Tuesday, March 18, 2008

MARTIN FLETCHER, AWARD-WINNING CORRESPONDENT ON OUR SHOW




Award Winning Foreign Correspondent Guests on Basham & Cornell Radio Show...
On Thursday March 20, 2008, Martin Fletcher will be the guest on the Basham & Cornell Radio Show, heard weekday mornings at 8 a.m. on 1230 AM KLAV in Las Vegas.

Martin Fletcher is one of the most respected foreign correspondents in television news. He has covered almost every conflict and natural disaster in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for thirty-five years, winning five Emmys, a Columbia University Dupont Award, several Overseas Press Club awards, and a cameraman’s award from Britain’s Royal Society of television. Fletcher and his wife, Hagar, have raised three sons. He is currently based in Israel, where he is NBC News bureau chief in Tel Aviv.

Fletcher describes his growth from clueless adventurer to grizzled veteran of the world’s battlefields. His working philosophy of “Get in, get close, get out, get a drink,” put him repeatedly in harm’s way, but he never lost sight of why he did it. In a world obsessed with celebrities, leaders, and wealth, Fletcher took a different route: he focused on those left behind, those paying the price. He answers the question: Why should we care?

These extraordinary, real-life adventure stories each examine different dilemmas facing a foreign correspondent. Can you eat the food of a warlord, who stole it from the starving? Do you listen politely to a terrorist threatening to blow up your children? Do you ask the tough questions of a Khmer Rouge killer, knowing he is your only ticket out of the Cambodian jungle? And above all, how do you stay sane faced with so much pain?

“Martin Fletcher has given us a stunning and memorable account of the risks, rewards, complexities, and enduring lessons of reporting from some of the most dangerous places in the world. His family’s Holocaust history frames his own eloquent insights and questions about the madness of the world that followed. I’ve known and admired Martin for more than thirty years, and this book makes me proud to call him friend and colleague.” - Tom Brokaw


How to Use the Rebate

As you may have heard the Bush Administration said each and every one of us would now get a nice rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China. If we spend it on gasoline it will all go to the Arabs, if we purchase a computer it will all go to India, if we purchase fruit and vegetables it will all go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatamala, if we purchase a good car it will all go to Japan, ifwe purchase useless crap it will all go to Taiwan and none of it will
help the American economy , which is the whole purpose of the rebate.

We need to keep that money here in America, so the only way to keep that money here at home is to buy prostitutes and beer, since those are the only businesses still in the US.

>

I was blown away by Obama's beautiful, uniting speech today. In every adversity is the seed of healing, or out of every bad thing can come something good. In his comments about Reverend Wright's hateful statements, he acted as a true Christian would: hate the sin, but love the sinner. The redemptive value of Obama's humility teaches us all to stop focusing on mistakes, petty minutiae and the foibles of mere humans — and instead focus on how to heal the hurt underlying all of our anger: Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, male, female. I especially loved that he brought up the "glass cieling" that women cannot seem to break through.

FROM BARACK OBAMA'S SPEECH ON RACE:
"I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one."


THIS WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH

146 comments:

  1. Happy Palm Sunday, St. Patty's Day, Maundy Thursday, Easter and Passover
    xoxo

    Let's stop watching the news for awhile and send good vibes toward our Party -- and let's remember John McCain is on a taxpayer funded trip to London with Lindsay Graham, where he is having a $2300 a plate luncheon to FUNDRAISE FOR HIS CAMPAIGN!!

    Isn't this illegal?

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  2. BAAWAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHHAAAHA

    damn....that kid was funny.

    holy crap

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  3. That kid is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Close your eyes and listen to that and tell me it doesnt sound just like the "Idiot in Chief"

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  4. yea cept the kid sounds smarter.

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  5. JPMorgan to Buy Bear for $2 a Share
    By JOE BEL BRUNO and MADLEN READ,

    AP
    Posted: 2008-03-17 01:22:37
    NEW YORK (AP) - Just four days after Bear Stearns Chief Executive Alan Schwartz assured Wall Street that his company was not in trouble, he was forced on Sunday to sell the investment bank to competitor JPMorgan Chase for a bargain-basement price of $2 a share, or $236.2 million.

    The stunning last-minute buyout was aimed at averting a Bear Stearns bankruptcy and a spreading crisis of confidence in the global financial system sparked by the collapse in the subprime mortgage market. Bear Stearns was the most exposed to risky bets on the loans; it is now the first major bank to be undone by that market's collapse.

    The Federal Reserve and the U.S. government swiftly approved the all-stock buyout, showing the urgency of completing the deal before world markets opened. The Fed also essentially made the takeover risk-free by saying it would guarantee up to $30 billion of the troubled mortgage and other assets that got the nation's fifth-largest investment bank into trouble.

    "This is going to go down in very historic terms," said Peter Dunay, chief investment strategist for New York-based Meridian Equity Partners. "This is about credit being overextended, and how bad it is for major financial institutions and for individuals. This is why we're probably heading into a recession."

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it will guarantee all business - such as trading and investment banking - until Bear Stearns' shareholders approve the deal, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter. The acquisition includes Bear Stearns' midtown Manhattan headquarters.

    JPMorgan Chief Financial Officer Michael Cavanagh did not say what would happen to Bear Stearns' 14,000 employees worldwide or whether the 85-year-old Bear Stearns name would live on after surviving the Great Depression, World War II and a slew of recessions. He told analysts and investors on a conference call that JPMorgan was most interested in buying Bear Stearns' prime brokerage business, which completes trades for big investors such as hedge funds.

    At almost the same time as the deal for control of Bear Stearns was announced, the Federal Reserve said it approved a cut in its lending rate to banks to 3.25 percent from 3.50 percent and created another lending facility for big investment banks. The central bank's official meeting is on Tuesday. Before the emergency move to lower the discount rate, which is the rate at which banks lend each other money, the Fed was widely expected to again cut its headline rate by as much as a full point to 2 percent.

    "Having taking Bear Stearns out of the problem category, and the strong action by the Federal Reserve, we would anticipate the market will behave quite differently on Monday than it was Thursday or Friday," Cavanagh said.

    Some analysts expected it to be a brutal day for global stocks, nevertheless. Shortly after the news broke, Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index plunged more than 3 percent in morning trading.

    A bankruptcy protection filing of Bear Stearns could have heightened anxiety in world financial markets amid a deepening credit crunch. So far, global banks have written down some $200 billion worth of securities slammed amid the credit crisis - more write-downs could come. Last week, a bond fund controlled by private equity firm Carlyle Group faltered near collapse because of investments linked to mortgage-backed securities.

    JPMorgan's acquisition of Bear Stearns represents roughly 1 percent of what the investment bank was worth just 16 days ago. It marked a 93.3 percent discount to Bear Stearns' market capitalization as of Friday, and roughly a 98.8 percent discount to its book value as of Feb. 29.

    "The past week has been an incredibly difficult time for Bear Stearns," Schwartz said in a statement. "This represents the best outcome for all of our constituencies based upon the current circumstances."

    Wall Street analysts say the bid to rescue Bear Stearns was more than just saving one of the world's largest investments banks - it was a prop for the U.S. economy and the global financial system. An outright failure would cause huge losses for banks, hedge funds and other investors to which Bear Stearns is connected.

    After days of denials that it had liquidity problems, Bear was forced into a JPMorgan-led, government-backed bailout on Friday. The arrangement, the first of its kind since the 1930s, resulted in Bear getting a 28-day loan from JPMorgan with the government's guarantee that JPMorgan would not suffer any losses on the deal.

    This is not the first time Bear Stearns has earned a place in Wall Street history. A decade ago, Bear Stearns refused to help bail out a hedge fund that was deemed "too big to fail." On Friday, the tables had turned, with the now-struggling investment bank in need of the same kind of aid.

    Bear Stearns was founded in 1923 and in recent years was best known for its aggressive investing in mortgage-backed securities - and what was once a cash cow turned into the investment bank's undoing.

    In June, two Bear-managed hedge funds worth billions of dollars collapsed. The funds were heavily invested in securities backed by subprime mortgages. Until that point, subprime mortgage-backed securities were immensely popular with investors because of their profitability.

    The funds' demise and subsequent problems in the credit markets called into question Bear Stearns' ability to manage its own risk and the leadership ability of then-Chief Executive James Cayne. Critics of the company said Cayne spent too much time away from the office last year playing golf and bridge as the problems unfolded.

    Cayne is the same executive who refused to let Bear Stearns provide support as part of a Federal Reserve-led plan to rescue Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. His reticence was said to deeply anger some of his fellow Wall Street CEOs, and the episode came up every time Bear was reported to be in trouble in recent months.

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  6. Do you think the U.S. economy is in a recession?
    Yes 83%
    No 12%
    I don't know 5%
    Total Votes: 21,463

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  7. Consider this Bear Stearns was just sold for about a 99% discount to book value..........about a year ago bear's stock price was around $170 a share today it was sold for $2 a share with what appears to be essentially no regulatory oversite.

    Now dont get me wrong here, i've been saying for a while now the economy could fall off the edge of a cliff and we could very well have another Great Depression if the financial and economic system becomes unstable and collapses or implodes, so i'm not neccessarily saying what they did is right or wrong................but at the same time i HAVE to call the repugs and wall Street elites on their hippocrissy for saying they dont beleive in bailouts and reckless speculators should be punished not bailed out at tax payer expense...........a few short months ago GWB was parroting this very talking point before flip flopping to bail out the Wall Street elites...........Bear Stearns CEO also parroted this mantra before accepting a bailout today.

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  8. Where oh where are the trolls babbling how GREAT the economy and stock market are doing.

    adjusted for inflation the Dow is down around like 30% from 2000 and adjusted for the REAL rate of inflation and not the governments bogus hedonic manipulated phony stats you wouldnt even wanna KNOW how much the market is down from the inflation adjusted high of 2000.

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  9. I also find it amusing that Paulson and Bush keep babbling that they have a "Strong Dollar" policy yet the dollar has fallen like a stone the last 6 years so i guess either Bush and his Administration are liars or they are COMPLETELY incompetent........my guess is ALL OF THE ABOVE................ BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

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  10. Soft Shoe in Hard Times

    By MAUREEN DOWD

    Everyone here is flummoxed about why the president is in such a fine mood.

    The dollar’s crumpling, the recession’s thundering, the Dow’s bungee-jumping and the world’s disapproving, yet George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly, tap dancing and singing in a one-man review called “The Most Happy Fella.”

    “I’m coming to you as an optimistic fellow,” he told the Economic Club of New York on Friday. His manner — chortling and joshing — was in odd juxtaposition to the Fed’s bailing out the imploding Bear Stearns and his own acknowledgment that “our economy obviously is going through a tough time,” that gas prices are spiking, and that folks “are concerned about making their bills.”

    He began by laughingly calling the latest news on the economic meltdown “a interesting moment” and ended by saying that “our energy policy has not been very wise” and that there was “no quick fix” on gasp-inducing gas prices.

    “You know, I guess the best way to describe government policy is like a person trying to drive a car in a rough patch,” he said. “If you ever get stuck in a situation like that, you know full well it’s important not to overcorrect, because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.”

    Dude, you’re already in the ditch.

    Boy George crashed the family station wagon into the globe and now the global economy. Yet the more terrified Americans get, the more bizarrely carefree he seems. The former oilman reacted with cocky ignorance a couple of weeks ago when a reporter informed him that gas was barreling toward $4 a gallon.

    In on-the-record sessions with reporters — and more candid off-the-record ones — he has seemed goofily happy in recent weeks, prickly no more but strangely liberated and ebullient.

    Even though he ordinarily hates being kept waiting, he made light of it while cooling his heels for John McCain, and did a soft shoe for the White House press. Wearing a cowboy hat, he warbled a comic Western ditty at the Gridiron Dinner a week ago — alluding to Scooter Libby’s conviction, Saudis getting richer from our oil-guzzling, Brownie’s dismal Katrina performance, and Dick Cheney’s winsome habit of withholding documents.

    At a dinner on Wednesday, the man who is persona non grata on the campaign trail (except for closed fund-raisers) told morose Republican members of Congress that he was totally confident that “we can retake the House” and “hold the White House.”

    “I think 2008 is going to be a fabulous year for the Republican Party!” he said, sounding like Rachael Ray sprinkling paprika on goulash. That must have been news to House Republicans, who have no money, just lost the seat held by their former speaker, and are hemorrhaging incumbents as they head into a campaign marked by an incipient recession and an unpopular war.

    If only they could see things as the president does. Bush, who used his family connections to avoid Vietnam, told troops serving in Afghanistan on Thursday that he is “a little envious” of their adventure there, saying it was “in some ways romantic.”

    Afghanistan is still roiling, as is Iraq, but W. is serene. “Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision now, and it will be the right decision ever,” he said, echoing that great American philosopher Dan Quayle, who once told Samoans, “Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.”

    W. bragged to Republicans about his “considered judgment” in sending more troops to Iraq and again presented himself as an untroubled instrument of divine will. “I believe there’s an Almighty,” he said, “and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom.”

    Although the president belittled the Democrats for their policy of “retreat,” his surge has been a temporary and expensive place-holder for what Americans want: a policy to get us out of Iraq.

    “Has it allowed us to reduce troop levels to below where they were when it started?” Michael Kinsley wrote recently. “The answer is no.” Gen. David Petraeus told The Washington Post last week that no one in the U.S. and Iraqi governments “feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation.”

    Maybe the president is just putting on a good face to keep up American morale, the way Herbert Hoover did after the crash of ’29, when he continued to dress in a tuxedo for dinner.

    Or maybe the old Andover cheerleader really believes his own cheers, and that prosperity will turn up any time now, just like the W.M.D. in Iraq.

    Or perhaps it’s a Freudian trip. Now that he’s mucked up the world and the country, he can finally stop rebelling against his dad and relax in the certainty that the Bush name will forever be associated with crash-and-burn presidencies.

    Whatever the explanation, it’s plumb loco.

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  11. Iraq war's cost: Loss of U.S. power, prestige, influence

    Warren P. Strobel

    WASHINGTON — It was a decision that only President Bush had the power to make: At about 9 a.m. on March 19, 2003, in the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing of the White House, he gave the "execute order" to begin Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    Now, five years later, the consequences of that act will soon be beyond Bush's grasp. In 10 months, they'll land on the desk of his successor.

    Thanks in part to the Iraq war, the next U.S. president — Republican or Democrat, black or white, man or woman — will take office with America's power, prestige and popularity in decline, according to bipartisan reports, polls and foreign observers.

    "The winner of the 2008 elections will command U.S. forces still at war in Iraq, Afghanistan and against elusive terrorists with a deadly reach. The U.S. economy will remain burdened. ... America's moral leadership and decision-making competence will continue to be questioned," begins a study of foreign-policy choices for the next president, which a Georgetown University task force released last month.

    "Restored respect will come only with fresh demonstrations of competence," the study said.

    The numbers don't inspire confidence: Oil prices are at an all-time high, the dollar at new lows against the euro. Surveys find the United States' popularity and respect slipping in every part of the globe except Africa. A poll of 3,400 active and retired U.S. military officers by Foreign Policy magazine found that 88 percent agreed with the statement that "The war in Iraq has stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin."

    Not all of the challenges facing Bush's successor can be blamed on the invasion and the failure of civilian leadership to plan for what would happen next in Iraq.

    There are other forces at work, foreign-policy specialists say, including an increasingly globalized economy with new centers of wealth and power, China's rise and the growth of Islamic extremism.

    The federal government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina dealt another blow, causing some prominent U.S. allies to question not America's intentions or its wisdom, but its competence, a prominent Arab ruler once told a top U.S. diplomat.

    But because of the invasion of Iraq, "America's strategic position in the world has worsened," said Josef Joffe, the editor and publisher of Die Zeit, a German weekly that's sympathetic to United States. "From a coldly realist perspective, Iraq was the wrong war against the wrong foe at the wrong time."

    The removal of Saddam Hussein strengthened Iran and "by entangling itself in an interminable civil war, the U.S. has lost power to spare," Joffe said.

    Bush has never wavered in defending the most fateful choice of his presidency.

    "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision at this point in my presidency and it will forever be the right decision," he told religious broadcasters earlier this month.

    With improvements in security in much of Iraq over the last year, it still seems possible that the country could someday experience stability and even prosperity, thanks to its vast oil deposits.

    "The prognosis in Iraq is potentially a lot more promising than it's been in a long time," said Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, who was in Iraq in March and April 2007 as part of commander Gen. David Petraeus' staff.

    But even under the best of circumstances, tens of thousands or more U.S. troops may be needed to stabilize Iraq throughout the next president's first term — and beyond.

    That could limit the next president's options, even as he or she deals with more basic questions about how to restore the United States' standing in the world.

    U.S. credibility also has been undermined, at home and abroad, by the administration's false claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaida prior to the Iraq war.

    Several recent blue-ribbon panels recommended that the next president make major changes in how the United States deals with the world.

    He or she, they said, should rely more on "soft" or "smart " power, such as diplomacy, promoting U.S. values and rebuilding alliances; use persuasion rather than coercion to achieve goals when possible; and invest more in non-military tools such as public diplomacy and foreign aid.

    More provocatively, they advocate replacing the "war on terrorism" — which has colored virtually every aspect of Bush's foreign policy — as the focus of American security strategy. Instead, they say, the United States should be the leader in advancing peace, liberty and prosperity worldwide.

    "Since 9/11, the United States has been exporting fear and anger rather than the more traditional values of hope and optimism. Suspicions of American power have run deep," Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state under Bush, and Joseph Nye, a Pentagon official under President Clinton, wrote in a December report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "At the core of the problem is that America has made the war on terrorism the central component of its global engagement," they wrote.

    That doesn't mean going soft on terrorists, said Chester Crocker, the co-chairman of the separate Georgetown University report, which also called for a new guiding principle for U.S. foreign policy.

    But Crocker, an assistant secretary of state for Africa under President Reagan, said the war on terrorism has inflamed suspicions of U.S. motives, forced Washington to look the other way when its counterterrorism allies engage in bad behavior themselves, and led to an over-focus on the Middle East.

    "Obviously, we can't ignore these hotspots," he said. But "if all we really care about is what's going on in the struggle within the Islamic world, we're not a world power anymore."

    Many specialists also advise a more subtle, patient and less hectoring approach when it comes to advancing global democracy, which was one of the justifications Bush gave for invading Iraq.

    Instead, the invasion "set it back in multiple senses," said Larry Diamond, a Stanford University expert on democracy promotion and author of the new book, "The Spirit of Democracy."

    "Number one, it didn't go well," he said. U.S. efforts to spread democracy "were equated with insecurity, violence, refugees." Arab autocrats then used the specter of instability to argue against political liberalization.

    "We have to approach the whole thing on fresh terms," Diamond said, with a strategy that "is incremental, that is more gradual, that doesn't over-reach."

    Crafting a new foreign policy may not be easy, even for a new president making a fresh start.

    Said Crocker: "We are substantially leveraged or mortgaged by legacies" such as Iraq. "The next president has to figure out a way to dig out of this hole."

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  12. Through Bush-Colored Glasses

    President Bush admitted on Friday that times are tough. So much for the straight talk.

    Mr. Bush went on to paint a false picture of the economy. He dismissed virtually every proposal Congress is working on to alleviate the mortgage crisis, sticking to his administration’s inadequate ideas. And despite the rush of serious problems — frozen credit markets, millions of impending mortgage defaults, solvency issues at banks, a plunging dollar — he said that a major source of uncertainty today is whether his tax cuts, scheduled to expire in 2010, would be extended.

    This was too far afield of reality to be dismissed as simple cheerleading. It points to the pressing need for a coherent plan to steer through what some economists are now predicting could be a severe downturn. Mr. Bush’s denial of the economic truth underscores the need for Congress to push forward with solutions to the mortgage crisis — especially bankruptcy reform to help defaulting homeowners. Lawmakers also must prepare to execute, in case it is needed, a government rescue of people whose homes are now worth less than they borrowed to buy them.

    Mr. Bush said he was optimistic because the economy’s “foundation is solid” as measured by employment, wages, productivity, exports and the federal deficit. He was wrong on every count. On some, he has been wrong for quite a while.

    Mr. Bush boasted about 52 consecutive months of job growth during his presidency. What matters is the magnitude of growth, not ticks on a calendar. The economic expansion under Mr. Bush — which it is safe to assume is now over — produced job growth of 4.2 percent. That is the worst performance over a business cycle since the government started keeping track in 1945.

    Mr. Bush also talked approvingly of the recent unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. A low rate is good news when it indicates a robust job market. The unemployment rate ticked down last month because hundreds of thousands of people dropped out of the work force altogether. Worse, long-term unemployment, of six months or more, hit 17.5 percent. We’d expect that in the depths of a recession. It is unprecedented at the onset of one.

    Mr. Bush was wrong to say wages are rising. On Friday morning, the day he spoke, the government reported that wages failed to outpace inflation in February, for the fifth straight month. Productivity growth has also weakened markedly in the past two years, a harbinger of a lower overall standard of living for Americans.

    Exports have surged of late, but largely on the back of a falling dollar. The weaker dollar makes American exports cheaper, but it also pushes up oil prices. Potentially far more serious, a weakening dollar also reduces the Federal Reserve’s flexibility to steady the economy.

    Finally, Mr. Bush’s focus on the size of the federal budget deficit ignores that annual government borrowing comes on top of existing debt. Publicly held federal debt will be up by a stunning 76 percent by the end of his presidency. Paying back the money means less to spend on everything else for a very long time.

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  13. There's no room for real life in Bush's world

    Leonard Pitts

    Here's how it is out there. Awhile back, I was at the self-checkout counter of a hardware store. A young man approached and offered to put my $20 purchase on his store gift card if I would give him $10 in cash. He said he had no money for gas.

    I let him put my purchase on his card, but I gave him the full amount back. It was the second time in a week I'd been asked by a stranger for help in filling the tank. And this was before last week's prediction of a spike in gas prices to $4 a gallon.

    So I am intrigued by the following exchange between President Bush and CBS News reporter Peter Maer at a recent news conference. "What is your advice," Maer began, "to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing ..."

    The president stopped him. "Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"

    Well, it wasn't him personally, Maer explained. "A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline," he said.

    The president was stunned. "Oh, yeah?" he said. "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

    Headline news all over the country, but he hadn't heard it. And it's "interesting."

    It will come as a surprise to no one that many, if not most, of our leaders are out of touch with the realities of everyday American life. One is reminded of the president's father pronouncing himself "amazed" back in 1992 when he encountered a simple bar code scanner. And of candidate Bill Clinton scoring debate points because he knew the price of a gallon of milk. The Beltway crowd wondered why that mattered.

    We are used to them being disconnected. But this particular disconnect is telling.

    When it comes to our national leaders, we have historically required two incongruous things. We want them to be one of us, but we also want them to be better than us. That is, we want them to have gravitas and smarts and yet, be just one of the guys or girls. That's why every election season finds millionaires and Ivy League alumni hanging out at county fairs, pleading for votes while eating fried Oreos.

    With George W. Bush, one of those requirements -- gravitas, smarts -- was taken off the table. He was, we were told, just an everyman, a simple, God-fearin' guy guided not by pointy-headed intellectuals with their pie charts and prognostications, but rather by his feelings, his instincts, his gut. So he didn't need, for instance, to consult a bunch of State Department eggheads about Vladimir Putin because he'd seen Putin's soul.

    It is perhaps no coincidence that Bush has said he regards his presidency as a vindication of the C student. Even the editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, as reliably conservative a newspaper as exists in the English language, once described him as having "no intellectual pretensions." It was meant as a compliment.

    Bush is the perfect president for an era wherein the nation seems increasingly disdainful of intellectualism, where it turns out many of us are, indeed, not smarter than a 5th grader, and educators and politicians can breezily dismiss the theory of evolution and not be hooted off the public stage.

    George W. Bush, Average Joe, fits right in. Except that seven years, a useless war and a disastrous presidency later, the price of gas is headed for a ruinous record and President Average Joe hasn't even heard. Yeah, yeah, I know. Cut him some slack. It's not like he has to gas up the presidential limousine himself.

    But I see nothing unfair in judging the president on the terms he himself has chosen. He may not have gravitas, the thinking went. He may not have piercing intelligence. But he's one of us.

    Think again. Apparently, he's not even that.

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  14. Many voting for Clinton to boost GOP
    Seek to prolong bitter battle

    By Scott Helman

    For a party that loves to hate the Clintons, Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton: About 100,000 GOP loyalists voted for her in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and about 38,000 in Mississippi, exit polls show.

    A sudden change of heart? Hardly.

    Since Senator John McCain effectively sewed up the GOP nomination last month, Republicans have begun participating in Democratic primaries specifically to vote for Clinton, a tactic that some voters and local Republican activists think will help their party in November. With every delegate important in the tight Democratic race, this trend could help shape the outcome if it continues in the remaining Democratic primaries open to all voters.

    Spurred by conservative talk radio, GOP voters who say they would never back Clinton in a general election are voting for her now for strategic reasons: Some want to prolong her bitter nomination battle with Barack Obama, others believe she would be easier to beat than Obama in the fall, or they simply want to register objections to Obama.

    "It's as simple as, I don't think McCain can beat Obama if Obama is the Democratic choice," said Kyle Britt, 49, a Republican-leaning independent from Huntsville, Texas, who voted for Clinton in the March 4 primary. "I do believe Hillary can mobilize enough [anti-Clinton] people to keep her out of office."

    Britt, who works in financial services, said he is certain he will vote for McCain in November.

    About 1,100 miles north, in Granville, Ohio, Ben Rader, a 66-year-old retired entrepreneur, said he voted for Clinton in Ohio's primary to further confuse the Democratic race. "I'm pretty much tired of the Clintons, and to see her squirm for three or four months with Obama beating her up, it's great, it's wonderful," he said. "It broke my heart, but I had to."

    Local Republican activists say stories like these abound in Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi, the three states where the recent surge in Republicans voting for Clinton was evident.

    Until Texas and Ohio voted on March 4, Obama was receiving far more support than Clinton from GOP voters, many of whom have said in interviews that they were willing to buck their party because they like the Illinois senator. In eight Democratic contests in January and February where detailed exit polling data were available on Republicans, Obama received, on average, about 57 percent of voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Clinton received, on average, a quarter of the Republican votes cast in those races.

    But as February gave way to March, the dynamics shifted in both parties' contests: McCain ran away with the Republican race, and Obama, after posting 10 straight victories following Super Tuesday, was poised to run away with the Democratic race. That is when Republicans swung into action.

    Conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh said on Fox News on Feb. 29 that he was urging conservatives to cross over and vote for Clinton, their bête noire nonpareil, "if they can stomach it."

    "I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose," Limbaugh said. "They're in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch. And it's all going to stop if Hillary loses."

    He added, "I know it's a difficult thing to do to vote for a Clinton, but it will sustain this soap opera, and it's something I think we need."

    Limbaugh's exhortations seemed to work. In Ohio and Texas on March 4, Republicans comprised 9 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, more than twice the average GOP share of the turnout in the earlier contests where exit polling was conducted. Clinton ran about even with Obama among Republicans in both states, a far more favorable showing among GOP voters than in the early races.

    Walter Wilkerson, who has chaired the Republican Party in Montgomery County, Texas, since 1964, said many local conservatives chose to vote for Clinton for strategic reasons.

    "These people felt that Clinton would be maybe the easier opponent in the fall," he said. "That remains to be seen."

    Wilkerson added, "We have not experienced any crossover of this magnitude since I can remember."

    In the Mississippi primary last Tuesday, Republicans made up 12 percent of voters who took a Democratic ballot - their biggest proportion in any state yet - and they went for Clinton over Obama by a 3-to-1 margin.

    John Taylor, the GOP chairman in Madison County, said he toured various precincts and witnessed Republican voters taking Democratic ballots to vote for Clinton.

    "Some people there that I recognized voting said, 'Hey, I'm going to vote in this primary this year, right now. But don't worry, in November I'll be back,' " Taylor said. "They were going to do some damage if they could."

    Another popular conservative radio host, Laura Ingraham, who had also encouraged voters to cast ballots for Clinton, crowed about her apparent success the day after Ohio and Texas voted.

    "Without a doubt, Rush, and to a lesser extent me, had some effect on the Republican turnout," Ingraham told Fox News. "When you look at those exit polls, it is really quite striking."

    Some political blogs have suggested that the influx of Clinton-voting Republicans prevented Obama from winning delegates he otherwise would have, by inflating Clinton's totals both statewide and in certain congressional districts. A writer for the liberal blog Daily Kos estimated that Obama could have netted an additional five delegates from Mississippi.

    It is also possible, though perhaps unlikely, that enough strategically minded Republicans voted for Clinton in Texas to give her a crucial primary victory there: Clinton received roughly 119,000 GOP votes in Texas, according to exit polls, and she beat Obama by about 101,000 votes.

    Not everyone casting ballots for Clinton did so primarily to sink her, however. Brent Henslee, 33, a Republican who works at a radio station in Waco, Texas, wanted to keep Clinton in the race to expose more about Obama, whom he sees as more "fluff than substance."

    "I'm not buying into all the Obama-mania, is the main reason I did it," he said. "A lot of these people don't know a thing about this guy and they're crazy about him. And I thought that maybe keeping Hillary alive will just shed some more light on the guy."

    Of the nine remaining major contests, four - Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, and South Dakota - have "closed" primaries, which means only Democrats can participate.

    If Republicans and conservative independents continue their tactical voting, it may be more likely in Indiana, Montana, and Puerto Rico, which allow anyone to vote, and possibly in North Carolina and West Virginia, which open their primaries to Democrats and independent voters.

    "If you are a Republican you could pull a Democrat ballot and vote for the Democrat presidential candidate you think will stand the least chance of beating McCain in the fall general election," the assistant editor of the Greene County Daily World, in southwestern Indiana, wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

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  15. This is the third of three excerpts from Slate Editor Jacob Weisberg's new book, The Bush Tragedy.

    If Bush's theology is free of content, his application of it to politics is sophisticated and artful. Evangelical politics is a subject on which he has exercised his intellect, and perhaps the only one on which he qualifies as an expert. Bush began his study in 1985 on behalf of his father's effort to become president. George H.W. Bush regarded televangelists like Pat Robertson as snake handlers and swindlers. Reflecting his parents' attitude, Neil Bush referred to evangelical Christians in a speech for his father in Iowa as "cockroaches" issuing "from the baseboards of the Bible-belt." For their part, the evangelicals felt no affinity for Bush Sr. They found his patrician background off-putting and suspected the sincerity of his conversion to the pro-life cause.

    To help him with this problem, Bush Sr. brought in Doug Wead as his evangelical adviser and liaison. Wead had been involved in a group called Mercy Corps International, doing missionary relief work in Ethiopia and Cambodia, and gave inspirational speeches at Amway meetings. He was also a prolific memo writer. The most important of his memos is a 161-page document he wrote in the summer of 1985 and a long follow-up to it known as "The Red Memo." Wead argued for "an effective, discreet evangelical strategy" to counter Jack Kemp, who had been courting the evangelicals for a decade, and Pat Robertson, whom he accurately predicted would run in the 1988 primaries. Wead compiled a long dossier on the evangelical "targets" he saw as most important for Bush. ("If Falwell is privately reassured from time to time of the Vice President's personal friendship, he will be less likely to demand the limelight," he wrote.) Wead made a chart rating nearly 200 leaders for various factors, including their influence within the movement, their influence outside of it, and their potential impact within early caucus and primary states. Billy Graham received the highest total score, 315, followed by Robert Schuller, 237; Jerry Falwell, 236; and Jim Bakker, 232.

    Unbeknownst to Wead, Vice President Bush gave the Red memo to his oldest son. After George Jr. pronounced it sound, George Sr. closely followed much of its advice. For instance, Wead recommended that the vice president read the first chapter of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, a book that had become a popular evangelical device for winning converts. "Evangelicals believe that this book is so effective that they will automatically assume that if the Vice President has read it, he will agree with it," Wead wrote. Vice President Bush made sure that religious figures saw a well-worn copy on top of a stack of books in his office when they visited the White House and cited Lewis' condemnation of the sin of pride as one of the reasons "we haven't been inclined to go around proclaiming that we are Christians." He also took Wead's advice on how to answer the born-again question; in courting the National Religious Broadcasters with three speeches in three years; in inviting Falwell, James Dobson, and others to the White House; in cooperating with a cover story in the Christian Herald, the largest-circulation evangelical magazine at the time; and in producing a volume for the Christian book market.

    George W. Bush became the campaign's semiofficial liaison to the evangelical community in March 1987. "Wead, I'm taking you over," he said at their first meeting, over Mexican food in Corpus Christi, telling him to ignore Lee Atwater, whom Wead had been reporting to. Wead recalls how anxious George W. was in political conversations with his dad. "He was a nervous wreck," Wead told me. "He wanted his father to be proud of him." Wead also recalled the son's expressions of his own political interest. The campaign had prepared state-by-state analysis of the primary electorate in advance of Super Tuesday in 1988. "When he got the one on Texas, his eyes just bugged out," Wead remembered. "This is just great! I can become governor of Texas just with the evangelical vote."

    The crucible of the campaign forged a close relationship between the two men. Wead, whom George W. called "Weadie," says the candidate's son spent an inordinate amount of time talking about sex. But he was so anxious to avoid any whiff or rumor of infidelity that he asked Wead to stay in his hotel room one night when he thought a young woman working on the campaign might knock on his door. "I tried to read to him from the Bible, because by that time he was sending me these signals," Wead told me. "But he wasn't interested. He just rolled over and went to sleep."

    Having Wead put him to bed was a way to advertise his marital fidelity, and to reinforce a distinction with his father, who was facing rumors about the Big A. Wead said Bush also liked having him around as an alternative to the company of drinking buddies from his pre-conversion period. But Bush resisted religious overtures as firmly as sexual ones. "He has absolutely zero interest in anything theological—nothing," Wead said. "We spent hours talking about sex … who on the campaign was doing what to whom—but nothing about God. And I tried many, many times."

    The Wead-George W. effort yielded spectacular political results: Poppy beat back the primary challenge from Pat Robertson and won 81 percent of the evangelical vote in 1988, exceeding the 78 percent share Ronald Reagan won in 1984. After the election, George W. turned to his evangelical friend for advice about how to handle having a father in the White House. Wead returned with a 44-page memo entitled All the Presidents' Children, which he later developed into a book of the same title. The precedents were not encouraging. Burdened by impossibly high expectations, many sons of presidents struggled unsuccessfully to "complete" the work of their fathers. As a group, they disproportionately fell prey to various forms of failure, alcoholism, divorce, and early death. Bush, who was planning to move back to Texas and run for office, groaned when Wead told him that no presidential child had ever been elected governor of a state.

    With the various roles he played in Bush's life—life counselor, political adviser, spiritual companion—Wead became in the late 1980s the first in a series of what might be described as surrogate family members to George W. Like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, the two others who subsequently played this kind of role, Wead originally worked for the old man before transferring loyalties to his son. Like them, he aided Bush with a crucial transition in relation to his father. What Rove would do in helping Bush launch his political career in Texas, and Cheney in helping him define his presidency, Wead did in Bush helping him assert and establish his independent identity as a person of faith. But the experience left Wead troubled about the sincerity of Bush's beliefs. "I'm almost certain that a lot of it was calculated," he says. "If you really believed that there's some accountability to life, wouldn't you have Billy Graham come down and have a magic moment with your daughters? Are you just going to let them go to hell? You have all these religious leaders coming through. If it changed your life, wouldn't you invite them to sit down in the living room and have a talk with your daughters? Or is it all political?"

    Envy over Rove's closer relationship with Bush may have pushed Wead toward an act of betrayal he tried to portray as a service to history, his secretly tape-recording nine hours of his private phone conversations with Bush in 1999 and 2000. Wead played portions of these tapes for the New York Times and a few other journalists at the time his book All the Presidents' Children was published in 2003. He later apologized and signed a legal agreement to turn the tapes over to Bush's lawyers and not discuss their content. These tapes, of which I've obtained a partial copy (not from Wead), provide a glimpse of the man behind the public mask. They capture Bush thinking aloud and rehearsing answers to questions he expected to get on the campaign trail. On one, he acknowledges illegal drug use decades back: "Doug," Bush says, "it doesn't just matter [about] cocaine—it'd be the same with marijuana. I wouldn't answer the marijuana question. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried. … I don't want any kid doing what I tried to do [pause] 30 years ago."

    But the more interesting revelation is how politically Bush thinks about religion. Speaking of an upcoming meeting with evangelical leaders, he notes: "As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things and some improper ways. I am going to say that I've accepted Christ into my life. And that's a true statement." On another tape, he rehearses his dodges. He goes over with Wead what he plans to tell James Robison, an evangelical minister in Texas who wanted him to promise not to appoint homosexuals in his administration: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?" For those interested in the details about what kind of sinner he was, Bush has another line: "That's part of my shtick, which is, look, we have all made mistakes."

    The tapes reveal how calculated George W. Bush's projection of faith is. Wead said that during the countless hours the two spent talking about religion over a dozen years, they discussed endlessly the implications of attending services at different congregations, how Bush could position himself in relation to various tricky questions, and how he should handle various ministers and evangelical leaders. But the substance of Bush's own faith never came up. Wead told me he now struggles with the question of how sincere Bush's expressions of devotion ever were. He often goes over their conversations from 1987 and 1988 in his mind, having grown more skeptical about what Bush was doing. "As these memos started flowing to him, he started feeding back to me what his faith was," Wead said. "Now what is interesting for me, and I'm trying to understand, is, was I giving him his story?"

    To say that Bush's religious persona is a calculated projection does not mean that it is fraudulent. For practiced politicians, the question of whether any behavior is genuine can seldom be answered. For them, calculation and sincerity are not opposites. The skillful leader harmonizes them, coming to truly believe in what he needs to do to succeed. Piety, like any other political mask, tends to become the genuine face over time.

    The secular misunderstanding of Bush is that his relationship with God has turned him into a harsh man, driven by absolute moral certainty and attempting to foist his evangelical views onto others. Many of those who know Bush best see the religious influence in his life cutting in precisely the opposite direction. As one of the evangelical staff members in the White House told me over lunch near the White House in the summer of 2007, Bush's religion has made him more genuinely humble and less absolutist in the way he defends his views. Believing that he too is a lowly sinner, Bush learned to be more tolerant of the faults of others.

    But if his eternal perspective improves Bush's personality, it diminishes any ability he might otherwise have to take in ambiguity or complexity. Early in his presidency, Bush told Sen. Joe Biden, "I don't do nuance." That line was probably spoken with irony, but it captures a truth about the intellectually constricting lens of his faith. Bush rejects nuance not because he's mentally incapable of engaging with it but because he has chosen to disavow it. Applying a crude religious lens that clarifies all decisions as moral choices rather than complicated trade-offs helps him fend off the deliberation and uncertainty he identifies with his father.

    But closing one's mind to complexity isn't mere intellectual laziness; it's a fundamental evasion of freedom, God-given or otherwise. A simple faith frees George W. from the kind of agonizing and struggles his father went though in handling the largest questions of his presidency and helps him cope with the heavy burden of the job. But it comes at a tragic cost. A too-crude religious understanding has limited Bush's ability to comprehend the world. The habit of pious simplification has undermined The Decider's decision-making.

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  16. Empire on the Brink
    Republicans and "Free Market" Zealots Bring Disaster to America

    By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

    Crude oil for April delivery hit $110 per barrel. The US dollar fell to a new low against the Euro. It now takes $1.55 to purchase one Euro.

    These new highs against the dollar are the ongoing story of the collapse of the US dollar as world reserve currency and corresponding collapse of American power.

    Each new decision from the insane Bush regime pushes the dollar a little further along to oblivion. The same Fed announcement that boosted the stock market on March 11 sent the dollar reeling and the price of oil up. The Fed’s announcement that it and other central banks are going to deal with the derivative crisis by monetizing $200 billion of the troubled instruments signaled more dollar inflation.

    Of course, something needed to be done to forestall an implosion of the financial system, but a less costly alternative was at hand. The mark-to-market rule could have been suspended in order to halt the forced sale and write down of assets and to provide time in which to sort out derivative values, which are higher than the fire sale prices.

    More pressure on the dollar resulted from the decision to award the European company, Airbus, a $40 billion contract that could reach $100 billion to build US Air Force tankers. In simple terms, that means another $40 to $100 billion added to the US trade deficit, and a loss of $40 to $100 billion in US Gross Domestic Product and associated jobs.

    Of course, the Bush regime had to award the contract to Europe as a payoff for Europe’s support of the Bush regime’s wars of aggression in the Middle East. Europe is not going to provide Bush with diplomatic cover for his wars and NATO troops for his war in Afghanistan without a payoff.

    Here is the picture: The US economy, which has been kept alive by enormous debt expansion that has over-reached its limit, is falling into recession. The traditional way out by expanding the supply of money and credit is blocked by the impaired banking system, the levels of consumer debt, the collapsing value of the US dollar, and rising inflation.

    The Bush regime is attempting to bypass the stalled credit expansion by sending Americans $600 checks, money that will mainly be used to reduce existing credit card debt and not to fund new consumption.

    The US is dependent on foreigners not only for energy but also for manufactured goods and advanced technology products. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance our consumption of $800 billion annually more than the US produces. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance its red ink wars, and the US government’s budget deficit is now expanding as tax revenues decline with the declining economy.

    The bottom line: US power is enfeebled. US power depends on the willingness of foreigners to finance our wars and on the willingness of foreigners to continue to accumulate depreciating dollar assets.
    The US cannot close its trade deficit. Oil prices are rising, and offshore production of goods and services for US markets results in a dollar-for-dollar increase in imports, while reducing the supply of domestic goods available for export.

    The US cannot close its budget deficit while it is squandering vast sums on wars that serve no US purpose, handing out $150 billion in red ink rebates, and falling into recession.

    US living standards, which have been stagnant for years, will plummet once dollar decline forces China off the dollar peg. So far prices of the Chinese-made goods on Wal-Mart shelves have not risen, because the Chinese currency, pegged to the dollar, falls in value with the dollar. In a word, tottering US living standards are being supported by China’s willingness to subsidize US consumption by keeping its currency grossly undervalued.

    The US is overextended economically and militarily, just as was Great Britain with the fall of France in the opening days of World War II. The British had the Americans to bail them out. After the chewing gum and bailing wire patch-ups are exhausted, who is going to bail us out?

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  17. New Hope for the Rich

    Americans are getting poorer. In 2007, home equity fell below 50 percent for the first time on record since 1945. Total equity also fell for three straight quarters through last December. Adjusted for inflation, the annual income of the typical working household is still below its peak before the last recession, in 2001. That means the Bush-era expansion is on track to be the first since the government began keeping records in the 1960s in which household income fails to hit a new high.

    And yet, in the Senate, Republicans are ready to do battle on behalf of America’s wealthiest families.

    Starting in 2009, the estate tax will apply to Americans with property at death worth more than $7 million per couple, or $3.5 million for individuals — a whopping 0.3 percent of people who die each year. As part of the 2009 budget resolution, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, has proposed to keep the tax at those levels, with annual adjustments for inflation. The proposal is expected to pass, as early as Thursday.

    Everyone knows that the Baucus proposal is better than the status quo: under current law, the estate tax will be eliminated in 2010 then revert in 2011 to the far higher levels that applied in 2001, before the Bush tax cuts. Republicans, however, think that Mr. Baucus’s more-than-generous fix does not do enough to shield the wealthy. After it passes, Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, is expected to propose further cutting the estate taxes of those still covered by the 2009 rules.

    That would give the wealthiest Americans an additional $200 billion in tax cuts over 10 years, with most of that largess going to estates valued at more than $10 million per person, the top 0.1 percent. The government would have to borrow to make up for the $200 billion giveaway to rich heirs, worsening the deficit and adding about $100 billion in interest to the nation’s tab.

    The Kyl proposal needs a simple majority to pass. So if every Republican voted in favor, only one Democrat would have to join them for the proposal to pass. It is not a given that will happen. What is certain is that a yes vote, by whoever casts one, would be a triumph of let-them-eat-cake obliviousness.

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  18. The Rise of American Incompetence
    We used to be the world's most skillful entrepreneurs and managers. Now we're laughingstocks. What happened?

    By Daniel Gross

    The dollar plunged to new lows against foreign currencies this week. There are plenty of reasons for its plunge, but at the most basic level, the dollar's weakness reflects the world's collective, two-thumbs-down verdict about the ability of the United States—businesses, individuals, the government, the Federal Reserve—to manage the global financial system and the world's largest economy. Countries that outsourced their monetary policy by pegging domestic currencies to the dollar are having second thoughts. Kuwait last year detached the dinar from the dollar, and Qatar government officials last week said they were considering doing the same with their currency. International financiers are unnerved by the toxic combination of "misplaced assumptions about housing, a lack of necessary regulation and irresponsible use of debt with sophisticated financial instruments," said Ashraf Laidi, currency strategist at CMC Markets.

    Dissing American financial management is an affront to national pride tantamount to standing in Rome and asking, loudly, if Italians are able to make pasta. The United States invented the concept and practice of running large, complex systems. Along with baseball and deep-frying, management is one of our great national pastimes. The world's first MBAs were awarded by pioneering yuppie factories such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. (Wharton's founding in 1881 was quickly followed by the world's first time-share summer houses in the Hamptons.) Henry Ford's revolutionary assembly line was the gold standard in global manufacturing for decades. Contemporary American institutions stand for excellence in managing everything from supply chains (Wal-Mart) to delivery services (Federal Express and UPS).

    Americans' ability to manage complex systems has been the ultimate competitive advantage. It has allowed the United States to enjoy high growth and low inflation—a record we haven't hesitated to lord over our foreign friends. The shelves in the business section of a bookstore in a mall in Johannesburg, South Africa, are stocked with the same volumes you'll find in a Barnes & Noble in Pittsburgh, Pa.: memoirs by cornfed paragons of capitalism like Jack Welch, wealth-building advice from American money managers, large tomes on how Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller built global businesses from scratch.

    But now, thanks to widespread incompetence, American management is on its way to becoming an international laughingstock. Faith in American financial sobriety has been widely undermined by the subprime mess. The very mention of the strong-dollar policy now elicits raucous bouts of knee-slapping in even the most sober Swiss banks. (How do you say schadenfreude in German?) Earlier this month, as oil hovered near $100 a barrel, President Bush complained to OPEC about high oil prices. OPEC President Chakib Khelil responded acidly that crude's remarkable run had nothing to do with the reluctance of Persian Gulf nations to pump oil, and everything to do with the "mismanagement of the U.S. economy." Since Bush's plea, oil has gushed to $110 per barrel. (How do you say schadenfreude in Arabic?)

    Americans abroad are constantly taunted by perceived failings of American management. America's aviation system is now the butt of jokes because 9-year-olds have become accustomed to removing their Heelys before boarding a plane. As my family and I passed through the snaking security line in Cancún, Mexico's airport last month, we were harangued by a security guard who encouraged tourists to sing along with him: "Please. Do not. Remove. Your shoes."

    The concern extends beyond airlines to America's industrial complex. Doubtful of the ability of provincial American executives, with their limited language skills, to negotiate today's global business environment, the boards of massive U.S. firms like Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Alcoa, and insurer AIG have hired foreign-born CEOs. Carl Icahn, the 1980s corporate raider, has reinvented himself as a borscht-belt comedian/activist investor, who delights conferences and reporters with jokes at CEOs' expense. On a recent 60 Minutes, Icahn complained to Lesley Stahl about the incompetence of American management. "I see our country going off a cliff, and I feel bad about it."

    Icahn is moping all the way to the bank. The market's recognition of management failures gives him the opportunities to acquire companies on the cheap. But those of us who aren't billionaire corporate raiders—which is to say pretty much all of us—must manage through this management crisis on our own.

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  19. Two of a Kind?

    By Peter Baker

    It took the Democrats all of about a minute and a half to turn President Bush's endorsement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week into an attack ad. The Democratic National Committee posted a 49-second online video that shows Bush playfully tap-dancing for reporters as he waited for McCain to arrive at the White House, then flashes some pointed captions:

    "Why Is This Man So Happy?"

    "Because he found someone to promise a Third Bush Term."

    The ad then splices together similar-sounding comments from Bush and McCain on Iraq, Social Security and tax cuts, concluding with a clip of Bush mangling the aphorism "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

    Expect a lot of the "third Bush term" theme over the next eight months, as Democrats make his 2000 campaign rival into his fraternal twin. The McCain camp recognizes the problem of being associated too closely with a president whose approval ratings are in the low 30s. But at the moment, the presumptive Republican nominee needs to rally a skeptical conservative base behind him, and Bush can help.

    In the weeks since McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination, a fiery debate has ensued on the Internet and elsewhere about whether he and Bush really offer the same prescription for the country. For now, Bush and McCain find themselves on the same side of that debate as their fiercest liberal opponents, albeit from different perspectives. Just as activists on the left find it advantageous to link Bush and McCain, so for the moment do they.

    White House press secretary Dana Perino denied last week that Bush and McCain had been longtime rivals. "Absolutely not," she said on Fox News.

    "And while I think that might be a good story line for some people to say, to try, it's simply not true. And I would say that hasn't been true ever, but certainly after they were competitors, then, in 2000 and 2004, Senator McCain went on to work his tail off to help this president."

    Yet, at the same time, McCain has also been a strong Bush ally, most especially in the battle to liberalize immigration laws and to create a path to citizenship for people living illegally in the United States. He has reversed himself on the tax cuts, saying they should be made permanent; he has become the biggest supporter of Bush's troop buildup in Iraq; and he sided with the president against a bill -- vetoed this weekend -- that would have banned waterboarding by the CIA. Congressional Quarterly reports that McCain supported Bush 90 percent of the time in five of the first six years of his presidency.

    The open question is which side of this equation McCain chooses to emphasize come fall, when he is reaching out to moderates and independents. And whether Bush will still be dancing.

    The Front-Door Campaign

    The White House, meanwhile, says there is controlling legal authority allowing Bush to host what certainly seemed like a campaign event on federal property.

    Remember how Bill Clinton and Al Gore got in trouble in the 1990s when it came to campaign activities in the White House? Clinton hosted coffees for donors and allowed some to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. Gore made fundraising calls from his office and declared there was "no controlling legal authority" prohibiting it. The question became: When is the executive mansion a federal office and when is it the president's home?

    Bush's team said it consulted with lawyers before inviting McCain to the White House for last week's endorsement. "The president was pleased today to invite Senator John McCain to his home, and invited him in through the front door," Dana Perino said Tuesday. Bush and McCain then had lunch before appearing together in the Rose Garden. "I can tell you that, in checking with the counsel's office, all of these events and activities were thoroughly evaluated and approved," Perino said.

    Spies Like Us

    The White House continues to reshape the intelligence board that is supposed to give the president independent, nonpartisan advice about the effectiveness of the nation's spy agencies. Bush last week appointed to the panel his former homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend.

    The appointment came days after Bush signed a little-noticed executive order reconstituting the 16-member panel. First formed under President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, it was renamed the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under President John F. Kennedy. Bush renamed it the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and switched around the duties of the Intelligence Oversight Board, a committee of the broader panel.

    The White House said the new order was intended to clarify lines of authority by splitting the oversight board's duties with the director of national intelligence, a position created by Congress in 2004 after intelligence failures in Iraq.

    Critics say that the new order is intended to gut independent oversight and that Townsend's appointment indicated the president wanted another loyalist on the panel.

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  20. Republicans See Storm Clouds Gathering
    Week of Bad News Highlights Difficult Challenges for GOP in Fall Elections

    By Jonathan Weisman

    While all eyes were on the presidential campaign and the demise of New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill were suffering a run of bad news that could hold dire implications for the campaign season.

    It started with the loss last weekend of the seat held for two decades by former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). It got worse when Republicans lost potentially strong challengers to Democratic senators in South Dakota and New Jersey, and failed to field anyone to oppose the reelection bid of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

    The latest blow came with the revelation that the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) had allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and possibly as much as $1 million -- from the organization's depleted coffers to his own bank accounts.

    If Republicans needed any more evidence of how difficult this fall may be, the past week had it all, analysts said. The Illinois race demonstrated new levels of disaffection, the party's efforts to go on offense elsewhere were thwarted by recruiting failures, and the NRCC scandal will divert campaign resources and could frighten off badly needed contributors, they said.

    "It's no mystery," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He's just killed the Republican brand."

    Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan analyst of congressional politics, said: "The math is against them. The environment is against them. The money is against them. This is one of those cycles that if you're a Republican strategist, you just want to go into the bomb shelter."

    The loss of Hastert's seat in a special election in the far suburbs of Chicago was particularly painful, Republicans conceded. GOP campaign aides contended that the victory of Democratic physicist Bill Foster, a political neophyte, was more a reflection of the unpopularity of his Republican opponent, Jim Oberweis, than a tectonic political shift in a district that once exemplified the GOP's stranglehold on the nation's outer-ring suburbs.

    But that's not how Foster sees it. Voters "had a pretty clean choice between a candidate who had aligned himself with George Bush's policies and one who felt we needed a change of course," he said.

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain (Ariz.) helped Oberweis raise money, and the NRCC pumped more than $1.2 million into the district -- using more than 20 percent of its cash on hand -- to no avail.

    "Even if it was mostly about Jim Oberweis, it's a terrible sign," Rothenberg said. "It adds to Democratic energy and further depresses the Republicans. And you can't dismiss the idea that there is an atmospheric advantage for the Democrats."

    Two days after the Illinois election, South Dakota's former lieutenant governor, Steve Kirby, announced he will not challenge Sen. Tim Johnson, one of the few Democratic senators seeking reelection in a swing state.

    On the same day, Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Dennis Milligan said his party has no candidate to challenge Pryor, another swing-state Democrat, and in Minnesota, wealthy trial lawyer Michael Ciresi dropped out of the Democratic primary. That cleared the way for comedian Al Franken, the remaining Democratic candidate, to spend the next eight months focusing on Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

    After suffering a minor stroke, wealthy Republican developer Anne Evans Estabrook this month dropped her challenge to 84-year-old Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey. On Wednesday, New Jersey state Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R) announced that he will not run, either.

    On Thursday, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report updated its congressional race outlooks to list nine Republican House seats -- and one Democratic seat -- as tossups. Foster's reelection prospects shifted from a tossup to his advantage.

    Cook now lists the Senate seats of Republicans Ted Stevens (Alaska) and John E. Sununu (N.H.) as tossups, along with the seats being vacated by Republicans Wayne Allard (Colo.) and Pete V. Domenici (N.M.). Former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, is listed as likely to claim the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John W. Warner.

    In the House, Republicans have largely failed to recruit credible candidates for the swing-district seat of retiring Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) or to challenge several Democratic freshmen who took GOP seats in 2006. They include Zack Space of Ohio, Joe Courtney of Connecticut, Chris Carney and Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, John Hall of New York, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

    "We've had a difficult time with candidate recruitment this entire cycle," said Neil Newhouse, a GOP pollster who works closely with congressional Republicans.

    The disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NRCC, the House GOP's campaign arm, may not have a direct political impact, but it will not help, Republicans conceded. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended January with $35.5 million in cash. The NRCC had $5.7 million before an annual fundraising dinner Wednesday raised $8.6 million.

    Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the NRCC, said the committee has turned a corner and, after almost a year in the red, has a positive cash balance and has rooted out internal corruption.

    "We're pretty confident we'll be where we need to be," Cole predicted of the NRCC's financial standing later this year. "Is this a challenge? Sure, you'd rather not have to do it. But you do."

    But some of that NRCC cash, instead of bolstering Republican candidates, will go to lawyers and accountants as officials try to unravel the damage they said has been done by former treasurer Christopher J. Ward. They already have spent $370,000.

    Cole said his most important financial constituency -- GOP lawmakers, whose cash transfers and other fundraising efforts provide the largest chunk of money -- are supportive of his efforts.

    But other Republicans worried that news of what could become one of the largest political frauds in recent history may dampen fundraising as donors question the committee's controls on their money.

    "It's not helpful; it doesn't attract donors," Davis said.

    Still, Republicans are not without hope. Thursday night, Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer (D-Ala.) announced his retirement from a district that Bush carried with 60 percent of the vote in 2004, giving Republicans their clearest shot yet at a Democratic seat.

    The GOP has pummeled swing-district Democrats for refusing to back President Bush's update of counterterrorism surveillance laws and for last week's budget agreements that will allow most, if not all, of Bush's tax cuts to expire in 2011. Davis said the issues are not getting political traction now, but they could before November.

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  21. Why George W. Bush Should Stand Trial for Capital Crimes

    Len Hart

    There is probable cause now to try George W. Bush for capital crimes in connection with the US program of torture at Abu Ghraib as well as the war of aggression against Iraq. There is evidence that George W. Bush ordered this program which most certainly resulted in numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.

    (a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

    -US Codes, TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441; How Current is This?

    Certainly, the Bush regimes has sought to make 'legal' Bush's but only after they had already been committed. The argument that Bush, as 'President', may pardon himself or grant himself retroactive immunity from prosecution is just silly. If that were the case, every President might have tried to get away with it by simply making it all up as one goes along --the very anti-thesis of the 'rule of law', indeed, 'Due Process of Law', guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. If mere Presidents were allowed this kind of power, they might as well rule by decree. As I have pointed out not even European monarchs were permitted to get away with that [See: Why Bush Made Plans to Invade the Netherlands; Bush's Unitary Executive Ends the Rule of Law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers ].

    George W. Bush has never denied that 'torture' was conducted upon his order. Abu Ghraib was not only about 'waterboarding' it was about a panoply of torture procedures --all of them perpetrated upon Bush's order. Bush has never denied that he ordered any procedure that we associate with Abu Ghraib. He has merely tried to justify it, as he tried to do in the following interview with Matt Lauer of the Today Show.

    Bush: Bully and War Criminal

    Bush does not deny. He merely tries to justify 'alternative procedures' --in English: torture and murder. We are supposed to conclude that because he has an 'obligation to protect the American people', he is above laws that make his actions punishable by death. I suppose that anyone, having committed crimes for which death is the penalty, might try the same thing. Less privileged criminals, however, should not even think about trying to make their capital crimes legal by decree. Even so, I have bad news for Bush. Even if his regime were 'legitimate' his various decrees bypassing both Congress and the Constitution are, therefore, unlawful. Bush is not above the law, though he may think he is. Likewise, King Charles I of England may have thoughtful himself above the authority of Parliament. Charles found out to late to keep his head attached to his body that he most certainly was not.

    Photos from Abu Ghraib document that these procedure resulted in death. Bush's effort to exempt himself from that law are themselves unconstitutional. Those Federal laws make Bush's orders to torture capital offenses. Let's cut to the chase; George W. Bush has committed capital crimes. I say let's get on with the trial.

    As an expert witness in the defense of an Abu Ghraib guard who was court-martialed, psychologist Philip Zimbardo had access to many of the images of abuse that were taken by the guards themselves. For a presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, California, Zimbardo assembled some of these pictures into a short video.

    Wired.com obtained the video from Zimbardo's
    talk, and is publishing some of the stills from that video here.

    Many of the images are explicit and gruesome, depicting nudity, degradation,
    simulated sex acts and guards posing with decaying corpses. Viewer discretion is advised.
    --Awful New Photos from Abu Ghraib

    Bush is in violation of specific US Codes with respect to torture procedures that Bush, significantly, has never denied. Rather, he attempts to justify his torture policies because he claims that he has an obligation to protect the American people. His case is not convincing. When all the stats are analyzed, I am confident that it will be proven that by giving presumed enemies a cause celebre to wage war upon the US and its people, terrorism will have increased and the American people put in increased jeopardy and danger. Certainly, official FBI stats, compiled and published by the Brookings Institution, proved conclusively that while Ronald Reagan waged his equally absurd 'war on terrorism', terrorism, in fact, got much, much worse. Americans are endanger by these reckless right wing, GOP policies.

    Bush's torture policies are not only counter-productive, they are, in fact, capital crimes for which Bush must answer personally. Federal Judges may convene Grand Juries of their own motions. I urge a courageous and honorable Federal Judge to do precisely that. I would encourage such a judge to charge this panel with a full investigation of the capital crimes for which there is probable cause against Bush. Bush should be subpoenaed to appear before such a panel and prosecuted for obstruction of justice if he refuses.

    Bush's decrees designed to place himself above the law are null and void,themselves unlawful. Bush should be compelled under oath to tell the truth or risk an indictment for perjury. Should he perjure himself, he thus risks prosecution for capital crimes, and, likewise, should he decide to confess his complicity in war crimes for which the penalty is death. Bush must stand trial now for having committed capital crimes.

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  22. The AP Reports that global markets are tumbling today on the news that Bear Stearns is being bailed out by JP Morgan Chase:

    Global markets plunged Monday on news that JPMorgan Chase, backed by the U.S. government, had to rescue troubled Bear Stearns, with investors struggling to gauge how much worse financial markets could get.

    "Its difficult to call where the bottom is," said Richard Hunter, a broker at Hargreaves Lansdown in London.

    The New York Times is reporting that Bear Stearns has agreed to be bought out by JPMorgan Chase:

    Bear Stearns, pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by what amounted to a run on the bank, agreed late Sunday to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase for a mere $2 a share, narrowly averting a collapse that threatened to cascade through the financial system.

    The price represents a startling 93 percent discount to Bear Stearns' closing stock price on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The share price represents a huge fall from what Bear Stearns stock fetched on year ago:

    Reflecting Bear Stearns's dire straits, JPMorgan agreed to pay just $236 million for the firm, a figure that includes the price of Bear's soaring headquarters on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. At $2 a share, JPMorgan is buying Bear Stearns for a third of the price at which the troubled firm went public in 1985. Only a year ago, Bear's shares fetched $170. The cut-rate price reflects deep misgivings about the firm's prospects.
    Alan Greenspan writes in the Financial Times that this current financial crisis is likely the worst since WWII:

    The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war. It will end eventually when home prices stabilise and with them the value of equity in homes supporting troubled mortgage securities.

    Home price stabilisation will restore much-needed clarity to the marketplace because losses will be realised rather than prospective. The major source of contagion will be removed. Financial institutions will then recapitalise or go out of business. Trust in the solvency of remaining counterparties will be gradually restored and issuance of loans and securities will slowly return to normal. Although inventories of vacant single-family homes - those belonging to builders and investors - have recently peaked, until liquidation of these inventories proceeds in earnest, the level at which home prices will stabilise remains problematic.

    Wall Street is waiting for what might come next:

    A big Bear Stearns-shaped cloud will be hanging over Wall Street this week.

    As investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley kick off the first quarter reporting season, investors' already-frayed nerves have been strained to breaking point by the crisis surrounding Bear.

    Bankers say last week's near-collapse of one of the most feared and influential US brokerage firms could not have come at a worse time for a sector battered by bad news and huge losses.

    "Banks were going to report bad results anyway, but the Bear situation will put further pressure on share prices and management," says a senior Wall Street banker.

    The Fed took more steps Sunday to ease the crisis:

    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said new steps announced by the central bank Sunday should help squeezed financial institutions get cash infusions_ a fresh effort to provide relief to a spreading credit crisis that threatens to plunge the economy into recession.
    The central bank approved a cut in its lending rate to financial institutions to 3.25 percent from 3.50 percent, effective immediately, and created another lending facility for big investment banks to secure short-term loans.

    "These steps will provide financial institutions with greater assurance of access to funds," Bernanke told reporters in a brief conference call Sunday evening.

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  23. Los Angeles Times:

    In the three years after she left her post at "Dateline NBC," Maria Shriver collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the network as part of an exit deal, even as she pondered whether she could continue her journalism career while her husband was governor of California.

    Shriver, who relinquished her role at "Dateline" in February 2004, three months after Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn into office, continued to receive paychecks from NBC into 2007, according to statements of economic interest the governor is required to file in Sacramento.

    The documents indicate that NBC paid her between $100,000 and $1 million during each of the last three years. Daniel Zingale, Shriver's chief of staff, declined to specify the exact amount. NBC had no comment.

    The payments to Shriver were part of an "exit agreement" she arranged with the network in April 2004 after executives became uncomfortable with her working as a journalist while she was the state's first lady, Zingale said.

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  24. BAGHDAD — Sometime soon, the U.S. military will suffer the 4,000th death of the war in Iraq.

    When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was just gaining steam. The 2,000th death came as Iraq held its first elections in decades, in October 2005. The U.S. announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006, at the end of a year rocked by sectarian violence.

    Are you happy Bush?

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  25. On April 1, 2007, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) strolled through the open-air Shorja market in Baghdad in an effort to prove that Americans are “not getting the full picture” of what’s going on in Iraq. In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market was proof that people could “walk freely” in parts of Baghdad.

    What McCain failed to mention was that he was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” He also appeared to be wearing a bulletproof vest during his visit.

    Since that trip, McCain has claimed that the situation in Iraq has improved even more. A few months ago, McCain claimed that “we’ve succeeded militarily” in Iraq. Things, of course, are going so well, that he wants to keep U.S. troops there for at least 100 years.

    McCain is now back in Iraq for a “surprise visit with Iraqi and American diplomatic and military leaders.” He is joined by fellow Iraq war defenders Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). But it’s unlikely they will be visiting the Shorja market again. Today, CNN reported that they tried to visit the Shorja market, but it was too unsafe and they were unable to go:

    We got close to that marketplace today, Jim, but our own security advisers here in Iraq did not want us to go there. They didn’t believe it was safe for an American to be in that area. We were in a thriving marketplace nearby.

    But when you show up, the local Iraqis, while it is clear security is better on the street — it is clear there are more markets open, just the traffic jams alone tell you that things are better on the streets of Baghdad — it’s also a very sensitive potential neighborhoods.

    That one marketplace, as a matter of fact, you do see Iraqi police, you do see the Iraqi army, but in truth, that area is controlled by the radical cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi army.

    Civilian deaths per day in Iraq are up to 39 from a low of 20 last January, while at the same time, there has been “a sharp increase in attacks resulting in the deaths of U.S. soldiers.” Twelve Americans were killed last week over a period of four days, “bringing the overall U.S. military death toll since the start of the war near 4,000.”

    ANOTHER MCCAIN LIE!

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  26. When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

    Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.

    Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father's sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our "stand" by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American.

    Consider a few passages from my father's immensely influential America-bashing book A Christian Manifesto. It sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to best-selling religious books. Nevertheless it sold more than a million copies.

    Here's Dad writing in his chapter on civil disobedience:

    If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US government]... then at a certain point force is justifiable.

    And this:

    In the United States the materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools... There is an obvious parallel between this and the situation in Russia [the USSR]. And we really must not be blind to the fact that indeed in the public schools in the United States all religious influence is as forcibly forbidden as in the Soviet Union....

    Then this:

    There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate... A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion... It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates it's authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation...

    Was any conservative political leader associated with Dad running for cover? Far from it. Dad was a frequent guest of the Kemps, had lunch with the Fords, stayed in the White House as their guest, he met with Reagan, helped Dr. C. Everett Koop become Surgeon General. (I went on the 700 Club several times to generate support for Koop).

    Dad became a hero to the evangelical community and a leading political instigator. When Dad died in 1984 everyone from Reagan to Kemp to Billy Graham lamented his passing publicly as the loss of a great American. Not one Republican leader was ever asked to denounce my dad or distanced himself from Dad's statements.

    Take Dad's words and put them in the mouth of Obama's preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet when we of the white Religious Right denounced America white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words "godly" and "prophetic" and a "call to repentance."

    We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

    My dad's books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the "respectable" evangelical community and he's still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he'd take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad's Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler's Germany.

    The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister's words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to "bear arms" as "insurance" to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as "fallen away from God" at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.

    Today we have a marriage of convenience between the right wing fundamentalists who hate Obama, and the "progressive" Clintons who are playing the race card through their own smear machine. As Jane Smiley writes in the Huffington Post "[The Clinton's] are, indeed, now part of the 'vast right wing conspiracy.' (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-smiley/im-already-against-the-n_b_90628.html )

    Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back

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  27. BY Michael Russnow

    With all that's going on in the Democratic race, I'm sure the Republican Dirty Tricks Forces are rubbing their hands in glee. So, my question, as I expound a bit on this and that regarding the presidential contest, is to repeat the oft-posted Rodney King admonition, "Why can't we all just get along?"

    We Democrats are dangerously close to helping the Republicans score a renewal of the White House lease and in many ways it is because the two Democratic front runners are so close in their political philosophies. It would be much easier if one of them were running against, say, Joe Lieberman instead of the other. We would then be able to choose between major candidates based on clear-cut issues instead of the personality squabbles and petty bickering that have grown increasingly ugly.

    Buzz up!on Yahoo!For starters, race and religion should not be a factor in an American political campaign, and although it might be Pollyannish of me to even express that point of view it has to be stated and stated again. If only it were not on people's minds then we would not have a photo of Obama in African costume along with persistent questions to Hillary Clinton as to whether her campaign planted the photo and/or whether she believed him when he said he wasn't a Muslim.

    He isn't a Muslim, but even if he were it shouldn't matter, and in a better world there wouldn't be frenetic Media attempts to boost ratings and sell journals parsing Hillary's response as to whether she was flirting with current prejudices regarding this religion. Anyone who knows the Clintons is well aware that they have both embraced and been supported by folks in minority groups and those who practice a variety of religious beliefs. And anyone who has followed Barack Obama's career knows full well that his rise in politics has certainly been aided by an even-tempered and cosmopolitan societal acceptance for and by all aspects of our American family, whether as an Ivy League student or working with community activists on the South Side of Chicago.

    That said, it probably would have been smarter for Hillary to just say, "I'm not going to discuss religion in that context, because religion has no place at the table in American political discussion unless it intrudes on our collective well-being."

    To the point, there are wonderful human beings here and around the world who are Muslim, Christian and Jewish, and there are also those who lurk on the extreme perimeters of those religions making hurtful comments and sometimes inflicting physical harm on those who don't subscribe to the very narrow doctrinaire ways in which they conduct their lives.

    Why should the majority of any religion be tainted with the sins and idiotic statements of those few among them who seek to divide us? Intolerant people who castigate those who conduct their lives in a fruitful and amicable manner. Small minded bigots who condemn, threaten and sometimes harm those with personal lifestyles and choices performed by consenting adults that pose no real detriment to the community simply because such actions or viewpoints are not considered to be the majority's preferred cup of tea blend?

    And why are the Obama forces trying to make us wonder about Hillary's tax records when she said she would reveal them by April 15, a full week ahead of the upcoming Pennsylvania primary? If there's anything damning, believe me the Media are fast readers and have, no doubt, employed oodles of CPAs and tax experts so that they can, perhaps eagerly, report to the world that Hillary and her husband have been acting fishy.

    Why are both of these candidates not honing in on the specific differences regarding how each would conduct our government? As someone who thought the Iraq intrusion was foolhardy before our entry, which would presumably put me more on the Obama side, why do I see little difference between Hillary and Barack at the present moment? He can't just keep repeating a speech he gave when he was a state senator in the Illinois legislature. His comments at that time may well have been sincere, but a clearer match-up in this particular debate and follow-up would pit Hillary against John Edwards and Joe Biden, my earlier preferred presidential candidates, as well as Christopher Dodd, all of whom were in the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2002. They, like Hillary, voted, in my view, erroneously for the war authorization and during the earlier part of the campaign season had different takes on how and when we should have a troop pullback.

    But to contrast Hillary with Barack on this particular senate action is like apples and oranges, because we don't know if Hillary would have felt the same if she had no specific responsibility as a member of the Senate and was instead, perhaps, teaching law or government service at a prestigious university. Nor do we know for sure whether Obama would have dissented if he'd been in the Senate then. We do know that Obama and Clinton have voted similarly regarding war funding and the general Iraq mission since they have both been colleagues on Capitol Hill.

    They both give reasons as to why we can't just cut and run, even though, to my mind, with the increasing deaths and maiming on both the Iraqi and U.S. sides we should do just that. If we are no longer there, in spite of the McCain/Bush rhetoric, it will have much less impact on our national security, as there would be no fodder for terrorist attacks. Certainly not against our country. As many have said since our 2003 invasion, up to that time we had so much goodwill around the world by those who were so sympathetic because of the events in New York City, Washington, D.C and the Pennsylvania field in the fall of 2001. And we blew it all with this reckless, tragic and extremely costly misadventure.

    So, we should instead be discussing Clinton and Obama's different national health policy initiatives and their specific ways to stop our economic failures at home and abroad, amidst the mortgage crisis and the slide in the dollar. We should look at them personally only in how confident we feel about their knowledge of domestic and world events, and not simply count their years in office and/or public service but where they were spent and how relevant they may be to convince the national electorate that he or she has the right stuff to lead our country.

    Instead it's become a tit for tat gossip clash, and while Obama appears less confrontational in his replies to Clinton's sometimes strident remarks against his candidacy, he is equally to blame when outrageous charges and comments about Hillary are leveled by his top supporters. In particular, those who have taken a key part in his campaign and whose utterances must have been vetted by him, if not immediately, then certainly shortly thereafter. Especially as negative unkind remarks are continually put forth albeit in different formats and venues. And that goes for Clinton's campaign forces as well when campaign stunts are directed Obama's way.

    Folks, we are handing the White House to John McCain, so long as he doesn't make a major mistake. If he appears pleasant, if not very creative or forward seeking, it will give the majority of our nation's voters a greater sense of comfort as they perhaps reluctantly direct George W. Bush to hand the keys of the Executive Mansion to McCain. Voters are funny that way, and even with all the problems of the past seven years, if they see the principal candidates on the other side squabbling hysterically as in the current mess, they will shrug their shoulders and perhaps hold their nose but vote for McCain as someone who doesn't completely embarrass them.

    That's why I am issuing this plea for the candidates and their key supporters to ratchet down the rhetoric and remember who they are really running against and what they hope to achieve for our nation. They are both so close in the delegate and popular vote, and with the Michigan and Florida primaries possibly going to be redone it may well be closer than ever by the time we get to the convention in Denver.

    If it is, and since it is part of the process, we have to entrust the super delegates to perform a necessary service based upon their experience and view of the political scenario as it unfolds in the late summer. To indicate, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi did the other day, that it's all up to who is ahead in delegates, even if it's so, so very close and neither has a majority, is to in effect nullify the necessity of the super delegates themselves. The nomination process is not a plurality contest as it would be for candidates running for senator or governor in most states. In those situations, assuming there are three or four candidates, someone could win office with thirty or forty percent -- or even less.

    However, we have instituted a process wherein the leaders of our political party can take a hard view of what's going on and, given the proximity of national support for both candidates, give their votes to either candidate to put him or her over the top. It's not as if they were poised to award the nomination to a candidate such as Kucinich, Dodd, Biden or even Edwards. Nonetheless, their selection process must be predicated on who has the best chance of winning, considering the even nature of the current contest.

    To do less and to simply vote for the candidate who is ahead in votes -- no matter the slight difference -- makes them irrelevant and unnecessary, which I do not for a minute believe would sit well with the egos of every member of Congress, our nation's governors, former presidents and other leading political figures.

    Whatever the case, whoever is chosen should not be hamstrung with so much disappointment by the supporters of the other side that the most important goal -- that of recapturing the White House that was stolen in the election of 2000 -- is not realized because of the collateral damage done to the fabric of either candidate's persona and political being. We must not, under any circumstance, allow this to happen, and to do that we have to debate reasonably among ourselves and above all we must pledge to get along.

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  28. Sheryl Crow says she'll soon be singing with Fleetwood Mac, a move sure to give new life to the classic rock band, which hasn't toured in several years.

    "I don't want to make any official announcements, but I will say that we definitely have plans for collaborating in the future, and we'll see what happens," Crow told the AOL music Web site Spinner.com.

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  29. A countless number of inspiring women have said (and done) a countless number of inspiring things. To celebrate Women’s History Month, I’m highlighting only some of the infinite brilliance of women.

    1. If women could go into your Congress, I think justice would soon be done to the Indians.
    Sara Winnemucca, Piute tribe activist, 1883

    2. I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights.
    Inez Milholland, Suffragist 1909

    3. Women more than men can strip war of its glamour and its out-of-date heroisms and patriotisms, and see it as a demon of destruction and hideous wrong.
    Lillian Wald, nurse, public health advocate, social worker.

    4. I was just born to swing, that’s all.
    Lil Hardin Armstrong, bandleader, 1930’s

    5. There are no good girls gone wrong - just bad girls found out.
    Mae West, actress

    6. People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.”
    Martha Gelhorn, Novelist, essayist, and war correspondent

    7. Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.
    Janice Joplin, singer

    8. We are coming down from our pedestal and up from the laundry room.
    Bella Abzug, lawyer

    9. As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”
    Virginia Woolf, author

    10. In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she’s a feminist or a masochist.
    Gloria Steinem, feminist

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  30. Bear Stearns Claimed on Friday that their shares had a book value of $80 a share then a mere 2 DAYS later in the dark of night while the markets were closed sold out for $2 a share...............Where's Eliot Spitzer when you need him, he just loves screwing people in NY :D LOL!

    BTW, wouldnt Spitzer make a great VICE President for Clinton........think about it, there'd be lots of VICE in that White House with Bill and Elliot prowling for interns and prostitutes.

    Seriously though the CEO and upper management should be in jail for fraud for issueing false statements they said there was NO liquidity crisis and that the book value was $80 a share then in the dead of night before even the next time the stock market was open at shareholder expense they just gave it to JPM Chase.for like 1/50 of what they had just CLAIMED it was worth.

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  31. Sadly that was hilarious. That was funny but you can hear the chief idiot saying it!

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  32. Carlyle Finishes Ugly Business

    By Tom Hutchinson March 17, 2008
    1 Recommendation

    The credit crisis entered a new and more ominous phase last week, as prestigious companies began to fall prey to the pressures of the market.

    Carlyle Capital Corp. announced on Sunday that its shareholders have voted in favor of a compulsory winding up, joining Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) among the most conspicuous credit-crisis casualties of the past week.

    What happened?
    Carlyle Capital Corp., an affiliate of the one of the world's largest private equity firms, The Carlyle Group, was unable to come to an arrangement with lenders last week. Lenders then took possession of the funds' assets. The Carlyle Group, based in Washington, D.C., has around $75 billion under management, including donut seller Dunkin' Brands and TV ratings agency Nielsen. Although Carlyle executives own 15% of the defunct fund, they said the fund's woes will not have a measurable impact on any of the company's other funds.

    Although the fund had primarily invested in mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE), they leveraged themselves to positively obscene proportions. Get this: Carlyle Capital Corp only raised $670 million in client money, but used that money to borrow enough to acquire a $21.7 billion bond portfolio. In fact, the fund was leveraged about 32 times.

    As the value of mortgage-backed securities used as collateral for loans decreased in this market, lenders got nervous and demanded Carlyle put up more money to compensate for the falling values. When Carlyle failed to meet the margin requirements, lenders led by Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) began to sell the fund's assets.

    What now?
    No one knows when this spate of bailouts and defaults will end. Rumors are flooding Wall Street regarding which firms might be next. The rumor mill is a slippery slope. Rumors can be self-fulfilling prophesies as a firm's clients get nervous and begin to pull their money out of the firm, thereby making the rumor a reality.

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  33. Carlyle is in trouble as well maybe thats what the Idiot in Chief was refering to when he said the economy is in a rough patch.

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  34. Hippocratic Oath or Hypocritic Oath You Decide?

    I feel like we've been living in some kind of bizarrro twilight zone episode the last 6 or 7 years. Correct me if I'm wrong, but just like doctors take a hippocratic oath to “do thy patient no harm”, doesnt our countries president also take an oath to defend and uphold the US Constitution, and dont other various professionals like lawyers, mortgage brokers, realtors etc... also take an oath saying they have a fiduciary duty to look after and protect their clients best interests rather than their own.

    What is my point you might ask, ok, i'll get to the point, i'm sick and tired of the bogus Conservative talking point that the poor saps who were misled and duped into taking on mortgage loans they didnt have a prayer of being able to pay back is a buyer beware type thing and they got what they had coming to them for not understanding the terms of the contract.............call me silly here, but I was under the impression that the mortgage brokers had a fiduciary duty to look out for the BUYERS interests and only qualify them for loans they could afford based on their ability to reasonably repay, not neglect their fiduciary duty to the buyer and promote their OWN greedy self interests by raking in fat loan origination fees and bonuses for negligently qualifying buyers for loans EVERYONE but a fool could clearly see they did not stand a chance of repaying. Conservatives keep mindlessly spewing and regurgitating the Orwellian party rhetoric and talking points like "we cant bail out reckless speculation at tax payer expense ". and "they signed the contract they need to be responsible for their actions"

    Let me just give these bogus talking points their due..........

    1) Like i said the mortgage brokers are the "so called" experts and professionals, they had a fiduciary duty to both the buyers first and their company second to give the buyers sound advice and only qualify them for loans they could afford. Instead THEY acted recklessly and irresponsibly and gave advice that benefitted themselves at their clients and companies expense. When we go to a doctor or lawyer we assume they are the experts in the area in which we seek their advice and further we expect they will use their knowledge to advise us, protect us and look out for our best interests and when they fail to do so and succomb to greed and put their own interests first they lose their license and are disbarred.

    President Bush and the Federal Reserve are using smoke and mirrors to make it "appear they are flip flopping on their Orwellian party rhetoric and talking points like "we cant bail out reckless speculation at tax payer expense ". and "they signed the contract they need to be responsible for their actions" but in reality they are doing very little, they have done nothing to help the millions that have allready lost their homes due to this predatory vulture lending, they have done nothing to address the prime loans that are about to default or the people that have gone into excessive debt, ruined their credit and are near bankruptcy trying to keep their homes. What this is, is a smoke screen to provide camaflage to bail out the the wealthy Wall Street brokerage firms. Let me correct the Conservative Doublespeak and BS rhetoric.........tax payer bailouts and welfare is fine if it is corporate welfare and bailouts for the wealthy elites. As long as the bailouts and welfare is for the Wallstreet elites and NOT the working class which constitutes the overwhelming majority of America it is perfectly fine and acceptable to the Conservative hypocrites. Take the huge tax cuts the oil and energy companies get from the Bush Administration for example are these cuts tied to anything productive like developing renewable cleaner alternative sources of energy like wind, natural gas, nuclear, clean coal, electric cars etc..., are they tied to increased production and refining, increased fuel economy; or is it a form of corporate welfare where the oil companies are Reagan's "Welfare Queens" getting government dole while raking in record profits at the expense of the working class and providing NOTHING of value in return. Say what you want about Bill Clinton, but he started welfare to work and at least demanded something in return for collecting welfare. Conservative’s often screech about free markets and capitalism, I wish we truly had freemarket capitalism, what Bush has given us is crony capitalism.

    Right now we essentially have the fox in charge of the chicken coup. In summary we have a President who took an oath to defend and uphold the US Constitution, and instead he calls it a "goddamn piece of paper" and tries to torch it and has become the greatest enemy and threat the Constitution has ever known in our entire history, we have government regulators at the FCC and SEC whose job it is to protect consumers, diversity of opinion and truth in the media who have never seen a merger they didn’t like, and who could care less about the American people or ideals they were empowered to protect but only care about protecting the interests of the oil and media lobbies who are lining their pockets and pulling their strings. They could care less about protecting the consumer from the ruthless price gouging of the monopolies and oligopolies, and from media empires deceiving and manipulating people with their corporate fascist agendas. We have mortgage brokers lining their own pockets at the expense of those they were supposed to advise and protect, we have doctors and insurance and HMO companies who care more about lining their own pockets than providing quality health care and saving lives, we have Senators whose job it is to protect children from sexual predators who are sexual predators themselves.

    So in conclusion I have to say it looks like "do thy patient no harm" has become in conservative jargon a "quaint" and antiquated way of thinking it has been replaced by a greed is good mentality. The hippocratic oath has been replaced by a hypocritic oath, we NEED to decide in the 2008 election if hypocrisy is acceptible or if we want to go back to the days of the hippocratic oath and restore honor and integrity to our country, by taking it back from the entrenched special interests.

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  35. I wrote the above piece back around New Years and in light of the recent bailout of Bear Stearns and recent statements from Bush and other repug cronnies in the MSM i felt the need to repost it................the notion by these hippocritical elitists fools that corporate welfare for the wealthy elite and Wall Street brokerages at TAXPAYER is somehow magnanimous and beneficial in providing an "orderly market" while providing a little help for people losing their homes because of being misled into loans they can no longer afford, job losses sickness etc or help paying medical insurance is "socialized medicine" and some kind of step toward communism is a riddiculous joke.

    If anything preventing a housing collapse and mass unemployment due to excessive forclosures is more important than letting a Wall Street brokerage or two collapse, in a competitive free market the demise of a reckless firm or two during a severe recession will only serve to make the surviving firms stronger and more profitable, while letting the base or the working class erode through mass forclosures and the resultant unemployment will compromise and weaken the entire economy and the foundations it is built upon.

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  36. Further Everyone is talking and focusing on the Bear Stearns bailout.............i'm wondering why the MSM ISNT covering the liquidity problems at Carlyle Group.

    Could the MSM be providing a smoke screen for a bail out for Carlyle at taxpayer expense to cover up Bush and the repugs hippocrissy that they dont support bailouts for reckless speculation at taxpayer expense.

    The correct talking point should be they support welfare for the corporate and wealthy elite just not for the working class.

    Bush and his thugs and corporate cronnies are strongly afiliated with Carlyle Group so do you guys think it is a coincidence that the MSM is burying the fact that Carlyle is also in trouble and they are sweeping it under the table while talking about Bear Stearns 24/7?????

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  37. The Emperor Cult

    By Tim Case

    "Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends."

    ~ Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine

    "Lew Rockwell" -- - Too often history is viewed through the blinders of what ruler made what decision, or what war occurred, on what date. This had led to many not understanding the effects the state and its leadership could or will have on their lives.

    This, I believe, also leads to one of the reasons for a continuing admiration, if not adoration, of the state and the state leadership.

    We don’t know or aren’t told what effect such and such ruler’s decisions had on the masses of people and their lives. What did they feel or think? How did it change their lives? What was the people’s response; was it flight, fright, or fight? Let me give you an extreme, but not uncommon example.

    Preceding the U.S. entry into WWI, America’s president, Woodrow Wilson, set the stage for one (of many) of the Federal government’s most profane periods in American history.

    While still "neutral" President Woodrow Wilson in his State of the Union address on December 7, 1915, said in part:

    "There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags, but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt... necessary that we should promptly make use of processes of law by which we may be purged of their corrupt distempers... I am urging you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation... disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out... I need not suggest the terms in which they may be dealt with."

    He was speaking of the German-Americans and many who heard or read his speech took it as a directive to attack German ideas and beliefs. Whole communities went so far as to suspect anyone who spoke German of treason to the U.S. government while being loyal to the German Kaiser.

    California Congressman Julius Kahn went even further when speaking of the German people living in America:

    "I hope that we shall have a few prompt hangings and the sooner the better. We have got to make an example of a few of these people, and we have got to do it quickly."

    The hatred that was being garnered against these American citizens is exemplified by the New York Times headlines of April 6, 1918: "Senators favor shooting traitors," then six days later by the Chicago Tribune’s headlines "Cure treason and disloyalty by firing squad."

    In 1918 my grandmother, who was of German heritage, was 22 years old. Many years later I asked her why she wouldn’t speak German, even though I knew she could speak it fluently. What she told me was chilling.

    She related to me, with tears in her eyes, that during 1915 to 1918 she was so frightened that she would be arrested, shot or hung by the federal government, for speaking her native language that she swore she would never speak German again. She never did and she forbad me from ever leaning German as a second language!

    Was my grandmother an isolated example? No, there were many among the loyal German communities that lived in fear and were dehumanized by being called "Huns" or worse.

    It is easy to see then how the perception of history may change when we can show the consequences of government policy on people’s lives, along with the dates and events.

    While some may think of the events of the early 1900’s as being recent history, it is still history. Furthermore with history, regardless of the era, we are dealing ultimately with the lives of real men, women and children who lived it, suffered through it, and struggled to cope with the events that were overtaking them.

    The same is true of those who lived, worked, and supported the Roman Empire.

    When Augustus Caesar took the throne in 27 BC, at the age of 36, it marked the end of almost a century of revolution, civil wars, civil disturbances, confiscations of property, and prohibitions. Tacitus tells us that the whole world was exhausted and was thrilled to acquiesce to the Roman Empire just to have peace.

    One of Augustus’ first acts was to reform the tax system. Next he again standardized the silver coin of the realm, the denarius, at 84 to the pound and the realm’s gold coin, the aureus, at 40 to 42 to the pound.

    This had a calming effect on the Romans and restored the unity, pride and material affluence of the people (in fact only about 10% of the population would actually benefit from the prosperity) in the Roman Empire which also solidified Augustus’ reign as emperor.

    During the early days of the republic the Romans had lived comfortably with a modest tax which can be rightfully called a wealth tax. However, by the time of Augustus the Roman people were saddled with a progressive tax and a system of tax collection that was fraught with repression and criminal extortion.

    Augustus’ idea was to set a flat tax based on wealth and population. This new tax was modeled on the ancient tax system of the early republic and was based on both population and individual wealth. This is probably what he meant when he said of himself:

    "I restored many traditions of the ancestors, which were falling into disuse in our age, and myself I handed on precedents of many things to be imitated in later generations."

    The effect of Augustus’ new tax system was that it standardized the amount of revenue the Roman state would receive yearly and stopped the brutal progressiveness of the older tax system.

    This placed the citizens of Roman Empire in a unique position, because now they knew each year what their tax liability was but more importantly they knew that anything they earned above the required tax was theirs, no matter how much their income increased.

    The obvious result of such a tax system was that there was now a major incentive to become producers, especially since the marginal tax rate above the required tax was zero. Never mind that the wealth earned this year would be assessed and taxed next year; they now had a full year to use their money to increase their income before their wealth was reassessed.

    The Forum Romanum called by the Romans Forum Magnum or just the Forum, was the center of Roman life; as such it was the Roman heart of commerce and banking along with being the location for the administration of justice.

    The importance of the Forum made the streets leading to and from it prime locations for businesses which supported many bookshops, shoe shops, the finest spice shops and the daily needs of Rome’s citizens.

    Augustus’ pro-growth tax system brought about the lowest interest rates in Roman history. This is turn led to people borrowing investment capital for new businesses or speculating in commodities.

    Business ventures require loans, and loan contracts were quickly standardized throughout the empire.

    Julius Alexander, the lender, required a promise in good faith that the loan of 60 denarii of genuine and sound coin would be duly settled on the day he requested it. Alexander, son of Cariccius, the borrower, promised in good faith that it would be so settled, and declared that he had received the sixty denarii mentioned above, in cash, as a loan, and that he owed them. Julius Alexander required a promise in good faith that the interest on this principal from this day would be one percent per thirty days and would be paid to Julius Alexander or to whomever it might in the future concern. Alexander, son of Cariccius, promised in good faith that it would be so paid. Titius Primitius stood surety for the due and proper payment of the principal mentioned above and of the interest.

    Transacted at Alburnus Maior, October 20, in the consulship of Rusticus (his second consulship) and Aquilinus.

    We have no way of knowing what this gentleman wanted to use the 60 denarii for, but consider for a moment the timing of this loan which closed on October 20th.

    In ancient Rome wheat was the staple of the people, which made its supply critical. Estimates of the yearly market need in Rome for wheat range from 20 to 40 million modii; where a modii is approximately 15 pounds or ¼ bushel of wheat. This means that the average consumption of wheat in ancient Rome was 30 million modii – 450,000,000 pounds – annually.

    Given that at this time the population of Rome was in the neighborhood of 5,000,000 we find the average need per person, annually was 6 modii: 90 pounds – 1½ bushels. Of course these totals are going to be greater or lesser based on gender, age, ability to pay and doesn’t take into account the state’s grain welfare program.

    However, it shows that Rome required vast amounts of wheat, and highlights its tenuous position.

    Something happened to the grain shipments in 18 BC because Augustus Caesar wrote:

    From that year when Gnaeus and Publius Lentulus were consuls, when the taxes fell short, I gave out contributions of grain and money from my granary and patrimony, sometimes to 100,000 men, sometimes to many more.

    There are many things that could hinder the flow of wheat to Rome but the one thing that not even the might of Rome could change was the weather on the Mediterranean Sea.

    The transporting of goods overland was cost prohibitive except for short distances and that left shipping via the Mediterranean Sea to bring the majority of goods to Rome. That is until November of each year when the storms on the Mediterranean closed it to trade until March of the following year. Even during October and April it would be dangerous to sail the Mediterranean, due to sudden storms, so we can assume that wheat imports would begin to taper off in October of each year and would not resume again until sometime in April.

    The five plus months when the wheat ceased to arrive must have caused the price to rise based on the simple laws of supply and demand since this law was the controlling factor in Rome’s economy.

    If Alexander, son of Cariccius took out the loan because he was a baker and wanted a hedge against wheat shortages for the five months that the Mediterranean was closed to shipping; he would have been able to purchase 120 modii – 30 bushels, 1800 pounds – of wheat.

    Many have called the era from Caesar Augustus until the death of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in 180 AD, the golden years of the Roman Empire. In some ways it was. Augustus’ sweeping reforms dealt with all aspects of the Roman life and set the stage for a very successful period in Roman history. Gibbon even goes so far as to call this period the time when the "human race was most prosperous and happy."

    What is missed in all the jubilation is that Caesar Augustus was ahead of his time. His Fabian socialist ideals were the firm foundations upon which the misery of countless generations would eventually rest.

    The Roman people loved their emperor and the peace that came with Augustus’ programs. They were caught up in their success and daily life; raising their children, paying their bills along with the myriad of things that just living entails.

    Like the sirens of Greek mythology whose sweet singing lured mariners to destruction on the rocks, so is the promise of the state; regardless of the age.

    The Romans were simply people, and being human they either didn’t see or refused to believe the destruction that was overtaking them even as the producers in their society started becoming insolvent then dejected due to the heavy controls that the state was imposing on their lives.

    By 192 AD the tax base began to fail; as tax revenues decreased the Roman state began to micromanage the economy, which bound farmers to their farms and craftsmen to their workbenches. All businesses soon became de facto organs of the state; it was business at the point of a sword which tried to control and direct all aspects of the markets. The Roman state’s efforts were to no avail, commerce continued to deteriorate due to the tax burden.

    The Roman state’s answer was to exacerbate the problem by increasing the money supply, so denarii with less silver content were issued.

    As inflation raged prices sky rocketed (at one point inflation reached an estimated 15,000%), people began to put aside and hide the older, high silver content coins and pay their taxes in the newly issued coins of less value. International trade soon slowed to a crawl. The "real" value of the state’s revenues, as expected, was proportionally reduced.

    It wasn’t long before the Roman state began requisitioning cattle and food directly from the farmers, and other producers were simply robbed, as needs arose, by the army. The result was social chaos ensuing from state terrorism which some have christened "permanent terrorism."

    The Roman state even went so far as to demand that state permission be given before anyone could change their residence or occupation. The state fixed prices and wages which eventually led to a complete failure of the visible market, since there was no work there was nothing to buy or sell so the people resorted to food riots, lawlessness and city flight.

    The same creeping socialism that affected the Roman Empire has been at work in America since the adoption of the Constitution over the Articles of Confederation, and like those ancient people of Rome we are caught in its trap. Was it the love of the state or our foolishness that resulted in our not seeing what is now overtaking us? Future historians will have to decide.

    For the present we will continue to put up with TSA theft of private property, special travel ID’s, threats from Homeland security that permission will be needed for employment and government regulations designed to "monitor" commerce.

    As our civilization continues its slide into the socialistic abyss of monetary suicide and as the real possibility of famine lurks on the horizon, let’s at least not allow the words of the Roman poet, satirist, and literary critic, Horace to be a vision of our future.

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  38. Time corrupts all. What has it not made worse?
    Our grandfathers sired feebler children; theirs
    Were weaker still – ourselves; and now our curse
    Must be to breed even more degenerate heirs.

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  39. Who Is Rev. Moon? 'Returning Lord,' 'Messiah,' Publisher of the Washington Times

    By John Gorenfeld,

    The following is an adapted excerpt from John Gorenfeld's "Bad Moon Rising: How Reverend Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right, and Built an American Kingdom" (Polipoint Press, 2008).

    One chilly Tuesday evening, strange things were afoot on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate was hosting a ceremony at the request of a wealthy, elderly newspaper publisher who wanted official recognition as a majestic, divine visitor to Washington. The Dirksen Senate Office Building made for an unlikely temple: a formidable seven-story block of white marble, looming on a street corner diagonally across from the Capitol Dome, its marble pediment is inscribed, "THE SENATE IS THE LIVING SYMBOL OF OUR UNION OF STATES."

    On March 23, 2004, U.S. lawmakers were filmed here in a conference room, paying tribute to the enigmatic Reverend Sun Myung Moon, then eighty-four, and his wife, Hak Ja, sixty-four.

    As the cameras rolled, two congressmen presented the Koreans with matching royal costumes. Wearing the burgundy robes and shining crowns, which crested into jagged golden pinnacles, the married couple smiled and waved for the cameras.

    Who was this self-proclaimed monarch? In the 1970s, the evening news had presented Moon, the ranting, middle-aged business tycoon who wore flowing robes on special occasions, as Korea's answer to L. Ron Hubbard, someone for college students to avoid, luring thousands of young Americans into a cult in which they sold carnations on the street and married spouses he chose for them. But the media had moved on to other nightmares, leaving Moon, forgotten, to reinvent himself. Now time had wizened him into an elderly patriarch, wearing an ashen face for his coronation. An orange Senate VIP name tag remained pinned to his gray suit, peeking out from between rows of curly gold filigree, as he stood on stage at the head of a red carpet.

    The King of Peace, the Lord of the Fourth Israel, the Messiah, they called him now -- and the publisher of the Washington Times. Though over a dozen congressmen attended his pageant, no one spoke a word of it to the press, not at first. By the time the secret was out, and ABC News was broadcasting the strange sights, it was three months later -- summertime-and school was coming soon to the States. Soon grand parade marshals would drive teen queens and their bouquets around football fields, and the helmets of varsity teams would crash through banners. And homecoming would not be so different, insisted the two hapless congressmen, from the Reverend Moon's rites, which had become a scandal.

    "People crown kings and queens at homecoming parades all the time," the liberal Chicago representative Danny Davis (D-IL) said.

    "I remember the king and queen thing," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). "But we have the king and queen of the prom, the king and queen of 4-H, the Mardi Gras and all sorts of other things. I had no idea what he was king of."

    Yes, they admitted, it was them on camera, walking in the procession with slow, worshipful steps, bowing to the stage where the Moons stood. Those were Davis's hands, wearing white gloves to avoid defiling the embroidered pillow he carried, a crown bobbing on it, to be lain on the brow of Mrs. Moon; that was Bartlett carrying the burgundy cape for Mr. Moon's shoulders. Neither seemed embarrassed.

    The "throne room" itself belonged to the U.S. Senate, whose Rules Committee, under Republican senator Trent Lott (R-MS), had the final say in who booked rooms and whether visitors could be anointed kings in them. And a senator had to sign off on that. The name of the senator, said one of the evening's hosts, the defrocked Catholic priest George Stallings, was "shrouded in mystery."

    "There are moments that best play straight," CNN anchor Aaron Brown said after I discovered the pageant. "So here goes. Lawmakers welcome a guy to Congress -- and the messiah shows up."

    The coronation had been disguised as a Washington awards dinner, sponsored by a conservative, pro-war senator who had modestly kept his name out of the picture. The party began normally enough, serving portions of chicken and fish from the buffet and windy politicians' speeches from the podium. But through a bait and switch -- and a strange internal logic -- room G-50 of the Senate office building, all marble and eagle seals, changed during the course of the evening into a fantasy throne room, complete with long red carpet, for the stern monarch of the Washington Times, the influential conservative newspaper that warns of immigrants and threats to Christmas -- and who also controls United Press International (UPI), the formerly great news agency.

    Moon walked from the chilly evening into the marble building dressed in a suit with bow tie and rose corsage. When he got up to deliver his keynote address, it was in a gravelly northern dialect of Korean, a farmer's accent. Gripping the podium, he gruffly admonished the crowd, which included members of Congress, to accept him as "God's ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority."

    With a printed copy of the speech before them -- headlined Declaring the Era of the Peace Kingdom -- guests listened to an English translation in radio earpieces. "The time has come for you to open your hearts," Moon said, "and receive the secrets that Heaven is disclosing in this age through me." To prove his credentials, he spoke of testimonials on his behalf -- from the lips of the dead, with whom he claimed the power to converse. "The five great saints," he said -- meaning Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad, and the Hindu prophet Shankara -- "and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on earth, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."

    His boasts were underscored with whoops and cheers from his followers, who had the good seats. To their church, the moment was a shining vindication for years of hardship: for being treated in the press as predators and for seeing their Christ-like hero, the Reverend Moon, forced onto the witness stand by U.S. tax attorneys, Sen. Bob Dole, and others between 1975 and 1984. Behind the gavels of government, these Pontius Pilates had pronounced Moon an enemy of the American family and the advance man for a South Korean dictator. The Reagan Justice Department had even sent Moon to prison. But now Moon was active in family values politics, and members of Congress were as submissive as puppies. Moon prevailed.

    Believing they were saving the world, Moon's men had faced desperate pressure to arrange the awards dinner. The Senate event's emcee was Michael Jenkins, leader of the American Unification Church, a white, middle-aged, blandly enthusiastic spokesman for the cause. In the autumn of 2003, Jenkins recalls in a sermon found online, the Reverend Moon had instructed him three times, first in a low voice, then louder, that unless the world enacted Moon's plan for world peace, millions would die in a new Middle East Holocaust. "Not six million," Jenkins said, "but six hundred million." That fall the Times publisher fished for hours on his boat, while his apostles begged him not to strain his health. "You tell me to rest," Moon retorted, "but I'm determining the course of history." When Moon goes reeling off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska -- where the church-owned True World Foods cannery annually ships out over twenty million pounds of salmon and other seafood -- his followers believe his fishing also mends the wounds of the Cosmos. One day, the elderly fisherman accused Jenkins's American archdiocese of taking the mission lightly. Far from it, Jenkins proclaimed from the pulpit. "Our American members are willing to die," he said. "They're willing to die. Once they understand God's will, they'll die."

    Had the Reverend Moon's crowning at the Dirksen Senate Office Building not been filmed and photographed from seemingly every possible angle, and broadcast on ABC's World News Tonight and Fox, and giggled at by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, and compared in a New York Times op-ed with an act of the Roman emperor who nominated his horse to the senate, it might have remained a mad whisper among Senate aides.

    "Moon can buy a newspaper," Chris Matthews (of MSNBC Hardball fame) said in 1982, when he was spokesperson for Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill and Moon's editors had just printed their first issue, "but I can't buy the idea he's a newspaperman."

    Five years on, the skeptics persisted. "What I don't understand," said Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in 1987, alluding to a congressional report that said Moon's aides had been career South Korean intelligence officers, "is how anyone can take seriously a newspaper that is controlled … by the agents of a foreign government. No one would take them seriously if it was Bangladesh. No one would take them seriously if it was France."

    Today the peculiar newspaper has become an "extremely important paper for conservatives," National Review editor John O'Sullivan has said, "because it's in Washington and has great influence within the administration." Its reporting is incessantly quoted on Fox News Channel, on talk radio, and in the Republican Web world, leaving a mark on public opinion. The Times originally rolled out in 1982 -- created by Moon -- to counterbalance the critical Washington Post with a friendlier treatment of the Reagan administration. The paper calls itself "America's Newspaper."

    Or is it more than just a daily newspaper? Again and again, the reverend has described his paper's role in surprising terms: as a vehicle for God's word; as "our media"; as a mighty ship at his disposal. In 2005, frustrated by his lack of appreciation in the American press, Moon fumed, "How come our media is silent? … You have to write correct articles, or maybe we should sell those newspapers … All central nations should understand the Crown of Peace Ceremony."

    Moon's messianic view of his paper has often led to strange collisions with its official image. In 1997, the paper held a party for its fifteenth anniversary at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in D.C., and it was broadcast on C-SPAN. After the tinkling of lounge piano, Bush Sr. appeared in a congratulatory video. Sen. Orrin Hatch made a few pointed comments about the "liberal modus operandi" and the spirit of capitalism, and mocked progressives for wanting to "help the poor, quote-and-quote." The Times's chief editor, Wes Pruden, spoke briefly about the man who was about to take the stage. He told the story of how that "young seeker" in Korea, a Sunday school teacher, survived torture, came to America, and now fostered good journalism with his "commitment to objectivity." Then the grim-faced Moon rose from his chair and spoke for about forty-five minutes.

    "Free sex is centered on Sayy-tan!" he rasped -- as Times associates shifted uncomfortably in their seats. His tongue drooped lazily over his lips as he let this sink in. He continued. "World literature and the media have often stimulated free sex," he said. "But from now on, you literary figures and journalists should lead the way to prevent free sex. Free sex should completely disappear." During that evening, he also directed Times staff to read a speech of his dozens of times for understanding; he smiled to himself at a private joke about the number seven that the audience seemed to find hard to follow; and he even told the crowd, "No one can oppose me."

    Chris Matthews no longer badmouths Moon. For several years his syndicated column ran in the Times. Seven years after his feisty dismissal of Moon, the fair-haired addressed a 1989 gathering with the Messiah as headliner. It was the annual conference of the Moon-sponsored World Media Association (WMA). The WMA is an allegedly serious panel that meets to think big thoughts on the future of news, behind it the flags of the world's countries, as at a UN summit. Moon is a newspaperman, after all.

    With his seclusion, baronial palaces, and personal mystery, the Reverend Moon is a modern-day Citizen Kane. Like Kane -- and Kane's real-life inspiration, William Randolph Hearst-Moon oversees a newspaper that whips up popular anger, in service to an agenda. Like Hearst's Castle (or Kane's Xanadu), Moon's palaces (in Korea, North and South America, and reportedly Switzerland) are self-built monuments to his greatness. "[W]hen the world was adrift on the stormy waves of the Cold War," he said at a Washington Times dinner televised on C-SPAN in 1997, "I established the Washington Times to fulfill God's desperate desire to save this world." For years, in the late 1980s, reporters wondered why anyone at all came to his extravagant dinner parties in Washington. Even though they always ended the same, with Moon giving himself an award, they were reliably attended by Senator Hatch and other politicians. Then the novelty of it faded, and Moon slipped from the headlines while the rivers of cash rolled on.

    Moon has never claimed to walk on water, but for decades, he has saved important Republican activists from debt and funded their organizations with a purse that has sometimes seemed inexhaustible. He has given millions to the Bush family and spent as much as $3 billion to push the conservative message in the Washington Times, which has lost money since its start. During the neoconservative Iran-Contra adventure of the 1980s, he even channeled money and support to Central American death squads. "An unsung hero of freedom," writes Paul Gottfried, a conservative scholar who has written a history of the right. "The continued refusal of Beltway conservatives publicly to acknowledge their steadfast patron is, of course, scandalous."

    Instead, they had long treated Moon like some creature locked in a mad scientist's laboratory. They threw Moon a bone from time to time with private parties, but they never welcomed him into the conservative hall of fame and never allowed the marriage to stumble into the light, where it would upset the townspeople. If it hadn't been for the Internet, it would not have.

    In the old days, the women's magazine McCall's had warned mothers about the dangers of the Unification Church, named for its pledge to fuse all religions under one Father, calling it "by far the most successful of the religious cults that have become so prominent and perplexing a feature of the American '70s." A "nettle in the national consciousness," said People.

    Evangelist Jerry Falwell, Founding Father of the Christian right, cursed Moon in a 1978 Esquire piece. The article highlighted the preacher from Lynchburg, Virginia, as the crest of a new wave, a man who might become "the first preacher to become a political leader." Falwell told the reporter, "Reverend Sun Myung Moon is like the plague. He exploits boys and girls, and he should be exported. People like Moon and the healer types, the Elmer Gantry types, are religious phonies who are raping America. They will stand before God more accountable than any criminal on Earth."

    Moon had come to build the American foundation, as he called it, for his kingdom. He came to California amid a widespread panic at cults.

    The media made Moon an icon of the craze. While the young slaved for him, Moon was reported to set sail in a fifty-foot yacht, cruise Manhattan in a custom-built Lincoln Continental, and eat from dishes etched in gold. (His church denied that he was rich and said these blessings were voluntary tokens of appreciation from members.) When Moon gave pep talks to his young sales force, who were strung out from hustling flowers, peanuts, and toys to pedestrians, he told them they were backing his desperate fight to build God's kingdom on Earth, a living fortress against the devil.

    The media didn't see it that way. Time attacked Moon as a "megalomaniacal 'messiah'" who pretended to be a Christian minister but had privately confessed the pose to be a ruse, telling the Moonies that "God is now throwing Christianity away." Moon was elsewhere assailed as a demagogue who called the Nazi Holocaust an understandable punishment for the Jewish murder of Christ and who asked for total obedience. "I am your brain," he'd said. "You can do everything in utter obedience to me. Because what I am doing is not done at random, but what I am doing is under God's command."

    Moon became such a phenomenon that, in 1977, Saturday Night Live cast comic duo John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as, respectively, Sun Myung Moon and a deprogrammer who succumbs to his magic.

    For all the paranoid fantasies of cult uprisings, the real revolution around the corner -- the 1980 victory of Ronald Reagan -- celebrated ideas poles apart from the mass mind creeds of post-hippie California. From its origins in the 1964 Goldwater campaign, the conservative insurgency glorified the rugged American individual. It also promised answers for parents horrified by the radical new ways of life chosen by their offspring. Reagan had vowed to "clean up the mess at Berkeley" and its "orgies" in 1966. The pledge resonated beyond just the student protests, taken as a promise that there would be answer to attacks on tradition.

    Eventually, the path blazed by Reagan-era activists would take America down the long road to the Bush dynasty, and the sincere belief in many quarters that the George W. Bush White House houses not only the commander in chief but the national preserver of old-time religion and family.

    Moon had his feet in both worlds: change and backlash. On the one hand, it was his communes that the older generation found frightful, numbering seven thousand American dropouts dwelling within by the late 1970s, while tens of thousands of others followed Moon. On the other hand, his troops marched in the name of reaction. Clean-cut and sexually regimented, they venerated Nixon, spoke of banishing "free sex," and said they were starting the world's first perfect families.

    It's well-known that Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard went to Hollywood to become legit, but hardly anyone has heard that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon has courted Washington for decades. In the post-Watergate years, Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), met growing pressure to stand up to the church and its play for influence.

    On January 9, 1976, twenty years before running for president, Dole asked the IRS to consider repealing Moon's tax-exempt status. He wrote in a letter that Moon's empire "is based more on mind control and indoctrination than on religious faith," operating "for political purposes" as much as for God. Dole then held a televised town hall meeting on "destructive cults," attended by three hundred parents from thirty states who fretted about the Moonies and other aggressive sects. Speakers said people and families were being ruined; young people were being taught to lie for cash.

    The hearings made some liberals uneasy, as calls for crackdowns bumped up against the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to follow strange gods. A piece in the New Republic accused Dole of jumping on national hysteria to jump-start his political fame, just as Richard Nixon had gotten his start attacking accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss.

    Meanwhile, former members of the Moon church testified that the movement had deprived them of food and sleep to grease their willingness to swallow a terrifying agenda. A secret Unification Church publication, Master Speaks, had been snuck out of the church by apostate Steve Hassan. It captured what Moon said behind closed doors. Time headlined an excerpt: "The Secret Sayings of 'Master' Moon." Moon had said:

    "The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world."

    "In restoring man from evil sovereignty, we must cheat."

    "The time will come when, without my seeking it, that my words will almost serve as law."

    "[W]e will be able to amend laws, articles of constitution, if we wish to do so."

    "[T]elling a lie becomes a sin if you tell it to take advantage of a person, but if you tell a lie to do a good thing … that is not a sin …. Even God tells lies very often."

    "The present U.N. must be annihilated by our power …. We must make a new U.N."

    "Many people will die, those who go against our movement."

    "I have met many famous, so-called famous, Senators and Congressmen; but to my eyes they are nothing. They are weak and helpless. We will win the battle. This is our dream, our project. But shut your mouth tight."
    (The church has often insisted these were mistranslations.)

    The Moon Children took Dole's inquiry as a slap in the face. It came just as their new Father opened his pocketbook to associate himself with apple-pie patriotism. The rallies and marches he staged "would make … Lawrence Welk and John Wayne salute," author William Petersen observed in Those Curious New Cults, a typical paperback priming Christians to confront the seventies explosion of challenges to the Gospel.

    For months, the Moonies -- largely white and middle-class -- had knocked on doors all over New York City and plastered the Bronx with slick posters. They invited America lovers to a spectacle at Yankee Stadium. Their Father smiled against a waving flag, his arm raised in a peculiar, vertical salute-to whom was unclear. "If you look at the poster, he's mimicking Hitler," says Donna Collins, the daughter of senior British church leaders. She was six in 1976, a child who still bounced on the lap of Moon, a grandfatherly figure who, she says, had scarce sympathy for the meek or wretched. "He's not the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa type of leader," she says, "but a Mao, a Kim Jong-Il."

    On the afternoon of June 1, 1976, wind blew red, white, and blue balloons over the ballpark. Moon's apocalyptic, anti-Communist campus newsletter Rising Tide had warned of "Radical Marxist Leninists Seeking to Co-opt Bicentennial." But to the relief of the Moon Children, tens of thousands of guests streamed in. Relief overcame the exhausted disciples, and they brushed from their faces rainwater and tears.

    A summer thunderstorm whipped across the infield, crumpling a giant sign exalting Moon's "Bicentennial God Bless America Festival." With a confident smile, Moon took the stage to fireworks and a marching band that played "America the Beautiful." Above hung a banner in a gargantuan font size: "REV SUN MYUNG MOON-Principal Speaker." Behind his pulpit encircled in red, white, and blue bunting, he spoke in his usual style: striking the air with his hand, chopping and grasping and tilting his body, warning of the nation's subversion by Satan, a personal nemesis. "There are critics who say, 'Why is Reverend Moon so involved in America's Bicentennial? It is none of his business,'" he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, if there is an illness in your home, do you not need a doctor from outside?"

    But to parents, the good doctor -- despite the helpful image he made for himself by marching their sons and daughters around the Washington Monument for the Bicentennial, dressed like Revolutionary War heroes -- had prescribed a pill with unconscionable side effects. The reasoning behind the titles of True Parents was that Mr. and Mrs. Moon were a superior replacement for our own flawed, biological parents. Their saintly portraits wobbled on the dashboards of Dodger-Chrysler sales vans on interstate highways, as the recruits inside cursed themselves for not reaching their daily targets of $75 to $100-meaning certain humiliation when they returned to HQ and were screamed at for betraying Father.

    After the sun went down on the Washington Monument in 1976, according to a report in the conservative magazine The American Spectator, the leaders set afire a nearby vat with blood samples from 2,100 members to ensure "Father Moon's success in America." ("It worked!" joked writer Andrew Ferguson, years later.) "A shameless blasphemer," National Review editor Richard Brookhiser wrote at the time, "[Moon] says things about the United States that should not be said about any human creation."

    To the believers, the oppression of the Roman Empire had literally returned, and Bob Dole, at that first hearing, was the voice putting Jesus out to death. "We got kicked in the gut on national TV," said Neil Salonen, the American church's leader, who had the glib manner and good looks of a fraternity president.

    To congressional witness Ted Patrick, the swaggering Republican deprogrammer from the Chattanooga streets who claimed to have freed hundreds from cults, Moon was running a timeworn ghetto hustle on naive white youth. Patrick alleged that the group had wedded the totalitarian mind-set of Communist China to the old tricks of Father Divine-the Harlem preacher who claimed to be God, gave sermons in made-up words ("physicalize"), and convinced poor blacks to fund his life of luxury. The church considered the renegade Moon foe a monster. "Man," Patrick jived to a Washington Post reporter in 1979, "you get that Neil Salonen, he's the president of the whole Unification Church, and I'll deprogram his ass in front of the whole FBI, if they want it that way."

    That was when Dole had assailed the Unification Church for a second time, in 1979, in the wake of the Jonestown Massacre. The first time, Moon supporters on the hill, wearing red carnations, shouted "liar" at witnesses.

    This time Salonen tried to leave a better impression, the church having been continually under investigation by Washington since 1976. Outside the Russell Senate Office Building, Moon's squad of musicians blew into tubas and French horns. They struck up the protest anthem "We Shall Overcome." They called themselves Go World and played, they said, because their Father had stressed the importance of music. Mrs. Moon had picked out the cream-and-red uniforms-the reverend's color vision was not so good. Forrest Wright, a head of the band, had been humbled at a leader's breakfast when the True Father looked his way and asked, "What American musician was best?" "John Philip Sousa," Wright managed to say. "OK," Moon had said, "some kind of John Sousa band." And Wright buzzed with it all along the Amtrak trip south to Manhattan.

    After the mass weddings, newlyweds were commanded to remain apart for months or years in preparation for their first sexual encounter. Moon believed that painstaking techniques were necessary for the "blood exchange" that would prevent a repeat of the Garden of Eden. It's not in the Bible, but Moon's revelation to believers is that Eve misused the love organ by fornicating with Lucifer.

    What it means is that the Second Generation, the kids who grew up in the church, are fragile creations who must not be fouled. "We have to drain this Satanic blood, and fill it with God's blood," Moon said in 2002. Working up enough fury to harangue a stadium, he directed his words at an intimate gathering of American teens in blue T-shirts. Sired under his plan, created by his pairings, they are expected to live sinless lives. This is all on video: a scene of harsh adult-child relations that could have been a scene in a Roald Dahl book. A pretty girl of about fifteen, her face uplifted as if hoping for mercy, watches as this visitor to our shores stands cocky, collar splayed open across his jacket, before a banner commending him, not them: "Congratulations, True Parents." Twice-married himself, Moon demands chastity. "We still have this fallen blood running through our organs," he says through a translator. "So we have to protect our love organ so that no more mistakes can be made there."

    A furious command in Korean, then a waving of hands. The translation comes: "If you cannot make your mind and body united, you are bound to Hell." Tears run down the girl's cheek. And the American teens chant a familiar formula along with the newspaper publisher:

    True love!


    True life!


    True lineage!

    Another girl, fifteen, sits up front, angry. Moon has been talking like that as long as she could remember: to make them feel unworthy, she thinks. She has drifted away from the church and only attended because all her friends were in the "Blue Shirt Mafia." But this will be the last harangue she comes to. Friends of hers have been shunned by the Family for having sex. Impure sex, according to Moon, does worse than ruin people-it undoes God's work for generations.

    A pang of disruption, a tearing in the fabric of society, runs through Moon's 1970s press. A Montreal reporter rode along while family and friends plotted to restore a young, agnostic Jewish Canadian convert, Benji Carroll, to his former life. The new Benji was frightful to them. Now he refused to see them without a spiritual minder. His new family were the brothers and sisters of his sales force. On the highway, they pounded on the van walls and he sobbed for God to erase his shameful weakness: "Get out, get out, Satan. Get out of my body, get out of my mind, Satan, Satan."

    They kidnapped him, drove him to a safehouse, and stuck him in a room with a cult buster: Aylsworth Crawford "Ford" Greene III, whom the Moonies called the Servant of Satan. As if they needed another sign he lived up to the title, he was the godson of their enemy, Sen. James Buckley (R-NY) from the Dole hearings.

    Like some hippie Bruce Wayne, the intense Ford Greene was born into privilege but wounded by past tragedies, so that he fought like a man with nothing to lose. Greene's socialite mother, Daphne, wife of a prominent San Francisco corporate attorney, kept boxes of files on the movement, which had claimed two of her children. There were reams: internal church handbooks, press clippings, and transcriptions from the Moon world of speeches given to his inner sanctum: "The world really is our stage," reads one. "The money is there, and I will earn that money. I will reap that harvest. And you will become soldiers, trained soldiers." And here the royal stenographer has appended.

    While his sister, Catherine Greene Ono, stayed in the movement, Greene walked out, his head spinning. He spent months afterward, he says, waking up in a panic, afraid of being the twentieth-century Judas. Then came what he calls his greatest failing. When the family kidnapped his sister in hopes of deprogramming her, she smashed a juice bottle, cut herself with a shard, and had to be hospitalized, giving her opportunity to rejoin the movement. Newspaper reports said church youth were regularly trained in such tactics.

    No Republican, Greene is known today in San Anselmo, California, for the marquee on the building that is his law office, overlooking the main drag in this Marin County town, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, asking drivers to "defy evil Bushism." But his godfather, Buckley, was the older brother of conservative lion William F. Buckley, whose nephew is conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell III, who would one day sit on the board of a group funded by the Reverend Moon.

    In 1978, supplementing his antique dealership, Greene, a commanding presence, charged a flat fee of $750 per mind. Carroll's was his thirty-eighth and one of his toughest --maybe even too intelligent to crack, he wondered. "Love me, Benji," Greene challenged him, forehead to forehead. "Love Satan." He began a cross-examination:

    "Your eyes are vacant, your veins are sticking out, your pupils are dilated and your skin is pale …. How is selling flowers to a penniless old woman helping to save the world from selfishness? … You think you're learning to love … but actually you're learning to hate! Hate sex, hate your family, hate yourself … all in the name of loving. What kind of love is that?

    Finally, the ice crumbled: Carroll's parents were no longer Satan's minions but returned to being his loved ones. There were tears. "I feel … like my mind was wrapped in an elastic band," Carroll said. That story became the 1981 movie Ticket to Heaven, with Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall as a perky recruiter for a thinly disguised re-creation of the Moonies. She leads childlike group bonding activities-"Choo-choo, choo-choo, POW!" the chant at Booneville went-breaking down Benji's resistance to the sermons about saving the world through fund-raising.

    In 1982, Moon was convicted of tax fraud. "Obedience to the law of diminishing returns may cost this little king 18 months from his countinghouse," People wrote in the magazine's roundup of the year's most intriguing people. He went to prison in 1984, and that was around the last time most people last thought about him.

    In footage taken in 2002 -- apparently at the anniversary party for the Washington Times -- the Rev. Sun Myung Moon swung his arm in ax-handle blows while he demanded that all Christian churches abandon the symbol of the cross. "Revolution!" he said. "Revolutionary movement! All the crosses down. Take them down."

    In his visions of the afterlife, even Jesus had been frustrated by mankind's inability to move past the crucifixion and focus on Moon. And now God, according to the Unification Church, had told the Reverend Moon to ensure the cross no longer hindered our appreciation of him. "On June 11, 2001," read the official account, "lightning struck down the cross decorating the front of the Unification Theological Seminary"-an idyllic former Catholic monastery along the Hudson River in upstate New York. "In view of this act of God, our True Father initiated the 'taking down the cross' movement. Unificationist leaders and diverse theologians have presented many profound reasons for the taking down of the cross."

    It was left to Moon's American ministers to invent a palatable reason for a war on the symbol of Christianity. It was decided that "Trade Your Cross for a Crown," a reference to a beloved American Protestant hymn, would fit nicely into tradition.

    I will cling to that old rugged cross
    And trade it some day for a crown.

    The bespectacled composer of "The Old Rugged Cross," a Methodist minister from an Ohio coal-mining town, would probably have been surprised by what the Rev. Sun Myung Moon did with his message. When George Bennard wrote the song in 1912, he meant no slight to the cross-in fact, his life was memorialized in small-town Reed City, Michigan, by one three stories tall. The crown, he meant to say, is your heavenly reward. But Moon openly jeers at the notion that "Jesus is coming in the clouds" -- his official description of Christian belief-on the basis that it doesn't jibe with the Old Testament. Instead, he has claimed for some time that the kingdom has already arrived, here, in swampy, corrupt Washington, D.C.

    Which means the time to ditch the cross is now. It is his obstacle.

    A funeral party was dispatched to Jerusalem. To bury the cross six feet deep, the original plan, according to volume 22, number 6 of the church's Unification News, came from Moon's lips: "Bury the cross in Golgotha where Jesus was crucified," he said. But they got there and a cathedral was in the way. "[T]he floor is all made of marble," the report said.

    So they settled for leaving a little cross there, hung with Moon's yellow and blue flag, and headed in the predawn to a funeral a mile away in Potter's Field, on May 18, 2003-Easter in Jerusalem.

    The pilgrims gathered around a shallow grave, cut into the clay earth of the two-thousand-year-old burial ground traditionally believed to have been purchased with the silver Judas earned by betraying Jesus.

    At bottom lay a four-foot-long cross. While holy men looked on, undertakers draped it under the flag of the Unification Church, before posting photos on the Web. "After the prayer," the report said, "the participants put soil on the cross one by one, repenting for the false faith for 1700 years."

    After breakfast, according to the Unification News, they held a 10 A.M. conference and heard that a Palestinian suicide bomber struck Jerusalem right after sunrise -- a sign, said the church journalist, that "Satan attempted to stop this historical conference desperately." The travelers then discussed the next command from the Reverend for reuniting the religions.

    Thus are the tales of another Bush Crony.

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  40. It's good that after these past 8 years American still has a sense of humor!

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  41. Check out Octavian's two blogs which center on informing about the economy.

    Informationalist

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  42. Octavian said...
    It's good that after these past 8 years American still has a sense of humor!"

    You need one to keep your sanity Octavion!

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  43. Larry, what do you think about Carlyle being glossed over by the MSM and Bear Stearns being covered 24/7...............i'd like to know how much Bush and Cheney and their cronnies have invested in Carlyle?

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  44. Thanks for the nice remarks about my blogs, I'll be sure to link this one if I have not already. And yes, I watch the daily show at least once a week to remind me that I have to laugh once in a while!

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  45. Mike I bet Bush has already bailed out the Carlyle Group without anyone mentioning it.

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  46. Mike:

    Check out Octavian's blog. He has a new one devoted to the economy.

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  47. Octavian Mike is really into economics and how Bush has destroyed the economy.

    He should love your new blog.

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  48. Larry said...
    Mike I bet Bush has already bailed out the Carlyle Group without anyone mentioning it."

    Yeah Larry thats basically what i was infering as well......there has to be a reason the MSM isnt saying boo about Carlyle.

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  49. Mike the only place I have seen it mentioned was on Huffingtonpost a few days ago.

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  50. Actually Larry I just poped over to Octavions blog and left a comment..........he wrote a GREAT article and he said it in just one paragraph........something i could NEVER do.

    It was funny i got into a discussion on the very thing octavion blogged about Friday.......i'll have to pop over there more often.

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  51. Mike he has two blogs you can find the link to his new one from the one I posted.

    The new one is devoted to the economy.

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  52. Lou Dobbs just said what i've been saying for months...........its beyong hippocrissy that bush could think its ok for the working poor, many of whom have lost their homes to have to bail out Bear Stearns and possibly Carlyle while Bush scorns helping them keep their homes and get medical insurance..................apparently in the world according to Bush corporate welfare and welfare for the wealthy elite is a good thing but welfare for the working class is unacceptable..........they have a ton of bogus rhetoric and dishonest talking points to justify their positions but facts to prove what they same.......not so much.

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  53. I didnt see the other one, i'll have to go check that out.?

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  54. Read Jolly Roger's newest post on Bernanke and how he has screwed everything up.

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  55. Mort Zuckerman has been on several cable news outlets talking about this will be the worst Recession since World War II.

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  56. Do You know Mary Ellen from any other blogs Larry.........i've kinda been going back and forth with her the last 2 weeks on Tomcats blog and just wondered where she is from.

    She has ben attacking Obama so i've been kinda holding her feet to the fire so to speak.......no ill will or anything though, i said the same stuff to my aunt who was just mindlessly parrotting the Clinton talking points this weekend

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  57. I think it WILL be the worst since the Great Depression but I think it will take awile to unfold since the Fed is trying to inflate its way out of it.

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  58. Mary Ellen has a popular blog and she is devoted to Hillary. She has a big following and even though several on her blog are for Obama, they still comment there everyday.

    Mary Ellen also visits many blogs herself daily.

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  59. Greenspan warns of worst crisis since World War II

    Filed by Reuters

    There will be many casualties from the unfolding financial market crisis, which will lead to a large-scale overhaul of international banking regulations, codes and risk management, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

    Writing in the Financial Times, the former Fed chief said much of the financial system's risk-valuation models failed, not because they were too complex but because they were "too simple to capture the full array of variables governing that drive global economic reality".

    "The crisis will leave many casualties. Particularly hard hit will be much of today's financial risk-valuation system," he wrote.

    While insisting that current risk management models and econometric forecasting methods remain "soundly rooted in the real world," he said risk management can never be perfect.

    "It will eventually fail and a disturbing reality will be laid bare, prompting an unexpected and sharp discontinuous response," Greenspan said.

    He added, however, that he hoped one of the casualties from the worst U.S. financial crisis since World War Two would not be the spirit of broad self-regulation within financial markets.

    Although he said the Basel II international banking regulatory framework would almost definitely be revamped and financial institutions' financial models would need to be re-drafted, Greenspan warned against over-regulation.

    "It is important, indeed crucial, that any reforms in, and adjustments to, the structure of markets and regulation not inhibit our most reliable and effective safeguards against cumulative economic failure: market flexibility and open competition," he said.

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  60. Thats what i figured Larry..........she got us to discuss some interesting issues so its all good.

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  61. Did you here Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders stated they saw similarities between Bush and Bernanke and Hoover and Mellon............something i have stated for years now..........i just posted on this at JR's blog.

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  62. Chuck Schumer said Bush is sounding like Hoover did as he was running the country into the Great Depression.

    Check Hoover's comments, he said the same things Bush is saying.

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  63. Its funny, Bart has noticed this as well...........people are finally starting to agree with stuff we've been saying for MANY years now.

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  64. John Moody, Fox News’s senior vice president, says Rove was hired because “he’s probably the most quoted, talked-about political strategist of his age. I only worried that someone with his work experience might be too good at keeping secrets when he was on the air. . . . Are we getting a Republican spin? Of course. But that’s what he’s there for. There’s no attempt to conceal that.”

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  65. Bush has sounded like Hoover since he came to office........and Hoover destroyed the repug party and kept them away from the reigns of power for decades and Bush could do the same if the Democratic party could just get their act together and pick the best candidate allready.

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  66. Seeing Hoover's comments from back then and how they mirror those of Bush is scary as to the future.

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  67. it''l be even scarier with a repug in power..........ever wonder what all those secret concentration camps are for................my guess is the wealthy and powerful dont want a NEw New Deal that redistributes all the assets they have stolen from the working class since the repugs came back in power in the 1970.s.

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  68. McCain is now saying the war in Afganistan will last 100 years, like he said the Iraq war would.

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  69. Republicans See Storm Clouds Gathering

    While all eyes were on the presidential campaign and the demise of New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill were suffering a run of bad news that could hold dire implications for the campaign season.

    It started with the loss last weekend of the seat held for two decades by former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). It got worse when Republicans lost potentially strong challengers to Democratic senators in South Dakota and New Jersey, and failed to field anyone to oppose the reelection bid of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

    The latest blow came with the revelation that the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) had allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars — and possibly as much as $1 million — from the organization’s depleted coffers to his own bank accounts. […]

    “It’s no mystery,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). “You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He’s just killed the Republican brand.”

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  70. We NEED to include the war costs in the budget so next time the repugs TRY and PRETEND they are the fiscally conservative party we can clearly show which party wants to squander trillions we dont even have on a war based on lies and which party wants to spend money on helping American citizens with health care and a balanced budget.

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  71. Larry, who do you think will get the Nomination........Pelosi made it seem like they will decide in April who the Nom will be and it sounded like Obama to me.

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  72. The Iraq war is costing taxpayers $720 million per day.

    And they claim the war isn't hurting the economy.

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  73. They have to realize that this crap is hurting the party..........they are taking what was a sure win and giving McCrazy a chance by this slimy negative polarizing campaign Hillary is resorting to.

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  74. I think Obama will get the nomination or the mass of his supporters will either vote for McCain or not vote at all.

    It has gotten out of hand and people forget the enemy is McCain and the Repugs.

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  75. What i find highly interesting and Mary Ellen this isnt a personal attack on you, as i said the same things to my Aunt Sunday is that Clinton supporters seem to parrot phony talking points, lies and dishonest empty rhetoric as if they are facts..............i hear Clinton supporters over and over ad nauseun keep parroting the Obama doesnt have experience talking point over and over yet when i ask them what mystical experience Hillary has all i get is blank stares and deafening silence, i've asked this question to well over 100 people and not one single person was able to give me an answer,

    Next when asked about Hillarys poor judgement in Voting to give Bush a blank check to go to war in Iraq my Aunt like many others pause then parrot the Rovian Bush/Clinton canned mantra that she made the best decision she could with what she knew at the time............BS, on the most important vote in half a century Clinton didnt even take the time to read the NIE, if she would have she would have KNOWN that Bush and Cheney were feeding her bogus cherypicked intel.........regardless there were plenty of other Congress people smart enough to know Bush and Cheney were lying, hell, I KNEW they were lying back in 2002, I studied Hitlers rise to power and these treasonous fools were using the same lies and propaganda he used. I expect my President to be smarter and have better judgement than me anything less is setting the bar too low i dont want a president who does whats best for them not whats best for the country.

    And I think thats EXACTLY what Hillary did, i think she miscalculated back in 2002 she thought the country was more hawkish than they were i think she KNEW the war was based on lies but thought she would be more electable if she acted like a tough hawk she held this eronneous position until several months ago when she suddenly flip flopped and acted like despite her vote and numerous statements to the contrary over the years always opposed the war.,,,because she realized that the majority of the country is against the war and she couldnt get elected playing a hawk.

    And Hillary does that on every issue she says this state matter then if she loses that state says it doesnt matter and something else is important Hillary has no credibility integrity and lacks sound judgement she has ever shifting positions goals and arguments, and like a repug she constantly focuses or has her proxies and minions focus on attacking, smearing and tearng down her opponents rather than what she has to offer. Hillaries positions are usually never backed by facts ie. the experience thing have you EVER noticed her directly comparing her experience or acomplishments to his and making a case based on FACTS exactly how it is superior as she CLAIMS.

    To me particularly after the last 7 years, trustworthyness, integrity and sound judgement are crucial qualities for a president and she dont have em!

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  76. Like i said before Obama has been trying to expand the base by bring in young voters and moderate repugs and independents and a democrat comparing him to Rush Limbotomy a guy trying to compromise the integrity of the opposing party by supporting the least electable candiate for advertising to the very portion of the electorate he has claimed to be trying to woo and bring into the process from day one is not a fair or reasonable comparison in my eyes.

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  77. One more thing going back to the credibility issue, Hillary had no problem with the Florida voters being disenfranchised when she agreed that it wouldnt count it was ONLY after she won that she started saying how reprehensible it would be to disenfranchise all those people.........what about all the people that didnt take the time to vote BECAUSE they KNEW it didnt count and what about the fact that Obama wasnt even on the Michigan Ballot because he assumed it didnt count..........dont those people who were disenfranchised count?

    Its absolutely ludicris to take the results of a state where one candidate wasnt even on the ballot and another state where the results were tainted because many didnt vote because they KNEW it didnt count and just annoit one the winner after they BOTH mutually agreed they wouldnt campaign there and the results would NOT count........this goes back to that trust and integrity issue once you give your word and agree to something it should mean something, not if it suits you you just do as you please.

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  78. I'm really hating Blogger these days. That had to be the umpteenth time I had a thought-out post prepared just to have it blow up on me.

    Blogger's problems are really starting to chafe.

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  79. Barack's supporters care about the country. There won't be any McCavein voters in there, or damn few of them, even if Hill gets the nod. It's the Goppers that run on spite and revenge, after all.

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  80. I hate Blogger also Jolly. It sucks, eats your comments and is down often.

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  81. McCain says there will be "more wars, lots of wars."

    Isn't that what we've had for 7 years?

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  82. I wrote the following post to another blogger on another blog that was essentially drawing a paralell between Obama and Rush and trying to say Obama was trying to compromise the process by getting repugs to vote for him..... feel this is another Hillaty talking point/smear to muddy the waters because clearly her "resurgence" is due to hard core repugs voting for her at Rush's and Hannity's direction to throw the election because she is not as electable.

    Obama's Schtick from day one was he was a uniter NOT a divider he wanted to appeal to independents and moderate repugs and i believe he has.

    Now In light of him being a camdidate for moderate repugs and independents dont you think it is perfectly reasonable and makes sense for him to reach out to those people and tell them how to register to vote for him............the fact that he says they can change back if they want after the primaries is in my opinion Obama reaching out to the repugs and saying hey if your disillusioned with Bush and the repug party give me a chance you can always change back if i lose you or you decide to change your mind.

    Look i'm against the smears and slimy campaigns just as much as most of you guys are but its the CLINTON campaign that is resorting to the lies smears, fear mongering and veiled rascism NOT Obama, people keep saying THEY are running dirty smear campaigns when in truth its CLINTON that is doing it, Obama is merely defending himself by pointing out facts that are not favorable to Clinton and show her inconsistancies and lack of judgement that are on RELEVANT ISSUES, he's like a guy that got jumped in an alley and sucker punched, there is a huge differnce between willingly engaging in a drunken brawl and defending your self by throwing a few jabs to keep your attacker from mauling or killing you.

    Furthermore comparing Obama to Rush limbotomy trying to compromise an election is hurting the Party....its obvious to everyone that the moderate repugs and independents that support Obama are very likely to vote for him in the General Election in November, while the ones crossing over to vote for Clinton are just trying to throw the election because they feel Clinton is not as electable. In november they will clearly vote for McCreepy......lets be honest Hillary doesnt appeal to repugs or independents thats just a FACT.

    I was in Texas at the Caucus I KNOW what went on I saw it first hand and heard repugs talking.

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  83. JR, i take it you arent very confident in the Fed either..............i think a full 1% cut tomorrow would be insanity their rate cuts havent done squat but destrot the dollar and fuel inflation mortgage, credit card and car loan interest rates havent come down at all but savings accounts have........all the rate cuts have done is make the FED look like an incompetent toothless fool.

    You KNOW things must be basd if EVEN Larry Krudlow agrees with me that the Fed is all wrong..........the FED needs to leave interest rates alone, let a wall street brokerage or two fail and bail out the working class and the solvent firms so they actually ARENT afraid to lend so we can get the economy going again.

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  84. Ralph Nader: George Bush a 'recidivist war criminal'

    Filed by Mike Sheehan

    Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, reflecting on the quick exit of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, wonders aloud in a new essay how President George W. Bush has escaped the same fate despite Bush's role in considerably more damning and damaging crimes.

    In the piece entitled "Country of Laws," Nader blasts Bush for fictionalizing his Iraq war actions and for saying that he'll leave office with no regrets. While Spitzer resigned within days of his admission to indiscretions, "Bush remains," writes Nader, "disgracing his office for longtime repeated violations of the Constitution, federal laws and international treaties to which the U.S. is a solemn signatory."

    Nader contrasts Spitzer's legal and personal transgressions, and the price the now ex-governor is rapidly paying for them, with Bush, who "violated federal laws against torture, against spying on Americans without judicial approval, against due process of law and habeas corpus in arresting Americans without charges, imprisoning them and limited their access to attorneys." He adds that Bush has "committed a massive war of aggression, under false pretenses, violating again and again treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, federal statutes and the Constitution."

    Despite this, and the human, financial and infrastructural cost of the war, Bush is, as Nader writes, "effectively immune from federal criminal and civil laws because no American has standing to sue him and the Attorney General, who does, is his handpicked cabinet member.

    "Moreover," continues Nader, "the courts have consistently refused to take cases involving the conduct of foreign and military policy by the president and the Vice President regardless of the seriousness of the violation."

    Nader says that judges readily and repeatedly dismiss such cases as "political" and say Congress is the way to pursue grievances, specifically via its authority to impeach. Yet only Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has publicly called for impeachment, Nader notes. (Nader curiously fails to acknowledge that in December 2006, now-former Rep. Cynthia McKinney--a rival 2008 White House candidate running on the Green Party ticket--introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush as one of her final legislative acts before leaving Congress.)

    Meanwhile, rues Nader, "the American people have no authority to challenge [Bush's] governmental crimes, which are committed in their name, and are rendered defenseless except for elections, which the two Party duopoly has rigged, commercialized, and trivialized. Even in this electoral arena, a collective vote of ouster of the incumbents does not bring public officials to justice, just to another position usually in the high paying corporate world."

    Nader says that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will leave office as "fugitives from justice without any sheriffs, prosecutors or courts willing to uphold the rule of law."

    What lessons are to be learned from the differential treatment of Spitzer, asks Nader, and Bush, "a president who behaves like King George III did in 1776 and commits the exact kinds of multiple violations that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other founders of our Republic envisioned for invoking the impeachment provision of their carefully crafted checks and balances in the Constitution?" Nader mockingly says that Bush and Cheney only need to stay out of a few towns in Vermont and avoid shoe-tapping in airport men's rooms.

    Concludes Nader, "We certainly can do better as a country of laws, not men."

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  85. Neocon Ben Stein is even blasting Bush and his economy.

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  86. Well I dont like stein.......i think he's a MORON.........but if even that bootlicker is against Bush that speaks volumes.

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  87. Ben Stein is a moron and a bootlicker. I saw him being interviewed and couldn't believe what he said about Bush's handling of the economy.

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  88. I dont think the Democrats like Pelosi and Reed realize the danger they are exposing their party to by NOT holding Bush and Cheney responsible for all the treasonous crimes against humanity and the US Constitution...........once again they are letting the repugs define the terms and frame the debate and that is a rigged system that is ALWAYS dangerous.

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  89. I can't believe there aren't thousands lined up in front of Pelosi's palace demanding she impeach.

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  90. Look at it this way........the Democrats should have moved to impeach Bush for the spying and torture right away..........now that its been in place for 6 or 7 years if the democrats repeal the torture and the spying and the Patriot Act when they come to power it will only serve to validate Bush's lies that those heinous things are necessary if the terrorists do attack after they are removed.

    It doesnt matter that those things have done NOTHING to keep us safe and in our 200 years before Bush seized power their were no similar terrorists attacks of that magnitude and most likely the terrorist attacks were either

    1) allowed to happen so Bush could seize power and push his agenda.

    2) happened because of the Bush Administration incompetence and hubris.

    3) was a lucky strike that might happen at any time regardless of whether we torture or spy on innocent Americans who are NOT terrorists.

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  91. And Ralph Nader doesn't hesitate to take money and favors from the "recidivist war criminal," even if those favors are illegal.

    It really is past time for this delusional maniac to STFU.

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  92. Mike said,

    Well I dont like stein.......i think he's a MORON.........but if even that bootlicker is against Bush that speaks volumes.


    Stein has also spoken of the dangers of the unequal distribution of wealth. He's a 'con, but he's a 'con I can find ground with.

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  93. Veterans Administration Won't Help Soldiers Register to Vote

    By Steven Rosenfeld,

    For at least four years, since the 2004 presidential election, when a veteran, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was the Democratic Party nominee, the Department of Veterans Affairs has blocked efforts to help U.S. soldiers register to vote at its facilities in all 50 states.

    "This is politically motivated voter suppression," said Scott Rafferty, an attorney based in Washington, D.C., who has fought the VA in federal courts since 2004 over the right to assist homeless people, including veterans, register to vote at a shelter on VA property in Menlo Park, Calif. "Now the political motivation might be different that the veteran running for president is a Republican."

    The issue has resurfaced, not merely on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, but because the VA -- whose public affairs office did not answer telephone calls nor return requests to comment Monday -- apparently has also stonewalled requests by U.S. senators for an explanation.

    "We write today to once again highlight our concerns about voter registration in VA facilities," began a March 6, 2008, letter from Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, and Sen. Kerry, to James B. Peake, secretary of Veterans Affairs. "Nearly one year ago, your predecessor, Secretary Nicholson, was questioned about the lack of access to nonpartisan voter registration services for our nation's veterans. A response to this inquiry was never received."

    The letter continued, noting that "despite this lack of response, we now understand that the VA has engaged in litigation against voter registration efforts by third-party groups in VA facilities. In light of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision that voter registration groups are not allowed to register veterans, we strongly urge you to focus on what the VA can do to ensure all veterans have access to registration."

    The litigation cited in the senators' letter refers to Preminger v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Menlo Park suit where the VA argued before federal district and appeals courts that, in essence, political activity, including First Amendment speech and voter registration efforts, should not occur in its facilities because those activities were not medical in nature and were political, Rafferty said, summarizing the litigation.

    The bottom line is the VA, as a federal agency, has the discretion under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, known as the Motor Voter Law, to determine if it would serve as a voter registration agency, according to election law experts. Under the NVRA, which mandated that state agencies from motor vehicle departments to welfare offices offer people the chance to register to vote, federal agencies can opt to register voters.

    The Feinstein-Kerry letter asks the VA to consider that policy judgment, in contrast to fighting voting rights activists like Rafferty, whose client in the Menlo Park case filed its lawsuit in 2004 because the shelter staffers reportedly were deciding which homeless people were mentally fit to vote. Those deemed able were assisted with voter registration, Rafferty said.

    "It is an insult to those who have fought to spread democracy and freedom overseas to be denied the right to participate in their own democracy here at home," the senators wrote. "If each facility took a few simple steps to provide voter registration materials, the VA could do its part to guarantee access to voter registration."

    The letter also criticizes the federal court ruling that said VA facilities are just medical, a position the VA took in court.

    "We understand that the Court of Appeals seemed to indicate that the VA's role in assisting veterans was purely medical," the senators said. "However, the VA has a long and proud history of providing myriad services to veterans... providing them with the opportunity to become more actively involved in our democracy seems an appropriate role for the VA. The argument that providing access to voter registration at facilities would distract from the medical goals is as unfortunate as it is counterproductive."

    Rafferty said the medical-only rationale was not just a political ruse; it was untrue. Across the country, VA facilities have been rented to social agencies working with the homeless, house libraries, parks, playgrounds and even a minor league baseball stadium, he said. Moreover, Rafferty said the "Rolling Thunder" veterans group in New Jersey, which has lead many protests in Washington, regularly meets at VA facilities. He also said that before the 2004 presidential election, California's Republican Party paid workers $15 for each new voter registered, and actually registered "dozens of people" at the Menlo Park homeless center.

    The senators' letter also quoted leaders from veterans' groups encouraging the VA to adopt a policy to assist veterans with voter registration.

    "Veterans know the price of freedom," said John Rowan, president of Vietnam Vaterans of America. "While only one-quarter, at most, of the veteran population utilizes VA facilities for their healthcare, designating VA medical centers -- as well as community-based outpatient clinics and even regional offices -- as voter registration agencies should help more veterans have the opportunity to fulfill their civic responsibility which they have sacrificed so much to preserve for all of us, and vote."

    "The Department of Veterans Affairs should serve as an example ensuring that every veteran that passes through its doors is afforded the opportunity to register and vote," said Randy L. Pleva, Sr., president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "It is through the exercise of our franchise that we unsure the perpetuation of our democracy and serve as an inspiration to others throughout the world."

    Neither Rafferty nor congressional staffers could estimate how many veterans might register to vote at VA facilities. However, there are hundreds of facilities across the country serving more than 23 million veterans, according to the VA's website.

    Is Bush afraid to give voting rights to the troops.

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  94. A massive bomb in the Shiite holy city of Karbala killed 52 persons and wounded 75 on Monday according to AFP. Shiites' feelings are raw over the attack, threatening further civil war violence.

    I thought the "surge" was working.

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  95. The crash in Republican economics
    Not even George W. Bush or Alan Greenspan can sugarcoat America's financial meltdown. Will the next president seize the chance to rethink how we run our economy?

    By Andrew Leonard

    "In a free market, there's going to be good times and bad times," said President George Bush in a speech at the Economic Club of New York on Friday. "That's how markets work. There will be ups and downs."

    Whether you label them fatuous or wise, the president's comments are not off the mark. The business cycle is real; economies expand and contract; what goes up must come down. But the corollary, unmentioned by the president, is that such ups and downs have real political consequences. When a down cycle occurs in an election year, the incumbent party in the White House takes the heat. Conversely, economic growth is good for the powers that be. Just ask Bill Clinton in 1996, or Ronald Reagan in 1984.

    The upward and downward blips that Americans have experienced in the past quarter century, despite their considerable impact on the profits of big corporations and the lives of real working people, don't amount to all that much when measured on a scale that spans centuries, however. Not for nothing have the past few decades been dubbed by economists as the "Great Moderation." The rich have gotten richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class relentlessly squeezed, but there have been no society-wide economic dislocations in recent years that match the inflation-and-unemployment miseries of the late 1970s, much less the outright disaster of the Great Depression.

    Until now? Consider the following extraordinary commentary: Alan Greenspan saying, "The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war." Former Reagan economic advisor Martin Feldstein saying, "Could this become the worst recession we have seen in the postwar period? I think the answer is yes." Paul Krugman writing that the current situation "looks increasingly like one of history's great financial crises."

    Even George Bush concedes that we face "challenging times," which, when judged against the standards of his usual rosy rhetoric, should inspire a wave of survivalist stockpiling that will make the great Y2K scare pale in comparison.

    It is also worth noting that two of the assessments quoted above came before the startling events of this past weekend. The Federal Reserve brokered a bailout of Bear Stearns, an elite Wall Street investment bank that imploded after trading partners started to worry that the brokerage -- hammered by exposure to bad subprime mortgage bets -- could no longer make good on its contractual obligations. The Fed also took unprecedented steps to provide credit and liquidity to the global banking system. These extraordinary moves only underscore that we are witnessing historic events. And historic events have historic consequences. The current financial crisis may determine much more than which political party occupies the White House in 2009 -- it could (and may already have) remake the zeitgeist. The Great Depression of the 1930s spawned the New Deal. Will the Great Credit Crunch of today potentially restructure how government, the financial markets and the general welfare intersect?

    Only if we really want it to. New York Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has been telling us for years that the policy pendulum is finally swinging in the other direction. Liberalism is no longer a dirty word, he thunders; it's high time for government to get back in the business of governing. He might be right. As we review the wreckage created by Wall Street's finest minds, it is tempting to entertain the possibility that the impulse to deregulate and privatize and "trust" markets to be their own best guardian -- that epochal reimagining of government launched by Ronald Reagan -- has finally run its course.

    The bailout of Bear Stearns by J.P. Morgan, a shotgun marriage in which Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke played the role of farmer's daughter's father, has excited a buzz of commentary about the proper role of the government in the economy not seen since the orchestrated rescue of Long Term Capital Management in 1998. Critics of Wall Street's relentless drive to innovate new "structured finance" products have long warned that these complex instruments have never been tested by a real shock to the system. The demise of Bear Stearns is an exclamation point on a sentence that declares: The shock is here. Now, Wall Street and the world are catching their breath, and wondering -- is the system about to crash?

    In the case of Bear Stearns, some conservatives are worrying that the Fed's move will encourage "moral hazard" -- if Bear Stearns executives are allowed to escape public humiliation and financial ruin, executives of other investment banks may be encouraged to be even more reckless in the future, having now seen that they won't ever be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Some liberals would rather see Bear Stearns' fat cats out on the street, begging for spare change instead of simply switching bosses while the government ensures against default. But both sides are being drowned out by those who have a finer-tuned sense of what is really at stake.

    The consequences of Bear Stearns' failing are simply too great to allow ourselves the moral satisfaction of watching the guilty and the greedy drown in their self-inflicted gore. If anything has been conclusively demonstrated by the past year of market follies, it is that the world's financial institutions are bound together more closely than they have ever been before in a web that is extraordinarily fragile. If one string unravels, the whole structure seems poised to disintegrate -- a process that will inflict pain on a far greater number of people than those who go to work in buildings on the southern tip of Manhattan.

    When even the Economist magazine concedes that "it's difficult to imagine a scenario where trading rules and regulations are not subject to a significant overhaul in the near term," the go-go days of market fundamentalist primacy are clearly long past. Even Alan Greenspan can see the writing on the wall. Listen to him lament in the Financial Times on Monday:

    The crisis will leave many casualties. Particularly hard hit will be much of today's financial risk-valuation system, significant parts of which failed under stress. Those of us who look to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder equity have to be in a state of shocked disbelief. But I hope that one of the casualties will not be reliance on counterparty surveillance, and more generally financial self-regulation, as the fundamental balance mechanism for global finance.

    Even Greenspan acknowledges that a higher degree of government regulation is inevitable after a disaster this large. But rather than blame unregulated markets for creating the mess, he faults the inherent unpredictability of markets -- the current market turmoil extends from the failure of risk-management mathematical models to capture the vulnerable bubbliciousness of reality. He then notes that no equation will likely ever be able to predict the silliness that irrational humans are prone to engage in. This is all as if to say: The best minds did the best they could do, but perfection is impossible. And now, alas, because we couldn't be inhumanly perfect, the government is going to stop allowing us to do whatever we want.

    It could almost be a tragedy worthy of Aeschylus -- ah, to be punished so harshly for our hubris. But, unfortunately, it's a farce by Aristophanes. Greed does not self-regulate well. Who would have guessed it?

    Poor Greenspan. It's no fun to watch your legacy be rewritten, in real time, in the economic textbooks of the future. If we could choose one person, outside of Milton Friedman, whose influence over how the government should manage the economy connects the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations -- and who has consistently inhibited regulators from being more aggressive at reining in the excesses of market capitalism -- it would be Greenspan. As one joker commenting at the economic blog Naked Capitalism wrote over the weekend, here's how Greenspan's Wikipedia entry in the year 2020 might read:

    Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman chiefly known for implementing the disastrous policies leading up to the 2008-?? recession that proved to be the death knell of neo-liberalism.

    To be sure, 2008 is not 1929, even though some despondent Bear Stearns shareholders may well be eyeing the nearest window. Today's economic regulatory apparatus is a far cry from what existed in the 1920s, in large part due to the reforms that grew out of the Great Depression. There are many imponderables, not least of which is the chance that disaster can be averted. One can question Ben Bernanke's tactics, but there's little doubt that under his leadership the Federal Reserve is fully engaged, now, with an aggressive effort to stave off a systemic meltdown, and he might well succeed. The Fed's dynamic leadership over the weekend may have prevented a full-scale market rout on Monday. (The market was plenty volatile, but most indexes finished flat to slightly down.) If Bernanke can engineer an escape from the toppling architecture of the cathedral that Greenspan built, we should give him a hearty cheer. If history is any guide, systemic financial collapse leads to widespread chaos and war. No one, no matter how fierce a critic of market fundamentalism, wants that.

    But whether or not the current ills afflicting the economy do bloom into something much worse, it's hard to argue with the thesis that the rhetoric of market fundamentalism hasn't looked this threadbare since Ronald Reagan won office in 1980. Deregulated markets were given their chance. They didn't work, or, at least, they now look to be in need of serious overhaul. The question is whether Americans will seize the opportunity to rethink and reshape how government manages the economy. But will a President Clinton or Obama or McCain seize the day?

    Clinton held a press conference on Monday at which she called the current crisis "a really serious piece of business." She even referenced the Great Depression.

    There are lots of people who are talking about using tools we haven't used since the Great Depression, legal tools that give the government the right to do certain things. You know, I haven't looked at the legal background, but some say that even the Fed's unprecedented intervention has roots in what was necessary then.

    I mean, I cannot stress to you [enough]: We are in a very dangerous period in the economy. We need vigilance, and we need leadership.

    How often is it that a politician can utter the words "since the Great Depression" without its being dismissed as hyperbole?

    Barack Obama released a statement on Monday:

    The news coming from Wall Street today has confirmed our fears that the financial fallout from the mortgage crisis would spill over into the wider economy ... Now, as the Federal Reserve does its best to bring stability to the market, we must focus on what we can do to restore the public's confidence in the market and help the millions of Americans who are worried about their jobs, their homes, and their financial future...

    [President Bush's] principal policy to address the financial crunch that now threatens millions of Americans with foreclosure and thousands of business[es] with bankruptcy is to extend his tax cuts for the wealthiest few. It's a policy so divorced from the reality facing the American people and the American economy that it would be laughable if it weren't so frightening.

    That's not much of a change from Obama's stump speech. He might want to sharpen it by pointing out that those who are currently getting bailed out by the Fed are exactly the people who benefited most from Bush's tax cuts.

    John McCain was in Iraq on Monday. But his senior policy adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, released a statement:

    Senator McCain has complete confidence in Chairman Bernanke and the actions of the Federal Reserve, and is committed to ensuring the economy continues to grow -- because no government program or policy is a substitute for a good job. John McCain understands the federal government's responsibility to ensure the stability of the US financial system, and is equally committed to protecting the pocketbooks of hardworking American families.

    Simultaneously trashing government programs and acknowledging government responsibility to ensure financial stability! Strangely, McCain made no mention of the Great Depression or tax cuts that benefit the wealthy.

    Maybe all three politicians need more time to hone their messages. Judging by the volatility of markets on Monday, they'll have plenty of additional opportunities. Whoever wins the presidency will face a remarkable opportunity to reset the playing field.

    The New Deal didn't emerge of its own accord as some kind of organic reaction to the Great Depression. Leadership was required, and the political fights were brutal. The same will no doubt be true for any sustained effort to crack down on Wall Street shenanigans and redistribute wealth more equitably. Indeed, for most of the past 25 years just imagining such a thing would have seemed ludicrously out of touch with political reality. But that's what makes the current events so dramatic. The dangers -- of great economic distress and turmoil -- are clear and intimidating. But the opportunity for reform is fantastic.

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  96. The thunderous applause was still ringing in his ears when the state's new governor, David Paterson, told the Daily News that he and his wife had extramarital affairs.

    In a stunning revelation, both Paterson, 53, and his wife, Michelle, 46, acknowledged in a joint interview they each had intimate relationships with others during a rocky period in their marriage several years ago.

    In the course of several interviews in the past few days, Paterson said he maintained a relationship for two or three years with "a woman other than my wife," beginning in 1999.

    As part of that relationship, Paterson said, he and the other woman sometimes stayed at an upper West Side hotel -- the Days Inn at Broadway and W. 94th St.

    He said members of his Albany legislative staff often used the same hotel when they visit the city.

    "This was a marriage that appeared to be going sour at one point," Paterson conceded in his first interview Saturday. "But I went to counseling and we decided we wanted to make it work. Michelle is well aware of what went on."

    Sounds like he has the Republican ethics of hiding the truth until he reaches the brass ring.

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  97. USA TODAY/Gallup Poll: Clinton up 5 points on McCain; Obama up 2

    If the election were held today (and yes, we know it won't be), Democratic contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would get 51% of the vote to Republican candidate Sen. John McCain's 46%, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll estimates. In a match-up between Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and McCain, Obama comes out ahead 49%-47%.

    Both Democrats have overtaken McCain since the last USA TODAY/Gallup survey. In that Feb. 21-24 poll, McCain led Clinton 50%-46% and he led Obama 48%-47%.

    Gallup surveyed 685 "likely" voters across the nation from Friday through Sunday. It says the margin of error on each result is +/- 4 percentage points. That means neither Clinton nor Obama's lead in the new poll is "outside" that margin. Clinton's support could be as low as 47% (because 51-4=47) and McCain's could be as high as 50% (because 46+4=50).

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  98. An angry McCain told voters today that he was only “doing the Lord’s work” but unfortunately was doing it “in the city of Satan”:

    Later in Springfield, Penn., McCain told voters: “We were voting on major issues of profound consequences with no discussion, no debate and 10 minutes to vote.

    “Anyone who had the misfortune of watching it will know how hard it is to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan,” said McCain, who has served four-terms in the Senate.

    McCain has a distinguished member of the “city of Satan” for over 20 years.

    Doesn't "Satan McCain" want 4 more years in this city of sin.

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  99. More than two-thirds of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave, according to a poll conducted for British television ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

    The ORB/Channel 4 News survey suggested that 70 percent thought multinational forces should withdraw.

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  100. Will evangelical center emerge
    to rival waning Christian Right?

    By Greg Warner

    If the Religious Right is losing its influence, as many pundits predict, will it be replaced by the “other” evangelicals—a center-and-left coalition with a broader social agenda and a kinder, gentler brand of cultural engagement?

    Advocates say centrist evangelicals are a bona fide constituency that is re-emerging after three decades spent underground—or at least ignored by the media and society at large.

    Although these other evangelicals have no dominant spokespersons and no representative organization, at least not yet, they say they are every bit as worthy of the “evangelical” label as their counterparts on the right—and every bit as numerous.

    In fact, Christians can “be more evangelical by being less conservative,” argues Baptist theologian and author Roger Olson. And he’s written a book to tell them how.

    “Evangelicals are leaving the Religious Right in droves,” added Christian activist Jim Wallis, for three decades the social conscience of the evangelical left. “This evangelical center is getting so big.”

    So, how many evangelical centrists are out there?

    Political scientist John Green, the preeminent researcher on evangelical politics, concluded 10.8 percent of American voters in 2004 were in the evangelical center, compared to 12.6 percent of voters on both the evangelical left and evangelical right.

    But that doesn’t include African-American and Latino evangelicals, about half of whom are centrists. And those numbers likely have swelled in recent years, if Wallis and others are correct about the exodus on the right.

    Driving the shift among evangelicals is “the refusal of the center or the left to confine moral values to abortion and homosexuality,” said ethicist David Gushee, who insists researchers and reporters err by grouping evangelicals into “bipolar” camps of left and right.

    That shift is sped by the generational transition also taking place in society, said Gushee, a centrist Baptist who teaches at Mercer University and its seminary, both located in Georgia. The students he meets today, even at conservative Christian colleges, are more likely to campaign against sex trafficking, torture and environmental abuse than abortion or gay rights, Gushee said. And they’re fed up with the right’s “slash and burn” approach.

    “The younger generation is definitely turned off to the culture-war mentality and all the anger,” he said. “They believe it violates the Spirit of Christ.”

    Gushee, Wallis and Olson all have new books coming out about the emerging evangelical center and its broadened social agenda.

    All three say faith steers the political views of moderate and progressive evangelicals— particularly young adults—to include a varied pallet of issues: poverty, war and peace, care of the environment, immigration reform, AIDS, lingering racism, torture, support for human rights, genocide in Darfur, and other social issues the Religious Right has largely avoided.

    In a January poll by Beliefnet.com, self-described evangelicals ranked poverty, the environment, health care, education, the economy, governmental reform, and ending torture and the Iraq war as more important issues than abortion or gay marriage, the right’s two hot-button issues. And, perhaps most surprising, a majority of survey respondents were conservative.

    A similar result came from a 2006 Zogby International poll of voters in the mid-term elections. Those voters said “kitchen table” issues—the economy, Iraq, poverty and greed —mattered more than abortion or gay marriage. Fewer than 9 percent of voters named abortion or gay marriage as the top moral issue. And the number of religious Americans who voted Democratic in 2006 increased significantly over 2004.

    “If Christians are still reading the Bible seriously, and they’re reading it from Genesis to Revelation, then it’s impossible to ignore the broader issues,” said Gushee, who says the evangelical center is growing and will set the tone for Christian cultural engagement in the future.

    “A historic shift is occurring,” Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in a Scripps-Howard interview. “It is equivalent to an earthquake in slow motion—people aren’t sensing it.”

    Cizik, the NAE’s progressive VP for governmental affairs, has himself been the target of evangelicalism’s old guard—such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson—who accuse him of distracting evangelicals’ attention from the bread-and-butter issues of abortion and homosexuality.

    The 2008 presidential election is demonstrating that religious voters are anything but monolithic. New surveys from the Pew Forum and the Barna Group suggest evangelical voters are in play for Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom are professing Christians with social agendas mirroring the new, broader evangelical definition of public morality.

    Conservative evangelicals insist their obituary is premature. While they remain uneasy with their presidential options, they still carry weight in the electorate—particularly in the Republican Party. And they expect to have an impact on the presidential election.

    But clearly the landscape has changed since the early days, when Jerry Falwell prayed publicly for God to speed the death of “liberal” Supreme Court justices.

    “The Christian Right has made some mistakes and has been declining and is losing its market,” said Gushee, the author of The Future of Faith in American Politics. “The classic sex-and-abortion agenda is not resonating in this election season. And their ability to direct foot soldiers is declining.”

    The shift to the center, if indeed it is one, is not entirely new, Olson said. In How to Be Evangelical Without Being Conservative, he argues that historically evangelicals—rather than being dependable stalwarts of the conservative status quo—often have been radicals on doctrinal and social issues like worship and slavery.

    A professor of theology at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary, Olson is a “Northern evangelical” transplanted to the South. He calls himself a “post-conservative evangelical” and staunchly refuses to surrender the term “evangelical” to the right wing.

    “We are evangelical, and we have every right to be called that,” he said. But he admits he and his cohorts have a public-relations problem. “Those of us who are not conservative need someone who is famous who can come on radio and TV and nuance things.”

    It is possible to be evangelical and be liberal socially, Olson maintains. For instance, he argues, a Christian can be patriotic without succumbing to nationalism, can favor the redistribution of wealth without being a socialist, and can innovate in worship without trivializing it.

    The term “evangelical” has a rich history that predates the Religious Right, Olson says, but “it is a very problematic term right now” for those who don’t consider themselves fundamentalist or conservative.

    “Many ‘former’ fundamentalists are calling themselves theological evangelicals,” he said, citing Jerry Falwell Jr., the 47-year-old chancellor of Liberty University, founded by his fundamentalist father.

    And he concedes that centrists may lose the battle over language: “I don’t want to say that conservatives will win, but they are winning.”

    Besides the often-pejorative nature of the term, Olson and Wallis say they also have a problem with the political language of right, left and center. “They are so tied to the Enlightenment,” Olson said. “‘Post-conservative’ means I want to be off that spectrum.”

    In his new book, The Great Awakening, Wallis, founder of a faith and justice network called Sojourners, prefers the terms “moral center” and “gospel center,” trying to lift Christians above the political fray.

    The three authors also use different criteria to define “evangelicals.” Wallis and Gushee employ theological definitions of evangelicals that focus on core beliefs. Olson prefers an “experiential” definition—evangelicals are “God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving” Christians, he says.

    Many historians don’t use “evangelical” to describe Baptists because their history did not intersect with American evangelicals, who grew as a moderate response to early-20th century fundamentalism. But Olson and Gushee embrace it.

    They are both Baptist, but they come from different historical streams. Olson grew up in a Pentecostal family and later became a Baptist in the North. Gushee is a former Roman Catholic. Both work for progressive universities with Southern Baptist roots.

    “Most moderate Baptists are center or center-left evangelicals, they just don’t know it,” Gushee said. “I want to help moderate Baptists reclaim the term ‘evangelical’ and re-associate with other evangelicals who are kindred spirits, if they only knew it.”

    Evangelicals in the northern United States are willing to work across denominational lines, Olson added. “In the North, we evangelicals get together with anyone who looks fondly upon the cross.”

    Sharp theological lines are less important in the North because Christians are a minority, he said. A “Jesus-centered piety” is common-enough ground for fellowship. “I think most Baptists in the town I grew up in would be part of that. But Baptists in the North are so fragmented, it’s hard to classify them.”

    Gushee said the recent New Baptist Covenant meeting, which drew an estimated 15,000 moderate-leaning Baptists of different races and traditions to Atlanta, is a healthy sign of the growing strength of centrists.

    But Covenant organizers say their movement will not become a denomination or institution. Likewise, other centrist evangelicals—scattered in dozens of denominations—have no organizational identity or rallying point. The National Association of Evangelicals currently is fragmented over its identity and focus.

    “What’s needed is a new national organization that is truly centrist and truly viable,” Olson said. “The NAE could be that, but it has lost some steam. … I’m still hopeful about the NAE.”

    Will evangelicalism’s new “middle” hold without some structure? There’s more hope than certainty among its advocates.

    One observer, historian Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School, is skeptical a middle can emerge within evangelicalism because the movement is already so divided, pitting one vision of “orthodoxy” against another.

    “‘Middle ways’ may not be a luxury that evangelicalism can afford in the years ahead,” he said.

    Meanwhile, don’t look for the Religious Right to collect its marbles and go home quietly. While conservatives remain uneasy with their ‘08 presidential options, they still carry weight in the electorate, particularly in the Republican Party.

    Their numbers may be dwindling, “but the commitments of many in the movement have not waned—hence, (Republican Mike) Huckabee’s dramatic Southern victories on Super Tuesday,” Leonard said. “But the movement is certainly aging, and many of its leaders are dead or less active.”

    “The real test of the Religious Right and its political influence is in the 2008 election and its dominance in one particular party,” he concluded. “We’ll see.”


    Bush has destroyed the "Religious Right" allthe while they are espousing his virtues of war and moralism.

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  101. I was totally blown away by Obama's amazing speech today on race, and I posted it here on the blog with some comments.

    You can stay on this thread and comment if you'd like.

    thanks.

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  102. Price of Iraq war now outpaces Vietnam

    Price only exceeded by World War II

    "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," declared President George W. Bush aboard the USS Lincoln in 2003. "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

    Five years later, the Iraq war rages on.

    According to two prominent economists, in a study the White House has not disputed, the cost of the war now outpaces the total price of the 12-year US conflict in Vietnam. It's now nearly double the total cost of the Korean War.

    The costs of maintaining a US presence in Iraq now runs a tab of about $435 million a day -- $3 billion a week, or $12 billion a month. The US has siphoned some $500 billion taxpayer dollars into Iraq, for a war that was supposed to be "sharp" and brief. Interest payments add another $615 billion, and the price tag of repairing a depleted military is projected at $280 billion.

    Only World War II, in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, was more expensive, according to a recent study by Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University public finance Professor Laura Bilmes. Both served in the Clinton administration.

    Their price tag? $3 trillion. The White House has not disputed the study.

    Writing in the San Fransisco Chronicle today, Zachary Coile draws on the study and compares it with the costs of previous US wars.

    The price tag in Iraq now is more than double the cost of the Korean War and a third more expensive than the Vietnam War, which lasted 12 years. Stiglitz and Bilmes calculate that it will be at least 10 times as costly as the 1991 Gulf War and twice the cost of World War I.

    Only World War II was more expensive. That four-year war - in which 16 million U.S. troops were deployed on two fronts, fighting against Germany and Japan - cost about $5 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    The latest numbers are a far cry from the cost estimates made by war supporters in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion.

    In September 2002, White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey told the Wall Street Journal the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. He was immediately excoriated by others in the administration. White House budget director Mitch Daniels called the estimate "very, very high." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called it "baloney."


    Coile also includes a detailed breakdown of the costs. They follow.

    Costs of the war

    -- $435 million: Cost of Iraq war each day.

    -- $526 billion: Cost of combat operations to date.

    -- $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion: Estimated Afghanistan and Iraq combat costs through 2017.

    -- $590 billion: Future costs of disability benefits and health care for Iraq war veterans.

    -- $615 billion: Cost of interest on money borrowed to pay for the war.

    -- $280 billion: Cost of replacing equipment and restoring U.S. military to prewar strength.

    -- $16,500: Cost of the war to each U.S. family of four from 2003-2008.

    -- $36,900: Cost of the war to each family if the war continues for 10 years.

    -- $274 billion: Cost of increased oil prices related to the Iraq war, 2003-2008. What $435 million per day could do

    -- Enroll 58,000 children in Head Start.

    -- Put 8,900 police officers on the street.

    -- Provide health insurance to 329,200 low-income children.

    -- Hire 10,700 Border Patrol agents.

    -- Give Pell Grants to 163,700 college students.

    -- Provide foreclosure prevention counseling to 260,000 families.

    So George W Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, have wasted more money in 5 years on the illegal Iraqi war; MORE money then Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon could waste in all the years of the futile operation in Vietnam started by the Dulles brothers.

    However the bigger difference is the stupidest person to ever walk into the White House BORROWED, yes the idiot borrowed all that money, to illegally attack a country and LOSE. The money for his illegal war being borrowed means the children and grandchildren have to pay interest on Bush's stupidity, .... because as Ronald Reagan proved in spades, republicans do not believe in paying the bills they run up, and George bush is doing just that passing the bill on to others to pay, the greedy corrupt lowlifes they are.

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  103. I am holding out hope that people actually watch and listen to the speech rather than just take what the media says about it.

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  104. I missed his speech and didn't see it until Karen's site. I have been hearing about it all day though.
    Even Hillary said it was a good thing. It was a good, blunt, honest, and personal speech. I just hope it helps!
    I am afraid President McCain is already an underhanded reality after his events in Iraq. I have to wonder if Obama would be allowed to go there? Thanks for the speech. I'm going to check it out now!

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  105. McCain is incoherent and dishonest about the war. If you listen to him, he doesn't even know that Al Qaeda is Sunni and Iran is Shiite and therefore his whole premise was wrong yesterday when he said Al Quaeda goes to Iran for training and comes back to Iraq.

    Even Lieberman had to correct him.

    McCain is dangerous, yet his poll numbers are higher than Obama right now.

    We have to get the truth out there about McCain's dementia.

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  106. By the way, I believe our nation needs Obama. Today's speech totally convinced me.

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  107. Robert Kiyosaki just put Wolf Blitzer in his place and said EXACTLY what i have said that the bailout for Bear Stearns is Welfare for the wealthy elite.

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  108. Incredible speech;

    By 9:35 PM Tuesday night this speech had 203,109 Views on U tube;

    It will make a huge difference, and even "faux lies" and the reichwing smear machine is gonna LOSE this time.

    BTW unlike Hillary or McCain, Barack wrote his own speech.

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  109. Similar Bloggers
    Loyal to the Corps

    By Steven Weber

    "...the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor." ----Mark Twain
    As the eight years of failed Republican-lead policy threatens to crest at epic heights, swamping its ripped-off citizenry with crushing debt and decimating much of the sociopolitical landscape, the dastardly architects of the No Dollar Left Behind Ponzi scheme will be -- like cheesy vaudevillians -- tipping their hats, tapping their canes and saying "We killed 'em, didn't we?"

    And all this courtesy of millions of supporters, shills and enablers who held unwavering loyalty above all else, loyalty to a leadership that promised them wealth and power but instead rewarded them with bankruptcy and defeat; a leadership which would cannibalize their young in an instant.

    Buzz up!on Yahoo!It's not just Bushie and Cheney and Wolfie and Rummy and Scooter all those other cutesy-poo monikered flimflammers, it's their legion of constitution-eroding mini-me's parading around as patriotic guardians of Democracy, one fist shaking in the faces of all who would oppose them, the other fist clenching soon-to-be valueless dead president post-it notes.

    They are loyal and true and dangerous as hell and their unswerving fealty has made them so. Even when presented with an undisputed list of administration blunders, blindsides and blasphemies, the xenophobic legion of lost souls registers its snickering disdain, refusing to believe that their Grand Old Papa is anything but dedicated to the proposition that all rich white guys are created better than anyone else.

    And instead of being characteristically boastful of their accomplishments and touting the party's leadership, they distance themselves, invoke the name of hemi-semi-demi-god Ronnie and lay the blame on everyone else: the smoldering ecology, the international hostility, the divided nation.

    They outsource their cake and eat it, too.

    They will rage and roar and gnash their teeth but, like all bullies possessed of a cowardly core, will never own up to their deeds. They are as foul tempered as any species which requires self-immolation as a pledge of allegiance; the amount of bile spewed is commensurate with the suffocating knowledge of their own sins of complicity.

    So, while under no illusions about power, about how it works for the dithering and malleable Democrats as well as Republicans, there should at least be a shared awareness among the electorate of the perils this nation faces these days, the ones that already existed and the ones we have created. The irony is, with acknowledgment and humility comes forgiveness. That's a concept the "folks" who remain "steadfast" and "robust" in their support for the eight years of Bushwacking were probably never taught by them that raised them.

    Pity. A nobler cause could use such loyalty.

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  110. Wow, Robert Kiyosaki just said The Federal Reserve is bailing out the wealthy at the expense of the working class.................something i've been saying for the last year now.

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  111. Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it was offering buyouts to 30,000 employees, more than half its workforce, in a major overhaul of operations as it struggles with record-high fuel prices.

    Delta, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said it was offering voluntary departure packages to the 30,000 non-pilot employees.

    It also said it was reducing domestic capacity by an additional five percent by August, resulting in a 10 percent year-over-year domestic reduction.

    "Despite the significant momentum we have achieved at Delta, the rapid increase in fuel costs to record highs and the weakening US economy are placing pressure on our business," the Atlanta, Georgia-based airline said in the filing.

    "We must act quickly and decisively ... to keep Delta strong," said the third-biggest US airline, which emerged from bankruptcy protection less than a year ago.

    The bold action was needed because fuel is expected to remain at about 100 dollars per barrel "for the foreseeable future," it added.

    The company said that fuel prices had climbed nearly 20 percent in the past three months amid record-shattering oil prices.

    "Our 2008 fuel bill is now expected to increase by nearly 900 million dollars compared to our business plan (based on 90 dollars per barrel fuel) and more than two billion dollars over 2007," it said.

    The overhaul was expected to generate 550 million dollars in cost savings from operations, 150 million dollars more than a prior target.

    Delta, a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, told the SEC that it would not cut back its international flying "where fares more readily cover higher fuel costs."

    It said it would continue to increase international capacity by 15 percent through 2008 as the company enjoys "record" international expansion.

    Investors welcomed the news. Delta shares lifted nine percent higher to finish the day at 10.09 dollars.

    Delta's overhaul came amid reports of merger talks in recent weeks between Delta, the number three US airline, and Northwest Airlines, which would create the world's largest carrier.

    That possible combination with Northwest, however, appeared at risk after its pilots union declared Monday that talks with its Northwest Airlines counterpart had ended without a seniority deal.

    The impasse in pilot union talks emerged Monday in a letter from the head of the pilots union at Delta, Lee Moak, to rank-and-file Delta pilots.

    The letter does not mention Northwest, but describes the union that Delta's pilots had been negotiating with as the only one they were focused on talking with. Multiple officials close to the talks have said in recent months that the other company was Northwest Airlines.

    "After every reasonable effort on our part to reach a fair, rational and reasonable integrated seniority list failed," Moak said, he called his negotiating team home.

    Moak said his union remained willing to hold further negotiations "if there were reason to believe movement on the seniority list integration would take place."

    Delta executives have said they would not move forward with any combination unless the seniority of their employees was protected.

    The US airline industry has been struggling with sky-high fuel prices that have hampered a recovery from the air travel slump that followed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US.

    The traditional full-service airlines such as Delta also have been hurt by competition from low-cost startups like Southwest and JetBlue, which do not have "legacy" pension and health-care costs and often have lower wages as well.

    Delta and Northwest filed for creditor protection on the same day in September 2005, which at the time left four of the top six US carriers in bankruptcy.

    Delta emerged from bankruptcy protection on April 30, 2007, after a 19-month reorganization. As part of that streamlining, Delta won pay and benefit concessions from employee groups, including pilots, and slashed its workforce from 66,500 in 2005 to 47,000 in 2006, according to the company's latest data.

    Another fallout of the collapsing Bush economy.

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  112. Is John McCain Secretly Dumb?

    By Tim Dickinson
    Rolling Stone

    How is is possible that after eight trips to Iraq and decades of foreign policy experience that John McCain still can’t tell a Sunni from a Shia, or understand that Al Qaeda and Iran are on separate sides of a schism that has existed in Islam for the last 13 centuries or so?

    From the washingtonpost.com

    [McCain] said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

    Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

    Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear. McCain then said: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.”

    This reminds me of how terrible McCain was debating George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign. Here was a guy who should have made Bush look like a chucklehead on national security issues, and yet repeatedly proved incapable of spiking the ball.

    This is what Lydia was talking about the senile old McCain.

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  113. Check out Octavian's newest blog on Fundemental Investment.

    FundementalInvestment

    ReplyDelete
  114. McCain's Nuclear Waste
    How the Arizona senator doomed his own global warming legislation with billions in nuclear subsidies."

    David Corn

    On January 9, 2003—five years before he would become the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee—Senator John McCain strode to the Senate floor and began a speech by citing the National Academy of Sciences: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." He then pointed to a host of scientific studies that had outlined the negative consequences of global warming. "The United States must do something," he proclaimed, announcing that he and Senator Joseph Lieberman were introducing legislation that day to establish mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions and set up a system for the trading of emissions credits.

    Environmental groups endorsed the McCain-Lieberman bill, which compelled major industries to reduce greenhouse gases to 2000 levels by 2010. The League of Conservation Voters called it "a relatively modest reduction" but an "important first step" that would "send an important signal to the global community." It was indeed the first serious attempt in the Senate to impose a cap on global warming emissions.

    Ten months later, the bill was defeated by a relatively close margin, 55 to 43. (Then-Senator John Edwards, who missed the vote, had indicated he supported the bill.) Environmental advocates in Washington considered this a decent start considering that six years earlier the Senate had voted unanimously for a nonbinding resolution that signaled opposition to the Kyoto global warming treaty. With this bill, McCain established himself as the undisputed Republican leader on climate change. Convinced that global warming had already led to more droughts and wildfires in his home state of Arizona, McCain vowed to keep fighting for the measure. But within a year and a half, McCain would lose ground and set back the effort to reduce emissions because of a profound political miscalculation, his own stubbornness, and, most of all, his deep attachment to nuclear power.

    About a year after their bill was defeated, McCain and Lieberman began drafting a new version. It was close to the original, but with one significant addition: billions of dollars in tax subsidies for the nuclear energy industry.

    McCain had long been an advocate of nuclear power. "He feels strongly that nuclear power will be one of the keys to reducing emissions," says Heather Wicke, who was his environmental legislative aide at the time. But environmentalists who had worked with McCain and Lieberman on the first bill were stunned. In one meeting, lobbyists for environmental groups attempted to persuade McCain not to attach nuclear subsidies to the legislation, arguing that doing so would weaken support for the bill. "He shook his finger at us and scolded us," says one participant at the meeting, who recalls McCain saying, "You're wrong and I'm right." Wicke, now the director of policy for the Piedmont Environmental Council, notes that McCain had already made up his mind and that the session was "testy."

    In meetings with McCain's staff, environmental lobbyists argued the obvious points, according to Karen Wayland, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council: what to do with nuclear waste, the need to prevent nuclear proliferation, the problem with security at nuclear facilities. They noted that legislation restricting greenhouse emissions in and of itself would create a competitive advantage for nuclear energy companies. They made no headway, so the enviros appealed to Lieberman and his staff. "Lieberman didn't seem to care for this provision," one of the green lobbyists remembers, "but he needed McCain, and McCain was pushing hard" for the nuclear subsidies.

    Part of McCain's motivation was political. According to Wicke, he and his aides figured that these subsidies could attract several pro-nuclear Republicans, and they had their eyes on Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Liddy Dole of North Carolina. Wicke was concerned at the time that the nuclear subsidies would cost the measure support and that a bill loaded with money for the nuclear energy industry would contradict McCain's high-profile opposition to subsidies—which was partly responsible for his reputation as a fiscal conservative and a maverick. In June 2003, McCain had joined 47 other senators to vote for an amendment stripping an energy bill of up to $16 billion in subsidies for the nuclear power industry. (The amendment lost by a two-vote margin.)

    Wicke heard from staffers for several senators who had supported McCain and Lieberman's original bill that these senators might oppose the measure if the new version contained nuclear subsidies. "It made me nervous," she recalls. But McCain remained firm in his belief that the billions for nuclear power would draw in more Republicans.

    In May 2005, McCain and Lieberman reintroduced their climate change bill—with the subsidies. McCain acknowledged that "friends" in the environmental movement were opposed to the nuclear provision. He spoke at length in the Senate to defend this part of the bill: "The idea that nuclear power should play no role in our energy mix is an unsustainable position.... I, for one, believe it can and should play an even greater role, not because I have some inordinate love affair with splitting the atom, but for the very simple reason that we must support sustainable, zero-emission alternatives such as nuclear if we are serious about addressing the problem of global warming.... I am a green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy."

    His friends were not persuaded. While the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation continued to support McCain, the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and others mounted a fierce campaign against the new bill. On June 22, 2005, it came up for a vote and was defeated 60 to 38. Several Democratic senators who had backed McCain's original legislation—Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)—defected, and McCain picked up no new Republicans. (Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted for it.) "The staff didn't fully appreciate how much opposition there would be to the nuclear provision," Wicke says, adding, "I could say it was a bit of miscalculation.... It did stymie this climate change legislation." After collecting 44 supporters for the first bill, McCain had lost ground.

    Sometime after the vote, the NRDC's Wayland attended a meeting McCain held with representatives of environmental organizations. McCain was unapologetic about his decision to tie his climate change measure to nuclear power subsidies. "He said that environmentalists had lost power and influence because they did not support nuclear power," Wayland recalls, "and that renewables would never be more than 1 or 2 percent of the active energy supplies. I tried to argue with him and got nowhere. It was hard to a get a word in edgewise." After the meeting an upset Wayland, engaging in retail therapy, headed to a store and bought several pairs of shoes.

    In January 2007, McCain and Lieberman again introduced their climate change bill, and the nuclear subsidies remained in the bill. (Public Citizen estimated the subsidies would run to at least $3.7 billion.) But in fall of 2007, the McCain-Lieberman bill was eclipsed by legislation introduced by Lieberman and Republican Senator John Warner. This bill called for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions—though not as great as many scientists advocated—and it contained no special subsidies for nuclear power. The Lieberman-Warner measure immediately became the major piece of pending climate change legislation in the Senate. McCain and his bill were essentially out of the picture. He was, at the time, busy campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

    "To his credit, he was a leader in the Republican Party on climate change," Wayland says. But by pushing breaks for nuclear power, McCain damaged a cause he had been passionately advocating for, leaving this particular battlefield with self-inflicted wounds.

    Deranged McCain just has to take care of those who will help him cause wars.

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  115. Lydia said"

    How to Use the Rebate

    As you may have heard the Bush Administration said each and every one of us would now get a nice rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China. If we spend it on gasoline it will all go to the Arabs, if we purchase a computer it will all go to India, if we purchase fruit and vegetables it will all go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatamala, if we purchase a good car it will all go to Japan, ifwe purchase useless crap it will all go to Taiwan and none of it will
    help the American economy , which is the whole purpose of the rebate.

    We need to keep that money here in America, so the only way to keep that money here at home is to buy prostitutes and beer, since those are the only businesses still in the US."


    Like I said yesterday wherers Eliot Spitzer when you need him.........but seriously Bush gave our rebate to Bear Stearns and probably Carlyle..........sure their giving us $600 but they are sticking us with the tab for bailing out the elite wall street firms with welfare for the ultra wealthy.

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  116. I'm telling you the MSM is actually keeping this story in the light and holding Bush and Bernanke and their cronnies accountable for this hippocritical welfare for the wealthy and we need to do the same and keep the light shined on this.

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  117. On another note Did you see that weasel Wolf Blitzer sniping and taking pot shots at Obama all night.............did you hear that little hippocrit asking if Obama was cloaking himself in the flag to make it appear he want anti American............like he DIDNT give the war mongering Neo Cons a free pass for cloaking themselves in the flag in 2002 while playing patriotic riffs and war drums in the background to sell the war and their phony patriotism............HOW DARE THAT DAMN WEASEL ASK THAT QUESTION when he not only allowed the Neo Cons to do the very thing he falsely accused Obama of doing but supported, condoned and glorified it!

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  118. Lydia:
    thank you for posting the Obama speech...it was really amazing..and it will be up to all of us to share the WHOLE speech ( 37 minutes- the MSM will never air the whole thing again...)....and it was historic...

    to Mike, and larry- I am now going to try to get caught up here...I am sooooooo behind...I read the Corn and the Dowd...but I am still catching up on the McPain and the Bear Sterns stuff ( boy that was quicker than Enron wasn't it?)

    okay....off I go to read .....

    ( btw I will have a Post up tomorrow about the"Marlboro Man " for the 5 Year Hell Anniversary...)

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  119. The Folks Who Brought You Iraq

    by Joe Conason

    The Folks Who Brought You Iraq
    The Shame of Eliot Spitzer
    McCain Has His Own Farrakhan
    McCain's Political Quagmire
    All on one page >>“Well, that’s history. That’s the past. That’s talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we’re going to do now.”

    The man who spoke those words was Senator John McCain, and the subject was the Iraq war and its origins in official falsehood, strategic error and wishful thinking. Expect to hear him repeat those same dismissive phrases again and again as the presidential campaign unfolds.

    Understandably, the presumptive Republican nominee prefers to avoid examining how our finest young people and vast amounts of our national treasure came to be squandered in that desert, since he was among the war’s most excited advocates.

    There were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq (as some of us were not surprised to learn), and in particular no nuclear weapons under construction, as advertised. There were no significant connections between Al Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein (as the Pentagon reaffirmed in a recent intelligence analysis). There was no legal basis for an invasion. There was no population inviting us to occupy their country as liberators.

    Yes, it’s all “history,” or at least it will be someday, and the historians will properly record Mr. McCain’s role in the fiasco with all due asperity. But on the fifth anniversary of the war, it is a little too easy to dismiss everything that led us to this point as “what happened before.”

    With the Arizona senator fresh from a Congressional trip to Baghdad, where he preened for the photo ops along with two of his campaign co-chairs, Senator Joseph Lieberman and Senator Lindsey Graham, this is certainly an appropriate moment to evaluate the judgment of the politicians who have promoted the whole enterprise, and the consequences of their decision.

    How mistaken were the war’s optimistic promoters in 2003? The official line on the expected cost of rebuilding Iraq after ousting Saddam was just under $2 billion, according to testimony provided by Bush administration officials. That estimate did not include the likelihood, according to Paul Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense, that Iraq’s oil reserves would cover the entire cost of invasion, occupation and reconstruction. Five years later, the estimated cost of the war to American taxpayers is well over $2 trillion, including the care we must provide for wounded Americans over the next few decades. Much of the Iraqi oil, whose production remains sporadic, is being stolen and smuggled away.

    The difference between an estimate of $2 billion and a cost of $2 trillion could be considered a significant miscalculation, even in a Republican government.

    Yet those figures don’t quite reckon with the real costs, which should include the rise in the price of oil from around $36 a barrel in March 2003 to well over $100 a barrel this month. Some economists go further, blaming the subprime mortgage collapse—and the ensuing deluge of bad paper that may capsize the world economy—on the effects of the war.

    What did we get for all our money and blood? What diplomatic and strategic achievements can we attribute to the war? The conflict over Israel and Palestine has grown more intractable, with the rising influence of Hamas and Hezbollah. The influence of Iran, an avowed enemy of the United States, has risen across the region and penetrated deep into Iraq, where our occupation props up Tehran’s allies. The United States military has been badly depleted and demoralized, while our global prestige has dropped.

    Still, Mr. McCain tells us—and reportedly assured the Iraqi prime minister—of his intentions if he is elected president. “What we’re going to do now is continue this strategy,” he said, “which is succeeding in Iraq, and we are carrying out the goals of the surge.”

    Actually, the aim of last year’s troop escalation was to create sufficient stability in Iraq to permit the Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and other political leaders to consolidate their government, provide decent public services and begin reconciliation. General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces there, has acknowledged that the progress toward those objectives is far from satisfactory. Based on the originally stated purpose of the “surge,” it isn’t succeeding. Predictably, the level of violence in Iraq is again rising, with the daily death toll in March so far doubled from the low point in January.

    It is telling when a presidential candidate speaks so dismissively of history and urges us to ignore “what happened before.” In this instance, it is a sign of bad faith and worse judgment.

    McCain is a miserable war loving deranged old wretch.

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  120. Obama's speech moved me as much as MLK's I have a Dream speech.

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  121. Robert Fisk: The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn

    Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the end called Palestine a "hell-disaster".

    But we have used these parallels before and they have drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will have a public inquiry – but not yet! If only inadequacy was our only sin.

    Today, we are engaged in a fruitless debate. What went wrong? How did the people – the senatus populusque Romanus of our modern world – not rise up in rebellion when told the lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam's links with Osama bin Laden and 11 September? How did we let it happen? And how come we didn't plan for the aftermath of war?

    Oh, the British tried to get the Americans to listen, Downing Street now tells us. We really, honestly did try, before we absolutely and completely knew it was right to embark on this illegal war. There is now a vast literature on the Iraq debacle and there are precedents for post-war planning – of which more later – but this is not the point. Our predicament in Iraq is on an infinitely more terrible scale.

    As the Americans came storming up Iraq in 2003, their cruise missiles hissing through the sandstorm towards a hundred Iraqi towns and cities, I would sit in my filthy room in the Baghdad Palestine Hotel, unable to sleep for the thunder of explosions, and root through the books I'd brought to fill the dark, dangerous hours. Tolstoy's War and Peace reminded me how conflict can be described with sensitivity and grace and horror – I recommend the Battle of Borodino – along with a file of newspaper clippings. In this little folder, there was a long rant by Pat Buchanan, written five months earlier; and still, today I feel its power and its prescience and its absolute historical honesty: "With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavour at which Islamic people excel is expelling imperial powers by terror or guerrilla war.

    "They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon. We have started up the road to empire and over the next hill we will meet those who went before. The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history."

    How easily the little men took us into the inferno, with no knowledge or, at least, interest in history. None of them read of the 1920 Iraqi insurgency against British occupation, nor of Churchill's brusque and brutal settlement of Iraq the following year.

    On our historical radars, not even Crassus appeared, the wealthiest Roman general of all, who demanded an emperorship after conquering Macedonia – "Mission Accomplished" – and vengefully set forth to destroy Mesopotamia. At a spot in the desert near the Euphrates river, the Parthians – ancestors of present day Iraqi insurgents – annihilated the legions, chopped off Crassus's head and sent it back to Rome filled with gold. Today, they would have videotaped his beheading.

    To their monumental hubris, these little men who took us to war five years ago now prove that they have learnt nothing. Anthony Blair – as we should always have called this small town lawyer – should be facing trial for his mendacity. Instead, he now presumes to bring peace to an Arab-Israeli conflict which he has done so much to exacerbate. And now we have the man who changed his mind on the legality of war – and did so on a single sheet of A4 paper – daring to suggest that we should test immigrants for British citizenship. Question 1, I contend, should be: Which blood-soaked British attorney general helped to send 176 British soldiers to their deaths for a lie? Question 2: How did he get away with it?

    But in a sense, the facile, dumbo nature of Lord Goldsmith's proposal is a clue to the whole transitory, cardboard structure of our decision-making. The great issues that face us – be they Iraq or Afghanistan, the US economy or global warming, planned invasions or "terrorism" – are discussed not according to serious political timetables but around television schedules and press conferences.

    Will the first air raids on Iraq hit prime-time television in the States? Mercifully, yes. Will the first US troops in Baghdad appear on the breakfast shows? Of course. Will Saddam's capture be announced by Bush and Blair simultaneously?.

    But this is all part of the problem. True, Churchill and Roosevelt argued about the timing of the announcement that war in Europe had ended. And it was the Russians who pipped them to the post. But we told the truth. When the British were retreating to Dunkirk, Churchill announced that the Germans had "penetrated deeply and spread alarm and confusion in their tracks".

    Why didn't Bush or Blair tell us this when the Iraqi insurgents began to assault the Western occupation forces? Well, they were too busy telling us that things were getting better, that the rebels were mere "dead-enders".

    On 17 June 1940, Churchill told the people of Britain: "The news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune." Why didn't Blair or Bush tell us that the news from Iraq was very bad and that they grieved – even just a few tears for a minute or so – for the Iraqis?

    For these were the men who had the temerity, the sheer, unadulterated gall, to dress themselves up as Churchill, heroes who would stage a rerun of the Second World War, the BBC dutifully calling the invaders "the Allies" – they did, by the way – and painting Saddam's regime as the Third Reich.

    Of course, when I was at school, our leaders – Attlee, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, or Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy in the United States – had real experience of real war. Not a single Western leader today has any first-hand experience of conflict. When the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq began, the most prominent European opponent of the war was Jacques Chirac, who fought in the Algerian conflict. But he has now gone. So has Colin Powell, a Vietnam veteran but himself duped by Rumsfeld and the CIA.

    Yet one of the terrible ironies of our times is that the most bloodthirsty of American statesmen – Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfovitz – have either never heard a shot fired in anger or have ensured they did not have to fight for their country when they had the chance to do so. No wonder Hollywood titles like "Shock and Awe" appeal to the White House. Movies are their only experience of human conflict; the same goes for Blair and Brown.

    Churchill had to account for the loss of Singapore before a packed House. Brown won't even account for Iraq until the war is over.

    It is a grotesque truism that today – after all the posturing of our political midgets five years ago – we might at last be permitted a valid seance with the ghosts of the Second World War. Statistics are the medium, and the room would have to be dark. But it is a fact that the total of US dead in Iraq (3,978) is well over the number of American casualties suffered in the initial D-Day landings at Normandy (3,384 killed and missing) on 6 June, 1944, or more than three times the total British casualties at Arnhem the same year (1,200).

    They count for just over a third of the total fatalities (11,014) of the entire British Expeditionary Force from the German invasion of Belgium to the final evacuation at Dunkirk in June 1940. The number of British dead in Iraq – 176 – is almost equal to the total of UK forces lost at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45 (just over 200). The number of US wounded in Iraq – 29,395 – is more than nine times the number of Americans injured on 6 June (3,184) and more than a quarter of the tally for US wounded in the entire 1950-53 Korean war (103,284).

    Iraqi casualties allow an even closer comparison to the Second World War. Even if we accept the lowest of fatality statistics for civilian dead – they range from 350,000 up to a million – these long ago dwarfed the number of British civilian dead in the flying-bomb blitz on London in 1944-45 (6,000) and now far outnumber the total figure for civilians killed in bombing raids across the United Kingdom – 60,595 dead, 86,182 seriously wounded – from 1940 to 1945.

    Indeed, the Iraqi civilian death toll since our invasion is now greater than the total number of British military fatalities in the Second World War, which came to an astounding 265,000 dead (some histories give this figure as 300,000) and 277,000 wounded. Minimum estimates for Iraqi dead mean that the civilians of Mesopotamia have suffered six or seven Dresdens or – more terrible still – two Hiroshimas.

    Yet in a sense, all this is a distraction from the awful truth in Buchanan's warning. We have dispatched our armies into the land of Islam. We have done so with the sole encouragement of Israel, whose own false intelligence over Iraq has been discreetly forgotten by our masters, while weeping crocodile tears for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died.

    America's massive military prestige has been irreparably diminished. And if there are, as I now calculate, 22 times as many Western troops in the Muslim world as there were at the time of the 11th and 12th century Crusades, we must ask what we are doing. Are we there for oil? For democracy? For Israel? For fear of weapons of mass destruction? Or for fear of Islam?

    We blithely connect Afghanistan to Iraq. If only Washington had not become distracted by Iraq, so the narrative now goes, the Taliban could not have re-established themselves. But al-Qa'ida and the nebulous Osama bin Laden were not distracted. Which is why they expanded their operations into Iraq and then used this experience to assault the West in Afghanistan with the hitherto – in Afghanistan – unheard of suicide bomber.

    And I will hazard a terrible guess: that we have lost Afghanistan as surely as we have lost Iraq and as surely as we are going to "lose" Pakistan. It is our presence, our power, our arrogance, our refusal to learn from history and our terror – yes, our terror – of Islam that is leading us into the abyss. And until we learn to leave these Muslim peoples alone, our catastrophe in the Middle East will only become graver. There is no connection between Islam and "terror". But there is a connection between our occupation of Muslim lands and "terror". It's not too complicated an equation. And we don't need a public inquiry to get it right.

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  122. Hey Dusty,

    Many are calling Obama's speech the best in history.

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  123. Hey Dusty...and Larry....

    It was something wasn't it ? amazing..and there are two more speechs this week....one about IRaq and the Economy ( hmm, yeah like they are connected ) and the other is ??? I am not sure...

    thanks for posting the speech- both of you...

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  124. The DNA-challenged Chimpleton wingtards I suffer encountering almost all the time still talk of Iraq as if September 11 and Iraq are some kind of intertwined act.

    If you can still be that stupid after all this time, there is truly no hope for you. The Klanservatives see all the desert-dwellers as the same thing, and do not care how many of them we kill. Rest assured that they would also not bat an eye at the killing of Americans of a different skin shade.

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  125. The so called "rebate" is a SHAM.

    Its a JOKE!

    Who is going to benefit in this country from 300 or 600 dollars?

    WHO?

    Anyone getting the rebate has a job, and therefore an extra day or weeks pay, is not going to change anyones life, spending habits or the economy.

    Bush is taking a huge sum of money, and dividing it up into tiny insignificant amounts, then handing it out.

    Like an idiot.

    Like he did in 2000 when Bill Clinton handed him a 1.7 trillion dollar surplus.

    He took the money, divided it up into tiny insignificant amounts, and then SQUANDERED it, by handing it out.

    Money of these amounts is better spent by investing it back into the economy. If we invested another trillion dollars into the economy right now in the form of bailouts for financial firms and banks, and tax cuts for home buyers and sellers, then the economy would start to roll again.

    This tax cut is nothing more than a cheap parlor trick.

    "hey, look at the pretty tax rebates,....pay no attention to that crumbling economy behind the curtain"

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  126. If Bush wants to give money to folks then let him pay the mortgages for a couple of months for everyone struggling to make their mortgage payments.

    Then he'd be doing something, by curbing the forclosure rate, which is what is escalating this crisis.

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  127. BARTLEBEE said...
    If Bush wants to give money to folks then let him pay the mortgages for a couple of months for everyone struggling to make their mortgage payments.

    Then he'd be doing something, by curbing the forclosure rate, which is what is escalating this crisis."

    THANK YOU............Finally some one seems the real problem rather that giving welfare to the Wall Street Elites......thats EXACTLY what they should do.

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  128. Did you guys hear what Lydia Pointed out yesterday McCrazy while in Iraq stating that the Iranians are training and supporting Al Qaeda...............this shows McCrazy is a senile fool who doesnt have a damn clue about Al Qaeda or Sunni's or Shites or much of ANYTHING in the Middle East or America like he pretends...........he PRETENDS to be some expert with tons of experience on the Middle East and National Secutity but he doesnt even know that Sunni's and Shia's hate each other and are not plotting and aiding each other.........just like his idiol the Idiot in Chief he has shown he is a brainless idiot that is all hat and no cattle.

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  129. I just read that article about what McCain said. Did you know he also said in a debate that "I wish interest rates were 0"!

    He knows nothing about economics, and apparently nothing about foreign policy. What has he been doing all those years in office!?

    As for Obama's speech. I was so moved I donated more money to his campaign. This guy has really got what it takes. American can turn the page if we can get him elected, I really think we can.

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  130. Octavian asks,

    He knows nothing about economics, and apparently nothing about foreign policy. What has he been doing all those years in office!?


    Well, that is a very good question and I am happy to provide you the answers which you seek.

    You can start by learning about the "Keating Five," and then just do a chronology of his entire legislative career. But as we all know, money isn't the ONLY thing he'll trade influence for. He likes them young blonde things with the vacant stares, too.

    And Lydia-take no offense. I've been in love with you for 30 years, and finding out about your political views just sent me over the moon. McCavein would most definitely NOT appreciate you, however blonde and beautiful you may be ;)

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  131. Here is a blog devoted to how CRAZY John McCain really is.

    Lydia you and Jolly might like this.

    How Insane Is John McCain

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  132. See?

    I told you guys he was nuts.

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  133. JR - thank you, you made my day!
    Luv xoxox

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  134. The White Preacher Double Standard: How Hagee, Parsley and the Rest Get Away with Everything

    By Cenk Uygur,

    Rudy Giuliani's priest has been accused in grand jury proceedings of molesting several children and covering up the molestation of others. Giuliani would not disavow him on the campaign trail and still works with him.

    Mitt Romney was part of a church that did not view black Americans as equals and actively discriminated against them. He stayed with that church all the way into his early thirties, until they were finally forced to change their policies to come into compliance with civil rights legislation. Romney never disavowed his church back then or now. He said he was proud of the faith of his fathers.

    Jerry Falwell said America had 9/11 coming because we tolerated gays, feminists and liberals. It was our fault. Our chickens had come home to roost, if you will. John McCain proudly received his support and even spoke at his university's commencement.

    Reverend John Hagee has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore." He has said that the Anti-Christ will rise out of the European Union (of course, the Anti-Christ will also be Jewish). He has said all Muslims are trained to kill and will be part of the devil's army when Armageddon comes (which he hopes is soon). John McCain continues to say he is proud of Reverend Hagee's endorsement.

    Reverend Rod Parsley believes America was founded to destroy Islam. Since this is such an outlandish claim, I have to add for the record, that he is not kidding. Reverend Parsley says Islam is an "anti-Christ religion" brought down from a "demon spirit." Of course, we are in a war against all Muslims, including presumably Muslim-Americans. Buts since Parsley believes this is a Christian nation and that it should be run as a theocracy, he is not very concerned what Muslim-Americans think.

    John McCain says Reverend Rod Parsley is his "spiritual guide."

    What separates all of these outrageous preachers from Barack Obama's? You guessed it. They're white and Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not. If it's not racism that's causing the disparity in media treatment of these preachers, then what is it?

    I'm willing to listen to other possible explanations. And I am inclined to believe that the people these preachers go after are more important than the race of the preacher. It's one thing to go after gays, liberals and Muslims - that seems to be perfectly acceptable in America - it's another to accuse white folks of not living up to their ideals.

    I think there is another factor at play as well. The media is deathly afraid of calling out preachers of any stripe for insane propaganda from the pulpits for fear that they will be labeled as anti-Christian. But criticism of Rev. Wright falls into their comfort zone. It's easy to blame him for being anti-American because he criticizes American foreign and domestic policy.

    If Rev. Wright had preached about discriminating against gay Americans or Muslims, there probably would not have been any outcry at all. That falls into the category of "respect their hateful opinions because they cloak themselves in the church."

    But one thing is indisputable - the enormous disparity in how the media has covered these white preachers as opposed to Rev. Wright. Have you ever even heard of Rod Parsley? As you can see from what I listed above, all of these white preachers have said and done the most outlandish and offensive things you can imagine - and hardly a peep.

    If the disparity in coverage isn't racist, then what is it?

    Reverend John Hagee has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore." He has said that the Anti-Christ will rise out of the European Union (of course, the Anti-Christ will also be Jewish). He has said all Muslims are trained to kill and will be part of the devil's army when Armageddon comes (which he hopes is soon). John McCain continues to say he is proud of Reverend Hagee's endorsement.

    Reverend Rod Parsley believes America was founded to destroy Islam. Since this is such an outlandish claim, I have to add for the record, that he is not kidding. Reverend Parsley says Islam is an "anti-Christ religion" brought down from a "demon spirit." Of course, we are in a war against all Muslims, including presumably Muslim-Americans. Buts since Parsley believes this is a Christian nation and that it should be run as a theocracy, he is not very concerned what Muslim-Americans think.

    John McCain says Reverend Rod Parsley is his "spiritual guide."

    What separates all of these outrageous preachers from Barack Obama's? You guessed it. They're white and Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not. If it's not racism that's causing the disparity in media treatment of these preachers, then what is it?

    I'm willing to listen to other possible explanations. And I am inclined to believe that the people these preachers go after are more important than the race of the preacher. It's one thing to go after gays, liberals and Muslims - that seems to be perfectly acceptable in America - it's another to accuse white folks of not living up to their ideals.

    I think there is another factor at play as well. The media is deathly afraid of calling out preachers of any stripe for insane propaganda from the pulpits for fear that they will be labeled as anti-Christian. But criticism of Rev. Wright falls into their comfort zone. It's easy to blame him for being anti-American because he criticizes American foreign and domestic policy.

    If Rev. Wright had preached about discriminating against gay Americans or Muslims, there probably would not have been any outcry at all. That falls into the category of "respect their hateful opinions because they cloak themselves in the church."

    But one thing is indisputable - the enormous disparity in how the media has covered these white preachers as opposed to Rev. Wright. Have you ever even heard of Rod Parsley? As you can see from what I listed above, all of these white preachers have said and done the most outlandish and offensive things you can imagine - and hardly a peep.

    If the disparity in coverage isn't racist, then what is it?

    Rod Parsley is John McCain"s "spiritual guide."

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  135. PLEASE TUNE into our show this morning -- we interview Award-winning foreign correspondent MARTIN FLETCHER, who is now stationed in Tel Aviv for NBC.

    Fletcher has been at the scene of every major world crisis since 1974.

    His new book is called BREAKING NEWS

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  136. Is St Johnny the Delusional insane?

    Not sure, but he seems to be getting more senile by the day.

    BTW Scooter has been disbarred;

    And another right wing Bush lackey has been caught in criminal activity;

    Pentagon Fraud Investigator Pleads Guilty to Currency Violation

    Just another day in the criminal activity of the most corrupt administration EVER.

    The stupidity of Bush's lackeys seems boundless. They break the law thinking they are untouchable like Bush and Cheney cause Rep Botox refuses to hold Bush or Cheney accountable.

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  137. Yea, I saw Mr Fletcher on Jon Stewart last week I think it was.

    He also did a guest spot on Bill Maher I think, but don't quote me on that. The guys hardcore. He lives a life of incredible danger that guys like Bush couldn't fathom, and he does it to get the news out.

    Quite admirable.

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  138. CHECK OUT THE NEW BLOG THREAD:

    SNOOP GATE! The State Dept. illegally accessing Obama's private info

    Please leave comments on the new thread.

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