Monday, May 28, 2007

A Few Thoughts On Memorial Day

By Manifesto Joe

In my youth I studiously avoided all things military -- such were the times. As a teen, I didn't know anybody, not even the most macho right-wing dolt, who wanted to go to Vietnam. At 18 I reluctantly registered for the draft, but the war ended (infamously) while I was in college, under deferment. It seemed surreal then. People like me, coming of age in the '70s, could barely remember a time when there wasn't a Vietnam War.

But now, this Memorial Day, I think about my dad. I found out 28 years after his death that he won 5 Bronze Stars in the Pacific theater of World War II. He never told stories when I was a kid; he didn't seem to want to talk about any of it. I think he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I didn't know about his war record until I found his discharge papers among my mom's stuff a couple of years ago.

But people like him put it on the line for an America that hardly seems to exist anymore. The chickenhawks betrayed us, first with Vietnam and now with the Iraq fiasco, and sullied the memory of people like my dad.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas

Sunday, May 27, 2007

He's Lost It: Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick Declares His Power "Absolute"

By Manifesto Joe

Among infamous serial killers, they're often named Wayne (Something or Other). Among Texas politicians, they seem to be named Tom (DeLay, Craddick).

If anyone comes close to Tom DeLay as an embodiment of the crypto-fascist outfit that the Texas Republican Party has become, that person must now be state House Speaker Tom Craddick.

This from various news sources: Craddick, when confronted Friday night with motions to remove him as speaker, declared that his power to disregard such motions is "absolute." His parliamentarian and her assistant resigned and were replaced after a two-hour recess. Many Republicans were angered and in shock. Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was quoted: "I knew we had a speaker. I didn't know we had a dictator."

The New York Times reported:

"During the five-hour spectacle, Mr. Craddick outmaneuvered his opponents, lawmakers who tried to overtake the speaker’s podium were physically restrained and the House parliamentarian resigned before the House adjourned shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday. ...

"Democrats and Republicans complain that Mr. Craddick, Republican of Midland, has ruled with an iron fist. They say his style often forces them to vote against the interests of their districts."

Craddick is an almost 40-year legislator from Midland -- recall, just incidentally, that this is the flat, treeless, right-wing oilfield paradise where George W. and Laura Bush spent much of their undoubtedly idyllic childhoods.

He now faces an open mutiny within his own right-wing party, and for good reasons. He has faced an insurgency within Republican ranks for a while. No Democrat would ever have trusted him further than the next Republican lobbyist. But he has a well-earned reputation as a despot, and even the Republicans are rebelling against the megalomania that is in full display now.

Craddick's history as a tin-pot Napoleon is a long one. In '03, when the newly Republican-controlled Legislature was busy Gerrymandering the state's congressional districts, some of the Democrats in the Legislature split for Ardmore, Okla., where they could hole up and prevent a quorum. They said they actually had to cross the state lines to do this. The reason: Herr Craddick had ze state troopers out looking for zem, to bring zem in, unter ze orderz. Achtung.

Anyway, the House and Senate eventually managed, with then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's invaluable help, to Gerrymander Texas to a congressional Republican majority for the next couple of generations.

DeLay was eventually indicted on criminal charges stemming from alleged campaign finance violations. The trial is pending. And, let us not forget Craddick's role as one of DeLay's state Republican toadies. They were very tight back then.

But a general thing to ponder is the Republican Party's incredible talent for jacking itself, and the country, around, and usually both at once. In Texas, the problems with Craddick began right after the Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time in 130 years.

Democrats can be quite exasperating at times. But one thing I've noticed about Republicans, when they are taken seriously and voted into office: When given power, it takes them about one-tenth of the time to shit their britches.

I sincerely hope the situation can get better, and without so many diapers at public expense.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

From Joe's Vault: It's The Exploitation, Stupid: Key Issue Few Are Discussing In Immigration Debate

By Manifesto Joe

This was originally posted on Marc McDonald's Beggars Can Be Choosers (see links) on May 4, 2006. A year later, it seems relevant enough to recycle; sixty-somethings among our lawmakers are now behaving worse than the stars of the World Wrestling Federation as they grapple with legislation on this issue.

The debate about illegal immigration has focused largely on cost-benefit analysis, with people citing conflicting studies about the effects on wages, taxes, jobs, health care, education costs, etc.

What few seem to be talking about is that this issue stems from two things: Mexico's corrupt, oligarchic system; and, increasingly, our own.

What is the effect on wages? According to Harvard economists George J. Borjas and Lawrence F. Katz, from 1980 to 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of U.S.-born men by nearly 4 percent. The poorest 10 percent of the work force suffered worse, they wrote, with a 7.4 percent reduction. Among high school dropouts, it was 8.2 percent.

What is the effect on jobs? It's been long argued that illegal immigrants take jobs that Americans won't. That seemed largely true in the 1980s, but less so now. In Texas, where I live, it's easy to see how this has changed. Just walk up to any construction site and find out how many of the skilled tradesmen there are equally skilled in English.

But Borjas and Katz point out that such effects are mitigated -- for example, certain types of businesses (hand car washes and landscapers) would not even exist without the cheap labor of illegal immigrants.

Borjas wrote in an April 18 op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal: "A larger pool of competing workers lowers relative wages. This does not imply that immigration is a net loss for the economy. After all, the wage losses suffered by workers show up as higher profits to employers and, eventually, as lower prices to consumers. Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another group (employers). Whether or not such transfers are desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration debate."

It is amusing to see some conservatives who take a hard line on immigration latching onto the Borjas-Katz study. I never noticed that these union-busting, Wal-Mart-shopping types were ever concerned about low wages in the past. Their stand is more likely rooted in right-wing xenophobia, not concern for U.S. workers.

This brings us to the Republican Party's great divide on this issue: the bigots versus the exploiters. Among the more "moderate" elitist Republicans, they don't want to lose their gardeners or their cleaning women -- they work so cheap.

It also brings us to the reason all these millions of Mexican nationals come here illegally, often at great risk: The Mexican economy, mismanaged for decades by a corrupt, oligarchic government, can't provide jobs for its large peasant class. And this may be somewhat by design.

The history of the PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party, in Mexico tells the sordid tale of how the 1910-20 revolution was betrayed. In addition to the phony, occasionally murderous one-party "democracy" it operated for 71 years, the PRI eventually gutted many progressive reforms pushed through by legendary President Lazaro Cardenas in the 1930s. It so mismanaged the economy that by the late 1970s and early 1980s, wealthy Mexicans were reinvesting assets abroad because they had little confidence in their own economy. And so, even fewer jobs were created in Mexico. And even when times were better, wealth was hoarded, not shared.

In 2004, the World Bank reported that Mexico, which is considered a middle-income nation as a whole, had a 50 percent poverty rate. Corruption remains endemic, and the country's rich seem more than happy to encourage the jobless poor to cross the U.S. border by the millions.

After fraudulent presidential elections, including one in 1988 that was stolen from Cardenas' son Cuauhtemoc, the voters finally got to throw the PRI out.

But the PAN administration that came to power after the 2000 election has proved to be the Fox in charge of the henhouse. For Mexico's poor, life has improved little, if any, under conservative President Vicente Fox.

And NAFTA's "liberalization" of agriculture in Mexico has been a disaster for peasant farmers there, throwing them into direct competition with more mechanized and heavily subsidized U.S. farming operations.

And still the future looks bleaker. Mexico's leftist hopeful for president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has fallen behind the conservative PAN candidate in a recent poll. And in America, our own steady movement toward a corrupt, Mexican-style oligarchy continues unabated under the sleazy administration of George W. Bush.

So, expect millions more illegal immigrants, and thousands more scofflaw U.S. employers who will gladly hire them. They work cheap; they don't make waves; they can't form unions; they will often work off the books, for cash; and if they get hurt on the job, they can't sue.

Forget about the Cro-Magnon Republican idea to make them felons. This is a government that couldn't handle a Category 3 hurricane in New Orleans. How is it going to round up and deport 12 million illegal immigrants?

Expect this debate to go on a long time. But let's get past peripheral questions of how much it costs to educate the immigrants' kids and provide charity health care, how much in taxes they do or don't pay, how much money they spend here or send back to Mexico.

It's the exploitation, stupid -- there, and here.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Manifesto Joe's Great Moments In Conservative History, Chapter 3: John Ashcroft Sings "Let The Eagle Soar"

Dig that crazy vibrato!

And, that arty thing that the camera person was doing with Old Glory! It's amazing what the lack of focus can do.

From a comment I recently left on Blue Girl, Red State (see links): One nasty, nightmarish memory: John Ashcroft, I think, recorded, and at times was called upon to sing in a stilted vocal, a ditty called "Let the Eagle Soar." It was an original composition. I recall enduring it once on TV. The 1930s versions of Guy Lombardo or Lawrence Welk wouldn't have included this. It was cheesy enough, and square enough, to have monopolized rural Wisconsin for a couple of centuries. His damage upon our culture was almost as serious as it was upon our government.

I didn't know when I left the comment that I could get the video!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate

By Manifesto Joe

Yes, the late Molly Ivins dubbed him "Congressman Clueless." Yes, he's a radical libertarian who would have the U.S. go back to that unregulated capitalist utopia of 1906, when a third of Americans lived in unmitigated poverty and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was published.

But he's actually making the most sense of all 10 hapless hopefuls for the Republican presidential nomination. Of course, he hasn't got a chance to win one delegate.

He's Texas' own Ron Paul, longtime congressman and one-time Libertarian Party candidate for president (1988).

Predictably, he's not being depicted well by the Mainstream Media. But, let's let the congressman's words stand on their own, with minimal spin. This is from one of the recent GOP debates, regarding 9/11 and the Mideast situation:

PAUL: Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)


PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- [bell rings] -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.


PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?

Congressman Paul, despite himself, was pretty articulate, and raised points that have been unheard of in Republican Party discourse for decades -- for example, the long-range stupidity of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran.

Predictably, the MSM are dog-piling on him. Time's Joe Klein writes of a "singular moment of weirdness." But Media Matters for America points out that Paul's points were supported by the official 9/11 report.

Paul for president? Nope. But I'm happy he's in the race and telling at least some of it like it is.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bill Moyers Is One Of The Last Of A Dying Breed: A Real Opinion Journalist

This video is called The Cost of War. Mr. Moyers is in his 70s, and I will miss him terribly when he is gone.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bye, Wolfman: The Neo-Con House Of Cards Keeps Crashing

By Manifesto Joe

So, Paul Wolfowitz has finally faced the music and will resign as World Bank president. It was absurd for the likes of him to serve as its chief in the first place, regardless of the scandal that led to his demise.

This was the man who was No. 2 at the Pentagon when the most senseless war in modern times -- I would dare say even more senseless than Vietnam -- was planned. How in creation did anyone think that this was the man to put in charge of a philanthropic development bank, to help the poor?

Forget about the scandal -- this is just typical of the arrogance of people in high positions. Seldom do any of them, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or any points in between, think much about ethical issues.

Wolfowitz was clearly and immediately a ridiculous choice for the post, and the rest of the world practically laughed at it from Day One.

I have no concern about how he conducts his personal life. If we could have Bill Clinton back in the White House now, I would be personally willing to truck in the whores. (That is assuming that the right wing had an accurate take on Bill. Not likely. Anyway, just joking.)

I don't care that Wolfie had a girlfriend, and I'm not concerned that he got her lots of good pay and perks. It's naive to think that such things don't go on, in both the public and private sectors, all the time.

The point always was that appointing the likes of him to this post was like putting Leona Helmsley in charge of some hotel workers union. It was absurd on first principles.

But now, let's see whom Il Doofus will suggest for his successor!

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Didn't Get Kissed First For Your Viagra: Medicare Drug Plan Just Another Way To Pick Americans' Pockets

By Manifesto Joe

I know it's tiresome to keep saying, "I told you so." But when you see people going wrong on first principles, over and over, it's hard not to say so. The latest news about the highly touted Medicare prescription drug plan is a prime example.

If you're old enough, or if you have parents or in-laws who are, you may remember the sales pitch: coverage for everybody 65 or older who signs up, regardless of income or health status; and lower prices through federal negotiations with drug companies.

Well, guess what, Gramps -- you didn't get kissed first for your Viagra. Just like every piecemeal "reform" of the dysfunctional U.S. health-care system, this one turned out to be just one more way for the stockholders and the boardroom boys to pocket more quid. When these bills are written, the lobbyists always seem to work out the right angles.

This in recently from the Washington Post:

"... private insurers in the new Medicare prescription drug program may be losing their leverage over drug manufacturers as they try to hold down medicine costs for seniors and the federal government, House investigators have found.

"Prices for 10 of the most prescribed brand-name medications have gone up an average of 6.8 percent since December under Medicare private insurance plans, while wholesale prices for the same drugs have risen just 3 percent, according to House Oversight and Government Reform investigators. ...

"Premiums for Medicare drug plans have jumped 13 percent over last year, when the drug plans went into effect, the investigators say.

"And the rebates that insurance companies are getting from drug manufacturers are expected to be 4.6 percent of total drug costs, down from 5.2 percent last year. A year ago, Medicare actuaries had expected insurers in 2007 to secure manufacturers' rebates of 6 percent, then pass those savings on to seniors and the government."

It seems like every time U.S. government, at the federal or state level, tries to do some sort of piecemeal "reform" of our "system" like this, we should all check to see if we still have our wallets.

There are so many examples of how patients and taxpayers are ultimately robbed in this system, it's ad infinitum. But permit me one personal anecdote, not related to Medicare.

I have a bad foot, related to a work injury in my youth. I went to a podiatrist to get special shoes to relieve pain, and he gave me specifications to take to an orthotics provider. I didn't have to pay out of pocket for a workers comp prescription, but I was stunned by the cost for the insurer: $600. When I went back to my podiatrist with these ugly, Frankenstein-like shoes, he shook his head and commented, "They always overcharge for these."

I ended up having to jump through a lot of hoops to get those shoes paid for, because of that price. I had to drive to another city for independent medical evaluation, etc. Finally, I got approval.

Well, the shoes sucked. My foot hurt as badly or worse. I would have done as well with $16.99 trash from K-Mart. I ended up buying from a German manufacturer reputed to make shoes as good or better than orthotic companies. Cost out of pocket: $210. They're great -- I'm wearing them right now, as I type. And they don't look like something Boris Karloff playing Frankenstein's monster would wear. ("Friend -- Goooood!)

But, back to Medicare: What is very comparable is that ultimately, somebody pays for this blatant profiteering. And I can guarantee that it isn't the stockholders, the drug companies, the insurers, the hospitals or the doctors. It's us: the patients, insured and uninsured; and of course, the taxpayers.

And, don't think there aren't even more pass-ons, all of them to poor people. In Texas, where I live, Medicaid recipients have started paying co-payments for medications. This is a serious matter for people on very limited fixed incomes. Some can't afford it. But of course, these are people who have absolutely no political power.

And, guess who was governor of this state when these Medicaid cuts were passed? (His current address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.)

I eagerly await Michael Moore's new film in hopes that he will blast the cover off this clip joint of a "system." Notice that no other country on the planet is emulating ours. Wonder why?

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Good Riddance: Blair Helped Lead Anglo-American Alliance Into Disgrace

By Manifesto Joe

I'm convinced that history will remember Tony Blair as Bush's enabler: the ally who lent tragic "legitimacy" to rogue actions that at least temporarily destroyed both U.S. and British credibility on the world stage. After 10 years, this is his only legacy, and it has a very bitter look.

Blair has announced that he will step down as prime minister soon, leaving the Labour Party to see what can be salvaged of its damaged reputation at home. I doubt that Britons really want to go through many more rounds of Thatcherism or John Major, so someone will probably be able to resurrect Labour for a new generation.

But the harm Blair has done has been staggering on many levels. He has announced his imminent departure just as two British officials have been convicted of leaking a classified memo about a meeting between "Poodle" Blair and Il Doofus himself, in violation of something called the Official Secrets Act. (I suppose I shouldn't sound condescending here. The U.S. appears to be moving far beyond the likes of this.)

This news from The Canadian Press:

David Keogh, a cipher expert who was convicted on two counts, had admitted passing on the secret memo about April 2004 talks between the two leaders in which Bush purportedly referred to bombing Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Keogh was accused of passing the memo to co-defendant, Leo O'Connor, 44, who in turn handed it to his boss, Tony Clarke, then a legislator who voted against Britain's decision to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Keogh, 50, told London's Central Criminal Court he felt strongly about the memo, which he had to relay to diplomats overseas using secure methods, and hoped it would come to wider attention.

"The main person in my mind was John Kerry, who at the time was American candidate for the U.S. presidential election in 2004," Keogh had testified.

He admitted holding "unfavourable" views on Bush, but said he did not think publishing the document would hurt Britain's security or international relations.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the memo showed Blair arguing against Bush's suggestion of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The Daily Mirror said its sources disagreed on whether Bush's suggestion was serious.

Yeah, so Il Doofus was just joking. I had honestly hoped that he was kidding when he started talking about invading a foreign country with no solid evidence for such an action. The problem with his jokes is that they are "practical" ones, with enormous consequences.

And, there are more problems plaguing The Poodle Dude. This from The Associated Press:

Blair's last months in office also have been overshadowed by a police investigation into claims that his party and the opposition traded political honors for cash. Senior Blair aide Ruth Turner, Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy and two others have been arrested during the police inquiry into claims that seats in the House of Lords and other honors were awarded in exchange for party donations. Prosecutors are considering whether anyone should be charged.

Blair was questioned twice by police as a witness, but is not considered a suspect.

Blair had a unique opportunity to have stood against a manifestly unbalanced leader of the Western world and resisted an action that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people; one that has seriously set back U.S.-British relations with the rest of the world for at least a generation. He chose to be led on a leash.

There are those who defend Blair based on domestic policies. He is said to have done much to help Britain's poor. Sadly, whatever he did in this regard will always be overshadowed by his decision to blindly follow the most foolish and reckless leader the U.S. has ever had. It will be his albatross for life.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

From Joe's Vault: George W. Bush Is No Conservative

By Manifesto Joe. First published on Marc McDonald's, June 24, 2005. Reprinted in

The day before Iran held the first round of its presidential election, George W. Bush issued a statement basically calling the Iranian process a sham: this from a man whom the Supreme Court appointed to the presidency on rather zany legal grounds, and whose "re-election" was suspect, given the shenanigans in Ohio and other states.

Ostensibly, Bush was motivated by a desire to one day see U.S.-style democracy in Iran. One would have to read his mind to be sure.

The result: Iran's hard-liners exhorted Islamic fundamentalists to get to the polls; evidently, they went, and the reformers lost. Regime officials snidely thanked Bush repeatedly the day after the vote. It would appear that he helped ensure the life span of their theocracy.

This was one small example of this administration's moronic hubris -- but it was quintessential Bush. In campaign politics, he leads a charmed life. But in policy-making, he and his team have, time after time, shown virtually no circumspection.

Bush's lack of genuine compassion has long been documented, going back to when he was governor of Texas. He mocked a woman whom he refused to pardon from Death Row ("Please don't kill me," he said to an interviewer in a falsetto voice).

Now it is easy to conclude that he is not only a phony as a "compassionate conservative," but as any kind of conservative.

This is not to say that I am a fan of conservatives. I confess that, long ago, I was once one of them. Experience taught me their true intentions -- to rationalize and defend privilege, most of it unearned; and to dupe as many of the underprivileged as possible into thinking it's in their best interests to side with the winners.

Also, they tend to cite the longevity of human institutions as proof of their purity and soundness; tell that to the victims of pedophile Roman Catholic priests. The typical "thinking" conservative's professed dark view of human nature seems to turn into naive optimism when they encounter power and privilege. Their pessimism seems to apply only to the weak and destitute.

Conservatism is largely an ideology of opportunism. Historically, they have not been unwilling to use illegal force, ranging from CIA-engineered coups to union busting by company goons, to get their way. Their platitudes about the rule of law have a hollow ring.

But even if one really tries to regard conservatives as they would like to be seen, as those who strive to preserve what was best about our past -- it is clear that Bush is a right-wing radical, not a conservative. He has more in common with the hard-line Iranian mullahs whom he reviles than he will ever realize.

Would Winston Churchill have gone on supporting tax bonanzas for the rich in the middle of an expensive war? Would Senator Robert Taft have wanted to drag us into invading a country that had not attacked us, based on intelligence that sounded flimsy even before it was proved bogus? Would Barry Goldwater have approved of the most sweeping rollback of legal rights and protections in decades? Would Ronald Reagan have mined the harbors of Nicaragua? (Oh, yeah, he did do that! -- but then, one could argue that Reagan wasn't a true conservative, either.)

Russell Kirk, regarded as an intellectual founding father of the modern conservative movement in America, wrote an essay, The Essence of Conservatism, in 1957, in which he identified 10 chief principles of American conservative thought.

Among the principles, presented as quotes:

"Power is full of danger; therefore, the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs."

Packing the courts with extremist ideologues, defying a Congress controlled by his own party, bullying the media, running the executive branch with Nixonian secrecy -- the Bush-Cheney-Rove gang has ignored that admonition so many times, it is pointless to go on. Suffice it to say that, very early, one pundit dubbed them "The Mayberry Machiavellians."

"The past is a great storehouse of wisdom."

Did Vietnam, or the disastrous British occupation of Iraq after World War I, enter Bush's mind during the run-up to the war? He is reported to have majored in history at Yale, yet he has again and again displayed profound ignorance of it. As the poet George Santayana, a bona fide conservative, warned, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

"In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image."

Do the words "regime change" sound familiar? Has Gitmo set a good example for democracy wannabes?

"Change and reform, conservatives are convinced, are not identical; moral and political innovation can be destructive as well as beneficial."

The Bushies should have been told this when they set out to debase Social Security, America's most successful and venerable anti-poverty program, so as to furnish more lucre for Wall Street.

On several counts, Bush and his cohorts fail at what Kirk called essential principles of conservatism. They lack the respect for diversity -- the hallmark of a high civilization, as Kirk described it -- and the foresight, the wise caution, the mature judgment, that has characterized the best classic Burkean conservatives. Bush's consistent failure to learn from mistakes, or even admit them when they are obvious, is not prudent conservative governance.

His idea of conserving the environment is to punch holes in a fragile wildlife refuge; to invade and disastrously occupy a Third World country for its oil, so America can keep driving those gas-guzzling SUVs; and to reject an important treaty that other major world powers have signed on to. A true conservative would want his or her children to inherit a planet worth living on. But when it comes to the environment, this administration ignores sound science and apparently lets oil companies determine policy. Exactly what is being conserved? It's obvious -- profits.

Fortunately, as the screw-ups mount and the body count grows, the court of public opinion seems to be slowly turning against Bush. Real conservatives, or what's left of them, should be worried; Bush's simple-minded, Messianic right-wing radicalism could very well bring down their entire movement.

I pray, literally, that it does, and before this smug fool's second term ends.

If he were to leave office tomorrow, it would take America's so-called liberals decades to pay off some debts, salvage our infrastructure, curtail the putrification of our air and water, and somewhat restore our standing in the world community.

Since our "liberals" and "progressives" have long been, by the standards of Europe and elsewhere, establishment centrists, it shouldn't be much of a stretch for them to, ironically, serve as our country's de facto post-Bush conservatives. I hope they can save the best elements of our recent past.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.