Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

The War Card

The folks at publicintegrity.com have assembled an incredibly comprehensive reference site detailing the runup to the Iraq War. The first sentence on the front page:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

This is definitely one to bookmark for the next time someone tries to obfuscate and deflect blame onto the CIA, Congress, war opponents, or pretty much anyone else except those actually responsible. It’s amazing how clear the entire charade becomes when it’s laid out in a timeline. Browsing through it brought back those “has the entire country gone MAD?!” feelings of disbelief all over again.

While the topic of the war would be better served by a congressional investigation, it’s painfully clear that the current Democratic residents of the Hill are both incapable and unwilling to pursue any of the charges leveled at this administration, much less the most serious of all. (Note to future historians: we’d love to know why the Dems don’t have the sack to perform even their most basic constitutionally-appointed duty of executive oversight.  Please find out why so it doesn’t happen again. America thanks you.)

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It’s the Economy, You Fucking Moron

How’s that for an attention-grabber? 🙂

The media has finally started focusing on the state of the economy, and only a few years late – good job guys.  Somehow there was no “emotional center” to a story about an ailing economy perilously balanced by record debt and insane mortgage lending practices, at least not until the house of cards started tumbling down.

Now all the talk is about how to fix things.  And, as usual, the people in the White House are ignoring the advice of experts on how to go about doing that.  Rather than listen to our own Federal Reserve Chairman, the Administration’s proposal provides -ZERO- relief for those below the lowest income tax bracket.

Why? My gut suspicion is that conservatives are appalled at the idea of giving tax rebates to people who don’t pay income tax in the first place.  It’s not an unreasonable position in and of itself, but once again the conservative ideology is incompatible with the larger-scale reality of what’s happening.  So incompatible, in fact, that the GOP would rather cut off its nose to spite its face.  If rescuing the economy involves giving some money to people disproportionately to what they paid in, the thinking goes, it’s not worth it.  (It’s also worth pointing out that these people do pay taxes, just not on income, so this isn’t a free giveaway. But even if it was a free giveaway to the almost-poor, would you really prefer a national recession over that?)

FACT: it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a strong and vibrant economy, be they rich or poor.
FACT: people with lower incomes are much more likely to spend a rebate than those with higher incomes.
FACT: business tax cuts have only modest effects at best, according to the Fed’s own economists, and they also have adverse effects on state budgets.

The White House needs to put ideology aside and propose a solution that will have maximum effectiveness.  That means swallowing their pride, admitting that, while it sucks, low-income people really are the key to turning this ship around, dispensing with the petty counterproductive arguments over fairness, and putting pen to paper with the resolve of true leaders rather than ideological extremists.

Authoritarian Watch

I lied on Tuesday. The urge to vent has returned with this story.

So our Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, believes that the government should be able to read any email and intercept any file transfer from any and all Americans. Without a warrant. Money quote: “Americans will have to trust the government not to abuse the authority it must have in order to protect our networks, and yet, historically the government has not proved worthy of that trust.”

You’re goddamned right they haven’t proved worthy. There is one fundamental principle of governing that has remained unchanged for centuries: those with power will use it to their advantage, and those with the ability to conceal their actions will abuse that power even further. The past 7 years have literally been a case study in that phenomenon, one that will be examined for many decades to come.

This principle is the reason why people like me get very angry when our elected leaders become opaque and secretive, because it almost certainly means they are doing something they don’t want to be caught doing. It’s also why people like me get even angrier when said officials use the “state secrets” or “security/terrorism” excuses because claiming to protect people while you secretly work against them makes their assertions that much more despicable.

Transparent government is a requirement for freedom. If only we had a competent media establishment in America, it could explain these basic principles to those frightened by the Bush administration into believing they need to be spied on for their own good.

Beware!

I just found this hilarious old image that I forgot I had. I think it came from a Jack Chick tract or something:

Haw!

Meh.

I haven’t written lately because there isn’t much inspiring to write about.  I thought about tying last week’s Strait of Hormuz incident back to my prediction from last year that we’d be at war with Iran by this March.  I decided to let it ride and see how things play out first. If history is any indication, here’s what most likely happened: nothing unusual or out of the ordinary happened on that day, but civilians in Washington seized the opportunity to inflate (and distort) the incident into a fabricated crisis with the goal of flaring tensions between our two nations.  With nerves frayed, anything becomes a reason to attack – be it real, imaginary, or an outright lie (see Gulf of Tonkin and yellowcake uranium for historical examples).

I’ll probably be relatively quiet for the next few weeks.  Ultimately I’m burned out on politics until this stupid, stupid tradition of presidential primaries has run its destructive course once again.

Your caucus is showing

After delivering John Kerry in 2004, Iowa has at last redeemed itself.  Hillary’s 3rd place finish confirmed that people are sick-and-damned-tired of the same old establishment candidates.  While I’m not yet convinced that Obama is substantially different, he has at least identified that fatigue and made it a centerpiece of his campaign strategy.

It was also nice to see Huckabee win for the GOP.  I disagree with just about 100% of his beliefs, but his background suggests he doesn’t have the authoritarian mindset that most of his colleagues proudly possess.  He is also the only GOP candidate thus far to suggest that the past 7 years weren’t perfect, which in any other alternate universe wouldn’t be noteworthy but in this one is downright scandalous. If he’s willing to say something like that in the primaries, then perhaps he would act differently as president – perhaps he would even reverse some of the constitutional damage Bush and Cheney have wrought.

But I digress… using the current administration as a benchmark for the next one does all of us an injustice (I believe Bush referred to it as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”)