Introduction to the GetRealList

January 22, 2004 at 2:23 am
Contributed by: Chris

I originally created this site as a way to contribute to the national dialogue and help educate my community about issues that concerned me. It has since become an essential part of my work as an energy journalist and communicator.

The History

GetRealList began as a series of occasional emails that I distributed to friends in the wake of 9-11, in an attempt to help us figure out what the attack was all about. The list finally outgrew the confines of regular email distrubtion, so I rebuilt it as the blog you see today, which is now on its third major revision.

But before the GetRealList, I had a brainchild that I built my first Web business around, and that was Better World, which was an online magazine about environmental and social responsibility. I invite you to check out the back issues and see what I was on about before I became more focused on politics and particularly energy, and peak oil. (Some years later, I sold the domain betterworld.com to an excellent company that recycles millions of books annually and creates libraries where there are none in Africa and elsewhere.)

Credits

I should mention too that Better World and the GetRealList represent much more than my labors alone; lots of people have contributed substantially of their time and skills to make them happen. These are all incredibly talented, brilliant, generous souls and I’ve been lucky to have so much of their help. I’d like to give a shout out to a few of them here:

Christian Bentley

Tom Kee

Rob Gilde

Lee Thompson

Jason Williams

Mike Mell

Chris Maresca

Mighty Dave Pellicciaro

John Camacho

Chris Rimple

…and lots of others I’ve forgotten to mention. You know who you are.

Can I become a subscriber?

To receive GRL in your email, just submit your email address in the upper left corner of the home page.

You can also send me a personal note.

–Chris Nelder
Editor

State of the Union Wrapup

January 21, 2004 at 8:09 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

I
don’t know how many of you watched the State of the Union speech last night,
but the only one person who actually graded it or sent me his reactions
(straight Fs on the True Majority State of the Union report card) was the one
person I called on the phone and personally asked if he would grade it. Oh
well. I had as much fun as I could with it. I watched it with a friend, we
spoofed it, and I took some notes, see below. I thought it might be fun to try
to write down the basic “inside message” as he went along. I admit, I
did lose concentration on it at a few points, but I think it’s a pretty
accurate representation.

So here is my “Inside Reading of the State of the Union Speech,” along with some links to other responses that you may want to check out.

Folks,

I
don’t know how many of you watched the State of the Union speech last night,
but the only one person who actually graded it or sent me his reactions
(straight Fs on the True Majority State of the Union report card) was the one
person I called on the phone and personally asked if he would grade it. Oh
well. I had as much fun as I could with it. I watched it with a friend, we
spoofed it, and I took some notes, see below. I thought it might be fun to try
to write down the basic “inside message” as he went along. I admit, I
did lose concentration on it at a few points, but I think it’s a pretty
accurate representation.

So here is my “Inside Reading of the State of the Union Speech,” along with some links to other responses that you may want to check out.

-
Typically, the Center for American Progress did the best wrapup, in my opinion.

http://www.americanprogress.org/AccountTempFiles/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/040121.HTM

Even
better, they did a detailed, point by point rebuttal, which was great:

http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=22985

I
would love to see that one circulate the Net for awhile along with all the
other email flotsam.

-
Ben Cohen does a great pitch for his True Majority organization. An animated
look at the federal budget…in Oreo cookies. Good stuff. I definitely endorse
True Majority by the way; being an activist doesn’t get a whole
lot easier.

http://ww11.e-tractions.com/truemajority/run/oreo

-
Chronicling the continuing games of the Bush administration in trumpeting some
social support program just as it de-funds it, the Daily Mislead is on the
beat.

http://www.misleader.org/daily_mislead/Read.asp?fn=df01212004.html

(“Yeah,
you got it buddy, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.”
– Tom Waits)

-
Since whipping up fears of terrorism and support for the war in Iraq were major
parts of the speech, it’s interesting to compare that to the results of this
Gallup poll, in which the economy and jobs figure prominently among Americans’
concerns:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr040120.asp

And
now, my notes from the speech. If you want to follow along, print out the
actual transcript below.

An Inside Reading of the State of the Union Speech

Call
to patriotism

Whip
up fear

Uncertain
suggestions of improvement

Congratulate
us for our compassion

Revisit
fear

With
us or against us theme

We’re
part of unbroken heritage with past

“Confident”
and “strong”

Reinforce
fear. Assert strength against adversity.

Support
Patriot Act…connect to terrorism…not a “free license to do whatever we
want”…terrorist threat will not expire so neither should the Act.

Success
against al Qaeda etc

Afghanistan
as a model of success

The
people of Iraq are free!

Victory
over Saddam – Evil regime – we are Right – moral superiority

Establish
democracy in Iraq by end of June!

Adman
Pachachi loves Joanie

“nukular”
(he said this repeatedly, leading me to believe that it can’t be a mistake
anymore, not as much as we know he’s being coached. Which raises an interesting
question: why is he intentionally mispronouncing the word
“nuclear”?)

“Weapons
of Mass Murder!” [Is this the new catchphrase?]

“Lonely
hours on faithful watch” – pride in troops – War on Terror

Fear
of terrorism

War

WMD
assertions [Still? Aw, man. The unbelieveable chutzpah to continue to lie about
this!]

“Killing
fields of Iraq” – nice, connect Iraq to Cambodia

Safer
& better place now

Coalition
of the Shilling

It’s
“mistaken & condescending” of us to say that the Mideast
cannot be converted to democracy

“Forward
strategy”

“Expect
a higher standard from our friend” [hmm, a dig at the Saudis?]

“No
ambitions of empire”

“no
ambitions of empire” …”dignity and rights of every man and
woman”….”This great republic will lead the cause of freedom.”

Strong
economy

No
child left behind – testing standards

Funding
for advanced education will only be for the gifted

Fear
of taxes, with no recognition of costs

“What
Congress has given, the Congress should not take away.” [This kind of
quasi-Biblical sounding nonsense--I mean, look at it, what's he saying? That
Congress is utterly perfect in its spending? No, this was a nonsensical
statement intended to sound Biblical and support his spending proposals. He
bastardized a few other Biblical homilies in the speech, coded cues to the
Christian Right that he's their boy.]

Energy:
modernize, conservation, less dependence on foreign oil. [OK, I'm Mr. Energy
Policy, so props where they're due, "Bravo!" But I don't believe for
a minute that he believes any of that where it's going to cost American
businesses money. He's not worried about energy security. This is just code for
big work projects for the energy industry. I'd love to be proven wrong on that
count.]

Free
trade

Privatize
Social Security – “Limit the burden” [That's code for
"lower payouts for the boomers."]

“limiting
the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent” … “we
can cut the deficit in half over the next five years” [The only way this
could ever be considered a true statement is by leaving out a lot of actual
costs - see the Progress Report.]

Immigration
laws “bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows
of American life”

Rising
costs of medical care – “extend benefits of modern
medicine throughout our country” [This is code for a corporate
welfare program for the pharmaceutical industry]

Privatize
Medicare – prescription drug coverage [Gotta cut loose Medicare because we
can't afford it and our burgeoning defense budget]

Insurance
– limiting medical lawsuits

Fundamentalist
values – “unseen pillars of civilization” [Fundamentalist values are
going to be written into the Constitution if they can do it]
Drugs!!

Drug
Testing!

In
schools!

Athletics
& drugs & children…

Marriage

“unleashing
the compassion of America’s religious institutions” [Am I the only one who
shuddered upon hearing this? Doesn't it sound like a threat?]

Codify
faith-based charities to end discrimination! [Interesting use of the word
"discrimination"]

Assertions
of our strength, courage, confidence, faith. [Democratic presidential
candidates could stand to take a page from this book if they really want to win
the heartland.]

Finally,
the Whopper: “The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable — and
it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater
power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can
know that His purposes are just and true.” [Reduction: our policies are
God's policies.]

Here’s
the actual transcript of the speech:

2004 State of the
Union Transcript

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress,
distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: America this evening is a nation
called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them.

As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women
are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the
oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more
secure. (Applause.)

Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking
terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and
women of our new Homeland Security Department are patrolling our coasts and
borders. And their vigilance is protecting America. (Applause.)

Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the
world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is
working. (Applause.)

Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in the great works of compassion
and reform that skeptics had thought impossible. You’re raising the standards for
our public schools, and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug
coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)

We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice: We can
go forward with confidence and resolve, or we can turn back to the dangerous
illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to
us. We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and
Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions.

We’ve not come all this way — through tragedy, and trial and war — only to
falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of
history, and they expect the same from us. In their efforts, their enterprise,
and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our
union is confident and strong. (Applause.)

Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people.
Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 — over two years
without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the
danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting — and false. The
killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem,
Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the
civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.
(Applause.)

Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our
homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend
us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal
law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt
their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar
provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good
for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists.
(Applause.)

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.)
The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law
enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to
renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)

America is on the offensive against the terrorists who started this war.
Last March, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a mastermind of September the 11th, awoke
to find himself in the custody of U.S. and Pakistani authorities. Last August
the 11th brought the capture of the terrorist Hambali, who was a key player in
the attack in Indonesia that killed over 200 people. We’re tracking al Qaeda
around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been
captured or killed. Thousands of very skilled and determined military personnel
are on the manhunt, going after the remaining killers who hide in cities and
caves, and one by one, we will bring these terrorists to justice. (Applause.)

As part of the offensive against terror, we are also confronting the regimes
that harbor and support terrorists, and could supply them with nuclear,
chemical or biological weapons. The United States and our allies are
determined: We refuse to live in the shadow of this ultimate danger.
(Applause.)

The first to see our determination were the Taliban, who made Afghanistan
the primary training base of al Qaeda killers. As of this month, that country
has a new constitution, guaranteeing free elections and full participation by
women. Businesses are opening, health care centers are being established, and
the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school. With the help from the
new Afghan army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against the
surviving members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. The men and women of Afghanistan
are building a nation that is free and proud and fighting terror — and America
is honored to be their friend. (Applause.)

Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great
Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the
United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and the people of Iraq are
free. (Applause.)

Having broken the Baathist regime, we face a remnant of violent Saddam
supporters. Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now dispersed and
attack from the shadows. These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a
serious, continuing danger. Yet we’re making progress against them. The once
all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell.
(Applause.) Of the top 55 officials of the former regime, we have captured or
killed 45. Our forces are on the offensive, leading over 1,600 patrols a day
and conducting an average of 180 raids a week. We are dealing with these thugs
in Iraq, just as surely as we dealt with Saddam Hussein’s evil regime.
(Applause.)

The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has
always been willing to do what it takes for what is right. Last January, Iraq’s
only law was the whim of one brutal man. Today our coalition is working with
the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law, with a bill of rights. We’re working
with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi
sovereignty by the end of June.

As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their
power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our
country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be
intimidated by thugs and assassins. (Applause.) The killers will fail, and the
Iraqi people will live in freedom. (Applause.)

Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own
security and their own future. And tonight we are honored to welcome one of
Iraq’s most respected leaders: the current President of the Iraqi Governing
Council, Adnan Pachachi.

Sir, America stands with you and the Iraqi people as you build a free and
peaceful nation. (Applause.)

Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the
better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and
dismantle all of his regime’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including a
uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly
judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons
of mass murder. (Applause.)

Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great
Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not.
And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible,
and no one can now doubt the word of America. (Applause.)

Different threats require different strategies. Along with nations in the
region, we’re insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear program. America
and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its commitments
and not develop nuclear weapons. America is committed to keeping the world’s
most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes.
(Applause.)

When I came to this rostrum on September the 20th, 2001, I brought the
police shield of a fallen officer, my reminder of lives that ended, and a task
that does not end. I gave to you and to all Americans my complete commitment to
securing our country and defeating our enemies. And this pledge, given by one,
has been kept by many.

You in the Congress have provided the resources for our defense, and cast
the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies have been unwavering.
America’s intelligence personnel and diplomats have been skilled and tireless.
And the men and women of the American military — they have taken the hardest duty.
We’ve seen their skill and their courage in armored charges and midnight raids,
and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the joy when they return, and
felt the sorrow when one is lost. I’ve had the honor of meeting our servicemen
and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific to a mess
hall in Baghdad.

Many of our troops are listening tonight. And I want you and your families
to know: America is proud of you. And my administration, and this Congress,
will give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror.
(Applause.)

I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They
view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law
enforcement and indictments. After the World Trade Center was first attacked in
1993, some of the guilty were indicted and tried and convicted, and sent to
prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and
plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans. After the chaos
and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with
legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United
States, and war is what they got. (Applause.)

Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of
Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be
candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We’re seeking
all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass
destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment
that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the
dictatator’s weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day.
Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been
revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging
defiance by dictators around the world. Iraq’s torture chambers would still be
filled with victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq —
where hundreds of thousands of men and women and children vanished into the
sands — would still be known only to the killers. For all who love freedom and
peace, the world without Saddam Hussein’s regime is a better and safer place. (Applause.)

Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This
particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia,
Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark,
Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands — (applause) — Norway,
El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq.
(Applause.) As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions
of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices.

From the beginning, America has sought international support for our
operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a
difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and
submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission
slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)

We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater
Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to
assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty
and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the
desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for
decades, it will rise again. (Applause.)

As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger,
it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of
America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom
in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront
the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friend. To cut
through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other
broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian — and
soon, a new television service will begin providing reliable news and
information across the region. I will send you a proposal to double the budget
of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the
development of free elections, and free markets, free press, and free labor
unions in the Middle East. And above all, we will finish the historic work of
democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, so those nations can light the way for others,
and help transform a troubled part of the world. (Applause.)

America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most
basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim
is a democratic peace — a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every
man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side,
yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause
of freedom. (Applause.)

In the last three years, adversity has also revealed the fundamental
strengths of the American economy. We have come through recession, and
terrorist attack, and corporate scandals, and the uncertainties of war. And
because you acted to stimulate our economy with tax relief, this economy is
strong, and growing stronger. (Applause.)

You have doubled the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, reduced the
marriage penalty, begun to phase out the death tax, reduced taxes on capital gains
and stock dividends, cut taxes on small businesses, and you have lowered taxes
for every American who pays income taxes.

Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving this economy
forward. The pace of economic growth in the third quarter of 2003 was the
fastest in nearly 20 years; new home construction, the highest in almost 20
years; home ownership rates, the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is
increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing.
Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise. (Applause.)

These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far
better than government would have — and you were right to return it.
(Applause.)

America’s growing economy is also a changing economy. As technology
transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive,
and workers need new skills. Much of our job growth will be found in
high-skilled fields like health care and biotechnology. So we must respond by
helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy.

All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to
be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many
children, those skills were never mastered. By passing the No Child Left Behind
Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country. We’re
providing more funding for our schools — a 36-percent increase since 2001.
We’re requiring higher standards. We are regularly testing every child on the
fundamentals. We are reporting results to parents, and making sure they have
better options when schools are not performing. We are making progress toward
excellence for every child in America. (Applause.)

But the status quo always has defenders. Some want to undermine the No Child
Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results we
require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third graders to read
and do math at the third grade level — and that’s not asking too much. Testing
is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind. This
nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along from
grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on any
child — and the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity to
all of America’s children. (Applause.)

At the same time, we must ensure that older students and adults can gain the
skills they need to find work now. Many of the fastest growing occupations
require strong math and science preparation, and training beyond the high
school level. So tonight, I propose a series of measures called Jobs for the
21st Century. This program will provide extra help to middle and high school
students who fall behind in reading and math, expand advanced placement
programs in low-income schools, invite math and science professionals from the
private sector to teach part-time in our high schools. I propose larger Pell
grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high
school. (Applause.) I propose increasing our support for America’s fine
community colleges, so they can — (applause.) I do so, so they can train
workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. By all these
actions, we’ll help more and more Americans to join in the growing prosperity
of our country. Job training is important, and so is job creation.

We must continue to pursue an aggressive, pro-growth economic agenda.
(Applause.) Congress has some unfinished business on the issue of taxes. The
tax reductions you passed are set to expire. Unless you act — (applause) —
unless you act — unless you act, the unfair tax on marriage will go back up.
Unless you act, millions of families will be charged $300 more in federal taxes
for every child. Unless you act, small businesses will pay higher taxes. Unless
you act, the death tax will eventually come back to life. Unless you act,
Americans face a tax increase. What Congress has given, the Congress should not
take away. For the sake of job growth, the tax cuts you passed should be
permanent. (Applause.)

Our agenda for jobs and growth must help small business owners and employees
with relief from needless federal regulation, and protect them from junk and
frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our
economy run — so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity
system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign
sources of energy. (Applause.)

My administration is promoting free and fair trade to open up new markets
for America’s entrepreneurs and manufacturers and farmers — to create jobs for
American workers. Younger workers should have the opportunity to build a nest
egg by saving part of their Social Security taxes in a personal retirement
account. (Applause.) We should make the Social Security system a source of
ownership for the American people. (Applause.) And we should limit the burden
of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.
(Applause.)

In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the
homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in
discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. (Applause.) This will require
that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the
people’s money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five
years. (Applause.)

Tonight, I also ask you to reform our immigration laws so they reflect our
values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary worker program to
match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be
found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy because
employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary
worker program will help protect our homeland, allowing Border Patrol and law
enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security.

I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration,
and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will
preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing
millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life.
(Applause.)

Our nation’s health care system, like our economy, is also in a time of
change. Amazing medical technologies are improving and saving lives. This
dramatic progress has brought its own challenge, in the rising costs of medical
care and health insurance. Members of Congress, we must work together to help
control those costs and extend the benefits of modern medicine throughout our
country. (Applause.)

Meeting these goals requires bipartisan effort, and two months ago, you
showed the way. By strengthening Medicare and adding a prescription drug
benefit, you kept a basic commitment to our seniors: You are giving them the
modern medicine they deserve. (Applause.)

Starting this year, under the law you passed, seniors can choose to receive
a drug discount card, saving them 10 to 25 percent off the retail price of most
prescription drugs — and millions of low-income seniors can get an additional
$600 to buy medicine. Beginning next year, seniors will have new coverage for
preventive screenings against diabetes and heart disease, and seniors just
entering Medicare can receive wellness exams.

In January of 2006, seniors can get prescription drug coverage under
Medicare. For a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors who do not have that
coverage today can expect to see their drug bills cut roughly in half. Under
this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as it is,
or they can choose a Medicare plan that fits them best — just as you, as
members of Congress, can choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. And
starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money tax-free
for their medical expenses in a health savings account. (Applause.)

I signed this measure proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our
seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare, will
meet my veto. (Applause.)

On the critical issue of health care, our goal is to ensure that Americans
can choose and afford private health care coverage that best fits their
individual needs. To make insurance more affordable, Congress must act to
address rapidly rising health care costs. Small businesses should be able to
band together and negotiate for lower insurance rates, so they can cover more
workers with health insurance. I urge you to pass association health plans.
(Applause.) I ask you to give lower-income Americans a refundable tax credit
that would allow millions to buy their own basic health insurance. (Applause.)

By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes,
reduce costs, and improve care. To protect the doctor-patient relationship, and
keep good doctors doing good work, we must eliminate wasteful and frivolous
medical lawsuits. (Applause.) And tonight I propose that individuals who buy
catastrophic health care coverage, as part of our new health savings accounts,
be allowed to deduct 100 percent of the premiums from their taxes. (Applause.)

A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription. (Applause.)
By keeping costs under control, expanding access, and helping more Americans
afford coverage, we will preserve the system of private medicine that makes
America’s health care the best in the world. (Applause.)

We are living in a time of great change — in our world, in our economy, in
science and medicine. Yet some things endure — courage and compassion,
reverence and integrity, respect for differences of faith and race. The values
we try to live by never change. And they are instilled in us by fundamental
institutions, such as families and schools and religious congregations. These
institutions, these unseen pillars of civilization, must remain strong in
America, and we will defend them. We must stand with our families to help them
raise healthy, responsible children. When it comes to helping children make
right choices, there is work for all of us to do.

One of the worst decisions our children can make is to gamble their lives
and futures on drugs. Our government is helping parents confront this problem
with aggressive education, treatment, and law enforcement. Drug use in high
school has declined by 11 percent over the last two years. Four hundred
thousand fewer young people are using illegal drugs than in the year 2001.
(Applause.) In my budget, I proposed new funding to continue our aggressive,
community-based strategy to reduce demand for illegal drugs. Drug testing in
our schools has proven to be an effective part of this effort. So tonight I
proposed an additional $23 million for schools that want to use drug testing as
a tool to save children’s lives. The aim here is not to punish children, but to
send them this message: We love you, and we don’t want to lose you. (Applause.)

To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play
such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional
sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing
drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and
it sends the wrong message — that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and
that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team
owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send
the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now. (Applause.)

To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers young
people face — even when they’re difficult to talk about. Each year, about 3
million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases that can harm them, or
kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents. In my budget, I propose
a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We
will double federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this
fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid
sexually-transmitted diseases. (Applause.)

Decisions children now make can affect their health and character for the
rest of their lives. All of us — parents and schools and government — must
work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the
right messages to our children.

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we
should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most
fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already
taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in
1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as
a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine
marriage for other states.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order,
without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On
an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard. If judges
insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative
left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend
the sanctity of marriage. (Applause.)

The outcome of this debate is important — and so is the way we conduct it.
The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each
individual has dignity and value in God’s sight. (Applause.)

It’s also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the
compassion of America’s religious institutions. Religious charities of every
creed are doing some of the most vital work in our country — mentoring
children, feeding the hungry, taking the hand of the lonely. Yet government has
often denied social service grants and contracts to these groups, just because
they have a cross or a Star of David or a crescent on the wall. By executive
order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that
includes faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law, so
people of faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them
again. (Applause.)

In the past, we’ve worked together to bring mentors to children of
prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless.
Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This
year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We
know from long experience that if they can’t find work, or a home, or help,
they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I
propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job
training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help
newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups.
(Applause.) America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the
prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life. (Applause.)

For all Americans, the last three years have brought tests we did not ask
for, and achievements shared by all. By our actions, we have shown what kind of
nation we are. In grief, we have found the grace to go on. In challenge, we
rediscovered the courage and daring of a free people. In victory, we have shown
the noble aims and good heart of America. And having come this far, we sense
that we live in a time set apart.

I’ve been witness to the character of the people of America, who have shown
calm in times of danger, compassion for one another, and toughness for the long
haul. All of us have been partners in a great enterprise. And even some of the
youngest understand that we are living in historic times. Last month a girl in
Lincoln, Rhode Island, sent me a letter. It began, “Dear George W. Bush. If
there’s anything you know, I, Ashley Pearson, age 10, can do to help anyone,
please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country.”
She added this P.S.: “If you can send a letter to the troops, please put,
‘Ashley Pearson believes in you.'” (Applause.)

Tonight, Ashley, your message to our troops has just been conveyed. And,
yes, you have some duties yourself. Study hard in school, listen to your mom or
dad, help someone in need, and when you and your friends see a man or woman in
uniform, say, “thank you.” (Applause.) And, Ashley, while you do your
part, all of us here in this great chamber will do our best to keep you and the
rest of America safe and free. (Applause.)

My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our nation
is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause
of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable — and it
is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power
who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know
that His purposes are just and true.

May God continue to bless America. (Applause.) END 10:05 P.M. EST

Other People\’s Oil

January 20, 2004 at 11:32 am
Contributed by:

Folks,
 
This excellent article surveys the various worldwide sources of foreign oil and gas
upon which the US relies, looks at our military presences in those areas, and provides some basic projections about where this is all going.
It also gives an
apolitical, factual look at the crafting of Cheney’s National Energy Policy that
you probably haven’t seen before. And it covers the state of affairs in Saudi
Arabia nicely. I highly recommend that you read this one,
especially if you’re not totally clear on why we’ve had recent military and
diplomatic adventures in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Colombia, Nigeria,
Angola, and elsewhere. Critically important material!

OPO (Other
People’s Oil)
Michael Klare, January 14, 2004

http://www.guerrillanews.com/war_on_terrorism/doc3722.html


Michael T. Klare,
author of “Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict” and the
forthcoming “Petropolitics” (Metropolis Books, 2004) is a professor of peace and
world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. This article is
reprinted with permission from our friends at Foreign Policy
in Focus
.

After
that, if you still want more, here’s a great article about the importance of
Saudi Arabia to the global petroleum market, and the possibility and likely
effects of future terrorist attacks on oil facilities. A quote: “This makes
Saudi Arabia the world’s only guarantor of liquidity in the oil market.” Again,
critically important material!

Terror’s next
target

By
Gal Luft and Anne Korin
The Journal of International Security
Affairs,
December 2003.
http://www.iags.org/n0111041.htm

–C

The State of the Union in 30 Seconds

January 20, 2004 at 11:18 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

I
respect the work that MoveOn does, so I had to respond to their request and
forward this to my list. They have prepared an ad critical of the Medicare bill
that was pushed through Congress (with bribes and a shoehorn and a very
long lever) at the end of December.

–C

—–Original Message—–
From: Eli Pariser, MoveOn Voter Fund
[mailto:moveon-help@list.moveon.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 10:19 AM
Subject: The State of the Union in 30 Seconds

Today
we’re launching a 30-second ad that will counter Bush’s State of the
Union spin on Medicare
. We know the ad makes a big impact on the people
who see it. Can you help us get it in front of millions of Americans?
 

Dear MoveOn
member,

A year ago, President Bush
told the nation that “The British government has learned that Saddam
Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It
wasn’t true, of course, but it did serve as a critical piece of the spin
campaign that led the country into war.

Tonight, in preparation for
the upcoming election, the President is again getting ready to tell the nation
something that simply isn’t true. According to news reports, the President will
declare victory in the fight to provide the nation’s elderly and disabled with
health care. He’ll point to the Medicare bill that he and Congressional
Republicans pushed through Congress. But there’s one small problem: the
Medicare bill won’t help Medicare, and it won’t help seniors. In fact, it’s
designed to do the program in.

That’s why we’ve prepared a
30-second alternative version of tonight’s speech which exposes how the
nation’s drug companies backed and bought this bill. We’ve asked one of the
country’s most respected polling firms to test the ad, and we know it makes an
enormous impact on the people who see it. But we’ll need your help to get it
out there. If you can help us reach our $10 million goal, we’ll put up a $1.7
million buy and make sure millions of Americans in swing states know the real
deal.

You can watch the ad and
contribute by credit card or check at:
https://www.moveonvoterfund.org/donate/sotu.html?id=2275-3402348-.32IOa7fkWAQll2OQok7mg

As the ad opens, we see a
series of photos from previous State of the Union addresses, cut quickly
together to resemble a movie. We hear the voice of someone who sounds like
George Bush. “My fellow Americans,” he says, “My Medicare bill
has real drug benefits…but not for you. For my contributors at the big drug
companies. My bill actually forbids Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices…so
you’ll probably have to pay more for your prescriptions than you do now; and
you won’t be able to get cheaper prescriptions from Canada.”

One thing that President
Bush probably won’t mention in his speech tonight is how the bill came to pass.
In the House, the vote was extremely tight: even some Republicans knew they
couldn’t justify the bill to their home districts. So, House Leaders held the
vote open for three hours in the dead of night while they twisted the arms of
the last few hold-outs. Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI), a retiring Congressman whose
son will run for his seat, was one of them. Here’s how the Associated Press
reported the events that followed:

“On the House floor,
[Rep.] Nick Smith was told business interests would give his son $100,000 in
return for his father’s vote. When he still declined, fellow Republican House
members told him they would make sure Brad Smith never came to Congress. After
Nick Smith voted no and the bill passed, [Rep.] Duke Cunningham of California
and other Republicans taunted him that his son was dead meat.”

Bribing House members on
the House floor is, of course, a felony, and Rep. Smith has confirmed that this
account is accurate. No special investigation has been launched. The bribers
are still at large.

The story, in the end, is
pretty simple: drug companies and insurance companies gave millions of dollars
to push through legislation. The bill will greatly increase their profits while
pulling the rug out from under our seniors. President Bush is trying to spin that
huge sell-out as a benefit to the American people. And we won’t let him.

Sincerely,
–Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
  The MoveOn.org Team
  January 20th, 2003

P.S. We’ve added a few
resources below that give more details on the Medicare sell-out and tonight’s
speech in general.

The Campaign for America’s
Future’s Medicare Fact Sheet:
http://www.moveonvoterfund.org/ourfuture-medicare.html

Rep. Sherrod Brown’s
editorial on the Medicare arm-twisting:
http://www.moveon.org/r?481

Leaders Nancy Pelosi and
Tom Daschle’s State of the Union Pre-Buttal:
http://democrats.senate.gov/%7Edpc/releases/2004116B38.html

The Center for American
Progress’s “State of the Union Viewer’s Guide”:
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=22520

 

Readers write: U.S. as World Cop

January 19, 2004 at 2:19 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


The right-wing reader’s comment I forwarded under this subject line last
week touched off some good responses from lefties on the list, and I daresay,
more eloquent than mine. In the interest of continuing this worthwhile dialogue,
I submit them for your consideration. Hopefully this will help move the right
wingers to reconsider the leftist position, and will help the lefties forge a
more respectable position on national defense.


–C

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 9:58
AM
Subject: RE: [GetRealList]: U.S. as World Cop


Your writer makes
some very interesting points although I’d have to disagree with a few of
them.  Specifically, maintaining a military with a strong “first strike
capability”, as we did for the latter half of the last century, is markedly
different then having an active policy of self-anointed preemption.  I
think your author would benefit from considering the nuances between a
policy  of “containment” and “deterrence” vs.. that of
preemption.  The former existed so as to head off the chance of conflict
and make war an option of last resort. The same can not be said of the
latter.

 

Additionally, the
reality of the Cold War was that there was balance to the powers, and that
balance kept the war cold.  Mutually Assured Destruction was the world’s
collective insurance policy against preemptive military actions.  Weather
or not this balance was achieved by design or happenstance, the net result was
still the same.  Today, in the absence of a balance to increasingly
belligerent US power, the world becomes a much more volatile and polarized
place.  
Furthermore, as the author points out, forces were
maintained in Europe at the “behest of the Europeans” in an effort to maintain
stability.  The fact that we are not invited guests in the middle east – in
addition to the myriad of cultural and religious complications that exist there
– means that US military presence there will have a opposite effect on regional
stability in the middle east then it did in Europe.  Yes, we may be closer
to the hot spots but we’re also throwing more gas on the
fire.

 

I don’t understand
why – now that the very fabric of this Administration’s argument for going
to war in Iraq (the nexus of WMD, rogue states, and terrorism) has been proven
false – is it so hard to get an honest and open dialogue about our reasons,
actions and goals in Iraq? I’ll give you the connection between Saddam’s rewards
to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, these are proven.  However, the presence of one
terrorist with al queda links in Iraq hardly justified the focus of our efforts
on this nation in the wake of 9/11.  IMHO, the unfortunate thing about your
friend’s email is that amidst his command of a wonderful series of historical
facts he misses the main point about Bush and the war on terror; Iraq had very
little to do with the problem.  Fact: Iraq was militarily impotent prior to
our invasion.  Fact: there was no active WMD program, there was no
stockpile of weapons either, there was no Nuclear program. Fact: Saddam’s
secular Iraq was not an exporter of terrorism to the world at large nor was
it an exporter of the perverted form of Islam that has been associated with Bin
Laden. Fact: containment provided an acceptable enough level of security and
threat reduction for the region and the world that we could have worked towards
a better solution to the Iraqi problem while focusing our efforts on the real
issues.

 

—–Original Message—–


Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 12:54
AM


Subject: RE: [GetRealList]: U.S. as
World Cop


I’m not sure this is so well thought
out. At the very least it’s missing a vital connecting piece for me. It just
seems a stretch to draw such precise parallels between the Cold War and the ‘war
on terrorism.’ I remain unconvinced that the threats to U.S. security come from
nation-states that can be checked or combatted militarily. I remain unconvinced
that the likelihood of the next terrorist attack will be affected one way or the
other by our plans for expanded military presence around the world. Fighting
terrorists is going to take a radical rethink of national security, and the
Cheney/Neocon/NeoColdWar idea — let’s use our army to police the world —
doesn’t sound like a radical new concept to me.


The argument is made that failed
nation-states are the breeding grounds for terrorists. That may be true, but how
is our military going to be the answer to that? Are we going to impose stability
on Somalia, Chechnya, N. Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan with our military
presence? Not if we can’t even stay the course in the ONE and ONLY nation where
we’re absolutely positive that the 9/11 terrorists were being trained. If
Afghanistan is the model, then this policy is going to hell in a handbasket.


The terrorists aren’t setting up
capital cities for us to roll tanks into. They aren’t lining up behind barbed
wire fences along established borders. I don’t disagree that we need to police
the world against terrorism. But we need a new vision for policing the world.
Far be it from me to say that I have such a vision, but I think it’s clear that
this administration doesn’t have it either, and is just falling back on
old-style Cold War strategy, which I think is the wrong choice. We need a
stealthier strategy, and we need to combine it with a non-military side to our
foreign policy which stops creating these monsters in the first place. Try to
get your hawk friend to admit that non-military U.S. foreign policy is at least
partly to blame for anarchy in Afghanistan, or for Saddam’s military buildup in
the 80s, or for the Saudis funding terrorists under the table. Go on, just
suggest it…


Oh, and as far as elevating
the discourse goes, this person’s message hardly inspires. “If anyone here
thinks the War on Terrorism isn’t real or scary, go to New York or Jersey and
say that. You’ll get an earful. My brother lost a friend in the Towers.” This is
the kind of fingers-in-ears, nyah-nyah discourse that the Right has been
specializing in since 9/11, painting anyone who doesn’t think *this* particular
strategy is right as not only a namby-pamby pacifist but a heartless traitor who
would forget our dead. The Right does not own defense and security, but it’s
dialogue like this that convinces voters — even the majority of Democratic
voters — that they do. And it drives me batty. 


 

More fallout re: Iraq war

January 19, 2004 at 2:04 pm
Contributed by:

More fallout re: Iraq war

Folks,

It’s with some reluctance
that I forward you these articles about the war in Iraq, for I think that most
people have their minds made up about it at this point, so it’s a bit like
beating a dead horse. But for those of you who haven’t, or who are interested in
hearing some current points of view about it, here are some articles you may
want to check out. I hope to leave off this topic for a while…but I’m not
making any promises.


I guess I think this line of discussion
is still relevant because so many people on the right seem so sanguine about
having been led down the garden path about our reasons for going into Iraq,
because the Bush administration has been so disingenuous about it since they’ve
been caught in their distortions of the facts, and most of all, because the
administration has never, never admitted that we created this monster,
which is the most reprehensible lie of all. To listen to our President, you’d
think that Saddam was some monster who grew up out of the ground like a weed and
we’ve been fighting him the whole way, when that is so patently untrue. I’m sure
there are plenty of right-wing hawks who will now attack me for being a Saddam
apologist and having a “blame America first” attitude, but that’s just another
ploy to distract one from seeing things aright. I believe that if we are ever to
set things straight in the Middle East and have a successful approach to
fighting terrorism, it must begin with acknowledging how our own policies and
spook games and covert military operations have contributed to creating these
monsters in the first place. And that is no less true for Osama bin Laden! We
ignore our own hand in these situations at our own peril, because we continue to
play these games in other parts of the world, and you can bet that those games
will bear their own bitter fruit in years hence.

First,
here is a really excellent article that very briefly traces our history
of military engagements with Iraq since 1980. Written just before the war
started last year, it’s still a worthwhile review of how we got where we are
today, especially for those who are a bit fuzzy on how we created the monster of
Saddam Hussein and armed him, or those who champion WMD as the real reason we
went to Iraq this time. This reminds me of that joke that was going around
before the war:


“Mr. Rumsfeld, how are you so sure that
Iraq has weapons of mass distruction?”
Mr Rumsfeld: “Because we kept the receipts.”


Arming Iraq and the Path to
War
by John King
31 March 2003
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/armIraqP2W.html


And along the same lines:


Baker Helped Finance
Hussein
AP – Sunday 11 January 2004
http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/011304A.shtml


“Now assigned the task of reducing
Iraq’s debt, presidential envoy James A. Baker III once gave crucial support for
continuing a billion-dollar loan program to Saddam Hussein’s government that
accounts for most of the money Iraq still owes the United States. As
secretary of state in 1989, Baker urged the Agriculture Department to offer $1
billion in loan guarantees for Iraq to buy U.S. farm products after Iraq said it
would reject a smaller deal.”


Next, Sen. Ted Kennedy
lambastes Bush for lying to us about our reasons for going to
war:

Sen. Ted
Kennedy | A Dishonest War
The Washington Post – Sunday 18 January
2004
http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/011904A.shtml


Finally, “The respected and nonpartisan
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington released on Jan. 8 a
long-awaited study whose major conclusion is that the Bush administration
“systematically misrepresented” the threat from Iraq’s weapons programs.


Where’s the Outrage?

by Ruth Rosen
Published Monday, January
12, 2004 by the
San
Francisco Chronicle


http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0112-02.htm


–C

Fun with the State of the Union speech pt. 2

January 19, 2004 at 1:30 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Here’s
the second. Grade the State of the Union speech and then mail Bush his report
card! It’s more fun than just yelling at the TV. Serving suggestion: invite some
friends over, pretend it’s the Super Bowl, watch it over snacks and then compare
your grades at the end!

Let’s
make it even more fun: send me your grades too, and I’ll compile them and send
around the tallies to the list.

—–Original Message—–
From: TrueMajority [mailto:alerts@truemajority.org]
Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2004 11:58 PM
Subject: You be the Judge, Grade Bush’s State of the Union Address

 

Leave No President Behind

Grade the State of the Union
Address,
Then Send the President His Report Card

It started off as a good idea. The constitution requires the President
"from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the
union." Unfortunately, the State of the Union address has become an annual
spectacle filled with spin and distortion punctuated by thunderous applause
from the President’s people. Somehow the real "state of the union"
never really gets discussed, not even "from time to time."

Maybe the problem is that Presidents don’t know what we think about these
speeches. Maybe all they hear is the applause and raves from their staff and
donors so they think they’ve done a good job.

This year we want to change that. We’ve created a report card for you to use
to grade the President’s performance. He says he likes testing and
accountability, so he should appreciate this. It’s easy, just print out this
page and give him a grade from A to F for each section while you watch his
speech. When you’re done, share his test results with him by just dropping it
in the mail to the White House (address at the bottom).

Preparing for the State of the Union,

Andrew Greenblatt
Head Geek, TrueMajority.org

 

 

P.S. For a nicer printout you can get a PDF version here:


Report Card
State of the Union Address

Give a high grade for clearly focusing on the big picture. Watch out for
"The Spin" and subtract for only talking about side issues that make
him look good. Give a failing grade for using lies or misleading statements.
Extra credit should be awarded for offering up real solutions to our nation’s
problems and facing up to our most difficult challenges.

Subject Grade

Economics
The Big Picture: During the President’s term the number of jobs in
this country has actually declined by over 2 million. The poor have gotten
poorer. Record deficits have kick-started growth, but recent gains in jobs
aren’t even enough to cover the number of new workers looking for jobs due to
natural population growth.
The Spin: Recent economic growth is a sign of better things to come.
The Lies: Everyone got a tax cut and the rich and poor benefited
equally.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit if he admits that the rebound
in the economy is being fueled by record deficits that will eventually choke
the economy if we don’t change things soon.

 

Social Studies
The Big Picture: After 9/11 everyone wanted to help us, now almost
nobody does. Osama is still on the loose and our bullying overseas adventures
are fueling Al Qaeda recruiting.
The Spin: The President is taking strong and decisive action. We
haven’t had an attack on our soil since 9/11 and unnamed evildoers have been
thwarted.
The Lies: Iraq was involved in 9/11.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit if he admits that last
year’s State of the Union was all about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction
that did not exist.

 

Health
The Big Picture: We do have a new Medicare benefit for prescription
drugs. Unfortunately it was done in such a way only drug companies could
love. Heck, the new law actually makes it illegal for states to join together
and negotiate lower drug prices. Meanwhile, 44 million Americans don’t have
any health insurance. That’s an increase of about 4 million since President
Bush took office. The rest of us are paying more for the coverage we do have.
The Spin: The Medicare drug benefit is great.
The Lies: We can’t afford to give everyone health insurance.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit if he admits that we
are the only wealthy nation in the world without universal health insurance.

 

Environmental
Sciences
The Big Picture: Changes by the Bush administration are making the
air dirtier, the forests shrink, and the globe warmer.
The Spin: These changes won’t really hurt us but will help the
economy.
The Lies: Letting power plants pollute more leads to "clear
skies," letting lumber companies cut down forests saves them, we don’t
know why the earth is warming.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit is he simply admits
the planet is warming and we share some of the responsibility.

 

The Three Rs
The Big Picture: The President gave the schools a whole bunch of
expensive new requirements but didn’t provide any way to pay for them.
The Spin: The President gave the schools a whole bunch of new
requirements.
The Lies: Giving schools a whole bunch of expensive new requirements
without any way to pay for them will make kids smarter.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit if he proposes money
to pay for the new requirements.

 

Arts and Crafts
The Big Picture: So much of the State of the Union Address is about
image. The President will be prepped by pros to read a speech written by a
team of wordsmiths. All the while he’ll try to come across as a regular guy,
only smarter.
The Spin: No, really, he’s just a regular guy, only smarter.
The Lies: He’s a regular guy. He’s smarter.
Extra Credit: Give the President extra credit if he doesn’t
cynically exploit someone who actually did something heroic by putting them
in the visitor’s gallery and pointing to them during the speech.

 

The President says he is deeply committed to accountability, testing, and
reporting. This is your opportunity to grade his performance as our country’s
leader. So when you are done grading the speech you can mail this report card
to him at:

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

 

Comments Off
 

Fun with the State of the Union speech pt. 1

January 19, 2004 at 1:30 pm
Contributed by:

The
Internet may be the best thing that ever happened to grassroots politics. Here
are a few things to make watching the State of the Union speech tomorrow night
more fun than ever.


 

Here’s
the first one. See today’s Progress Report below. (Just one more example of why
you should sign for the Progress Report yourself!) It contains several handy
guides to help you interpret and follow along from a progressive point of view.
More fun than a decoder ring!

 

–C

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Center for American Progress
[mailto:progress@americanprogress.com]
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004
11:07 AM
Subject: The Progress Report












State of the Union 2004




by David
Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum
Know the most
first: Sign up for email
delivery of The Progress Report
.
Please send any news
tips to pr@americanprogress.org.


Tell a friend about The Progress Report: Send
an e-mail
now
.

January 19, 2004


During the State
of the Union speech, the nation expects the President to
address the most pressing concerns facing America. The Center for
American Progress has the background material Americans need to put
the speech into context. From decoding the language to asking the
tough questions to providing details on the Administration’s record,
it’s the analysis and information that will help you navigate
tomorrow’s speech with ease.


Check our Web site
 Tuesday night after the speech for a Claim vs. Fact that
matches the President’s words with his actions as well as deeper
analysis of the major issues he covers.  Get a progressive view
with our State
of the Union information page
and know the most… first. (Your
regularly scheduled Progress Report will return
tomorrow.)


A
PROGRESSIVE VIEW OF THE STATE OF THE UNION:
As President
Bush prepares to tell the American people that the State of the
Union is strong, our nation stands divided at home and weaker
abroad. We analyze 16 critical issues from a progressive point
of view.


STATE
OF THE UNION DICTIONARY:
The Center for American Progress
handy translator for many of the oft-used phrases in the President’s
State of the Union. Print it out and follow along.


SPEECH
VIEWING GUIDE:
From the unemployment crisis to tax cuts for
the wealthy to weapons of mass destruction, we’ve produced a
one-page checklist to print out and have in front of you as you
watch the speech.


CLAIM VS.
FACT:
After the speech, we’ll compare the President’s words
to his past actions and proposals for the future.


SAY
THIS:
Bob Boorstin’s latest memo helps the President and
Karl Rove figure out what to include tomorrow night about
America’s National Security policies.


UNANSWERED
QUESTIONS ON PROPOSALS TO COVER UNINSURED
: Terri Shaw
examines the questions and facts regarding the President’s record on
covering the uninsured.


COMPARING
PRIORITIES
: In his upcoming budget, the President is
proposing more than $2 trillion in new spending on everything from
more tax cuts for the wealthy to a mission to Mars, while cutting
critical spending.


SUPPORT
FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
: The President and conservatives
in Congress determined not to accelerate a scheduled increase in the
child tax credit available for lower income families as part of the
Administration’s tax package last year. Preview director
Robert Greenwald’s soon-to-be released a film on the Child Tax
Credit.


MEMO
TO REPORTERS: PUBLIC OPINION
: The President faces
a public skeptical in important ways of what he has done and where
he proposes to go. Ruy Teixeira provides an issue-by-issue guide to
this skepticism from in key areas likely to be addressed by the
President.

 







 Archives

Progress
Report


Columns


Cartoons



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Clark supports the School of the Americas

January 18, 2004 at 12:40 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Since I’ve become kinda
sweet on Wes Clark for the Democratic nomination, this was an unpleasant article
to read. I don’t think it’s conclusively a negative for Clark, in the absence of
some solid data on what the school is doing now, and whether Clark’s assertion
that it’s only in the business of teaching democratic values today is true. But
in the interest of the truth, I feel compelled to share this
information.

Facing Questions, Clark Backs Army
School

And on a related issue, Matt Drudge
and the GOP have attempted to paint Clark as having changed his position on the
Iraq war, by misquoting him. Fortunately, Clark’s been able to get the truth out
and fend off that attack. As he becomes more of a viable candidate for the
nomination, we may expect to see more such attacks.


–C


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/16/politics/campaigns/16CLAR.html?pagewanted=print







January 16, 2004
Clark Clashes With G.O.P. on Testimony About
IraqBy EDWARD WYATT



ANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 15 — The chairman of the
Republican National Committee released excerpts Thursday from a September
2002 Congressional hearing that he said showed that Gen. Wesley
K. Clark
had changed his position on Iraq once he began running for
the Democratic presidential nomination.


But General Clark said the complete transcript of his testimony showed
that his position had been consistent. He said the attack, coming as he
has attracted growing crowds and attention, was a sign that the
Republicans believed he would be the biggest threat to President
Bush’s
re-election.


The foreign policy discussion came on a day when General Clark strongly
criticized President Vladimir V. Putin, saying that under his leadership
Russia was “not a democracy” and “not our ally.”


“This administration has tried to cozy up to Vladimir Putin,” General
Clark said at a town hall meeting in Merrimack, N.H. “He may wear a
crucifix around his neck, but I promise you he is not a Christian. He is
not a person who shares American values. He is a person was born and
brought up in the K.G.B. He wants to re-establish greater Russia.”


Earlier, in General Clark’s home state, Arkansas, the Republican
chairman, Ed Gillespie, said: “Just Tuesday, he demanded that Congress
probe why our country went into Iraq. But the Congress knows full well the
reasons.” The lawmakers, Mr. Gillespie said, “heard compelling testimony”
supporting Mr. Bush’s policies, including some from General Clark.


The full transcript reveals positions far more nuanced than the
excerpts released by the Republicans.


One example cited by Mr. Gillespie, from General Clark’s testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee on Sept. 26, 2002, quoted him as
saying “there’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat.”


That was the first sentence, however, of an 1,800-word statement in
which General Clark argued for more diplomacy before any military action,
saying “time is on our side.”


In another instance Mr. Gillespie cited, the general said: “I do
believe that the United States diplomacy in the United Nations will be
strengthened if the Congress can adopt a resolution expressing U.S.
determination to act if the United Nations cannot act. The use of force
must remain a U.S. option under active consideration.”


The next sentence, which was not included by Mr. Gillespie, read: “Such
a resolution need not, at this point, authorize the use of force.”


The exchange was only the latest in which critics have accused General
Clark of changing his stripes after deciding to enter the race.


“What I was saying then is what I’m saying today, that Saddam Hussein
was not an imminent threat,” General Clark said in Manchester, where he
announced a plan to help protect transportation centers against
terrorism.



Copyright
2004
 The New York
Times Company
| Home | Privacy
Policy
| Search | Corrections | Help | Back
to Top

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President Bush a \"flatulent pusbag\"

January 18, 2004 at 12:28 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

You recall the ad contest by MoveOn.org to create a 30-second commercial
about President Bush. (http://www.moveonvoterfund.org/superbowl/)  A satirical
take on the contest, “Bush in 41.2 Seconds” has generated a small firestorm of
controversy about free speech and the civility of our national political dialog.
Destined to replace “all your base” in your Internet mythology.

–C

 

 

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2004/01/16/parody/

 

“Don’t be an asshole, vote Democratic”
The creator of the MoveOn parody
ad “Bush in 41.2 Seconds” discusses the Republican reaction to his accidental
meme.

- – –
– – – – – – – – -
By Mark
Spittle



Jan. 16, 2004  | 
When I called
President Bush “assfaced” I knew I was pushing buttons. Profanity, so rarely
used in polite conversation, is typically used even less in its opposite:
political discourse. So when I created the short ad called “Bush in 41.2 Seconds” for Liberal
Oasis — which starts off as a typical anti-Bush political ad and devolves into
a string of words that cannot be reprinted here — I knew there would be a
rumble or two. Hell, that’s the intent of any form of satire.


What I hadn’t expected was the speed at which the ad
would circulate through the blogosphere, nor the intense reaction it would
invoke in conservatives. As the accidental creator of a meme (“Don’t be an
Asshole, Vote Democratic”), I accept responsibility for the monster getting out
of the lab, even if I admit to enjoying watching it wreak havoc on the village.
But it’s still scary seeing the creature shamble about.




Liberal
Oasis
is one of the better liberal blogs, its aim
being to provide some analysis and direction for Democrats on the left of the
party. Their straight material, written by Bill Scher, has been praised by Joe
Conason, Eric Alterman and others as an important part of the Internet’s
political voice. It’s serious stuff — with the exception of my side of the
page, which I share with two other humorists, Alexander Pierre Luboknovich and
John Cougarstein.


“Bush in 41.2 Seconds” was done as a parody of the
MoveOn.org ads. The intent was to say what a lot of liberals are thinking (“Bush
lied”), but to do it in a manner that was so over-the-top it would be funny as
much as ludicrous. Because it parodied both MoveOn and the idea of homespun
political ads — two liberal-minded ideals — it was risky to run on Liberal
Oasis. Still, Scher got the joke and the piece went up.












 




 
 

At first there was no reaction, but then the dam burst:
Within three days the movie had been viewed over 70,000 times. The piece ranked
No. 1 on a variety of blog indices such as Popdex, with traffic being driven
largely by cross-linking through the liberal blogs and forums. After a few more
days traffic reports showed the piece was being hit from random locations,
meaning it was being distributed via e-mail, in true “meme” fashion.


Then hit counts notched up further courtesy of angry
conservatives who, through no fault of their own, didn’t understand the context
and really thought the DNC had stooped to calling President Bush “a lying sack
of horseshit.” A million downloads in the next month or so is likely.


Like “all your base are belong to us,”
the phrase “Don’t be an Asshole, Vote Democratic” is now part of the Internet
lexicon. McAuliffe can thank me later.


You know you’ve got yourself a meme when the big boys
load their guns with your ammo. Mainstream conservative pundits such as the
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg are now attempting to tie
the piece in with the current conservative meme of “liberal hate speech.”
Conservatives do well at ignoring their own hate speech, such as Anne Coulter’s
goal to implement government flogging of children, or G. Gordon Liddy musing about shooting federal agents, or Bill
O’Reilly’s dreamy fantasies of inserting a bullet into Al Franken’s head by way
of quaint six-shooter. That’s to be expected; conservatives are not typically an
introspective bunch. This is why the current attempt to paint liberals as
fascist, hate-mongering animals is so ironic, especially given that on any other
day the old tag “bleeding hearts” is still tossed around like a well-worn,
favorite hacky sack. Conservatives aren’t decrying hate speech, mind you;
they’re justifying it by saying, “Look, the other guy is doing it, too!”


But turning a satire piece into Exhibit A of liberal
seriousness is just downright loopy. At first glance Goldberg’s accusation that
Liberal Oasis “uses excessive potty mouth [sic] and extreme stupidity” under the
heading “Ahh Liberalism, Thy Name is Nuanced Persuasion” looks like the usual
unfair, lazy journalism. But by voluntarily divesting himself of his sense of
humor, Goldberg reveals that he’s not engaged in satire or critique, or (more
accurately) critique of satire. No, he’s engaged in serious, partisan spewcraft.
After all, Liberal Oasis has been in operation since early 2002, and yet has
never garnered the attention, much less the ire, of the mainstream conservative
press. Only now do the righteous pundits bow low to point their fingers of
judgment at the site, even if to do so they must strip the work of context to
fit their talking points, and paint the entire Democratic Party with a brush
that hadn’t existed only a week ago.


Now all of liberal history is summed up by one guy
calling President Bush a “flatulent pusbag.”


According to the New Right, Democrats are disallowed from
using humor; instead, the limits of expressed opinion are firmly fixed: Only
factual presentations, complete with vision and healthy, optimistic
presentation, are allowed. This, coming from the party that had subliminal
“RATS” in their national ads, and whose radio spokesman regularly calls the
Democratic front-runner “Nikita Dean.” There’s been no mention that an over
the-top conservative ad calling Dean supporters a “freak show” was actually
professionally produced and aired by their side.


Aw, heck, we know it’s not supposed to be fair. This is
all about pole position. But at least “Bush in 41.2 Seconds” is open about its
lunacy. (It’s run under a “humor” banner, after all.) Unless the National
Review’s editors are giggling in their offices at the massive joke they’ve
foisted on everyone, their insanity is worsened by its gravitas.


I now have a bit of insight into what Al Franken must
have felt when called “shrill” by Fox. I also know that meme-making, however
accidental, brings with it a certain level of responsibility. For these reasons
I hereby promise to be more thoughtful and considerate when I next call the
president a dickhead.


salon.com





Comments Off
 

U.S. as World Cop

January 18, 2004 at 12:27 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

This
erudite response from an alert reader seemed worth forwarding. This is exactly
the kind of debate I would like to see more of in this country: intelligent,
well-reasoned, historically aware discussion about what we think the proper role
of the US in world affairs really is. Like most right-wingers, this reader is
hawkish on defense. I don’t completely agree with his conclusions, but he did a
great job of bringing context to the debate.

 

I’ll
toss back one rejoinder:


“We must face the fact that the United States is neither
omnipotent nor omniscient. That we are
only 6% of the world’s population. That we cannot
impose our will upon the other 94%
of mankind. That we cannot right every wrong or
reverse each adversity. And that therefore there cannot be an
American solution to every world problem.” –John F.
Kennedy


Please
continue to make yourselves heard, and send me feedback! Especially those of you
on the right. I am also hard at work at getting the blog set up, so everyone
will have a chance to make their comments public.


–C


—–Original Message—–
Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2004
1:04 PM
To: Chris Nelder
Subject: Re: [GetRealList]:
Cheney’s grim vision: decades of war

I wish I could get
worked up about this, but I can’t since it’s a continuation of US policy that
began in the aftermath of WWII and the failures of the Truman Administration’s
management of the Cold War. Also, bear in mind that since Truman, the US has
maintained a first, what we would today call a preemptive, strike principle.
Back in the 1940’s, it meant that the US reserved the right to strike with
nuclear weapons against an enemy we may or may not be in armed combat
against.

As you will recall, after WWII, the US demobilized to a
dangerous extent that fleets were mothballed, air forces were scrapped, and army
divisions were sent home. Then the Berlin crisis and the Korean War finally got
Truman to see that to preserve peace, our peace at least and not that of our
adversaries, the US needed a permanent and large standing military that was
positioned to meet threats where they occurred. US forces were moved back into
into Europe, Japan, and the Philippines.

During the Eisenhower
Administration, large numbers of American soldiers were supplanted in Europe
with tactical nuclear artillery and short-range missiles. At this time, NATO was
established.

During the Kennedy Administration, which had gotten in
office with a fictional claim that there existed a missile gap that favored the
Soviets, missile sizes and numbers increased in Europe with IRBM’s and
domestically with ICBM’s, such as the Atlas were fielded. The Atlas is the same
missile that launched Glenn, Cooper, Schirra, and Carpenter in space. US forces
in Europe were strengthened in the face of the Berlin crisis when Berlin was
forcibly divided by the East German gov’t.

During the Johnson we had
Vietnam along with initial deployments of the Titan ICBM which also was the
rocket that set the Gemini missions into Space.

From Nixon through
Clinton, the US continued to maintain a large though diminishing presence in
Europe at the behest of the Europeans as it was felt that the US military
provided a stabilizing influence on Europe after the Wall fell.

Only
during the Carter and Clinton administration was there any thought given to
reducing forces in Korea below the 37,000 we’ve had since the early 1960’s. This
was not done as it was felt that any such reduction in the US commitment in
Korea would signal N. Korea that the US wasn’t serious about defending S. Korea.
Furthermore, it has long been appreciated that US forces in the Pacific and
Korea acted as a bulwark against possible adventurous actions by China, Japan,
and the Soviets.

Anyone subscribing to “Foreign Affairs” or “Proceedings”
or other security and military policy publications, never mind watching C-Span
or CNN, would know that after 9/11, it was felt that US military assets were too
far removed form potential conflicts. Put nicely, the chance of war in Europe
was about nil meaning that placement of US forces there was a waste. It is
widely appreciated that, just as US forces were put into Europe and Korea to
quickly meet action in potential hot spots, it is now time to move US military
emplacements closer to present-day threats.

While, as Kissinger once put
it, even paranoids have enemies, making hay out of what Cheney said is silly.
You’ll either see the same policy continued when a Dem is in the White House, or
you’ll see military action that will lead to the Dem eventually putting those
forces there.

If anyone here thinks the War on Terrorism isn’t real or
scary, go to New York or Jersey and say that. You’ll get an earful. My brother
lost a friend in the Towers. Hussein may not have been directly linked to Al
Queda. But his hands were not clean. After all, how did Abul Nidal, one of the
most horrendous terrorists, suddenly pop up dead in Baghdad if he had not been
harbored there for a decade? Hussein supported Islamic Jihad and Hamas with
money. So good riddance. Let’s also not forget that it was the policy of the
Clinton Administration to force regime change in Iraq. Otherwise, why did we
have operation “Southern Watch” which was a war in-of-itself.

When we
haven’t been the world’s cop, or when our resolve waned, we have paid for it. We
found that out in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and it continued on to 2001. Our European
“allies” such as the French and Germans are too busy trying to get their
socialists states out of hock with Germany’s Schroeder making the most progress
by abandoning his own coalition SPD and Green parties and working with the
conservative FPD, CSU, and CDU parties. France is just now beginning to deal
with their problems. So these states, are too busy with domestic issues to work
with us overseas. And as we learned in Bosnia and more so in Kosovo, Europe is
so militarily backward compared to us that it is hard to integrate to two forces
and would thus be of little if any help in policing the world. So who do we turn
to? The UN? As we saw in Somalia, the UN’s military capability is more a help to
an adversary than to us.

I find myself going through deja vu all over
again. The Dems now, except for Lieberman, sound like the same fools that
Goldwater, Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis sounded like. I may not like
allot of what Bush has and is doing. But I trust him on defense. And I guess
that’s why today Dean is seeing his numbers plummet in Iowa and New Hampshire
and why Kucinic is DOA everywhere, they are about as weak on defense as possible
for an American. If the Democratic electorate wants their man in the House, then
get real and get serious on defense. But that’s just my opinion. And of course,
if Bin Laden is captured before the next election, we can call the whole thing
off because then Bush would skate through.

 

Comments (1)
 

America\’s Empire of Bases

January 18, 2004 at 12:27 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


I
thought this was a very interesting article, because it’s the first I’ve seen
that went into some detail about the number of military bases the US has
worldwide, including their sizes and staffing and facilities. Even I had no idea
our global military presence was so huge and widespread! Given that it’s
impossible to get a real accounting out of the DoD, it’s hard to put these costs
down on a spreadsheet and say anything intelligent about them. But it does feel,
to me at least, like the very sort of imperialist overextension that brought
down the Roman Empire.


And
speaking of which, where are all the recruits of the future going to come from?
Why, the draft of course. Seems like 2005 is when most people are expecting it.
See http://www.bushdraft.com

–C



AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF BASES
By
Chalmers Johnson

TomDispatch.com
January 15,
2004

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17563
or
http://www.nationinstitute.org/tomdispatch/

As
distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize — or do
not
want to recognize — that the United States dominates the world through
its
military power.  Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often
ignorant
of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet.  This vast
network of
American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually
constitutes a
new form of empire — an empire of bases with its own geography
not likely
to be taught in any high school geography class.  Without
grasping the
dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can’t begin to
understand
the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to
which a new
kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional
order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies,
technicians,
teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other
nations.  To
dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating
some thirteen
naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names
sum up our
martial heritage — Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F.
Kennedy,
Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt,
Abraham
Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and
Ronald
Reagan.  We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory
to monitor
what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are
saying,
faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad
bring profits to civilian industries, which design
and manufacture weapons
for the armed forces or, like the now
well-publicized Kellogg, Brown &
Root company, a subsidiary of the
Halliburton Corporation of Houston,
undertake contract services to build and
maintain our far-flung
outposts.  One task of such contractors is to keep
uniformed members of
the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed,
amused, and supplied
with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities.  Whole
sectors of the
American economy have come to rely on the military for sales.
On the eve of
our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense
Department was
ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and
depleted-uranium
armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000
bottles of Native Tan
sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly
a boon to the
supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its
subcontractor,
Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.

AT LEAST 700 FOREIGN
BASES

It’s not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of
bases.
Official records on these subjects are misleading, although
instructive.
According to the Defense Department’s annual “Base Structure
Report” for
fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S.
military real
estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases
in about 130
countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and
its
territories.  Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require
at least
$113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases — surely far too
low a
figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most
countries –
and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of
them.  The military
high command deploys to our overseas bases some
253,288 uniformed personnel,
plus an equal number of dependents and
Department of Defense civilian
officials, and employs an additional 44,446
locally hired foreigners.  The
Pentagon claims that these bases contain
44,870 barracks, hangars,
hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and
that it leases 4,844
more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large,
do not begin to cover all the
actual bases we occupy globally.  The 2003
Base Status Report fails to
mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo —
even though it is the site
of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and
maintained ever since by
Kellogg, Brown & Root.  The report
similarly omits bases in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan,
Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S.
military has established colossal
base structures throughout the so-called
arc of instability in the
two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of
Japan, which has been an American
military colony for the past 58 years, the
report deceptively lists only one
Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact
Okinawa “hosts” ten Marine Corps
bases, including Marine Corps Air Station
Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in
the center of that modest-sized island’s
second largest city.  (Manhattan’s
Central Park, by contrast, is only
843 acres.)  The Pentagon similarly fails
to note all of the
$5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations
in Britain, which
have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force
bases.  If
there were an honest count, the actual size of our military
empire would
probably top 1,000 different bases in other people’s countries,
but no one —
possibly not even the Pentagon — knows the exact number for
sure, although
it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

For their occupants,
these are not unpleasant places to live and work.
Military service today,
which is voluntary, bears almost no relation to the
duties of a soldier
during World War II or the Korean or Vietnamese wars.
Most chores like
laundry, KP (“kitchen police”), mail call, and cleaning
latrines have been
subcontracted to private military companies like Kellogg,
Brown & Root,
DynCorp, and the Vinnell Corporation.  Fully one-third of the
funds
recently appropriated for the war in Iraq (about $30 billion), for
instance,
are going into private American hands for exactly such services.
Where
possible everything is done to make daily existence seem like a
Hollywood
version of life at home.  According to the Washington Post, in
Fallujah,
just west of Baghdad, waiters in white shirts, black pants, and
black bow
ties serve dinner to the officers of the 82nd Airborne Division in
their
heavily guarded compound, and the first Burger King has already gone
up
inside the enormous military base we’ve established at Baghdad
International
Airport.

Some of these bases are so gigantic they require as many as nine
internal
bus routes for soldiers and civilian contractors to get around
inside the
earthen berms and concertina wire.  That’s the case at Camp
Anaconda,
headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, whose job
is to
police some 1,500 square miles of Iraq north of Baghdad, from Samarra
to
Taji.  Anaconda occupies 25 square kilometers and will ultimately
house as
many as 20,000 troops.  Despite extensive security precautions,
the base has
frequently come under mortar attack, notably on the Fourth of
July, 2003,
just as Arnold Schwarzenegger was chatting up our wounded at the
local field
hospital.

The military prefers bases that resemble small
fundamentalist towns in the
Bible Belt rather than the big population centers
of the United States.  For
example, even though more than 100,000 women
live on our overseas bases –
including women in the services, spouses, and
relatives of military
personnel — obtaining an abortion at a local military
hospital is
prohibited.  Since there are some 14,000 sexual assaults or
attempted sexual
assaults each year in the military, women who become
pregnant overseas and
want an abortion have no choice but to try the local
economy, which cannot
be either easy or pleasant in Baghdad or other parts of
our empire these
days.

Our armed missionaries live in a closed-off,
self-contained world serviced
by its own airline — the Air Mobility Command,
with its fleet of long-range
C-17 Globemasters, C-5 Galaxies, C-141
Starlifters, KC-135 Stratotankers,
KC-10 Extenders, and C-9 Nightingales that
link our far-flung outposts from
Greenland to Australia.  For generals
and admirals, the military provides
seventy-one Learjets, thirteen Gulfstream
IIIs, and seventeen Cessna
Citation luxury jets to fly them to such spots as
the armed forces’ ski and
vacation center at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps or
to any of the 234
military golf courses the Pentagon operates
worldwide.  Defense secretary
Donald Rumsfeld flies around in his own
personal Boeing 757, called a C-32A
in the Air Force.

OUR “FOOTPRINT”
ON THE WORLD

Of all the insensitive, if graphic, metaphors we’ve allowed
into our
vocabulary, none quite equals “footprint” to describe the military
impact of
our empire.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.
Richard Myers and
senior members of the Senate’s Military Construction
Subcommittee such as
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are apparently incapable of
completing a sentence
without using it.  Establishing a more impressive
footprint has now become
part of the new justification for a major
enlargement of our empire — and
an announced repositioning of our bases and
forces abroad — in the wake of
our conquest of Iraq.  The man in charge
of this project is Andy Hoehn,
deputy assistant secretary of defense for
strategy.  He and his colleagues
are supposed to draw up plans to
implement President Bush’s preventive war
strategy against “rogue states,”
“bad guys,” and “evil-doers.”  They have
identified something they call
the “arc of instability,” which is said to
run from the Andean region of
South America (read: Colombia) through North
Africa and then sweeps across
the Middle East to the Philippines and
Indonesia.  This is, of course,
more or less identical with what used to be
called the Third World — and
perhaps no less crucially it covers the
world’s key oil reserves. Hoehn
contends, “When you overlay our footprint
onto that, we don’t look
particularly well-positioned to deal with the
problems we’re now going to
confront.”

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by
counting up
colonies.  America’s version of the colony is the military
base.  By
following the changing politics of global basing, one can
learn much about
our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that
grows with it.
Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the
hip.  Each
thrives off the other. Already highly advanced in our
country, they are both
on the verge of a quantum leap that will almost surely
stretch our military
beyond its capabilities, bringing about fiscal
insolvency and very possibly
doing mortal damage to our republican
institutions.  The only way this is
discussed in our press is via
reportage on highly arcane plans for changes
in basing policy and the
positioning of troops abroad — and these plans, as
reported in the media,
cannot be taken at face value.

Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson,
commanding our 1,800 troops occupying the
old French Foreign Legion base at
Camp Lemonier in Djibouti at the entrance
to the Red Sea, claims that in
order to put “preventive war” into action, we
require a “global presence,” by
which he means gaining hegemony over any
place that is not already under our
thumb.  According to the right-wing
American Enterprise Institute, the
idea is to create “a global cavalry” that
can ride in from “frontier
stockades” and shoot up the “bad guys” as soon as
we get some intelligence on
them.

“LILY PADS” IN AUSTRALIA, ROMANIA, MALI, ALGERIA…

In order
to put our forces close to every hot spot or danger area in this
newly
discovered arc of instability, the Pentagon has been proposing — this
is
usually called “repositioning” — many new bases, including at least four
and
perhaps as many as six permanent ones in Iraq.  A number of these
are
already under construction — at Baghdad International Airport, Tallil
air
base near Nasariyah, in the western desert near the Syrian border, and
at
Bashur air field in the Kurdish region of the north.  (This does not
count
the previously mentioned Anaconda, which is currently being called
an
“operating base,” though it may very well become permanent over
time.)  In
addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole
northern quarter of
Kuwait — 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait’s 6,900 square
miles — that we
now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for
Green Zone
bureaucrats to relax.

Other countries mentioned as sites
for what Colin Powell calls our new
“family of bases” include:  In the
impoverished areas of the “new” Europe –
Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria; in
Asia — Pakistan (where we already have
four bases), India, Australia,
Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and
even, unbelievably, Vietnam; in
North Africa — Morocco, Tunisia, and
especially Algeria (scene of the
slaughter of some 100,00 civilians since
1992, when, to quash an election,
the military took over, backed by our
country and France); and in West Africa
— Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra
Leone (even though it has been torn by
civil war since 1991).  The models
for all these new installations,
according to Pentagon sources, are the
string of bases we have built around
the Persian Gulf in the last two
decades in such anti-democratic autocracies
as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman,
and the United Arab Emirates.

Most of
these new bases will be what the military, in a switch of metaphors,
calls
“lily pads” to which our troops could jump like so many well-armed
frogs from
the homeland, our remaining NATO bases, or bases in the docile
satellites of
Japan and Britain.  To offset the expense involved in such
expansion,
the Pentagon leaks plans to close many of the huge Cold War
military
reservations in Germany, South Korea, and perhaps Okinawa as part
of
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s “rationalization” of our armed forces.
In the
wake of the Iraq victory, the U.S. has already withdrawn virtually
all of its
forces from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, partially as a way of
punishing them for
not supporting the war strongly enough.  It wants to do
the same thing
to South Korea, perhaps the most anti-American democracy on
Earth today,
which would free up the 2nd Infantry Division on the
demilitarized zone with
North Korea for probable deployment to Iraq, where
our forces are
significantly overstretched.

In Europe, these plans include giving up
several bases in Germany, also in
part because of Chancellor Gerhard
Schröder’s domestically popular defiance
of Bush over Iraq.  But the
degree to which we are capable of doing so may
prove limited indeed.  At
the simplest level, the Pentagon’s planners do not
really seem to grasp just
how many buildings the 71,702 soldiers and airmen
in Germany alone occupy and
how expensive it would be to reposition most of
them and build even slightly
comparable bases, together with the necessary
infrastructure, in former
Communist countries like Romania, one of Europe’s
poorest countries. 
Lt. Col. Amy Ehmann in Hanau, Germany, has said to the
press “There’s no
place to put these people” in Romania, Bulgaria, or
Djibouti, and she
predicts that 80% of them will in the end stay in Germany.
It’s also certain
that generals of the high command have no intention of
living in backwaters
like Constanta, Romania, and will keep the U.S.
military headquarters in
Stuttgart while holding on to Ramstein Air Force
Base, Spangdahlem Air Force
Base, and the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

One reason why the Pentagon is
considering moving out of rich democracies
like Germany and South Korea and
looks covetously at military dictatorships
and poverty-stricken dependencies
is to take advantage of what the Pentagon
calls their “more permissive
environmental regulations.”  The Pentagon
always imposes on countries in
which it deploys our forces so-called Status
of Forces Agreements, which
usually exempt the United States from cleaning
up or paying for the
environmental damage it causes.  This is a standing
grievance in
Okinawa, where the American environmental record has been
nothing short of
abominable.  Part of this attitude is simply the desire of
the Pentagon
to put itself beyond any of the restraints that govern civilian
life, an
attitude increasingly at play in the “homeland” as well.  For
example,
the 2004 defense authorization bill of $401.3 billion that
President Bush
signed into law in November 2003 exempts the military from
abiding by the
Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

While there
is every reason to believe that the impulse to create ever more
lily pads in
the Third World remains unchecked, there are several reasons to
doubt that
some of the more grandiose plans, for either expansion or
downsizing, will
ever be put into effect or, if they are, that they will do
anything other
than make the problem of terrorism worse than it is.  For one
thing,
Russia is opposed to the expansion of U.S. military power on its
borders and
is already moving to checkmate American basing sorties into
places like
Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.  The first post-Soviet-era
Russian
airbase in Kyrgyzstan has just been completed forty miles from the
U.S. base
at Bishkek, and in December 2003, the dictator of Uzbekistan,
Islam Karimov,
declared that he would not permit a permanent deployment of
U.S. forces in
his country even though we already have a base there.

When it comes to
downsizing, on the other hand, domestic politics may come
into play.  By
law the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closing Commission
must submit its
fifth and final list of domestic bases to be shut down to
the White House by
September 8, 2005.  As an efficiency measure, Secretary
of Defense
Rumsfeld has said he’d like to be rid of at least one-third of
domestic Army
bases and one-quarter of domestic Air Force bases, which is
sure to produce a
political firestorm on Capitol Hill.  In order to protect
their
respective states’ bases, the two mother hens of the Senate’s
Military
Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, Kay Bailey Hutchison
(R-TX) and
Dianne Feinstein, are demanding that the Pentagon close overseas
bases first
and bring the troops now stationed there home to domestic bases,
which could
then remain open.  Hutchison and Feinstein included in the
Military
Appropriations Act of 2004 money for an independent commission
to
investigate and report on overseas bases that are no longer needed. 
The
Bush administration opposed this provision of the Act but it passed
anyway
and the president signed it into law on November 22, 2003.  The
Pentagon is
probably adept enough to hamstring the commission, but a
domestic
base-closing furor clearly looms on the horizon.

By far the
greatest defect in the “global cavalry” strategy, however, is
that it
accentuates Washington’s impulse to apply irrelevant military
remedies to
terrorism.  As the prominent British military historian,
Correlli
Barnett, has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq
only
increased the threat of al-Qaeda.  From 1993 through the 9/11
assaults
of 2001, there were five major al-Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the
two years
since then there have been seventeen such bombings, including the
Istanbul
suicide assaults on the British consulate and an HSBC Bank.
Military
operations against terrorists are not the solution.  As Barnett
puts it,
“Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and
complex
societies with simple nostrums of ‘freedom and democracy,’ we need
tactics
of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the
people and
cultures we are dealing with — an understanding up till now
entirely
lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in
the
Pentagon.”

In his notorious “long, hard slog” memo on Iraq of
October 16, 2003, Defense
secretary Rumsfeld wrote, “Today, we lack metrics
to know if we are winning
or losing the global war on terror.” 
Correlli-Barnett’s “metrics” indicate
otherwise.  But the “war on
terrorism” is at best only a small part of the
reason for all our military
strategizing.  The real reason for constructing
this new ring of
American bases along the equator is to expand our empire
and reinforce our
military domination of the world.

–Chalmers Johnson’s latest book is
*The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism,
Secrecy, and the End of the Republic*
(Metropolitan).  His previous book,
*Blowback: The Costs and
Consequences of American Empire*, has just been
updated with a new
introduction.




Comments (1)
 

Cheney\’s grim vision: decades of war

January 16, 2004 at 5:24 pm
Contributed by:


Folks,


I guess
we needn’t wonder any longer if the administration is bent on global military
domination; Cheney’s saying it straight out now. Iraq was merely a harbinger.


He also said the administration was
planning to expand the military into even more overseas bases so the United
States could wage war quickly around the globe.

I wonder, do these guys even ask
where they’re going to get the money to be the world’s cop? Especially
since we also seem bent on going it alone? And is this why we keep hearing
noises these days about reinstituting the draft?


I know the hawks on this list will disagree
with me. But, all the intelligent remarks looking back on our decision to invade
Iraq notwithstanding, I don’t think we have any business being the world’s cop.
I don’t want us staffing military bases in every country in the world, and near
every oil and gas field. I don’t believe we can afford our military adventures
now, and I certainly don’t think we can afford to do this on a much broader
scope, as our chickenhawk leaders apparently intend.


But even if you support this agenda, where do
you think the money to fund it will come from? Seriously, I want to know. Write
me back.


–C


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/01/15/MNGK14AC301.DTL&type=printable


Cheney’s grim vision: decades of war
Vice president says
Bush policy aimed at long-term world threat
James
Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, January 15, 2004
©2004 San Francisco
Chronicle
| Feedback | FAQ



URL: sfgate.com/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/01/15/MNGK14AC301.DTL


Los Angeles — In a forceful preview of the Bush
administration’s expansionist military policies in this election year, Vice
President Dick Cheney Wednesday painted a grim picture of what he said was the
growing threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States and
warned that the battle, like the Cold War, could last generations.

The vice president’s tone, in a major address to the Los Angeles World
Affairs Council, was sobering, unlike many other comments recently by senior
administration officials that have stressed successes in the war on terrorism.

Cheney mentioned only in passing the administration’s domestic policies,
while saying President Bush would present a blueprint of his domestic goals in
next Tuesday’s State of the Union speech.

Cheney devoted the half-hour speech to a frightening characterization of the
war on terrorism and the new kind of mobilization he said it demanded. He
sounded the alarm about the increasing prospects of a major new terrorist attack
and the extraordinary responses that are required. While many of his remarks
echoed past comments by the president and senior officials, Cheney struck a
surprisingly dour note and suggested only an administration of proven ability
could manage the dramatic overhaul necessary for the nation’s security
apparatus.

“One of the legacies of this administration will be some of the most sweeping
changes in our military, and our national security strategy as it relates to the
military and force structure, and how we’re based, and how we used it in the
last 50 or 60 years, probably since World War II,” Cheney said. “I think the
changes are that dramatic.”

He also said the administration was planning to expand the military into even
more overseas bases so the United States could wage war quickly around the
globe.

“Scattered in more than 50 nations, the al Qaeda network and other terrorist
groups constitute an enemy unlike any other that we have ever faced, ” he said.
“And as our intelligence shows, the terrorists continue plotting to kill on an
ever-larger scale, including here in the United States.”

Cheney provided no details, however, of the kinds of attacks he expected.

Although the administration has been criticized by some, including most of
the Democratic candidates for president, for not doing enough to eliminate known
programs for developing weapons of mass destruction in such countries as North
Korea, Cheney said they were a priority and confronted the United States with
its gravest threat.

Again, he presented the risks of a terrorist attack involving these weapons
in stark terms.

“Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens or even hundreds of
thousands of lives as the result of a single attack, or a set coordinated of
attacks,” Cheney said.

While polls show that many Americans support the president’s aggressive war
on terrorism, he also has many critics for the way the battle has been waged.
The president initially justified the war in Iraq by saying that Saddam Hussein
had active programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The
United States has yet to find evidence of such programs since overthrowing
Hussein and installing a military occupation, prompting questions about the
president’s agenda and the quality of intelligence he is receiving.

In addition, an expert at the U.S. Army War College, Jeffrey Record, recently
released a 62-page analysis that concluded the war in Iraq might have set back
American efforts to stop terrorists by diverting precious resources to a battle
that will do little to prevent new attacks.

As a result, Record concluded, the war on terrorism “lacks strategic clarity,
embraces unrealistic objectives and may not be sustainable over the long haul.”

But in his speech Wednesday, Cheney compared this moment to the challenges
faced by President Harry Truman at the beginning of the Cold War, when there was
a hot war flaring on the Korean Peninsula and a long-term nuclear standoff
developing with the Soviet Union.

Cheney said Bush was establishing, as Truman had, a new structure for a new
long-term war and spreading the military into new areas of the globe. “On Sept.
11, 2001, our nation made a fundamental commitment that will take many years to
see through,” Cheney said.

E-mail James Sterngold at jsterngold@sfchronicle.com.

©2004 San Francisco
Chronicle
| Feedback | FAQ

Comments Off
 

Bush redefines \’free speech\’

January 16, 2004 at 1:29 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

The
Bush administration has done more to sequester or squelch any dissent with its
policies than any presidency in memory. It also has developed a strong record of
redacting (editing or blacking out) anything in print that might disagree with
it. Submitted for your consideration are the following items:



 

Here’s an interesting article about
the “Free-speech Zones” set up around the president wherever he goes
to speak. From that bastion of progressive liberal thought,
The American Conservative, no less. In it, you’ll find that grandmothers were
arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated
zone, and citizens arrested for holding up critical signs…hundreds of yards,
or even a half-mile, in sequestered arease far away from the president. The
media are also forbidden to speak to these citizens.

http://www.amconmag.com/12_15_03/feature.html  

 

Case in point, from today’s
Progress Report
:

Hundreds of protesters,
upset with the White House record on civil rights and issues of importance to
minorities gave voice to their anger yesterday during President Bush’s visit to
the grave of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Bush was “shielded from
[protesters'] view by a row of transit-authority buses with police officers in
riot gear atop them.” The same report notes that Bush then went to a fund-raiser for his
campaign, and raked in another $1.3 million. In case you missed this point, that
trip was paid for by us, the taxpayers.

 

Also in today’s Progress Report:
“earlier this year, a report that harshly criticized the Justice Department’s diversity
efforts was posted on the department’s website with half of its 186 pages
blacked out. …[t]he Justice Department has sought to hide from the public
statistically significant findings of discrimination against minorities within
its ranks.” (Today’s Progress Report also notes
that CBS has refused to run MoveOn’s winning
ad.)

 

In Tuesday’s Progress Report, “A new piece by Ken Auletta in this week’s New
Yorker magazine exposes a White House determined to manipulate and control the
press, pushing them into an increasingly marginalized role in an attempt to
control the flow of information and stay ‘on
message.'”

 

The White House dragged its feet in the investigation of
the Valerie Plame leak for two months, showing no interest at all in determining
who did it. Now we have an investigation under way by another insider,
Fitzgerald, after Ashcroft recused himself under much pressure. But how long did
it take the Bush administration to launch an investigation of former Treasury
Secretary Paul O’Neill to see if he leaked the internal documents reported in
the book about him? About 24 hours. Here’s a decent roundup of these issues: The Crumbling Case for
War

 

And if all that doesn’t bother you, let me paraphrase
Bush himself: the only ones who have something to fear
(from free speech) are those who have something to
hide.  

 

Your Silence Is
Appreciated

 

–C

 

Comments Off
 

Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War

January 16, 2004 at 12:34 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


Here’s an interesting discussion going on at Slate among the following “liberal hawks” that is well worth reading. As these are all respected journalists and authors, at least the writing is good and the thoughts are clear. Thanks to the alert reader who forwarded it.
I am nearly
converted myself! (But not quite.)


Liberal
Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War


Paul Berman is the author of Terror and Liberalism and The Passion of Joschka
Fischer
, which is forthcoming in the spring.


Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs columnist for the New York
Times
and most recently the author of Longitudes and Attitudes.


Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and a regular
contributor to Slate. His most recent book is A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of
Iraq
.


Fred Kaplan writes the “War
Stories
” column for Slate.


George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where his article about the occupation recently appeared. He is working
on a book about America in Iraq.


Kenneth M. Pollack is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading
Iraq
.


Jacob Weisberg is editor of Slate and co-author,
with Robert E. Rubin, of In An Uncertain World.


Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International and the author of
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and
Abroad
.

Comments Off
 

Michael Moore endorses Clark

January 15, 2004 at 6:58 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

I
guess I’m not the only one feelin’ like Clark’s the man today. Hot off the
presses from Michael Moore, and in no uncertain terms.

Folks,

I
guess I’m not the only one feelin’ like Clark’s the man today. Hot off the
presses from Michael Moore, and in no uncertain terms.

–C

—–Original Message—–
From: mailinglist@michaelmoore.com [mailto:mailinglist@michaelmoore.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2004 6:54 PM
Subject: I’ll Be Voting For Wesley Clark / Good-Bye Mr. Bush — by
Michael Moore

I’ll Be Voting For Wesley
Clark / Good-Bye Mr. Bush — by Michael Moore

 

January 14,
2004

 

Many of you have written to
me in the past months asking, “Who are you going to vote for this
year?”

 

I have decided to cast my
vote in the primary for Wesley Clark. That’s right, a peacenik is voting for a
general. What a country!

 

I believe that Wesley Clark
will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will
stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of
this country.

 

And he will cream George W.
Bush.

 

I have met Clark
and spoken to him on a number of occasions, feeling him out on the issues but,
more importantly, getting a sense of him as a human being. And I have to tell
you I have found him to be the real deal, someone whom I’m convinced all of you
would like, both as a person and as the individual leading this country. He is
an honest, decent, honorable man who would be a breath of fresh air in the
White House. He is clearly not a professional politician. He is clearly not
from Park Avenue. And he is
clearly the absolute best hope we have of defeating George W. Bush.

 

This is not to say the other
candidates won’t be able to beat Bush, and I will work enthusiastically for any
of the non-Lieberman 8 who might get the nomination. But I must tell you, after
completing my recent 43-city tour of this country, I came to the conclusion
that Clark has the best chance of
beating Bush. He is going to inspire the independents and the undecided to come
our way. The hard core (like us) already have their minds made up. It’s the
fence sitters who will decide this election.

 

The decision in November is
going to come down to 15 states and just a few percentage points. So, I had to
ask myself — and I want you to honestly ask yourselves — who has the BEST
chance of winning Florida,
West Virginia,
Arizona,
Nevada,
Missouri,
Ohio?
Because THAT is the only thing that is going to matter in the end. You know the
answer — and it ain’t you or me or our good internet doctor.

 

This is not about voting for
who is more anti-war or who was anti-war first or who the media has already
anointed. It is about backing a candidate that shares our values AND can
communicate them to Middle America.
I am convinced that the surest slam dunk to remove Bush is with a
four-star-general-top-of-his-class-at-West-Point-Rhodes-Scholar-Medal-of-Freedom-winning-gun-owner-from-the-South
— who also, by chance, happens to be pro-choice, pro environment, and
anti-war. You don’t get handed a gift like this very often. I hope the
liberal/left is wise enough to accept it. It’s hard, when you’re so used to
losing, to think that this time you can actually win. It is Clark who stands
the best chance — maybe the only chance — to win those Southern and
Midwestern states that we MUST win in order to accomplish Bush Removal. And if
what I have just said is true, then we have no choice but to get behind the one
who can make this happen.

 

There are times to vote to
make a statement, there are times to vote for the underdog and there are times to
vote to save the country from catastrophe. This time we can and must do all
three. I still believe that each one of us must vote his or her heart and
conscience. If we fail to do that, we will continue to be stuck with spineless
politicians who stand for nothing and no one (except those who write them the
biggest checks).

 

My vote for Clark
is one of conscience. I feel so strongly about this that I’m going to devote
the next few weeks of my life to do everything I can to help Wesley Clark win.
I would love it if you would join me on this mission.

 

Here are just a few of the
reasons why I feel this way about Wes Clark:

 

1. Clark
has committed to ensuring that every family of four who makes under $50,000 a
year pays NO federal income tax. None. Zip. This is the most incredible helping
hand offered by a major party presidential candidate to the working class and
the working poor in my lifetime. He will make up the difference by socking it
to the rich with a 5% tax increase on anything they make over a million bucks.
He will make sure corporations pay ALL of the taxes they should be paying. Clark
has fired a broadside at greed. When the New York Times last week wrote that
Wes Clark has been “positioning himself slightly to Dean’s left,” this is
what they meant, and it sure sounded good to me.

 

2. He is 100% opposed to the
draft. If you are 18-25 years old and reading this right now, I have news for
you — if Bush wins, he’s going to bring back the draft. He will be forced to.
Because, thanks to his crazy war, recruitment is going to be at an all-time
low. And many of the troops stuck over there are NOT going to re-enlist. The
only way Bush is going to be able to staff the military is to draft you and
your friends. Parents, make no mistake about it — Bush’s second term will see
your sons taken from you and sent to fight wars for the oily rich. Only an
ex-general who knows first-hand that a draft is a sure-fire way to wreck an
army will be able to avert the inevitable.

 

3. He is anti-war. Have you
heard his latest attacks on Bush over the Iraq War? They are stunning and
brilliant. I want to see him on that stage in a debate with Bush — the General
vs. the Deserter! General Clark told me that it’s people like him who are truly
anti-war because it’s people like him who have to die if there is a war.
“War must be the absolute last resort,” he told me. “Once you’ve
seen young people die, you never want to see that again, and you want to avoid
it whenever and wherever possible.” I believe him. And my ex-Army relatives
believe him, too. It’s their votes we need.

 

4. He walks the walk. On
issues like racism, he just doesn’t mouth liberal platitudes — he does
something about it. On his own volition, he joined in and filed an amicus brief
with the Supreme Court in support of the University
of Michigan’s
case in favor of affirmative action. He spoke about his own insistence on
affirmative action in the Army and how giving a hand to those who have
traditionally been shut out has made our society a better place. He didn’t have
to get involved in that struggle. He’s a middle-aged white guy — affirmative
action personally does him no good. But that is not the way he thinks. He grew
up in Little Rock,
one of the birthplaces of the civil rights movement, and he knows that African
Americans still occupy the lowest rungs of the ladder in a country where
everyone is supposed to have “a chance.” That is why he has been
endorsed by one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Charlie Rangel, and former
Atlanta Mayor and aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young.

 

5. On the issue of gun
control, this hunter and gun owner will close the gun show loophole (which
would have helped prevent the massacre at Columbine) and he will sign into law
a bill to create a federal ballistics fingerprinting database for every gun in
America (the DC sniper, who bought his rifle in his own name, would have been
identified after the FIRST day of his killing spree). He is not afraid, as many
Democrats are, of the NRA. His message to them: “You like to fire assault
weapons? I have a place for you. It’s not in the homes and streets of America.
It’s called the Army, and you can join any time!”

 

6. He will gut and overhaul
the Patriot Act and restore our constitutional rights to privacy and free
speech. He will demand stronger environmental laws. He will insist that trade
agreements do not cost Americans their jobs and do not exploit the workers or
environment of third world countries. He will expand the Family Leave Act. He
will guarantee universal pre-school throughout America.
He opposes all discrimination against gays and lesbians (and he opposes the
constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage). All of this is why Time
magazine this week referred to Clark as “Dean 2.0″ — an improvement
over the original (1.0, Dean himself), a better version of a good thing:
stronger, faster, and easier for the mainstream to understand and use.

 

7. He will cut the Pentagon
budget, use the money thus saved for education and health care, and he will
STILL make us safer than we are now. Only the former commander of NATO could
get away with such a statement. Dean says he will not cut a dime out of the
Pentagon. Clark knows where the
waste and the boondoggles are and he knows that nutty ideas like Star Wars must
be put to pasture. His health plan will cover at least 30 million people who
now have no coverage at all, including 13 million children. He’s a general who
will tell those swing voters, “We can take this Pentagon waste and put it
to good use to fix that school in your neighborhood.” My friends, those
words, coming from the mouth of General Clark, are going to turn this country
around.

 

Now, before those of you who
are Dean or Kucinich supporters start cloggin’ my box with emails tearing Clark
down with some of the stuff I’ve seen floating around the web (“Mike! He
voted for Reagan! He bombed Kosovo!”), let me respond by pointing out that
Dennis Kucinich refused to vote against the war resolution in Congress on March
21 (two days after the war started) which stated “unequivocal
support” for Bush and the war (only 11 Democrats voted against this–Dennis abstained). Or,
need I quote Dr. Dean who, the month after Bush “won” the election,
said he wasn’t too worried about Bush because Bush “in his
soul, is a moderate
“? What’s the point of this ridiculous tit-for-tat
sniping? I applaud Dennis for all his other stands against the war, and I am
certain Howard no longer believes we have nothing to fear about Bush. They are
good people.

 

Why expend energy on the past
when we have such grave danger facing us in the present and in the near future?
I don’t feel bad nor do I care that Clark — or anyone — voted for Reagan over
20 years ago. Let’s face it, the vast majority of Americans voted for Reagan —
and I want every single one of them to be WELCOMED into our tent this year. The
message to these voters — and many of them are from the working class —
should not be, “You voted for Reagan? Well, to hell with you!” Every
time you attack Clark for that,
that is the message you are sending to all the people who at one time liked
Reagan. If they have now changed their minds (just as Kucinich has done by
going from anti-choice to pro-choice, and Dean has done by wanting to cut
Medicare to now not wanting to cut it) – and if Clark has become a liberal
Democrat, is that not something to cheer?

 

In fact, having made that
political journey and metamorphosis, is he not the best candidate to bring
millions of other former Reagan supporters to our side — blue collar people
who have now learned the hard way just how bad Reagan and the Republicans were
(and are) for them?

 

We need to take that big DO
NOT ENTER sign off our tent and reach out to the vast majority who have been
snookered by these right-wingers. And we have a better chance of winning in
November with one of their own leading them to the promised land.

 

There is much more to discuss
and, in the days and weeks ahead, I will continue to send you my thoughts. In
the coming months, I will also be initiating a number of efforts on my website
to make sure we get out the vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

 

In addition to voting for
Wesley Clark, I will also be spending part of my Bush tax cut to help him out. You
can join me, if you like, by going to his website to learn more about him, to volunteer, or to donate. To find out about when your
state’s presidential primaries are, visit Vote
Smart
.

 

I strongly urge you to vote
for Wes Clark. Let’s join together to ensure that we are putting forth our BEST
chance to defeat Bush on the November ballot. It is, at this point, for the
sake of the world, a moral imperative.

 

Yours,

 

Michael Moore

www.michaelmoore.com

mmflint@aol.com

 

P.S. To register to vote
visit
www.yourvotematters.org.

 

 

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WoT goes to the Sahara and Peak Oil connections

January 15, 2004 at 3:26 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

According to the Guardian (see below), our latest War on Terror front is
the Sahara desert of west Africa.

 

But
Mike Ruppert of From the Wilderness has predicted this for 18 months:


http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011404_controls.html
[For eighteen months FTW has been documenting and predicting
that the war on terror would soon migrate to West A frica in its search for oil
reserves. Today, as reported in The Guardian, it was announced that a new front
in the has been opened in West African nation of Mauritania. This is not
surprising since major oil companies and drilling operations like Kerr McGhee
have recently made substantial investments there. The overall amounts of oil may
be small in comparison to Iraq or Saudi Arabia, but there won't be major wars to
fight or long distances to ship to get the oil into American gas tanks.


As one oil expert told me last
May, “There is no elasticity in the system.” The quick addition of even a few
hundred thousand barrels a day of production capacity provides a small bit of
breathing room as the jaws of Peak Oil begin to close around a sleeping planet.
– MCR]


Even if you don’t believe the connection he asserts between our incursion
into Africa and energy supplies, then you must answer the question: why is this
a major concern in the so-called War on Terror? Like Iraq, doesn’t Mauritania
sound like a ‘threat’ that should be way, way down the list? In fact, doesn’t
this just smell a little bit like a security force laying groundwork for
something else? Like, maybe a contractor that does military ops and oil
business ops, say, KBR or Halliburton? (Anybody want to speculate on what the
cover story for this one will be?)

 

You
must also answer the question: if there isn’t really an energy crisis just under
the covers of our reality, then why are we doing so much to gain access to so
little energy feedstocks?

 

Those
of you who are regular From the Wilderness readers may have already seen this
one, but I’d like to recommended it to all readers: Mike Ruppert’s report about
the Peak Oil conference in Paris last May. This was the second (annual?)
conference for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), the
organization founded by Professor Colin Campbell, who authored the serious Peak
Oil studies I have sent around to the list previously (such as http://hubbert.mines.edu/news/Campbell_01-2.pdf):

Paris Peak Oil Conference Reveals Deepening
Crisis

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/053103_aspo.html

 

Quite
a few readers have asked me lately, “What can I do?” Well, here’s something you
can do. Read all of these links. Learn the names and work of Dr. Colin Campbell,
M. King Hubbert, Richard Heinberg, and Michael Ruppert and the From the
Wilderness team. Explore energy issues. Go to the public library! I just did it
recently for the first time in years, and found all kinds of great stuff on all
of the above, in all kinds of media too. (Just remember: the Dept. of Homeland
Security, under the Patriot Act, now has the right to ask for the records of all
materials you check out, without your knowledge, and the library is gagged
against even discussing it. So be careful!) 
Ask yourself what
you can do to influence energy policy, and get cracking. I honestly believe this
is the most urgent cause of our time: getting our energy needs in balance with
our means, however we can do it. But I’m sure we all need to know more about it
first, to be more effective in our lobbying and making sure that energy policy
is an issue that gets the attention it deserves.

 

I will
send more information around in the coming weeks about the nuts and bolts of
energy supplies, and the future of energy generation. Those of you who might
have relevant information to share–you know who you are–please send me some
stuff to support that effort.

 

Until
then, you’ve got your homework assignment! There will be a test later. We just
don’t know when.

 

–C

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1122505,00.html

US opens new front in war on terror by
beefing up border controls in Sahara

Rory Carroll, Africa correspondent, and
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Wednesday January 14, 2004
The Guardian


The US is sending troops and defence
contractors to the Sahara desert of west Africa to open what it calls a new
front in the war on terror.

A small vanguard force arrived this week in Mauritania to pave the way for a
$100m (£54m) plan to bolster the security forces and border controls of
Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Niger.

The US Pan-Sahel Initiative, as it is named, will provide 60 days of training
to military units, including tips on desert navigation and infantry tactics, and
furnish equipment such as Toyota Land Cruisers, radios and uniforms.

The reinforcement of America’s defences in a remote, poorly patrolled region
came on a day when US police forces gained important powers in the homeland to
conduct searches.

In a 6-3 ruling, the supreme court yesterday reversed a lower court decision
in Illinois not to allow police to set up roadblocks to collect information from
motorists. The supreme court said it did not represent an unreasonable intrusion
on privacy. The three dissenting judges said the ruling exposed motorists to
police interference.

West Africa is not known as a hotbed of support for Osama bin Laden’s
al-Qaida network but Washington is taking no chances in a region with strong
Arab and Muslim ties.

“A team of military experts has been here since Saturday to teach, train and
reinforce the capacities of the Mauritanian army charged with frontier
surveillance against cross-border terrorism,” Pamela Bridgewater, a US deputy
undersecretary of state for African affairs, told reporters in the capital,
Nouakchott.

Since dropping support in the mid-90s for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime, the
government of Mauritania has angered some local Islamic groups by forging links
with Washington. At least one such group was allegedly behind a failed coup last
year but some sceptics claim the government exaggerated the threat.

Mali, Chad and Niger also have porous borders, sizeable Muslim populations
and disgruntled opposition groups but al-Qaida has so far concentrated its
African operations in the east: blowing up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in
1998 and a rocket and car bomb attack against Israeli targets in the Kenyan
resort of Mombasa last year.

Armed groups roving the desert have abducted western tourists and caused the
Paris-Dakar rally to be rerouted, but whether they are opportunistic bandits or
Islamist guerrillas is not clear.

Ms Bridgewater said there had been threats against US interests in
Mauritania’s neighbour Senegal, the scene of extraordinary security measures
during President George Bush’s visit last year.

“Yes, we have heard. But this question is very sensitive, and I don’t want to
respond to this question,” she said.

West Africa is comprised largely of former French colonies and Paris might be
expected to be wary. The French defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, is to
visit Washington this week to meet Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary,
and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser.

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Clark on Bush: "Let him chop cedar"

January 15, 2004 at 2:50 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

This isn’t a terribly newsy bit, but I found it interesting and amusing. So what if Clark’s really a Republican in Democrat’s clothes? I haven’t personally endorsed a candidate yet (not that it would tilt the balance in the least if I did!), but I’ve had a change of heart about Clark since I first heard of his candidacy. If he can beat Dubya, I’ll back him.

–C
Wesley Clark says democracy is at risk in America

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , DALLAS
Wednesday, Jan 14, 2004,Page 6

General Wesley Clark unleashed his most blistering attack yet on the Bush
administration in the president’s home state Monday, vowing to win Texas in
November if he is the Democratic nominee.

"I think we’re at risk with our democracy," Clark told an audience of about
500 people at a fund-raiser at the Westin Galleria hotel. "I think we’re
dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest administration in
living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame. They are a threat to
what this nation stands for, and we need to get him out of the White House.
And we’re going to do it."

When a supporter yelled out, "Give it to him!" Clark responded: "We’re going
to give it to him, and you’re going to have to take him back, right here in
Texas. Let him chop cedar." The reference was to one of President George W.
Bush’s favorite leisure activities on his ranch in Crawford, about 190km
southwest of Dallas.

Clark has been emboldened in recent days by a surge in polls measuring voter
preference in New Hampshire and across the country. He has drawn growing
crowds to town hall meetings in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s
first primary on Jan. 27. He attracted groups of more than 500 supporters in
trips to North Dakota and Wisconsin over the weekend. He is not competing in
the Iowa caucuses next Monday.

"I think we’re dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest
administration in living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame."

General Wesley Clark, presidential candidate

Clark’s attacks on the Bush administration have grown stronger since
articles began to be published over the weekend about a new book in which
Paul O’Neill, the former Treasury secretary, is critical of the president.

Clark said Sunday that he believed the book validated his charges, made
almost daily on the campaign trail, that the Bush administration began
planning for a war against Iraq immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks, if not sooner.

To rousing cheers, Clark asked supporters here to help him win the
Democratic nomination by voting in the state’s March 2 primary. The campaign
raised about US$250,000 at the event, a campaign official said. Before the
fund-raiser, Clark received the endorsement of Representative Martin Frost,
a Democrat who is the senior member of the Texas congressional delegation.

If the fight for the Democratic nomination is not settled by March 2, as
many Democrats think it will be, it almost certainly will be decided on that
day, when California, New York, Ohio and Massachusetts also hold their
primaries.

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Krugman – The Awful Truth

January 13, 2004 at 5:17 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

There’s nothing new here, for regular readers of my list, but as is often the case, Krugman says it best.

–C

The Awful Truth
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Tuesday 13 January 2004

People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren’t sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.

But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back where they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.

I was one of the few commentators who didn’t celebrate Paul O’Neill’s appointment as Treasury secretary. And I couldn’t understand why, if Mr. O’Neill was the principled man his friends described, he didn’t resign early from an administration that was clearly anything but honest.

But now he’s showing the courage I missed back then, by giving us an invaluable, scathing insider’s picture of the Bush administration.

Ron Suskind’s new book “The Price of Loyalty” is based largely on interviews with and materials supplied by Mr. O’Neill. It portrays an administration in which political considerations — satisfying “the base” — trump policy analysis on every issue, from tax cuts to international trade policy and global warming. The money quote may be Dick Cheney’s blithe declaration that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” But there are many other revelations.

One is that Mr. O’Neill and Alan Greenspan knew that it was a mistake to lock in huge tax cuts based on questionable projections of future surpluses. In May 2001 Mr. Greenspan gloomily told Mr. O’Neill that because the first Bush tax cut didn’t include triggers — it went forward regardless of how the budget turned out — it was “irresponsible fiscal policy.” This was a time when critics of the tax cut were ridiculed for saying exactly the same thing.

Another is that Mr. Bush, who declared in the 2000 campaign that “the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum,” knew that this wasn’t true. He worried that eliminating taxes on dividends would benefit only “top-rate people,” asking his advisers, “Didn’t we already give them a break at the top?”

Most startling of all, Donald Rumsfeld pushed the idea of regime change in Iraq as a way to transform the Middle East at a National Security Council meeting in February 2001.

There’s much more in Mr. Suskind’s book. All of it will dismay those who still want to believe that our leaders are wise and good.

The question is whether this book will open the eyes of those who think that anyone who criticizes the tax cuts is a wild-eyed leftist, and that anyone who says the administration hyped the threat from Iraq is a conspiracy theorist.

The point is that the credentials of the critics just keep getting better. How can Howard Dean’s assertion that the capture of Saddam hasn’t made us safer be dismissed as bizarre, when a report published by the Army War College says that the war in Iraq was a “detour” that undermined the fight against terror? How can charges by Wesley Clark and others that the administration was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq be dismissed as paranoid in the light of Mr. O’Neill’s revelations?

So far administration officials have attacked Mr. O’Neill’s character but haven’t refuted any of his facts. They have, however, already opened an investigation into how a picture of a possibly classified document appeared during Mr. O’Neill’s TV interview. This alacrity stands in sharp contrast with their evident lack of concern when a senior administration official, still unknown, blew the cover of a C.I.A. operative because her husband had revealed some politically inconvenient facts.

Some will say that none of this matters because Saddam is in custody, and the economy is growing. Even in the short run, however, these successes may not be all they’re cracked up to be. More Americans were killed and wounded in the four weeks after Saddam’s capture than in the four weeks before. The drop in the unemployment rate since its peak last summer doesn’t reflect a greater availability of jobs, but rather a decline in the share of the population that is even looking for work.

More important, having a few months of good news doesn’t excuse a consistent pattern of dishonest, irresponsible leadership. And that pattern keeps getting harder to deny.

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Krugman: Enron and the System

January 12, 2004 at 12:01 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

In typically pithy style, Paul Krugman explains that we have little to
celebrate in the new prosecutions of former Enron financial officers. The system
is still broken. “The wave of scandal was made possible, if not caused, by a
political climate in which corporate insiders got pretty much whatever they
wanted. Since the politicians who did their bidding haven’t paid any price, that
climate hasn’t changed.” And corporate corruption is a bipartisan problem –
Lieberman gets special mention in this one.

 

–C

 

 



The New York Times

January 9, 2004OP-ED COLUMNIST
Enron and the SystemBy PAUL
KRUGMAN



Two years after Enron, then one of America’s most
admired companies, was revealed as a fraud, prosecutors finally seem to be
getting somewhere. Andrew Fastow, the company’s former chief financial
officer, and his wife, Lea, are reported to be engaged in plea-bargaining.
Mr. Fastow’s testimony will probably lead to charges against other former
Enron executives.


But it would be a big mistake to conclude that the system is working.
It isn’t.


For one thing, the progress in the Enron case is something of a fluke —
sort of like convicting Al Capone for income tax evasion. The charges
against Mrs. Fastow don’t focus on dubious corporate deals; they focus on
her failure to report the personal kickbacks she received from
participants in those deals. And it’s still unclear whether the company’s
top executives will ever face charges.


More important, in political terms the statute of limitations may
already have run out. The political figures with the most direct ties to
the Enron scandal, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White and former
Senator Phil Gramm, are no longer in office. War and a rising market have,
at least for the time being, diverted attention from the role of other
political figures whose deference to corporate demands aided and abetted
Enron and other corporate malefactors.


And that’s unfortunate. The wave of scandal was made possible, if not
caused, by a political climate in which corporate insiders got pretty much
whatever they wanted. Since the politicians who did their bidding haven’t
paid any price, that climate hasn’t changed.


A November profile of Lea Fastow in Business Week was, among other
things, a reminder of just how important a permissive political
environment was to the company’s growing sense that it could get away with
just about anything. One of Mrs. Fastow’s earliest high-profile deals
involved the creation of an elaborate tax shelter. It was obvious from the
beginning that this type of shelter was a scam, and the Treasury
Department tried to get this maneuver banned in 1994 — but Congress
refused to act. In 1998 Treasury tried a different tack, getting the
I.R.S. to disallow Enron’s tax deduction, but the agency backed down in
the face of an intense lobbying campaign.


So have things changed? No. In October the I.R.S. backed off its
challenge to another transparent scam, the synfuel tax credit. The agency
denies that it was buckling under political pressure. Uh-huh.


Meanwhile, what about stock options? Just about every analysis of the
emergence of widespread accounting fraud stresses the distorting role of
huge options grants to top executives, which gave insiders a strong
incentive to do whatever it took to push up stock prices. (A fixation on
the stock price was central to the Enron scandal.) Companies might have
issued fewer options, and accounting fraud might have been less of a
problem, if accounting rules had required companies to count the issue of
stock options as a cost, rather than pretending that they were somehow
free.


But in 1994, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board tried to
issue a rule to that effect, companies that issued lots of options mounted
a lobbying campaign. And politicians rushed — in a fully bipartisan manner
— to be of service. Senator Joseph Lieberman took the lead: he introduced
a resolution opposing the change, the resolution was approved 88 to 9, and
the board backed down.


So now it’s clear that options were a big motivator for corporate
fraud, has Congress moved to require that issuing them be counted against
profits? No. In fact, the politicians who led the charge against reform
back in 1994 haven’t budged.


“The best comparison I can think of is the one the N.R.A. uses about
guns — which is that guns don’t kill people, criminals do,” Senator
Lieberman said on “Frontline” on PBS. “Options were not the problem with
Enron; it was the way in which the executives at Enron sold their
options.”


Yesterday Gen. Wesley Clark made an appearance with Sherron Watkins,
the Enron whistle-blower, and promised to crack down on corporate tax
shelters. Howard Dean has also made a crackdown on tax shelters a central
plank of his campaign. If these or other candidates actually succeed in
making corporate abuse into a successful campaign issue, we may finally
see some real reform. But right now, two years after Enron imploded, we
have to say that the system is still
broken.  



Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company |
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