If the truth makes you sick, take an anti-nausea medication before you dare read this!

Sunday, September 9

Smells like Victory

What does victory smell like?

This week, we are going to hear that victory smells an awful lot like
dog poo.

More than four years into a conflict initially thought to be a cakewalk, the war has become a battle of statistics, graphs and conflicting assessments of progress in a country of more than 27 million people.

Four and one-half years into the Iraq war, and we still have no idea what Victory will smell like. It used to be that we would stand down when the Iraqis stood up, but even that vague, meaningless definition has been disgarded as too optimistic.

After all of this time, we should not say that 'victory' can be measured by arcane statistical analysis. The trusim is, there are 3 kids of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. This is the Enronisation of Victory: pie charts and impressive graphs, drawn up by accountants who cleverly hide the truth.

Meantime, in Afghanistan/Pakistan, what should be the real Central Front in the War Against Terror [sic], NATO, which is fighting against the enemy who attacked the US so the US can be tied down in Iraq, is
begging for more troops. Now, I'm no military genius, but does 'Victory' require still more troops, or is victory still an elusive goal in our 1st war?

Why, in the 2 wars we are currently fighting, does Victory so closely resemble defeat? Days ago, bin Laden once again rubbed our noses in victory. Granted, the American Revolution looked like defeat for many years, but here we are the foreign troops fighting on their home soil, and I doubt the French are going to show up at any minute to save our a$$es this time.

We are almost at the 6 year anniversary of the beginning of the 1st of our current wars; am I alone in wishing that, in at least one of them, victory might smell like those flowers our troops never got to smell in Baghdad?

Friday, June 15

No Amnesty for Tax Cheats!

What galls me the most is that these morons in Congress and that moron W want to give illegals who have evaded tax laws special immunity from prosecutiion.

If I did not pay taxes for years, used forged documents and someone else's social security number, I would go to jail, they would put a tax lien on my house and bank account, and make my life a living hell.

But, W hates taxes--unless owed by an American citizen--so much that he got the
back-tax and penalty provision pulled from the bill:

The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.

A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes.

That is an absolute travesty, and any American citizen or legal resident who has dutifully paid taxes over their lifetime, knowing that they would suffer harsh penalties if they did not do so, should be appalled that these tax cheats are being given blanket amnesty, and would not have to pay the same price as you or I if we had done the same thing.

How could any American taxpayer support having less legal protection than illegal immigrants?

Shame on you, W, and shame on every Congressman/woman who voted for this amnesty bill!

Saturday, March 10

Happy Birthday, bin Laden

Today Osama bin Laden turns 50.

6½ years after attacking America on 9/11, he remains free and unpunished for his actions.

It is 3 months since Saddamn--who never atacked America--was killed by a Shi'ite lynch mob, after the Americans handed him over to them. Almost 3200 soldiers have died in the effort to bring him to justice for killing some of his Iraqi subjects.

As far as holding terrorists accountable for their actions, the Bushites have been less successful. It appears the trial of Jose Padilla is in doubt, because the Bushites have
lost his interrogation tapes. Maybe they wrapped them up and sent them to bin Laden for his birthday. So far, W has not put one single al Qaeda member on trial for 9/11, and has allowed bin Laden to live in Pakistan or elsewhere for all of these years, while they pursued Saddamn ruthlessly.

Bin Laden has received from W what our Founding Fathers sought for all Americans: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness [in the form of jihad]. Those are the most precious gifts a man can receive, and bin Laden is undoubtedly grateful that he has received these from Bush.

Bin Laden, I wish you were dead, or celebrating your birthday in an American Supermax. But, since you are not, courtesy of the Bush Administration's crazy priorities, enjoy your birthday.

P.S. Does W get a slice of cake?

Thursday, February 15

Why should we be angry at Iran

I touched on this topic last night, but it deserves its own discussion.

Does it really matter if Iran is providing weapons to our enemies?

In this case, Iran's biggest crime, maybe, is that they might have done what the US has done for generations: armed their enemies. In 1914-1917, the US armed Britain/France/Russia against Germany. When Germany did what W says he will do to Iran for doing what we did to Germany and started sinking American ships supplying arms to Britain, we got really, really pissed.

In 1939-41, we again armed Britain/France/Russia, but the Germans did not take any action to stop us, and only took any action against the US when the US justifiably declared war on Germany's ally, Japan.

The closest example I can think of is the US armed Afghanis after the Soviet Invasion, just like Iran is accused--without any evidence, mind you--of doing in Iraq. Should the USSR have attacked the US for supplying stingers to the Afghani mujahadin?

If the US had followed the new Bush War Escalation Principle, in Korea the US would also have fought Russia; during Vietnam, we would have invaded Laos, Cambodia, China and Russia, and probably Czechosolvakia, Rumania and Bulgaria, among others. In the American Revolution, France and the US would have fought the first World War, against German and Britain. The Civil War would have seen the US fight Britain for supplying arms to the Confederacy.

What we are seeing here is a new, ultra-aggressive strategy being toyed with by W. If he, in fact, does use Iranian arms shipments to justify any war against Iran, then he will set a precedent: virtually every war will be a world war, with the arms suppliers being also drawn in as participants.

Of course, the biggest loser will be the USA. America is by far the world's largest arms exporter, providing more weapons around the world than the next 3 largest combined. Thus, in virtually every two-bit war in the world, the enemy would include all arms suppliers, including the US. This would justify terrorist attacks on the US, because most nations cannot afford a conventional war with the US, and do not have the logistical capability to actually attack us.

This is a dangerous precedent that W appears to be toying with, but so far, no one seems to be questining the underlying assumption that supplying arms is not an act of war, but is business as usual by many nations, most notably the USA.

Sunday, January 14

The Iraq War is Illegal

Does W have the authority under the US Constitution to increase troops in Iraq?

The short answer: No.

First, this is not a war. Under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war, and none has been so declared.

W invaded Iraq under the pretext of the Joint Resolution entitled "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq". The use of the US military was authorised only under 2 scenarios:

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--
(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Now, neither of these ever existed. Certainly, no one can reasonably argue that they currently exist.

Therefore, at this time, W does not have any Congressional authority to have troops in combat Iraq, as far as I can tell.

The War Powers Act allows a president to use the US military in combat without a Constitutional declaration of war; however, the President is required to follow certain procedures:

Sec. 4. (a)
In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.
Sec. 4. (b)
The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.
Sec. 4. (c)
Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into any situation described in subsection (a) of this section, the President shall, so long as such armed forces continue to be engaged in such hostilities or situation, report to the Congress periodically on the status of such hostilities or situation as well as on the scope and duration of such hostilities or situation, but in no event shall he report to the Congress less often than once every six months. [emphasis OZ]
W has not reported to Congress on the US military in Iraq in 11 months.
What happens after this 6-months report?
SEC. 5. (b)
Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

Furthermore, W has called the legally-required timetable , and has expressly refused to comply with the legal requirement that he make a timetable for the use of the troops.

But Mr. Bush was emphatic in stating that the decision on troop levels will be made by American commanders and "not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington," reports CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller.

Therefore, W has no authority under the Constitution for troops to be in Iraq, he has failed to comply with the specific requirements of the War Powers Act, and is currently illegally sending 21,000 more troops to Iraq, and is currently waging an illegal war in Iraq.

Monday, January 1

Why Subsidise Stupidity?

Congress hardly did anything for the last 2 years, other than accept bribes.

And, clearly, bribes are probably the only explanation to one of the very few things they did do last year: they further undermined the Free Enterprise system and, at the same time, subsidised folly and stupidity.

Here's how it works:

During the Reagan era, Congress decided that it could save money, lives and the environment by doing something simple: letting the free market discourage people from building homes and businesses in areas that would likely be wiped out by hurricanes. So, they passed a law that Reagan signed that said that the government could not subsidize building on future disaster areas by building roads, providing flood insurance, etc.

It is hardly a new idea. Ancient Myans knew not to build on the Mexican coast, and built their cities instead miles inland.

But, the last Congress was distinguished only by their corruption and stupidity, which [along with their laziness] is how they will be remembered. And, they combined the dumbest elements of all of their major focuses--destroying the environment, spending tax dollars to make their campaign contributors rich, and lining their own pockets--and decided that there are flood zones that just must be developed with taxpayer subsidies:

"The underlying principle is that every time COBRA runs up against individual interests, it's always COBRA that loses," said Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "These are clearly areas where there's a lot of development pressure and COBRA's having an impact in denying that."

Despite anecdotes that private flood insurance is unavailable, industry officials say it is for sale, just without the government subsidies.

It's those subsidies that have put the federal system in need of a taxpayer bailout. The program owes the Treasury $20 billion. It takes in just $2 billion a year in premiums. More than a third of that — nearly $720 million a year — is now eaten up by interest on the debt.

Congress has wrestled with reforming the system by raising premiums and placing new requirements on homeowners. But lawmakers adjourned again this year without acting.
Instead, in the two COBRA bills that were passed, they added hundreds of high-risk properties and paved the way for new construction on vulnerable land.

And, the evidence stronly indicates this was based upon bribes, from the way they cherry-picked the taxpayer-funded future disaster areas:

One of the bills benefited Jekyll Island, a vacation spot off Georgia's coast that is poised for redevelopment, while the other helped a mostly undeveloped 10-lot subdivision on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Critics question whether "middle-class" homeowners are in jeopardy. For example, one Memphis, Tenn., family that owns three of the vacant lots covered by the Grayton Beach bill also owns millions of dollars in nearby property. As for Turner, besides her house she and her husband own a vacant lot about a half mile away valued at $675,000 by the county tax office.
Home prices on Jekyll Island, meanwhile, are increasingly approaching $1 million.
"In the galaxy of federal subsidies, I don't think there's one that is so pointedly subsidizing wealthy people," Houck said. "What happened to getting the government out of the hair of the private economy and letting the market work?"

Source: AP

Sunday, October 29

The Opportunity Cost of Iraq

This is all about priorities and judgment.

The right has pooh-poohed spending any money to fight Global Warming. They succeeded admirably in turning this issue into a political issue, skillfully using junk science from Big Oil- and OPEC-funded reports to cast doubt upon the reality of Global Warming for years.

'The research is unclear,' they told us. 'More research is needed!' was the rallying cry.

So, they researched while the earth warmed.

In the meantime, the right also turned Iraq into a political issue. W claimed that Iraq was a threat to the very existence of the US, and that we could not waste time doing additional research. We had to act now, he told us in March of 2003. So, he pulled out the UN inspectors and sent in the troops.

Iraq turned out to be no threat to anyone, let alone to the US. At a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars [and mounting at perhaps a billion dollars a day--with no end in sight because W refuses to consider timetables].

Yet, the real threat of Global Warming continues to grow, with no action by the same Bush Maladministration.

What is the real threat, the one W ignored?

The report by chief British government economist Nicholas Stern, a 27-page summary of which was obtained by Reuters, says the benefits of determined worldwide steps to tackle climate change would greatly outweigh the costs.
The 700-page report, to be published on Monday, said that no matter what we do now the chance "is already almost out of reach" to keep greenhouse gases at a level which scientists say should avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Hmmm. W has always said that cost-effectiveness should be considered in Federal decisions. No one has ever come up with any cost-effective benefit to the US that will be seen from invading Iraq. Yet, on the other hand, the benefit to the US in fighting Global Warming would be cost-effective.

Consider: if rising ocean waters do occur, major cities like New York, Miami, New Orleans, Washington and Boston could closely resemble Atlantis if we continue the Bushite policies.

"The evidence gathered by the review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs,"

The report estimates stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cost about 1 percent of annual global output by 2050. But if the world does nothing, it could cut global consumption per person by between five and 20 percent.
Stern called for a coordinated international approach to combat climate change, saying the effort must be shared fairly by rich and poor. He suggested rich nations take responsibility for emissions cuts of 60-80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
Countering global warming would bring new opportunities to industry, he said, estimating the market for low-carbon energy products could be worth at least $500 billion a year by 2050.

In 2000, I pointed out that the US had a choice: be the leader in clean energy technology, boosting our corporations' profits, or we could be the followers, letting other nations reap the results. Now, the leading green technology corporations are mostly European, perhaps forever closing the door of opportunity to American businesses. Instead of reaping the financial windfall, we may substitute sending our money to the House of Saud to green technology companies like Denmark's Vestas.

In business schools like W attended, that is referred to as
opportunity cost.

The opportunity cost in spending hundreds of billions of dollars on invading Iraq is that those hundreds of billions could not be spent on stopping a real threat to America.