Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 28, 2006

Regime Change
for Mexico

Relax, I'm not advocating military action against our peaceful neighbors to the south. What I am suggesting is that the solution to the rising tide of Mexicans crossing our border is not going to be found in Washington, but Mexico City.

The hot issue right now is the 11 million “undocumented workers,” currently in the US and the millions more on their way. These are folks who jumped the border and are in the US illegally. We used to call them “illegal aliens,” but migrant advocacy groups have deftly replaced that with “undocumented workers,” a term that conjures up the image of a worker who forgot his or her wallet at home.

“Immigrants,” is another word that has is being misused in when used to describe Mexicans in the US illegally. Immigrants are folks who come to the US in an orderly, legalized manner to start new lives in a new country. Mexican workers crossing our border by the millions every year are not immigrating .. they are fleeing Mexico.

Okay, now that we have the terminology straight, back to my point.

We can pass all the immigration reforms we want, build walls and fences along the entire border, put cameras on every cactus, strap microphones on ground hogs and nothing will change until there's regime change in Mexico.

I know people in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones. The US is hardly in any position to nag other governments on matters of ethics or competency right now. But that's just what I'm gonna do. So, to those of you who may want to flame me with “you should talk,” emails... Okay, I get it. We need regime change too.

But Mexican politicians make our political bums look like candidates for sainthood. Mexico has institutionalized official corruption, corruption that reaches from the top offices, down through the ranks to the cop on the street. The country is rotten to it's core.

Mexico is rich in both natural resources and labor, a combination which under honest leadership should have long ago made it's people more like Canadians than the near-third world country folk most remain today. I mean how do you screw up a country with lots of oil, good weather, fabulous beaches and a population with work ethic that puts arian nations to shame?

Answer: By putting thieves in charge of the country.

Mexican corruption scandals go on and on
In what is seemingly a pattern, Mexican audiences are being repeatedly roused with illustrations of politicians engaged in corrupt activities and caught on videotape. In a progression of recent events, scandals have damaged the well-worn image of political parties in Mexico....The dramatic tape of Mexican Green Party (PVEM) president, Senator Jorge Emilio Gonzalez, negotiating a US$2 million bribe is still in the news.

Study: Mexico's Culture of Corrruption
In Mexico, corruption is perceived by various publics as widespread. Over 70% of respondents claimed that almost everyone or many in government are corrupt (Table 1), and over 85% in Mexico City agreed that corruption is widespread. Within the private sector, 39% of respondents said that businesses like theirs make extra-official payments to influence the content of laws, policies and regulations (8.5% of income is spent on such payments), while 62% said that businesses make extra-official payments to lower level officials (5.1% of income). Even among internal auditors within the federal government, 60% recognized as “frequent” the acts of corruption within the areas they supervise. ( Stephen D. Morris..Univ. of South Alabama. Dept of Political Science. )

Mexico's Corrupt Oil Lifeline
Mr. Cantu gave Pemex a decade of his working life. But he will never work there again. He can explain why in one word..."Corruption," he said, gazing at the refinery, 20 miles outside Monterrey in northern Mexico. "People being stepped on, forced to be corrupt — I hated that. There were a lot of things you had to shut up about. The bosses would kill to protect themselves. People were subjugated by fear."

Graft's Toll on Mexico
Corruption and environmental destruction

When a nation's treasury is treated like a pinada by successive administrations it leaves the nation with little to spend on infrastructure, job creation, education, health and the other “stuff” governments are supposed to provide. As a native Californian I've made many trips to Mexico. And my last trip five years ago I swore that was it. I would never go again. It was just too upsetting.

Upsetting? Yes. Call me strange, but I have a hard time feeling alright about sitting on a lovely beach, being served cold drinks by a waiter and para-sailing, when 100 yards down the beach a poor woman with six kids is doing her laundry in a polluted stream bed running through the front yard of her families rusted, corrugated tin and driftwood shack.

And then there's the Mexico police. Jesus, I'd rather just let a crook rob me blind than call the police in Mexico. Especially if the crook didn't leave me with enough money to bribe the cop so he did not arrest me on some trumped up charge until my family wired them money to pay a “fine” for a crime that cannot be found in the Mexican penal code.

Fiscal restraint in Mexican politics is defined as knowing just how much they can steal before the country falls completely apart. That's why that at any point in time Mexico is a nation right on the brink.

A nation so abused by it's own leaders inevitably becomes a nation of serfs. When the interests of the many are continually subjugated to the greed of the few, peasantry is always the result.

And so they flee... NOT immigrate, flee. They flee north where they can earn $6 - $10 an hour, rather than $4.50 a day. They flee with the ragged children in tow, for real education, first-world medical care, clean streets and (comparatively) honest officials.

Nothing Washington does about immigration reform will change that until we force Mexico to change how it's governed. We should insist on it.

First understand the real purpose of illegal Mexican immigration to the US -- it provides crooked Mexican politicians and businesses to continue being crooked. The US/Mexican border is a safety valve, providing an outlet for the otherwise hopeless frustrations of the Mexican people which otherwise might spark domestic revolt – and regime change.

That's why Mexican President, Vincente Fox, -- and virtually every other Mexican politician -- become apoplectic whenever Washington talks about real border security. That's why they were so angry with the grassroots “Minutemen” project. They know that any measures on the US side that slow the flow of Mexican workers north represents a risk to “their thing,” (as John Gotti would put it.)

Oh, and then there's this little related fact. Mexicans working in the US send nearly $20 billion a year back into Mexico, replacing the $20 billion corrupt Mexican officials and connected businesses skim off the Mexico budget.

Too harsh? Facts often are. And those are the facts. Two nations are threatened by the status quo in Mexico: the US and Mexico. The US has already lost millions of blue and gray collar jobs, once the foundation of America's middle class. Construction was one of the few bright spots since they can't outsource the building of American homes. But illegal immigrants from Mexico, willing to work for half what Americans demand, have taken many construction jobs and will take them all eventually.

In America's inner cities, already hard hit black communities are getting the double whammy from cheap Mexican labor. Every passing day they scarf up the unskilled jobs that were for inner city blacks the first rungs on the ladder out of poverty, the alternative a life of of welfare or crime.

We may not have a neighbor rattling traditional weapons of mass destruction at us. But what Mexico is imposing on the US, our budgets, our schools our hospitals – and now on our government itself – may be even more deadly than traditional WMD in the long run. Mexico's fleeing modern-day peasants have already depressed wages here.

And now they are also becoming a political force with which to reckon. They have built alliances with those who came before them and gained citizenship (largely thanks to the Ronald Reagan amnesty.) Those alliances are now expressing themselves in Washington as both parties try to figure out top look like they are doing something about illegal immigration without pissing off the growing Hispanic voting demographic. That is likely to translate in nothing meaningful being done about illegal immigration.

But, as I said above, there's really not much Washington can do about it. The real solution has to be found in Mexico. And that must begin with regime change.. top to bottom. A national housecleaning.

If George Bush really wants to spread democracy and the rule of law, as he says, he might want to try it on a nation closer to home for a change. And he wouldn't even need troops. Just some straight talk with and about the regime in Mexico.

Readers Respond

Bang On!

DeLong, Thoma, Angry Bear, Hamilton and even Legal Fiction have recent posts. My comments thereon include:

Mexico is long since a failed state. Now, their failure is bringing down the US. If the US employment to population ratio is ~65% and 11 million of these employed are illegals then the employment to population ratio of US citizens is ~62% and the real unemployment rate of US citizens is ~12%. In a sense it began with the replacement of unionized meat packers in the 80s. For the ~11 million illegals holding jobs 11 million US poor are unemployed and those who do have a job are working for about half what they should be paid. Illegal immigration has the same effect as off shoring.

Good comments all. By the measure of their inability to provide for their people, economies all over the world are failing. Mexico's has long since been a failure as evidenced by the millions living in abject poverty there and the more than 10 million illegally in the US. Albeit better concealed, the US economy has long since failed to provide for our people; most notably since the 80s. An example of how it has come to be in America: In the 80s the meat packing unions were busted and their workers replaced with illegals. Per BLS, the number of people working stayed the same, perhaps rose, but US workers were displaced from jobs that payed a living wage, jobs that allowed them to educate their children. In the US, just as in Mexico City, homelessness and poverty grew. Millions of US citizens have effectively disappeared. If the US employment to p opulation ratio is ~65% and 11 million of these employed are illegals then the employment to population ratio of US citizens is ~62% and the real unemployment rate of US citizens is ~12%. For the ~11 million illegals holding jobs 11 million US poor are unemployed and those who do have a job are working for about half what they should be paid. Illegal immigration has the same effect as offshoring. And, what evidence that Mexico is the better off for this illegal immigration?

If they were to arrest a handful of restaurant owners and construction contractors today, no immigrants would need be arrested. They would go home. The problem would solve itself.

Some call it compassion. I call it greed. Poor Americans call it getting worse off. Illegals are here because businesses can make more money hiring them than they could if they hired US workers and it forces wages down so that US workers have to work for less. Then, the business owners talk about patriotism and send the children of the illegals and the poor US workers off to fight for America.

Ken Melvin

The US can use "precision smart bombs" on Mexico City to get the attention of the current regime. Then we can use our superior military power to push back the millions of "illegal aliens" to the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Just as long as we don't make the mistake of following them all the way to Mexico City and destroying their entire infrastructure. That would make us responsible for rebuilding their country. If all else fails, we can always use a page out of the Israeli playbook and build a concrete and barbed-wire fence along the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

But this is all pure fantasy because the big corporations WANT the cheap Mexican labor that DOES suppress the minimum wage in America. Let's see if I've got this straight -- outsourcing plus "legal" illegal immigration add up to a huge monetary drain on the average American's bank account while big business keeps reaching new and obscene profit levels. Ain't it great living in the land of the free and the home of the brave during the 21st century! Thank you Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld for everything you have sacrificed since Nixon was in the White House. It took you a few years longer than you expected, but you have finally and fully implemented the Project for the New American Century.

You fellows look fabulous wearing the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Jeff Morgan, Rochester, MN
You hit it right on the head, the so called undocumented, Bush and other Presidents should have been telling the corrupt leaders years ago get you house in order,this guy Fox is a real fox sitting on all that oil and people living in squalor. I even have to agree with the blowhard Lou Dobbs, but our leaders want the votes.

Ole Vet

Excellent article about the illegal alien problem and its causes. Even the corrupt lackeys around Bush know what the real problem is but I suspect they don't care because as long as their corporate bosses are happy with the cheap labor there's no problem for them. They figure they'll be insulated by their wealth and they'll all be dead before it really gets bad enought to affect the fat-cat class anyway.

You're right about the problem for what passes for the Mexican government if the safety valve at the border gets closed. If that happens the Mexicans will be forced to deal with their own corrupt, greedy government and the thieves that run it know that. That's why they even assist people who want to come here illegally. Unfortunately, I don't expect much of anything to change. Bushco doesn't care about the dwindling middle class as long as the sheeple among them continue to vote for his party out of fear and against their own interests. His corporate buddies are happy with lower wages and support him. The media, for the most part, is too cowardly to tell the truth and too many of our fellow citizens aren't paying attention or are afraid anyway. The Bushies are getting away with setting up their unaccountable fascist government because not enough of us pay attention and too many react to the fear mongering that they're so good at.

I don't know, Steve. It's discouraging. The solutions are there but our corrupted Congress and our corrupt and incompetent administration aren't going to deal with it. Another amnesty will double the number of illegals here unless the border is dealt with first, and that ain't gonna happen.

Have a good day anyway.

George Piter

And further more why not encourage the influx of undocumented worker (rather than illegal immigrants) as Bushs' cronies love it; instead moving their companies to Mexico for the cheap labour they just wait for the cheap labor to show up on their factory door steps, or their hotels (cheap Mexican housekeeping labor), etc.

By using lingo like undocumented workers Bush changes the language to make it acceptable because for the above reason he finds in acceptable for cheap labour to be brought into the country to benefit his cronies bottom line and to ease manufacuring from going overseas.

I was amazed when we were in Arizona last year how the Mexican's line up/hangout at the highways overpass exits in Phoenix and then pickup trucks come along, driven by white men, load a bunch of these Mexicans into the back of the pick up for a day of labor at your local "under the table" construction site. There are the minute men and then there are the men that really want these immigrants in the US,

Your right, great, cheap labour.

As always, Kathy

Hey Steve,
I've been watching this immigration thing for weeks and cannot comrehend why no one in Washington can figure out that Mexico itself is the problem. Oh, I forgot. Our politicians want the Hispanic vote. Good sense has nothing to do with it. Someone should write a song like Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With it?" and rename it "What's reality got to do with it?"


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March 26, 2005

Take The President's Advice

I bet you guys didn't really listen to President Bush this week. Too bad, because for once he told the truth. I listened, heard the truth and checked it out. And as he promised it was a useful exercise.

At one of his fake “town hall meetings,” this week an Army wife asked Bush why the mainstream media only focuses on “the bad news,” from Iraq and never report “the good news.”

Bush furrowed his nodded in agreement and suggested (here's the truth part) that the lady turn to alternative sources for news, “like the Internet.” (He used to call it the “Internets,” so someone must has told him, like God, there's only one.)

When I heard him say that it struck me, of course – the Internet! Why have I been relying on reporters from the New York Times and Washington Post and CBS, NBC, CNN to tell me what's really going on in Iraq. Hell, they don't even speak the language. And I learned four years ago that I can't believe anything the US government says about the war.

So I logged right onto the Internet and spent that day reading news posted by Iraqis themselves. Who would know better what day to day life is like now. Is there a civil war brewing? They would know. Are things getting better or worse? If I wanted to know if things were getting better or worse in my hometown, would I ask CNN or the White House? No. I'd ask my neighbors and the small business owners on Main Street, Sebastopol, Ca. US of A.

The President was right. I read dozens of March postings by folks living in US 'liberated”
Iraq, and now and it was time well spent. Thanks George for the tip, dude. Now I suggest you take your own advice. Here's sampler:
March 9: It was about 6PM last night when dad's mobile rang, dad was in the mosque, my aunt was calling him and so mom picked up the mobile instead. Mom's emotions on the phone only led to one conclusion: Someone is dead. ..Mom put the mobile aside and said: "Uncle S is dead". ....Yesterday, he was shot by Americans on his way back home, and he died. Like many others, he died, left us clueless about the reason, and saddened with this sudden loss. He was shot many times, only three reached him: One in his arm, one in his neck and one in his chest. But they said they're sorry.. They always are.
March 16: Black-clad Mahdi army militiamen drag the body of Sheikh Ghazi Al-Zoba’i, the Imam and preacher of the Al-Sabbar mosque around a street in Husseiniya, a mixed suburb north of Baghdad..... Someone shouts: “drag the Wahhabi,” while another describes him as a “bastard.” ... then they dump him on the side of the road. Another militiaman suggests they bury him. “What do you mean bury him?” the gang leader snaps back with indignation. “Leave him here to the dogs.” Then they joke about his underwear and cover the corpse with a cardboard that life looks absolutely normal in the surroundings. You can see children running about, stores open, religious holiday flags and even a traffic jam. Perhaps Ralph Peters will happen to drive by with an American army patrol and enjoy the scene of children cheering for the troops, while wondering where his civil war is, dude. I see people blown up to smithereens because a brainwashed virgin seeker targeted a crowded market or café. I see all that and more....Don’t you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.
March 14: The situation in Iraq now is the worst that can be, since Baghdad fell in April 2003, meaning; three years passed since the war, and the results we reaped were destruction, ruin, killings, and bloodshed… billions of dollars were robbed, thousands of souls perished, our cities and villages destroyed, and there are some who are pulling the people apart, pushing them to a sectarian civil war. There is an occupation army filling the streets, doing what? we do not know... they build military bases which spell the message- they want to remain for ever, that they do not care for our souls, and that everything that is happening to us pours into their interest, and is a reason for them to stay…

Iraq is torn apart…
Iraq is ruined…
Iraq became a heap of debris…
Is this what they want?
Was this their aim in this war?

This is what I want to say to the American people, I want them to know the real story of the war, not the story they hear in their biased media, financed by the government and its friends…I want the people here to stand up and face their responsibility for what is happening in Iraq…Do they join their government in its crimes against the Iraqi people? Or are they against her? I
Death and killing in Iraq become a daily event and apprehension of death is a concomitant issue with every person. The Iraqi politicians who fight for the power, their hands are mstained with the blood of the innocent Iraqis...Iraq as the rest of the world is much better without Saddam but much worse in every other aspect, especially the security.
I don’t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I’m so tired of it all- we’re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots. I’m sitting here trying to think what makes this year, 2006, so much worse than 2005 or 2004. It’s not the outward differences- things such as electricity, water, dilapidated buildings, broken streets and ugly concrete security walls. Those things are disturbing, but they are fixable. Iraqis have proved again and again that countries can be rebuilt. No- it’s not the obvious that fills us with foreboding.

The real fear is the mentality of so many people lately- the rift that seems to have worked it’s way through the very heart of the country, dividing people. It’s disheartening to talk to acquaintances- sophisticated, civilized people- and hear how Sunnis are like this, and Shia are like that… To watch people pick up their things to move to “Sunni neighborhoods” or “Shia neighborhoods.” How did this happen?

I could fill hundreds of web pages with posting like those above. What I couldn't find was the “good news” Bush suggested the Army wife might find if she looked hard enough. Oh there were posting by US service men and women from Iraq, and some of them had nice things to say about the job they were doing there. But as a member of the US Marines during the Vietnam war I remember you could throw a dart at a company of Marines serving in the war zone and get opinions that ranged from, “We should nuke these little bastards,” to “get me the hell out of here,” to “Hey man, got any weed?”

Back then the government also assured us they “had a plan,” -- Nixon even had a "secret" plan. And, at any point during that long, dismal war, they claimed their plan was “working.”

It was only some thirty years later historians got around to hearing from the Vietnamese themselves, particularly the North Vietnamese. If we had known during the war what we know now, about how the Vietnamese saw the war, how they were surviving day to day, and how they viewed us, we would have known we could not “win,” in any traditional sense of that term. We would have known that “the plans” - all of them - were fool's errands. And tens of thousands of lives would have been spared.

So, by all means follow President Bush's suggestion. Spurn the mainstream media for your news on Iraq. Go instead for your news on Iraq to the hundreds of blogs posted daily by Iraqis living the reality our moron President and his Mad Hatter's tea party gang cooked up for them.

And, to George Bush, a man who does not want to hear bad news and accuses those who deliver it of “aiding the terrorists,” read these blogs.. and then try to understand what he meant when one of the above blogger ended his report by warning:

“Don’t you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.”


Friday, March 24, 2006

Three March Posts

March 21, 2006

From The House of Orwell

Someday, not long from now, we will tell our grandkids about the good old days, when if someone used a word you didn't understand, you just had to crack open your Webster's dictionary to nail it down.

For example, if in "the old day's" if someone issued a notice with the following headline, what would we have thought it meant?

"IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer Information."

The word “safeguard” is the key. Webster says it means:

“Safeguard: a precautionary measure, stipulation, or device b : a technical contrivance to prevent accident.”

Well, I'm for that! Unfortunately the Bush administration has not only shoved aside the US Constitution, but Webster as well. The words sound the same. They are spelled the same, but their meanings are now, well, flexible.

The headline noted above was atop a Treasury Dept. press release announcing that your tax return and mine will soon be up for sale to anyone, any where, at any time.

“The Internal Revenue Service is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns....If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers for the first time would be able to sell information from individual returns -- or even entire returns -- to marketers and data brokers.... The change is in a set of proposed rules the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Dec. 8 Federal Register, where the official notice labeled them "not a significant regulatory action." (Full story)

Like the Dubai ports deal, the administration tried to slip this little gem by with as little advanced warning or fanfare as possible. The press release was issued the same day 30-day comment period began. The entirely misleading headline was designed to throw off newsroom editors who routinely toss out reams of government agency press releases every day because 99.9998% of them are no more interesting or noteworthy than a 5th grader's “What I did on vacation,” report.

But someone noticed and now the administration is in full Sgt. Shultz mode again: “I don't know nutting ...I didn't see nutting..” Suddenly no one of any rank seems to know anything about the genesis of his rule.

IRS spokesman William M. Cressman was left to try to explain the contradictions between the actual rule and the headline of his agency's own press release. He explained that the “safeguard” referred to in the headline referred to a new rule requiring that, before tax preparers can sell a customer's tax return to someone they need to have the customer's signature authorizing them to do so.

But wait, there's already a real safeguard against that. Tax preparers are now simply prohibited from selling (or even telling) anyone else the information on your tax returns -- PERIOD – signature or no signature. Besides, how often do you read all the fine print before you sign that stack of forms your accountant shoves in front of you on noon April 15th. Case closed.

Poor Cressman was completely lost when he tried to explain where this new rule came from. "why this issue has come up at this time other than our effort to update regulations that date back to the 1970s and predate the electronic era," he mumbled.

(This new proposed “safeguard,” awkwardly made its debute the same week after corporate tax preparer, H&R Block, was indicted for screwing taxpayers by selling them bogus savings accounts.)

Imagine all those hungry tax preparers out there who have, for the past five years of so, watched nervously as programs, like Turbo Tax, cut into their annual take. Now imagine they could make more money selling your tax return data to interested parties, than preparing taxes. And speaking of Turbo Tax, imagine that it's owners, the same company that produces the Quicken accounting programs, could sell all that hot data from the growing number of taxpayers using their service to file their taxes electronically.

Yep, this is another Dubai ports deal in the making. No one, except the handful of companies itching to profit it, will find anything to like about this new rule.

Also remember this the next time this administration talks big about combating identity thief. Being able to purchase tens of thousands of American's tax returns would be the Mother Lode for ID thieves around the world. We might as well simply publish all our on-line banking user-names and passwords and ATM PIN numbers while we're at it.

Even this late in the game I continue being amazed by the brazen, naked chutzpah of this administration and it's corporate backers. Talk about the fleecing of America, this would be the fleecing of Americans themselves. Breathtaking.

Anyway, for at least the next three years, you might want to put your Websters Dictionary on the shelf. It's an unreliable tool for understanding what this administration means when it says something.

This is particularly true when ever they use the word, “safeguard.” If these guys say they are about to safeguard something for us, hide it, if you can.

For example, here's a sampler of some of the stuff the Bushies claim to be “safeguarding,” followed by links to what they're really up to:

* Democracy
* Free speech
* Peace
* The environment
* The economy
* The American middle class
* Jobs
* Income growth:

One More (Pissy) Item
It's time for another round of welfare reform. Let me explain.

I was driving to the store yesterday listening to the radio. A public service ad was running. A nice lady with a soft, ladies caring voice from the Bush Agriculture Dept. peaking directly to senior citizens. She said that the rising cost of medical care, especially drugs, was leaving a lot of seniors so short of money they were not eating properly. She said that many of those medically broke seniors did not know that they may qualify for federal food stamps.

I struck me like a bolt from the sky – the pharmaceutical companies are getting federal welfare. Yes they are. Think about it.

My wife is Family Nurse Practioner. She sees patients all day long and many are elderly. And, she says, many of them tell her they are either not taking their meds because, if they paid for them they wouldn't have enough money by the end of the month for food and utilities.

It's a growing problem that wasn't made any better when the Bushies made it illegal for Medicare to use it's enormous buying power to negotiate lower drug prices for the eldery.

But their drug company contributors have a good thing going and they want to keep it going. And having old folks showing up dead at emergency rooms looking like emaciated concentration camp victims because they couldn't afford food would be a PR nightmare for drug companies. Right?

Right. Which is why the federal government is stepping up to fill the holes in senior's budgets left by the friendly folks at Merck and Pfizer. And there you have it; welfare for the drug industry.

Question: How is this different from the socialized health care model the Bushies treat with contempt?

Answer: Follow the money, honey.

The most important quality of money, you must remember, is that it's fungible --

“Fungible: being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation,” as per our friends at Webster.

In this case the federal food stamp money being used to keep the heat off drug companies.

We've already seen welfare reform for the poor. What say we start trimming back on what I call “welfare bumper shots,' -- federal money spent to clean up in the wake of one corporate harvester or another, be it feeding literally “drug-starved” seniors, or cleaning up environmental messes.

Maybe we should create a new category of welfare recipient. The corporate welfare king or queen? It worked on the poor, and they didn't even own yachts and villas.

Pizzo's Simple Solutions
Complicated Problems
(An Occasional Series from the upcoming book:
Governing: Just That Simple)

Today: How To Fix Palestine

What to do about Hamas taking power in Palestine?

I suggest policy makers in the West curl up this weekend with a copy of O. Henry's short story, Ransom of Red Chief. Therein they will find the answer. But, since George doesn't read much, I will elaborate.

You see, it really doesn't matter who's running Palestine. What matters is who is paying the Palestinian National Authority's bills. And for way too long it's been western countries shelling out billions of bucks. The E.U alone has been coughing up about $200 million for Palestine.

As for the US, well, President Bush wanted to give the Palestinians $350 million – before Hamas won. But wait? Where would that money come from? Yesterday Congress raised the US debt limit to $9 trillion by authorizing the borrowing of another $700 billion from China and Japan. So were are going to give $350 million of that borrowed money to the PNA? Huh?

Meanwhile Arab countries, many now rolling in $60-a-barrel oil revenue, have largely sat on the sidelines over the years badmouthing the west. And, just to keep thing interesting, they've been sneaking millions of dollars to terrorist groups – including Hamas – to finance more trouble.

That brings us to the current situation. The West doesn't like Hamas because of it's terrorist roots and refusal to denounce violence. But those same Muslim countries that have done their best for decades to make matters worse now pretend to be “outraged,” that the West is balking at supporting a democratically elected Palestinian government. Never mind that none of those Arab governments are have genuine representative governments themselves. Still, with straight faces, they insist the West is obligated to give Hamas a chance.

Okay. They've convinced me. Let'sdo just that.. give Hamas a chance. Let's give the Palestinians a chance to really get to know their blow-hard supporters in the region -- the Saudis, the Iranians, the Syrians. And let those countries get to know their ADD-inflected cousins, the Palestinians.

Yes, let's tell the Muslims of the Middle East we agree to give Hamas a chance.. just not on our nickel. Tell them that, since they like-em, have supported them in the past, why stop now? They're yours – ALL yours.”

When these Muslim countries complain -- which of course they will, because that's what the do best -- our response should be a simple shrug.

“Gee. Sorry guys, but we can't. Due in part to the soaring cost of oil, we're kinda strapped right now. In fact, at this point in time, you folks have more loose cash than we do. Hell, we're broke. Hey, by the way, could we interest you helping us and buying some of our 30-year bonds?”

Anyway, let's admit it -- the West has gotten a really rotten return on the billions poured into Palestine over the past couple of decades. Despite the best attempts to teach Palestinians the fundamentals of responsible governance, they took their example from the Muslim nations around them; backward, inefficient and breathtakingly corrupt governance.

Exhibit A: Yasser Arafat. By even conservative estimates Yasser Arafat stole upwards of half a billion dollars of the western aid money. Some have said it could have been closer to a billion dollars. (You didn't really think Arafat's party leaders were fighting widow Arafat for power after her hubby's death did you?)

But we never heard a word of criticism from Arab leaders in the region about the crippling corruption of the PA. That because first, when it comes to corruption, they live in glass tents themselves. But also, most of the money the Palestinian leaders were stealing wasn't Muslim money. It was money from those bleeding heart infidels in the EU and US. No harm, no foul.

Which brings me back to The Ransom of Red Chief. In that story a couple of hapless kidnappers snatch a brat of a kid, who calls himself Red Chief, to hold for ransom. By the end of the story the kidnappers were paying the kid's parents to take him back.

So, give the Muslim nations of region their own Red Chief, the Palestians. The fastest way to straighten out Palestine – and teach their do-nothing, loud-mouth, trouble-making neighbors a lesson, is to force them to walk their own talk. Tell them they are “it” for the next five years when the PA submits invoices. After that we'll talk.

Not only would this intensify surrounding Muslim natons interest in the formation of an honest and efficient Palestinian government, but would dry up money that might have otherwise gone to Palestine rejectionist/terrorist groups.

I may be wrong, but I don't think so. I think those phony royals in Saudi Arabia, for example, would put up for long with thieving Palestinian leaders if it was their money being stolen. In fact I strongly suspect that, had it been Saudi money Arafat was siphoning off to Switzerland, Yasser would have developed fatal breathing problems at around the $10 million rather than the half billion dollar mark.

Also, once it's Arab money going into new bridges and public buildings in Palestine, I kinda doubt these robed donors will be quite as sanguine about slipping terrorists a few bucks under the table to blow it all up.

So there you have it -- Pizzo's Simple Solution to Fixing Palestine. Force wealthy Muslim nations to pay more than lip service to the Palestinian cause. It's their turn to put their money where their mouths have been. Less hard talk and more hard cash.

But how to begin?

Lock Palestines's new Hamas leaders in a room with the finance ministers of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and Iran. Then, to set just the right mood, pipe in just the right music:

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.


Weekend Reading Assignment
Day of reckoning for the Current Occupant
Garrison Keillor
March 15, 2006

Self-Screwing Voters

During the Ronald Reagan era Republicans learned something remarkable. They didn't
t have to personally screw working Americans, because working Americans could be tricked into screwing themselves. Imagine that!

Please accept my evidence:

Exhibit A: those self-screwing“Reagan-Democrats.” That little screwing cost us billions -- $165 billion from Reagan's deregulated savings and loans alone! Then the Reagan tax cuts let those who stole all that S&L money keep more of their booty. And let's not forget the billions we let them pour into defense industry coffers for all that Star Wars stuff that, two decades later, still doesn't work.

Exhibit B: self-screwing working class (Red State) voters for Bush. They voted for lost jobs, lower wages and a war their kids could fight and die in. Hot digitty – screwed blue and tattooed too. Self-screwed -- not once, but TWICE!

So, Republicans have the proof -- self-screwing works! Voters can actually be convinced to support and vote for people and policies that 180 degrees against their own interests! Amazing.

Now say hello the next GOP gambit – self-screwing Latinos.

Exhibit C: (work in process) By supporting what appear to be “humane,” laissez-faire immigration schemes -- amnesty and guest worker programs -- while opposing strong employer sanctions, Republicans hope to win the hearts and votes of America's growing Latino demographic. If they succeed, (and it looks like they just might,) it would be akin to convincing chickens to vote for Col. Sanders.

By luring the Latino vote Republicans hope to remain in power and continue policies that drive US wages down. Their weapon of choice is cheap Mexican labor -- and to make sure it stays cheap.

The logical outcome of this scheme is an end of the American middle class. That extinction is already underway. And labor unions would be powerless to do a thing about it. What's the use of threatening to strike when employers have non-union hombres lined up around the block ready to work for less?

Nevertheless, just try to get a straight answer from Democrats on immigration. Forget about it. The best you can get out of Democrats is an admission that America – the most powerful immigration magnet on earth -- has no immigration policy. But when asked what their solution is they contend it's not their problem.

“We are not in charge,” Dems coyly coo. Republicans are in charge. It's not our job to come up with a solution, it's the Republicans job – and they've failed to do so.”

There you have it. Even as uncontrolled immigration pushes US wages lower and lower, Democrats – the alleged “party of working Americans,” does nothing. Why? What angle do they think they're playing?

It's sickeningly transparent.

* Polls show a growing percentage of Americans unhappy about the uncontrolled, illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico. Since voters are likely to blame Republicans Democrats are in no hurry to solve the problem.
* Also, speaking tough on immigration might alienate the fastest growing voting demographic, Latinos. Democrats see Latino voters as the ethic replacement for black voters who have now lost faith in Democrats.

There you have it. Good old fashioned Clintonian triangulation. Problem solving is for suckers. Let the immigration situation fester out of control so voters will blame Republicans. And, by doing nothing about illegal immigration Democrats hope they can "wink,wink" their own vote getting message to Latino voters -- "We're really on your side."

The only trouble with the Democrat's plan – aside its inherent cynical, immoral dereliction of duty -- is that it won't work. In fact it will backfire on Democrats by playing right into the GOP's hands -- again.

To understand the Republican's immigration gambit you first must understand what immigration means to their corporate supporters. In word, cheap... cheap labor and plenty of it. Cheap labor is critical now, thanks to another GOP sacred cow, free trade.

Here's the situation Republicans face:

* Free trade has created an devastatingly non-level playing field for American manufacturers,
* In response to competition from cheaper foreign sources American companies have moved more and more of their manufacturing jobs off shore,
* That's resulted in a wholesale gutting of America's once robust manufacturing base, seen by many as a core national security asset,
* The only way to stop that hemorrhage is to force US wages down so that goods produced here can compete with goods produced off shore,
* The only way to accomplish that is with a flood of immigrants willing to work significantly less than American workers.

Batta bing, batta bang.

Still not convinced? Need more proof? Okay, here comes.

The administration, and its Republican allies in Congress, have thrown out a lot of ideas about how to secure the border; a fence, more border guards, high-tech surveillance systems etc. All that stuff would cost billions of dollars, money that, like Star Wars, would line the pockets of the usual suspects, Halliburton, SAIC, and other favored contractors. And, like all that Star Wars stuff we paid for -- none of it will work.

What Republicans have not proposed is something far less expensive that would work – employer sanctions. Real employer sanctions. A law that made hiring illegal aliens a crime. Such a law would do more to stem the uncontrolled flow of job seekers across our border than a ten mile high wall stretching from San Diego to Florida.

So, why hasn't Congress passed, and the President signed such measure into law? Because they know it would work. And that would defeat for their hopes that immigration will drive US wages lower.

And yes. despite what conservative think tankers contend, uncontrolled immigration from Mexico does drive wages lower, despite what the US Chamber of Commerce says to the contrary.

George J. Borjas, a scholar with the Center for Immigration Studies finished a study on the ct of immigration on wages earlier this year.

"There are 16 million foreign-born workers in the United States right now, " Borjas said. "What does that do to the marketplace? It creates more competition, particularly for low-skilled workers."

Borjas reported he found that the immigrants who entered the country between 1980 and 2000 lowered wages of native-born workers by an average of 3.7 percent. The reduction in earnings occurred regardless of whether the immigrants were legal or illegal, Borjas found. He also said a new guest worker program, such as that proposed by President Bush, could further threaten the earning power of U.S.-born workers by creating more competition with foreign workers. (Full Study)

So, what position should Democrats take on immigration reform?

1. Lower wages in other countries are not the only reason their products are cheaper. After making something with their cheaper labor they still have to incur additional cost of shipping their product half way around the world. Free trade needs to become free and fair trade. That means companies overseas that want to sell products to American consumers must comply with a few fundamental rules. They must provide a baseline of worker safety and the comply with the same environmental rules that apply to American companies producing similar products or services. Such requirements would increase the cost of production for offshore manufacturers thereby leveling the playing field for American manufactures here.
2. Border security is a national security issue, not a jobs issue. I am not worried about Jose' sneaking across the border looking for work. I'm worried about Abdullah and friends sneaking across the border in the dead of night looking for a target.
3. Illegal immigration is not a border issue, it's an employment issue. You don't look for illegal workers at the border, but at the places that hire them. Pass laws that subject employers to very large fines for employing illegals and then use those fines to hire additional INS agents. (Oh, and for repeat employer offenders – jail time.)
4. A guest worker program is fine, as long as it requires that foreign guest workers are paid exactly the same as American workers for the same work.
5. Finally, the national minimum wage is currently an unlivable, unconscionable $5.15 an hour, (which when adjusted actually is $4.15 in spending power.) Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation it would be $9 an hour today. Raise the national minimum wage to $10 an hour. Ignore BS form the right that raising the minimum wage costs workers jobs. What it would actually do is make more lower wage jobs attractive to American workers. That in turn would reduce the demand for imported labor willing to work for a lot less.

Will Democrats figure this one out before it's too late – again. Or will the Republicans win again, this time by convincing Latino voters to screw themselves by voting Republican?

Time will tell.

Monday, March 06, 2006

March 3, 2006

March 2, 2006

Children of the Idea

Well, here's a News For Real post you won't see picked up by Progressive sites like Alternet or Not a chance. This is a subject liberals won't touch with a 10-foot vaccinated crowbar.

Maybe I'm a fool to go near it myself. But sooner or later, those of us who like to believe we view the world with both open eyes and an open minds, must confront this one, because it is most certainly confronting us – and it's winning.

Before I dive in, let me say something about “political correctness,” because, at the bottom of it all, that's what this is all about. First, let's call political correctness by it's real name – censorship. In fact, it's the worst kind of censorship, it's self-censorship. The “genius” of political correctness is that it deftly replaces the heavy and obvious hand of state control with the insidious invisible muzzle of group-think. It begins by dictating what words we can say about what, where or whom. But, if maintained long enough it changes what we think and, then inevitably, how we view reality itself.

Don't get me wrong. I am not lobbying for the right to gatitutiously hurt people's feelings with racial slurs. Some great thinker once wrote, “Speak, that I may see thee.” People who use such slurs are seen for what they are, ignorant.

No, I am talking about something else here. Something much bigger.

So, buckle up. If fools rush in, here I go.

I've been mulling this problem for months. But it came to a head yesterday while I was reading story in the English version of Al Jazeera. The headline is what caught my eye:

“ Writers slam Islamic 'totalitarianism' “

In Al Jazeera? What the hell is this? So, I read on.

The recent violence surrounding the publication in the West of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad illustrate the danger of religious "totalitarianism," Salman Rushdie and a group of other writers have said in a statement.....Rushdie, French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy and exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen were among those putting their names to the statement, to be published on Wednesday in the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, one of several French newspapers which reprinted the controversial cartoons. (Full Story)

I was dumbstruck. Here I am, living in what we like to think is the most free, open and progressive nation on earth, yet nothing even close to this has happened here. In fact, just the opposite. Here almost every major media outlet has refused to reproduce those Muhammad cartoons. They reported the riots over them, but kept the actually cartoons from their readers. The cartoons, you see, were determined to be politically incorrect.

Who decided that? Well, there you go. It just happens now. We are well trained.

Here, in the “land of the free and he home of the brave,” not a single journalist from a major media company had stepped forward as Rushdie and other writers did this week in France and told the Islamic radicals to butt out. Not a single US news anchor has been willing to risk his/her position to stand up for the very freedoms that put Armani suits on their backs and matching Mercedes in their garages.

Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame.

But, you ask, do the French freedom writers have a case? Or are they just knee-jerk, westernized “racists?” Ah, there's the word. Racist. That's the charge most feared by the self-censored politically correct.

Well, let's see what Rushdie et al put their John Hancocks' too and see if you think they are racist, reactionaries, -- or right.

"After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

(The clashes over the caricatures) revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. The struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

"Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. But nothing justifies the hatred it engenders. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present."

Yes. That was reprinted in Al Jazeera. After reading the al Jazeera story I went to the New York Times and Washington Post web sites and did a search. Nope. It should have been a feature story... right up on the front page. Here was a guy, Salmand Rushdie, who just got out from under a death fatwah, but was willing to put his name to a document like that. Guts. But I couldn't find the story here. Why? Were American journalist embarrassed? Well, they should be.

The bravery and backbone shown by these French writers and journalists is a welcomed – but rare -- crack in the West's wall of denial and self-delusion about what Islam is, at its core, all about. What really drives the so-called “Arab street.” What Muslim masses, socially and intellectually stunted by the nexus of governance and unreconstructed Islam, really believe and are really prepared to do about what they believe.

The West risks all by refusing to confront this question with the same unblinking scrutiny that it treats non-religious/racial/cultural issues such as nuclear proliferation.

Earlier Europeans, who had not yet been befuddled by notions of political correctness, saw Islam more clearly. Of course, everything they learned about the Muslim east they learned the hard way. But, at least they learned.

So this is a good time to look back and read their thoughts on this timely subject. Sure some of their views can be dismissed as classic European ethnocentrism. Yet, their words are eerily similar to what the French freedom writers warned of this week. So, send your political correctness “Jimmie Cricket” out for coffee. Then read this and decide for yourself:

Winston Churchill
"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property (either as a child, a wife, or a concubine) must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science‹the science against which it had vainly struggled‹the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

Then there was T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia,) another Johnny Appleseed of empire who went to conquer the Islamic world for King and country, only to be left in awe of Islam's stubborn invincibility -- and equally stubborn flaws. Does any of this stike a familiar cord?

“Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unfledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and work ended – in ruins. Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the world by being shown the riches of earth and the pleasure of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the Prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended for his food on charity, then they would all leave their wealth for his inspiration.

They were incorrigibly children of the idea, feckless and color-blind, to whom body and spirit were forever and inevitably opposed. Their mind was strange and dark, full of depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but with more of ardor and more fertile in belief than any other in the world. They were a people of starts, for whom the abstract was the strongest motive, the process of infinite courage and variety, and the end -- nothing.

They were as unstable as water, and like water would perhaps finally prevail. Since the dawn of life, in successive waves they have been dashing themselves against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken, but, like the sea, it wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed, and some day, ages yet, it may roll unchecked over the place where the material world had been and Allah would move upon the face of those waters.

One such wave I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more.” (Revolt In The Desert, 1926)

I will leave it there. To quote Karl Rove, “I may have already said too much.”

But do keep your eyes wide open. Let me know if you see any of our own over-paid, over-exposed, over-blown-dried journalists taking a stand for freedom of thought and press against the successive waves of totalitarian-Islam that are slowly, but surely wearing them down.

I won't be holding my breath.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 1, 2006

Support Our Troops

There is no tool more precious to demagogic politicians than young American soldiers under hostile fire. They love it, because they know we are not about to hang those youngsters out to die.

They know that, whether we agree with a military action or not, whether we love or hate our leaders, we will move mountains to support our young soldiers when and wherever they are at risk.

When we say “support our troops,” we mean make sure they have all the gear, food and creature comforts needed to survive until they can be brought home.

But when folks like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, say “support our troops,” they are really saying, “support us,”-- and in the case of Iraq, “support our mistake.” They are saying “help us get out of this mess or our own making with our political skin in tact.”

And finally, when they say “support our troops,” they are really saying, “support our bloated defense budget,” and “support our crony defense contractors and high-dollar contributors.”

None of which comes as any great revelation. Eisenhower warned us this would happen is we allowed it. We did allow it and so it has happened. Our bad.

But what happens when “support our troops,” means doing what the troops want? What happens when the young soldiers sent to fight and die in a conflict -- and are therefore by definition, experts on the subject -- tell us we need to get out – and fast? What does “support our troops,” mean then?

Well, that's precisely what's happened. For once we have heard from our troops in Iraq without it first going through the Pentagon's happy-face filter:

Poll of troops in Iraq: 72% support for withdrawal within year

Washington — Seventy-two percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year, according to a Zogby poll released Tuesday ...The survey of 944 troops, conducted in Iraq between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, said that only 23 percent of service members thought U.S. forces should stay “as long as they are needed.” ... Of the 72 percent, 22 percent said troops should leave within the next six months, and 29 percent said they should withdraw “immediately.” (Full Story-Stars & Stripes)

“Support Our Troops,” they say. How so?

George says, “stay the course.”

How does that jive with what “our troops” in combat want?

Well, George's position is in the minority over there. Less than a quarter of “our troops,” agree, (23%). Nealy three quarters of them, (72%) hold a polar opposite position. They don't want to “stay the course,” because they know (first hand) that there is no course. They know George and his advisers, (fellas who think shooting quail with blunder-busts, is a manly art,) are just winging it in Iraq. Our troops understand, far better than George & Co., that Iraqi insurgents, unlike quail, shoot back.

George says, “our troops should stay as long as needed.”

Sorry George, but nearly a third of our troops in Iraq think we should leave, like yesterday. Twenty nine percent said we should pull out “immediately.” Whoa! There's quite a gap there, George., between your “as long as needed,” and our troops', “let's get the hell outta here, now!”

But wait. The gap is even bigger when you combine the “leave now” 29% with the “leave within 6 months, 22%. If you figure it would take at least six months to withdraw all our troops from Iraq, even if we decided to leave now, the poll indicates that 51% of our troops in Iraq are for leaving ASAP.

(I know math was not your strong suit, George, so let me help. That's more than half – which is a majority of "our troops" in favor of a near-immmediate withdrawal.)

Therefore it's not anti-war folks like me who are failing to support our troops. It's George Bush & Co. Three quarters of "our troops" say they have no interest in “staying” a course that their own captain keeps changing. Nor do they see any upside to “staying as long as required.” They've seen the Iraqis, up close and ugly, and they know that “as long as required,” translates into “forever.” (See what Churchill had to say on the same subject, HERE)

There you have it. This poll puts it right out on the table for the first time. A stunning majority of "our troops" fighting in Iraq believe we should leave, sooner rather than later. This new fact requires that those in Congress and the media factor this into all future statements and discussions about the conduct of this war. They are now ethically and morally required to factor these poll results into the debate over our military presence in Iraq. Three quarters of our troops on the ground say we should leave, either immediately or within the year.

What that means is that no one, not the President, not any member of Congress, should be allowed to use the term, "support our troops," without being required to explain precisely what he or she means by that, in light of this poll.

The next time George W. Bush -- or any of his covey of chicken hawk-advisors, admonishes us to “support our troops,” reporters need to ask if that signals a change in policy? Do they mean they are going to withdraw, as the majority of “our troops,” say they want? Or is “support our troops,” when they use it, just a monumentally cynical non sequitur?

So, don't be shy. Shout it from the rooftops -- “Support Our Troops!”

And do so now. Withdraw.

Otherwise this war's supporters need to update their signs and bumper stickers. Something more along the lines of:

DON'T Support Our Troops.
Stay the Course!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Feb. 28, 2006

Did You Just Hear Something?

Is something happening? After nearly six years of hoping something would happen, I am resisting the temptation to accept that suddenly something really is happening.

But the signs are coming in strong suddenly. It's getting harder for me to deny it. Something is afoot. Something long overdue.

Here are a few recent clues.

Clue #1:

Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'

NeoConserativism has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects....Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies. (Full Story)

Fukuyama goes on to single out Neocon One, George W. Bush, his economic policies and the war in Iraq, for special criticism.

Fukuyama -- who once supported the war in Iraq, now says it's the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time:

"The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism," he argues. "It seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly".

Finally there was this jaw-dropping statement from the man who created the Neocon movement :

Fukuyama says the neocon movements' key players in this administration "are Leninists who believe that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States".

Holy cow. The Bushies being called pack of Leninists by their own guru.

Something is happening.

Clue #2:
If you have more than two discretionary nickels to rub together you've heard of PIMCO, the investment firm. PIMCO is hardly a hotbed of socialist thought. The company is one of the largest investment firms in the world, with more than $590 billion in assets under management.

So, when PIMCO's managing director, Bill Gross, talks about money, those with money listen. And Bill did just that this week on PIMCO's own web site.

“A copy of the annual Economic Report of the President arrived at my desk the other day.... It’s not so much that the report was a compilation of untruths or even half-truths. It’s just that it failed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and most definitely nothing but the truth. If there were WMD in our economic future, you’d be hard pressed to find them here. Mild innuendos about global and demographic challenges yes, but nothing that couldn’t or wouldn’t be overcome with good old American ingenuity, hard work, and a fawning foreign investment public nearly trampling each other to get their hands on attractive U.S. "investments." Nowhere to be found was the catchy phrase à la Tennessee Williams referring to the "kindness of strangers" or a suggestion of "living on borrowed time."

Ah, but that, it seems to me, was the critical rub. Have we, can we, will we use capital to foster future growth or must we earmark it for future liabilities that have been under-reserved? Have we borrowed from the future to pay for today’s party and will our future creditors allow us to pay it back on our own terms with low yields and a strong dollar? While the gang that couldn’t shoot (or talk) straight expressed few doubts, I as you can probably tell, have mine. (Full Essay Here)
(Audio Version Here)

Well! How about that? A guy who manages over half a trillion bucks of other people's money saying such startling things right out loud! Normally Wall Street folk avoid saying anything that might spook the sheep. They like to play up the positive and brush aside the negative. It's only when disaster looms too close for comfort that they shout “fire” -- usually over their shoulder after they clear the exit first.

Bill Gross' essay is chilling confirmation that the Bush economy is but a hollow tree. It may look okay on the surface, but one strong storm and it'll come crashing to earth. I've suspected it was so from the very start. Now it's being said by folks with a vested interest in the tree. Something is happening.

Clue #3
And then there's all the talk suddenly of America's emerging "oligarchy." Americans had thought such social termites were unique to former Soviet block nations. But apparently when George looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul – he also saw a new future for America as well. An America carved up like a juicy Angus cow, the prime cuts going to prime contractors and what's left on the floor split between the rest of us.

Now the rest of us are finally shouting “foul!”

Here's a clip from a great Web newsletter that tracks the growing American wealth disparity. It's appropriately named, “Too Much!”

New Data on America's Wealth
"Two years ago, the Federal Reserve Board had 4,522 American families interviewed, typically for 80 minutes each, about their personal household finances. Last week, the Fed unveiled a summary of the data from this massive survey effort, and the new numbers tell an old story.

America's economy, the Fed data make clear, is only working for the wealthy. Everyone else is treading water — or even falling behind....The new Fed Survey of Consumer Finances — the latest installment of research the Fed conducts every three years — offers the federal government's best update on income and wealth distribution in the United States. That distribution continues to skew.

Back in 1995, typical families in America's richest 10 percent held 697 times more net worth than typical families in the nation's poorest 25 percent. In 2004, the new Fed data reveal, the net worths of top 10 percent families outpaced the net worths of families in the bottom 25 percent by 841 times."

Yes, something is happening.

The Bushies got away with a lot of lies over the past five and half years, and for that we must blame not only them, but ourselves for letting it happen, and our media, which failed its own prime directive – to find the truth and report it.

But lies are not enough any longer, because new lies must now compete with the very ugly and obvious physical truths their earlier lies have created:

- Hard working Americans are poorer than they were, and it looks as though they are going to get poorer yet before anyone comes along able to get us back on track.

- Iraq is a mess, always has been, always will be, and they just wasted $600 billion re-learning that.

- Homeland security is another lie. We are not one iota safer today than we were on September 10, 2001. We now know that the entire Homeland security business was just one big, fabulously expensive, bureaucratic Chinese fire drill. A lot of noise and fury, signifying nada. How do we know that now?

- Katrina,
- The moronic port deal,
- The gutting of states National Guard units,
- The Keystone cops panic last week over that non-ricin attack,
- Osama still at large,
- Mullah Omar, still at large,
- Iran perking right along on a nuclear weapons program,
- North Korea is stacking up new nukes like cordwood...
- And this just in:

Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008
At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

Had enough?

The bottom line -- unless you were in a top tax bracket, owned a defense contracting firm, made pharmaceuticals, or pumped oil, you've lost ground since the Bushies arrived in town.

And – here's the biggest laugh of all – it was those who have suffered most – middle class working, religious conservatives – who put these morons into power, not once, but twice. (So much for intelligent design.)

But the worm is finally turning. Better late than too late.

The November mid-term elections could be Phase I of a two-part house cleaning. Recently I spoke to a former Republican member of the California Assembly who told me, “This November I will vote for any Democrat running against any Republican for the US Congress. It's just gotten too out of hand up there with the GOP running the whole show.”

And that from a life-long Republican politician!

Yes, something IS happening. And only one thing can screw it up – old-school Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Joey Lieberman, Rahm Emanuel, et al.

And, rest assured, they are working furiously on doing just that.