Category Archives: Bush

>The All Hat and No Cattle Party: Bush Attempts to Lead Without Moving to the Front

>Good luck trying to find any regular unleaded gasoline in the state of Nevada less than $4.00 per gallon. [NVgas] A person might even need more luck to find politicians in the Grand Oil Party willing to take the issue head on – without resorting to bromides predicated on “psychological” impacts, or “just wait until 2028 and things will be better” pontifications. Equally baffling is the Bush Administration’s willingness to saber rattle at Iran, which only serves to make the oil markets ever more nervous. The Bush-McCain crowd appear to want their “Great War on Terror”, but without facing the harsher ramifications and results of it.

President Bush has tried to make the case that his “War on Terror” is comparable to the great conflicts of the 20th century. His speech on March 19, 2004 definitely had that ring to it: “The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation. The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies — they are offended by our existence as free nations. No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East, and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence, and invites more violence for all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by early, united, and decisive action.” [WHPR]

However, there was, and remains, a wide gap between the President’s rhetoric and his demonstrated willingness to take steps comparable to his predecessors in regard to the Home Front. Not only has he not “acted” like this was the global war he himself described, he hasn’t even taken the steps deemed necessary by former Presidents Nixon and Carter during Oil Crises of 1973 and 1979. Additionally, he’s not done anything comparable to FDR’s leadership during World War II.

Mr. Bush wants to “be a war president” with all the powers accruing in that definitional framework, without really “being” a war president with the responsibilities associated with guiding the nation through a legitimate crisis. President Bush appears to want to play the role, but without taking any steps that would even inconvenience anyone much less take action reminiscent of actions taken by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. The current Oil Crisis is a case in point.

The present situation absolutely isn’t the “Nation’s First Rodeo” when it comes to energy problems. Presidents Roosevelt, Nixon, and Carter addressed these issues far more concretely than the present occupant of the Oval Office.

During World War II it became obvious that voluntary gasoline demand reduction wasn’t working, and by the Spring of 1942 seventeen eastern states had some type of mandatory rationing in place. In December of that year there were nationwide mandatory controls. [EWH] If a driver had an “A” classification the ration was 4 gallons per week, a “B” classification was worth 8, “C” ration status applied to doctors, ministers, mail carriers and railroad workers. The Office of Price Administration handled the classifications and stamps. [STC] There was a “T” sticker for truckers and “x” for members of Congress and VIPs. [AmesHist] [Exhibits] The speed limit was 35 miles per hour.

When OPEC announced embargoes of crude to the United States in 1973 the price of crude quadrupled to $12 per barrel. The national average for a gallon of gasoline increased from $0.38.5 in May 1973 to $0.55.1 cents in June 1974. The embargo was lifted in 1974 but the effects lingered on. [Wik] President Nixon signed the “55 mph” speed limit law in 1974. [Wik]

The second “oil crisis” came as a result of the U.S. backing of the Shah of Iran, and the Carter Administration began a “phased decontrol of oil prices on April 5, 1979. Crude oil prices increased from $15.85 to $39.50 – the highest “real price” until May 7, 2008. Americans lined up at gas stations. The dismantling of price controls established during the Nixon Administration continued under Carter and was completed during the Reagan tenure. Carter advocated energy saving and conservation measures. Americans were advised to turn down thermostats, install solar panels, and make other household lifestyle adjustments. [Wik]

Instead of having the courage to discuss the implementation of speed controls like President Nixon, Mr. Bush has never broached the subject. Unlike FDR who had a very real global conflict with very real standing armies in combat around the planet, Mr. Bush has not called for any sacrifice on the part of American citizens – not even so much as a “war bond” campaign to pay for his militaristic adventures. Unlike President Carter he has not provided a personal example of energy conservation for average Americans to emulate.

Americans were willing (although often begrudgingly so) to reduce their gasoline “for the boys” during World War II. Nevadans tried some gamesmanship with the Nixon Administration’s 55 mph speed limit but included an automatic reversion in the speed limit statute. We demonstrated that as a nation we could make fuel use decisions more wisely when previous Administrations explained the necessity. The Bush Administration has offered no such explanations. All that appears to be emanating from the current Oval Office are more tax and lease holding breaks for the oil giants – without any call for the American public to make any sort of sacrifice, or indeed even any modest life style adjustments.

The Bush-McCain perspective gives every appearance that the Republicans want credit for fighting a “global war on terror” without calling upon the American public to make any serious sacrifices toward that end; and, to “take action” during this oil crisis without really adjusting our lifestyles or our consumption of fuel. There’s an obvious pattern here, most often summarized as “all talk and no action,” or less generously, as the drug-store cowboy – all hat and no cattle.

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Filed under Bush, energy policy, terrorism

>The Sunday Deck Bass

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Another Sunday, another Desert Beacon Sunday Deck Bass; the world’s most uncoveted, utterly unwanted, totally unsolicited, award from the high dry desert country of northern Nevada is bestowed upon those politicians and public figure(heads) whose flipping, flopping, and positional gyrations best replicate the flopping of a landed bass. Without any further ado – our nominees are:

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gets a nomination because he has taken the Senate’s oath of office – “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” [Sen.Gov] (emphasis added) And, because evidently that oath didn’t mean much. The Constitution’s Article I, Section 9 very clearly states: “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public safety may require it.” No rebellion, no invasion, no suspension.

However, Graham’s love of the Great Writ and our most excellent Constitution didn’t stop him from calling for a constitutional amendment to “modify” the application of habeas corpus for those in U.S. detention [Newsvine] [McClatchy] since the Military Commissions Act – which he helped write, didn’t pass muster before the Supreme Court.

President George W. Bush secures another nomination for his squirming performance in the double headed – double trouble – double speaking negotiations on the U.S.-Iraq ‘framework,” and the Status of Forces Agreement. The President may have adopted the “aren’t they cute” philosophy first promulgated by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Lieberman) who opined that it was a nice thing to have the Iraqis disagreeing and debating. The “Oh, Look! They’re Standing up All by Themselves” condescension ignores the relatively obvious – the Iraqis don’t like the Bush Administration’s proposals.

Mr. Bush for his part said “his administration respected Iraq’s sovereignty and its leaders’ goals” and would “accommodate their desires,” and “negotiate in a way the elected government is comfortable.” [NYT] If Mr. Bush respected Iraqi sovereignty we wouldn’t be having discussions about immunizing mercenaries from prosecution, U.S. control of Iraqi air space, and 58 permanent bases. His explanation is yet another classic Bushism: “And it’s interesting to be working with a democracy where, you know, people are trying to prepare the ground to get something passed in the Parliament, for example, or the free press is vibrant,” he said.” [NYT]

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gets another nomination for his stance, if such it can be called, on privatizing social security. Speaking to a well, and carefully, stacked “town-hall” session [HuffPo] McCain declared: “But I’m not for quote privatizing Social Security, I never have been, I never will be.” [HuffPo] This assertion doesn’t quite square with McCain’s 2004 pronouncement: “Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.” [HuffPo] All the worse for the Arizona Weather Vane, the DNC has footage of his comments.

The Social Security question is addressed briefly on the McCain website as follows: “John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts – but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept.” [McCain] McCain is simply trying to play a game of semantics – personal accounts = private accounts. The gamesmanship is all the more obvious when viewed beside McCain’s comments to the Wall Street Journal concerning the Bush privatization plan. [Swamp] “On Social Security, the Arizona senator says he still backs a system of private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully, and disowned details of a Social Security proposal on his campaign Web site.” [WSJ] The latest incarnation of the McCain position on Social Security is at least his third – and such is the stuff of which Deck Bass nominations are secured. [See also: TP, TP]

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gets another nomination for his cancellation of a fundraiser at the home of Texas oil man Clayton “lie back and enjoy it” Williams. [NYT] As Steve Benen suggests, the McCain campaign should introduce itself to using The Google. First, the campaign actively sought endorsements from Patriot Pastor Rod Parsley, and Armageddon John Hagee; then tried to convince the public that they didn’t know “anything about them.” This previous experience should have been sufficient to cause at least one Google of “Clayton Williams” which would have yielded an instant bio on the Wikipedia, controversial statements and all. Senator McCain may also want to remember that he opened this box in the first place by announcing that “associates” of a candidate, no matter how tenuously related, are “fair game.” [TPMec]

It would be simplicity itself to give McCain a third nomination for flipping and flopping on his “balance the budget” promises. However, that territory has been handled with expertise, eloquence, and cogency by Perrspectives.

The Republican National Committee gets a Deck Bass nod for its performance in the long running Grand Oil Party drama, “The Days of Whine and Poses.” “Why is Barack Obama so negative? In the last 24 hours, he’s completely abandoned his campaign’s call for ‘new politics,’ equating the election to a ‘brawl’ and promising to ‘bring a gun,’ ” said the RNC’s Alex Conant.” [Politico] Gee, now why would a Democratic Party presidential candidate announce that he wasn’t going to tolerate the GOP Echo Chamber Smear Machine after elements of that self-same “uncontrollable, constitutionally protected” network have already publicized such obnoxious fiction as “Michelle Obama on Secret Tape!,” and “Obama is hiding his birth certificate,” “Obama won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance,” and “Obama is a Muslim?” [FTS]

And (insert drum roll and fanfare of choice) The Winner Is: By sheer weight and total volume – Senator John S. McCain III! This is Senator McCain’s 8th Deck Bass Award, tying him with the nation’s worst governor, Nevada’s Jim “Twinkle Thumbs” Gibbons. McCain still lags behind our all time winner, President George W. Bush, by one Deck Bass.

As ever, readers are invited to check on Random Musings to see if there happens to be a McCain Memorial Sunday Crappie, or just click over on general principles to see what’s happening in Arizona. Readers are also well advised to see if there’s an Eel Pout in the offing, and barring that to take a look at the blogging about the $$$$ that disappeared in Iraq.

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Filed under Bush, Lindsey Graham, McCain, Republicans, Sunday Deck Bass

>Nevada’s Average Workers Unable to Afford Average Expenses

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It is getting harder by the day to listen to business and political commentators prattle on about tax cuts and other economic panaceas as if they had a clue what an Average Wage Earner in Nevada was taking in annually compared to what’s going out.

The average wage for a person employed in manufacturing in Nevada in 2003 was $14.63 per hour, in 2004 the average was $14.60, the 2005 average was $14.98, and in 2006 the average stood at $15.47. [CenUS] Granted that manufactures don’t comprise the bulk of the Silver State’s economic activity, that honor goes to “retail sales,” with “Accommodations and food services” ranking second, and “wholesalers” ranking third. [CenUSQF] Working in retail sales will get the average individual in Nevada about $14.04 per hour. The average wage in food service is $11.98. [DETR] Working a 40 hour week in retail sales, 52 weeks a year, would yield a gross income of about $29,203. A job with a similar 40 hour week, 52 weeks per year, in food service and accommodations work yields about $24,918 annually. [DETR] There is no way these working people can remotely hope to be average in terms of expenditures, and the situation is getting worse.

In 1990 the average American household spent $4,296 on food, by 2005 this basic expense increased to $5,931. Housing cost an average of $8.703 annually in 1990, compared to $15,167 in 2005. Health care expenditures cost the average consumer about $1480 in 1990, but ballooned to $2,664 by 2005. Transportation consumed approximately $5,120 in out of pocket expenses, which increased to $8,344 by 2005. [CenUS] In order to be “average” in 1990 one spent about $28,381 in food, beverage, housing, apparel, transportation, health care, entertainment, reading, insurance, etc. However, by 2005 being “average” required the expenditure of at least $46,409. [CenUS]

The median income of all families in 1980 was $47,173 and $56,194 in 2005. White families were more affluent, with a median income of $49,150 in 1980 and a median income of $59,317 as of 2005. [CenUS] Perhaps these nationally median families could afford to be average, but Nevadans who work in retail or wholesale jobs, in food service, and in manufacturing, are below average in their capacity to sustain “average expenditures.”

Today there was more uncomfortable news for average wage earning Nevadans who are already having trouble meeting average expenditures. Wall Street may be happy with today’s Labor Department announcement saying the core Consumer Price Index edged up only 0.2%, which is nice, but that figure excludes “volatile food and energy costs” thus meaning that those people in the country who choose not to move anywhere for any reason, and who can manage not to eat for a month, faced only mild inflation. The rest of us? – not so much. For the remainder of us folk who drive motorized vehicles and eat food, the CPI was up a steep 0.6%. [Reuters]

Republicans, President Bush and presidential candidate John McCain in particular, are fond of repeating their mantra that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are sound. However, what could be more fundamental than wages, inflation rates, and purchasing power in a consumer driven economy? These “fundamentals” haven’t been looking so good.

Although earnings have managed to keep pace with inflation generally, “the average worker’s purchasing power has lost ground” in key areas during the past five years. Those key areas are housing, gasoline, educational expenses, gas and electricity, and medical care. [TBP]

During the Economic Miracle of the Bush Administration our real median household income is down $1,669; the number of unemployed has increased by 1.2 million; the poverty rate is up 1.4 percentage points; the number of people without health insurance has climbed 1.5 million per year; and not surprisingly, consumer confidence has dropped 12%. [TPTVR]

Senator McCain’s parroting of the Bush Talking Points serves to indicate just how far out of touch he and his economic advisers like “Foreclosure Phil” Gramm are with truly average Americans – especially those average Nevadans who can’t really afford to be average in the first place.

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Filed under Bush, Economy, McCain, Nevada economy

>The Sunday Deck Bass: National Frustration Week Edition

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The Desert Beacon Sunday Deck Bass, northern Nevada’s least coveted, most utterly unwanted award for flipping and flopping takes a slightly different course today, in honor of National Frustration Week. Surely, this past week must have been designated to promote frustration and elevate aggravation? Why else all the following items?

The Japanese spend $1 billion to build an 11.3 meter space lab complete with 23 racks of experiments, its own hatchway, and a pair of handy robot arms. [CTV] The “Lexus” (Cadillac, Rolls Royce, etc) of space labs is launched perfectly, BUT what is everyone talking about? The International Space Station toilet broke [CNN] and NASA rushed to deliver a pump for the space-potty. [AP]

The Bush Administration, trying to squeeze Congress into passing retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that spied on American citizens, a Colombian Free Trade Bill rewarding the anti-labor Colombian government, and appointing a Loyal Bushie to the Council of Economic Advisers, (note the omission of the FEC appointments?) [WHPR] instead spent the past week dusting off the talking points concerning people who leave the Administration (Clarke, O’Neill, etc.) and write books like Scott McClellan’s (disgruntled, dismaying, saddening) telling what went on (just to make a buck) when they should have spoken up sooner (and been subjected to this treatment faster).

The Clinton Campaign seeking to extend its viability through the seating of Florida and Michigan delegations got a Solomonic “Divide the Baby” decision from the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee [NYT] that extends the ‘magic number’ of delegates needed to secure the nomination, only to have the press focus on rowdy supporters heckling the Committee [NYT] and a threat to take the fight to the Credentials Committee – on which the same two chairpersons, James Roosevelt and Alexis Herman, will be presiding. [DNC]

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, seeking to “castaway” his current spouse and resident of the Governor’s Mansion, in a quiet ‘record-sealed’ proceeding, [LVS] instead gets her 33 page filing published from one end of the Silver State to the other. [LVS pdf]

Nevada’s very own Sheldon Adelson, grudge holder extraordinaire, has decided to have his Freedom’s Watch organization launch robo-calls against Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) for not supporting funding the occupation of Iraq – a measure she’s already voted for. [LVS] Since Adelson has already wasted his organization’s funds in Louisiana and Mississippi Congressional races, why not initiate another fact-free and frustrating exercise? Could Adelson be miffed because his anti-tax petitions failed to comply with statutory and constitutional requirements? [NVA]

In short, there are no winners this week…just a whole batch of very frustrated people.

As always, do check for Minnesota Eel Pouts, and McCain Memorial Sunday Crappies.

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Filed under Adelson, Bush, Clinton, Gibbons

>Bush gives 2004 Stump Speech to soldiers

>Our commander-in-chief ventured to Fort Bragg to address the 82nd Airborne today, the White House dutifully posted a copy of the remarks. As has come to be expected, no sooner did he finish thanking various people than he launched into yet another ‘version’ of Bushian history. Bushian history, as compared to other forms of historical writing and analysis, allows its author to conflate, obfuscate, revise, and rewrite the fact to fit the political winds of the day. The President was in fine form.

Bushian History: “When our nation announced that the 82nd Airborne was flying toward Haiti in 1994, the country’s oppressive leader began to make plans to fly out. Across the world, the 82nd has come to represent the vanguard of freedom — and we salute all the brave veterans with us today who have ever marched in your ranks.”

This requires some serious revision. It also requires that one focus on Avril and forget the image of the peasant priest Aristide who received 67% of the vote in a 1990 election which featured a field of 12 candidates, but who was ‘transported’ from his country. There’s little question that the CIA and other U.S. groups funded the FRAPH which came to prominence in Haiti after a military coup backed by ultra-rightists ousted Aristide in September 1991. For the next three years Haiti was run by a military-civilian junta as ruthless as the Duvaliers. Seven weeks after Aristide’s return a Republican controlled U.S. Congress blocked aid to Haiti or burdened it with impossible preconditions. Money went to the anti-Aristide opposition. It flowed into Halliburton support services, but precious little effort was made to rebuild schools, open hospitals and clinics, repair roads, or to improve the beleaguered nation’s infrastructure. Worse, the U.S. still wasn’t finished with the desperately poor country.

There were supposedly ‘bills to pay.’ “Yet in order to meet the renewed demands of the IDB, the cash-strapped Haitian government was required to pay ever-expanding arrears on its debts, many of them linked to loans paid out to the Duvalier dictatorship and to the military regimes that ruled Haiti with great brutality from 1986 to 1990. In July 2003, Haiti sent more than 90 per cent of all its foreign reserves to Washington to pay off these arrears. As of today, less than $4 million of the four blocked loans – which totalled $146 million – has reached Haiti in spite of many assurances from the IDB.” And Aristide? He was ‘given a choice of destinations’ according to U.S. sources, although he was flown to Banqui, CAR (one of the most dangerous cities in the world) although Aristide still maintains that he was kidnapped and transported out of the country in January 2004. [LRB] The French are still trying to collect their ‘pound of flesh’ from Haiti, and the U.S. (once prodded by reactionary racist Sen. Jesse Helms) has been doing its part since Jefferson decided that recognizing the second republic in the western hemisphere would be the “worst message to send” to a slave owning country possible.

Opening up a discussion of U.S. foreign policy toward Haiti may not be advisable during the upcoming campaign season. There are entirely too many skeletons in too many Republican closets for this subject to be all that comfortable.

Bushian History: Since the attacks of 9/11, you have deployed on more missions than any other division in the United States Army. You’ve taken the battle to the terrorists abroad — so we do not have to face them here at home. And you’ve shown the enemies of freedom that the 82nd Airborne will never give any ground, and will always fight “all the way.”

There he goes again, “fight’em there so we don’t have to fight’em here,” as if Al Qaeda is a major force in the Iraqi insurgency tied down by our occupation of Iraq. Bushian orthodoxy requires that Republicans chant this slogan until time immemorial in spite of all facts to the contrary.

Bushian History: “Thanks to you, hundreds of insurgents have been captured in eastern Afghanistan; many others have been killed. And thanks to you, a nation where al Qaida once plotted the attacks of 9/11 is now a democracy and an ally in the war against these extremists.”

And, this would explain why the current situation in Afghanistan is now so tenuous that there are significant requests for more troops in the area to deal with an increasingly formidable reconstitution of the Taliban forces? [CrisisGroup]

Bushian History: “When Operation Iraqi Freedom began, members of the 82nd Airborne helped remove Saddam Hussein from power. The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision at the time — and it remains the right decision today.”

Why remains a mystery left to the ages? He did not have an operational nuclear weapons development program. He did not have weapons of mass destruction. He was not collaborating with Al Qaeda forces and conspirators. So, why was it the right decision? The President likes to complain about critics who debate the causes of the invasion as ‘looking backward’ when it is time to move on. However, each time he makes this assertion the topic, of course, comes right back up.

Bushian History: “And across Iraq, violence is down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down, and attacks on American forces are down.”

Down compared to what? And, what do we make of the announcement that Shi’a cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been quietly issuing religious edicts indicating that armed resistance against U.S. troops is permissible? [AP] This may, in turn, have some connection to reports similar to yesterday’s news that U.S. airstrikes had killed 8 Iraqi civilians and policemen. [Reuters] Then there’s the matter of the assassination of the director of the protection department in the ministry of transportation last Wednesday, and the attempted assassination of an Iraqi court judge. [JCole]

Bushian History: “So far three brigades, including the Falcon Brigade, have redeployed without replacement as part of this drawdown. Two more brigades will follow in the months ahead. When we complete this drawdown, we will have reduced our combat brigades in Iraq by 25 percent from the year before. General Petraeus and our commanders will continue to analyze the situation on the ground and report back to me with their recommendations for future troop levels. But my message to our commanders is this: You will have all the troops, you will have all the resources you need to win in Iraq.”

The reduction the President is haling will leave about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in mid-July 2008. [Reuters] When the President announced “mission accomplished” there were 146,000 troops in Iraq. [HuffPo]

Bushian History: “Often I’ve been asked: What will success look like in Iraq? So I want to share some thoughts with you. Success will be when al Qaeda has no safe havens in Iraq and Iraqis can protect themselves. Success will be when Iraq is a nation that can support itself economically. Success will be when Iraq is a democracy that governs itself effectively and responds to the will of its people. Success will be when Iraq is a strong and capable ally in the war on terror. And when our country succeeds in Iraq, generations of Americans will be more secure.”

Something tells me we’ve heard all this before somewhere?

Bushian History: “The second condition for success in Iraq is a country that can support itself economically. Iraq‘s economy has made tremendous strides since the beginning of the surge. Inflation is declining, economic growth is increasing, investment in the energy and telecom industries is increasing. Energy production is on the rise. Listen, there are many challenges that remain — and there is work to be done to overcome decades of oppression and mismanagement. Yet Iraqis can take pride in the economic progress their country has made.”

This would explain the problems with the water systems? Their electrical grid? It’s fine to have ‘investment’ in various sectors but putting money into projects doesn’t guarantee delivery, especially while the ‘oppression and mismanagement’ sectors appear to be doing just fine.

Bushian History: “And in Baghdad, the government is responding to these developments with an impressive string of legislative achievements. They passed a pension law, de-Baathification reform, a new budget, an amnesty law, a provincial powers law. And while there’s still a distance to travel, they have come a long way. Their legislative accomplishments would be notable in any country. But they’re even more impressive considering the conditions the Iraqis have had to overcome.”

However, the provincial elections originally scheduled for October have been pushed back a month because the Iraqi Parliament has not been able to pass an elections law. The Iraqiya List has refused another invitation to return to the al-Maliki government. No provincial elections (and now there are squabbles about set dates and rolling dates) no parliament, no parliament no government.

Bushian History: “And now the leaders of Iraq want to solidify their country’s relationship with the United States. Last year, America and Iraq agreed to sign a long-term strategic partnership. This partnership would support future cooperation between our countries — without establishing permanent bases, or without binding a future President to specific troop levels. Part of this agreement would provide legal protection for American troops in Iraq — similar to those in other countries where our forces are deployed. And it would show our friends across the world that America will stand with them as they stand against terror.”

Just a question here: Why would we need an “agreement to provide legal protection for American troops in Iraq” if there aren’t going to be American troops in Iraq more or less permanently? As in, say, the next 100 years?

Bushian History: “The enemy has made clear that Iraq is the central battleground of the great ideological struggle of our time. This is a struggle between those who murder the innocent to advance their hateful objectives and those of us who love liberty and long for peace. We saw that these enemies — what these enemies intend for our country on September the 11th, 2001 — and we must do everything in our power to stop the enemy from attacking us again.”

Ah, the so-called Global War on Terror has now been transformed into the “great ideological struggle of our time?” The President is so enamored of conflating Iraq and 9/11 that he’s still doing it. OK, we know Al-Qaeda in Iraq wasn’t in Iraq until we invaded. The President seems to have missed this memo. With whom, please, are we engaged in this Great Ideological Struggle? If it’s Islam, then the President is no better than the Patriot Parson Rod Parsley, whom candidate McCain just pitched under the bus. If it’s radical extremists operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border then the ‘great ideological struggle’ is significantly more compact.

Bushian History: “Withdrawal from Iraq before we have achieved success would embolden al Qaeda and give them new safe havens from which to plot attacks on the American homeland. Withdrawal before success would embolden Iran in its nuclear weapons ambitions and its efforts to dominate the region. Withdrawal before success would send a signal to terrorists and extremists across the world that America is weak, and does not have the stomach for a long fight. Withdrawal before success would be catastrophic for our country. It would more likely — be more likely that we would suffer another attack like the one we experienced on September the 11th. It would jeopardize the safety of future generations. And we must not, and we will not, allow that to happen.”

And if we leave Vietnam the Communists will take over and pretty soon they will be invading California? Washington? Oregon? Does the President really believe that a Shi’a government (and it will be Shi’a) in Iraq will tolerate the “safe haven” of Sunni extremists? And, what on this whirling blue planet would ‘embolden’ Iran more than removing a secular Sunni dictatorship that acted as a counter-weight to Iranian influence in the region before 2003? “9/11, 9/11, 9/11….”

Bushian History: “By contrast, success in Iraq would deny al Qaeda safe haven and hand Osama bin Laden a strategic defeat in the land where his terrorist movement has chosen to make a stand. Success in Iraq would deal a devastating blow to Iran‘s ambitions to dominate the region. Success in Iraq would show the people of the Middle East that democracy and freedom can flourish in their midst. And success in Iraq would send a signal to the world that America does not withdraw, does not retreat, does not back down in the face of terror — and that will make us safer here in the United States of America.”

Cue the President – if we’re in Iraq, Al Qaeda will be in Iraq. Success, as defined by the President to be an elected secure government in Iraq, will be more amenable to Iranian interests than to ours. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a satellite government of Tehran, merely that a Shi’a dominated government in Baghdad will have more in common with Tehran than with Washington.

“And success in Iraq would send a signal to the world that America does not withdraw, does not retreat, does not back down in the face of terror –“ no, but we might wish to withdraw in the face of reality. Unfortunately, this line from the President’s message to the troops reads like the desperate challenge of a wounded presidency unwilling to accept responsibility for its errors, uninterested in correcting its mistakes, and unable to think beyond a simplistic ‘flight or fight’ mentality. We really are a much creative nation than this, and it would be a very good thing if we had an administration to match our collective intelligence.

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Filed under Bush, Iraq

>Nevada Congressional Delegation votes on bills President Bush has threatened to veto: Heller most Bush-Friendly?

>The President is wont to say that “Congress hasn’t accomplished anything,” however accomplishment (as in actually enacting legislation and getting it past the President’s desk) is difficult, if not downright impossible, given White House veto threats and Republican filibustering in the Senate. Here’s a short run down, including how members of the Nevada congressional delegation did, or did not, line up with the President on some of the bills he has threatened to veto. Votes in ‘red’ indicate support for the White House position, if not necessarily the rationale.

Subject to Bush’s Veto Pen:

H.R. 5522 “Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Act. Two major objections from the White House are that the rules wouldn’t allow the “stakeholders” (businesses) enough response time, and that the businesses couldn’t make arrangements to abide by the rules quickly enough. [WHpdf] Passed the House April 30, 2008, received in the Senate on May 1, 2008.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No; Porter Yes, Heller Yes. [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller No. [GovTrack]

H.R. 2830 “Coast Guard Authorization Act” The President believes that this bill would “unreasonably intrude on the commandant’s authority and discretion.” He’s opposed to having oil companies pay for the security of their own off shore rigs. He is also opposed to requiring more stringent controls over ballast water dumping. [WHpdf] Passed the House, April 24, 2008. Received by the Senate April 28, 2008 placed on the Senate Legislative calendar under general orders. Calendar no. 721.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter not voting, Heller Yes. [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter not voting, Heller Yes [GovTrack]

H.R. 5613 “Medicaid Safety Net Act” The President is opposed because this bill would place a moratorium on 7 administration proposals that would overturn Medicaid past practices, eliminate funds for a variety of functions, and jeopardize services and protections. [Gavel] Passed the House April 23, 2008. Placed on Senate Legislative calendar under general orders, calendar no. 719.
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller Yes. [GovTrack]

H.R. 5719 “Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act” This would end taxpayer harassment by private collection services, strengthen taxpayer protections from identity theft and tax fraud, stop federal contractors from using foreign subsidiaries to evade Social Security and other employment taxes, and simplify cell phone tax reporting and expand tax help for low income taxpayers. Passed the House on April 15, 2008.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 5351 “Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act” This bill would end subsidies to Big Oil, and increase investment in renewable energy sources. “It will extend and expand tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy and fuel, …plug in hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances.” [Gavel] Passed the House on February 27, 2008, now being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
Table the Appeal of the Chair ruling to proceed: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 2768 “Supplemental Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act” to provide “critical mine safety reforms” left out of the 2006 legislation. The President doesn’t like this bill because it would “provide no opportunity for stakeholder (read mine owner) participation in the regulatory process and would impose burdensome and unrealistic time requirements.” [WHpdf] Passed the House on January 16, 2008 and now under study by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley not voting, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley not voting, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R 3773 “FISA” update without retroactive immunity for telecom corporations who unlawfully cooperated with the President’s domestic wiretapping program. The bill passed the House on February 12, 2008; on March 31, 2008 the Senate received House Amendments to the Senate Amendments.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]
Agreement with Amendments: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 3074 “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations” The bill restores funds cut by the President for AMTRAK and programs that provide air service to rural communities. Passed by the House on July 24, 2007, passed by the Senate September 12, 2007; currently held at the Senate desk.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]
Motion to Recommit Conference Report: Berkley No, Porter No, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Vote: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 4156 “Responsible Redeployment Appropriations Act” which requires the President to redeploy our troops out of the Iraq quagmire,and to provide those in harm’s way with the resources they need. Passed the House on November 14, 2007. Lost a cloture vote in the Senate on November 16, 2008.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 3355 “Homeowner’s Defense Act of 2007” This bill was intended to “address the growing crisis in the availability and affordability of homeowner’s insurance,” and to stabilize the catastrophic event market by expanding the insurance industry’s ability to cover natural disasters. Passed the House and is now in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 3685 “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” The President argues that this bill would place an undue hardship on groups with ‘broad religious principles.” [WHpdf] Passed the House on November 7, 2007; placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under general orders, calendar no. 479.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 3246 “Regional Economic Development Act” The act would establish five regional economic centers to assist with getting federal grants for infrastructure development, job training assistance, tourism development, and related programs. Passed the House on October 4, 2008; now in Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No. [GovTrack]

H.R. 928 “Improving Government Accountability Act” The bill is intended to “enhance the effectiveness and independence of Inspectors General,” and to “enhance the accountability of the Inspector General system overall.” The bill provides that an Inspector General can only be removed for cause, and “The administration strongly objects to this intrusion on the President’s removal authority, and his ability to hold IGs accountability for their performance.” [WHpdf] Passed the House on October 3, 2007, now in Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller Yes. [GovTrack]

H.R. 3121 “Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007” would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program for five years, improve flood mapping, and expand the NFIP to provide for “multiple peril coverage.” Passed the House on September 27, 2007 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No [GovTrack]

H.R. 2831 “Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” to allow pay discrimination claims filed within 180 days of the issuance of a discriminatory paycheck. This act passed the House on July 31, 2007 and failed a cloture motion (Republican filibuster sustained) on April 23, 2008.
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter No, Heller No. [GovTrack]

H.R. 1592 “Hate Crimes Prevention Act” to provide more resources to assist state and local law enforcement agencies prevent and prosecute hate crimes. The President called this “constitutionally questionable.” This bill passed the House on May 3, 2007 and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Motion to Recommit: Berkley No, Porter Yes, Heller Yes [GovTrack]
Final Passage: Berkley Yes, Porter Yes, Heller No [GovTrack]

The Gavel has a Veto Watch section that has the complete list of legislation the President has threatened to veto along with links to the White House statements.

Comments Off on >Nevada Congressional Delegation votes on bills President Bush has threatened to veto: Heller most Bush-Friendly?

Filed under Berkley, Bush, Heller, Jon Porter

>Quick Clips: Retroactive Immunity, Hepatitis in Vegas, Medicare Rule Impact in Nevada and other Bush Administration disasters

>For those who have the time, today might be a good day to contact congressional representatives about the continuing issue of retroactive immunity for telecom corporations that cooperated with the Bush Administration’s domestic spying program. Nevada citizens may want to contact Rep. Berkley, Rep. Porter, and now 420th ranked Rep. Dean Heller. There appears to be some movement toward “caving” into the demand for retroactive immunity in which the members of the Intelligence Committees are at odds with those who have other committee assignments; this was quite evidently the case in the Senate, and that division appears to be happening in the House as well. TPM Muckraker offers a summary of the situation thus far. Paul Kiel provides an analysis of the status of the PAA.

The Las Vegas Sun raises “Questions on everyone’s mind” about the Hepatitis scandal and headlines “Take a grain of salt and read this: clinic owner defends practices in ad.” The LVRJ weighs in with “Public Health Crisis: Criminal inquiry starts,” and reports that “Related clinics (are) closed.”

Bay of Piggies: This paragraph should be sufficient to entice a person to read the Vanity Fair’s exposé on the Bush Administration’s fiasco in regard to the Palestinian elections: “Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)”

The Mukasey Paradox: As is quite often the case, Prof. Jonathan Turley nails the essential problem with Bush Administration “logic” in this terse summation: “In his twisting of legal principles, the attorney general has succeeded in creating a perfect paradox. Under Mukasey’s Paradox, lawyers cannot commit crimes when they act under the orders of a president — and a president cannot commit a crime when he acts under advice of lawyers.” [LAT] Perfect. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already commented on this issue: “The American people demand that we uphold the law. As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that.”

Bush Administration Medicaid cuts slash deep: Nevada stands to lose an unspecified amount of funds for public providers of Medicare services; $2.1 million over five years in payments for graduate medical education; more losses in payments for outpatient hospital services; approximately $5.4 million lost in provider taxes; another $50.4 million over five years in coverage for rehabilitative services; $4.5 million lost in payments for school administrative and transportation for children’s access to school district staff with assistance with Medicaid enrollment or in accessing Medicaid benefits; an unspecified loss in funding for targeted case management, which could total some $28 million. [MedSum pdf] The House Committee on Oversight provides a state by state summary of what the Administration’s proposal will cost. And, if you’re thinking that this approach to medical care is bad; wait until you read what California has in mind for a “disaster plan” to respond to a “Katrina-like” (read earthquake, wildland fire) emergency. [Sac Bee] via [DKos]

Another wreck for the Straight Talk Express: While attempting to deflect criticism of his associations with lobbyists, the McCain Campaign has — hired another lobbyist. [AmerBlog] The Nation offers more in “The Real McCain Scandal,” (sub req) see also: Carpetbagger Report

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Filed under Bush, Las Vegas, McCain, Medicare, Middle East