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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

paul glastris says 

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UNKINDEST CUT....I guess it's just a matter of priorities. In his new budget, the president takes an ax to a tiny Americorps program called the National Civilian Community Corps. This small enterprise employs about a thousand 18-to-24 years olds in full time service, much of it involving disaster relief and homeland security. The program gets rave reviews from participants and recipients alike. After 9/11, Sen. John McCain singled it out as the kind of effort we should be expanding. Yet Bush's new budget would cut its funding from $27 million to $5 million — an 80 percent reduction! The reason given by the White House's Office of Management and Budget is that the program is "extremely expensive." Via Daily Kos, I see that some of the program's alumni have set up a web site to fight the cut. Good for them.

atrios says and I tend to agree 

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Who knew Richard Cohen was such a fan of unelected hereditary oligarchies who, among other badnesses, refuse to recognize the state of Israel.

The simplest and most obvious lesson I've learned in the past few years is that the American press has an incredible bias in favor of whatever our foreign policy happens to be that day. Whoever the government deems as "friends" are the good guys and whoever they deem as "enemies" are the bad guys. The form of government, freedoms, human rights abuses, suffrage, etc... are entirely irrelevant.

There are plenty of good reasons to be concerned about the UAE port deal. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the failure of the Bush administration to follow the law and conduct the appropriate investigation.

It's not racist to object to us cozying up with truly shitty governments. I imagine the people of the UAE might be fine people. But the people who run the country are just a bunch of shitty human rights abusing suffrage opposing terrorist hanging out with assholes. The relevant question is whether these people should be running significant port operations.

Kristof says 

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(NYT rises from time to time)


The poll is the first of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?"

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw "immediately."

That's one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even the American troops on the ground don't buy into it — and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale.
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WASHINGTON - At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

Bush Hates Vets

Monday, February 27, 2006

Rape Rooms Replaced With Newer Tortures 

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File this under TOLD YOU SO. The rape rooms have been . The rape rooms? They may be gone. But they are now replaced with rooms where they drill holes in your head or burn your eyes out with a cigarette. Well, we liberated them didn’t we?


Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed every month in Baghdad alone by death squads working from the Ministry of the Interior, the United Nations' outgoing human rights chief in Iraq has revealed.

John Pace, who left Baghdad two weeks ago, told us on Sunday that up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior……from the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute, which is located next to the city's mortuary. He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution.






The problem is that old habits die hard. Once you have corrupt Police and corrupt militias and corrupt officials, knocking off the main thug (Saddam) does not suddenly correct pervious behavior. Under Saddam , this is how things were done. This is how things are done now.


Mr Pace said the Ministry of the Interior was "acting as a rogue element within the government". It is controlled by the main Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri); the Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, is a former leader of Sciri's Badr Brigade militia, which is one of the main groups accused of carrying out sectarian killings……..One important development over the past few days is that it is clearly becoming very difficult to use American or British troops to keep the peace, undermining the argument that they are the only bulwark against civil war. The occupation forces lack the legitimacy to play the role of UN peacekeepers; it is almost impossible to have US soldiers defend a Sunni mosque against a Shia crowd, because if they open fire they will be seen as having joined one side in a sectarian struggle.

In Mr Pace's view, the violence in Iraq is being made worse by the seizing of young Iraqi men by US troops and Iraqi police as they move from city to city carrying out raids. "The vast majority are innocent," he said, "but they very often don't get released for months.

You don't eliminate terrorism by what they're doing now. Military intervention causes serious human rights and humanitarian problems to large numbers of innocent civilians ... The result is that such individuals turn into terrorists at the end of their detention."




Perhaps if we had secured the country to begin with this might not have happened. Might not. American prisoners get tortured in American jails. We can hardly stop this at home -can we? Hell all the soldiers in the world posted over there couldn’t stop this.


Link Here:

http://www.counterpunch.com/patrick02272006.html

starters 

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This is Civil War.

-George Will

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Better start Praying

-Bill O Reilly in regards to the Iraqi civil war.

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Since 2003, the report said, the Army National Guard has left more than 64,000 pieces of equipment, valued at more than $1.2 billion, in Iraq. The Army has not kept track of most of this equipment and has no firm plans to replace it, the report said…


…"The Army cannot account for over half the equipment that Army National Guard units have left overseas," Mr. Walker said. "And it has not developed replacement plans for the equipment, as Defense Department policy requires."

unbelievable

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These days, the news is full of conservative recanters-William Buckley, Fukuyama, Bruce Bartlett. They are alleging feelings of surprise and disquiet at the failure of the war machine to subdue Iraq. But in fact, of course, as progressives have known all along, the debacle of the Bush administration, from beginning (stealing the 2000 election) to end (importing a company from Dubai to run the ports),
with all the stations along the way (tax breaks for the rich, crony corruption, stupid and criminal war in Iraq, badly conceived education policies, bungled medicare drug bill, deaf, dumb, and blind policies on
global warming and other environmental issues, voting machine fraud, media payola, gutting of the federal agencies) is the natural outcome of corporate conservative capitalism, and especially the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his own cronies. What we have now is what you get when businessmen run the government like a corporation-short term thinking, public relations as policy, repeated attempts to do things on the cheap, careless attitudes toward things like torture and spying, contempt for everyone outside the inner circle, aggressiveness and secretiveness, lack of accountability, and just plain selfish arrogant ignorance. Who knows whether their intentions are good or not? It could be that, after a generation of free-market orthodoxy, they just don't know any better.

Conservatives eating Crow

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The real economy 

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What's wrong with the economy?

by EPI President Lawrence Mishel and Policy Director Ross Eisenbrey

1. Profits are up, but the wages and the incomes of average Americans are down.
• Inflation-adjusted hourly and weekly wages are still below where they were at the start of the recovery in November 2001. Yet, productivity—the growth of the economic pie—is up by 13.5%. 1
• Wage growth has been shortchanged because 35% of the growth of total income in the corporate sector has been distributed as corporate profits, far more than the 22% in previous periods. 2
• Consequently, median household income (inflation-adjusted) has fallen five years in a row and was 4% lower in 2004 than in 1999, falling from $46,129 to $44,389. 3

2. More and more people are deeper and deeper in debt.
• The indebtedness of U.S. households, after adjusting for inflation, has risen 35.7% over the last four years. 4
• The level of debt as a percent of after-tax income is the highest ever measured in our history. Mortgage and consumer debt is now 115% of after-tax income, twice the level of 30 years ago. 5
• The debt-service ratio (the percent of after-tax income that goes to pay off debts) is at an all-time high of 13.6%. 6
• The personal savings rate is negative for the first time since WWII. 7

3. Job creation has not kept up with population growth, and the employment rate has fallen sharply.
• The United States has only 1.3% more jobs today (excluding the effects of Hurricane Katrina) than in March 2001 (the start of the recession). Private sector jobs are up only 0.8%. At this stage of previous business cycles, jobs had grown by an average of 8.8% and never less than 6.0%. 8
• The unemployment rate is relatively low at 5%, but still higher than the 4% in 2000. Plus, the percent of the population that has a job has never recovered since the recession and is still 1.3% lower than in March 2001. If the employment rate had returned to pre-recession levels, 3 million more people would be employed. 9
• More than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since January 2000. 10

4. Poverty is on the rise.
• The poverty rate rose from 11.3% in 2000 to 12.7% in 2004. 11
• The number of people living in poverty has increased by 5.4 million since 2000. 12
• More children are living in poverty: the child poverty rate increased from 16.2% in 2000 to 17.8% in 2004. 13

5. Rising health care costs are eroding families' already declining income.
• Households are spending more on health care. Family health costs rose 43-45% for married couples with children, single mothers, and young singles from 2000 to 2003. 14
• Employers are cutting back on health insurance. Last year, the percent of people with employer-provided health insurance fell for the fourth year in a row. Nearly 3.7 million fewer people had employer-provided insurance in 2004 than in 2000. Taking population growth into account, 11 million more people would have had employer-provided health insurance in 2004 if the coverage rate had remained at the 2000 level. 15

SOURCES

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Survey: http://www.bls.gov/ces/home.htm. BLS, Labor Productivity and Costs: http://www.bls.gov/lpc/home.htm. Productivity is non-farm business output per hour.

2. Bureau of Economic Analysis. NIPA Table 1.14. http://www.bea.gov/bea/dn/nipaweb/index.asp

3. Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html

4. Total household liabilities, Federal Reserve Flow of Fund's Balance Sheet tables: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/. Deflated using CPI-U from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. For Disposable Income, Bureau of Economic Analysis Table 2.1. Mortgage and consumer debt from the Federal Reserve Flow of Fund's Balance Sheet tables: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/

6. Federal Reserve: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/housedebt/default.htm

7. Bureau of Economic Analysis. NIPA Table 2.1, adjusted using the price index for Personal Consumption Expenditures (Table 2.3.4)

8. Analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For methodology see Price, Lee (2005) The Boom That Wasn't, EPI Briefing Paper #168. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/bp168

9. Analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For methodology see Bernstein, Jared and Lee Price (2005) An Off-Kilter Expansion, EPI Briefing Paper #164. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/bp164

10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Survey: http://www.bls.gov/ces/home.htm . See also Bivens, Josh (2005) "Trade deficits and manufacturing employment," Economic Snapshot, November 20, 2005. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_snapshots_20051130

11. Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html

12. Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html

13. Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html

14. See Mishel, Lawrence et al. (2004) Less Cash in Their Pockets, Briefing Paper #154. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/bp154

15. See Mishel, Lawrence et al. (2004) Less Cash in Their Pockets, Briefing Paper #154. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/bp154

hahaha america...must see film 

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http://festival.sundance.org/2006/watch/film.aspx?which=402

AMERICAN TORTURERS 

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Most prisoners are kept apart, although some can communicate through the steel mesh or concrete walls that separate their cells. They exercise alone, some only at night. They had not seen sunlight for months — an especially cruel tactic in a tropical climate. One prisoner told me, "I have spent almost every moment of the last three years, and eaten every meal, here in this small cell which is my bathroom." Other than the Koran, prisoners had nothing to read. As a result of our protests, some have been given books.

Every prisoner I've interviewed claims to have been badly beaten and subjected to treatment that only could be called torture, by Americans, from the first day of U.S. captivity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They said they were hung by their wrists and beaten, hung by their ankles and beaten, stripped naked and paraded before female guards, and given electric shocks. At least three claimed to have been beaten again upon arrival in Guantanamo. One of my clients, Fayiz Al Kandari, now 27, said his ribs were broken during an interrogation in Pakistan. I felt the indentation in his ribs. "Beat me all you want, just give me a hearing," he said he told his interrogators.

Another prisoner, Fawzi Al Odah, 25, is a teacher who left Kuwait City in 2001 to work in Afghan, then Pakistani, schools. After 9/11, he and four other Kuwaitis were invited to dinner by a Pakistani tribal leader and then sold by him into captivity, according to their accounts, later confirmed by Newsweek and ABC News.

On Aug. 8, 2005, Fawzi, in desperation, went on a hunger strike to assert his innocence and to protest being imprisoned for four years without charges. He said he wanted to defend himself against any accusations, or die. He told me that he had heard U.S. congressmen had returned from tours of Guantanamo saying that it was a Caribbean resort with great food. "If I eat, I condone these lies," Fawzi said.

At the end of August, after Fawzi fainted in his cell, guards began to force-feed him through tubes pushed up his nose into his stomach. At first, the tubes were inserted for each feeding and then removed afterward. Fawzi told me that this was very painful. When he tried to pull out the tubes, he was strapped onto a stretcher with his head held by many guards, which was even more painful.

By mid-September, the force-feeding had been made more humane. Feeding tubes were left in and the formula pumped in. Still, when I saw Fawzi, a tube was protruding from his nose. Drops of blood dripped as we talked. He dabbed at it with a napkin.

21 ports. Not 6 

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Debt to Society Is Least of Costs for Ex-Convicts 

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It is increasingly expensive to be a criminal.

Beverly Dubois, a 49-year-old former park ranger in Washington State, spent nine months in jail for growing and selling marijuana. She still owes the state almost $1,900 for court costs and various fees. Until she pays up, the state has taken away her right to vote.

Wilbert Rideau, 64, a convicted killer, spent 44 years in Louisiana prisons. Not long after he was released last year, he filed for bankruptcy in an effort to avoid the state's attempts to collect $127,000 in court costs.

Almost every encounter with the criminal justice system these days can give rise to a fee. There are application fees and co-payments for public defenders. Sentences include court costs, restitution and contributions to various funds. In Washington State, people convicted of certain crimes are also charged $100 so their DNA can be put in a database.

Private probation companies charge $30 to $40 a month for supervision. Halfway houses charge for staying in them. People sentenced to community service are required to buy $15 insurance policies for every week they work. Criminals on probation and parole wear global positioning devices that monitor their whereabouts — for a charge of as much as $16 a day.

The sums raised by these ever-mounting fees are intended to help offset some of the enormous costs of operating the criminal justice system. But even relatively small fees — $40 per session, say, for a court-ordered anger management class or $15 for a drug test — can have devastating consequences for people who emerge from prison with no money, credit or prospects, and who live in fear of being sent back for failing to pay.

"The difference between 30 years ago and today," said George H. Kendall, a lawyer with Holland & Knight in New York who represents Mr. Rideau, "is that people who everyone agrees are poor are leaving the courthouse significantly poorer."

Prosecutors and political leaders often say it is only fair that criminals rather than taxpayers pay for what it costs to protect the public.

But Judge James R. Thurman of the Magistrate Court in Lee County, Ga., said his state's many fees, known there as add-ons, were a backdoor way to make poor people pay for the free lawyers guaranteed to them by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963.

"You're asking the people who can't afford to hire an attorney to pay anyway by making them pay through add-on fees," Judge Thurman said.

Indeed, according to the American Bar Association, at least 15 states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, charge application fees to people seeking court-appointed lawyers. Washington has one of the longest lists of fees assessed to criminals, and it is diligent in trying to collect them. Ms. Dubois, disabled after a car accident, makes payments of $10 a month toward what was once a $1,610 debt — $1,000 for a county "drug enforcement fund," a $500 "victim assessment fee" and $110 in court costs.

"I still don't know who the victim was," she said.

Her efforts notwithstanding, her debt is growing because of the 12 percent interest assessed annually by the State of Washington. As of September, it stood at $1,895.69.

"I will never have it paid off in my lifetime," Ms. Dubois said.

Washington also uses an unusual tool: it denies people who have not paid such debts the right to vote.

"You have to complete all the terms of your sentence" to regain the right to vote, explained Jeffrey T. Even, a lawyer for the state. "If the monthly payment is low enough and if the debt is high enough, you can actually be going backwards."

Aaron H. Caplan, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington State, which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Dubois challenging her disenfranchisement, said that tens of thousands of people were affected and that their number would grow. "Over the last 20 to 25 years, the Legislature has been making it more and more expensive to purchase back the right to vote," Mr. Caplan said.

National figures concerning fees assessed to criminals are not available, but Washington is something of a case study. The state sends out some 79,000 bills every month, and it collected about $25 million last year. But these collection efforts are barely making a dent in the $1.2 billion owed by former offenders, much of it for the cost of prison room and board, which can reach $50 a day. The budget of the State Department of Corrections for the two-year period ending in 2007 is more than $1.4 billion.

Fees for room and board are levied in many states, and they can quickly mount to levels that are essentially uncollectible, with states not bothering, except in special cases. Even other types of fees can be unwieldy.

Mr. Rideau, for instance, has been billed $127,000 for the cost of his fourth and final trial last year.

Louisiana wants him to pay for the costs of housing, feeding and transporting his jury from across the state. The prosecution has submitted bills from more than two dozen establishments, including the Seafood Palace ($435.68), Ruby Tuesday ($312.66) and Best Suites ($16,874.33).

His trial was expensive partly because Mr. Rideau was so famous in Lake Charles, La., where he killed a bank teller in 1961. He was convicted of murder three times, in 1961, 1964 and 1970, but appeals courts threw out the verdicts, citing misconduct by the government.

A fourth jury last year rejected the murder charge and found Mr. Rideau guilty of manslaughter, which had a maximum sentence of 21 years, meaning his sentence was complete. Mr. Rideau, who was also a prison journalist during his four decades behind bars, was freed that same day.

But Louisiana was not done with Mr. Rideau. David A. Ritchie, the judge in the case, ruled that Mr. Rideau was responsible for all of the charges billed by the prosecution.

"Mr. Rideau is the one that committed this crime that led to this trial, then led to all these costs," Judge Ritchie said at a hearing in August. "That's why people are charged court costs, because it's their actions."

Mr. Rideau has filed for bankruptcy, even though it is not clear that bankruptcy can erase debts of this kind. He has also appealed the decision, saying he is puzzled by the state's efforts.

"Society's interest is in an ex-con becoming solvent and in becoming a contributing member of society," Mr. Rideau said. "They created this court-costs sham to sabotage my efforts to create a life."

John F. Derosier, the district attorney in the case, defended the charges in court papers opposing Mr. Rideau's appeal last month. "He owes a debt to society which must be paid," Mr. Derosier wrote.

The assessment of court costs is common in civil cases. Many state laws allow or require the costs to be imposed in criminal cases, too, though rarely for an amount even approaching that sought from Mr. Rideau. Vanita Gupta, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also represents Mr. Rideau, said his case might have unintended consequences.

"The prospect of having to pay for court costs is going to dissuade some defendants from going to trial," Ms. Gupta said. Even an innocent defendant, she said, may prefer a guilty plea to a trial if the downside includes not only a longer sentence but also a crushing debt.

Georgia is also aggressive in collecting fees, and it has enlisted private probation companies to help. The companies charge a monthly fee of $30 or $40 for their services. That fee can rival the fine.

"You're basically charging an interest fee that would make a finance company blush," said Stephen B. Bright, the director of the Southern Center for Human Rights.

In 2003, for instance, Sabrina Byrd, a 27-year-old single mother, was ordered to pay $852 for failing to leash and vaccinate her dog in College Park, Ga. Too poor to pay, she was placed on probation while she made 10 monthly installments, along with a monthly fee to a probation company of $39 — about half of the fine. When she fell behind and failed to contact the company, a judge revoked her probation and sentenced her to 25 days in jail.

Though the Supreme Court has said that defendants may not be jailed for failing to pay a fine when they have no money, they can be jailed for failing to report to their probation officer. Many poor people do not appreciate that distinction and fail to report when they have no money.

Judge Thurman, who was not involved in Ms. Byrd's case, said he took pains to tell people to report no matter what. Otherwise, "I have no alternative but to issue a warrant for your arrest," he tells defendants.

But some probation companies, according to court records, effectively use the threat of arrest as a collection tool.

John Cole Vodicka, the director of Georgia's Prison and Jail Project, questioned the current system.

"A $500 fine going into probation translates into $1,500 coming out of probation," he said. "No one's really benefiting, except maybe private companies."

New technologies can also add fees. Isecuretrac, an Omaha company that sells global positioning monitors to local governments to track sex offenders and others, promotes a system that encourages offenders to pay, often on a sliding scale based on financial resources. Thomas E. Wharton Jr., the company's chief executive, said about 70 percent of county agencies that use electronic monitoring charge the offenders for them.

"I don't think the intent really is to gouge offenders," Mr. Wharton said, "because they have a difficult enough time to get back into their communities and to support themselves."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/23/national/23fees.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
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This really is the lowly point to which Bush followers have dragged this country. To oppose the American war in Iraq -- a war that is turning out to be the greatest and most disastrous strategic mistake this country has ever made - has long been sufficient for one to be branded a coward and a subversive. To question the President's policies on terrorism has resulted in even more severe accusations.

Bill Buckley has now unmasked himself as a cowardly, anti-American ally of Al Qaeda. He wants to wave the white flag to terrorists, and has sabatoged the Commander-in-Chief's war effort by declaring it a failure. Shouldn't we bring criminal charges against Buckley, along with demands that he be hanged? On what ground can any of the Bush followers who have long equated opposition to the war with subversion and treason -- and who branded Howard Dean a traitor for a statement identical to the one Buckley made -- oppose those efforts?

The great patriot and American hero Ben Shapiro can prepare Buckley's noose while that brave American warrior Michael Reagan places the hood over his head and those lovers of American values Michelle Malkin and John Hinderaker lead the throngs as they yell "traitor" and "coward" at Buckley while his neck snaps. That's the horrendous image which has come to represent the sad, almost-psychotic state of political dialogue which Bush followers have imposed on our country. And that's just one of the comparatively small harms which the Bush movement has inflicted on America which is going to take quite some time to repair.


Glenn Greenwald

Friday, February 24, 2006

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"Second, this is a corporation, consequently its only interest is in making money. A corporation is like a shark, designed to do two things: kill and eat. Thousands of years of evolution lie behind the shark, where as the corporation has only a few hundred. But it is still perfectly evolved for its purpose. That means a corporation that makes money running port facilities does not have a stake in national security. It's not the corporation's fault any more than it's the shark's."

--Molly Ivins
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One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.


--William F Buckley

Thursday, February 23, 2006

where the shit meets the fan 

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I saw the news of the bomb on television when I was eating breakfast with my children. By lunch we had packed up our essential belongings and left to find refuge at a relative's house.

There was no argument from my wife. She knew as I did what the sight of the destroyed dome meant.

We live in a mixed Sunni and Shia area in Baghdad. Tonight there will be bloodshed and retaliation attacks and this time we are not going to sit inside while hoping we are lucky and the bullets do not come through our windows. This time we are leaving because things will get very bad.

It is not as if there are not already problems here. A neighbour was shot on his doorstep only a few days ago. Recently I visited the shops and the road was sealed: five armed men had been shooting at one of the Shia shops. The shopkeepers from all the other shops started firing back and the bodies were just lying in the street.

Such situations are common. We get used to them whether it is the Iraqi army closing off all the access roads so they can raid some house or the American helicopters flying over at night.

But this is going to be worse, I think. This may be the start of when it all goes really wrong and the thing that we all fear - the sectarian war that will destroy my country and my children's future - may be about to begin.

The Shia are crazy about this. I am Sunni and I am frightened that if I do not go somewhere to be surrounded by those who can protect me then they may take out their anger on me.

We were not alone on the roads. There were many cars with families in them. Then even more surprisingly there was the sight of the black-shirted followers of Moqtada al-Sadr with their Kalashnikovs at many of the street corners.

There were police out as well but they are standing with them manning checkpoints, not trying to tell them to go home.

I have seen such a thing before in Najaf but never in Baghdad. It frightened my wife. "There is the smell of civil war everywhere," she said to me.

At my relatives' house everyone was very nervous. There was news from cousins in Najaf. They said it was entirely blocked off and no one can get in or out. A friend in Basra said it was like a city of ghosts, no one on the street to be seen.

A nephew rang to say he has just witnessed a Sunni imam being shot. He was at the Yalani mosque when gunmen started firing at it. Then one got the imam and shot him twice in the head. He said they were young Mahdi army, teenagers with guns. All peaceful Iraqis are terrified of them nowadays.

I tried to play with my children to keep them from seeing how nervous we all are but I can hear people talking and the news is not good.

Another mosque has been attacked with 40 armed men shooting at it. In Sadr city, the big Shia part of town across from where I am now, thousands of Shia were marching. The news said many have Kalashnikovs.

This is not the city I knew. I had friends and colleagues who were Shia. My family married into Shia families. Now I am too frightened to be in my home. Maybe we will feel safe to go back when things are calm. But tonight we are fugitives. How did it ever get to this?

shit, meet fan. Fan, meet shit.

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NBC covers the Olympics the way American neocons do foreign policy: The world is 95 percent America, 3 percent water, and 2 percent everything else. America's projection onto the world is mostly as an emblem of force, preferably unrivaled.... You get the sense that none but American athletes are in these competitions, just as the Bush White House gives the sense that all the world is collateral for American foreign policy. NBC has been trained for the task. The same people who brought us the Iraq war as show business and The Rescue of Jessica Lynch as truth, and who keep bringing us coverage of the White House as public relations, now bring us the Olympics as a two-week commercial for American power.

well said

asshattery 

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The coalition government relied heavily on a revolving door of diplomats and other personnel who would leave just as they had begun to develop local knowledge and ties, and on a large cadre of eager young neophytes whose brashness often gave offense in a very age- and status-conscious society. One young political appointee (a 24-year-old Ivy League graduate) argued that Iraq should not enshrine judicial review in its constitution because it might lead to the legalization of abortion. A much more senior Iraqi interlocutor (a widely experienced Iraqi-American lawyer) became so exasperated with the young man's audacity that he finally challenged him:

``You must have thoroughly studied the history of the British occupation of Iraq.''

``Yes, I did,'' the young American replied proudly.

``I thought so,'' said the Iraqi, ``because you seem determined to repeat every one of their mistakes.''

Throughout the occupation, there was a profound tension between the idealistic goal of building democracy and the desire on the part of the Americans to retain control, to shape a particular kind of Iraqi democracy.

The dilemma struck me almost immediately after my arrival, when one of our colleagues stormed into the office after a late-night meeting of the Iraqi Governing Council, uttering: ``We have a problem. And no one wants to deal with it. The Governing Council is issuing orders and the ministers are starting to execute them.'' Several of us burst out laughing. We were fostering a transition to sovereignty and democracy. We had established the Iraqi Governing Council. But God forbid it should actually seek to start governing!

Repiglicans


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starters 

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George Bush doesn't care who controls inspections at America's ports, as long as the deal benefits his family and friends. This fact seemed to wake up some of his blind Republican supporters, but comes as no surprise to seasoned Bush-watchers. Just think back to his indifferent reaction to the Hamas landslide last month.

Cronyism

-------

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

Secret Deals

---

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

weds 

.


Small events sometimes reveal large truths. Last month’s U.S. missile strike in the remote Bajaur district of Pakistan was such an event. Aimed at taking out Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief deputy, the strike missed its intended target and killed as many as 18 residents of the small village of Damadola. But the episode did not end there: outraged Pakistanis rose up in protest; days of highly publicized anti-American demonstrations followed. In effect, the United States had handed Muslims around the world another grievance to hold against Americans.

Hearts and Minds





As a U.S. military commander acknowledges force feeding at Guantanamo, 98 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, with at least 34 suspected or confirmed homicide, according to a Human Rights First report.

From cursor

=====


Bruce Bartlett was fired from his job at a conservative research group after writing "Impostor," a book sharply critical of President Bush.


Imposter

Al Franken says 

.

But the jokes this week might be even more disturbing for the Vice President. Because when the late night comics define you, it’s how the whole country sees you.

Steve Gilliard quotes: 

.


"Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps and an attorney for the Topeka, Kansas-based church, said neither state laws nor the Patriot Guard can silence their message that God killed the soldiers because they fought for a country that embraces homosexuals."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jack Cafferty 

.

Wolf, this may be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back, this deal to sell control of six US ports to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates. There are now actually Senators and Congressmen and Governors and Mayors telling the White House "you're not gonna do this." And it's about time. No one has said "no" to this administration on anything that matters in a very long time. Well this matters. It matters a lot. If this deal is allowed to go through, we deserve whatever we get. A country with ties to terrorists will have a presence at six critical doorways to our country. And if anyone thinks that the terrorists, in time, won't figure out how to exploit that, then we're all done. Nothing's happened yet, mind you, but if our elected representatives don't do everything in their power to stop this thing, each of us should vow to work tirelessly to see that they are removed from public office. We're at a crossroads - which way will we choose?
Here's the question: What should be done to stop a deal that would allow an Arab company to run US Ports??

mo shit 

Here’s Your Victory

BAGHDAD — The Islamic government in neighboring Iran watched with trepidation in March 2003 when U.S.-led troops stormed Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and start remaking the political map of the Mideast.

In retrospect, the Islamic Republic could have celebrated: The war has left America's longtime nemesis with profound influence in the new Iraq and pushed it to the apex of power in the region.

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

In late September, Journal staffer Farnaz Fassihi wrote an e-mail to friends back in the United States about what she was seeing. "Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under house arrest," it began, then went on to describe the countrywide scale of the insurgency and what Iraqis think about it. Just a few days before, she had filed a Journal story, co-authored with Greg Jaffe, explaining that, "Iraq's once highly fragmented insurgent groups are increasingly cooperating to attack U.S. government and Iraqi government targets, and steadily gaining control of more areas of the county."

But her e-mail went further. "One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation," she wrote. "For those of us on the ground, it's hard to imagine what, if anything, could salvage it from its violent downward spiral."

WSJ Journalists stories reflect reality

we will survive 

.

Many of us have struggled to make sense not just of the Cheney shooting incident, but of the secrecy surrounding it and the apathetic response of the American people -- as well as that of Texas law enforcement agencies. The metaphor most meaningful for me -- since, after all, the shooting has functioned as a kind of Rorschach test for the Left -- is that 78- year-old Whittington stands for the 230-year-old United States: We have all been shot in the face by the Bush Administration.
And, like Whittington, we will survive.

Most Katrina victims survived (though there is not enough money to claim the bodies of those who did not, still buried inside the remains of their 9th Ward homes) and the 2006 Mardi Gras proceeds with gritty determination. Sure there are what the NYT calls "cracks" in that society: 19 schools running in stead of 117; 7 public defenders instead of 52; 2,000 hospital beds in stead of 5,000). But life in New Orleans goes on.

Civil liberties will survive: outspoken and courageous senators like Russ Feingold will continue to speak out against tyranny. And most private conversations will remain private. Since hardly any of us is a terrorist, having our phones tapped poses no palpable threat. The telephone and the Internet will survive.

The environment will survive despite the body blows it has been dealt: it still snows in America and more people than ever ski and snow-board. Polluted beaches still beckon vacationers. American powerhouses Ford and GM -- despite having laid off about 60,000 workers -- make sure our roads are still crowded by happy drivers. HOV lanes remain uncrowded despite drastic fuel costs.

The Middle East will survive unconscionable bombing and destruction: Iraq will eventually have some form of government. And, outside of three thousand dead soldiers, even the horribly maimed will survive. Some will walk again, and those who were not too emotionally traumatized may actually thrive.

Seniors will increase in number, surviving as most get their needed medications. And though there are 45 million Americans without health insurance, most of them remain healthy enough not to strain our health care system. The system works: life expectancy is greater than any time in human history.

But surviving was not enough for the founders of this nation -- for people who shouted out "Give me liberty or give me death." It was not enough for the authors of what even strict constructionists call our living Constitution. We have been shot in the face from close range by a dangerous and inhuman administration -- an administration led by people so callous about human life and dignity as to turn our young into cannon fodder.

It is an administration that the day after 9/11 had the organizational wherewithal to round up the entire bin Laden family and whisk them away from our teeming shores, but turned its back on American citizens devastated by hurricanes and floods. We -- all of us -- have multiple wounds in our body politic, wounds that threaten our heart and soul.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-frank/saving-face_b_16048.html

From Atrios- how true 

.

Sometimes it’s the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore.

Think About This For A Moment 

.

Under the port agreement, the United Arab Emirates company would
control the shipment of US military equipment for the US Army. You mean,
packing and shipping our own weapons should be outsourced?

Monday, February 20, 2006

u come at me u gwanna draw back a nub! 

.

CARACAS, Venezuela (Feb. 19) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to "mess with" him days after Rice described Venezuela as a menace to regional democracy in the midst of tense diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow him, and has made Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a favorite target.

"Don't mess with me Condoleezza. Don't mess with me, girl," Chavez said during his weekly Sunday broadcast, sarcastically offering her a kiss and jokingly referring to her as "Condolence."

Casually Destroying Lives. 

.



Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick summarizes the Albatross that Gitmo is. It is heavy, embarrassing and hung on the necks of the administration by themselves- Barney Fife shooting himself in the foot.

Guantanamo Bay currently holds over 400 prisoners. The Bush administration has repeatedly described these men as "the worst of the worst." Ten have been formally charged with crimes and will someday face military tribunals. The rest wait to learn what they have done wrong. Two major studies conclude that most of them have done very little wrong. A third says they are being tortured while they wait.

No one disputes that the real criminals at Guantanamo should be brought to justice. But now we have proof that most of the prisoners are guilty only of bad luck and that we are casually destroying their lives.


Excerpts and link on the slip


The government's final argument is that we are keeping them from rejoining the war against us, a war that has no end. But that is the most disingenuous claim of all: If any hardened anti-American zealots leave Guantanamo, they will be of our own creation. Nothing will radicalize a man faster than years of imprisonment based on unfounded charges; that's why Abu Ghraib has become the world's foremost crime school. A random sweep of any 500 men in the Middle East right now might turn up dozens sporting olive drab and Casio watches, and dozens more who fiercely hate the United States. Do we propose to detain them all indefinitely and without charges?

The only real justification for the continued disgrace that is Guantanamo is that the government refuses to admit it's made a mistake. Releasing hundreds of prisoners after holding them for four years without charges would be big news. Better, a Guantanamo at which nothing has happened in four years. Better to drain the camp slowly, releasing handfuls of prisoners at a time. Last week, and with little fanfare, seven more detainees were let go. That brings the total number of releasees to 180, with 76 transferred to the custody of other countries. Are these men who are quietly released the "best of the worst"? No. According to the National Journal one detainee, an Australian fundamentalist Muslim, admitted to training several of the 9/11 hijackers and intended to hijack a plane himself. He was released to his home government last year. A Briton said to have targeted 33 Jewish organizations in New York City is similarly gone. Neither faces charges at home.

Guantanamo represents a spectacular failure of every branch of government. Congress is willing to pass a bill stripping courts of habeas-corpus jurisdiction for detainees but unwilling to probe what happens to them. The Supreme Court's decision in Rasul v. Bush conferred seemingly theoretical rights enforceable in theoretical courtrooms. The right to challenge a government detention is older than this country and yet Guantanamo grinds on.

It grinds on because the Bush administration gets exactly what it pays for in that lease: Guantanamo is a not-place. It's neither America nor Cuba. It is peopled by people without names who face no charges. Non-people facing non-trials to defend non-charges are not a story. They are a headache. No wonder the prisoners went on hunger strikes. Not-eating, ironically enough, is the only way they could try to become real to us.


Dahlia Lithwick is a Slate senior editor.

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2136422/

Interesting Article on Kos 

.

12.7 % of the US population lives in poverty. That's 37 million Americans.


does anyone give a shit.


DCR

idiots 

.

WASHINGTON - Sweeping statistics on insurgent violence in Iraq that were declassified for a Senate hearing on Wednesday appear to portray a rebellion whose ability to mount attacks has steadily grown in the nearly three years since the invasion.

The statistics were included in a report written by Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, who testified before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on Iraq stabilization and reconstruction.

The American military declassified the statistics so he could present them to the hearing in his report, Mr. Christoff said in an interview. The figures cover attacks on American and Iraqi forces and civilians.

The curve traced out by the figures between June 2003 and December 2005 shows a number of fluctuations, including several large spikes in insurgent activity — one as recently as October of last year. But while American and Iraqi officials have often pointed to the downward edges of those fluctuations as evidence that the steam was going out of the insurgency, the numbers over all seem to tell a different story, Mr. Christoff said. "It's not going down," he said. "There are peaks and valleys, but if you look at every peak, it's higher than the peak before."

Officials have recently noted that the numbers of attacks in the final two months of last year dropped after an October peak, which occurred around both Ramadan and a referendum on Iraq's constitution. But Mr. Christoff's chart shows that the number of attacks in December, nearly 2,500, was almost 250 percent of the number in March 2004.

But the trend line began even before March 2004, when the number of attacks was already nearly double what it had been in July or August 2003. Mr. Christoff's paper cites a senior United States military officer saying that "attack levels ebb and flow as the various insurgent groups — almost all of which are an intrinsic part of Iraq's population — re-arm and attack again."

Attacks against Iraqi security forces have grown faster than the overall count; by December 2005 they had grown more than 200 percent since March 2004. Of course, as more Iraqis are trained and put into the field, more of them are targets.

The paper, citing a contracting office in Iraq, said that as attacks had fluctuated downward in the final two months of last year, attacks on convoys related to rebuilding efforts had risen. Twenty convoys had been attacked, with 11 casualties, in October 2005, while 33 convoys had been attacked, with 34 casualties, in January 2006, the paper says.



http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0209-12.htm

Sunday, February 19, 2006

.

"If Cheney Had Been In The Military, He Would Have Learned Gun Safety"

--Chuck Hagel

from kos 

President George W. Bush quietly signed legislation adding even further - by half a billion dollars, to be spent over 5 years - to the growing rivers of federal cash flowing to "Faith Based" initiatives that are both allowed to practice religious discrimination in hiring and also, by mandate of federal law, enjoined - claims the Bush Administration - from using federal "faith based" money targeted at strengthening marriages to help gay couples who are married or have domestic partnerships and civil unions.

oy vay 

.

Witnessing the Bush administration's drive for an attack on Iran is like being a passenger in a car with a raving drunk at the wheel. Reports of impending doom surfaced a year ago, but now it's official: under orders from Vice President Cheney's office, the Pentagon has developed "last resort" aerial-assault plans using long-distance B2 bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles with both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The Mayberry Machiavellians and Science 

.


By ANDREW C. REVKIN


Top political appointees in the NASA press office exerted strong pressure during the 2004 presidential campaign to cut the flow of news releases on glaciers, climate, pollution and other earth sciences, public affairs officers at the agency say.

The disclosure comes nearly two weeks after the NASA administrator, Michael D. Griffin, called for "scientific openness" at the agency. In response to that, researchers and public affairs workers at the agency have described in fresh detail how political appointees altered or limited news releases on scientific findings that could have conflicted with administration policies.

Some examples have been reported to senior scientists and administrators who are assembling complaints as part of a review of communications policies demanded by Dr. Griffin, who became administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in April. Others have been described or provided to The New York Times.

Press officers, who were granted anonymity because they said they were still concerned for their jobs despite Dr. Griffin's call for openness, said much of the pressure in late 2004 was placed on Gretchen Cook-Anderson. At the time, Ms. Cook-Anderson was in charge of managing the flow of earth science news at NASA headquarters.

In a conference call with colleagues in October 2004, the colleagues said, she said that Glenn Mahone, then the assistant administrator for public affairs, had told her that a planned news conference on fresh readings by a new NASA satellite, Aura, that measures ozone and air pollution, should not take place until after the election.

In an e-mail message yesterday, Ms. Cook-Anderson, who now works as a writer and editor for NASA through a contractor, said, "While I can't discuss these matters, I won't disagree with that description of what took place."

Mr. Mahone has since left NASA. He did not return several calls seeking comment yesterday. Dean Acosta, a political appointee who was then Mr. Mahone's deputy and is now Dr. Griffin's press secretary, said he had never pressed Ms. Cook-Anderson to cut back on news releases. "I was not part of any meeting that would have been party to that," Mr. Acosta said.

But archives of news releases on the NASA headquarters Web site show a sharp change in the number of such releases, to 12 in 2005 from about four dozen in 2004, a figure that had helped lead to the pressure to cut back. (The figures do not count routine announcements of events like satellite launchings.)

Dr. Griffin announced the review of communications policies after complaints last month by James E. Hansen, the agency's top climate scientist, that political appointees were trying to stop him from speaking out on global warming. After those complaints were reported in The Times, other scientists and press officers came forward with similar stories.

In a more recent example of possible political pressure at the agency, press officers and scientists cited an e-mail message sent last July from NASA's headquarters to its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It said a Web presentation describing the uncontroversial finding that Earth was a "warming planet" could not use the phrase "global warming." It is "standard practice," the message went on, to use the phrase "climate change."

NASA officials said the intent was to use the most general term to describe climate fluctuations. But other public affairs workers and some scientists at the agency called it an effort to avoid mentioning that global temperatures are rising.

The e-mail message was written by Erica Hupp, a civil servant at headquarters. She did not reply to several requests for comment, but several people who work with her, and others who preceded her in managing earth-science news in the office, said this was a standing unwritten order from political appointees in public affairs.

"There was this general understanding that when something in this field was written about that it was to be described as climate change and not global warming," said Elvia H. Thompson, who recently retired from the same office.

Some efforts to delay or alter news releases on earth science involving the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were reported last fall by Rosemary Sullivant, a writer working for NASA, to an ethics group at the laboratory and to David Baltimore, the president of the California Institute of Technology, which manages the laboratory.

Ms. Sullivant declined to discuss the matter, but yesterday, Charles Elachi, the director of the laboratory, said he and Dr. Baltimore had conferred about the complaints and determined that while such activities had occurred, there was no evidence they were still going on.

Dr. Elachi added that he had told public affairs officials at the laboratory that he wanted to know immediately about any future efforts to influence the tenor of science findings.

"I will contact headquarters and tell them that that will be an issue," he said.

The recent accusations of political interference appear to reflect an intensifying debate between a small but influential cluster of presidential appointees at NASA headquarters and longtime civil servants and career scientists dispersed at space agency research hubs around the country.

"The issue is where does science end and policy begin," said David Goldston, chief of staff to Representative Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee.

The subject is likely to come up today at a NASA budget hearing before the Science Committee.

A central point of division within NASA is how much "openness" is appropriate when such expressions conflict with administration policy.

Last Thursday, in comments at the National Space Club in Washington, Dr. Griffin said the agency must ensure that its scientists can speak freely on the implications of their work for policy — as long as they do not imply they are representing NASA.

Answering a question, he described a divide within the agency between those seeking "to enforce a line between what's true and what to do about what's true" and experts at NASA with strong personal views.

"Some folks don't wish to observe that line," he said, according to a transcript provided by a NASA official. "And if they don't, as long as people speak as private citizens, my attitude is, let me hold your coat for you. You can get into that fray and get beat up. You just can't label it as an agency position."

David R. Mould, NASA's assistant administrator for public affairs and a political appointee, said none of the appointees had brought a political agenda to the agency.

"We've received no marching orders from anyone," Mr. Mould said.

Warren E. Leary contributed reporting for this article.

----



http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/16/science/16nasa.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

Saturday, February 18, 2006

oy yoy yoy 

.

So with more and more Republicans deciding that Bush has gone too far and has crossed the line, it is only a matter of time before his poll numbers start to drop as word of this lawsuit spreads. The illegal wiretapping issue is no longer a partisan political issue. This is all about whether we want to continue a government based on Constitutional law and uphold the system of checks and balances. Or, we can change our government to where the Bush administration has all the power and the SCOTUS and Congress are just a bunch of debating clubs with no real power whatsoever.

The one Senator who has recognized this fight for what it is was Russ Feingold. Not only that, he recognized that this was simply a Bush administration power grab long before anybody else did and was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act. Furthermore, he was only one of three to vote against the Patriot Act in its revised form today.

Repiglicans fight back


----------



monumental misfire

Friday, February 17, 2006

What To Tell The Children by digby 

.




I think it's time to assess what we've learned from this business of the vice president getting drunk and shooting an old man in the face.

First, I think we can all agree that it's unseemly for the press to question their leaders when they shoot people. Unless the story involves an official's sexual practices, his private life is nobody's business.

Second, the president has officially delegated all of his most important functions to the vice-president. Good to know.

The third and most most important lesson I take from this is that what matters most in a aituation like this are the feelings of the shooter. I think the president said it best:

"This is a man who likes the outdoors and he likes to hunt. And he heard a bird flushed and he turned and pulled the trigger and saw his friend get wounded," Bush said.

"And it was a deeply traumatic moment for him and, obviously, it was a tragic moment for Harry Whittington. And so I thought his explanation was a very strong and powerful explanation, and I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave."

Bush took issue with criticism that disclosure of the incident fueled perception of a secretive White House: "I think people are making the wrong conclusion about a tragic accident."

He said that the shooting had "profoundly affected" the vice president, and that when he saw Cheney in the Oval Office on Wednesday, "I saw the deep concern he had about a person who he wounded."



He saw his friend get wounded (by who?) right before his eyes. He was traumatized and profoundly affected. It was horrible for him.

And I think we now know that when confronted with such issues, one should stonewall for as long as possible, blame the victim and only agree to take questions from sycophants. That's how real men handle it when they've accidentally shot an old man in the face.

Teachable moments like this don't come along every day. Thankfully, we have a gooood man like Dick Cheney to show us how it's done. For instance, the next time somebody accidentally runs over a pedestrian and refuses to talk to police about it until the next day, we should remember that he was traumatized. After all, he witnessed someone get run over right before his eyes and it profoundly affected him. As long as there was no fellatio involved, he is as much a victim as the wounded person.

from kos 

.

Survey USA has released Bush's new 50 state approval ratings taken on February 6th. Bush has a positive approval rating on only 10 states. He is under 60% even in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. His nationwide approval rating is 40%, and this poll was taken before the Dick Cheney fiasco. Props to Rhode Island, where Bush's approval rating is only 25%!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

evening primrose 

.


Cheney in a nutshell

Although 'Unresolved' and 'Unanswered' questions remain, the AP reports that the Kenedy County Sheriff's dispatcher, "speaking for the department, said the case is closed and no charges will be filed. She said Sheriff Ramon Salinas would have no comment on the report."



--from cursor

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

The Bush administration made an emergency request to Congress yesterday for a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government, in a further sign of the worsening crisis between Iran and the west.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said the $75m (£43m) in extra funds, on top of $10m already allocated for later this year, would be used to broadcast US radio and television programmes into Iran, help pay for Iranians to study in America and support pro-democracy groups inside the country.

cut and paste: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1710699,00.html
.

"Isn't that a bit like having Bonnie interview Clyde"

-Jack Cafferty said about Cheney's interview on Fox

Even Arlen Spector Is An Asshat 

.



WASHINGTON — Sen. Arlen Specter helped direct almost $50 million in Pentagon spending during the past four years to clients of the husband of one of his top aides, records show.

Specter, R-Pa., used a process called "earmarking" 13 times to set aside $48.7 million for six clients represented by lobbyist Michael Herson and the firm he co-founded, American Defense International. The clients paid Herson's firm nearly $1.5 million in fees since 2002, federal lobbying records show.

Legitimate Hunters Lash Out 

.


The Cheney shooting story has hit me like a mnemonic (shotgun) blast from my past. After all, it wasn't that long ago that I was married into a Texas clan that did more than its share of hunting, wildcatting, and rubbing elbows with the GOP elite of the Lone Star State.

Pulling out my slightly dusty Texas rolodex, I've begun making calls to some of my old friends -- many of whom, after all, did dance at my wedding -- and have been surprised by how many of them are more than eager to talk (and speculate) about what really happened this weekend at the Armstrong Ranch.

The first thing I'm hearing from everyone I speak to is that the hunting community in Texas is near unanimous in its feeling that the story being put out by the White House and Katherine Armstrong just doesn't hold water -- that Whittington's injuries are not consistent with the "official story." Cheney had to be much closer to Whittington when he "peppered" him than the 30 yards being claimed.


--snip--

The hunters in Texas I've spoken to are also up in arms over the shadow this incident has cast upon their sport -- even aside from the recklessness exhibited by the VP in swinging around into a setting sun and aiming low enough to shoot Whittington in the face.

"This isn't real hunting," one longtime sportsman told me. "This is a Six Flags amusement park version. It's playtime with loaded weapons. Driving around blasting clip-winged birds raised in pens that have been flushed out by ranch employees isn't exactly the stuff of Hemingway is it?"


The Pall cast upon hunting

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

oy yoy yoy 

.

torture photos here

--------

It’s clear, to me at least, that he is trying to filibuster and hope the reporters let go of that, and accept his very, very, vague timeline. At other points he seems on the verge of admitting that this news only arrived in the middle of the night.

Finally, when the questions keep coming, he states--sort of--that, yes, the president was told Saturday evening, though even then he does not mention a time, which surely should have been in the front of his mind when he stepped out to attend this key briefing. This was nearly two days after the shooting and the White House still didn’t have its facts straight.

It took a press release later Monday to spell out that Bush supposedly learned about Cheney as shooter around 8:00 p.m. Saturday.

In any event, Bush is now trapped. If he'd admitted that no one woke him up to tell him, and that’s why McClellan didn’t know until Sunday morning, that would have painted a very troubling (though not fresh) picture of a disengaged #1 man who is actually, at best, #2. But at least it would suggest that Bush took action and ordered the story out when he did find out about it.

Bush’s Trap

more sir 

.

Vice President Cheney's slow and unapologetic public response to the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old Texas lawyer is turning the quail-hunting mishap into a political liability for the Bush administration and is prompting senior White House officials to press Cheney to publicly address the issue as early as today, several prominent Republicans said yesterday.

Won’t. Go. Away.


-


National security whistle-blowers allege retaliation

By JAMES ROSEN, McClatchy Washington Bureau
Last Updated 9:13 pm PST Tuesday, February 14, 2006
WASHINGTON (SH) - Military and intelligence officers told spellbound lawmakers Tuesday that their careers had been ruined by superiors because they refused to lie about Able Danger, Abu Ghraib and other national security controversies.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, wearing a crisp olive Army uniform with the Bronze Star and other awards, delivered his first public testimony about his central role in Able Danger, a Pentagon computer data-mining program set up long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to infiltrate the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

----------


Shaffer told a House Government Reform subcommittee that he and other intelligence officers and contractors working on the top-secret program code-named "Able Danger" had identified Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, but were prevented from passing their findings to the FBI.

"I became a whistleblower not out of choice, but out of necessity," Shaffer said. "Many of us have a personal commitment to ... going forward to expose the truth and wrongdoing of government officials who - before and after the 9/11 attacks - failed to do their job."

Shaffer contradicted recent statements by Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, who denied having met with Shaffer and other Able Danger operatives in Afghanistan in October 2003.

"I did meet with him," Shaffer said. "I have the business card he gave me. I find it hard to believe that he could not remember meeting me."

The commission set up by Congress to probe the Sept. 11 attacks didn't mention the Able Danger project on al Qaeda in its final report in July 2004.

When former Able Danger operatives began to talk with reporters and lawmakers about the program last year, the commission's chairman and vice chairman, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, released a statement saying the panel had looked into the work of Able Danger and found it "historically insignificant."

Shafer was to testify today (Wednesday) at a separate House Armed Services subcommittee hearing devoted to Able Danger.

Spc. Samuel Provance, also dressed in Army green, said he was demoted and humiliated after telling a general investigating the Abu Ghraib scandal that senior officers had covered up the full extent of abuse during interrogations of detainees at the U.S. military prison in Iraq.

"Young soldiers were scapegoated while superiors misrepresented what had happened and tried to misdirect attention away from what was really going on," Provance said. "I considered all of this conduct to be dishonorable and inconsistent with the traditions of the Army. I was ashamed and embarrassed to be associated with it."

The Abu Ghraib interrogations caused an international uproar in 2004 after the release of photographs of Iraqi prisoners in sexual and other degrading positions.

Provance made a new allegation about the Abu Ghraib controversy, saying that U.S. forces had captured the 16-year-old son of an Iraqi general under Saddam Hussein, Hamid Zabar, to pressure the general into providing information.

"I was extremely uncomfortable about the way General Zabar had been treated, but particularly the fact that his son had been captured and used in this way," Provance said. "It struck me as morally reprehensible, and I could not understand why our command was doing it."

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and chairman of the national security subcommittee that held the hearing, told Provance: "It takes a tremendous amount of courage for someone of your rank to tell a general what they may not want to hear."

Asked what his current military duties are, the former computer specialist replied," The only thing I've been doing since being demoted is picking up trash and pulling guard duty."

Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst who was a New York Times source for its reporting on domestic wiretapping, told of having been classified as mentally ill and then fired in connection with an earlier episode at the espionage agency.

Tice said he would have to testify in closed hearings about the details of the eavesdropping program, which President Bush authorized soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. But under questioning by lawmakers, Tice suggested that other NSA programs also raised concerns for him.

"Some of the programs that I worked on I believe treaded on illegalities and, I believe, unconstitutional activity," Tice said.

In one of the hearing's most dramatic moments, Tice read aloud the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects Americans against "unreasonable searches and seizures" without a court warrant. Tice also read an NSA policy that limits the signals agency to monitoring foreign communications.

"As intelligence officers, we take an oath and swear to protect the Constitution," Tice said.

Michael German, a veteran FBI agent, said he was punished after reporting his bosses in Tampa, Fla., for having altered documents in a counter-terrorism investigation.

"They produced false documents and literally took Whiteout to change official records," German said.

Richard Levernier said the Energy Department pulled his security clearance after he complained that the agency was glossing over security problems at nuclear weapons sites.

"These agencies are out of control," said Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican. "If we don't take action we're all in trouble."

Shays said he convened the hearing because military and intelligence employees don't have the same whistleblower protections the government affords other federal workers or even employees of private firms.

"Whistleblowers in critical national security positions are vulnerable to unique forms of retaliation," Shays said. "There is nothing top secret about gross waste or the abuse of power."

Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, criticized Defense Department officials for directing "trumped-up charges" against Shaffer. Duncan ridiculed the Pentagon for having accused the decorated intelligence officer of misusing small amounts of money while the government was wasting billions of dollars on rebuilding Iraq.

"If they really wanted to go after me, I had millions of dollars of equipment I was responsible for," Shaffer said.

After he began speaking out about Able Danger, Shaffer said, the Pentagon leaked personal information about him, including allegedly inflated expense reports for $67 in extra phone charges. Shaffer said the charges were to cover calls transferred from his work phone to his cell phone on weekends, so that he could be available at all times.

As the overflow hearing room grew silent, Weldon asked Shaffer to respond to separate Pentagon allegations that the colonel had been romantically involved with one of his aides.

"Have you ever had an affair with anyone on my staff, male or female?" Weldon asked.

"No, sir, but that was what DIA (the Defense Intelligence Agency) put out," Shaffer replied.

ass hats

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yay 

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That is a very interesting observation and it makes me quite proud to be part of the liberal blogosphere. It means we are doing our jobs. The president's approval rating is stuck at around 40% and I think it's pretty clear that it isn't the reporting in the mainstream media or by the "reasonable" Democrats at the New Republican that brought that about. If left up to them the Republicans would be coasting to another easy re-election.

I don't say this because I think that liberal blogs are taking over the world and have changed the face of politics as we know it. I say it because I know that without us there would have been virtually no critical voices during the long period between 2001 and the presidential primary campaign during 2003. We were it. The media were overt, enthusiastic Bush boosters for well over two years and created an environment in which Democratic dissent (never welcome) was non-existent to the average American viewer. In fact, it took Bush's approval rating falling to below 40% before they would admit that he was in trouble.

I believe that if it had not been for the constant underground drumbeat from the fever swamps over the past five years, when the incompetence, malfeasance and corruption finally hit critical mass last summer with the bad news from Iraq, oil prices and Katrina, Bush would not have sunk as precipitously as he did and stayed there. It literally took two catasprophes of epic proportions to break the media from its narrative of Bush's powerful leadership. And this after two extremely close elections ---- and the lack of any WMD in Iraq.

Monday, February 13, 2006

9 percent call for war 

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Most respondents saw a high chance that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, it would use them against the United States or its ally Israel.

Fifty-nine percent thought Iran would use nuclear weapons against the United States, and 80 percent thought the Iranians would hand them over to terrorists to use against the United States.

More thought Iran would use the weapons against Israel -- 77 percent -- and about as many -- 81 percent -- thought Iran would give them to terrorists who wanted to use them against Israel.

Sixty-eight percent of the respondents called for economic and diplomatic action to keep Iran away from atomic weapons, while only 9 percent called for military action.

Even if diplomacy were to fail, only 36 percent of those who responded to the survey thought military action would be called for, while 45 percent said it would not.

Respondents also put little faith in the United Nations, with 51 percent saying they were not confident that the international community could handle Iran.

Moreover, 69 percent said they were concerned that the Bush administration would be too quick to use military force, yet 67 percent were also concerned the United States wouldn't do enough to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The respondents' concerns were echoed in President Bush's overall approval rating, which dropped to 39 percent, down from 42 percent in a poll taken February 6-9.

Scientific Proof that Sunday talk shows skew to the right 

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This ideological imbalance isn't only evident in the "official" sources that are interviewed: the elected officials, candidates, and administration officials who make up most of the shows' guests. It is even clearer in the roundtable discussions with featured journalists. (Although "Face the Nation" seldom uses a journalist roundtable to mull over the week's news, it is a staple on both "Meet the Press" and "This Week.") Though there has been some marginal improvement in the past year, it has been a frequent practice for a roundtable to consist of a right-wing columnist or two supposedly "balanced" by journalists from major newspapers. While these newspaper journalists may also be columnists, they don't operate with the same expectation of—or license for—partisanship that their conservative counterparts do. If David Broder or Ronald Brownstein express an openly partisan opinion, they know that their editors are likely to call them to task for it. By the same token, if Fred Barnes doesn't use his time to spout talking points, he knows his editors will be disappointed.




When liberals do appear, the balance is often stacked against them. For nearly three years in the late 1990s, the regular roundtable on "This Week" featured George Will and William Kristol double-teaming George Stephanopoulos. On five occasions, Stephanopoulos was absent, and Will's establishment conservatism had to provide "balance" to Kristol's triumphalist conservatism. But even when the former Clinton aide was in the studio, he was in the process of trying to shed his political reputation and become a "Journalist," he who expresses no personal views, making the debate even more lopsided than it otherwise would have been.

The consequence of all this is that in every year since 1997, conservative journalists have dramatically outnumbered liberal journalists, in some years by two-to-one or more. Why would the producers of the shows believe that a William Safire (56 appearances since 1997) or Bob Novak (37 appearances) is somehow "balanced" by a Gwen Ifill (27) or Dan Balz (22)? It suggests that some may have internalized the conservative critique of the media, which assumes that daily journalists are "liberal" almost by definition, and thus can provide a counterpoint to highly partisan conservative pundits.

What gets left behind, of course, is the real liberal. Not only do openly liberal columnists like Paul Krugman appear far less frequently than their conservative colleagues, writers, and editors from magazines like The Nation, The American Prospect, and The New Republic are seldom seen (forget about the Progressive, Mother Jones or In These Times), while the Weekly Standard and the National Review are regularly represented. Last year saw eleven appearances by writers from the two conservative magazines, but only two from liberal magazines. (There was one bright spot in the data: A December 1998 episode of "Meet the Press" featured none other than Charles Peters, this magazine's founder. Unfortunately, that was the last time anyone from The Washington Monthly graced the Sunday shows.)

afternoon mishigass 

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CIA chief sacked for opposing torture


The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”

Grenier also opposed “excessive” interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water, according to Cannistraro.


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News that obeys the White House


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Vintage Cheney

Reports say while trying for a quail covey he swung around and unloaded his shotgun at his host, attorney Harry Whittington, sending the unfortunate and no doubt surprised man to the hospital, his face and chest full of shot.

It was vintage Cheney when you think of it.

With the country loaded and on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Cheney and his neo-con gang swung the army around and fired at Saddam Hussein and Iraq, leaving that country staggering and massively wounded. Like the quail he took his eye off of, Osama and his gang are free as ... well, birds, plotting more mayhem.


...

wtf? 

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Is it me or what? But doesn’t it seem weird when on the same day that Dean called Cheney Aaron Burr, that just like Burr, Cheney shot someone. We all know who shot someone else named Burr.

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The Abrams tank armor system was not really put to the test during military operations in Iraq. There were virtually no reported hits on the highly protected frontal arc or on the "heavy" ballistic skirts; all tank losses to enemy fire were defeated from the top, side and rear. Iraqi soldiers had clearly familiarized themselves with the capabilities of American tanks during operation Desert Storm and avoided engaging them in direct battle. For example, there were no reported cases of anti-tank guide missiles (ATGM) being fired at any US army vehicle. At the same time, Iraqi resistance fighters, whose ranks were bolstered by scores of trained Iraqi soldiers, have clearly learned to exploit the vulnerabilities of the US systems. They managed to destroy up to 20 enemy tanks even with their antiquated light anti-tank weapons, mostly Soviet rocket-propelled grenades such as the RPG-7 or its Chinese and Egyptian variants, with rounds developed in the 1970s-early 1980s. The results of combat operations show that the side armor of the Abrams tank is completely inadequate to fire from light anti-tank weapons, including older generation weapons, making these tanks unsuitable for operations in built-up areas.
For example, in a widely-discussed incident, an M1 tank from the 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Division was hit and disabled during a routine patrol on 28 August 2003. The American press, deluded by its own reports of the "invulnerability" of the Abrams, claimed that some kind of "secret weapon" was responsible for the damage. In fact, published photographs clearly show that the offending weapon was none other than a simple RPG. The hollow-charged jet penetrated the side skirt and turret ring and continued into the crew compartment as it disintegrated before finally coming to rest after boring a cluster of craters 30-50 mm deep in the hull on the far side of the tank. The crew was lucky to have suffered only minor shrapnel wounds as the projectile passed through the gunner's seatback and grazed his flak jacket. On April 2, 2003 an RPG attack from the side disabled another tank by penetrating the turret's hydraulic drive.
The side protection of the M1 turret is also inadequate. On 7 April 2004 an anti-tank RPG penetrated the side of the turret resulting in serious wounds to two crew members. The top of the tank is equally vulnerable, and even the glacis was easily defeated by anti-tank weapons. For example, on April 10, 2004 a tank was hit on the right side of the glacis by an RPG fired from an overpass and destroyed. Additional measures designed to increase protection for the Abrams tank have showed mixed results. Halon firefighting gear has proven largely ineffective. Practically all secondary fires resulting from enemy fire, engine breakdown or overheating destroyed the tank completely. For example, the 7 April attack noted above ignited the tanker's personal effects attached to the outside of the turret, and since the crew had abandoned the vehicle, the fire was left unchecked, while on 10 April, fuel leaked out of a damaged fuel tank and ignited. Externally stored items, including on one occasion an external auxiliary power unit (EAPU), caught fire on several occasions and led to catastrophic losses. On the other hand, the vulnerability caused by externally stored items only underlined the wisdom of storing ammunition in a separate compartment protected by blast doors, which contained fires and saved the crew when the main rounds ignited.
The distribution of catastrophic damage to the Bradley IFV was somewhat different. In spite of the vehicle's explosive reactive armor (ERA), its protection proved to be completely inadequate in combat against even outdated generations of light anti-tank weapons. This led to several episodes of defeat from RPGs, accompanied by crew casualties and in several cases the complete destruction of the vehicle from resulting fires. Significant losses of Bradley vehicles resulted from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) placed in cars or on roads. IEDs made from one or two 122 and/or 152 mm shells with between 4 and 14 kg of explosive proved more than adequate to inflict heavy damage to equipment and crew. The worst case was on January 17, 2004 when the explosion from an IED made from two 152 mm shells overturned the vehicle and destroyed the crew compartment, killing all five crewmen. The Abrams tank proved much more resistant to IED, as only one tank was destroyed on October 27, 2003 by an IED, presumably constructed from a 240 mm Soviet-made mortar-bomb with an explosive charge of 32 kg.
It is interesting to compare the losses sustained by the Bradley Fighting Machines from light anti-tank weapons and IED to the experience of the new Stryker Medium Armored Vehicle. This wheeled 8x8 has about the same ballistic protection as the Bradley (360-degree protection from 14.5 mm shells). Enhanced survivability against RPG is provided by slat armor: testing and combat experience in Iraq has shown that this steel grille is able to prevent the proper functioning of anti-tank grenades and the formation of a hollow-charged jet. The Stryker also has higher survivability against mines. Whereas exploding mines have almost always stopped the Bradley in its tracks, the Stryker as a rule has been able to escape from the area of detonation. For example, on 9 September a Bradley was blown up by an IED placed in a parked car on Haifa Street in Baghdad with an explosive charge of about 10 kg. The IFV suffered damage to its tracks and lost mobility. Two crew members were injured and another four were hit by small arm fire and RPGs when they tried to exit the vehicle. Reinforcement units evacuated the crew and the vehicle burned unchecked. On 11 October, 2004, a car in Mosul rammed into the side of a Stryker, detonating a similar explosive charge. The MAV suffered serious damage, the commander was killed, and seven out of 8 wheels were punctured, but the vehicle retained mobility and was able to return to base on its own. In another pair of incidents, a Bradley and a Stryker each lost their front suspension arm, on 12 October and 20 December respectively. Again, the Stryker retained mobility while the Bradley did not.


Armor facts

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nuking the Economy 

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By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001 through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don’t know what worry is.

Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth. That’s one good reason for controlling immigration. An economy that cannot keep up with population growth should not be boosting population with heavy rates of legal and illegal immigration.

Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities--primarily credit intermediation, health care and social assistance, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government.

US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.

The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-economy that is “the envy of the world.” Communications equipment lost 43% of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees. The workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12%. Furniture and related products lost 17% of its jobs. Apparel manufacturers lost almost half of the work force. Employment in textile mills declined 43%. Paper and paper products lost one-fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products declined by 15%. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco products experienced a 7% shrinkage in jobs.

The knowledge jobs that were supposed to take the place of lost manufacturing jobs in the globalized “new economy” never appeared. The information sector lost 17% of its jobs, with the telecommunications work force declining by 25%. Even wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping employment shrank by 4%. Computer systems design and related lost 9% of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs than 5 years ago.

In five years the US economy only created 70,000 jobs in architecture and engineering, many of which are clerical. Little wonder engineering enrollments are shrinking. There are no jobs for graduates. The talk about engineering shortages is absolute ignorance. There are several hundred thousand American engineers who are unemployed and have been for years. No student wants a degree that is nothing but a ticket to a soup line. Many engineers have written to me that they cannot even get Wal-Mart jobs because their education makes them over-qualified.

Offshore outsourcing and offshore production have left the US awash with unemployment among the highly educated. The low measured rate of unemployment does not include discouraged workers. Labor arbitrage has made the unemployment rate less and less a meaningful indicator. In the past unemployment resulted mainly from turnover in the labor force and recession. Recoveries pulled people back into jobs.

Unemployment benefits were intended to help people over the down time in the cycle when workers were laid off. Today the unemployment is permanent as entire occupations and industries are wiped out by labor arbitrage as corporations replace their American employees with foreign ones.

Economists who look beyond political press releases estimate the US unemployment rate to be between 7% and 8.5%. There are now hundreds of thousands of Americans who will never recover their investment in their university education.

Unless the BLS is falsifying the data or businesses are reporting the opposite of the facts, the US is experiencing a job depression. Most economists refuse to acknowledge the facts, because they endorsed globalization. It was a win-win situation, they said.

They were wrong.

At a time when America desperately needs the voices of educated people as a counterweight to the disinformation that emanates from the Bush administration and its supporters, economists have discredited themselves. This is especially true for “free market economists” who foolishly assumed that international labor arbitrage was an example of free trade that was benefitting Americans. Where is the benefit when employment in US export industries and import-competitive industries is shrinking? After decades of struggle to regain credibility, free market economics is on the verge of another wipeout.

No sane economist can possibly maintain that a deplorable record of merely 1,054,000 net new private sector jobs over five years is an indication of a healthy economy. The total number of private sector jobs created over the five year period is 500,000 jobs less than one year’s legal and illegal immigration! (In a December 2005 Center for Immigration Studies report based on the Census Bureau’s March 2005 Current Population Survey, Steven Camarota writes that there were 7,9 million new immigrants between January 2000 and March 2005.)

The economics profession has failed America. It touts a meaningless number while joblessness soars. Lazy journalists at the New York Times simply rewrite the Bush administration’s press releases.

On February 10 the Commerce Department released a record US trade deficit in goods and services for 2005--$726 billion. The US deficit in Advanced Technology Products reached a new high. Offshore production for home markets and jobs outsourcing has made the US highly dependent on foreign provided goods and services, while simultaneously reducing the export capability of the US economy. It is possible that there might be no exchange rate at which the US can balance its trade.

Polls indicate that the Bush administration is succeeding in whipping up fear and hysteria about Iran. The secretary of defense is promising Americans decades-long war. Is death in battle Bush’s solution to the job depression? Will Asians finance a decades-long war for a bankrupt country?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

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