VLADRUSHKA by John Linton Roberson (c) 2022.
I Didn't Write That!
30 January 2004
  If I Had My Way...

...our next president would be John Edwards, and here someone else explains part of why for me.

That's right, it's an endorsement. In fact, here's a direct appeal to my original home state, South Carolina: get out the vote and vote Edwards in the primary. (and other states too) Regardless of whether he wins or not, a heavy vote means he will have more pull in the convention. Slowly but inexorably, the party is uniting against Bush and attacking one another less--and Edwards is postively Clinton(92)esque in his ability to focus his attack on Bush's policies while not engaging in much of the sniping against his fellow candidates many others, including Dean (who is out of money), have wasted so much time with. This guy at the very least has to be VP.

The Democrats look like they want to win this year, and if they remember how badly Bush has raped them for the past 3 years they may truly end up with the will to win. This president is incredibly vulnerable for anyone with a truthful eye.

If Bush were Carter, he'd already be on the street. Face it.


27 January 2004
  Our Great Polish Allies, and the Bracero Program

Hidden at the end of a NYT story I found this passage, which I will simply excerpt without comment(copyright New York Times):

[Polish president] Kwasniewski, as leader of one of the chief European allies in the Iraq war, was also slated to discuss with Mr. Bush the prospects for closer economic cooperation and enhanced aid from the United States.

Many ordinary Poles have expressed disappointment that they have not seen benefits they expected to flow from Polish support for the United States-led war.

Mr. Bush, answering a question from a Polish reporter, announced that he was seeking a $66 million package for the Polish military, in particular to provide new airlift capacity.

Many Poles have also been vexed by the toughening of standards for travel visas and entry to the United States since the 2001 attacks.

Poles complain that a $100 visa-application fee is not refunded in the case of refusal; and that too many are rejected. United States officials respond that Poles coming on three-month tourist visas stay on, in up to 30 percent of cases, to work illegally. Prime Minister Leszek Miller has called this "a powerful issue."

But when Mr. Bush told reporters, with diplomatic vagueness, that the United States understood "the need for dialogue and travel" and added that American officials were "working with the president on this very delicate issue," Mr. Kwasniewski pressed the matter with unusual force.

Leaning in toward Mr. Bush to offer a friendly lecture, he told the president that "the future of the world is without visas, not with visas."

When Mr. Bush replied, smilingly, "It could be' and added that a new immigrant-worker program he has proposed might help, Mr. Kwasniefski would not let the matter lie.

"It will help very much," he said.

"But please, Mr. President, the future is no visa!"


  Bush's Base Starts To Sober Up

Apparently this year's Conservative Political Action Conference was teeming with a whole bunch of unhappy conservatives. These are from the far right particularly, and they are furious at Dubya.

What for? you may ask, baffled. Hasn't he fucked up America thoroughly in ways it may take decades to fix again? What's not for a con to like?

Well, apparently he's fucked it up in ways that they don't like either. I suppose he shouldn't have been so scattershot about it. They're pissed about the amazingly bloated deficit, now in the hundreds of millions(having been at surplus when he took office thanks to Clinton, and the hard work of the American people), and about the Bracero program he has proposed. You know, the one where he plans to give the few middle-and lower-income jobs which exist to illegal aliens, which will go down in history books as surely the brilliantest bit of timing ever.

How did I know this would be the one that infuriated them? Maybe because refusing to give licenses to illegals is what swept the Governator into office over in Cloud Cuckoo California. This is an issue much more divisive for conservatives, and Bush stepped into it like warm cowshit, then thought mentioning Mars would soften it. (a few days later we lost contact, again, with the Mars Rover. There may be a God after all...)

Gee, even a five-year-old could have realized that if you severely curtail the revenue the government is taking in while spending far too much on a war of choice--and that's where the money that was supposed to be spent on homeland security went, by the way, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing--then you're going to end up with a deficit. And they were all for the tax cuts. What did they think would happen? Surely they see that without a tax increase in Bush's second term the government will collapse, and as the Republicans control the whole government the only ones who'll be hurt by a shutdown is the GOP. Their tactics have been taken from them. Similarly they bear the whole blame for the deficit now. Can they blame Congress? I can't wait to see them try.

And he will raise taxes in his second term, though certainly not on the upper classes. Once he doesn't have to worry about election, get ready for some real shit. If Armageddon doesn't come, and it won't, what will we do with the situation he's visited on us then? Problem with the Republicans from Reagan on: short-term thinking and too much of it. It comes from living in a world where someone else always cleans up your mess.

But how can conservatives complain? Didn't they hear Cheney say "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter"? Or didn't he say that in public? Oh, right, he only said that to the Treasury Secretary. (Little wonder Cheney is so paranoid about any details from any meeting he attends becoming public)

But back to this conference. To give you some idea of the atmosphere, Bush supporters there were called "Bushlickers." To give you a brief idea:

Bush's right-wing base is demanding more concessions than he's made so far, but those concessions are likely to erode whatever moderate support the president has. At one of the most fervently Republican gatherings in the country, it wasn't hard to find people who were planning to vote for third-party candidates from the Constitution or Libertarian parties, and a few even confided in whispers that they might vote for Joe Lieberman or John Edwards if given a chance. The mood was like that of liberals in 2000 who saw Al Gore as nothing more than a lesser evil and yearned to send a futile message through Ralph Nader. While the grass-roots left is more motivated and disciplined than it's ever been, the grass-roots right has turned sullen and uncompromising. "A lot of people here don't care if Bush wins or not," said Rick Shaftan, a right-wing political consultant and pollster based in New Jersey.

Welcome to our world, Republicans who cheered Nader on. I wonder if Karl Rove remembers Buchanan and Perot are still alive. As the author of American Dynasty noted, also in Salon:

...They're botching the economy, they're botching Iraq, they may have botched 9/11, and they've got the religious right running loose, so they're going to botch culture. And when you get to that point, the motion of your elites -- the forward motion of your interest groups inside the Republican Party -- gets very hard to turn around.

So you feel them moving inexorably toward disaster?

They get carried away with hubris. That was the problem for the Democrats with Johnson. After the Kennedy assassination and the Goldwater defeat [in 1964], they got so carried away they went into hubris.

Too, the usual Republican go-for-broke strategy of rushing into everything on the laundry list as fast as possible(because some part of them always knows that their days are numbered and they need to get what they want before they're caught--they have the attitude in office of burglars afraid of when the cops will show up but who can't resist stealing more and more till they do) puts them in a position of being unable to reverse themselves.

They raise the stakes too high to fix their mistakes. Look at what happened to Bush the First when he went back on his tax pledge. Of course he had to, but he was stupid enough to promise he wouldn't, thinking his base wouldn't remember. But they did and that's part of why Grover Norquist withheld support in '92, effectively starving Bush's campaign to death. (That's why he had little better to use against Clinton than accusing him in the last week before election of being a Communist spy--a puzzling thing to focus on, even if it hadn't been an obvious and stupid lie, when Bush himself claimed to have ended the Cold War and the USSR fell under his watch. Oops)

The conservatives aren't as stupid as I'd resigned myself to thinking. They have finally come to realize that the interests Bush represents are neither those of the liberals or the conservatives, or even really of America. And I imagine they're now suffering Fixer's Remorse over what they did in 2000 for it. Which was to help undercut our system if that's what it took to get Bush in the White House, a stain they won't be able to wash off for a generation. So they're turning on him.

The beautiful thing about that is that they're stuck with this incumbent. There's no way any third-party candidate they back can beat him, but one will take enough votes from him to prevent his election. I expect Buchanan to suddenly become a presence about the time of the RNC Convention, and I expect him to become quite loud on the Bracero issue. This will make sure that it sticks to Bush like glue through the election and he'll have to: back down on it; defend it; or spend most of his energy diverting attention from it. All three of these will weaken him badly.

All we need now is a Democratic party that actually wants to take the presidency. Votes are still going on in New Hampshire and at this writing Wesley Clark is ahead. So let's not hold our breath, because Clark doesn't have a chance in hell of winning the presidency for a number of reasons. If the Democrats have any sense at all, Edwards will be the candidate. But a more reasonable possibility is Kerry-Edwards. The attack dog of a Democratic ticket is generally the VP(remember both Bentsen and Gore against Quayle in debate) and that's Edwards' specialty. I would, however, love to see Edwards debate Bush. He'd be picking shreds of Bush out of his teeth for weeks afterward.

Here's hoping. Meanwhile, as Bush's base deserts him, who jumps in as his defender but the formerly-funny Dennis Miller, who as we all know is the most popular personality on television with an unbroken string of successful and well-received shows. On CNBC he's launched yet another winner, a conservative talk show where he has expressed his desire to speak Bush's praises constantly. But while he fastens his lips around Bush's cock, we might do well to remember that most Bush supporters probably can't even understand his references. Here's some tidbits from the debut show, and let me tell ya, I hope Miller becomes Bush's most prominent defender; it would have been like Barbra Streisand having a talk show in 1998 defending Clinton:

"I believe you want someone to get incensed for you." Yes, but at whom, Dennis? Still they pretend a liberal media out to get Bush exists. If they finally destroyed all liberals they'd still pretend they existed; otherwise they'd have nothing to scare people into voting for them.

"The American experiment appears to be imploding. I believe that there's a common-sense revolution coming in this country, folks--I'd like this to be headquarters." It's nice to see Miller sees fascism coming as I do. But in his case he seems to want to make sure he's on the side of the Beast before the shit hits the fan. I'm amazed he can talk with his mouth so full of Bush.

...and a quote from a previous time:

"I don't know what I think of George W. Bush when he first got in, but I've grown fond of the man, and maybe it's the times we live in. They say he's not an environmentalist. But every time I see his ranch on TV, it looks pretty nice. You know something, if we all took care of our own, we'd have a great environment."

I hear Versailles looked pretty nice too. This from the man who once derided those who work in jobs where they have to wear name tags; as Franken remarked, Miller has never really been any different--once & always an elitist upper-class asslicker with more vocabulary than sense. Keep going, Dennis. You'll do our job for us.

Oh, and over the weekend, yet another person in a position to actually know has stated uncategorically that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and that is David Kay, who was, till he resigned last week, the CIA's chief weapons inspector. Not that this will make any difference with those who actually, actively supported the war. WMDs had nothing to do with their support, it was just an excuse they could beat those against the war over the heads with. The sentiment motivating the supporters of this completely elective war will be familiar to you if you waited with bated breath for Lucas' new STAR WARS films.

And the feeling such supporters have now can be likened to the feeling, after that anticipation, once one actually saw the Phantom Menace. Naturally, it still had defenders, but they were desperate and sad people, you see.

"What are you going to do about it?" --Thomas Nast.

"Bring 'em on." --GW Bush.

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26 January 2004
  Bush, Beast and Beyond

Here is a link to a Salon story on "American Dynasty," a Bush expose written by a Republican with hard credentials to discredit, though of course you know the Bush machine will find a way. We go all the way in here between the known allegations(Prescott Bush helped finance the rearming of Germany, for instance--both dynastic families, the bushes and the Kennedys, seemed to get their hands dirty with the Nazis) and the less-substantiated ones, but it's a good overview of the well-documented evils of the Bush Crime Family.

You know, it's not even the Republicans that I hate anymore. For the first time it's become possible to see, sharply, the difference between ordinary ones and the ones that mindlessly prop up Bush. The ordinary ones see a future, and act accordingly. The radical ones though can't wait, it seems, to use up everyone and everything before Armageddon.

I find the supposed turn the Bush clan took in this respect rather odd--their behavior in the shadows over the years was very much designed to, brick by brick, build themselves an inviolable and insurmountable political and economic machine. You don't do that because you believe God will be taking you home soon. You do that because you intend to make a radical change in your favor to history that will last generations. I therefore wonder how much Bush 43 really does believe the Christian Right, who surely do view him as the bringer of their death wish(though they don't see it that way), just as they hoped Reagan was. It's kind of frightening to think of these Jack T. Chick types so near the president.

I don't think, though, that their intent is to bring on Armageddon. I think they're bringing on, if anything, a new dark age, slowly coming into being even now. A new kind of feudal society but with the implements of the Industrial, Big Science, and Information eras. An age of consolidation of corporate power and government too bankrupt to do anything about it. An age when labor will no longer have the power it only has had a century--not even that--anyway. An age when the wealthy have lost any stake whatsoever in keeping the lower classes placated enough that they don't become murderous. (What do you think that trend toward gated communities has been about, anyway? Or the rise of the SUV? Armoring oneself, that's what)

An age best summed up, at least in how it will feel, by the film SALO--which I wouldn't be surprised to see show up on Fox next week as a reality series, given our increasing numbness to novelty and shock.

Which, by the way, makes it much easier for many to raise the bar of absurdity every time Bush says something else you'd never expect a president dare to say before an election. It becomes easier to accept--even if it infuriates you--every time, doesn't it?

I would even ally with Republicans to remove Bush. And I'm sure plenty wish to, if only they'd get louder. This is bigger than partisanship. This is about an America no one not a billionaire could bear to live in. The rest are just ordinary crooks. This one--it's like the Christian Right got so impatient waiting that they created their very own antichrist.

Regardless of whether armageddon was brought on by God or just by stupid people, though, it would hardly be pleasant either way, would it? Food for thought. Suppose George gave Armageddon and God never came?

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23 January 2004
  Scalia's Vacation with Cheney

Oh dear me. The nastiest and most political of all Supreme Court Justices may have just been found with his hand in the cookie jar.

Two senators have written Chief Justice William Rehnquist to raise concerns about Justice Antonin Scalia's impartiality in a case that involves the White House's energy task force.

Scalia went on a hunting trip to Louisiana with Dick Cheney, a longtime friend, shortly after the court agreed to review a lower court's decision that required White House to identify members of the vice president's task force.

Scalia has said there is no reason to question his ability to judge the case fairly.

Gosh, I can't imagine Scalia judging any case fairly. Let's hope there's more slime under this rock.

There is justice in this world. Though it may take a long time, everything is paid in the end.

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20 January 2004
  What Killing Foreign People Looks Like

Hey! You love war, right? This war in particular? You must, because you're not doing anything to stop it. It's OK, we're all friends here.

So since you like it so much, you might want to look at just what it looks like when we go about killing Iraqis. In this case it's farmers zapped by an Apache helicopter. Quite a sight.

What? You find that repulsive? Well, don't blame me, I'm just the publicist.


18 January 2004
  The Economy: Did It Jump Or Was It Pushed?

A strong article today at Salon articulates what I've been trying all this time to say about this sick joke of a president and just how much he cares whether we have jobs:

The tax cuts were not aimed to produce recovery and jobs; they were a reward to the rich. The war on Iraq was not waged to help the war on terror; it was about getting Saddam, as we have now had confirmed by Paul O'Neill's report on the Iraq agenda Bush carried from the beginning. Missile defense is not about North Korea, and still less about Iran or any other "rogue state"; it's about the contracts. In all these cases, the decision on what to do came first -- then the circumstances of the day were arranged to suit.

So it is today on the economy. What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That's obvious. After that, he doesn't care. His clientele -- the military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms and big media that control this government -- make their money on patents, contracts and the exercise of monopoly power. (Case in point: Bush is pressuring impoverished Central Americans, in trade negotiations, to add 10 years to the length of drug patents.) These people have no interest in full employment. They like unemployment, weak labor, low wages and a government that bullies on their behalf. And after the election, if Bush wins, that is what they will get for four more years.

As another article mentioned, we are entering an America that is all about inherited wealth, landed wealth, privilege entitled and not earnable. Work will no longer be relevant. Expecting any rich relatives to kick off soon? No? Aw.

Bit by bit he'll be taking it all away from you. Welcome to the plantation.

"What are you going to do about it?"--Thomas Nast.


17 January 2004
  Party At The Neverland Ranch! Bring The Kids!

Michael Jackson's fans, gathered at the temple of Moloch itself today, are every bit freakish and deluded and tasteless as I'd expect. And such numbers! I can't believe Jackson actually still has fans, and all of them are still in tragic 80s gear; I mean, there were all the German fans, but I'm not the first to wonder what the fuck is up about the Germans, and besides, they buy David Hasselhoff music too.

I'm sure any of these folks would let Michael dangle their baby--one way or another--any ol' time. There are also usually lots of maggots in garbage, more of them than myself. As Alan Moore once observed, does that majority make them right that garbage makes a good breakfast?

And please don't tell me this is a spontaneous show of support. I lived in California for seven years. The only thing they do spontaneously and without self-consciousness(not the anxious sort but the wonderment-filled sort) is run over bicyclists.

It's a funny thing, celebrity. No, actually, it used to be a funny thing. Now it's past that and getting a bit scary. Celebrity pulled loose from its moorings and actually becoming some equivalent of Caligula's declarations of godhood in life. A case could be made he was the first example of what we now think of as modern celebrity psychology. He spent vaingloriously. He declared himself to be Zeus. He named his horse a senator and openly slept with his sister. Actually, both of his sisters. And little boys. But as it happens, though Caligula was hated by the upper classes, whom he made a point of humiliating as much as possible, the plebians loved him. He spent Rome's fortunes on endless chariot tournaments and other public games and festivities, where his predecessor had been tight-fisted. The plebians didn't care where the money for it all was coming from. This was the son of one of the most revered heroes of Rome, and he was young, handsome and charming, and did little to harm the common people. Whereas much of this money was coming from the pockets of the patricians--or from the proceeds of the whoring of their wives by Caligula--and what's more, with all this public spending, they weren't really getting a piece of it. So they stabbed him.

Quite a digression. I hope it somehow adds something to this blather I've written.

Michael Jackson's case has some similar features, no more than interesting, but it helps in understanding the dynamics of celebrity. Michael's fans don't even care that he may have abused, and vilely so, scores of children. At the other pole, after the debts and failures and reneging on contracts, the music industry has clearly pressed the button on him. He is now of no more than catalog value to them, and the way to maximize this is that he be dead or in some other way put out of the public eye.

In other words, he very well may be guilty. But the industry may have been holding back its catching up with him, and now he's naked and unprotected by them.

But I find it odd that the fans may not even care that the allegations might be true. I was struck by this quote:

At the entrance to the sprawling ranch, guests were asked to sign a release agreeing to participate in a television show about Mr. Jackson. On the property, dotted with dozens of bronze sculptures of children at play, fans frolicked on swings and rode a small steam-engine train. "This is kind of jovial," said Brandi Miller, 25, of Los Angeles, "but it's sort of overshadowed by the fact that he's been charged with child molestation. There's an underlying theme here."

As far as the first sentence, well, we've learnt from reality TV that people have no problem being used or humiliated as long as it's in front of millions of viewers. We as a nation have become singularly shameless and afflicted with some opposite of stage fright.

As for the last quote--ya think? Gee, incidentally he's been charged with child molestation. The very tone of that sentence sets my teeth on edge. Not in some Christian moralist way, because I am not at all religious. But I also believe that there are many values that you don't have to be religious to have. Things that are obvious. Like child molestation being vile always.

I guess not if the molester can sing and dance well.

This tells me something I can't quite put words to about why we don't care an unelected dictator is slowly turning America into a paranoid, fascist banana republic.

I don't know if this country is going down the toilet, but I for one would sure like to flush right now, because the stink is starting to get to me.


16 January 2004
  British Soldier Has Body Armor Taken By Stingy Military: Surprise! He's Dead

Do I have to be a military expert to say that if you take away a soldier's body armor in the field then they'll probably get killed? Apparently not, since "military experts" themselves don't seem to grasp this.

The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, said today he was "extremely sorry" about the death of a tank commander who died in Iraq after being ordered to hand back body armour due to shortages.
Sergeant Steven Roberts's widow, Samantha, has called on Mr Hoon to resign for the good of the country and yesterday released audio tapes sent to her by her husband in which he complains about the lack of equipment.

"Responsibility for fatal inadequacies rest with him," she said.

Today Mr Hoon refused to say he was prepared to resign but when asked if he would be defence secretary next month responded with an equivocal answer, saying he was aware of the pressures of the job.

Expressing his regret about Sgt Roberts's death, Mr Hoon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I am extremely sorry that Sgt Roberts did not have the enhanced body armour that we expected he would receive. Some 38,000 sets of that enhanced body armour were sent to theatre. We wanted him to have that equipment."

Pressed on whether he would resign, Mr Hoon insisted ministers were assured by commanders ahead of last year's conflict that the military forces were "ready for action". Overall, the campaign had been "a remarkable military success", he said.

Mr Hoon has also been under pressure because of the death of the weapons specialist Dr David Kelly and many commentators expect the defence minister will be criticised by the Hutton inquiry into his death, which reports on January 28.

Have there ever been governments with less respect for a military they expect an awful, awful lot of loyalty from? Sure, all through history. I'm reminded of Hitler not sending his troops in Russia winter clothing because they didn't "deserve" it, as if they had done as he wished they would have been out before winter.

I wonder if the British and US governments realize that if all their men get killed by friendly fire, stupid accidents, lack of--dear god--lack of body armor and stuff like that, who'll be left to hold their precious Iraq?

Do I even have to point out the stupidity here? And if I do will it matter?


15 January 2004
  Jesus Christ, Mars.

That's right.

We're broke and fighting a war, and he wants us to go to Mars.

There are some who applaud the vision of this, cough, endeavor. There are also some who respect the "political genius" of Rove and the others under him--as though the constant subversion of the public good and will solely to one's own benefit constitutes "genius." The only genius in their technique is their bizarre ability to keep a straight face and a bunker mentality at all costs, and no matter how stupid the idea say it with conviction.

It takes some saying to say this but this is the second stupidest idea that has come out of this destructive, all-perverting administration. The stupidest they announced last week while floating this one.

It's not that in and of itself the idea is stupid. It's the randomness of it. The timing. They notice his approval ratings dropping and it's like they opened PRESIDENTIAL PR FOR DUMMIES and used the first thing they saw. "Space. Yeah, yeah, the livestock like it when we go into space."

I'm not bleating, are you?

The money. Where's the money coming from? How will you pay for this and a never-ending war on terrorism? What's the point, right now? (and if indeed there's some specific one, such as their knowing something about global warming they're not telling us--oh, wait, they DO) Are you freaking serious or do you actually think that'll distract me? That's how insulted I feel. Dear god, divert my attention with something more convincing than that.

Of course, there's also the possibility that this is a covert way to get SDI through. I bet they'd like to have big laser cannons in space at this juncture in our history, and I bet George would like to use them, and I bet Dick and Don and Paul can tell him where to aim 'em.

But Bush would tell us if that were the purpose of all this, wouldn't he? Wouldn't we think that was cool too?

I swear, some days I feel like I had one of those Twilight Zone things happen to me where I woke up and the world was a twisted parody of itself, except that i was so stupid it took me a year or so to notice.

You know, if you look back to every bullet this country ever dodged, things like the Cuban Missile Crisis, or 4 more years of a Nixon that was anything better than crippled, that kind of thing, it seems that they're all hitting under this administration, which at one point after another manages to darkly parody so many past administrations. Including Reagan's. Indeed, this was what we feared Reagan's was going to be in the early 80s, but they never managed to get that far. There was a time when people were shocked and politicians thought shock made a difference. When they were scared of our anger because it meant they'd be out on their useless asses.

When Falwell said on Sept. 11 that crap concerning "God has lifted his veil of protection from this country," first of all I think that was a water-testing, that he was given that to say so they could guage how far and fast they could go with their own rhetoric, and the revulsion by the public allowed them to calibrate their PR tone from there. But secondly, it wasn't God. It was the Republican Party. They eat us for four years and now they insult us with this and the guest-worker crap. What is this bullshit and why are we putting up with it?

I guess we've given up, and I guess we're cowards. And I guess the Supreme Court gave us the government we deserve.


14 January 2004
  "Fighting this kind of war is clearly going to be stressful for some people." --Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs Dr. William Winkenwerder

You're in a pointless war. You're a reservist. You weren't supposed to be there this long. You were promised you could come home. Now you can't, and you don't know if you ever will, and your president dared people to kill you months ago. And catching Saddam Hussein has brought you no reward and made no difference. And most of the time they even forget to pay you. And rather than talking about bringing you home, the president's mind is on Mars now.

You would be right to declare, "What the fuck?"

What do you do? Some might frag their officers. Except their officers are in the same shit-filled boat. So what would be the point?

Or since you know you've been given a life sentence one way or another, you might be one of the one in seven "non-hostile deaths" among our military in Iraq. That's right, they're killing themselves and the rate is rising. Fucking tragically.

"What you're really talking about here more than anything else is the perception that the future just looks indefinite and there are not enough troops coming in. It can look awfully bleak for an awful long time," said Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel who now works with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. Winkenwerder said that of 21 confirmed suicides during the past year associated with the war in Iraq, 18 were in the Army and three others in the Navy and Marine Corps. The suicide toll is probably higher than 21 because some "non-hostile" deaths are still being investigated, he added.

I would say that's less a perception than an unavoidable truth. Do you think our soldiers are stupid, sir?

What's this about Republicans being friendlier to the military? They'll certainly put you to work, that's for sure. But they don't treat the military very well, do they? Dear God, Mr. President, haven't we all, but them most of all, suffered enough for your re-election chances?


  "Didn't We Already Give Them A Break At The Top?" The Quotable Paul O'Neill

Some of the quotes Paul O'Neill has shared with we, the sheeple:

"This meeting was like many of the meetings that I would go to over the course of two years. The only way I can describe it is that, well, the president is like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection." — Paul O'Neill, describing a March 19, 2001, Cabinet meeting to discuss the California energy crisis.

"There's been too much gaming of the system until it is broke. Capitalism is not working! There has been a corrupting of the system of capitalism." — Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, speaking of mounting corporate scandals during a February 2002 meeting of the president's working group on corporate governance.

"If you can't do the right thing when you're at 85 percent approval, then when can you do the right thing? I think it's time to say no." — Mitch Daniels, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, arguing unsuccessfully at a Feb. 11, 2002, White House meeting that the administration should reject requests by the steel industry for protective tariffs.

"Won't the top-rate people benefit the most from eliminating the double taxation of dividends? Didn't we already give them a break at the top?" — President Bush, during a Nov. 26, 2002, White House meeting, questioning the wisdom of eliminating taxes individuals pay on corporate dividends.

"I'm not willing to say I want to return to private life because I'm too old to begin telling lies now." — Paul O'Neill, after being informed by Vice President Dick Cheney of Bush's decision to remove his as treasury secretary with the suggestion that O'Neill say he wanted to return to private life.

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13 January 2004
  Bush: Can He Be Trounced?

I think if the Democratic candidate simply acts like he wants it enough--and Dean so far does, while, say, Lieberman looks weary he hasn't been anointed already--he can beat Bush. This emperor is not only nude, he's painted purple and dancing atop a harpsichord, jiggling. * It just takes someone who points this out and will not stop.

I know and work with and communicate with people of all kinds of political persuasions and degrees of intensity thereof, except maybe paranoid Nazis. And I don't know anyone--ANYONE--who expresses more than a grudging support for Bush if any. And mostly what I see wash over the faces of conservatives when he's mentioned is the same look on Democrats' faces in Carter's final year. A depressed, it-wasn't-supposed-to-be-like this, how-could-this-have-happened kind of look. Mostly at best people think he's stupid and a bad, but strangely compulsive, liar. The reaction I keep seeing to what he says or does is invariably, "How stupid does he think we are?"

Even conservatives aren't too keen on him. That should tell you something. The only ones who really want him in office are business and religious interests who will not get what they want with anyone else there. It's not him as a president they're interested in. It's him as a door. That's where your consistent 45-50% default support comes from, and it's only representative of those polled, not the actual populace.

This story I found kind of interesting. In it a Fox News poll is cited in his favor. This of course is the equivalent of saying, "But my Mom thinks I'm cool."

In a Fox News poll released on Jan. 9, Bush led each of the four leading Democratic presidential hopefuls by 20 percentage points or more and enjoyed a 58 percent job approval rating, up six points over early December. "Yes, Bush has some vulnerabilities, but they are far outweighed by his many advantages -- his approval rating, his vast campaign chest, his formidable political machine and all the advantages of incumbency," said Georgetown University government professor Steven Wayne.

I would agree that these are characteristics of his campaign. They are not necessarily advantages. His approval rating can give him a false sense of security, and even if it's accurate it ain't much of a margin. His vast campaign chest? What does that really buy? Ads. Are their ads effective so far or do they smack of desperation? I have doubts that they really have much of an effect on the race anymore--the blatant lies of those California-style attack/advocacy ads we were treated to across the country in the midterms kind of pissed in the well. His incumbency? Um, that actually means he gets the blame in this case, like his dad. Unless Iraq is a shining peaceful beacon of democracy and we're down to 2% unemployment or less by summer, that will only act against him. We'll be saying, "Now WHO was it that fucked us so badly?"

His formidable political machine is only really an advantage if they employ dirty tricks. There I'll give them their due. There indeed is no party that will stoop lower to assure a win.

But he's eminently beatable.


*apologies to Ben Elton & Richard Curtis


12 January 2004
  Norquist: All Government To Be Republican

Or at least so he wishes. Here is a story in the Washington Post detailing a meeting of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

And if you think I exaggerate, have a look at an excerpt or two:

"Tennessee will be run by Steve."

"West Virginia -- we have three people."

"North Dakota is tough. You talked to Michigan?"

Diners brushed past the men unaware, as Ken Mehlman and Grover Norquist hopscotched across state lines, refining what Norquist calls, with a wink, "our secret plan to seize power."

Ah yes, a wink. They're very good at looking unserious, which somehow makes them less dangerous in people's minds.

When Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) tried to pass a state tax increase, Norquist helped defeat it. "We're going to keep him on life support," he said. "We'll put him in a freezer, as an example." He gave the Alabama state party chairman an award for opposing the hike. Instead of a plaque, Norquist sent him a sword with a steel blade. Even presidents have felt his wrath. Norquist first organized the Wednesday meetings in 1993 to galvanize opposition to Bill Clinton's health care plan. He keeps a rubber stamp by his desk, "Find Him and Kill Him." Near it, he has taped a yellowing scrap on which he had written: "Oct. 12, 1987. Bush: 'I won't raise your taxes, period.' " Norquist still condemns the first President Bush for breaking that promise.

He criticized George W. Bush's policies as well, when Bush was governor of Texas. But since Bush has become president, Norquist has muted his disapproval. Paul Weyrich, another conservative leader, said the younger Bush has earned the base's respect: "I have worked with administrations going back to Nixon. These people are more responsive than any other White House."


11 January 2004
  Paul O'Neill Spills: They Expected No WMDs and "Deficits Don't Matter" Said Bush Regime

The Bush administration's graceless way of ejecting those for whom it has no use looks like it's starting to catch up with them. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who was spat out December of 2002, has turned over 19,000 documents to Ron Suskind, the author of the new Bush expose "the Price of Loyalty" and given an interview to Time Magazine. Already publicized has been O'Neill's characterization of Bush as "disengaged" in cabinet meetings, "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people,"(in a 60 Minutes interview airing this very evening) as well as his brief mention that maybe they ought to give some of the tax cuts to the middle class as well as the rich, whom even he seemed to think were getting too much, an idea Dick Cheney--increasingly emerging in this picture as every bit the vicious puppet master he's long been suspected to be--shot down.

And today this item from that hit the news:

In excerpts from a new book chronicling his rocky two-year tenure and an interview with Time magazine, O'Neill said Bush balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency. O'Neill, fired in a shake-up of Bush's economic team in December 2002, also said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) that growing budget deficits -- expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone -- posed a threat to the U.S. economy. Cheney cut him off, according to the interview posted on the Time Web site on Sunday. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

Of course deficits didn't matter to Reagan because he wasn't the one who was left with the bill--the rest of us were, remember? And the American people bore down, erased the debt, and produced a surplus, which Bush, Delay and Cheney then yanked and gave away to the rich, who in turn have begun channeling it overseas rather than producing jobs here in America as the trickle-down lie would have you believe--because there's nothing to stop them doing so. (And now Bush is talking about giving legal jobs to illegal aliens--anything but to Americans?)

If O'Neill is correct, then Cheney has been doing no more than providing a pipeline from our tax dollars to the wealthiest pigs in the electorate. But then, some of us already knew that. Too bad this, like every other outrage I've been tracking in this blog, will most likely fade within 2 news cycles. The Bush administration knows that they only have to wait out revelations like this a bit before the public gets bored and forgets. It's happened successfully so many times in the last few years, but most of you have probably given up trying to keep track. And it is tiring.

But there's more too:

O'Neill charged that Bush entered office in January 2001 intent on invading Iraq and was in search of a way to go about it. "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction," O'Neill, who sat on the National Security Council, told Time.

Well now.

Of course, the GOP attack machine has already begun to respond:

Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida accused O'Neill of taking "a Shakespearean approach to advance his career and his book sales. Not since Julius Caesar have I seen such a blatant stab in the back. Et tu, Mr. O'Neill?"

Poor guy should read more. Brutus stabbed Caesar right in front, to his face, and declared openly he had done so to the Roman citizens. And did so, at least in his view, to prevent a dictatorship. (Of course, all the act did was assure one, but...)

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10 January 2004
  The Next Best Thing to Slavery

This sudden pitch for "radical" immigration reform on the part of Bush is very clever and very insidious. I can't wait to see how he sells this in the midst of a jobless recovery. With so many Americans out of work, to hear Bush talking about "jobs Americans won't take" just proves he doesn't know there are other people in this country besides his family and circle of cronies. Or his contempt for the American people. And I don't really know if this will help him with Latinos, but that of course is the point. Even if this fails he can say to them, "Wahl, I tried mah best but the Dimmycrats stopped me."

The idea supposedly is to "rationalize" the situation that already exists. In other words, to give the exploitation of illegals that already goes on, and has gone on, official sanction. Only with a few advantages for the government: the government will know where they are and will be able to send them back after 3 years, unlike now when they have to be caught first. But employers will most likely still be able to pay them what they feel like. And best of all, citizenship isn't even in the picture. We take them, use them, wring them out and throw 'em back when done.

Now that so many have been thrown out of the workforce, this is a perfect time to perform this sort of replacement. Businesses want to fill jobs and are already transferring white-collar jobs to India. But to pick your vegetables or sweep your floors requires the presence of the serf. I'm sorry, I mean slave. No, no, I meant "worker." I beg your pardon.

Anyone who believes that it'll stop with the jobs illegals already do is mistaken. All of a sudden businesses will find all sorts of positions they "can't find Americans for." And I'm not talking executive or even clerical positions. I'm talking first about the service sector, which is full of jobs people like Bush probably think "Americans don't want." Maybe not but many Americans need the jobs anyway. McDonald's already is equipped to do this, with their pictographic-buttoned registers. And why pay, say, some African-American guy minimum wage as, say, a janitor when you can get a Mexican--legally--for half the cost or close to NO cost, and don't have to pay benefits? (I am certain the first demographic that will be hit by this is African-Americans)

If you ask your boss for a raise, or time off, or even just not to work overtime tonight, he'll always be able to respond that he can get a Mexican to take your place anytime, and you'll probably cease complaining. Even better, a permanent underclass of workers tied to their jobs who can be sent back to their countries if they squawk about, say, not being paid overtime even though they worked it(I'm sure Wal-Mart is coming all over themselves over this plan)--or about sexual harassment or bad work conditions or anything at all--is a quiet sector of workers. So labor rights will be severely diluted, as will wages.

Last night I heard Luis Guiterrez defend this plan on the basis that they're "just low-status and even dangerous jobs Americans don't want anyway." Interesting how eager those among its supporters who are Latino are to send fellow Latinos into miserable and possibly dangerous jobs so blithely. And isn't this spitting in the eye of everyone who did go through the process legally--which isn't easy or quick?

And best of all, Bush will be able to stop all discussion by claiming those against it are racist. And he will, or his lap pundits like David "Neo Means Jewish" Brooks will.

This is about nothing else but establishing serfdom in America. And by the way, I advise you to read up on the Roman emperor Valens and how such workers were treated under his manpower-needs-based policies toward the Germans. This isn't new.

And as has been pointed out, is there any legislation being floated? No, there is not.

I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that this is just a cynical bit of vaporpolitics, designed to get the Latino voters to at least look more in his direction. Certainly he can't believe that in an election year, any member of congress is going to want to say to their constituents they're behind this, unless they're as politically stupid as poor Walter Mondale was to not just say he'd raise taxes, but emphasize it to such a degree that it was mistaken for his main platform. But then, I also expect Republicans to always be obstinately ideological against their own best interests(or Beast interests in their case) and forever try to hammer a decades-old square peg into a modern round hole. So I definitely hope that a whole bunch of Republicans think it's a dandy election-year proposal, and I also hope Bush is persistent in mentioning it.

His achilles' heel--and doesn't it seem like he should have a whole body full of them? why DOES he get away with so many stupid ideas?--is exactly the same as his dad's. Total ignorance of the domestic economy and day-to-day life of the American people, and again, a failure to grasp that there are more people in this country than his family, friends, and servants. My god, to hear him talk you'd think this country had recently become underpopulated. Does he think the rapture is underway or something? (If so what does he make of his still being present?)

As I think I glossed over, this is essentially a new form of indentured servitude. Except reduced to three years from the, I think, traditional seven so many of my own Scottish ancestors came over to work. (of course, they also ran off as soon as they could) And without any promise of citizenship at the end of it. And it will not change their situation; it'll make it worse. Think about it--nowadays under present rules, if, an illegal alien, a woman, say, is harassed by her boss to "do things" for him--or else he'll report her to the INS--she would still have the option to run off and disappear into another town. Much more difficult under Bush's proposals, where their location is more accurately tagged, in the sense that it is known then officially, and wasn't before. One squawk or even disagreement could lead to automatic deportation. Wouldn't you feel pressured to comply with almost anything? The rules can easily be used like a gun to the presently-illegal worker's head.

The boss will potentially be able to do anything to them they wish, as though they don't now anyway. And in many ways besides the rather tawdry example I just employed to get your attention. Think of the abuses of safety that already occur. I think the NY Times did a story a few months back about some kind of factory in Texas that has a particularly bad recent history of workers' accidents and a complete disregard for safety. Hands smashed and boiled off. Men impaled on pipes in shafts. That kind of thing, and it went on a long time before reports were even listened to. (I would appreciate anyone reminding me what this place was if they recall, and correct me on any inaccuracies in the details I mentioned) And these were American citizens. Nobody pays attention to OSHA rules even now, really. Certainly not at the level of employment these workers would be at.

So this isn't just a threat to American workers. This also will not be good for these folks. I also worry that in any event, resentment will end up being taken out on them, and I hope no one is that stupid. It was during the anti-Chinese crusade of the 1800s--which the Republicans, then calling themselves the "party of the free white working man," were born in spearheading with the refrain of "the Chinese must go"--and that's the potential tragedy of this kind of thing. Politician comes up with stupid proposal that makes no one happy, somehow gets it through. Foreign workers, caring no more than you or I would why or how they got the opportunity, take advantage of program resulting from said proposal, because it's still an easier way in even for a little bit. The foreign worker is trying to survive and gain comfort just like you or me. He has no particular wish to displace Americans. It's not a situation like being a scab. But it's often taken that way, leading to the third step: Alien worker gets beat on when it's not his fault. Fat cat gets fatter. Politician doesn't even look at the results and assumes it worked. It's happened many times with this subject. For a country based on immigration, we handle it very poorly.

And where will they be housed, the new ones that Bush hopes to encourage to come over? Barracks like Soweto or something? Or will the government secure apartments for them, with so many Americans homeless? And most of all: what happens when some have children while they're here, as some inevitably will? (or is this also an attempt to create a baby farm for infertile Republican women? God knows I wouldn't be shocked) My yes, this is a clusterfuck of disasters waiting to converge.

I find this issue fascinating because there seem to be so many angles from which to disagree with it. I also find it strange that when Bush wants to float an iffy idea, instead of leaking it and seeing how it plays out--as one ought to do with stuff like that, if one has any political sense at all--he goes up and makes a full-scale announcement. Limbaugh, Dubya, that's what VICE-presidents are for! Why do you think Nixon had Agnew or your daddy had Quayle? Or...oh, right. Never mind.

By the way, I can't imagine he can succeed with this. You know who really would have helped to actually make this come off as compassionate to the public? The left, who were at least able to get with Nixon on the environment, by contrast. Oopsy.

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06 January 2004
  I Guess They Really Weren't Paying Attention

Well, usually I have a certain amount of respect for the Brits--it is part of my ancestry, after all. But I couldn't help but be struck by this weird tumult over the source of supposed "plagiarism" in a speech by Michael Howard, the ineffectual head of the ineffectual Tories. Apparently they think this statement:

"I believe it is natural for men and women to want health, wealth and happiness for their families and themselves."

...which is hardly radical nowadays, was taken from this "landmark declaration" by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1941:

"I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Rockefeller intoned in his famous radio broadcast on July 8 1941.

Um, well, it indeed is taken from a US source, but Rockefeller took it from the same one. It's from the Declaration of Independence, written over 200 years ago mainly by Thomas Jefferson. For the benefit of our benighted friends in the UK press:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Now this is in no way a defense of Howard, who's a putz like all Tories. But good heavens, I suppose they never did read the damn thing in 1776. Ah well.

And a happy new year to all. I hope when I write in one year's time it'll be in a world where Bush is about to finish as president forever. (Sorry to have been so sporadic--which I probably will be still for a while. Very very busy, and you'll know with what soon enough. Watch here for announcements)


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