Monday, March 20, 2006

Bogus Bush Bashing

March 20, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Paul Krugman

"The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,' and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.' " So says the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, whose most recent poll found that only 33 percent of the public approves of the job President Bush is doing.

Mr. Bush, of course, bears primary responsibility for the state of his presidency. But there's more going on here than his personal inadequacy; we're looking at the failure of a movement as well as a man. As evidence, consider the fact that most of the conservatives now rushing to distance themselves from Mr. Bush still can't bring themselves to criticize his actual policies. Instead, they accuse him of policy sins — in particular, of being a big spender on domestic programs — that he has not, in fact, committed.

Before I get to the bogus issue of domestic spending, let's look at the policies the new wave of conservative Bush bashers refuses to criticize.

Mr. Bush's new conservative critics don't say much about the issue that most disturbs the public, the quagmire in Iraq. That's not surprising. Commentators who acted as cheerleaders in the run-up to war, and in many cases questioned the patriotism of those of us who were skeptical, can't criticize the decision to start this war without facing up to their own complicity in that decision.

Nor, after years of insisting that things were going well in Iraq and denouncing anyone who said otherwise, is it easy for them to criticize Mr. Bush's almost surreal bungling of the war. (William Kristol of The Weekly Standard is the exception; he says that we never made a "serious effort" in Iraq, which will come as news to the soldiers.)

Meanwhile, the continuing allegiance of conservatives to tax cuts as the universal policy elixir prevents them from saying anything about the real sources of the federal budget deficit, in particular Mr. Bush's unprecedented decision to cut taxes in the middle of a war. (My colleague Bob Herbert points out that the Iraq hawks chose to fight a war with other people's children. They chose to fight it with other people's money, too.)

They can't even criticize Mr. Bush for the systematic dishonesty of his budgets. For one thing, that dishonesty has been apparent for five years. More than that, some prominent conservative commentators actually celebrated the administration's dishonesty. In 2001 blogger Andrew Sullivan, writing in The New Republic, conceded that Mr. Bush wasn't truthful about his economic policies. But Mr. Sullivan approved of the deception: "Bush has to obfuscate his real goals of reducing spending with the smokescreen of 'compassionate conservatism.' " As Berkeley's Brad DeLong puts it on his blog, conservatives knew that Mr. Bush was lying about the budget, but they thought they were in on the con.

So what's left? Well, it's safe for conservatives to criticize Mr. Bush for presiding over runaway growth in domestic spending, because that implies that he betrayed his conservative supporters. There's only one problem with this criticism: it's not true.

It's true that federal spending as a percentage of G.D.P. rose between 2001 and 2005. But the great bulk of this increase was accounted for by increased spending on defense and homeland security, including the costs of the Iraq war, and by rising health care costs.

Conservatives aren't criticizing Mr. Bush for his defense spending. Since the Medicare drug program didn't start until 2006, the Bush administration can't be blamed for the rise in health care costs before then. Whatever other fiscal excesses took place weren't large enough to play more than a marginal role in spending growth.

So where does the notion of Bush the big spender come from? In a direct sense it comes largely from Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, who issued a report last fall alleging that government spending was out of control. Mr. Riedl is very good at his job; his report shifts artfully back and forth among various measures of spending (nominal, real, total, domestic, discretionary, domestic discretionary), managing to convey the false impression that soaring spending on domestic social programs is a major cause of the federal budget deficit without literally lying.

But the reason conservatives fall for the Heritage spin is that it suits their purposes. They need to repudiate George W. Bush, but they can't admit that when Mr. Bush made his key mistakes — starting an unnecessary war, and using dishonest numbers to justify tax cuts — they were cheering him on.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Day of Reckoning for the Current Occupant

By Garrison Keillor
The Chicago Tribune

Wednesday 15 March 2006

Spring arrived in New York last week for previews, a sunny day with chill in the air, but you could smell mud, and with a little imagination you could sort of smell grass. I put on a gray jacket, instead of black, and went to the opera and saw Verdi's "Luisa Miller," a Republican opera in which love is crushed by the perfidiousness of government. A helpful lesson for these times. I am referring to the Current Occupant.

The Republican Revolution has gone the way of all flesh. It took over Congress and the White House, horns blew, church bells rang, sailors kissed each other, and what happened? The Republicans led us into a reckless foreign war and steered the economy toward receivership and wielded power as if there were no rules. Democrats are accused of having no new ideas, but Republicans are making some of the old ideas look awfully good, such as constitutional checks and balances, fiscal responsibility, and the notion of realism in foreign affairs and taking actions that serve the national interest. What one might call "conservatism."

The head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan, Lt. Gen. William Odom, writes on the Web site that he sees clear parallels between Vietnam and Iraq: "The difference lies in the consequences. Vietnam did not have the devastating effects on US power that Iraq is already having." He draws the parallels in three stages and says that staying the course will only make the damage to US power greater. It's a chilling analysis, and one that isn't going to come from the Democratic Party. It's starting to come from Republicans, and they are the ones who must rescue the country from themselves.

I ran into a gray eminence from the Bush I era the other day in an airport, and he said that what most offended him about Bush II is the naked incompetence. "You may disagree with Republicans, but you always had to recognize that they knew what they were doing," he said. "I keep going back to that intelligence memo of August 2001, that said that terrorists had plans to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. The president read it, and he didn't even call a staff meeting to discuss it. That is lack of attention of a high order."

Over the course of time, the Chief Occupant has been cruelly exposed over and over. He sat and was briefed on the danger of a hurricane wiping out a major American city, and without asking a single question, he got up from the table and walked away and resumed his vacation. He played guitar as New Orleans was flooded. It took him four days to realize his responsibility to do something. When the tsunami killed 100,000 people in Southeast Asia, he was on vacation and it took him 72 hours to issue a statement of sympathy.

The Republicans tied their wagon to him and, as a result, their revolution is bankrupt. He has played the terrorism card for all it is worth and campaigned successfully against Adam and Steve and co-opted whole vast flocks of Christians, but he is done now, kaput, out of gas, for one simple reason. He doesn't represent the best that is our country. Not even close.

He openly, brazenly, countenanced crimes of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. He engaged in illegal surveillance, authorized the arrest of people without charge and "disappeared" them to foreign jails. And he finagled this war, which, after three years of violence, does not look to be heading toward a happy ending. And now it's up to Republicans to put their country first and call the gentleman to account.

The Current Occupant is smart about handling a political mess. The best strategy is to cut and run and change the subject. You defend the Dubai ports deal in manly terms until you lose a vote in a House committee and then you retreat - actually, you get the Dubai people to do it for you - and that's it, End of Story.

Harriet Miers was fully qualified one day and gone the next. Social Security was going to be overhauled to give us the Ownership Society, and then the stock market went in the toilet and Republicans got nervous, and suddenly it was Never Mind and on to the next new thing.

Let's bring the boys home. Otherwise, let's send this man back to Texas and see what sort of work he is capable of and let him start making a contribution to the world.

Garrison Keillor is an author and the radio host of "A Prairie Home Companion."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Graduates Versus Oligarchs

February 27, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist, Paul Krugman

Ben Bernanke's maiden Congressional testimony as chairman of the Federal Reserve was, everyone agrees, superb. He didn't put a foot wrong on monetary or fiscal policy.

But Mr. Bernanke did stumble at one point. Responding to a question from Representative Barney Frank about income inequality, he declared that "the most important factor" in rising inequality "is the rising skill premium, the increased return to education."

That's a fundamental misreading of what's happening to American society. What we're seeing isn't the rise of a fairly broad class of knowledge workers. Instead, we're seeing the rise of a narrow oligarchy: income and wealth are becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite.

I think of Mr. Bernanke's position, which one hears all the time, as the 80-20 fallacy. It's the notion that the winners in our increasingly unequal society are a fairly large group — that the 20 percent or so of American workers who have the skills to take advantage of new technology and globalization are pulling away from the 80 percent who don't have these skills.

The truth is quite different. Highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, but a college degree has hardly been a ticket to big income gains. The 2006 Economic Report of the President tells us that the real earnings of college graduates actually fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004. Over the longer stretch from 1975 to 2004 the average earnings of college graduates rose, but by less than 1 percent per year.

So who are the winners from rising inequality? It's not the top 20 percent, or even the top 10 percent. The big gains have gone to a much smaller, much richer group than that.

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per year. So being in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, like being a college graduate, wasn't a ticket to big income gains.

But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint.

Just to give you a sense of who we're talking about: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that this year the 99th percentile will correspond to an income of $402,306, and the 99.9th percentile to an income of $1,672,726. The center doesn't give a number for the 99.99th percentile, but it's probably well over $6 million a year.

Why would someone as smart and well informed as Mr. Bernanke get the nature of growing inequality wrong? Because the fallacy he fell into tends to dominate polite discussion about income trends, not because it's true, but because it's comforting. The notion that it's all about returns to education suggests that nobody is to blame for rising inequality, that it's just a case of supply and demand at work. And it also suggests that the way to mitigate inequality is to improve our educational system — and better education is a value to which just about every politician in America pays at least lip service.

The idea that we have a rising oligarchy is much more disturbing. It suggests that the growth of inequality may have as much to do with power relations as it does with market forces. Unfortunately, that's the real story.

Should we be worried about the increasingly oligarchic nature of American society? Yes, and not just because a rising economic tide has failed to lift most boats. Both history and modern experience tell us that highly unequal societies also tend to be highly corrupt. There's an arrow of causation that runs from diverging income trends to Jack Abramoff and the K Street project.

And I'm with Alan Greenspan, who — surprisingly, given his libertarian roots — has repeatedly warned that growing inequality poses a threat to "democratic society."

It may take some time before we muster the political will to counter that threat. But the first step toward doing something about inequality is to abandon the 80-20 fallacy. It's time to face up to the fact that rising inequality is driven by the giant income gains of a tiny elite, not the modest gains of college graduates.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Take a look at this picture -


February 17, 2006 | A Capitol staffer noticed that the Senate was in session at 10 a.m. Friday and that it was flying an upside down US flag - the universal symbol of distress.

No kidding. They're barely breathing.

G.O.P. to W......You're Nuts!

Let's do a test drive first.......let the U.A.E. guart the ports that surround Texas first......then if after a few years, if no terrorists make it to Dubya's ranch, maybe we'll let 'em guard NYC..

G.O.P. to W.: You're Nuts!

It's enough to make you nostalgic for those gnarly union stevedores in "On the Waterfront," the ones who hung up rats on hooks and took away Marlon Brando's chance to be a contend-ah.

Maybe it's corporate racial profiling, but I don't want foreign companies, particularly ones with links to 9/11, running American ports.

What kind of empire are we if we have to outsource our coastline to a group of sheiks who don't recognize Israel, in a country where money was laundered for the 9/11 attacks? And that let A. Q. Kahn, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, smuggle nuclear components through its port to Libya, North Korea and Iran?

It's mind-boggling that President Bush ever agreed to let an alliance of seven emirs be in charge of six of our ports. Although, as usual, Incurious George didn't even know about it until after the fact. (Neither did Rummy, even though he heads one of the agencies that green-lighted the deal.)

Same old pattern: a stupid and counterproductive national security decision is made in secret, blowing off checks and balances, and the president's out of the loop.

Was W. too busy not calling Dick Cheney to find out why he shot a guy to not be involved in a critical decision about U.S. security? What is he waiting for — a presidential daily brief warning, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack U.S. Ports?"

Our ports are already nearly naked in terms of security. Only about 5 percent of the containers coming into the country are checked. And when the White House assures us that the Homeland Security Department will oversee security at the ports, is that supposed to make us sleep better? Not after the chuckleheaded Chertoff-and-Brownie show on Capitol Hill.

"Our borders are wide open," said Jan Gadiel of 9/11 Families for a Secure America. "We don't know who's in our country right now, not a clue. And now they're giving away our ports." The "trust us" routine of W. and Dick Cheney is threadbare.

The more W. warned that he would veto legislation stopping this deal, the more lawmakers held press conferences to oppose it — even conservatives who had loyally supported W. on Iraq, the Patriot Act, torture and warrantless snooping.

Mr. Bush is hoist on his own petard. For four years, the White House has accused anyone in Congress or the press who defended civil liberties or questioned anything about the Iraq war of being soft on terrorism. Now, as Congress and the press turn that accusation back on the White House, Mr. Bush acts mystified by the orgy of xenophobia.

Lawmakers, many up for re-election, have learned well from Karl Rove. Playing the terror card works.

A bristly Bush said yesterday that scotching the deal would send "a terrible signal" to a worthy ally. He equated the "Great British" with the U.A.E. Well, maybe Britain in the 12th century.

Besides, the American people can be forgiven if they're confused about what it means in the Arab world to be a U.S. ally. Is it a nation that helps us sometimes but also addicts us to oil and then jacks up the price, refuses to recognize Israel, denies women basic rights, tolerates radical anti-American clerics, looks the other way when its citizens burn down embassies and consulates over cartoons, and often turns a blind eye when it comes to hunting down terrorists in its midst?

In our past wars, America had specific countries to demonize. But now in the "global war on terror" — GWOT, as they call it — the enemy is a faceless commodity that the administration uses whenever it wants to win a political battle. When something like this happens, it's no wonder the public does its own face transplant.

One of the real problems here is that this administration has run up such huge trade and tax-cut-and-spend budget deficits that we're in hock to the Arabs and the Chinese to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. If they just converted their bonds into cash, they would own our ports and not have to merely rent them.

Just because the wealthy foreigners who own our debt can blackmail us with their economic leverage, does that mean we should expose our security assets to them as well?

As part of the lunatic White House defense, Dan Bartlett argued that "people are trying to drive wedges and make this to be a political issue." But as the New Republic editor Peter Beinart pointed out in a recent column, W. has made the war on terror "one vast wedge issue" to divide the country.

Now, however, the president has pulled us together. We all pretty much agree: mitts off our ports.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Can We Come Home Now?

By Charlie Anderson
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Saturday 11 February 2006

My friend Doug Barber died on Martin Luther King Day. I hadn't known him long, but we had a lot in common. We both lived in the south, were both veterans of the Iraq War, both felt betrayed by our government for sending us to a war without purpose. Both of our marriages had been destroyed in the aftermath of the war, and finally, we were both struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Doug and I both fought during the invasion of Iraq. He was an army National Guardsman and I was attached to the Marines. I don’t really know how Doug’s PTSD first manifested, but I do know he had a different battle than I did. I had been back less than a month when I found myself diving for cover when the neighbors launched bottle rockets. Soon I was unable to stand any noise that sounded like gunfire. I felt profound guilt that I had come home alive when others I knew did not, and I was plagued by nightmares of the horrors I had experienced far from home.

Because I was still in the navy, I was able to refer myself to the psychiatry department at the local military hospital and was diagnosed with PTSD. After a year and a half of treatment, I was discharged from the military with disability pay. Doug was not so lucky: he was a National Guardsman and not entitled to care in the regular military system. He had to turn to the Veteran’s Administration, who determined he had a Personality Disorder. A malady which, by definition, exists before a person becomes of military age, and thus, the VA will not compensate for it or treat it. The VA thus would not acknowledge his subsequent PTSD that afflicted him in Iraq. So Doug suffered the demons of war without adequate treatment. He struggled for two years trying to make ends meet, all the while fighting with the VA for the disability benefits he had earned in the sands of Iraq. He drifted from job to job because of his temper or, as he put it, because he had been trained to kill and that was what he knew. Yet, even though our paths were different, we had yet another thing in common. After fighting so hard against the torment of life after warfare, we were both tired. We just wanted our lives back, and Doug knew, as I do, that this can never happen.

Doug and I are not alone. 30% of Iraq veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The divorce rate among Iraq Veterans is very high. Homelessness, unemployment and drug abuse are also on the rise. As Doug put it in an article written shortly before he took his own life, “All is not okay ... for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers ... will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.”

Doug and I are America’s returned veterans, her sons, left on our own to suffer after the torment of war. I still struggle through life. I often remind myself that I have to bring myself through for my daughter. I force myself to hope that even though my personal finances are in shambles, my marriage destroyed, and nearly everything I once held dear left on the rubbish heap created by this war, this torture cannot last forever. Some days I believe it; on many, I don’t.

Though some may question his actions or his motives, Doug was just one of thousands of the forgotten casualties of the Iraq War. He was killed in action long before he died. On my darkest days, I almost envy Doug, because he had the courage to end his suffering. But in reality, I know that his act was not one of courage, but one born out of the deepest despair. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraq veterans, 150,000 still in Iraq and every one of us is in harm’s way. Doug has gone to rest, but you the citizens of America cannot; you do not have that luxury. While you are tucked safe in your beds, we veterans are still out here in the cold asking, “Can we come home now?”


Charlie Anderson served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman with Marine Corps’ Second Tank Battalion during the invasion of Iraq. He is the Southeast Regional Coordinator of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney "Inadvertently" Caused Death of Man He Stabbed On Previous Hunting Trip, Says White House

Eyewitnesses: Man Ran Into Cheney's Knife

Vice President Cheney accidentally killed a man during a previous hunting trip, the White House reluctantly confirmed today. During a deer hunting expedition on a friend's eight billion dollar ranch, a man "ran into Cheney's knife" several times while Cheney was gutting and dressing a deer, wealthy Republican Party donors and eyewitnesses said.

The man who died was Willford Buchs, a Bush family accountant who "took care of the books" for the Bushes and several Bush companies, and was later appointed Director of the Texas Accounting Commission after the previous commissioner was dismissed for revealing irregularities in the accounting practices of Buchs's clients.

Buchs's death was ruled a suicide by Sen. Dr. Bill Frist, who examined Mr. Buchs by polaroid. Cheney's involvement with the death has not previously been disclosed, although it occurred a little more than a year ago. The incident was uncovered by the press after reporters discovered Buchs's mummified carcass on the ground last week and began asking questions.

Questions have arisen as to why the White House failed to report the incident to the press or the authorities for more than a year. "The Vice President's office deferred to the people who owned the knife that he borrowed for the expedition," said Candy Ricks, a spokesman for the Veep. "It really was up to them." Ricks also maintained that it was not necessary to report the incident to the authorities because the Vice President and his party were authorities, "and very powerful and influential ones, too, I might add."

Ricks denied that Mr. Cheney needed to exercise more caution during hunting trips. "Mr. Cheney is every bit as careful with hunting as he is with civil liberties, foreign policy and democracy," she said.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lack of Policies = Lack of Hope

If this isn’t an indictment against the Bush administration’s careless policies on guns, exporting jobs, educational program cuts, and an anti-abortion agenda…I don’t know what else is. Add it to dubya’s list of crimes and misdemeanors since he took office…and some of the policies, concerning gun laws contribute greatly. Gee, you’d think that logic would fly in the face of someone claiming to want to keep us all safe?

Violent Crime Rising Sharply-National-February 12, 2006

MILWAUKEE — One woman here killed a friend after they argued over a brown silk dress. A man killed a neighbor whose 10-year-old son had mistakenly used his dish soap. Two men argued over a cellphone, and pulling out their guns, the police say, killed a 13-year-old girl in the crossfire.

Violent crime is rising sharply here and in many other places across the country.
And while such crime in the 1990's was characterized by battles over gangs and drug turf, the police say the current rise in homicides has been set off by something more bewildering: petty disputes that hardly seem the stuff of fistfights, much less gunfire or stabbings.

Police Chief Nannette H. Hegerty of Milwaukee calls it "the rage thing."
"We're seeing a very angry population, and they don't go to fists anymore, they go right to guns," she said. "A police department can have an effect on drugs or gangs. But two people arguing in a home, how does the police department go in and stop that?"

Here in Milwaukee, where homicides jumped from 88 in 2004 to 122 last year, the number classified as arguments rose to 45 from 17, making up by far the largest category of killings, as gang and drug murders declined.

"When we ask, 'Why did you shoot this guy?' it's, 'He bumped into me,' 'He looked at my girl the wrong way,' " said Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson of Philadelphia. "It's not like they're riding around doing drive-by shootings. It's arguments — stupid arguments over stupid things."

While arguments have always made up a large number of homicides, the police say the trigger point now comes faster.

Nationally, the homicide rate peaked in 1991, declined steadily after 1993 and has remained essentially flat since 1999. But in the first six months of 2005, according to preliminary statistics from the F.B.I., the number of homicides nationwide rose 2.1 percent, with the greatest increase, 4.9 percent, in the Midwest.

A large part of the problem, the police say, is simply more guns on the streets as gun laws have loosened around the country. In Philadelphia, Commissioner Johnson said, since the government made it easier to get a gun permit in 1985, the number of people authorized to carry a gun in the city has risen from 700 to 32,000.

The neighborhoods with the most murders tend to be the poorest. In Milwaukee, Mallory O'Brien, an epidemiologist brought in to direct the new homicide review commission, said suspects and victims tend to have been born to teenage mothers.

Chief Corwin of Kansas City said that in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, people had explained it as a "lack of hope." "If I don't have skills, I don't have training, my socioeconomic situation looks desperate, do I really have hope?" he said.

Boston, which peaked with 151 murders in 1990, had declined to 31 in 1999.—[Thank you, Bill Clinton… insert]

"We didn't get here in a day," said Ms. O'Brien, the epidemiologist. "There's no simple solution."

Yeah, I have one. Impeach Bush and Co.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Economically, the American Empire was born in 1945.

We are and have been in a weather war, an economic war, an oil war, and physical wars. The big controllers are fighting for control of this world.

Who will win? I read an article the other day that explains the economic and oil war very well, written by Krassimir Petrov. He currently teaches Macroeconomics, International Finance, and Econometrics at the American University in Bulgaria. I found this article so interesting that I want to share part of it with you.

"Economically, the American Empire was born in 1945. The U.S. dollar was not fully convertible to gold, but was made convertible to gold only to foreign governments. This established the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. It was possible, because during WWII, the United States had supplied its allies with provisions, demanding gold as payment, thus accumulating significant portion of the world's gold."

"An Empire would not have been possible if, following the Bretton Woods arrangement, the dollar supply was kept limited and within the availability of gold, so as to fully exchange back dollars for gold. However, the guns-and-butter policy of the I960's was an imperial one: the dollar supply was relentlessly increased to finance Vietnam and LBJ's Great Society.
Most of those dollars were handed over to foreigners in exchange for economic goods, without the prospect of buying them back at the same value. The increase in dollar holdings of foreigners via persistent U.S. trade deficits was tantamount to a tax - the classical inflation tax that a country imposes on its own citizens, this time around an inflation tax that the U.S. imposed on the rest of the world."

"When in 1970-1971 foreigners demanded payment for their dollars in gold. The U.S. Government defaulted on its payment on August 15, 1971. While the popular spin told the story of severing the link between the dollar and gold, in reality the denial to pay back in gold was an act of bankruptcy by the U.S. Government. Essentially, the U.S. declared itself an Empire. It had extracted an enormous amount of economic goods from the rest of the world, with no intention or ability to return those goods, and the world was powerless to respond - the world was taxed and it could not do anything about it."

"From that point on, to sustain the American Empire and to continue to tax the rest of the world, the United States had to force the world to continue to accept ever-depreciating dollars in exchange for economic goods and to have the world hold more and more of those depreciating dollars. It had to give the world an economic reason to hold them, and the reason was OIL."

"In 1971, as it became clearer and clearer that the U.S. Government would not be able to buy back its dollars in gold, it made in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saudi in exchange for accepting "only" U.S. dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil countries, it had a reason to hold dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world's demand for dollars could only increase. Even though dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil."

"The economic essence of this arrangement was that the dollar was now backed by oil. As long as that was the case, the world had to accumulate increasing amounts of dollars, because they needed those dollars to buy oil. As long as the dollar was the only acceptable payment for oil, its dominance in the world was assured, and the American Empire could continue to tax the rest of the world."

If, for any reason, the dollar lost its oil backing, the American Empire would cease to exist. Thus, Imperial survival dictated that oil be sold only for dollars. It also dictated that oil reserves were spread around various sovereign states that weren't strong enough, politically or militarily, to demand payment for oil in something else. If someone demanded a different payment, he had to be convinced, either by political pressure or military means, to change his mind."

"The man that actually did demand EURO for his oil was Saddam Hussein in 2000. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business, political pressure was exerted to change his mind. When other countries, like Iran, wanted payment in other currencies, most notably EURO and Yen, the danger to the dollar was clear and present, and a punitive action was to order Bush's Shock and Awe in Iraq. The war was not about Saddam's nuclear capabilities, about defending human rights, about spreading democracy, or even seizing oil fields: it was about defending the dollar, the American Empire. It was about setting an example that anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. dollars would likewise be punished."

"Many have criticized Bush for staging the war in Iraq in order to seize Iraqi oil fields. However, those critics can't explain why Bush would want to seize those fields - he could simply print dollars for nothing and use them to get all the oil in the world that he needs. He must have had some other reason to invade Iraq. Bush must have went into Iraq to defend his
Empire. Indeed, this is the case: two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the oil for food program was terminated, the Iraq EURO accounts were switched back to dollars, and oil was sold once again only for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with EUROs. Global dollar supremacy was once again restored. Bush descended victoriously from a
fighter jet and declared the mission accomplished - he had successfully defended the U.S. dollar, and thus the American Empire."

"Now we have the Iranian Oil Bourse. The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate 'nuclear' weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. It will be based on a EURO-oil-trading mechanism that naturally implies payment for oil in EURO.
In economics terms, this represents a much greater threat to the hegemony of the dollar than Saddam's because it will allow anyone willing either to buy or sell oil for EURO to transact on the exchange, thus circumventing the
U.S. dollar altogether. If so, then it is likely that almost everyone will eagerly adopt this EURO oil system."

"The Europeans will not have to buy and hold dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currencies. This will benefit the European at the expense of the Americans."

"The Chinese and the Japanese will be especially eager to adopt the new exchange, because it will allow them to drastically lower their enormous dollar reserves and diversify with EUROs, thus protecting themselves against the depreciation of the dollar."

"The Russians have inherent economic interest in adopting the EURO - the bulk of their trade is with European countries, with oil-exporting countries, with China, and with Japan. The Russians seemingly detest holding depreciating dollars, for they have recently found a new religion with gold. Russians have also revived their nationalism, and if embracing the EURO
will stab the Americans, they will gladly do it and smugly watch the Americans bleed."

"The Arab oil-exporting countries will eagerly adopt the EURO as a means of diversifying against rising mountains of depreciating dollar. Just like the Russians, their trade is mostly with European countries, and therefore will prefer the European currency both for its stability and for avoiding currency risk, not to mention their jihad against the Infidel Enemy."

That really says a mouthful. Iran is backed by Russia and China. It looks like the world is turning against the U.S. dollar and moving toward the EURO. This means the United States is in crisis. What can we do about that? Hopefully, we can get through this crisis without blowing ourselves up.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This about sums up our national budget.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who's Hormonal: Hillary or Dick?

February 8, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

By Maureen Dowd

The Republicans succeed because they keep it simple, ruthless and mythic.

In 2000 and 2004, G.O.P. gunslingers played into the Western myth and mined images of manliness, feminizing Al Gore as a Beta Tree-Hugger, John Kerry as a Waffling War Wimp With a Hectoring Wife and John Edwards as his true bride, the Breck Girl.

Now, in the distaff version of Swift-boating, they are casting Hillary Clinton as an Angry Woman, a she-monster melding images of Medea, the Furies, harpies, a knife-wielding Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" and a snarling Scarlett Johansson in "Match Point." (How many pregnant mistresses does Woody Allen have to kill off in movies before he feels he's reversed Dostoyevsky and proved that if the crime is worth it, there should be no punishment?)

Republicans think that men who already have nagging, bitter women in their lives will not want for president the sort of woman who gave W. a dyspeptic smile or eye-rolling appraisal during State of the Union addresses.

In "Commander in Chief," writers were careful to make Geena Davis's chief executive calm and controlled under pressure — even when her rival, played by Donald Sutherland, made an insulting menopause crack.

The hit on Hillary may seem crude and transparent. But in the void created by dormant Democrats, crouching in what Barack Obama calls "a reactive posture," crude and transparent ploys work for the Republicans. Just look at how far the Bushies' sulfurous scaremongering on terror, and cynical linkage of Saddam and Osama, have gotten them.

The gambit handcuffs Hillary: If she doesn't speak out strongly against President Bush, she's timid and girlie. If she does, she's a witch and a shrew. That plays particularly well in the South, where it would be hard for an uppity Hillary to capture many more Bubbas than the one she already has.

It's the riddle of the Sphinx that has been floating around since the selection of Geraldine Ferraro. Betty Friedan worried then that a woman seen as a threat to men would not get to the White House. But how can a woman who's not a threat to men get there?

The G.O.P. honcho Ken Mehlman kicked off the misogynistic attack on George Stephanopoulos's Sunday show. "I don't think the American people, if you look historically, elect angry candidates," he said. Referring to Hillary's recent taunts about Republicans, he added, "Whether it's the comments about the plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger."

Hillary did not sound angry when she made those comments — she's learned since her tea-and-cookies outburst in the '92 campaign. A man who wants to undermine a woman's arguments can ignore the substance and simply dismiss her as unstable and shrill. It's a hoary tactic: women are more mercurial than men; they get depressed more often and pop pills more often. As a top psychiatrist once told me, women are "hormonally more complicated and biologically more vulnerable."

But as the G.O.P. tars Hillary as hysterical, it is important to note that women are affected by lunar tides only once a month, while Dick Cheney has rampaging hormones every day.

Republicans have also labeled men hysterical (from the Greek for "womb"). Howard Dean was skewered on the Scream. And when John McCain was soaring in the 2000 primaries, Bush supporters viciously whispered that his fits of temper signaled that he had come back from Vietnam with snakes in his head.

Senator McCain went over the top again this week in a letter to Senator Obama. Although Mr. McCain tried to cast his "I'm the reformer — you back off, new guy" letter as "straight talk" after an Obama dis, it was snide and bitchy, more like an angry missive of a spurned lover to an ex-boyfriend than a note from a respected senior senator to a respected junior one.

Mr. McCain could take a lesson from Condi Rice, who gets hyperarticulate and bristly when she's mad, but not bitchy. Or Oprah, whose anger at James Frey had a Mosaic dignity.

Hillary's problem isn't that she's angry. It's that she's not angry enough. From Iraq to Katrina and the assault on the Constitution, from Schiavo to Alito and N.S.A. snooping to Congressional corruption, Hillary has failed to lead in voicing outrage. She's been too busy triangulating and calculating to be good at articulating.

The Republicans can't marginalize Hillary. She has already marginalized herself.

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Open Letter to Bubba

by Charlie Anderson

I’ve seen you around. I’ve seen you driving your gas guzzling SUV with the “Support Our Troops” ribbon on the back. I’ve seen you wearing your pro-war/pro-bush t-shirts as you walk right past me in my Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt as if I don’t exist. And I’ve seen you at anti-war rallies and meetings where I often speak, as you wave your American flag and call me a traitor. In this country we have freedom of speech. But you owe me and every other veteran of this war the respect of listening to our experience.

Your magnet says “support our troops,” but what have you done for us? Not a penny of the proceeds go to us, instead they go to sweatshops in China. You say that I am not supporting the troops when I say that they should come home. But I am, because I know that there was no threat to our nation from Saddam Hussein, I know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and I know that we were not welcomed in Iraq as liberators. I know that the Iraq war was not worth fighting. I know, because I fought there. You say I’m confused. But what do you know about Iraq? You’ve never been there.

You have the audacity to claim that by not supporting the president, I don’t support the troops. Yet, the president chose to send over 160,000 of us to Iraq unprepared and without a defined mission. We had no body armor, no vehicle armor, and poor supplies of ammunition. Our families spent thousands of dollars that they did not have to supply us, while President Bush did nothing. In fact he didn’t even scold his Offensive Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, when he told our forward deployed troops, “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.” Moreover, the mission was originally about weapons of mass destruction, but there were none. Then it was making Iraq a democracy, but yet the “insurgency” worsens. Now the president has decided that in order to honor those who died for nothing, more must die for nothing.

At present, 2,241 of my brothers and sisters in arms have died. In some way, they may be the lucky ones. Over sixteen thousand others have been wounded in this war, thousands more than planned. The term wounded sounds sterile, bland, and inoffensive. But, in reality, many of them have been so horribly damaged that medical science had to create a new word to describe their wounds: polytrauma. These people would have died in earlier wars, but because of the gallant efforts of brave doctors and medics, they get to live. They get to live with teams of ten or more doctors just trying to get their broken, mangled bodies through another day, as their families look on in horror. They get to live in a physical and emotional hell, not able to recover and not able to voice the pain they feel or the psychological demons they face. All the while suffering with a Veterans Administration under funded by nearly three billion dollars and unable to care for them in the manner they deserve.

So which one of us supports the troops? You, who has never set foot in Iraq and wants to leave my brothers and sisters there until they complete whatever the undefined mission of the week is, or me, the veteran of this war who has seen the carnage of battle, the rampant indifference of my countrymen, and just wants to bring my brothers and sisters home alive and care for them when they get here?

Keep coming to the rallies. Maybe I’ll get through your thick skull eventually. But remember I waved my flag in Baghdad, so you can sit down, shut up, and listen to me.

Charlie Anderson served in Iraq with the Marine Corps’ Second Tank Battalion. He is the Southeast Regional Coordinator of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Here is how George Orwell defines a term he invented - Doublethink - in his book 1984 -
the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

So, I want to show you how good the Republicans are at this.

Look at this political cartoon from Denmark -


The Republicans are howling at the Muslims saying basically, to chill out. There is such a thing as freedom on speech in Denmark, they say, and so the cartoonist is free to say anything he wants, regardless of who he offends. To be fair, a good deal of Democrats are saying the same thing. But that's not the point. To get to the point, look at this second political cartoon -


These same Republicans who are condemning the Muslims for being upset about the Danish cartoons are screaming about how this cartoon is degrading to our troops. It's offensive, they say.


So offensive political cartoons are okay as long as it's someone else who is offended. If it offends me then it's wrong.

I sometimes wonder how Republican's heads don't explode like those Fembots in Austin Powers. Trying to hold all these contradictory thoughts in their head must take an amazing amount of will power.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The 'sorry-ass" State of the Union

The State of the Union
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 31 January 2006

i knew that i was dying.
something in me said, go ahead, die, sleep, become
them, accept.
then something else in me said, no, save the tiniest
it needn't be much, just a spark.
a spark can set a whole forest on
just a spark.
save it.

- Charles Bukowski

"He shall from time to time," reads the Constitution, "give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." And so it shall be. George W. Bush will be speaking tonight from the podium in the House of Representatives. Before him will be arrayed Senators, Representatives, generals and judges. The balconies will be filled with observers, luminaries, reporters and a few so-called "special guests" whose presence will be used to reinforce some argument or another.

It shall be quite a thing to see, a show worth watching if only to observe exactly how many lies, distortions, threats, taunts and smirks can be crammed into a single speech. This will be Mr. Bush speaking, after all, and the truth is not in him. It will be in every pertinent sense a mere commercial, a television advertisement from a failing company, a whitewashing of ugly truths by a staggering CEO whose sole desire is to keep the stockholders in line for another quarter.

In the interests of truth, the actual state of this union deserves to be displayed for all to see. This is the deal. This is how it is.

The Real Economy

Since 2000, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen to nearly 37 million. More than 13 million of these are children. More than one in four American families with children make less than $30,000 a year. Look within that number and you will find 46% of African American families with children and 44% of Hispanic families with children fall below this mark. Average annual income for Americans fell once again in 2005. 46 million Americans live without health insurance.

The response to this? Vice President Cheney, three days before Christmas, cast the tie-breaking vote on a spending reduction bill that will fall most heavily on the poor, the infirm and the elderly. Funding for health care, child support, and education subsidies for low-income families has been gutted. Medicaid benefits for the poor were cut by $7 billion, and Medicare programs for the elderly were cut by $6.4 billion. Federal student-loan programs were cut by $12.7 billion.

On the very same day, the Senate passed legislation that drastically cut funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The Head Start program was hit especially hard: the cuts here eliminate some 25,000 slots for low-income children. All in all, these spending reductions are expected to save $40 billion.

Meanwhile, recently-passed tax cuts ravage the budget far more deeply than these drastic budget cuts. Two tax cuts in particular that went into effect on New Year's Day will cost $27 billion, more than half of what the spending reductions are supposed to save. These cuts will cost more than $150 billion over the next ten years. 97% of the money from these cuts will go to households making more than $200,000 a year. Households with incomes under $100,000 will get 0.1% of these cuts.

If all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts are stopped or allowed to expire, $750 billion will be added to the federal budget. That is more than enough to pay for the programs that have been eviscerated. It won't happen, not with the priorities of this administration, but that is the simple math of the matter.

New Orleans Drowned in a Bathtub

The first weeks of September brought to all Americans a devastating tragedy. The city of New Orleans was all but obliterated by Hurricane Katrina when levies meant to hold back the waters failed. The failure of these levies came, in no small part, because of unprecedented budget cuts for the Army Corps of Engineers, which was tasked to keep the levies viable.

The tragedy was compounded by the utterly incompetent management of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its head, Michael Brown, whose experience with disaster management came while he was serving as an attorney for owners of Arabian horses. In the weeks to follow, lavish promises were made by Mr. Bush. "We will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives," he said on September 15th.

Those promises have been broken. We have gone from oaths to revive this cherished city to this: "I want to remind people in that part of the world, $85 billion is a lot," said Bush on January 26th. Hundreds of thousands of Americans remain displaced, many holding on by the skin of their teeth in cramped trailers. Thirty million cubic yards of debris remain uncollected - the Washington Post estimated over the weekend that this was "enough to build a five-sided column more than 50 stories tall over the Pentagon." There is not even a plan in place to begin to attack the problem. The Bush administration has left New Orleans to rot, and the next hurricane season is four months away.

Mark Folse, a New Orleans native, operates a blog called "Wet Bank Guide." On Monday, Mr. Folse posted a message for Mr. Bush. "I've never lost the deepest allegiance I've ever held: to my city," wrote Folse. "We have always known we were a people different and unique, as divided as we may seem. That sense of identity as a New Orleanian is the powerful bond that draws me on. It is the deep love of country that drives me - of my country, New Orleans and southern Louisiana. It is the irrational emotional attachment to my piece of America that leads men and women to go willingly up Bunker Hill, to follow General Pickett, to volunteer for Iraq."

"A life of assured privilege has protected you from having to take these sorts of risks," continued Folse, "to find the strength to get up and go into the maw of uncertainty, to risk and gamble your own and not other peoples' lives or money. You can pledge allegiance or sing the anthem or give a stirring speech as well as any, but you know you have no allegiance except self-interest."

"If nothing moves you except your own self-interest," concluded Folse, "then consider this. There are hundreds of thousands of us, scattered throughout most of the United States. We are everywhere you and your party will go to campaign: Arkansas and Atlanta and Austin, Dallas and Detroit and Denver, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Baltimore and Boston, Chicago and Charlotte. Many will remain there indefinitely, unable to go home, precisely because you have lied to them and betrayed them. We will not let you escape from the net of lies you have woven. Wherever you turn, you will find us, ready to call you out."

The situation in New Orleans is a problem that will not go away. Men like Mark Folse will make absolutely sure of that.

"Scandal" Is Too Small a Word

The Abramoff scandal directly touches some sixty Republican congresspeople, according to campaign finance records that show where the disgraced lobbyist sent his money. Mr. Bush recently promoted the lead investigator in this case, effectively removing him from the investigation. Despite this, the hard look into Mr. Abramoff's dealings continue. Mr. Abramoff's plea deal has a lot of people in Washington suffering from flop-sweat.

Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of a deep-cover CIA agent by administration officials continues apace, and has already cashiered Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby. According to t r u t h o u t investigative reporter Jason Leopold, Fitzgerald has "spent the past month preparing evidence he will present to a grand jury alleging that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove knowingly made false statements to FBI and Justice Department investigators and lied under oath while he was being questioned about his role in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity more than two years ago, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe."

None of this will be mentioned in the State of the Union speech tonight. The Bush administration continues to stonewall these investigations with all its might - Mr. Bush has denied ever knowing Jack Abramoff, despite the existence of several pictures showing them glad-handing each other in the White House - and the Republican-controlled congress will certainly do nothing to advance the questions being asked.

In contrast, a portion of the speech will certainly be dedicated to moralistic sloganeering about values. Remember, as high-flown words about truth and justice are spoken, what the Abramoff and Plame scandals represent: a government run by thieves, stroked by swindlers, and staffed by assassins who sing of defending the nation even as they cast us down into greater danger.

And, by the way, the Enron trial started on Monday.

The Middle East

2,242 American soldiers have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands more are grievously wounded. Tens and tens of thousands of civilians are dead or maimed. Scores more simmer in rage and pick up weapons to attack American forces. American soldiers wishing to go around the Pentagon to augment their meager armor have been threatened with the revocation of death benefits for their families. A coalition of fundamentalist Shiite groups has taken over the government, the two main parts of which are notorious terrorist organizations with umbilical ties to Iran. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent to do this. There is no end in sight.

Three years ago, in another State of the Union address, Mr. Bush told the nation that Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons (which is 1,000,000 pounds) of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, mobile biological weapons labs, al Qaeda connections, and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bush will have to work very hard tonight to tell a lie as vast, dramatic and bloody as this.

The Unitary Executive Tapping Your Phone

Mr. Bush and friends have been jumping through flaming hoops to justify the blatantly illegal policy of spying on Americans by way of the National Security Agency. Their tortured arguments in favor of this action, and their flat-footed declaration that the policy will continue, makes confetti of the Fourth Amendment.

More than that, however, it moves this nation one step closer to having an Executive Branch that supersedes all others in power and scope. Not only will Mr. Bush spy on whomever he pleases, but he will also torture whomever he pleases. Put simply, the constitutionally-required separation of powers, the checks and balances that have maintained the stability of this republic, is being destroyed. This will echo down the corridors of our history long after Mr. Bush has left his office.

The Reign of Witches

The state of this union is not good. We are poorer, frightened, faced with the swelling ranks of enemies our leaders have created, and hell-bent to do away with the most precious aspects of our system of government. We are surveilled, propagandized, intimidated. We empower the radicals and disenfranchise the common good. We are fed swill via the television and thus convinced that what they tell us is what we already believe. We are bought, and we are paid for.

The radicals running this country have long desired to destroy the government's ability to govern - they found things like taxes intrusive, which is amusing when one hears them now defending warrantless spying on Americans - and they are well along the path towards success. The budget is destroyed, spent on tax cuts and the Iraq occupation, while millions of Americans suffer the loss of necessary services. The one percent of the one percent is making a killing, and the rest of us are left behind.

If there is hope to be found in all this, it is in the words of Thomas Jefferson, written 208 years ago after the passage of the Sedition Act.

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Can You Imagine George Bush by Another Name?

Here is an excellent article by Beth Quinn.
If any of our conservative brethren wonder by here and read this I want you to answer honestly, if that is at all possible for you.

There is a courtroom scene in the movie "A Time to Kill" that comes to mind when I hear Bush fans blindly defend their president.

The movie is about the black father of a little girl who is raped, beaten and thrown off a bridge by two white men in Mississippi. Knowing that justice won't be served for a black child, her father kills her attackers and goes on trial for murder.

The scene that comes to mind these crazy days is this:

The defense attorney knows this heartbroken father is facing an all-white jury. And this jury will be incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of a black man.

So the lawyer asks them to close their eyes as he describes in excruciating detail the attack the little girl endured. "Can you see it?" he asks. "Can you see her being tortured?" And then he tells them: "Now imagine she was white."

It is a similar use of imagination that I would ask the blind faithful in Bush's camp to try.

Please, just close your eyes for a moment as I catalog the abuses George Bush has committed against our country. And then imagine he is Bill Clinton, a man you're predisposed to hate - and tell me you would still defend those actions.

When you consider that George Bush declared war in Iraq based on a lie, close your eyes and imagine it was Bill Clinton who had told that lie. Keep your eyes closed and picture it. In fairness and honesty, would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush has been secretly and illegally spying on Americans, close your eyes and concentrate. Picture how you would react if it were Clinton wiretapping our phones. Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush partied for days at his Texas ranch while New Orleans was dying, close your eyes and picture Clinton partying on Martha's Vineyard. Can you see it? Can you imagine Clinton ignoring the plight of thousands of homeless and dying? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush continues to promote the lie that "we do not torture" even as he declares the right to violate McCain's amendment barring torture, squeeze your eyes tight and picture it. Can you see Clinton defying the Geneva Convention and Congress? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush has paid journalists to promote his propaganda, close your eyes and imagine Clinton buying off the Fourth Estate. Would you like that? Would you defend him?

When you consider that George Bush continues to send our young men and women into danger in Iraq without protective armor, then hides their coffins from the cameras when they are sent home dead, close your eyes and imagine Clinton doing such a thing. Is this a good thing? Would you defend him?

In the movie, the jurors' collective eyes pop open when the defense lawyer asks them to imagine the little victim was white. It's clear they have seen the light and justice will be done.

In real life, blind allegiance is no better than blind hatred. Both spring from fear and ignorance. It would be gratifying if the Bush defenders were to open their own eyes to see this president for what he really is.

George Bush, by any name, is nothing more than a power-mad liar.

There are 1,091 days 'til Inauguration 2009.