It is as if there’s been only bullies since the Inquisition.
We are closer to a rational age, but it’s not in my lifetime.
washingtonpost.com: Thomas A. Schweich served the Bush administration as ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs.
“It’s time to stop the mission creep.
“We no longer have a civilian-led government.
“It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government.
I’m angry my blog turns to political crap but I know mainstream media seeks to calm us (!) and will fail to paint the picture.
The Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Journal Sentinel has found.
The newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA’s registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential.
This is despite a federal law calling for public notice of any new information through the EPA’s program monitoring chemicals that pose substantial risk. The whole idea of the program is to warn the public of newfound dangers.
EPA veils hazardous substances, by Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel: “Legal experts and environmental advocates say the practice of “sanitizing,” or blacking out, this information not only strips vital information from the public, it violates the agency’s own law.”
An unpublished federal report has concluded the US reconstruction effort in Iraq has been a $100 billion failure.
Bush blew $100 Billion reconstructing Iraq…
But time and again, the issue is, we’ve had a government which has been really shrunk and hollowed out in terms of its ability to oversee and regulate private businesses, private corporations and what it is they’re doing.
And that is the function of government, is to make sure that everybody plays fair. They’re referees.
And if there’s not enough referees around, the game gets ugly.
The financial crisis is not only a cause of our national malaise, but also a symptom of the deeper wrong turn that America made decades ago, when Ronald Reagan declared that government had to get out of the way to restore the national economy.
…Reagan made government the enemy.
There was never much validity to Reagan’s viewpoint. The antigovernment view had no basis in fact—rather, it was a convenient way for the rich to say they had no responsibilities…
…a green light to the greed and corner-cutting that laid the base for reckless financial deregulation and the wheeling and dealing that has now brought the economy to its knees.
But, most important, it undermined Americans’ sense of community, both as citizens within the United States and as citizens of the world. There were no longer shared goals, only individual attainment.
We will now enter a new era, in which practical problem solving will be key, and in which we will understand our problems not mainly as individuals, but as members of a generation confronted with unique challenges.
I’m sure that in the coming years, the Obama generation will feel like the Kennedy generation of the 1960s, the one that JFK boldly addressed in his inaugural address when he said, “I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
Eugene Jarecki’s film The Trials of Henry Kissinger was widely acclaimed and won the 2002 Amnesty International Award.
“Eisenhower believed that no nation could ever achieve perfect security, any more than we [as individuals] can. We all know that we could walk out of the house tomorrow morning and get hit by a car; that’s just part of being alive. Yet nations, particularly the United States, tell their people that it’s possible to destroy evil in the world. Eisenhower viewed this as illusory and dangerous. A nation trying to achieve perfect security will never get there, but along the way it can bankrupt itself on several levels: militarily, economically, politically, and of course spiritually.
The picture I have in my mind is of a house: That’s America.
As America got richer and more powerful, it had all sorts of riches in the house that it increasingly worried about the world envying. As we become more and more of an empire, of course, the barbarians are always at the gate. We become that much more paranoid, like a paranoid tycoon who thinks everyone wants a piece of him. So the richer the house got, the more fearful we got of it being under threat, as ironic as that might seem.
So what do you do? You get a gun.
Increasingly, you start pawning the articles in the house to get a bigger and bigger gun. After a while, if you take that to its logical extreme, you will pawn the entire house to get the biggest gun, and you forsake all of the things that made the house valuable.
At the end of the day, you’re standing in front of an empty house with a great big gun.
Executive – one who can make significant decisions on his own authority.
Recent executive orders of G.W.Bush:
– Move political appointees to permanent posts
– Cut Medicaid
– Workers to refuse “morally objectionable” procedures
– Revising rules for international drug trials
– Narrowing the definition of combat related disability
– Allowing states to set premiums and raise co-payments
– Mining near the Grand Canyon
– Discounting global warming when assessing species risks
– Weakening the Endangered Species Act
– Eliminating review of fishing regulations
– Allowing more emissions from power plants
– Opening protected land to energy development
– Allowing factory farms to self-regulate waste
– Altering solid waste definition
– Allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone
– Allowing coal companies to dump dirt and rock into streams
– Allowing guns in national parks
– Allowing broader law-enforcement monitoring
– Implementing the REAL ID Act
– Truckers to work 14 hour days
– Requiring labor unions to file extensive financial reports
– Making it harder to regulate toxic substances on the job
– Stripping collective bargaining rights from federal employees
– Relaxing rules on investment adviser conflicts of interest
– Revising H-2A visa rules to lower wages
– Reducing corporate taxes
FACT — Poverty Increased Under Bush
The poverty rate has risen each year since 2001. Bailout or not, corporate profits have risen more than 50 percent since 2001. Household income has fallen each year Bush has been in office.
US Census: Official statistics on poverty in the United States. Roughly 40% fall below the poverty line at some time within a 10 year span. [wiki on US poverty]
Growth and Free Markets? Government versus Free Markets? Bah! Republican policies have created the largest redistribution of wealth in history.
The poverty rate for children [chart] is the highest in the industrial world.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project asked the experts to assess the Internet in the year 2020:
- The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.
- The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
- Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
- Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing “arms race,” with the “crackers” who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
- The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
- “Next-generation” engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.
Someday we’ll understand things we thought we already knew. For example, the primary purpose of yawning is to control brain temperature. Exhaustion increases deep brain temperature and a yawn cools it down.
Because of great public debt in California, there is a new campaign to save money by reducing inflow to wastewater plants.
I hope the idea works.
Prideful enough to lie, George Bush is appearing in public during his last days, no longer sheltered in douched military salutes. Thus the shoes.
What’s he saying? He says there have been no attacks on our soil.
Bush: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take …
Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.
Bush: Yeah, that’s right. So what? …
Raddatz: Just let me go back because you brought this up. … They didn’t find weapons of mass destruction.
Bush: That’s true. Everybody thought they had them.
Raddatz: So what threat? …
Bush: Saddam Hussein was the sworn enemy of the United States. He had been enriched by oil revenues. He was a sponsor of terror. …
Raddatz: So would you have gone in anyway?
Bush: Excuse me for a minute. … It was his choice.
The blogger Thoreau says, “…public humiliation and displays of scorn are just peachy with me.”
In a better world, the people who orchestrated that war would be unable to walk down a sidewalk without facing a torrent of rotten tomatoes, eggs, and insults.
Everywhere they go, decent people should shout curses and wave middle fingers. When walking down the street after a rainstorm, kids should stomp mud puddles in their direction to dirty the clothes of the war pigs. Old World church ladies should make the sign to ward off evil in the presence of George Bush and his fellow war-starters. Dogs should bark as they walk by, and monkeys should fling poo at them when they visit the zoo.
None of these things will physically harm them, but it’s the sort of utter rejection from polite society that they deserve.
That’s right, even dogs and monkeys should reject them.
They are thugs and evil-doers, and they deserve complete ostracism from any place of dignity.
AmeriStreet says, “So what? I’ll tell you what!”
Rick Perlstein says, Bush’s legacy? Bush’s legacy?
“History will treat me well,” Winston Churchill, at the nadir of his public reputation, is said to have once confidently proclaimed. “How do you know?” his interlocutor came back. “Because,” Churchill concluded, “I intend to write it.”
Now, our president surely could not write his way out of a sopping wet paper bag, but that’s not to say he doesn’t grasp the Churchillian impulse.
The first time conservative governance was tried.
A comfort T for the writer with Irritable Vowels.
How many Generals are selling arms?
Lies are worth billions along the Avenues of Habits.
We are collapsing.
We fall under shadows.
We’ve gotten into the pernicious habit of dismissing utopia as impractical. It may be that utopia is the only way out. I mean that quite seriously. – H.L. ‘Doc’ Humes [link] [link]
The country is suffering a real pestilence, a plague as real as anything that ever hit Europe in the Middle Ages.
It’s an emotional plague, an emotional disorder rather than virus or a bacillus, it’s endemic anxiety neurosis.
They see fear as something that makes their machine go –I mean when I say they, call them the government, call it the corporate structure, call it whatever you will. They deliberately induce a state of anxiety.
Noticing the pain and noticing unions and activists increasingly noisy about being left out, Bitch PhD posted,
It will be improvised.
The last time American workers resisted mass layoffs this way, we ended up with a middle class.
Everyone should have recognized that George W. Bush’s “ranch” in Crawford, Texas, was just a prop — window dressing to make him seem more folksy, down-to-earth, and of course manly.
Unfortunately, many took this faux ranch at face value — just as Bush assumed ignorant Republicans would — and assumed that Bush wasn’t really the spoiled, privileged rich kid. Now that he’s leaving elected office without any hope of ever having power again, he’s already leaving the ranch. Didn’t take him long, did it?
How long will it be before he sells it? He only bought it when he started running for president in 1999, so it’s not like there is any reason to waste time abandoning the former pig farm.
… people will believe what they want to believe.
If they can make FDR the cause of the Great Depression, they can do anything. But one thing progressives can do is make sure that the story of the Bush administration is told, in all respects. There’s going to be huge pressure from the usual suspects to let bygones be bygones, to forget about everything from torture to reckless disregard of financial warnings.
But I want truth and reconciliation across the board, and progressives have to make it clear that it was an ideology, not an act of God, that made this crisis possible. – Paul Krugman’s depression economics
Let us have madness openly.
O’ men Of my generation.
Let us follow
The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
See it trail across Time’s dim land
Into the closed house of eternity
With the noise that dying has,
With the face that dead things wear–
nor ever say
We wanted more; we looked to find
An open door, an utter deed of love,
Transforming day’s evil darkness;
but We found extended hell and fog Upon the earth,
and within the head
A rotting bog of lean huge graves. – Kenneth Patchen
To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour. – William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
The chief of the Armed Forces Information Service, Alison Barber, steered millions in public funds.
The Inspector General says she’s laundered millions of dollars to personal friends.
Donald Rumsfeld set up America Supports You in 2004 as a six-month effort to showcase public support for the troops and their families. “If you’re serving overseas, and you watch the mainstream media coverage, sometimes you can’t tell if America knows you’re there.”
In time, however, the program grew.
- pro-troop rallies were organized.
- wristbands and dog tags were made.
- special comic books were printed up.
- processions at the National Mall.
- Sesame Street DVDs encouraging children.
- a concert in Manhattan.
- paying execs up to $662,691 per year.
- a $500,000 website.
- hiring Gary Sinise’s band.
America Supports You seemed like an umbrella group for all sorts of charity-related work for service members and military families, but instead was a money-laundering operation, spending millions but not to help the troops!
‘Do us a favor and take our money’. That’s investment sales nirvana and we’re vulnerable to it. I don’t think it’s greed that lures us to trust presentations, at least, not until we arrogantly believe we’re outwitting Ponzi. It’s the lack of information that fools us. Con.
Do we have rights that are never used? There’s a lack of information in our political system.
Given rational ignorance, this means that elections do not generate representative outcomes.
…voters in national elections are provided with a coping mechanism, a bit of publicly provided information, given to them directly at the moment of voting, the party label on the ballot.
…in local elections, voters given information too, but it is of a lower quality – very weak information at the local level – left largely adrift without the tools to provide much meaningful input in local elections.
There is a lack of information about finance and financiers ‘with the ability to con people into feeling they’re doing us a favor by taking our money‘.
…”money managers” are at this too both US and foreign, bank and sponsored funds with exposure to these frauds,
…hedge funds with the ability to move fast and effectively, moving money around, trades with insider parties and any vehicle that moves large amounts of money and hence obscures from view very large cash movements and hence frauds.
This is part of the financial and social cost beyond the current bank and other financial institution disasters – a result of lax, irresponsible, negligent and criminal conduct – non-enforcement of existing regulations and a refusal to add necessary new controls and regulations to the financial system to reflect new dimensions of the risk structure of markets and financial instruments over the past 10-15 years.
Accountable? Our President, our Vice President, this White House administration generally and our Congress, especially those who were supposed to be the knowledgeable and responsible watchdogs over the industry: the list includes Bush, Cheney, Paulson, Cox and the SEC, Pelosi, Frank, Dodd and a whole cast of characters right from the top to the bottom ranks of all of those who should have objected.
The ultimate blame falls on us for being too in love with feel-good, transitory satisfaction, greed/money/toys, self-centeredness, not being constructively critical, extreme cowardice for not speaking up, and allowing a design and implementation that encourage our passivity and hence downfall.
We are the fools for being made fools of.
We pay them to steal from us and we keep them on top. And afterward, do we demand accountability?
There’s so little criticism as our economy falls.
“The question is, What’s going to come of this, if there are going to be no villains?”
Who blew it up? Economists and pundits seldom name names, but Herbert Lash posted a story at Reuters:
A failure to prosecute the “villains” responsible for the financial crisis that brought the United States to its knees will leave the country without the moral compass needed to avert future crises, a Wall Street luminary said.
Pioneer hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt is angry that the bailout of America is eroding the nation’s capitalist ethos while those whose deeds crippled the U.S. economy suffer scant opprobrium, their names still untarnished.
“Something really went wrong here. We’re about to enter a period where our budget deficit will dwarf anything we’ve seen before,” Steinhardt told the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York.
“What we really needed a long time ago was a recognition that there were villains apace. The evils of the financial system should have been recognized long before this,” said Steinhardt, who no longer manages billions of dollars but whose counsel is sought on Wall Street and among select politicians.
While scornful of the financial executives who should have known better, he also belittled Washington for its lack of leadership and for not spelling out what the future beholds.
What are the consequences of not being responsible and “holding the culprits up for contempt“?
The market since 1825.
Congressman Glenn Greenwald:
What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them.
But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.
Toronto’s Globe & Mail ran a feature on China: China’s door has been open for 30 years, but the world’s perceptions remain skewed. …Read the full article
The newspaper opened the piece for comments.