Saturday, May 28, 2005


Bush League's Cynical North Korea Policy

The Bush Administration's suspension of the recovery program for Korean War MIAs (just before Memorial Day) isn't a "mixed message." W and his Bush league minions think they can win by "getting tough" with North Korea:
Even as top officials have affirmed a commitment to dialogue, the Bush administration this week suspended a long-running and successful joint search with Pyongyang for missing American servicemen from the Korean War and deployed Stealth fighters to the region for training.

It also forced out the executive director of a U.S.-led international consortium created to implement a nuclear energy deal with the North, underscoring plans to shut down the operation by year's end.
Retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President Bush's father, concluded in a Wall Street Journal article this week that Pyongyang "has gained effective control and pacing" of the nuclear crisis.
Critics said the suspension had a political message. "It will interpreted by the North as a step toward possible U.S. military action," one U.S. Senate critic said.
Source: Washington Post U.S. sends mixed messages in N. Korea nuke dispute, May 27, 2005
We can either stay in Iraq or go fight North Korea - not both. Is this El Busho's Iraq exit plan - trigger a crisis with North Korea?

There are two possibilities:
(1) Mr. Bush doesn't think North Korea realizes the US armed forces can't fight Iraqi insurgents and an all-out North Korean invasion at the same time; or
(2) Mr. Bush realizes North Korea knows the US can't attack North Korea and is just trying to obstruct negotiations.

I vote for #2. Mr. Bush must know he can't bluff North Korea into backing down by acting tough - he just doesn't want successful negotiations resolving a world crisis. Kim Jong Il will probably respond by conducting a nuclear test, thus heightening tensions and harming chances for negotiations. Each despot gets what he wants: an evil foreign government with which to frighten his respective citizenry while distracting them from their troubled domestic economies.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Reality vs. The Bush League: Paying for the Bush Economic "Plan"

Remember how all those tax cuts were going to get the US economy going again? Unfortunately, all that cash freed up for investment went overseas to build infrastructure for outsourced jobs. We've been surviving on increased consumer spending and "greater worker productivity" gained via real wage cuts (wage increases less than the inflation rate.)

The problem with an economy running on lowering workers' wages and ever-increasing consumer spending is their mutually exclusive nature. Sooner or later, workers run out of cash to spend on consumer goods.

We've been borrowing against our investments for a long time, and we're starting to run out of them. Paul Krugman explains:
In July 2001, Paul McCulley, an economist at Pimco, the giant bond fund, predicted that the Federal Reserve would simply replace one bubble with another. "There is room," he wrote, "for the Fed to create a bubble in housing prices, if necessary, to sustain American hedonism. And I think the Fed has the will to do so, even though political correctness would demand that Mr. Greenspan deny any such thing."

As Mr. McCulley predicted, interest rate cuts led to soaring home prices, which led in turn not just to a construction boom but to high consumer spending, because homeowners used mortgage refinancing to go deeper into debt. All of this created jobs to make up for those lost when the stock bubble burst.
But although the housing boom has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, the economy would still be in big trouble if it came to an end. That is, if the hectic pace of home construction were to cool, and consumers were to stop borrowing against their houses, the economy would slow down sharply. If housing prices actually started falling, we'd be looking at a very nasty scene, in which both construction and consumer spending would plunge, pushing the economy right back into recession.
Source: Paul Krugman Running out of Bubbles, New York Times, May 27, 2005
Had W and the Bush League passed fewer tax cuts for their rich buddies, they'd have more leeway to deal with this problem. Unfortunately for us all, the tax cuts and the Iraq War bills have drained our country's resources as badly as consumer spending financed by mortgage refinancing has drained the American taxpayers' assets.

More and more, it looks like Mr. Bush will go down as the President who destroyed the US economy and relegated this country to "has-been" status. I expect he'll blame liberals and Congress' failure to pass Enron's oops, I mean Cheney's energy plan.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Texas Democracy Only Worth $200K

The cost of doing business:
Judge Rules Against DeLay Group Official
Published: May 26, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The treasurer of a political committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay violated Texas election code by not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, a judge ruled Thursday in a civil case brought by Democratic candidates.

State District Judge Joe Hart, in a letter outlining his ruling to attorneys in the case, said the money, much of it corporate contributions, should have been reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.

The ruling means Bill Ceverha, treasurer of the group, called the Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, will have to pay nearly $200,000. It will be divided among those who brought the suit against Ceverha, five Democratic candidates who lost legislative races in 2002.
(Source: New York Times [Emphasis added.])
Pop quiz:
(1)How long will it take Mr. Ceverha's corporate buddies to come up with $200,000.00?

(2)Is control of both the Texas legislature and the US House of Representatives worth one week's salary for an average corporate CEO?
Please note this ruling means little to the criminal cases - the standard of guilt is "more likely than not" in a civil case (50.01% certain) versus "beyond reasonable doubt" (over 90% certain) in a criminal case.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Have the Republicans Wedged Themselves?

Business groups are objecting to the Republican's efforts to appease right-wing religilous zealots:
But since then, it has become clear the judicial showdown could doom initiatives on taxes, legal liability protections, Social Security and other priorities. Last week, NAM spokesman Darren McKinney said not only would the group stay out of the fight, but "we hope that leveler heads prevail" before the confrontation virtually shuts down the Senate.

Mark A. Bloomfield, whose business-backed American Council for Capital Formation pushes for lower taxes on savings, investment and inheritances, said the business community is no longer the GOP's base.
(Source: Washington Post, Business Groups Tire of GOP Focus On Social Issues, May 24, 2005
Republicans giving themselves a wedgie? How very sad...

Monday, May 23, 2005


Is Grover Destined For Club Fed?

Looks like the Jack Abramoff scandal may be sucking another Republican mover-and-shaker down into the tar pit:
WASHINGTON, May 18 - In Republican Washington, Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist worked all the angles.
While Mr. Abramoff has been under scrutiny for more than a year, Mr. Norquist has attracted unwelcome attention in recent weeks. A Congressional committee investigating whether Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes has subpoenaed records from Mr. Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, after he refused for six months to turn them over voluntarily.

The Justice Department is reviewing records of an advocacy group Mr. Norquist started with Gale A. Norton, now secretary of the interior, after reports that Mr. Abramoff instructed Indian tribes to give it $250,000. And Mr. Norquist's name appears over and over in newly disclosed documents outlining Mr. Abramoff's work in the Northern Mariana Islands, an American protectorate in the Pacific, which Democrats are agitating to investigate.
As Mr. Abramoff's problems touched Mr. DeLay - the majority leader may face an ethics inquiry over trips arranged by Mr. Abramoff - Mr. Norquist was their most vocal defender. But in recent weeks he has distanced himself from the two men whose success has been so intertwined with his own.
(Source: New York Times Link to Lobbyist Brings Scrutiny to G.O.P. Figure, May 23, 2005. [Emphasis added.]
Looks like the rat is deserting his friends' sinking ship. Maybe he'll get sucked down in the turbulence.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Bush League Targeting Venezuela?

This article was mildly troubling:
U.S. Proposal in the O.A.S. Draws Fire as an Attack on Venezuela
Published: May 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 21 - An American proposal to create a committee at the Organization of American States that would monitor the quality of democracy and the exercise of power in Latin America is facing a hostile reception from many countries in part because it is being viewed as a thinly veiled effort to attack Venezuela.

Roger F. Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and a principal architect of the proposal, said in an interview this week that he was "not surprised they are seeing this in the context of Venezuela," but he added, "I am determined that it not be regarded as some kind of effort to isolate Venezuela."

Last month, however, he and other administration officials made several statements tying the effort directly to their concern about Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's populist, anti-American president. Mr. Chávez has curtailed some press freedoms and judicial independence while forming close ties with Cuba, an alliance that, more than anything else, infuriates some Bush administration officials.
(Source: New York Times [Emphasis added])
THIS article (via ), looks like the beginning of the propaganda campaign for Invasion 2007:
During a private meeting between Chavez and Khatami, I was told, Chavez made it known to the Iranian leader that he would like to "introduce nuclear elements into Venezuela." My contact said "nuclear elements" meant "nuclear weapons."
(Source: Douglas MacKinnon, Is Venezuela going nuclear?, Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2005 [Emphasis added])
Note the use of a single, anonymous source to make an extremely serious charge - hasn't the Houston Chronicle learned anything from the Newsweek episode? Why was such a poorly sourced, inflammatory editorial even printed?

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