B’Man: What does it represent when Americans, gullible to their own doom, listen to those who have been so very wrong about pretty much everything… to those who have supported and abetted this cabal ruling our country… but accuse other nations of the same blatant misgivings their own cronyistic sycophants are engaged in? Glenn Greenwald points out such an instance regarding Russia’s president and his ‘abuse’ of the rule of law. This particular example is laid out by Glenn. My point is broader than that, but I borrow a few listed examples (with the links Glenn shared) to show that this idea permeates our entire nation… not just the Big Media. Many people have come to think that the opinion of 300Million people should out-weigh the opinion of 9.5 Billion others. We are superior in military and technology (losing the advantage in technology fast). But in our brainwashed minds, we insist that our desires and opinions should over-rule others.
Diehl is writing on the same Editorial Page which, for the last five years, has boisterously cheered on the American invasion and occupation of Iraq — one of the most egregious violations of international law of the last decade, at least. It’s the same Editorial Page that has repeatedly urged that lawbreaking telecoms should be relieved of the obligation to go to court and should be immunized from any consequences, decreeing that they were “acting as patriotic corporate citizens” when breaking our privacy laws for years. It’s an Editorial Page that never ceases its support for those who threaten Iran with a military attack — threats which (not that anyone really cares) happen to be violations of the conventions of international law which the Post depicts itself as upholding (UN Charter: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force . . . “).
And just two days ago, the Post’s Editorial Page explicitly advocated that new so-called “specialized national security courts” be created in the U.S. to empower the President to imprison people — even for life — without having to charge them with any crime, including in those circumstances where (due to a lack of evidence) no such charges could possibly be brought against such individuals:
The president must have the legal flexibility to detain those against whom there is credible, actionable intelligence but not enough evidence to bring charges.
This is who, on a weekly basis, singles out other Governments for lectures on the sanctity of the rule of law, human rights, and the need to abide by international conventions. It’s certainly possible to argue that we shouldn’t be constrained by petty and bothersome things like international law and even domestic law when it comes to having the President protect us all. That, more or less, has been the animating principle which our political establishment (and certainly the Post Editorial Page) has embraced to justify the conduct of our own Government during the last seven years.
But you can’t simultaneously espouse that view for yourself and then expect that your sermons to the rest of the world about the sanctity of international conventions and the rule of law will be treated with anything other than scornful indifference. Yet somehow, people like Jackson Diehl — Fred Hiatt’s deputy — continue to believe they’re in a position to condemn other countries’ disregard for such principles.
What we’ve done over the last seven years — at least much of it — isn’t a secret. It’s worthwhile to state frequently in clear, dispassionate terms what our country has done. Our Government has kidnapped people off the street and from their homes and sent them to places like Syria to be tortured for months (including completely innocent people) and then invoked National Security claims to bar them from holding our Government accountable in a court of law. We’ve disappeared others into secret prisons beyond even the reach of the Red Cross, or encaged them in a lawless black hole on a Cuban island. We’ve tortured them, sometimes to death, even with the knowledge that many were innocent. We attacked and completely demolished another country that couldn’t attack us even if it wanted to. And our President openly declared that he has the power to break our laws, spy on U.S. citizens with no warrants, and indefinitely imprison even our own citizens with no process of any kind. Those are all just facts that aren’t really subject to dispute or debate.
Worst of all, having done all of that — not for weeks or months following the 9/11 attacks, but for years, still — we’ve collectively decided, without much turmoil or debate, that it should all be forgiven, that none of it should be punished or even investigated, that it’s best just to keep these crimes concealed and, when accidentally disclosed, to immunize the criminals. And all of that is being done right out in the open, so that our formal human rights reports are self-evident, almost laughable, farces, and even countries like Zimbabwe, when their governments want to engage in tyrannical acts, can and do rationally point to the U.S. as the leading example which they’re following.
Whether this country or that one is “worse” than the U.S. in these areas is irrelevant to the point (though, on that topic, one might compare Diehl’s complaints about Russia’s interference in oil disputes to the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” conduct). Regardless of who is “worse,” it is truly baffling that our political establishment still thinks it can anoint itself arbiters on the rule of law and human rights.
How can a member of an Editorial Page which has endorsed some of the most grotesque abuses and violations of law within their own country — and which continues to believe that those responsible should be protected and immunized — possibly continue to parade around as some sort of crusaders for those principles when it comes to others? Who is the target audience that they think they are successfully fooling with that charade? What mental process allows a person like Jackson Diehl or Fred Hiatt to declare that their own Government is exempt from the rule of law and the most basic international norms yet still believe they are in a position to condemn other governments for insufficient regard for the rule of law and human rights?
The Montgomery Advisor explains that Fairhope, AL finally has something to truly ‘hope’ for… a new ‘breed’ of politician, Wille Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane:
FAIRHOPE — One of the candidates in the race to become Fairhope’s next mayor is considerably more hairy than the rest. He also has twice as many legs and a constantly wagging tail.
Wille also has some high-falutin’ supporters:
Some of his supporters say all the politicking, name-dropping and sign-maneuvering in the seven-man Fairhope mayoral race is wearing on them weeks ahead of the Aug. 26 election.
“I think he polishes up the field,” said Vince Kilborn, 66, of Fairhope. “We need new blood.”
Kilborn, former Gov. Don Siegelman’s chief attorney in his ongoing criminal corruption case, added about the dog: “He doesn’t have any skeletons in his closet. He’s eaten them all.”
And if you believe such a thing is unprecidented, there have been two other dogs elected as mayor… a black Lab named Junior Cochran and a mutt named Goofy Borneman.
In Wille’s case, some think he should do like Senator Obama and go national, fast:
Julie Ford, a volunteer at The Haven, Fairhope’s no-kill animal shelter, said Willie Bean is setting his sights too low.
“I think he should run for president,”…
Because of your vigilance and support for democracy, last Friday was a day of singular importance in Washington. The House Judiciary Committee met to discuss the Bush Administration’s abuse of executive power and for the first time the case for Impeachment was discussed in front of a Congressional committee, in depth, at length and with authority.
Twenty members of the Judiciary Committee attended the six hour hearing, during which twelve witnesses, including myself and four members of Congress testified. In this hearing I called for the Impeachment of the President for misrepresenting a case for war.
This week I will present members of Congress with Impeachment petitions submitted by those of you who have signed the on-line impeachment form.
I need your help. In the next few days we must redouble our efforts to get more signatures on the online petition at kucinich.us. I’m asking each of you to please contact at least ten of your friends to go to www.Kucinich.us now and sign the Impeachment petition that will be delivered by me. Wednesday night is the deadline.
Please send out an email to all your friends and family, post this link, http://kucinich.us to your blogs and make this effort count as this is the only petition that I will deliver.
White House Predicts $482 Billion Deficit
Washington Post AP
WASHINGTON — The White House predicted Monday that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a sobering turnabout in the nation’s fiscal condition from 2001, when Mr. Bush took office after three consecutive years of budget surpluses.
Federal Budget (US)The worst may be yet to come. The deficit announced by Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, does not reflect the full cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential $50 billion cost of another economic stimulus package, or the possibility of steeper losses in tax revenues if individual income or corporate profits decline.
The new deficit numbers also do not account for any drains on the national treasury that might result from further declines in the housing market.
The White House forecast was prepared before passage of the huge housing assistance package that Mr. Bush has promised to sign. That legislation would put taxpayer money at risk in numerous ways, especially if housing prices continue to decline.
Mr. Nussle predicted Monday that the deficit would more than double in the current 2008 fiscal year — to $389 billion, from $162 billion in 2007 — before shooting up to $482 billion in the 2009 fiscal year, which begins in about two months.
The deficit projected for 2009 would be the largest in absolute terms, easily surpassing the record of $413 billion in 2004. The White House and many economists prefer to measure the deficit as a share of the economy. The projected 2009 deficit would be 3.3 percent of the economy. That is the largest share since 2004, but well below the percentages recorded in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1983, the deficit was 6 percent of the overall economy.
The bleak outlook for the budget will crimp the ability of the next president to carry out ambitious spending plans. And it adds to fiscal pressures that were already building because of the growth of Medicare and Social Security.
Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nomination, said the new report showed “the dire fiscal condition of the federal government.”
“There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration’s fiscal policy,” Mr. McCain said.
Jason Furman, the economic policy director for the campaign of Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said Mr. Obama would cut wasteful spending, close corporate tax loopholes and roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, “while making health care affordable and putting a middle-class tax cut in the pocket of 95 percent of workers and their families.”
Mr. Furman said Mr. McCain was “proposing to continue the same Bush economic policies that put our economy on this dangerous path.”
The new estimate of the 2009 deficit was $74 billion higher than Mr. Bush and Mr. Nussle had predicted in the president’s budget just six months ago.
Mr. Nussle said the deterioration of the fiscal outlook resulted from “a softening of the economy,” and a reduction in anticipated revenue. He attacked Congressional Democrats, saying they had allowed spending to grow out of control.
Representative John M. Spratt Jr., Democrat of South Carolina and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the new deficit figures confirmed “the dismal legacy of the Bush administration.”
“Under its policies,” Mr. Spratt said, “the largest surpluses in history have been converted into the largest deficits in history.”
The recently passed housing bill authorizes the Treasury Department to spend virtually unlimited amounts to rescue the nation’s two mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should they be at risk of collapse. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the new rescue authority could add a total of $25 billion to the deficit in the next two years.
The budget office said there was a better than even chance the rescue authority would not be used, so there would be no cost. On the other hand, it said there was a 5 percent chance that one or both of the mortgage giants would need such assistance to cover as-yet-unrecognized losses greater than $100 billion.
Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group, said of the federal commitment: “It may not cost anything. But if it costs a little bit, it may begin to cost a lot. You start to deal with market psychology here. It all adds up to a pretty scary picture.”
On Monday, the Bush administration announced a new program that could reduce some of taxpayers’ huge exposure to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and, at the same time, reduce the dominance of the companies.
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said that four of the nation’s largest banks had endorsed an administration effort to create a new market in a financial instrument that could be used to finance mortgages. The instrument, known as covered bonds, could provide a new source of cash for lending institutions.
When Mr. Bush took office, he predicted that federal debt held by the public — the amount borrowed by the government to pay for past deficits — would shrink to just 8 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009. He now estimates that it will amount to 40 percent.
Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said, “President Bush will be remembered as the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation’s history.”
Mr. Nussle bristled when asked about the Democrats’ suggestion that Mr. Bush had transformed a surplus into deficit.
“There is much more to the book than the first page and the last page,” Mr. Nussle said. “There are many, many pages and chapters in between. Democrats seem to have not read all of them.”
Mr. Nussle asserted that Mr. Bush had inherited a recession and had to make up for years of inadequate spending on the military, intelligence and homeland security under President Bill Clinton.
The new White House report also includes these predictions:
¶Total federal revenues will decline slightly from 2007 to 2008.
¶In 2008 and in each of the next three years, corporate income tax collections will be lower than the amount collected in 2007.
¶Federal spending will increase nearly 8 percent this year and then 6.5 percent in 2009. In 2009, federal spending will be equivalent to 21.1 percent of the economy, the largest share since 1993.
The White House now predicts that the economy will grow 1.6 percent this year, after accounting for inflation, compared with its estimate of 2.7 percent in February. The estimate of growth for 2009 was also lowered, to 2.2 percent, from 3 percent.
Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, pointed to oil prices as a culprit. “Every time oil prices go up, it takes off some growth from our economy,” Mr. Lazear said.
Spending on some domestic programs — like veterans’ medical care, unemployment benefits and food and nutrition assistance — is growing faster than in the comparable period last year.
Another factor adding to the deficit is the distribution of tax rebates to individuals under the economic stimulus package signed into law by Mr. Bush in February. About $79 billion has been paid out through June.