Saturday, August 16, 2003
From Cuban-Americans Hit Bush Policies by John Pain
For the first time since he became a U.S. citizen decades ago, 62-year-old Santiago Portal won't vote for a Republican for president.
The Cuban American says he's fed up with President Bush's policy on Cuba and is urging other exiles to choose someone else in next year's election.
"He can't ask Cubans for votes if he hasn't helped Cubans get freedom," said Portal, holding a sign saying "President Bush push freedom for Cuba now! Why only Irak?"
Any loss of votes in Florida could make the difference between re-election and becoming a one-term president, Moreno said. Florida now holds 27 electoral votes, fourth largest of all states and a tenth of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Some of Miami's Cuban-Americans are growing to distrust Republicans because of the lack of policy change, Moreno said. "They say, 'These guys come down, they make promises to the community, they don a guayabera, they make promises in bad Spanish and they don't deliver.'"
From One hundred days of ineptitude by Bill Berkowitz
The president was asked to give an estimate of how much it will cost the American people to attempt to stabilize Iraq over the next year. "We generally don't do our estimates on the back of an envelope," he said. President Bush added that he had faith that planners will bring "good, sound data," to Congress "at the appropriate time." Bush's faith in "good, sound" budget data sounds eerily reminiscent to his comments that he had faith in the "good, sound intelligence" that he receives; intelligence that led to him making the phony charge that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger, a claim that had been included in his State of the Union address.
Fresh from meetings with the Iraq Invasion All-Stars -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard Meyers, and the embattled national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, Bush told the press that the hailstorm of criticism the administration was receiving for misleading the public about his reasons for invading Iraq, was "pure politics."
According to a Washington Post reporter, the president repeated that phrase three times and added, "As far as all this political noise, it's going to get worse as time goes on, and I fully understand that, and that's just the nature of democracy." Apparently Bush won't connect the dots between the criticisms the administration is receiving and the misstatements, lies and misinformation it put forward to justify its invasion of Iraq.
He seems to be able to connect some dots, but not others.
From An Industry Trapped by a Theory by Robert Kuttner
But [electricity] deregulation hasn't worked, for three basic reasons. First, there is a fairly fixed demand for electricity and generating capacity is tight, so companies that produce it enjoy a good deal of power to manipulate prices. The Enron scandal, which soaked Californians for tens of billions of dollars, was only the most extreme example. California authorities calculated that a generating company needed to control just 3 percent of the state's supply to set a monopoly price.
Second, the idea of creating large national markets to buy and sell electricity makes more sense as economic theory than as physics, because it consumes power to transmit power. "It's only efficient to transmit electricity for a few hundred miles at most," says Dr. Richard Rosen, a physicist at the Tellus Institute, a nonprofit research group.
Third, under deregulation the local utilities no longer have an economic incentive to invest in keeping up transmission lines. Antiquated power lines are operating too close to their capacity. The more power that is shipped long distances in the new deregulated markets, the more power those lines must carry.
In addition, in the old days of regulation, a utility like Con Ed would be required to regularly submit a resource plan to a state's public service commission. The two organizations would forecast demand and decide how much money should be invested in power plants and transmission lines. Rates would be adjusted to cover costs. Under deregulation, however, nobody plays that crucial planning role.
Much of the Southeast, by contrast, has retained traditional regulation — and cheap, reliable electricity.
When the blackout hit on Thursday, many of us first thought of terrorists. What hit us may be equally dangerous. We are hostage to a delusional view of economics that allowed much of the Northeast to go dark without an enemy lifting a finger.
And which party promotes this "delusional view of economics"?
From Read His Lips
After presiding over a two-year binge of tax cuts, a rocketing federal deficit and job losses that recall the Herbert Hoover era, President Bush appears ready to step away from the supply-side gaming table, at least for a while. Mr. Bush announced Wednesday that he sensed enough of an economic upturn to reject any immediate plans for yet another tax cut. He estimates that the effects of two years of giddy revenue-slashing — geared heavily toward the wealthiest Americans — are looking "robust enough" to hold off on more cuts.
Strutting forth in the Texas heat this week, the president and his chief economic advisers looked like a "Magnificent Seven" tableau of economic optimists marching toward the looming campaign. "Hold the line" was Mr. Bush's surreal spending advice for a Republican-controlled Congress that has been more co-conspirator than deficit hawk in Washington's detax-and-spend mania.
As Mr. Bush's "growth" program rolls out, the richest 1 percent of Americans can expect an estimated 17 percent cut in their taxes by 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The other 99 percent get a 5 percent cut — along with accumulated deficits of $4 billion or more across the next 10 years and the lost chance that the now-vanished surplus might be used to protect their future Social Security benefits.
From School Miracles vs. Reality
The Houston school system brags a lot about its numbers. The city's former schools chief, Rod Paige, rode those numbers to his current job as U.S. secretary of Education. If only all those numbers reflected reality.
Texas now alleges that the Houston schools, which reported an incredibly low 1.5% dropout rate in 2000-01, neglected to count thousands of dropouts. Houston also looked good when the National Center for Education Statistics reported that it outshone four other big cities, including Los Angeles, on fourth-grade reading. It turns out that Houston didn't test half of its non-English-fluent students, thus eliminating what was sure to be a batch of low scores.
So much for the Houston miracle.
Rod Paige's Houston, where the lies are Texas-sized.
From Not Just a Walk in the Park for Bush by Edwin Chen
Bush said he was determined to improve the national parks in a more systematic manner, characterizing past approaches as "catch-as-catch-can, without a national strategy."
"We have an obligation to leave this park a better place than when we found it," he said. "We're going to be proactive in doing what's right on behalf of the American people."
Among those who took Bush to task Friday on national park issues were 120 former park service career employees, including four former directors. In an open letter to the president, they said they were "growing increasingly concerned" that he was "not living up to" his promises or to "the ideals described in the mission of the National Park Service."
"While publicizing glossy reports to convince the public that your administration cares about this country's national treasures, you are strangling the very core of park stewardship, sidestepping the important issues that are facing the parks and ignoring the operational budgets of the parks," the former employees said in the letter.
Separately, the National Parks Conservation Assn., a nonpartisan organization that has served as a watchdog of the national parks since 1919, said Bush's funding figures for maintenance were misleading because they include existing funding that is used every year for park maintenance and new construction projects and not just new money allocated to fund projects that are backlogged.
From Advocacy group faces US review by Mark Sherman
For the third time in a year, the federal government is examining the books of a group that promotes the use of condoms to fight AIDS and whose leaders have criticized the Bush administration's support for "abstinence-only" sex education.
Auditors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to begin a weeklong review Monday at the Washington headquarters of Advocates for Youth. The CDC and the congressional General Accounting Office have previously conducted audits, said Debra Hauser, the group's vice president.
"What we're concerned about is that it appears that the selective and political use of the audits is to intimidate those organizations that are standing up for comprehensive sex education and are opposed to abstinence until marriage programs," Hauser said.
Another sad example of the administration's bullying intimidation tactics. Check out the Washington Post's story on the same subject here.
Friday, August 15, 2003
From If Bush Really Wants to Investigate the Cause of the Largest Blackout in American History, He Should Start with the Vice-President, Tom DeLay and Himself
"We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said so all along."
SAN DIEGO - President Bush said he will order a review of why so many states were hit by a massive power blackout Thursday and said he suspects the nation's electrical grid will have to be modernized.
In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down three separate times: First, on a straight party line in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party line the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01].
From When Sentences Don't Make Sense by Frank O. Bowman III
On July 28 Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered U.S. attorney's offices around the country to report to Justice Department headquarters in Washington virtually every instance in which a federal judge imposes a criminal sentence below the range specified by federal guidelines against the wishes of the prosecution. His memorandum also tightens the department's centralized control over the plea bargaining practices of U.S. attorney's offices around the country. The national media have portrayed the Ashcroft memorandum as, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, "stepping up the Justice Department's battle with federal judges over sentencing guidelines." In fact, it's not quite that simple.
The Justice Department is well aware of its own people's complicity in evading the guidelines.. The unreported part of the story on the Ashcroft memorandum is that half of it consists of directives dramatically limiting the discretion of U.S. attorney's offices to strike guideline-evading sentence bargains. Thus, on the surface the Ashcroft memo appears to be an evenhanded effort to prevent government lawyers from manipulating sentencing law -- and to encourage them to appeal the decisions of judges who do so.
The flaw in both the Ashcroft memo and the PROTECT Act of 2003 -- which seeks to restrict departures and to which the Ashcroft memo was a response -- is that they dogmatically insist sentencing law be followed to the letter, without pausing to ask why hard-nosed federal prosecutors and crusty federal judges (at least half of whom were appointed by Republicans) are colluding to evade that law on a massive scale.
From U.S. Faces Challenges at German 9/11 Trial by Peter Finn
Germany opened its second trial of an alleged member of the Hamburg terror cell that investigators say led the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a proceeding that promises to be more politicized and protracted than the country's first, successful prosecution of an al Qaeda functionary.
Abdelghani Mzoudi, a 30-year-old Moroccan student, is charged with 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization for allegedly providing critical logistical support to cell members who carried out the suicide hijackings.
Defense attorneys signaled today that they have planned an aggressive defense that will demand that the United States turn over key witnesses who are in secret custody, and will force prosecutors to prove through physical or other explicit evidence what the state calls basic accepted facts, such as the presence of cell member Mohamed Atta on the first plane that hit the World Trade Center.
The defense said further that it might attempt to explore theories that the hijackings served the foreign policy goals of U.S. conservatives by creating a pretext to transform the U.S. military posture in the world. "It appears the U.S.A. was aware of the political advantages of the attack on the World Trade Center, as an idea, in advance," defense attorney Michael Rosenthal said.
I wonder how much publicity this trial will get over here.
From Natural-Born Photo Ops
President Bush is hugging nature in the Western states this week, showing concern for the health of the nation's public lands. Today he is scheduled to carry his message to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, visiting a plant restoration area, working on a trail and speaking to park employees. Beware the photo op.
Bush has focused on fixing up national parks after years of neglect. An Interior Department official claimed the administration had increased the parks' maintenance budget by 132%, to $2.9 billion for the years 2002-04, but a deputy chief of the National Park Service told a Senate hearing that only a small fraction of that was new money.
Bush is correct that the national parks' infrastructure needs immediate attention. Time will tell whether he carries through on his promise.
I wouldn't hold my breath.
From America's worst side in Iraq by Derrick Z. Jackson
Speaking last week before the National Association of Black Journalists, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice talked about how security was hardened in the United States after Sept. 11. Her speech seemed patented until she said, "But if we in the United States are not going to change who we are, if we are going to preserve the nature of our open society, there is only so much hardening that we can do. We need to address the source of the problem. And to do that we must go on the offensive." Rice says we are not going to change who we are. It is hard to be more offensive than that.
America is nearly two years into invasions in which we have killed more civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan than the number who died in the United States on 9/11. Yet we have no Osama, no Saddam, no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons plants, no peace.
In the 2000 presidential debates, Bush said he would stop "extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions." Bush is now so obsessed with nation-building that he is blind to how killings of Iraqi civilians by US soldiers devalue Iraqis even as he claims to liberate them.
Two weeks ago, Halliburton, the Houston oil company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, announced a profit of $26 million in the second quarter of this year. In 2002 the company lost $498 million.
It helps that Halliburton got the majority of the work to rebuild Iraq's oil fields. At home President Bush filed briefs to the Supreme Court against affirmative action for African-Americans. In Iraq, Halliburton got an old boy, no-bid contract. Outrage forced a reopening of the bidding, but not before Halliburton racked up $641 million in work. Halliburton is also the sole provider of troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those services the company has already received $529 million in a 10-year contract that has no ceiling.
Disgusting, I'd call it.
Thursday, August 14, 2003
From Pentagon makes moves to contain complaints from US troops in Iraq by Douglas Quenqua
After several troops made some highly publicized negative comments to the media about the war effort in Iraq, the Pentagon has taken steps to keep the frustrations of both soldiers and their families out of reports.
According to a story in the July 25 edition of Stars and Stripes, the military appears to be curtailing its much-touted embedded-journalist program, which has allowed reporters almost unfettered access to military units throughout the war and occupation.
The 3rd Infantry Division, from where many complaints have arisen, has expelled many of its embedded reporters, and its troops are no longer allowed to talk to the media outside of pre-approved news features.
Now we won't have to listen to all that whining.
From EPA's Pinocchio nose erodes public trust
The Bush administration, battling charges of tampering with facts to make the case for war, is on a troubling track with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The credibility of the regulators is fundamental to any enforcement agency, and this behavior erodes trust and public confidence.
A steady drumbeat of examples, from a variety of media outlets, suggests the EPA is misleading the public on the state of the environment. It's no small issue for Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, nominated by President Bush to replace Christie Whitman, who resigned.
The Washington Post reported that the agency's inspector general is investigating whether the agency deliberately misled the public by overstating the purity of the nation's water supply.
Other accounts deal with the EPA inflating and misrepresenting its enforcement staff and record. The EPA inspector general also concluded that the agency failed to honestly report what it knew about the safety of the air at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Earlier this year, the EPA was caught fudging on a report about the status of Yellowstone National Park, and again on the overall health of the global environment.
There's a whole lotta cheatin' goin' on.
From Less Than Meets the Eye? by Brian Ross
Administration officials are leaving out key facts and exaggerating the significance of the alleged plot to smuggle a shoulder-launched missile into the United States, law enforcement officials told ABC News. They say there's a lot less than meets the eye.
The accused ringleader, British national Hemant Lakhani, appeared today in federal court in Newark, N.J., and was ordered held without bond on charges of attempting to provide material support and material resources to terrorists and acting as an arms broker without a license.
The missile shipped into the New York area last month was not a real missile — just a mockup — also arranged entirely by the government. The government also arranged the meetings at a New Jersey hotel and elsewhere, where Lakhani allegedly told undercover agents posing as al Qaeda terrorists about his support of bin Laden.
"One would have to ask yourself, would this have occurred at all without the government?" said Gerald Lefcourt, a criminal defense attorney.
From The Bush Deceit by Peter D. Zimmerman
The current President Bush was not the first leader to take the United States to war with Iraq using phony intelligence.
In September 1990 his father's administration claimed that Iraq had hundreds of tanks and 300,000 troops in Kuwait massed on the Saudi border. But independent analysis by me and a colleague, using extremely sharp Soviet satellite photos, showed no evidence whatever of a significant Iraqi force in Kuwait. Nonetheless, in 1990 the American people were told that an attack on Saudi Arabia was imminent.
Postwar analysis showed that the independent analysis published in this country in the St. Petersburg Times was dead accurate: There were not 300,000 but fewer than 100,000 Iraqi troops and only a few Iraqi tanks in Kuwait.
George W. Bush's backing and filling, his staff's confused explanations, revised explanations and new explanations, plus the immutable fact that most of his arguments for war in Iraq were misleading, have seriously damaged his credibility abroad and are eroding it at home.
When an American president needs to take the nation to war, Americans must be able to trust him and must believe that the case for conflict is sound. The next time Bush wants to use armed force to preempt or prevent an attack on this country, he will have to prove his case far more completely than before. Two presidents of the United States have forfeited the benefit of the doubt.
[The writer, a physicist, was chief scientist of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and science adviser for arms control at the State Department during the Clinton administration.]
From No Work, No Homes by Bob Herbert
Talk about preaching to the choir. President Bush and his clueless team of economic advisers held a summit at the president's ranch in Crawford, Tex., yesterday. This is the ferociously irresponsible crowd that has turned its back on simple arithmetic and thinks the answer to every economic question is a gigantic tax cut for the rich.
Their voodoo fantasies were safe in Crawford. There was no one at the ranch to chastise them for bequeathing backbreaking budget deficits to generations yet unborn. And no one was there to confront them with evidence of the intense suffering that so many poor, working-class and middle-class families are experiencing right now because of job losses on Mr. Bush's watch.
After the meeting, Mr. Bush said, "This administration is optimistic about job creation."
And that's the way it works, here in Bushtopia.
From White House Fantasies on Iraq
Someday, in the months ahead, there may be an Iraq where a smoothly run American occupation authority has dealt devastating setbacks to terrorism, brought security to most of the country, improved infrastructure and basic services, and elicited encouraging signs of democracy, economic renewal and cultural rebirth. Unfortunately, right now that Iraq exists only in the pages of the implausibly upbeat 100-day progress report recently issued by the White House.
In Iraq today, American soldiers die, electricity shortages lead to rioting, and the threat of terrorism against civilians must be taken increasingly seriously. The biggest problems have been airbrushed out of the White House report, making it read more like a Bush campaign flier than a realistic accounting to the American people.
From Democracy might be impossible, US was told by Bryan Bender
US intelligence officials cautioned the National Security Council before the Iraq war that the American plan to build democracy on the ashes of Saddam Hussein's regime -- as a model for the rest of the region -- was so audacious that, in the words of one CIA report in March, it could ultimately prove "impossible."
That assessment ran counter to what the Bush administration was saying at the time as it sought to build support for the war. President Bush said a democratic Iraq would lead to more liberalized, representative governments, where terrorists would find less popular support, and the Muslim world would be friendlier to the United States. "A new regime in Iraq would serve as an inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," he said on Feb. 26.
The question of how quickly, and easily, the United States could establish democracy in Iraq was the key to a larger concern about how long US troops would be required to stay there, and how many would be needed to maintain security. The administration offered few assessments of its own but dismissed predictions by the army chief of staff of a lengthy occupation by hundreds of thousands of troops.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
From Is Iraqi Intel Still Being Manipulated? by Michael Hirsh
Albright and others suggest that, with the [Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi] Obeidi case, the message being sent by the Bush administration to Iraqi scientists being interrogated in Iraq is a troublesome one: if you don’t tell us what we want to hear, you won’t be rewarded. In fact, things might even get a little unpleasant for you. As Albright points out, provisional green cards can be arranged very quickly; among those so favored, for example, was the Iraqi man who tipped off the U.S. military to the whereabouts of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. “I think they’re just keeping him under wraps,” said Albright.
The treatment of Obeidi has in turn raised questions about whether even fresh intelligence from Iraq is being manipulated in advance of the report being prepared by David Kay, which is intended as the definitive account of Iraq’s WMD program. One Capitol Hill legislator told Newsweek that the administration’s plan is to put out a vast compilation of data about Saddam’s decades-long effort to build weapons of mass destruction and “hope the issue will go away.” And several Democrats say they are disturbed by what Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Newsweek was the “very vague and nonprecise” nature of Kay’s testimony when he appeared at closed sessions of two congressional committees last week. “Signs of a weapons program are very different than the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that were a certainty before the war,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We did not go to war to disrupt Saddam’s weapons program, we went to disarm him.”
From Veterans Organize To Bring Troops Home! by Stewart Nusbaumer
Amongst these veterans, there is a sense of growing crisis, a feeling that America is in danger of changing irrevocably for the worse. “We are facing the greatest struggle of our lives,” Vietnam veteran Dave Cline told a packed room of veterans. “What Johnson and Nixon did on a regional level, Bush is now attempting to do on a global level.”
“Most Americans were against this war, but they were manipulated, they were systemically lied to," said Cline, who is the current President of Veterans For Peace. "Veterans attempted to stop the war, we organized a teach-in, a demonstration and lobbying effort in the nation’s capital. We worked hard.”
But the mainstream corporate media highlighted those veterans who supported the war, especially retired colonels and generals (paid by the media because of their contacts with the Pentagon), and tended to ignore veterans who opposed the war, often former enlisted soldiers and sailors. “What was truly surprising about this veterans’ effort to stop the Iraq War,” said Jan Barry, an organizer of Veterans Against Iraq War a new group that worked in a coalition with other veteran groups in opposition to the war in Iraq, “is how many career military veterans and politically conservative veterans opposed the invasion of Iraq. Opposition to this war is very deep and very broad in the veterans' community.” But this anti-war message was muffled and even ignored by the media.
Unable to stop the invasion and occupation of the war, Dave Cline continues, veterans pulled back; some became depressed. “But we’re gearing up again, this time to bring the troops home. We’ll join with other antiwar groups and coalitions in large actions, but we will also perform independent actions.”
From Out of Balance
Pulling industry, environmentalists and regulators together in order to achieve compromise certainly sounds like a good way to run environmental policy. The trouble is, it also sounds a lot like what the Bush administration claims it has been doing for the past 2 1/2 years, without any noticeable success. Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, who resigned as EPA administrator in June, also spoke frequently of "collaboration and cooperation." Although eschewing Latin, she also talked, as does Mr. Leavitt, of using "market-based incentives" to carry out environmental policy and of emphasizing results rather than regulation.
In practice, Ms. Whitman's alleged desire to compromise was constantly undermined by the administration's even stronger desire to avoid any open or honest discussion of controversial environmental issues. Since taking office, President Bush has played down or ignored debate about global warming and climate change, has refused to discuss automobile and other carbon dioxide emissions and has quietly given his Interior Department free rein to reinterpret Clinton administration rulings on wilderness and land use. Increasingly, his administration's use of scientific data about the environment is perceived as partisan and selective. Even now, as he campaigns across Western states touting his environmental record, he is promoting policies intended to speed decisions allowing logging and drilling on public lands, not to broaden consultation or collaboration.
Republicans seem not to like consultation or collaboration. It's "my way or the highway" with them.
From G.O.P. Legislators in Florida Criticize Bush on Cuba by Abby Goodnough
A song enjoying frequent airtime on a Spanish-language radio station here [in Miami] crystallizes the deepening discontent of Cuban-Americans with the White House. It ends, "All together, let's sing: Bush is betraying us."
Bombastic D.J.'s are not the only ones complaining, especially after President Bush sent back to Havana 12 Cubans accused of hijacking a government mapping boat and whom the Coast Guard caught on July 16 off the Bahamas. For exile leaders who had been grumbling about what they saw as unfulfilled promises by Mr. Bush, the repatriation was a trigger point.
On Monday, 13 Republican state legislators, including 10 Cuban-Americans, sent the president a warning. In a pointed letter, they wrote that if Mr. Bush did not make "substantial progress" toward fulfilling four Cuban-American demands, "we fear the historic and intense support from Cuban-American voters for Republican federal candidates, including yourself, will be jeopardized."
Too much talk, not enough action.
From Questions for Condoleezza by Derrick Z. Jackson
The only nuclear event going on concerning Iraq is a meltdown of the Bush administration.
The death toll of US soldiers is now 257. The death toll of Iraqi soldiers and civilians is in the thousands. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. No nuclear program has been found.
Cheney's claim of a mortal threat continues to grow into a mortal wound for the moral justification for the invasion. Rice continues to say we were right not to wait for Saddam's smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. She told the [National Association of Black Journalists] conference, "The threat could not be allowed to remain unaddressed."
With no smoking gun of the threat, the plume Americans should be looking for is the one over the White House, growing into the most deadly lie since Vietnam.
From Bush-lite at EPA?
As governor of New Jersey, Whitman fought for the EPA to require that such plants reduce their emissions, only to have the Bush administration walk away from the effort on her watch. Leavitt is praised by environmentalists for trying to improve state parks and helping reduce the haze above the Grand Canyon. Senators should find out whether Leavitt believes Northeasterners have a right to breathe the same quality air without having to visit a national park in Arizona.
Senators should also quiz Leavitt about the guidelines EPA drew up with the Army Corps of Engineers last January that reduced by 20 percent the wetlands protected by the agencies in the lower 48 states. The lawmakers might also ask him to review the decision by the EPA last month not to regulate any new drinking-water contaminants, including perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel. Under Bush, there has also been consistent underfunding of the Superfund. Would Leavitt tolerate the indefinite delays in toxic-site cleanups that such underfunding causes?
Aside from the Grand Canyon cleanup, Leavitt has a poor record of protecting air, water, or land. He favored a highway through a wetland and wildlife habitat near Great Salt Lake, led the National Governors Association when it opposed the Kyoto accord on global warming, and worked behind the scenes with Bush's Interior Department to head off wilderness designations in Utah, keeping much of the state's wild areas open to all-terrain vehicles and business interests.
Another henhouse, another fox.
From Truth about tax cuts
Yesterday at a press conference organized by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, Robert Solow, a Nobel prize-winning economist and professor emeritus at MIT, attacked the Bush tax cuts, calling them "redistributive in intent and redistributive in effect."
This is true in more ways than one. First, the tax cuts shift billions in federal dollars from working people, whose wages are not rising above inflation, to the super-wealthy. Also, the cuts redistribute the tax burden from Washington to the states, which are responding to record shortfalls with tax hikes, increased fees, or both. And the cuts effectively de-fund government programs that mostly help middle and lower-income families while reducing the contribution toward those services among the rich. Thanks to Bush, the federal income tax burden as a percentage of gross domestic product is at its lowest level since the 1940s.
Solow was one of 10 Nobel laureates who signed a statement in February saying the president's fiscal policy -- especially his proposed permanent cut in the dividend tax -- was not credible as a stimulus plan. But Bush and his aides are unmoved. They continue to push to make the tax cuts permanent while hiding the true cost of the current round with sunset provisions no one believes will stick.
From Reporter: Deceased scientist thought Iraq threat small by Katherine Baldwin
Top British arms specialist David Kelly believed Iraq's weapons posed only a minimal threat and accused the government of overplaying the risk to justify war, a BBC reporter told an inquiry into Kelly's suicide yesterday.
Kelly slashed his wrist last month after being named as the source for a BBC journalist's report that a British government dossier on Iraq's weapons was "sexed up" at the behest of Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief, Alastair Campbell.
Andrew Gilligan, the BBC defense correspondent whose May 29 report plunged Blair's government into crisis, told the judicial inquiry that Kelly told him most British intelligence specialists were unhappy with the weapons dossier.
That claim was bolstered Monday when Martin Howard, deputy chief of intelligence at the Ministry of Defense, told the inquiry two defense officials were unhappy with the government dossier, published in September 2002. It was "transformed a week before publication to make it sexier. A classic was the 45 minutes," Gilligan said.
This all has a strangely familiar ring to it, no?
From Officials hedge on assessing Iraq costs by Alan Fram
The US bill for rebuilding Iraq and maintaining security there is widely expected to exceed the war's price tag, but the Bush administration is offering only hazy details about the multibillion-dollar totals.
Private analysts have estimated that the cost of US military and nation-building operations in Iraq could reach $600 billion.
But the closest the administration has come to estimating America's postwar burden was the time L. Paul Bremer, the US administrator of occupied Iraq, said last month that "getting the country up and running again" could cost $100 billion and take three years.
"They've got one eye on the deficit and they're trying to make sure the conservatives stay with them," said James Dyer, Republican chief of staff for the House appropriations committee. "Having said that, we have to pay these bills whether there's a deficit or not."
Kolbe, who is traveling with other members of Congress to Iraq and Afghanistan later this month, said the administration's reticence is "undermining the credibility that might exist" for the US reconstruction of Iraq.
I'm surprised we have any credibility left to be undermined.
From Schwarzenegger's run 'taking heat off' Bush by Stephen Dinan
The California recall and Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy have been a boon to President Bush, pushing questions about Iraq and stories about the Democratic presidential campaign off the front pages and out of the nightly newscasts.
Two weeks ago, questions about Iraq, reconstruction and weapons of mass destruction accounted for more than an hour of news time on the evening network newscasts. Last week, that was cut in half, said Matthew T. Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
"Arnold has become the weapon of mass distraction, taking the heat off the Bush White House," Mr. Felling said. "The thing that's astounding is his news came out on Wednesday. He just hijacked the week."
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
From The cancellation of democracy by Bob Guldin
Because of a combination of tight budgets and partisan political maneuvering, at least three states, and probably more, will not hold presidential primaries next year. Legislators in recent months have canceled their states' primaries in Colorado, Kansas and Utah. Budget crunches were a big factor in all three states.
Colorado started the trend. On March 5, Republican Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill eliminating the 2004 primary, for a one-time savings of $2.2 million. The move was part of a major budget-cutting package that slashed $800 million from Colorado's 2002-2003 budget.
But in Colorado and elsewhere, there's also a partisan side to the drop-the-primary movement.
That's because President Bush is a shoo-in for renomination, while the Democrats have a vigorous contest with many viable candidates - nine, at the latest count. So Republican strategists figure that holding a 2004 primary will give lots of free publicity to the Democrats while their own nominating process generates close to zero excitement. Canceling the primary, especially in a year of budget austerity, begins to look like a fine idea.
There go the R's, changing the rules again. Where will it end?
[Guldin edited the book Choosing the President 2004, to be published this fall.]
From Having Dished It Out . . . by E. J. Dionne Jr.
It was Sen. Orrin Hatch who called Clinton a "jerk," and Republican Bob Dornan, then a congressman, who described Clinton as both "small" and "illegitimate." Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) actually called Clinton a "scumbag" -- surely, in [Weekly Standard writer David] Brooks's terms, a "lurid and emotional" way to refer to the commander in chief.
It is thus hilarious that Republicans have been so self-righteous against Democrats who have had the nerve to behave as an opposition and challenge President Bush's credibility. Republicans are telling Democrats: "Don't you dare do what we did." It's equally amusing, but also depressing, that hypocrisy isn't being called by its real name.
From Coming to Reelection Campaigns and Toy Boxes Near You by Dana Milbank
Holy photo op, Batman! The president of the United States has become a military action figure.
When President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln three months ago in a naval flight suit, many commentators believed that the image of the vigorous president on the aircraft carrier would figure prominently in his reelection campaign. What the commentators did not predict is that Bush would become his own G.I. Joe doll.
Coming soon to a store near you: a foot-tall likeness of the president called "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush -- U.S. President and Naval Aviator."
Naval aviator? Good grief, even his action figure lies!
From Thanks for the M.R.E.'s by Paul Krugman
The U.S. military has always had superb logistics. What happened? The answer is a mix of penny-pinching and privatization — which makes our soldiers' discomfort a symptom of something more general.
Colonel Hackworth blames "dilettantes in the Pentagon" who "thought they could run a war and an occupation on the cheap." But the cheapness isn't restricted to Iraq. In general, the "support our troops" crowd draws the line when that support might actually cost something.
The usually conservative Army Times has run blistering editorials on this subject. Its June 30 blast, titled "Nothing but Lip Service," begins: "In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately." The article goes on to detail a series of promises broken and benefits cut.
Military corner-cutting is part of a broader picture of penny-wise-pound-foolish government. When it comes to tax cuts or subsidies to powerful interest groups, money is no object. But elsewhere, including homeland security, small-government ideology reigns. The Bush administration has been unwilling to spend enough on any aspect of homeland security, whether it's providing firefighters and police officers with radios or protecting the nation's ports. The decision to pull air marshals off some flights to save on hotel bills — reversed when the public heard about it — was simply a sound-bite-worthy example. (Air marshals have told MSNBC.com that a "witch hunt" is now under way at the Transportation Security Administration, and that those who reveal cost-cutting measures to the media are being threatened with the Patriot Act.)
From A Misdirected Forest Strategy
A year ago, President Bush used the the worst of last summer's forest fires, the Biscuit fire in southern Oregon, as a backdrop to unveil his Healthy Forests initiative — a plan that on close inspection has less to do with preventing forest fires than it does with helping his friends in the timber industry. In a replay yesterday, Mr. Bush used a visit to the site of the Aspen fire in Arizona to reaffirm his support for the same strategy. The strategy has not improved with age. Indeed, as encapsulated in legislation that was passed by the House and is nearing approval in the Senate, it may have gotten worse.
[New York Times editorial, 8/12/03]
From Medicare Fees for Physicians in Line for Cuts by Robert Pear
Administration officials said the cut in Medicare payments to doctors would not harm beneficiaries or hurt their ability to obtain care.
But doctors said the new cut, after a 5.4 percent cut last year, would give them a fresh incentive to limit the number of elderly patients.
"Physicians want to keep treating Medicare patients, but there comes a point where it is just not economically reasonable," Dr. Donald J. Palmisano, president of the American Medical Association, said.
Maureen K. Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Family Physicians, said that more than one-fifth of family doctors were not accepting new Medicare patients.
Marilyn Moon, a health economist, said: "This needs a lot of vigilance. As yet, it's not a crisis. But it could quickly turn into one."
Just what we need. Another Bush-induced crisis affecting only the powerless.
From Changing of a Bush Guard From Tiger to Teddy Bear by Jim Rutenberg
In his first four weeks on the job, [new White House press secretary Scott] McClellan has had to navigate what amounts to four of the most treacherous weeks the Bush administration has faced from a public-relations perspective.
He began his new job on July 15 beating back questions about how unsubstantiated claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa made their way into the president's State of the Union address. The following weeks have been no less challenging. He has dealt with an array of issues, from the president's views on homosexuality to disputed reports that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, have decided not serve in a second Bush term.
And for all of their warm regards, reporters have not gone easy on him. Campbell Brown, an NBC News White House correspondent, said she was so frustrated by what she thought was Mr. McClellan's obfuscation that she repeatedly interrupted his answers and raised her voice at him during one session.
And who started those public relations brush fires?
From Make the Recall Count by Robert Scheer
In fact, despite the hysteria, California's current problems are no more serious than that of many states, including New York and Texas, both run by Republican governors. The underlying problem for all states is a national economy brought to its knees by the epic fall of a panoply of corrupt companies, firms like Enron that used the Republican mantra of deregulation as a convenient cover for looting consumers, stockholders and employees. It is true that California has paid a particularly heavy price for the machinations of Enron and other energy companies.
How dare Arnold Schwarzenegger or any Republican now ignore the well-documented gaming of the California energy market by Bush's Texas cronies, many of whom landed high posts in his administration? Was Davis responsible for manufacturing spikes in energy prices that nearly bankrupted the state? Of course not — but he took the political hit when the lights went out. It's a safe bet that Schwarzenegger and the other Republicans running will offer not a word of criticism of Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous meetings with top energy executives that excluded consumer representatives. The minutes of those meetings are still secret, yet we know that the policy that emerged benefited the con artists who caused California's energy crisis in the first place.
From Fla. Lawmakers Warn Bush on Cuba Policy by John-Thor Dahlberg
On Monday, a number of Republican state lawmakers from Florida publicly warned President Bush that unless U.S. policies changed drastically, he could lose their backing in the 2004 election. Some of the legislators accused Bush of not keeping campaign promises he made to Cuban Americans, a normally loyal Republican vote bank.
"No group of Americans should be taken for granted," said state Rep. Gustavo A. Barreiro, a Miami Republican.
It is an article of faith among Cuban Americans, the nation's only Latino minority that consistently votes Republican, that they tipped the balance in Bush's favor in the 2000 election cliffhanger. About 80% of Florida's Cuban Americans voted for Bush, who carried this key state by just 537 votes.
"The problem is, Bush has given them all the right rhetoric, but hasn't delivered on the major policy initiatives he promised," said Dario Moreno, a professor at Florida International University who has served as a consultant to Cuban American political candidates.
From Bush presses initiative to thin US forests by Scott Lindlaw
Previous rules required environmental studies for nearly every logging project.
Under the Healthy Forests Initiative, logging projects affecting 1,000 acres at most will not need such studies if the land is deemed at-risk for fire. Controlled burns, where fire is used to burn excess trees under certain circumstances, could be done without environmental studies for projects up to 4,500 acres.
Neither of these "categorically excluded" projects would be subject to administrative appeals, but they could be challenged in court.
"Unlike our first president, George Bush just can't come clean about his plan to cut down trees," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, who is running for president.
"He's using the real need to clear brush and small trees from our forests as an excuse for a timber industry giveaway, and Arizonans should make no mistake: this is logging industry greed masquerading as environmental need," he said.
From Dem. Candidates Blast Republicans Over California by David Morgan
Democratic presidential candidates blasted California's recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis on Monday, calling it part of a larger Republican assault on the U.S. electoral process.
At a political forum near the Liberty Bell, seven of the nine Democrats vying for the right to oppose President Bush in 2004 said California was being swept by the same right-wing tactics used against Democrats in Florida and Texas and during the impeachment of former President Clinton.
"This is an attack on the institutions of our government. That's what Republicans do," U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri told hundreds of union leaders at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center.
From Rebuilding Iraq Likely to Top War's Cost by Alan Fram
President Bush and other administration officials have refused to provide projections, saying too much is unpredictable. That has angered lawmakers of both parties, who are writing the budget for the coming election year even as federal deficits approach $500 billion.
"I think they're fearful of having Congress say, 'Oh, my God, this thing is going to be very costly,'" said Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls foreign aid.
More than three months after Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, even the cost of the ongoing U.S. military campaign remains clouded in confusing numbers.
Defense Department officials have said U.S. operations are costing about $3.9 billion monthly. But that figure excludes indirect expenses like replacing damaged equipment and munitions expended in combat.
Monday, August 11, 2003
From Iran-Contra, amplified by Jim Lobe
Boiled down to its essentials, the Iran-Contra affair was about a small group of officials based in the National Security Agency (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that ran an "off-the-books" operation to secretly sell arms to Iran in exchange for hostages held in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
They used the proceeds over the following years to sustain the Nicaraguan Contras - US-sponsored rebels fighting Managua's left-wing government - in defiance of both a congressional ban and of official US policy as enunciated by the State Department and then president Ronald Reagan. It was never clear whether Reagan understood, let alone approved, the operation.
The picture emerging from the latest reports about the manipulation of intelligence in the drive to war with Iraq, as well as efforts by administration hawks to deliberately aggravate tensions with Syria, Iran, and North Korea in defiance of official State Department and US policy, suggest a similar but much more ambitious scheme at work.
As with Reagan, in this case, too, it is difficult to determine whether President George W Bush - or even his NSC director, Condoleezza Rice - fully understand, let alone approve, of what the hawks are doing.
From The Bush Administration on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities by Dipali Mukhopadhyay
We have compiled major statements by senior Bush Administration officials on Iraq's capabilities to manufacture and hide chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and delivery systems. We have bolded statements of note.
[Carnegie Endowment For International Peace]
This is an extraordinary (and lengthy) list of specific administration statements regarding WMD in Iraq. Each statement is documented with the date and the specific source. A major resource.
From Business as Usual for Chemical Plants by Gary Hart
The Bush administration's homeland security efforts since the Sept. 11 attacks have ignored this highly vulnerable sector. The White House was silent last summer while industry lobbyists scuttled federal legislation that would have required chemical companies to address their vulnerability to attack. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), died in Congress without a vote, even though a bipartisan Senate committee had passed it unanimously. Meanwhile, in March of this year, the General Accounting Office issued a report urging passage of legislation to require the industry to assess its vulnerability to terrorism and, where necessary, require corrective action.
The Bush administration and its congressional allies nevertheless ignore Corzine's security solution. Even worse, the White House and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) are pushing a separate and far weaker bill, one that would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to chemical terrorism.
Incredibly, the Inhofe bill provides for virtually no oversight or enforcement of safety requirements. Unlike Corzine's proposal, it would not allow the government to demand emergency action by companies that it has reason to believe are terrorist targets, nor would it insist on government review of facility security plans. (The latter failure is akin to the Internal Revenue Service's telling companies to fill out their tax forms but not to bother to file them.) The Inhofe bill prohibits the federal agency with the most expertise on chemicals, the EPA, from putting its skills to good use. And unlike the Corzine bill, the Inhofe bill would not require companies to replace dangerous chemicals -- which might pose tempting terrorist targets -- even when safer technologies are available and affordable. The chemical manufacturers say that they will consider making their processes safer. But we did not just ask airlines to simply consider improving security -- we made them do it.
Are we safer yet?
From The Art of the False Impression by Bob Herbert
Keeping his language polite, the former vice president asserted that the Bush administration had allowed "false impressions" to somehow make their way into the public's mind. Enormous numbers of Americans thus came to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks and was actively supporting Al Qaeda; that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were an imminent threat, and Iraq was on the verge of building nuclear weapons; that U.S. troops would be welcomed with open arms, and there was little danger of continued casualties in a prolonged guerrilla war.
The essence of Mr. Gore's speech was that these corrosive false impressions were part of a strategic pattern of distortion that the Bush administration used to create support not just for the war, but for an entire ideologically driven agenda that overwhelmingly favors the president's wealthy supporters and is driving the federal government toward a long-term fiscal catastrophe.
What if Mr. Gore is right? There's something at least a little crazy about an environment in which people are literally stumbling over one another to hear what Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about the budget crisis in California (short answer: nothing), while ignoring what a thoughtful former vice president has to say about the budget and the economy of the U.S.
Voters with children and grandchildren who may someday have to shoulder the backbreaking debt that is being piled up by the Bush crowd might want to carefully examine some of the points Mr. Gore is raising. The Bush administration would have you believe he is talking nonsense. But what if he's not?
From For Vanity Fair, Bushes Are Exception to Royal Rule by David Carr
he September issue of Vanity Fair, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of its rebirth, lavishes the royal treatment on various monarchs with a series of articles suggesting "These Bluebloods Rule!"
On page after page, the nobility, grace, and aw-shucks humanity of people like Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and Prince William of England come in for lush photography and cooing coverage.
But when the subject switches to America's ruling dynasty, Graydon Carter, the magazine's editor, is all for the overthrow of the ruling class. In four of his last five editor's notes, Mr. Carter has slowly circled the Bush administration like an Apache gunship helicopter, firing round after round into the administration's policies and saying that they will eventually destroy all that is good about America.
"That was during the war on terror," Mr. Carter explained. "This is a time of war on Iraq and war on American civil liberties."
"It is a very dangerous time right now," he added in an interview. "The Republicans are very clever at calling dissent an unpatriotic act. I think that journalists should be foes of any administration."
With Vanity Fair on our side against King George, how can we lose?
From Under Ashcroft, Justice Is Blind and Handcuffed by Jonathan Turley
Now, Ashcroft believes that federal judges who lower sentences are violating the intent of the federal law. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that such decisions are the very essence of independent judicial review and has held that the sentencing guidelines anticipate such departures. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative on criminal matters, held that this country had a long "tradition for the sentencing judge to consider every convicted person as an individual and every case as a unique study in human failings that sometimes mitigated, sometimes magnify, the crime and punishment."
Ashcroft would replace this tradition with a system that imposed sentences without variation and without understanding. Indeed, in his memo to U.S. attorneys, Ashcroft quotes Rehnquist as establishing that it is Congress, not the courts, that set sentencing policy. However, Ashcroft misrepresented Rehnquist's comments by omitting Rehnquist's further statement that efforts to gather sentencing records "could amount to an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges in the performance of their judicial duties."
The country now faces a choice between two visions of justice. Ashcroft wants judges to share his view of defendants as statistics rather than individuals. However, justice is found in the very details that Ashcroft wants to ignore in sentencing. In this system of forced ignorance, justice would be blind not to prejudice but to principle.
Even after all this time, Ashcroft still gives me the creeps. Check out these letters to the LA Times regarding Ashcroft's policies.
From Bush promotes forest-thinning initiative by Scott LIndlaw
President Bush surveys a fire-ravaged community in Arizona on Monday as part of a push to get the Senate to approve steps aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfires.
Bush's helicopter-and-hiking tour of the devastation left behind by fire in mountainous Summerhaven, Arizona, near Tucson, is also meant to illustrate what he says his proposals can help save.
The previous rules required environmental studies for nearly every logging project.
Now, logging projects affecting 1,000 acres or less will not need such studies if the acres are deemed at-risk for fire. Controlled burns, where fire is used to burn excess trees under certain circumstances, could be done without environmental studies for projects up to 4,500 acres.
Neither of these "categorically excluded" projects would be subject to administrative appeals, but they could be challenged in court.
Some critics also said Summerhaven was a curious place for Bush to pitch his initiative. It was lack of money, not bureaucratic hurdles, that prevented critical thinning in the area, they say. Moreover, the legal obstacles to thinning that Bush wants to remove have been almost nonexistent on Forest Service lands in the area, experts say.
From Sen. says assumptions causing Iraq flap by William C. Mann
Flawed assumptions by President Bush's advisers about postwar Iraq are contributing to Iraqis' resentment of the U.S. occupation and undermining its legitimacy, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.
Even the war itself has yet to be won, said Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind.
"Having said that," Lugar said, "I reiterate we're there now. Whether they made a good choice or not in terms of tactics is irrelevant."
Friday was the 100th day since Bush declared an end to major combat. In his radio address Saturday, he said the administration was "keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region."
But Lugar and former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, once chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, looked back at the Iraq war in less rosy terms.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
From Why Bush likes tall tales by Yossi Sarid
Sharon's behavior is not surprising to anyone who has known him for many years. The surprise is President Bush, who has evinced a strange passion for tall tales. It is completely unclear why the American president has decided to consume overflowing portions of complete lies served up to him by Ariel Sharon. Therefore, when Abu Mazen falls, and his government with him, the blame will fall on Sharon, but mainly on Bush, who maintains the pretension of an "honest broker."
Does Bush know that Sharon is lying to him, or does he still believe him? Does Bush pretend to believe because of political convenience and domestic considerations?
It's a mystery and will remain a mystery that
this particular president, who presents himself
as one who you don't "get smart with," is
prepared, for some reason, for the tail,
Sharon, to wag him.
Apparently Bush can't recognize a lie when he hears one.
From Bush and King Henry: Similar Birds, Different Feathers by Saul Landau
For Bush--after 9/11-- power means simply command, not responsibility for the consequences of his actions. Indeed, by waging unprovoked war against Iraq, he discarded decades of legal culture established by conservatives. He acted radically, ignoring the wisdom of conservative icon Edmund Burke: "Our patience will achieve more than our force."
Nor did the unrefined wielder of power pause to interpret King Henry V's words about the nature of war before his battle of Agincourt. "I am afear'd there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing when blood is their argument?" Henry and Bush, both fun-loving princes, who hung out with low-lifes in their youth, fell into their positions as heads of state.
But unlike Bush, Shakespeare's Henry fought alongside his men and respected his enemy. In contrast, after the successful invasion of Iraq, when the resistance to US occupation began, Bush taunted those his army had vanquished. "Bring 'em on," was his response to the growing US body count at a July 2 White House press conference, as if he were John Wayne starring as a US Marshall in Baghdad, Wyoming.
King Henry, however, dealt with consequences. For example, he could have simply claimed the French Princess after victory, but instead, thinking of future relations with France, wooed her. Bush, the leader of the world's most prolific military power, after winning against an effectively disarmed third world nation, did not reestablish the rule of law.
Quite the contrary, he had already amply demonstrated his lack of respect for legality. In his first two years in office he withdrew from more international treaties than any president in US history. After the 9/11 events, he squandered vast international good will by taking a military rather than a judicial path toward "fighting" terrorism. His aggressive western movie stance, his dissing of the UN and those allies who disagreed, and his threatening approach to smaller nations who refused 100% obedience gained him and his government world wide animosity. He has weakened the UN to a point of near irrelevance.
[Landau's book, The Pre-Emptive Empire: A Guide to Bush's Kingdom, will be published in September.]
From Saudi secrets are safe with Bush by Joe Conason
Why, then, is the Bush administration so determined to prevent the public from learning what Congressional investigators discovered about Saudi connections to 9/11? Conventional answers involve the kingdom’s control of the world’s largest oil reserves, its influence over the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, its potential assistance in achieving peace between Israelis and Arabs, and its proclaimed alliance with the United States against Al Qaeda.
In steeply descending order of persuasiveness, all those stated reasons possess some merit. The problem is that the Bush administration -- as well as the President’s family and its associates -- is scarcely able to assess the merits with any degree of objectivity. After all, if they reveal damaging information about the Saudis, what might the Saudis reveal about them?
For more than three decades, Saudi Arabia has sought to influence American politicians, often through investment in American business. While they have occasionally sought out Democrats, they are far more comfortable with Republicans -- and in particular, with Bush Republicans. At the moment, for example, the kingdom’s defense attorney in a lawsuit brought by families of 9/11 victims happens to be James Baker, that ultimate Bushie whose résumé includes stints as Secretary of State and Treasury. (Mr. Baker’s last big court case was Bush v. Gore. )
Commercial connections between the Saudis and the Bushes extend from limited-partner investments in George W.’s failed oil ventures more than 20 years ago to the Carlyle Group, a mighty merchant bank that currently employs Mr. Baker, former President George Herbert Walker Bush and a host of lesser family vassals. Saudi money has also figured in several of the most significant political scandals of the postwar era, notably the Iran-contra affair and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International blowup. Whatever the Saudis might say about any of those matters is probably better left unsaid -- not only to protect state secrets, but also for the sake of Bush senior, the former C.I.A. director and suspected Iran-contra conspirator.
From Ex-Pentagon Official Suggests Bush Administration Should Face War Crimes Tribunal For Misleading World About Iraq
The Pentagon has some explaining to do.
One of its former employees recently published an article saying: “I suggested to my boss that if this was as good as it got, some folks on the Pentagon's E-ring may be sitting beside Saddam Hussein in the war crimes tribunals.”
Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski is a former a senior Pentagon Middle East specialist who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement in April of this year.
This is what she has to say: “What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense."
Kwiatkowski's also charges that groupthink, characterized by uncritical acceptance of prevailing points of view, is the hallmark of the Bush administration's Middle East policy development.
From 'Bring us home': GIs flood US with war-weary emails
Susan Schuman is angry. Her GI son is serving in the Iraqi town of Samarra, at the heart of the 'Sunni triangle', where American troops are killed with grim regularity. Breaking the traditional silence of military families during time of war, Schuman knows what she wants - and who she blames for the danger to her son, Justin. 'I want them to bring our troops home. I am appalled at Bush's policies. He has got us into a terrible mess,' she said.
Schuman may just be the tip of an iceberg. She lives in Shelburne Falls, a small town in Massachusetts, and says all her neighbours support her view. 'I don't know anyone around here who disagrees with me,' she said.
Schuman's views are part of a growing unease back home at the rising casualty rate in Iraq, a concern coupled with deep anger at President George W. Bush's plans to cut army benefits for many soldiers. Criticism is also coming directly from soldiers risking their lives under the guns of Saddam Hussein's fighters, and they are using a weapon not available to troops in previous wars: the Internet.
Through emails and chatrooms a picture is emerging of day-to-day gripes, coupled with ferocious criticism of the way the war has been handled. They paint a vivid picture of US army life that is a world away from the sanitised official version.
Just like truth is a world away from lies.
From Critics Assail Bush's Strategy of Restraint in Liberia by Mike Allen
Bush authorized six to 20 Marines to go ashore this week to help Liberia's West African neighbors with the logistics of humanitarian efforts. But he made no provision for reining in the rape, looting and gunfire that are terrifying residents of the capital, Monrovia.
The decision reflects the tensions between the expansive foreign policy Bush launched after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he began focusing on failing states as breeding grounds for terrorism, and the more circumscribed worldview he held as a candidate, when he said that "while Africa may be important, it doesn't fit into the national strategic interests, as far as I can see them."
"This feeds into the wider debate within the international community about what the United States really cares about," said Gayle Smith, the National Security Council's director for African affairs in the Clinton administration. "When we're telling countries they have to be for us or against us, it hurts our credibility if we are not responsive when the rest of the world is saying there's something they need us to do."
Again, observe the mismatch between the President's words and his actions.
From Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence by Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus
The Vienna briefing [of UN weapons inspectors] was one among many private and public forums in which the Bush administration portrayed a menacing Iraqi nuclear threat, even as important features of its evidence were being undermined. There were other White House assertions about forbidden weapons programs, including biological and chemical arms, for which there was consensus among analysts. But the danger of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein, more potent as an argument for war, began with weaker evidence and grew weaker still in the three months before war.
This article is based on interviews with analysts and policymakers inside and outside the U.S. government, and access to internal documents and technical evidence not previously made public.
The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied.
This must-read article lays out the pattern of deception employed by the deceitful Bush White House prior to the War On Iraq.