Free Markets

I just love Thom Hartman!

Democracy - Not "The Free Market" - Will Save America's Middle Class:
"Here are a couple of headlines for those who haven't had the time to study both economics and history:
1. There is no such thing as a 'free market.'
2. The 'middle class' is the creation of government intervention in the marketplace, and won't exist without it (as millions of Americans and Europeans are discovering).
The conservative belief in 'free markets' is a bit like the Catholic Church's insistence that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System in the Twelfth Century. It's widely believed by those in power, those who challenge it are branded heretics and ridiculed, and it is wrong.

In actual fact, there is no such thing as a 'free market.' Markets are the creation of government."
"Markets are a creation of government, just as corporations exist only by authorization of government. Governments set the rules of the market. And, since our government is of, by, and for We The People, those rules have historically been set to first maximize the public good resulting from people doing business.

If you want to play the game of business, we've said in the US since 1784 (when Tench Coxe got the first tariffs passed "to protect domestic industries") then you have to play in a way that both makes you money AND serves the public interest."
Everyone should go read this piece! However, the idea that corporations should only be allowed to exist if they are benefiting the American public is going to really piss off the right-wing vermin that have been leaving comments here lately.

I'm shocked, shocked!

Blockbuster from the Independent via Common Dreams:

Washington has been channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the political opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - including those who briefly overthrew the democratically elected leader in a coup two years ago.

Social Security

Calpundit is writing about fixing Social Security. Here's my two cents: Since 1981 the government has been borrowing from Social Security to pay for tax cuts given primarily to the rich, and to pay increased bond interest because of the deficits caused by those tax cuts, and that interest goes primarily to the richest, who HAVE trillions to loan to the government. Other items that contributed to the country's deficits include massive military spending increases, the parts of which that didn't cover military pay were skewed to defense contractors owned by the richest - like the Carlyle Group - and to ag subsidies, which largely go to the giant corporate farm companies. THOSE are the spending items that increased dramatically since the early 80's. So the Social Security money has gone out to the tax cuts for the rich, and the government's deficits have been occurring for spending that largely benefits the richest.

The FIRST Social Security crisis occurs in a few years (2018?) when it stops running a surplus and wants to cash in some of the government debt it holds because of the borrowing to finance tax cuts for the rich. People like Alan Greenspan are worried about how the government is going to pay that money it borrowed from Social Security. He says we need to cut benefits NOW, and raise the retirement age NOW, to delay the time when Social Security stops running a surplus -- that finances tax cuts for the rich -- and instead needs to start cashing in the government bonds it owns. Once again, the "crisis" is that the government has to start paying back some of the money it owes Social Security recipients.

The SECOND crisis occurs many, many years down the road when Social Security no longer has this reserve fund. It happens so far in the future that they have to use very interesting models to predict what might happen, and every year they seem to be adding TWO years before this second "crisis" occurs. I think currently it is projected to be OK for 39 years. Last year I think it was OK for 37.

I've worked my whole life and payed into Social Security. I didn't get the tax cuts. I haven't been receiving debt interest payments. I don't own any defense companies or ag companies. So I am not going to accept any Social Security "fix" that involves cutting MY benefits or making ME work extra years before I can retire.

As Jesse Jackson says, let's get the money from where the money went.

This FIRST "crisis" -- finding the money to pay some of what was borrowed from Social Security -- sounds to me like the obligation lies with someone other than the people the money is owed to... like maybe the people who GOT the money that was borrowed. Why should the people it was borrowed FROM have to accept less benefits or work more years to "fix" it? I say solve the FIRST with an increase in the income "cap." People do not kow that there is a "cap" on incomes, that means that if you make more than $87,000 you no longer pay in to Social Security. THAT'S RIGHT - people who make more than $87,000 DON'T PAY IN TO SOCIAL SECURITY ANYMORE!! They got tax CUTS instead! And they're talking about cutting benefits so that people who make more than $87,000 don't have to pay more in to Social Security!

AND I say add an income surtax on the rich and the corporations that GOT all the extra money people like me were paying in. In fact, maybe add enough of a surtax to cover INCREASING benefits to the people who loaned the money to give the rich fucks tax cuts that caused this problem in the first place. Maybe then they'll stop acting like that!

And the second crisis -- the one that is projected to occur 39 years from now when Social Security needs some funds to shore it up? I say let the government loan some money to Social Security for a change.

Limbaugh and others spread disinformation about the 9/11 survivors groups; Bush fixer James Baker defends the Saudis against their lawsuit

Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle are members of the "Family Steering Committee for the 9-11 Survivors", which has filed a lawsuit against the Saudi government for their complicity in 9/11. The lawyer defending the Saudis is Baker Botts -- the law firm of the Bush family's old and trusted friend James Baker, whom Bush just recently used for an important U.S. mission to the Mideast.

When Breitweiser and Gabrielle recently appeared on national TV criticizing Bush's 9/11 ads, Rush Limbaugh (along with Newsmax, the N.Y. Post, Republican operative James Pinkerton in Newsday, and others) immediately claimed that Breitweiser's group was funded indirectly by Theresa Heinz-Kerry. This is doubly false. First, Breitweiser has her own group and is not a member of the group Limbaugh is thinking about -- "Peaceful Tomorrows". Not only that, but Peaceful Tomorrows is not funded by the "Tides Center" (the group funded by Heinz-Kerry). Peaceful Tomorrows does its own fundraising and actually pays money to the Tides Center for administrative support.

Limbaugh has also claimed that the survivors are Democrats and that that is why they are criticizing Bush. Well, you can be sure that they are Democrats now, regardless of what they might have been before. Just seeing Bush's friend James Baker standing there in court alongside the Saudis would be enough to turn anyone around.

Survivors' lawsuit

Survivor's lawsuit II

Survivor Jeremy Glick gets in Bill O'Reilly's ugly face

"Any questions about Tides Foundation or the Tides Center can be addressed to Christopher Herrera , Tides Foundation's Director of Communications at 415. 561. 6355, or Willa Seldon, Executive Director for the Tides Center at 415. 561. 6300."

The heavy lifting for this post was done by Allan Duncan of Oped News.

Dotcom Bust -- or Fraud?

Everyone knows that we're in the worst economic slump in decades. The official explanation is that besides the normal fluctuations of the business cycle, we're dealing with the after-effects of the dotcom bust. Too many people put too much money into risky high-tech and dotcom ventures, and they lost their shirts. As a result, even the ones who still have money are reluctant to invest.

Isn't this being euphemistic? One of the big things we're dealing with is the after-effects of massive fraud. Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, and too many others to name defrauded their investors. And most of them were not dotcoms or even high-tech; Enron was an energy company.

Back in the boom days, proponents of tighter business regulation were called "anti-business" or worse. Laws were relaxed, and as a result many of the fraudulent activities were entirely legal. Everyone was the loser, and the ones who lost the worst were the small investors and pensioners whom "business Democrats" were catering to. (Joe Lieberman was the number one business Democrat, and unsurprisingly, he was the Democrat with the biggest say in the Enron investigation.)

So now a lot of that money has disappeared from the face of the earth. Some of it is in the hands of the perps, who I am sure have invested it very conservatively --offshore. And even people who have money are gun-shy. Sure, over-optimistic investment in dotcoms had something to do with it, but a lot of it was just plain fraud.

10.6 billion dollars worth of creative accounting at WorldCom


The Myth of Washington's Farewell Address

I get tired of having to correct this historical myth but I'll try to do it again. In response to this post by Kevin on partisan politics (discussion thread is here), someone once again raised the argument that Washington and many of the Founding Fathers were "against parties."

With regards to Washington, this is a myth -- and an egregiously inaccurate one at that.

Here's the response I posted on the comment board:

BTW, the idea that Washington at the end of his administration was "against parties" is a myth perpetrated by people grasping at straws to claim that partisan politics are somehow beyond the bounds of good discourse. Most people who claim this haven't read Exhibit A of paranoid politics, the Farewell Address.

If you've ever read the actual Farewell Address, Washington was primarily against people joining that other party.

Washington was perfectly happy with his own party (he clearly was a Federalist by the end of his second term) and thought that everyone should join it, not the Democratic Republican party.

Despite popular myth, by the end of his second term, Washington is not necessarily against political parties, he was just against there being more than one of them.
This is one of those myths I get really tired of having to knock down. If people would just read the documents for themselves and learn a little bit about the time, they'd know what a ridiculous myth this is.


Nasty Bush Ads

By now you're heard about Bush's "Muhammad Horton" (Willie Horton revisited -- get it?) campaign ad, showing a threatening-looking Arab, and charging that Kerry would "weaken fight against terrorists."

Well, the question is will the Democrats have enough money to respond, or is this how the Republicans are going to win. Which is it going to be?

The Dean strategy was to get everyone donating money every time the Republicans run another nasty, negative, character assassination ad. If 2 million Democrats give $100 each, we match Bush's (direct) campaign donations. (Indirect might total a billion. Seriously.) Well, here we are. Are we going to take this seriously or not? Are you out there talking to EVERYONE YOU KNOW about the importance of donating MONEY? And are you responding every time they make you mad, with a few more dollars? It is so important. Do it.

Click here to donate to the DNC, or click on the "Boot Bush" button over on the right side of the screen.

So that's what desperation looks like!

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) unleashed the first negative ads of the general election campaign Thursday, accusing Democratic rival John Kerry (news - web sites) of seeking to raise taxes by $900 billion and wanting to "delay defending America."
Only a day after his campaign whinily blasted Kerry for saying something negative about him and demanded an apology, W spends multiple millions on negative attack ads.

Congratulations W! You have flip-flopped and made yourself look like the ultimate crocodile-tears-crying hypocritical politician in, um, less than 24 hours.

That took some real skill, huh?

Desperation folks. That's all it is.

Update: My goodness. I think they've stumbled once again. People are already calling one of these ads the "Mohammed Horton" ad because it so clearly tries to use fear (this time the bogey man is an Arab instead of an African-American) in the same way.

You also should read this hilarious post making fun of Bush ad as well.

The Gold Standard for Political Smears: Newt Gingrich, 1994

This is going to be a dirty campaign, and the Republicans are already sliming Kerry while they whine about how dirty the Democrats are. This is a good time for a flashback to what I think is the nastiest example of dirty politics of recent times: Newt Gingrich's 1994 Susan Smith smear.

"When Susan Smith confessed to drowning her two children in a South Carolina lake, Gingrich was quick to blame the Democrats. 'I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. . . . The only way to change is to vote Republican.'"

This accusation makes no real sense because it doesn't actually accuse anyone of anything specific. It just takes a single horrible act and laughably blames it on the fact that the Democrats controlled Congress. This was really the bottom level of gutter politics, and it seems to have worked. The Republicans took control of Congress in that election and Gingrich (who never apologized) became Speaker of the House -- the second-most-powerful man in American government.

That's bad enough, but the truth was really much worse. In fact, the horrible story did have a political angle, but it worked in the opposite direction. The woman who killed her two kids, Susan Smith, was the stepdaughter of a member of the South Carolina Republican Party Central Committee (also active with the Moral Majority), Beverly Russell. Furthermore, Beverly (a man) sexually molested his stepdaughter for several years during her teens.

Of course, once it was found that there really was a political angle on the story, and that it was not just a baseless Republican smear, the story died. Today, if you Google "Beverly Russell" + "Susan Smith" + "Newt Gingrich", you will get a grand total of 16 hits, mostly on marginal political sites. (Props to Robert Scheer for keeping the story -- just barely -- alive).

The moral of the story? Let the Republicans whine, and expect the worst. They've already shown that there is nothing so creepy that they aren't willing to do it, and I won't be surprised if they outdo themselves this year.

More on the story: Russell was under investigation for using Moral Majority funds in Pat Robertson's presidential campaign

Beverly Russell and Susan Smith

More Republican Party sex criminals, including an Iran-Contra connection

When Republicans Whine

When Republicans whine about how mean the Democrats are, and how innocent Republicans are, and how the Democrats and Kerry are saying such bad things about them, remember that they have already come out with this:
"Also, Kerry's ardent fans clamor over the Purple Hearts he received for each of his several wounds. What is not widely known is that even a minor wound can qualify for a Purple Heart, and a combination of Purple Hearts can be the basis for reassignment to a safer post. Kerry did, in fact, take a safer post after accepting his war medals.

Other veterans tell me they didn't even put in for Purple Hearts, because they did not want to be transferred home unless they were seriously wounded. These veterans didn't want to leave their buddies behind just to seek the safety of distance from the battle.'"
So cry me a river. And donate some money to a Democrat, any Democrat, so they can fight back. That's how we're going to win this election; every time you hear a Republican say something like that and makes you mad, send $5 or even $2 to a Democrat somewhere. There are MILLIONS of us, so even the occasional $2 matters!

See Those Ads

See those ads over on the right side of the page? Three of these are for campaigns that are very important. Even if you can only donate $5 it will help them fight the Right. Nothing is more important. And if they have a code to use -- the Minnesota ad wants you to add 12 cents if you came from Seeing the Forest -- please do.

We're accomplishing two things here. First, we are using the Internet to reach many small donors to counter the Right's corporate money. Second, we are starting to show that weblogs matter. Billmon wrote the other day about weblogs being the many small, furry creatures running around swiftly dodging the dinosaurs' feet. The dinosaurs are the newspaper "conventional wisdom" pundits like George Will.

Even $5 makes a big difference, because there are a lot of weblog readers.


Bedtime Reading

Go let Striling scare the crap out of you. Laboring Under Illusions:
"That this is a Depression, and only structural change will remove obstacles to growth, and a warning that a price shock is on the way, can be seen from the next graph."

A Bad Day for W


"These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen," Kerry added. "It's scary."
And just exactly what is wrong with that statement?

BTW, is the Bush campaign's response ot this not the whiniest thing you've heard in a while?

"At every turn, John Kerry has claimed to be the victim of an imaginary smear machine," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. "Today, John Kerry made a comment that showed his true colors: a relentlessly negative campaign that is negative and pessimistic and offers no positive plan or agenda."

Oh yeah, and public faith in the economy has plummeted.

And the market tanked today.

Is it my imagination or does it appear that the wheels are finally coming off the Bush White House?

It looks like Bush's carefully constructed artificial reality is finally falling apart.

Americans are apparently no longer buying the bull that W is peddling.

I think W has told several lies too many over the last several months.

I sure hope that's what going on.

It took long enough, didn't it?

Update: The fine whine continues:

Senator Kerry's statement today in Illinois was unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, and tonight we call on Senator Kerry to apologize to the American people for this negative attack," Racicot said in a statement. "On the day that Senator Kerry emerged as his party's presumptive nominee, the president called to congratulate him. That goodwill gesture has been met by attacks and false statements."

This is getting to be fun, isn't it? As my man Atrios says, pass the popcorn.

The New Pentagon Papers

Now we are told by our president and neoconservative mouthpieces that our sons and daughters, husbands and wives are in Iraq fighting for freedom, for liberty, for justice and American values. This cost is not borne by the children of Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld and Cheney. Bush's daughters do not pay this price. We are told that intelligence has failed America, and that President Bush is determined to get to the bottom of it. Yet not a single neoconservative appointee has lost his job, and no high official of principle in the administration has formally resigned because of this ill-planned and ill-conceived war and poorly implemented occupation of Iraq.

Will Americans hold U.S. policymakers accountable? Will we return to our roots as a republic, constrained and deliberate, respectful of others? My experience in the Pentagon leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq tells me, as Ben Franklin warned, we may have already failed. But if Americans at home are willing to fight -- tenaciously and courageously -- to preserve our republic, we might be able to keep it.

Go read it (get the Day Pass) now.


Bush's Insider Trading

t r u t h o u t - Bush's Insider Trading:
"After a decade of striking Texas brown dust instead of oil, his luck finally turned that year when go-for-broke Harken Energy Corp. bought his failing oil exploration firm for stock. Four years later the company concealed large losses just before the GOP presidential hopeful unloaded those securities for a nice profit. That, in turn, helped finance his stake in the Texas Rangers baseball club and catapult him into the ranks of multimillionaires."
Let's hear more about this.

Bush Flip-Flop?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has another example of a Bush flip-flop. Fine. But that's not how marketing works. You don't point at Bush and say "he does it too." That doesn't work. Bush has now branded Kerry as a flip-flopper. Kerry did not respond well. The fact of Bush SAYING that Kerry flip-flops (and votes against military and intelligence programs), and repeating it, and not being answered immediately, MAKES IT SO. This is how "defining" works.

Now that Bush has labeled Kerry as the flip-flopper without Kerry answering it effectively, any discussion of flip-flops will be on Bush's terms, and will be a discussion of HOW MUCH of a flip-flopper Kerry is. The press and the public will be looking at everything Kerry says for more examples. THIS IS HOW IT WORKS. Bush SAYS Kerry does it, and repeats it, so that is the topic of discussion. Don't you get it? You don't let them define you! You and me snickering at counter-examples on obscure blogs isn't going to make a difference. You and me are not the American Public and WE do not see what THEY see! THEY hear that Kerry is a flip-flopper. That is how it works.

And Bush's ads! The fact that Bush has SAID he is better at national security, and repeating it, MAKES IT SO. The fact that he ran pictures of 9/11 and victims in his ads MAKES IT SO. And they got away with it because the Democrats were too busy saying it wasn't fair that he used pictures of 9/11 -- like anyone understands what that is about -- and so Bush has won the opening gambit with the public identifying him with "leadership" and Kerry not effectively answering by saying "ON HIS WATCH!" Now all discussion is doing to be in terms of how much better Bush is as a leader, while Kerry flip-flops. Bush SAID he is a LEADER and REPEATS IT and THAT IS HOW IT IS DONE. You repeat a simple message. DUH!

Kerry is doing some very good things to define Bush as well, but he's like a neophyte at the game. He has to learn to say something simple, AND REPEAT IT AND REPEAT IT and, just as important, get everyone on his side repeating it, too. That is what the Republicans DO.

And I think "On His Watch" is a GREAT place to start. Repeat it and repeat it. Bloggers, repeat it. And repeat it. ON HIS WATCH. IT HAPPENED ON HIS WATCH. Repeat that phrase over and over and over AND DON'T STOP -- I mean, what happened with AWOL, anyway, it was just starting to get somewhere, a few more months of repeating it and Bush would have been branded with it! That's what "REPEAT IT" means! DUH!

Uh-oh. Wife's giving me that "there you go again" look...

Update - I left out something. A big part of Bush winning the opening gambit is that he got out there FIRST. He ran ads in several states, talking about "leadership." Kerry gets a few minutes on the news, for people who watch the news. But I don't think that people who watch the news, and do it on channels that cover Kerry, are who Kerry needs to reach to define himself. Again, this is a thing where YOU AND I see one thing and most Americans see another. WE think that Bush has been "hit" by the accusation that he exploited 9/11 by using pictures in his ads. But I think that anyone who cares about this, or even KNOWS about it, is irrelevant to the upcoming battle. And Bush's people know this.

Fight For 51

Over on the right in the adstrip there is a 'Fight For 51' ad from DSCC. They are raising money to TAKE BACK THE SENATE. This is extremely important. Do you remember how having a one-seat majority in the Senate protected us during the first two years of Bush?

So go over to that ad and sign up to help out. And donate money! This is really important.

Laugh Line of the Week

From Lingering Job Insecurity of Silicon Valley:
"Assuming that the American work force can upgrade skills and, where necessary, move to new jobs, according to many economists, most people are likely to benefit. And so far, these economists argue, the effect of offshore outsourcing on American jobs and wages in general has not been great.
HA HA HA HA HA !!!! An article about engineers and programmers with Masters degrees not being able to find work. But to get jobs they need to "upgrade their skills." And "move to new jobs."

Now, I do agree with this line, to a point:
" 'The impact of outsourcing is overblown,' Professor Brynjolfsson said. 'The far larger factor is substituting technology for labor.' "
It's both. Outsourcing AND replacing people with machines. But if we're replacing people with machines, and replacing people with highly-educated but low-paid people in other countries, how is getting another Masters degree going to help? And what about the people who only have ONE Masters degree? Not to mention the rest of us.

American society is taking a turn toward a three-tier structure. Those at the bottom, who have lost their jobs and have lost or are in the process of losing everything else. Then there are those who still have jobs and are in the grind - doing the work formerly done by two, losing health care and pensions, running up their credit cards, seeing income barely rise while housing and other costs go up. Finally, those few at the top who "own" everything, "own" the companies where we work, "own" the government, "own" the hospitals, "own" the chain stores, "own" the banks, "own" the mortgages and credit card companies and mines and forests and factories where we make things, etc.

The problem is WHO is getting the benefits of all of this. Concentration of wealth has accelerated. All the moolah is flowing to the very top, because they "own" the stocks and the land and the patents. AND those at the top are using the political influence that money is allowed to buy to skew the policies of the society AWAY from providing assistance to those people most affected by this. Imagine if we were taxing the wealth and profits that are coming in from these cost savings, and using that revenue to benefit ALL OF US, maybe it would be a different story. But instead we are using the job pressures to cut wages, destroy unions, decrease health benefits and pensions, etc.

Who IS our economy for? What does it mean to "own" land, or a company, or other huge shares of the society & planet's resources? Do the rest of us starve if it comes to that, because someone "owns" the land for growing food and others don't have enough "money" to pay? Do we just die because some people "own" pharmaceutical companies and others don't have enough "money" to buy the drugs? This is what IS happening in the world today.

Think about the concept of "ownership." What does it mean? Society -- and in America that is still supposed to mean you and me, the people -- decides what someone can "own." People used to be able to "own" other people, then society decided they can't do that anymore. Today people are allowed to "own" land or companies or patents or other resources that might otherwise be used to benefit more of us. Think about this. These are powerful, dangerous questions.

Who IS our economy for, anyway? Who ARE our laws about ownership FOR, anyway?

Oh, you've got to...

watch this (you'll need Real Player).

Scott McClellan's tap-dancing is hilarious.

A Two-Track Justice System

The other day I wrote that the conviction of Martha Stewart sends the message that donors to Democrats will be investigated and prosecuted, while donors to Republicans will not. One more corrruption of our government by the Bush administration is this two-track justice system -- one legal system for Republicans, another for Democrats.

Here is another story along these lines. Democrats Cite Politics in Probe Reimbursement:
"A little-known Washington court that oversees the investigations of presidents has approved more than a million dollars in legal-fee reimbursements for Republican administration officials caught up in the probes while rejecting similar requests from Clinton-era officials.

[. . .] "The partisan pattern is undeniable," said John Q. Barrett, a St. John's University law professor who was a lawyer in the independent counsel's office for the Iran-contra investigation. "Republican petitions have been getting reimbursed. And people connected with Democratic administrations are getting turned down. And it makes the court look bad."
Got that? The people investigated in Iran-Contra - which yielded many convictions, including Ollie North, and many last-minute pardons that avoided sure conviction - are said to be investigated unfairly and reimbursed for their expenses, while those investigated in Whitewater - in which all the charges were found to be completely without merit - are not.

Not to mention that this panel of judges has assigned far-right investigators to every case since Iran Contra. These investigators have found no wrongdoing by any Republicans but hounded Democrats.
"Academics note that Sentelle's panel criticized Walsh's investigation and moved to shut it down. Later, Sentelle's panel chose Starr, a former federal judge who was solicitor general in the first Bush administration, to run the Whitewater investigation and gave him wide leeway."
The corruption has become so blatant.


Ah, Cheney's Company Continues to Impress

This is disgusting:

Halliburton has a multibillion-dollar contract to feed and house U.S. troops in Iraq. But there are problems. A food subcontractor that runs 10 percent of the dining facilities in Iraq claims it hasn’t been paid by Halliburton for months and is threatening to stop serving hot meals.

The company, Event Source, serves 100,000 meals a day in Iraq under a contract with a Halliburton subsidiary. vent Source claims Halliburton owes it $87 million, including payment for President Bush's Thanksgiving dinner with the troops.

“When you get stuck out there for $87 million,” explains Event Source Chief Executive Officer Phil Morrell, “it’s a question of economics.”

In an interview with NBC News, Morrell says he’s already laid off employees in the United States and soon will have to feed sandwiches to the troops, instead of hot meals, because his company is running low on money.

Last month, Halliburton was accused of overcharging the government for feeding troops and agreed to forgo further payments until the issue is resolved.

Morrell says he believes Halliburton and its other food service contractors did overcharge, billing the government not for meals actually served, but for meals a facility could have served.

“In a lot of cases,” says Morrell, “that was two or three times the number of troops who were actually coming in. And we just thought that was just unethical and decided not to go down that path.”
If the choice is between serving the troops and fulfilling your contract or making obscene profits through unethical overcharges, we now know which choice the Republicans' favorite company will make, don't we?

Reprehensible -- and the administration should do something about it right now.


Could there be anything more crass?

Remember that a GOP insider told The Hill a couple weeks ago that there is a "real possibility ... we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero. It’s clearly a venue they’re considering.”

Let's be clear. The White House hasn't said they're going to do this. And we don't have any direct knowledge that they're considering it. But the idea is apparently being widely discussed in Republican circles.

I mean, the question isn't whether that would be a crass use of the 9/11 tragedies for political gain. The question is whether it's possible to imagine anything more crass. Isn't ground zero something like a graveyard?

What could be worse? The president addressing the crowd wearing a pelt from a recently executed Guantanamo prisoner? Personally executing Saddam on stage with a scimitar?

Not to be flippant, but could anything be more crass than accepting a presidential nomination on ground that is still mixed with the bodies of thousands of Americans?

Lincoln dedicated a cemetery at Gettysburg; he didn't hold the 1864 Republican convention there.

I know it probably seems like I'm piling on here. And perhaps I am. But this seems like such a compact example of the sort of hyper-politicization of this national tragedy that is one of the main reasons Democrats are so energized this year and eager to drive the president from office. People miss the point of this if they view it in isolation. I think the danger for the White House is that this plays to suspicions held by a not-insubstantial part of the electorate that they've been using this as a political lever from the start.

Here's a chart...

to go along with my earlier post about W's failed economic policies.

And how do you like this little factoid?:

According to Gallup, every incumbent since Truman has been ahead of his eventual challenger at this point in the cycle -- all except Gerald Ford, who lost."
As I said earlier, I'm beginning to think W may be doomed after all.