Friday, September 21, 2007

September 4-14, 2007

De-Baathifiy America
Bring on the Wimps

I have a radical proposal: de-Baathify the US. Well, actually, it's already begun. The first round came in November 2006. The next round is scheduled for November 2008, and it promises to be much more bloody.

Yes, that's what I'm saying, that Republicans are America's Baathists. The similarities between ruling members of the Republican party and the now purged Iraqi Baathist leaders are really quite stunning once you start listing them:
  • Institutionalized cronyism
  • Insulated from their own people
  • An Orwellian affection for propaganda
  • Wealth concentrated in the hands of the few
  • Truth and lies interchangeable, as required
  • Spying on their own citizens
  • Imprisonment without due process
  • Sanctioning torture
  • A distain for diplomacy
  • Trigger happy
In Iraq it was the minority Sunni Baath party that lorded over majority Shiites for decades. Here it's been GOP Baathists pushing everyone around. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing Democrats of being Shiites. No. That would be an uncalled for slur on Iraq's Shiites.)

But the Republicans are demonstrably America's Baathists. And it's becoming increasingly clear that the majority of Americans are on to them, fed up with their corruption, incompetence, brutality and near-total disregard for the rights, needs and well-being of their own citizens.

So I say, enough of all this bi-partisan bullshit. I don't know about you but I've seen very little evidence that Democrats can play that game. They keep showing up for each match only to forfeit the game. Then they retreat to the locker room to whine to reporters that the other side cheats and fights dirty. Clearly we are going to have to clear the field of play for Democrats before they'll play.

But what if we really do de-Baathify America by canning all GOP candidates? Then what, you ask. We'd be stuck with those perennial losers, the Democrats. The wimps who allowed – hell, even aided and abetted – the GOP-Baathist's 8-year reign of murder and malfeasance.

Yep, that's true. But look at it this way: would a wimp have invaded Iraq? Not a chance.

So right there we'd already be half a trillion dollars and who knows how many lives, ahead. After all we now know what we get with testosterone-poisoned, super-macho, chicken-hawk GOP-Baathists. I don't know about you, but I long for some wimpish rulers. You remember, the kind of leaders who, rather than curling up every night with Janes Defense Weekly, actually stay up nights pouring over studies on things like public health, national infrastructure and the environment. You know, policy wonks, nerds, wimps, Democrats.

So let the purge begin. Sweep the GOP-Baathists into the trash heap of history where they can join their predecessors; the fascists, communists and Iraqi Baathist leaders. And if the GOP-Baathists really want to catch up with al-Qaeda leaders, they will only have a short wait before the Islamo-fascists land on the same trash heap with them.

Though we did pick up some handy tips during our de-Baathication of Iraq; like the importance weighing a perp in order to calculate how much air to leave beneath his trap door.

Of course we Americans don't hang our deposed/disgraced leaders --- though we occasionally encourage other nations to do so. And, as tempting as it suggest we make an exception in this particular case, I will not.

Instead I will be satisfied to settle for precisely what George W. Bush says he wants -- to let historians settle those accounts. And they will. Because, once we de-Baathify this place historians will no longer have waste their time de-bullshiting the information flow. With GOP-Baathists gone, and along with them their Baghdad-Bobs, like Tony Snow, historians will simply have the unvarnished truth from which to draw their conclusions. And the truth and history will indeed settle those accounts.

Hey, I know how you feel. You've grown to hate the Democrats almost as much as you hate the GOP- Baathists. But put that aside for now. De-Baathify America in November 08 and put the wimps in charge for a while and let them do exactly what the GOP-Baathists keep warning us they will do.

Let “cut and run” liberals cut and run from Iraq. Because, like the Vietnamese did when we cut and ran from their civil war, the Iraqis will sort things out in their own ways. Will it be messy? Duh. But it's messy now.

Once our new wimpish leaders leave Iraq they'll have $10 billion a month more to spend on wimpish things, like fixing our own crumbling bridges, providing hospitals and health care and funding world-class educations for our own children.

But, if we leave Iraq will “the terrorists win" and spread their influence in the Middle East? Maybe. But only the people in that region can – so to speak – de-Baathify their own countries. And they will -- eventually.

Will “the terrorists” attack us here at home?

They'll try. But with a fraction of fraction of the money we are wasting “fighting them over there,” we can make America as safe as one can. Even so, shit will happen. (At least with the wimps in charge we'll have medical care for the wounded.)

So that's where I am now. That's what it's come to for me. My new bottom line: De-Baathify America and turn the place over to the wimps – the Democrats. Give America and Americans a decade or so to heal. Give us, and our children and grandkids a new New Deal, a few years of re-balancing the distrubition of wealth, funding of those wimpish social programs, of allowing real scientists be real scientists, a few years of rest for our brave but exhausted troops, some long overdue --and hopefully not too late -- forced reductions in carbon emissions and a decade or two of balancing our national checkbook ... that kind of stuff..

That's what I want -- those kinds of "wimpish" leaders.

Did I say please?


September 12, 2007

Advance Peek
Bush's Address to the Nation

On Thursday night President Bush will address the nation on the situation in Iraq. Turning necessity into a virtue he will announce that he plans to withdraw up to 30,000 troops from Iraq sometime next summer.

That would return troop levels to precisely where they were in November 2006 when voters sent a clear message that they wanted all our troops the hell out of Iraq, now. So, in terms of US blood, sweat and tears, we are right back where we started before Bush's January surge of – coincidentally, 30,000 additional troops was announced.

But you know all that already. What I want to do today is prepare you for Bush's Thursday night address to the nation. Sorry if history bores you. But somehow I find it increasingly informative in this regard. So, if you want a preview of Bush's speech, here it is:

President Nixon's Speech on "Vietnamization," November 3, 1969.
Edited for Length
(Full version here)

Good evening, my fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to talk to you on a subject of deep concern to all Americans and to many people in all parts of the world the war in Vietnam.
 I believe that one of the reasons for the deep division about Vietnam is that many Americans have lost confidence in what their Government has told them about our policy.

The American people cannot and should not be asked to support a policy which involves the overriding issues of war and peace unless they know the truth about that policy.
 Tonight, therefore, I would like to answer some of the questions that I know are on the minds of many of you listening to me.

The war (has caused) deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.
 In view of these circumstances there were some who urged that I end the war at once by ordering the immediate withdrawal of all American forces.

But I had a greater obligation than to think only of the years of my administration and of the next election. I had to think of the effect of my decision on the next generation and on the future of peace and freedom in America and in the world.
 Let us all understand that the question before us is not whether some Americans are for peace and some Americans are against peace....the question facing us today is: Now that we are in the war, what is the best way to end it?

I could only conclude that the precipitate withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam would be a disaster not only for South Vietnam but for the United States and for the cause of peace.

For the South Vietnamese, our precipitate withdrawal would inevitably allow the Communists to repeat the massacres which followed their takeover in the North 15 years before.
 ...With the sudden collapse of our support, these atrocities ... would become the nightmare of the entire nation and particularly for the million and a half Catholic refugees who fled to South Vietnam when the Communists took over in the North.

For the United States, this first defeat in our Nation's history would result in a collapse of confidence in American leadership, not only in Asia but through-out the world.
For the future of peace, precipitate withdrawal would thus be a disaster of immense magnitude.

A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends. Our defeat and humiliation in South Vietnam without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest.
 This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere.

Ultimately, this would cost more lives.
 It would not bring peace; it would bring more war.
 For these reasons, I rejected the recommendation that I should end the war by immediately withdrawing all of our forces. I chose instead to change American policy on both the negotiating front and battlefront....
The Vietnamization (Nixon's version of “when their troops stand up, our troops will stand down) plan was launched following Secretary Laird's visit to Vietnam in March. Under the plan, I ordered first a substantial increase in the training and equipment of South Vietnamese forces.
After 5 years of Americans going into Vietnam, we are finally bringing men home. By December 15, over 60,000 men will have been withdrawn from South Vietnam including 20 percent of all of our combat forces.

The South Vietnamese have continued to gain in strength. As a result they have been able to take over combat responsibilities from our American troops.
 Two other significant developments have occurred since this administration took office.
Enemy infiltration, infiltration which is essential if they are to launch a major attack, over the last 3 months is less than 20 percent of what it was over the same period last year.

Most important United States casualties have declined during the last 2 months to the lowest point in 3 years.

Let me now turn to our program for the future.
 We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the South Vietnamese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces, and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable. This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.

I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program. And there are obvious reasons for this decision which I am sure you will understand. As I have indicated on several occasions, the rate of withdrawal will depend on developments on three fronts.
 ... An announcement of a fixed timetable for our withdrawal would completely remove any incentive for the enemy to negotiate an agreement. They would simply wait until our forces had withdrawn and then move in.

The other two factors on which we will base our withdrawal decisions are the level of enemy activity and the progress of the training programs of the South Vietnamese forces. And I am glad to be able to report tonight progress on both of these fronts has been greater than we anticipated when we started the program in June for withdrawal. As a result, our timetable for withdrawal is more optimistic now than when we made our first estimates in June.

Now, this clearly demonstrates why it is not wise to be frozen in on a fixed timetable.
We must retain the flexibility to base each withdrawal decision on the situation as it is at the time rather than on estimates that are no longer valid.
 Along with this optimistic estimate, I must in all candor leave one note of caution.
 If the level of enemy activity significantly increases we might have to adjust our timetable accordingly.

My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war. -I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.
 Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary, a plan in which we will withdraw all our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom.

It is not the easy way.
 It is the right way. 
It is a plan which will end the war and serve the cause of peace not just in Vietnam but in the Pacific and in the world.
 In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.
Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people.

I recognize that some of my fellow citizens disagree with the plan for peace I have chosen. Honest and patriotic Americans have reached different conclusions as to how peace should be achieved.
.. If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this Nation has no future as a free society.

And now I would like to address a word, if I may, to the young people of this Nation who are particularly concerned, and I understand why they are concerned, about this war.
 I respect your idealism. 
I share your concern for peace.
 I want peace as much as you do.
..But I want to end it in a way which will increase the chance that their younger brothers and their sons will not have to fight in some future Vietnam someplace in the world.

Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism.
Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

As President I hold the responsibility for choosing the best path to that goal and then leading the Nation along it.
I pledge to you tonight that I shall meet this responsibility with all of the strength and wisdom I can command in accordance with your hopes, mindful of your concerns, sustained by your prayers.

Thank you and goodnight.

The Vietnam war ended roughly six years later. In the end we did withdraw “precipitously,” as you can see by the photo on the right.

And what happened? The Vietnamese, North and South, figured things out their own way, and today Vietnam has the fastest growing economy in Asia and hosts some of the most luxurious beach side resorts in the world catering to Europeans and Americans.

Cartoon of the Day

September 11. 2007

History: What a Bitch
(Part – Oh hell, who's counting?)

I listened all day to the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker.

Did I mention before that I'm an old fart? Yep. 62-years old and my memory is still sharp as a tack. So yesterday I could say, with real authority, that I'd been there, done that – all of that – before.

And I'd heard all that before too. They were the rationalizations, self-deceptions and outright lies leaders retreat into when trying to avoid admitting that they got thousands of people killed, and are getting hundreds more killed each day, because they were wrong, and/or made a horrific mistake, and/or miscalculated, overreached.

When such men find themselves in that position their choices comes down to admitting they were wrong, thereby sentencing themselves to the harsh judgement of history, or to just continue letting people die so that "defeat" does not come on their watch.

Without further la de da from me, I give you my President of the United States (circa 1968) – who, as a member of the US Marines, was also my Commander-in-Chief – Lyndon B. Johnson:

Feb 2, 1968 News Conference - In wake of Tet Offensive.
Edited for length.(Full Transcript )

THE PRESIDENT: I do not believe when the American people know the facts, when the world knows the facts, and when the results are laid out for them to examine, I do not believe that they (the insurgent Viet Cong) will achieve a psychological victory. I do not want to be interpreted as unduly optimistic at all. I would rather wait and let the facts speak for themselves because there are many things that one far removed from the scene cannot anticipate. I can only say this: that based on the best military advice that I have, I feel confident that the men will give a good accounting of themselves.

Q: Mr. President, is it possible that these developments in Vietnam that you had outlined, plus the imminence of this major offensive, could lead to deployment of additional American combat troops in Vietnam?

THE PRESIDENT: ....I have not seen the requirement or the necessity, nor have the Joint Chiefs, of making any additional requests to the Congress at this time involving additional authority. It would be desirable, as it was last year, to have legislation a little more generous in one respect or two, or maybe more funds appropriated for military assistance that were reduced.

Q: Sir, do you see anything in the developments this week in these attacks in Vietnam that causes you to think you need to reevaluate some of the assumptions on which our policies, our strategy there has been based? I am thinking in terms of the security ratings, amount of population that is considered under Government control? Do you think the basic assumption is still valid?

THE PRESIDENT: We do that every week....We must do it all the time to try to keep up, and to be sure we have not made errors and mistakes...We see nothing that would require any change of great consequence. We will have to move men from this place to that one. We will have to replace helicopters. Probably we had 100-odd helicopters and planes seriously damaged and we will have to replace them.

Q: Mr. President, do you believe, sir, their winter-spring offensive and their call for an uprising and their attempt to impose a coalition government is based on their belief that they are taking military punishment that they cannot sustain for a long time?
In short, sir, are we still winning the war?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I see nothing in the developments that would indicate that the evaluation that I have had of this situation throughout the month should be changed. I do think that the second phase is imminent. What we have expected is upon us. We have gone through the first phase of it. We will have to see what happens in the second phase. If it comes out as expected, I think I can give you a better answer to your question when it is over with. I do not want to prophesy what is going to happen, although we feel reasonably sure of our strength.

Q: Some people say: Well, that proves they know they are licked and this is their dying gasp. And some people say: Well, it proves that we underestimated their morale. How do you feel, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't read those reports about underestimating all their morale, and their being out of it, and no more problems, and so forth. We do think that we have made good progress there.
As I view history, I think that you have things of this type replete throughout. The fact that people's morale may be suffering and they may be having great difficulty doesn't keep them from breaking glass windows and shooting folks in a store or dashing into your home or trying to assassinate somebody. That goes with it. That is a part of the pattern.

Now whether they are doing this from a position of greater strength or greater weakness--I would say neither. I don't think that they are as weak as you picture them in your straw man that you place up there--that the Government has this feeling. I don't think we feel that way.

I think there are times when a few highly energetic and courageous people could seize National Airport. But, could they hold it? Does it endure? Is it a victory? Do they pay more than it is worth and so on and so forth? Those are the things you have to evaluate.

Now, I am no great strategist and tactician. I know that you are not. But let us assume that the best figures we can have are from our responsible military commanders. They say 10,000 died and we lost 249 and the South Vietnamese lost 500. Now that doesn't look like a Communist victory. I can count. It looks like somebody has paid a very dear price for the temporary encouragement that some of our enemies had.

But General Westmoreland--evaluating this for us and the Joint Chiefs of Staff reviewing it for me--tell me that in their judgment it (the Tet offensive) has not been a military success.

What you just read should be familiar to you by now. It's the kind of rationalizations that kept us in Vietnam for another decade, a time during which nearly 40,000 additional US troops would die.

Politicians dare not say it, but I will: those troops died for nothing. Nothing. George W. Bush keeps saying that history will vindicate this Iraq war. Well, history has completed its review of Johnson/Nixon's Vietnam policies, and concluded that they sent those men and women to their deaths for nothing.

(George W. Bush's own visit to Vietnam as a part of an Asian (all capitalism-all-the-time) economic summit is proof that all the warnings that, if we pulled out, one Asian nation after another would fall -- like “dominos” -- into communist hands.

President Bush Arrives in Vietnam for APEC Summit
NPR: November 17, 2006 · President Bush arrives in Vietnam, the second stop on a three-nation Asian tour that started in Singapore and takes him to Indonesia on Monday. Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The president is in the country to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit with leaders from 21 nations. (Source)

Yes, they – some personal friends of mine – died for nothing in Vietnam.

And today they are dying once again -- for nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. And once again we are hearing the same rationalizations we heard 39 years ago.

On some level evolution is nature's I.Q. test. Species either adapt and learn from their mistakes, or they perish.

History is replete with evidence that the same goes for nations.

News Tidbit of the Day
When their friend and fellow oil man George W. Bush invaded Iraq he promised them that they would pumping black Iraqi gold within months. The Hunt Brothers got tired of waiting and went around Baghdad and cut their own deal with the Kurds, who sit on the only oil assets secure enough to pump. Big Oil will not be denied.
(P.S. To George. Don't call us. We'll call you. Hunt Oil)

Hunt Oil Cuts Deal on Oil With Kurds

The Associated Press -- Monday, September 10, 2007

VIENNA, Austria: An agreement announced this weekend between U.S.-based Hunt Oil Co. and the self-ruled Kurdish administration of northern Iraq to explore for oil is illegal, Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani said Monday.

Those comments underscore the central government's view that exploration contracts with foreign companies should be signed only after the adoption of a new national oil law, which has been stalled for months.

"Any oil deal has no standing as far as the government of Iraq is concerned," al-Shahristani said as he arrived for an OPEC meeting in Vienna. "All these contracts have to be approved by the Federal Authority before they are legal. This (contract) was not presented for approval. It has no standing."

Hunt Oil, a privately held independent oil company, and the Kurdish regional government said Saturday they had signed a production-sharing contract for petroleum exploration in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Terms were not disclosed.

Dallas, Texas-based Hunt declined to comment Monday.

The deal is one of several the Kurds have signed with foreign oil companies in the past few years and the first since they put their own oil law into effect in August.

These deals have angered Baghdad, but the Kurdish region appears determined to advance oil exploration in the three-province area they govern in northern Iraq, as Iraq's long-delayed federal oil law remains hobbled by disagreements — among others, about the control of revenues.

Despite Iraq's vast oil reserves, major international companies have sat on the sidelines, not only for security reasons but because of the absence of legislation governing the industry and offering protection for investments.

September 5, 2007

A Clear and Present Danger

Way the hell back in 1992 I wrote a long magazine piece detailing George W. Bush's alleged business successes. (See here) The bottom line of the piece was that George was a made man – made rich through a series of incestuous deals arranged by his daddy's friends.

That article told voters and the media everything they needed to know about George W. Bush – everything they needed to know the kind of President he would be if elected.

Voters elected him anyway (well, appointed once and elected once to be precise) and the rest is history. It will take decades for the GOP to repair the damage this one man had done to their party, and the rest of us decades more to repair the damage he has done to America and and the world.

But I am not here today to beat that horse again. Instead I am hoping that the voters – this time Democratic voters – learned something about weighing a candidate's character before they vote for him – or her.

The "her," in this case, meaning Hillary Clinton. Like George W. Bush there's plenty of data out there for those paying attention, and much of it more than hints at the kind of President Hillary would be should they be foolish enough to elect her to that post.

In many ways – too many ways – Hillary is – (physiology aside) – George W. Bush.

Today I offer two pieces of evidence to support that startling claim. First this, which landed in my email box yesterday:

My encounter with Hillary's people.

I'd just like to relate a recent incident that speaks to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and those who support and advocate for her. At the Rally in Portsmouth, NH on Labor Day Weekend, Clinton
Campaign workers, with the help of local police, prohibited me from entering the Rally area because I carried an anti-war sign.

On Sunday, September 2nd, the day of the Clinton Rally in Portsmouth, I went downtown with a sign that read "No first strike on Iran" and on the other side "Stop the Killing." The Clinton Campaign had taken over a large area of Pleasant Street from State Street to Market Square and claimed large areas of the public sidewalks as well. I stood in the Square for over an hour as people assembled for the Rally.

When people were permitted to enter the rally areas, I started to walk in with them. I was stopped by Clinton Campaign workers who told me that no signs were permitted. I'd have to leave my sign outside the rally area.

I am a thirty-year resident of Portsmouth, a member of the anti-war movement, and NH Coordinator for Codepink: Women for Peace. Whether you agree with my politics or not, this is still supposed to be a
Democracy--or more accurately a Republic with democratic ideals. I know that this is not what the Constitution says about my rights of free speech. I challenged them. I was certain that there would be
pro-Hillary signs permitted in the rally zone.

They would not permit me to go forward. I asked them to send a policeman over for me to talk to and (a detective) showed up and informed me, I have since found out erroneously, that the Clinton
campaign had a permit for a "no-sign zone" and that I would have to leave. Not wanting to be arrested, I said that I would comply with his request but that I needed to assert my Constitutional Right of Free Speech. I was required to leave under threat of arrest. I did so.

Now if any of you have seen photos of this event, you will clearly understand my chagrin when you see the Pro-Hillary signs all over the Rally's designated "NO SIGNS" area.

Tuesday morning, I called City Hall and inquired as to the specifications of the Rally permit. Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko said that there was no such restriction in the permit that
was issued to the Clinton Campaign, that they were required to permit entry to anyone who wanted to come in and he and City Attorney Robert Sullivan both said that I had every right to have been on public property with my sign.

I listened from outside the barricades and heard Hillary Clinton speak, more than once, to restoring the Constitution, and later, to not making anyone invisible. She spoke to the private-club, ownership society of the Bush Administration. I think, from her campaign's actions, that she might belong to the same club.

So what does this say to you about the Hillary Clinton campaign and those who support and advocate for her candidacy?

Sadly, I know what it says to me.

Barbara H.

Okay, what's that say about Hillary? If you are intellectually honest you will have to conclude that it says the same thing about her, and the people she has chosen to surround her, as what this says about George W. Bush and the people around him.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters
August 22, 2007: Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any. A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.
Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out. (Full)

Democracy – the real kind as opposed to the purely rhetorical – is rambunctious. It must be. Public officials and candidates who fear unscripted, non-choreographed public events are not democrats (small “d.”) They cannot possible lead people, half or more of whom, they fear.

I've said it before and I'll say it again – Hillary Clinton will do to the Democratic Party what George W. Bush has done to the GOP. Also I suspect-- strongly -- that a Hillary Clinton presidency would set back women in high office in ways hard to predict, yet entirely predictable.

I promised two things. Here's the other.

Hillary's Prayer: Hillary Clinton's Religion and Politics
September/October 2007
MotherJones Magazine

It was an elegant example of the Clinton style, a rhetorical maneuver subtle, bold, and banal all at once. During a Democratic candidate forum in June, hosted by the liberal evangelical group Sojourners, Hillary Clinton fielded a softball query about Bill's infidelity: How had her faith gotten her through the Lewinsky scandal?

Clinton's prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or "the Family"), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to "spiritual war" on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship's only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has "made a fetish of being invisible," former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan.

Yep. That's right... and I mean “right” in both real and political ways. You have to read the entire 4-page article to get the full effect, so when you're done with me, pop over and read the Mojo piece. Because, just like the piece I wrote way back in 1992 about George W. Bush in the same venue, it's a warning, clear, present and looming.

Here's my take on the Hillary/God stuff. There are only two possible explanations for Hillary's prayer group – and choice of prayer groupies – and neither explanation is reassuring.

1) It's just another Hillary political calculation formed with fellow conservative-leaning Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) members who have been preaching the need for Dems to “get closer to people of faith,” in order to lure evangelicals into the Democratic camp.


2) Hillary Clinton actually believes all that evangelical nonsense, meaning she'd be another president who believes she was chosen by heavenly spirits.

If voters insist on voting for Hillary Clinton they may well deserve what the get. The trouble is the rest of us don't deserve that, just as we didn't deserve what the entirely predictable George W. Bush has burdened us, and the world, with.

You are being warned, not by me, but by readily available information. Ignore it at your own risk. Just don't drag the rest of us along, again.

September 4, 2007

"No Bailout for Speculators"

(My Three Sons)

I don't know why I bother reminding people about these kind of things. Its never done any good before, and it won't make a bit of difference this time either.

But I must, if for no other reason, so my own head doesn't explode.

So here we go again – more proof that America has become a land with two sets of rules. One set for “them” and one for the rest of us.

One of “them” -- George W. Bush – commented last week on the nation's mounting mortgage mess. He noted that lots of innocent folk bought houses with mortgages that should never have been made and now over 2.5 million face foreclosure. He offered to help 80,000 of them. (The other other 2.49 odd million are on their own.)

But – and he was firm on this -- he not going to lift a finger to bailout reckless lenders or greedy speculators:

“The Federal government will not bail out lenders -- because that would only make a recurrence of the problem more likely. And it is not the government's job to bail out speculators, or those who made the decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford.” (Full)

What? Hey, George, why this sudden change of heart, dude? There was a time, not all that long ago, when the Bush family not only welcomed lender and speculator bailouts, but encouraged them. In fact – and I am not going out on a limb here either -- nearly every dime in the coffers of George and his two siblings, Jeb and Neil, is the fruit of one bailout or another, some of them funded by you and me.

Let's review. Since this is an old story, I will be mercifully brief.

Jeb Bush:
Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. Federal banking regulators, then working for Bush's dad, forgave over $4 million, accepting just what they could get the building when they sold it at a foreclosure sale. Jeb Bush and his partner never had to repay the balance. (More on Jeb's other highly questionable buisness deals here.)

Who paid the Broward Savings money back to Uncle Sam? Well you did, silly.

Neil Bush:
Neil Bush may be the Rainman of the Bush clan, but he redefined the term “conflict of interest" after he was named a director of Silverado Savings and Loan in Denver. It was 1985 and Neil was just 30.

First Neil received a $100,000 "loan" from friend and business partner, Ken Good, of Good International. It was not the kind of loan you or I would get, since there was no contract requiring Neil to repay the money, and he never did. It was, in reality, a bribe.

At the same time Ken Good purchased a large number of shares in Neil Bush's oil exploration company JNB Explorations, a company that never found a drop of oil. Neil then encouraged Silverado S&L to approve Good International for a $900,000 line of credit. The two men kept their business relationship secret.

When buying more stock in JNB got dicey, Good funneled more bribes to Neil disguised as “salary, bonuses and consulting fees.”

But it didn't end there. Eventually Good, with Neil's help, was able to squeezed over $32 million in loans out of the thrift. Neither man bothered to mention that Good kicked back $3 million from those loans to Neil through Good, of course, defaulted on the entire $32 million in loans.

You repaid that money too.

But wait, there's more. Neil had another friend in need, Denver wheeler-dealer, Bill Walters. Neil helped Walters bag $106 million in Silverado loans. And, like Ken Good, Walters returned the favor by investing some of those millions into JNB.

Once again Neil never disclosed his business relationships with Walters, Oh, and guess what? You repaid the $106 million Walter's borrowed from Silverado.

Just 36 months after the youngest of the Bush siblings arrived at Silverado the joint was insolvent. You bailed those investors out too. Your tab that time -- $1.6 billion.

(Neil was forced to leave a small tip though. He was charged with wrongdoing but was allowed to settle out of court for $50,000. When investigators asked Neil whether he thought it was strange or suspicious to have Ken Good just forgive the $100,000 loan, Neil looked puzzled, paused and then answered, "Sir, no I didn't think it was strange. It happens all the time." During one hearing a defense psychologist described Neil as suffering from a kind of “ethical disability.”)

George W. Bush, the man who last week thumped the podium and scowled at the very notion of bailing out “speculators,” is himself the product of such a long string of bailouts that I can only refer you to a long piece I wrote years ago that lists them in painful detail. You can read all about those deals here.

Or you can just be satisfied with my assurance that George W. Bush never made a nickel doing anything you and I would call "real work." Every one of his companies was a failure, and every one of his companies made him tons of dough.

Every dime G.W. Bush made was either the direct product or byproduct of bailouts financed by Bush family friends, confidants, toadies and sycophants. Every dime ... culminating in Bush's “purchase” and resale of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

I only mention all this to put Bush's comments last week in the context the mainstream media refuses to mention.

G.W. Bush is now against bailing out speculators. He figures they took their chances and deserve their knocks. His demeanor seemed to evidence that he understands that speculators are predatory creatures and deserve to take a beating when their greed spills over and causes trouble in the larger economy. Bad speculators! Bad. No fruit cup and bailouts for you.

And, if anyone would know a bailout of seedy speculators when they see one, it would be a Bush.