Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey, I Reported On This Fascist Plot Before The BBC Did

By Manifesto Joe

I am most happy that some news organization, somewhere, in this case the BBC, has now widely reported the little-known 1933 plot by some of America's weathiest people to raise a militia of 500,000 war veterans to overthrow FDR and install fascist-style rule in the U.S. I can't help but toot my horn a little about this. You heard it here "first" -- and even before that, back in August 2005. But even then, it wasn't really news. It was obscure history swept into the dark corners for decades.

Click here for my account. But I admit that I was scooped on one big thing: George W. Bush's granddaddy, the late Sen. Prescott Bush, was apparently in on this. You can read more about that here. I'm having trouble establishing the direct link, so look for "Bush Fulfills His Grandfather's Dream" by David Swanson.

I had read some about Prescott Bush's involvement with various Nazi business interests all the way up until 1942, when the government finally banned such activity. But the names I had read in connection with the 1933 U.S. plot were more like Du Pont, Morgan, and so forth.

Anyway, the main point is that it can happen here. It almost did in 1933, and it is almost happening now. Brave and honorable people stopped it then, and it must be stopped again. And this time, we mustn't forget.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Some Businesspeople Think A Higher Minimum Wage Is A Good Idea

By Manifesto Joe

The minimum wage went up from $5.15 an hour to $5.85 on July 24, and of course in the months leading up to this we heard the usual "free market" mantras: It's inflationary, it will kill jobs, it will mainly hurt teenagers, it's "artificial," and so on.

It hasn't escaped some of us that these dire forecasts have been wrong, many times, since the wage floor was established in 1938. But it's also refreshing to find that not all businesspeople buy into this economic nonhistory. On July 19, The Newswire of Corporate Social Responsibility posted a news release from Business for Shared Prosperity, "Business Leaders Cheer Raise in Minimum Wage."

The lead says, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, many American businesses are cheering the raise. The chief executives of Costco, ABC Home, Addus HealthCare, Eileen Fisher, the US Women's Chamber of Commerce, and small business owners in every state are among those saying a raise for those at the bottom won't hurt the bottom line. As Costco's CEO Jim Sinegal, has put it: 'Raising the minimum wage is good for business.' "

The release went on: "In a statement with nearly 800 signers and climbing, business leaders from all around the country assert:

'Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy when more and more hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet. A fair minimum wage shows we value both work and responsible businesses. A fair minimum wage is a sound investment in the future of our communities and our nation.' "

For me, a big surprise was that, "Two out of three small business owners supported an increase in the minimum wage in a nationwide survey conducted by Small Business Majority in 2006." That finding belies the image of the cash-strapped entrepreneur who has to tearfully lay off a third of his or her workers upon having to pay them 70 cents more an hour.

The Economic Priesthood often falls back on what it calls Say's Law -- Jean-Baptiste Say's principle that, essentially, supply creates its own demand. In other words, recessions don't happen because of general supply gluts, or because people don't have money to buy goods. This isn't supposed to happen in a free market, because the mechanism is said to be self-correcting. You don't really need to worry about aggregate demand, it is argued.

In America in 1929, the economy seemed to be in an incredibly high gear. But if you looked closer, farming areas and small towns were relatively depressed. The distribution of wealth has rarely been more unequal in the country than it was that year. According to Say's principle, what happened in the U.S. from 1929-39 and spread through much of the world was theoretically impossible. Events seemed to indicate to some, including John Maynard Keynes, that a demotion of Say's Law was in order. But, it's still in the textbooks.

In practice, successful capitalists have often known that a work force with little discretionary income cannot afford many of the products it produces. Some seem to understand that there has to be healthy demand side for the equation to work well. Henry Ford, anti-Semitic kook though he was, started paying his assembly-line workers fairly well many years before they organized, because he understood the simple fact that reasonably paid workers could actually afford the payments on a Model T.

I'm not writing about ancient history here. But even among "free-market" economists, memories can be short. Among those actually running businesses, recall is sometimes better.

Link: The full article is at The Newswire of Corporate Social Responsibility. And there's plenty on Say's Law at Wikipedia.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Campaign 2008: The Center For Responsive Politics Is Following The Money

By Manifesto Joe

It's revealing to see who is giving how much to whom in the "2008" presidential campaign. (I confess being old enough to remember when candidates would rarely even announce before January of the even year.)

The Center For Responsive Politics has a new feature on their Web site, and in my view the most interesting part is the breakdown of campaign contributions by category of industry.

I will give the link to the whole thing before concluding -- it is vast documentation. But this should whet the appetites of policy wonks. Here goes:

Casinos/gambling. Giuliani is by far the favorite here. At $161,300, his nearest competitor is McCain, with $63,300. Among Democrats, Chris Dodd, at $52,150, edged out Hillary Clinton.

Commercial banks. Oddly, Obama leads here, with $607,259, and Hillary is second with $492,725. Among the GOPers, McCain led with $479,085, but Mitt and Rudy weren't far behind. Dodd did OK, and then it drops off sharply.

Computers/Internet. Hillary edged Obama here, $622,955 to $580,972. Mitt was far and away the GOP fave, at $436,327.

Education. Obama, not even close. $1,367,384. Hillary, $973,531. Among GOPers, Romney is a distant third at $438,335.

Health professionals. Hillary at $998,851. Romney had $829,337.

Hedge funds & private equity. Mitt edges Dodd, $797,325 to $726,950. Clinton, Obama and Rudy were all close behind.

Insurance. Wow. Chris Dodd led here, at $592,950. Romney, $473,535. Hillary, Rudy and Barack were competitive but trailed.

Lawyers/law firms. This group seems to favor Democrats heavily. John Edwards, $6,541,388. Hillary, $6,259,925. Obama, $5,471,423. Rudy was the closest Republican at $2,228,344.

Lobbyists. Hillary with $413,140. McCain a distant second at $261,975. It drops off after them.

Oil & Gas. This industry has had a long love affair with the Republican Party. Rudy leads with $396,058, with Mitt trailing at $233,800. Hillary fares best among Democrats, at $180,850.

Pharmaceuticals/health products. Romney led with $227,455. Hillary got $172,150. Barack was a close third at $160,572.

There's so much more, but you get the picture. It's good that someone is following the patterns of how this legal bribery works. It gives us some idea of who's going to be able to call in the biggest debts come Jan. 20, 2009.

The link is here. Enjoy, policy wonks.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Republicans May Be Missing Out!

This is an interesting observation by someone in the 18-35 voter profile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's Looking A Lot Like Fredo Has Perjured Himself

By Manifesto Joe

"Fredo" is the nickname Bush bestowed on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It's an interesting and ironic choice considering that Fredo was the seriously underachieving screw-up among the brothers in The Godfather movies. This Fredo actually has a rep as a serious overachiever, a guy who on first blush had to be admired for rising to the top from serious poverty.

But this man straight out of a Horatio Alger novel seems to have thrown his lot in with a fast and loose crowd, legally speaking. And it looks like he may be the next one, after Scooter Libby, to face the gauntlet.

I can't reproduce this breaking story from The Associated Press because of permissions issues, but the gist of it is that documents contradict sworn testimony that Gonzales gave before the Senate this week. The report leads off, "Documents indicate eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004," which isn't what Fredo told senators under oath.

The entire article is on the AP Web site, here.

It's looking like Fredo may be the next slice of toast. But it may end up a case like with Scooter, in which he knows too much to let him take the fall.

It will be interesting to watch for the possible perjury investigation once Congress gets back from August recess.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This Social Security Bill Needs To Be Gotten Out Of Committee

By Manifesto Joe

When my wife took a municipal government job, and my mother went to work for a public school district, neither of them had any idea that those career moves would cost each of them small fortunes in Social Security benefits.

Two of the most insidious things ever done to large numbers of Americans were done way back in 1977 and 1983. In '77, Congress passed the Government Pension Offset, which slashed the amount of Social Security benefits people receive when their spouses are on the Civil Service Retirement System. The cut was two-thirds of the amount of the government pension.

Then, in '83, there was the Windfall Elimination Provision. This directly cut Social Security benefits for CSRS retirees who mostly worked for government entities but also spent part of their working lives in the private sector, covered by Social Security.

And, this doesn't just affect those who worked for the federal government. These reductions also apply to those who worked for state and local governments, by formula.

"You will get something," one reads upon investigation of the Social Security Web site. Yep, we know how that is. It hurts worst the first time.

It's an old fight that needs to be won. In past skirmishes, it's been noted that public-service employees often don't make as much as their private-sector counterparts, and that this is a perverse disincentive to enter public service. Also, the victims are largely lower-income women -- people who were teachers, librarians, clerks, and so on. These are highly essential jobs, but in the public arena they tend to be undervalued.

And, you machos out there, and your spouses, are also affected by these provisions. Firefighters and police officers suffer reductions under this, too. (I don't mean to stereotype anyone -- I'm just noting that some vocations are predominantly male, or female.)

The bid this year is the proposed Social Security Fairness Act of 2007 (S. 2006, HR. 82). The bill is stuck in committee in both houses.

What is the argument against this legislation? This from govexec.com, from a previous skirmish in 2003:

Social Security Administrator Jo Anne Barnhart testified that repealing the two laws would be costly - $62.2 billion over the next 10 years - and while increasing the benefit to low-income pensioners, eliminating the two provisions would provide an unfair advantage to retirees who earned large incomes while employed.
"To modify the effects of the GPO or WEP, or to eliminate them entirely, would treat government workers more favorably than comparable workers in the private sector," Barnhart said.
Barnhart recommended that any modification of the two laws might be better considered when lawmakers take on comprehensive reform of the Social Security system.

Like that's going to happen anytime soon. But in the meantime, a serious wrong needs to be righted. Has this administration ever been concerned about overcompensating big earners? Most of the people who are being hurt by this are the ones figuring out how they're going to afford next month's mortgage payment.

In further rebuttal, I will cite something from the National Education Association: Approximately 300,000 individuals lose an average of $3,600 a year due to the GPO, an amount that can make the difference between self-sufficiency and poverty.

It goes beyond them. Millions of Americans are being hurt by the existing provisions. If you have ever taken the time to write your senator or representative, this is the right time, and the right issue. Let's get this out of committee and on the floor for votes.

(I am proud to report that one of the authors of this bill is U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas. Lloyd, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, is one politician Texas can and should honor.)

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An Update In The War On Social Security: Major Combat Operations Are Far From Over

By Manifesto Joe

While on sporadic "watch" last week, I noticed a U.S. House vote of 231-199 (those party lines seem so clearly drawn these days) to block payment of the salary of Andrew Biggs, Bush's new deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

Biggs was a congressional "recess" appointment by the Bush administration. But this one wasn't exactly stealthy, because he is well-known as an advocate of Social Security privatization. They went ahead and appointed him while our noble Solons and Dracos were out of town.

Surely they realized that this eventually meant "war." As far back as Nov. 19, 2006, a New York Times editorial criticized the proposed Biggs appointment as "a bad choice" and described the nominee as "a zealous advocate of privatizing Social Security." He's been one of those nominees whose name has been on the table for many months. He is one of the most staunch advocates of private Social Security accounts, an idea rejected by consensus as something that would likely jeopardize the one guaranteed source of retirement income that ordinary working Americans can count on.

But, this amendment to HR 3043, the bill funding the Health and Human Services budget, would nullify Biggs' salary until he is confirmed by the Senate -- if or when.

There is seemingly no end to these people's arrogance and hubris. It evidently will go on until the very last day the Bush junta is in office. They can be neither humbled nor chastised, nor do they even show any aptitude for learning from experience. But, just chalk this one up as Case No. ???? ...

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

When It Comes To Texas Senators, The Glass Is Half Full -- Of Something

By Manifesto Joe

While checking for an update on HR 2669 -- a bill that would slash subsidies to the firms that lend to college students, and increase the programs that directly benefit the students themselves -- I ran across an intriguing voting trend by the senators who represent my home state. It's a good news/bad news sort of thing.

This week the Senate voted 78-18 to send this very fine reform of higher education, described in two previous reports on this and one other blog, to the House for negotiations on a final bill. I was, at first, astonished by the veto-proof majority in the Senate, despite a possible veto by Bush. Second, I was more astonished that both Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, the Lone Star State's upper-middle-aged Ken and Barbie duo, voted with the majority. That's the good news. Was sanity prevailing at last?

Now for the bad news. The GOP tried to amend this to cut the reduction of the subsidy from $18 billion in the base bill down to $15.65 billion (How do they arrive at something so exacting?) and, predictably, make up for the difference by putting less money into the Pell Grants for poor students.

Fortunately, this failed, 35-62. But Hutchison and Cornyn voted with the minority that time, in an apparent Republican attempt to placate the bankers who will lose a lot of loan-shark revenue if this bill becomes law.

More bad news is that, as reported earlier, the bill didn't quite pass by a veto-proof majority in the House. And Hutchison and Cornyn have covered their prissy butts on both sides.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Protest Poet's Corner: Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton (1937- ) is an unfortunately overlooked voice from the Sixties heyday of American folk music. He didn't become the sort of crossover rock star that Bob Dylan and Paul Simon became, but he was an exquisitely lyrical performer. And, as our Senate does an all-nighter over a war perhaps even crazier than Vietnam was, Paxton's lyrics have stood the test of time, and are astoundingly relevant today. (Warning: politically incorrect language below) -- MJ

We Didn't Know (1965)

By Tom Paxton

We didn’t know, said the burgermeister
About the camp on the edge of town.
It was Hitler and his crew
That tore the German nation down.
We saw the cattle cars, it’s true;
Maybe they carried a Jew or two.
They woke us up as they rattled through.
But what did you expect me to do?

We didn’t know at all, we didn’t see a thing.
You can’t hold us to blame, what could we do?
It was a terrible shame but we can’t bear the blame.
Oh no, not us, we didn’t know.

We didn’t know, said the congregation
Singing a hymn in their church of white.
The press was full of lies about us,
Preacher told us we were right.
The outside agitators came–
They burned some churches and put the blame
On decent southern people’s name
To set our colored people aflame.
And maybe some of our boys got hot
And a couple of niggers and reds got shot.
They should have stayed where they belong,
The preacher would have told us if we’d done wrong.

We didn’t know, said the puzzled voter,
Watching the president on T.V.
I guess we got to drop those bombs
If we’re going to keep south Asia free.
The president is such a peaceful man
I guess he’s got some kind of plan.
They’re saying we’ve tortured prisoners of war,
But I don’t believe that stuff no more.
Torturing prisoners is a communist game,
And you can bet they’re doing the same.
I wish this war was over and through,
But what do you expect me to do?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

They Don't Make First Ladies Like They Used To

By Marc McDonald
Reprinted by permission of beggarscanbechoosers.com

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
--Barbara Bush, March 18, 2003, just before the start of the Iraq War.

Reflecting on the passing of Lady Bird Johnson takes me back to an era when our nation had first ladies we could be proud of. For that matter, we had a nation we could be proud of. Seems like a million years ago.

Lady Bird was a champion of environmentalism (a word that is utterly alien to the current White House). She was an advocate of many other noble causes as well. As former President Carter noted, "Many people's lives are better today because she championed with enthusiasm civil rights and programs for children and the poor."

By contrast, Laura Bush, the current first lady, simply seems to be out of touch with the American people, much like her husband.

We saw this repeatedly during the Hurricane Katrina crisis when Laura repeatedly showed herself to be incapable of even correctly pronouncing the word "Katrina." Indeed, during that disaster, she appeared to be as out of touch with ordinary people as Barbara Bush. Recall how the latter made one insensitive, idiotic comment after another when speaking about the victims of the disaster.

"Almost everyone I've talked to says, 'We're gonna move to Houston.' What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said.

As Bill Maher noted at the time, the problem with the pampered, sheltered aristocratic class of people like the Bushes is that they're often racist without even realizing it.

Speaking of living a pampered, sheltered life, that sums up Laura Bush's life perfectly. Just like her husband, she has seen time and time again as her wealth and connections got her out of crises that'd be much more serious if they happened to ordinary folks like you or me.

Take her 1963 car crash, in which she ran a stop sign in broad daylight and smashed into another car, killing its occupant, a young man named Michael Dutton Douglas. She never faced the slightest legal repercussions for this event and no charges were ever filed.

The accident never received any attention from the mainstream media and has been pretty much covered up over the years (just like Laura Bush's habit of smoking).

One wonders, though, if this had happened to Hillary Clinton instead. I get the feeling that the mainstream media would have jumped all over the story. And everyone in America would be constantly reminded of it on a daily basis by hate-wing radio.

Instead, the image projected by the MSM of Laura Bush has been carefully sanitized. It's an image that is only occasionally punctured when Laura opens her mouth and reminds us that she's as out of touch as her bumbling husband. She doesn't seem to be very well informed about the real world---but that doesn't keep her from speaking about topics like the disastrous Iraq War.

As she told Larry King in a February interview: "Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody."

(In fact, as Think Progress noted at the time, the number of daily insurgent and militia attacks in Iraq has skyrocketed to nearly 200 a day).

Of course, if you take a look at Laura Bush's activities in the White House, you'll find that she, like a lot of first ladies, has championed various causes over the years. If you take a close look at them, you'll find that she's no Eleanor Roosevelt.

Take Laura Bush's support of the National Anthem Project, for example. This program aims "to revive America's patriotism." The program has been criticized as promoting a corporate agenda in public schools (complete with company logos that are blatant advertising).

My biggest problem with National Anthem Project is its idea of "patriotism" as some mindless, jingoistic, flag-waving behavior that wouldn't be out of place on Fox News. True patriotism doesn't need to be promoted by the government, or any organization, for that matter.

True patriotism is cultivated when our government does the right thing. That hasn't been the case under George W. Bush. Indeed, many Americans, far from feeling patriotic these days, are ashamed at what our nation has become.

Lady Bird was of an era when things were much different. Although it's difficult to fathom today, once upon a time, America was actually respected and admired by much of the world. When we spoke about human rights, our words carried serious weight. But in today's era of Iraq and Gitmo, any lectures we now offer the world on human rights are met with derision and ridicule.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bushies Again Show Contempt For The Law, On Intelligence Oversight

By Manifesto Joe

The Bush administration's attitude toward U.S. law has run sort of a gamut, from passive-aggressive disdain to brazen trampling of it. This weekend The Washington Post reported on the "record" of the President's Intelligence Oversight Board. It seems to strike some middle ground that could be best described as contemptuous negligence.

The Post reported: "An independent oversight board created to identify intelligence abuses after the CIA scandals of the 1970s did not send any reports to the attorney general of legal violations during the first 5 1/2 years of the Bush administration's counterterrorism effort, the Justice Department has told Congress.

"Although the FBI told the board of a few hundred legal or rules violations by its agents after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the board did not identify which of them were indeed legal violations. This spring, it forwarded reports of violations in 2006, officials said.

"The President's Intelligence Oversight Board -- the principal civilian watchdog of the intelligence community -- is obligated under a 26-year-old executive order to tell the attorney general and the president about any intelligence activities it believes "may be unlawful." The board was vacant for the first two years of the Bush administration.

"The FBI sent copies of its violation reports directly to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. But the board's mandate is to provide independent oversight, so the absence of such communications has prompted critics to question whether the board was doing its job."

Ya think? It's pretty hard for a board with no members to report to the AG on possible illegal activities. The story says the administration finally started appointing members in 2003. And then, even after they apparently got sitting members, they went another 3 and 1/2 years before they started forwarding reports. This was all after "controversy over interrogation tactics at secret prisons, the transfer of prisoners to countries that use torture, and domestic wiretapping not reviewed by federal courts."

And just now, we're finding out about it from a rancid administration that is pretty much down to running out the clock.

More from The Post: " 'It's now apparent that the IOB was not actively employed in the early part of the administration. And it was a crucial period when its counsel would seem to have been needed the most,' said Anthony Harrington, who served as the board's chairman for most of the Clinton administration.

" 'The White House counsel's office and the attorney general should have known and been concerned if they did not detect an active and effective IOB,' Harrington said.

"Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) added: 'It is deeply disturbing that this administration seems to spend so much of its energy and resources trying to find ways to ignore any check and balance on its authority and avoid accountability to Congress and the American public.' "

But wait, there's more. The administration's official response to this was vintage Bush hogwash. They seem to have lines pre-written, and the underlings just fill in the blanks about any controversy that's in front of them:

"White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday that 'the president expects every single person working in counterterrorism and intelligence strictly to follow the law -- and if there are instances where that has not occurred, either intentionally or non-intentionally, he expects it promptly to be corrected.' She said the White House relies on the presidentially appointed director of national intelligence to monitor problems."

That sounds so much like Bush's one-time declaration that he would fire anybody who in his administration who leaked crucial intelligence information -- like outing an undercover CIA agent, for instance.

Being unschooled in constitutional law, I cannot say how much smoke a gun has to emit before it can be considered a "smoking gun." But this board was made permanent by no less than Ronald Reagan, by 1981 executive order, and put in charge of identifying legal violations by intelligence agencies.

I guess we can just add this to the ever-swelling list of Bush administration "legal" outrages. This is merely the outrage du jour.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Great Education Bill That Isn't Veto-Proof

By Manifesto Joe

It's a rare and beautiful thing for the U.S. House to pass a most excellent bill by a wide margin. This week, the reps passed, 273-149, HR 2669, the proposed College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. The problem is, it fell just short of a veto-proof majority, and this is just the kind of bill that George W. Bush will probably salivate for the chance to veto.

HR 2669 is the work of California Rep. George Miller, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor and long one of Congress' best members. It offers changes more sweeping than anything since the GI Bill of 1944, and would come at no extra cost to the taxpayers. I quote from a news release from Miller's Web site:

The legislation pays for itself by reducing excessive federal subsidies paid to lenders in the college loan industry by $19 billion. It also includes nearly $1 billion in federal budget deficit reduction. ...

Under the legislation, the maximum value of the Pell Grant scholarship would increase by $500 over the next five years. When combined with other Pell scholarship increases passed or proposed by Congress this year, the maximum Pell Grant would reach $4,900 in 2008 and $5,200 in 2011, up from $4,050 in 2006, thus restoring the Pell’s purchasing power. About 6 million low- and moderate-income students would benefit from this increase.

The legislation would cut interest rates in half on need-based student loans, reducing the cost of those loans for millions of student borrowers. Like legislation passed by the House earlier this year, the College Cost Reduction Act would cut interest rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent in equal steps over the next five years. Once fully phased-in, this would save the typical student borrower – with $13,800 in need-based student loan debt – $4,400 over the life of the loan. About 6.8 million students take out need-based loans each year.

The legislation would also prevent student borrowers from facing unmanageable levels of federal student debt by guaranteeing that borrowers will never have to spend more than 15 percent of their yearly discretionary income on loan repayments and by allowing borrowers in economic hardship to have their loans forgiven after 20 years.

The College Cost Reduction Act includes a number of other provisions that would ease the financial burden imposed on students and families by the cost of college, including:

-- Tuition assistance for excellent undergraduate students who agree to teach in the nation’s public schools;
-- Loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions;
Increased federal loan limits so that students won’t have to rely as heavily on costlier private loans;
-- New tuition cost containment strategies;
-- and Landmark investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and minority serving institutions.

As someone who went to 6 years of college and grad school on a mix of student loans, grants, academic scholarships, work-study, and nasty and dangerous low-wage jobs, I can attest to how discouraging it is to come out of this experience thousands of dollars in debt. But, there's a loan industry out there that lives off indebted students, and they aren't happy about this legislation.

They've made this into sort of a racket, shifting the balance over decades heavily toward grinding debts for recent graduates. Even highly paid professionals like doctors and lawyers know what this scam is about. They sometimes spend many years burrowing their way out of debt.

Investment in our brightest youths should only make the best kind of sense. But don't count on that argument to be persuasive with the Il Doofus regime. The Grand Wazoo of the Frat House never had to dump any trucks or bus any tables to get through school, nor did he ever have to repay any debt.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, which should make it target practice for the right wing. It got some moderate votes in the House, but it will need two-thirds in both houses to be veto-proof. I won't be holding my breath waiting for this fine legislation to actually become law.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Republicans Running Scared: They Seem More Worried About Their Own Hides Than Our Troops'

By Manifesto Joe

Chasms are opening in the former Republican consensus to "stay the course" in what should be regarded as a criminal act by the U.S. Even some staunch GOP types are finally beginning to see how foolish -- and, yes, unconscionable -- the Iraq war has been.

But among Republican lawmakers, they seem to be running scared about this for the wrong reasons.

The Associated Press reported today: "Several Republican senators on Wednesday told President Bush's top national security aide privately Wednesday that they did not want Bush to wait until September to change course in Iraq.

"The meeting that lawmakers had with national security adviser Stephen Hadley came as GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel announced they would back Democratic legislation ordering combat to end next spring.

"Republican support for the war has steadily eroded in recent weeks as the White House prepares an interim progress report that finds the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has made little progress in meeting major targets of reform."

Before you begin thinking that genuine sanity is prevailing at last, check out the next two paragraphs of this same AP report:

"Of the GOP lawmakers who say the U.S. should reduce its military role in Iraq, nearly all are up for re-election in 2008.

"I'm hopeful they (the White House) change their minds," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M."

Darn it, just when you start to think that some of these people really aren't corrupt cowards!

I do have some respect for Nebraska's Hagel. He started questioning the war policy back when it was very unfashionable for any Republican senator to do so. But the rest seem to have less courageous motives.

Back to the AP report: "Domenici and at least five other Republicans support a bill by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., that would adopt as U.S. policy the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group Report.

"The bipartisan panel, led by Republican James A. Baker III and Democrat Lee Hamilton, said the U.S. should hand off the combat mission to the Iraqis, bolster diplomatic efforts in the region and pave the way for a drawdown of troops by spring 2008.

"Domenici, who is expected to face voters next year, said he and other co-sponsors told Hadley the president shouldn't wait until September to adopt the bipartisan policy.

"The only difference of opinion at the moment is, the president wants to deal with the Baker-Hamilton recommendations in September," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., one of the first GOP co-sponsors.

"I think he should do that today because it develops a long-term strategy for what happens in the surge," added Alexander, who also is up for re-election. "It would put him and Congress on the same path, which is what we definitely need." "

There's another encouraging note here. The AP actually noticed that almost all of these GOP hacks are up for re-election. For once, a Mainstream Media reporter who didn't write like a stenographer with amnesia!

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beyond Podhoretz: The Neocon Godfather Was Leo Strauss

By Manifesto Joe

There's been buzz on the blogs about how Rudy Giuliani has named Norman Podhoretz, longtime Commentary editor, neocon icon and 2004 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to his foreign policy team. The significance is that Podhoretz believes that the U.S. is in a world war against "Islamofascism," and that he advocates pre-emptive bombing of Iran to prevent their obtaining nuclear weapons.

It's troubling that one of the leading GOP candidates will be getting advice from Podhoretz, who believed that the Nixon administration was guilty of "appeasement" policies during its later years. But beyond this, it's important to look back at the origin of things. Let's go retro for a moment, and remember Leo Strauss (1899-1973), perhaps the intellectual founder of what we now call neoconservatism.

Wikipedia provides good background on Strauss. That's easy to look up, so I won't rehash much. The lead of his biography describes him as:

... a German-born Jewish-American political philosopher who specialized in the study of classical political philosophy. He spent most of his career as a Political Science Professor at the University of Chicago, where he taught several generations of devoted students and published fifteen books. Since his death, he has come to be regarded as an intellectual source of neoconservatism in the United States.

Strauss explored broad philosophical ground that cannot be done justice in a short post. But there is a passage in the Wikipedia bio that is extraordinarily revealing about the nature of neoconservatism:

Liberalism and nihilism
Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism ... The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. These ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics and moral standards and replace it by force with a supreme authority from which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. ... The second type — the "gentle" nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies — was a kind of value-free aimlessness and hedonism, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society. ... In the belief that 20th century relativism, scientism, historicism, and nihilism were all implicated in the deterioration of modern society and philosophy, Strauss sought to uncover the philosophical pathways that had led to this situation. The resultant study led him to revive classical political philosophy as a source by which political action could be judged. ...

Noble lies and deadly truths
Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether it is true that "noble lies" have no role at all to play in uniting and guiding the polis. Are "myths" needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society? Or can men dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche's language, those "deadly truths", flourish freely? Thus, is there a limit to the political, and what can be known absolutely? In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato's Republic that are required for all governments. These include a belief that the state's land belongs to it even though it was likely acquired illegitimately, and that citizenship is rooted in something more than the accidents of birth. Seymour Hersh observes that Strauss endorsed "noble lies": myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society.

Ideas are what separate humans from beasts; but the nasty downside, which became all too evident during the 20th century, is that they can be toxic. What Strauss so effectively re-introduced to a generation of American political philosophy students is the Machiavellian notion (although he had differences with Machiavelli) that it's OK to lie for reasons of state. Not that all governments don't do that to some degree. But when it becomes a guiding philosophy -- well, you get what Americans have been subjected to for the past 6 and 1/2 years.

The Wikipedia article goes on:

Critics of Strauss accuse him of mendacious populism (while actually being elitist), radical illiberalism and indeed anti-democratic sentiment. Shadia Drury, author of 1999's Leo Strauss and the American Right, argues that Strauss taught different things to different students, and inculcated an elitist strain in American political leaders that is linked to imperialist militarism and Christian fundamentalism. Drury accuses Strauss of teaching that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them." Nicholas Xenos similarly argues that Strauss "was not an anti-liberal in the sense in which we commonly mean "anti-liberal" today, but an anti-democrat in a fundamental sense, a true reactionary. Strauss was somebody who wanted to go back to a previous, pre-liberal, pre-bourgeois era of blood and guts, of imperial domination, of authoritarian rule, of pure fascism."

Despite the described link to fundamentalism, Strauss himself wasn't even a conservative Jew -- he was an atheist. Religion, it seems, was useful to pacify the ignorant mass of brutes, the rubes.

Who has been influenced by Strauss' ideas? This is from NNDB:

Influential political figures who have studied directly under Strauss (or under someone else who did) include: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Assistant Secretary of State Alan Keyes, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, Weekly Standard editor and former Quayle Chief of Staff Bill Kristol, author Allan Bloom, and former New York Post editorials editor John Podhoretz.

John Podhoretz happens to be Norman's son. Well, that's our neocon lesson for today. Any questions, class?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

From Joe's Vault: Global Corporatism: The Human Being As A Statistic

By Manifesto Joe

Originally posted on beggarscanbechoosers.com, Feb. 20, 2006

In 1962, American journalist Eugene Lyons, author of the 1937 nonfiction classic Assignment in Utopia, gave a lecture about what turned him from a pro-Leninist radical in 1928, when he took a news job in the Soviet Union, into the conservative, fiercely anti-communist Reader's Digest editor he became years later.

"It was ... the appalling contempt for human life which I found to be the hallmark of communism in practice. For I found myself in a world where such age-old concepts as justice, conscience, human dignity, the values that set man apart from the beasts, were despised as a species of treason. ...

"Do men and women have an intrinsic worth, or are they merely the raw stuff for building some dehumanized state structure? Is the human being the final measure of all things, or merely a statistic?"

Two generations have passed since Lyons gave that talk, and the Soviet empire has been, as conservatives say, "on the ashheap of history," for going on two decades.

A great irony is how true this sounds for 2006 if one substitutes "global capitalism" for "communism" and "corporate structure" for "state structure." Communism is all but dead; yet, in our new world economy, dehumanization seems very much alive and on the march. The biggest difference is that the perpetrators' flag isn't red.

Lyons died in 1985, so he didn't even see glasnost, let alone the self-destruction of Marxism-Leninism. It would be interesting if he could ask the former employees of Enron how they have enjoyed becoming destitute statistics, or former call-center staffers how much human dignity they were afforded when their jobs were offshored.

True, we don't have gulags. There are no party purges, at least none in which anybody dies very soon. People don't vanish in the middle of the night (although their jobs often disappear in the middle of the day). But there are slow, subtle ways of killing people. Michael Moore has vividly illustrated, in his examinations of the effects of General Motors' style of capitalism on his hometown of Flint, Michigan, that when a corporation discards much of its workforce for the sake of profits: "Crime goes up, suicide goes up, drug abuse, alcoholism, spousal abuse, divorce, everything bad spirals up."

Stalinism and Maoism kill the body. Global corporatism is destroying our spirits -- and our bodies often follow.

This isn't just happening in the West. China is still nominally pseudo-communist, having retained their police state while instituting "free-market reforms" and turning a blind eye to sweatshops.

And there, an interesting thing is happening to migrant laborers who work at construction sites. Quite often, they're not paid. At all. Zilch. Nada. After weeks, even months, on a job, being furnished a bare subsistence of rice and bunks, the contractor says he didn't get paid, so he can't pay them. If the workers threaten to go to the authorities, the contractor laughs and says he's not afraid. The practice is reported to have become rampant.

You see, where global capitalism goes, plutocracy and official corruption tend to follow. When maximizing profits becomes the paramount motive, it's not hard to buy off the powers that be, even if they happen to be Party members.

According to statistics, a certain number of these cheated, broke, discarded workers are being systematically killed, as surely as if they had been shipped to a Siberian gulag to toil their way to the miserable death of slave laborers.

We ought to know from the experience of the 20th century that, with sufficient regulation, trust-busting, rights of collective bargaining, and (gasp!) social welfare programs, an economic system can be primarily capitalist and yet relatively humane and, even with a few semi-socialist restraints, prosperous. To wit: the Scandinavian nations.

But this seems to depend on a vigilant progressive movement. Pure, unbridled capitalism has a sad tendency to revert to its 19th-century Dickensian outrages. Now, with 21st-century technology at its disposal, that is far a more dangerous tendency. A strong progressive movement is needed to remind capitalists that they should be morally accountable to all human beings, not just to the board and a faceless mass of stockholders.

Of course, capitalists will never be sincere about that -- but when they are faced with enough populist political will, that isn't necessary. They can move, and they have moved, many jobs to Mexico, etc. But when they find out what schools and roads are like in such a low-tax economy, their tune can change quickly, at least for some of their employees. The going is tough right now, but there are ways to fight back. And, in the long run, we must.

In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the battle lines seemed clearly drawn to people like Eugene Lyons, who never understood that "capitalism versus socialism" doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. As it has turned out, right-wing renegades like Lyons, who moved from one extreme to the other, helped usher in the unchallenged corporate monolith that now confronts us.

A new battle is under way -- and humanity can't afford to lose it.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

From Joe's Vault: Remembering a Real American Hero: Smedley D. Butler

By Manifesto Joe
Originally posted on beggarscanbechoosers.com, Aug. 5, 2005

In an age of faux heroism, illustrated by the swagger and tough talk of our "president," we should perhaps take time to remember a real American hero.

July 30 was the birthday of Smedley D. Butler, born in 1881. Few Americans have heard of this two-time Medal of Honor winner, who rose to the rank of major general in the Marine Corps. But history teachers ought to note that Butler probably thwarted the first serious conspiracy toward a coup in the United States.

In 1933, soon after he retired from active duty, Butler alleged that he was approached by a representative of a group of super-rich business interests, led by the Du Pont and J.P. Morgan industrial empires, with a proposition. The representative, a top Wall Street bond salesman named Gerald MacGuire, was said to have tried to recruit Butler to lead a move to strip recently inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt of his political power.

Butler testified before a congressional committee that he was promised a militia of 500,000 men for a coup, after which Butler would assume near-absolute power as "secretary of general affairs," with Roosevelt retained as a figurehead. The men behind MacGuire feared a major redistribution of wealth by an FDR administration, and they were prepared to bankroll the force needed to prevent it.

The outcome of Butler's testimony was predictable. The press, at the time mostly owned by business-friendly conservatives, generally played the story way down. The tiny "reports" that did run ridiculed Butler and said he lacked evidence. Those whom he accused of the conspiracy, including former Democratic presidential nominees Al Smith and John W. Davis, professed innocence and did not come under public scrutiny. MacGuire -- known through his correspondence to have been an admirer of Mussolini's fascist rule in Italy -- was the panel's only open-session witness besides Butler. Of course, he told the lawmakers he never made such a proposition. The allegations are now a footnote in history.

But in 1967, journalist John Spivak vindicated Butler (who died in 1940) when he uncovered the House committee's internal, secret report. It clearly confirmed the story. The panel's public report was a whitewash and even omitted the names of the powerful men whom Butler accused.

This was not the only time Butler tangled with the early U.S. military-industrial complex. He had seen its operations firsthand many times, and blew the whistle on it. In a speech delivered in 1933, the same year he went public about the conspiracy, Butler told his audience:

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the few at the expense of the masses. ...

"I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

"There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its 'finger men' to point out enemies, its 'muscle men' to destroy enemies, its 'brain men' to plan war preparations, and a 'Big Boss' Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

"It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

"I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

"I helped make Mexico ... safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. ... I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. ... I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

"During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

Today we have other names -- Iraq, Halliburton, Diebold, Rove. We've had two Bush administrations; the first was at best legally questionable, the second possibly elected through voting irregularities in the deciding state and high-tech rigging in others. The stench of war for profit, and of crypto-fascism, is in the air.

Those who discuss this odor are being either ridiculed or ignored by the mainstream media. Perhaps they will be vindicated one day, as Butler was.

Meanwhile, let's honor a real hero, a man who blew the whistle on nascent American fascism.

HISTORICAL SOURCES: Wikipedia; excerpts from an online transcript of a 1933 speech by Smedley D. Butler

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bush Wasn't Known For Mercy Before Libby Case

By Marc McDonald
Reprinted with permission from beggarscanbechoosers.com

George W. Bush has shown us a side we never knew he had in extending mercy to former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Bush spared Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term, calling his sentence "excessive."

Perhaps Bush is following the advice of Jesus, who once said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." After all, Bush once declared that Jesus was his favorite philosopher.

Yeah, right.

The fact is, if you look at Bush's political career, you'll find a man who has never cared much for mercy. Indeed, you find a cold, callous person who never blinked as people were sentenced to harsh prison terms and given the death penalty under his watch.

Take the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War. Serving as Texas governor at the time, Bush ignored an international outcry for granting clemency for Tucker, who'd become a born-again Christian while in prison (and who, the prison warden testified, had become a model prisoner who had been reformed). Bush ignored all pleas for mercy from everyone from Pope John Paul II to the United Nations to the World Council of Churches.

Indeed, according to an account by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, Bush showed shocking callousness in the case. Carlson described how, during an interview, Bush smirked and pursed his lips and said "Please don't kill me," as he mocked Tucker's pleas for clemency.

In fact, Bush was never a man known for mercy in death penalty cases. In his five years as governor, Texas executed 152 prisoners, by far the highest total for any state and more than any other governor in modern American history.

A number of commentators argued that Bush routinely failed to give serious consideration to clemency requests in death penalty cases. Among these critics was Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.

As CommonDreams.org pointed out, Bush presided over death penalty cases noted for "notorious examples of unfairness," cases in which lawyers were under the influence of cocaine during the trial, drunk, or even asleep.

CommonDreams.org quotes a report by The Chicago Tribune on the 152 death cases that occurred in Texas while Bush was governor:

In one-third of those cases, the report showed, the lawyer who represented the death penalty defendant at trial or on appeal had been or was later disbarred or otherwise sanctioned. In 40 cases the lawyers presented no evidence at all or only one witness at the sentencing phase of the trial.

Of course, there's a big difference between the vast majority of defendants in these death penalty cases and Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Most of those executed in Texas were poor people from destitute backgrounds. Many were minorities.

By contrast, Libby is more like Bush himself: male, white, wealthy and from a prosperous, pampered, silver-spoon background.

Monday, July 2, 2007

On Impeachment, I Hope Obama's Mind Can Be Changed

By Manifesto Joe

It was discouraging to read a few days ago that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, told USA Today and other media at a function that he opposes impeachment of either Bush or Cheney. A different message from Obama, a first-rate constitutional scholar, would perhaps have jump-started Rep. Dennis Kucinich's House Resolution 333 for the impeachment of Richard B. Cheney.

But I think there may be one big thing getting in the way: Obama wants to be the next president, so he's playing to what is perceived as the political "mainstream." That's just my take on it. His credentials are beyond question. He lectured for many years on the Constitution at the University of Chicago School of Law. Maybe he's sincere, but if so, I don't get it.

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says: "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The problem here is that with only that language to go on, the bar for "high crimes and misdemeanors" can be ratcheted up or down, according to the whim of the sitting Congress.

Obama explained his position thusly: "I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president's authority.

"I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction. We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, non-stop circus."

With all due respect for his scholarship, the argument seems to be that since our previous president was impeached on frivolous charges -- lying about a sex act -- we should raise the bar of "high crimes and misdemeanors" much, much higher for the likes of Bush and Cheney, for reasons of state.

His comments seem to give some sad credence to the view of many on the far right wing, that lying about one's sex life may be somehow worse than lying to get the country into a disastrous elective war that has claimed close to 700,000 lives, strained our armed forces to the hilt and almost irreparably damaged America's reputation in the world community.

Never having formally studied constitutional law, I'll let the reader decide. This is excerpted from the first of Kucinich's three articles of impeachment against Cheney:

(1) Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Vice President actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction:

(A) `We know they have biological and chemical weapons.' March 17, 2002, Press Conference by Vice President Dick Cheney and His Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain at Shaikh Hamad Palace.

(B) `. . . and we know they are pursuing nuclear weapons.' March 19, 2002, Press Briefing by Vice President Dick Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem.

(C) `And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time . . .' March 24, 2002, CNN Late Edition interview with Vice President Cheney.

(D) `We know he's got chemicals and biological and we know he's working on nuclear.' May 19, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(E) `But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons . . . Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.' August 26, 2002, Speech of Vice President Cheney at VFW 103rd National Convention.

(F) `Based on intelligence that's becoming available, some of it has been made public, more of it hopefully will be, that he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, that there are efforts under way inside Iraq to significantly expand his capability.' September 8, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(G) `He is, in fact, actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.' September 8, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(H) `And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.' March 16, 2003, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(2) Preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq the Vice President was fully informed that no legitimate evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Vice President pressured the intelligence community to change their findings to enable the deception of the citizens and Congress of the United States.

(A) Vice President Cheney and his Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, made multiple trips to the CIA in 2002 to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives accounts.

(B) Vice President Cheney sought out unverified and ultimately inaccurate raw intelligence to prove his preconceived beliefs. This strategy of cherry picking was employed to influence the interpretation of the intelligence.

(3) The Vice President's actions corrupted or attempted to corrupt the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, an intelligence document issued on October 1, 2002, and carefully considered by Congress prior to the October 10, 2002, vote to authorize the use of force. The Vice President's actions prevented the necessary reconciliation of facts for the National Intelligence Estimate which resulted in a high number of dissenting opinions from technical experts in two Federal agencies.

(A) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate stated `Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute it's nuclear weapons program INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result INR is unable to predict that Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.'.

(B) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate also stated that `Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.'.

(C) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate references a Department of Energy opinion by stating that `INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose.'.

There are many links to the rest of this, including one posted on Watching Those We Chose back in April, when Kucinich first introduced the articles in the House. If you haven't read the whole thing and want to, in html format, here's the Library of Congress page address:


Just from reading this much, it looks to me like Cheney impeachment proceedings should begin ASAP. Of course, that's just my opinion. But I hope something can happen that will make it more widely shared, including by Obama. More important than any concern about political "tit-for-tat" is that someone who has deliberately done these things may just skate in January 2009, leaving the post mortem to historians.

Postscript: Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence. These people do seem to look out for each other. Or, was Scooter getting ready to come clean about what Cheney knew?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.