Monday, January 30, 2006

Why Don't High Profile Journalists Pull An Oprah on Bush?

An article on, by Norman Solomon reports the confrontation between Oprah and Frey and comments:

When Frey tried to weasel out of responsibility for concocting a phony story about a root canal without anesthetic, the host interrupted after the words "I've struggled with the idea of it –"

"No, the lie of it," Winfrey said. "That's a lie. It's not an idea, James, that's a lie."

But high-profile journalists are unwilling to confront President Bush on national television with such clarity: "That's a lie. It's not an idea, George, that's a lie."

Wouldn't that be sweet?

What Do the Republicans Have that the Democrats Lack?

In one word: discipline, self-discipline. That's all.

The Democrats have everything else.

The two biggest weaknesses of the Democrats are the self-defeating search for the perfect candidate and the inability to unite early in support of the best candidate.

It makes me want to cry when Democrats express concern publicly about the imperfections and vulnerabilities of Hillary Clinton and Eliot Spitzer. Why don't Democrats just shut up and work very hard to get these undeserved gifts from Heaven elected?

See Kick Me, I'm a Democrat.

The Bush Plan for Victory in the Middle East

In a long article in today's NYTimes, entitled Rice Admits U.S. Underestimated Hamas Strength, Steven R. Weisman starts as follows:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."

Here comes the part where Condi reveals the last step for victory in the Middle East:

Ms. Rice told reporters that she was convinced of the wisdom of instilling democracy in the Middle East. Elections have brought into office anti-American Islamic radicals in Egypt, Lebanon and Iran, but Ms. Rice said the alternative was trying to bottle up seething anger in the region that could lead to more terrorist attacks in the West.

So the Bush mob was very wise to allow the terrorists to come to power because now they can be even more effective in killing Jews and they will leave us alone in the US.

What a plan! Conduct elections in the Middle East so that Hamas, the Moslem Brotherhood, Hizbollah, Moktada al Sadr and all the other extremists come to power. That was the Bush plan all along. Democracy was not the last step, it was the next to the last step. The Bush new sound bite is: "One man, one vote, one time."

Another Accomplishment (?) for George W. Bush

Elected President of the US twice, Governor of Texas, successful business executive, flying ace in the Texas National Guard, married to a wonderful woman, father of two accomplished daughters, brother of the Governor of Florida, son of George H.W. Bush, former President, Vice president, Director of the CIA, etc., etc.

Now our President has another accomplishment to his name: he has his very own section in the Wikipedia. That in itself is not a big deal, I have my own bio in the Wikipedia and so do many other people. What makes W's section unique is the title,

Movement to impeach George W. Bush.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hillary says that Bush Is Arrogant and Incompetent.

See report in the San Jose Mercury News. Speaking of the Bush response to Katrina:

"I've been absolutely amazed -- even shocked -- at the level of arrogance and incompetence,'' she said to wild applause from the audience of 1,800. "I don't believe I'm alone in that.''

It's interesting that the Bush slime machine does not react to such strong criticism. The only words we hear are that Sen. Clinton would be a formidable candidate, from Bush himself, as widely quoted in the press.

Are the Republicans saving their slime for later or are they afraid to slime Hillary because that would antagonoze Republican female voters?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hillary Should Run

Some Democrats are saying that Hillary should not run in 2008. I disagree.

1. Hillary is way ahead of all the other Democrats in the 2008 race.
2. She won her Senate seat handily in 2000, after all the moaning and whining of her critics.
3. She has won the the admiration of Trent Lott and many other Republicans.
4. She is going to win re-election to her Senate seat this Fall with 80% of the vote, unless the Republican fail to find someone to oppose her, in which case she will get 99% of the vote.
5. If she runs for President, she will get the vote of many Republican women, no matter who the Republican candidate is.

What the Democrats have to do now is to support Hillary enthusiastically - unless they can suggest a clearly stronger candidate. What must not happen again is that silly 10 clown show the Democrats ran in 2004. The big difference between Hillary and all other Democratic candidates is the (a) she has lots of experience fighting back against slime and (b) she has many Republican women on her side and if Republicans slime Hillary they will anger a lot of their base.

BTW, all of Dean’s positions turned out to be right. The Democrats were big fools not to support him 100%. They should not make the mistake of tearing down their own best candidate. Running Kerry, a mealy-mouthed wet mop was a disaster and at that he came close because Bush is such a ton of $hit, like the other Republicans. If the Democrats had backed Dean from the beginning, he would have whipped Bush.

Hillary fully expects Rove or a Rove-clone to slime her and either has or will develop strategies for defeating that kind of garbage. In any case, the Republicans will attempt to slime any Democratic candidate, no matter who that would be.

And, finally, Hillary has as her principal advisor, the smartest politician in America, former President Bill Clinton.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cartoons and A Movie

See some really good cartoons on the Danziger website. Scroll back for the last six.

Watch for this movie at your local indie cinema: 'An Inconvenient Truth,' described in a dispatch from the Sundance Film Festival. The opening of the article:

PARK CITY, Utah -- Has ever a little indie film faced a greater hurdle? Imagine this sales pitch: Babe, it's a movie about global warming. Starring Al Gore. Doing a slide show. With charts. About "soil evaporation."

Improbable? Perhaps. So it's all the more amazing that "An Inconvenient Truth" had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday night before an enthusiastic audience that gave the former vice president and his movie a big standing O.

Click here for the full article.

Letters to NYTimes Editor

Subject: The President and the Katrina Files

Referring to Bush's refusal to provide papers and witnesses regarding the Administration's actions regarding Katrina to a Congressional Committee.

Selected quotes:

Tracy Brooking, Kenesaw, Georgia:
If the law or society has determined that the president should be afforded some confidentiality in terms of what advice he receives, this privilege was not intended to be used as a shield to protect the administration from the consequences of its own failures.

Alec Flamm, Palm Beach:
Can it be any clearer that caring about our security is not this administration's prime motivation but rather the amassing of power in the executive at the expense of both Congress and the judiciary and therefore our country's citizens?

Monique Frugier, Ardmore, Pa.:
If this is not abuse of power, can someone tell me what it is?

John S. Koppel, Bethesda, Md.:
There is an unmistakable pattern here. The rule of law is being replaced by the rule of lies.

For complete text, click here.

Really Bad News: We Are All Torturers

Fred Branfman reviews an article entitled 'We Must All Be Prepared to Torture,' by Charles Krauthammer

Branfman's conclusion:

Since our leaders are torturing right now, we must all acknowledge our shared responsibility for it at the present time. Given the daily revelations of U.S. torture around the globe, we cannot, like the Germans, claim that we do not know. We cannot turn our heads and pretend that we do not see. As only the perceptive Mr. Krauthammer – so rightly praised by the NY Times for articulating the case for torture better than the Bush administration – has had the courage to suggest, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have already made torturers of us all."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bad News and Good News

Bad news first:

1. White House stonewalls Congress in Katrina investigation.

2. Massive fraud and mismanagement in Iraq.

3. Dowd : Bushies in PR campaign boasting of their criminal behavior and Democrats fail to respond adequately.

Good news:

Bush's poll results still stink.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Anti-War Stance on the Right

The right is anti-war. The article that appears in the publication of the John Birch Society starts:

According to the wisdom of the day, the left is against the war in Iraq while the right supports the war. So why do The John Birch Society and its affiliated magazine THE NEW AMERICAN support the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq? Isn’t that the position of the hard left?

It concludes:

Unlike the left, we believe that in war “there is no substitute for victory,” to quote General Douglas MacArthur. Why, therefore, do we want to bring the troops home now? Why not win and then get out? Well, if winning means eliminating Iraq’s reputed weapons of mass destruction, there is no victory to obtain because those weapons do not exist. If it means toppling the Saddam regime, that victory has already been achieved. But if it means propping up the new Iraqi regime until that regime can stand on its own, that “victory” would be no victory at all, since that new regime is fast becoming another Iran, an “axis of evil” nation.

George Bush never had the left. If he has lost the right, what has he got?

Bush Still Spinning His Wheels

Polls stuck in negative territory. See Bush Approval-Disapproval of January 23.

See Danziger Cartoon

Danziger has a good one today.

Throw the Bums Out!

Following techniques perfected by Adolf Hitler and elucidated in Orwell's "1984," our President is now trying to corrupt the English language.

Bush tells us that we should not refer to his criminal activities as "illegal domestic spying" but we should use his preferred appellation "terrorist surveillance".

We should accept without legal process his definition of who the terrorists are. We should be willing sheep being led to slaughter.

Fear mongering, illegal imprisonment, torture, obsessively repeated lies, sliming of critics, domestic spying, corruption of the language and pervasive incompetence are legacies of the George W. Bush administration.

Maybe Bush/Cheney should try honesty and legality. Or maybe we should throw the bums out. Compared to them, Denny Hastert is beginning to look good.

The Inner John Tierney Is A Fire-Breathing Liberal

Let's extend a hearty welcome to the new John Tierney!

In today's column Tierney rips apart lawbreaking prosecutors who, in their misplaced zeal, appear to have solicited perjury from a drug addict in order to jail a doctor.

The lead of his column:

Jennifer Riggle, a drug addict, was a star witness in the trial of her doctor, Bernard Rottschaefer. She testified that he had fondled her breasts in the examination room and then given her prescriptions for OxyContin and Xanax in return for sex.

In testimony in federal court two years ago, Riggle quoted the doctor as saying, " 'You satisfy my needs and I'll satisfy yours.' "


The drugs-for-sex case was based on the testimony of Riggle and three other women. All were in trouble with the law and had something to gain by cooperating with the D.E.A. agents who interviewed them.

Tierney goes on to prove that Riggle lied when she testified against the doctor.

Tierney concludes:

Yet (the prosecutors) apparently weren't careful enough or shrewd enough to see through Riggle's story. If they don't deserve prison time for that mistake, neither does her doctor.

Read the whole article - it's great. Pay the fee if you have to. After all, you get Krugman and Friedman and Maureen Dowd, too.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bush's Cupboard Is Empty

After five years in office, all Bush/Cheney/Rove have are lies, omissions, slime and scare tactics.

Bush bellows the need for domestic spying - he's protecting us from the "terr'rists." He does this in Kansas. Why? Are terrorists going to terrorize Kansas? Why would they bother? No, he does his act in Kansas because in Kansas, audiences believe his lies. Bush, purveyor of swagger and bluster should try his act in New York City, the past target of terrorists, but he doesn't dare.

Why doesn't Bush address the question that everybody wants answered? Why does he spy on us without court supervision? What is the reason for Bush's spying on us that he cannot reveal to a judge?

While he's being candid, why doesn't he come clean on the true reason for invading Iraq and staying there three years and on until his undefined victory is achieved? What will Bush do if the Kurds and Shi'ites simply do not trust the Sunni Arabs enough to give them any real power?

The cupboard of Bush/Cheney/Rove is empty and more and more Americans are seeing that.

God save us!


On Bush's speech in Kansas

On the situation in Iraq

"Bush is just getting by from sound bite to sound bite . . .

...while Iraq and America sink ever deeper into the quagmire."

That's the last line in today's Krugman column .

Here's the big (non) shocker of the column

Most notably, during the period when Iraq was run by U.S. officials, they decided to base their electricity plan on natural gas: in order to boost electrical output, American companies were hired to install gas-fired generators in power plants across Iraq. But, as The Los Angeles Times explains, "pipelines needed to transport the gas" - that is, to supply gas to the new generators - "weren't built because Iraq's Oil Ministry, with U.S. encouragement, concentrated instead on boosting oil production." Whoops.

Why is this a non-shocker? Because this confirms, once again, that the true reason for the Iraq invasion has always been to steal half of the oil for Bush and his cronies - worth upward of $50 billion a year. See my earlier post "The Confession of George W. Bush" of 26 Nov 2005.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Manufacturing Base and Laura

See Jan 21 Danziger cartoons.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Epiphany of John Tierney

John Tierney, formerly one of the two Bush flacks (David Brooks is the other) on the NYTimes op-ed page has had a moment of sudden insight.

Dear John has perceived that Bush's Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice are dangerous lunatics because they threaten and actually jail doctors for prescribing opioid painkillers for patients who desperately need them.

Some excerpts:

As attorney general, John Ashcroft decided that Oregon's law allowing physician-assisted suicide violated the federal Controlled Substances Act because he didn't consider this use of drugs to be a "legitimate medical purpose." Karen Tandy, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has been using this same legal theory to decree how doctors should medicate patients with pain, and those who disagree with her medical judgment can be sent to prison.

Tierney goes on to say that Republicans have lost their bearings. He concludes:

The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for patients and their doctors - including, I hope, some of the ones in prison for violating the federal legal theory that has now been rejected by the court. The doctors should go free, and Republicans in the White House and Congress should restrain the drug warriors who locked them up. When this year's budget is drawn up, it's the D.E.A.'s turn to feel pain.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Body Mass Index (BMI) Is Wrong

1. The Body Mass Index (BMI) Is wrong because the "weight" is expressed as a function of the square of the height. That might be ok if we had two dimensional bodies, height and depth or height and width. In fact, we have three dimensional bodies: height, width and depth. Therefore "weight" must be expressed as a function of the cube of the height. This problem is a biggie. Fortunately, it can easily be dealt with by changing the mathematical formula.

2. Another problem is that even if the problem defined above is solved the density of the body is simply not considered. Even the cube formula does not really deal with weight. It deals with volume. That would be ok if all of us had equal density. Maybe we do. I just don't know.

I recognized the first problem about 8 years ago and derived an appropriate cube formula. I did not attempt to publish it because I have no credentials in the health field and because I fully expected that a mathematically literate MD would promptly shoot down the BMI humbug. As far as I know, this never happened.

Eight years have passed and it seems that BMI is well established. Recently, I observed a BMI chart in the examination room of my primary care physician. I asked him, "Doctor, does it not seem to you that the BMI weights recommended for short people are excessive?" The good doctor looked at the chart, thought about it and said, "Yes, they are a bit on the heavy side."

See for yourself. Google BMI and click on any of the listed items. Health Monitor table is easier to read than the others.

If you would like to see my cube function chart, e-mail me at and I'll put it up.

Why Didn't Bush Ask Us?

When Osama ben Ladin offered a long-term truce, Bush turned him down flat.

This seems very much like his previous "bring 'em on" bluster.

Bush likes to talk big as long as the lives being risked are not his family's.

If Bush had asked me, I would have said "A long-term truce? Let's find out what Osama wants in return." Maybe what Osama wants, we are willing to give.

Instead, Bush put my life and my wife's life on the line, since we live in New York City and that is the site of Osama's biggest hit.

Is Bush protecting me or is he propping up his puny ego at my expense?

What a sorry excuse for a President!

The Worst Thing About Bush

This is how today's Friedman column concludes:

George Bush may think he is preserving the American way of life by rejecting a gasoline tax. But if he does not act now - starting with his State of the Union speech - he will be seen as the man who presided over the decline of our way of life.

George Bush is a terrible President and we all know about his lies, unnecessary war, bad tax cuts, spying on US citizens, torturing, deficits and so on. But the worst thing is that Bush does not show any understanding of the basic threats to our way of life.

Highlights of Friedman's column:

1. We are financing both sides in the war on terrorism: the U.S. Army with our tax dollars, and Islamist charities, madrasas and terrorist organizations through our oil purchases.

2. If we don't quickly move to renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, we will warm up, smoke up and choke up this planet far faster than at any time in the history of the world. Katrina will look like a day at the beach.

3. Because of the above, green energy-saving technologies and designs - for cars, planes, homes, appliances or office buildings - will be one of the biggest industries of the 21st century. Tell your kids.

4. $60-a-barrel boom in the hands of criminal regimes, and just plain criminals, will, if sustained, pose a bigger threat to democracies than communism or Islamism. It will be a black tide that turns back the democratic wave everywhere, including in Iraq.

Krugman on the Prescription Benefit

Krugman alone is worth the annual subscription cost for the NYTimes Select privilege.

First paragraph in today's column:

The new prescription drug benefit is off to a catastrophic start. Tens of thousands of older Americans have arrived at pharmacies to discover that their old drug benefits have been canceled, but that they aren't on the list for the new program. More than two dozen states have taken emergency action.

Last paragraph:

So I have a question for my colleagues in the news media: Why isn't the decision by the White House to stonewall on the largest corruption scandal since Warren Harding considered major news?

Bush/Cheney Spy on Us, Sink in the Polls

See Danziger cartoon.

With all their blather about protecting us, Bush/Cheney are still mired in the negative part of public opinion polls.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"The Perils of Unchecked Power"

Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach, one day before his 84th birthday, has published a warning against The Perils of Unchecked Power in the LATimes.

Some excerpts:

THE RECENT controversy over warrantless national security telephone taps, coupled with Martin Luther King's birthday, remind me of my time in the Department of Justice in the 1960s. It was a period of turbulent demonstrations, marches and sit-ins, many of them led by King in support of the constitutional rights denied by Southern law enforcement to black citizens. And it was a time of growing animosity between King and J. Edgar Hoover, who had created the Federal Bureau of Investigation and led it since 1924. That animosity created a growing problem for Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy and those of us on his staff.

Today we are again engaged in a debate over wiretapping for reasons of national security — the same kind of justification Hoover offered when he wanted to spy on King. The problem, then as now, is not the invasion of privacy, although that can be a difficulty. But it fades in significance to the claim of unfettered authority in the name of "national security." There may be good and sufficient reasons for invasions of privacy. But those reasons cannot and should not be kept secret by those charged with enforcing the law. No one should have such power, and in our constitutional system of checks and balances, no one legitimately does.

Forcing the executive to explain its reasons for intrusive law enforcement is essential to maintaining not just privacy but freedom itself. A congressional committee must exercise oversight. So too must an independent court because Congress is also subject to possible political pressure.

Our freedom is too precious, and too much blood has been shed to preserve it, to entrust it to a single person, however sincere and however well intentioned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Situation Is Really Bad in Iraq

See the Iraq blogs published in the NYTimes.

Bush and Cheney Are Cowards

In today's column, Thomas Friedman dubs Bush and Cheney cowards because they are guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Some excerpts:

No one has lower expectations for the American people than a vice president who thinks "conservation" is simply a personal virtue, not a national security imperative, and a president who can barely choke out the word.

But Americans are starting to lead themselves. The most impressive project I've seen is by Texas Instruments, which is building a "green" chip factory here in Richardson, near Dallas. T.I. is keeping 1,000 high-tech jobs in Texas by building its newest facility - to make wafers used in semiconductors - in a cost-saving, hyper-efficient green manner.

In conclusion,

So hats off to the leaders of T.I. Thanks to their vision, Dallas - not China - has the newest T.I. wafer plant, a new investment in education and a great example of how a green factory can be efficient and profitable and can create good American jobs in the 21st century.

Energy guzzling is for defeatists. Real Americans - and real Texans - build green.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hastert May Be in Trouble, Too

See article in the WP, entitled Speaker Largely Silent Amid Scandal.

It seems that Denny Hastert has been a bit too helpful to DeLay and Abramoff and has benefitted financially in return.

With his affable demeanor and his open-door policy, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert remains unchallenged in the most powerful post in Congress, even as a growing corruption scandal roils the Republican leadership and more Congress-watchers say the speaker bears some responsibility for the troubles that have developed on his watch.

As details emerged about unsavory dealings between lobbyists and lawmakers -- including his top lieutenant, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) -- the House speaker stood on the sidelines. As DeLay's legal peril mounted, Hastert backed him at every turn, attempting to change House rules to allow an indicted leader to stay in power and even altering the leadership of the ethics committee, which had been exposing misconduct by the majority leader.

Only now has Hastert publicly moved to address the ethics controversy, leading a push to tighten rules on lobbying and persuading Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) to temporarily relinquish the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee.

Although Hastert's job appears safe for now, there are rumblings among some lawmakers and aides that he waited too long to act -- and that his prior conduct has eluded close inspection, even when the speaker himself rubbed elbows with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients.

With all the chatter about impeaching President Bush, it pays to take a look at the line of succession:

1. The Vice President Richard Cheney
2. Speaker of the House John Dennis Hastert
3. President pro tempore of the Senate Ted Stevens
4. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
5. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow
6. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
7. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales


Time for A New Political Party?

See Danziger cartoon. It shows two K Street Lobbyists with Martinis in a bar. One says to the other, with a big smile on his face: "Me? A Republican? Nooo .. I'm a fiercely independent moderate! For a whole two weeks now."

Maybe it's a big leap, but it seems to me that it's time for a Democrat to start a new political party. As Ariel Sharon did in Israel.

The new party would be totally centrist. It would draw disaffected Democrats and Republicans.

Bush/Cheney Have Truth-Telling Problems, Again

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a "vital tool" against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved "thousands of lives."

But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

Above from NYTimes article entitled Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Mr. Bush, Where Do We Go from Here?"

In a Miami Herald editorial, Ike Seamans explains how Bush's vaunted drive for democracy in the Middle East seems to benefit Islamic fundamentalists. The first two paragraphs follow:

President Bush's push for democracy in the Middle East is lurching forward, but not as fast or in the manner he anticipated.

There's only one group reaping significant benefits from his initiative: Islamic fundamentalists. In Iraq, the big winners are religious extremists with absolutely no interest in Western-style democracy, mirroring the recent success by Hezbollah in Lebanon; and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, which has cleverly recast itself as a political party to mask its obsessive goal of destroying Israel. Islamists have discovered that by participating in the fledgling democratic process, getting elected is a snap, provided they -- and voters -- aren't harassed, beaten or arrested by government goons as occurred in Egypt last month. If truly free elections were held, they'd win in a landslide.

One More Alito Cartoon

See the Toles cartoon in today's WP.

Two Columns: One Riveting, the Other Utterly Empty

In today's NYTimes Kristof presents a mesmerizing tale of lower-caste Indian women exacting frontier justice when the corrupt police side with the criminals.

Brooks, on the other hand, eructs one of his typically vapid criticisms of a Democratic politician. What a waste of paper!

Friday, January 13, 2006

"The Impeachment of George W. Bush"

An article by Elizabeth Holtzman starts as follows:

Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.

Toward the end, the article outlines "Next Steps:"

Mobilizing the nation and Congress in support of investigations and the impeachment of President Bush is a critical task that has already begun, but it must intensify and grow. The American people stopped the Vietnam War--against the wishes of the President--and forced a reluctant Congress to act on the impeachment of President Nixon. And they can do the same with President Bush. The task has three elements: building public and Congressional support, getting Congress to undertake investigations into various aspects of presidential misconduct and changing the party makeup of Congress in the 2006 elections.

And concludes with:

As awful as Watergate was, after the vote on impeachment and the resignation of President Nixon, the nation felt a huge sense of relief. Impeachment is a tortuous process, but now that President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet and virtually dared Congress to stop him from violating the law, nothing less is necessary to protect our constitutional system and preserve our democracy.

Another article promises that Al Gore will make a speech on Monday about the "Constitutional Crisis" facing us. It is not expected that Gore will recommend impeachment of President Bush.

"Munich," the Travesty

According to Charles Krauthammer, Spielberg's movie, "Munich," is a distortion or corruption, a mockery of Israel's true reason for existing. In today's column, he concludes:

Munich, the massacre, had only modest success in launching the Palestinian cause with the blood of 11 Jews. "Munich," the movie, has now made that success complete 33 years later. No longer is it crude, grainy TV propaganda. "Munich" now enjoys high cinematic production values and the imprimatur of Steven Spielberg, no less, carrying the original terrorists' intended message to every theater in the world.

This is hardly surprising, considering that "Munich's" case for the moral bankruptcy of the Israeli cause -- not just the campaign to assassinate Munich's planners but the entire enterprise of Israel itself -- is so thorough that the movie concludes with the lead Mossad assassin, seared by his experience, abandoning Israel forever. Where does the hero resettle? In the only true home for the Jew of conscience, sensitivity and authenticity: Brooklyn.

Last Post on Alito

In today's editorial entitled Pro-Choice Senators and Judge Alito, the NYTimes names four Republican Senators who are supposedly pro-choice and concludes:

The single most important thing a senator can do to support abortion rights is to vote against Supreme Court nominees who would take such rights away. Given Judge Alito's record and his testimony, it is hard to see how Senators Specter, Chafee, Snowe and Collins - or any other pro-choice senators - can call themselves strong advocates of abortion rights if they support him.

No Longer A Super Power?

The term "sole remaining superpower" is habitually associated with the United States. What does it really mean?

Two columns say that the United States no longer has the ability to impose its will as it sees fit. Specifically, the United States wants Iran to stop developing its nuclear war-making cpabilities and cannot a figure out a way to achieve this.

In today's column, Friedman concludes that the United States has done what it could and failed. Now it's up to China, Russia and India to stop Iran. And what if they decide not to, then what?

In another column, cleverly entitled The Bush Who Cried Wolf, Robert Dreyfuss says:

It is impossible to deny that Iran is a dangerous, out-of-control regime—yes, a “rogue” regime. But, had the Bush administration maintained a consistent policy of seeking a dialogue with Iran, had the neocons refrained from demanding regime change and military action, had President Bush not referred to Iran as part of a mythical “axis of evil,” and had the United States not immensely strengthened Iran’s position by handing it Iraq on a silver platter, diplomacy would stand a better chance. A package deal, giving Iran political acceptance and economic incentives, combined with a regulated nuclear technology regime, in exchange for Iran’s backing down from its hardline stance, could likely have been reached over time. It may still, but it seems highly unlikely now.

Neither column has an optimistic conclusion.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mine (Lack of) Safety

See Danziger cartoon.

Iraq Heading toward Tyranny, Not Democracy

An LATimes article explains the strong probability that eventually, Iraq will experience a coup and be ruled by dictator, similar to Saddam Hussein.

Selections follow:

The mere fact of an election cannot change a fundamental truth about Iraq: Saddam Hussein governed as a brutal dictator not simply because he was cruel but also because of the treacherous political landscape that destabilized his relationship with his own military. Hussein was highly vulnerable to a military coup, and future Iraqi leaders will be just as susceptible. Regardless of the election's outcome, a coup will probably follow a U.S. pullout, and Iraq will again be ruled by a dictator.

Before the war, when foreign policy experts warned Bush that Iraq was ungovernable, they did not literally mean that the country could not be governed. Rather, they meant that ruling Iraq for any length of time, with any level of stability, requires an iron fist.

The experts were right. Washington still confronts the same dilemma that it has faced all along. It can install a dictator to rule Iraq after U.S. troops leave, or it can leave behind a situation — perhaps even a nascent democracy — that will ultimately yield chaos, coups and then a dictator.

It is true that whoever finally emerges as the last leader standing in Baghdad will not be named Saddam Hussein. However, only a cynic — or a con artist — would depict Iraq's likely authoritarian future as a victory.

Why Alito Should Not Be Confirmed

A NYTimes editorial summarizes the case against Samuel Alito in his confirmation to the US Supreme Court.

Highlights include:

SUPPORT FOR AN IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY Judge Alito has backed a controversial theory known as the "unitary executive," and argued that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits when he installs illegal wiretaps. Judge Alito backed away from one of his most extreme statements in this area - his assertion, in a 1985 job application, that he believed "very strongly" in "the supremacy of the elected branches of government." But he left a disturbing impression that as a justice, he would undermine the Supreme Court's critical role in putting a check on presidential excesses.

DOUBTS ABOUT THE NOMINEE'S HONESTY Judge Alito's explanation of his involvement with Concerned Alumni of Princeton is hard to believe. In a 1985 job application, he proudly pointed to his membership in the organization. Now he says he remembers nothing of it - except why he joined, which he insists had nothing to do with the group's core concerns. His explanation for why he broke his promise to Congress to recuse himself in any case involving Vanguard companies is also unpersuasive. As for his repeated claims that his past statements on subjects like abortion and Judge Bork never represented his personal views or were intended to impress prospective employers - all that did was make us wonder why we should give any credence to what he says now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dowd Hits the Nail on the Head

Maureen Dowd brings us up do date on Sam Alito's weaving and ducking and concludes:

I understand why the president is drawn to the judge. Mr. Alito is dubbed "Scalito" - a conservative senator, John Cornyn, accidentally blurted out the nickname - because he's so much like Antonin Scalia. And W. loves Nino.

Judge Alito has supported imperial powers for the presidency, not strong checks and balances; he approved the strip search of a 10-year-old girl but is not probing too deeply into what the executive branch is doing. That's W.'s philosophy, too - a pre-emptive right to secretly do everything from war to torture to snooping.

Like the president, the judge loves baseball. Mr. Alito once vacationed at a fantasy baseball camp (O.K. fielder, hopeless hitter), wearing the red and white Phillies uniform. W. has spent five years in fantasyland on Iraq, on occasion donning military costumes.

His fingers in his ears, W. didn't want to hear that we had too few troops in Iraq - ignoring advice from Viceroy Paul Bremer and Gen. Eric Shinseki - or that the troops didn't have enough armor. But the president continues to fling blame outward. In a speech yesterday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he warned the Democrats that they should take care not to bring "comfort to our adversaries."

Judge Alito was evasive, disingenuous and deferential. He fits the Bush era like a baseball glove.

With respect to Samuel Alito, see the Sargent cartoon.

Also the Oliphant cartoon.

Bush Orates, Polls Stay Negative

Bush is so desperate, he has sunk to telling his critics what they are allowed to say. He says that if they accuse him of lying, it will be the critics' fault if Bush does not achieve "victory" in Iraq. See report of his latest speech.

In the meantime, his polls stay in negative territory

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Q. Who Will Lose the War of Attrition in Iraq?

A. The side that can't afford to waste any more money and lives.

An article by Loretta Napoleoni reviews the declining cost of terrorism and compares it to the cost suffered by the United States. Excerpts follow.

Last November Osama bin Laden estimated that the weekly cost of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's insurgency was as little as $250,000. In sharp contrast, the cost of the war for American troops is rising. According to the last official figures, the America taxpayer has so far sustained a weekly cost of almost $1 billion. (The war costs the United States 4,000 times as much as it costs the insurgents.)

Al-Zarqawi's low operating costs are due mainly to two factors: the ready availability of cheap weapons, ammunitions and explosive inside Iraq and the declining cost of suicide missions. While in the past, suicide bombers had to be indoctrinated and their families financially compensated, today they are home-grown and self-funded and their families are often kept in the dark about it. The cost of suicide mission has never been so low; in Iraq is equivalent to the sum of the cost of the explosive and of the transportation to the targets.

The lesson from history is that conflicts presented as universal battles of ideas generally become wars of attrition, which are not necessarily won by the wealthiest contender but by the one who in the process does not go bankrupt. The Crusades are the most illuminating example of this principle. Although Western capitalism has vast resources at its disposal, they are not unlimited.

With rising financial and human costs, sooner or later, the budget of the conflict will bite into Western living standards. At that point public opinion may well turn against Western leaders, as was the case of the Viet-Nam war. Sadly, if this happens, Osama bin Laden, will claim a second victory against a superpower.

Stupid Samuel Alito

Just about every time Samuel Alito opens his mouth, something really stupid comes out. The real corker Alito spouted was the one about husband notification. Yes, in a court opinion the great sage declared that a married woman has to tell her husband before she may have a legal abortion.

Wow, I can just imagine this one in practice. Married woman has a secret little affair. The birth control method fails one time. She is pregnant. According to Alito, she has to tell her husband before she can have a legal abortion.

Dr. Phil I would ask Stupid Sam: "What were you thnking?"

I would ask: "Sam, do you ever think?"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Just Testing

Came across a terrific cat picture and I wanted to share it.

Bush = Nixon

In today's column, Bob Herbert grades Bush on his understanding of the principles of U.S. Government. Bush's score is equal to Nixon's score.

We all know that Nixon did not exactly graduate with honors from his Presidency.

See also the cartoon of the Apocalypse by Danziger.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nobel Laureate Estimates Iraq War Cost at $2 Trillion

The Guardian has published an article entitled "Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist" See article.

Some excerpts:

The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion (£1.1 trillion), up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert.

The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war.

The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction.

Mr Stiglitz told the Guardian that despite the staggering costs laid out in their paper the economists had erred on the side of caution. "Our estimates are very conservative, and it could be that the final costs will be much higher. And it should be noted they do not include the costs of the conflict to either Iraq or the UK."

Mr Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, said the paper, which will be available on, did not attempt to explain whether Americans were deliberately misled or whether the underestimate was due to incompetence.

But in terms of the total cost of the war "there may have been alternative ways of spending a fraction of that amount that would have enhanced America's security more, and done a better job in winning the hearts and minds of those in the Middle East and promoting democracy".

This study was previewed in the NYTimes on August 20, 2005. See reprint.

Is Anyone Listening to Bush?

Paul J. Lim in the Sunday NYTimes commented on performance of Mutual Funds in 2005. Some excerpts follow.

It will go down in the history books as the year when mutual fund investors fully embraced the world beyond their borders.

American investors poured more new money into foreign stock funds in 2005 - an estimated $149 billion - than in the previous four years combined. In fact, they put more new money to work in foreign funds than they did in domestic stock portfolios, which usually garner the bulk of investor dollars.

But what do you expect, given how the foreign funds more than doubled the returns of their domestic counterparts last year?

Some mutual fund comparisons:

Vanguard 500 Index ...........................2005: up 04.8%......2006:..up 3.1%
Vanguard Emerging Markets Index ........2005: up 32.1%......2006:..up 6.3%
Vanguard Europe Index .....................2005: up 09.3%......2006:..up 5.6%
Fidelity Latin America....................... 2005: up 55.2%......2006:..up 6.9%

American investors, in 2005 and for the first week in 2006 are bidding up foreign stocks and making a lot of money.

What good is it that Bush is trumpeting his economic leadership? Wall Street isn't listening and Main Street isn't listening either. Is anyone listening to Bush?

Disclaimer. The above does not constitute a recommendation.

Disclosure. I own some Vanguard Emerging Markets Index and Vanguard Europe Index shares and have owned them since early 2005.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bush Says US Economy Is Strong But Wall Street Prefers China and Brazil

CNN reports that Bush trumpets economy's strength:

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- President Bush shrugged off a report showing weaker-than-expected job growth on Friday and declared that "the American economy heads into 2006 with a full head of steam."

Bush rattled off a string of recent government reports suggesting a growing U.S. economy, and he used his speech to the Chicago Economic Club to prod Congress to extend his administration's tax cuts that are due to expire.

"In 2005, the American economy turned in a performance that is the envy of the industrialized world," Bush said.

Wall Street Disagrees With Bush

Over the five years of the Bush presidency, the Standard and Poor Index of the 500 largest US Companies has grown an anemic 0.4%. During the past year, the S&P Index has grown 4.8%.

During the same periods, the Vanguard Emerging Markets mutual fund has grown 20.7% for the five years and 30.8% during the last year. Emerging Markets are in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Similar mutual funds at Vanguard and Fidelity have also out performed the US market by a wide margin.

I wonder where the Bush family has its money, in the US market or in the foreign markets with their dramatic growth rates?

In Iraq The Worst Is Yet To Come

Bad news from Iraq

Martin Sieff reports:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The intense wave of killings and bombings that have swept Iraq this week comes as a shock awakening, or hangover, following the unrealistically high expectations and self-congratulations in the administration that surrounded the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections and their immediate aftermath.

The decision of the Sunni Muslim insurgents in central Iraq to largely restrain their forces during the election campaign and the voting period could easily be misconstrued as a weakening of will or loss of morale on their part. But, as was clear even at the time, it was no such thing. Like the Irish Republican Army of two decades ago, the insurgents had not forsaken the bullet for the ballot box. Instead, in the manner of sophisticated -- and all too often, successful -- insurgencies throughout the 20th century, they were following a sophisticated strategy of bullets and ballots.

Consistent with this view, Kim Sengupta reports that Shia accuse US forces of appeasing insurgents:

...yesterday, thousands of Shia Muslims marched in protest through Baghdad, accusing the Americans of hindering the war against insurgents in their attempt to appease the Sunni community.

Several Shia clerics used the Friday prayers to call for action. At the Khadimiyah mosque in Baghdad, Imam Hazim Araji, holding a Kalashnikov rifle aloft, said in his address to 5,000 worshippers: "How long can we remain silent? Terrorists are pampered in Iraq."

There was widespread Shia anger elsewhere, with residents in the holy city of Karbala, where 49 people were killed in a suicide attack on Thursday, demanding that religious leaders should authorise the community to fight back.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is GOP Preparing To Impeach Bush?

A Boston Globe article headlines that "3 GOP senators blast Bush bid to bypass torture ban."


John W. Warner Jr., a Virginia Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, issued a joint statement rejecting Bush's assertion that he can waive the restrictions on the use of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment against detainees to protect national security.

Separately, the third primary sponsor of the detainee treatment law, Senator Lindsey O. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, told the Globe in a phone interview that he agreed with everything McCain and Warner said ''and would go a little bit further."

Green Is The New Red, White And Blue

In today's column, Friedman concludes with:

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American.

Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.

Republicans Finding It Harder To Run On Their Record

See Danziger cartoon.

Proof that Bush Policy Kills Poor Women

Today's editorial in the NYT shows convincing proof that Bush policies result in the avoidable death of poor women.

Some excerpts from the editorial:

For proof that criminalizing abortion doesn't reduce abortion rates and only endangers the lives of women, consider Latin America. In most of the region, abortions are a crime, but the abortion rate is far higher than in Western Europe or the United States. Colombia - where abortion is illegal even if a woman's life is in danger - averages more than one abortion per woman over all of her fertile years. In Peru, the average is nearly two abortions per woman over the course of her reproductive years.

Rich women can go to private doctors. The rest rely on quacks or amateurs or do it themselves. Up to 5,000 women die each year from abortions in Latin America, and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized.

Latin American women, who are increasing their participation in the work force and in politics, have also become more vocal. Their voice would be much louder were it not for the Bush administration's global gag rule, which bans any family planning group that gets American money from speaking about abortions, or even criticizing unsafe illegal abortions. This has silenced such respected and influential groups as Profamilia in Colombia. Anti-abortion lawmakers in Washington can look at Latin America as a place where the global gag rule has worked exactly as they had hoped. All Americans can look at Latin America to see unnecessary deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Republican Criticizes Bush

In a Time Magazine article, Bob Barr former GOP Congressman criticizes the President as follows:

Let's focus briefly on what the President has done here. Exactly like Nixon before him, Bush has ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct electronic snooping on communications of various people, including U.S. citizens. That action is unequivocally contrary to the express and implied requirements of federal law that such surveillance of U.S. persons inside the U.S. (regardless of whether their communications are going abroad) must be preceded by a court order.

See article.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Is the Iraq War Worth the Cost?

I want to recommend two excellent, short articles by Charley Reese, Unforgivable and Pluses but Mostly Minuses.