GOP Voters

American Sucker

The Draft Is Coming

U.S. struggling to find replacement troops:
"The Pentagon is scrambling to find enough fresh troops to begin an orderly rotation program that would bring home some of the 147,000 soldiers spread thinly across troubled Iraq.

The need for replacement troops is putting great strain on both the active and reserve forces already stretched thin meeting obligations in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan, South Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Sinai - and a brigade-sized force of up to 5,000 troops expected to be deployed to peacekeeping duties in Liberia.

With only ten active duty divisions the 480,000-man U.S. Army has been stretched almost to the breaking point by the Iraq deployments. While Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld and his top civilian aides have talked in the past of chopping another two divisions out of that Army, some in Congress have begun urging an increase in the active Army by as much as 25 percent."

Media Underplays U.S. Death Toll in Iraq

Media Underplays U.S. Death Toll in Iraq:
"According to official military records, the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq since May 2 is actually 85. This includes a staggering number of non-combat deaths. Even if killed in a non-hostile action, these soldiers are no less dead, their families no less aggrieved. And it's safe to say that nearly all of these people would still be alive if they were still back in the States.

Nevertheless, the media continues to report the much lower figure of 33 as if those are the only deaths that count. "

More On That Pension Bill

U.S. House Panel Backs Pension Fix
Companies with underfunded pension plans would get relief for three years under legislation backed by the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Friday, in an acrimonious session to which police were called.

Under the measure that the committee approved, traditional "defined benefit" pension plans would be allowed to assume a more generous return on investments based on an index of high-grade corporate bonds rather than the current formula based on 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yields.

But critics say changing the method of valuing the funds is an accounting device that doesn't address the shortfall.
Companies will be allowed to SAY they are getting higher returns on their pension savings than they really ARE making. And just how bad is the problem?
Total pension underfunding exceeds $300 billion at U.S. companies, with $60 billion in the auto industry, according to the agency that bails out troubled corporate pension plans.
That's right - the companies are $300 billion in the hole owed to pensions - but it is not on their books for purposes of evaluating investments in the companies. Hence the new stock market bubble.

Think about this - those companies that still give pensions don't have enough money saved up to PAY the pensions, and the Republicans are letting them off the hook here. Meanwhile, our Social Security money went away to pay for the huge Bush tax cuts! So the ENTIRE "baby-boomer" generation is losing its pensions, its Social Security and those lucky enough to have had jobs with 401Ks, well, half of that's gone, too. It MATTERS who wins elections!

And, by the way, how did the Republicans get this passed?
The measure was rushed through by the Republican majority as Chairman Bill Thomas of California called a voice vote while committee Democrats were conferring over last-minute changes in an adjacent library.

Dean's Questions for Bush

From Blog for America, these are Gov. Howard Dean's questions to President Bush:
"As the Niger uranium story has unfolded, what has become increasingly obvious is that there are many questions that must be answered about the way the Bush Administration led us to war, managed the conflict in Iraq, and failed to foresee the continuing resistance that our military is now confronting.

We must be clear: decisions regarding war and peace are the most serious and solemn that a Commander-in-Chief is called upon to make. There are now fundamental questions about President Bush’s leadership in taking us to war with Iraq.

There has been much discussion about the 16 words included in the State of the Union address. Today I call on the President to answer these sixteen questions to ensure that the American people can retain their trust in their government and to help ensure that the United States can retain its credibility as a moral force in the world.

1) Mr. President, beyond the NSC and CIA officials who have been identified, we need to know who else at the White House was involved in the decision to include the discredited Niger uranium evidence in your speech, and, if they knew it was false, why did they permit it to be included in the speech.

2) Mr. President, we need to know why anyone in your Administration would have contemplated using the Niger evidence in the State of the Union after George Tenet personally intervened in October 2002, to have the same evidence removed from the President’s October 7th speech. (The Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Mike Allen, 7/13/2003)

3) Mr. President, we need to know why you claimed this very week that the CIA objected to the Niger uranium sentence “subsequent” to the State of the Union address, contradicting everything else we have heard from your administration and the intelligence community on the matter. (Washington Post, Priest, Dana and Dana Milbank, 7/15/2003)

4) Mr. President, we urgently need an explanation about the very serious charge that senior officials in your Administration may have retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson by illegally disclosing that his wife is an undercover CIA officer. (The Nation, Corn, David, 7/16/2003)

5) Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration persisted in using the intercepted aluminum tubes to show that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear program and why your National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, claimed categorically that the tubes were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs,” when in fact our own government experts flatly rejected such claims. (CNN, 9/08/2002, Knight Ridder News Service, 10/04/2002)

6) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Rumsfeld created a secret intelligence unit at the Pentagon that selectively identified questionable intelligence to support the case for war – including the supposed link to al-Qaeda – while ignoring, burying or rejecting any evidence to the contrary. (New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, 5/12/03)

7) Mr. President, we need to know what the basis was for Secretary Rumsfeld's assertion that the US had bulletproof evidence linking Al Qaeda to Iraq, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. (NY Times, Schmitt, Eric, 9/28/2002, NY Times, Krugman, Paul, 7/15/2003)

8) Mr. President, we need to know why Vice President Cheney claimed last September to have “irrefutable evidence” that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, an assertion he repeated in March, on the eve of war. (AP, 9/20/2002, NBC 3/16/2003)

9) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Powell claimed with confidence and virtual certainty in February before the UN Security Council that, “Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.” (UN Address, 2/05/2003)

10) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Rumsfeld claimed on March 30th in reference to weapons of mass destruction, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." (The Guardian, Whitaker, Brian and Rory McCarthy, 5/30/2003)

11) Mr. President, we need an explanation of the unconfirmed report that your Administration is dishonoring the life of a soldier who died in Iraq as a result of hostile action by misclassifying his death as an accident. (Time, Gibbs, Nancy and Mark Thompson, 7/13/2003)

12) Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration has never told the truth about the costs and long-term commitment of the war, has consistently downplayed what those would be, and now continues to try keep the projected costs hidden from the American people.

13) Mr. President, we need to know why you said on May 1, 2003 , that the war was over, when US troops have fought and one or two have died nearly every day since then and your generals have admitted that we are fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq. (Abizaid, Gen. John, 7/16/2003)

14) Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration had no plan to build the peace in post-war Iraq and seems to be resisting calls to include NATO, the United Nations and our allies in the stabilization and reconstruction effort.

15) Mr. President, we need to know what you were referring to in Poland on May 30, 2003, when you said, “For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them.” (Washington Post, Mike Allen, 5/31/2003)

16) Mr. President, we need to know why you incorrectly claimed this very week that the war began because Iraq would not admit UN inspectors, when in fact Iraq had admitted the inspectors and you opposed extending their work. (Washington Post, Priest, Dana and Dana Milbank, 7/15/2003)

If you can’t or won’t answer these 16 questions, Mr. President, I call on the Republicans in Congress to stop blocking efforts to create an independent, bipartisan committee to investigate what is a matter of the highest importance: whether your decision to go to war was sound and just.

The American public deserves answers to all of these questions. I urge you to lead with the honor and integrity that you promised as a candidate."

Blogs Today



Ruminate This


Not Geniuses

Nathan Newman

Notes on the Atrocities

The Left Coaster

Brad DeLong

House Committee Approves $50 Billion Pension Bill (washingtonpost.com)

House Committee Approves $50 Billion Pension Bill. This is just another big ($50 billion) tax break that is only for the rich.

It's a bit complicated hot this one works, so I'll see if I can simplify it a bit. People who aren't rich need to use any money they have saved in retirement accounts, so this doesn't apply to them at all. When you take money out of a retirement account you have to pay income taxes. The government makes you start taking money out of a retirement account when you reach a certain age, as a protection against the money being sheltered forever and never subject to taxation. By increasing the age when one is required to take money out of a retirement account, they put off paying these taxes, and if the person dies, the money is inherited without paying taxes at all. Hence - another huge tax shelter just for the rich.

I wrote about how whole retirement account scam screwed workers out of their pensions in the post titled Screwing Workers.

How Does It Save Money?

News story: Republican Governors Studying Job Cuts
"Several Republican governors are studying ways to eliminate thousands of state jobs by turning the work over to private contractors, a strategy they say will save millions of tax dollars."
Let's see. You fire the state workers. They're hired by a private company. Private companies have higher overhead (example: CEO - $56 million). So how does this save money? Oh, wait, I get it - the workers are paid much less, and lose their health care, pensions, job safety protections, and other workers' rights.

This is good public policy? Of course, this is REPUBLICAN governors!


The Democrats Are Bad

Senate Defeats Call for Intelligence Probe. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said of the Democrats, by calling for a look into what happened with the pre-war intelligence, "They've sacrificed the national interest on the altar of partisan politics. "

Party Over Country

Read this story in The Nation. The Bush people intentionally outed an undercover CIA agent, for the purpose of ruining her career, as punishment for her husband's role in letting the public know about Bush's lying.
Soon after Wilson disclosed his trip in the media and made the White House look bad, the payback came. Novak's July 14, 2003, column presented the back-story on Wilson's mission and contained the following sentences: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" the allegation.
The resulting damage to national security is serious. And who is responsible for this?
"The sources for Novak's assertion about Wilson's wife appear to be 'two senior administration officials.' If so, a pair of top Bush officials told a reporter the name of a CIA operative who apparently has worked under what's known as 'nonofficial cover' and who has had the dicey and difficult mission of tracking parties trying to buy or sell weapons of mass destruction or WMD material. If Wilson's wife is such a person--and the CIA is unlikely to have many employees like her--her career has been destroyed by the Bush administration. (Assuming she did not tell friends and family about her real job, these Bush officials have also damaged her personal life.) Without acknowledging whether she is a deep-cover CIA employee, Wilson says, 'Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames.' If she is not a CIA employee and Novak is reporting accurately, then the White House has wrongly branded a woman known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm as a CIA officer. That would not likely do her much good. "
For Republicans it's ALL about the politics. NONE of it is about the security of the United States. Their methods are smears and intimidation. And, of course, lies.

This was a crime. An extremely serious one. So where is the investigation? Where are the headlines? Along these lines, yesterday the Republicans in the Senate defeated an attempt to start an investigation of the Iraq uranium story.
With Republicans closing ranks around President Bush, the Senate on Wednesday voted down a Democratic proposal to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the administration's use of secret intelligence to justify war with Iraq.
The interests of the country de damned! They conflict with the interests of The Party.


Good Sign

Not that kind of sign. A real sign.

Thinking It Through has a picture of a great sign on Interstate 5 somewhere.

It's Just A Campaign Issue

In this NY Times story, White House Tries to Dismiss Iraq Claim as Campaign Issue, the Republicans are all over the place talking about how this is all political.
The Republican National Committee issued a statement tonight asserting that "Democrats politicize war in Iraq," while party leaders declared that Democrats did not have the standing to challenge Mr. Bush on the subject.
What depth of cynicism is required to accuse the Democrats of politicizing the Iraq situation? What degree of irony is demonstrated in this statement? This from the people who forced a war vote just before the 2002 election, who moved their New York convention into September so their candidates can participate in 9/11 memorials, who pumped fear into the public to get them to vote their way.

They don't even get it, that this isn't about politics, or Democrats. They don't get it that the public is concerned with issues of war and peace, truth and honesty and integrity. They don't get it that the credibility of the country is diminished, and this is important and will have consequences. Truth, honesty and integrity are no more to them than words to use when focus groups show they are the best way to persuade a few more people to vote for The Party.

They aren't concerned with the substance, they're concerned with the politics. It's all they know. To them everything is politics, everything is The Party, everything is advancing their ideology. They don't even understand that people might be upset by what they did, upset that kids are dying, upset that we invaded a country with no reason, except to the degree that it comes up in a focus group, and then they'll design a "strategy" for "damage control" instead of answering the public's questions.

Light Blogging

I apologize that I have notbeen writing as much lately. I'll be back on the ball soon.

Bush Said WHAT?

Joe Conason writes about Bush's statement yesterday that we went to war not because Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but because,
"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
Joe asks the question, "What possessed the president to make an assertion that everyone on the planet knows to be untrue?" (Remember - Bush tried to prevent U.N. inspectors from going to Iraq, and then insisted they were taking too long.)

Go read it. It's astounding. Why isn't the press repeating this statement? Americans should know that their leader is seriously unhinged.

Court Denies Clintons' Request for Legal Reimbursement

A panel of judges turned down the Clintons' request for reimbursement of their legal costs for the Whitewater investigation.

So guess who the judges were?
The judicial panel, chaired by Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said the Clintons should be entitled to reimbursement of $85,312. Sentelle was part of a three judge panel that appointed Starr to the case.

The judicial panel also included Judge Thomas M. Reavley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Peter T. Fay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Peter T. Fay -- Senior appelate judge first appointed by Nixon later elevated to appeals court by Ford.

They just won't leave CLinton alone. They still have to do what they can to hurt him.



Live, from Iraq...

CalPundit: Avoiding the Press

In CalPundit: Avoiding the Press, Kevin says the real reason Bush avoids foreign travel is because he has to actually answer questions from the press. And last week's news demonstrates what happens when Bush has to actually answer questions from the press.