S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Ask Americans if they care. It's unfortunate, but people are not going to care. I bet Bush could light a fart at a funeral and Americans would not care. He lies constantly, and I'm waiting for a Presidential candidate to call Bush a liar, point blank, a LIAR. Whoever calls Bush a LIAR, L-I-A-R, is getting my vote in the New York primary next March. I know some Democrat must want my vote... Or do they want me to go Green?!

This story is from the Guardian of London, We will see how long it takes the New York Times to cover a story on these "Waldorf Transcripts" THAT WERE TAKEN IN NEW YORK 10 FRIGGIN' BLOCKS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES!! YET! The Guardian, 3,500 Miles away covers this story. Oh boy...

Secret transcript revealed

Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday May 31, 2003
The Guardian

Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned.
Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5.

The meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation.

The foreign secretary reportedly expressed concern that claims being made by Mr Blair and President Bush could not be proved. The problem, explained Mr Straw, was the lack of corroborative evidence to back up the claims.

Much of the intelligence were assumptions and assessments not supported by hard facts or other sources.

Mr Powell shared the concern about intelligence assessments, especially those being presented by the Pentagon's office of special plans set up by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.

Mr Powell said he had all but "moved in" with US intelligence to prepare his briefings for the UN security council, according to the transcripts.

But he told Mr Straw he had come away from the meetings "apprehensive" about what he called, at best, circumstantial evidence highly tilted in favour of assessments drawn from them, rather than any actual raw intelligence.

Mr Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".

What are called the "Waldorf transcripts" are being circulated in Nato diplomatic circles. It is not being revealed how the transcripts came to be made; however, they appear to have been leaked by diplomats who supported the war against Iraq even when the evidence about Saddam Hussein's programme of weapons of mass destruction was fuzzy, and who now believe they were lied to.

People circulating the transcripts call themselves "allied sources supportive of US war aims in Iraq at the time".


This is from the New York Times, I hope its not a fabrication, not that I think it is, I'm just saying...

WASHINGTON, May 30 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today fiercely defended the intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify war against Iraq, saying he spent several late nights poring over the Central Intelligence Agency's reports because he knew the credibility of the country and the president were at stake.


With only 13 percent of American workers now represented by unions — the lowest level in six decades — organized labor is looking to a new effort to unionize. . .

But that new drive, by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, known as Unite, will not be easy: like many other companies, Cintas is aggressively battling unionization. Its executives maintain that a union will bring antagonism to the ranks and undermine profits, growth and a spirit of cooperation.

The new and improved Gilded Age. The difference between the Gilded Age in between the Civil War (aka the War of Yankee Aggression) and the Spanish-American War, is that nobody knows who those presidents were, and it really made little difference since government had very little power. Now, the government is very powerful, via high taxes, central decision making and networking abilities and the tools of regulation and taxation (or lack thereof for big businesses).

This Progressive fight for unionization, a decent wage and a decent standard of living must be fought against the robber barrons AND the government, all power, all the time.

Friday, May 30, 2003

The brilliant Paul Krugman writes:

Administration officials are now playing down the whole W.M.D. issue. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, recently told Vanity Fair that the decision to emphasize W.M.D.'s had been taken for "bureaucratic reasons . . . because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

For the time being, the public doesn't seem to care — or even want to know. A new poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes finds that 41 percent of Americans either believe that W.M.D.'s have been found, or aren't sure. The program's director suggests that "some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance." And three-quarters of the public thinks that President Bush showed strong leadership on Iraq.

Meanwhile, the administration has just derived considerable political advantage from a war waged on false premises. At best, that sets a very bad precedent. At worst. . . . "You want to win this election, you better change the subject. You wanna change this subject, you better have a war," explains Robert DeNiro's political operative in "Wag the Dog." "It's show business."

You're marvelous Paul Krugman!



Via Atrios (Link below on the right), we took a look at a table of federal taxation vs. expenditures for the states in the year 2001. We thought we'd map that, and compare it with how each state voted in the Electoral College in 2000. It's not a perfect correlation, but generally speaking Bush's support comes from "smaller Federal government" states that, ironically, get more from Uncle Sam than they give...

Why don't the Republican states demand that they stop receiving Federal money that's being siphoned away from other states? Aren't they against redistribution of wealth?


This is a brilliant compilation put together by a blogger much superior to yours truly, that is of course Billmon, friends. We watch them first say things before the war like...

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there." (Ari Fleischer, January 9, 2003)

They also say:

We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have. (President Bush, February 8, 2003)

And not to be left out:

There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them. (General Tommy Franks, March 22, 2003)

But there's also this:

We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat. (Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003)


We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so. (President Bush, May 3, 2003)

We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country. (Don Rumsfeld, May 4, 2003)

U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction. (Condoleeza Rice, May 12, 2003)


I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden. (Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne, May 13, 2003)

They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer. (Don Rumsfeld, May 27, 2003)

Ohhh don't ya Donnie? Except I think ya dooo. So why'd we invade Iraq again?

For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on. (Neo-Conservative Ueber hawk Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003)

I'm glad you guys agreed...

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Once again, Bush pulls a fast one that the politickos on the left don't even discover until after the law is passed! Incidentally, one thing that Democrats were not thinking about when they passed a tax bill with a five year sunset is that whether the Democrats would subsequently "raise" taxes would become the big Republican issue in the next two national election cycles in 2004 and 2006. The Democrats have never neglected an opportunity to screw themselves over politically, why should they start now? This article is by David Firestone from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 28 — A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure, say Congressional officials and outside groups.

Most taxpayers will receive a $400-a-child check in the mail this summer as a result of the law, which raises the child tax credit, to $1,000 from $600.

But after studying the bill approved on Friday, liberal and child advocacy groups discovered that a different group of families would also not benefit from the $400 increase — families who make just above the minimum wage.

Because of the formula for calculating the credit, most families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 will not benefit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, says those families include 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17.

"I don't know why they would cut that out of the bill," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who persuaded the full Senate to send the credit to many more low income families before the provision was dropped in conference. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most. These are the people who buy the blue jeans and the detergent and who will stimulate the economy with their spending."

Families with incomes lower than $10,500 will also not receive the refund checks. But under the 2001 tax revision, they would not have been eligible for either the $600 or the $1,000 credits because they do not pay federal taxes. Proposals to give them the credits failed on the House and Senate floors on party-line votes.

So the Republicans voted AGAINST giving a tax break to poor people, in other words. That's outrageous, but read the excuses:

Several centrist senators worked hard to make the child credit fully refundable for all low income families, and the full Senate voted this month to include a provision that would have included the minimum-wage families. But the provision was dropped in the House-Senate conference, where tax writers spent days trying to cram many tax cuts — most prominently, cuts in the taxes on stock dividends and capital gains — into a bill that the Senate said could not be larger than $350 billion.

"The Senate preferred to have $20 billion in state aid," [noted a spokeswoman for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, Christin Tinsworth]. "But when we had to squeeze it all to $350 billion, they weren't talking about the child credits. This bill does a lot to help people who need help. But its primary purpose was to generate jobs. Apparently, whatever we do is not going to be enough for some segments of the population."

"I guess this shows us what our priorities are," Senator Lincoln said.

"To govern is to choose." -President Kennedy...

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Rumsfeld has expressed optimism that it is just a matter of time, and interviewing enough senior Iraqi scientists and former government officials, before military teams uncover the illicit arms that President George W. Bush cited as a major reason for attacking Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein's government.

While Rumsfeld repeated that assertion Tuesday, he added, "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict." Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, now in northern Iraq, mentioned the same possibility two weeks ago.

SURE. Ricardo told you last month, when the New York Times reported that a General in the field suggested that Iraq had destroyed the weapons before the conflict that when it became apparent that no weapons were to be found they would just trot into the open this lie that Iraq destroyed the weapons a couple of days before the conflict. Boy oh boy. Here's his post:


In today's issue of the New York Times a scientist says that he worked with Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. He says that the Iraqis destroyed them days before the war. If Iraq destroyed the weapons, why would their government let war take place anyway? This is the dumbest propaganda piece coming from this government, by way of the handy New York Times...

WITH THE 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION, south of Baghdad, Iraq, April 20 ? A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.

They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs.

This is insulting, these guys in the Bush administration think everybody is soo stupid as to believe that Iraq would destroy their weapons DAYS before the war and then not tell anybody, just let the bombs fly, and the tanks roll in. Everybody always wondered how they would account for the fact that they found no weapons at all, well here's the answer, from now on the Bushies are going to say that Iraq destroyed it before the war. I can't wait for the explanations of WHY Iraq would do such a thing, but just wait.... Over and out. -Ric


The Republicans are trying to sell media deregulation as a free-market reform, but it is not. This is a fascist state-capitalist reform, in which the government is using its power to favor the most powerful sectors of a particular industry. Benito Mussilini, the most eminent authority on fascism, said that fascism would be more appropriately called corporatism because fascism is the merger of state and corporate power. The FCC is simply using its government authority to empower large media corporations who have given Bush a pass on its entire political agenda. The roll of the media in the view of these people is no longer to inform, educate and entertain all Americans throughout the spectrum of political, social thoughts or other tastes, but it is becoming more than ever, another means for a small minority of rich people to make more money.

So now Powell is coming with scare tactics, telling us that free television is doomed if the rules don't change if we don't allow these companies to buy out all of the family owned companies, the small companies, the alternative companies (BET has already been bought out, Telemundo and Univision are next). But Powell's thinking is counter intuitive, it doesn't make sense, he's in effect saying that there's no middle ground between the existence of free television, and the broadcast companies owning everything. Don't they already own enough?!?!?!

WASHINGTON (AP) - Keeping current media ownership rules in place could squeeze the broadcast networks and drive them to end free TV, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said Tuesday, campaigning for the changes he favors.

Another Federal Communications Commission member said the changes Powell wants will lead to ``more sensationalism, more crassness,'' more sameness and less serious news coverage.

Powell said adjustments are needed to reflect a market changed by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet. He also said if the FCC fails to act, outdated rules will be swept away by court challenges.

``What I worry about is that all of the rules will be eliminated - not by us, but a judicial regime,'' he said. ``If you don't do surgery on this patient, it is going to die. Free over-the-air TV is going to die. The rules are going to die.''

Critics say altering the decades-old rules governing ownership of newspapers and TV and radio stations will kick off a merger frenzy and put a few corporations in control of what people watch, read and hear.

``We are on the eve of the most sweeping and potentially destructive overhaul of the FCC's media rules in the history of media broadcasting,'' Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said. More mergers, he said, will ``spell more sensationalism, more crassness, homogenization and even less serious news coverage than we have today.''

Powell agreed that some limits are needed. He said the FCC's new rules will protect competition and diverse and local viewpoints while permitting beneficial mergers.

BENEFICIAL MEDIA MERGERS?! AOL TimeWarner is falling apart because of its stupid merger, making it the biggest media organization in the world. These Republicans, including the free market anarchists like Powell have such a poor sense of history. They don't understand that limits are not put into place to obstruct capitalism, but to save it; that to have one owner of all media companies is as bad as having one dictator. Another Powell lie, is the notion that there's a risk to the free broadcast media (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, UPN, WB, FOX). This idea is ludicrous!! These television organizations have received more money in advance advertisement revenues than they have at ANY POINT IN THEIR HISTORY, Powell is just blowing smoke...

He argued that restrictions currently in place make it harder for broadcasters to compete with cable and satellite in sports broadcasting, for instance. ``I don't think people who have $60 to $80 a month should be the only ones who see the sports season, which is increasingly the case in America.''

Adelstein disagreed with Powell's reasoning, saying, ``Free over-the-air television is alive and well.''

``Is it the job of the FCC to make sure every big television network in this country makes a lot of money?'' he said. ``I think our first job is to make sure the American people get a diversity of viewpoints.''


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

That was the cover story of last week's issue of Time. People are wondering, "Where's my RAISE?" That's at least what this story alleges. It's a wonder that this story is getting play NOW, an author named Kevin Phillips wrote a book called WEALTH AND DEMOCRACY (by the way, READ THAT BOOK) that has documented the reduction of middle class and working class wages in the United States over the course of the last 25 years. But now that the elite UPPER middle class is being hit by this trend, and they are beginning to understand that it is not past the ueber rich to scam their upper middle class deputies out of some money, TIME magazine has to write about it. Economists and everybody at the Wall Street Journal knows that this has been a trend in middle America since the late 1970s, surely economists knew that this was a trend by the end of the 1980s. Liberal economic groups and many moderate, centrist economic policy groups have noted that the income disparities between rich and poor have worsened, and poor and middle class people have continually seen their salaries decrease in the face of the ballooning of CEO and ueber wealthy's salaries. This is nothing new, I think TIME steps up to the plate a little bit late...

My critique is not to say that this is a bad article written in TIME. God knows there have probably been capable and diligent journalists who hav eunderstood in the past that a story like this has been necessary for a long time. A matter of fact, this story has probably nudged forward my personal suspicioun of NAFTA the World Trade Organization and the concept of free trade to begin with...

Everyone knows about unemployment. But millions of working Americans are now facing a less familiar and perhaps more troubling problem: shrinking wages. It's a phenomenon that takes many forms. Other [people] have lost their jobs and, in the tough labor market of today, have had to settle for new ones at less pay. Still others—including employees at such giants as AT&T, Boise Cascade and Starwood Hotels—have had to accept pay freezes that, when rising prices are factored in, amount to reduced compensation. To add insult to injury, companies everywhere are reducing bonuses and overtime and eroding health and pension benefits.

The numbers are grim. For the 500,000 workers laid off since January, the average job search has stretched to a 19-year high of nearly five months—about twice the duration of the typical severance package. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 17% of those who do find work—nearly double the historical percentage—are settling for less pay.

Wage erosion partly explains why the Federal Reserve Board openly frets about the threat of deflation, a downward spiral in prices that can cripple an economy by making debt repayment more difficult and encouraging consumers to wait for even lower prices.

But there is an unsettling permanence to the falling-wage trend, as companies hold the line on compensation so they can compete in an increasingly global economy in which low costs are key to survival. The ugly truth, which you won't hear on the campaign trail, is that even as economic growth picks up—as it surely will—there isn't a lot Washington can do to encourage employers to hand out more raises.

Cost pressures will be so intense during the next expansion, business experts say, that companies are likely to stick to their guns. They will outsource more work—including skilled and white-collar tasks—to cheaper labor markets. They will embrace pay-for-performance schemes, which generally reward only the top-ranked workers at each wage level. And they will shift more of the costs and risks of illness and retirement to workers, especially in steel and other heavy industries.


One job title defying the trend is CEO: pay for chief executives rose 15% in 2002, according to Equilar, a firm that studies CEO compensation. That amounts to about 200 times the pay of the average worker, up from 56 times in 1989, according to the Journal of Economic Issues. Nowhere is this disparity starker than in the audacious pension guarantees and bonuses proposed for top executives at struggling AMR, parent of American Airlines. The carrier recently asked the unions representing its machinists, flight attendants and pilots for $9 billion in wage givebacks and other concessions over five years to keep the jets flying.

Captain Mike Leone, a veteran pilot, took a 23% pay cut and has canceled plans to buy a new house. "We're just glad to have a job," says Leone. Meanwhile, the brass at AMR quietly landed pension guarantees worth $41 million—benefits that, unlike those of the workers, will be protected even if AMR goes bankrupt. Succumbing to public pressure, AMR backed off on another issue: its proposed "retention" bonuses for top executives. A flap over that cost CEO Donald Carty his job. But the executive pensions remain in place.

I say that money is like matter and energy in chemistry--There is a finite amount of it, it can be neither created nor destroyed just changed. Money is not destroyed in recession times, the money from the bubble was an illusion, and the money average people are missing has simply changed hands from the middle class majority to the ueber rich, its as simple as that. And what the American majority is going to learn the hard way, I think, is that either their wages are going drop like a rock or their jobs are going to go elsewhere...

Michael Tucker, 49, fumes when he thinks about computer programmers overseas working for $20,000 a year—"and to them, that's good money." He was making $80,000 a year at a programming job in Chapel Hill, N.C., before Temtec USA laid him off last October in a broad cost-cutting move. He says he is finished with tech and moans that "computer programmers are the textile workers of the future."

He may be right. It is becoming easier and easier for U.S. companies to outsource not just knife production but also such highly paid tasks as software development and financial research. Financial-services companies in the U.S. say they expect to transfer 500,000 jobs, or 8% of industry employment, to foreign countries over the next five years, according to management consultants A.T. Kearney. Why?

To these industry executives, people are simply costs, they're not people, that they, their families, and their communities have needs is of no consequence to them, especially if they can't make money off of their employees' work, families and communities...

A call-center employee earns $20,000 a year in the U.S. but only $2,500 in India. And overseas cable costs have fallen as much as 80% since 1999. At the higher end, a researcher with a few years of experience might earn $250,000 on Wall Street, compared with $20,000 in India. Those sorts of savings are expected to help the U.S. financial industry cut annual costs $30 billion a year by 2008, according to A.T. Kearney.

U.S. technology companies are also sending a great deal of work overseas. They now pay foreign firms $10 billion a year to handle data entry, analysis, customer service and computer programming—saving themselves many multiples of what they would pay if the work were done in the U.S., says Andrew Dailey, partner of JetStream Group, a San Francisco technology consultancy. More software writing is taking place overseas, particularly in India, Dailey says, where the highly educated, English-speaking work force competes on quality as well as cost.

Underlying the trend is a fundamental shift in how employers view their work force. In the old way of thinking, employees were an investment, like factories or land, says Robert Reich, former U.S. Labor Secretary and now a professor at Brandeis University. Adding workers was a major expense, and cutting them was a decision not taken lightly or often. Today, like copper ore or cotton bales or computer-memory chips, most employees are regarded as commodities to be stockpiled or shed as business warrants. Technology not only allows fewer people to do the jobs of many; it also allows their skills to be taught fairly quickly anywhere in the world. So experience and the investments that companies have made in training count less. Most companies, Reich says, "have started to think of wages as a variable rather than a fixed cost."

This is the real world. The guys in Washington have their paychecks, they just gave themselves a raise last year. They better understand that REAL people are losing work and the ability to determine the fate of their own lives, REAL people, REAL AMERICANS are losing opportunities that existed here just a few years ago. I have to say that after reading an article written in the mainstream corporate media, this is the very first time I actually understood why the left-wing activists who protested in Seattle and Milan are so against the World Trade Organization and things like NAFTA; THIS IS A BIG PICTURE, LONG TERM ISSUE, AND IS NOT SIMPLY AN ISSUE OF POLITICAL OPINION BUT OF NATIONAL SURVIVAL, OF THE SURVIVAL OF CAPITALISM AND THE SURVIVAL OF OUR STANDARD OF LIVING AND WAY OF LIFE, JUST FOR A FEW RICH EXECUTIVES TO CUT COSTS A LITTLE FOR THE SAKE OF A MEANINGLESS TRANSITION FROM BEING UEBER RICH TO BEING RICHER THAN GOD...

You can read the rest of this article at TIME.com or you can simply buy the magazine or click the title link as long as it still works on the TIME website...


Last Friday's print issue of the Wall Street Journal provides the most comprehensive analysis of the "$350 Billion" tax cut I've seen in a newspaper. Here are some of the points that it raises, virtually spinless...

The bill's centerpiece cuts to 15% the top rate on dividends and capital gains.

The measure should give a short term boost to the economy.

It would drive up deficits and short term interest rates.

[It would] likely widen the income gap between rich and poor.

More to come...


The measure (of course) is meeting sanctimonious American criticism. The American critics favor stiff marijuana penalties that have resulted in millions of teenaged stoners being thrown in prison with murderers, rapists and gangsters (aka actual criminals). Every year 800,000 Americans are arrested for possession of marijuana...

TORONTO... U.S. officials have warned the move could lead to tighter border security to prevent more Canadian-grown marijuana from entering the country.

Under the measure introduced in Parliament, getting caught with 15 grams - about half an ounce - or less of marijuana would bring a citation akin to a traffic ticket, not a criminal record.

Monday, May 26, 2003

This is by Linda McQuaig:

But Bush's fighter-plane landing on the deck of a U.S. battleship earlier this month, and his emergence from the cockpit in combat gear and mussed-up hair, was even more stage-managed (right down to the soft-tone sunset lighting and the "Mission Accomplished" backdrop sign perfectly angled for TV viewers). As for laughable, it's hard to outdo Bush — who went AWOL from the National Guard during the Vietnam War — strutting around the ship in full battle regalia, carrying his own helmet (I guess there wasn't anybody available to carry it for him.)

the American media largely treated the Bush photo-op as a serious event, if not a nation-building moment. (One had to seek out obscure Web sites to find questions like: Wasn't that a sock stuffed down the front of the president's combat pants?)

Only an administration supremely confident of the media's docility would have risked staging an event like that, leaving Bush open to ridicule from any media outlet that saw its role as more than simply being a chronicler of Tales of Fearless Leaders.

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