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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

BRITISH PRESS OUTS ROVE 

Hat tip to Steve Gilliard. Here is the link.



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According to Julian Borger, the Guardian's Washington reporter, reporters are privately, well, not so privately any more, saying Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media.

CORRUPTION, CRONYISM, VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LAW, AND MORE UNINSURED. 

It’s not bad enough that the Vice President owns 433,333 outstanding shares of Halliburton, the company that won a no bid billion dollar bid to ‘rebuild’ Iraq,. Now Friends with close ties to the Bush administration have set up their own development companies to profit from the US invasion of Iraq.

Here is an excerpt.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — A group of businessmen linked by their close ties to President Bush, his family and his administration have set up a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.

The firm, New Bridge Strategies, is headed by Joe M. Allbaugh, Mr. Bush's campaign manager in 2000 and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March. Other directors include Edward M. Rogers Jr., vice chairman, and Lanny Griffith, lobbyists who were assistants to the first President George Bush and now have close ties to the White House.

At a time when the administration seeks Congressional approval for $20.3 billion to rebuild Iraq, part of an $87 billion package for military and other spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the company's Web site, www.newbridgestrategies.com, says, "The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq."

The site calls attention to the links between the company's directors and the two Bush administrations by noting, for example, that Mr. Allbaugh, the chairman, was "chief of staff to then-Gov. Bush of Texas and was the national campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign."


read it all here



Now there’s Plumegate, the CIA field operative who was outed by Bush Administration official and the predictable stone-wall denials from Bushco.

Here is an excerpt.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — The White House today dismissed as "ridiculous" the suggestion that Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, had illegally disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer, as the F.B.I. opened an investigation into the case.

At the same time, the White House rejected growing calls from Democrats for the appointment of a special outside counsel to determine whether someone in the administration had disclosed the officer's identity in an effort to punish criticism of its Iraqi intelligence by the officer's husband.

Asked if there was a need for an independent counsel, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said, "At this point, I think the Department of Justice would be the appropriate one to look into a matter like this."

Pressed on whether there would be a potential conflict of interest for Attorney General John Ashcroft to oversee an investigation that could have immense political implications for Mr. Bush, Mr. McClellan said that there were "a lot of career professionals" at the Justice Department and that "they're the ones that, if something like this happened, should look into it."

The growing furor underscored the Bush administration's continued political vulnerability on the issue of whether it exaggerated the threat from Iraq before the war. The developments also raised questions about the relationship between the White House and George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence.



read it all here

Finally, as if this is not enough, we have yet millions more Americans going without health insurance.

Here is an excerpt:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — The number of people without health insurance shot up last year by 2.4 million, the largest increase in a decade, raising the total to 43.6 million, as health costs soared and many workers lost coverage provided by employers, the Census Bureau reported today.

The increase brought the proportion of people who were uninsured to 15.2 percent, from 14.6 percent in 2001. The figure remained lower than the recent peak of 16.3 percent in 1998.

A continued erosion of employer-sponsored coverage was the main reason for the latest increase, the bureau said. Public programs, especially Medicaid, covered more people and cushioned the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance but "not enough to offset the decline in private coverage," the report said.

The proportion of Americans with insurance from employers declined to 61.3 percent, from 62.6 percent in 2001 and 63.6 percent in 2000. The number of people with employer-sponsored coverage fell last year by 1.3 million, to 175.3 million, even as the total population grew by 3.9 million.





read it and weep here

Monday, September 29, 2003

Plamegate explodes- must read 

Hat tip to Sean Paul Kelley at Agonist and Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. This is one of the most make-you-squirm-in-your-seat White House Press Conferences I have ever seen. This is just a small excerpt and a link to TPM.

whole text here


QUESTION: Was it a view within the White House that, in fact, Wilson was a non-objective source on this investigation? Was this something you all had discussed, that he might be compromised because of this?

McCLELLAN: Because of?

QUESTION: Because of his wife's position?

McCLELLAN: That he might be?

QUESTION: Did you all think that Wilson was a compromised source to investigate? Is that something you discussed?

McCLELLAN: We've seen the media reports. We've seen the media reports, we addressed that issue in the context of when it came up. And so, I mean, I'll leave it at that.

QUESTION: Do you know of any people on her staff or in the liaisons abroad that might have been injured by any of the revelations? I mean the identification of the --

McCLELLAN: No, I think you need to direct questions about her position or her status to the CIA. I don't --

QUESTION: But do you know of any damage that was done --

McCLELLAN: I've seen media reports where the CIA hasn't confirmed or denied whether or not she was a covert agent.

QUESTION: Scott, just to confirm, the President would rather the Department of Justice launch an investigation of this White House or the broader administration, rather that than him, you know, sort of broadly saying, anybody who works for me who was involved in this, you better 'fess up now, because we don't want to go down the road with the FBI. He'd rather the FBI do it, rather than him give the directive, himself?

McCLELLAN: I think I've made it very clear publicly that if anyone has information relating to this they need to report it to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is the one charged with looking into matters of this nature. It's a serious matter, and it should be looked into. And the Department of Justice should do that. Now you're jumping ahead with a lot of speculation about where it may be or what they may do. You need to direct those questions to the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: But is the White House not conducting any sort of internal investigation?

McCLELLAN: No, the Department of Justice is the agency charged with looking into this.

QUESTION: We've seen in the past when there's an investigation like this in Washington that oftentimes parties involved, even if they're innocent, will go and hire outside counsel. Do you know whether anyone within the White House --

McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of anything.

QUESTION: -- has hired outside counsel, including Mr. Rove?

McCLELLAN: No.

QUESTION: No one has, or you --

McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of anybody.

QUESTION: Has anyone called Bob Novak?

QUESTION: Did Director Tenet inform the President before you --

McCLELLAN: Keep in mind, what we know is what we've seen in the media reports.

QUESTION: Sorry. Did Director Tenet inform the President, or the White House, before he informed the Department of Justice that he was requesting this investigation?

McCLELLAN: No, I don't believe so. I mean, I haven't asked, but I don't believe so.



Oy.

FORGET PLUMEGATE, FORGET IRAQ...THIS IS THE BIG ISSUE: DIEBOLD'S CORRUPTED VOTING MACHINES 

Hat Tip to Sean Paul Kelley at Agonist. This is a must read, and more than that...a must worry. The voting machines in this next election are about as secure as a screen door and if the Republicans chose to steal another election, this is how they would do it. The company itself is so worried that they are going to court to take down dissenting sites. Plus the chairman promised to deliver the votes to the Republicans. Oy.


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Tacitus Says it Best 

I agree 100% with this:

Never was good concept and good policy so poorly explained, executed with such apparent mediocrity, and subjected to such condemnation by dint of its own authors. The transformation of the Middle East -- and indeed of Arab and Islamic culture -- is the grand mission of our age, and if it is discredited from the start, then we, our children, and especially the people of that region will suffer grievously for it. The slow turning of the American public against the Iraq war will be a slow turning against that mission. It's as if Truman, having set the nation against international communism, proceeded to thoroughly botch the opening salvos of the Cold War, thereby discrediting the idea of armed enmity with the Soviet Union and making Henry Wallace look like the voice of sensible moderation by comparison. Of course, that parallel only goes so far: the American public felt that he did botch Korea (history's vindication came much later), but it was willing to support a continuation of his fundamental policy concepts vis a vis communism for decades to come nonetheless. Why? Because that concept was endorsed by the entire mainstream of American politics. I leave it to the more knowledgeable of my readers to discuss whether that was by design or accident. Today's grand policy concept has certainly not been endorsed by the entire mainstream of American politics: it didn't happen by accident, but it should have happened by design -- or at the least, the attempt should have been made.

I don't want to lose this historical moment. But we're going to. If the first war predicated on this policy -- call it reverse domino, call it regional transformation -- is slowly discredited by stories like this, by stories like the Plame affair, and by stories like the US Army's creeping disintegration, then we're going to lose it. In a sense, we'll deserve to. But I hesitate to say that, because the long-term price for it will be paid in blood.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Is this Bush’s Watergate? His Monica Lewinsky? Or are we celebrating before the party has begun? 

On July 22nd, Paul Krugman wrote an article in the New York Times slamming the Bush administration and its mouthpiece’s for challenging the patriotism of those who questioned the now quite questionable build-up to the war in Iraq. In it, he mentions that the identity of a working CIA operative was uncovered while she was in the field. Why? Why would the administration endanger the life of one of its own? Because her husband, U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson questioned the authenticity of the uranium yellowcake allegation. Below are an excerpt and a link to the article.

And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.

Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.




Krugman’s NYT article dated 7/22/03

All around the blogosphere, I hear celebrating. Not just because Bush’s numbers are falling, and Americans are tired of this expensive war that made no one feel any safer. People are celebrating because, sadly, our press corps is an organization of sycophants who cannot pressure this administration for the truth for any reason beyond the most perfunctory and tepid questioning. Now, it seems, we have our issue. One that cannot be swept under the rug, and one that no-one with a three digit IQ and any semblance of fairness can ignore. I mean, if she is a CIA operative, then she’s a soldier. How would Americans feel if we compromised the safety of one of our soldiers for political reason’s?

Here is an except from the Washington Post and a link to today’s story.


Wapo’s article today




At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday.

The operative's identity was published in July after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons. Bush later backed away from the claim.

The intentional disclosure of a covert operative's identity is a violation of federal law.

The officer's name was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers were seeking to undercut Wilson's credibility. They alleged that Wilson, who was not a CIA employee, was selected for the Niger mission partly because his wife had recommended him. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said, "The real issue is Wilson and his wife."

A source said reporters quoted a leaker as describing Wilson's wife as "fair game."

The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said there was no indication that Bush knew about the calls.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. Wilson said Aug. 21 at a public forum in suburban Seattle that it is of keen interest to him "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that he knows of no leaks about Wilson's wife. "That is not the way this White House operates, and no one would be authorized to do such a thing," McClellan said. "I don't have any information beyond an anonymous source in a media report to suggest there is anything to this. If someone has information of this nature, then he or she should report it to the Department of Justice."



There is no telling why someone in the White House would do something so obviously un American. Could this be a ruse? Or is this a blunder? Is it the beginning of a war between the CIA and the White House? The CIA is already piqued that the White House ignored warnings that WMD stories were overstated. Then tTenet had to do a mea culpa? Or is it a war between intelligence agencies? Like the CIA and the NSA? I do know this. Americans won’t stand for it. Fucking period.

I think there are three real issues in the upcoming election. Forget the truth or falseness of the Iraq build-up. I think people already know it was stretched and are tired of it.

Issue number one will be job growth. There has never been a President who has seen the creation of 3 million jobs in one year. Bush will be no exception. Frankly, this is an issue he has already lost on.

Issue number two will be CIAgate discussed above.

Issue number three, I believe will become Diebold, the right wing company that owns all the electronic voting machines. They had better get transparent fast, or we’ll see a fight that makes the Florida recount look like a tiff.

OK, I’ll add one more. If there is another major terrorist attack on our soil, will it bring us together? Or will it show that we are no safer in the long run?

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Office of Management and Budget Reports that Benefits of Regulations in Certain Industries Far Outweight Cost of Regulating Them. 

This is for you Trajan.


Hat tip to Calpundit and his URL is here: http://www.calpundit.com/

YES, VIRGINIA, REGULATIONS DO HAVE BENEFITS....ABOUT 150 BILLION OF THEM....There are two parts to the following story, and I'm not sure which is the more remarkable. So read the whole thing.



First, the OMB has issued a report officially changing its mind about the impact of environmental regulations over the past decade:


The report, issued this month by the Office of Management and Budget, concludes that the health and social benefits of enforcing tough new clean-air regulations during the past decade were five to seven times greater in economic terms than were the costs of complying with the rules. The value of reductions in hospitalization and emergency room visits, premature deaths and lost workdays resulting from improved air quality were estimated between $120 billion and $193 billion from October 1992 to September 2002.

That's a big turnaround: the last OMB report estimated benefits at about $25 billion. Maybe they ought to take another look greenhouse gases, eh?

But here's part two:


This year's report provided cost-benefit analysis on 107 major federal rules approved during the past decade dealing with agriculture, education, energy, health and human services, housing, labor, transportation and the environment. In all cases, the benefits far exceeded the costs of implementing the rule.

Did you get that? The benefits far exceeded the costs for every single major federal rule approved since around the beginning of the Clinton administration. Even given the fact that cost-benefit analysis is a very imperfect science, that's a remarkable finding. I can hear the libertarians going nuts already.

Republicans have been screeching loudly ever since Reagan took office that liberals are killing American business by burdening it with an endless stream of inane regulations while blithely ignoring the costs of this regulatory zeal. Well guess what? They were wrong, and the Bush White House has now tacitly admitted it.

Not only have we apparently been pretty careful in enacting regulations, but we have considered the costs of new regulation — as well as the benefits. And we're 107 for 107.

Pretty good batting average, isn't it?



Friday, September 26, 2003

Done Deal 

Trajan,

Let’s talk about your deal with me. I know you are a young and bright and kind and scholarly man. You are one of the few people I know who reads and studies and thinks and gives a shit about history. That said, consider your support for Bush or any current Republican in the administration in the light of the facts of the country right now.

Let’s begin with the fact that nearly 36.4 million Americans are living in poverty while the top 5% of the income earners have received tax cuts. Below is the link and an exerpt.



linked text


More than a million Americans sank into poverty last year, an annual Census report showed today. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the number of poor rose two years in a row.

The poverty rate was 12.1% last year, up from 11.7% in 2001, the Associated Press reported. Nearly 34.6 million people lived in poverty, about 1.7 million more than the previous year.

The figures were previewed three weeks ago by a Census survey testing a new methodology. Today's figures are considered more authoritative and comprehensive. They're the ones used by the government in calculating unemployment and setting policies.


Now consider that Bush has rolled back 25 years of environmental protections with an executive order. Bush removed the firewall from religious charities and everyone’s taxes under executive order. Bush exculpated industries that polluted the environment under executive order. Bush and Cheney both have hidden documents that are covered under the Freedom of Information Act. Bush cuts veterans benefits under executive order. Bush refuses to go to Congress with any of his extreme right wing agenda because he knows what happens when the light is turned on.

Notice I haven’t even brought up the subject of the war in Iraq.

Think about the fact that you just got married. You’re young and probably will want children. What kind of America do you want your children to grow up in? What kind of America do you want to grow old in?

Don’t stop supporting Bush for me. Do it for you my friend.



A Thought 

Watching the coverage of the Democratic debate last night on CNBC, I heard once again that line thrown out time and again:

"The economy has shed as many jobs under Bush's watch as it did under Herbert Hoover's"

Something about the line has always bugged me. I mean, how can the unemployment rate be less dire than in past recessions, yet have such grave numbers?

Last night it clicked. In the United States today we have, at the least, a population of 275 million. In 1929, according to the Census Bureau, the population was right around 121 million. That is equivalent to 44% of our current population.

The number may have resonance at first, but when taken in the context of the comparative sizes of America's population then and now, it just seems hollow and, well, petty.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A proposal 

Maccabee, I'll make this deal with you:

If by next April 1st, the following things have not happened:

Iraq
- Terrorist attacks have stopped or tapered off substantially
- The infrastructure of Iraq is returned to workable levels
- There is clear, definable progress down the road to a new Iraqi government (written plan, Constitutional Convention, etc)

Economy
- Unemployment levels have failed to come around
- The market has not ramped into full recovery

Then I will revoke my support for Bush. I will still defend those actions I feel are misrepresented, but he will not have my support for reelection.


Halliburton, corruption and the best of intentions. 

Trajan,

I was referring to Thomas Freidman’s Arab Domino Theory. Suddenly democracy will spring up if the dictators and mullahs are erased. This is an old theory proven wrong time and again. Lots of dictators have been replaced by progressives in Iran, in Jordan, in Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. And where are those countries now? They are impoverished hotbeds of anti-western sentiment. I am not saying the Arab world cannot change. I am saying most of the Arab world doesn’t care to embrace western values the way you think they do. Given a choice many have not opted for the Internet and motorcycles. Sure, Iranian youth and Iraqi “middle class” citizens do. But they are in the minority. Also, invasions and occupations by western powers are deeply humiliating to Arabs, even Arabs who browse the Internet, wear hairspray and drive motorcycles. For many Arabs, freedom and national identity is far more important.

Next, Halliburton doesn’t control Iraq? Yes. They do have a gigantic say so in Iraq policy, handing over power and dealing out oil revenues. Also, Halliburton is not the only company in America that can do this job. There are at least three others, and all of them have howled at the corruption. I mean if I were Bush and had any sense of propriety I would never allow my Veep to have this contract. Trajan, there are Americans who are eating shitty food and drinking only 2 liters of water a day in the desert because civilian contractors have more say so over what our troops get than taxpayers do. They are the only company with a Vice president on the board who still owns 433,333 shares and stands to make billions when the reconstruction is done. This is clear violation of Federal Law. Plus Halliburton received the contract without so much as a bid or a nod to Congress.

By the way, Dynacorp has been accused of, and fined for guess what?!!!! HUMAN TRAFFICKING!

Who in America had a say so whether they wanted their tax dollars to go to Halliburton? Were you asked? I wasn’t. Our elected representatives were not asked. This is so obviously a conflict of interest it’s sad that Americans aren’t questioning a VP who is an architect of a war that will make him a billionaire.

You say we are staying so a power vacuum won’t collapse into chaos. I don’t know if you’ve read the paper, but Iraq had a working infrastructure, old, but working and it was looted because as our combat commanders said: We didn’t insert enough troops to keep the peace. So the infrastructure was wrecked and it pretty much still is.

If we were really a moral nation we would have turned the entire thing over to international forces and opened it up for real open competition from everyone, not just the Veep.

No, France and Germany would have marched in beside us as they do every single day in Afghanistan and Kosovo and Croatia and Bosnia. They stood against us along with 166 other countries in the world. Stop picking on them. It’s stupid Trajan. They were right. We should not have done this alone and the deaths of young Americans every day and the money drain when we are closing our schools say they were right.

You are so naïve to think we toppled dictators in the 60s and 70s. Who wrote your textbooks? Bill O Reilly and Ann Coulter. We toppled elected governments (Ortega and Allende, also in Iran) partook in their torture of their own civilians; all because right wingnuts were as afraid of Communists as we are of Terrorists? Jesus, we taught Latin American dictators how to torture dissidents in a place called the School For The Americas. Trajan we gave billions to dictators who killed nuns!

Please Trajan, these rationalizations aren’t sitting well. Most Americans don’t want this $87 billion price tag and most Americans think Bushco is doing a shitty job.

Well, like the election that Al Gore won, I agree here with most Americans.

We Could Be Heroes.... 

While I agree with the title, and with certain parts of this post, I think in some ways it is fundamentally flawed, both in the allegations that this is a Halliburton-led war and in broader strategic issues.

He said they liked [Bush] and wanted him to invade Iran and overthrow the Mullahs. He said, “ They want to US to come and save them. They want to be westernized. They have the Internet. They wanted to know when he was coming. I told them its not like he is my uncle. I don’t know.”

Maccabee, you stated not too long ago that assuming the presence of one progressive state in the Middle East would have a spillover effect showed a lack of understanding and was an insult to Muslims (forgive me for paraphrasing).

There is definitely a silent majority of support for the U.S. liberation of Iraq. A Gallup poll recently showed that something like 65% of Iraqis in Baghdad feel their lives will be better in the next five years than they were before the U.S. invasion. Only 8% felt their lives would be worse. That is powerful, and shows that the Iraqis realize, better than many over here do, that as massive an undertaking as this doesn’t occur within weeks or months.

If everyday Iranians feel the same, then the presence of a progressive Iraq could push dissent to the breaking point. Imagine a resistance movement making its way to the U.S., or to the U.N. General Assembly, to ask for assistance in overthrowing the Mullahs.

A free Iran would be a powerful ally, but with our troops stretched as thinly as they are, it is for the moment not possible. With the media and the U.N. (particularly France and Germany) as critical of the United States’ motives as they are, could you imagine the fracas over such a proposal?

Now imagine if the war on Iraq was indeed about toppling Saddam instead of about controlling the flow of oil. Imagine that Cheney and the rest of the Halliburton board gave Bush permission to go ahead and turn over oil revenues top other nations.

Halliburton doesn’t control the oil. They are making a killing in Iraq (and Afghanistan) right now, but not due to controlling the oil revenue (which is being used to help finance the CPA for the moment). They are providing reconstruction and logistics services as part of the U.S. military doctrine borne out of the military downsizing that took place after the Cold War. They were on retainer through the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP supra-contract of 2001. They were on a similar contract from 1992 – 1997.

What would have happened? Well, perhaps the Arab world would truly be grateful if we came, and conquered and left. Indeed, they all may have said go ahead and invade Iran just like the neo-cons envisioned.

What? I’m just trying to understand, here. If we had gone in, killed a lot of Baathists, destroyed the Iraqi army, hunted down as best we could Saddam and his cohorts, and then left? That would have created a power vacuum, leaving room for another tyrant to emerge.

So we would have stayed, and ensured that that did not happen. Provided for security and reconstruction while helping the Iraqi people to build a government from the ground up. Maybe its just me, but it seems that we are doing exactly that already.

In addition, the Arab world is no hotbed of democracy, or even republicanism. What you have is monarchy, theocracy, and oppression. Even if they despise the Iranians, they surely realize that the fall of one oppressive regime and the successive rise of a progressive government in its place, could put at risk their livelihood. They would probably do everything in their power to prevent such a thing from occurring. Like they are currently doing in Iraq.

Hell we would all be heroes and W wouldn’t be asking for $87 billion and he wouldn’t be in trouble.

If our sole intention going in was to liberate the Iraqis, how would things be different today? France and Germany would still have stood against us, as would anyone else wishing to see the United States get a bloody nose. Our power, military, economic, and cultural, is resented throughout the world. Do you really think they would have let us off to liberate a people, especially from a dictator who had been so lucrative for their governments over the past decade? What would they get out of it?

The fact is this IS about oil, if we were in the business of toppling dictators, we wouldn’t have lied about the WMDs.

Huh? This war isn’t for oil, or at least our sole control of oil. If there is any motive regarding oil, it is to provide a stabilizing factor within OPEC. I believe the war was waged for a myriad of reasons, outlined in my thesis from a week or so ago.

Moreover, we are not in the business of toppling dictators. We tried that in the 60’s and 70’s, and often failed miserably.

I do not see how that would have made us not lie about WMD’s (in my opinion, we did not lie, but went off the best intelligence then at our disposal).

We would be in the Central African Republic stopping rebels from turning it into a graveyard. Hell, if this administration truly wanted to topple dictators, we would have a truly international force going in and doing it.

Like we just did in Liberia? The sad fact of geopolitics is that, for much of the world’s interests, Africa does not matter. It is a tragedy what takes place every day throughout Africa. Imagine being in school when tribal enemies come in and start hacking up your fellow students with machetes. Terrible. But Africa does not command more than humanitarian sympathy, and you would have people saying that “we don’t need to be the world’s police”, and “we should take care of our own”, and “that money could be better spent on health care”.

I also disagree that we would have a truly international force. In a fantasy world where everyone does the morally correct thing, yes. But in reality, no way. First, you have the resentment over America’s ascendancy in arms. Couple that with resentment over America taking the moral high ground in such a pursuit. Finally, consider that other governments may have lucrative agreements with disagreeable dictators (as France, Germany, and Russia did with Iraq). I don’t see international coalitions coming out of that, but rather more of the same accusations of going to war without a sufficient casus belli

But Iraq II is about Halliburton.

Wrong. Though if you turned it around, and said that “Halliburton is all about Iraq II”, I would agree.

I don’t want to take up too much time going into specifics, but here is the basic rundown on the Halliburton connection to U.S. military operations:

First, delegation of a vast array of logistics operations to a single contractor dates back to 1991 and a study commissioned by then Defense Secretary Cheney on military outsourcing. The Pentagon chose Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root to conduct the study and subsequently selected the company as that sole contractor in 1992.

Second, KB&R is one of the very few companies with the capabilities to service the army’s logistics needs, and is considered to be the best at it. Credit Cheney with foreseeing the future path of military spending and outsourcing, and from 1995-2000 crafting Halliburton into a company uniquely positioned to handle such tasks.

Third, there was no bidding for the logistics and oil-servicing contract before the war, because it had already been bid out previously in the LOGCAP supra-contract.

Fourth, though Halliburton has $1.7 billion worth of contracts with the government over Iraqi freedom, they are but one of many independent contractors under contract for various services. Among the others are DynCorp and Bechtel, Halliburton’s two principal competitors. Apparently Rumsfeld is a very big proponent of outsourcing to free up soldiers from tasks civilians can handle.

Did Cheney have something to do with Halliburton’s reselection in the 2001 LOGCAP supra-contract? It is likely. Was the administration, at that time, showing favoritism? Probably. Welcome to the world of military contracting.

Is Halliburton profiteering on the war in Iraq? They are a company contracted by the government to provide logistical support, infrastructure reconstruction, and oil servicing. Off of those services, they are making a profit. Surprise, they are a business, and businesses are out to make profits.


It’s about having an alternative to Saudi oil, It’s about having bases all over the Mideast, surrounding radical Islamic countries.

Agreed. Our economy is currently dependent upon Saudi Arabia. Lessening that dependence is in our interests. I am not saying it is a reason to go to war, but when combined with terror support, the threat of weapons or weapon technology transfers, the geopolitical relevance of Iraq, and the liberation of the Iraqi people…

I just think of this as another missed opportunity. I think of this as another way to turn on the lights and see W is really about.

Why? Because we aren’t playing dictator hopscotch? Personally I’d like nothing better than to see every nation on earth run by an intelligent, progressive government. But it won’t happen. We logistically cannot move against Iran right now. Doing so would leave a vacuum in Iraq that we could ill afford.

Sucks 

Another friend of mine is facing layoffs at his company today. Two of his bosses have already been walked out the door this morning, and its not even 8:30.

If you have a spare second, please offer a prayer for him, or if you don't believe in that sort of thing, at least wish the guy luck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

We Missed Being International Heroes By A Hair 

I have a friend who works at the gym where I workout who was born and raised in Teheran. He recently returned from a 2-month trip to see family and friends. I asked him what the Iranians thought of Bush. He said they liked him and wanted him to invade Iran and overthrow the Mullahs. He said, “ They want to US to come and save them. They want to be westernized. They have the Internet. They wanted to know when he was coming. I told them its not like he is my uncle. I don’t know.”

Now imagine if the war on Iraq was indeed about toppling Saddam instead of about controlling the flow of oil. Imagine that Cheney and the rest of the Halliburton board gave Bush permission to go ahead and turn over oil revenues top other nations. What would have happened? Well, perhaps the Arab world would truly be grateful if we came, and conquered and left. Indeed, they all may have said go ahead and invade Iran just like the neo-cons envisioned.

Hell we would all be heroes and W wouldn’t be asking for $87 billion and he wouldn’t be in trouble. The fact is this IS about oil, if we were in the business of toppling dictators, we wouldn’t have lied about the WMDs. We would be in the Central African Republic stopping rebels from turning it into a graveyard. Hell, if this administration truly wanted to topple dictators, we would have a truly international force going in and doing it.

But Iraq II is about Halliburton. It’s about having an alternative to Saudi oil, It’s about having bases all over the Mideast, surrounding radical Islamic countries.
I just think of this as another missed opportunity. I think of this as another way to turn on the lights and see W is really about.

Special Interest Mayhem 

The U.S. economy needs job growth. The manufacturing sector, in particular. However, caving in to the desires of the National Association of Manufacturers to weaken the dollar is a terrible idea, and a risk to worldwide economic stability.

If It Ain’t Broke . . .
John Snow & Co. should leave world currency alone.
- by Larry Kudlow


If Treasury Secretary John Snow would leave well enough alone and quit attacking the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen, investors could look forward to an optimistic worldwide scenario of rising stock markets and economic recovery.

The major central banks have poured in new liquidity to end their deflation woes, and many countries — especially the U.S. — have cut taxes to stop investment drag. But Secretary Snow and other representatives of the Group of Seven industrial nations stood firmly in the way of these positive developments with their new push toward "flexible" currency exchange rates and their move away from the old policy of exchange-rate stability.
This new G-7 policy is a little piece of trade-protection mischief orchestrated by Snow (and the White House political office) at the request of the National Association of Manufacturers. The NAM wants a cheaper dollar so they can make their goods less expensive for export. A rising yen and yuan works toward this selfish aim.

Why selfish? A cheaper dollar also raises the cost to businesses and consumers for goods and services purchased abroad. But that's beside the point for political interest groups like the NAM (or the steel and farm lobbies).

Currency manipulation has an ugly history. Back in 1986-87, the NAM persuaded then-Treasury Secretary James Baker to pick a fight with Japan and Germany in order to make their currencies more expensive and the dollar cheaper. That piece of financial handiwork led to the October 1987 stock market crash and temporarily signaled the end of the Reagan boom.

In the late 1990s, the International Monetary Fund put big pressure on various Asian tiger economies to float their currencies. As soon as the tigers caved in, their currencies collapsed, along with their economies. The virus of financial disarray spread worldwide.

The White House, of course, is worried about creating new jobs in the manufacturing sector, a development that will come naturally as the U.S. economy moves ahead in the production of new inventories and capital equipment. But on the first trading day following the G-7 agreement both stock and bond markets sold off worldwide in a clear vote of no confidence.

There's an age-old rule that comes into play here: The currencies of emerging nations don’t float — they sink. Newly developing countries need reliable money in order to attract desperately needed foreign investment. Without new capital they cannot grow. But new capital depends on a steady currency. Economist Arthur Laffer called this the “moneyness of money,” a necessary condition for economic growth.

China is a great example of this. For ten years the Chinese yuan has been pegged to the dollar, prompting billions of dollars worth of foreign investment to flow into China’s emerging market-oriented economy. Even during the Asian fiasco in the late '90s, the Chinese steadfastly anchored their money to the U.S. dollar. At the time this was regarded as a big plus for world financial stability.

Integrating China’s modernized economy is not only important for world growth, it gives the Chinese a comfortable seat at the high table of international diplomacy. Badgering China’s money and undermining their 10 percent growth rate will not help the U.S. deal with nuclear-threatening terrorist outlaws in North Korea.

Since it costs about $1,200 per person to create a new manufacturing job in China, compared to $26,000 in the U.S., a modest appreciation of the yuan is not going to solve anything. But it could destroy a nascent prosperity, both there and here. Same in the case of Japan. The yen has been slowly appreciating as a result of Japan's improving economy. Pushing them toward a faster currency adjustment, however, could cause worldwide financial instability.

In order to stabilize their currency rates, Japan and China have purchased $96 billion of dollars on currency marts in the first half of 2003, and reinvested them in U.S. Treasury debt. Effectively, these nations are financing the Iraq war. Why would the U.S Treasury prevent this? Meanwhile, a major loss of dollar value could lead to an unholy interest-rate spike that would completely unhorse the current stock market rally and business recovery.

If worldwide dollar demands keep falling, then the new overhang of unwanted dollar liquidity circulating at home and abroad could trigger a new bout of inflation. Gold prices are marching toward $400, a level that some economists believe is a signal of excess liquidity and higher future inflation.

When it comes to international currencies, the best thing that can be done to promote world recovery and President Bush’s reelection is absolutely nothing. Tax cuts and steady money will do the trick if left to their own devices.

Why anyone would wish to throw a monkey wrench into global recovery is hard to understand. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.




Tuesday, September 23, 2003

OUR PRISONS AREN'T FULL ENOUGH 

Ashcroft today revealed the number 665 on his forehead today at a news conference when he announced that plea bargaining was over for Federal Prosecutors.

They call it Compassionate Conservatism.

God, help us remove this corrupt administration while there is something left of the country.

BUSH NEVER MISSES A CHANCE TO LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY 

I was right.

Again.

More un apologetic blunderbuss rhetoric.

Christ.

From the NY Times


September 24, 2003

Audience Unmoved During Bush's Address at the U.N.
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/24/international/middleeast/24ASSE.html?hp

NITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 — A president who has led his forces to victory, ostensibly on behalf of the United Nations, would in theory deserve a hero's welcome. But that was not what President Bush encountered in an icy chamber here today, almost five months after he declared an end to major hostilities in Iraq.
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Without apology, Mr. Bush declared that the Security Council had been "right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so" and "right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply." The United States, he said, had not only unseated Saddam Hussein but also defended "the credibility of the United Nations."

But that was not how others, from the secretary general of the United Nations to the French president, saw it. The invasion of Iraq, to them, remained a dangerous act of unilateralism now beset by intractable problems.

The audience of world leaders seemed to perceive an American president weakened by plunging approval ratings at home, facing a tough security situation in Iraq where American soldiers are dying every week, and confronted by the beginnings of a revolt against the American timetable for self-rule by several Iraqi leaders installed by the United States.

Nor did they seem eager to help. If anything, they appeared more skeptical than ever of Mr. Bush's assertions, including his promise to "reveal the full extent" of illegal weapons programs he says exist in Iraq, and unforthcoming, at least for now, in their response to his appeal for help with the Iraq occupation and reconstruction.

Despite good marks from many for his performance, Mr. Bush did not seem to have advanced his administration toward broadening support for a Security Council resolution to expand the United Nations role in Iraq, a step intended to get more foreign troops and more foreign money for rebuilding.

"He gave a very sincere speech, but I don't think there was anything new," said a diplomat here. "The situation in Iraq is getting more difficult every day, and so is the atmosphere at the United Nations."

But today it was more obvious than ever that the key to getting troops and money for Iraq was in the hands of nations that, like France, opposed the war or were uneasy about it.

President Jacques Chirac of France, appearing shortly after Mr. Bush at the General Assembly, was no less apologetic opposing the war than Mr. Bush had been in urging it. He called the divisions over the war one of the gravest threats to multilateral institutions like the United Nations in modern times.

There was another grim reality here today. Even if the United States gets the resolution it desires, the money and troops may not be forthcoming in a way that the Bush administration had hoped. If the goal today was to cajole other countries and persuade them to be more forthcoming with their assistance, it failed to produce any immediate results.

A month ago, administration officials said they wanted billions of dollars pledged for Iraq at a meeting of donor nations in Madrid next month. It now appears they will have to settle for a fraction of that, which will complicate efforts to get the rest from Congress.

Increasingly, as well, the nations that have been asked to send forces to Iraq are not coming through. India and Pakistan now seem to be long shots. South Korea says it cannot decide until the end of October.

Turkey is being asked to send 10,000 troops, but "several thousand might be more realistic," a Turkish official said.

Mr. Bush's performance today seemed to reflect the precarious situation.

Fidgeting in an almost eerily silent hall — where the audience observed a tradition of not applauding before or during a speech and offered only perfunctory applause at the end — the president spoke in an even tone, occasionally smiling but rarely becoming passionate.

In the corridors all day, diplomats were intensely discussing the recent decline in Mr. Bush's popularity at home and wondering if his troubles would make it easier for countries around the world to oppose the United States on Iraq.



The speech was built around the theme that the war in Iraq was a chapter in the campaign against terrorism being waged to avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and similar attacks in Mombasa, Kenya; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia; and Jerusalem.

To this list he added the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad last month that killed the United Nations special envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, praised by Mr. Bush as "this good and brave man from Brazil."

Without going so far as to say the United States needed the United Nations in Iraq, Mr. Bush said it was the fledgling government in Baghdad that needed United Nations assistance in developing a constitution, democratic institutions, and holding elections.

But Mr. Bush's vision of the United Nations role continued to be less than the one desired by France, Germany and many others skeptical of the sweeping powers of the American-led occupation, which is called the Coalition Provision Authority. "He said he wanted the United Nations to assist," declared a diplomat here. "But assist what? Assist who? The Coalition Provisional Authority? Please."

A rainstorm lashed the United Nations buildings this morning, while inside another illustration of the tempests over the war emerged in the address by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who deplored the administration doctrine of pre-emptive action epitomized by the Iraqi war.

As if in counterpoint, Mr. Bush defiantly repeated the doctrine, saying that "nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive."

American officials are working to try to broker a compromise on a new resolution that would get French support, but Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, are making clear there will be no early turning over of sovereignty to the Iraqi Governing Council, as France wants.

The main grounds for compromise appear to lie in the possibility of a fixed timetable for the transition to self-rule. Americans said they were cheered by Mr. Chirac's endorsement of what he said was a "realistic timetable" — words that, to some ears, left room for something taking place over time.

"We will make enough changes in the resolution to get others on board," said an administration official. "If it turns out that France is on board, so be it. But we're not jumping over hurdles to try to get France into this."




Arrogance is paid in blood 

I wish I could send a message to the President before he addresses the UN. If I could I would tell him that the neo-cons avoided service. The people who authored this Project For A New American Century, the ones who hijacked our foreign policy, are guilty of helping to send thousands of Americans overseas on what might best be termed an experiment. Given the results, this "with us or against us" rhetoric, this "I'm not sure we have to go to the UN" crap Bush told Fox News, has resulted in thousands of casualties and broken families.

I would remind Bush that shoring up "his base" today means offending the allies around the world who we need to pull our bacon out of the fire. The result of offending them, the results of refusing to hand over Iraq on a set timetable is death? Death. Injuries. Blood isn't the only thing flowing out of America. Schools are closing in Missouri because the closed door White House budgets mean every child has been left behind. Pensions are being paid. Social Security is drying up. Medicaid and Medicare are starving.

If I could talk to the President, I would remind hm that if he opens his eyes and listens to something other than the Right Wing echo chamber, he would see the disaster this war has been. He would see the wall we are about to smack into.

The men and women serving loyally are serving a leadership that has never been under fire. They are willing to go in harm's way for a leadership that knowlingly cuts their benefits. They are fighting a war on terrorism that has become a war on civil liberties and entitlements...entitlements that they themselves were promised when they took their oath. They have done thier duty. It's time to bring them home. It's time to care for them and athe other veretans, who unlike this President wore a uniform under fire not under klieg lights.

It's time to reshuffle the deck. It's time to change direction, and ask for help. It's time to stop padding the pockets of people who profit from the toppling of Saddam.

It's time to say no to your advisors, Mr President.



Monday, September 22, 2003

Beating Back Unemployment 

I'd like to direct you to a very compelling article from Business Week regarding our battle with unemployment.

In essence, it argues that, while giving in to protectionism may seem like a good idea at the moment, it will bring serious harm long-term. A better course of action would be to shore up funding for higher education and ongoing worker training programs. Both are difficult due to the rising burdens of Medicare and the deficit.

Maccabee, you'll enjoy it as well. It takes a swipe at Bush.

Coming Up at Six, More Death, Followed by a Look at Your Weather 

In Maccabee’s eyes, the press is a propaganda mouthpiece of this administration. From my perspective, just the opposite is true. Perhaps they are biased due to their own political creed. Perhaps they are influenced by sensationalism and “selling” the news, hence the focus on conflict and tragedy versus all the good deeds and glimmers of hope.

Below are the words of Jim Marshall, a Democratic Congressman from Georgia, on his recent visit to Iraq and his thoughts on the media’s malign influence.

As my colleague would say, this is a must read.

Media's Dark Cloud a Danger
Falsely bleak reports reduce our chances of success in Iraq

By JIM MARSHALL -- U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) of Macon, a Vietnam combat veteran, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He'd been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.

News media reports about our progress in Iraq have been bleak since shortly after the president's premature declaration of victory. These reports contrast sharply with reports of hope and progress presented to Congress by Department of Defense representatives -- a real disconnect, Vietnam déja vu. So I went to Iraq with six other members of Congress to see for myself.

The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: "Sir, this is worth doing." No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined.

Throughout Iraq, American soldiers with their typical "can do" attitude and ingenuity are engaging in thousands upon thousands of small reconstruction projects, working with Iraqi contractors and citizens. Through decentralized decision-making by unit commanders, the 101st Airborne Division alone has spent nearly $23 million in just the past few months. This sum goes a very long way in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds of schools are being renovated, repainted, replumbed and reroofed. Imagine the effect that has on children and their parents.

Zogby International recently released the results of an August poll showing hope and progress. My own unscientific surveys told me the same thing. With virtually no exceptions, hundreds of Iraqis enthusiastically waved back at me as I sat in the open door of a helicopter traveling between Babylon and Baghdad. And I received a similar reception as I worked my way alone, shaking hands through a large crowd of refinery workers just to see their reaction.

We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I'm afraid it is killing our troops.

Courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Consitution

Maccabee's Conspiracy 

I agree with parts of the "conspiracy", if it can be called such a thing. However, I have a few comments.

1. He has made a back room deal with SOMEONE who will supply the troops we need to pull our troops out.

Would this really constitute conspiracy? I think he may have found a few nations willing to augment the military presence in Iraq. And I do think that over the next year we will begin pulling out more and more men, but we will maintain some form of long-term presence in Iraq (if merely moving Saudi and Kuwaiti bases into Iraqi territory).

2. That was probably the Russians. Putin had signed a $ 1 billion oil deal with Iraq before the invasion. Russia has the troops and the experience in this type of environment. It’s quite possible that the timing of this and the announcement that the country is open to contracts from other countries is probably because of the back room deal. Bombings don’t scare Russia- they deal with bombings every other day.

Russia has an interest in helping out in Iraq, and Putin has said that, while sending soldiers to Iraq is not on the agenda at the moment, he has not ruled it out.

I do question the "experience in this type of environment". Where? Afghanistan? Chechnya?

3. Bushco plans to time the troop withdrawal with the Democratic primary. The neo-cons won’t like the concessions, but the right wing public will love the blunderbuss rhetoric.

Interesting tactic. I think that Bush will do his best to bring home as many soldiers as he can by next spring, both to ease the budget and to avoid another Iraqi summer. Coinciding with the primaries would be a curious side benefit.

4. He may have made a deal with France as well. Again the trademark of this administration is never say you’re sorry.

Definitely plausible. Consider that Chirac is flying in to meet with Bush tomorrow, and saying things like "I have no intention of opposing the resolution, that is, saying `No,' vetoing it," it could definitely be a possibility.

5. He may in fact have Saddam in a corner and is planning to unveil that in time to protect the election.

No doubt he would like to. I think, however, with how fast we tend to announce the death/surrender/capture of other Iraqi leadership and various terrorists, the d/s/c of Saddam would be out on the wires immediately.




On Kosovo 

A letter written to blogger Andrew Sullivan:

I watched ex-president Bill Clinton's warm welcome in Kosovo with some interest. The money quote from Clinton: "I want to see you move toward self-government..."

Self-government? After 4 years and they still don't have self-government, under UN control. Why on earth would the world, namely the French and the Left, demand that Iraq be turned over to the people immediately. Oh, I know, because the left would rather have the terrorists win, rather than have president Bush be successful.

While it is nice that Clinton received a warm welcome and streets are named after him, it is four years later, not four months. I could be wrong, but I believe Clinton acted without UN approval there as well. As always there is a double standard.

Finally, I thought it would be interesting to go to the UN's site on Kosovo. The first paragraph set the tone: "12 September 2003 - Concerned by the mounting tensions and insecurity in Kosovo, a senior United Nations official today descried a number of violent attacks in the province during the past two months, primarily targeting Serbs, and said the continued support of the Security Council would be "crucial" to maintaining the rule of law."

Doesn't this sound like a quagmire - four years in the making? Under UN control, no less. It appears the Bush administration is attempting to avoid this result by refusing to turn control over to the UN. Bush needs to stand firm on his commitment to Iraq.


Or, you can go and read all about the U.N.'s outstanding success in Kosovo at their Mission in Kosovo website.

Conspiracy Theory Hour. 

Why is Bush planning to go to the UN to show more arrogance?
Let’s assume he isn’t stupid, just corrupt. He must know something and is going to show his base he isn’t going to cave in to this irrelevant institution. My guess it’s one of the following:

1. He has made a back room deal with SOMEONE who will supply the troops we need to pull our troops out.

2. That was probably the Russians. Putin had signed a $ 1 billion oil deal with Iraq before the invasion. Russia has the troops and the experience in this type of environment. It’s quite possible that the timing of this and the announcement that the country is open to contracts from other countries is probably because of the back room deal. Bombings don’t scare Russia- they deal with bombings every other day.

3. Bushco plans to time the troop withdrawal with the Democratic primary. The neo-cons won’t like the concessions, but the right wing public will love the blunderbuss rhetoric.

4. He may have made a deal with France as well. Again the trademark of this administration is never say you’re sorry.

5. He may in fact have Saddam in a corner and is planning to unveil that in time to protect the election.




Sunday, September 21, 2003

MUST READ. THE FRENCH WERE RIGHT. THIS HAS BEEN A DISASTER. 

From Newsweek. Lisez and Pleurez.


Pride and Prejudices
How Americans have fooled themselves about the war in Iraq, and why they’ve had to

by Christopher Dickey

http://www.msnbc.com/news/969219.asp?0cv=KB20

NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE
Sept. 19 — A sturdy-looking American matron in the audience at the American University of Paris grew redder by the second. She was listening to a panel talking about the Iraq war and its effect on U.S.-French relations, and she kept nodding her head like a pump building emotional pressure.

FINALLY SHE exploded: “Surely these can’t be the only reasons we invaded Iraq!” the woman thundered, half scolding, but also half pleading. “Surely not!”
What first upset her was my suggestion that, looking back, the French were right. They tried to stop the United States and Britain from rushing headlong into this mess. Don’t we wish they’d succeeded? (Readers, please address hate mail to shadowland@newsweek.com)
Then she listened as another panelist and I went through the now-familiar recitation of Washington’s claims before the war, and the too-familiar realities since: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the inevitable conclusion that Saddam Hussein was not the threat he was cracked up to be, the fantasy that this war could be waged on the cheap rather than the $1 billion per week American taxpayers are now spending, the claim that occupation—called “liberation”—would be short and sweet, when in fact American men and women continue to be shot and blown up every day with no end in sight.
As we went down the list, I could see the Nodding Woman’s problem was not that she didn’t believe us, it was that she did. She just desperately wanted other reasons, better reasons, some she could consider valid reasons for the price that Americans are paying in blood and treasure.
It’s not the first time I’ve come across this reaction. I just spent a month in the States and met a lot of angry people. A few claim the press is not reporting “the good things in Iraq,” although it’s very hard to see what’s good for Americans there. Many more say, “Why didn’t the press warn us?”
We did, of course. Many of us who cover the region—along with the CIA and the State Department and the uniformed military—have been warning for at least a year that occupying Iraq would be a dirty, costly, long and dangerous job.
The problem is not really that the public was misinformed by the press before the war, or somehow denied the truth afterward. The problem is that Americans just can’t believe their eyes. They cannot fathom the combination of cynicism, naiveté, arrogance and ignorance that dragged us into this quagmire, and they’re in a deep state of denial about it.
Again and again, you hear people offering their own “real” reasons for invading Iraq—conspiracy theories spun not to condemn, but to condone the administration’s actions. Thus the “real” reason for taking out Saddam Hussein, some say, was to eliminate this man who rewarded the families of suicide bombers and posed as an implacable enemy of Israel. (Yet the bombings go on there, and surely the chaos in Iraq does nothing for the long-term security of the Jewish state.) Or the “real” reason for invading Iraq was to intimidate Syria and Iran. Yet Tehran, if anything, has grown more aggressive, and may actually have stepped up its nuclear weapons program to deter the United States. (After all, that strategy worked for North Korea.) Or the “real” reason was to secure America’s long-term supply of oil, but the destabilization of the region, again, may make that more tenuous, not less.
But the real problem with such “real” explanations is that they were not the ones cited by President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the compelling reasons to rush to war last March. Then, they talked about weapons of mass destruction, and the fight against terrorists.
Which brings us to the grandest illusion of all: the link between Saddam Hussein and September 11. A Washington Post poll published earlier this month concluded that 69 percent of Americans thought it “at least likely” that the former Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There’s nothing to back this up. So puzzled political scientist and pollsters, with evident disdain for the public, suggested the connection is just the result of fuzzy thinking: Al Qaeda is evil, Saddam is evil, the attacks on 9/11 were evil and folks just draw dumb conclusions. Other analysts pointed the finger at the administration, which spins harder and faster than Hurricane Isabel to convince us the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror begun on September 11, without quite explaining where it fits in.
Yet just this week President Bush himself (and Donald Rumsfeld, too!) admitted that information to substantiate this popular fantasy just doesn’t exist. “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11,” Bush said flatly, almost matter-of-factly, on Wednesday.
Is the president taking a chance here? Will the public recoil in horror, claiming he’s somehow lied to them? I don’t think so.
Bush knows what a lot of his critics have forgotten: the Iraq war is not just about blood and treasure, or even about democracy or WMD or terror. It’s about American pride. And people—perfectly intelligent people—have always been willing to sacrifice sweet reason in order to save face, to protect pride. As George Orwell pointed out, they will refuse to see what’s right in front of their noses. He called this condition a kind of political schizophrenia, and society can live quite comfortably with it, he said, until “a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”
Well, that’s what’s happening right now. It’s not only American money and lives that are being lost, it’s pride. But people in the United States will try to deny that for as long as they possibly can.
Unfortunately for those of us who live abroad, that’s much harder to do—and that’s why the woman at the American University in Paris the other evening was really so angry. When I stopped her in the hall afterward she said she was terribly upset because even though she’s lived in France for years, and is married to a Frenchman, the behavior of people here in the last few months has made her bitter.
I know just how she feels. The media talk about anti-Americanism, but what’s really noxious right now is an insufferable smugness, a pervasive air of schadenfreude, and I fear it’s a symptom of still worse to come from this Iraq adventure. Because the bitterest contradiction of all may be that this war was waged—first and foremost—to save face after the humiliation and suffering of September 11. It was meant to inspire awe in the Arab and Muslim world, as former CIA operative Marc Reuel Gerecht and others insisted it should be. And in that it truly has failed. Every day we look weaker. And the worst news of all it that it’s not because of what was done to us by our enemies but because of what we’ve done to ourselves.

© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.






The War on ____________.  

The Patriot Act, one of the most unpatriotic acts ever passed, assumes that the framers of the Constitution have afforded us too much protection from government oversight and prosecution. (Hell, after the RICO statutes are there any 4th Amendments left to protect us at all?) But presumption of innocence is gone. Right to counsel is gone. Right to know the accusers and the charges you are facing are gone.


My question is why do all these supposed patriots feel they have to gut the Constitution to protect America? I would love to see one case where doing so has actually helped stop an attack. How has holding Jose Padilla without charges and counsel helped us be safer?


Europeans have experiences terrorism for years. The Spanish vs. the Basque Separatists, the Irish vs. the IRA, the Russians vs. the Chechens. In none of these cases, do we see their government removing protections.

These measures have the same effect I believe as declaring war on everything and everybody. The War on Drugs, lost a long time ago. The War on Poverty, also never won. Now the War on Terrorism. These things show us that Americans need to fundamentally rethink what it means to combat an amorphous enemy. We are combating an enemy at all. But a series of complex ideas and problems, that is interwoven and requires deep and clear thinking. Throwing tens of thousands of marijuana users in jail has not reduced drug use, it has not made our communities safer, and all while helping to gut Constitutionally promised protections. Jobs programs and work your way off of Welfare programs have done little to help the poor and disenfranchised in this country.

It's time to stop declaring war and start discussing alternatives that are less costly, not just on budgets, but on the protections afforded us by people far more intelligent than the current leaders of America

Statement of the Congressional Budget Office  

Trajan, I was browsing the blogrool under your links and came up with this article. It doesn't look good for the US economy with this level of expenditures.




CBO
Testimony

Statement of
Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Director

The Budget and Economic Outlook:
An Update

before the
Committee on the Budget
U.S. House of Representatives

September 4, 2003



This statement is embargoed until 10:00 a.m. (EDT), Thursday, September 4, 2003. The contents may not be published, transmitted, or otherwise communicated by any print, broadcast, or elec-tronic media before that time.

Mr. Chairman, Congressman Spratt, and Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to discuss the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) update of its baseline budget projections for 2003 through 2013. CBO projects that the federal government will incur deficits of $401 billion in 2003 and $480 billion in 2004 under the assumption (mandated by statute) that current laws and policies remain the same (see Table 1). Those deficits reflect the recent economic slowdown as well as legislation enacted over the past few years that has reduced revenues and rapidly increased spending for defense and many other programs. Although such deficits for this year and next year would be smaller than those of the mid-1980s relative to the size of the economy, they would reach record levels in nominal dollar terms.



Table 1.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Projected Deficits and Surpluses in CBO's Baseline

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(In billions of dollars)
Actual
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total,
2004-
2008 Total,
2004-
2013

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On-Budget Deficit (-) -317 -562 -644 -520 -425 -421 -434 -426 -417 -298 -143 -105 -2,444 -3,833
Off-Budget Surplusa 160 162 164 179 199 219 237 255 273 289 304 317 999 2,436

Total Deficit (-) or Surplus -158 -401 -480 -341 -225 -203 -197 -170 -145 -9 161 211 -1,445 -1,397

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: Congressional Budget Office.
a. Off-budget surpluses comprise surpluses in the Social Security trust funds as well as the net cash flow of the Postal Service.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The economy now seems poised for a more sustained recovery. CBO anticipates that gross domestic product (GDP) will rise by nearly 4 percent in calendar year 2004 after growing by less than 2 percent in the first half of this year. Signs of faster growth in consumer and business spending, rapid growth in federal purchases, tax cuts for businesses, and a slightly more accommodative monetary policy have improved the economic outlook for the rest of 2003 and for 2004.

Partly because of that economic growth, CBO's baseline projections show deficits that diminish and then give way to surpluses near the end of the 2004-2013 period--under the assumption that no policy changes occur. In particular, the baseline assumes that the major tax provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) will expire as scheduled in 2010. It also assumes (as required by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985) that budget authority for discretionary programs will grow at the rate of inflation--which is projected to average 2.7 percent over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the baseline does not include possible policy changes such as the introduction of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. Various combinations of possible actions could easily lead to a prolonged period of budget deficits, although other scenarios could be more favorable. In addition, economic and other factors that deviate from CBO's assumptions could affect the budget considerably--in either a positive or a negative direction.

Regardless of the precise course of the economy and future policy actions, significant long-term strains on spending will begin to intensify within the next decade as the baby-boom generation begins reaching retirement age. Driving those pressures on the budget will be growth in the largest retirement and health programs--Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Federal spending on those three programs will consume a growing proportion of budgetary resources, rising as a share of the economy from 8 percent in 2002 to a projected level of nearly 14 percent in 2030.


The Budget Outlook
CBO projects that if current laws and policies remain unchanged, the recent surge in federal budget deficits will peak in 2004. In the ensuing years, under CBO's baseline, deficits decline steadily and give way to surpluses near the end of the 10-year projection period. Deficits are projected to total $1.4 trillion between 2004 and 2008; the following five years show a small net surplus of less than $50 billion.

Revenues have slid from a peak of 20.8 percent of GDP in 2000 to 16.5 percent this year and are anticipated to drop again next year, to 16.2 percent. From that point on, the trend reverses, as projected economic growth pushes revenues in the baseline up from 17.4 percent of GDP in 2005 to 18.7 percent in 2010. Under current laws and policies, revenues are projected to climb more rapidly thereafter because of the expiration of EGTRRA, reaching 20.5 percent of GDP in 2013.

Whereas revenues are expected to diminish in 2003, CBO anticipates that total outlays will rise--from 19.5 percent of GDP in 2002 to 20.2 percent this year. Under the assumptions of CBO's baseline, outlays are projected to peak at 20.5 percent of GDP in 2004 and then to begin a gradual decline as a share of the economy. By 2013, outlays are projected to account for 19.3 percent of GDP. That decline is mostly attributable to the baseline's treatment of discretionary spending, which is assumed to grow at the rate of inflation over the projection period (or at about half the rate of growth projected for the economy).

Since CBO last issued baseline projections in March, the budget outlook has worsened substantially. Half a year ago, CBO estimated that the deficit for 2003 would total $246 billion, the deficit for 2004 would decline slightly to $200 billion, and the cumulative total for the 2004-2013 period would be a surplus of $891 billion. Now, CBO's estimate for this year's deficit has risen by $155 billion and for next year's by $280 billion. For the 10-year period from 2004 through 2013, projected deficits have increased and projected surpluses have decreased by a total of nearly $2.3 trillion (see Table 2).



Table 2.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Changes in CBO's Baseline Projections of the Deficit or Surplus Since March 2003

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(In billions of dollars)
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total,
2004-
2008 Total,
2004-
2013

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Total Deficit (-) or Surplus as Projected in March 2003 -246 -200 -123 -57 -9 27 61 96 231 405 459 -362 891

Changes
Legislative
Revenues -53 -135 -77 -20 -13 -17 -11 -4 4 2 2 -263 -270
Outlays 46 92 101 105 117 129 140 150 162 172 184 544 1,352
Subtotal -99 -227 -178 -126 -130 -146 -151 -155 -158 -169 -183 -808 -1,622

Economic
Revenues -16 -13 -12 -12 -15 -17 -19 -23 -20 -12 -8 -70 -151
Outlays * -12 -31 -34 -25 -16 -16 -17 -20 -24 -28 -118 -223
Subtotal -16 -1 18 21 10 * -3 -6 * 11 21 48 72

Technical
Revenues -53 -51 -51 -51 -55 -50 -45 -41 -39 -40 -34 -258 -457
Outlays -13 1 6 12 19 27 33 39 44 47 51 66 280
Subtotal -40 -51 -58 -64 -74 -77 -78 -80 -82 -87 -86 -324 -737

Total Impact on the Deficit or Surplus -155 -280 -218 -168 -194 -223 -232 -240 -240 -245 -248 -1,083 -2,287

Total Deficit (-) or Surplus as Projected in August 2003 -401 -480 -341 -225 -203 -197 -170 -145 -9 161 211 -1,445 -1,397

Memorandum:
Legislative Changes to Discretionary Outlays
Defense 27 54 62 65 66 68 70 72 74 75 77 315 683
Nondefense 6 14 17 18 19 19 20 20 21 21 22 87 190

Total 33 68 79 83 85 87 90 92 95 96 99 402 873

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: Congressional Budget Office.
Note: * = between -$500 million and $500 million.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Compared with the projections in the March baseline, revenues have declined by $122 billion for 2003 and by $878 billion for the 2004-2013 period. Changes resulting from legislation, mostly the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), account for the majority of the decline through 2005. After that, technical estimating changes explain most of the drop in projected revenues relative to those in the March baseline.

Outlays are $33 billion higher for 2003 than previously projected and a total of $1.4 trillion higher over the 10-year period, largely because of legislation enacted since March. Extending supplemental appropriations enacted in April and August over the 2004-2013 period, as required for CBO's baseline projections, accounts for $873 billion of that total, and additional debt-service costs resulting from both tax and spending legislation account for most of the rest.


The Economic Outlook
CBO's forecast for the next year and a half anticipates that the growth in overall demand for goods, services, and structures will pick up. The growth of consumer spending will remain modest because consumers are likely to save much of the money that they receive from the accelerated tax cuts under JGTRRA to rebuild their wealth. Businesses are likely to begin to restock, rather than draw down, their inventories and to increase their investments in structures and equipment. As a result, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP is expected to grow by 3.8 percent in calendar year 2004, up from 2.2 percent in 2003 (see Table 3). CBO's forecast assumes that the rapid rise in the federal government's spending will contribute to growth for the next few quarters, but thereafter, under the assumptions in CBO's baseline, such growth will slow.
Table 3.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CBO's Current and Previous Economic Projections for Calendar Years 2003 Through 2013

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Forecast
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Projected Annual Average
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2003 2004 2005-2008 2009-2013

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nominal GDP (Billions of dollars)
August 10,836 11,406 14,098a 17,943b
January 10,880 11,465 14,154a 18,066b
Nominal GDP (Percentage change)
August 3.7 5.3 5.4 4.9
January 4.2 5.4 5.4 5.0
Real GDP (Percentage change)
August 2.2 3.8 3.3 2.7
January 2.5 3.6 3.2 2.7
GDP Price Index (Percentage change)
August 1.5 1.4 2.1 2.2
January 1.6 1.7 2.1 2.2
Consumer Price Indexc (Percentage change)
August 2.3 1.9 2.5 2.5
January 2.3 2.2 2.5 2.5
Unemployment Rate (Percent)
August 6.2 6.2 5.4 5.2
January 5.9 5.7 5.3 5.2
Three-Month Treasury Bill Rate (Percent)
August 1.0 1.7 4.2 4.9
January 1.4 3.5 4.9 4.9
Ten-Year Treasury Note Rate (Percent)
August 4.0 4.6 5.7 5.8
January 4.4 5.2 5.8 5.8

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sources: Congressional Budget Office; Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis; Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Federal Reserve Board.
Note: Percentage changes are year over year.
a. Level in 2008.
b. Level in 2013.
c. The consumer price index for all urban consumers.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



CBO does not anticipate a quick reduction in the unemployment rate from its current level. Typically, the unemployment rate falls when the growth of real GDP exceeds the growth of potential GDP (the highest level of production that can persist for a substantial period without raising inflation). But even though the GDP growth that CBO is forecasting exceeds its estimate of potential GDP, CBO expects that the unemployment rate will average 6.2 percent for calendar years 2003 and 2004. In part, the sustained high rate of unemployment reflects caution on the part of employers, who--if they follow recent patterns--are not likely to resume hiring immediately as demand begins to grow. In part, it also reflects the likelihood that people who have been discouraged in their job searches by the economic weakness of the past few years are now likely to resume them--and be tallied among the unemployed.

The near-term outlook is subject to a number of risks. Foreign economic growth and foreign demand for U.S. goods may deviate from the assumptions in CBO's forecast. The residual effects of certain economic developments in recent years--the large reduction in households' equity wealth, the fall in the personal saving rate, businesses' productive capacity that remains underused, and the increased dependence on foreign financing--may also continue to dampen growth more than CBO assumes. However, favorable economic fundamentals--such as low inflation and rapid growth of productivity--may set the stage for another long period of robust growth.

Between 2005 and 2008, the growth of real GDP is projected to average 3.3 percent, and between 2009 and 2013, 2.7 percent. In CBO's projections, the growth of real GDP slows as the gap closes between GDP and its potential; once that gap has been eliminated, real GDP grows at the same rate as potential GDP.

CBO expects that inflation, as measured by the consumer price index for all urban consumers, will average 2.5 percent from 2005 through 2013, while the rate of unemployment will average 5.3 percent. The projection for the rate on three-month Treasury bills averages 4.6 percent during the 2005-2013 period and that for 10-year Treasury notes, 5.8 percent. All of those projections are virtually identical to the ones published by CBO last January.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Saturday, September 20, 2003

Shocker Story courtesy Agonist and the Sunday Mirror that Saddam is negotiating for his own escape. 

Ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had been in secret negotiations with US forces in Iraq for the past nine days, a British tabloid newspaper said today.
According to the Sunday Mirror report, Saddam was demanding safe passage to the former Soviet republic of Belarus in exchange for information on weapons of mass destruction and his bank accounts.
US President George W Bush was being kept up to date on the talks by his national security adviser Condoleeza Rice who was coordinating negotiations led by US general Ricardo Sanchez, the Sunday Mirror said.
Sanchez is the commander of US forces in Iraq.
"A representative of Saddam in Western-style civilian clothes came to coalition people at Tikrit at sunset on September 12. He led them to a house where the security official was waiting," the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior Iraqi as saying.
"The discussions are now going on under the direct authority of General Sanchez," the source said, according to the newspaper.
The source maintained that Saddam had decided to seek a deal "because he is desperate, trapped and finding fewer and fewer people willing to give him shelter," the tabloid said.
- AFP

GRAVE PROBLEMS FOR THE RESERVE 

This is a post from a Reserve officer serving in theatre. It shows how badly this administration underestimated not just Iraq, but the consequences of mouthing off at our allies and being arrogant to a fault. Now we are in it alone. Look what will happen if we can't find 20,000 troops. A must read.


http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P951_0_1_0_5038



A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve writes a thoughtful piece on the very serious problems now facing the Reserve, and people like him:
The Army's decision to keep its Reserve forces in Iraq on duty for a full year from their arrival may have profound consequences for both the Army and the war in Iraq. While the Army will gain increased flexibility with its "boots on the ground," the long deployments may demoralize reservists. When mobilization and demobilization are included, 12 months on duty in Iraq will mean a 14- to 16-month separation from family and career for reservists.

"Fair doesn't mean equal," a battalion commander once told me. But the message to reservists is unmistakable: the Army no longer takes into account sacrifices made to maintain two careers and lives. Many reservists will watch the regular soldiers with whom they came to Iraq go home before they do. The Army may not care about the disparity between the way the forces are treated, but those of us in the Reserve do.
The problem in Iraq is that the Army doesn't seem to know what to do with us. The Army has only one civil affairs battalion on active duty. Its job is to get in fast, stabilize the situation and then hand responsibilities to a mobilized Reserve unit as quickly as possible.

That's where my Reserve civil affairs brigade comes in. I am a communications officer in a unit filled with higher-ranking officers. Why so many senior soldiers in a civil affairs brigade? Because our knowledge, skills and experience, gained in the civilian world, make us valuable in rebuilding countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the case of my brigade, we've had nothing to do for almost a month. We were originally deployed in support of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, but when it went south to Kuwait at the end of August to begin its journey home, we were left to cool our heels. Our three battalions were dispersed on far-flung assignments. One battalion was sent to Bosnia on a scheduled peacekeeping rotation; another was split, with half reinforcing the 101st Air Assault Division. The remaining soldiers are filling holes in my own unit.
The advantage of experienced reservists to a unit is immeasurable. But here in Iraq, I am hearing more soldiers talk about calling it quits when they return to the States. Even though some soldiers are only four or five years from qualifying for retirement pay and benefits, they're getting out. The constant deployments are difficult for families and careers, they say, and waiting around for retirement benefits is no longer worth it.

The evidence I see in other units around me is the same: the United States Army is about to see a mass exodus from its Reserve.
And in case you didn't know, the entire Army Reserve is now on a war footing:
The chief of the U.S. Army Reserve is taking the unusual step of warning all 205,000 soldiers under his command that the Army Reserve is "on a war footing" and will need to take tough measures to meet commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...

Last, week, the Pentagon said the worse-than-expected situation in Iraq means thousands of reservists there will have to serve tours of 12 months, as opposed to the six-month overseas tours typical before the Iraq war. Counting the time it often takes reservists to get ready to go and demobilize once they return, some part-time soldiers could be away from home for 15 months or longer.

This gives reservists virtually the same burden as active-duty troops, who are typically assigned to Iraq for one year as part of the U.S. occupation force.
You should read both stories in their entirety. All these developments are causing grave problems, problems that may well last for decades.

Somebody in charge ought to be rethinking all of this now -- and people also ought to be held accountable. I don't expect either to happen any time soon. But here's hoping...



W’s Speech Before the UN Assembly. In a nutshell. 

My fellow…er…Old Europeans…I mean…Old Europeans and Chocolate Makers….The situation in Iraq is dire. If we can’t fix …er…stabilize it…it will be to your benefit to er….support…er…uh…give us troops…so that peace loving Iraqis can be free. Just this afternoon, I was having Freedom….uh…French fries along with my pate. I was thinking how great it would be to have German and French troops under Cheney’s…er..Rumsfeld’s…er…uh…US command. It would show the Baathists and the dead enders and then disaffected Iraqis and the foreign fighters and Jihadists that we…uh…that is you and I…well I mean UN and I will not back down from the job of creating democracy in Iran. Iraq. Yes. Iraq.

It is time for us to put our differences together…uh..away and finish the job that we have started. That is the job of freeing the Iraqi people. So I encourage you to move forward with us to getting that oil revenue going so we can pay open their schools and pay their teachers patch their roads and repair the infrastructure of their power plants so once again they can be free to pump oil without fear. I mean think about how great it would be if they had free health care, and paid teachers…like us…er…like…um..like Europe. Yes.

Yes, so join us please. There are great rewards to be had for those who go with us. Money. Oil. Freedom. Soon would be great too.


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