The First Oral History (non-revisionist version)

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The new Vanity Fair is out on the news stands, and on the internet with a very, very interesting piece…an "oral history" of the last eight years. Independent interviews with both players in the recently-departed 1600 Crew and those who opposed it, paint a revealing first sketch of the inner-workings and bubble that our unlamented and recently-departed Decider Guy lived in.

December 20, 2006 In a news conference Bush states that the year ahead will “require difficult choices and additional sacrifices.” Noting that it is important to maintain economic growth, he adds, “I encourage you all to go shopping more.”

The famous "go shopping" bubble… but like they say in the infomercials "Wait, There’s More!"…

One of the things that was invoked out here on the inter-toobz since before I started blogging in ought-2 was the existence of something called "Godwins Law"… basically it was that anyone who first mentioned that the Administration was like a bunch of Nazis lost the argument by default, since that’s a nonsensical argument (American? Nazis? Nahhhhh) well, except maybe Powell buddy Rich Armitage…

Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: … I think the clearest indication I got that Rich [Armitage] and he both had finally awakened to the dimensions of the problem was when Rich began—I mean, I’ll be very candid—began to use language to describe the vice president’s office with me as the Gestapo, as the Nazis, and would sometimes late in the evening, when we were having a drink—would sometimes go off rather aggressively on particular characters in the vice president’s office.

Not that I think that Armitage was any kind of a saint in the world of Beltway intrigue, but it’s interesting that these characters (Addington, Libby?) were worthy of such derision by a man like Armitage.

And the wars… there is so much written about both Afghanistan and Iraq that it’s an instructive read just to get the flavor of the thinking inside the White House, but this from Anthony Cordesman is a particularly telling indictment of the conduct of the wars: (more…)

The Bush Legacy

on-the-street-2.thumbnail.jpgI visited a Big Eastern City several times over the last week, which is and of itself not a big deal. As I walked down the street I saw something that brought home the real meaning of George Bush’s America to me. Homeless Americans by the score. Sleeping on sidewalks and subway grates for warmth on cold late-November/early-December nights. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that approximately 3.5 million homeless Americans, 1.35 million of them children (kids, for fucks sake… what did they do to deserve it?). As the economy craters, those statistics are likely to not just increase, but increase exponentially with foreclosures and bailouts of financiers but not the financed. Indeed, new numbers are not available yet and hopefully by the time we know what the numbers for 2008 and 2009 are, perhaps a coherent public policy will be in place to provide a social safety net for the least fortunate among us… but I’m not holding my breath…

The homeless, and most vulnerable members of our country are left to fend for themselves as cuts in already-thin social-services programs get thinner. The military-industrial welfare state of the last eight years has literally taken the food from the mouths of Americans and roofs from over their heads as the Republicans gutted social programs (welfare queens, anyone?). Organizations are springing up behaving as 21st Century "Robin Hoods" placing homeless Americans in homes abandoned by families fleeing foreclosure as mortgages have exploded and the economy fails. Some fleeing homeowners are even paying homeless Americans to live in their abandoned properties as a security measure. (more…)

Get off the SOFA

The most lasting legacy amongst all the other detritus of the outgoing Bunnypants Administration will likely be how we fucked up the sovereign nation of Iraq. Briefly, it went like this…

We had a love-hate relationship with dear old Saddam, selling him weapons to use with no questions asked… then allowing him to almost sink a US Navy warship (no reprisals, no problem-o with the old Iraqi oil spigot) and finally he goes and invades Kuwait, pissing off the Very Good Friends of Daddy Bush, the Al-Sabah family of Kuwait and threatening Kuwaiti oil industry. Well, commit genocide, rule with an iron fist, shoot at a US Capital Warship… fuck with the oil, and baby you are going dowwwwn. Thus the basis for the an American Foreign policy was born that would likely have been cut from a Clancy novel by his editors as being completely unrealistic… until 9/11.

So off we marched to war (no, not that one in the Opium Triangle) and committed hundreds of thousands of American troops and countless (literally) dollars to prosecuting a war against former weapons client and all-around anti-Irani factotum Saddam. He got his ass kicked, as he did once before. Then began the occupation. Now the occupation is coming to an end… and the Bushies are getting worried, because the one thing that they need is missing, a "Status of Forces Agreement" or SOFA which basically guarantees US Forces access to the country as "guests" after the hostilities have effectively ended. We have had them with all the countries we were involved in WWII with, both as friends and adversaries (Japan’s was interesting in the way that it gave Japanese a modified jurisdiction over service members who committed crimes in-country). The Bushies seem to view obtaining a SOFA agreement as some sort of vindication of their misguided efforts in Iraq, and are loathe to leave office without something on paper.

Apparently, there must be some phenomenal pressure being brought on the Iraqi councils to approve a limited SOFA which might effectively tie the hands of incoming Obama administration… (more…)

Yes. We. Did. Now we must…

Yup, we did it. We officially terminated the republican preznit and his minions and the rubber-stamp congress as well with a somewhat more convincing majority. So, can I get a big w00t? Thanks.

Obama, as has been noted in numerous previous posts here and other places like The Great Orange Satan is going to be a far more centrist president than a lefty-progressive president, in fact I’d go so far to say that today I’d classify him as "centrist-progressive". Not a horrid thing given the propensity of the democrats to form circular firing squads over trivial issues, while the republicans eat our lunch over issues involving manufactured outrage and silly shit that becomes insta-talking points on the Yakkity Pundit Shows. The avoidance of self-immolation by the democrats should be a key issue in any Obama adminstration. The republicans are really good at party and message discipline, and todays Democrats might find it worthwhile following their example, i.e. not abandoning the 50-state strategy now that they have changed the electoral map for now. It’s worth keeping Will Rogers quote in mind that he was a Democrat and did not belong to any organized political party.

Let’s review, here are the things that I’d like to see President Obama do (in random order):

  • Appoint moderate, progressive jurists to the Supreme Court and lower Federal Courts who have good resumes and track records making apolitical decisions from the bench
  • Overturn the "Torture Memos" and repudiate the Bush Torture Doctrine by complying with court decisions that have ruled against the Bush Justice and Defense departments
  • Publicly disavow the use of signing statements to work around the will of Congress
  • Start house-cleaning at the Department of Justice to get rid of the political appointees from the eight years of Bush who will be working to sabotage everything from November 5th, 2008 onwards
  • Close GITMO
  • Get out of Iraq
  • Begin to work on repairing international relations with trading partners, allies and the rest of the world who at least admired our Democracy for keeping its word
  • Implement a rational counter-terror policy
  • Hold at least two press availabilities a month to keep a dialog open with the American People, his employers

Please feel free to add some more in comments, it’ll be interesting to see what the FDL-verse comes up with. Who knows, the Obamanz might even check in here and see one of your suggestions and run with it. We are after all, the left-wing, socialist DFH Borg. Resistance is futile, we will improve your lives, whether you want it or not.

The Last 48 Hours

So many of us who have been blogging about politics for the last four, six or even eight years are looking at the next 48 hours with a mix of hope and trepidation. I have never been one to underestimate the stupidity of the "low-information" voter, and it’s that particular member of the human species (specious?) that might well tip this election in a direction that might make me take up Bill Maher’s "Exit Strategy".

Like many others, I started blogging back in the middle of 2002 as the edges of the event horizon that surround the Black Hole that is the 1600 Crew (or Bush Administration to the rest of the world) became more and more defined. The decisions and fear-mongering words that were being sent out via the White House Stenographic Corps from the lips of Lying Ari Fleischer and then Scotty McClellan needed some sort of counter, and the "new" media that was the seminal blogosphere (or Blogtopia! if you read Skippy!) became the only place that any information could be gleaned which was not slanted by press corpse asshats whose retention of their access was far more important than the truth. See: Judy Miller.

As the next two years passed, and all of a sudden the "walkthrough" in Iraq was becoming the Mess in Mess O’Potamia the media began to question their role, but not enough to make a difference in any meaningful way. John Kerry, an honorable and bright man ran against the Karl Rove machine and was eviscerted as election day grew closer; official government records delineating young Lieutenant Kerry’s injuries and Silver Star citation were made out to be not just "phony", but were the source of sick humor at the republican convention in 2004. But John Kerry moved the ball down to the five yard line; I went to one of his last rallies in Columbus, Ohio at the OSU campus. The Senator spoke, The Boss sang and we all left that rally believing that we’d wake up the next Wednesday morning and begin to see the renewal of America. Nope. (more…)

Unions and the Return of the Middle Class

union-membership-by-state-map.thumbnail.gifAs a member of a union that I have to wonder about sometimes (ALPA, the Airline Pilots Association) I think it’s certainly worthwhile to talk for a minute about the Employee Free Choice Act and the role of unions in building a stronger middle-class and hence stronger America. Why do I wonder about ALPA? More on that in a minute…

A quick and simplistic review for those not old enough to remember the ultimate Federal Union Buster, Ronnie Reagan and his most excellent (in his mind) PATCO adventure. In 1981 the air traffic controllers union decided to go on strike and the controllers were fired by Reagan for violating a federal law banning strikes by governmental unions, although previous strikes by other governmental unions like the Postal Workers had not been punished by terminating their employees. Reagan’s views of unions was the same as virtually every other major republican figure of the 70’s and 80’s; that unions were the creation of the devil and the antithesis of American/Free Market capitalism and thus should be put down like Old Yeller… with a single shot to the head, but without the emotion. (more…)

The 3R’s: Republicans, Rhetoric, Rocks…

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It would hardly be a problematic issue if there were no American citizens out there who feel that it’s acceptable to settle a grievance at the barrel of a gun, or with fisticuffs or perhaps the more subtle rock thrown through a window belonging to an opponent.

The McCain campaign seems to somehow be suffering from a distorted "50 first dates" syndrome… they wake up every day and seem to have forgotten what they did the day before in either words or deeds. Their surrogates deny that they have said anything that might be construed as inflaming the emotions of their "base" with respect to Barack Obama, while these same surrogates have begun to seize on anything that might be leveraged into making a case that they are being "persecuted" by the "liberal" media (how about a new tune, y’all?) and congressmen like Congressman John Lewis who had the temerity to suggest that perhaps the Republican campaign was not behaving in either a civilized or ethical manner.

"During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama," wrote the Democrat.

Sarah Palin and her somewhat limited supply of talking points and incomplete sentences has been asking "Who is Barack Obama?" in speeches before audiences who would vote for her either because they would compete with Rich Lowry to "catch little starbursts" themselves, or admire her ability to be the Mistress of Republican Word Salad: (more…)

Debt now, Debt forever

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So the House "Leadership" is on TeeVee giving their self-congratulatory speeches after caving in once again to Preznit Laffer Curve and handing over a minimum of $700 Billion Dollars to Wall Street to pay for his deregulatory orgy of free marketeering.

The bill passed because the Republicans once again rolled the "Leadership" into enacting tax-cuts along with the legislation. I have not heard a word that they repealed Gramm-Leach-Bliley and reinstated Glass-Stegall, which would have marked the beginning of true reform; had they done that I doubt the republican caucus would have gone along with passage of this late-term abortion.

We are a nation in debt to virtually every country in the world that has the means to lend us money to finance our spending. Republicans (or as I call them "the Credit Card Conservatives™) have for years pushed the less-taxation mantra and agenda, but have not managed to stop spending on programs that are giveaways to their supporters and lobbyists to whose teats they are attached (and no, it’s not just republicans who fit into that category).

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The Bailout is the Single Largest Non-Defense Appropriation Bill Ever

Pork for the Bankers

Pork for the Bankers

This bail-out of such massive proportions that it actually (not virtually, not euphemistically, not metaphorically) is the largest single non-defense expenditure ever is about to pass into law, and hence history.

Our Employees, the alleged "representatives" that we pay to go to Washington to be wined and dined by lobbyists, get phenomenal health benefits not available to you and me, and other unimaginable perks are about to give away Hundreds of Billions of dollars to salvage a mess on Wall Street that was foreseen by many, many folks for several years. Atrios, DFH that he is, called it the Big Shitpile and warned of the bills that would be due one day; Paul Krugman, that silly trivia-obsessed professor, warned of problems with the Big Shitpile (well, in fairness he never called it that) for quite a while but few listened, preferring to just discount his writing in the Times as an extreme liberal writing in an effete, elite paper. Now our Employees want to give away the Republic to salve the conscience of the Most Unpopular and Worst President Ever, for some reason I can’t figure out.

I think that once again, our "Majority" of Employees is getting rolled again -sigh- by this president and his uncanny ability to make them do whatever the fuck he wants close to an election. Could these problems have been addressed years ago? Absolutely, but that would have required actual "work", and attention to detail. It also would have meant appointing lawyers and accountants and others who were not motivated by a political agenda, and were interested in making sure that the laws worked, the rules were followed and companies and their executives followed not just the rule of law but it’s spirit as well in their decision-making.

We will in all likelihood be bailing out these institutions and paying inflated prices for worthless good, allowing executives, lobbyists and policy wonks to escape with a profit. It’s being allowed to happen by a combination of apathy on the part of the electorate, and the disservice that the media has done in not explaining exactly what the stakes are in the bailout as it’s being enacted. As folks do find out and understand the scope of the legislation and money involved, they are in fact (as one Congressman reported) voting for it on a 50/50 split… "No!" and "Hell, No!" being the votes cast.

If there was a better awareness of the issues and the ultimate cost of this legislation, it would be far less likely to be enacted… the question is, how are the low-information voters who could easily sway this by screaming about it to their Employees going to be reached before it gets to the desk of Preznit De Regulator, a man who never met a bad, higly politicized plan he didn’t support.

Scream loudly please, and pass it on….

Or we’re going to be paying more than just $700 billion dollars, we might be paying with the very fabric of the Republic.

Glorious Beloved Deregulator Guy speaks

petgoat.thumbnail.jpgListening to the Beloved Glorious Decider Guy tonight I was struck by two things. I had to actually go to whitehouse.gov to find the speech to see if my lying eyes could confirm what my partisan ears heard.

With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice: To step in with dramatic government action, or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions of some to undermine the financial security of all.

Uh, excuse me? "The irresponsible actions of some…"? Care to name a few? Perhaps starting with the most blameless Decider Guy and rogues like Phil Gramm, the late and unlamented Ken Lay and others who began the rape of the American Marketplace unchecked?

The next little gem dropped out a few minutes later:

More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession. 

Yeah, because concern for "Average" Americans has driven soooo much of the policy of this President and his Adminstration.

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