Category Archives: George Bush

Who lost Iraq?

Who lost Iraq? Two views:

Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.

The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.

Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2)  Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .

Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .

Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.

So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.

 

Oh damn them damn them and damn them again

When (perhaps ‘if’ but I’m not hopeful) Iraq dissolves and brings eastern Syria and Kurdistan with it and the region falls into a few more decades of war, I will remember Paul Wolfowitz assuring the Senate before our 2003 invasion that ‘there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq’. Really, he said that. In a neighborhood where sectarian war has been the norm for  a thousand years. He said that.

Damn them all.

And now a post in which I agree with George W. Bush’s White House

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

So who’s speaking out this time (except mistermix at Balloon Juice)? Atrios notes that the trip explains why McCain was mysteriously absent from all four Sunday morning shows.

It’s not like she’s Fox & Friends! She’s Peggy Noonan, my dears, Peggy Noonan

Charles Pierce at Esquire tells us today that Wall Street Journal columnist and TV pundit, Peggy of the Noonans, thinks Obama was rude to Dubayew Thursday down at that library opening. She scolds:

He veered into current policy disputes, using Mr. Bush’s failed comprehensive immigration reform to buttress his own effort. That was manipulative, graceless and typical.

Here’s what the fake President said, what Noonan described as ‘graceless’:

Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home – for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love. And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.

And there was this:

Back to the point. What was nice was that all of them-the Bush family, the Carters and Clintons-seemed like the old days. “The way we were.” They were full of endurance, stamina, effort. Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they weren’t . . . creepy.

PIERCE: Back when the Clintons actually were in the White House, Peggy Noonan called the First Lady at the time, among other things, “a highly credentialed rube,” a “person who never ponders what is right,” and “a squat and grasping woman.” But not creepy, not like the current First Family.

(Psst, Peg doesn’t like the Kenyan much. And as she’s speaking here in family plurals – FLOTUS and the daughters? Also creepy. )

An astonishing statement from a sitting Justice

Again, from Jeffrey Toobin’s latest SCOTUS book:

By the time Sandra Day O’Connor was leaving the court in July of 2005, she had already let it be known that she regretted her vote in Bush v. Gore. (A Goldwater Republican from Arizona, O’Connor – as most of us know – was often the ‘swing’ vote on the Court, and it was in that case.)

By ’05, she considered the Bush presidency to have been a disaster. On one of her last days at the Court, in conversation with Justice Souter (a Republican appointee who usually voted with the liberals), she said:

“What makes this harder is that it’s my party that is destroying the Country.

I thought Republicans were for a strong military and a balanced budget . . . Bush repudiated all of that.”

Whoops, how could I have forgotten this one?

In previous posts on this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I failed to mention the Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle. He called early, often and urgently for us to send our young people to die in Iraq. By the time Bush got into office, Perle  was on the official Iraq War Marketing Team. On The Dish, Andrew Sullivan reminded us and quotes Pearle in an interview ten years on:

Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?

Perle: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done with the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.

s-PERLE-largePerle was an early member of PNAC  calling for a ‘new American Century” and the removal of Saddam.

From David Corn in Mother Jones:

Perle began calling for war in Iraq nanoseconds after September 11. He told CNN, “Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden. That can be documented.” In 2002, he suggested a war against Iraq would be a cakewalk: “It isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either.” He asserted Saddam was “working feverishly to acquire nuclear weapons.” He claimed the post-invasion reconstruction in Iraq would be self-financing. He got everything wrong.

And still he said: “You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.”

Maybe he can’t. We can.

By the way, Sullivan himself was an early and ardent supporter of the Iraq invasion. He’s been tripping all over himself in the last recent years saying he was wrong and apologizing for that. But my oh my how he did once love that war. He proved it by damning – over and over again in strong language – those who would dare oppose the war likening such opposition to anti-Semitism and calls for American defeat. He wasn’t just wrong – as he admits – he nearly called the left traitors.

And like many at the time – and right up to today – he claimed that opposing the war was equivalent to morally condoning Saddam’s record of human right abuses.

This lazy form of moral equivalence is not rare among the radical left in this country. But it is based on a profound moral abdication: the refusal to see that a Stalinist dictatorship that murders its own civilians, that sends its troops into battle with a gun pointed at their heads, that executes POWs, that stores and harbors chemical weapons, that defies 12 years of U.N. disarmament demands, that has twice declared war against its neighbors, and that provides a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes, is not the moral equivalent of the United States under President George W. Bush. There is, in fact, no comparison whatever. That is not jingoism or blind patriotism or propaganda. It is the simple undeniable truth. And once the left starts equating legitimate acts of war to defang and depose a deadly dictator with unprovoked terrorist attacks on civilians, it has lost its mind, not to speak of its soul.

Really? Sullivan never apologized for that part. Here’s his March 2003 archive; lots of nasty stuff.

As I said below about Wolfowitz, the ones who got it wrong still occupy positions of influence. They may be scorned on this tenth anniversary, but mostly they’re in the background making money and calling always for more war, war, war. It’s what they do.

Ready.Fire.Aim. Yield? 190,000 dead; $2.2 trillion; ten years

And so it began ten years ago tomorrow.

This week Brown University (another bastion of liberal lies and anyway, it’s un-American since it was founded before the American Revolution) published a comprehensive study of the costs – in blood and treasure – of our adventurous invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. (The full report is here. It’s broken down by subject – dollars, lives, politics etc.)

According to the report, the war has killed at least 190,000 people, including
men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians and will cost the United
States $2.2 trillion.

Among the group’s main findings:

  • More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
  • The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
  • Th $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
  • The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
  • Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
  • Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
  • The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.

Dont know if they touch on this, but neither electricity nor oil production has reached pre-war levels yet. And there is that business of Iraq now being a Shia ruled country aligned with Iran. But Cheney et al got their blood. So there’s that.

We’re coming up on a tenth anniversary so Kevin Drum remembers Paul Wolfowitz.

Like Drum (inventor of Friday Catblogging at Cal Pundit, founding blogger of Political Animal at Washington Monthly and now at Mother Jones – I’m a long time fan), I too remember Wolfowitz. I watched him testify to Congress advocating for the invasion of a sovereign nation. He told them war in  Iraq was unlikely to cost more than three billion, and, anyway, Iraq could easily repay that from oil revenues he said. Remember? A great moment in Congressional testimony. Drum sums it up:

Paul Wolfowitz’s “fanciful” testimony before Congress, of course, had come a week earlier, when he told Congress that Eric Shinseki’s postwar troop estimates were “wildly off the mark”; that there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq; that Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force; that “even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction”; and that published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding were way too high. It was an epic tour de force of wrongness, quite possibly the wrongest war prediction since Allied generals figured that troops would be “home by Christmas” after the start of World War I.

The guys who made war: only Cheney and Bush are missing

The guys who made war: only Cheney and Bush are missing

I want to be sure you got this part: he said there was “no history of ethnic strike in Iraq”. I could say that all day and weep.  Did any of those Congress critters listening that day remember the 1991 Gulf War? Or the Shia slaughter in the South? Guess not – heads nodded, guns were loaded and boys went off to die and 18 months later Iraq was on fire in an ethnic Civil War.

But Wolfowiz is still in the fold, still considered to be a serious person. He was even appointed – by Bush – to lead the World Bank. A prophet once anointed is always a prophet I guess, no matter how reality later unfolds.

I can’t remember him without also remembering Ahmad Chalabi. He would be Iraq’s savior and leader said Wolfowitz. He has a great following inside Iraq said Wolfowitz. they’ll flock to his side nad support him said Wolfowitz. (At the time, Chalabi was wanted for banking fraud around the Middle East, but no matter), he was a savior and would be loved said Wolfowitz.

And so the great and imaginary hero of Iraqi flew back to his homeland, kissed the soil, and the Iraqis said “Ahmad who”? And it got so much better – from Evan Thomas at the time:

For the hard-liners at the Defense Department, the raid came as a surprise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, got the news from the media. When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions.

Until at least very recently, Chalabi had been the darling of these top Pentagon officials. How could it be that the men who run the most powerful military in the world could not know that their own troops were about to run a raid on a man once regarded as the hope of free Iraq?

Before the invasion, at the 2003 State of the Union, Chalabi sat smugly next to Laura Bush as her war-hungry husband named the ‘axis of evil’ and set the stage for the disaster to come. Great moment. Good times.

Cheney still keepin’ it classy

chickenhawk-cheney-billboardPure patriot is our Dick – these comments from a former Vice President will serve so well the interests of The United States out in the wider world. Thanks for having our back you creep.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.

Right. Because you didn’t tear the military to shreds with two wars over a decade –  unless soldier suicides don’t count. And it doesn’t count that the military is overwhelmed with caring for those with traumatic head injuries. Or that we became so desperate for new cannon fodder that the Army lowered standards to accept felons. Mr. “I had other priorities” went on:

 “The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

 Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation’s national security that “good folks” hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

Like Rumsfeld, who Bush wanted to fire but was continually blocked by Cheney.

 “Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he said.

Like I said, keeping it classy.

I am so tired of Republicans getting away with this shit . . .

Since he was only a “chief economic policy adviser” to Reagan, what Bruce Bartlett says probably doesn’t count. In fact, these days that credential makes him suspect; he might be a Muslim-Kenyan liberal. Just like David Stockman. And David Frum*. You know, yesterday’s conservatives.

Republicans assert that Barack Obama assumed sole responsibility for the budget on Jan. 20, 2009. From that date, all increases in the debt or deficit are his responsibility and no one else’s, they say. This is, of course, nonsense – and the American people know it.

. . . Contrary to Republican assertions, there were no additional revenues from legislated tax increases.

. . . On the spending side, legislated increases during the Bush administration added $2.4 trillion to deficits and the debt through 2008.

The projected surplus when George Bush took over from The Big Dog:

was primarily the result of two factors. . . first, a big tax increase in 1993 that every Republican in Congress voted against, saying that it would tank the economy. This belief was wrong. The economy boomed in 1994, growing 4.1 percent that year and strongly throughout the Clinton administration . . .

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush warned that budget surpluses were dangerous because Congress might spend them, even though Paygo rules prevented this from happening. . . .[he] reiterated this point and [said] . . .  future surpluses were likely to be even larger than projected due principally to anticipated strong revenue growth.

The 2001 tax cut did nothing to stimulate the economy, yet Republicans pushed for additional tax cuts in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The economy continued to languish even as the Treasury hemorrhaged revenue, which fell to 17.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008 from 20.6 percent in 2000. Republicans abolished Paygo in 2002, and spending rose to 20.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2008 from 18.2 percent in 2001.

. . . Putting all the numbers in the C.B.O. report together, we see that continuation of tax and budget policies and economic conditions in place at the end of the Clinton administration would have led to a cumulative budget surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011 enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt at the end of 2000.

. . . Republicans would have us believe that somehow we could have avoided the recession and balanced the budget in 2009 if only they had been in charge. This would be a neat trick considering that the recession began in December 2007.

. . .  they continually imply that one of the least popular spending increases of recent years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP], was an Obama administration program, when in fact it was a Bush administration initiative proposed by the Treasury Department that was signed into law by Mr. Bush on Oct. 3, 2008.

Lastly, Republicans continue to insist that tax cuts are highly stimulative, often saying that they add nothing to the debt, when this is obviously ridiculous.

Like I said though, Bartlett’s probably a commie by now, so no one should pay attention to him.

David Frum in 2012: Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause.

Donald Trump: pretend conserative, genuine liberal but opportunism always comes first

(Narcissist that I am), I’ve been perusing old posts here at Whatever Works (actually, I am trying – without much success – to find something).

My browsing brought me back to this one. It’s from last April when Donald Trump was flirting with being the most-powerful-man-in-the-whole-widest-world, while simultaneously planning his epic expose to prove Obama’s really a secret KENYAN!

But he wasn’t always on Sean Hannity’s ‘A’ List. Here’s the pre-birther Donald:

“By imposing a one-time 14.25 percent net-worth tax on the richest individuals and trusts, we can put America on sound financial footing for the next century.”Writing in his book, The America We Deserve, January 2000

“I’ve been around for a long time. And it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” –Interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, March 2004

Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States.”Interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, March 2007

“I’m totally pro-choice.”Interview with Fox News Sunday, October 1999

“I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”Remarks to reporters, December 1999

“I’m very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care.”Interview with CNN’s Larry King, October 1999.

“The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans… We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan.”Writing in his book, The America We Deserve, January 2000

Perhaps he’s hitting a few golf balls?

I sure hope George Bush is having a nice life.

Today is the 145th day of the 11th year of the War in Afghanistan.

And are we still at ‘war’ in Iraq? We invaded that country nine years ago this month, so something like 4,000 days?

$1.3 Trillion American dollars (mostly borrowed, can’t raise taxes ya’ know; this ain’t the 1940’s fer Elvis’ sake!). Watch the dollar clock here.

US military dead in Iraq – 4486.

US military dead in Afghanistan – 1914.

Stuff: trees, blogging, Condoleezza Rice

That Christmas tree? The one in a pail of water out in the carport? That one? Intact, looks lovely, has perky, sweet smelling pine needles. And it would be perfect if . . . . now I’ve bought trees for that spot for 17 years and I know the right size. I can pick out the right tree four rows in under the tent – from the street. That’s how well I know the right size to buy and lug home.

I bought the wrong size.  Yesterday’s curse was strong.

The holidays have started to intrude on my prefered pace of life, which is slow. Very, very slow. There’s likely to be light blogging till I put my foot down or have a burst of energy.

Meanwhile, you’ve heard this:

ONE of the great tropes of Republican criticism of Barack Obama is that the president goes around the world apologizing for America’s past misdeeds. “Have we ever had a president,” Mitt Romney asked in a foreign policy speech this summer, “who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?”

But did you know this?

 In a major speech in Cairo in 2005, Condoleezza Rice, then Mr. Bush’s secretary of state, said that “for 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither.” What was she doing if not apologizing on behalf of the United States — and vowing to put an end to a pattern of misguided policy?

Maybe it’s a black thing.

Memories. Remember this guy?

Jeff Gannon! Aka James Guckert! Aka Johnny Goesch! Bush-era   uncredentialed White House reporter. Frequent White House visitor. Male prostitute whose web presence solicited ‘ratings’ from customers. Loudly defended by Sean Hannity*.  There are a million theories about how the fellow gained the kind of access he did – in ’05 the Secret Service became very interested in answering the ‘how’.

Guckert [Gannon] made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass.

White House records showed frequent visits by Gannon to the White House when there were no press conference, sometimes checking out but not checking in and sometimes checking in but not out.

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance [at press conferences] however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits. Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings.

Such good times.

*HANNITY: Now, Jeff Gannon, who is a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Talon News, actually shot me an e-mail today, and he’s about to break a story in an exclusive about these CBS documents. [The Sean Hannity Show, 9/10/04]

Ten years in: we know who broke this but can anyone fix it?

When I began this blog, I made a habit of  regularly posting the count of years and days we’d been in Afghanistan. At first, I posted every day. Soon it was every week, then every two . . .  the last time was August 31.

But today I must, because today is the first day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan.

  • US dead: 1800
  • US wounded: 18,000
  • Direct war fighting dollars spent by US: $461 billion

And?

  • The Taliban are back.
  • Afghanistan remains splintered.
  • President Karzai is openly corrupt, and
  • he is derisively called the “Mayor of Kabul” and people are tyring to kill him

This war should have been over in a year or two.  It would have been had someone not had a yen for Iraq. Now we have no idea what we’re doing there and we can’t identify a way out. And when we do get out? Tragically, Afghanistan will revert back to what it’s been for a thousand years, confirming yet again that it is “the graveyard of Empires”.

Has a president ever left a bigger mess behind than George Bush did?

Never forget this either

POSTED BY ORHAN

Since 9/11, America has dished out a lot more than was done to us that day.

Some of the “achievements” that resulted from the 9/11 attacks include: the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, and displacement of up to four million more, as well as strengthening Iran’s influence in the region; the murders of hundreds of innocents by drone attacks in Pakistan, destabilizing the government and triggering the rise of the Pakistani Taliban; the breakdown of the rule of law, including preventive war and detention, kidnappings and renditions, extrajudicial murders, outsourcing of torture; the normalization and popular acceptance of torture techniques that we hanged war criminals for after WWII; the massive expansion of executive power to the point the President now asserts the authority to order the killing of anyone, Americans included, anytime, anywhere in the world, without explanation or justification; the expansion of domestic government surveillance of all Americans, including logging all internet activity and monitoring of phone conversations and financial transactions; normalization and acceptance of stop-and-search, humiliating pat-downs at airports, machine gun-wielding soldiers on streets and in subways, arrests of anti-war activists; expansion of the propaganda machine used to keep the population in perpetual fear, e.g., the three Pakistanis supposedly on their way to the US yesterday to attack by car bomb.

All this is old news, but it must be remembered, too. Today’s ceremonies are an integral part of the propaganda machine, even allowing for the fact that our tears are real; the cry “never forget” is now part of the national DNA. And we won’t forget: a hundred years from now, if America still exists, 9/11 will be used as an excuse for bombing third-world countries. 9/11 has become little more than a pretext for endless war and repression.

UPDATE FROM MOE: I just came accross this graphic at Sekan’s blog, along with a related story. I think it’s a perfect compliment to Orhan’s post and adds even more perspective, so I throwing it in.

The Chicago Sun Times decided to actually count

I’m actually surprised: Americans still blame Bush for our economic mess

I think it’s pretty unusual for a public attitude to survive this long, but I’m not much of a poll watcher, so perhaps you know better. Go ahead and correct me; I’ve recently realized that I apparently don’t actually know everything.

According to the newest NYT/CBS poll, 44% still blame the Bush administration for the mess.  15% blame Obama and oddly, that’s a tie with Congress, who also get 15%. I am really surprised. Good old American people seem to have their blinders off at last. The poll is here if you’re interested. It’s not particularly long and has more interesting stuff.

 

 

The Bush tax cuts, the bubble, the collapse, the $2.5 trillion: what might have been instead

The Bush tax cuts were signed 10 years ago today. We gave the wealthiest among us $2.5 TRILLION dollars. That worked out well. Here’s some stuff we might have done instead with that revenue.  But all these things would have done of course is educate and employ people.

  • Provide 43.1 Million Students With Pell Grants Worth $5,500 Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide 31.5 Million Head Start Slots For Children Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide VA Care For 30.7 Million Military Veterans Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide 30.4 Million Scholarships For University Students Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 4.19 Million Firefighters Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 3.67 Million Elementary School Teachers Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 3.6 Million Police Officers Every Year For Ten Years
  • Retrofit 144.6 Million Households For Wind Power Every Year For Ten Years
  • Retrofit 54.2 Million Households For Solar Photovoltaic Energy Every Year For Ten Years

The tradeoffs paint a stark picture. For the same price as the Bush tax cuts, which did little to help the economy, we could’ve sent tens of millions of students to college, retrofitted every household in America with the capacity to generate alternative energy, and hired millions of firefighters and police officers.

UPDATE: Drat! Kay posted this too. She gets up earlier.

Ellsberg: All Nixon’s crimes against me now legal

POSTED BY ORHAN

Via Juan Cole, Daniel Ellsberg interviewed on CNN’s “In the Arena”:

[CNN]: These days, when you find yourself thinking about Richard Nixon, what comes to mind?

[Ellsberg]: “Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, might take bittersweet satisfaction to know that he was not the last smart president to prolong unjustifiably a senseless, unwinnable war, at great cost in human life. (And his aide Henry Kissinger was not the last American official to win an undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.)

He would probably also feel vindicated (and envious) that ALL the crimes he committed against me-which forced his resignation facing impeachment-are now legal.

That includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst’s office (for material to blackmail me into silence), warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White House hit squad to “incapacitate me totally” (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971). All the above were to prevent me from exposing guilty secrets of his own administration that went beyond the Pentagon Papers. But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama’s executive orders, they have all become legal.

There is no further need for present or future presidents to commit obstructions of justice (like Nixon’s bribes to potential witnesses) to conceal such acts. Under the new laws, Nixon would have stayed in office, and the Vietnam War would have continued at least several more years.”

Bin Laden and Nixon are probably laughing in Hell right now.

Jobs, yeah, okay, sorta, but it took George W to kill bin Laden

If you can’t read it:

APRIL MARKS 14th CONSECUTIVE MONTH OF PRIVATE SECTOR JOB GROWTH –  MORE THAN 2 MILLION JOBS SINCE MARCH ’10

 

That’ low point in the middle, the one that marks the change from JOBS LOST to JOBS GAINED? That’s January 2009 when the stimulus began.

h/t mac at Talk and Politics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Blind over Iraq

In my father’s final years his macular degeneration progressed to the point that he was no longer able to read. When that happened, we signed up with a remarkable books-on-tape program offered by the socialist Library of Congress; a special tape player was shipped to him along with a thick socialist catalogue of book titles with detailed descriptions from which to choose. This catalogue of new books came every two months. For a few years, he and I went over each issue together, choosing his reading for the next two months. Eventually I did it alone. “You know what I like” he said. I placed his orders on the socialist organization’s website and the tapes began arriving immediately. Each title came in a rigid plastic case, which we faithfully dropped back in the socialist mailbox for return as soon as it was were finished.

Besides books – history, religion, fiction, true crime – there were news magazine in his mail very week and The New York Times weekly summary of the news. (His secret pleasure was People magazine and until this moment no one but me ever knew that.)

His favorite newspaper, the twice monthly National Catholic Reporter, was not avialble on tape. So I began to read it to him.

That how it came to be that I – the most secular of people – became such a fan of NCR that I made sure the subscription was redirected to me after his death. It offers fresh and thoughtful perspective on global issue. So, like I said, I’m a fan.

The April 29 issue has a powerful editorial on our forgotten war in Iraq. It’s not online, so no easy cut and paste or linkie. Here’s an edited summary with the gist of it:

. . . the Iraq war is as real today for millions of displaced Iraqis as it was the evening we launched cruise missiles over Bagdad . . . in this country of only 30 million people up to two million of them – the best and brightest – have fled to Jordan and Syria. Most will never return. Another two million have been uprooted internally . . .these mostly impoverished millions scramble for basic necessities – jobs, apartments, food, health care. It’s as if the residents of New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania had to leave and go to Canada.

The effects of war linger far beyond the battlefields of conflict. It took 20 years to settle the two million Vietnamese ‘boat people’. That war had complex roots, but the roots of the Iraq war are traceable right to the Bush White House. The United States then, carries unique responsibility for the displaced Iraqis. We cannot shirk our moral responsibility.

This is as good a time as any to mention that we’re in the ninth year of the war in Iraq and today is the 213th day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan. We’ve spent $1.2 trillion and lost 6000 troops. Casualty numbers are enormous as well.

Random thought: the tragedy of missed opportunities

Moments when this country could have made epic and positive changes – but didn’t.

President Andrew Johnson –  He entered the White HOuse following Lincoln’s assassination. He had utter disdain for the emerging Reconstruction policy, stopped it and led with is own bigotry.  The legacy of slavery wasn’t addressed again until the mid-20th century (Truman to Johnson).

GW Bush – Following 9/11, just eight months into his presidency, George Bush had a nation that would have followed its president anywhere, risen to any challenge. He had a chance to give us a ‘go to the moon’ challenge and the US could have begun a journey to lead the world in alternative energy technology (not instead of Afghanistan; the efforts could have been side by side).

Obama – He walked into office on a day when the nation would have enthusiastically gotten behind a call for vast reform of the financial industry, the  tax codes and a stronger regulatory structure. But he didn’t. Stimulus was the right thing to do, but it stopped short. And in the financial industry at least, it reenforced the bad behaviors that led to the meltdown.

That worked out so well

From last week: Former Iranian president: Rafsanjani is out of any power in the government in Iran. Too bad. He’s somewhat moderate and friendly toward Western culture; his replacement is a strict hard liner. Let us hope Rafsanjani joins the budding opposition movement. He’d be a fine figurehead.

He was the guy who was poised to be re-elected to the Presidency of Iran until the ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002 insulted the Iranians so thoroughly that they turned around and elected an uber-nationalist instead.

It’s official: Bush was right all along

POSTED BY ORHAN

President Obama’s executive order signed Monday that sets up a system of indefinite detention for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay contains tons of verbiage defining initial reviews, triennial reviews, file reviews, Review Committees, and giving detainees rights to government representatives and private counsel.

Nevertheless, close reading shows there will be a single test used to determine whether a prisoner is deserving of our everlasting hospitality: “if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.

Who decides? A Periodic Review Board comprised of one rep each from “the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, as well as the Offices of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff”.

Glenn Greenwald exhaustively lays out the case against Obama’s continuation of the Bush/Cheney policies.

Speaking of Texas

Before Governor Good Hair, Texas had this fella. But they lost him when he moved on to do to us what he did to Texas.