Saturday, March 06, 2004

Another Bad Day for Tony Blair

This Guardian Unlimited article details doubts in Britains high command about the legality of the Iraq war, up to less than a week before the start of Shock and Awe.

"[Admiral Sir Michael] Boyce demanded an unambiguous, one-line note from the Attorney-General saying the war was legal to ensure military chiefs and their soldiers would not be 'put through the mill' at the International Criminal Court.

His comments will fuel pressure on Blair to release full details of how Goldsmith came to his decision. The fact that it still took several days during this critical period to give Boyce his assurance provides further evidence of uncertainty in Government about the legality of the war."

The game's afoot!

Kennedy Decries Bush's Baghdad Bloviations

Iraq Threat Deliberately Inflated, Kennedy Says:

"Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts today delivered a blistering indictment of President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, accusing Mr. Bush of deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime. "

Friday, March 05, 2004

The market and the masses

From Yahoo Finance:

"Today's session ended relatively unchanged, which was probably appropriate considering the mixed implications the February employment report had for the economy - and interest rates... On the most obvious level, the paltry rate of job growth - 21K (consensus of 125K) - was disappointing and indicated that the labor market is still the weak link in the economy... At the same time, the wide miss in nonfarm payrolls lent support to the idea that the Fed will maintain its accommodative policy with hiring slack..."

Bottom line: What's bad for workers is good for the stock market. You see, so long as there remains slack in hiring, there'll be no upward push on wages and no need for the Fed to increase interest rates to stave off inflation. These two indices signal a constant low interest rate and thus an increased desire to buy stocks because only they might return some decent money on investment. Thus, the stock market benefits from lack of new jobs because the increased productivity of workers (read, same pay for more work) means more profit, and hence higher earnings and hence a better picture to attract investors, that is, stock buyers.

The perfect Republican model, the very model that Karl Marx predicted would cause a workers' rebellion.

Not likely anymore, because the media have become our culture and they are wedded to the benefits of big business. So--like Orwell, we'll come to love Big Brother, but the brother won't be government. It'll be an even bigger brother: Government and business merged into a monolithic force. Twenty years after 1984, and two decades bigger.

Ya gotta love this

Haitians demand an end to US occupation, demand return of Aristide. The trouble with empire is that you get in trouble with empire.

Ashcroft is ill

And let's not have any quips about how fitting his disease is.

Wen Jiabao for president

The premier of China has announced a plan to assist the poor in the countryside to equalize the disparity between those who are benefiting from the country's surging economy and those who are still living in poverty.

Read Bush's lips: No new jobs

"Abysmal," "awful," "pitiful," "meager" are the adjectives applied to this morning's Labor Department's report about jobs. Not only was the job-increase figure for February, 21,000, more than 125,000 lower than projected, the report also revised downward the two previous months' numbers, reducing the disappointing figure of January, 112,000, to 97,000; and of December, 16,000 to 8,000. Astoundingly, none of the 21,000 new jobs were in the private sector. They were government jobs.

These figures show that the economy is generating jobs at an astounding low rate, far lower than the monthly number (about 150,000) needed just to meet new entrants, and far slower than in any recovery in history.

The unemployment rate remained constant--because of huge drop-off in the number of persons seeking work.

Any other suggestions for adjectives?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Not just another scandal

In my wildest dreams I would love to see the Iraqi Governing Council demand an investigation of the failure of US/UK intelligence to capture the Al Qaeda operative who they now claim is responsible for the latest rash of deadly bombings in Baghdad and Karbala. They apparently had multiple chances to apprehend him, but determined to use him to attack Saddam, proving once again that this administration is more interested in pursuing its political agenda than eliminating true terrorists.

for today we have naming of blogs

Iraqi Blogs

Harry Blackmun recalled

I remember when Justice Blackmun was appointed by Nixon to the Supreme Court. At the time, it didn't feel like a victory for liberals. He was a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, as Chief Justice Burger (an avowed conservative) had been, and they were originally thought of as twins.

This NYT essay about Blackmun, based on a review of his recently-released papers, is to me a fascinating glimpse of the man and well as of the times in which the Court ruled on many controversial cases, from Roe v. Wade to death-penalty cases. I got a lump in my throat as I read about Blackmun's evolution on these issues, especially about his determination, at the end of his career, to voice his personal opposition to the death penalty and to place it in a dissenting opinion. And then to get a letter of thanks from the appellant--who was later executed.

There are fine men and women in government after all.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

It's okay, it's all right, have a piece of fruit

From WaPo, commenting on the US efforts to reconstruct Iraq in the aftermath of yesterday's horrible bombings:

"Bush aides say there is no cause for panic. A senior administration official involved in Iraq policy said yesterday that the bombings were meant 'to destroy the extraordinary agreement' on a new Iraqi constitution, but that there has been no rise in sectarian violence 'despite the best efforts by the terrorists.'

"Even as the world digested news of yesterday's bombings, the administration continued with its efforts to demonstrate progress in Iraq. The Pentagon released an 'Iraq Fact of the Day' announcing: 'Thousands of children throughout Iraq will soon be able to participate in an Iraqi Boy Scout and Girl Scout program.'"

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Damage Done

"The reasons for going to war were bogus but we were right to go in there. Saddam was a bad guy. But The Purple Heart was one thing I never wanted. The Secretary of the Army gave it to me."

Yes, you'll want to click on that link to see whose quote that is. And here for the whole photo essay. My little brothers, every one of them.

Jobs. Enough said.

A few days ago I posted a bit about the significance of the upcoming (on Friday, 3/5) Labor Department report on employment. The number of "new jobs" and the percentage unemployment rate. Now, the pundits are pointing to that date in assessing the sideways slippage of the stock market lately, saying that the rate of job creation will dictate whether this recovery is for real or just based on borrowing at low interest rates, plus tax rebate money.
The various reports are looking for about 130,000 new jobs. If the number is 200,000, it will be a Bush triumph, they say; while 100,000 will mean a continued jobless recovery, because 150,000 new jobs per month are needed just to keep up with new entrants into the job market.
Big stakes here. Hold your breath.

Par for the course

In addition to concluding that Iraq destroyed its WMD in 1994, the UN weapons inspectors have complained in their recent report that the US has failed to cooperate with them in the hunt for weapons. Is this Administration incompetent or evil? Take your pick.

Not for 10 Years

According to the latest report to the UN, Iraq had no WMD after 1994. These things President Bush sent our troops to find and neutralize haven't been there for a decade. There are kids out there learning to use computers -- maybe better than me -- and playing baseball and riding bikes, who weren't born yet when the WMD were already gone. Thousands are dead, and it was all a lie.

I can't believe I'm about to write this, because it hurts as an American who loves his country. But here goes: Would someone out there like to explain to me the fundamental MORAL difference between US attacks on Iraq, leading to collateral death in 2003, and the attacks on the US on 9/11/01?

Aristide cries 'coup d'etat'

I'll bet Colin Powell and Scott McClellan both went to bed tonight feeling like it just couldn't have been any more monday. It appears, according to widespread reports, that Aristide did not go quietly when he packed his kit and got outta dodge. It would be funny, if not for all those dead bodies in Haiti.

Monday, March 01, 2004

A rant

I refuse to believe we can invade a country (for whatever reason) and impose our view and institutions of democracy on its leaders regardless of its history and culture. I refuse to believe we can improve our citizens' economic life by lessening the taxes on the rich in the hopes they'll allow their largesse to trickle down to the masses. I refuse to believe we can dictate the terms under which the rest of the world operates. I refuse to believe we can ignore science, ignore diplomacy, ignore history and launch an arrogant, ignorant domination of the world, its resources, its peoples, simply because we have the military and economic power to do so.
Maybe George Bush can pull this off, all of this. But here's the deal. If he does, I want out.

Aristide kidnapped?

Did The White House kidnap Aristide? This post on raises the question.

One thing you can say for President Bush and his administration of flying monkeys, it's never a dull day. I don't think there's ever been such a scandal - ridden presidency in this country. So every day we can wake up wondering what's up down at the ranch.

Head 'em up and bring 'em on!

Bush Bios on Web

Six years as a F-102 pilot? Only in government biographies. Maybe in his dreams. / Bush bio on Web inflates Guard service

Crazy Al

For an extended discussion, by Billmon of Whiskey Bar and the resultant comments, of Greenspan's latest gyrations, go here. Much to think about, all frightening.

a flood of claims

Now here's something I never thought about. This Guardian Unlimited article points out that if the war was without basis, and therefore illegal, then UK government is not immune from claims arises from death and injury to soliders in Iraq. Think that might fly over here as well? I think not; it seems our government is better insulated that this. What do you think, Erik?

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Business as usual

Two of Kerry's recent statements do indeed make the upcoming election feel damnably familiar, between a Republican whose views I can't tolerate and a Democrat who agrees with some of those views, but is still preferable for many other reasons. Nixon/Humphrey, BushI/Mondale--and, actually, BushII/Gore. In other words, although the present race is critical because this version of BushII is absolutely evil and Kerrey's more than tolerable, he's quite liberal--but he has significant slippage on some of his views.