Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Maureen Dowd manages to get to the heart of the matter of Bush Treason in her column today, which draws on the Peter Bergen article in this month's New Republic. I haven't read the Bergen article, but if I feel like my blood pressure is dropping, maybe I will.
Dowd cuts to the chase via her conversation with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, while flying over the mountains of Afghanistan where Bin Laden was cornered. She notes that right in the middle of the show down at Tora Bora, Donald Rumsfeld asks Gen. Tommy Franks to "freshen up" an Iraq invasion plan.
Odd, that? Or is it? Are we supposed to believe that these neo-con geniuses of the Bush administration had the world's number one terrorist--who they often blamed Clinton for not killing or capturing as a defense for their own lack of diligence before 9-11--cornered in some mountains and they bungled it?
They were busy getting ready for Iraq, and now Gates wants to buy the idea that that is why we couldn't send a few hundred Army Rangers into kill Bin Laden?
Gates tells Dowd: "“Afghanistan was a vastly underresourced operation because, as some of the generals say in the Pentagon, we were just out of Schlitz. We didn’t have any more troops to send.”
What a crock. This wasn't screwed up. This is the kind of thing that we are good at, as we proved later in Iraq when we caught Saddam, and when we killed his sons. Once all the intelligence and surveillance work has worked, we send in the crack squads, and we finish the job.
The Tora Bora episode failed to get Bin Laden because George W. Bush and his minions decided to let him go. It's the only explanation that makes sense. To suggest that the greatest military force in the world, led by the Army Rangers--perhaps the best fighting force in history--shouldn't be sent into some mountains to get the guy that just orchestrated the most devastating attack on America in our short history is just crap.
To suggest that we didn't have the resources in Afghanistan is crap. We had thousands of troops there, including the Rangers. We had bombed the caves Bin Laden was in with bunker busters for days. The cratered landscape was ripe for a crack force which was ready to go, and the President of the United States decided not to.
George W. Bush provided aid and comfort to Usama Bin Laden. He had him cornered and he decided--perhaps because it's always good to have a bogey man around--to let him go.
And that is the definition of treason.
"“Afghanistan was a vastly underresourced operation because, as some of the generals say in the Pentagon, we were just out of Schlitz,” Gates said. “We didn’t have any more troops to send.”"
- Op-Ed Columnist - Blunder on the Mountain - NYTimes.com (view on Google Sidewiki)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
From the above linked NYT story, a new Senate report adds more proof to the case against the Bush Administration, especially Donald Rumsfeld. They let Bin Laden go when they had him cornered in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in December, 2001.
The report, based in part on a little-noticed 2007 history of the Tora Bora episode by the military’s Special Operations Command, asserts that the consequences of not sending American troops in 2001 to block Mr. bin Laden’s escape into Pakistan are still being felt.
The report blames the lapse for “laying the foundation for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan.”
George Bush stood on top of the rubble of the WTC and said we'd get those guys, but when it came time to actually get them, the order came down, from the Administration, to let our enemies get away. The Whitehouse ordered US troops not to finish the job.
I can think of many ways to aid our enemies. Short of actually plotting an attack with them, letting them get away with it, especially when you actually have them cornered and then let them go, is nothing short of treason. It would be hard to aid and comfort an enemy more than letting them walk away from justice.
In legal terms, this is known as accessory after the fact. Helping a mass murderer escape prosecution is, at the very least, a felony, and, without much effort at all, easy to define as treason.
Now that we know how the Bush administration worked, taking the politics of everything into account, is it such a leap to conclude that the Karl Rove mentality of making everything political, played a part in the decision to let our enemies walk away from Tora Bora? When people in top positions at the White House make decisions to let our enemies simply pack up and walk off through the mountains, doesn't that at least deserve investigation? Doesn't that at least deserve outrage from those who supposedly cherish our National Security above all else?
I can't wait to see the drivel from these Bush cheerleaders dismissing this story as politically motivated Bush bashing from the deranged left. It will be just another example of how these hacks put the well-being of the Republican party above the safety of US citizens, and above the ideal of justice for mass murderers.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Regarding my last post about why I call it Bush Treason, I got a response that laments the dilution of the term.
Because the Constitution, which I remember even if Dick Cheney tried to shred it, actually defines treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
That is a high standard to attain.
Did the Bush administration actually invade the United States? No. Did they actually help the terrorists in their plot? No.
No treason. There are a variety of reasons to consider the Bush administration the worst ever, but debasing the word treason does not help.
Did they actually help the terrorists with their plot? Well, could the plot have been carried out if they had done their job? Would the plot have been carried out if Bush had read the PDB and done something about it? Would the plot have been carried out if Ashcroft hadn't told people to stop telling him about terrorism?
...adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Is it that much of a stretch to say that we created Osama, and that the neo-cons (especially Cheney) funded him, supported him, and basically created him? Same with Saddam... These people were not exactly friendly to the US, but in the neo-con zeal to fight the USSR, Cheney et al certainly gave Aid and Comfort to future enemies.
But, say, OK, but they weren't our enemies at the time. Well, then when they got reports about imminent terror attacks and chose to ignore them, isn't that aid and comfort? When Ashcroft said he didn't want to hear anymore about terror, that's willful ignorance which led to our enemies operating without any kind of Justice Department effort to stop them.
But, again, I'll go with you and say, no, ignoring a threat is not the same as helping someone attack us. Even then, when you come out after the attack and lie about what you did to stop it... When you lie to make yourself look more heroic, when you cover up what went wrong, when you attack someone who had nothing to do with it thereby sucking resources away from the good fight, are you not helping the enemy get away with it? When you have the guy who did it cornered in Tora Bora and you let him get away, isn't that being an accessory after the fact?
I could go on and on. To me, I am not debasing the word treason because I don't limit it's definition. I'm trying to say that there's a whole series of actions by Dick Cheney et al which actually did give aid and comfort to our enemies. Just because Dick wasn't on a plane with a box cutter doesn't mean that he didn't do his damndest to make sure we got ourselves a Pearl Harbor Type Event. All he had to do was not do his job.
Further, I haven't even delved into a possible alternative explanation of the definition of enemies. Since the P and VP are sworn to protect and defend the constitution, and by extension US Law, then by torturing, wiretapping, and who knows what all, they actually became the enemy!
I do see your point, but I don't understand why sticking to such a narrow definition of treason is so important. By sending this country into an illegal war based on bullshit and lies, they essentially declared war on the US. They helped those who are truly our enemies with recruiting, with milking us dry economically (think the trillion dollars we will spend on Iraq is going to help us economically?), and by taking our focus away from the people who really attacked us. To me, that's treason.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Maybe the better question is why don't more people call it treason. George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and most of the administration ignored warnings about Al Qaeda, were incompetent (My Pet Goat is just the tip of the iceberg) in the response to defend the nation, and then lied about it.
The following is from Jacob Heilbrunn's book review in today's NYT of John Farmer's The Ground Truth:
Preoccupied with building a costly missile defense system to counter a spurious menace from Russia and with maintaining “full spectrum dominance” over the rest of the globe, most Bush administration officials blithely ignored the danger emanating from the caves of Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and his acolytes plotted against America. Confronted by a small group of mostly Saudi nationals armed with box cutters, the central nervous system of the country’s defense agencies went into a state of cataleptic shock. The only decisive action taken on 9/11 came not from the military, but from the courageous passengers who stormed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93, leading the hijackers to crash the plane over Pennsylvania farmland before it could reach its intended target in Washington.
That's bad enough, of course, but then, like dirty little boys lying to their mother that they hadn't been playing in the mud, they claimed everything was just fine. I'm sure someone idiot will claim this lie was heroic, for stopping the spread of panic over their own incompetence, but to me, it's further evidence of treason. They knew they had fucked up, and they'd never get re-elected if everyone knew it, so they lied about it. Heilbrunn:
[...] Farmer superbly renders the knuckle-biting tension and confusion engendered by the hijackings, and says the leadership of the F.A.A. and the Defense Department “would remain largely irrelevant to the critical decision making and unaware of the evolving situation ‘on the ground’ until the attacks were completed” — thereby making it close to impossible for the military to intercept any aircraft.
Yet both Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney, Farmer says, provided palpably false versions that touted the military’s readiness to shoot down United 93 before it could hit Washington. Planes were never in place to intercept it. By the time the Northeast Air Defense Sector had been informed of the hijacking, United 93 had already crashed. Farmer scrutinizes F.A.A. and Norad records to provide irrefragable evidence that a day after a Sept. 17 White House briefing, both agencies suddenly altered their chronologies to produce a coherent timeline and story that “fit together nicely with the account provided publicly by Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney.”
Farmer further observes that the Bush administration wrongly asserted that the chain of command functioned on 9/11; that President Bush issued an authorization to shoot down hijacked commercial flights; and that top officials at F.A.A. headquarters coordinated their actions with the military. Farmer’s verdict: “History should record that whether through unprecedented administrative incompetence or orchestrated mendacity, the American people were misled about the nation’s response to the 9/11 attacks.”
Of course, misleading people after such a shocking event proved easy enough, so they just kept doing it. The lies just kept piling up. Pat Tillman comes to mind. So does Iraq (you know, the place Fox News doesn't seem to remember).
It's just too much. You don't have to be a genius to see why so many conspiracy theories have formed around the attacks. The picture that is becoming more and more clear is that the Bush Administration ignored repeated warnings and signs of attack, told officials to stop telling them about it (Ashcroft), spent all their time on other things (planning to invade Iraq, spend billions of missile defense boondoggles, and suck cash away from the poor with massive tax cuts to the rich while drowning non-rich-corporation-subsidization domestic programs in a bathtub), fucked up their response to the attack, and then lied about it to make themselves seem more heroic.
How can anyone possibly call that anything other than treason?
I went to sleep, and when I woke up people were mad at Obama. And I thought, 'Did I miss something? Did Obama start an illegal war? Did he fly over a flood zone and just wave? Did he torture detainees in a secret prison? Did he start illegally tapping phones? Did he alienate the world and squander a surplus? Because if he did any of that, we need to impeach that jackass.'
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In 2008, Tim Shorrock reported for Salon that while “working inside America’s ’shadow’ spy industry, George Tenet, Richard Armitage, Cofer Black and others are cashing in big on Iraq and the war on terror.” Now, the Financial Times reports today that even more Bush administration officials are eyeing profits in Iraq:
Senior Bush administration figures including Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to Baghdad, and Jay Garner, the retired general who led reconstruction efforts immediately after the war, are leading a new business push into Iraq.
Seth and Amy should have done this, instead of the Goldman Sachs thing. Because rich people getting better health care than the rest of us isn't really that much of a really, but starting a war to make your buddies rich, well, that only happens every now and then in America.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The hopeless idiots who voted for these crooks, meaning all the working class fools who hate hippies from the sixties so much that they still vote for the fascists who will beat them up on the news, are now trying to blame their new President for the full latrine hole in which they now find themselves. They're not going to pay attention to the latest proof that they were used by the cynical politics of KKKarl Rove in order to steal a lot of money, followed by a last minute bail out (Bush's TARP) of all the rich people who were standing around saying "We don't know where all the money went."
Maybe they thought that the war on poverty they inherited meant they were supposed to kill poor people? What other excuse could there be for the draconian policies of tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor, and bailouts for the ultra-rich? Looking back, they were so successful at screwing poor people that it must've been a plan from the get-go, since the only things these people were successful at were things they had planned from the start, like starting war in Iraq.
Of course, they were good at planning the starts of things. Not so good at the rest. How's that ownership society going now? The ultimate pottery barn rule: Bush broke everything, now we own it, and it's worthless.
If only we were really Closing The Book On The Bush Legacy:
On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush's two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked.The one success story? The rich got much, much richer.
Since poverty is the lagging indicator, we're going to be seeing numbers like this go up for a while yet, and we're going to see the treasonous apologists for these war criminals try to blame the new guy, just like they tried to blame Clinton for 9/11, despite the warnings that OBL was determined to strike IN the US.
Thousands died that day because the Bushies were asleep at the National Security wheel. Or drunk. Or choking on pretzels. Or just didn't care, since, as the PNAC (project for a new american century) said late in the Clinton years, they'd need a new Pearl Harbor to really get involved in the Middle East. Now, since they got what they wanted (don't the spoiled frat brats always?), I'm assuming they, at the very least, did nothing to stop what they were hoping for. So, they used the same kind of indifference on programs that actually helped people get out of poverty, or get affordable health insurance, or a mortgage within the means of which they could live.
Say, for example, you want to milk all the money you can out of people at the bottom, and make sure it goes to the top. Obviously, you'd cut taxes on the wealthy and cut programs for the poor. But there's plenty of other things you can do. Ignore hurricanes that hit black people, for example. Make sure you decrease funding into things that might protect black neighborhoods: levees, for one. Or cut superfund sites funding, since a disproportionate share of minorities live near those sites. Or, you could string out a costly racket known as the Iraq war, sucking money up into the military industrial complex, lining Halliburton pockets, while running up a deficit designed to starve "a beast" that you're trying to shrink to a size that you can drown in a bath-tub, although Grover Norquist's bathtub must be a little bigger than most. Or, speaking of water, you could just not prosecute clean water act violations. Millions "saved." Unless by millions, you mean people...
If you really wanted to be a vicious bastard, you could sue states that tried to let people who were suffering die with dignity (no big end-of-life bucks for the HMOs), you could make sure teen pregnancies skyrocket, (don't make me look up the Freakonomics on the chains of poverty in which pregnant teens and their kids get locked), and you could arrest cancer patients for smoking pot (no money for big pharma in an easy-to-grow plant).
All good plans, if you're looking to put money back into the hands of those who need it least. Of course, if you believe the Reagan lie that government is bad, then you probably love what Bush did. It's hard to go to church and explain to people how Jesus would have approved of more people in poverty, more children going to bed hungry, more people dying due to lack of adequate health care... But, fuck that, eh? Just make shit up!
"It's not my fault they're poor!" How about "The Lord helps those who help themselves"? Maybe "I shouldn't have to pay to help lazy bums or their kids"? That's a great one. Or, how about the biblical version of let them eat cake?
And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man.--Ezekiel 4:12
Never mind Mark 10:25. Everything can be explained away with the ultimate bumper-sticker legacy of the Book of Reagan (1:1):
I got mine, fuck you.Of course, if you think government is always bad, you're wrong. But, like trying to convince you that the earth is 4 billion years old and we evolved from lower life forms, that our carbon blanket is warming us up, that the earth goes around the sun, that the government's not going to pull the plug on your Grandma, that our president was born in Hawaii, or that Hawaii is a US State, you're not going to believe me. You think what you think, and then there's the truth, and never the twain shall meet.
Good luck with that. And thanks for the shit sandwich.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
...a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
What we have right now is corporatism. It's like fascism, except the corporation, not the state, is really in control of everything. There is no racial or religious (left out of this definition, but most fascist movements come with religious bigotry as well) component (unless you want to make the argument that they worship money)...
We can take little bites out of corporate control here and there, nibble around the edges like rabbits, but the tasty vegies deep in the garden are for the corporate elite. When they're in trouble, we bail them out. When we're in trouble and try to use the democratic tools of our elected government to help us, we're fascists because, well, because they create the connotations and the definitions. We're fascist because they say so. Fuck the facts. Fuck the dictionary. Fuck reality. Just show up and shout over everyone: protect the companies from the fascists in Washington!
By letting our elected representatives craft a bill that keeps insurance companies honest, Obama is a Centralized Autocratic Dictatorial Leader? In what fucked up Universe does that logic work? Oh, right.... Guess that means Kim Jong Il is a socialist? If you say so...
I'm so sick of these idiots that I'm not even going to bother listing the fascist bullshit that GW Bush did to this country. Compare their warrior hero prezteldent with Obama on the fascist scale, and you break the fucking scale.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
The America I know and love doesn't exist anymore. If it did, lying scumbag idiot torture apologists who promote the agenda of racist violence whores who respond to collateral damage with shrugs and smirks would be rounded up and jailed, when a conviction was achieved from a Jury of their peers (if there is such a thing), and sued for slander when a conviction is not achieved, and laughed out of town in all the other cases. They certainly wouldn't be given a bigger soap box, a following of brainwashed bigots who couldn't find the truth if you rammed it up their collective retentive asses, and a war chest of millions of dollars from the lunatic asylum masquerading as a news organization and a supposedly legitimate political party that now represents the south, the Mormon corridor, and Maine (for some insane reason I have yet to figure out).
But just for a moment, I'm going to stop typing, chase the squirrel away from the bird feeder again, and fantasize about a society in which we all get to vote on Sarah Palin's "level of productivity in society" and, based on our vote, determine that she should have to spend the rest of her years in seclusion, in some sort of God-forsaken hell-hole where news cameras never go, where health care is only for the very rich or very poor or very old or very incarcerated, and where her monthly check from the government is the majority of her income, where she has to live, with her whole damn genetically challenged family and unmarried teenage mother daughter, on $600 in food stamps a month, while borrowing money from friends and family to pay the rent...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
No beer and no TV make Homer something something...
But back in our pre-Tivo days, Robin recorded our favorite shows for me when I was at work, and we kept all those tapes--moved across country with many boxes of VHS tapes that Robin assured me we'd be happy to have.
Once again, she was right.
Last night we stumbled across the West Wing Episode, The Midterms, from 2000, which contains this fairly famous clip:
What we hadn't noticed before, because we didn't know it, was that the Bible also says not to eat shell fish, and the delicious food they were serving at this talk radio reception was Alaskan Crab Cakes.
Nice the way they slipped that in without hitting you upside the head with it.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I've heard this argument from Scott Horton and others ("Is it OK to crush the testicles of the child of the person who knows about the bomb," for example) and it's a good one. What I haven't heard is the obvious conclusion that Republicans have, at least in this argument, succumbed to one of the left's worst traits: relativistic ethics.
The purist right was always telling us, from high upon their law-and-order perches, that they were the holders of the absolutist flame. They were the protectors of the kind of ethics that make some things always right, and some always wrong. Before 9-11, you'd have been hard pressed to find any self-respecting sufferer of Bush Adoration Syndrome say that there is ever a case where raping someone is justified. They would have thought you were some commie-dirty-fucking-hippie-druggie-degenerate if you suggested that there might be a time when torturing a child is OK.
And yet, here we are, listening day in and out as one after another sufferer of Bush Apologist Syndrome suggests that, since we're the good guys, nothing we do is bad. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about how the mighty absolutists have slipped into the muck, munched some bad acid, and are wailing around slinging feces-laced chunks of "debate" out of their logical spiral into a Very Dark place indeed.
Since there seems to be a sizable chunk of America that thinks Keifer Southerland is keeping them safe, perhaps we'd all be better off relying on the system that many wise men devised for dealing with ethical quandaries: The Law. We call breaking a law one believes to be immoral civil disobedience. I hear from the Christian Torture lovers (q.v. this study: Churchgoers More Likely To See Torture As Justifiable) that they should stand up for this country and do what it takes to protect us.
Since privatization is the answer to everything, I suggest that one of you potential child rapists buy yourself a small army, a prison in a foreign country, an intelligence gathering operation, and go pick up a few targets, torture them (or torture their children--whatever it takes), and see what kind of intelligence you can get. Then, we'll prosecute, and you heroes can go to prison for a while, like all the other people who have practiced civil disobedience as a protest against laws they don't like. Be warned: most people are ethical absolutists when it comes to child rape.
If you happen to be Dick Cheney, and you've already completed the above assignment (although, maybe you didn't actually rape or torture any terrorist's children--they were just mangled and killed as collateral damage in that other ethical absolutist's high ground you took in Iraq), then you should expect to have to complete your civil disobedience assignment and spend a few years paying for your law-breaking. I'm sure Thoreau would approve.
Monday, April 20, 2009
But before we go down the criminal prosecution road, we should see the immediate impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee. For the legal angles of this travesty of American national security, American reputation, and American authority, I turn to Scott Horton of Harpers who writes today in The Torture Tango:
The memo-writer and the person soliciting the memo both understood perfectly that their role was to get interrogators out in the field to go ahead and use the techniques against which reservations were being expressed. They understood that, if the memos were issued, individuals would in fact be subjected to the torture techniques they were approving. They also fully understood that it was likely that individuals would be killed or would suffer lasting impairment as a result of their decision to give the greenlight. This satisfies the prerequisites for a criminal charge against the memo writer under section 2340A, conspiracy to torture. The preparation and issuance of these memoranda were criminal acts, and the relevant level of mens rea likely emerges from the dialogue surrounding their issuance.
What do you call it when you have evidence of a crime and you don't prosecute? Is that prosecutorial discretion? Or misconduct?
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Scott Horton's post today, In Brennan, Cheney has a Friend, drills into the lame arguments against making these documents public, arguments which include possible shame and embarrassment of the agents involved.
Let's review. You're an agent for your country. You have a prisoner. You've been told to torture him. You a) follow orders, or b) refuse to follow illegal orders. If you choose the illegal route, do you get to claim possible embarrassment and shame as reasons why the court should not see the evidence brought against you?
I'm pretty sure the national security state secrets arguments, first set forth by the US Government in US v Reynolds, just don't apply here. We're not talking about super-secret spy software that could actually be used to protect this country. We're talking about a thug administration, suffering from Manichean Paranoia Syndrome, torturing people, and thereby actually making this country less safe. Endangering the country with illegal acts. Sounds like treason to me.
Monday, March 23, 2009
You don't have to be a genius to know if you pile up a bunch of money and don't pay anyone to guard it, it will disappear. The Bushies did this with cold hard cash they sent to Baghdad on pallets! Billions if cash right from the US Treasury. Then, they did it 1000 times bigger with credit default swaps and unregulated insurance instruments. The average 401k guy gets told to buy and hold, the long run is good, stay in stocks if you're young, yada yada yada... Meanwhile, they're pocketing your money, buying jets and private islands in countries with no extradition, no income tax, and no minimum wage.
Just imagine what would have happened if we fed this GOP genetic mutation our social security funds.
So, is the 401k a bad thing? Should you be buying in right now? Well, you can get some good stuff cheap right now. But the next time you smell a bubble, put it in a money market fund. I wish people had the option of just going into an index fund with no fees. In the long run, that's better than all that damn day trading anyway. But who knows... It could be Mad Max world soon, in which case you'll want to invest in sharp boomerangs and gasoline.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Now this upper class of well-to-do Reaganites, many of them in the Democratic party, have drained the wealth of this country into their walled communities and private security forces, while they whine about their portfolios being worthless. What did they think when they were doing everything Phil Graham suggested? Did they think we could just trust the robber baron class not to be robber barons?
The profit motive works just fine in a regulated market, where everyone has their cards above the table, and we all play by the same rules, which we can all understand. Old timey conservatives were for stringent regulations, especially capital requirements on banks and the like. To be a fiscal conservative meant, literally, to not take crazy risks. A little risk for a decent return, but nothing crazy.
Well, you guys had your chance and you blew it. But what's funny about it is that Karl Marx basically predicted it. It's not hedge fund science, you know. If you have a bunch of money in one place, and you loosen the rules that protect it, someone will steal it. Human nature--GREED--is not good in a market because the greedy will take down the rest of us in that inter-dependent system.
So, now we're going to try something else. It's kind of like what FDR tried, at least in the sense of the largess, the investment in infrastructure and people, and the like. But it's also like FDR in the sense that he realized that everyone deserves some basic floor to stand on: a starting place so that we are all, indeed, created equal when we become a member of The Class of US Taxpayers. Now some of us might get more out of that system than we paid in, but the ones at the top will still get something out of it. They'll have clean dishes to eat cooked food on in restaurants. They'll have firemen and cops and teachers and those people will have the basic dignity of health coverage, affordable housing and utilities, and the like. If the private enterprise system refuses to charge enough for the products and services so that those people can be paid enough to buy their own coverage, then it is we the people, the government, who must force them to, through taxation.
And if you don't believe that, then your option is to have a whole class of people who are broke, unhealthy, and damn angry about it. In this country, those people vote for someone who will make the playing field fair again. In the current view of the dominant conservative voices, those people can just crawl off and die somewhere. Or wind up in prison where we subsidize their everything.
There will be people at the top who pay for it. That is populism. That is the price you pay for living in a country where we pay people who stock shelves at Wal Mart so little that they qualify for government subsidized health care. I'm sure most free market conservatives would prefer to have Wal Mart take care of their employees. But then how could they be the low price leader?
It's still a free country, and there's going to be a free market for practically anything (including things that are illegal). There will be a free market for health care and those of you who can afford it are more than welcome to sink your dollars into a system that profits from your sickness on one end (the HMOs) and profits from your minimal care on the other (the insurance companies who don't want to pay, they just want to collect). I ask you, which force will drive doctor salaries lower? A government that tries to enforce fairness, no matter how cumbersome a bureaucracy that develops in order to implement that fairness (and, again, medicare does it with amazingly low administrative costs compared to private companies), or a private insurance company that is trying desperately to keep outlays down because raising premiums is just making them lose customers?
I'm all for personal responsibility. I grow a lot of my own food. I own my own small business and work for a lot less than minimum wage. I would require more stringent food requirements on Food Stamp recipients, like me, to eat healthy foods and support local, small, and organic farmers. But when it comes to something as complex as health care, I just don't trust the greedy bastards to run it anywhere but into the ground.
I lived in LA for 20 years. I remember the Enron fiasco during the electricity crisis. We had been sold a bill of goods about privatizing and deregulating the electricity markets that turned out to be worse than a load of horse shit (which is at least good fertilizer). It is a perfect example of how unfettered markets only serve as suet to a bunch of hungry birds like Ken Lay who fly away with the whole chunk if they can.
At that point, I started looking into co-ops, public ownership of utilities, community supported agriculture, and credit unions. I like employee owned companies and try to support them when I can. Guess what all those examples are? Communist! They take the assets, the factories, the power lines, the loan portfolios, and they collectively own them among all the members. Where I live now, we have an electric co-op (a remnant of FDR's Rural Electrification Association). It's great. All the people who get the cheap power own the assets of the power company collectively. There is no profit, but the guys who cut the tree branches out of the way get paid well, get health insurance and other benefits. So does the nice lady who answers the phone. Because we, the owners, have decided that's a good thing to do. There's no profit for any corporation, but there is enough to make sure everyone gets paid what they're worth. If those employees had a government health plan they could choose, and pay for with a tax on their paychecks, then as a co-owner of the co-op, I would be more than happy to give them a raise with the money the co-op saved by not having to pay for their health care.
I'm pretty sure GM would like that too.
Why should health care be any different than the co-op itself? Why can we not use the medicare paycheck tax to pay into a fund that is then used to pay our dues for a medical co-op that fairly and equitably distributes care on a triage basis, and puts a premium on prevention, even to the point of rewarding people who do the right thing for their health (thereby being less of a burden to the rest of the co-op)?
Now a lot of people will say it's a red commie flag there, but if you really think about it, and look back over American history at the collective good that has developed as a ethic in this country, it's conservative. It says YOU have a stake, YOU have a responsibility, and if you do well, you will be rewarded. The fact that we are all owners makes it the ownership society for real. And the fact that it is controlled by a bureaucracy that is built to make it as fair as possible takes it out of the realm of Stalin or other totalitarian philosophies, and puts it squarely in the hands of voters who get tho choose the head of the federal government every four years.
I worked my ass off for big entertainment companies for 20 years. They made plenty of money off my labor: more than I did, in fact. And when that work caused the degenerative disease I have in my big load bearing joints, those company's insurance companies denied that they had caused it, and tossed me out like any old broken cog. In your world, it's toughsky shitsky for Scotty because they have to profit. In my world, the money I put into the co-op would come back to me from the co-op when I needed it. Some guy who profited more from my work might have to pay a little more tax now to fund it, but I'll never get back all the profit I helped him make. That's fine. But when he tries to say he has no responsibility for my care, now that I'm broken down and can't do the physical labor that I spent 20 years turning into a career, I say he's full of it.
But when he says, well, I don't really want to pay into a system where a bunch of jet-setting insurance company executives and HMO executives milk every last dime out of everything in order to feed their Myopic vision of next quarter's stock price, then he has a point. I don't want him to pay them either. I want him to pay my doctor, with as little administrative or other overhead as possible. In fact, less overhead means more for my doctor.
So that's my long and winding explanation of why I want medical care to be non-profit and universal. And I'd like to thank the Ron Paul Republican who's been rattling a few cages around here for setting me off on what was a comment, but turned into a diary. So much for banging out a quick answer and getting back to work!
And thanks to Hunter today for firing up my populist, anti-Randian roots. Sometimes I forget why I hang out here, and then Hunter posts something that makes me feel like writing again.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I often tell myself I could be a better conservative than them. It wouldn't be hard. I have libertarian bones, like most Americans. We want the government to protect us and leave us alone, that delicate balancing act that, in a world of nanotechnology, is going to get harder and harder to perform. But it's really not that tricky. Conservatives should be reality based, do what would actually make us safer (which is more like Ron Paul's position than John Bolton's).
They should not be afraid of logic which leads to a conclusion similar to Dennis Kucinich. The liberal left and the reasonable right have much more in common than most of them would care to admit. If the Nationalist Times could get over its racism, they'd have some decent solutions about some things, like keeping government out of medical decisions, a position long held by the libertarian liberals on issues like abortion, medical marijuana, and euthanasia.
But first, the conservatives of the US need a catharsis: George W Bush ruined this country. Rush Limbaugh may be hoping Obama fails at big-government rescue, but it's really too late. George W. Bush (aided amply by Dick Cheney and Rush) drove this country right off a cliff, and Obama is trying to stitch together a big enough parachute to save the whole car. It's probably too late to save the car. But it is not too late to save those occupants who are willing to start stitching their own little parachutes, and we can wind up falling a little slower with a contraption that's going to look a little like the seagulls James lassoed to carry his giant peach.
We'll probably still have a hard landing, but maybe we can slow it all down enough to not break our legs when we hit. All the "conservatives" -- and I would argue that there really aren't many any more -- who can't realize that they were wrong about Bush, wrong about Iraq, wrong about Cheney, wrong about trickle down economics, and wrong about practically every social issue from Terry Schiavo to Sodomy, are going to have to crash. Continuing on at this point as if George Bush wasn't the worst president ever, as if Dick Cheney doesn't belong in prison, as if Donald Rumsfeld doesn't deserve to be "sleep deprived" for days, is the intellectual equivalent of a quivering bowl of decomposed fruit with ditto head flies swarming around it.
If I were a conservative right now (and in many ways I am), I would be encouraging bigger investment in infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient. I would be encouraging micro-loans to the poor to help them start small local businesses. I would demand that food stamp programs only get increases if the recipients can use that money at farmer's markets and on community supported agriculture programs. I would strongly encourage small, local power producers, and companies that create on site energy creation, especially in rural areas.
If I were a conservative right now, I would strongly encourage people to grow their own food in organic victory gardens or urban rooftop gardens, or community gardens on empty lots, like they're doing in Detroit now. The roots of the conservative philosophy lie in independence. This disaster brought on by the insolent teenager of a president and his Dr. Strangelove sidekick offers a chance for conservatives to get back to their roots and encourage the people of this country to become independent, to help each other, and to reward behavior that makes things better, while punishing those who make it worse.
Today's LA Times has a great story about the Mad Maxing that's going on right now, in this case at abandoned construction projects around southern California.
At its Oakland site, structures dating to World War II were to have been demolished by now to make way for 1,000 homes and a shopping center.
But workers walked off the job when their payments stopped, leaving behind piles of debris. A nine-story hospital the developers planned to raze was invaded by squatters.
In the Sacramento River Delta area of Contra Costa County at SunCal's planned Delta Coves housing development, blowing sand is filling in a new lagoon, and crucial water pumping systems are unmonitored.
Eight years of robber barons in charge has left us in a world we are much more equipped to deal with than many think. One of the facts (I know, conservatives, it's hard to get used to the idea that there are facts to be found outside of Fox News) that LA Times story touches on is that the thieves who show up in these abandoned construction projects are there to take copper wire and other commodities that are valuable. These people have been watching the robber barons do this to the whole country for the last 8 years. They are watching now as they all get away with it. And while there may not be a Wall Street worth plundering ever again, there will be things that aren't tied down. And unless those things are protected by armed guards, they will be stolen. In the Mad Max world Bush has left us with, people are left on their own to survive with whatever they can find.
We have the know-how and where-with-all to create resilient communities that produce their own power, grow their own food, and live sustainably without oil or coal. We just have to get used to the idea that we've been robbed. We have to start over, from scratch, with very little to help us besides government and abandoned industries to supply scraps. To what extent a federal government will be able to help a system that needs a lot of independent nodes, we will see. One reason I've chosen to not become a conservative is that I believe the government can help.
But it's going to need some basic conservative help, or it can easily get out of control. Hopefully, there are some conservatives willing to step up to a podium, admit that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Limbaugh conservatism is over. Bombastic, disagreeable, authoritarian, top-down, imperialistic, interventionist assholes are going to have to step aside and shut the hell up for a while. They had 8 years to do what they assured us was the absolute right thing to do, and it turned out they were lying, torturing thieves who literally stole billions of dollars (in deregulated Ponzi schemes, or by taking pallets of cash directly out of the US Mint and flying it to Baghdad where it disappeared). Any talk of government spending being out of control is just more of the same shit that trickled down their legs since Reagan. This government is going to spend on infrastructure and people, and the most the conservatives can hope to do is direct some of it in ways that they prefer.
The conservative in me would like to see the investments lead to more independence and less centralization. Is there any principal more important to conservative philosophy? At this point, it seems more likely that President Obama will preserve that principle more than the GOP will.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
If it does not do justice, what is the government but a great criminal enterprise? For what are gangs of criminals but petty little governments?--Augustine
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Eight Years In Eight Minutes
Here's the transcript, courtesy of this comment by TrueBlueMajority at the KOS.
George Walker Bush.
43rd president of the United States.
first ever with a criminal record.
our third story tonight,
his presidency: eight years in eight minutes.
early in 2001 the U.S. fingered Al Qaeda
for the bombing of the USS Cole
Bush counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke
had a plan to take down Al Qaeda.
instead by February the NSC
had already discussed invading Iraq,
and had a plan for post-Saddam Iraq.
by March 5 Bush had a map ready for Iraqi oil exploration
and a list of companies.
Rice told Clarke not to give Bush a lot of long memos.
not a big reader.
August 6, 2001
a CIA analyst briefs Bush on vacation:
"Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."
Bush takes no action tells the briefer—quote
all right, you've covered your ass now.
next month Clarke requests
using new predator drones to kill Bin Laden
the Pentagon and CIA
Bush remains seated for several minutes
to avoid scaring school children
by getting up and leaving.
he then flies around the country
and promises quote a full scale investigation to find
those folks who did it
Rumsfeld says Afghanistan does not have enough targets
we've got to do Iraq.
when the CIA traps Bin Laden at Tora Bora
it asks for 800 rangers to cut off his escape
Bush outsources the job to Pakistanis
sympathetic to the Taliban
in February General Tommy Franks tells a visiting Senator
Bush is moving equipment out of Afghanistan
so he can invade Iraq.
one of the men who prepped Rice for her testimony
that Bush did not ignore pre 9-11 warnings
later explains quote we cherry picked things
to make it look like the president
had been actually concerned about Al Qaeda
they didn't give a bleep about Al Qaeda
July and Britain's intel chief says Bush is
fixing intelligence and facts around the policy to take out Saddam
Bush and Blair agree to invade in March
Mr. Bush still telling us he has not decided
telling Blair they should paint an airplane in UN colors
fly it over Iraq and provoke a response
a pretext for invasion
the man who said it would take several hundred thousand troops
the man who said it would cost more than a hundred billion
the man who revealed Bush's yellowcake lie
his wife's covert status
the White House liars who did it
and covered it up
Bush commutes his sentence
then in Iraq, stuff happens:
Iraq's army, disbanded
the government de-Baathified
200,000 weapons, billions of dollars just
foreign mercenaries immunized from justice
political hacks run the Green Zone
religious cleansing forcing one out of six Iraqis from their homes
Al Qaeda in Iraq
other stuff does not happen:
and billions for Halliburton, Blackwater and other companies
while Mr. Bush denies VA healthcare to 450,000 veterans
tries to raise their healthcare fees
blocks the new G.I. Bill
and increases his own power with the USA PATRIOT Act
with the Military Commissions Act
public orders exempting himself from a thousand laws
and secretly from the Presidential Records Act
The Geneva Conventions
sparking a mass rebellion at the Justice Department
secret star chambers for terrorism suspects,
overturned by Hamdan v Rumsfeld.
denying habeas corpus,
overturned by Boumediene v Bush.
Rumsfeld warned in 2002 that he was torturing
that it would jeopardize convictions
out of 550 at Gitmo
hundreds ultimately go free with no charges
dozens are tortured
three are convicted
on U.S. soil twelve hundred immigrants rounded up
without due process
without court dates
without a single charge of terrorism
it wasn't just Mr. Bush no longer subject to the rule of law
he slashed regulations on everyone from banks to mining companies
appointed 98 lobbyists to oversee their own industries
weakening emission standards for mercury
and 650 different toxic chemicals
regulators shared drugs
and their beds
with industry reps
the Crandall Canyon mine owner told inspectors to back up
because his buddy, Republican Mitch McConnell
was sleeping with their boss
McConnell's wife is Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
her agency overruled engineer concerns about Crandall Canyon
and was found negligent
after nine miners died in the collapse there
Mr. Bush's hands off
as Enron blacks out California
doubling electric bills
after months of rejecting price caps Mr. Bush bows to pressure
the blackouts end
Mr. Bush further deregulates commodity futures
midwifing the birth of unregulated oil markets
which just like Enron jack up prices to an all time high
until Congress and both presidential candidates call for regulations
and the prices fall
deregulating financial services and lax enforcement of remaining rules
created a housing bubble
creating the mortgage crisis
creating then a credit crisis
devastating industries that rely on credit
from student loans to car dealers
firms that had survived the Great Depression could not survive Bush
those that did got
seven hundred billion dollars
no strings, no transparency
no idea whether it worked
unlike the auto bailout
which cut workers' salaries.
a GOP memo called it
a chance to punish unions
but Bush failed even when his party and his patrons
did not stand to profit
investigators blamed management cost cutting communication
for missed warnings about Columbia
Bush administration convicts include
sex offenders at Homeland Security
every kind of thief in the calendar
and if you count things that were not prosecuted
the vice president of the United States actually
shot a man in the face
the man apologized.
Mr. Bush faked the truth
with paid propaganda in Iraq
on his education policy
tried to silence the truth about global warming
rocket fuel in our water
industry influence on energy policy
politicized the truth of science at NASA, the EPA,
the National Cancer Institute, Fish and Wildlife
and the FDA
exposed by whistleblowers from the cabinet down
"complete BS" the treasury secretary said
of Mr. Bush on his tax cuts.
Rice's mushroom cloud
Powell's mobile labs
Iraq and 9-11
Pat Tillman again
Pat Tillman, again.
the air at Ground Zero
most responders still suffering respiratory problems.
a Clear Skies initiative lowering air quality standards
the Healthy Forests initiative increasing logging
faith based initiatives
the cost of medicare reform
fired US attorneys
politically synchronized terror alerts
the surge causing insurgents to switch sides
that abortion causes breast cancer
that his first recession began under Clinton
that he did not wiretap without warrants
that we do not torture.
that American citizen John Walker Lindh's rights
were not violated
that he refused the right to counsel
heckuva job Brownie
some survivors still in trailers
New Orleans still at just two-thirds its usual population
the lie that no one could have predicted the economic crisis
the economists who did
no one could have predicted 9-11 except
one ass-covering CIA analyst
no one could have predicted the levee breach
in a PSA that aired on TV a year before Katrina
Bush actually admitted that he lied about not firing Rumsfeld
because he did not want to tell the truth.
look it up.
all of it
all of it and more leaving us with
ten trillion in debt
to pay for 31% more in discretionary spending
the Iraq War
a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut
median income down two thousand dollars
three-quarters of all income gains under Bush
going to the richest one percent
unemployment up from 4.2 to 7.2 percent
the Dow, down from ten thousand five hundred eighty seven
to eighty two hundred seventy seven
six million now more in poverty
seven million more now without health care
buying toxic goods from China
outsourcing security to Dubai
still unsecure in our ports
and at our nuclear plants
more dependent on foreign oil
out of the international criminal court
off the anti ballistic missle treaty
military readiness and standards down
with two unfinished wars
a nuclear North Korea
disengaged from the Palestinian problem
destabilizing eastern european diplomacy with
anti missile plans
and unable to keep Russia out of Georgia
2000 miles of Appalachian streams
destroyed by rubble from mountaintop mining
at his last G-8 summit,
he actually bid farewell to other world leaders
saying quote—goodbye from the world's greatest polluter
consistently undermining historic American reverence
for the institutions that empower us
education, now "academic elites"
and the law, "activist judges"
capping jury awards
and Bin Laden?
living today unmolested in a Pakistani safe haven
created by a truce endorsed and defended by George W. Bush
and among all the gifts he gave to Bin Laden
the most awful, the most damaging not just to America
but to the American ideal
was to further Bin Laden's goal
by making us act out of fear rather than fortitude
leaving us with precious little to cling to tonight
save the one thing that might yet suffice:
Friday, January 16, 2009
But way before Ike did his best to tell us what was going to happen if we weren't careful, another president gave a farewell address that warned us about George Bush:
Political parties serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
That's from George Washington's farewell address (h/t Scott Horton). Did you have to be a George Washington to figure this out: "...unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people..." I was physically attacked, made fun of, blacklisted by Republican co-workers who spread the word not to hire me, called a traitor and a commie, all because I tried to warn people, before he was even appointed by the Supreme Court, that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were unprincipled men who would subvert the power of the people.
Washington even tried to warn us that these men would start dangerous wars of choice with their out-of-control military. He prayed that we would...
...avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.
If my union is the main prop of my liberty, then shouldn't I protect my union from another Bush/Cheney "administration" in order to preserve my liberty? Shouldn't we, as patriotic Americans aware of our history and the admonishments of past presidents, work to avoid the necessity of an overgrown military establishment which is inauspicious to liberty? Do we not have a duty to past Americans who have fought and died for our rights to fight for the liberty of our descendants?
What would be the best way to stop future presidents from usurping the power of the people? Should we move on and not bog ourselves down in the bickering that would accompany trials of war criminals from the highest echelons of government? Will we signal to future presidents that they will be considered above the law as long as their partisans promise to bicker and complain that the prosecution is not deserved because it is being controlled by someone from a different faction?
If fear of political harm prevents the prosecution of criminals, then wouldn't criminals simply threaten political division and wrangling in order to avoid prosecution? Has political calculation won over an executive's duty to uphold the law and the constitution?
Listen carefully to the oath of office on Tuesday. The promise that President Elect Obama makes will be:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
This oath does not mention protecting Americans from terrorists no matter what the cost to liberty. It doesn't say anything about letting people avoid prosecution because it would be divisive or distracting. It doesn't even say anything about getting God's help. It says to protect and defend the Constitution, to the best of your ability. I know that the best of Obama'a ability is pretty damn good. I heard what his Attorney General Designate said about torture. I heard Obama say no one is above the law. He is capable of heeding the warnings of Eisenhower, Washington, and many other presidents.
As for how we managed to get to this place, it seems we just don't listen, do we? America has a long, rich history that we will be doomed to repeat if we don't study it, and prosecute those responsible for usurping the power of the people and ignoring the rule of law.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
And so, I view those who get angry and yell and say bad things and, you know, all that kind of stuff, it's just a very few people in the country. I don't know why they get angry. I don't know why they get hostile.—GW Bush
I can only answer with another quote, from his Vice pResident:
Go fuck yourself.—Dick Cheney
Monday, January 05, 2009
Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4
Increase since 2000 in the number of Americans living at less than half the federal poverty level: 3,500,000
Percentage change since 2001 in the average amount U.S. workers spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses: +172
Estimated percentage by which Social Security benefits would have declined if Bush’s privatization plan had passed: –15 ...
Portion of the $3.3 billion in federal Hurricane Katrina relief spent by Mississippi that has benefited poor residents: 1/4
Sunday, January 04, 2009
No! You can go back to your, what do you call it, your Google, and you figure out all that.-- Former President George H.W. Bush, when asked to elaborate on some of his son's failures as president.