Saturday, September 2


An example of Bush's convoluted and misleading rhetoric:

"The terrorists understand the threat a democratic Iraq poses to their cause, so they've been fighting a bloody campaign of sectarian violence which they hope will plunge that country into a civil war," Mr Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Let's parse that statement. "The terrorists" -- note he doesn't specify "which" terrorists, he lumps all the terrorists in the world into one homogeneous category, as if they share common cause, common leadership, and common strategic objectives.

"... the threat a democratic Iraq poses to their cause ..." -- Hamas and Hezbollah don't seem to oppose democracy, do they? In fact, they participate in and benefit from democracy in their respective spheres of influence, and now hold legislative seats and positions of leadership. Democracy actually offers revolutionaries a chance to impose their agendas on governments by peaceful means that they don't have under despotisms -- it is that lack that drives revolutionaries into terrorism. As Nicolas Cage's character in National Treasure stated, if the patriots of the American Revolution hadn't been successful, they'd have been hung as terrorists.

"... so they've been fighting a bloody campaign of sectarian violence which they hope will plunge that country into a civil war." Excuse me? The terrorists are conducting the sectarian violence? Did he miss the fact that Sunni and Shi'a militias are doing that themselves? No doubt the terrorists (whoever they are; it's estimated that Al Qaeda-connected or -inspired numbers are slim in Iraq) see a benefit in Iraq sliding into civil war, embarrassing the U.S. and reaping a credit and credibility they don't deserve from Bush's blaming them for the debacle, but the clerical militias are clearly struggling for dominance in Iraq and exacting revenge for decades of grievances, and don't need urging from the few foreign terrorists in country to do so.

"Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war," Mr Bush said. "They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country."

That rosy assessment doesn't sound like the testimony of Gen. Abizaid, the senior U.S. commander in the Middle East: "Abizaid said that the sectarian violence was as bad as he had seen it, particularly in Baghdad, and that 'if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq would move toward civil war.'" And it doesn't reflect very reliably the report released yesterday by the Pentagon. But when have the facts ever bothered Dubya, Cheney, Rummy or Condi?

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Not a pretty picture in Iraq. And the Pentagon is finally forced to admit it.

"This is reality catching up with Rumsfeld and the Pentagon," said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.
"The message is more unambiguously bad because the data is bad, and there is no smoke screen to hide behind that the [Iraqi] elections will turn things around, or the training of Iraqi security forces will turn things," O'Hanlon said.

The 63-page report defines the "core conflict in Iraq" now as a struggle between Sunnis and Shiites in which "death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife, with Sunni and Shi'a extremists each portraying themselves as defenders of their respective sectarian groups." Meanwhile, it says, "the Sunni Arab insurgency remains potent and viable."

Thank you, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, neocons, and the Repuglican Congress.



PSoTD has tagged bloggers (including yours truly) to write about what Labor Day means to us.

Ahem. Some of my fondest memories of youth are tied up with Labor Day. I grew up on the Emerald Coast, the beach front of the Florida Panhandle. Every Labor Day my family and extended family, aunts, uncles and cousins, would go out to the beach very early and set up for a day-long picnic. The kids would swim and build sandcastles while the men set up the grill and the women got out the eats. The teenagers among us would wander down the beach hoping to spot a cute boy or girl and strike up a conversation.

After a huge meal we kids would doze (loaded up with sunblock) while we listened to the grownups' desultory talk. As I got older I'd join in the men's political discussion -- they were amused by my firebrand opposition to their southern conservative Democrat positions and loved to bait me into saying something (in their minds) outrageous. The only mentions of unions or the labor movement (remember, this was the South) might be something along the lines of how high union wages in the auto and steel industries made our cars cost so much.

When the sun got close to the horizon we'd pack up and drive back to town, tired but happy. The summer was over. It was back to school and work.

I'm a young grammy now myself, and I've been in a third-tier management role of a Fortune 200 company for some years now (third tier refers to someone who reports to someone who reports to the CEO). I'm in that murky, uncomfortable position of being close enough to the guys who make millions to know what's going on and yet so mind-boggling far from their bloated income levels that I identify more with the laborers. When I hear a right winger insist that the guys at the top deserve their fat paychecks because they are the drivers of the organization and their decisions have value that justifies $20 million annual bonuses I think about exploding like the martial arts freak at the end of Big Trouble In Little China. It's simply not true.

My company's industry has been in an upwards spiral for the past ten years and is now facing a severe downturn. What might have looked like good leadership in an environment so hot that anything we built got sold, now looks short-sighted, ill-prepared and dithering. Line employees are being told to cut costs wherever possible. The annual employee holiday gift -- a Christmas tree ornament! -- has been cut. The employee holiday party has been cancelled. The service awards banquet has been trimmed way back. They've been told that if they have a working lunch they should no longer send out for pizza on the company's dime. Yet the corporate jet will continue to operate at $14,000 per hour, flying members of the Board of Directors to each quarterly meeting. The directors' $300,000 salaries (for 4-6 days work a year) will be maintained, and we'll see what they do to trim compensation for the top executives.

Yet we celebrate a "labor day"? As I said in an earlier post, calling it that is just a sick joke. The office was only half-filled yesterday. Lots and lots of people took Friday off so they'd have a four-day weekend. But most of the secretaries were at their desks, I noticed, and the lower-echelon IT guys and other support staff and hourly workers.


Friday, September 1


E.J. Dionne comments on the discouraging news in the census report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage.

President Bush and the Republican Congress, take a bow: You took power to make the well-off even better off, and you have succeeded brilliantly.



As Harold Meyerson points out, Labor Day ain't what it used to be.

According to the Department of Labor web site, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." These days the "workers" are contributing more but have less strength, prosperity and well-being of their own.

As a remarkable story by Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt in Monday's New York Times makes abundantly clear, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of gross domestic product since 1947, when the government began measuring such things. Corporate profits, by contrast, have risen to their highest share of the GDP since the mid-'60s -- a gain that has come chiefly at the expense of American workers.

Don't take my word for it. According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, "the most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income."
But finger a corporation for exploiting its workers and you're trafficking in class warfare. Of late a number of my fellow pundits have charged that Democratic politicians concerned about the further expansion of Wal-Mart are simply pandering to unions. Wal-Mart offers low prices and jobs to economically depressed communities, they argue. What's wrong with that?

Were that all that Wal-Mart did, of course, the answer would be "nothing." But as business writer Barry Lynn demonstrated in a brilliant essay in the July issue of Harper's, Wal-Mart also exploits its position as the biggest retailer in human history -- 20 percent of all retail transactions in the United States take place at Wal-Marts, Lynn wrote -- to drive down wages and benefits all across the economy. The living standards of supermarket workers have been diminished in the process, but Wal-Mart's reach extends into manufacturing and shipping as well. Thousands of workers have been let go at Kraft, Lynn shows, due to the economies that Wal-Mart forced on the company. Of Wal-Mart's 10 top suppliers in 1994, four have filed bankruptcies.

For the bottom 90 percent of the American workforce, work just doesn't pay, or provide security, as it used to.

Thursday, August 31


Where have all the protestors gone? When Adam Rosenthal of the NY Times attended a recent Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert, he was struck by the fact that unlike the late '60s and early '70s when the Vietnam War aroused protests on college campuses across America, our current unpopular Iraq War has sparked very little public outcry. Maybe, he muses, it's because there's no military draft to threaten young people and their parents.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Americans find it much easier to stay silent when there is no shared sacrifice.

He also notes how largely invisible this war is compared to Vietnam, when journalists were free to record and report on military actions. Today the military restricts media access, the president won't attend funerals of our fallen troops, and photos of flag-draped coffins are forbidden. I've said as much myself a number of times before on this blog.

Well, the World Can't Wait Drive Out The Bush Regime organization is trying to mobilize a massive protest demonstration on October 5. I'll be with them in the streets. Click on the link and decide if you'll be with us.

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Wednesday, August 30


Wow. I can't wait to post the transcript of Keith Olbermann's comments tonight on Don Rumsfeld's remarks yesterday.

It was brave. It was commanding. And it was right.

I found it. It's a MUST READ.

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More reality checks on Brian Williams' interview with Dubya:

GWB: The Islamic world attacked us and killed 3,000 people before I even thought of removing Saddam Hussein.

LIE -- According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Bush was determined to scuttle Saddam from the moment he entered office, at least eight months before 9/11.

GWB: We feed the poor. The tsunami hit, and the United States led in the relief effort.

NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH -- The Bush administration pledged a paltry $15 million for aid to tsunami victims until it was called "stingy." Then Bush upped the ante considerably to $600 million.

God help us. The man said he read "three Shakespeares."



Texas Governor Rick Perry called yesterday for a special election to fill Tom DeLay's Congressional seat. And guess what. It's to be held on Nov. 7, the same day as the GENERAL election.

Perry had previously said he would NOT call for a special election, but since the courts have ruled that the Texas Republican Party can't replace DeLay's name on the November ballot, Governor Goodhair evidently decided that this was the best alternative. Now the favored GOP candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, can enter the contest for the two months left of DeLay's term. Her name WILL appear on that ballot. And, since the special election will be held at the same time as the general, voters (hopefully only Republicans) won't have to remember her name to write in on the general election ballot.

Typical slimy Republican political maneuvering.

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Tuesday, August 29


The National Journal's Chuck Todd makes a case that the altered schedule of Democratic primaries favors John Edwards and disadvantages Hillary Clinton.

That works for me.



Greg Palast has a blockbuster of a report on the Bush administration and Hurricane Katrina. No, it's not about the sluggish federal response in the aftermath. It's what the administration knew before Kat struck, what they knew just after, and what they concealed.

(1) The premier hurricane expert of the region briefed senior administration officials, including "someone from the White House" that the levees were 18 inches too short.

(2) Two years ago the administration hired a company with no hurricane evacuation experience (but a track record of donating to Republicans) to create an evacuation plan for New Orleans. Nobody can find a copy of it, including the company and FEMA itself. They DID begin a draft of a plan: it was, basically, for everyone to get in their cars and drive like hell out of there, ignoring the fact that 127,000 residents of the city didn't have a car, or access to a car. (Palast's source, the hurricane expert, knew exactly where those people were and offered the information to FEMA but was rebuffed.)

(3) By midnight Monday the White House knew that the levees had been breached. Unfortunately, they didn't share that information with the state or the city (it had actually been spared by the hurricane itself, which hit wide to the east), so evacuation basically stopped. You'll recall that by Tuesday dawn the city and 1500 of its citizens were drowning.

(4) The administration has hired a company to fix the failed evacuation plan. It's the same company that did, or didn't, create it in the first place.

As Greg points out:

It’s been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city’s former residents, remain in temporary refuges. “The City That Care Forgot” — that’s their official slogan — lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, “The City That Bush Forgot.”

I just now heard a clip from the Bush-Gore debate that was used to demonstrate how Al Gore invaded Bush's "space" -- it was in the context of Iran's Ahmadinejad challenging Dubya to a debate. But the timing was ironic -- Bush was saying, "Can you get things done? I believe I can." And now Brian Williams is interviewing Bush down on the Gulf Coast and Bush is saying, "The people down here saw me say in Jackson Square that help is on the way. And I delivered."

The man is clearly a liar, a moron, or both. He lives in an alterate reality that simple cynicism can't explain.

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