Saturday, March 13, 2004

Bombs Away! ...or not

Australian pilots refused to drop their bombs on Iraq. God bless 'em.
Aussie Pilots Defied US

Where are the jobs?

This Business Week article attributes the loss of jobs in the US to increased productivity in the workplace--the result of technological advances--much more than to outsourcing abroad. The author, like Alan Greenspan, tells of the historical pattern in the US economy, in which we've always been resourceful enough to create new opportunities for ourselves, and new jobs to take advantage of them. And, like Greenspan, he gives no clue to how or where these jobs will appear.
I saw a TV piece yesterday on bullet trains, some diesel, some electric, some run on magnetized rails. All were sponsored and/or funded in large part by the governments of the countries (Italy, France, Japan, Germany) where they thrived, creating fine new technology, social benefit and environmental benefits--and jobs by the thousands.
In the US, some rails are considering such improvements--using the foreign companies to build the systems and cars. The US has no viable company or program. None.
With this President, with his tax structure, his concept of "fair trade" and his unrestrained capitalism, will the US do anything similar? Not likely, says Thom Hartmann. He points out here that the most telling parallel to today's economy was in the early 1900's, when the trusts had so exploited their position that the government had to intervene; that if left alone, companies will do what they do best--profit at the expense of their workers.
Hartmann concludes that it is representative democracy--truly effected--that leads to economic prosperity in America by allowing the voice and pocketbook of the middle class American to govern, not the capitalists.
Kerry may be no populist, but he sure beats the hell out of Bush in terms of letting the working class be heard.

Five news stories

In a row in the Seattle Times, beginning with the story that Iraqi police are thought to have participated in the killing of two US civilians, show how far amok Bush's war is going. How can he possibly stay in office?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Spring in Baghdad

River has a new post on her Baghdad Burning blog tonight, which tells troubling a story of kidnapping and extortion by "troops." I assume she means US troops. Not sure I'm buying that one. But I did find the last paragraph compelling:

"These last few days have brought back memories of the same dates, last year. What were we doing in early March? We were preparing for the war… digging wells, taping up windows, stocking up on candles, matches, kerosene, rice, flour, bandages, and medicine… and what are we doing now? Using them."

Isn't this outrageous?

Why don't we learn about this from the mainstream media? Even if it's becoming par for the course for the Bush administration to lie to the American public, isn't it different for it to lie to Congress, including members of its own party? Maybe it's not important because it only involved a hundred billion dollars or so.

This administration is trying to wreck the planet

Including on the issue of worldwide population control. At the Cairo Conference ten years ago the world (including the Clinton administration) reached agreement that by education and enhancement of women's rights, including reproductive rights, over time the women would evolve to control their futures sufficiently to bring down the third-world population explosion. Now, we're alone in backing away, based of course on the Bush administration's objection to the inclusion of a broad concept of birth control.
What is this ideologically-mad bunch doing to us? To the world?

Why don't peaceniks just shut up

This article from the Spectator tells us why.

To which I would add this. With the election eight months away, I don't want any Bush supporter to forget we're out here, still screeching, stirring up the opposition; and I don't want Bush opponents to feel they're alone, or to forget why they oppose him.

Twists and turns

I wouldn't want to be a Bush campaign aide, trying to figure out this conundrum. Does he stump about the economy, thereby calling attention to its deficiencies; or does he ignore it and risk being thought callous? If he talks about it, when does his "stay the course" message become maddeningly unrealistic, even to his faithful.
I'm going to enjoy this.

This explains almost everything

A journalist's evaluation of Bush's speech and other impediments. Trouble is, it doesn't tell us why he's evil.

Reconstruction or destruction?

This report of ongoing violence in Iraq doesn't make it onto any widely-disseminated media in the US. Now that I have a TV, with access to major network and cable news, I'm learning how limited the news is that's reported, even by the so-called "news channels." No wonder the majority of us support this war--we don't know anything about it.

Who writes headlines?

Two headlines reporting the same recent survey.
The Atlanta Journal Constitutionreads "Consumer View of Economy Steady in March," while Reuters reads, "Consumer Sentiment Slips Unexpectedly." From the content, it's clear the headline writer chose one set of figures over another. Is that called spin, caprice or what?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The New Pentagon Papers

Hot off the presses, "A high-ranking military officer reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war."

Salon.com | The new Pentagon papers
Spc. Michael R. Woodliff, 22, of Port Charlotte, Fla
Sgt. 1st Class Richard S. Gottfried, 42, of Lake Ozark, Mo
Pfc. Matthew G. Milczark, 18, of Kettle River, Minn
Capt. Gussie M. Jones, 41, of Louisiana

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael J. Gray, 32, of Richmond, Va.

More than October surprises

There could be many surprises, not just the dropping of Cheney, which I predicted a year ago. The capture of bin Laden, the trial of Saddam Hussein, a rebound of jobs, a series of Congressional hearings into 9/11, into Valerie Plame, into prewar intelligence. So much to resolve, swinging one way and another. It's hard to keep abreast of it all, but I enjoy the effort.

If it weren't so sad...

It would be hilarious, watching Bush address the faithful in Ohio, where thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost. His suggestion: that they fill the vacancies in the professions of nursing and pharmacy.

Let's see--that might take a bit of training, right? Three or four years of full-time school? And so of course he says how stoked he is on education, in support of which he offers the "No-Child-Left-Behind" Act. Even Bush couldn't keep a straight face.

What recovery?

Both the Dow and Nasdaq are down for the year 2004, the foreign trade deficit is at a record high level, the dollar is weakening against the euro, the federal deficit is larger than ever in US history, the price of gasoline is at a record high level and both jobs and household income are dwindling. All this is taking place when the cost of borrowing is at its lowest in history.

With the price of oil soon to reach $40 per barrel, inflation will rear its head. The fed will have to increase the prime rate to stave it off (or else lose the ability to borrow), which will increase the cost of debt service by both corporations and individuals, both of which have been borrowing at record levels because of the low rates.
It is said that the Fed won't dare raise interest rates before the November election fearing that doing so would trigger a dip in the "recovery" of businesses by lowering their profits. I think, however, that Greenspan is so wedded to his numbers that he'd hike the Fed rate regardless of the impact on Bush's re-election. He's served under both Democrat and Republican administrations and will act to keep inflation (his biggest enemy) under control, at all events.
My prognosis, for what it's worth, is that this summer's going to be a wild ride.

P.S. Just to show how "fair and balanced" this blog is, check out this sanguine report about the US economy.

P.P.S. And as to the question whether the decline in manufacturing in the US is due to decreased American consumer demand or increased imports of foreign manufactured goods, check out this article, which clearly shows that the latter is the case, meaning that the loss of US manufacturing isn't just a blip but a systemic phenomenon. Looks like we'll be the money-changers, the insurers, the lawyers, the burger-flippers to the world in the upcoming century.

blowin' in the wind

I've added an item to our gutter on the left of this page, "blowin' in the wind." It's the updated cost of the Iraq war, in human casualties. The current number of US dead is 555. I don't think we'll ever be able to imagine the magnitude of human loss. The subject line, as you probably know, is from a song by Bob Dylan that we used to sing as kids.

...Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The trouble with blogging

Is that it's likely no one is reading all this wisdom, especially when the wisdom might be useful. For example, I love the images of Kerry dressed in a work shirt, punching the air, while Bush is clad in suits, addressing stuff-suited donors. Somehow, even though Kerry's a patrician (Bush, whatever his credentials, isn't), he looks appropriate in informal gear, while Bush always appears strained and stilted in his cowboy garb.
Another observation: Kerry should address, in his ads and speeches, Bush/Cheney, not just Bush alone. Cheney's a drag on Bush, a wild-card weirdo, and the more Kerry can drag him into the fray the better.
I have other insights, hoping against hope that someone will hearken to them. Like my chant: "Hey, hey, USA, How many soldiers died today?" Or Kyle's: "On November 2, Dis--Appoint Bush/Cheney".
Good stuff, eh?

Fun reading

This National Review article, while conceding that Kerry has pulled ahead of Bush in the polls, cites a Gallup poll showing that people believe Kerry's ads are more unfair than Bush's.

So? Apparently it's working.

Boy Genius

The Guardian Unlimited answers the question: Who is Karl Rove? ... A look at the gunslinger's #1 sidekick.

Support for Bush Falls

I'm tired. It's been a long day and I feel like I might be coming down with a cold. So I'm going to take a small consolation that I'm not such a warmongering boob that my numbers are falling in an WaPo-ABC poll. I go to bed hopeful that this trend means we may someday get our country back.
Yahoo! News - Support for Bush Falls On Economy and Iraq

Monday, March 08, 2004

Ugly jobs picture

A contraction of the labor force--a phenomenon not seen for seventy years. How can we make the voters understand this?

So what do we do now

That Iran wants to join the nuclear club. We've ignored Israel's nukes, we've got allies (UK, France) and buddies (Russia) and unknowns (Pakistan, India) with nukes. And enemies, too (China). So why shouldn't Iran demand entry? Especially since we've never demanded that Israel disclose its arsenal.

Another reason to oust Bush

It's the judges, stupid.

If ever there was an authority on our economy...

Warren Buffet is that person. And what he says isn't comforting.

The birds

Recall the role of the canary in the coal mine? Well, now we learn that one sixth of the world's species of birds are critically near extinction. Time to stop mining.

Bush, Blair Blixed

Boy, this Blix guy is really a loose canon on the deck of The USS Bring'emon. I can't believe nobody's convinced him to shut up in the interest of national security, but I'm glad he's still talking. You tell 'em Blixy!

Yahoo! News - Bush, Blair Knew They Were Hyping Case for War-Blix

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Jobless and hopeless

The number of long-term unemployed is at a twenty-year high, which explains why the unemployment figure of 5.6% remains constant even though workers are entering the labor force at the rate of 150,000 per month while only 21,000 new jobs were created last month. The longer-term unemployed are simply giving up on finding jobs and hence are lost to the number-crunchers. Meanwhile, the Republican Congress has denied to these masses of workers an extension of their unemployment benefits.
Remember those Republicans? Those compassionate conservatives?

Guantanamo east

The US (that's us, guys) is holding 10,000 Iraqis in detention. No trials, no lawyers, just holding them under its occupation authority. What happens when that authority ends?