Thursday, May 08, 2003

KERRY AT BOB JONES? -- That's right, the South Carolina university that calls the Pope the AntiChrist and, until recently, banned interracial dating. Is Senator John Kerry (D-MA) going to speak there, as part of his campaign in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary?

Could be. Senator Kerry was asked to speak at the university by one of the school's admirers during a recent stop in the state and he reportedly agreed to do so. Well done, say I. If the Democratic policy is to merely condemn and ignore the school, then that policy is wrong. (Well, half-wrong.) The school surely deserves condemnation, but why not do so from within the walls of the school itself. Where John Ashcroft and George W Bush went to the school to praise it and ask for the support of its students and faculty, Senator Kerry would go there to speak truth to bigotry. He wouldn't get a standing ovation from within the walls of the school, but from every corner of the rest of the country would come ringing applause. Do it, Senator. Go there and show them what you're made of.
ANGRY FUNDIS THREATEN GOP -- Angered over an allegedly tepid defense of Senator/Bigot Rick Santorum (R-PA) for his virulently anti-gay and anti-privacy remarks, some influential Christian fundamentalists are threatening to leave the GOP in the 2004 elections unless their voices are more prominent in the GOP. I know it hard for anyone else to believe that the Christian Right believes it is not influential enough in the Bush White House, but apparently, that is the case.

In my opinion, a right-wing religious splinter party from the GOP is unlikely in the near future, but if it does happen, I think I know who will be responsible. The natural leader for this political party is already out there and known to the public--especially the fundamentalist public. His name is Patrick Buchanan.

He's a paleoconservative who loathes the neoconservatives.

He despises the pro-immigration policies of southern Republicans--who want plenty of Mexicans for cheap labor.

He hates the Bush family and would love a chance to damage them again.

He is a Catholic with a large following among Protestant fundis. This allows the fundis to present themselves as inclusive, rather than as bigots.

He is an economic populist. Most fundis are not successful businessmen/women and economic populism is appealing to many Christian conservatives.

His magazine, American Conservative, has been harshly critical of Mr Bush's foreign and defense policies. Mr Buchanan was not at all pleased with the invasion of Iraq.

If a right-wing religious party is going to splinter off from the GOP in the next 2-5 years, Patrick Buchanan is the man who will lead them. Mark it.

I don't normally visit the right-wing "news" website Newsmax, so I must thank Daily Kos for alerting me to this story.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

THE GEKKO IN THE WHITE HOUSE -- The White House says Budget Director Mitch Daniels resigned earlier this week to run for governor of Indiana. On the other hand, perhaps he's just running from the law. Now that he's probably suspected of financial misdeeds, he must feel right at home in this White House. Such a shame that's just when he is leaving. Irony can be cruel.
LISTEN TO SENATOR BYRD; HE KNOWS THE TRUTH -- Below are the May 6, 2003 remarks of Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) on the floor of the Senate. I think them eloquent and important enough to include in their entirety:

In my 50 years as a member of Congress, I have had the privilege to witness the defining rhetorical moments of a number of American presidents. I have listened spellbound to the soaring oratory of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I have listened grimly to the painful soul-searching of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Presidential speeches are an important marker of any President's legacy. These are the tangible moments that history seizes upon and records for posterity. For this reason, I was deeply troubled by both the content and the context of President Bush's remarks to the American people last week marking the end of the combat phase of the war in Iraq. As I watched the President's fighter jet swoop down onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not help but contrast the reported simple dignity of President Lincoln at Gettysburg with the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

President Bush's address to the American people announcing combat victory in Iraq deserved to be marked with solemnity, not extravagance; with gratitude to God, not self-congratulatory gestures. American blood has been shed on foreign soil in defense of the President's policies. This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial. This is real life, and real lives have been lost. To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech. I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have performed bravely and skillfully, as have their countrymen still in Iraq, but I do question the motives of a deskbound President who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech.

As I watched the President's speech, before the great banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," I could not help but be reminded of the tobacco barns of my youth, which served as country road advertising backdrops for the slogans of chewing tobacco purveyors. I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan, and yet that is what I saw.

What I heard the President say also disturbed me. It may make for grand theater to describe Saddam Hussein as an ally of al Qaeda or to characterize the fall of Baghdad as a victory in the war on terror, but stirring rhetoric does not necessarily reflect sobering reality. Not one of the 19 September 11th hijackers was an Iraqi. In fact, there is not a shred of evidence to link the September 11 attack on the United States to Iraq. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was an evil despot who brought great suffering to the Iraqi people, and there is no doubt in my mind that he encouraged and rewarded acts of terrorism against Israel. But his crimes are not those of Osama bin Laden, and bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not bring justice to the victims of 9-11. The United States has made great progress in its efforts to disrupt and destroy the al Qaeda terror network. We can take solace and satisfaction in that fact. We should not risk tarnishing those very real accomplishments by trumpeting victory in Iraq as a victory over Osama bin Laden.

We are reminded in the gospel of Saint Luke, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Surely the same can be said of any American president. We expect, nay demand, that our leaders be scrupulous in the truth and faithful to the facts. We do not seek theatrics or hyperbole. We do not require the stage management of our victories. The men and women of the United States military are to be saluted for their valor and sacrifice in Iraq. Their heroics and quiet resolve speak for themselves. The prowess and professionalism of America's military forces do not need to be embellished by the gaudy excesses of a political campaign.

War is not theater, and victory is not a campaign slogan. I join with the President and all Americans in expressing heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their service to our country, and for the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf. But on this point I differ with the President: I believe that our military forces deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and not used as stage props to embellish a presidential speech.
EVIL LIBERAL HEARTTHROB EXPOSES BUSH TWINS...AGAIN -- Those wacky Bush girls are at it again, according to an actor named Ashton Kutcher, who appears on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone:

Ashton & the Bush Twins Party On!

May 06, 2003
Crazy, sexy, cool actor ASHTON KUTCHER sat down with Rolling Stone magazine to talk JENNIFER ANISTON, getting "punk'd" and partying with the BUSH twins -- JENNA and BARBARA! ET has the juicy rundown of Ashton's tales -- don't miss tonight's show for the story!

For the May 29th issue of the mag, on stands Friday, May 9th, Ashton shares tidbits from his sometimes loco life -- including an unforgettable party with the Bush gals. He tells Rolling Stone: "So we're hanging out ... The Bushes were underage drinking at my house. When I checked outside, one of the Secret Service guys asked me if they'd be spending the night. I said no. And then I go upstairs to see another friend and I can smell the green wafting out under his door. I open the door, and there he is smoking out the Bush twins on his hookah."

How hilarious is this?
POMPOUS WINDBAG SUSPENDED BY BOSTON GLOBE -- The Boston Globe has perhaps the greatest sports section of any daily American newspaper. Unfortunate, then, that they continue to employ a bloated, over-bearing gasbag like columnist Bob Ryan, who also has a steady, if unspectacular, gig on ESPN as a commentator. The Globe has suspended Mr Ryan without pay for a month for saying on a television sports show that the wife of New Jersey Nets star player Jason Kidd needs someone to "smack her." Mr Ryan's idiotic comment, which he pointedly refused to retract several times until the suspension was made official, is all the more witless considering Mr Kidd has already pled guilty to physically abusing his wife.

Mr Ryan has made a living out of trashing athletes and others he does not like who are involved in professional or big-time college athletics. Finally, Mr Ryan himself is the target of some well-earned abuse. It's a shame the condemnation had to wait until he made a comment such as this, for he's been abusing his readers for years.
OPPOSE SHAMEFUL GOP TAX PLANS -- The House and Senate tax cut plans (House plan now being marked up in the House Ways and Means Committee and expected to be on the House floor on Friday, and Senate plan which will probably be marked up in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, May 8, and is likely to be on the Senate floor on May 13 or 14) ought to be opposed by any reasonable taxpayer. For instance:

· Those of us who oppose costly tax cuts altogether. There is no need to pass a tax cut at all. Even Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan doesn’t think tax cuts are needed right now. It’s really very simple. The $2.3 trillion Bush tax cut passed in 2001 was a huge tax cut. We don’t need an annual tax cut. The idea that we have to have a $350 billion or $550 billion tax cut, which will ultimately morph into trillions of dollars over the next decade, has almost no support among ordinary people, and yet Congress seems to take passing it as a matter of course, no matter how harmful.

· Those who are concerned with fiscal responsibility. The tax cuts will make the budget deficit situation even worse and raise the national debt. The worst effects will come at the same time when a huge influx of baby-boomers are retiring, claiming Social Security benefits and increasing health care costs. No one really thinks these tax cuts will stimulate the economy. Instead, they will greatly worsen our long-term fiscal situation.

· Those who oppose budget gimmicks. Both proposals phase in provisions and then let them expire at arbitrary times to keep the costs down. In spite of appearances, this is not a fair compromise, and there is no doubt a lot of snickering by tax cut advocates, who know how hard it will be to let any of the tax cuts expire. The reason the 2001 Bush tax cut was phased in with sunsets in 2011 was not because Congress is bound by ridiculous rules, as the President keeps reiterating, but because Congress couldn’t pass permanent tax cuts without the costs growing even more astronomical and busting the budget limits. The sunset years (when the tax cut disappears – at least in theory) are included as if there were no tax cuts to reduce the total cost. The same holds true in this year’s tax bills. For instance, does anyone think that fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax problem for four years, from 2003 through 2006, and then letting it return to 2001 levels in 2007 is really going to happen? The money calculated as being saved by that maneuver is not really being saved. This is just one example of the trickery that far underestimates the true cost of these tax cuts.

· Those who believe the tax code ought to be simplified rather than further complicated. The 2001 Bush tax break is already full of complicated phasing in and eliminating and then returning to the law as it was before the tax cuts. The House and Senate tax cuts make a bad situation even worse, phasing some of the 2001 tax cut provisions in early, then returning them to the 2001 phase-in amounts, while again noting that almost everything (except the new investment/capital gains/business tax breaks) will expire in 2011.

· Those who think low- and middle-income people shouldn’t get truncated tax breaks, so that corporations and the wealthy can get more of the benefits. The House version, for instance ends tax cuts like marriage penalty relief, the child tax credit, and an increase in the amount of earnings subject to the lowest 10% tax bracket, in 2006, so that the tax cuts for businesses, high-end investors, and the wealthy (increases in bonus depreciation, expensing, operating losses, and reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains) can continue through 2012. This is on top of the first round of tax cuts that already mostly benefit wealthier Americans and these tax cuts as a whole which do the same.

The House version that is being marked up can be found at: here and the Senate version is available here. The costs (note that even the $350 billion Senate tax cut is already starting at $415 billion) as scored by the Joint Committee on Taxation can be found here (Senate) and here (House). Call your Representatives/Senators and tell them these tax bills are unacceptable for any or all of the above reasons.

Ellen Taylor
Policy Analyst
OMB Watch
1742 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-234-8494, ex. 211
202-234-8584 (FAX)

Celebrating 20 years: Promoting Government Accountability and
Citizen Participation - 1983-2003

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

TRASHY STORES BAN TRASHY MAGS -- Wal-Mart has caved to pressure from right-wing Christian groups and banned Maxim, FHM, and Stuff magazines from its 48 trillion stores.

Now, this doesn't affect me because I don't read those juvenile magazines and I wouldn't shop in a Wal-Mart if it was free. And this is just another reason why. These stores will sell guns, but not Maxim? Every time some backwards dimwit with a Bible and a grudge against the 20th century whines about a magazine with a picture of a girl in her underwear (or a cd with naughty lyrics), this company crumbles faster than blue cheese.

I don't know if this is political correctness or religious correctness, but it sure is pathetic and pretty much par for the course from Wal-Mart. What else should we expect from a company that thinks Stuff magazine is immoral, but selling clothes made by 14-year-old Honduran girls chained to their looms and earning eight cent per hour is just fine?
SADDAM ON TAPE -- The Sydney Morning Herald, a most excellent daily newspaper, has been handed an audio tape of Saddam Hussein. Is it the real man? No conclusive evidence so far, but many are inclined to believe it right now.
"We are not experts," said Talib al Shar'aa, a law professor at Baghdad University. "We have known many many similar voices to Saddam Hussein to appear in the past few years, and similar faces as well.

"But this speech sounded very realistically like Saddam Hussein. This is the first time he has admitted the reality of the occupation. He focuses on the word occupation, and he admits to being in hiding and working by secret means. And it sounds to me like this speech is new because he mentioned the Iraqi people celebrating his birthday on April 28, 2003."

If Saddam is still alive, and manages to stay alive, I suppose it won't be long before the Bush regime issues a fatwa against speaking his name, just as they have done with Osama Bin Laden.
DEM PRESIDENTS BETTER FOR STOCK MARKET -- That is the finding of a new paper from two scholars at The Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Below is the authors' abstract of the paper:

"We find that the average excess return in the stock market is higher under Democratic than Republican presidents– a difference of 9 percent per year for the value-weighted portfolio and 16 percent for the equal-weighted portfolio. The difference is economically and statistically significant, does not seem to be due to small sample biases, and is robust in different subsamples. There is a remarkable monotonicity in the difference of returns for size-decile portfolios, from 7 percent for large firms to about 22 percent for small firms. Presidential partisan cycles have a heterogeneous impact on industry returns: the tobacco, telecom, and chemical industries have performed better under Republican presidents, whereas the real estate, construction, and services industries have fared significantly better under Democrats.

"We test three plausible explanations for these findings. First, the relation might be due to political variables proxying for business-cycle factors. Second, the relation might be attributed to unexpected returns around elections, when information is revealed, rather than to expected returns varying with the political cycle. Lastly, differences in stock market riskiness across presidential regimes could account for the difference in average returns. We reject all three hypotheses.

"As it stands, the difference in excess returns during Republican and Democratic presidencies is a puzzle that cannot easily be explained. However, the cross-sectional evidence from size-sorted and industry portfolios suggests that the party in the presidency may affect the stock market through differences in fiscal and regulatory policies."
FED HOLDS RATES STEADY -- The U.S. Federal Reserve kept rates at their 42-year record low level today. However, the Fed indicated it might be open to a further cut in the future if the economy does not improve.
"They decided to go to an easing bias because there are two risks: first, possible deflation is a real concern. And second, the economic data we've seen so far have been much weaker than expected, especially in manufacturing and the labor market," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo & Co. in Minneapolis.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan continues to claim that the economy is about to rebound, but considering the recent economic data, especially on rising unemployment, it is difficult to see where his optimism is coming from.

In any case, interest rates are already essentially at a negative level right now, so it is difficult to see how a further lowering would do much to revive the moribund Bush economy.

What follows below is are edited portions of Senator Graham's announcement speech.

SEN. GRAHAM: I am an optimist. The best days of America lie ahead. (Cheers, applause.) But realizing those best days starts with a frank assessment of where we are today.

In too many ways the current administration has diminished our inheritance. (Audio drops) -- President Bush's office at a time of unparalleled economic prosperity and budget surpluses. We -- President Bush took office when America counted itself not only the strongest, but the most admired nation on Earth. (Applause.)

Friends, it is incredible what has happened in the last two years. Barely two years later, we live in a very different America. Over --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: America's bushwhacked! (Laughter.)

SEN. GRAHAM: Over 2 million Americans have lost their jobs.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right! (Off mike.)

SEN. GRAHAM: Over 1.4 million more Americans do not have health insurance. Budget surpluses have turned into record deficits. And our country is now viewed with increased hostility, not only by those who hate and threaten us, but also by those who share our values.
We all agree that Saddam Hussein is an evil man. But he is not our biggest threat. (Applause.) I know first-hand, as the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, how little this administration has done to provide real security at home, while it's directed attention away from the war on terrorism abroad. (Cheers, applause.)

It is time to bring America back -- (cheers, applause) -- back from one of our longest economic slowdowns ever, and the only economic slowdown since when the last Bush was in the White House. (Cheers, applause.) It is painfully clear that this president has no economic policy other than granting tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. (Cheers, applause.) This president shows no sign of knowing how to lead us back to economic prosperity. We need a president who will bring America back. (Cheers, applause.)

It is time to bring America back to fiscal integrity. The last Democratic administration not only put us on the path towards fiscal solvency, it produced the biggest budget surpluses in the history of our nation. (Applause.) The Bush administration has squandered all of that. We need a president who will fight for our nation's economic future instead of the short-term interest of a special few. (Applause.)
As their friends at corporations like Enron pillage the economy and the retirement hopes of millions of Americans, as the stock market robbed even more millions of their savings, as executives raised their salaries while firing their employees, this administration has answered all of those challenges with damning indifference. (Applause.)

Friends, we have divided our nation between the few at the very top, served by this administration, and the many who are left to fend for themselves with the moral equivalent of duct tape. (Cheers, applause.)
ANOTHER GREAT CARTOON... -- from Chris Weyant. Go have a laugh.
WHAT NOW FOR THE NEOCONS? -- Neoconservatives have reached the apex of their power in influence during the Bush regime--let us hope and pray. But are the neocons, who claim Paul Wolfowitz (#2 at the Pentagon), Doug Feith (#3 at the Pentagon) and Richard Perle (of the Defense Policy Board) as outright members of the club and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney as key allies, heading for a clash over Mideast policy with the rest of the Bush regime?
Nowhere is the threat of conflict between the Administration and the superhawks greater than in the debate over the stalled Middle East peace process. Neocons insist that Israel should not resume negotiations until Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat is removed from power and Palestinian officials crack down on terrorist groups.

However, there is no small irony in the fact that by pressing for a military solution in Iraq, the neocons have created a situation in which Israel may be forced into concessions that it might otherwise have resisted. The President is under intense pressure from the State Dept. and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his staunchest international ally, to persuade Israel to accept a new "road map" to peace and a nation of Palestine. "President Bush is caught between the neocons and his coalition partner," says Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank, "and there's going to be a huge donnybrook."

Let's hope so. Mr Bush feels enormous gratitude towards Prime Minister Tony Blair--as well he might--but he also knows his strongest base in the United States is with fundamentalist, snake-wigglin' Jesus freaks who think Israel must be supported at any cost and a Middle East war is just a precursor to the Return of the Messiah. This White House has always put the interests of its base first and foremost and it is hard to believe they will suddenly stop doing that. I think the Bush regime makes a few half-hearted efforts at Israel-Palestine peace and then blames the inevitable failure on Islamic terrorism. As Iraq continues burn--with Shia clerics calling the U.S. a great Satan and increasing terror attacks on U.S. troops finally getting the headlines--Mr Bush's entire Middle East policy will begin to crumble.

That's how I think it will go. I sure wish there was a better way to get Mr Bush out of the White House, but he's put the entire country in this mess and we're going to have to go through it with him--for another 18 months or so, anyway.
WHO RATTED OUT BILL BENNET? -- Chatterbox theorizes on the whos and the whys.
DJs SUSPENDED FOR PLAYING DIXIE CHICKS -- Yes, it actually happened. What a weird country this is becoming. And not in a good way.
POLL HAS ?, GEPHARDT, KERRY IN THE LEAD -- An April 25-27 Zogby poll of Iowa Democrats finds Congressman Dick Gephardt (D-MO) with a solid lead, but "undecided" taking the field so far, with 37 percent.

Rep. Gephardt leads the other Democrats with 25% and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is in second with 13 percent. Senator Joe Lieberman has 9% and former Governor Howard Dean (D-VT) is at 6 percent. The good news for everyone else is that with 37% of Iowa Democrats undecided, there is plenty of room for movement, especially for candidates like Senator John Edwards (D-NC) and Senator Bob Graham (D-FL). This is also, obviously, good news for Congressman Gephardt, who hasn't had a lot to cheer about the last year or so. However, it is also good news for Senator Kerry, who does not need an outright win in Iowa, though it would obviously be nice. What Senator Kerry needs is a second-place finish in Iowa (with Rep. Gephardt in first place) and then a first place finish in New Hampshire. With that 2-1 combination, Senator Kerry would be the odds-on favorite to win the nomination--even more than he is right now.
GRAHAM KICKS OFF PREZ BID -- Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) formally launches his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination today in Florida. Senator Graham served two terms as governor of Florida and has been in the U.S. Senate since 1986. He's a consistent winner with long-time proven popularity in Florida. In fact, there may be no more popular politician in Florida than Bob Graham.

This popularity in a key swing state that was the site of so much drama in 2000 is a key part of Senator Graham's allure and appeal among Democrats. If the Democrats can win Florida in 2004, not only would it probably be a death blow to Mr Bush, but it was also seriously damage his brother, Jeb Bush, the current governor of Florida, who entertains national ambitions himself. Senator Graham's candidacy was delayed for two months due to heart surgery and his health is bound to come up in the campaign if he makes it to the general election. Nevertheless, if Senator Graham is on the ticket as a vice president candidate, his health would be less of a concern, considering Dick Cheney has suffered 4+ heart attacks and is a threat to drop dead at any second.

Senator Graham has strong anti-deficit credentials as a governor and senator, an issue that should wear well against the Bush regime's policy of reckless spending and tax cuts for the wealthy. Significantly, Senator Graham is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he chaired that committee during Democratic rule from mid-2001 until January 2003. His chairmanship was widely praised for its probity and bipartisanship and Senator Graham got on particularly well with his Republican counterpart, Dick Shelby of Alabama, who now chairs the committee. Both Senator Graham and Senator Shelby were sharply critical of the way the Bush regime was waging the war on terror, though Mr Graham permitted Mr Shelby to take most of the public shots at the White House. Senator Graham voted against the Iraq War authorization, but this vote cannot be used against him as easily as it could other members of the Senate because Graham argued the Iraq War was diverting attention away from the war on terror and he has argued for a far more aggressive policy against terrorist groups located in places like Lebanon and Pakistan. In fact, Senator Graham's quasi-apocalyptic warnings about terror and the Bush regime's failure to confront the threat has recently earned him the nickname "the scariest man in Washington."

As a public servant, Senator Graham ranks higher than Senator John Edwards (D-NC) or Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and his strength in the Sunshine State makes him a powerfully intriguing national candidate. He'll have to get started, though, because he's running from behind and is not known as a charmer. In the past, however, he has proven his credentials as a tough campaigner who has the nerve to do what is necessary to win elections and the brains to govern wisely once in office. Although he is one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate, he is widely respected--though often considered a rather odd fellow with peculiar, if unthreatening, personal habits. Apparently, Vice President Gore strongly considered Senator Graham for his running mate in 2000, but decided against it because of things like Senator Graham's tendency to take copious notes on even the most mundane parts of his life. In retrospect, I'm sure Mr Gore wishes he'd gone down south for his running mate, instead of up north.
INDIA, PAKISTAN GIVE PEACE A CHANCE -- Despite the fact that tensions on the ground continue to run high between India and Pakistan, diplomats now believe the time for peace is ripe between these two nuclear-armed subcontinent superpowers. Why now? Well, reasons range from worries over nuclear proliferation and terrorism, and a desire for a policy achievement by the sickly Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, of the nationalist Hindu BHP.

Let's hope this comes to something because the area India and Pakistan occupy, and especially Indian-controlled, but Muslim-dominated Kashmir, is one of the most troublesome and dangerous places on Earth. A nuclear exchange has been as likely here as anywhere else, especially with Islamic terrorists launching frequent and savage attacks on Hindus and the Indian government in Kashmir. Those Islamic terrorists are supported by Pakistan and many have trained in camps in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda and Taliban warriors.
UKRAINE TO BUSH: WHO, ME? -- Remember when the Bush regime was inflating the numbers on its Iraq War "coalition of the willing" by including countries that were not willing at all? Well, that tactic is apparently still favored in the White House. The Bush regime recently cited Ukraine as a country that would be providing troops to a "stabilization force" in post-Saddam Iraq. This, apparently, comes as a surprise to Ukraine, which claims it has made no such committment. In fact, Ukraine says it hasn't even received a request to that effect.
WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR RESIGNS -- Mitch Daniels, Budget Director for the Bush regime has resigned this morning. His resignation will take effect in 30 days. The White House is suggesting Mr Daniels is going to take a run at governor of Indiana. Perhaps, but it seems equally plausible to me that he wants to jump ship before the economic situation becomes too embarrassing. If he does run for governor in Indiana I wonder what his campaign pitch would be: "What I did for the American economy I can do in Indiana."

That might actually herald the beginning of a Democratic renaissance in one of the most conservative states in the Union.
HALLE BERRY TOPS THE LIST -- The readers of something called Eve Magazine have voted actress Halle Berry as the most beautiful woman in the world. Makes sense to me.
THE OIL INDUSTRY'S NEXT TARGET -- Defeated in its attempts to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to further oil exploration, the Bush regime is turning its oily gaze offshore, to the icy Beaufort Sea, just north of Alaska. The Beaufort sea is home to endangered whales, polar bears, seals, and native Amerindians. Mr Bush, Mr Cheney, and their masters in the petroleum industry would like to open this area, which may hold significant oil and natural gas deposits, for further exploration. Environmental advocates are opposed to this. Expect a fight in the near future.
AL QAEDA FINDS NEW DIGS -- Although the Bush regime doesn't like talk of Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda gang of murderers, it appears that both are still alive and well and now living in Central Asia, according to a meeting of G-8 Home Ministers.

After a meeting in Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister, said the organisation, headed by Osama bin Laden, still posed a real threat. He said al-Qa'ida, formerly based in Afganistan, had apparently set up new bases in the former Soviet republics of Chechnya and Georgia.

"We don't expect to lower our guard for a long time," he said. "All the G8 countries have a similar analysis. The terrorist threat is real, it's still present."

Since the Bush regime has been willing to overlook the human rights abuses of Russia, China, Indonesia, and various Central Asian republics in the name of fighting terrorists (both real and imagined), it will be interesting to see if this news leads to a more aggressive Russian policy--blessed by the Bush regime, of course--against Chechnya.

Monday, May 05, 2003

CANADA CARES TOO MUCH ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES -- And the Bush regime does not like it. "Rogue nation," here they come!
BUSH: GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU, NOT ENOUGH FOR ME -- From the Office of Congressman David Obey (D-WI) by way of my brother John again, comes this well-aimed missive at Mr Bush's fuzzy math.

President Bush: "The best way to deal with the deficit is to hold down discretionary spending...Four percent is good enough for the average family, it ought to be good enough for the United States Congress."

Question: Why did President Bush make this assertion when in fact he actually requested a 9.3% increase for his own personal office budget? As reported by the Washinton Post on February 7, "While demanding that the federal government restrain its spending to a 4.1 percent increase in 2004, the Bush White House has assigned itself a more lenient standard: It has proposed a 9.3 percent increase in funding for the ongoing operations of the White House."
BUSH SUPPORT SLOWLY SLIPS -- A new Newsweek poll shows Mr Bush's popularity "strong, but wavering" due to public concerns about the economy and violence in Iraq. Expect the numbers to fall further as both situations get a lot worse before they get better.
DUNKING THE GOP -- Washington Wizards power forward/center is 6'9" tall, weighs 260 pounds and sets a pick like a brick wall. He's also a poet. A poet with politics in his soul.

Mr Thomas (full disclosure: who plays for my favorite team) recently participated in a local poetry reading at a Borders book store in Washington, D.C.

And the crowd at Borders liked Thomas.

"This poem is called, 'Republicans,' " said Thomas, wearing glasses and khakis.

Them hypocrites don't care about you.

He had to read it again. The crowd cheered as if he had dunked.

Can't wait to see you on the court next season, Etan. And keep up the poetry. I don't know much about it, but I know what I like.
WAR ON THE ECONOMY -- Sometimes it has seemed as if every registered Republican in Washington has predicted an economic recovery after the Iraq War ended. The White House did it. Mr Greenspan at the Fed did it. Various and sundry Congressional Republicans, right-wing media hacks, and think tank "intellectuals" have done it. Too bad it isn't happening.
The hope had been that a fast and successful war in Iraq would set off an economic boom that would quickly translate into falling unemployment for American households and fatter order books for U.S. businesses. But so far, the boom has been a bust.

U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad in the second week of April, but the military victory did not stem a wave of new job layoffs in the United States.

With April's job cuts, total layoffs over the past three months topped a half-million workers, a performance usually seen only during the depths of a recession.

The picture looked even bleaker for the nation's hard-hit factories, which suffered another 95,000 lost jobs last month, the 33rd straight month of declines that have eliminated 2.2 million manufacturing jobs.

Other statistics have shown weakness as well, with a key gauge of manufacturing activity plunging further into recession territory in April and automakers reporting sales declines despite attractive incentive deals.

"Just to say that everything would be hunky-dory because the war was over would not have been a good forecast," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo in Minneapolis.

I sure hope Osama is prepared to take the blame for all this. Tom Daschle, too. We know how closely those two work together.
WHERE ARE THE WEAPONS? -- For months--years--we've been promised evidence of Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons, as well as his nuclear program. Now we've invaded the country, destroyed his army, displaced his regime, and occupied Iraq. Should be easy to find the weapons now, right? Uh, not so fast.
"We'll find them, and it's just going to be a matter of time to do so," the president said Saturday.

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there, and the evidence will be forthcoming," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

But after scores of fruitless searches, other administration officials privately have stopped promising that. Some now say that instead of finding weapons stockpiles, they might find nothing more than documents and other evidence that the program once existed and was either destroyed or abandoned.

"Politically, this could be a big problem," said Paul Keer of the Arms Control Association, a Washington disarmament group. "If it turns out they ... exaggerated, people will say we attacked without justification - some are starting to say that now."

Before the war, administration officials did not just say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, they also said they knew where some of them were.

In an unsuccessful bid for U.N. approval for the war, Powell showed the Security Council satellite photos and intelligence he said indicated weapons were being moved, and he named sites where he said chemical weapons were held.

"The intelligence community still stands behind that information. I do," he said Sunday.

U.S.-led teams of military and civilian experts have reported finding nothing conclusive, however, after visiting most of some 100 sites that prewar American intelligence agencies said were the most probable hiding places. Hundreds more sites remain.

For some reason, I get the feeling that anyone questioning the invasion if no WMD turn up will also have to defend his/her patriotism. A lot. After all, if you've got no argument and no facts on your side, question the other guy's patriotism. It's the scoundrel's way out and we're run by scoundrels now.
WHITE HOUSE AIDE: INSPECTIONS WERE WORKING -- Of course, the anonymous White House aide quoted at the bottom (nice job burying the lede, you librulcommiepinkos) of this New York Times piece does not say precisely that weapons inspections in Iraq were preventing Saddam Hussein from using and deploying chemical weapons, but just read below and judge for yourself:
One senior administration official said, however, that the White House was now "learning something important on how the Iraqis did this."

"What you are likely to see is not large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction but all of the elements, the precursors, the capacity to put them together quickly." The official speculated that Mr. Hussein "got caught in a trap of his own making."

"He couldn't put them together as long as the inspections were going on" before to the war, he said.

"The inspections went up to very close to the time of hostility. Was it then too late to begin to try to assemble these things? Did he try to destroy them to cover the evidence?" The key, the aide said, was interviewing scientists in the environment of a newly liberated Iraq, "where they might say something."

Why did we invade Iraq again? Oh, yes, the 2004 elections. I forgot. How silly of me.
A SEVERE PROBLEM WITH THE TRUTH -- This comes to me from the Office of Congressman Obey (D-WI), by way of my eldest brother John.

"This nation has got a deficit because we have been through a war." -
President George W. Bush

"We've got a deficit because we went through a recession." - President
George W. Bush

As you may know, According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the tax cuts signed by the President and new proposals in his budget are responsible for 45% of the $7.8 trillion deterioration in the budget outlook that turned a projected $5.6 trillion in 2001 into a $2.2 trillion projected deficit today. As you may also know, In Bush's own budget Table S-3, the Administration itself acknowledges that if government is flat funded at its current rate, the U.S. would begin increasing surpluses by 2006. The chart also shows that by enacting the Bush budget, deficits will increase indefinitely.

Need we say more about this man's problem with the truth?

Sunday, May 04, 2003

JEFFORDS APOLOGIZES FOR 2001 TAX CUT -- Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) announced his opposition to Mr Bush's new tax cut and apologized for supporting the 2001 $1.3 billion tax cut.

"Millions of Americans need help," the Vermont independent said in the Democratic Party's weekly radio address. "Yet, the president insists on a tax cut that hurts those who need help most, and helps those who need it least."

"And again, those who are expressing their reservations are being vilified for taking stands of conscience," he said. "This happened in 2001 when I made my decision to leave the Republican Party, and it is sad for me to watch it happen again. When did standing on principle, speaking your conscience and representing your constituents become unacceptable in certain Republican circles?"

Jeffords, who generally votes with the Democrats, said he made a mistake by supporting Bush's first tax cut proposal in 2001.

"Time has proven those words wrong, and we have massive job losses and a soaring deficit to show for it," he said.

To boost the economy, Jeffords said he supports extending unemployment insurance benefits, boosting spending on programs that encourage job creation and improving the country's highways.

"Our goal should not be a tax cut for the sake of a tax cut, especially one that gives most of its benefits to a very few people. Our goal should be a policy that puts Americans back to work, gets our economy growing and keeps us on the right track for future generations," he said.