to go to http://www.sigir.mil, and read the reports of the special inspector general in Iraq (SIGIR), Stuart W. Bowen Jr.

Hats off to Congress for creating this office to check, ex post facto, on the more than $18 billion spent for reconstruction. Too bad no one kept tabs sooner. Bowen’s reports tell of huge cost overruns by American contractors – notably the Halliburton subsidiary known as KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root). Despite repeated criticism, KBR has been paid most of its money by the Army.

Bowen also reports that a huge number of projects awarded to large U.S. firms remain unfinished. A children’s hospital project in Basra, backed by Laura Bush, was supposed to be completed by Bechtel in 2005, but will cost up to $169 million and may never be finished. Thirteen of 14 projects undertaken by the Parsons Corp. engineering firm were found shoddy. A $75 million Parsons project for the largest police academy in Iraq was so bungled it may have to be demolished.

SIGIR’s deputy inspector general, Ginger Cruz, told me that the police academy’s plumbing was so grim that urine and feces dripped onto students, and on the SIGIR inspector who visited the building.

“We’re leaving behind a trail of failure,” Cruz says. “The power and oil situation isn’t better than when we came.” The problem, she says, goes beyond the security issues that have dogged the reconstruction effort.

There is a line in the movie Runaway Jury in which Rankin Fitch(Gene Hackman) says, and I paraphrase, that verdicts are too important to be left up to juries, uttered in contempt of the ability of the common citizen to listen to the evidence and deliver a just verdict. Fitch was giving voice to what the conservatives that rule America today believe. The law cannot to trusted the best jurists it can only be trusted to Republicans that believe much like they believe about Iraq reconstruction and pretty much everything else, that the law is for sale, Money trails lead to Bush judges

At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments. Some gave money directly to Bush after he officially nominated them. Other judges contributed to Republican campaign committees while they were under consideration for a judgeship.

Republicans who received money from judges en route to the bench include Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Gov. George Pataki of New York.

“He (Thomas Paine) saw oppression on every hand; injustice everywhere; hypocrisy at the altar; venality on the bench, tyranny on the throne; and with a splendid courage he espoused the cause of the weak against the strong” – Robert Green Ingersoll

“It’s a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken.” – Senator John Kerry


Do not wait for the last judgement. It takes place every day

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) is still in Congress, still casting votes on legislation, collecting a salary and other benefits courtesy the American taxpayer while others get a horizontal striped suit, Prison Time for Former Bush Aide in Lobbying Scandal

In happier days, Safavian accepted lavish favors from Abramoff, including a 2002 golf trip to Scotland, while helping Abramoff make business deals with the GSA.

Safavian’s case was the first in the Abramoff scandal to go to trial; six others, including Abramoff himself and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), have entered guilty pleas.

Abramoff’s sentencing has been postponed twice while he continues to cooperate with investigators. As Brian Ross reported on the Blotter, federal law enforcement officials say he has spent “hours and hours” with FBI agents detailing his relationships with dozens of members of Congress.

What makes little Bobby Ney better then David Safavian who was chief of staff of the General Services Administration with BushCo. Does Bobby know where more of the skeletons are buried. Why are Republicans waiting until after the election to show Ney the door.
Back in the old days, about seven years ago China was an evil communists regime and Bill Clinton was a bad bad man for even talking to them. Though it was OK for every Republican leader since Nixon to work out trade agreements, sell the Chinese American technology and for Republican business conglomerates to outsource manufacturing jobs to to the Chinese. Thinking about the multitude of Republican hypocrisies about China and what was right or wrong in the way America dealt with them would give a normal person a headache. Not that we’re not all capable of holding a contradictory set of opinions, but as usual conservatives and the Bush administration have pushed America’s China policy to ridiculous new heights. In the post 9-11 era, suddenly Chinese communism didn’t even merit mention in the infamous “axis of evil”. North Korea and its communist regime did though. Those that have not partaken of the conservative kool-aid have noticed that the three members of the “axis” are more of a threat now then they were 6 years ago: Iraq has become a living hell and central training ground for future terrorists, Iran is going ahead with its uranium enrichment program, and Bush allowed North Korea to become a full blown nuclear power. Maybe the Bush-Cheney-Rice brain trust has on some level realized that they have a particular talent for screwing up everything they touch. Which would explain why the  un-evil China is now in charge of America’s North Korea policy, Dear China: Thanks For All The Great Stuff At Wal-Mart. And For Telling North Korea To Stop Testing Nukes

Two weeks after North Korea conducted what it said was an underground nuclear test, US intelligence agencies believe the regime of Kim Jong Il may now have backed away from a threat to conduct a second test sometime soon. Officials with three U.S. intelligence agencies, who all asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, said signs have now receded that the second test is imminent.

The officials said that U.S. intelligence analysts have come up with several possible explanations. The theories revolve mainly around the role of China, North Korea’s neighbor and sometime supporter. After the North’s purported test on October 9, a high-level Chinese delegation visited Pyongyang. China’s envoy later reportedly told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that his trip had “not been in vain.” U.S. officials have more than one theory about what message the Chinese really delivered. According to one line of thinking, Beijing made it clear to Kim that China might crack down strongly if another nuclear test went ahead…[ ]

October 25, 2006, George W. Bush on Iraq, “Not only can we help them, we must help them,” (emphasis mine). Richard Engel’s “Agenda”: Not To See “Rotting Bodies, Bodies Buried In Shallow Graves.”

Earlier this month he interviewed a woman whose 13-year-old son was kidnapped. After she paid the $12,000 ransom, the boy was tortured and killed anyway.

“It’s horrible,” Engel says. “I’ve seen hundreds of dead bodies — rotting bodies, bodies buried in shallow graves. One time I watched a dog carry a severed human head in its mouth. You’re smelling bodies, you’re seeing people who are so angry and insanely distraught. The people who are being killed are too old, too stupid, too poor, too young or too weak, socially or otherwise, to leave.”

If Bush thinks that he is winning or can win (whatever winning is defined as this week) then what has he and Rumsfeld been doing in Iraq the past three years, holding back? Waiting for the right moment to save the Iraqi people that he and his supporters claim to care so very much about. More of Bush from the Union Leader column,

In a quieter voice, he said: “I am in disbelief that people don’t take these people (extremists) seriously.” And, “Much of the thinking and decision-making that I do now is based upon my belief that we’re in this grand ideological struggle. . . . We need to be on the offense all the time.”

Bush really should have the humility to stop using “we” when describing the war in Iraq that he started based on lies and gross distortions and sent others to fight. Bush has a personal record of avoiding responsibility and not placing himself in harm’s way. He could have enlisted in the regular military during the Vietnam war yet as quickly as he could he found a safe spot in the ANG.

No surprise here. It looks as though Sen.George Allen(R-VA) has more skeletons in his closet, George Allen’s Arrest Record

Our quote of the day comes from Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(Fl)

“I think it’s a shame to take this complex issue of winning the international war on terror and putting it at the level of whether you like or not like Donald Rumsfeld, and whether you like or don’t like President Bush’s personalities and the statements that he’s made,” she said.

Ileana doesn’t think its about the dead, the wounded, the serial failures, and that America is less safe because of Republican policies, she thinks, as do many Republicans that its all just one collective personality clash. Someone please buy her a box of tissue to clean the mud off her glasses.If Ileana or her co-conspirators cannot see the problem how can they be part of the solution.

“Do not wait for the last judgement. It takes place every day.” -Albert Camus

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
-Abraham Lincoln

One of the principles that we operate on in this country is that leaders are held accountable

Good thing I’m not a political consultant. If my candidate asked me if I thought it was a good idea to attack a veteran and question his patriotism without the slightest shred of evidence. I would have said that it would be immoral to do so. I would have said to stick to the issues and make your arguments on the merits. I would have said that unless you had smoking gun evidence that they did something criminal during their military career to just back off. If my candidate went ahead and made those attacks which were not of any substance, but used as mud slinging in a disagreements over foreign policy I would have called him or her crazy. Which might make me an ethical consultant, but probably one that couldn’t find work in a Republican campaign, Calif. Vet Slams GOP Congressional Foe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Democratic Vietnam veteran running for Congress lashed out at his Republican opponent Friday after a series of Republican-financed attacks questioning his support for U.S. troops.

In a rare display of anger, retired Air Force Maj. Charlie Brown called Republican Rep. John Doolittle a coward who is “hiding behind the flag” and slammed him for failing to serve in Vietnam.

“While I was being shot at in Vietnam, John Doolittle was practicing his tennis game at (the University of California) Santa Cruz,” Brown said during a news conference as he was surrounded by fellow veterans.

Brown, 56, left the Air Force in 1998 after 26 years of service. His wife, Jan, also served in the Air Force as a nurse and his son, Jeff, is an Air Force captain who will begin his fourth tour of duty in Iraq in December.

Doolittle campaign spokesman Richard Robinson said the campaign was “thrilled” Brown decided to bring attention to such issues.

“He is not who he says he is,” Robinson said. “He says he is supportive of our troops, but he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with left-wing activists at a rally sponsored by (the women’s peace and social justice group) Code Pink. We think it’s important for the public to know that.”

Doolittle seems to be gasping, he’s weak, fresh out of ideas. Doo might need some stem cell research to see if scientists can’t replace his dead morality cells. Doolittle wants to use the tired old conservative anti-military smear attacks against the dad of someone serving in Iraq? How clever and original, another Republican not only attacks a vet’s patriotism, but attacks a whole family that has served their country with honor. Doolittle is not guaranteed a victory, but he does live in an overwhelmingly conservative district. A Doolittle victory would say more about the culture of moral corruption that Republicans have been cultivating the last forty years then is does about this particular race. Attach the sign of the sacred “R” after your candidate’s name and like a wizard’s curse your lack of service and courage becomes a patriotic asset, while military service in a Democrat becomes a negative. Swear alliance to the sacred “R” and suddenly your Jesus is bigger and better then a “D” Jesus. Surround yourself with other “R”s and the dealings you engage in that are every bit as corrupt as the worse dealings of organized crime are miraculously transformed into just being “pro-business”. George W. Bush sent America’s sons and daughters to die Iraq based on a bunch of lies and he’s a hero of the sacred cult of “R”. Cindy Sheehan says she doesn’t want anymore soldiers to die for that lie and she is, according to the Rep. John Doolittles of this country, unamerican. In conservative country evil becomes good, good becomes evil and loyalty to the almighty R trumps what is best for America.

The power of Bob Perry’s ‘Swift-Boating’ money

In mid-September, TPMMuckraker.com’s Paul Kiel reported that Perry’s Free Enterprise Fund is again “working with” Stevens, Reed, Curcio, and Potholm (SRCP), the same group that produced the Swift Boat ads. Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potholm has worked for the National Republican Campaign Committee as well as a number of top-shelf Republicans including Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Kiel pointed out that “This July, the group got in hot water for an ad it ran against Ohio Senate candidate Sherrod Brown…which hit Brown for being weak on national security, [and] featured a doctored image of the twin towers with photogenic smoke hovering around them.”

The media backed down from running a movie that was less then mindless idolatry of Ronald “Iran-Contra” Reagan and some of the media is putting up some roadblocks to the Dixie Chicks new documentary, but the media doesn’t have a problem accepting Stalinesque trash from sleazy members of the conservative mafia like Bob Perry,

In the good old days, if you scrimped and saved and bought your dream home in Texas, you could sleep easy at night knowing that the roof over your head was protected by a common-sense legal doctrine. Known as an implied warranty of habitability, in layman’s terms it meant that — whether or not anything was put in writing — the courts would hold the builder to a guarantee that your home was fit to live in and constructed with care. If your foundation sagged or your windows leaked or your roof caved in, you could demand that the builder fix the defect and take him to court if he didn’t.

That option is no longer available. In 2003, after spreading around $9 million in campaign contributions, the powerful home builders’ lobby got the Legislature to agree with its contention that implied warranties were too darn vague and that the lawsuits they produced were too damaging to the industry. Instead, it asked lawmakers to create a new state agency to protect builders from legal retribution. It was one of the most blatant power plays in recent years, made possible by an anti-lawsuit fervor that swept through the new Republican-controlled Legislature and by the influence of two politically active builders: the biggest individual contributor, Bob Perry (no relation to Governor Rick Perry but lots of political ties), and the co-founder of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Dick Weekley.

“One of the principles that we operate on in this country is that leaders are held accountable. The simple truth is that we went into Iraq on the basis of some intuition, some fear, and some exaggerated rhetoric and some very, very scanty evidence.” – General Wesley Clark

“As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.” – John Stuart Mill

Either you think — or else others have to think for you

How Now, Grown Dow? Republicans say the stock market is at a record high. Eh, not really

And serious investors don’t even use the Dow as much of a benchmark. According to Dow Jones, between Exchange-Traded Funds, mutual funds, and other products, “more than $47 billion” is invested in assets tied directly to the index. That’s a tiny figure. The S&P 500, whose constituents represent 80 percent of the overall market, is a much more accurate gauge of general market performance. According to Standard & Poor’s, some $1.26 trillion in assets is indexed to the S&P 500. Its breadth likewise makes it a much more popular benchmark for investors of all kinds. And when you look at the S&P 500, it’s clear that the stock-market recovery is not as broad as the Republicans would like you to think. Though it has recovered substantially from its 2002 low, the index is still off nearly 10 percent from its 2000 peak. As for the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, which has about $186 billion indexed to it, it would have to nearly triple in order to set a record high. So, the claim that “the stock market” is at an all-time high simply doesn’t match most investors’ experiences.


The distinction between the performance of the Dow and that of the other market indices is a perfect metaphor for the economy under Bush. Assume the stock market represents America. The Dow components—the tiny minority of the richest—are putting up record numbers, while the masses are struggling to do as well as they did in the late 1990s.

Variety isn’t exactly a paragon of accurate reportage, but the general jiest of the story is true.

According to the Weinstein Co., NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it “cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.”

It is not that no ads can be bought, according to the story some ads have been bought and appeared on NBC affiliates. Still there is a level of censorship by way of putting up hurdles. eRiposte has a good though not complete record of various major media outlets showing a clear hostility to certain ads and programing. Some of it from conservative sources, but most of the censorship was directed at the left of center. A Republican blogger suggested that it was all a publicity stunt, while he offered no evidence ( a tale taled mark of the red ruffled conservative blogger), it is possible that the more road blocks that media outlets put up to the publicity of the Dixie Chicks documentary “Shut Up & Sing ” the more attention the documentary will get. While it will preach to the choir of people that still believe in the Bill of Rights over an arrogant frat boy with a fake ranch, it may give the independents pause to go and see the film. It looks as though Republicans that only o speak up for free speech when it comes to cartoons poking fun at Islam would learn their lesson about taking cheap shots at Democratic leaning entertainers. Limbaugh may have played a big role in winning the Democrats a congressional seat from Missouri and the conservative leaning national media may have created a huge audience for a documentary by some uppity women that dared to practice their right to free expression.

A Country Ruled by Faith

The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government—until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present. George W. Bush was not only born-again, like Jimmy Carter. His religious conversion came late, and took place in the political setting of Billy Graham’s ministry to the powerful. He was converted during a stroll with Graham on his father’s Kennebunkport compound. It is true that Dwight Eisenhower was guided to baptism by Graham. But Eisenhower was a famous and formed man, the principal military figure of World War II, the leader of NATO, the president of Columbia University—his change in religious orientation was just an addition to many prior achievements. Bush’s conversion at a comparatively young stage in his life was a wrenching away from mainly wasted years. He joined a Bible study culture in Texas that was unlike anything Eisenhower bought into.

Bush was a saved alcoholic—and here, too, he had no predecessor in the White House. Ulysses Grant conquered the bottle, but not with the help of Jesus.

Wills also gets into the battle with terrorism as The Faith Based War, the Right’s war on science, and faith based justice. The world didn’t begin to see anything resembling real social or criminal justice until it became fact centered rather then faith centered. One can understand why the Right would welcome the return of faith based justice, no facts required.

Either you think — or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility

The whole voting machine mess is going to haunt us for years. It just seems absurd that we do not have some bottom line standard for an audit trail. Diebold Hid Faulty Machines From Elections Board. It doesn’t matter which side will actually win in any race, especially a race won by a few percentage points, it will be tainted. While I hope most people will use absentee ballots, that will still leave many voters who will use Diebold machines.

What is the biggest feature missing from Firefox v2.0 and Opera? A little button where you can toggle off flash ads.

Vote for the party with a plan, vote for the party that absolutely guarantees more of this, U.S. Deaths In Iraq Near Peak Months. In this artcle about Iran, Daniel Ellsberg really nails what is wrong with the Republican approach to Iraq and to terrorism in general,

One insider aware of the Iraq plans, and knowledgeable about the inevitably disastrous result of executing those plans, was Richard Clarke, chief of counterterrorism for George W. Bush and adviser to three presidents before him. He had spent September 11, 2001, in the White House, coordinating the nation’s response to the attacks. He reports in his memoir, Against All Enemies, discovering the next morning, to his amazement, that most discussions there were about attacking Iraq.

Clarke told Bush and Rumsfeld that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, or with its perpetrator, Al Qaeda. As Clarke said to Secretary of State Colin Powell that afternoon, “Having been attacked by al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response”-which Rumsfeld was already urging-“would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.”

Actually, Clarke foresaw that it would be much worse than that. Attacking Iraq not only would be a crippling distraction from the task of pursuing the real enemy but would in fact aid that enemy: “Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country.”

I single out Clarke-by all accounts among the best of the best of public servants-only because of his unique role in counterterrorism and because, thanks to his illuminating 2004 memoir, we know his thoughts at that time, and, in particular, the intensity of his anguish and frustration. Such a memoir allows us, as we read each new revelation, to ask a simple question: What difference might it have made to events if he had told us this at the time?

Clarke was not, of course, the only one who could have told us, or told Congress. We know from other accounts that both of his key judgments-the absence of linkage between Al Qaeda and Saddam and his correct prediction that “attacking Iraq would actually make America less secure and strengthen the broader radical Islamic terrorist movement”-were shared by many professionals in the CIA, the State Department, and the military.

Bush and conservatives have failed America in many ways, but this is probably the most blatantly deadly. The number of terrorists and terror attacks didn’t suddenly go up under the Bush presidency with Republicans manning the helm in every branch and department of government because of some odd coincidence; Bush and his followers have bolstered their recruiting efforts. It is as though conservatives, hell bent on staying this same course are enjoying the bloodbath. Oh how dare I say that. Look around people do things all the time that they are certain will bring positive results and the opposite is true. The current crop of little boys that are in love with their toys of power are no different from your neighbor that found and ant in the kitchen and then moved to a motel for three days while he had the house fumigated. Look at Bush’s personal and business history or Cheney’s miserable record in government. These are guys that just can’t seem to get things right. The doctor taps their knee checking for reflexes and they kick her into the next office. Something in modern Republicans like Bush and Cheney simply isn’t wired together like a normal rational human being. You could put them in a time machine and send them back forty years to start all over again on another planet and they’d still find a way to get what ever it is that needs to be done flat wrong.

Remember how upset Republicans were about the release by a Democrat no less of the summary of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the corruption concerning Republican Congressman Rep. Duke Cunningham. Then Pete Hoekstra(R) puffed up into a little hypocritical hissy fit and lashed out by accusing some little Dem staffer of leaking the report to the NYT. Some Republican bloggers were all over that, hadn’t Democrats learned their lesson, only Republicans like Tricky Dick Cheney are allowed to leak. Turns out Pete and the Republican bloggers jumped the shark yet again, There’s a fight

The accusation is one for which Hoekstra’s staff now reportedly concedes the chairman has no evidence. Rep. LaHood (R-IL), who first leveled the accusation, went so far as to tell Fox News that the accusation was payback for Cunningham.

Phillips Curve, Output Gaps, and the Effectiveness of Those Tax Cuts

Since Bush43 took office, real GDP growth has averaged 2.6% per year with the CBO suggesting potential GDP growth has been only 3% per year. In other words, the fiscal irresponsibility has reduced long-term growth and has not really led to some Keynesian miracle either. And yet the pseudo-economists are praising this economy.

That is because slowly but surely most economists have been taken in by voodoo economics. I don’t don’t want them to become “liberal” economists as much as I would like to to consider and weigh the various trends of our economy in a way that is not partisan.

“In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption.”
General Anthony Zinni

“The Republicans are running wild with our tax dollars and it’s been a mistake to let this administration continue a policy of incompetence when it comes to Iraq.”
Sherrod Brown(D)

The only maxim of a free ‘government’ ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty

What did Bush propose in his press conference that will change things on the ground in Iraq? He has not proposed any real change that will stop the sectarian violence. That being the case there are be no real progress in economic reconstruction because there is simply too much violence to do so. This is partly Rumsfeld’s fault, but as Bush himself has said, ultimately the responsibility rest with him. We all know by now that Bush’s grasp responsibility is passive at best. So don’t expect much in the way of atonement. Bush continues to spin while he claims he is being blunt and honest. From the WH website,

A military solution alone will not stop violence. In the end, the Iraqi people and their government will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve these problems. So, in addition to refining our military tactics to defeat the enemy, we’re also working to help the Iraqi government achieve a political solution that brings together Shia and Sunnis and Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups.

Yesterday, our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad laid out a three-step approach. First, we’re working with political and religious leaders across Iraq, urging them to take steps to restrain their followers and stop sectarian violence.

Second, we’re helping Iraqi leaders to complete work on a national compact to resolve the most difficult issues dividing their country.

We’ve had three years of conservative solutions, political and military. If time was the most crucial element at stake they have proved that they know how to take their time, but not what to do with it.

Iraqi Premier Denies U.S. Assertion He Agreed to Timelines

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at the United States on Wednesday, saying his popularly elected government would not bend to U.S.-imposed benchmarks and timelines and criticizing a U.S.-Iraqi military operation in a Shiite slum in Baghdad that left at least five people dead and 20 wounded.

Maliki’s comments came a day after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the prime minister had agreed to timelines for accomplishing several critical goals, including developing plans to deal with militias, amend the constitution and equitably distribute Iraq’s oil revenue.

“I affirm that this government represents the will of the people, and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it,” Maliki said at a nationally televised news conference Wednesday. “The Americans have the right to review their policies, but we do not believe in a timetable.”

With less than two weeks to go before critical midterm elections in the United States, Maliki accused U.S. officials of election-year grandstanding, saying that deadlines were not logical and were “the result of elections taking place right now that do not involve us.”

In a conference call with reporters, two senior Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on Maliki’s statements on the Bush administration benchmarks.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the panel, said, “I think the page we are on differs and is rewritten day to day to try to get past the elections here.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a West Point graduate who just returned from Iraq, said Maliki’s comment “deliberately repudiates what the president’s saying.” He called it “disheartening” but said it “might be a function of politics of Iraq as much as a function of politics of the United States. But it does not appear they’re even at the level of how to talk about the problem.”

If we’re staying the course, it is a course that has zigged and zagged the last few weeks. That wouldn’t have anything to do with the elections now would it? It as though they are trying out messages and whatever one gets Republicans a bump in the polls is the one they’ll stick with. U.S. generals call for Democratic takeover

Far from being a trend since there are hundreds of political negative Republican ads running across the country, but at least in Missouri and Tennessee they seem to be backfiring, Two blow-ups over TV ads in a couple of key races could cause a problematic backlash against Republicans.

The New York Times’ TV critic writes about the ads, which show him swaying back and forth uncontrollably: “Mr. Fox’s display of the toll Parkinson’s disease has taken on him turned into one of the most powerful and talked about political advertisements in years… The issue of embryonic stem cell research is divisive, but Mr. Fox is not.”

Even stem cell research itself is not controversial. Some conservatives BELIEVE that it is and have shouted so at every opportunity. Like many other issues facing America conservatives are engaging in this argument in a way that hurts America. It hurts us as a nation because the level of discourse cannot be rational when one side engages in 19 angels fit on the head of a pin type arguments. While this argument takes place there are far more important issues like health-care left to wilt from neglect. That is probably the role that the Limbaugh’s and Patricia Heatons play they are useful idiots that keep that national debate from getting anywhere.

Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism

Perhaps the most ingenious of the psychological theories is that of Uta Frith of University College London and Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, who posit that the main abnormality in autism is a deficit in the ability to construct a “theory of other minds.” Frith and Baron-Cohen argue that specialized neural circuitry in the brain allows us to create sophisticated hypotheses about the inner workings of other people’s minds. These hypotheses, in turn, enable us to make useful predictions about others’ behavior. Frith and Baron-Cohen are obviously on the right track, but their theory does not provide a complete explanation for the constellation of seemingly unrelated symptoms of autism. Indeed, saying that people with autism cannot interact socially because they lack a “theory of other minds” does not go very far beyond restating the symptoms. What researchers need to identify are the brain mechanisms whose known functions match those that are disrupted in autism.

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the People, who have… a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers. There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free ‘government’ ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among people.” President John Adams

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living

American Progress has their newest Iraq Report Card out, Heads in the Sand

At an event on Capitol Hill today with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the Center for American Progress Action Fund released its third quarterly “report card” this year on the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq. The analysis, written by senior fellows Brian Katulis and Lawrence Korb, evaluates the progress towards the goals identified in the administration’s “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” and “finds Iraq on the brink of collapse, with growing violence, increased sectarian tensions and divisions in the Iraqi national government, and few significant advances in Iraq’s economic reconstruction. All indicators point to the utter failure of President Bush’s strategy for Iraq.” This evaluation tracks with a growing chorus of concerns coming from allies of Bush. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said yesterday, “We’re on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working.” Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) added that the administration has to “face the fact” that Iraq is now in a civil war. Put on the defensive, White House Counselor Dan Bartlett countered with a media blitz yesterday morning. “We know there is a sense of urgency,” he said, adding that the administration did not have its “heads in the sand” on Iraq. Yet, that’s the undeniable impression that the White House has created. While the administration continues to assert that there have been great successes in Iraq, a recent poll finds only 19 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is winning.(emphasis mine)

The whole Iraq debacle could be at the very least headed in a measurably positive direction,, but Bush and his supporters want it to continue to stay on the road to failure. Seems unpatriotic if not criminally negligent to continue to plan for failure, but then that is just a reality based opinion. When in the last three years has the administration and its cheerleaders made one good move. There is this determination by conservatives to try and mold reality, that given enough time they’ll turn a corner. If the situation in Iraq has been deteriorating from the first few months after the invasion simply deny the reality. Stay the course, they never said stay the course, oh yes we are staying the course – the politics of life and death where troops die and homeside conservatives keep swearing they’re not chickenhawks.

If the nation is sinking into a swamp of debt from which it may take a generation to pay, simply shift gears and suggests that the people that are concerned about that debt love taxes, not that the president and a conservative congress that have created this burden for the nation’s children have been irresponsible, President Says Democrats Are ‘Disposed’ to Increase Taxes

“George Bush sure has a lot to say for a guy who added $3 trillion to the nation’s debt,” responded Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Republican party’s values: elective wars, death, and continued failure are good, quiqmire’s are good, fiscal madness is swell. Vote for more of the same.

At least one Republican has come up with a creative way to handle the illegal alien problem, hide them in the basement. Exclusive: Former Employee Says Gibbons Knew of Her Illegal Status

Sandoval says she worked for Jim Gibbons and his wife Dawn for several years, starting in 1987, and that the family has tried to cover it up. It’s a story pregnant with political implications.

Congressman Jim Gibbons (R) is running for governor of Nevada.

Republican Oxycontin addict Rush Limbaugh must like feet, he keeps putting his in his mouth, Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox

Contrary to the charge that Fox might not take his medicine to enhance his symptoms, the medicine produces some of the uncontrolled body movements.

“Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” Fox says in the Cardin ad. “But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.”

The issue is not, as most of the Republican blogs have tried to make it, that Fox is a victim and thus how dare anyone disagree with him. The point is that Limbaugh among a host of others have simply piled on Fox for supporting stem cell research and Democrats. All these self appointed demi-gods of values had to say was that they disagreed with Fox and Democrats about the stem cell issue and pointed to some solid scientific evidence to back up their claims. Such as this letter drafted by 80 Nobel laureates

The therapeutic promise of pluripotent stem cells is based on more than two decades of research in mice and other animal models. This research confirms that pluripotent stem cells are capable of generating all of the cell types of the body. Most importantly, the therapeutic potential of these cells has already been demonstrated…Nerve cells have successfully reversed the progression of the equivalent of multiple sclerosis in mice and have restored function to the limbs of partially paralyzed rats; and insulin-secreting cells have normalized blood glucose in diabetic mice. These findings suggest that therapies using these cells may one day provide important new strategies for the treatment for a host of currently untreatable disorders

Instead, like every other issue, they just start talking louder and repeating the same inanities over and over again. Republican Playbook, Chapter One: When you cannot win the argument on facts simply start yelling the most depraved accusations you can think of at your opponent. It is little wonder that some people think that conservatism is some kind of mental ailment rather then a political point of view.

“A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Fake is as old as the Eden tree.” Orson Welles

A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals

I was going to write something about the grotesque and utterly immoral reaction by the Republican wing-nuttery over the Micheal J. Fox ad for Claire McCatskill’s race for Senate race in Missouri, but CorrentWire has an excellent post up about Limbaugh and Mahablog has a post on chickenhawk Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt’s blog and The Anchoress among others.

All and all it is just another day in the land of pretend patriots with values so distorted by malice and hate its a wonder that they can calm themselves enough to type out their bile. On the other hand maybe its that they do not have any real feelings and sit down with hearts of cold mud and and bang out load after load of crap because that is just what conservatives are. Abramoff Probe Hopes to Nab Another Congressman

The FBI and Justice Department appear to be expanding their probe into the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal in hopes of nabbing another member of Congress and aides, according to sources involved in the case.

The sources said that Justice is acting on more information gathered from Abramoff–who insiders say now has his own desk at the FBI to help in the investigation–and other scandal figures. It isn’t backing off the public corruption case even though no new lawmakers or top Hill aides have emerged as suspects in recent weeks.

“We thought it was wrapping up, but they’ve indicated that it is really about to expand,” said one source involved in the case. “It’s not ending anytime soon or even when he goes to jail.”

Texas GOP Lawmaker Shows How Not to Handle a Scandal

As we reported back in September, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) took the floor of Congress in 1996 to question a 15 year-old girl’s claim that she had been the victim of sex trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands, a client of Jack Abramoff. “[S]he wanted to do nude dancing,” Hall said. A lobbyist working with Abramoff helped Hall prepare his statement, and Abramoff had earlier paid for a trip by Hall to the islands.

I’m sure the good people of Texas are having one big grimace at the shame that is Ralph Hall.

For those that think that I might have been a little rough on Republicans and their waging the dog in Iraq with American lives to win elections, Desperate GOP Stoops to Lowest Fear Politics Imaginable

“If we were to follow the Democrats’ prescriptions and withdraw from Iraq, we would be fulfilling Osama bin Laden’s highest aspirations,” Bush said at an Oct. 19 campaign speech in La Plume, Pennsylvania. “We should at least be able to agree that the path to victory is not to do precisely what the terrorists want.”

But these appeals from the RNC and Bush ignore U.S. intelligence information indicating that what al-Qaeda really wants is for the United States to remain bogged down in Iraq so the terrorist band can use the American occupation to recruit and train a new generation of jihadists, who can then be deployed against targets outside Iraq.

In effect, Bush and bin Laden share a common goal in Iraq. They both want U.S. forces to “stay the course.”

This past August and September were the two deadliest months on record for Iraqis, and October is set to exceed even those levels.

The rising sectarian violence is poisoning the atmosphere for any possible reconciliation or deal. Every week, new killings mean new reasons for vengeance and diminished prospects for compromise.

Another dangerous new trend is the rapid disintegration of political authority across the country. As the vacuum in security and authority widens, political leaders in Baghdad are losing control of their militias and cadres across the country. Local gangs are asserting power in their neighborhoods and making money in the protection business. They will not easily give it up. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently made an analogy to Algeria’s civil war, pointing out that it took 13 years before that conflict burned out. But Algeria had a unified, competent government facing a reasonably unified, competent insurgency. That’s simple compared with Iraq’s chaos.

Fareed Zakaria is being generous, every month for two years the Bush administration has let things spiral out of control and refused to make adjustments and come up with a better plan. Its likely that if U.S. had just packed up and left a year ago that Iraq would be less violent then it is now.
There is just no getting away from Republican recklessness, whether it is domestic sex scandals, paid for legislation or foreign policy Russian roulette, Rice Sees Bright Spot In China’s New Role Since N. Korean Test

Before North Korea announced it had detonated a nuclear device, some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration.

On her trip to Asia this week, Rice has come close to saying the test was a net plus for the United States. She has tried to deflect criticism by saying the test was an affirmation, rather than a failure, of the Bush administration’s policy of trying to draw China deeper into negotiations on North Korea.

North Korea fell right into the administration’s cleverly laid trap and went ahead with  nuclear weapons development and a test? Liberal Values asks, Anyone need any further evidence that this is the most incompetent, reckless administration in history?

I’m not sure but this may be the first time in a century that active duty troops have petitioned an end to a war and sought protection as legitimate whistle blowers, Active-Duty Troops Launch Campaign to Press Congress to End U.S. Occupation of Iraq
By tommorrow we can expect Dean Barnett, Limbaugh, The Anchoress and other unwashed members of looneyville to start Swiftboating these guys. We’ll probably even get some photos and e-mail so their readers can start the death threats.

“A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.”

“I’ll say this for Limbaugh, he’s consistently shameless. Here’s a guy who makes tens of millions of dollars per year spouting the company line to his legions of hardcore fans – yet he’s always coming up with new ways to make a buck.” Richard Roeper

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt buddy

Are conservatives the pin-ball machine of values and politics? They have more power and money then a Roman emperor could hope for. They can and do whatever they want – sleep at the wheel and let 9-11 happen, lie us into wars, shift the majority of the tax burden to the working and middle classes, turn legislation into a pay for play business proposition and when they are not busy with that they’re savaging environmental laws and the Constitution, and here. Now in a book review of Andrew Sullivan’s THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL, Andrew tells us that somehow all the plans, the policies, the screw-ups, the ineptitude, placing partisanship above country, ideological attacks directed at the core of American values are simply the result of an inadvertent wrong turn. That’s right, while the fringe Christian Right was holding the map of the Republican agenda, George Bush and the majority of the U. S. Congress didn’t put their reading glasses on first and headed in the wrong direction.

In the book’s second half, Sullivan switches from anger to nostalgia, reaching back to remind us of the things that made Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s brand of conservatism so appealing and so successful as a mode of governance. He traces the influence of fundamentalists to Bill Clinton’s various personal deficiencies, which triggered a moral counterattack from Christian leaders who felt they knew something about morality. It’s a good story, but Sullivan doesn’t tell it with any narrative grace. Instead, he gnashes his teeth in frustration at the changes this period brought to conservatism. It’s the hallmark of his book — a fine intellectual effort that, for all Sullivan’s clear thinking and clear prose, probably won’t change any minds that fundamentalist beliefs haven’t already ossified.

Sullivan can stick his hand up Hegel, Hobbes and Leo Strauss’s back and pull all the strings he wants. Everything that conservatives have done since Sullivan’s beloved Reagan are part and parcel of the conservative agenda. To say that somehow the American Taliban seized control of the wheel is just more of the kind of responsibility avoidance that has embodied Republican power since Richard Nixon.

The party I grew up in, which stood for fiscal discipline and strong defense and avoided the sloppiness and stained dresses of so many good-hearted Democratic administrations, seems to have been conquered by people who think stem-cell research is murder, who want to ban unpopular sex acts and who have proven incapable of managing such basic government tasks as disaster relief and a war. A war! That used to be the one thing you knew the GOP could run efficiently. Now, well, now it’s gotten to the point where I’m just too embarrassed to admit that I’m a Republican.

What war was that Republicans managed so well. Vietnam?. Given the reigns of power Republicans, save a few milliseconds here and there, have never used it with honor or integrity. Obviously Sullivan’s book isn’t directed at me, but it is directed at far right pundits like Jonah Goldberg who writes at The National Review Sunday, October 22, 2006 Silly Review [Jonah Goldberg]

Never mind the scandalous slander — made no less scandalous by its constant repetition — that American fundamentalist Christians are a greater threat to our nation than terrorists seeking to kill and/or convert us. Forget that he falls for Sullivan’s two-dimensional portrayal of monolithic Christian fundamentalism in the United States (which David Brooks does not do in his NYT review). What is staggering here is that Burrough honestly thinks Christian conservatism or social conservatism actually represents something as goofy and intellectually illegitimate as Leonard Jeffries style Afrocentrism. That’s self-discrediting.

So Goldberg (“self-discrediting” is Jonah’s way of saying he was too lazy to write a real rebuttal) who is considered a mainstream conservative hardly seems ready to tell James Dobson or Pat Robertson to take a hike and start their own party. The reason Jonah and most conservatives won’t is because they cannot win elections without that 24% of their base. If its a choice between taking parables about Eden literally and winning elections or being rational loosing elections, Jonah and Karl Rove will always choice the former. Andrew isn’t just wrong about there being anything worth wrangling away from the American fundies, he’s wrong to think that the current captains of conservatism want things any other way. Its like this Andrew, if you peel off the outer shell of dogmatism then conservatives really would have to win based on ideas. When that days comes is Sullivan delusional enough to think that they ever be the majority party based on the ideas of Leo Strauss when the people can vote for the party of Thomas Jefferson. ( Former Bush administration Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard are Straussians. Strauss was an admired of Friedrich Nietzsche. Connect the dots, moral relativism and social darwinism dressed up in a stiff suit).

From Thinkprogress, Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’ Watch it:

Bush is wrong:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

Bush is a charter member of the power of denial club. If you don’t send that little card back the RNC sends you another bottle of denial every month, postage not included.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt,
buddy. You will only get your mojo
back when you surround yourself with

Oh, I get what you’re saying now!
He’s talking about free love, baby!
Tune in, turn on, and drop out!

I am talking about true love. You
must stay and study until you are
from the screenplay AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME By Mike Myers