Saturday, March 05, 2005

1031 Days

Two months and three days shy of three years, or 1031 days and the Bush administration is still actively battling to keep one not very bright or connected high school drop out from exercising his most basic Constitutional or human rights.

Their alleged reasons for doing so are as shifty and shaky as their reasons for any other thing they do or don't do for that matter. They need to charge this alleged low level flunky and allow him due process of the law or prepare to apologize for the harm they have caused him and our Constitutional process.

For obvious reasons, the Constitution denies the president or his aides the power to decide by themselves that a citizen can be imprisoned indefinitely without judicial review. Armed with such power, an administration could imprison its political opponents or silence them with the threat.

Yes, there is a risk that if Padilla is freed he might make trouble. But tracking potential criminals is a job intelligence and police agencies can handle. The cost of setting a precedent that presidents can jail whomever they choose would be far greater.

This case is not just about Jose Padilla. It's about every citizen's liberty. If the foundations of freedom crumble under the stresses of the war on terrorism, the terrorists will have won.

The Bush administration's insistence on hiding behind shadowy boogeymen is pure cowardice and it shames us all.

Rehberg And Burns Seats Wide Open

I know you think I am nuts, but it is true, or at least it should be.

The resons their seats are going to be so vulnerable rests completely and soley on their voting records. Time after time they have voted against the ordinary working people who have stood behind them and voted for them. It is high time for somebody to start making the connections between the misfortunes of our neighbors and the votes that are cast in DC.

Time after time they have handed the product of our work and the vision of our future over to the overpaid consultants on Wall Street.

The latest example of this is Conrad Burns' vote against the medical exemption in the bankruptcy bill.

I bet you didn't know that he thinks sick people are deadbeats so they should suffer some more. Surprised me too.

Another Nasty Day In Iraq

One, two, three, four, five new 'made in China' flag covered coffins will have to be smuggled into Dover Air Force base in the dead of night.

Official death toll 1508.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Another One

Slides under the flag bringing the official Iraq war death total to 1503.

It would be 1513 if these guys counted
. This guy won't count either:

AUGUSTA (March 3, 2005): Gov. John E. Baldacci confirmed Thursday afternoon that Michael D. Jones, of Unity, a member of the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard, died today in New York.

The Joint Force Headquarters was notified by Fort Drum Casualty Assistance Office that Jones passed away this morning.

Jones served in A Company 133rd Engineer Battalion that arrived last week in Fort Drum, N.Y., after serving a year in Iraq. Shortly after the flight overseas, Jones became seriously ill. He was rushed to State University of New York (SUNY) Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. Jones' condition reportedly grew continually worse until he died this morning.

Day Two Strike Two

Inspired by the ease that high dollar internet gay prostitute (no, he didn't come cheap) Jim Gannon/Jeff Guckert sashayed himself into the White House Press Room every day for two years despite his lack of credentials and fake name, Garrett M. Graff, editor of Fishbowl DC decided to try his luck.

Garrett sure can tell a story, but if you are too busy to keep up with the trials and tribulations of an accredited journalist who presumably is not a plagarist and does not advertise the hourly rate for his inches on the internet, I'll give you the ending:

The scoreboard as it stands:

Fishbowl: 0
White House: 2

Phone Calls: 10 (includes two calls to the Press Office to check on the gaggle time)
Trips to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: 1

Humiliation Factor: Low
Frustration Factor: Medium (Rising)

Thursday, March 03, 2005


That is the official Iraq war Death toll for America although it doesn't count the ten who were slow to die or any of the private contractors.

Meanwhile I am not at the parade celebrating the return of a lot of our soldiers including one who was nearly one of my own.

I am thankful they didn't join this club.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Go Ahead, Gloat Over Eason

Go ahead and chunk it up about firing everybody who says something you don't like. Jordan, Rather and Peter Barnette have all ended up more right than not in the end. If you gloated about any of these but didn't care who else tells lies BIG LIES, as long as it was something you wanted to hear, then you have just shown yourself for what you are.

The International Federation of Journalists today renewed calls for an end to the targeting and killing of journalists and media staff in Iraq following the brutal assassination of three journalists and a support driver in the last month.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented witch-hunt against the Iraqi press corps,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Political and religious leaders who claim to defend democratic change in this war-stricken country must speak out against this terror”.


“Two years after the US military occupation of Iraq the terrifying ordeal of media in the country continues with targeted attacks on the free and independent media,” said White.

On April 8th this year the IFJ and Iraqi journalists they plan to hold demonstrations in towns across Iraq to protest over impunity in the killing of journalists. They say that all cases of violence, intimidation and killing of media staff must be investigated, independently and exhaustively. The date is the second anniversary of the US attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in which two journalists died. These are two of 13 media deaths at the hands of US soldiers, which have yet be properly investigated and explained.

“On that day journalists around the world will once again protest over impunity secrecy over media deaths and, in particular, at the failure of the United States to take responsibility for its actions in Iraq which have led to the killing of journalists,” said White.


Last week, the IFJ Solidarity Centre in Algeria along with colleagues from the National Union of Journalists in Algeria held a day of solidarity for Aubenas, Al-Saadi and Sgrena in Algiers to express solidarity with their colleagues saying that the “targeting of journalists in Iraq is futile for the Iraqi cause and will only discredit any positive steps already made”.

“We have watched with horror at the video appeals forced upon our colleagues from La Liberation and Il Manifesto,” said White. “Whether this is the work of mercenary thugs or political extremists does not matter, what matters is that they are released”.

More than 70 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion nearly two years ago. 50 of these were local Iraqis.

The Bankruptcy Bill

It's predatory usury. Go read What else is wrong with it at the Angry Bear.

Iraq War Deaths Top 1500

The number was 1508 on Feb. 28. The reason we didn't know was because the Pentagon didn't count ten people who died of their injuries after thry were shipped out for treatment.

Dinner With The President

I think Governor Schweitzer was the first to ask why President Bush is pushing a program reform that is fine until 2042 when we have problems that exist today, but he hasn't been the only one.

Oh-eighter Bill Richardson asked why Washington is examining the tax code and Social Security, which has until 2042 before becoming insolvent, when there are more pressing needs on health care and education.

How were things at the Governors conference anyway? Dinner sounds lovely...

In honor of "Sideways" winning best adapted screenplay last night, a look at the wines served at last night's White House dinner for the nation's governors.

Accompanying the wild rice soup with pheasant, the White House served the Patz & Hall Chardonnay "Alder Springs" 2003 (about $55 a bottle), which the winery describes as "just a little less fruity than it is big and bombastic. . . . It trades first on toast and minerality, and it shows a fair bit of heat in the finish."

Accompanying the tenderloin of beef in a Texas marinade, the White House served the Caymus Cabernet "Napa" 2002 (about $80 a bottle), which one reviewer described as "solidly fruity at its heart . . . quite ripe, fairly full in the mouth and surprisingly supple."

Then, with the wild raspberry apple pie and cinnamon ice cream came a dessert wine, the Bonny Doon Muscat "Vin de Glaciere" 2003 (about $18 a half-bottle). The vineyard says it has "racy and exaggerated notes of apricot, elderflower and rampant pineapple-ocity" that "sent shivers down our spines."

I didn't expect the President to serve the Governors the notoriously chintzy fare he served his donors on the campaign trail when he was spending his money, but he's calling for huge budget cuts now. What kind of message does it send to spend $43.00 a head for wine during a business dinner?

Let's compare that to the temporary cash assistance a single parent with two children recieves, shall we? About $13.00 a day to pay rent, buy diapers, transportation, toiletries and school supplies. $13.00 for a family to live on vs $43.00 for three glasses of wine.

All that wine didn't dull Governor Schweitzer one bit.

"Schweitzer compared Bush's promotion of Social Security changes to a magician with a hat in his right hand that he is waving around with "wide gestures" to distract his audience.

"Today we're talking about Social Security, something that might happen 20, 30, 40 years from now," Schweitzer said. "But guess what's really happening, over in the left hand? We're cutting Medicaid. We're cutting programs in the heartland."

What does a more seasoned Governor have to say about it? [I was unable to debunk the rumor that Judy did the interview shaking pom poms and wearing saddle shoes.]
WOODRUFF: All right. Governor, let's talk about what the meeting, the governors' meeting today was all about.

A lot of focus on Medicaid. We know the president, the administration's proposing to cut something like $60 billion out of Medicaid over the next 10 years or so. The administration argues this is -- this is money that absolutely should come out, it's waste, fraud and abuse

"Mission Accomplished" cost us more than a million dollars.

WARNER: We categorically disagree with that. The fact of the matter is, Medicaid now provides health care for 53 million Americans, more Americans than are on Social Security. And if Social Security may or may not go bankrupt in 2042, let me assure you, unless we can fix Medicaid, it's going to bankrupt the states long before that, probably within the next decade.

So what we've got to do is we understand that Medicaid as it's currently structured has to be -- has to be changed. We can no longer allow the kind of cost shifts, the way the president is proposing, moving $60 billion down to the cost of the states, or the way that employers continue to cut off health insurance for their employees, pushing them onto Medicaid, or the fact that seniors -- and Medicaid is not about poor people anymore -- 60 percent of seniors who are in nursing homes are on Medicaid, continue to divest of their assets to go on Medicaid. So we've got to make those changes.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's an example of abuse, isn't it? And, I mean, isn't it right to look at that and say let's end it and save money that way?

We paid for Tom Delay to have his eyes lifted and she never even whispered the words waste, fraud or abuse!

WARNER: Well, I think looking at how we can avoid seniors divesting of their assets before they go into long-term care absolutely ought to be discussed. But is it discussed in a way where we've got to -- we get back into a budget number, or can we engage with the administration?

And let me say, Mike Leavitt, the new secretary of Health and Human Services, is the best news possible in terms of getting Medicaid reform because he understands the problem. But can we back into an issue like divestiture of assets in a way that says can we provide tax credits for people to buy long-term care insurance? Can we look at look-backs? Yes, but can we also perhaps allow seniors to keep something to pass on to their kids and grandkids?

So the devil's in the details on all of these issues.

WOODRUFF: But frankly, if you're a citizen sitting out there and you're not personally receiving Medicaid, and you can be a little bit objective, you say, what difference does it make whether you back in because of a number or whether you plan it some other way? I mean, they just -- the argument is, let's get the money's worth here.

Remind me again what we are getting out of the President's $250,000,000.00 propoganda spending spree.

WARNER: Because what we're talking about is 53 million Americans and a growing number who receive their basic health care from Medicaid. What we've got to do is we're willing to engage with the administration on Medicaid reform. And I think for the first time in a long time governors in both parties absolutely realize the system's got to change.

But what it shouldn't be driven by is a budget number that's in a congressional reconciliation process that has to happen within a couple weeks. What we want to do is work with the administration on their ideas for reform, some of the ideas that we as governors are going to put forward.

Part of those are our greater flexibility, part of those may be tax credits. But that discussion is going to take place over the coming weeks.

WOODRUFF: But meanwhile, you've got the president doing most of his public speaking these days on Social Security.

What are all his trips costing the taxpayer anyway? What about blatantly illegal use of a government agency to promote a political party, how much to systematically altered agency publications, press releases, PowerPoint presentations, website content, and even its annual statements to foster the impression that Social Security is 'unsustainable' and 'must change.'

WARNER: Again, one of the concerns that a lot of us have that says we wish -- we think the president maybe has picked the wrong crisis. The immediacy of the crisis in Medicaid, the fact of the matter is in Medicaid right now nationally, Medicaid costs outdistance education costs at the state level. So what we've done now is we've put governors in the position where they've got to pick between grandma and the grandkids in terms of state priorities. So we do need Medicaid reform, but it ought to be driven through a reform process, not by a budget number.

The Governors arent the only ones crinkling their nose at this one.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Padilla Court Ruling

It's good, the court asserts that there is a law and that the President may not change it at will.Watch the administration completely disregard the ruling (again) because they don't like it.

Who Counts

1499. It could be 1500, but kids like Jason Tharp don't get counted anywhere.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Iraq Claims Two More


Rough Ride Ahead

Here is some incentive to dig yourself out of debt.

I used today in a SS roundtable hosted by Carl Levin. I said, "well, we're busy debating crisis or not. If you really want to talk honestly to 18-40 year olds about SS, you need to talk about the real crisis--the end of the dollar as a reserve currency. When that happens, it won't matter whether we've privatized SS or not--we'll all be looking for recyclables off the top of garbage dumps, just like the Argentine middle class."

That's not an exaggeration. Bush's radical and irresponsible fiscal policy has the rest of the world engaged in some deviant dance of financial self preservation. Ian Welsh sums it up from the Canadian perspective. He shares some wise advise with us Americans too.

The Economy The primary issue in the Canadian economy right now has to be the American economyi. Even n a non-meltdown scenario we're looking at a loss of another 10 to 20% of the value of the US dollar. A meltdown could drop it 40%. This isn't far off - I'd guess, and many economists agree, that we're looking at 6 months to 2 years. So there's no real excuse to not start preparing for this now.

The thing is that if the US dollar really melts down, they're going to import less and our exports are going to be more expensive. Which means the Canadian dollar will probably rise, then fall, though still remain high against the US dollar. But because we're so dependent on them it's going to hurt us - a lot. Still, there are things that can be done. The Bank of Canada needs to be ready to move out of our US reserves. We need to be ready to refinance as much federal and provincial debt as possible during the brief window that we'll have when the Canadian dollar is high - and in response the Bank of Canada drops interest rates through the floor to try and stop it from getting any higher. That period will be ideal for refinancing and if the various provincial and federal governments haven't got their plans in order to refinance at that time they should get cracking. Now.

The wildcard here is energy. We sell a lot to the US. Most meltdown scenarios of the US dollar will also probably lead oil to being priced in Euro's, and even on that basis, spiking in price. So we - and especially Alberta - should make out very well. Oil demand is relatively inflexible, it'll drop from the US, but other trade partners (most notably China) will take up the slack. Alberta is, and should continue, making sure that it has other markets available.

What follows here is a grim look at where we are heading. We have some really big challenges ahead of us, an unsustainable monetary policy, dangerous extremes of economic inequality, sudden climate change, the impending threat of a flu pandemic and the rapid die off of the planets most vulnerable species. War is a sorry diversion of the innovative leadership we so desperately need right now, even more with the ever increasing possibility of nuclear war; that is something that the President is not afraid to start.

If you are a Bush supporter you would be wise to pay as much attention as anyone who is not. Maybe you did choose this willingly; I can't read your minds; take heed and act accordingly.

Attaking Iran is going to lead to unrestricted conventional air war, minimum. Because those forces in Iraq, sitting on top of a simmering insurgency, are way too vulnerable if both Syria and Iran are forced into war with the US.

I assume it would play out with an air and naval attack on Iran, the when Iran reacts by sending troops into Iraq the US plays that domestically as "we just tried to get their nukes, which wasn't an act of war. But they've attacked us, which is. Everyone rally round the President while we call in the B52's."

The sad thing is, it'll probably work.

The next part is meaty, but you don't want to miss it...

Of course in actuality, the puzzle pieces like the shift of the center of gravity of the World's GDP to China and India have been falling into place for quite some time.
The selloff is a classic market symptom of admitting the obvious, of a crisis of confidence in the old order that ushers in the vacuum of power from which the new order can arise. If this is the so-called "tipping point" or an event in a chain of events that becomes seen in hindsight as the tipping point we do not yet know.

However the instability of the system even as Bush makes his trip to Europe to attempt to shore up the system gives us hope. It is a dire hope. It is a hope through pain and sacrifice and struggle, but no matter how slim a hope it is there is hope. The reason why there is hope is that the plans of the schemers have not unfolded according to their time schedule.

It is too soon. The stone upon which they stumble is of course Iraq and more precisely the failure to seize the oil assets of Iraq and use them to create a new monetary order - one based on military control of oil production. This is why they are off balance. If they had succeeded in Iraq, right now the gushing oil money would be floating all the budget cuts in Federal spending that Bush wants to make. This is because the only time people will easily countenance to spending cuts is when the economy is good.

This is also why Bush is stumbling in his attempt to impose draconian and radical financial leverage on the Social Security System which is nothing less than a lien against the future of America's GDP growth. If he had succeeded in Iraq, then the gush of oil money would have created a false sense of prosperity under the Friedman-Mundell monetary regime. Bush could have then claimed this economic activity, really generated by vampirically draining Iraq's future wealth, was the vindication of his tax cutting policies and as the economic growth engine revved the higher tax receipts would have hidden his budget deficit sins. [emphasis mine]

However with Iraq sputtering, and the American economy spinning its wheels without traction despite having the gas pedal firmly down then now foreign investors are suddenly leary of lending Bush the money he would need to finance transforming the old economic and governmental order. This decline of interest in lending is not reflected in the Treasury yield curve but in the currency float of the dollar. Hence the importance of South Korea's shift and the market reaction.

However there is an old saying. Politics trumps economics and that war is the continuation of politics by other means. This reminds us of the Weberian postulate that the monopoly of organized and socially sanctioned force is what defines a government. In one sense, war is all about economics. In another sense, economics is what happens in between wars. In reality the two are not truly separate. A war is what happens when a government order tries to save itself or grow itself by cannibalizing another economic system. An economic system with growing commercial activity on the other hand can only be sustained by a social order imposed by an unchallenged military regime.

Last week a poster chimed in with a very interesting term War-Keynesiasm.

If the payers are not ready, if they need to buy more time, to attempt to transform the economic and governmental system - and make no mistake it is too late by far to attempt to restore the old order whatever the DLC dreams of - then they must manufacture an occasion to provide them more time. If the economy cannot sustain itself long enough for them to consolidate their hold on power, and the schemers do not wish to yield the field, then they must have war. They must hav e war to hold the system together long enough for them to make the change. If people are questioning their legislative leadership now, just wait until they roll into the 2006 Congressional elections on the back of a sick economy.

By the time we get to that point we will probably realise that we are completely bankrupt, exhausted and unemployed. We don't produce much of anything anymore, the Department of Defense doesn't even do business with the working people who pay for all those imported weapons. We don't produce anything and we have stripped the infrastructure to start it up again.

When we realize that we don't have freedom, opportunity, security or capital we might just as well give in and become The Chinese States of America. When that happens don't blame me-I chose the other way, and don't worry about George Bush-he's taken care of himself the way he always has.

1026 Days

Jose Padilla has now been held for 1026 days without trial charges or representation.

Who was the last person to see him?

Given this administration's peculiar fondness for torture at Abu Ghraib, Bahgrams and Guatanamo Bay as well as that uncivilized practice called "extrordinary rendition", you would think that the Red Cross or Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch would be keeping tabs on him.

Why don't we ever get updates on his condition?

Another one gone


No Special Treatment

The White House denies giving their uncredentialed gay porn payboy any special treatment but nobody thought to ask them why the play toy was given access a full month before Talon News Service even existed.

ABC News could consider asking Maureen Dowd and the Editor of World Net Daily if they have any reason to disagree with the White House's statement about the boy toy. They could ask some credentialed writers why they were denied press passes while an unemployed ploy toy was given full access.

The conglomerate media really should assess the whole story, but it is easier to simply repeat what The White House tells them and continue to make snide remarks about John Stewart and the Onion winning the journalism awards again. That's the power of consolidation, always being able to do what is easy instead of what is right.

I forgot to tell you what hobby the coy ploy took up when he was fronted by one of the President's rich and very convenient friend Bernie Eberle...plagarism. Maybe he wasn't hired for his writing skills after all?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Right To Life

Is interpreted in some bizzare ways.

Government Of By And For Choicepoint

Why is ChoicePoint permitted to act as a domestic intelligence agency?

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2005 – About 900,000 Defense Department employees may be affected by Bank of America's loss and the possible compromise of government travel card information, Pentagon officials said today.

The General Services Administration and Bank of America notified DoD that GSA "SmartPay" travel cards are affected. Officials said Bank of America has been monitoring the affected accounts and there has been no evidence of fraud or misuse of the accounts.

Yet there are forces at work to give them even more power, GPS chips in our Drivers Licenses.

Choicepoint was partially financed by our very own Secret Service, just another example of the public domain being used for the private gain. The next great idea will probably be to have us dig our own graves by hand in nice compact little ditches.

Data mining, unchecked and publicly financed used for private gain with total disregard for personal information.

Does anybody still wonder why I object to the Patriot Act's power to gather everything, even our medical records?

Hat tip to corrente and Fact-esque

Coffin Counting

The Chinese are making a killing on the manufacture of those American flags though. 1495.

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty

I think I have the back story on the other 99 miscreants, but this one is a quick primer on the most insidious enemy America has ever faced.

Knowlege is power. Know thine enemy.