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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Yet Another I Told You So (This time with proof from our own files) 

Sometime in July I posted an article called Hat In Hand. Hate to say I told you so but gosh darn it, there it is in our little filing system here and it says what I predicted and what I predicted is happening. The US is struggling to find a way to get a UN financial and personnel support for the Iraqi Fiasco without giving up any authority or …can we say it please?….profit. From today’s LA Times.

linked text

Friday, August 29, 2003

Must Read article from Asia Newspaper source: Straits Times. 

When US won't put money and troops where its mouth is...
http://www.straitstimes.com/commentary/story/0,4386,207082,00.html?
By Janadas Devan

IN FEBRUARY, before the United States' invasion of Iraq, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz contradicted his own Army Chief of Staff's assessment that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to pacify a post-war Iraq, telling Congress: 'It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would to conduct the war itself.'

The Bush administration is now actively seeking contributions from India, Turkey and elsewhere, to augment the 150,000 coalition troops already in Iraq.

Ha, ha, ha, ha.

After Baghdad fell, neo-cons gathered to celebrate at a 'black coffee' breakfast. The 'time has passed' for the United Nations as a security institution, Mr Richard Perle, an influential member of Pentagon's Defence Advisory Board, told the gathering. The UN did not matter much, concurred Mr Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard.

The Bush administration is now actively seeking a UN resolution to allow a multinational force to operate in Iraq with UN sponsorship, but under unified US command.

Ha, ha, ha, ha.

There are many reasons why the US is in the mess it is in in Iraq today, but they can be boiled down to three: hubris, stinginess and wilful ignorance.

It was hubris that led the Bush administration to assume that winning the peace would be as easy as winning the war. But as the administration is now discovering, there is no smart bomb to ensure reliable supplies of water and electricity, no satellite-guided cruise missile to resolve ethnic and religious strife, no precision strike to surgically transform the minds of suicide bombers.

It was stinginess that led the administration to assume it could do regime change using Iraqi oil money to pay for the occupation. It now admits the Iraqi oil industry would require substantial investments before it can generate significant revenue. Just to meet current electrical demand will require the US to spend US$2 billion (S$3.5 billion), and delivering clean water nationally would cost it US$16 billion over four years. Congress has thus far appropriated only US$2.5 billion for Iraqi reconstruction.

The astonishing thing is that the administration should have known all this before it embarked on its adventure. As a recent Rand Corporation study on 'nation-building' noted, Iraq is the sixth nation-building enterprise the US has mounted in the past 11 years, and the fifth in a Muslim country. There is a history here, not to mention an institutional memory, that was wilfully ignored - both because the Bush administration wished to fool the public by minimising the cost of regime change, as well as itself because it didn't really believe in nation-building in any event.

The conclusions that Rand drew from studying almost 60 years of nation-building, from 1945 to the present, are significant. They include:
* Many factors - including prior democratic experience and social homogeneity - can determine success in nation-building. But the single most important element is 'the level of effort, as measured in troops, money and time'.

* 'Multilateral nation-building is more complex and time-consuming than a unilateral approach.' But the former is less expensive for individual participants.

* 'Multilateral nation-building can produce more thorough transformations and greater regional reconciliation than can unilateral efforts.'

* 'Unity of command is as essential in peace operations as it is in war.' But unity of command can be achieved even in multilateral operations. Bosnia and Kosovo are shining examples.

* There is an inverse correlation 'between the size of the military stabilisation force and the level of casualties. The higher the proportion of troops relative to the resident population, the lower the the number of casualties suffered and inflicted. Indeed, most of the post-conflict operations that were generously manned suffered no casualties at all'.

* 'There is no quick-fix for nation building.' In no instance was an attempt successfully completed in under seven years.


In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has taken on tasks that are comparable in scale to what it undertook in Germany and Japan. But while there were about 100 US soldiers per 1,000 Germans in 1945, there are only six coalition troops per 1,000 Iraqis and 0.2 per 1,000 Afghans. Among recent nation-building operations, the US and its allies put 25 times more money and 50 times more troops on a per capita basis into Kosovo than they did in Afghanistan. That is why Kosovo is a success, and Afghanistan the opium capital of the world.

Based on its study of various stabilisation exercises, the Rand study concluded that a force ratio of about 20 security personnel per thousand inhabitants is the ideal. That was the ratio the British deployed in Northern Ireland as well as in Malaya/Singapore during the Emergency, and that was the ratio in Bosnia and Kosovo.

To meet this standard, Iraq, with a population of 25 million, would require 500,000 troops on the ground, more than three times the number now deployed. And if Iraq were to get the same amount of foreign aid per capita that Bosnia and Kosovo got, it would need US$36 billion from now to 2005.

The bottom line is this: 'According to the lessons learned, the ultimate consequence for Iraq of a failure to generate adequate international manpower and money are likely to be lower levels of security, higher casualties sustained and inflicted, lower economic growth rates, and slower, less thoroughgoing political transformation.'

This is the mess US unilateralism has created. It has become a mess the world must now help clean up.

Ineptitude cannot be hidden in the face of the best of intentions. 

Important LA Times article.

linked text

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Howard Dean 

Despite my disagreements with a lot of Dean's positions and proposals, I can't fault him for his opinion on staying and finishing the job in Iraq:

"We have no choice. It's a matter of national security. If we leave and we don't get a democracy in Iraq, the result is very significant danger to the United States."

And "bringing democracy to Iraq is not a two-year proposition. Having elections alone doesn't guarantee democracy. You've got to have institutions and the rule of law, and in a country that hasn't had that in 3,000 years, it's unlikely to suddenly develop by having elections and getting the heck out." Dean would impose a "hybrid" constitution, "American with Iraqi, Arab characteristics. Iraqis have to play a major role in drafting this, but the Americans have to have the final say."


Regardless of your opinion on the justifiability of the war, you have to admit that, now that we are there, it is our duty to reconstitute Iraq. Doing so will take years of effort.

File this under the DON’T SAY I DIDN’T TELL YOU SO server.  

"You bet, now the pressure is on the administration not to let Iraq become an albatross during the election, the administration is now toning down some of the macho blunderbuss rhetoric and is considering asking for help.

This was not in the Project for a New American Century script. It is, however, a consequence of this horribly thought out invasion.

From Reuters yesterday:

PARIS (Reuters) - Richard Perle, a leading Pentagon adviser and architect of the U.S. war to topple Saddam Hussein said the United States had made mistakes in Iraq and that power should be handed over to the Iraqis as fast as possible.


In an interview with the Le Figaro daily newspaper to be published Thursday, Perle defended the U.S.-led war in Iraq and restated his belief that France had been wrong to lead international opposition to the conflict.


"Of course, we haven't done everything right," said Perle, according to the French text of the interview. "Mistakes have been made and there will be others.


"Our principal mistake, in my opinion, was that we didn't manage to work closely with the Iraqis before the war, so that there was an Iraqi opposition capable of taking charge immediately," he said.


"Today, the answer is to hand over power to the Iraqis as soon as possible," he added. "






And now please file this under the DON’T TELL ME THIS IS ALRIGHT server, from today’s New York Times:






"U.S. Now Signals It Might Consider U.N. Force in Iraq
By DOUGLAS JEHL

ASHINGTON, Aug. 27 — The Bush administration has signaled for the first time that it may be willing to allow a multinational force in Iraq to operate under the sponsorship of the United Nations as long as it is commanded by an American.

The idea was described by Richard L. Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, as just "one idea being explored" in discussions at the United Nations. It was first hinted at publicly last week by Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general.


The Pentagon has historically opposed any arrangement in which American troops are not under American command, and Mr. Rumsfeld has expressed opposition to putting the current American force in Iraq under United Nations oversight.

Whether any arrangement for United Nations sponsorship of military operations would be more than a fig leaf was unclear today. Pentagon officials would almost certainly resist any relinquishment of military command and control to United Nations authorities, but Russia, France and other permanent members of the Security Council might well seek some kind of a voice in decision making as a price for a new mandate.

The apparent flexibility on Iraq policy appears to reflect deepening concern within the administration about the unwillingness of many other countries, including France and Russia, to contribute troops and money to the American-led effort in Iraq.

The United States still has about 138,000 troops in Iraq, and Britain and Poland also have significant forces there. But the mounting toll of guerrilla operations against the American forces has added to the pressures against them. Since the White House declared an end to major combat operations in early May, at least 64 American troops have been killed in direct attacks by Iraqi forces opposed to the American occupation."



Right now, Paul Wolfowitz should pay Robert McNamara a visit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

US Death Rate OK with folks at Fox News 

Last night on Fox News, Brit Hume made the point that the death rate for US soldiers in Iraq is OK with him and everyone else at Fox News. He said the death rate was better in Iraq than in California. Well, I figured out that of a state with a population of 35,000,000, and 1,842 homicides last year, that gives you a roughly one in 18,458 chances of being murdered on any given day in California. This is true of you do the dubious devious math that counts the 250,000 US troops in Iraq along with the rest of the population. Well, I’m no mathematician but I have an idea how Faux News reached their figures. If you consider that US soldiers are not Iraqi citizens and are targeted separately from Iraqi citizens, then the figure comes out a little different. If you calculate the murder rate for US soldiers, it comes to 475 a year. So if you are one of the 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq, there is a one in 316 chance of being killed everyday.

That’s somewhat worse chances I think than California. But that’s OK for Brit and the rest of the Faux News team that never wore a uniform.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The Wall Street Journal Chimes In 

Here's an editorial piece from the Wall Street Journal, which throws some more light onto business of transmitting electricity, and the failures of regulation, deregulation, and implementation.

--Trajan

Why the electrical grid isn't modernized already.

Monday, August 18, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT

Let's first dispense with the silly explanations. Last week's blackout wasn't caused by President Bush's tax cut (Senator Bob Graham's insight) or U.S. dependence on foreign oil (Dick Gephardt) or the failure to drill in Alaska (Fox's Sean Hannity). The problem is a creaky system of transmitting electricity that is caught half-way between old state-run monopolies and a more sensible national power grid. The blackout fiasco will do some good if it finally breaks up the political gridlock that has kept us there.

It's true that we don't yet know the blackout's precise trigger or the gory details of why it wasn't contained. Mr. Bush and Canada's Prime Minister have named a task force to find out. Perhaps it will find in Ohio some modern version of Mrs. O'Leary's cow. But the blackout couldn't have spread to 50 million consumers if the nation's transmission grid wasn't caught in a regulatory limbo between the states and federal government.

A little history may help here. Regulation of the U.S. electricity industry began early last century as the 50 states awarded monopoly franchises to serve local customers. That system was hardly perfect; the great Eastern Seaboard blackout of 1965 occurred when one of those monopoly providers, Consolidated Edison, lost a plant and couldn't connect to neighboring power sources.

As technology advanced and energy needs increased, however, Congress properly opened up the wholesale electricity market to greater competition. But as the California fiasco of 2001 showed, what we've developed since is an electrical centaur, half-man and half-beast. States don't want to give up their regulatory control, and many of their monopoly utilities don't want to give up control of their transmission lines. Yet those same companies have little incentive to invest to modernize transmission equipment given the uncertainty of future "deregulation."
The result has been underinvestment and in some places an old, creaky electrical grid. Any number of people predicted it would crash sooner or later, including Clinton Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and the Bush Administration. A year ago March, we wrote (in "Keep the Lights On") that "things will only get worse: Transmission use this decade is expected to grow 20% to 25%, but new capability will increase by only 4%." That future arrived last week.

Perhaps the most interesting story about the blackout, however, is why it didn't spread farther--in particular, why it was stopped cold in Pennsylvania and points South. The reason is that an outfit called PJM Interconnection, which operates the wholesale energy market from New Jersey to West Virginia, recognized that power was dropping and isolated its section of the grid. That spared Philadelphia and Maryland, among other places.

PJM is no miracle worker. It is merely an example of the kind of "regional transmission organization" (or RTO) that can develop everywhere if a more competitive wholesale electricity market is allowed to proceed. More than 215 buyers and sellers of electricity are part of PJM, and the efficiencies of its marketplace have produced both lower consumer costs and more investment to ensure that the transmission grid remains reliable.

As it happens, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been proposing rules that would allow more of these RTOs to develop. Legislation to do so is pending in the energy bill now in House-Senate conference--one of the few parts of that bill that would actually be useful. (Most of it is a subsidy-fest for ethanol and other political constituencies.)

Some of our friends on the right have assailed this FERC idea as a federal takeover of state prerogatives. And, yes, in a perfect world we would prefer if the states eliminated their franchise monopolies on power generation, as the Cato Institute proposes. While we wait for that utopia to arrive, however, the rest of us have to find some way to avoid blackouts that close down much of the country.

The FERC proposal is arguably less intrusive than a system of state monopolies, and as the PJM experience shows it holds the promise of increasing both the competitive supply and reliability of electrical power. As William Hogan elaborates, it also allows for consistent rules of the road. The state utilities have a point that the rules are changing underneath them and that their cheaper hydro-power will capture national prices, but perhaps some compromise can be worked out in drafting the FERC rules.

We hope this is what Mr. Bush meant when he said last week that the blackout was a "wake-up call" and that the "grid needs to be modernized." It also wouldn't hurt if Congress removed the obstacles to more energy production, such as opening those 2,000 Alaskan acres to drilling or limiting nuclear-plant liability. But avoiding future blackouts requires none of that. What it requires is some regulatory common sense, and the political will to achieve it.

Truth...or Stupidity? 

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for NE blackout

I am surprised that this has claimed as little press as it has. I think at this point it is impossible to ascertain whether Al Qaeda is actually behind this, or if they are just claiming credit.

Well, it is not just Americans 

Car Bomb Blasts UN Headquarters in Baghdad

Which begs the question - would the U.N. be able to do a better job of stabilizing the country?

When deregulation doesn't work. 



Before you read this article in today’s New York Times, consider this. Deregulation has led to this blackout. Old power systems are not being upgraded under the massive deregulation that has been implemented in the past eight years in the power industry. Ten years ago, the rather heavily regulated power transmission industry took care of power lines. It’s that simple. In the dogged pursuit of pure capitalism and free markets, there is often no incentive to spend capital on power-lines or any othe rinfrastructure for that matter. So capitalism, a great idea, the conservative god, has failed us on this account.

Twenty years ago, Reagan deregulated the Savings and loan industry and it crashed, costing taxpayers billions. Deregulated power in California resulted in power bills quintupling across the nation for commodities like natural gas and in some states, regular crude oil and gasoline.

Regulation is not choking business to death. Regulation makes business accountable to the law and to their constituencies. We need regulation and plenty of it, especially in a pro business environment where anything goes and screw the general public in a free market economy. Regulations, when well thought out, makes things better for everyone, not worse. Yes it can be too complicated sometimes and even costly. But no regulation is not the answer. This is especially true in regards to medicine. But that's another post.


The Road to Ruin
By PAUL KRUGMAN

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/19/opinion/19KRUG.html


We still don't know what started the chain reaction on Thursday. Whatever the initial cause, however, the current guess is that a local event turned into an epic blackout because the transmission network has been neglected. That is, the power industry hasn't spent enough on the control systems and safeguards that are supposed to prevent such things.

And the cause of that neglect is faith-based deregulation.

In the past, electric power was considered a natural monopoly. It was and is impractical to have companies competing either to wire up homes and businesses, or to build long-distance transmission lines. Because effective competition was impossible, power companies were given local monopolies, and regulated to keep them from exploiting customers.

These regulated monopolies took responsibility for the whole system — transmission and distribution as well as generation. Then came the deregulation movement. It argued that a competitive market could be created in power generation (though not in transmission and distribution), and in much of the country utilities were forced to sell off their power plants.

In fact, effective competition has been elusive even in power generation. In California, deregulation led to one of history's great policy disasters: energy companies drove up prices by creating artificial shortages. This plunged the state into a crisis that ended only after much of its electricity supply was locked up in long-term contracts, and price controls were imposed on the rest.

Incidentally, there seems to be a weird reluctance to face up to what happened in California. Since the blackout, I've seen national news reports attributing California's woes in part to environmental restrictions, while ignoring the role of market manipulation. Huh? There's no evidence that environmental restrictions played any role; meanwhile, even the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which strongly backs deregulation, has concluded that market manipulation played a major role. What's with the revisionist history?

Anyway, market manipulation aside, energy experts have long warned that deregulation would lead to neglect of the grid. Under the old regulatory system, power companies had strong incentives to ensure the integrity of power transmission — they would catch the flak if something went wrong. But those incentives went away with deregulation: because effective competition in transmission wasn't possible, the companies providing transmission still had to be regulated. But because regulation limited their profits, they had little financial incentive to invest in maintaining and upgrading the system. And because of deregulation elsewhere, responsibility was diffused: nobody had a strong stake in keeping the system reliable. The result was a failure not just to add capacity, but to maintain and upgrade capacity that already existed.

These experts didn't necessarily oppose deregulation; their point was that deregulation could lead to disaster unless accompanied by policies not just to keep the grid reliable, but to expand it. (To make competition possible, a deregulated system needs considerably more transmission capacity than one based on regulated monopolies.) But their warnings weren't taken seriously; politicians and deregulation enthusiasts simply had faith that somehow "the market" would take care of the problem.

Four years ago, Paul Joskow of M.I.T. told FERC: "Proceeding on the assumption that, at the present time, `the market' will provide needed network transmission enhancements is the road to ruin." And so it was.

Have we learned our lesson? Early indications are not promising. President Bush now says that "our grid needs to be modernized . . . and I've said so all along." But two years ago Tom DeLay blocked a modest Democratic plan for loan guarantees for system upgrades, calling it "pure demagoguery." And press reports say that despite the blackout, the administration will bow to pressure from Senate Republicans and put on ice the only part of its energy plan that had any relevance to the blackout, a FERC proposal for expanded oversight of the transmission system.

This nation needs to invest billions in its power grid, yet given recent history, it's crucial that this investment not be simply another occasion for energy-industry profiteering. Somehow, I'm not optimistic.









Monday, August 18, 2003

Others Papers Have Opinions, Too 

Since we seem to be in a fad of directly posting from the editorial column of major newspapers, here's a piece from USA Today:

Blackout spotlights need forelectrical system upgrade


By Friday night, the neon lights were once again bright on Broadway. By Saturday, Detroit's power was restored, relieving worries about sweltering residents and idle auto assembly lines. By Sunday, most Cleveland residents, who lost both power and water, finally got the go-ahead to start drinking from their taps. In fact, except for isolated pockets, life returned to normal by weekend's end for the more than 30 million people caught in the worst electrical blackout ever.

Not so for the officials who are scrambling to determine the cause of the problem that cut power in eight states and parts of Canada on Thursday. According to Associated Press reports, investigators are narrowing their search for the trigger to three broken transmissionlines in northern Ohio, where warning alarms may have failed. Still unanswered is how such a localized event cascaded into a major blackout.

The questions being asked of the nation's policymakers are just as difficult. As President Bush noted, the blackout should serve as a wake-up call to re-examine the way electricity is produced and distributed.

Except this alarm has sounded before. For years experts have warned about the dangerous inadequacies of the power grid, a 159,000-mile system of transmissionlines, power plants and substations. Although the interconnectedness of the grid allows for regional exchanges of electricity, a lack of mandatory regulations and other safeguards makes the nation more vulnerable to widespread blackouts should even localized failures occur.

In 2001, the Bush administration's energy legislation addressed the need to expand and modernize the transmission grid. But that plan was sidetracked by partisan disagreements over more controversial proposals in the energy bill, including oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Funny how a massive blackout can spotlight the nation's real energy needs. Until the system is fixed, it will remain vulnerable not only to small glitches that turn into big problems, but also to terrorists and saboteurs.

Upgrades and repairs are possible. But they require dedication and focus that so far have been lacking in the policy discussions.

Among the obstacles to upgrading the power grid system:

• Right of way. Opposition to new power lines by local residents and environmentalists makes construction a difficult and expensive process. Communities from Southern California to Connecticut are battling unsightly towers, and ratepayer groups are fighting new construction as well.

• Financial incentives. Facing a dizzying array of evolving regulations and few opportunities for significant profit, companies have few reasons to believe that investments in transmission capacity will pay off.

The Bush administration and congressional Republicans have proposed helpful plans for streamlining the regulatory hurdles. But they have muddied the debate by linking electrical upgrades to controversial and unrelated issues such as expedited oil drilling.

Democrats, for their part, have shown more interest in grandstanding against Bush's plan than offering their own practical suggestions. Equally unhelpful, many environmental groups and local activists argue the solution is in greater use of solar energy, wind power and other alternative energy sources that can be produced in and around population centers.

While these options sound good in principle, many face the same localized opposition as power lines. And none promises a viable way to meet the growing demand for electricity, which has skyrocketed more than 30% in the last decade.

History's biggest blackout presents a historic opportunity to upgrade the USA's system for transmitting electricity — but only if it is used to shed light on where the nation's most pressing energy needs lie.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Another Republican Policy That Crashes:Deregulation 

If the Savings and Loan Debacle of the 80s didn't convince Republicans that deregulation can go too far, here is another wake up call for the right wing's wrong headed ideological battles.


An Industry Trapped by a Theory
By ROBERT KUTTNER
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/16/opinion/16KUTT.html


In the search for the source of Thursday's blackout, the underlying cause has been all but ignored: deregulation. In principle, deregulation of the power industry was supposed to use the discipline of free markets to generate just the right amount of electricity at the right price. But electric power, it turns out, is not like ordinary commodities.
Electricity can't be stored in large quantities, and the system needs a lot of spare generating and transmission capacity for periods of peak demand like hot days in August. The power system also requires a great deal of planning and coordination, and it needs incentives for somebody to maintain and upgrade transmission lines.
Deregulation has failed on all these grounds. Yet it has few critics. Evidently, even calamities like the Enron scandal and now the most serious blackout in American history are not enough to shake faith in the theory.
Ten years ago, most public utilities were regulated monopolies. They were guaranteed a fair rate of return, based on their capital investment and costs. So the government compensated them for building spare generating capacity and maintaining transmission lines. Regulators, of course, sometimes made mistakes and the industry oversold technologies like nuclear power. Even so, in the half-century before deregulation, productivity in the electric power industry increased at about triple the rate of the economy as a whole.
However, the wave of deregulation that culminated in the late 1990's broke up the integrated utilities like Con Ed that once generated power in its own plants, transmitted it and sold it retail. It ushered in a new breed of entrepreneurial generating and trading companies. However, the prices the local utility companies could charge consumers remained partly regulated. The theory was that local utilities, no longer producing their own power, could negotiate among competing suppliers for the best price and pass the savings along to the consumer.
But deregulation hasn't worked, for three basic reasons. First, there is a fairly fixed demand for electricity and generating capacity is tight, so companies that produce it enjoy a good deal of power to manipulate prices. The Enron scandal, which soaked Californians for tens of billions of dollars, was only the most extreme example. California authorities calculated that a generating company needed to control just 3 percent of the state's supply to set a monopoly price.
Second, the idea of creating large national markets to buy and sell electricity makes more sense as economic theory than as physics, because it consumes power to transmit power. "It's only efficient to transmit electricity for a few hundred miles at most," says Dr. Richard Rosen, a physicist at the Tellus Institute, a nonprofit research group.
Third, under deregulation the local utilities no longer have an economic incentive to invest in keeping up transmission lines. Antiquated power lines are operating too close to their capacity. The more power that is shipped long distances in the new deregulated markets, the more power those lines must carry.
In addition, in the old days of regulation, a utility like Con Ed would be required to regularly submit a resource plan to a state's public service commission. The two organizations would forecast demand and decide how much money should be invested in power plants and transmission lines. Rates would be adjusted to cover costs. Under deregulation, however, nobody plays that crucial planning role.
Much of the Southeast, by contrast, has retained traditional regulation — and cheap, reliable electricity.
When the blackout hit on Thursday, many of us first thought of terrorists. What hit us may be equally dangerous. We are hostage to a delusional view of economics that allowed much of the Northeast to go dark without an enemy lifting a finger.
Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and author of "Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Markets


Friday, August 15, 2003

Clementia - A Lesson From History 

In 49 B.C., a small river in northern Italy became legendary. In crossing the Rubicon, Gaius Julius Caesar set about a chain of events that would lead to the demise of the Roman Republic and the birth of empire.

As Caesar waged civil war against his enemies in the Senate, he followed a policy of clementia, or clemency. Time and again, he spared his political enemies, and even welcomed them back into the fold as his commanders or aides. It was an extremely generous policy, a complete opposite of the bloody retributions extracted forty years earlier under Sulla's proscriptions.

To those spared by Caesar, however, this generosity was perceived as arrogance, as though Caesar were so far above them that he could exonerate them as he saw fit. His clemency bred resentment. That resentment led to a conspiracy and ultimately an assassination, led by two men who had accepted Caesar's clemency, Brutus and Cassius.

There are, of course, striking similarities between Caesar's clementia and our recent method of "humane" warfare. Our method of waging war is now so advanced, that we can conquer an entire nation while killing fewer civilians than died in a single night during World War II. Does this make us seem, to the Iraqis, to the Middle East, as arrogant?

A Response to Maccabee 

Like the heartless Republican you are ( is that redundant?) you say job creation is one of the last things to come out of a recovery. Well, this administration has been announcing a recovery is on the way for the last six months. During that time, we have lost another half million jobs.

Being a “heartless Republican”, as you say, has nothing to do with a statement of fact. Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute told MSNBC, "Employment is a lagging indicator, so it will be at least two quarters, or maybe even four quarters, before better growth numbers translate into better jobs numbers." It may be heartless, but it is the way it happens.

As for the administration, come on. What politician, in power, will ever say that the economy is in rough shape? And yes, there have been indicators of recovery for the first half of the year. Economic recovery is a gradual process.

The point is, that unemployment rate is the biggest single bad consequence of an economic downturn. Job creation is the most important things right now. Not stock market revival, not a bond marklet revival, but jobs.

I agree completely. Believe me, with my interest in offroading, I have a lot of friends in the engineering sector, and have seen them go through rounds of layoffs, months of unemployment. It would be great if we could just give everyone jobs, but unfortunately we don’t live in that fantasy world, so we have to place our hope in the recovery of the U.S. economy.

As I said, and as you chose not to comment on, we also need to worry about the farming out of jobs to foreign counties. Offering tax incentives to companies that keep those jobs in the United States would without doubt lead to job creation quickly.

That said, 2.8 million jobs have left the economy since Bush took office. Given that all this is Clinton's fault anyway, I still think the president has done nothing to create jobs and nothing to help those out of a job.

There is no need to get juvenile. Clinton was not responsible for the economic downturn, nor was he responsible for its upswing in the late 90’s. Bush happened to take office at a time when the economy was on a downturn. Or am I the only one who remembers feeling intense frustration during the debates when he and Gore talked about what to do with the tax surplus while the economy was dropping?

Instead, he has cut benefits to the elderly, to the unemployed, even combat and hazard pay for soldiers currently being shot at.

I will agree with all of those, they are tragic, but have nothing to do with what we are discussing here, which is reviving the economy and creating jobs.

I get so tired of waiting for things to get better while this maniac mismannages the economy.

You know, everyone else is also sick and tired of waiting for the economy to recover. Bush is sick and tired, Alan Greenspan is sick and tired. My friends who have taken out loans and gone back to school, because there is no job market for them, are sick and tired. Friends with wives, out of college for five, six, seven years, having to move back in with their parents – they are sick and tired of it. But there is nothing to do but wait.

Ascribing it to mismanagement by Bush ascribes to him far more power than he actually has.

And why is it that that you say every body but Krugman is talking about how good the economy is.

Did I say that? I thought I said that “every major business source is reflecting an attitude of extremely cautious optimism.”

This extremely cautious optimism is reflected by the Fed itself (“The Committee continues to believe that an accommodative stance of monetary policy, coupled with still-robust underlying growth in productivity, is providing important ongoing support to economic activity.”), the Economist, Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, CNN Money, CBS MarketWatch, the chief economists at several financial services companies, and I’m sure many others.

That doesn’t mean they are dancing in their offices, championing some massive recovery.

There is still a lot of apprehension about the recovery, particularly with respect to job creation. MSNBC states “The weak labor market clearly remains one of the biggest risks to the struggling economy, along with rising long-term interest rates that threaten to undermine the housing market”. If you would like, I can pull similar sentiments from a variety of sources.

Wednesday's Wall Street Journal pointed out job loss as the biggest danger and ball and chain to the economic recovery.

It is a ball and chain. The economy can only surge forward so far before it begins to pull employment behind it.

So Trajan, who the hell are you talking to?

Krugman is a Ph D econonmist from Princeton. And you got your economy degree........?


Oh please. My major was in Classical and Medieval History, yet I work in research. I never claimed to be an expert, but I do believe that Krugman is letting his own beliefs infect his reporting. I know enough and am well read enough about the economy to feel confident in my statements, but you and I both know that, for both of us, this is amateur hour.

Might I ask where you got your degrees in military history, international affairs, and government?

Trajan on the Economy 

Job creation is one of the last things to come around in the aftermath of a economic recession. I don't know what sources Krugman has been reading, because every major business source is reflecting an attitude of extremely cautious optimism. Consumer spending is up, companies are beginning to spend money again, rather than merely trying to survive.

Companies can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but they want to make sure it is a certainty before they start hiring again. Not the kind humanitarian way, but it makes good fiscal sense.

Or, as Wayne Ayers, chief economist for Fleet Boston (and formerly of the Fed) stated, "We expect the labor market in the next five months will first stabilize and eventually improve, but it's probably just stabilizing now. We're still six to eight months away from convincing upturns in job creation."

If you want to worry about unemployment, let's worry about the farming out of tech jobs to China, India, and Taiwan, which is one of the factors that could bring about the buzzworded "jobless recovery". Personally, I think that Bush should offer tax breaks to companies that keep those jobs in the United States. Farming out jobs, especially tech jobs, is an extremely dangerous proposition, especially for our future position in the world.

The collapse of the refi boom worries me, because the housing market has been a buoy to the economy for two years now. It will not, however, cause an industry collapse. Rising rates could possibly drive home prices down a little (the consensus seems to be that prices will drop 3 to 5% if rates crest 7%), sparking a new wave of buying.

And what does any of this have to do with the White House's economic policy? Nothing. The White House has no control over mortgage rates. Hell, the Fed only has limited influence on them...they have risen in the past month despite the Fed's decision Tuesday to not raise rates.

Now, where the White House will have an impact on the economy is through tax cuts. And what, mind you, are the economists saying about the tax cuts?

Sung Won Sohn, chief economist for Wells Fargo (who, given his position, likely knows what he is talking about), predicts that “the Bush tax cut [will] add 1 percent to economic growth in the second half. That is going to be a major thrust". The Fed backs this up, anticipating that the money poured into the economy by the tax cuts will give both consumers and corporations improved spending power.

Have to Do it Again- Paul Krugman straightens out the rosy economic views with the harsh and unpleasant realities. 



Twilight Zone Economics


August 15, 2003

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/15/opinion/15KRUG.html

For about 20 months the U.S. economy has been operating in a twilight zone: growing too fast to meet the classic definition of a recession, but too slowly to meet the usual criteria for economic recovery. There's nothing particularly mysterious about our situation. But recent news coverage and commentary — in particular, the enthusiastic headlines that followed a modest increase in growth and a modest decline in jobless claims — suggest that some people still don't get it. So here's a brief refresher course on twilight zone Economics 101.

Since November 2001 — which the National Bureau of Economic Research, in a controversial decision, has declared the end of the recession — the U.S. economy has grown at an annual rate of about 2.6 percent. That may not sound so bad, but when it comes to jobs there has been no recovery at all. Nonfarm payrolls have fallen by, on average, 50,000 per month since the "recovery" began, accounting for 1 million of the 2.7 million jobs lost since March 2001.

Meanwhile, employment is chasing a moving target because the working-age population continues to grow. Just to keep up with population growth, the U.S. needs to add about 110,000 jobs per month. When it falls short of that, jobs become steadily harder to find. At this point conditions in the labor market are probably the worst they have been for almost 20 years. (The measured unemployment rate isn't all that high, but that's largely because many people have given up looking for work.)

All this leads to a great deal of suffering — not just lost income, but also the anxiety and humiliation that come with long-term unemployment. Is relief in sight?

Over the last few weeks two numbers have led to a spate of optimistic pronouncements. One is the preliminary estimate of second-quarter growth, which came in at a 2.4 percent annual rate — about one point higher than expected. The other is the rate of new applications for unemployment insurance, which has fallen slightly below 400,000 per week.

But while the growth and new claims numbers were good news, they didn't tell us that the economy is improving. All they said is that things are getting worse more slowly.

This should be obvious when it comes to growth. I saw headlines saying that in the second quarter growth "soared," even "rocketed." Huh? That 2.4 percent growth rate was a bit less than the average during our job-loss recovery. Just to stabilize the labor market in its present dismal state would probably take growth of at least 3.5 percent; it would take much more than that to return the economy to anything resembling full employment.

Meanwhile, about those unemployment claims: somehow that 400,000-per-week benchmark has acquired a lot more significance in people's minds than it deserves. For example, claims came in at 398,000 yesterday — and this was treated as good news because it was (barely) below the magic number.

Well, here's some perspective: since November 2001 new claims have averaged 414,000 per week. A number a bit lower than that might mean stable or slightly rising payroll employment — but as we've just seen, that's not nearly good enough. For comparison, in 2000 — a year of good but not great employment growth — weekly claims averaged 305,000. My conclusion is that the state of the unemployed won't improve unless claims fall a lot further than they have.

So is a real, unambiguous recovery just around the corner? Recent economic reports have had a "good news"-"bad news" feel to them. Businesses are starting to buy some equipment; that's good. But they seem to be engaging in replacement investment, not capacity expansion; that's bad. Consumers are spending; that's good. But rising interest rates seem to have ended the refinancing boom that put cash in consumers' pockets; that's bad. And so on.

The best guess is that growth in the second half of the year will be faster than in the first half, possibly high enough to create some jobs, but not high enough to make jobs easier to find. In other words, in terms of what matters most, the economy will continue to deteriorate.

All this is, of course, an indictment of our economic policy — a policy that has managed the remarkable trick of generating immense budget deficits without giving the economy much stimulus. But that's a subject for another day.







Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fox News, Court TV and MSNBC Vs. You. 8/12/03 

It's 4 in the morning. The violent bump you just heard is followed by frantic footsteps up to the bedroom, yelling and screaming, and guns drawn, you are now thrown to the ground and have a knee in your neck. Your children are screaming. Handcuffs are placed upon you, and you are dragged outside and can see the teams of body armored leather booted police pile in behind you and begin to take your home apart.

And who else is that making their way up your stairs but a news crew with cameras and yes, it's a famous news personality.

Then there's the Video Village. It's a territory about 100 feet by 100 feet, filled with tarps, and folding seats, and satellite trucks. A video village shows up on your property and brings scores of people, many wearing tool belts and chirping walkie-talkies, and make-up artists and carpenters and electricians. They just show up, without asking your permission, and without the slightest care that you can't pull out of your driveway. In large trucks and vans and they set up. They set up in every available parking space. They primp on your lawn. They talk all day and all night. They try and get into your backyard. They knock on your door. They camp out and wait.

In America, a few unfortunate people must go through one of the worst sort of double jeopardizes you can imagine: it's a trial in a courtroom, preceded by a trial in the press, perhaps both trials go on at the same time. Admittedly, not everybody gets the attention of Laci Petersen or Mary Jo LeTourneaux. But when it happens, I'm not sure who I'm more sorry for, the victim or the target of the media. Forget the target of the prosecutors. They rarely discuss these with news organizations. A few will leak their information because it makes them look more discreet and the news organizations look like they're really connected somehow to an inside source. So the concern here is for the free hand the news media has to cast judgment before judgment has been cast. Also, testy little ethical questions about whether this is fair to a person who hasn't even been declared a suspect won't stop an organization like Fox News or Court TV from producing an entire two-hour segment on your case. Now it's you, in a prison created by the media, versus Nancy Grace and Catherine Crier. Or worse, Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. You might have to turn your phone off, send your children to live with relatives, or turn off your e-mail. Perhaps you have been arrested and are being arraigned. Let's see now, you, in an orange jump suit, versus Nancy Grace, beautiful, lipstick, hair-coloring, Ann Taylor suits, and a bitter lump in her heart about her murdered husband. Perhaps it's you, fat and scared and without the resources to really defend yourself versus Nancy Grace and Catherine Crier, accompanied by an entourage of make-up stylists, reams of data mined about you, on a never ending expense account as long as they get ratings. Many of these cable news analyses are little more than wild speculation made not by detectives or lawyers, but by news staff.

**NEWS ALERT FROM THE HOME OF MISSING WOMAN**

(CUT TO LIVE SCENE, SUPER "LIVE" OVER THE SCREEN. THE WIND IS BLOWING THE CORRESPONDENT'S HAIR INTO HER FACE. SHE WIPES IT BACK AND PLOUGHS ON, DETERMINED TO DELIVER THE NEWS TO HER FANS. SHE IS STANDING IN FRONT OF SOMEONE'S HOME, NO DOUBT THE HOME OF THE MISSING WOMAN. OR MAYBE IT'S THE HOME OF THE HUSBAND WHO IS NOT A SUSPECT YET BUT NANCY GRACE SUSPECTS HIM)

CORRESPONDENT: "The real question is, if Laci was at the home that night, then why did she not open the curtains the next morning? Lots of her neighbors have come forth and said that they thought it was really weird how Laci's curtains were closed that morning. One neighbor even said it kind of, quote, creeped her out, unquote. Back to you."

BACK TO THE STUDIO

(THE ANCHOR WITH THE COMB-OVER, WHO HAS BEEN DOGGEDLY TRYING TO FIND THIS POOR MISSING WOMAN RESPONDS, "Thank you Barbara, and try and keep warm out there.")

Whew, that News Alert made my heart pound, what with the wind and all and she was standing there trying to figure out the whole curtain thing.

So the courts might convict you, they might not. Ironically the court's decision to have an open trial so you can't be screwed secretly carries another punishment. It's having interns go through all your traffic tickets, internet sites, interviewing your exes, or offering money to anyone who has an opinion about you and then broadcasting it without the slightest interest in your privacy, relevancy or how it may affect the outcome of your trial. What could possibly be worse than having some streetwise ex-NYPD Goomba detective with his Sopranos accent, actually guess whether you are guilty or not. Here is a guy who is being paid for his opinion despite the fact that he has not, nor will he ever be shown one shred of evidence, forensic or otherwise in the case against you.

Now while you try and defend yourself, the Police and the Press discuss you, maybe even exchange information about you, and you hopefully have retained an attorney worth their salt. Your estranged in-laws and your defense team stage a series of press conferences, and every stay at home parent in America is now deciding whether you really did have your wife killed. Nancy Grace, thankfully, was available for this new development she thinks it all adds up now, and guesses you might get off with a plea and twenty.

Back to you, Bob.

My question for us all is this: Does this look even the slightest bit fair to anyone? Does it seem reasonable that "News" people can pick a murder investigation at random, jump right in both feet, and decide to have a feeding frenzy on those apparently involved, without ever really seeing any evidence? Does it seem fair when the defendant, a private citizen doesn't have near the resources of a cable news channel? Has it ever occurred to anyone that no one can rightfully and fairly defend himself or herself against this sort of onslaught? I guess the really big question is this, if I kill my wife, is it really any of Connie Chung's Goddamned business?


"What's your plan, then?" 8/12/03 

This is question posed to me by someone who supports this fools errand invasion of Iraq. It came at the end of a rant best summarized by me asking him why are we there? "Well, what's your plan?" My plan for what? World domination? Do I have a plan for quelling violence in the Mid East? What's my plan in place of the invasion plans put forth in the Project for a New American Century ? Gosh, I don't have one. I mean, I haven't been sitting around planning on how this country is going to maintain dominance or fight terrorism. Does that mean something's wrong with the Democrats or with me for not having some grand vision that might be played out as an invasion of the Mideast? I am so naive. I never thought we needed to invade the Mideast to create peace. I think lots of people feel like I do: that a grand plan that involves invasion maybe isn't what is called for. This corrupt spin-city administration has even convinced a few smart people that this plan is a good one. Oddly, Sunday on Tv, Republican Senator Richard Lugar says we have had really no plan at all, I suppose after 9/11, a lot of Americans had a reflex to look around and yell, "Well, do something!"

Well, OK.

For better or worse, I think that is the intention of well-intentioned people who think that invading Iraq is at least doing something. However miserable the planning is for Iraq, many Americans, my friend in particular, is willing to accept lies and exaggerations in the call to war because they believe that this war is a shot across the bow, in essence saying "we will attack". For them, it is better than nothing, because it is bold, even if it is not well thought out. As Americans, wouldn't we rather be bold and daring than careful?

The Project for a New American Century is an idea about Imperialism whose time came and went with the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Hell PNAC's ideas were old at the end of the Roman Empire. Authored by neoconservatives embedded within the White House, this idea is infused with the fear and dread that once was tuned for Communism, only now it is tuned to radical Islam. It is a manifesto of an Imperial power bent on controlling people in order to maintain our place in the world. World domination, thought up by Jews: Perle, Wolfowitz, Strauss. My God what has happened to us all? When did Americans and scholarly Jews decide that world domination was a viable way for a better future. More amazing than this fantastic Jules Vernes like plan (Oh the pain- a French allusion) is the scrutiny free ride this idea gets with the American news media. Where are the Walter Cronkites and David Brinkleys that once would have called this what it really is? They are mostly gone, dinosaurs of an age of honor and integrity in American journalism. Today's journalists have suits and haircuts and read from scripts, and have little or no understanding of the world outside of either their own world, or they are paid to be unabashedly biased: Fred Barnes, Bill O Reilly for example.

I was looking for some plan the other day watching C-SPAN and guess what? The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Wolfowitz, and the Secretary, Rumsfeld, couldn't give Congress solid answers on exactly how much this war is going to cost. But we all know that "freeing the Iraqis" is worth it. Right?

OK. This leads me somewhere. I finally realized what my plan is.
OK? I have a plan. I have a plan. Here it is. Beg the forgiveness of the French and the Germans and give them the entire kit and kaboodle Iraqi oil revenues. In return, they stabilize the country and we bring all our boys home. Next, we make sure that the $4 billion spent a month on Iraq are spent on schools in America. The billions spent giving free schools and medicine to the Iraqis would give free schools and medicine to Americans. Instead of building the Joint Strike Fighter, I would take the appropriations and invest them into Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. My plan? Make corporations pay their taxes. Stop allowing companie sto use US services paid for out of US taxes and then pay no taxes themselves because they have a headquarters in Bermuda.

My plan? Stop bombing Arab regimes. Instead, start listening. My plan? Instead of blustery fratboy bragging and threats around North Korea, I would offer them food and medicine and talk. Lots of talk. As Golda Meir said, "when we're talking, we're not fighting." I know this is just me planning on my feet. But I do have a plan. My plan is for America to be the country that everyone wants to be. One that doesn't discriminate, or allow corporations to commit crimes, one that doesn't put money and profit in front of the truth. My plan is elect a government with a policy analysis arm that tells the truth, not what the neoconservatives want to hear. Once we get back to being free and tolerant and open, then that will do more to change the world than all the combat aircraft we can manufacture.

Tell you what. Here's my plan- vote against Bush. The sooner we have this mad man out office, the sooner we'll have a plan that makes sense to everyone, not just to the power hungry.



And now for something completely different 

With temps reaching all-time highs in Britain and continental Europe, the global warming gloom-and-doom pundits have come out of the woodwork. The more that I think about global warming, the more that I am convinced it is farcical and, in many ways, not even worth worrying about. Classical and Medieval Europe were warmer places than the Europe we know today. In fact, there are theories that a decline in the global temperature contributed to the barbarian incursions that ultimately destroyed Rome's empire and ushered in the Dark Ages.

It is extremely arrogant to assume that our science can anticipate the effects of humanity on the global climate, or assume that humanity has more of an effect than weather patterns or geological events such as volcanic eruptions.

And why does it always turn into Bush-bashing? On Saturday, a left wing radio talk show host (why she is on local conservative talk radio station, I know not) went basically from saying "gee, it sure is hot today" to "Bush is a war criminal".

THIS ARTICLE offers one of the better arguments against the furor over global warming that I've read recently.

Two things to consider. First, global warming is only brought up during the summer, when people are hot and ready to go "oh, yeah, stupid industry and civilization, making me hot". Second, something backed up in the article below, but Australia is having one of its toughest winters on record.


Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Have a heart attack 

I am going to say something nice about the Bush Administration.

The raids and paid informants and the aggressive policing of Baghdad may have finally paid off. Suddenly the number of attacks have dropped off, and thousands of the deadliets weapons: the RPG -7, the Soviet Shoulder Launched Rocket Propelled Grenade, have been captured.

It is beginning to look like the Baathists are being cornered and the resistance is slowing at least for now.

Let's only hope.




There's a lot of desert out there 

Tacitus posted an interesting Powerpoint file today in his entry entitled "Found Art", which shows the excavation of one of several MIG-25 Foxbat fighters from the Iraqi desert.

Personally, I agree with Tacitus. As Rolf Ekeus stated, we're not going to be finding massive stockpiles of VX gas, since the Iraqi weapons program did not possess the technology to keep biochem weapons lethal over extended periods of time. Thus, I'm not a big believer in the WMD treasure hunt as it is presented to the press. That said, there is a lot of desert, and it wouldn't surprise me if Saddam has some mobile production facilities (remember what Ekeus said about Iraq's skill at producing biochem weapons quickly and near the battlefield?) buried in the sand.

We're just now finding fighter aircraft, after all.

--Trajan

Bush 43. The Spin King. 

One of the main tools of W's administration is the spin. The spin in this White House consists of several telltale markers. The first begins when we hear the same words over and over again from the State Department, to the White House spokesman, to Fox News, When overnight, everyone begins saying "Homicide bombers," then you know they are reading a script. Then there is the cherry picking. Paul Krugman talks about leaving out vital statistics on the economy to sell an agenda. The third marker of the Bush White House spin is a refusal to listen to the facts and figures of dissenting opinions even when it is from the intelligence community.

Krugman in the New York Times 8/04/03.

"Across the board, the Bush administration has politicized policy analysis. Whether the subject is stem cells or global warming, budget deficits or weapons of mass destruction, government agencies are under intense pressure to say what the White House wants to hear. And the long-term consequences are likely to be dire.

Traditionally the Treasury, like the C.I.A., stands somewhat above the political fray. Externally, it is supposed to provide objective data that Congress and the public can use to evaluate administration proposals. Internally, long-serving Treasury analysts traditionally ride herd on political appointees, warning them when their proposals are ill conceived or irresponsible.

But under the Bush administration the Treasury takes its marching orders from White House political operatives. As The New Republic points out, when John Snow meets with Karl Rove, the meetings take place in Mr. Rove's office.

To the general public, the most obvious consequence of this subservience has been Treasury's meek acquiescence in an economic policy that hasn't produced any jobs, but has produced a $450 billion deficit. Insiders, however, are if anything even more dismayed by the erosion of Treasury's intellectual integrity — an erosion exemplified by its denial and deception on the subject of tax cuts."

Nicholas Kristoff makes the point that if it were one or two items that were spun it would be a typical administration. But the depth of cynicism and secrecy of this White House goes beyond the pale, particularly in the yellow cake debacle. "Based on conversations with people in the intelligence community, this picture is emerging: the White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit. The Central Intelligence Agency objected, and then it and the National Security Council negotiated a new wording, attributing it all to the Brits. It felt less dishonest pinning the falsehood on the cousins.

What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess -- and that created the false expectations undermining our occupation today. Some in the administration are trying to make George Tenet the scapegoat for the affair. But Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation."


Quelling dissent by intimidation is another method used by the Rove's SpinCo. Recently a few soldiers in the field from Iraq complained to CBS reporters and were disciplined. The resounding disgust with a long deployment has forced the administration to use another tactic on our boys in uniform. From PRWeek, 8/06/03.
"According to a story in the July 25 edition of Stars and Stripes, the military appears to be curtailing its much-touted embedded-journalist program, which has allowed reporters almost unfettered access to military units throughout the war and occupation.
The 3rd Infantry Division, from where many complaints have arisen, has expelled many of its embedded reporters, and its troops are no longer allowed to talk to the media outside of pre-approved news features."

Spin. Repetition. Cherry picked facts. Closed-door meetings. Finger pointing. Intimidation. This is how Bush gets his message out. This. More so than Iraq, more so than the tax cuts, more so than the environment..more than anything, this worries me.



Saturday, August 02, 2003

111  

http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx

You have to visit this site everyday. It’s a weblog that keeps count of the American and British casualties during the invasion, and during the current occupation of Iraq. It is fascinating to see this site which will connect you to any bit of information available in reference to the kids that dead and dying in the war. The sources are basically US Government sources: CENTCOM, Army Times Casualty List, and etceteras. You find name rank serial number and hometown and rank and how this person died. An interesting feature of the chart is the rate of deaths per day and which is kept up to date daily. The average has floated around 1.3 deaths a day. Which means that every three days, four soldiers are dead.

Let’s just talk about American deaths. If you look at the total number tallied during the first phase of the war, March 20th to April 9th, (the march towards Baghdad), you see 117 American deaths. The next period is April 10th to May 1st, which is the period between the march into Baghdad and the publicity stunt landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln and that is 22 deaths during that period. The third period is the one we are currently in: the announcement Mission Accomplished until today.

Today is August 2nd. We are six dead soldiers away from the same number killed invading the country. Let us cry on August 6th or 7th, when the same number of soldiers will have died just trying to enact a hair-brained plan to democratize Iraq as was required just to invade. There two possible good outcomes that may come as a result of this tragic waste of life: a freer Iraq, and possibly this country will now allow this warmonger stay in office one more second.

Bring ‘em home.

Dean For America

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