Bush’s Iraq the Gift That Keeps on Giving and How Much is a Good Pundit Worth

Dubya pardons self

Dan Froomkin asks how much of Bush’s “war on terror” was based on less then the optimum amount of truth. As much as we know now, the years ahead, as typified by the latest revelations about some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay will be a trip down a nightmarish rabbit hole, Another Falsehood Exposed

The latest example came yesterday in a federal courtroom in Washington, where a Bush-appointed judge ordered the release of five Algerian men who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for almost seven years.

The president showcased the men in his seminal, bellicose 2002 State of the Union speech as part of a litany of alleged threats — some averted, some not — facing the nation. “Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy,” Bush said at the time.

But once detainees were given the right to challenge their detention, the government dropped the embassy allegation.

This was presumably because there was even less evidence to support it than the remaining charges — which the judge yesterday disclosed consisted of one unsubstantiated allegation by an unnamed source of undetermined credibility.

Besides the obvious injustice, Bush has also done an admirable job in service of the Chicken-Little Brigade. The American people might really need to pay attention to a security warning one day, to be aware of some imminent threat, but have been told the sky is falling so many times they ignore the warning. Its difficult to run a democracy without trust – hopefully that essential ingredient will not be lasting part of the Bush legacy.

More on the Iraq SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement). H/T to War and Piece for this post, Security Agreement Déjà Vu

Citing the false beliefs that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that the United States used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, one Islamist Shiite lawmaker said that the negotiators had to be sure the Americans would not smuggle wanted people out of Iraq — or sneak in nuclear weapons.

There is some earlier history that might further explain Iraqi skepticism.

[  ]…    The Status of Forces Agreement and the wider Strategic Framework Agreement accompanying it are the latest in a long line of treaties, pacts and agreements negotiated by successive Iraqi governments with powerful western nations dating back to just after the First World War.

Few of these treaties produced terms that satisfied domestic Iraqi nationalists. At least one — in 1948 — ended with riots and the forced resignation of Iraq’s first Shiite prime minister. That fact was unlikely to have been lost on Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s own, Shiite-led, government.

We have collected contemporary reports from The New York Times of some of those previous negotiations. The echoes of today’s headlines are uncanny.

In a treaty signed on Oct. 10, 1922, Britain agreed to prepare the country for independence. But the treaty postponed discussion of exactly how this would happen, and effectively prolonged Britain’s mandate under another form for at least 20 years (a period later reduced). …

President-elect Obama has expressed the general goal of redeploying from Iraq in 16 months. The SOFA says that isn’t likely and the Pentagon has, in alignment with the current SOFA said that it is not going to be possible to leave Iraq in less then 36 months.

And this week Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen — the man President-elect Obama plans to call into the Oval Office as soon as he arrives — wheeled it into place and launched it like a missile aimed at the heart of Obama’s 16-month withdrawal plan for U.S. combat troops in Iraq. It may not sound like much, but believe me, it is. The Chairman simply said, “We have 150,000 troops in Iraq right now. We have lots of bases. We have an awful lot of equipment that’s there. And so we would have to look at all of that tied to, obviously, the conditions that are there, literally the security conditions… Clearly, we’d want to be able to do it safely.” Getting it all out safely, he estimated, would take at least “two to three years.”

Its called a rock and hard place. For whatever reasons, political or humanitarian, no one wants Iraq to flare up another round of sectarian warfare or start a military campaign against the last few brigades waiting to leave. So we’re probably going to be there a while.

How much is a Detroit autoworker really worth? in which Megan McArdle tries to claim that UAW workers really do make $70 an hour when you turn the accounting sheets upside down and squint hard enough. Why McArdle shouldn’t be an accountant, Debunking the myth of the $70-per-hour autoworker.

According to Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automative Research–who was my primary source for the figures you are about to read–average wages for workers at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007. That works out to a little less than $60,000 a year in gross income–hardly outrageous, particularly when you consider the physical demands of automobile assembly work and the skills most workers must acquire over the course of their careers.

I honestly do not mean to pile on, but this reply she left in comments shows that she has more a picture in her head of how the auto industry works then real knowledge. How much is this punditry worth,

UAW workers get paid a hell of a lot more than almost anyone else with their skill level for producing an inferior product, and this is not, long term, a sustainable situation for the company. The magnitude is almost irrelevant, given how long it has been going on.

Working an auto assembly line is hard arduous work and they do not make an “inferior product”. UAW workers assemble a product that was designed by engineers, gutted of much of its quality by the bean counting costs accountants and approved by management. This is a partial list of GM’s executives. Odd how we never hear about their salaries and benefits ( total executive payroll costs to the company and the estimated value of their contributions to company profits – which since GM is basically bankrupt, would be zero as of today), or how top heavy GM is in executives.

General Motors- In 2007, G. Richard Wagoner raked in $14,415,914 in total compensation according to the SEC. According to the AFL-CIO’s calculation method*, this CEO raked in $19,761,874 in total 2007 compensation.

Ford – In 2007, Alan Mulally raked in $21,670,674 in total compensation according to the SEC. According to the AFL-CIO’s calculation method*, this CEO raked in $22,750,385 in total 2007 compensation.

Foreign car companies like Toyota are frequently sited by the anti-union crowd as an example to be followed, Toyota: Auto Industry Race to the Bottom – September 16th, 2008

Toyota’s supplier plants also make extensive use of guest or “trainee” workers – under conditions that in some respects qualify as human trafficking: The workers, most of whom come from China and Vietnam, pay manpower agencies in their home countries as much as $8,000 to $10,000 for a two- or three-year contract.

Toyota’s website touts its commitment to diversity, calling it: “one of our top ten business initiatives, and our goal is to continue to foster best practices in every aspect of our business, including employment, dealers, procurement, communications and advertising, and philanthropy.”

Despite this commitment, Toyota’s foreign workers in Japan are second-class citizens. On arrival the guest workers’ passports are confiscated.  During the first year as “trainees,” they are not covered by Japan’s labor or minimum wage laws. They work alongside Japanese workers, putting in the same long hours, but often earning less than half the minimum wage – as little as $2.76 an hour, or $479 a month. As guest workers, they are required to remain with the same employer – no matter how bad the working conditions – and to live in the company housing assigned to them – even though some are charged twice what their Japanese colleagues pay for comparable accommodations. Any worker who tries to change jobs, or who complains about conditions may be forcibly deported. By the time food, housing, and taxes are deducted, some guest workers end up earning less than $600 for an entire year, according to several advocacy organizations and unions that work with subcontract plant temp and guest workers.