K Marx
the Spot!

K Marx The Spot

We are living in a materialist world, and this is a materialist url!

31 July 2003

Bless Me Father, the Church Has Sinned

The Vatican speaks out on homosexual unions. Has any doctrine promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church ever had less credibility?

Posted by PAUL at 7/31/2003 05:45:00 PM

Give that Man a Vacation

Eric Alterman posted a great letter to his Altercation weblog yesterday. In the letter, Mark Morris of Hendersonville, NC, compares the public debt of the United States on January 21, 2001, the date of George W. Bush's inauguration, with the debt on Jan. 29, 2003, the date of Morris's letter. The public debt increased $1 trillion, from $5.7 trillion to $6.7 trillion in just two and one-half years. Morris reminds readers "when President Clinton took office, the current year budget deficit was the largest in national history and when Dubya took office the current year budget surplus was the largest in history."

No wonder Bush needs a month-long vacation. Spending and giving away that much money takes a lot out of a man. You can plug in the dates yourself at The Public Debt Online.

Posted by PAUL at 7/31/2003 01:42:00 PM

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out that George Bush set very low standards for our men and women in Iraq.

And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence. And I fully understand that. And I'm confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe, that Saddam had a weapons program. I want to remind you, he actually used his weapons program on his own people at one point in time, which is pretty tangible evidence. But I'm confident history will prove the decision we made to be the right decision.

That's setting the bar awfully low—not finding actual weapons, or proving that operational weapons were nearly ready, but finding that Iraq at one time had a nuclear weapons program. If that's the impetus for regime change, then the United States would be awfully petty not to target a regime like that running Sweden, a country that for many years certainly "had a [nuclear] weapons program."

Posted by Tim W at 7/31/2003 12:34:00 PM

IDB Kids

Returning home from a business trip last week, I was educated about the deplorable conditions the children of Haiti currently endure. The taxi driver spoke with heartache about his native Haiti. I learned that Haiti's infant and children mortality rates are the highest in the northern hemisphere and that Haitians had lost hope. Given the Bush administration's foray into nation building for humanitarian reasons I am left to wonder how they justify the human tragedy in Haiti that makes Cuba look like heaven. Le Monde diplomatique tells the story behind the "IDB kids."

Posted by PAUL at 7/31/2003 12:05:00 AM

28 July 2003

Is America a Religion?

"Like all those who send missionaries abroad, the high priests of America cannot conceive that the infidels might resist through their own free will; if they refuse to convert, it is the work of the devil, in his current guise as the former dictator of Iraq."

George Monbiot

Posted by PAUL at 7/28/2003 10:57:00 PM

War and Peace

The Financial Times is reporting that a study on the war in Iraq by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) blames bad planning by the Bush administration and the low priority the Pentagon placed on conflict resolution for a situation that could lead to a "a third Gulf war against the Iraqi people." According to CSIS, the United States has not learned the lesson that "even the best military victories cannot win the peace."

Posted by PAUL at 7/28/2003 12:13:00 AM

21 July 2003

What's a Freeper to Think?

The crowd at Free Republic is having a hell of time trying to figure out how to respond to Kobe Bryant being charged with sexual assault. The racists are convinced Bryant is guilty. The misogynists are convinced Bryant's accuser is a gold-digger. Sexual assault and rape are loaded words on the pages of Free Republic given its ugly campaign against Bill Clinton. Numerous Freepers have challenged the integrity, morals and motives of Bryant's accuser for being in hotel room with a married man. In response, a Freeper with at least a desire for consistent application of principles reminded the message board that Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Corbin Jones, according to their accounts, met with Bill Clinton in a hotel room. Alas, the irony was lost on many a poster.

Posted by PAUL at 7/21/2003 11:16:00 PM

20 July 2003

Intelligence Spied, Bush Lied

The Boston Sunday Globe has an excellent front-page article on how the Bush administration—in particular, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell—lied and exaggerated the facts to hype the war in Iraq. Those with access to the print version of the article should look for two charts that are not available online. One chart contrasts the intelligence provided to the White House with the statements made by the Bush administration. The second chart outlines a chronology of Bush administration statements leading up to the invasion of Iraq and continuing through last week. Both charts identify a pattern of lies and misinformation, as well as a recent attempt at revising the justification for the war.

Excerpts from the Globe article include:

In building the case for war in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said there was ''no doubt'' that Saddam Hussein ''has chemical weapons stocks.'' A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report, produced in the same period, stated flatly that there was ''no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling'' such weapons.

Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that the administration knew Hussein ''has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.'' A contemporaneous CIA report to Congress was more cautious, saying ''Baghdad may be attempting to acquire materials that could aid'' in developing nuclear weapons. But weapons specialists note that ''developing a program''—intending or endeavoring to acquire weapons of mass destruction—represents a far less imminent threat than would the possession of a stockpile of such arms, raising questions about the haste to go to war in Iraq without broad international support.

''We know now that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,'' Cheney said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville on Aug. 26, 2002, in a speech that several legislators have said helped persuade them to support military action in Iraq. But a CIA report to Congress at the time said only that ''procurement activity in recent years may be supporting a reconstituted nuclear weapons program.'' Intelligence information declassified on Friday included questions about whether aluminum tubes Iraq had sought to acquire were to be used—as Bush suggested in his State of the Union address—to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials.

On Sept. 8, 2002, Powell said in a Fox News interview that ''there is no doubt'' that Saddam Hussein ''has chemical weapons stocks.'' The Defense Intelligence Agency, in a classified report that same month, had a different view: ''There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons.''

Bush told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 12, 2002, that ''UN inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared.'' The UN inspectors' report on the subject, published in 1999, indicated that 520 kilograms of yeast extract, which can be used to grow bacteria, remained unaccounted for and ''is sufficient to produce 26,000 liters of Bacillus anthracis spores or over 3 times the amount declared by Iraq.''

The end of major combat in Iraq has not yielded evidence to support another key administration assertion: that Iraq had direct ties with the Al Qaeda terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters on Sept. 26, 2002, that he had ''bulletproof'' evidence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. In the State of the Union address last January, Bush said that ''evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda.'' Analysts previously questioned whether bin Laden's Islamic network would have formed an alliance with Hussein's secular government. ''Nobody thought there were any very serious links on the Al Qaeda aspect of it,'' a senior intelligence official said last week, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Rumsfeld said on March 30, less than two weeks into the war, that weapons of mass destruction would soon be found in the areas around Baghdad and Tikrit. But in a turnaround, Rumsfeld told a Senate panel on July 11 that ''the coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light, through the prism of our experience of 9/11.''

The Globe quotes retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, CIA director in the Carter administration, as stating about the Bush administration: ''They are backing off because they are apparently less and less confident they are going to find actual weapons. . . I don't quite see how they can square that circle. They are digging themselves in deeper by constantly trying to revise the facts.''

Posted by PAUL at 7/20/2003 11:36:00 AM

HaidaBucks vs. Starbucks

The fun people at Adbusters turned me on to an interesting brew and brouhaha. It seems that the brain-trust at Starbucks, concerned that their copyrighted name was being infringed, sent a threatening letter to HaidaBucks, a small cafe in a tiny Canadian village, and told the cafe to change its name. The global conglomerate with a market value in excess of $10 billion is bringing in the corporate lawyers and HaidaBucks is loading up its slingshot with some awfully funny barbs. Enjoy!

Posted by PAUL at 7/20/2003 12:01:00 AM

18 July 2003

Thank You, Jeffrey Kofman

It has been widely reported that ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman's story on World News Tonight about the morale of U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq led the White House to remind select contacts in the media that Hofman was both gay and Canadian. Was the logic behind publishing these two facts the expectation that the publication would discredit the story about soldier morale? I guess, but, something tells me that the only people that would buy that theory are already apologists for the Bush administration. So, what's the upside? News of the White House's attempt to discredit Hofman should endear him to a large number of us for standing up to this pathetic display of homophobia and nationalism. It should also motivate his brethren in the media to fight back against such tactics.

This wasn't the first time Kofman was targeted as an enemy of all that is good in America. Back in September of 2000, when he was a CBS correspondent and a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Kofman was targeted as an "activist-journalist out of the closet" by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily.

What did Hofman do back in 2000 to stir the ire of the Right? He questioned why coverage of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in the media necessitated the juxtaposition of individuals who are intolerant on the subject. Good question. Of course, Farah deemed Hofman's views as "political correctness gone wild."

Posted by PAUL at 7/18/2003 11:56:00 PM

Photoshop Wizards Wanted

Can anyone do some photoshop magic for me?

At yesterday's press gaggle, Scott McLellan was asked an actual pointed question from a member of the Washington press corps.

Q: Go back to the Iraq situation. Is the President afraid to take the responsibility what he said before Congress to the American people, or is the White House planning to use the White House as a scapegoat for the blame this scandal that around the world doesn't have any sense of what are you telling us today?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President takes responsibility for the decision he made to confront a grave and growing threat rather than ignore it. And America is safer for it. That's what the President believes. And he made the right decision. And, again, there are some that are trying to simply rewrite history here.

Here's the picture from the White House site with the caption "working at his desk in the Oval Office, President Bush reviews the State of the Union address line-by-line and word-by-word. " Can anyone tell me what portions of the State of the Union address Mr. Bush is reviewing here?

Posted by Tim W at 7/18/2003 05:03:00 PM

Divide and Conquer

George W. Bush will break with tradition and meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas next week. Despite the obvious flaws in the "road map" for peace in the Middle East, the Bush administration is heading in the right direction by actually meeting, albeit separately with the leaders of Israel and Palestine. But it is folly to expect much to happen until some structural changes happen in Palestine, and by structural, I mean just that.

A strange political consensus in Israel has supported the construction of a partially complete barrier between Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli left has supported it because it roughly lies along the "Green Line"—the legal border— the right supports it because it puts some settlements on the Israeli side. The latest Los Angeles Weekly has a fascinating article on just how the fence is being built.

So far, about 24,000 acres of Palestinian land have been cut off from the rest of the West Bank and are now on the western (Israeli) side of the barrier. President George Bush is against all this construction, but so far that hasn't mattered.

The indispensible Amira Hass of Ha'aretz emphasizes that the thing in question is much more than a fence:

Israelis still use the convenient and misleading term "fence" to describe the system of fortifications that is currently being erected on Palestinian lands in the West Bank. Even "wall," the term more commonly used in foreign-language reports, is insufficient to describe what is really being built at this very moment: A concrete wall eight meters high, wire fences and electronic sensors, ditches four meters deep on either side, a dirt path to reveal footprints, an area into which entry is forbidden, a two-lane road for army patrols, and watchtowers and firing posts every 200 meters along the entire length. These are the components of the "fence."

The fence is just another way for Israel to maintain control of the West Bank by hook or crook. There can be no effective autonomous rule in the West Bank until Palestinians actually control a contiguous polity there. As you can see from this map from 2000, there is really no hope for the Palestinian Authority to have any real political authority when its territory resembles more an archipelago than a large tract of land.

Posted by Tim W at 7/18/2003 04:54:00 PM

The End Does Not Justify the Means

Caught in a series of lies and exaggerations, Prime Minister Blair and President Bush are telling the world to forget about the details: history will vindicate their actions. Their simple premise is that the end justifies the means when it comes to the removal of Saddam Hussein. I was stunned to hear Blair admit that preemptive war was based, in large part, not on facts in evidence but on assumptions and beliefs. Blair and Bush believed Saddam had a WMD program. Why else would he be so recalcitrant in the face of sanctions and threats? On this basis both men supported and approved preemptive war.

Alas, there was another simple explanation for Hussein's recalcitrance: his desire to stand up to American and British pressure as the de facto leader (his opinion of himself) of the Arab world. Blair and Bush, having made the threats, had to act on them or let Saddam bask in the glory of his failed but unwavering opposition to Western pressure. We now know the facts supported the premise that Hussein did not have a weapons program. It had been dismantled by sanctions and inspections. Faced with making a decision based on the facts versus making one on their beliefs, both Blair and Bush chose their gut. They saw what they wanted to see. They were wrong. They are responsible for their actions. Each man should resign his office. Only then will Iraq and the United Nations be free to reconstruct that country within democratic ideals. Only then will the ideals of democracy and justice prevail in Great Britain and the United States.

Posted by PAUL at 7/18/2003 09:59:00 AM

17 July 2003

Masturbation Taboo Revisited

Reuters is reporting that frequent masturbation may be good for you. Research on the subject is due to be published in this weekend's British Journal of Urology International.

Australia's Cancer Council Victoria found that the more often men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to suffer the disease that kills more than half a million men each year. The survey of 1,079 prostate cancer patients and 1,259 healthy men found that those who masturbated or had sex at least once a day in their 20s were a third less likely to develop the malady. The findings correlate with previous research that showed Roman Catholic priests were 30 percent more likely to get prostate cancer, but they contradict other studies that suggested having a variety of partners or frequent sex could lift the risk.

News of this story reminded me of the oversensitivity to the topic of masturbation back in December of 1994. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, whose support for abortion and the distribution of condoms in schools had the Christian Right in a virtual frenzy, was removed from office based on her thoughtful comments about masturbation. When she promoted comprehensive sex education, including a discussion of masturbation, she was forced to resign her office by President Clinton. Given Clinton's sexual proclivities and his recent conversion to being at the vanguard of slowing the spread of AIDS, I assume Bill regrets pulling the rug out from Elders, whose comments were aimed at helping to control the spread of AIDS.

It is likely that the faithful of the Christian Right see prostrate cancer as a disease that affects their community, so it is unlikely we will be seeing any calls from them to limit this new research. As for the high incidence of prostrate cancer among Catholic priests, the research just might lead to a new Sacrament.

Posted by PAUL at 7/17/2003 01:02:00 PM

Whom Do You Believe?

From the front page of this morning's Financial Times:

General John Abizaid, who recently replaced General Tommy Franks as the head of US Central Command, said the US was facing "a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us. It's low-intensity conflict, in our doctrinal terms, but it's war however you describe it."

Gen Abizaid's assessment, in his first news conference, contradicted assurances by Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, who said on June 30 that opposition to the US in Iraq was not "anything like a guerrilla war or an organised resistance".

Posted by PAUL at 7/17/2003 07:42:00 AM

15 July 2003

Chicken Hawk Down

The July 16th edition of The Independent is reporting that a "group of senior former intelligence officials," in a letter to President Bush, is demanding the resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney. The group has accused Cheney, a hawk on Iraq with strong ties to Halliburton and other energy companies that have benefited from the removal of Saddam Hussein, as "using his office to insist that a false claim about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium from Africa to restart its nuclear programme be included in George Bush's State of the Union address—overriding the concerns of the CIA director, George Tenet."

The Independent does not cite the source but it appears that the letter referenced is a Memorandum posted to Common Dreams today.

Posted by PAUL at 7/15/2003 11:32:00 PM

Lying as Political Strategy

Finally, the Washington press corps is focusing on the series of lies the Bush administration used to support preemptive war against Iraq. The main focus now is on the administration's intent to deceive the American public about the threat Iraq posed to US security. The more important story is the whole web of fabrications and why they were told. Bush lied about the need for war, the length of the ensuing occupation, and the difficulties that such an occupation would face, while at the same time telling the country the lie that America would prosper if it cut taxes. As part of the deception the administration withheld from the public the Treasury Department analysis that the future budget deficit under the Bush tax plan was a staggering $44 trillion. These lies were part of the same political strategy. The Bush administration lied because they knew their window of opportunity for both actions was closing and telling the truth would shut that window.

The Bush administration specifically serves the interests of American energy companies as well as wealthy individual and corporate interests as a whole. These interests had wants and the Bush administration took action to meet those wants. American energy interests wanted control of Iraq's oil industry. Wealthy individual and corporate interests wanted to push more of the burden of financing the fiscal crisis facing America off of their backs and onto the backs of the American middle class. Faced with the choice of serving the American people by being honest or serving special interests by lying the Bush administration chose to lie.

Here is the truth about the latent fiscal crisis facing our country.

Posted by PAUL at 7/15/2003 12:30:00 PM

What Does Jesus Drive?

The Financial Times has a front page spread poking fun at American religious evangelists who are distributing literature to their flocks stating Jesus' vehicle of choice is an SUV. The campaign is a response to environmentalist attacks against SUVs for excessive pollution and poor fuel economy. All this time I thought he drove a pair of sandals.

Posted by PAUL at 7/15/2003 10:04:00 AM

14 July 2003

The Buck Stops There

The Bush supporters in the media have taken their cue from Condi and Rummy and are spinning SOTUgate for all the plausible deniability they can muster. President Bush is now being presented as a victim of "substandard spying." Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, writing in Monday's Boston Herald, charges that "the CIA misled the president about Iraq's nuclear threat" and failed "to warn the administration what it would face after the war was ostensibly won." I do not believe the Bush-as-victim angle will fly given that hundreds of US servicemen and thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives. When was the last time a victim looked into a camera and said: "bring 'em on"?

Posted by PAUL at 7/14/2003 01:42:00 PM

13 July 2003

Is and Was

Today, on nationally televised news programs, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that it was a mistake for President Bush to cite in his State of the Union address a British finding, which U.S. intelligence indicated was "dubious," that former Saddam Hussein sought to buy uranium from Africa for Iraq's nuclear program. They then qualified the admission and downplayed its importance. Reuters reported that "Rice went to lengths to state that the British intelligence was not inaccurate, just unproven by the United States. 'We have never said that the British report was wrong,' she said."

Will the Republicans in Congress be as tough on the Bush Administration's use of "was" as they were a few years ago on Clinton's use of "is"?

Posted by PAUL at 7/13/2003 09:40:00 PM

09 July 2003

Deterrence to Schizophrenia

The AP is reporting that a woman diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic was found guilty in Troy, New York Wednesday of murder and attempted murder for drowning her 4-year-old son in a bathtub and trying to drown her 5-year-old, who escaped. Christine Wilhelm could face 40 years to life in prison. Wilhelm had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. During the trial, prosecutors said Wilhelm masked a hideous crime behind her mental illness while the defense said Luke's drowning was a tragedy caused by her horrifying psychotic delusions.

Posted by PAUL at 7/09/2003 05:05:00 PM

07 July 2003

The Meritocracy of Nepotism

The fallout of the Bush presidency has the son of a famous literary figure singing the praises of nepotism. I kid you, not. This month's Atlantic offers for our reconsideration the merits of favoring relatives in public life. "In Praise of Nepotism", an article by Adam Bellow, argues that the "unwritten rules" of nepotism "have made it, on balance, a wholesome and positive force" in human history. The rules, according to Bellow, are derived from his own study of family dynasties, "from the biblical House of David to the Kennedys and the Bushes." Well, those three choices certainly prove the existence of nepotism but they hardly merit the definition of "a wholesome and positive force." Bellow goes on to strain credulity when he states that "nepotism in itself is neither good nor bad. It's the way you practice it that matters."

Bellow turns the functionalist theory of inequality, a theory embraced by James Madison and many of our founding fathers in writing the American Constitution, on its head. According to Bellow's logic, our system of unequal rewards does not function as an incentive to fill the most important social positions with the most qualified persons. Rather, biological inheritance and the associated "unwritten rules" trump competition. Of course, this is bunk. Nepotism has earned its poor reputation. It exists not because it works but because power corrupts. The high number of Little League pitchers who call their coach Dad is just one of many examples. Just ask the other eight players on the field.

Posted by PAUL at 7/07/2003 11:24:00 PM

06 July 2003

Here's Looking at You, Big Brother

Two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created an Internet servicethat will let citizens create dossiers on government officials. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, an assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab, and graduate student Ryan McKinley created the Government Information Awareness (GIA) project as a response to the US government's Total Information Awareness program (TIA). "If total information exists," McKinley said, "really the same effort should be spent to make the same information at the leadership level at least as transparent—in my opinion, more transparent."

Way to go boys!

Posted by PAUL at 7/06/2003 09:36:00 AM

04 July 2003

US States' Fiscal Crisis Expected to Get Worse, Not Better, in 2004

The Financial Times of London is reporting that the fiscal crisis facing US states is likely to exacerbate in 2004. According to the Financial Times, "many states had counted on the economy rebounding this year to regenerate taxation income" and "the lack of a strong economic rebound means states are likely to face an even tougher year in 2004 than they did in 2003. Fiscal 2004 state budget gaps are at record levels and could exceed more than $100 billion in total." The fiscal crisis is leading to cuts in services and reserve funds, layoffs, and downgrading of state credit ratings by Moody's and S&P.

Posted by PAUL at 7/04/2003 03:01:00 PM

A Pattern of Deception

The talking heads in Washington are prone to giving President Bush the benefit of the doubt when attributing motive to his false statements. It is hard for these pundits to deny the facts in evidence that Bush has told a number of untruths. Instead, they claim the president had no intention to deceive and become incredulous at any suggestion of such intent. This subjective view of intent is what allows the media to heap invective on Bill Clinton while giving Bush a free pass. The ethical juxtaposition is focused on character. Clinton's clear intent was to lie about sex, smoking pot and his reasons for avoiding military service. Bush's intent was honest when he conveyed his belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction to justify war, promoted tax cuts for ever-changing reasons, and promised to be a compassionate conservative. It is a question of trust. Clinton is intelligent and competent but can't be trusted. Bush might not be smart but he surrounds himself with smart people and we can trust him. Clinton's mistakes and untruthfulness are due to bad character. Bush's mistakes and untruthfulness are dismissed as the acts of someone "young and irresponsible" or the loyal president who is zealous in the defense of America. Alas, like smitten schoolboys, many in the media are incapable of calling the facts as they are and can only call them as they want them to be.

The facts indicate that President Bush and his administration has engaged in a pattern of deception dating back to before Bush announced his candidacy for the presidency. Bush told untruths about his personal history. Bush told untruths about his business practices. Bush told untruths about his record as governor of Texas. Bush told untruths about John McCain. Bush told untruths about Al Gore. Bush told untruths about his conservatism and how he would practice it in office. Bush told untruths about making government smaller. Bush told untruths about making government more open. Bush told untruths about his administration's policy towards nation building. Bush told untruths about why he supported tax cuts. Bush told untruths about what his campaign did to suppress the Black vote in Florida. Bush told untruths about the budgetary impact of his tax cuts. Bush told untruths about the intelligence our country had on al-Qaeda. Bush told untruths about the "war on terrorism." Bush told untruths about the intelligence we had on Iraq. Bush told untruths about the cost of the Iraq war and occupation, in lives and dollars. Bush told untruths about post-Saddam Iraq. We do not need a commission of experts to tell us that, indeed, the above constitutes a pattern of deception and patterns indicate intent.

Even the most smitten journalists have to be feeling a little used this week. Unemployment has risen to its highest level in nine years. The US state department is offering bounties on the heads of Saddam, his sons and on Osama bin Laden while spinning that such bounties do not indicate any failure in the US efforts to capture these men. Bush is becoming an "Old West" caricature with comments like "Bring 'em on," a remark that may be more insensitive than any words I have ever heard come out of the mouth of an American president. Even Bob Barr cringed at those words. Maybe now Bush's military record of avoiding service in Vietnam and going AWOL will be juxtaposed with his penchant for dressing up in the garb of real soldiers and talking macho.

The Republicans needed a vast rightwing conspiracy to dethrone Bill Clinton and they still could not accomplish their task. In the end, they settled for besmirching Clinton's character and legacy. Bush, on the other hand, will dethrone himself and, once again, a Democrat will be left to clean up the mess.

Posted by PAUL at 7/04/2003 11:42:00 AM

03 July 2003

Traitors! In the White House!

A few weeks ago, someone in the Washington press corps did some actual research and asked Ari Fleischer, the press secretary to George W. Bush, a tricky question.

Q: And also in the last, 2000 and coming up, the President will accept federal funds in the general election.


Q: Is there any dash of hypocrisy in that he doesn't contribute to that fund when he files his tax returns?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, interestingly, we talked before about taxpayer-financed elections, and while for the congressional races, Senate races and House races, and for overwhelming majority of the funds that go to presidential races is voluntary, there is that check on the tax reforms. And the best I remember this from IRS data is something like only 12 percent, or down to 8 percent of the American people check that box. So I think the President is in pretty good company with a number of American people who do not check that box.

Q: Why would he take the money, then?

MR. FLEISCHER: As you know, he's not taking the money for the primary campaign; he will take it for the general.

Later, another reporter followed up.

Q: Several questions on fundraising. First of all, why is it that the President checks the "no" box? Does he have a philosophical rejection, or what's his reason for doing that?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think the President views campaign funding as a voluntary matter, as the American people do, where people want to support the candidate of their choice. We have on the presidential level a somewhat mixed system where there is some level of taxpayer support. And the President, as you know, in the primary is not going to accept any taxpayer support, he will raise funds privately -- which means he will get support as the American people see fit to give it.

Q: But why does he -- why does he check the "no" box?

MR. FLEISCHER: Because I think the President's approach is that from him, personally, that he believes in personally financing the causes in which he believes.

The good folks at the Tax History Project have been compiling presidential tax returns for some years now. Indeed, for the last three years, George W. and Laura Bush have not contributed to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

I wonder if George W. Bush realize how his closest allies do not believe in "personally financing the causes in which he believes." First, we have Dick and Lynne Cheney, who contributed $3 each to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund in both 2002 and 2001. The Cheneys did not release any part of their 2000 tax return to the public, so it is unclear whether this traitorous box-checking dissent started with the 2000 returns. Second, we have the continued and habitual contributions of George H. W. and Barbara Bush, who brazenly contributed to the fund in 1991 and in 1990 and in 1989. Does Ann Coulter know about this treason?

(Of the presidential tax returns available on the Tax History Project site, only those of Ronald and Nancy Reagan show an election not to contribute to the fund. None of Gerald and Betty Ford's returns are there, and the only return for Richard and Pat Nixon predates the inception of the fund.)

Posted by Tim W at 7/03/2003 03:20:00 PM

Warren Buffett for President (Part Three)

In late May, Paul and I wrote a couple of entries about why Democrats should draft Warren Buffett for President.

We did not realize then that Mark Anderson of The American Sentimentalist had similar thoughts in a splendid essay back in March. He wrote with a lot more care than we did about Buffett's deserved reputation for transparency and responsibility, both characteristics lacking in both business and politics nowadays.

Posted by Tim W at 7/03/2003 02:56:00 PM

Prosperity is Just Around the Corner

Kudos to the New York Times for putting this chart on the front page: it shows the annual jobs growth for each American president since Harding.

At this point, George W. Bush is the only president since Herbert Hoover to have a net decrease in jobs since the start of his administration. Yes, some of this is due to back luck—a recession that started some two months into his administration and the terrorist attacks of September 2001 that affected business spending.

But the status of Republicans as the party of Capital is hard to ignore. Is it really not for nothing that every Democratic president in the past 80 years had job growth of at least 2.4% per year and every Republican president in the past 80 years had job growth of at most 2.2% per year? Perhaps, just perhaps, the benefits that trickle down from giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans don't trickle down very far.

Posted by Tim W at 7/03/2003 02:44:00 PM

01 July 2003

This Is Democracy?

The Associated Press is reporting that an Iraqi businessman detained during a raid on his home says U.S. interrogators deprived him of sleep, forced him to kneel naked and kept him bound hand and foot with a bag over his head for eight days. Khraisan al-Abally's said U.S. troops stormed his home April 30, shooting his brother and taking al-Abally and his 80-year-old father into custody apparently believing they had information on the whereabouts of a top official in Saddam Hussein's regime. Al-Abally said his brother shot at the troops breaking in, apparently mistaking them for looters. He learned of his brother's death during his interrogation at Baghdad International Airport. ''This is democracy?'' asked al-Abally, whose family operates a shipping business in Lebanon. ''No Iraqi would have thought the Americans were capable of this.''

Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report that harshly criticized American interrogation techniques and "called on the United States today to give hundreds of Iraqis detained since the beginning of the occupation the right to meet families and lawyers and to have a judicial review of their detention. The organization also called on the US to investigate allegations of ill-treatment, torture and death into custody."

Posted by PAUL at 7/01/2003 07:17:00 AM

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