Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is Hillary Really Inevitable?

Throwing red meat to his GOP base, Rudy Giuliani unleashed a new battle cry.... "I'm not Hillary."

While dissing Hillary Clinton, Giuliani, as a member of the white-males-only GOP presidential candidate club, ironically told a national convention of Republican women devoted to getting women elected, "We have a record that's very, very proud and very long of making certain that women participate on a full and complete and equal basis with men."

Just not when aspiring to the highest office.

Today's New York Times also fired at Hillary.... Frank Rich aimed his powerful pen at the similarities between Hillary's perfectly oiled "inevitability" campaign and that of the losing Al Gore in 2000.... or even that of slick New York Republican Thomas Dewey running against the unslick but earnest incumbent Harry Truman in 1948. Dewey sloganeered... "It's time for a change." NOT!

Rich wonders if with a presidential candidate from New York known for her experience, competence and above-the-fray demeanor.... Hillary.... the Democrats could lose the White House in 2008.

In a effort to divert attention from this robotic campaign performance, Hillary has resorted to a loud giggle-laugh.... it's about as humanizing, and authentic, as Rudy Giuliani's smooching I'm-a-loving-husband cellphone calls from his third wife in the middle of campaign speeches.

The public senses authenticity.... and Hillary's make-no-mistakes defensive debate crouch punctuated with a laugh sure to be labeled a "Shrillary" is a campaign three dollar bill.

Next thing we know, Hillary will plant on her frisky Bill a full lip lock a' la Al and Tipper's convention stopper. But, what Hillary really needs to do is stop giving safe answers when voters are looking for Truman truthiness. Rich grumbled, "What I saw on television last Sunday was the incipient second coming of the can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore."

Tying together both the Giuliani take on Hillary with the cautionary tale of Rich, Maureen Dowd today unleashed her piece "The Nepotism Tango" in defining the Democratic frontrunner.

Dowd muses that, "Without nepotism, Hillary would be running for the president of Vassar. But then, without nepotism, W. would be pumping gas in Midland -- and not out of the ground."

As Joe Biden pointed out at last Sunday's debate, all of the "old stuff" might get in the way of passing legislation. "The special interests, with regard to Hillary, they feed on this, you know, this Clinton-Bush thing." That "thing" is dynasty.

Perhaps this seeming dynastic inevitability is the reason for Hillary's un-Mona Lisa guffaw.... tickled pink by the thought of her entitled Democratic coronation.

Or, is it as Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of the very conservative The New Republic, sees Hillary (listen up "equal" GOP women), "She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."

Hillary seems locked into her disciplined campaign march, daily becoming less, not more, likable.... just like the hapless wooden Gore, despite his wardrobe changes and wife wuzzies. As the saying goes, at this point it's still Hillary's to lose.

Which might not be a bad turn of events for the Democratic party and the country. We can do better than the dynastic choke-hold of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Puerile Primary Poker

New Hampshire thinks they are in the catbird seat.... keeping mum while fiddling with the date of their primary, thus making other early primary states sweat it out. Especially Iowa who, as New Hampshire well knows, by state law is required to hold their caucuses at least eight days earlier than any other contest.

The Secretary of State in New Hampshire, Bill Gardner, has the sole power to schedule his state's primary.... and he's not telling anyone what his decision will be, although some are hinting at December 18. December 18! In the midst of the Holiday Season.

Such an early date might work against New Hampshire.

In 1988 Michigan held a delegate selection process before Iowa, and got little attention. Later, Alaska held an earlier contest as well. Never heard of that.... no wonder. It was no big deal.

While Iowa Governor Chet Culver (D) has said "In this state, we're going to have Christmas," others in his party aren't so accommodating.

As David Nagle, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairman who largely established the current calendar in 1984, warned in a memo to party leaders... "If New Hampshire chooses to move in front of us, then we will move again."

This delegate selection musical-chairs is just another annoyance for voters faced with unreliable electronic voting machines, and inundated with dinner-time campaign phone calls and focus-group-tested slick candidate television ads.

Let's not further degrade the primaries with juvenile "gotcha" games. Serious voters.... who must choose that candidate who can lead us out of the current abysmal state of our country.... deserve a serious primary process .

Friday, September 28, 2007

GOP Four AWOL

They set places at the table, but the four GOP presidential frontrunners were no-shows.

Or, as Tom Joyner pointedly remarked in his opening comments last night at the GOP presidential candidate debate held at Morgan State, a historically black university in Baltimore, "Let me take a moment right here and now to say hello to those of you viewing from home: Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney and Senator Fred Thompson."

It seems there may be two reasons for their absence from this minority forum.... the quarterly campaign funding report deadline is Sunday and money hasn't exactly been pouring in over the transom, so they were fundraising .... and, they aren't ready for prime-time outside the comfort zone of the GOP privileged-white-men-only country club.

McCain in an ironic statement considering his empty podium.... and his Straight Talk Express idling on fumes.... lectured that the GOP is failing to reach out to African-Americans and Hispanics and needs to be reminded "that we are the party of Abraham Lincoln."

John, John, John.... you need to be reminded that Lincoln was famous for his debating.... his debates with Stephen Douglas are legendary and raised Lincoln's national profile. Lincoln would have been there last night.

Thompson continues to play the seven-dwarf role of Sleepy.... maybe he wasn't aware of the debate. After all, a major part of Thompson's platform in his run for Senate in 1994 was his support for the death penalty. Yet, asked recently for his thoughts on the recent landmark cases in his home state of Tennessee and Kentucky on lethal injection, Thompson drawled... "I hadn't heard that. I didn't know."

In Florida earlier this month Sleepy was surprised that oil drilling in the Everglades was a major state issue. Nor could he remember much about the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo case that stirred national debate. Even social conservative religious-guru James Dobson dismissed Thompson as being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on the issues. Fred, wind your alarm clock.

Maybe Giuliani didn't show up because cell phones were banned at the debate.... so he couldn't do his Fibber McGee and Molly shtick with his wife. Ring, ring.... And, Romney really missed an opportunity to muss his "Ken" persona a bit.

For those who did show up.... former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, Rep.Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and the ever-opportunistic Alan Keyes, a former conservative diplomat.... the reduced participation allowed them more face time than usual.

Insofar as the impact of the shunning of the debate by the four GOP hopefuls, Travis Smiley who moderated the forum took dead aim: "Some of the campaigns who declined our invitations to join us tonight have suggested publicly that this audience would be hostile and unreceptive. Since we are live on PBS right now, I can't tell you what I really think of these kinds of comments."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Byrd Dive-Bombs Hawk$

You gotta love him. At last, a senator is expressing the outrage the country feels over the failure of the White House and their Defense Department to end the Iraq war.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, lost it when he heard the new funding request for the Iraq war from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace... a total of almost $190 billion in all for 2008 alone.

"All of this for a war -- a war! a war! -- that General Petraeus, two weeks ago, could not say had made Americans safer!

"A long-term presence could cost well in excess of 2 trillion -- 2 trillion! Yes, you heard me -- 2 trillion!"

Including the audience into his outrage-along, Byrd asked if we are really seeking progress toward a stable, secure Iraq?.... "No!" the demonstrators shouted.

He asked if our continuing occupation is encouraging the Iraqi people to step up?.... "No!" they boomed.

The charged-up anti-war group Code Pink continued heckling until Byrd had to suspend the hearing in the midst of Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-IA) challenge to Pace's view that homosexuality is immoral.... "counter to God's law" Pace self-righteously intoned.

During the melee that followed, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) turned on Harkin for raising the subject.... "You should be ashamed" Gregg scolded.

Harkin huffed, "I don't need any lectures from you!"

But, it was a day for lectures, and Byrd was in fine lecture fettle. He chided " 'Mission Accomplished' has turned into a commitment to have our grandchildren patrolling Baghdad into the middle of this century!.... Instead of a coalition of the willing, what we really have is a coalition of contractors.."

And so it went until Harkin asked Pace about his views on gays in the military and Pace's reply created such an outburst of "boos" that Byrd finally cleared the room.

But not before Byrd's point was made.... we're mad, and we're not going to give the White House's big-spending Iraq-war agenda a free ride anymore!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Iraq Billions....

As former Sen. Everett Dirksen once quipped.... "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."

The Bush administration's Defense Department has taken that thought to extremes that would have given Dirksen economic vertigo. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is seeking an additional $42.3 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan war, bringing the total request for 2008 to nearly $190 billion. That's nearly $16 billion a month.

Yes, that's real money.

Money not being spent on domestic needs.... infrastructure, education, regulation of imports.... too many needs to enumerate. All will go begging while the military-industrial complex continues to siphon away our economic lifeblood.

Some of the additional expenditures can be justified for the protection of our troops.... $5.3 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. What can't be justified is Bush's lack of a plan to resolve the hemorrhaging of billions into an endless horizon.... caught in Iraq's bloody tribal civil war while The Decider shifts his end game with each fumble of his rationale for "staying the course."

If this budget passes, it will bring to $800 billion the total approximate cost for Bush's reckless Iraq adventure. Billions here, billions there and pretty soon it's a trillion....

What Happened To Our Country?

The Decider's speech at the U.N. yesterday was like a bad comb-over.... he tried without success to hide the fact that his bald assertions about the human rights abuses of his perceived enemies didn't mask those of his perceived friends. Nor his own.

He called on the countries in the U. N. to live up to the freedoms and rights promised almost sixty years ago, denouncing Burma (Myanmar) Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe as brutal regimes that should be confronted for their abuses.

The Decider barely mentioned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor the nuclear ambitions of Iran, nor the suppressive regimes of Pakistan, Turkey, China or Russia.

It was a sorry show, it was at once selective in its call for sanctions, and myopically self-congratulating ignoring our occupation of Iraq, and saber rattling at Iran as his destructively aggressive agenda drags the Middle East toward the abyss.

He talked about the needy children of the world while holding his veto pen over the medical insurance needs of millions of children in the United States.

But, as bad as was The Decider's smoke and mirrors show at the U. N., it was nothing compared to the hysteria surrounding the visit from the tin-hat from Iran. Strong, confident nations can engage in dialogue with their enemies without name calling and plain rude behavior. Remember the cold war complete with nuclear standoff? For 70 years the Soviet Union threatened to eradicate American capitalism and democracy. But, there were no juvenile spit-ball antics.

Well, that United States is gone.

It's been replaced by a nasty, jingoistic nation howling at the visiting heels of the puppet of Iran's mullahs, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was embarrassing to watch a university president lambaste it's invited guest while Bush-incited news outlets like FOX twirled dervishly about at the thought of the "foul-smelling fruitbat Ahmadinejad" speaking at "that crack house known as Columbia University."

It's the Limbaughization of our country.... rude, crude, uncomprehending and egotistically self-righteous. It'll be a long road back. The journey starts November 2008.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sectarian Deaths Shell Game

You've heard it from The Decider. You've heard it from Gen. Petraeus in his recent Congressional testimony. The administration boasts of the downward trend in sectarian deaths in Iraq.... therefore, their Iraq strategy is working. Send more money!

But that depends upon "What Defines a Killing as Sectarian?" (WaPo)

On September 1, the bullet-riddled bodies of four Iraqi men were found on a Baghdad street. Counted in the sectarian body count.... right? Not by standards used by the U.S. military number crunchers. These violent deaths didn't meet the criteria of the military manual defining sectarian violence.... signs of torture, a single shot to the head, or car bombs for example.

The Iraq assessment released this month by the bipartisan Government Accounting Office wasn't buying this "manual" count. It said they "could not determine if sectarian violence had declined" since the U.S. troop buildup began in the spring. The GAO recommended that the administration expand its statistical sources.

That probably won't happen because the actual body count wouldn't support the White House's rosy rhetoric.

Meanwhile, two Iraqis killed by a car bomb on September 3 were not included in the sectarian database. The attack occurred on a road near Ramadi, not far from where The Decider was meeting with government officials that day. The victims were Iraqi policemen. They were counted elsewhere.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

GOP Caucusgoers Paper Doll

.... love to buy a Paper Doll that we can call our own.....

This should really be the Republican Party theme song this campaign season.

The Des Moines Register talked with 10 likely GOP caucusgoers about their dream candidate. And what they found is unease with the current GOP presidential field, and varying degrees of serious dissatisfaction with The Decider and Congress.

Of the ten interviewed, seven say they aren't committed to a presidential candidate as yet.

Their ideal candidate.... the intellectual capacity of Newt Gingrich (smart enough not to get caught in his sexcapades like Clinton).... the leadership of Rudy Giuliani (the leader of the 9/11 24-7 parade).... the communication skills of Fred Thompson (he's bombing on the campaign trail like a librarian at a Hooter's convention).... and the toughness of John McCain (his 2000 Straight Talk Express is in the ditch).

This isn't a "dream" candidate, it's a "wishful thinking" candidate. OK, the opinions of ten caucusgoers isn't up to Gallup standards. But, it is indicative of the turmoil in the GOP ranks.

The Paper Doll song laments.... rather have a Paper Doll to call my own, than a fickle-minded real live girl. But, the weak GOP field may give them just that, a not-so-fickle-minded real live Hillary.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Citizen Rights Targeted

The White House is turning our "security" against us.

The Bush administration has turned a blind eye, even offered an enabling hand, to the literally millions of illegal.... undocumented.... aliens pouring across our borders and roaming freely about the country. Even encouraging unchecked cargoes, driven by unchecked drivers, to enter from Mexico and travel our roads.

Yet, we now learn, our Homeland Security is keeping track of someone .... U.S. citizens.... "Collecting of Details on Travelers Documented. U.S. Effort More Extensive Than Previously Known." (WaPo)

That's right, the Bush administration is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad.... retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, even the books that travelers have carried.

And, these records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years.

It's called "The Automated Targeting System." And U.S. citizens are in the bulls-eye.

This trashing of our First Amendment rights, and blatant violation of the Privacy Act of citizen travelers not involved in or linked to any violation of the law, is defended by Homeland Security officials. So, don't expect anything to change until after January 2009.

In the meantime, when you travel be careful what you read, or who you sit next to or visit.

Or, better yet, denounce your U.S. citizenship, go to Mexico and then illegally cross the border back into the States. Then your rights will be protected.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Grassley's SCHIP Pleas Unheeded

A "frustrated" Sen. Charles Grassley (D-IA) is trying to swim up the Bush administration's roaring corporate-profits river as.... "Health plan for Iowa kids in jeopardy. Grassley asks Bush to accept deal on insurance funding."

The Decider announced in his press conference yesterday that he plans to veto the bipartisan State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation that would renew that program and expand it by $35 billion to cover an additional 3 million American children.... the increase to be paid for with increased tobacco taxes. Bush wants to expand it by just $5 billion.

There's that silly number again. Billions. Billions for the Iraq war. Billions in corporate profits for wealthy friends of George.... but not enough billions to insure the health of America's children.

It's simple really, The Decider explained his position.... "What I"m describing here is a philosophical divide that exists in Washington over the best approach for health care.... And, instead of encouraging people to drop private coverage in favor of government plans, we should work to make basic private health insurance affordable and accessible for all Americans."

That's political speak for putting more profits into the grasping paws of insurance and drug companies. Remember, many conservative Republicans have long wanted to rid the country of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government-administered social net programs.

So, Grassley's frustration will continue as long as The Decider.... well, decides.... and Congress lets him.

Grassley also noted that Bush "was incorrect" during the press conference when he said the agreement would offer government help to children living in households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. Grassley said that would not happen under the congressional proposal.

Grassley related that he had called the White House on Wednesday to ask if he and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could have a personal meeting with the president to make an appeal.

He was told that the president was already planning on making a statement about SCHIP. An astounded Grassley asked them how that was possible when the details of the Senate compromise were not yet settled.

To quote, Grassley: "I said, 'How in the heck can you make a statement when you don't know what the deal is?' "

Grassley acknowledged that the conversation seemed to have little impact and that the administration failed to work with Congress to forge an agreement that both sides could accept.

Of course not. The Decider's mind was made up. No compromise would be good enough because it wouldn't benefit his corporate buddies.

Because of the The Decider's rigid and willfully-deceitful stance on the bipartisan SCHIP bill, Iowa (among other states) may not be able to pay October premiums for it's HAWK-I federal/state childrens' insurance program that is to expire September 30.

"I'm disappointed," Grassley said.

That doesn't even begin to cover it for the disgusted American people.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Bush Braying

Watching The Decider's press conference this morning, one can't help but be struck by the.... audacity of the man.

As the headline in the Washington Post records.... "Bush Optimistic About Economy."

Huh?

The economy's great!?.... unless you wanted that job that illegal aliens are now doing, or the one that was shipped abroad.... unless you want affordable health insurance and a worry-free retirement.... unless you want to convert your mortgage or sell your home.... unless you want to take a holiday abroad.... or just to have the comfort of knowing you're life savings and way of life aren't being recklessly gambled away by an ideologically-driven incurious simpleton.

Forget the unsustainable national debt, the unprecedented level of mortgage foreclosures, the 14% unemployment rate of blacks and the U.S. dollar on life-support.... (sing) let's all join hands and skip about, while spending more billions on Iraq's shoot-out.

The president's optimism is more than just disconnected, inexplicably arrogant.... or as the former president of Mexico said of The Decider.... world-class cockiness. He's either a strutting dim-wit or out to destroy our country as we knew it before Bush and his bully boys took over.

How would you classify this maneuver by the White House as reported in Vanity Fair this month in "Billions over Baghdad".... about some billions in cash that went missing in Iraq. After the 2003 invasion, the Iraq Coalition Provisional authority received $12 billion in cash from the New York Federal Reserve - that is 363 tons of money.

Well... $9 billion of this cash simply vanished. That's 272 tons of cash!! The job of auditing and disbursing this money was outsourced. To a firm, NorthStar, so small that it's mailing address is a post-office box in Nassau, and it's "office" a split-level home in La Jolla, California.

As former Fed Chairman Greenspan noted in his new book, this is a "dysfunctional" government. He was kind. Isn't it more like a criminally dysfunctional government?

One thing The Decider trumpeted at his news conference that we can readily agree with.... corporate profits "seem to be strong." Oh yes... just ask NorthStar and the "Baghdad billionaires."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Friends of George.... NOT!

Good thing The Decider has Barney.... perhaps his only friend in D.C. right now.... one who won't publicly bark about their time together.

The way former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan did in his recent book "The Age of Turbulence" when he howled at Bush for his lack of fiscal discipline and for presiding over a "dysfunctional government." (WaPo)

The Decider was said to be surprised by Greenspan's criticism. Guess Captain Clueless thought self-described "libertarian Republican" Greenspan would applaud the administration's meteoric spending and black-hole national deficit.

But, just as the White House was defending Bush, spinning that his veto "threats" kept GOP congressional spending from spiraling out of control.... (you mean it could have been worse?)....., the man Bush thanked for being "a friend to Laura and me," also turned to bite the overly generous hand feeding the Mexican poor that Mexico's government dumps over our border.

Former Mexico President Vicente Fox, in his new book "Revolution of Hope," called Bush "stubborn" and "the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life." Fox even mocks Bush's Spanish skills as "grade-school" level. (CNN)

Here, Barney.....

Maybe that is why The Decider has nominated what appears to be an honest man.... retired federal judge, law-and-order conservative Michael Mukasey.... as his new Attorney General (WaPo).

Is Bush finally looking for friends in the right places.... and trying to bring to heel his tattered legacy?

Perhaps. But it's much too late for doggie treats for a Bush-wary nation.

The OJ News Holdup

While the main stream media goes into overdrive about a celebrity crime ..... "O. J. Simpson is Charged In Alleged Robbery".... it's largely mum about another amnesty push for illegal aliens.

Unhappily.... with the Democrats in charge of Congress, it's still monkey business as usual.

The Democrats promised a more transparent and honest Congress. Yet the old practice of attaching unpopular measures lobbyists and pressure groups want onto unrelated and usually vital pieces of legislation is still happening..... and, these sneaky riders can then skulk through without the public notice self-standing legislation would receive.

It seems this is what is again happening as Democrats try to sneak though amnesty for illegal alien legislation.... allowing amendments to the currently debated must-pass HR 1585 Department of Defense authorization bill.

Senate amendment 2237, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), called the DREAM Act, would grant amnesty to illegal aliens by repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, which discourages states from providing in-state tuition regardless of immigration status.

In other words, a citizen student going to college in a state where they don't reside would be charged a higher tuition than an illegal alien student who would receive the in-state lower tuition. A taxpayer-funded benefit. And, the illegal alien student would be given the right to citizenship and allowed to apply for citizenship for their illegal immigrant parents.

Further, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is attempting to attach a provision that would provide a blanket amnesty to 2 million illegal aliens. Amendments increasing availability of H-1B "high-skill" foreign worker visas and permanent residence for foreign workers, and for increasing the number of H-2B "low-skill" nonagricultural worker visas for seasonal foreign workers are expected to be brought up.

Piggy-backing these amnesty measures onto military legislation, when we have troops in the field, in order to sneak unpopular amnesty amendments by the public, is the height of parliamentary dirty-trickery.

Shame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) if they allow these amendments. If brought forward, our elected representatives should defeat these already-rejected amnesty proposals, and further, should pass legislation barring the unsavory practice of bill tack-ons.

Just as justice seems to finally be catching up with O. J. as he faces the prospect of time in the Big House... our houses of Congress need to remember that no one is above the law.... not even well-lobbied-up illegal aliens.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan Goes Public

The impact on the U.S. economy of Alan Greenspan, who was the Federal Reserve chairman for 18 years and the leading Republican economist for the past three decades, was best summed up by candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during his bid for the 2000 presidency.

When drilled by a reporter about what he would do if something happened to Greenspan, McCain responded, "Well, I'd put sunglasses on him and prop him up like that guy in Weekend at Bernies."

"Bernie" retired in 2006, however, leaving the economy and President Bush to go it alone. The party's over.

In Greenspan's new memoir, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," reviewed by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, Greenspan praises president Bill Clinton's mind and tough anti-deficit policies, calling the president's 1993 economic plan "an act of political courage."

Not surprisingly for those of us aghast at the monstrous deficit accumulating under the current administration, The Decider doesn't get such rave reviews. Greenspan is frustrated that Bush didn't veto out-of-control spending by the Republican Congress who, Greenspan writes, "..swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither."

Greenspan strongly chastised both Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Tom Delay (R-TX) because "House Speaker Hastert and House majority leader Tom Delay seemed readily inclined to loosen the federal purse strings any time it might help add a few more seats to the Republican majority."

Even his friend and former colleague in the Ford administration, VP Cheney, was criticized for coining the GOP mantra.... "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." Greenspan rails that "deficits must matter" because uncontrolled government spending and borrowing can produce high inflation "and economic devastation."

Greenspan writes, "The hard truth was that Reagan had borrowed from Clinton, and Clinton was having to pay it back." During Clinton's second term, Clinton proposed devoting extra money to "save Social Security first. I played no role in finding the answer, but I had to admire the one Clinton and his policymakers came up with."

But, all of Clinton's gains were squandered, Greenspan writes, as the large, anticipated federal budget surpluses "were gone six to nine months after George W. Bush took office."

And, Greenspan curtly notes, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Observing the ruins of our economy today, Greenspan writes with some bitterness that Washington is "harboring a dysfunctional government... Governance has become dangerously dysfunctional."

And, of course, that is the trouble with a "Bernie" as chairman of the Federal Reserve. He didn't speak up when it mattered, and instead allowed himself to be used as a prop on the White House's macabre economic stage.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Keeping Bush Honest

President Bush's outlook in his eighth speech to the nation on Iraq last night was hopeful and who knows, even possible in a different Middle East. But, his Pollyanna optimism doesn't square with the Mad-Max abyss that is the Iraq occupation.

Dutifully, like a fifth-grader reading a report his dad wrote, he monotoned on, without seeming to grasp the situation staring him, and all of us, in the face.... "The President Asserted Progress on Security and Political Issues. Recent Reports Weren't Often So Upbeat."

The well-drilled Boy George is still stubbornly insisting that Iraq's leaders are getting some things done.... such as sharing of oil revenues.... when in fact a potential deal on the sharing of oil revenues is failing, just like the grade on Bush's benchmark report card.

Of the 18 benchmarks, the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports this month that three have been completely met, four partially met, and no progress made on the remaining eleven.

What kind of benchmarks were met? Well, establishing a committee in support of Baghdad's security plan. Wow.... a committee! And, ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected. But, while the legislators' rights are protected, the GAO noted the minority citizens' rights were unprotected.

What are some of the benchmarks not met? One example.... "Ensuring that Iraqi security forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law." The GAO findings, "Iraqi security forces engaged in sectarian-based abuses."

Still, the White House said today that Iraq has made "satisfactory progress" toward nine of the 18 benchmarks and promises "a fresh assessment" in March 2008... the next chapter in the Iraq occupation fairy tale.

Barely touching on the unmet benchmarks in his speech last night, Boy George instead thanked the "36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq." 36 nations!?!

Let's check the facts. The GAO in their May 2007 report on Iraq, "Coalition Support and International Donor Commitments," states there are 25 countries supplying 12,600 troops to the multinational forces, compared with 145,000 U.S. forces in May... which has now "surged" to 168,000 U.S. forces in Iraq!

One other little statistic from the report that Boy George didn't tell you; "The United States has spent about $1.5 billion to transport, sustain, and provide other services for military troops from 20 countries other than the U.S. and Iraq." So, 20 of the actual 25 countries left in the "coalition" are receiving funds from the U.S. to facilitate their participation.

A suggestion. Maybe, instead of spending time riding his bike, Boy George could take the time to actually read some of his government's reports. But then, that would mean that he actually cares about knowing the truth....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friendly Fred Flickers

On June 6, 1973 President Richard Nixon was discussing possible Supreme Court appointments (Abuse of Power, Stanley I. Kutler, p. 585)....

Nixon attorney Fred BUZHARDT: We've got pretty good rapport with Fred Thompson.

PRESIDENT NIXON: He isn't -- he isn't very smart, is he?

BUZHARDT: He squeezed Gurney. Not extremely so, but --

PRESIDENT NIXON: But he's friendly.

BUZHARDT: But he's friendly.

PRESIDENT NIXON: Good.

There it is, Friendly Fred.

As Yogi would say, this is "deja vu all over again".... a dim friendly.... Boy George's taller twin.

Is it possible GOP primary voters can be that gullible? Will they fall for another thin-resume good-ol'-boy "compassionate conservative."

As Ruth Marcus points out in "Still Waiting for Thompson," .... "Go to a Fred Thompson rally and for $5 you can buy an 'I'm a Fred-Head' button. But you might not be able, at any price, to learn what exactly is in Fred's head." Oh Ruth.... you're still assuming what many others seem to be assuming, that there is something in Fred's head.

When conservative cheerleader Sean Hannity asked Thompson about the other GOP candidates and how Fred's positions differed from theirs, Friendly Fred opined.... "Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't spent a whole lot of time going into the details of their positions."

George F. Will today takes dead aim at Friendly Fred in "A Rocky Rollout For Thompson." Calling Fred's plunge into the presidential pool more a belly-flop than a swan dive. And he notes, not only is Fred unfamiliar with the positions of others, "he also is unfamiliar with the details of his own positions."

And, in case his.... uhhh.... diminished wattage and lack of intellectual curiosity doesn't provoke four-alarm Boy George similarities, how about Fred's ethics.

Here's his comment about why the government shouldn't tell individuals how much they can give political candidates.... "Why should the government... tell a loan officer that he cannot accept money from someone trying to get a loan from him... and then go ahead and give that person a loan?... I mean, it's bribery in the real world."

Ah yes, Republican presidential candidate Friendly Fred and his world view. Is the GOP really this desperate?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Turn of the Iraq Hour Glass

Now we know, the long awaited word from General Petraeus.... we need more time in Iraq. Gee... who would have thought?

Eugene Robinson in his editorial today, " 'Six Months' Without End" sums up the Bush administration's morass of a "stay the course" policy that is the occupation of Iraq...."The next six months in Iraq are crucial - and always will be. That noise you heard yesterday on Capitol Hill was the can being kicked further down the road leading to January 2009, when George W. Bush gets to hand off his Iraq fiasco to somebody else."

Oh yes, and the big drawdown the General is promising. Well, the White House raised the numbers (surge) before they reduce the numbers..... back to where they were. The grand hokey-pokey as Iraq's prime minister al-Maliki's so-called central government deteriorates and he creeps steadily toward Iran's waiting arms.... his "other friends."

And, that is the White House Iraq strategy in a nutshell. Stall, skew the numbers, and then shuffle off to Buffalo... or in this case,Texas.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ignoring the "I" Word

Let's take a break from Iraq.... the White House blitz of propaganda about our "progress" in Iraq featuring fables from Gen. Petraeus, and bogus anniversary hype tying 9/11 to Iraq.... promise, that's the last time the "I" word will appear in this post.

How about some White House gossip? In "Rove Replacement Seen as Highly Partisan Go-Getter," by Michael Abramowitz (WaPo) he dishes some savory stuff.

Rove's replacement is.... his longtime deputy Barry Jackson described by a GOP acquaintance from Capital Hill as.... "none of this 'let's get along' kind of stuff...the man behind The Man." The man behind Turd Blossom's throne now has his own crappy attitude.

In his new book, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush" by Robert Draper, he recounts that when the White House chief of staff Bolten approached Don Rumsfeld's old press secretary, Torie Clarke, about becoming White House press secretary, she told Clarke she would rather commit suicide. Guess that's a "no."

Draper also reported that when asked to help woo Henry Paulson to become Treasury secretary, our humble Boy George snapped, "He should be begging me."

And, the final word from our bike boy.... Bush, at the opening of his speech to business leaders attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last week, told Australian Prime Minister John Howard.... "Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit..."

Just sit down George.... we're begging you.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fairy Tales Won't Come True.....

The Bush administration's desperately-trumpeted Iraq "benchmark" report by Gen. Petraeus will hit with the force of a deflating "Happy Face" balloon.... The Decider already rendered his judgment, and most of the U.S. public won't believe the report anyway.

The Decider told Australia's deputy prime minister last week that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq. Shades of Bush's "Bring it on." And we know how that's worked out.

And, yesterday at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii Bush asserted that he "came back from Iraq encouraged by what I saw. No question there's still hard work to do, but my resolve is as strong as it's ever been... I believe we're doing the right thing there for the security of the country and for the peace of the world." (WaPo)

Gee.... wouldn't it be nice if he worried as much about the security of our country. But, we digress.

The public has also rendered it's judgment. An ABC News/Washington Post poll this week: "More than half of Americans think the Petraeus report will try to sugar-coat the real situation there, and two-thirds don't believe it will influence" Bush's war policy anyway.

Oh, there may be fancy words, a token draw down.... and, of course, as Frank Rich says in his column in the New York Times today.... it "will be 9/11 all the time this week, as the White House yet again synchronizes its drumbeating for the Iraq war with the anniversary of an attack that had nothing to do with Iraq."

But, make no mistake, as long as The Decider writes the script, Iraq fairy tales won't come true....

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Terrorism in Transit

Remember in July when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had a "gut feeling" about an increased terrorism risk this summer based on patterns and intelligence he wouldn't disclose?

Then this week we had two unsettling events.... first, another Osama bin Laden "boo." Although this pre-9/11 video (transcript) reads more like a U.S. history lesson and Islam conversion screed.

And, CIA Director, Gen. Michael Hayden, spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations.... at his request, decked out in his military uniform.... and defended his agency's controversial program of detaining terrorism suspects in secret jails abroad.

Then, Hayden cited the findings of the recent National Intelligence Estimate.... the one issued in July... saying that "Al-Qaeda is focusing on targets that would produce mass casualties, dramatic destruction, and significant economic aftershocks." (WaPo) When pressed on this warning, he wouldn't give details.

So, just what did that NIE report say that was so upsetting to Chertoff's guts and now elicits warnings from Hayden?

The published public NIE report, "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," of July, 2007 is short. The "Key Judgments" just a terse page and a half. And, yes, it did give Hayden's warning.

And, this sobering assessment too: "... globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack - all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader."

Interesting. So, our government is taking extra precautions.... right?

No. Just the opposite.

Because... and this really is unbelievable.... Thursday our own Department of Transportation started allowing Mexican trucks to roll over the U.S. border, freely roaming anywhere in the U.S. No need to spell out the terrorism risks, the economic and safety pitfalls, or the unbelievable joy of the Mexican drug dealers.

Just as nothing changes the course set by the The Decider's "vision" for the Middle East (more on that in a moment).... not the cost in blood and treasure, not the outrage of the American public.... also, nothing deters Bush in his determination for open borders with Mexico and his covert push toward a North American Union.

Now, if you can stand it, this last tidbit today from the Columbia Journalism Review, called "An Iran Plan?"

CJR reported that Barnett Rubin, a New York University professor and widely-respected Afghanistan expert and fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote that just before the Labor Day weekend, the Office of the Vice President had issued "instructions" to a group of right wing think tanks and media outlets, asking them to mount an anti-Iran PR offensive after Labor Day with the goal of building support for U.S. military action.

When the assistant editor, Clint Hendler, at the CJR contacted Rubin to see if any journalists had contacted him to run down the story, Rubin replied, "Let's say I have not been overwhelmed with the volume. No one has contacted me from the NYT, WP, WSJ, or FT. No wire services."

It all just doesn't make sense.... administration warnings about homeland terrorism yet opening our borders to Mexican trucking.... in over our heads in Iraq yet serious saber rattling on Iran.

Congress.... it's up to you to stop this runaway White House and their monstrous hidden agenda.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Illegals Doing the Work....

Here are more of The Decider's "good" people just doing the work that Americans won't do.....

"Drug bust yields meth, guns, cash,"..... Seventeen of the twenty-two people busted for federal drug-trafficking and weapons charges in the Des Moines area are illegal aliens from Mexico. A whopping $576,000 in cash was also seized, the fruits of their "labor" evidently.

Law officers are still looking for four others, Velez-Delgado, Jiminez-Sandoval, Guadalupe Rodriguez and Parra-Garcia.

"U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker announced on Thursday that a federal grand jury in Des Moines had returned four indictments charging 20 men and two women, most from Mexico, in a massive drug ring that Whitaker said was organized and operated in Polk County over the past two years."

Bush.... we've had enough. We don't need more of these. Secure our borders!

Coming Together on Iraq Divide

It's not often that this blog is on the same page on the subject of Iraq as Washington Post's conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.

This crafter of the "Reagan Doctrine" supported the preemptive invasion of Iraq, although he kept in mind the downside, stating on the eve of the war in 2003.... "reformation and reconstruction of an alien culture are a daunting task. Risky and, yes arrogant." Indeed. Not to mention imperialistic.

In February 2004, a worried Krauthammer cautioned on the war, "it may yet fail. But we cannot afford not to try. There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It's not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance,and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world--- oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism."

All of the buzz words here, "9/11, ".... regimes with no legitimacy,".... "anti-Americanism."

So, today, it was surprising, but welcome, to read in Krauthammer's weekly column his current thinking.... "The Partitioning of Iraq."

It is worth quoting his latest turn of mind: "A weak, partitioned Iraq is not the best outcome. We had hoped for much more. Our original objective was a democratic and unified post-Hussein Iraq. But it has turned out to be a bridge too far. We tried to give the Iraqis a republic, but their leaders turned out to be, tragically, too driven by sectarian sentiment, by an absence of national identity, and by the habits of suspicion and maneuver cultivated during decades in the underground of Saddam Hussein's totalitarian state.

"All of this was exacerbated by post-invasion U.S. strategic errors.... we now have to look for the second-best outcome."

Those who opposed the war would argue that the neocons should have known the Iraqis and their culture before our "risky" and "arrogant" invasion. But, that would be to dwell on how we got into the mess we're in, as tempting as that is, and not on a way forward.

Krauthammer credits presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) along with other "thoughtful scholars and politicians" with long calling for partition. And he hopes for success of such a solution because unlike other colonial-style partitions, "The lines today are being drawn organically by self-identified communities and tribes. Which makes the new arrangement more likely to last."

We can only hope The Decider will listen to this common sense solution offered by all sides of the political spectrum.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred Jumps, Debate Slumps, Bush Pumps

Former senator Fred Thompson continues to make his presence known by his absence. In last night's debate on FOX between eight Republican presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire, Thompson was the Southern conservative Reaganish elephant hulking behind the curtain...dealt with by lame jokes such as Sen. John McCain's (AZ) "Maybe it's past his bedtime."

Meanwhile, "Fred Thompson Makes a Late-Night Late Entry" (WaPo) on Jay Leno's show laconically announcing he was joining the presidential wanna-be fray, and dismissing the debate with a backhand, "I'll do my share, but I don't think it's a very enlightening forum, to tell you the truth."

And, truth be told, it wasn't a very enlightening forum. A not surprising chorus of "Top Republicans back Bush Iraq Strategy in Debate" was the tenor of the evening. (WaPo)

Without the presence of Rep. Ron Paul (TX), it would have been a yawner although it was designed to stir things up....questions on immigration (at last) that elicited not very artful dodging from New York's "safe-haven city" former mayor Rudy Giuliani, and on the flip-flopping of disgraced Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID).

The debate was mostly a joust to the bottom... and Sam Brownback easily won that slot. While the questions on Iraq allowed McCain some expected chest-beating, it was Paul who showed the courage of his convictions by reminding his hostile cohorts that the decision to go to war was made by a handful of neoconservatives who hijacked U.S. foreign policy.

And, while the political climate was heating up in the U.S..... a half a world away, White House diplomacy was also getting a bit steamy, or unseemly. "In Australia, Rice stands in for first lady," (AP) the headline teases.

While Laura Bush stayed in D.C. with what she said was a pinched nerve, in Sydney "office wife" Condi Rice and The Decider were yucking it up. To quote Bush at a dinner in his honor: " 'She can be my date,' the president said, reaching out his left hand to touch Rice's arm as they stood before the cameras at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister John Howard and his wife."

The reason for the date....err.... trip to Australia was the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum attended by leaders from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and other major Pacific Rim countries. So, with such a gathering in which to make his gravitas felt as the leader of the free world, what did The Decider do?

After lunch, Bush headed back to his hotel to change into biking gear and then his motorcade raced north to a track at the Honda training facility. After an hour Bush emerged and his motorcade returned to Sydney.

It has been reported that much of the advance work for Bush's trips involve the Secret Service ferreting out the best place for Kid George to ride his bike. Bush has become a joke and an embarrassment to us all.... the country's painful pinched nerve.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bush's "Lipstick" Legacy....

Thankfully there are people to bump The Decider's elbow when he and his administration try to rewrite history. Eugene Robinson effectively does just that today in "Good Morning, Vietnam!" (WaPo)

Robinson unmasks The Decider's new rhetoric about the lesson of America's withdrawal from Vietnam, which Bush's "brain," Karl Rove, reinforces with an article in the National Review last week that included this.... "If the outcome [in Iraq] is like what happened in Vietnam after America abandoned our allies and the region descended into chaos, violence and danger, history's judgment will be harsh. History will see President Bush as right, and the opponents of his policy as mistaken--as George McGovern was in his time."

Say what?! George McGovern?

Robinson sets the record straight.... "the illegal U.S. bombing of Cambodia destabilized that country and boosted the Khmer Rouge, who eventually took power and exterminated those 'millions' in the 'killing fields.' The monstrous Khmer Rouge regime was finally ousted by... none other than the communists who took power in Vietnam after the American withdrawal. Oh, and it was Richard Nixon who negotiated and began the U.S. pullout. Gerald Ford presided over the fall of Saigon. Both of them were Republicans I recall."

Expect a lot of this rewriting of history from The Decider and his enablers. The next chapter in the fairy tale will be the report on Iraq due this month. The White House has no choice, this is only way to burnish the hideous Bush record.... to distort the facts.... about his presidency and the history of our nation.

Luckily we have folks like Robinson to wipe the lipstick off of Bush's legacy-propaganda pig.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Friends of George Flee....

There is an echo in the White House these days.... because gone to "spend more time with their families...." are:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Peter Pace
White House Senior Political Advisor Karl Rove
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow
White House Counselor Don Bartlett
White House Budget Director Rob Portman
White House Counsel Harriet Miers
White House Political Director Sara Taylor
Justice Department White House Liaison Monica Goodling
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

In Congress, the latest GOP heavy-hitters announcing retirement....

Sen. John Warner (VA)
Sen. Dennis Hastert (IL)
Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH)

And, today after a tumultuous week during which wide-stance bathroom habits were given wide media coverage....

Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) again made headlines..... "Senator Craig Announces Resignation."

Caught in a sting operation by an undercover officer investigating "lewd conduct" in a bathroom of the Minneapolis airport.... and, after pleading guilty.... gay-bashing conservative poster-boy Craig defensively declared in a news conference "I'm not gay."

Which really isn't the point. Conduct unbecoming a U. S. Senator is. This GOP embarrassment will be history by the end of the month.

So..... a lonely Bush is left peering out of his oval office window, wondering how it is things went so quickly from a lame-duck to a lone-duck presidency.