JOURNAL: UncleMilo (Jonathan Osborne)

  • athe world is a darker place 2004-03-08 18:32:21 Spalding Gray's body was found.

    I just read the story. I am so unhappy to hear this
    news that I don't think I can even write what I want
    to say.

    This man was one of the people I looked up to as a
    talented, witty and insightful person. His loss is a
    tragic one, but there are so many empty and useless
    people who are already mocking him on the message
    boards at certain news sights.

    It makes me ashamed to be an American... ashamed at
    how low the human race can be some times.

    I am so sad to hear of his death...

  • George W - Horrible, Wretched, Damaging! 2004-01-20 17:13:34 Molly Ivins: Bank statement for the gullible
    By Molly Ivins
    Published 2:15 a.m. PST Tuesday, January 20, 2004
    AUSTIN, Texas -- My fellow Americans, the state of the union's finances is enough to make an Enron accountant gag. When George W. Bush took office, he was handed a going concern. Projected annual surpluses from 2002 to 2011 were $5.6 trillion. In its most recent projection, the Congressional Budget Office says it expects $1.4 trillion in total deficits from 2004 to 2013. Bush's new future spending proposals -- including everything from the goofy manned-flight-to-Mars to the promotion of marriage -- already total an additional $2 trillion.
    When Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion and his first budget proposed to reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade. Today, the debt is $7 trillion. Last year, Bush predicted a deficit of $262 billion. According of the CBO, the deficit is currently $480 billion. Bush plans to cut biomedical research, health care, job training and veterans funding, and that still leaves a projected deficit of $450 billion.

    It is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything the president says about our fiscal situation. Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas oil companies into bankruptcy.
    I anticipate a painful skewing of the statistics on jobs, but there's not much even the finest spinners can do with the basic problem. Under Bill Clinton, the economy gained an average of 236,000 jobs every month. Under George W. Bush, the economy has lost an average of 66,000 jobs a month. Nor is the news getting better. Last month, the economy, supposedly in full recovery, added 1,000 jobs. The economy needs to generate 150,000 jobs a month just to absorb new workers.

    Not only are the 2 million jobs we have already lost not coming back, but the trend will continue. The lead story in Monday's Wall Street Journal is about IBM's plan to shift 3,000 high-paying jobs overseas, known as "off-shoring." We are not just hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. As the Journal reports, "This 'off-shoring' process has raised fears that even high-skill jobs that were supposed to represent the U.S.'s future are being lost to countries that have already taken over low-skill factory work." In the other words, your nice, middle-class butt is on the line here.

    There are, of course, some jobs that cannot be exported -- farms cannot be moved to another country, nor can restaurants. So the president proposes a giant new bracero program to import foreign workers legally to fill those jobs. As Jamie Galbraith wrote in Salon, the online magazine: "There is no reason to believe the Bush administration's hand-wringing over its pathetic record on employment. The president's backers want a stagnant job market -- it keeps the help from getting uppity."

    In another sign of how deeply Bush cares about workers, the plan to end overtime pay for millions of workers is back. You may recall this little charmer from last year, the Bush proposal to "update" the Fair Labor Standards Act. Both the House and the Senate nixed the idea by passing an amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, but in the magic way of the Republican-run Congress, the amendment was later dropped from a spending bill after heavy pressure from the White House.

    Now, in another move typical of the administration, they plan to bypass Congress altogether and issue the new regulations as an "administrative rules change," to go into effect in March. The administration claims the new regulations will extend overtime pay to an additional 1.3 million low-income workers. That would certainly be a good thing, except for the fact that it would exempt another 8 million workers from getting overtime by reclassifying them as management or professionals. Another great deal for the corporations -- they get to cut overtime for a lot of higher-paid workers and only have to add a few lower-paid workers. Do you really have any doubts about whom this administration is being run for?

    We will of course have to listen to the president tell us how wonderful his Medicare drug coverage bill is. I thought there could be no more masterly dissection of that fraud than the one in the current issue of Harper's magazine, in which Lewis Lapham takes the repulsive thing apart. His incisive essay is a model of legislative analysis that should be studied by all political writers. But he actually missed one item found by The Wall Street Journal.

    Bush said late last year, "If there's a Medicare reform bill signed by me, corporations have no intention to dump retirees (from existing drug coverage). ... What we're talking about is trust." The bill includes a special tax subsidy to encourage employers to retain prescription drug coverage for their retirees. But, oops, the Journal reports the White House quietly added "a little-noticed provision" to the bill that allows companies to severely reduce or almost completely terminate their retirees' drug coverage without losing out on the new subsidy. And guess what? The major backers of that "little-noted provision" are all major donors to Bush and the Republican Party. It's not about trust, it's about money.
  • E-Mail I received and support 2003-11-24 10:51:27 GOP Revs Up Attack Machine

    This time, they have gone too far.

    We know Republicans are willing to politicize the attacks of September 11. Karl Rove explicitly told them to do so in the 2002 elections, and the Republicans even sold a September 11 picture of George W. Bush to raise money.

    But now the Bush attack machine has crossed the line again. The RNC has released an advertisement that questions our Democratic candidates' commitment to keeping America secure. And they're going to keep doing it -- unless you help stop them.

    Democrats and the American people are demanding honest answers from Bush on Iraq, on his State of the Union lies, and on why the White House leaked the identity of a CIA operative. But instead of leveling with the American people, Republicans are using a cheap political ploy to try and change the subject, accusing Democrats of "attacking the President for attacking the terrorists."

    Bush and the Republicans dream about a country with no debate and no dissent, where they are free to push their extremist agenda with no one standing up to stop them.

    They will do anything -- anything -- to make that dream a reality. Over the next year, they will question your patriotism again and again and again. If you don't support President Bush, they'll say, you're not supporting our troops and you don't want to keep America safe.

    It is reprehensible, and they don't care.

    We must do everything we can to take our country back. The Bush campaign will raise more than $200 million and the Republicans will raise hundreds of millions more. They will have a half billion dollars to stay in power. Everything you can give will make a difference.

    We urge you to join the fight today. Show Bush and the Republicans that your patriotism means you will stand up to fight for your country.

    Another four years under Bush and the Republicans is almost unimaginable. Let's kick them out.

  • News 2003-09-29 15:33:49 WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.

    In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.

    The arrangement, paid for with taxpayer funds supplied to the exile group under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, involved extensive debriefing of at least half a dozen defectors by defense intelligence agents in European capitals and at a base in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil in late 2002 and early 2003, the officials said. But a review early this year by the defense agency concluded that no more than one-third of the information was potentially useful, and efforts to explore those leads since have generally failed to pan out, the officials said.

    Mr. Chalabi has defended the arrangement, saying that his organization had helped just three defectors provide information to American intelligence about Iraq's suspected weapons program, and that two of them had been judged to be credible.

    But several federal officials said the arrangement had wasted more than $1 million in taxpayers' money and had prompted them to question the credibility of Mr. Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. Both have enjoyed powerful backing from civilian officials at the Pentagon and are playing a significant role in the provisional government in Baghdad.

    Intelligence provided by the defectors that could not be substantiated included information about Iraq's suspected program for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as other information about the Iraqi government, the officials said. They said they would not speculate on whether the defectors had knowingly provided false information and, if so, what their motivation might have been. One Defense Department official said that some of the people were not who they said they were and that the money for the program could have been better spent.

    Two other Defense Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the arrangement. While the credibility of the Iraqi defectors debriefed under the program had been low, they said, it had been roughly on par with that of most human intelligence about Iraq. The officials also said the Defense Intelligence Agency had been generally skeptical of the defectors from the start, on the ground that they were motivated more by the money and the desire to stir up sentiment against Saddam Hussein than by a desire to provide accurate information.

    A Defense Department official who defended the arrangement said that even most of the useful information provided by the defectors included "a lot of stuff that we already knew or thought we knew." But the official said that information had "improved our situational awareness" by "making us more confident about our assessments."

    The Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions about the value of the intelligence provided as part of the arrangement are believed to have been included in a broader, classified report sent this month to Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence, the officials said. That report focused on lessons learned by intelligence agents during the war in Iraq, they said.

    The Iraqi National Congress had made some of these defectors available to several news organizations, including The New York Times, which reported their allegations about prisoners and the country's weapons program.

    The Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group, was formed with American help in 1992 and received millions of dollars under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. In a stance that angered the dissidents and some Pentagon officials, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency had long been skeptical of the information from defectors that Mr. Chalabi's organization had brought out of Iraq. Among that group of defectors was Khadhir Hamza, the most senior Iraqi official ever to defect from Mr. Hussein's nuclear program, who complained about the seeming lack of interest of American intelligence organizations in hearing what he had to say.

    The partnership between the Iraqi exiles and the American government was initially run by the State Department, with millions of dollars provided to the Iraqi National Congress under the Iraq Liberation Act, whose declared purpose was to promote a transition to democracy in Iraq. One element was intended to collect information about Iraq in order to promote public awareness about the failings of Mr. Hussein's government.

    Instead, State Department officials involved in the program said, the Iraqi exiles used most of the money to recruit defectors who claimed to have sensitive intelligence information. Until 2002, the State Department handed over those defectors to the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for debriefing. Federal officials said that very few of them had been judged to be credible, but that they knew of no specific assessment of their credibility.

    After internal State Department reviews in 2001 and 2002 concluded that much of the $4 million allocated for the program had not been properly accounted for and that the intelligence-gathering program was not part of the department's mission, oversight was transferred to the Defense Department in 2002.

    The Defense Intelligence Agency then took the lead in debriefing the defectors, Defense Department officials said. The officials said they believed that the review of the defectors' credibility overed only the period in which the defense agency had run the program. 
  • Using the words of another 2003-09-29 13:06:35 From the pages of Doonesbury...

    "Hey, residents of California! Mortified by even the IDEA of Governor Schwarzenegger? Alaremed that a tiny fraction of California voters might replace a twice elected Governor with an inexperienced, uninformed ego-monkey?"

    I am mortified
    I am alarmed
    I couldn't have put it better. 
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