Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Mediamatters.org's Top Ten Most Outrageous Statements of 2004

Along with the O'Reilly award, I thought I should point out the list of the top ten most outrageous statements of 2004. These statements are just ridiculous. It is actually quite horrifying to me that we live in a society in which some of the most popular and successful pundits get away with saying these things.

Here are just a few gems:

Ann Coulter: "[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry."

Michael Savage: "When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son"

Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

Does it really get any worse than this? Anyways, Media Matters.org is a great organization, and I just wanted to point out these two articles to you. You'll often hear one staffer at MediaMatters.org, David Brock, author of The Republican Noise Machine and Blinded By The Right, appear as a regular guest on the Al Franken Show on Air America Radio.


O'Reilly named MediaMatters.org's 2004 Misinformer of the Year

In a somewhat comedic twist, Bill O'Reilly has been named MediaMatters.org's 2004 Misinformer of the Year. The award is comedic, in that O'Reilly has claimed to be the the last great bastion and defender of the truth. He has claimed that he is the only syndicated talk show host that is actually a journalist. I put in the qualifier of "somewhat" simply because anybody with half a clue already knew that O'Reilly is head and shoulders above the rest of the media in his fraudulent grandstanding.

I really recommend taking a look at the list. This list represents only a small, small fragment of the duplicity that is the O'Reilly Factor. My favorite item on the list is #6, entitled "O'Reilly confused on elementary economics". How embarrassing it must be to completely misunderstand and argue about an issue like that on national television....or, at least it would be if we actually have a liberal media ready to call him on it.

My personal favorite story about Bill O'liely is the infamous Jeremy Glick incident. If you haven't heard of the incident, Jeremy Glick was the son of a 9/11 victim. O'Reilly invited him on the show after hearing that Glick had signed an anti-war petition. I won't go into the full details of the story, since you can find it all over the web. The story is really rather amazing...For me, it was the single worst disgraceful action I have ever seen on the part of a television interviewer. O'Reilly started yelling at his guest, and telling him to shut up. Eventually, he had Glick's microphone cut off and purportedly, the staff of the O'Reilly Factor asked Glick to leave the building because they feared the O'Reilly would physically assault the man. In the days and weeks following the interview, O'Reilly repeatedly slandered his guest, and lied about what Glick stated during the interview.

If you are interested in reading more about the story, I recommend checking out these sources:

Here is the full transcript of the interview.

The movie, outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism covers the story in detail.

Al Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, also has a section on the story. Al actually has an entire chapter of his book dedicated to the lies of Bill O'Reilly.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Wake Up America, Part Two - The Second Term

This is the second part of of a three part series entitled "Wake Up America", subtitled "The Second Term". The first part of the series, subtitled "Worse than Incompetent", can be found here. After reviewing the dismal record of the Bush Administration during their first term, it is hard to imagine that anything worse could come from the second. Unfortunately, this is a naive view. With no worries about re-election, along with a republican house and senate, the Bush administration will have free reign over the next four years. This is a very frightening situation. In this part of the series, I will examine some of the issues that the Bush administration has claimed they will address over their next term. The checks and balances of the democratic process have failed us - if you do not already agree with that statement, you will by the end of this series. In any sane reality, George W. Bush would never have been re-elected. Our only hope now is to fight the administration every step of the way over the next for years.

On November 4th, days after he was unofficially re-elected, President Bush held a press conference, where used the following phrase: "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it". I don't know about you, but that phrase sent a chill down my spine. For starters, over 57 million people voted against you. That number of votes is larger than previous elected official has ever received. We have witnessed unprecedented worldwide protests demonstrating against the president's actions. The worldwide opinion of the United States is at an all time low thanks to you, Mr. President. And now you tell us that you have political capitol that you intend to spend. During the same press conference, the president, calling for unity, stated that he would "reach out to everyone who shares our goals". Doesn't really sound like he is going to do much reaching.

On to the issues...First and foremost on everyone's minds these days is the issue of Social Security. During a recent press conference, the president pretty much outlined verbatim the official party gameplan and talking points:

"The first issue is to explain to Congress and the American people the size of the problem," Bush said at the White House meeting. "We will send a message not only to the American people that we're here for the right reason, but we'll send a message to the financial markets that we recognize we have an issue with both short-term deficits and the long-term deficits of unfunded liabilities to the entitlement programs."

Over and over again, you will hear the Bush administration tiresomely repeat this mantra: Social Security is in a crisis. The problem with this statement is that Social Security does not have a problem. Current estimates show that Social Security will no longer be able to be fully funded sometime around 2042-2052, depending on economic conditions. Sound like a crisis to you? Not really...with a few minor tweaks and corrections over the next few years, this crisis can easily be fully avoided.

So, why does this Bush administration want to convince congress and the general public that there is an issue with Social Security? Simply because they have a vested interest. Privatizing Social Security is the worst idea I have heard in years. I'll respond here with the liberal talking point: Social Security is an insurance policy for the general public.

Given that Social Security is an insurance policy, why would we want to risk gambling the guaranteed returns of social security on the stock market? What happens to somebody who retires during a stock market recession or depression. Suddenly, their lifelong investment is reduced to rubbish as the stock market crumbles. Does that sound like a good idea?

Did you know that, currently, only 1% of social security costs go to administration. Do you think that will continue to be the case after fund managers and money managers get their grubby hands on the 1.4 trillion dollars currently held in the Social Security Fund. This is why the Bush Administration is pushing for this. Their idea is that investing this money throughout the US economy will help spur productivity and economic growth for years to come. This is a shallow and short-sighted idea. First of all, we are putting the 65% of elderly people currently relying on Social Security for at least half their income at risk to losing their guaranteed source of income.

Secondly, privatizing social security will dramatically increase the load of administrative costs on the fund. Based on past experiences of privatizing Social Security in Chile and England, administrative costs will skyrockets to 20 to 30 times the current 1% of all current funds. This money will go directly into the pockets of the fund managers and money managers appointed to oversee the social security trust fund.

How about the actual investment process? The average American pays in about $1,800 a year into social security. Do you really think the government will allow you to pick whatever stocks you want in your investment fund. Of course not. It isn't worth the fund managers time of day to spend enormous amounts of time fiddling with individual investment accounts of less than $2,000 a year. What will most likely happen is that the government will allow you to select your investment from a few different mutual fund choices. So, who is going to decide which stocks go into these mutual funds? Most likely, a government-appointed fund manager. With a Republican President, House and Senate, can you guess which companies are going to end up getting funded by this enormous 1.4 Trillion windfall. I don't know about you, but I'm guessing we'll see Halliburton (HAL) and Diebold Inc (DBD) somewhere on the list.

The second major issue that Bush has mentioned he would like to address during his second term in office is tax reform. There are two variations on this issue that the Bush administration has pushed: A Flat Tax, and an expenditure Based Tax. Both of these reforms are very bad ideas. The Bush Administration has been trying to sell the idea of tax reform based on the idea of simplifying the tax code. This does sound like a reasonable idea, since the tax code is fairly complex. Unfortunately, neither of these proposals does anything to address the idea of tax code complexity. As Al Franken has recently put it: "You can fix all of the different tax rates on the back of an index card." The reason the tax code is complex has nothing to do with the different tax rates, and everything to do with the vast myriad of tax breaks, deductions and loopholes. If they want to simplify the tax code, they should discuss the idea of eliminating the vast majority of deductions and loopholes. This idea hasn't even been mentioned.

Let's start by looking at a flat tax. The Bush Tax cuts have already unfairly shifted the tax burden onto the poor, and away from the rich. Currently, we have what you could describe as a progressive tax system, where the rich pay a greater proportion of their income to taxes than the poor.

The Republicans argue that this unfairly punishes the rich for having too much money. This difference highlights the core fundamental difference in philosophy between a liberal and a republican. The Republican argues that the rich have worked hard for their money, and unfairly taxing their earnings reduces the incentive to work hard and get rich. The argue that if left untaxed, a rich man will re-invest his earnings into the market, which will spur the economy to continue growing.

The liberal argue the rich man has stood on the shoulders of those before him, who in turn stood on the shoulders of those before him. There are occasionally those that rise from the most direst of circumstances to make a successful living. The ol' rags to riches story. The foundation of the American Dream. Unfortunately, the modern American Dream is primarily a work of fiction. The American rich and elite now primarily have inherited their wealth, rather than working hard. For the average middle or lower class citizen, the reality of the life is living paycheck to paycheck, scraping by with just enough income to pay for the rent or mortgage, the car payment, to put food on the table, and possibly put their child into the local soccer league in the summer. The idea of making the jump from lower-to-middle or middle-to-upper class is known as upward mobility, but, unfortunately, their is precious little upward mobility that takes place in reality.

The real issue is that their is an ever increasing wage gap between the haves and the have nots. If we are not careful, we may suddenly find ourselves in a two-class society. We are already dangerously close to that stage. As Chomksy has stated, the middle class in America is primarily a manufactured entity. If we remove the progressive tax system, we are one step closer to eliminating the middle class American citizen from existence. We simply cannot allow America to switch to a flat tax system. Their is simply no benefit to doing so. This change will not simplify the tax code in any meaningful way. It may take you a minute or two less to complete your income tax form each year, but is it really worth the risk of become a two class society?

The idea of a expenditure based income tax is also foolhardy. As a rule, the poor expend almost all of their income on each paycheck. Meanwhile, the rich spend very little of their income, while investing the majority. An expenditure based income tax will again increase the burden of taxes on the poor, while at the same time, increasing the incentive for the rich to invest their income, rather than spending it. The only possible side benefit of this change is that it will force our country to become slightly more environmentally friendly, as expenditure based taxes will increase the incentive to reuse items, rather than purchasing disposable products.

Finally, I would like to address the issue of drilling for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. The more I consider the actions and points issued by the Bush Administration, the more I find myself describing the administration as short-sighted. The Bush Administration contends that drilling for oil in Alaska will help eliminate our "dependence on foreign oil". At heart, the primary issue is not dependence on foreign oil, but, simply, dependence on oil or any other non-renewable energy source. This is really the greatest issue facing our nation and world -- we have developed a gigantic economic system based on finite energy resources that will eventually run out.

The Bush Administration contends that it is simply too expensive to switch to renewable resources, such as wind, solar, and ethanol. They would most likely argue that economic forces will naturally take care of this transition. As the cost of oil, gas, and coal goes up, economic forces will eventually force our nation to begin using renewable resources such as wind, coal, and ethanol at a greater rate.

Unfortunately, this is a fundamentally flawed argument. The economic model is not a true representation of reality, based on the assumption of unlimited natural resources. It is simply a means to an ends. The free market economic model does not properly take into account the finite world oil reserves, and the environmental impact of carbon-based emissions, global warming, ozone layer degradation, environmental devastation, rainforest clearcutting, etc. The government has attempted to simulate this affect by issuing large corporate fines for ignoring environmental regulations, but the affect has been minimal. It is easier for a corporation to just pay these fines, and continue ignoring environmental concerns, than it is to switch the entire production model to an environmentally friendly production model.

How incredibly short sited can the Bush Administration really be? So, what happens in another 15-20 years when the oil in Alaska begins to dry up? The fact is that their is no new energy production technology just around the corner that will save us from this impending crisis. The government likes to pretend that they are working on alternative energy resources, such as the hydrogen fuel cell. The hydrogen fuel cell is not an energy resource, but rather an energy conversion process that converts hydrogen into electricity. This is good news because it will finally realize the dream of 0-emission cars, but it will definitely not solve our impending energy crisis. In effect, this will push the burden of energy production from oil and gas, to another energy source, but even that is unclear. You cannot store hydrogen in a car, because it is highly reactive, and would explode in an accident.

The issue at heart is that the Bush Administration would rather drill the oil out of Alaska and keep oil prices low, which, in theory at least, keeps the economy in motion. In effect, Bush is simply pushing the energy crisis issue onto our children by refusing to deal with it now. It may be that one day, we will need to drill in Alaska, but I feel that this should be a last resort.

I believe that it has been said that it would require an area roughly the size of the state of Arizona to be covered completely in solar panels in order to meet the total current energy requirements of the United States, but I could not find a source. As the economic cost of solar power is rather expensive, this at first seems like a poor solution. I found one source at GAIAM that states that an area roughly 12% of the total size of Nevada covered in photovoltaic cells could reproduce our entire electric production capacity. That sound like a more reasonable goal.

When you consider the alternative, which is pushing the problem onto our children, and waiting for a pending global energy crisis, you begin to realize that it really isn't a bad idea to begin switching to renewable energies at a faster rate, despite the economic cost. Remember that the free market economy is not a true reflection of reality -- it is simply an approximation designed to encourage production and consumption. In actually, a reduction of production and consumption is really the goal we want to focus on when we begin to deal with the pending energy crisis.

When you look at modern society compared to society 200 years ago, there is a remarkable illusion of progress. We have made almost inconceivable strides in every imaginable way, thanks in large part to the industrial revolution. When you factor in the idea that in a short span of 200 years, we will soon have almost depleted the world of non-renewable carbon-based resources, while inflicting massive scales of environmental damage to our planet, the illusion of progress becomes a little less clearly defined. Sure, our lives have benefited in almost every imaginable way, but consider the fact that this progress is not sustainable, at least in the current form.

I think that this is the fundamental flaw with modern American politics. We are ill-equipped to make the difficult decisions. The election is essentially a popularity contest. There is no way a president that runs on environmental reform messages can possibly win in the current political climate. Imagine John Kerry stating the following messages:
  • We are consuming too many resources. If I am elected president, I will force everybody to sell their SUVs and large trucks. You will be able to rent an SUV or truck on a need to use basis, but will no longer be able to drive such a vehicle on a day-to-day basis
  • All US automobile manufacturers must completely stop the production and sale of all vehicles that are not hybrid or electric-driven by the year 2008. The import of non-hybrid/electric cars will also be forbidden. All US Consumers must rid themselves of any remaining non-hybrid/electric cars by the year 2014.
  • I will encourage the use of mass-transportation at all times. Starting in 2007, Gasoline will now include a $4/gallon consumption tax to encourage the migration to mass transit. We will also introduce a $800 billion that will aid in the construction of better mass transit systems nationwide. A unified mass transit system of electric buses, trains and subways will allow you to travel from any point in the United States to any other point in the United States in a quick and economically reliable fashion.
  • In an effort to reduce energy consumption, we will add an energy consumption surcharge tax of 10 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • We will introduce a new Clean Energy Infrastructure act into congress which will earmark $2 trillion into a fund for developing a massive solar and wind energy infrastructure

These may seem like ridiculous propositions. Of course, the average voter would laugh this guy right out of the country. Do you see the Green Party getting any press? Of course not, because the message that we need to change the way we live is extremely unpopular. I would vote for this guy in a heartbeat -- if I thought he had any chance of getting elected. I wonder how many other people would have voted for Cobb or Nader if they new there was any point to the action. Probably not very many, given the extremely limited press coverage of third party candidates.

The real problem facing our nation is not a social security crisis. In truth, that is the least of our concerns. The real issues facing our nation include an impending energy crisis, the possibility of global warming crisis, the increasing threat of the disappearance of the middle class in the United States, and the impending threats of globalization, including outshoring/outsourcing and third world exploitation. In short, the real issues facing our nation are the exact opposite of everything the Bush Administration stands for.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Wake Up America, Part One - Worse than Incompetent

I wish there were stronger words than incompetent, inept, incapable, and unqualified to use when characterizing the presidency and administration of George W. Bush.I have been using these words to describe the president for so long that I feel that they have begun to lose their meaning. As such, I have decided coin the phrase "Worse than Incompetent", reserved especially for George W. Bush.

I have been having trouble trying to come to terms with the fact that the American public somehow reelected this ignoramus. I simply cannot - I try to ponder that for a moment or to, and I simply cannot fathom thought process went through the collective heads of 60,000,000 Americans how somehow or other chose to vote for the worst president in the history of the United States.

This post is the first of a three part series entitled "Wake Up America". In this first part, subtitled "Worse than Incompetent", I will explore the historical incompetence of the Bush Administration. This seems like a tired issue that I want to get away from -- but somehow 60,000,000 Americans didn't get the message. It is my hope that, perhaps by the end of this three part series, I will have convinced at least of few of these Bush supporters of the error in their ways.

The second part of this series will be subtitled "The Second Term". After reviewing the dismal record of the Bush Administration during their first term, it is hard to imagine that anything worse could come from the second. Unfortunately, this is a naive view. With no worries about re-election, along with a republican house and senate, the Bush administration will have free reign over the next four years. This is a very frightening situation. In this part of the series, I will examine some of the issues that the Bush administration has claimed they will address over their next term. The checks and balances of the democratic process have failed us - if you do not already agree with that statement, you will by the end of this series. In any sane reality, George W. Bush would never have been re-elected. Our only hope now is to fight the administration every step of the way over the next for years -- part two of this series will discuss what we must do.

The third and final part of this series will be subtitled "Addressing the Real Issues Facing our Nation". Over the past month, you will have no doubt have heard the republican noise machine spouting out that we have a problem with Social Security. That is simply not true -- it is true that we will eventually face a minor funding issue with Social Security, if left unchecked -- in the year 2052. There are far more pressing issues facing our nation, such as dependence on non-renewable energy resources, pollution, global warming, economic injustice and the wage gap, along with large segments of the population who are homeless, uninsured, and employed. These are the issues that we should be addressing as a nation. The great experiment that is the American Dream is failing us, and the Bush Administration is pulling is decades and decades into the wrong direction. When compared to other industrialized nations, the United States lags behind in many quality of life indicators, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, quality of life, quality of health care, pollution levels, and per capita energy expenditure. Yet the Bush Administration continues unabatedly to pull is on the wrong direction. It is time to put a stop to this regressive thinking, and stand up for what we believe in.

Part One - Worse than incompetent

Over the past four years, the Bush administration has demonstrated a tendency to reward incompetence and punish aptness. This behavior emerges from the top levels of the administration, and appears to have permeated into the general public. How else can you explain the fact that they were awarded with a second term after the disgrace of the first four years.

Performance Indicators

We will begin our judgment of the Bush Administration's first term by looking at several key statistical indicators which should paint a general overall picture of the administration's performance.


Start by taking a look at this chart demonstrating the accumulated national debt. It is somewhat ironic that the major increases in the national debt all occurred during republican administrations -- Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. When Reagan took office in 1980, the total accumulated national debt was hovering around $1 Billion. In a mere twelve years while Reagan and Bush Sr. in office, the national debt skyrocketed to over $4 Billions dollars, which is over a 300% increase.

Bill Clinton was able to curtail this massive spending spree, and eventually brought us the first budget surplus in decades shortly before he left office. Now, take a look at this chart, demonstrating the year-by-year federal budget deficit/surplus. Notice the extreme disparity between Clinton's final year in office, and Bush's first year in office. In one year, we went from a budget surplus of $250 Billion dollars to the largest deficit in national history. How can such a stark contrast in economic disparity be explained? Perhaps this quote, provided by Vice President Dick Cheney, on November 15th, 2002, will help explain things:

"Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

So, how does the national debt really affect you? For starters, approximately 17 cents out of every dollar collected for tax purposes is immediately applied to interest on the national debt. If this trend continues, we will soon end up in an completely inescapable situation. With only 83 cents remaining out of every dollar, the spending power of the federal government is severely hampered.

Economic Indicators

Rather than spending a great deal discussing this issue, I will redirect you to this comparison of economic indicators for the the Bush Administration vs. the Clinton Administration, written by the Progressive Policy Institute. The chart at the top of the study is both striking and alarming. The chart compares average annual change on several key economic indicators. The disparity is obvious. The Clinton saw average movement in the right direction on every issue except for one -- trade deficit reduction. The Bush Administration meanwhile, demonstrated movement in the wrong direction on 8 of the 11 economic indicators, and managed to outperform the Clinton Administration on only two issue - productivity and trade deficit reduction.

One of the key issues I'd like to point out is the "Jobs with Good Wages" indicator. The Progressive Policy website describes the "Jobs with Good Wages" indicator as

This indicator is a weighted index based on the change in the number of jobs in different income quintiles under Clinton and Bush. A positive value represents job growth biased toward higher paying jobs, which reflects an upwardly mobile economy."

The Clinton administration produced an average 4.7% annual increase on this indicator, while the Bush administration has so far produced an average annual decrease of 1%. Coupled with the high levels of unemployment we have witnessed during the Bush administration, you can begin to understand the cause for concern. For the sake of completeness, here is a list of the economic indicators where the Clinton administration outperformed the Bush Administration (For a complete definition of each of these categories, see the full article)
  • National Debt Reduction (3.89% to -0.94%)
  • Jobs (2.38% to -0.17%
  • Full-Time/Part-Time Job s(0.11% to -1.67%)
  • Jobs /w Good Wages (4.7% to -1.0%)
  • Americans /w Health Insurance (0.32% to -0.55%)
  • Per Capita GDP (2.42% to 1.62%)
  • Median Household Income (1.65% to -1.15%)
  • People out of Poverty (2.29% to -4.33%)
  • Homeownership (1.94% to 0.37%)
When you look at the average job growth per month, you begin seeing what a difference we have seen between the two presidents. While Clinton was in office for 96 months, we saw an average job growth rate of 239,000 jobs. This chart may help frame to issue. Bush's first term was the first time a president oversaw an entire four year period where we experienced negative job growth since the depression. By August 2003, we had seen a net job loss of 2.6 million jobs under Bush. The number of available jobs has since increased, but the quality of work that has replaced the lost jobs has diminished greatly, as demonstrated by the Jobs /w Good Wages indicator. This is in large part due to offshoring, outsourcing, and the Walmart-ization/McDonald-ization of every town in America. For comparison, under Clinton we saw an eight year period with a total of 22.9 Million new jobs.

Social Indicators

Moving away from economic indicators, we now turn our attention to social indicators, which should help improve our overall understanding of our nation's health. We start by looking at abortion rates. Remember the election? The major issue cited by many Bush supporters in the vote was "Moral Values". These moral values primarily included abortion and gay marriage. You may be surprised to learn that voting for Bush may actually have the opposite of intended affect. Abortions were on a decade decline when Bush came into office. Every year Clinton was in office, the national abortion rate declined. With Bush in office, abortion rates have actually increased. Why would this happen, you might ask? The primary reason cited for abortions is the inability to pay for the child. Here is a quote from an article on the subject, originally reported in the Houston Chronicle:

"Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, insurance, jobs, child care and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs, health insurance and support for mothers."

It looks like the original Houston Chronicle article has been removed. Here are two additional links on the subject: The Al Franken Show and e-The-People.

In addition to the abortion rate trend reversal, there has also been a major reversal in national crime rates. Under the Bill Clinton administration, the national crime rate decreased every year that he was in office. While Bush has been in office, the crime rate has increased every year that he was in office. This trend reversal can again be attributed to the nation's economy and overall health.

While we are on the subject of abortion and moral values, I should point out that a recent study found that Red State marriages are 22% less likely than Blue State marriages to end in divorce. The state with the lowest rate of divorce? Massachusetts. So much for "Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage".

Major Blunders

The major blunder of the Bush Administration had to be the initiation of the War on Iraq. The administration outright lied about their motivations for the Iraqi War. There were no WMDs, and there was no credible evidence that could be used to confirm this belief. There was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission Report confirmed these facts. In the lead up to the war,the Bush administration repeatedly used the phrase "There is no doubt..."

"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

oh really...are you so sure about? If not, why didn't you say so when you were asked about the biggest mistake you had made since 9/11?

Rewarding Incompetence

Time and time again, the Bush Administration has rewarded incompetence. Here is a quick look.

Condoleezza Rice - After 9/11 occurred, the president's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, was questioned during a hearing about an August 6th Presidential Daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S" When questioned, Condi brushed off the importance of the report, stating that it was primarily a "Historical document" She stated "The report did not warn of any coming attack in the United States" Did you read the title, Condi? She also stated "The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States." As the National Security Advisor, is it really prudent to make a distinction between these two cases? The now declassified PDB included statements stating that the terrorist network had undertaken surveillance of buildings in New York, and that the terrorists would likely involve the highjacking of airliners during the terrorist attack. During testimony, Condi also used the phrase that there was "no recommendation of what to do about it." Come on! You are the NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR. That is your job!

Given this document, what she should have done was to contact the FBI to inquire about any suspicious activity involving airliners, and the FAA to provide them with a watch list of known terrorists. If she had done this, she may have learned that in July, a Phoenix FBI agent said that al-Qaeda terrorists may be training at U.S. flight schools and urged a nationwide investigation. This one phone call may have been enough to stop 9/11. Al-Midhar and Alhazmi were already on watch lists. It is understandable that 9/11 may not have been stoppable, but the fact is, Condoleezza refused to accept any responsibility for not taking action on the PDB when it is obvious that the appropriate action should have been taken. Condoleezza Rice should also be infamously known for uttering this terribly alarmist remark:
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" How has she been rewarded for this incompetence? How about by being nominated as the new Secretary of State?

Donald Rumsfeld - My last blog entry, Support Our Troops - Condemn the Bush Administration, should be enough to convince you that this guy should resign. In fact, more than half the country now feels that Rumsfeld should be resign. So, what does Bush do? President Bush gave Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a vote of confidence, stating that Rumsfeld is "doing a really fine job", and that he was "very pleased" when Rumsfeld agreed to stay on. Good one.

The Bush Administration appointed Republican partisan Porter Goss to head the CIA. Since then, the CIA, which already failed America miseribly during 9/11, has seen an exodus of top level officials, resigning out of protest over the partesan control of the government over the CIA. The 9/11 Commission found that CIA and whitehouse were engaged in groupThink -- It appeared that the CIA was simply under task to find as much evidence as they could to support the official republican party line. This was a terrible situation. So, after this was found out, how did they respond? By informing the members of the CIA that all employees within the agency needed to toe the party line. This is an administration that simply doesn't want to hear any dissenting opinion.

Earlier this month, the president awarded medal of Freedom to Paul Bremmer, General Franks, and George Tenet. What a joke! George "Slam Dunk" Tenet was the man who told President Bush that it was a ‘slam dunk’ that Iraq had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Gen. Tommy Franks was the man who reassured Bush and Rumsfeld that we could invade Iraq with only 150,000 troops. Paul Bremmer was the man responsible for disbanding 400,000 Iraqi army and police force officers, who ended up losind their jobs and going home. This has led the the phrase "That guy is one mistake away from a Medal of Freedom".

Meanwhile, there are a few people who have stood up with a dissenting opinion to the Bush Adminstration. Remember Ambassador Joseph Wilson? His op/ed piece What I didn't Find in Africa originally appeared in the New York Times only July 7th, 2003. His reward for standing up to the Bush Administration for misusing prewar intelligence? The outing of his wife, Valarie Plame, as a CIA operative by Karl Rove and Robert Novak. This outing ruined Valarie Plame's career, and bordered on criminal. The message was heard loud and clear. No one would dare mess with this administration and risk a similar fate.

Signs of Life

Over 60,000,000 people voted for the Bush Administration. They must have done something right, didn't they? Let's look at a few of th issues they like to point to as successes.

President Bush likes to point to the No Child Left Behind Act as one of the key selling points for his administration. Unforunately, after passing the act, the administration decided to underfund the promised amount by $27 Billion dollars. State budgets have been left to foot the bill for the shortfall, which has, as a result, led to teacher layoffs and cut programs. This act has had exactly the opposite of the desired affect on the nation's educational system.

The USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) is a terrible concoction. I think they spent more time coming up with a clever title for the bill than actually examining the contents contained within. This bill is a disgrace -- Bush likes to talk about how the terrorists hate our freedom, yet massive American civil liberties and freedoms were curtailed by this bill. The PATRIOT Act was 340 pages long, yet congress was given only 3 days to read it. If you watched Fahrenheit 9/11, you'll witness a congressman stating that they don't even read the bills, because they don't have time to.

Bush Tax Cuts - Bush is the only president in history that has ever cut taxes during war time (which, coincidently, he started) We started with a budget surplus, and we are now facing record budget deficits. Yet, he had the audacity to run his reelection campaign on the idea of reducing the deficit? Just how unfair where these tax cuts? It turns out that 43% of the tax cut went to the wealthiest top 1% of our population. The top 1% of the population makes over $319,000/year, with an average income of $915,000. Yet, the administration continues to argue that the greatest proportion of tax cuts went to the poor. So, yeah, Bush might have saved your family a couple thousand dollars in tax cuts, but that isn't the whole picture. For one, he is robbing from the poor, and giving to the rich. Secondly, he is making future generations (our children and our children's children) pay for his ill-conceived war, and his re-election campaign. It really doesn't get more immoral than this.


The Bush Administration has gotten us into a very fine mess. What justification could possibly be used to validate a vote for Bush. It appears that the incompetence of the Bush administration has indeed permeated into the general public of the United States. Bush has been known to lack intellectual curiosity. The Bush administration refuses to seek outside opinions, often rejecting or ignoring any advice that contradicts their world view. There was plenty of evidence to contradict the idea that there was WMDs in Iraq. The allegations of uranium yellowcake in Niger were contradicted by the testimony of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The aluminum centrifuge tube evidence was also proved to be completely baseless. The fact is, the Bush Administration was engaged in "GroupThink". They ignored all facts, and rushed as quickly as they could into the quagmire in Iraq, simply because they knew that their political momentum would quickly run dry if they did not act. In short, they pulled a fast one on the American public.

It is now almost two years later. You think the American people would have wizened up by now. Guess again. It turns out that Bush supporters are largely ignorant of facts. A pre-election study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), found that Bush supporters largely believe that Iraq had WMDs, a connection with Al Qaeda, and that the Duelfer report proved the existence of Iraqi WMDs. Also surprising is that a majority of these Bush supporters would not support the war in Iraq if these conditions were not true. Conclusion? Like the president himself, a slim majority of the American public would rather continue to believe what they currently know to be true, rather than pick up a newspaper and learn the facts. Perhaps the preponderance of cable TV networks, such as the highly biased and unfathomable Fox New Network, are to be blamed. The mass media, in general, hasn't been much better. A tighter leash must be put on the Bush Administration -- four more years of unbridled political action from the Bush Administration is more than we can afford to bear.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Support Our Troops - Condemn the Bush Administration

Driving around town, whenever I notice one of those yellow "Support our Troops" magnets on the back of a car, I can't help but wonder why somebody would bother to display such an obvious message. Who in their right mind doesn't support the troops? These are brave men and women, risking their lives in the service of our country -- nobody is questioning the honor and the role of the troops. Does these people who proudly display this message have some sort of superiority complex?

Supporting the Bush administration and the war itself is a completely different issue. I would hope that anybody driving around with a "Support the Troops" sticker voted against the Bush Administration -- even though that does seem to be a mathematical impossibility, given the seeming omnipresence of the yellow magnets.

In the execution of the Iraqi War, the major players in the Bush Administration have demonstrated overwhelming incompetence, and a complete lack of support for our troops. In this blog, I will paint you a picture of the overall lack of support demonstrated by the Bush administration.

Issue #1 - Waging an illegitimate War Based on False Pretenses

No matter how you look at it, the Bush Administration screwed up by pre-emptively starting a war against Iraq. There is no reasonable explanation for why the United States mass media has allowed the Bush Administration to get away with this. They completely lied about the justification for the war. Later, when the evidence came out to prove they were wrong, they simply changed their story....and the media let them get away with it? Why?

The 9/11 Commission Report was clear about this -- their was simply no evidence to back the reasoning used to justify the war. As John Kerry stated in the debates, war should be chosen as only a last resort -- after all other means have been exhausted. What was their rush? The Bush Administration has put the lives of over one hundred thousands US soldiers to fight a war, all the while lying about why we started it. This is inexcusable

Issue #2 - preparation for War

Before starting the Iraqi Invasion, General Eric Shinseki warned the Bush Administration that a force of 300,000 armed forces would be required in order to quickly stabilize the region, and quell any insurgencies. Unfortunately, Donald Rumsfeld was convinced that he could win the war with a small army. This has proven to be a recipe for disaster.

The arrogance of the Bush Administration was never more proudly on display than on May 1, 2003, when President Bush announced to the nation, off the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, "Major Combat Operations in Iraq have ended". This was just a few weeks after an unprecedented worldwide protest against the preemptive attack United States, where literally millions of people around the world pored into the street in protest. President Bush demonstrated unmitigated gall, dismissing the opinions of millions around the world as no more than "a focus group".

Issue #3 - Donald Rumsfeld - contemptible Partisan Hack

I'll sight right now -- If you want to demonstrate support for the troops, call for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. This man has done more to harm the troops than any Iraqi insurgent, through reckless disregard for the troops safety, and a complete lack of competence.

Look at this man's record:

Just last week, Rumsfeld was grilled by our very own US Troops on several key issues. The bravery demonstrated by U.S. Army Spc. Thomas Wilson in directly questioning the Secretary of Defence was an amazing and unprecedented moment in US history. Rumsfeld's response:

As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

What an arrogant and uncaring prick! First off - it was the Bush Administration that decided to blunder off and start the war, pulling troops from the effort in Afghanistan, simply because they new they had to start the war while they still had political momentum. Secondly, a representative of a critical army supplier, ArmorWorks, came out immediately to refute Rumsfeld's claim, stating that they have been producing armor at only half of the plants full capacity, and have repeatedly contacted the Pentegon to discuss increasing production.

Issue #4 - Al Qaqaa

As I have discussed in a previous blog entry, the Bush Administration demonstrated a great conflict of interest in how they chose to start the war, and the targets they chose to guard. The war was supposed to be about disarming Saddam, yet they chose to ignore the Al Qaqaa munitions facility, instead choosing to have troops guard the Iraqi oil fields.

At first, news came out that 380 tons of high explosives and ammo were missing. The Bush Administration was able to spin this story in many different direction, attempting to use one excuse after another, until the mass media decided it wasn't worth the effort to follow up. First they said that the weapons were missing before the war started, then they said that the weapons were destroyed. I even heard one defense stating that there were literally hundreds of thousands of tons of unsecured weapons in Iraq, so it would be impossible to defend them. Well--if that was the case, wouldn't you still think it would be better to guard the weapons you could, rather than using the troops to guard the oil fields? After that, a KSTP Video came out showing that the US soldiers did indeed visit the Al Qaqaa facility, with weapons storage rooms stored behind official IAEA tags and seals.

Reports came out stating that soldiers witnessed heavy looting at the Al Qaqaa weapons facility, while receiving no response to calls for help. Meanwhile, US troops are now suffering major casualties from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), devised from the very explosives that were stolen.

Issue #5 - Torture/Ignoring Geneva Convention/Abu Gharib

Of all ways in which the Bush Administration has demonstrated a lack of support for the US Troops, this issue has to top the cake. The Geneva Convention exists for a reason -- it is a two way street -- By conducting torture on captives in the Iraqi war, the United States has created an open invitation for abuse of US Captives in the war.

The Bush Administration tried to play off the issue - blaming it on a few rogue soldiers. This simply not true. Just look at these statements from the highest levels of the Bush Administration:

"They will be handled not as prisoners of war because they're not, but as unlawful combatants. As I understand it technically, unlawful combatants do not have any rights under the Geneva Convention". - Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

How can the Secretary of Defense get away with such a comment? He should be condemned. The International committee of the Red Cross has found many examples of human rights violations, both in Iraq, and at Gitmo, a hidden prison at Guantanamo. According to CBC, Maj. Gen. Geoffry D. Miller was sent to Iraq in order to "Gitmo-ize" the prisons in Iraq.

Now, lets look at Bush's choice for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the author of a May 16, 2004 memo which states that the Geneva Conventions are "Obsolete" and "Quaint". The orders to perform torture at Abu Gharib were not the work of a few rogue soldiers. These orders came from the highest levels of the Bush Administration.

Issue #6 - Lack of Respect for US Soldiers Among Republican Party and Right Wing Media

"No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?" - Rudy Giuliani, appearing on NBC's Today Show

How dare you? Blaming the brave men and women of the US Army for the failures of the Bush Administration. Despite being on the IAEA Watch list of known weapons facilities, the Bush Administration failed to inform the army of this key location.

You can have all of the armor in the world on a tank, and a tank can be blown up -Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Glib response to questioning of lack of armor provided for U.S. Soldiers

Statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California. Brit Hume, Fox News Anchor, attempting to demonstrate that Iraq is a safe, stable, environment. Hume's basis for the comparison? California has about 6.6 homicides per day, while at the time we were losing about 1.7 soldiers per day in Iraq. Hume went on to add that California is about the same geographical size as Iraq. What does that have to do with anything. Meanwhile, California has 30 million people, while there 140,000 US Troops in Iraq at the time. What a prick -- trivialize US Troop deaths in the interest of making a political point.

For the sake of argument, lets do a little math. Iraq, with a geographical area of 171,599 square miles, results in 0.0000099 troop deaths per square mile per day. Meanwhile, New York City occupies 322 square miles, and has a murder rate of 1.5/day. The translates roughly to 0.00465 murders per square mile per day. By Brit Hume's logic, You are 47000% more likely to die by being murdered as a resident in New York than you are to die in combat as a U.S. soldier in the Iraq war. Sound right? Didn't think so. And this guy calls himself a News Anchor.

Issue #7 - One last look at Secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Still not convinced that we should call for the resignation of Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld? This one should put you over the threshold: It turns out that Rumsfeld hasn't even been bothering to sign condolence letters to families whose loved ones died in Iraq. These letters were being signed by an autopen - a machine that automatically generates the Defense Secretaries signature.

How completely disingenuous, rude, insensitive, and completely incomprehensible is this? These soldiers have given their lives for our country, and in return, the man responsible for sending them to their death cannot even bother to take a few moments to sign a condolence letter.

This completely unprecedented action couldn't simply go without discipline, could it? Well, it appears so...in a press conference held earlier today, President Bush gave Secretary of DefenseRumsfeld a vote of confidence, stating that Rumsfeld is "doing a really fine job", and that he was "very pleased" when Rumsfeld agreed to stay on.


Given the widespread incompetence demonstrated by the Bush administration, the complete lack of accountability that the administration has been held to, and the lack of support provided to the U.S. Troops by the Bush Administration, I really cannot explain the abundance of yellow "Support our Troops" magnetic affixed to almost every car in sight. Did all these people really vote for regime change? If so, maybe the election really was stolen....