Friday, December 31, 2004
Bush's budget will not include the costs of the Iraq war. It will also not include the cost of his proposed Social Security privatization. The reason? The costs are unknowable.
What a great idea. I like it so much, I might implement the system myself.
That adjustable rate mortgage? Hmmmm, future interest rates are unknowable, so I guess I'll just take the mortgage payments off the budget. My car repair bills for next year? Why, those are also unknowable, so I'll ditch those too. Federal income tax? Well, I could estimate those, but I don't know what they'll be, so I'll leave THAT out of the budget, too.
Voila! I'm running a huge surplus! I feel so good about myself.
But now what what do I do about all those nasty bills? I know - I'll see if I can find some rich Chinese guy to buy my worthless bonds. And if I can't find one, I'll just wrap all the bills up in a ribbon and given them to my kids on their 21st birthday.
What a great idea.
Number of deaths due to four Florida hurricanes in 2004: 117
Number of deaths due to Aceh earthquake and tsunami in 2004: 120,000+
Homeless due to Florida hurricanes: 11,000
Homeless due to Aceh earthquake/tsunami: 5,000,000
US government aid to help Florida hurricane victims: $2.04 billion
US government aid to help Aceh earthquake/tsunami victims: $35 million
Estimated cost of George Bush's upcoming inaguration celebration, not including security costs: $40 million
US government direct cost, per hour, of the US war in Iraq: $9 million
Spain per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $2.30
Norway per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $1.80
Australia per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $1.30
UK per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $0.48
France per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $0.50
US per capita government contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $0.12
Jackie Chan's personal contribution to help earthquake/tsunami victims: $200,000
Chan ratio of US government contribution (ratio of per capita US government donations to Jackie Chan's individual donation): 1/1,666,667, or 0.0000006
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the high court, including $1,200 worth of tires, valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses.Is it legal? Well, of course: this is America and there are LOADS of loopholes in the graft laws. As long as none of these people actually appear before him for a case, no problem. But what if somebody KNOWS somebody who appears before him? That's NO problem.
The gifts also included a Bible once owned by the 19th century author and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, which Thomas valued at $19,000, and a bust of President Lincoln valued at $15,000.
He also took a free trip aboard a private jet to the exclusive Bohemian Grove club in Northern California — arranged by a wealthy Texas real estate investor who helped run an advocacy group that filed briefs with the Supreme Court.
The other judges have only accepted gifts that were quite small and tokens from ANYONE. The gifts that have received are FAR less. Breyer and Souter have refused ALL gifts. Not Clarence. He's grabbing with both hands.
Why would someone do that — give a gift to Clarence Thomas? Unless they are family members or really close friends, the only reason to give gifts is to influence the judge," said Mark I. Harrison, a Phoenix lawyer who heads the ABA's Commission on the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. "And we think it is not helpful to have judges accepting gifts for no apparent reason.""Over-ethicize everyday life." Did you ever SEE such a twisted phrase?
"The public has to wonder when a justice accepts lavish gifts," said Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet, a legal ethics expert. "The rich and powerful have a different set of economic interests than other people, and they can afford to give lavish gifts."
Thomas, through a court spokeswoman, declined to comment when asked in writing why he deemed it appropriate to accept some of the larger gifts. But a former clerk to Thomas defended the practice.
"I don't see anything wrong in this. I don't see why it is inappropriate to get gifts from friends," said John C. Yoo, now a law professor at the UC Berkeley. "This reflects a bizarre effort to over-ethicize everyday life. If one of these people were to appear before the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas would recuse himself."
They are complaining that Thomas's critics are too ETHICAL. Apparently, Thomas's friends in the legal profession believe that ethics should be practiced in moderation.
One more time: Bush is a schoolyard bully. When somebody stands up to him, he backs off. When they don't, his actions become more and more horrendous.
The Justice Department is issuing a rewritten legal memo on the definition of torture, backing away from its own assertions prior to the Iraqi prison abuse scandal that torture had to involve "excruciating and agonizing pain."
"Consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture," said the memo from Daniel Levin, acting chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Critics in Congress and many legal experts say the original documents set up a legal framework that led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at the U.S. prison camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba....
Democrats have said they would question Gonzales closely on memos he wrote that were similar to the now-disavowed Justice Department documents that critics say appear to justify torture.
The document, again directly contradicting the previous version, says torture need not be limited to pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
SOME Democrats had BETTER ask Gonzales why the Bushies said one thing a year ago and something else now.
The right-wingers had been all over the airwaves, parroting Bush's official line that torture had to involve physical pain. Now that Bush himself admits that that was bullshit, what will they do?
Pretend it never happened, of course. Their descent into doublethink is nearly complete.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
"But what if something that "everybody knows" turns out to be a political myth? What if Social Security isn't in trouble at all?
Ten years ago Social Security trustees predicted that the system would become insolvent in 35 years, meaning 2029. Five years later they were still predicting that insolvency was 35 years away - doomsday had been postponed to 2034. Today, they're predicting that insolvency is 38 years away, in 2042.
How could the trustees have been so continually wrong?"
David Shuster uses an interesting illustration to demonstrate how paltry the 35 million dollars pledged is:
"Besides, to put the 35 million dollars in context, consider this: To "help" the citizens of Iraq, our government is spending 5.8 BILLION dollars each MONTH. That translates to more than 8 million dollars an hour. Or put another way, the $35 million we have pledged in disaster aid for Southeast Asia is less than the amount the U.S. military spent during the six hours it took on Sunday for the tsunami to cross the Indian Ocean."
And that's the problem: we have seemingly endless money to spend on killing people. In the eyes of the world, we have endless money to spend on all sorts of shit, like movies, ballplayers and inauguration parties (what's the payroll of the Yankees? 200 mill a year?). But we (our Government, not the citizens) start penny pinching when the money is actually NEEDED for something.
Unfortunately, our impression of ourselves - reinforced endlessly by ourselves and our media- is NOT the impression of the rest of the world. And there's a reason for that.
"O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!" - To a Louse, by Robert Burns
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
George looks at Laura, chuckles and says, "You know, I could throw a $1,000.00 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy."
Laura shrugs her shoulders and says, "Well, I could throw ten $100.00 bills out the window and make 10 people very happy."
Cheney says, "Of course then, I could throw one-hundred $10.00 bills out the window and make a hundred people very happy."
The pilot rolls his eyes, looks at all of them and says to his co-pilot, "Such big shots back there..... hell, I could throw all of them out the window and
make 56 million people very happy."
"In Britain, the predominant U.S. voice speaking about the disaster was not Bush but former president Bill Clinton, who in an interview with the BBC said the suffering was like something in a "horror movie," and urged a coordinated international response.
And the right-wingers actually can't figure out why the rest of the world thought a lot of Clinton, and doesn't think much at all of Bush.
It's because Bush doesn't really give a shit about anything but himself, and it's obvious everyone who isn't one of his pathetic worshippers. Clinton actually does something.
"Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling.
"Clearing brush and bicycling." What a clown.
Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' ""Fully briefed"? Then why is he bicycling instead of getting briefed?
He didn't want to make a symbolic statement? Tell the truth - he's too damned lazy to do his job.
He doesn't want to make a symbolic statement, but he's NOT too busy to take a gratuitous - and idiotic - swipe at Clinton. THAT'S the way to respond to an international disaster, George - snipe at the last President because he's actually DOING something and not clearing brush and bicycling. The nerve of Clinton - making Bush look bad by behaving like a decent human being.
"Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
In other words, many Bush aides think that Clinton was TOO QUICK TO SHOW CONCERN when something awful happened. He should have taken his time - like Bush - and not acted like a disaster was anything to trouble his pretty little head about.
"Actions speak louder than words"? Bush is clearing brush and bicycling. Some actions. He isn't saying anything OR doing anything.
Insurgents lured police to a house in west Baghdad with an anonymous tip about a rebel hideout, then set off explosives, killing at least 29 people and wounding 18 in the latest in a series of deadly strikes against Iraqi security forces, police said Wednesday.
The explosion late Tuesday erupted from inside the house in the capital's Ghazaliya district as officers were about to enter, a local police official said. Ten neighboring houses collapsed from the blast and several residents were believed trapped under the rubble. Seven policemen were among the 29 dead.
The police official said the attack was "evidently an ambush" and that "massive amounts of explosives" were used. He said the explosion was apparently triggered by remote control.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The U.S. Agency for International Development prepared Tuesday to add $20 million to an initial $15 million contribution for Asian earthquake relief as Secretary of State Colin Powell bristled at a United Nations official's suggestion that the United States has been "stingy."
If an election is held in Iraq, it is by far most likely that a Shi'ite group would win.
According to Knight-Ridder, the Shi'ite are split into two factions.
One faction is led by an secular alliance of Chalabi, Al Sadr and Sistani.
And the other is an Iranian-style theocracy.
The top opponents to clerical guidance are former Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi, supporters of the rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and allies of Sistani.
As I said before, only bad choices.
- The Bush administration yesterday pledged $15 million to Asian nations hit by a tsunami that has killed more than 22,500 people, although the United Nations' humanitarian-aid chief called the donation "stingy."
- The war on terror will take center stage at next month’s second inauguration for President Bush in Washington, D.C.
The estimated budget for the event is $30-40 million, but that will not cover security costs.
Once again, Bush's incompetence and lack of planning has created a situation where only bad choices exist.
Funny how consistent he is about doing that.
Iraqi Rebels Kill 24 in Multiple Attacks
Insurgents launched multiple attacks on Iraqi police across the dangerous Sunni Triangle on Tuesday, killing 24 people — including 19 policemen — a day after the major Sunni Muslim political party pulled out of the Jan. 30 elections citing the deteriorating security situation.
Also Tuesday, a militant group claimed to have executed eight Iraqi employees of the Sandi Group, American security company, saying they had supported the U.S.-led occupation.
Twelve policemen died when gunmen attacked a station 12 miles south of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, said Arkan Mohammed, a local government official.
A car bomb killed five Iraqi National Guardsmen and injured 26 near Baqouba, a town 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, after the paramilitary troops had cordoned off an area in order to disarm a roadside bomb, said Maj. Neal O'Brien.
In another blow to plans to hold the ballot as scheduled, the largest Sunni political group withdrew from the race Monday, only hours after a suicide car bomber killed 15 people in Baghdad in an attempt to assassinate the head of Iraq's strongest Shiite party.
Monday, December 27, 2004
BETHLEHEM, April 01: The Church of Nativity, widely believed to be the birth-place of Jesus Christ, decided to ban entry each of the US President George Bush, his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw the privilege of visiting this sacred place, which is one of the holiest Christian shrines.
The move came in protest of "the aggressive war these leaders have waged against Iraq," top Clergy of the church said.
The Church Parishioner Father Panaritius made the decision public at a massive protest demonstration organized by Orthodox institutions in front of the Church of Nativity.
"They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore the Church of Nativity decided to ban them access into the holy shrine for ever," the parishioner said.
Bush has a lower approval rating than any predecessor so soon after election to a second term:
Approval Rating (after election to 2nd term)
George W. Bush 49%
Bill Clinton 58%
Ronald Reagan 59%
Richard Nixon 59%
Dwight Eisenhower 79%
SOURCE: The Gallup Poll, conducted Dec. 12-19. MoE +/-3%.
Political capitol? WHAT political capitol.
Apparently any he may have had has already been spent.
The question is: how did he win in the furst place?
Pray for the victims; pray for their families. And DO something concrete beyond praying: send some relief money.
I suspect it is only a one day story in our press, despite the sheer magnitude of the disaster, because it didn't happen in the United States, and we are VERY provincial.
But I hope I'm wrong: I hope Americans reach out to these people as the world reached out to us on September 11th.
And they STILL won't stop the bureaucratic bungling.
What's the sense of allocating all this money, when the people deciding how to spend it are idiots?
"Counterterrorism agencies are shopping for talent at job fairs, dangling generous scholarships and luring staff from each other in a race to overcome a shortage of analysts that may only get worse in the new intelligence overhaul."
Short version: they need people to do intelligence desperately, but there just aren't enough people, and any people they get would require 7 to 10 years to train. And they don't have the slighest idea what to do, so they are setting up booths at job fairs. For intelligence experts.
President Bush ordered in November to double the number of analysts it employs. The agency won't say how that equates to new jobs.
Nor would they say where are supposed to get twice the number of intelligence analysts FROM.
"If you had a hundred, we'd take them," Pat Hughes, the Homeland Security Department's top intelligence official, said in an interview earlier this year. "We have to look, search, test, assess. You don't just get analysts off a tree. ... We need people, but we need good people."
And what do they want them for? To continue screwing up in the vein that they already have:
Among the most classified and most important reports are national intelligence estimates, which draw on information across government and are written by leading analysts at the National Intelligence Council.
It was the council that produced the October 2002 estimate on the threat posed by Iraq, with its overblown assessment on weapons stockpiles.
Well, THAT'S certainly a feather in your cap, boys.
This is the group that said Iraq had gigantic stockpiles of WMD. This is the group that was taken completely by surprise on Sepember 11th. This was the group that spent 4 decades doing almost nothing but gathering intelligence on the Soviet Union, and had no idea that the Soviet Union was crumbling.
But they have no interest, apparently, in examining why their record is one of almost unremitting misjudgments.
They need more people to make MORE misjudgments.
And by the way: we HAD some Arabic translators.
Bush fired them for being gay.
THAT'S the way to encourage employment.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
There’s only one thing on my Christmas list this year:
I want my faith back.
I didn’t come by it easily. I’m a card-carrying liberal, skeptical by nature, with an almost knee-jerk eye-roll reaction to anyone who’s completely comfortable discussing their religious convictions in mixed company. I spent pretty much the entire decade of my 20s in an uncomfortable agnosticism because I just couldn’t make up my damn mind.
So now that I have — now that words like “sinful” spring to mind when I hear about the $40 million budget for George W. Bush’s inaugural soirees, instead of just “disgusting” — I’m starting to take the right wing’s hijacking of my religion very, very personally.
“These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.” — Matthew 15:8-9
Read the whole thing.
"THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false."
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Here's a nice update:
A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image that was banished from a New York art show last week amid charges of censorship was projected on a giant billboard in Manhattan on Tuesday.
"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir last week at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show.
Animal Magazine, a quarterly arts publication that had organized the month-long show, said anonymous donors had paid for the picture to be posted on a giant digital billboard over the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, used by thousands of commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey.
The original picture will be auctioned on eBay, with part of the proceeds donated to parents of U.S. soldiers wishing to supply their sons and daughters with body armor in Iraq.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came under fire from soldiers in Kuwait earlier this month who complained that they had to use scrap metal to armor their vehicles.
"Many of my friends are over in Iraq," Savido said in a statement.
The painting offers a likeness of Bush but the image is made up of monkeys swimming in a marsh. It was originally priced at $3,500 in the show's catalog.
Organizers expect more than 400,000 drivers to see the billboard each day for the next month.
But unfortunately, thanks to our supine press, that one never made the newspapers, so Bushco didn't see any need to do anything about it.
And now 24 people are dead.
CNN personnel who have visited the base said the dining area is a tent-like facility with no hardened protection -- and that soldiers had specifically raised concerns that they could be targeted by insurgents at meal time.
One had told CNN it was only a matter of time before there was an attack on the mess hall.
"There is a level of vulnerability when you go in there, and you don't feel like there's a hard roof over your head," said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, an officer at Camp Marez.
"President Bush's campaign to make the tax code simpler, fairer and more pro-growth is likely to involve incremental changes to the current system rather than a sweeping effort to scrap the venerable income tax for a radically new approach, such as a national sales tax." - AP
A new poll says that people are angry and dispirited about this war, but don't see any real choice except to keep fighting it.
Ok - so we are trapped with no way out.
Many people said they were dispirited or angry, but many expressed equal unhappiness about seeing a lack of options.
So why did they elect the guy who placed us into a situation where we are trapped with no way out?
And why don't the Democrats say loud and clear that if we have no options, it's because George W. Bush has LEFT us no options?
"The U.S. military launched an investigation Wednesday into the cause of a devastating blast in a mess tent at a base in northern Iraq that killed 22 people and injured 72 in one of the deadliest attacks on American troops since the start of the war." Source
Cause 1: Bush and Rumsfeld left munitions sites unguarded, so the insurgents could get their hands on a few real weapons.
Cause 2: Bush and Rumsfeld are running a war on the cheap, and haven't adequately armored the facilities in a war zone.
They gave them weapons, and didn't give US armor.
Now they're investigating the cause.
How bad do things have to get before for them to stop insisting that things are getting better?
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The email, which was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, represents the first hard evidence directly connecting the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and the White House. The author of the email, whose name is blanked out but whose title is described as "On Scene Commander -- Baghdad," contains ten explicit mentions of an "Executive Order" that the author said mandated US military personnel to engage in extraordinary interrogation tactics.
Chris Bowers says, "Don't let this drop--we will push this to the front page of every newspaper in America." I agree. Time to write or call the newspaper.
The president got a tad petulant when fielding questions on Social Security. His emphatic response to any and all queries about his position on the subject was an indignant, righteous refusal to answer: “You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters. “I know what you’re trying to get me to do. You’re trying to get me to answer ‘Why this,’ ‘why that,’ to take positions -- don’t bother to ask me.” Rather than merely dodge the questions, Bush seemed intent on staking out an explicit, principled position in favor of dodging the question.
"A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up."
Here's the memos.
THE RUMSFELD RAG
(With apologies to Country Joe)
Well come on, all of you big strong men,
Uncle Sam's telling lies again,
Figured out that to fight a war
All you have to do is send the poor.
While Georgie and his buddies laugh and feast
They'll send you to the Middle East.
And it's one, two, three, what were you voting for?
Oil profits and endless war?
Did you think there was something more?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”
Come conservatives throughout the land,
Now’s the time to take a stand,
Get it into liberal weenies’ heads
That the only good Iraqi is one who’s dead.
Raze their cities, destroy their lives
And convert ‘em all to Jesus Christ.
And it’s one, two, three, who were you voting for?
One deserter and a chickenhawk?
Who else could win Iraq?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”
On 9/11 the country changed
And some of us became quite deranged.
With fears abounding from out and in
We launched a crusade to battle sin.
We all see something’s going wrong,
It’s about the time to drop a bomb.
And it’s one, two, three, what were you voting for?
Don’t you see or don’t you give a damn
‘Bout the lessons of Vietnam?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”
-- Motherlode and Silmarill, 12/10/04
The military operation at Guantanamo Bay has come under increased scrutiny as former prisoners have alleged they were tortured. The Pentagon maintains it runs a humane operation there, and says all allegations of abuse are investigated.
I want to know who is "investigating" it. The perpetrators? Is there ANY real independent oversight AT ALL?
And if not, why not?
The ACLU's latest disclosures primarily constitute e-mails between FBI officials whose names the government removed before releasing them. In several, the writers describe and criticize various interrogation techniques they say they witnessed at Guantanamo.
In one of the e-mails message, dated from August, the writer reports more than once witnessing prisoners chained to the floor in a fetal position, with no food or water. They had often soiled themselves.
On one occasion, the temperature in a room was lowered so much the barefooted detainee shivered. In another, the room was so hot the detainee had pulled out some of his hair before passing out.
Are we to believe that the FBI agents just made up the stuff they said they saw in their emails? Pulled it out of their ass for the hell of it?
Somehow, I doubt that.
Monday, December 20, 2004
"When the heat got on, they left the battlefield — that is unacceptable. We are under no illusion that this Iraqi force is not ready to fight in toto."And then there's this:
"The elections in January are the beginning of a process and it is important for the American people to understand that."Translation: the election is a sham and won't change a damned thing, and we know it.
And they still don't think they made any mistakes.
Is there ANY justification left for this disaster?
George W. Bush's major character flaws are his refusal to recognize anything that doesn't conform to his preconceptions, and his pure intellectual isolation: the man lives in an echo chamber of his own making. He has ALWAYS had the belief that other peoples' opinions were mere inconveniences, and now he thinks he has a mandate to pursue any wild scheme that crosses his fevered little brain.
Because of the election and his echo chamber, he is now firmly convinced that the populace supports stuff that they don't. Gutting Social Security. Piling up mountains of debt. Endless war in the Middle East.
And many Presidents who were smarter and wiser than Bush have had a tendency to overreach in their second term - ego gets the better of them. But Bush showed the tendency to overreach in his first term. Which means he is prepared to carry overreaching to truly historic levels in his second.
That overreaching will prove his undoing.
I am quite convinced that Bush is vulnerable on almost every front. All polls say that people do NOT like his policies. Yes, I know - this makes the sane among us wonder why the hell they voted for him, then, but the fact remains: people do NOT favor the Iraqi War. They do NOT favor Social Security corporatization. They do NOT favor crushing debt and a shrinking dollar. They do NOT favor tax cuts for the wealthy. And the more the details of this stuff are examined and exposed, the less popular they will become.
Social Security. Privatizing Social Security is expected to cut benefits in half, and private accounts would not make up the shortfall for most people. Under Bush's proposal, most people will have less money in their senior years than they would if it was left alone. But not only does he want to do it, he wants to finance it by piling up more debt. He wants those who are HURT by the policy to be the ones who PAY for it. And it isn't even necessary. SS is financed for the next fifty years, and after that, the shortfall is not nearly as large as Bush is claiming. Social Security is even less of an emergency than Iraq was.
Tax Cuts. Bush's whole financial agenda is to shift the cost of running the country on to those who are least able to afford it. This is a ticket to bankruptcy and an increasing separation of wealth between the classes.
Shrinking Dollar. The dollar, once the most reliable currency in the world, is swiftly becoming an also-ran. As the dollar shrinks, there is the real possibility that the banks of Japan and China will stop buying our bonds. Because of Bush's deficits, our entire economy is largely dependent on those bond purchases. And because of those deficits, the dollar is shrinking and making it less likely that foreign countries will CONTINUE making those bond purchases. Thanks to Bush, we are financially dependent on China. If they decide that the dollar is no longer reliable enough to bank on, it will start an economic catastrophe the likes of which no living American has ever experienced.
Endless War. Which of course is further draining the economy, and which has completely backfired. We are destroying tens of thousands of innocent people, and we have no prospect of gaining anything by doing so. And we aren't even conducting the war RIGHT. Our armed forces are stretched to the breaking point, under-equipped, and on a treadmill where the end of their tour of duty never comes and where going home never happens.
And it isn't only Democrats who are opposed to this stuff. Many Republicans are opposed to this stuff. Most AMERICANS are opposed to this stuff. But Bush is making this stuff the centerpiece of his second term.
And a refusal by the Democrats to fall into the fourth stage - acceptance - will ensure that his hubris has the consequences that hubris always has.
"I've never seen so many grown men cry. Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do. But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale." - Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Operation Truth.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
The main focus of Whitman's book "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America," is on her desire for moderate Republicans to regain control of the party. The more conservative wing of the party has claimed much credit for Bush's re-election.
"A clear and present danger Republicans face today is that the party will now move so far to the right that it ends up alienating centrist voters and marginalizing itself," Whitman writes in the book, obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
Whitman says fellow moderates, such as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, were instrumental in Bush's re-election win, often campaigning with him in battleground states.
The role of moderates is to bring the party back to its center, she says.
"It is time for Republican moderates to assert forcefully and plainly that this is our party, too, that we not only have a place but a voice, and not just a voice but a vision that is true to the historic principles of our party and our nation, not one tied to an extremist agenda," she says.
Christie, I'd like to be sympathetic, but if you didn't know that Bush only uses moderates as cover and window-dressing for pushing an extremist agenda, you were a damned fool.
Let the smearing begin.
When in Congress, pass legislation at the behest of some giant industry, and pay no attention at all to what will actually help the citizens in your district. Heck, let the industry WRITE the laws if they want to. In exchange, they'll give you tons of contributions allowing you to flood the airwaves with spin, deflection and lies so you can get re-elected, and eventually reward you with a million dollar job.
Retiring Representative Billy Tauzin, who led the House committee that regulates drug makers, will become head of the industry's top lobbying group next month.
Tauzin said his most important challenge will be improving the image of drug companies, which has been damaged by soaring prescription drug costs and high-profile safety issues with the arthritis medication Vioxx and other medicines.
Public Citizen and Common Cause, two watchdog groups, criticized Tauzin for using his public service for his personal benefit. They pointed to his deep involvement in developing legislation last year for Medicare prescription drugs. Opponents said the law provides billions of dollars to the pharmaceutical industry while failing to slow increases in drug prices.
"We think that it stinks," Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle said. "Whose interests did he have at heart, those of the American people or his future employer?"
And the worst thing? This sort of shit is actually legal.
Graft is legal.
ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) — Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide poll.
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.
Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim-Americans.
"It's sad news. It's disturbing news. But it's not unpredictable," said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society. "The nation is at war, even if it's not a traditional war. We just have to remain vigilant and continue to interface."
Note that it says that Republicans and those who describe themselves as very religious are MORE like to favor such a thing. The article doesn't give the numbers, but I wonder: Does this mean that a solid majority of Republicans favor curtailing the rights of American citizens because of what religion they belong to?
Friday, December 17, 2004
And then you read this:
Mr. Bush's inaugural committee, seeking to raise more than $40 million, a record, sent out hundreds of solicitations to the president's biggest campaign contributors this week offering packages of party benefits and access to the president in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even at a time of war when more than 138,000 American troops are serving in Iraq, the organizers say that the inaugural celebration at the end of the January will not be marked by any noticeable restraint and will cost more than any other in history.
Sacrifice? Sacrifice is for OTHER people.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Judith Regan (Fox News appearance):
"Well, I think that the social fabric of this country has become completely unraveled. I think the sexual revolution had a lot to do with that."
Judith Regan (from today's news):
"Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously, using a secret Battery Park City apartment for the passionate liaisons, the New York Daily News has learned.
"The first relationship, spanning nearly a decade, was with city Correction Officer Jeannette Pinero; the second was with famed publishing titan Judith Regan. His affair with Regan, the stunningly attractive head of her own book publishing company, lasted for almost a year."
The White House medal ceremony was really about George W. Bush. It had a slight touch of the absurd to it, as if facts do not matter and failure does not count. The War to Rid Iraq of WMD has now become The War to Bring Democracy to the Middle East. No one is ever held accountable, because the president will not do as much for himself. He admits no mistakes because he is convinced that he has made none. The terrorist attacks themselves, for which Tenet should have been sacked, are no one's fault because they cannot be the president's fault. He was warned. Condi Rice was put on notice. But, still, who could have known?
Kos draws our attention to an article about the 900 kids who've lost a parent in Iraq.
Not only are the loudest voices calling for Rumsfeld's resignation Republican (which, of course, is why the SCLM agreed to make it a reasonably big story), but they are lying throught their teeth about the economic future, contradicting themselves in successive sentences. How about those who are supposed to be representing us saying, "Yesterday you said A and today you said B. Which is it?"
Is that so hard?
President Bush, facing complaints from a European ally about the weakening dollar, said Wednesday that he favored a strong dollar and would work with Congress to cut the massive federal budget deficit that puts downward pressure on the U.S. currency.In the first place, notice the spin: the tendency of the press to present everything as though it had two valid sides, even when one of the sides is total nonsense. "Some analysts said it could deepen the budget deficit." No - damned near ALL analysts who don't actually work for the White House have said that it's damned near certain to increase the budget deficit.
But before Bush spoke, Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated to a White House economic conference that the administration supported more tax cuts, which some analysts said could deepen the budget deficit and threaten the dollar's value.
In the second place, it isn't rocket science. The guy says that he's going to work on reducing the deficit while at the same time swearing to make the tax cuts that caused the deficit permanent, and throwing another two trillion dollars on top of that for the privilege of gutting Social Security.
How about some Democrat saying loud and clear that the man is full of shit, and brazen about it?
So how come Pakistan is telling us that we can't go after Bin Laden?
"Pakistan does not permit American military and intelligence forces in Afghanistan to cross the border to go after militants.
This prohibition on cross-border "hot pursuit" makes it relatively easy for Taliban and Qaeda fighters to initiate attacks on American bases in Afghanistan, and then quickly escape to the safety of Pakistan.
American soldiers have complained about being fired on from inside Pakistan by foreign militants while Pakistani border guards sat and watched.
As a result of the restrictions, American military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan are no longer really hunting for Mr. bin Laden, an intelligence official said."
Ooops, I'm sorry. When Bush says "national security," he means Iraq - which wasn't a threat to our national security.
"A man identified as Osama bin Laden speaking on an audiotape posted on an Islamic Web site Thursday, praised an attack earlier this month on a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia and criticized the Saudi regime as weak and controlled by the United States." - AP News
"I truly am not that concerned about him." - George W. Bush.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Bush has dragged the reputation of the United States through mounds of dung, and is it any wonder that the rest of the world no longer believes a damned thing we say?
It will be years - possibly decades - before we regain our reputation.
Three giant fuckups, of course. Who else? This is the Bush administration, where fucking up means never having to say your sorry.
1) George "Moe" Tenet, the man who said that the existence of WMDs in Iraq was a "slam dunk." Since Bush can't POSSIBLY take responsibility for HIS fuckups, the reason for starting a war on the basis of false intelligence has been laid squarely at the feet of Tenet. So of COURSE Bush believes that he warrants an award. Tenet screwed up like few men in the histry of America, but gave George the excuse he needed.
2) Paul "Larry" Bremer, our first choice as Iraq's very own King Herod. Bremer, of course, is best known for presiding over a quagmire-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-cakewalk. He also pulled of a brilliant move by dissolving the Iraqi Army, which of course gave the insurgency a far easier time than they would have otherwise had. If there was no Bremer, we may well have been out of there sooner, and Bush couldn't have that.
3) Tommy "Curly" Franks, the general who led our forces, and showed how the most powerful Army in world could have a really, really hard time with a third-world country. His finest moment came when he had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, and turned the job over to Afghan warlords, thus allowing him to escape. Bush is, no doubt, especially grateful for this, since if Bin Laden had been captured, he may not have had an excuse to go into Iraq.
Some hat trick, George. And, just as an added plus, you took a civilian award and gave it to war figures. What a guy.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
There are times when I really think that there is NOTHING that the clowns in charge won't do, and I do believe that they don't even think that normal rules of common decency apply to them.
Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.
"My first reaction was disbelief," Caulfield said. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old."
In fact, he was so sure it was an error that he ignored the postcards and telephone messages asking if he would be willing to volunteer for active duty to "backfill" somewhere on the East Coast, Europe or Hawaii. That would be OK, he thought. It would release active duty oral surgeons from those areas to go to combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan.
But then the orders came for him to go to Afghanistan.
Today, Caulfield, a colonel from Satellite Beach, Fla., is an example of how the continuing demands of keeping ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are forcing the military to go to extraordinary measures to keep its ranks filled. He's attending to patients - U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and civilians - at the Army's 325th Field Hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan.
He is one of about 100 over the age of 60 known to be serving. The Department of Defense couldn't provide exact figures.
"I was very, very disappointed — no let me put it stronger — I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense when he laid it all on the Army, as if he, as secretary of defense, didn’t have anything to do with the Army and the Army was over there doing it themselves, screwing up." - Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf.
Oliver Willis has the perfect comment:
"You gotta wonder WTF McCain and Schwarzkopf have been smoking if they haven't realized what an insensitive, incompetent boob Rumsfeld is up to this point."
New Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Monday his party will launch investigative hearings next year in response to what he said was the reluctance of Republicans to look into problems in the Bush administration.
"There are too many unasked and unanswered questions and the American public deserves better," the Nevada senator said at a news conference. He will formally succeed Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., as party leader next month.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who heads the Democratic Policy Committee, said the first hearing will be at the end of January and he suggested it might focus on contract abuse in Iraq. He said the policy committee, which has held occasional investigative hearings in the past, planned to convene at least one such hearing a month.
Dorgan said that with Republicans controlling the White House and both the House and Senate, "the congressional watchdog remains fast asleep in this Congress."
I had expected Harry Reid to be a milquetoast, but so far, he seems out to prove me wrong. Thank God.
The massive and blatant corruption in the Bush administration is one gigantic target. And because of total insularity, overbearing arrogance, and an acquiescent press, they haven't even bothered to be subtle about it.
So how come the Democrats haven't been screaming loud and long for the last four years?
You know why, and I know why: battered wife syndrome. The Republicans have screamed that the Democrats were being "obstructionist" every time they raised even MILD objections, and the right-wing media went along with it, and the Democrats were successfully cowed because they were treating it as a political problem instead of a question of principle.
But Reid may actually realize that you can't compromise with a bully. and Reid may actually realize that he will be called "obstructionist" by these clowns even if he gives them every thing they want.
He may have actually figured out that there is NOTHING that the Democrats can do that will make the Republicans behave in a bi-partisan fashion. There is NOTHING that they can do that will cause the Republicans to place country before party.
The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to him.
If he realizes that, good.
Have the Democrats become so nutless that they won't even swing at a gopher ball?
Just a reminder, Senator McCain: we had linguists. Bush fired them for being gay.
"I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence," McCain said.
He estimated an additional 80,000 Army personnel and 20,000 to 30,000 more Marines would be needed to secure Iraq.
"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops — linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," said McCain, R-Ariz. "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue."
When asked if Rumsfeld was a liability to the Bush administration, McCain responded: "The president can decide that, not me."
In New York City, the manager of Chelsea Market shut down an art exhibit because it contained a piece that was critical of Herr Bush.
A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.
"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month.
The show featured art from the upcoming issue of Animal Magazine, a quarterly publication featuring emerging artists.
"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."
Turco took the show down on Saturday and moved the art work to his small downtown Animal Gallery. Calls to the management of Chelsea Market for comment were not returned.
From afar, the painting offers a likeness of Bush, but when you get closer you see the image is made up of chimpanzees or monkeys swimming in a marsh.
This one is easy: obviously this manager has made a dreadful mistake, and somehow gone into business in the whole wrong city.
I think, as decent people, we should let him know that.
The phone number of Chelsea Market is 212-243-6005.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Congressional memo to future generations: You're screwed (Joe Scarborough)
Take it from a not-so-old former congressman who knows: Proud young Americans, you are in for a con job from Washington that you can't even imagine.
Your government has already borrowed almost $8 trillion that it can't pay back. Guess who will have to write the check? That's right. You.
Expect massive tax hikes in your future, and wicked cuts in national defense, education, environmental enforcement, police protection and medical care for the poor and elderly.
Oh, you say the poor should pay for their health care just like you? Fine.
Wait till you have to crawl over 3-year-old kids dying on the front steps of the emergency room where you are taking your kids and then you will be asking yourself if it was really wise for this generation of politicians to spend money as responsibly as pot heads in an open-all-night grocery store.
And guess what these politicians who have already straddled you with an $8 trillion debt plan to do as soon as Congress gets back in session?
No, guess. Really. You'll love this.
They plan to plunge America into debt by $2 trillion more dollars!
You see, they've got this really cool plan to privatize parts of Social Security that usually make free market conservatives like myself giddy. We start talking about the invisible hand and the power of market forces.
Only problem is that this plan to get government off our backs costs a cool $2 trillion in transition fees.
And— let me see if you are following me here— who pays for that?
That's right. YOU!
But that's not the biggest problem with this $2 trillion Social Security plan. What bothers me the most is the fact that everybody in Washington knows that allowing Americans to invest parts of their Social Security payments in the stock market will produce some winners. But capitalism also always produces losers, and we all know that there will be millions of Americans who will make stupid investments in the coming years. (See Enron, etoys, Pets.com, Worldcom)
So what will happen when they retire and start complaining to their local congressman and TV camera crews about how they're about to be thrown out in the streets because of the dumb investments they made with their Social Security payments years ago?
Congress will pass the "Save Our Stupid Seniors Investment Relief Act of 2025," thereby guaranteeing that all Americans will have all Social Security payments restored in full.
That will require that you take your third job in the Chinese high tech factory just so you can pay even more taxes to Washington.
It's a bright future, brought to you by a gang in Washington who really couldn't care less about what happens to the world they pass on to their children and grandchildren.
How do I know this? Because I was in Congress long enough to learn that you judge politicians by their actions, not their words.
P.S. I talk about the selling out of America by politicians in my book "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day."
P.P.S. Here's something you don't hear me say every day. Read Paul Krugman's column on this subject today. He comes to the same conclusion that I do: Congress will borrow $2 trillion today to privatize Social Security and then borrow trillions more to cover American's poor investments in the future. Here's the link to his column.
Here's the video.
And here's a transcript, emphases mine. I did some editing because Joe Biden wouldn't recognize grammatical agreement if Samuel Johnson beat him with a dictionary. It sounds ok when he speaks, but it reads like something diseased, so I cleaned it up some.
And just for the record: Blitzer is an egotistical asshole who keeps interrupting people and changing the subject just when they are about to make their actual point. That's what they pay him the big bucks for.
VIDEO Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the army you have - not the army you might want."
Blitzer:That answer has been widely criticized - the answer that Donald Rumsfeld gave. And you issued a strong statement condemning the fact that there is not enough armor yet for vehicles going into Iraq. Is it time for Donald Rumsfeld, in your opinion, to step down?
Biden: I thought it was time for him to step down a year and a half ago, but look - Donald Rumsfeld can't have it both ways. If, in fact, we went with the army we had - this ill-equipped - then we should have waited. Because this was a war of choice. There was no sense of urgency to go when we did. The truth is - and I believe Senator Hagel would agree with me because we have been there four times together - we did NOT go with the army we had. We had an incredibly heavy mechanized army we left at home.
We were speaking with the general who was in charge of the first Calvary - an honorable, tough, straight-shooting division - and he pointed out to us that at the front end of the war he wasn't allowed to take all his heavy equipment. He's still not able to take all his heavy equipment. We went into war without hundreds of thousands of troops that we needed, and so, you can't have it both ways here. We did not go with the army we had.
And I'll conclude by saying: this is not a surprise to Joe Biden or Chuck Hagel. I remember Chuck Hagel - when we went the first time a year ago August, Senators Lugar, Hagel and Biden, 117 degrees - I turned around and wondered where Chuck was. As an old Army guy, Chuck as a sergeant was back talking to a non-commissioned officer behind us, asking about whether they had everything they had and what the morale was. It was clear then that was not available. They knew it. They knew it then, they haven't done anything about it.
Blitzer: What about that, Senator Hagel?
Hagel: Well, I've always believed that if you want to know what's going on in the army, go to the guys who really fight, and the guys who lead, and are the backbone of the army, and they're the non-commissioned officers. And that's exactly what I did do. Joe is correct.
But beyond that, a couple of observations.
One: Secretary Rumsfeld's response to this young soldier. That soldier and those men and women there deserved a far better answer from their Secretary of Defense than a flippant comment. That might work in a newsroom when you can be cute with the television audience, but not when you're putting these men and women in harm's way, who will be wounded, some will be killed - and I wonder what the parents thought. I wonder what the parents thought. The parents who have men and women over there - sons and daughters who are fighting. I don't think they appreciated that answer. Enough about that.
Blitzer: Let me interrupt you at that point, Senator Hagel, it sounds to me like you're expressing a vote of no confidence in the Defense Secretary.
Hagel: Well, the Secretary of Defense reports to the President of the United States. I've had my differences with this Secretary of Defense, and I've been very clear on it. I don't like the way he has done some things. I think they have been irresponsible. I don't like the way we went into Iraq. We didn't go into Iraq with enough troops. He's dismissed his general officers, he's dismissed all outside influence, he's dismissed outside counsel and advice, and he's dismissed a lot of inside counsel and advice from men and women who've been in military uniforms for 25 and 30 years.
One of the reasons we've got this problem, Wolf, in my opinion, is that we were unprepared for what we were going to face - what we are facing - in a post-Saddam Iraq. And this is just one more manifestation of the problem.
Listen when I talk to these young troops that come back - from Nebraska, National Guard Reserves active duty - and I sit down with them alone in a room, no cameras, I ask them. I was hearing some of these same things over the last year. Not the right kind of weaponry, personal body armor they didn't have, they didn't have armor for their vehicles. But yet, too many of our leaders in this administration were going around the country telling and reassuring Americans our troops had everything they wanted. Certainly the Congress was passing a lot of money to make sure that they had everything they wanted. So there are a lot of pieces in this. I do think that there is some good news. I do think the military is working to resolve these issues. I do think we are putting more armor on these vehicle and we are getting more personal armor to these troops and the weapons. But it goes beyond that, Wolf.
Blitzer: I'm going to take a quick break, but very briefly, Senator Hagel: were you disappointed that the President asked Rumsfeld to stay on?
Hagel: The President's decision is his decision. He will live with that decision, he'll have to defend that decision. And that's all I want to say about that.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record) of South Carolina said reliance on borrowing to finance an estimated $1 trillion to $2 trillion in transition costs would be irresponsible and could undermine Bush's tax- and deficit-cutting goals.
"I don't think you can make the tax cuts permanent, have alternative minimum tax relief and borrow the entire transition costs -- which is over a trillion dollars -- and have deficits that we can sustain," the South Carolina Republican said.
He doesn't think so.
He doesn't think you can get rid of your salary and live on credit cards without going into debt.
But you know what's really scary? Bush thinks you CAN:
"White House officials say borrowing would not endanger the president's other financial goals, which include a pledge to cut the federal deficit in half by fiscal year 2009."There it is: BORROWING will not endanger the goal of cutting the deficit.
I'm not making that up; that's what it says.
This sounds like something you would expect to hear from the mouth of the Mad Hatter.
And I would like to hear one Democrat come right out and say so.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Six reservists, including two veteran officers who had received Bronze Stars, were court-martialed for what soldiers have been doing as long as there have been wars--scrounging to get what their outfit needed to do its job in Iraq.
Darrell Birt, one of those court-martialed for theft, destruction of Army property and conspiracy to cover up the crimes, had been decorated for his "initiative and courage" for leading his unit's delivery of fuel over the perilous roads of Iraq in the war's first months.
Now, Birt, 45, who was a chief warrant officer with 656th Transportation Company, based in Springfield, Ohio, and his commanding officer find themselves felons, dishonorably discharged and stripped of all military benefits.
The 656th played a crucial role in maintaining the gasoline supply that fueled everything from Black Hawk helicopters to Bradley Fighting Vehicles between Balad Airfield and Tikrit. The reservists in the company proudly boast that their fuel was in the vehicles driven by the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who found Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole last year.
But when Birt's unit was ordered to head into Iraq in the heat of battle in April 2003 from its base in Kuwait, Birt said the company didn't have enough vehicles to haul the equipment it would need to do the job.
So, Birt explained, he and other reservists grabbed two tractors and two trailers left in Kuwait by other U.S. units that had already moved into Iraq.
Several weeks later, Birt and other reservists scrounged a third vehicle, an abandoned 5-ton cargo truck, and stripped it for parts they needed for repair of their trucks.
"We could have gone with what we had, but we would not have been able to complete our mission," said Birt, who was released from the brig on Oct. 17 and is petitioning for clemency in hope that he can return to the reserves.
"I admit that what we did was technically against the rules, but it wasn't for our own personal gain. It was so we could do our jobs."
The thefts mirror countless stories of shifty appropriation that has been memorialized in books and films as a wartime skill. Birt and other reservists in the unit said that what the prosecutors called theft was simply resourcefulness, a quality they say is abundant among soldiers in Iraq.
I have a crazy idea: equip them properly in the first place. What the hell are we running this gigiantic debt for?
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Spc. Robert Loria of Middletown, N.Y., lost his arm in Iraq, but instead of a farewell paycheck from the Army he got a bill for nearly $1,800. On Friday a platoon of New York lawmakers came to his rescue. Loria found himself stuck in Fort Hood in Texas this week when Army officials said he owed money for travel expenses and for lost equipment.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey and Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton interceded on behalf of the 27-year-old veteran after his wife, Christine Loria, told the Times-Herald Record of Middletown about the problem.
Loria was wounded in February. But as he was about to leave the Army this month, officials told him he had been overpaid for his time as a patient at a military hospital in the Washington area, and said he still owed money for travel between the hospital and Fort Hood, as well as $310 for items not found in his returned equipment.
Instead of a check for nearly $4,500, Loria was told he had to pay nearly $1,800.
"Christmas is coming up, and we are severely overdrawn because of this," his wife said. "It turned out his getting wounded wasn't the worst thing this year to happen — this was."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld apparently doesn't know they turn the lights off each night at Lodi's R.E. Services.
Rumsfeld recently told disgruntled National Guard troops in Kuwait the reason there isn't more armor on military vehicles in Iraq is because it can't be made fast enough.
"There's no capacity is what Rumsfeld said," said Mark Frater, chief executive officer at R.E. Services, which began making lightweight armor for military vehicles earlier this year. "I'm just running one shift. I've got capacity. I could run around the clock if they gave me the orders." - Attribution
I'm sorry, that's buck up morale.
[Video of Bush: 'Today's war on terror will not end with a ceremony on the deck of a battleship.']
Mr. President, if you're asking me not to trust ceremonies on the deck of battleships, I'm way ahead of you."
They are taking it from funds that were earmarked for the soldiers' paychecks.
Well, you KNOW they aren't going to get it by rollng back some rich folks' tax cut.
"So the Pentagon leadership has finally recognized that they need to armor up their trucks. But they've settled on a damn peculiar way of paying for the work. They're dipping into soldiers' paychecks to do it.
Let me explain. For this fiscal year, 2005, Rummy & Co. asked for $25.7 million to secure its fleet of trucks. And Congress granted the request, when it passed the Pentagon's budget in July.
But by November 19th, the Pentagon brass realized they had screwed up, Defense Department documents show. There was no way $25.7 million could pay for armoring the M915 trucks, Medium Tactical Vehicles, and other vehicles hauling supplies through Iraq; to do the job right, more like $580 million would be needed. The chiefs had under budgeted, more than twenty-fold.
The problem was, the Defense Department's budget for the year was already passed. And it was too early, yet, for a second, "supplemental" funding bill. So, instead, the Pentagon's eyeshades decided to "reprogram" money, from one military project into another.
Now, the accountants could have taken money from hulking, multi-billion dollar items, like the F-22 fighter or the creaky missile defense program. But no. Instead, the cash – along with about a billion dollars in other funds -- was taken from the Army's payroll. From the accounts to pay soldiers in the field.
With that money gone, there's now only enough cash left in the register to keep paying soldiers until May or so. If a "supplemental" budget bill – rumored to be $75 billion or more -- isn't passed by then, there will be no paychecks for G.I.s.
Congress will never let that happen, of course. No politician in his right mind is going to keep soldiers from getting paid. So, in the end, G.I.s will get the money they've been promised.
But, still, wouldn't it have been better to get this armor money together in the first place? The war has been going on since last March. Planning for it started in 2002. And only on November 19th did the Pentagon realize it needed more money to armor up its trucks?"
"The first flight test in nearly two years of a planned U.S. missile-defense shield has been scrapped two days in a row this week because of bad weather, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Strong rain squalls over the Kwajalein atoll launch site in the central Pacific caused the latest postponement, Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said shortly after the decision to scrap the test. A new attempt might be made later in the day, he said.
An exercise deemed successful may set the stage for President Bush to declare the system on alert to shoot down a warhead that could be fired by a potential foe like North Korea."
They have to wait for good weather to see if a missile defense system works?
Hey, you stupid jerks: If it doesn't work in bad weather, how the hell can you 'deem it successful'?
"Dear enemies: make sure you only bomb us when the weather is nice. Our 'successful' system doesn't work in the rain."
"At least as many US soldiers have been injured in combat in this war as in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, or the first five years of the Vietnam conflict, from 1961 through 1965. This can no longer be described as a small or contained conflict." - Atul Gawande, Senior Health Advisor, Clnton Administration
The Army has entered negotiations with an armor manufacturer in an effort to accelerate production of armored versions of the Humvee to get them to the troops more quickly, Army and company officials said.Gee, better late than never guys. But how many are dead because you clowns were dragging your feet, and showed no interest in this until it became a political problem? I want a number.
Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey spoke with officials at Armor Holdings, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., who told him Friday they could increase production by up to 100 vehicles a month.
And look at THIS little piece of horseshit:
Army officials had previously believed the factory was working at capacity until the company told the news media Thursday that it could make more.
They believed that the factory was working at capacity? Why the hell would they believe that?
They had no idea until they read it in the news?
Did they ASK Armor Holdings if they could make more and Armor Holding lied to them?
If not, why else would they assume that?
Did Armor Holdings lie to them, or are they lying right now?
In other words, does ANYBODY who isn't drunk on Bush-Flavored Kool-Aid believe this statement for a second?
But note what the article says: It doesn't say that Army official SAID that they believed that. It just says that they believed it. No critical thinking whatsoever. The SCLM strikes again.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Well, here it is:
"The Rhino Runner™ is a custom, hand-made bus and minibus (shuttle) built from chassis up. All the driver and passenger cabins are built using our special materials and know-how. Passengers and drivers are protected on the top, bottom, and sides of the vehicle.
Labock's approach to this problem is unique. Instead of adapting armoring for an existing vehicle, Labock uses the most appropriate chassis and motors, and custom builds vehicles from chassis up, with protection against AP (armor piercing) bullets and provides significant bomb blast protection.
Units of this heavily armored bus are currently deployed by the U.S. Army in Iraq. It was the vehicle of choice employed by the military to provide safe ground transportation for the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, and General Dick Myers and his staff while they were visiting Baghdad in may 2004."
But Donald, why are you BOTHERING with a heavily armored vehicle? After all, you said yourself that it was no guarantee against getting blown up.