Thursday, June 30, 2005


The Iraq War is as lost as Vietnam

Robert Dreyfuss has apt comparisons to Vietnam in his brief article.
Over the past two weeks, I've had extended conversations with former diplomats and intelligence officers about Iraq. To a man (and woman), they were pessimistic, and blackly so. Over the past 18 months, one of them told me, the intelligence community put out two National Intelligence Estimates on Iraq and an additional major supplement, all of which told the White House the truth: that the war in Iraq is not going well, and is likely to get worse. So the administration knows the truth, at least if they choose to believe their spies and analysts. (Of course, the work product of the spies and analysts may get worse if the new bosses - John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and Porter Goss, the CIA director - have their way. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, spent his days penning happy-talk propaganda about how well the war was going, which got back to Secretary of State Colin Powell last year and almost persuaded him that the war was winable.) But, just as "intelligence and facts" were being fixed around policy in 2002, it appears that in 2005, the Bush administration is once again ignoring its intelligence community and choosing to portray the war as progressing along nicely.

...Like the phalanx of American foreign policy Wise Men - the Clark Cliffords and Averill Harrimans of the 1960s - who read the riot act to LBJ after Tet, today's establishment, including the Democrats, has to demand that Bush start to reality in Iraq, and not to the fantasies that the neoconservatives sold him on in 2001.

Unfortunately, in my opinion the Dreyfus peace process solution is non-tenable. I can think of no group involved who would accept it. I also can think of no group that will even read the riot act on Bush or even imagine Bush listening to it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The reporter who knows about the Downing Street memos speaks

Michael Smith: [T]hat meeting [is the equivalent of] an NSC meeting. That is its significance, that is its equivalent. It is highly damning and some of the self-serving nonsense from people who should know better in some, and it is now only some, of the U.S. media is frankly depressing....

Michael Smith: There are number of people asking about fixed and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it.... [A]s for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed... cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq....

Michael Smith: [L]ook I am not some mealy-mouthed left-wing apologist. I vote Conservative in elections for parliament and Liberal-Democrat (the term Liberal does not have the same connotations over here) in the local elections. I actually backed the idea of the war. I have just finished a book on an American military unit which is very admiring of that unit. I cant go into details as it is not published until March. I am just a reporter doing my job.... The information in the documents is damning enough. I don't believe that Republicans want US soldiers to die for no good cause in an insurgency that could have been avoided anymore than Democrats do. This isn't about politics. It's about common sense and honesty....

Michael Smith: Thank you for giving me the chance to answer this question. I am very pro-defence you're right. All right-thinking people should be. Saddam Hussein might not have been the threat he was painted but there are plenty out there who would be given the chance.... Bin Laden is a legitimate target, Iraq, even an Iraq led by Saddam Hussein, was not. This was an illegal war but the most criminal part of it all was the lazy, arrogant way they went into it. (British tanks crossing the start lines, in a war being fought about WMD, did not even have any chemical or biological filters fitted because the Ministry of Defence failed to buy them in time.) Just look at all those memos again.... Just look at the lack of preparation, look how right all those experts who said it would all turn out badly were and then wonder how many British and American soldiers died because those politicians were too arrogant to take the advice of the experts...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Is our pledge too small?

Beauty Dish reports on a small principal and a big pledge. Sent by James Denton

Has Dana Milbank turned to the dark side?

Dana Milbank, one of the best Washington Post reporters and a frequent critic of the Bush administration, has in the last ten days been lashing out at Democratic activists and labeling them "wingnuts." He also had the only Washington Post article on Conyer's hearing on the Downing Street memos holding it up as a game by powerless funny Democrats and their idiotic extremist supporters.

What has happened? The only clue is that Dana Milbank says he has been the subject of many abusive calls and emails which he felt was organized by the 300,000 strong (not affiliated with the Democratic party.) Abusive calls and emails are not the way to win friends gang. I will say abusive articles aimed at your supporters are also not the way to make friends either Dana.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Meet Janette Sexton

Off the Kuff has a Meet Janette Sexton post.

She is my friend I met here in Pasadena during the Dean campaign and who is now running for office. She is running against the homophobe, Christian-Right favorite Talton. You can send her a donation to help get her campaign started.

I'll be attending her Gilley's kickoff party soon and will provide more details later. Her website Sexton4District144 is shaping up.

Exploring U.S. Interrogations Post 9/11

"Only after a new commanding officer had arrived and official
inquiries had issued their reports did we learn that 40 percent of
those penned up at Guantanamo never belonged there in the first place.

At Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the record was even worse: two-thirds of the
detainees were eventually said to have been innocent of terrorist
links. At least when they were picked up. Who knows what leanings they
developed or links they forged during and after their interrogations?"

Wanna go for a walk?

Howard Dean Speaks For Me

When they want to divert attention from their stealing from the working class of this country and our nation's democratic heritage the GOP likes to trash talk Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

They do this after repeatedly engaging in hate filled speech against liberals and Democrats.

I have just one thing to say - HOWARD DEAN SPEAKS FOR ME.

If Howard Dean speaks for you why don't you sign the petition
or show up at a local Democratic,
Equal Rights,
Religious and Non-Religious Rights club meeting?

You know you can't just sit on your duff and expect anything to change.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Can monkeys understand concepts like money?

Yes, including theft and prostitution.

Brad DeLong On The Late Recognition of Class Warfare by the NYT

Brad has some comments on the New York Times series on class I blogged about here. The Janissaries in the Bush Class War Revolt!
Hey! New York Times! Average--not median, average--gross weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers are $540--that's $27,000 a year. Average--not median, average--gross weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade are $380 a week--that's $19,000 a year. Many of them face the same problems of trying to get their children the education and skills they need to have opportunities, of caring for aging parents, and of preparing for their own retirement as do those making $200K a year who are "not exactly on easy street."

That "the divide between rich and poor is unfortunately an old story" does not mean that the focus of our attention should be on how to redistribute income and wealth from the top 0.1% to the top 20%.
When the $100K - $400K people at the Times realize they are being screwed by the GOP it means Dems are due for a big comeback.

Krugman has also commented on class and the right rhetoric:
Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."

But the real reasons to worry about the explosion of inequality since the 1970's have nothing to do with envy. The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.

Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What the John Birchers are doing today

Political action groups for the GOP.

Class Warfare

Bob Herbert - The gap between the rich and everybody else in this country is fast becoming an unbridgeable chasm. David Cay Johnston, in the latest installment of the New York Times series "Class Matters," wrote, "It's no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing, but the extent to which the richest are leaving everybody else behind is not widely known."

Consider, for example, two separate eras in the lifetime of the baby-boom generation. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent of the population between 1950 and 1970, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162. That gap has since skyrocketed. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent between 1990 and 2002, Mr. Johnston wrote, each taxpayer in that top bracket brought in an extra $18,000.

It's like chasing a speedboat with a rowboat.

More from the editorial board - In last Sunday's Times, David Cay Johnston reported that from 1980 to 2002, the latest year of available data, the share of total income earned by the top 0.1 percent of earners more than doubled, while the share earned by everyone else in the top 10 percent rose far less. The share of the bottom 90 percent declined.

President Bush did not create the income gap. But the unheralded effect of his tax policy is its unequal impact on the modestly well to do. By 2015, those making between $80,000 and $400,000 will pay as much as 13.9 percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $400,000, assuming the tax cuts are made permanent. Below $80,000, most taxpayers will see their share of taxes rise slightly or stay the same...

It starts to seem politically explosive when you consider that in a decade, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay about five to nine percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $1 million, assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

This is not about giving wealthy people more money to invest back into the economy. At this level, it's really about giving more money to those who have nothing to do with it except amass enormous estates for their heirs.

And the article that started this all - Richest Are Leaving Even The Rich Far Behind from the series of stories on different classes like the moving Relos and the Hyper-rich. A big overview on class today from the New York Times.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The American Media from Baghdad Eyes

The Arab World now gets more American shows than most Americans. Read what Baghdad Burning has to say:
The schedule on MBC’s Channel 4 goes something like this:

9 am – CBS Evening News
9:30 am – CBS The Early Show
10:45 am – The Days of Our Lives
11:20 am – Wheel of Fortune
11:45 am – Jeopardy
12:05 pm – A re-run of whatever was on the night before – 20/20, Inside Edition, etc.

And the programming continues…

We sat there watching like we were a part of another world, in another galaxy. I’ve always sensed from the various websites that American mainstream news is far-removed from reality- I just didn’t know how far. Everything is so tame and simplified. Everyone is so sincere.

Furthermore, I don’t understand the worlds fascination with reality shows. Survivor, The Bachelor, Murder in Small Town X, Faking It, The Contender… it’s endless. Is life so boring that people need to watch the conjured up lives of others?

I have a suggestion of my own for a reality show. Take 15 Bush supporters and throw them in a house in the suburbs of, say, Falloojeh for at least 14 days. We could watch them cope with the water problems, the lack of electricity, the check points, the raids, the Iraqi National Guard, the bombings, and- oh yeah- the ‘insurgents’. We could watch their house bombed to the ground and their few belongings crushed under the weight of cement and brick or simply burned or riddled with bullets. We could see them try to rebuild their life with their bare hands (and the equivalent of $150)…

I’d not only watch *that* reality show, I’d tape every episode.