Saturday, January 22, 2005


Bush vs. Reality - Update

The latest good news from Iraq is we're about to "turn the corner" via the January 30th vote.

As for bad news:
Analysis: Iraqi insurgency growing larger, more effective
By Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States is steadily losing ground to the Iraqi insurgency, according to every key military yardstick.

A Knight Ridder analysis of U.S. government statistics shows that through all the major turning points that raised hopes of peace in Iraq, including the arrest of Saddam Hussein and the handover of sovereignty at the end of June, the insurgency, led mainly by Sunni Muslims, has become deadlier and more effective.
(Emphasis added.)
Somehow, I don't think this indicates "vindication" of Mr. Bush's foreign policy.


Reason #7,359 to Fight Social Security Privatization.

Reuters reports the SEC may institute legal action against Citigroup:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is considering recommending a civil injunction and/or administrative proceedings against Citigroup Asset Management, Citicorp Trust Bank, former asset management unit Chief Executive Thomas Jones and three other people, Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Friday.

The New York-based financial services giant said the actions are related to its creation and operation of an internal transfer agent unit serving more than 20 Citigroup-managed closed-end funds. One of the individuals remains a Citigroup Asset Management employee and two are no longer with the money-management entity.

Maybe we should rename Bush's initiative the "Charles Keating Memorial SSI Privatization Plan."

Friday, January 21, 2005


Cheney Targets Iran

Seeking to discredit reports that the US might engage in a "pre-emptive" strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Dick Cheney announced that Israel might attack Iran first:
Don Imus, who during the election campaign made no secret of his dislike of the policies of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, then asked, "Why don't we make Israel do it?" It was a reference to a military option much discussed in Washington but rarely talked about in public by top officials.

"Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked," Mr. Cheney said. "If, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had a significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."
(Source: NY Times)
The Bush Administration's attempt at deniability would be more convincing if the US had not already sold Israel the "bunker-buster" bombs needed for such a mission:
posted September 24, 2004, updated 12:15 p.m.
US sells Israel 500 'bunker-busters
Iran says Israel would 'pay a price' for pre-emptive strike against its nuclear facilities.
by Jim Bencivenga | ChristianScienceMonitor.Com

The announcement (in September, 2004) by Israel that it would buy 500 "bunker-buster" bombs from the United States concentrated the world's attention on the escalating crisis over Iran's clerical-ruled republic's alleged development of nuclear weapons, reports the International Herald Tribune. The 2,000 pound bombs, capable of penetrating concrete fortifications 6 feet thick, are part of one of the largest weapons deals between Israel and the US in years. The bombs include airborne versions, guidance units, training bombs and detonators. They are guided by an existing Israeli satellite used by the military.
(Emphasis added.)
Meanwhile, Seymour Hersh's report in this month's New Yorker Magazine of US forces scouting out Iranian targets for attack implies Mr. Bush has already decided upon attacking Iran by proxy. I suspect Mr. Bush and Karl Rove will again start the fear-mongering just after Labor Day, 2005 - and I suppose Sinclair Broadcasting will have a "Made for TV" movie on the Iranian hostage crisis ready to go by then.


Bush Supporters Call Him "Uncompromising"

Watching the BBC Evening news, I was struck by some of Bush's supporters describing "W" as "uncompromising" and "value driven" while Bush himself said he was ready to "reach across the aisle."

Add these together, and you get Mr. Bush's "buy-partisan" message: so long as you buy whatever partisan position Mr. Bush takes, ignoring your own views, the Republican party will graciously walk all over you.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Site's Improved Commenting

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. This allows you to enter comments without joining Blogspot.


Mellow Yellow, Sponge Bob, and Wingnuts

During the 1960's, fears of secret pro-drug messages in songs ran rampant. Reporters constantly hounded bands over where they had hidden their latest secret messages.

When the song "Mellow Yellow" came out, band members said the song referred to smoking dried banana peels for a "legal high." Chaos ensued, sales of bananas to minors were banned, legislators proposed harsh anti-banana-peel laws. (I personally recall being sent to the store by my mother for bananas, only to be refused by a horrified store manager. They became really suspicious when I told them nobody smoked banana peels, figuring I must be trying to put one over on them.)

Eventually, scientists were able to convince people the whole thing was ridiculous, and that banana peels don't contain any hallucinogens.

Which brings us to SpongeBob SquarePants. Yes, our moral values are again being threatened by a "yellow peril":

...James Dobson, founder of right-wing Christian group Focus on the Family, singled out SpongeBob at a black-tie dinner in Washington in the run-up to President Bush's inauguration, the New York Times said.

SpongeBob - who appears on the children's cable channel Nickelodeon - is seen as an icon for adult gay men in the US, apparently because he regularly holds hands with his sidekick Patrick.


"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organisation is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," Paul Batura, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, told the New York Times.

Mr Rodgers said the groups may have confused (his We Are Family Foundation) with an unrelated organisation with a similar name that supports gay youth.

WAFF spokesman Mark Barondeso told the newspaper that anyone who thought the video promoted homosexuality "needs to visit their doctor and get their medication increased".

Personally, I think James Dobson (a.k.a. SpongeDob Stickypants) and the rest of his group have been smoking too many banana peels.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Senator Boxer Holds Condi Rice Accountable

Senator Boxer says today what Kerry should have said during the campaign:
This war was sold to the American people– as Chief of Staff to President Bush, Andy Card said– like a “new product.” You rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, and as you made your case, I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given overwhelmed your respect for the truth.
Perhaps the most well known statement you have made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America, with the image of a “mushroom cloud.” That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped.

I will be placing into the record a number of other such statements which have not been consistent with the facts nor the truth.

As the nominee for Secretary of State, you now must answer to the American people through the confirmation process.

Full text of Senator Boxer's opening here


Paul Krugman On SSI "Reform"

Paul Krugman's column today describes the Bush marketing plan for conning us into Social Security "reform."
That Magic Moment

A charming man courts a woman, telling her that he's a wealthy independent businessman. Just after the wedding, however, she learns that he has been cooking the books, several employees have accused him of sexual harassment and his company is about to file for bankruptcy. She accuses him of deception. "The accountability moment is behind us," he replies.

Last week President Bush declared that the election was the "accountability moment" for the war in Iraq - the voters saw it his way, and that's that. But Mr. Bush didn't level with the voters during the campaign and doesn't deserve anyone's future trust.

Maybe we can't hold Mr. Bush directly to account for misleading the public about Iraq. But Mr. Bush still has a domestic agenda, for which the lessons of Iraq are totally relevant.

White House officials themselves concede - or maybe boast - that their plan to sell Social Security privatization is modeled on their selling of the Iraq war. In fact, the parallels are remarkably exact.
Full Article here
Mr. Krugman spotted something I hadn't previously picked up on: Mr. Bush feels he is no longer accountable to the American people - or anyone else.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Update: Read Sy Hersh's New Yorker Article

What the Pentagon can now do in secret.
Issue of 2005-01-24 and 31
Posted 2005-01-17
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”
God help us all.


The Next Bush Fiasco: Attacking Iran?

Bush's 2006 mid-term election strategy may include war with Iran. According to the BBC:
US commandos are operating inside Iran selecting sites for future air strikes, says the American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

In the New Yorker magazine, Hersh says intelligence officials have revealed that Iran is the Bush administration's "next strategic target".

<> Hersh says that American special forces have conducted reconnaissance missions inside Iran for six months.
The New Yorker journalist adds that President Bush has authorised the operations, defining them as military to avoid legal restrictions on CIA covert intelligence activities overseas.

They constitute a revival of a form of covert US military activity used in the 1980s, notably in support of the Nicaraguan Contras.

This brings up the following doomsday scenario:
George Bush and the neocons came into power planning to make this "The American Century." If someone doesn't start forcing some truth down Mr. Bush's throat, by 2008 the US will no longer be a world power.


Is "Vindicate" another word for "FUBAR?"

President Bush claims his victory in the recent elections "vindicated" his administration's Iraq policies. The BBC reports:
The (Washington Post) asked Mr Bush why no-one had been held responsible for wrong information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or mistakes made after the US-led war.

"Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election," (Mr. Bush) replied.

"And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and they chose me, for which I'm grateful."

Interestingly, when ex-governor Gray Davis beat an ultra-conservative Republican using the same type of negative campaigning Mr. Bush employed, the Republicans successfully unseated Mr. Davis in a recall election. Too bad we can't recall Mr. Bush...

Meanwhile, back in the land of reality, the CIA reports that in all probability Mr. Bush's Iraq policies resulted in an Iraq Fouled Up Beyond All Repair (FUBAR.)

Iraq could become a breeding ground for terrorists, with survivors taking their experience to use around the world, a new US intelligence report warns.

<> Veterans of jihad in Iraq could eventually replace the al-Qaeda hierarchy, the CIA's National Intelligence Council says.
US President George W Bush has described the war in Iraq as part of the "war on terror".

But the report suggests that terrorists could thrive in Iraq, and go on to "supersede" those who earned their stripes in training camps in Afghanistan.

"The al-Qaeda membership that was distinguished by having trained in Afghanistan will gradually dissipate, to be replaced in part by the dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq," it says.

Apparently Mr. Bush feels his Iraq policy was "vindicated" even though in all probability he turned Iraq from an insignificant threat into a terrorist-generating factory posing a mortal threat for many, many years to come.

My dictionary doesn't list FUBAR as a synonym for "vindicated." Maybe I need a new dictionary. On the other hand, maybe not - my dictionary has a picture of George W Bush next to the definition of "folie a deux." (Psychiatric term for a shared delusion.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Updated Site Design

I got tired of the Orange motif, so I modified the colors. Leave a comment if you like/dislike the new design.

(Sorry about needing to log in for comments - there are too many comment-spammers out there.)


Embezzling Social Security's Trust Fund

When a trustee uses a trust's assets on the trustee's pet projects rather on accomplishing the trust's purposes, that trustee has committed embezzlement. By spending assets needed by Social Security to pay for the Iraq war rather than raising the money via tax increases, George Bush has in effect embezzled the Social Security Trust Fund.

The Social Security "Trust Fund" was intended to be kept separate from the "general fund." (Source: Social Security Agency web site.) Although President Johnson's "unified budget" temporarily included Social Security as part of the Federal budget, Social Security's web site notes:
This budget treatment of the Social Security Trust Fund continued until 1990 when the Trust Funds were again taken "off-budget." This means only that they are shown as a separate account in the federal budget. But whether the Trust Funds are "on-budget" or "off-budget" is primarily a question of accounting practices--it has no affect on the actual operations of the Trust Fund itself.
Social Security's "Internet myths" web site (Emphasis added)
Now, Social Security "reformers" claim that we must act because "the General Fund can't afford to repay money owed to Social Security." In other words, Mr. Bush took money he knew belonged to Social Security - spent it on pet projects like Iraq and tax cuts - and now claims that Social Security is broke when in fact it is the General Fund that has the money problems.

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