Saturday, October 30, 2004
"It's not just Bush who's living in a bubble... A majority of those who support him are fundamentally misinformed about key justifications for going to war against Iraq, and other important factors in his foreign policy. A new report from PIPA (the Project on Policy Alternatives) titled, "Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda" has the following lead findings:
Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.
The report is based on polls conducted in September and October.
Diaries :: Paul Rosenberg's diary :: Thu Oct 21st, 2004 at 12:53:43 PM EST
In a relatively short time, PIPA has established itself as the leading source of in-depth information about public opinion and knowledge in foreign policy, focusing particular attention on misperceptions that underpin conventional wisdom.
Not only do they highlight misperceptions among the public, equally--or perhaps more importantly--they highlight misperceptions among the policy elite, including the elite media. Here, they find that it really matters that Bush/Cheney contiune to mislead on these crucial points:
Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.
Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
Other areas where Bush supporters suppress dissonant information includes the opposition of world opinion to (1) the US invasion of Iraq and (2) the re-election of Bush, and Bush's opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the treaty banning land mines, the Kyoto (global warming) Protocols, the International Criminal Court, and the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in trade agreements.
Why the disconnect?
"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information," according to Steven Kull, "very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters--and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion could be critical of his policies or that the President could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters."
Read more here, with links
Thursday, October 28, 2004
"When Mr Bush decided to frame his foreign policy in the sort of language and objectives previously associated with Woodrow Wilson, John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, he was bound to be greeted with cynicism. Yet he was right to do so. To paraphrase a formula invented by his ally, Tony Blair, Mr Bush was promising to be “tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism”, and the latter he attributed to the lack of democracy, human rights and opportunity in much of the world, especially the Arab countries. To call for an effort to change that lamentable state of affairs was inspiring and surely correct. The credibility of the call was enhanced by this month's Afghan election, and may in future be enhanced by successful and free elections in Iraq. But that remains ahead, and meanwhile Mr Bush's credibility has been considerably undermined not just by Guant?namo but also by two big things: by the sheer incompetence and hubristic thinking evident in the way in which his team set about the rebuilding of Iraq, once Saddam Hussein's regime had been toppled; and by the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which strengthened the suspicion that the mistreatment or even torture of prisoners was being condoned.
Invading Iraq was not a mistake. Although the intelligence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction has been shown to have been flimsy and, with hindsight, wrong, Saddam's record of deception in the 12 years since the first Gulf war meant that it was right not to give him the benefit of the doubt. The containment scheme deployed around him was unsustainable and politically damaging: military bases in holy Saudi Arabia, sanctions that impoverished and even killed Iraqis and would have collapsed. But changing the regime so incompetently was a huge mistake. By having far too few soldiers to provide security and by failing to pay Saddam's remnant army, a task that was always going to be long and hard has been made much, much harder. Such incompetence is no mere detail: thousands of Iraqis have died as a result and hundreds of American soldiers. The eventual success of the mission, while still possible, has been put in unnecessary jeopardy. So has America's reputation in the Islamic world, both for effectiveness and for moral probity."
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The delusions and deceit on Iraq just keep coming
President Bush wishes to be viewed, and judged, as a "war president." Fair enough.
How has he done in leading the "war on terror" that was thrust upon him? Less well than his chest-thumping would have you believe.
How has he done in leading a second war - Iraq - in which he exalted his gut instinct over advice and evidence?
Very poorly, indeed.
The President's central claim is that these are prongs of the same war, that the Iraq invasion was the logical, urgent next step in the battle against those who attacked us on 9/11. He repeats this with ever more fervor as evidence mounts that he is flat wrong.
No Iraqi weapons stockpiles were found. The case that Saddam Hussein had major ties to al-Qaeda or 9/11, always tissue thin, has evaporated.
Predictions his team made about how a liberated Iraq would morph smoothly into a model democracy have collapsed amid blood and chaos.
Yet the President takes it as gospel that his gut instinct was right. Patriotism does not require Americans to indulge this President's delusions. They should view these wars with clear eyes. Iraq is a scary but salvageable mess from which the United States can make no easy exit.
The Iraq-terrorism linkage has become, with awful irony, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Iraq, by our own doing, has now become a magnet and rallying point for Islamic jihadists. Creating a stable, self-governing Iraq is imperative. A strife-torn Iraq would be a calamitous breeding ground for terror.
Americans also need to grasp that the struggle to thwart and roll up the terrorist network that really did attack us on 9/11 is not going as well as Bush campaign rhetoric claims.
The Afghanistan invasion was justified and the recent election there was a strikingly hopeful sign. But the United States pulled its punches in Afghanistan (saving some for Iraq?) and failed to eradicate al-Qaeda. Rather than cowering in a corner, since 2001 al-Qaeda and its allies have struck hideous blows in Bali, Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta and elsewhere.
Yet, polls still show Americans trust President Bush over John Kerry to protect them from terror attacks.
Why? First, they are scared, with reason. They want to believe and trust their commander in chief. And they are decent folks. They don't want their country to kill, or U.S. soldiers to die, for no good reason. So the truth of Iraq - a war based on false premises, where military victory was undermined by errors that left America less safe - is hard to accept.
What's more, this election offers two views of Iraq: the President's blithe confidence that all will work out, and Kerry's honest assessment that this is a mess that will be difficult to clean up. Which view is more appealing when you're scared? Unfortunately, not the realistic one that stands the best chance of salvaging the situation. The President and his team add to the confusion with distortions.
They are masters at insisting, with straight faces and indignation that anyone could doubt them, that the sky is green. They invented a new rationale for the Iraq war every time an old one frayed. Now, they rewrite history feverishly to excuse their mistakes. Let's review and debunk:
War is unpredictable; no plan could have anticipated what's gone wrong in Iraq. Funny, a prewar State Department study - along with many think-tank experts and journalists - predicted quite accurately what could go wrong and how to avoid it. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shelved the State study, and did his own thing. It was as if he, Bush and Vice President Cheney had rose-colored glasses surgically attached to their noses. Their plan relied on a shared fantasy: joyous liberation followed by a swift, oil-financed transition to a new government led by their pet, the liar Ahmed Chalabi.
The generals in Iraq got whatever they asked for. Everybody outside the Bush-Cheney campaign now agrees too few troops were sent to secure Iraq. That mistake, along with the bad decision to disband the entire Iraqi army, enabled the insurgency. But generals who disputed Rumsfeld's faith in lean force levels felt the lash of his disapproval. So they shut up.
Everyone, including John Kerry, thought Hussein was a threat before the war. They thought that because the administration's National Intelligence Estimate screamed it. That estimate was, in the phrase of Greg Thielmann, the State Department's top Iraq weapons analyst until late 2002, "chock full of hypothetical exaggerations intended to scare the bejeezus out of people."
Yes, Mr. Cheney, it would be awful if a terrorist strolled down Market Street with WMD in a suitcase. But the real question in 2003 was: What were the chances of Hussein's making that happen? The real answer: about the same as of Philly being hit by a comet. What were the chances of grave threats (al-Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, loose nukes in Russia) growing worse as Bush pursued his Iraq obsession? Answer: a lot higher.
A campaign is under way to scapegoat the CIA for the wrongful estimate. The CIA did lack solid intelligence on Iraq. But some of its analysts tried, as did Theilmann, to dispute the tall tales of WMD that Chalabi and others peddled. But the wild stories fit the preconceptions of Cheney and Rumsfeld, who hustled the false data to the President's desk.
The Duelfer Report confirms we were right. Give this claim high marks for chutzpah. Chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer concluded Hussein had no biochemical weapons stockpiles and no nuclear weapons program to speak of. In other words, the main rationale for war was false. Inspections and sanctions had in fact done a fair job of containment. Hussein was, in Thielmann's image: "posting a 'Beware of Dog' sign without buying the dog." Hussein bet that worries about WMD would keep Iran and the United States at bay.
A key point in Duelfer's report, which Bush seizes upon and the Michael Moore crowd glibly ignores, is that Hussein would have rebuilt weapons if sanctions had been lifted. But this did not, as Bush now claims, justify invasion. If Bush hadn't short-circuited inspections by invading, he would have learned the glad news: Iraq was a paper tiger. Then the challenge would have been maintaining a tough inspections regime while cleaning up the corrupt oil-for-food program. Not easy, but nowhere near as risky as invading and occupying an Islamic nation.
We're fighting the terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here. This claim has gained amazing currency, given that it makes no sense. Sadly, Osama bin Laden can walk and chew gum at the same time. What kind of moral thinking is that anyway? Is it really OK for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians to be sacrificed as targets in a Baghdad shooting gallery - just as long as nothing blows up in Abington?
It's dangerous to switch leaders in midwar.Let's say you're riding in a car. The driver, ignoring road signs and your warning cries, drives into oncoming traffic and crashes. Would you insist on having him drive you home from the accident site?
How can Kerry lead a war he calls a mistake? If an onlooker took charge at the scene, asking for help to clear the wreckage and avoid more accidents, others might pitch in, even if they thought the driver had been a fool.
Kerry's plan for Iraq is the same as the Bush team's. Largely true, but not because Kerry's aping the other guys. The cascading failures in Iraq have forced the Bush team to adopt policies it had mocked when others, including Kerry, proposed them.
Kerry remains too optimistic about the level of help he can extract from European allies. He'll have a hard sell. But it's possible that a new president with fresh credibility - derived from admitting U.S. errors and recognizing others' interests - might obtain some useful aid. Bush couldn't. Nor, his credibility in tatters, could he easily rouse old allies to meet a new, genuine threat.
There is no magic plan for Iraq. The choice is between a candidate who is at least clear about the stakes and problems - and a President who isn't, because he can't admit the deceits, delusions and errors that got us into this fix.
... give up?
Friday, October 22, 2004
"Last week we brought you the news that Larry Russell, head of the South Dakota GOP's get-out-the-vote operation (Republican Victory Program) had resigned along with several of his staffers amidst a burgeoning vote fraud scandal.
The Bush campaign promptly brought Russell and several of his newly-resigned staffers to Ohio to run the get-out-the-vote effort there.
Now South Dakota officials have handed down indictments against six of Russell's South Dakota staffers, including at least three he brought with him to take care of business in Ohio.
" the Bush administration ... bulldozed internal dissent, overlooked its own intelligence and relentlessly pushed for confrontation with Iraq."
WASHINGTON -- Supporters of President Bush are less knowledgeable about the president's foreign policy positions and are more likely to be mistaken about factual issues in world affairs than voters who back John F. Kerry, a survey released yesterday indicated.
A large majority of self-identified Bush voters polled believe Saddam Hussein provided "substantial support" to Al Qaeda, and 47 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US invasion. Among the president's supporters, 57 percent queried think international public opinion favors Bush's reelection, and 51 percent believe that most Islamic countries support "US-led efforts to fight terrorism."
No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence of substantial Iraqi support for Al Qaeda, and international public opinion polls have shown widespread opposition to Bush's reelection.
In contrast, among Kerry supporters polled only 26 percent think Iraq had such weapons, 30 percent say Iraq was linked to Al Qaeda, and 1 percent said foreign public opinion favors Bush.
The polls results, said Steven Kull, the head of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which conducted the survey, showed that Americans are so polarized two weeks before the election that many lack even a common understanding of the facts."
... no, not quite -- it's not the lack of a common understanding of facts that is polarizing. It's the willful ignorance of Bush supporters, i.e. those from the latter half of The Coalition of the Conniving and the Clueless.
what are your Top 10?
55. The Bush Administration, in violation of the law, refused to allow Medicare actuary Richard Foster to tell members of Congress the actual cost of their Medicare bill. Instead, they repeated a figure they knew was $100 billion too low.
Source: Washington Post, realcities.com
63. In a case before the Supreme Court, the Bush Administrations sided with HMOs--arguing that patients shouldn't be allowed to sue HMOs when they are improperly denied treatment. With the Administration's help, the HMOs won.
Source: ABC News
84. The Bush Administration, without ever charging him with a crime, arrested US citizen Jos? Padilla at an airport in Chicago, held him on a naval brig in South Carolina for two years, denied him access to a lawyer and prohibited any contact with his friends and family.
99. The Bush Administration has spent millions of dollars and defied numerous court orders to conceal from the public who participated in Vice President Cheney's 2001 energy task force.
Source: Washington Post
#101 (NOT LISTED - I WONDER WHY...) The Pentagon's Office of Strategic Plans
"Kwiatkowski got there just as war fever was spreading, or being spread as she would later argue, through the halls of Washington. Indeed, shortly after her arrival, a piece of NESA was broken off, expanded and re-dubbed with the Orwellian name of the Office of Special Plans. The OSP’s task was, ostensibly, to help the Pentagon develop policy around the Iraq crisis.
She would soon conclude that the OSP — a pet project of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld — was more akin to a nerve center for what she now calls a “neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon.”
Though a lifelong conservative, Kwiatkowski found herself appalled as the radical wing of the Bush administration, including her superiors in the Pentagon planning department, bulldozed internal dissent, overlooked its own intelligence and relentlessly pushed for confrontation with Iraq.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Memo for the President-Elect
from a straight shooter ...
By David H. Hackworth
Since our commander-in-chief announced “mission accomplished” on May 1, 2003, the insurgents have seized the initiative in Iraq. And we’re also not winning the even-more-consequential worldwide battle against the Islamic jihadists. All because our forces are trying to do too much with too little the wrong way.
Lately, I’ve been shoveling through literally truckloads of reader queries along the lines of “OK, Hack, you spent most of the past two years griping, so what’s your solution?” It’s a question that needs an answer. So, as a long-term student of insurgent warfare and a soldier who’s fought guerrillas in post-World-War-II Italy, during the Korean War and for more than four years in Vietnam, here’s what I would do:
* Immediately fire SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, all of his Pentagon senior civilian assistants and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers.
* Replace Rumsfeld with retired Gen. Anthony Zinni and give this tough, smart, proven leader a free hand to bring in the best people to reshape and streamline our armed forces for the long counterinsurgency fight ahead.
* Fire National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and replace her with retired Gens. Wes Clark or John Sheehan.
* Establish a military objective – an often-neglected Principle of War – that will include: how the U.S. is going to regain the lost initiative (another neglected Principle of War) and how we’re going to take and hold the turf seized by insurgents; how we will then win the Iraqi people to our side in the fight against the insurgents; how the nascent Iraqi defense shield will eventually replace our forces; and a detailed, coherent exit plan.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Hersh uncovers another atrocity
Hersch claims to have spoken with a first lieutenant in charge of a unit stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border.
"His group was bivouacking outside of town in an agricultural area, and had hired 30 or so Iraqis to guard a local granary. A few weeks passed. They got to know the men they hired, and to like them. Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.
"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'"
... History repeats itself, first as tragedy, ...
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Elmer Andersen, former Republican governor
"I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been [you are not alone on that score, Elmer]-- because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush.
Bush's phony posturing as cocksure leader of the free world -- symbolized by his victory symbol on the aircraft carrier and "mission accomplished" statement -- leave me speechless. The mission had barely been started, let alone finished, and 18 months later it still rages on. His ongoing "no-regrets," no-mistakes stance and untruths on the war -- as well as on the floundering economy and Bush administration joblessness -- also disappoint and worry me."
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Media conglomerates using the PUBLIC airwaves
to further their private POLITICAL agendas?
Oops, I forgot -- it's the Politics of Anything Goes now.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
William Milliken, former Republican governor
"This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today,'' Milliken said in the statement.
Milliken, a moderate Republican, has been critical of Bush and has faulted the GOP on such issues as same-sex marriage, flag-burning and abortion.
The Bush campaign dismissed Milliken's endorsement, saying he led under a different time."
... yeah, back when integrity was valued and hypocrisy scorned.
[lax] Politics - World (context)
Does that mean they'll rehire their Washington
bureau chief? ...
"Sinclair Broadcast fired its Washington bureau chief, saying he revealed company business when he discussed its upcoming program on a documentary critical of John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said in a statement late Monday that it fired reporter Jon Leiberman and that "we are disappointed that Jon's political views caused him to violate company policy and speak to the press about company business."
In his initial remarks, published Monday by The (Baltimore) Sun, Leiberman called the Sinclair show "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election."
Leiberman said he was fired Monday by Joseph DeFeo, Sinclair's vice president for news, and escorted out of the company's headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md."
... somehow I rather doubt it.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Marlow Cook, former Republican Senator
"Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril. We in this nation have a serious problem. Its almost worse than terrorism: We are broke. Our government is borrowing a billion dollars a day. They are now borrowing from the government pension program, for apparently they have gotten as much out of the Social Security Trust as it can take. Our House and Senate announce weekly grants for every kind of favorite local programs to save legislative seats, and it's all borrowed money."
... it's almost like they were leaving letters saying, "stop me before I borrow again!" and nobody was paying attention.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Name your poison: Why Deficits Matter
Deficit spending drives up the interest we pay every year.
When the interest is a fairly small fraction of the budget, it is easy to hide without specifically addressing it -- it gets absorbed in tax, spending, and budget financing (debt limit) bills that are flowing through Congress that year. But if you've just run a big deficit, say $500B, you've gotta come up with an ADDITIONAL $25 billion every year--FOREVER. Now it starts to hurt. And if you run $500B deficits every year for 8 years, you've added $4,000B to the debt and now you gotta come up with $200 billion MORE.
Name your poison: spending cuts, taxes, inflation, or more borrow&pray.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Kerry pulling away in key states
"latest Zogby Interactive Battleground States poll released today shows that no lead that Bush has in any battleground state is safely beyond the MOE, and are therefore all in play. On the other hand, Kerry seems to have moved out to safe leads in six of the nine states he leads in, including Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and importantly Pennsylvania. Kerry is closing in on Bush in West Virginia and is adding to a small lead in Wisconsin."
... just like the RedSox: gonna build up your hopes again, then break your heart and smash it flatter than yesterday's roadkill.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Kerry supporters expect Bush victory
"Two polls indicate the majority of John Kerry's Democratic supporters expect him to lose to U.S. President George Bush, the Washington Times said Wednesday.
In polls by Fox News and the TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics, roughly a quarter of Kerry supporters who have an opinion on the outcome of the election predict the Massachusetts senator will lose.
Popularity polls by Gallup, Fox and ABC News have Bush ahead by 8, 7 and 5 points, respectively. However, those same polls show the president leading by margins of 20, 17 and 23 on the question of who respondents expect to win the election. "
... or at least on who the Supreme Court will say the winner is.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Bush must be the Annointed One
One more from the "Bush-Detached From Reality" file, and a made-to-order Kerry commercial in swing states:
The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, "We're not going to have any casualties."
Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."
... but will Kerry get any traction from this? History says NO.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Bush suppressing CIA report
"The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.
"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."
... excuse me! "look like " ??? They weren't and they didn't. Period.
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Bush sent our troops out there to die!
His own general blows the whistle...
my favorite part :
"He also protested in his letter, sent Dec. 4 to the number two officer in the Army, with copies to other senior officials, that his soldiers still needed protective inserts to upgrade 36,000 sets of body armor but that their delivery had been postponed twice in the month before he was writing. There were 131,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the time."
[sfo] Politics - World (context)
Have a look at my crystal ball
Not many places to raise a trillion -- when are they gonna start feeling used?
We're already largely dependent on foreign gov'ts (principally China & Japan) to fund the deficit every year with their purchases of our bonds. With a less-than-robust economy of late they've been content with 10-year notes near historic lows of 4%. But with the dollar in decline and the skyrocketing $500B current accounts deficit (which is also funded by IOUs to foreigners) showing no sign of slowing down, you should not expect these benevolent entities to fund our government's reckless adventure in faith-based budgeting indefinitely. The 10-year note could easily romp up to 8% fairly quickly. Mortgage rates will follow right behind. Adjustable mortgage holders will by paying upwards of 10% (if not simply defaulting) and fixed mortgage holders won't be taking out new mortgages either by selling and moving up or cashing out with another refi anymore, and property values are poised to take a tumble -- that could rip a huge chunk of money per household out of consumer spending as well as plunge some property value-dependent communities heavily into the red.
Goodbye expansion, hello rip-roaring inflationary recession.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Where is the f***ing OUTRAGE ???...
"The top U.S. commander in Iraq complained to the Pentagon last winter that his supply situation was so poor that it threatened Army troops' ability to fight, according to an official document that has surfaced only now.
The lack of key spare parts for gear vital to combat operations, such as tanks and helicopters, was causing problems so severe, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez wrote in a letter to top Army officials, that "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low."
Sanchez, who was the senior commander on the ground in Iraq from the summer of 2003 until the summer of 2004, said in his letter that Army units in Iraq were "struggling just to maintain . . . relatively low readiness rates" on key combat systems, such as M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, anti-mortar radars and Black Hawk helicopters.
He also protested in his letter, sent Dec. 4 to the number two officer in the Army, with copies to other senior officials, that his soldiers still needed protective inserts to upgrade 36,000 sets of body armor but that their delivery had been postponed twice in the month before he was writing. There were 131,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the time."
From the Hoover's Larry Diamond,
"...Iraq today falls far short of what the Bush administration promised. As a result of a long chain of U.S. miscalculations, the coalition occupation has left Iraq in far worse shape than it need have and has diminished the long-term prospects of democracy there. Iraqis, Americans, and other foreigners continue to be killed. What went wrong? ...
In truth, around 300,000 troops might have been enough to make Iraq largely secure after the war. But doing so would also have required different kinds of troops, with different rules of engagement. The coalition should have deployed vastly more military police and other troops trained for urban patrols, crowd control, civil reconstruction, and peace maintenance and enforcement. Tens of thousands of soldiers with sophisticated monitoring equipment should have been posted along the borders with Syria and Iran to intercept the flows of foreign terrorists, Iranian intelligence agents, money, and weapons.
But Washington failed to take such steps, for the same reasons it decided to occupy Iraq with a relatively light force: hubris and ideology. Contemptuous of the State Department's regional experts who were seen as too "soft" to remake Iraq, a small group of Pentagon officials ignored the elaborate postwar planning the State Department had overseen through its "Future of Iraq" project, which had anticipated many of the problems that emerged after the invasion. Instead of preparing for the worst, Pentagon planners assumed that Iraqis would joyously welcome U.S. and international troops as liberators..."
...Yadda-yadda-yadda. Wussamatter, Larry -- didn't you get that memo?
"...Never mind the details - I couldn't even find a clear statement that Kerry wants to roll back recent high-income tax cuts and use the money to cover most of the uninsured.
When reports mentioned the Kerry plan at all, it was usually horse race analysis - how it's playing, not what's in it.
On the other hand, everyone knows Teresa Heinz Kerry told someone to "shove it," [but] none of the transcripts I've read mention the target of her ire works for Richard Mellon Scaife, a billionaire who financed smear campaigns against the Clintons - including accusations of murder...And viewers learned nothing about Scaife's long vendetta against Heinz Kerry herself.
There are two issues here, trivialization and bias, but they're related.
Somewhere along the line, TV news stopped reporting on candidates' policies and turned instead to trivia that supposedly reveal their personalities.
We hear about Kerry's haircuts, not his health care proposals. We hear about George Bush's brush-cutting, not his environmental policies.
And since campaign coverage as celebrity profiling has no rules, it offers ample scope for biased reporting.
Notice the voter's reference to "these millionaires." Columbia Journalism Review [finds] a press prone to needlessly introduce Sens. Kerry and Edwards and Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as millionaires or billionaires, without similar labels for President Bush or Vice President Cheney. ...the Bush campaign has been "hammering away with talking points casting Kerry as out of the mainstream because of his wealth, hoping to influence press coverage."
The campaign isn't claiming Kerry's policies favor the rich - they manifestly don't, while Bush's manifestly do. Instead we're supposed to dislike Kerry simply because he's wealthy (and not notice his opponent is, too).
Republicans, of all people, are practicing the politics of envy, and the media obediently go along. In short, the triumph of the trivial is not a trivial matter.
... BOHICA, baby. It's 4 years until Jeb's turn.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
or maybe more like "NYT for ABB", but let's not quibble ...
We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term, particularly regarding the Supreme Court. The record so far gives us plenty of cause for worry. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge. Another Bush selection, J. Leon Holmes, a federal judge in Arkansas, has written that wives must be subordinate to their husbands and compared abortion rights activists to Nazis.
Mr. Bush remains enamored of tax cuts but he has never stopped Republican lawmakers from passing massive spending, even for projects he dislikes, like increased farm aid.
If he wins re-election, domestic and foreign financial markets will know the fiscal recklessness will continue.
We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.
...we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.
Friday, October 15, 2004
"I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy.
It was a call about this. He had been bivouacing outside of town with his platoon. It was near, it was an agricultural area, and there was a granary around. And the guys that owned the granary, the Iraqis that owned the granary... It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouaced, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...
They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."
... Perfect. Just freaking perfect.
Isolated incidents or a pattern of abuse? .... The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Block the Vote: "Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.
Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.
Some of these, like the actions reported in Nevada, involve dirty tricks. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired an Idaho company to paralyze Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming the party's phone banks.
But many efforts involve the abuse of power. For example, Ohio's secretary of state, a Republican, tried to use an archaic rule about paper quality to invalidate thousands of new, heavily Democratic registrations.
That attempt failed. But in Wisconsin, a Republican county executive insists that this year, when everyone expects a record turnout, Milwaukee will receive fewer ballots than it got in 2000 or 2002 - a recipe for chaos at polling places serving urban, mainly Democratic voters.
And Florida is the site of naked efforts to suppress Democratic votes, and the votes of blacks in particular.
Florida's secretary of state recently ruled that voter registrations would be deemed incomplete if those registering failed to check a box affirming their citizenship, even if they had signed an oath saying the same thing elsewhere on the form. Many counties are, sensibly, ignoring this ruling, but it's apparent that some officials have both used this rule and other technicalities to reject applications as incomplete, and delayed notifying would-be voters of problems with their applications until it was too late.
Whose applications get rejected? A Washington Post examination of rejected applications in Duval County found three times as many were from Democrats, compared with Republicans. It also found a strong tilt toward rejection of blacks' registrations."
... more important, where is everyone's GODDAMN SENSE OF OUTRAGE?
What DOES it take to get you out into the street?
ya still gotta wonder ...
Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: LtJG. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam,
Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea
Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." (Please note: this is the man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.)
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete).
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
JC Watts: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
CONSERVATIVE PUNDITS AND PREACHERS
Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.
Anne Coulter: did not serve.
... How's that working for ya?
Thursday, October 14, 2004
What Bush's Harvard Business School Prof Has To Say
Originally Posted by salon.com
By Mary Jacoby
Sept. 16, 2004
For 25 years, Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush's
professors at Harvard Business School, was content
with his green-card status as a permanent legal
resident of the United States. But Bush's ascension to
the presidency in 2001 prompted the Japanese native to
secure his American citizenship. The reason: to be
able to speak out with the full authority of
citizenship about why he believes Bush lacks the
character and intellect to lead the world's oldest and
most powerful democracy.
"I don't remember all the students in detail unless
I'm prompted by something," Tsurumi said in a
telephone interview Wednesday. "But I always remember
two types of students. One is the very excellent
student, the type as a professor you feel honored to
be working with. Someone with strong social values,
compassion and intellect -- the very rare person you
never forget. And then you remember students like
George Bush, those who are totally the opposite."
Tsurumi said. "He showed pathological lying habits and
was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and
biases. He would even deny saying something he just
said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students
jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to
explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would
respond, "Oh, I never said that."
Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and
when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government
doesn't have to help poor people -- because they are
lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that
assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he
started backtracking on it, saying, 'No, I didn't say
Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film "The
Grapes of Wrath," based on John Steinbeck's novel of
the Depression. "We were in a discussion of the New
Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies
'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities
and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security,
you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To
him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to
explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either
ideologically, polemically or academically."
Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class
would then become the subject of a whispering campaign
by him, Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge
them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in
the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students
who had challenged him. He would complain that someone
was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So
that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk,
that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful
Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the
back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a
bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and
spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.
"At first, I wondered, 'Who is this George Bush?' It's
a very common name and I didn't know his background.
And he was such a bad student that I asked him once
how he got in. He said, 'My dad has good friends.'"
Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.
"I used to chat up a number of students when we were
walking back to class," Tsurumi said. "Here was Bush,
wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was
the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, 'George,
what did you do with the draft?' He said, 'Well, I got
into the Texas Air National Guard.' And I said, 'Lucky
you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it.
How'd you get in?' When he told me, he didn't seem
ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to
all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not
the only one trying to twist all their connections to
avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the
Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft
while supporting a war in which others were dying was
a hypocrite. "He realized he was caught, showed his
famous smirk and huffed off."
Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his
detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with
no discipline, and no compassion," he said.
He said other professors and students at the business
school from that time share his recollections but are
afraid to come forward, fearing ostracism or
retribution. And why is Tsurumi speaking up now?
Because with the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Osama
bin Laden still on the loose -- not to mention a
federal deficit ballooning out of control -- the
stakes are too high to remain silent. "Obviously, I
don't think he is the best person" to be running the
country, he said. "I wanted to explain why."
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
... all we need now is Marty Feldman's "What hump?"
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
"5 big questions for the last debate
Promises to grow jobs or protect retirees don't mean much without specifics. Here's what I need to hear from Bush and Kerry on the financial issues they haven't yet touched.
By Jim Jubak
I give up. After months of campaigning and one vice presidential and two presidential debates, it’s clear that no candidate for national office is going to talk about the economic issues that I want to hear about.
Why? Not because these issues are unimportant or peripheral to the lives of most Americans. On the contrary, they’re even more important than how to stimulate job growth or the future of Social Security. Unless we address the five problems I outline below, we don’t stand a chance of coming up with effective policies on the economic issues the candidates are talking about.
U.S. voters deserve the whole economic truth and nothing but the truth from President Bush and Sen. Kerry, especially since we’re about to vote on who will lead this country for the next four years. Complex issues should be discussed on the stump and in debates, not filed away as position papers that no one ever reads.
So here are the economic issues that I think are most critical to our future -- and that no one is talking about in this election.Check out your options.
Find the best rate
before you borrow.
Unchecked pork-barrel spending
On Oct. 6, House and Senate negotiators approved $145 billion in tax cuts to fix what they claimed was a $50 billion tax problem. The original goal was to compensate U.S. exporters for the loss of tax breaks that the World Trade Organization had declared illegal and that had led the European Union to impose retaliatory tariffs.
Once again, Congress demonstrated that once it starts spending money -- and a tax cut is an expenditure -- it can’t stop handing out the goodies, like $20 billion in tax cuts on foreign earnings, $500 million in tax breaks for railroads and $26 billion in tax breaks for “exporters” like oil and gas producers who don’t export anything.
Reining in Congress isn’t impossible. A first step is to get the candidates to pledge to veto pork-barrel spending bills. Without fiscal restraint from Congress and the president, Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve wind up with all the economic power that counts. When is the last time you voted for Greenspan or any other Federal Reserve member?
Outsourcing and offshoring of jobs
The demographic logic isn’t hard to follow: A 28-year-old worker and a 55-year-old worker who lose their paychecks because their jobs have been sent abroad face very different problems. The younger worker isn’t likely to have as many financial obligations as the older employee, and he has a much longer time horizon to make up lost financial ground after retraining, which can take up to two years to complete.
Neither candidate has even broached a plan on how to fill that gap for demographically challenged workers. And that seems a terrible oversight given the rapidly aging U.S. workforce.
The failure of private pensions and health benefits
Fixing Social Security is relatively simple (raise the taxable income ceiling, raise the retirement age, raise the tax rate or lower benefits). It’s the government health-care trust funds that are in the really deep red ink.
That’s an especially big problem for the older population, because it’s those workers who are most likely to have a private, defined-benefit plan. (Younger workers probably never had a defined-benefit plan to begin with and commonly rely on plans such as 401(k)s.) If their private pension plan falters and their payments are reduced or wiped out, the U.S. Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (PBGC) will pay a maximum benefit of only $44,386 (in 2004) to workers who retire at 65. It does not, however, pay or guarantee any health-care benefits to retirees.
The PBGC has already been overextended by the steel and airline industries’ consolidation and bankruptcies, and it was never intended to meet the needs of an entire generation as the country made the tough transition from one type of retirement coverage to another.
The decline of the U.S. dollar
The financial crisis that gets all the attention is the government’s $415 billion deficit. That’s a startling figure in absolute terms but, as 3.6% of the Gross Domestic Product, we’re not in the historical danger zone yet. (The trend is certainly troubling since the government has gone from a surplus of 2.4% of GDP in 2000 to a deficit of 3.6% in just four years. And, mind you, all these figures use government accounting which is, shall we say, creative.)
At 3.6% of GDP, the government deficit is much smaller than the U.S. trade deficit (or the current account deficit, to be precise), which now stands at 5% of GDP. To keep accounts in balance, the United States ships money overseas in exchange for goods, and since the U.S. household savings rate is now a paltry 1.5% of disposable income (down from a high of 11% in 1984), the money that we ship abroad is usually borrowed.
That works as long as foreigners are willing to sell us their things for dollars, but over time, it’s a good bet that the constant flow of dollars overseas will lead to a cheaper dollar. Some part of the current run-up in oil, which is priced in dollars, may indeed be related to oil producers’ desire to get more dollars for their oil. A falling dollar makes U.S. goods cheaper for overseas customers to buy, which is how trade deficits eventually get resolved.
But a cheaper dollar also means that U.S. consumers wind up paying more for everything they buy from abroad, whether it’s oil or computer chips or flip flops. The question isn’t whether the dollar will decline, but how fast and by how much. Estimates by economists range from 10% to 30%. At the high end of the range, a dollar decline would produce massive cost increases for some American consumers. The burden is likely to fall hardest on low-income households and fixed-income retirees who stretch the buying power of their retirement checks by buying cheaper imported goods.
The need for national economic security.
No one is talking about the threat to the extraordinary era of domestic economic peace that the Unites States has enjoyed for the last 60 or 70 years.
The foundation of that peace has been the promise that each generation of Americans would be better off than the preceding generation. That made possible the intergenerational transfer of wealth from young to old that is at the heart of our existing Social Security system and the rising national debt. It was OK to pay the oldsters more out of the pockets of younger workers, for example, because those younger workers knew their future was going to be more comfortable than that older generation's present.
But that implicit economic contract is in danger. Looking at my own two young children I feel that there is a real possibility that their generation won't do as well as mine did. It's hard to overestimate the dangers of breaking this implicit contract with younger workers just when an aging society and growing twin deficits makes the international transfer of wealth much more critical -- and much more burdensome.
While we're all worrying about how to pay those bills, we also need to be debating a plan that would give the bill-paying younger generation hope for their own future.
"Despite their diverse assessments of today's economy, the professors are overwhelmingly critical of the central plank of Mr Bush's economic policy—tax cuts. More than seven out of ten respondents say the Bush administration's tax cuts were either a bad or a very bad idea, and a similar proportion disapproves of Mr Bush's plans to make his tax cuts permanent. By contrast, Mr Kerry's plan to roll back the tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000 wins the support of seven in ten of them."
Monday, October 11, 2004
"While both candidates have talked almost exclusively about the next four years, the nation's long-term fiscal problems have loomed ever larger.
It may sound like a tired refrain by now, but the real action is in Social Security and Medicare. Yes, pity the nation's biggest entitlement programs. No one seems to want to cure what ails them.
In testimony before Congress last month, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, said the budget's longer-term prospects remained troubling. "With the baby boomers starting to retire in a few years and health spending continuing to soar," he said, "our budget position will almost surely deteriorate substantially in coming years if current policies remain in place."
JUST how substantially the budget position will deteriorate or, in plain English, how much the government will dip into the red, has been a popular subject among economists of late. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a professor at Boston University, has offered figures in the tens of trillions of dollars.
The government would not have to borrow those trillions all at once. The debts would climb over decades. It would, however, have to make sure it was in a position to borrow at least some of the money.
That means it would need a plan. Just as investors will not lend to a struggling airline with no strategy to control its debts, investors will not lend to a government whose ability to repay looks as if it can only worsen.
...sure, making the Bush tax cuts permanent is only gonna make it a few trillion or so worse over 10 years, and the rise in health care costs will suck another 1.5 trillion annually, but I plan to retire and put my money in foreign bonds and commodities before it reaches critical mass.
Friday, October 08, 2004
"Nonfarm payrolls increased just 96,000 last month while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.4%, as 221,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The consensus among economists was for 150,000 job gains, although estimates ranged from 10,000 jobs lost to 250,000 jobs added.
The details of the report were equally lackluster. Some 18,000 manufacturing jobs were shed last month, and the manufacturing workweek declined. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings rose just 0.2%, below the 0.3% estimate. The household survey showed that employment fell by 201,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said bad weather "appears to have held down employment growth" during the month but noted that it was "not enough to change materially the Bureau's assessment of the employment situation in September."
Meanwhile, the government released a preliminary revision of employment growth for the period of March 2003 through March 2004.
The BLS said 236,000 more jobs were created during that period than originally thought, but it noted that this is below the 10-year average.
President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers had predicted that payrolls could be revised up by 288,000, and possibly as much as 384,000, although economists said those assumptions were aggressive. Benchmark revisions are based on more complete data from unemployment insurance tax records.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
2) The intel was irrefutably proven to be wrong. Bush and Cheney stood fast behind their position on the war anyway.
3) The recent US weapons inspector's report (published this week) proves conclusively there was only the tattered remnants of a WMD program in Iraq; the report concludes that their WMD program was stronger in 1991 than it was when we invaded the country in 2002.
4) In light of this overwhelming evidence (which they haven't refuted to date) against their claims, Cheney said today - that's October 7, 2004 - in a town hall meeting in Miami the this report justifies (!!!!) rather than undermines Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
Why? Well, here's Cheney's logic: although Iraq clearly was no threat to the world, they were focused on getting export sanctions lifted, and as soon as they were, he'd've resumed his WMD program.
And therefore (I'm not making this up -- this IS Cheney's logic), we needed to invade Iraq because even though they didn't have a WMD program, they would've started one as soon as the UN inspectors determined he didn't have one, because once they determined Iraq didn't have a WMD program e-e-everyone would be feel safe and they could therefore start a WMD program again.
NOW let's put that in perspective: it was necessary to spend $200B, lose 1100 American Special Forces' lives (and continue to lose 30 or more per month with increasing, not decreasing casualties), kill/maim 10,000 or more Iraqi civilians, separate military members families from their families, and for America to lose favor in the world for this pseudologic. In so doing, a president who mathematically lost his election and who faced significant opposition at home and abroad to this action went ahead anyway and sacrificed those precious resources on his personal whim.
... How's that working for ya?
Monday, October 04, 2004
The story began early last year when someone - it is unclear who - posted internal Diebold e-mail messages on the Internet that discussed flaws in the company's electronic voting machines. Two students from Swarthmore College then posted those messages on various Web sites. Diebold sent out a flurry of cease-and-desist letters claiming that the postings violated its copyrights. The students sued, charging that Diebold knowingly misrepresented its rights under copyright law.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California agreed. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal to send a cease-and-desist letter while knowing that the claim of copyright infringement is false. The court held that Diebold knew that its e-mail messages "discussing possible technical problems" with its voting machines were not copyrighted, but went ahead anyway.
This is the second recent setback to Diebold's already troubled reputation. Last month, California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, joined a false-claims suit against Diebold charging it with lying to the state about the security of its voting systems. Now, a federal court has ruled that Diebold made knowing misrepresentations to get damaging information about its machines' security off the Internet.
Diebold has a great deal to do to make its work transparent and its company trustworthy if it wants to remain in the elections business.
Making Votes Count: Editorials in this series remain online at nytimes.com/makingvotescount