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Lets's talk about democracy
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Wednesday, 3 November 2004
Would you lend money to this man?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush won the vote. Now he has to beat the math.

Analysts say the logic is inescapable: you can't cut taxes deeper and still halve the deficit.

These are the 10-year outlook numbers, as calculated by the Concord Coalition, a grassroots advocate of fiscal responsibility:

-- Bush wants to extend all his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts at a combined cost, along with other fiscal measures, of 1.244 trillion dollars.

-- He has spending plans, including a health tax credit, adding a net 82 billion dollars to expenditure.

The result: a gap of 1.32 trillion dollars.

"Throughout his presidency, George W. Bush has refused to calibrate his drive for lower taxes with his support for expensive initiatives such as the global war on terrorism and a major expansion of Medicare," the coalition said in a recent report.

"There is no reason to expect anything different in a second term."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:04 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 November 2004 7:06 PM EST
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Stay the course. We're in deep doo doo.
Well, yippy. W and the republican congress are back in the saddle for another 4 years. Now, they can start dealing with the mess they've made.

Remember the deficit?

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration announced Wednesday that it will run out of maneuvering room to manage the government's massive borrowing needs in two weeks, putting more pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling when it convenes for a special post-election session.

Treasury Department officials announced that they will be able to conduct a scheduled series of debt auctions next week to raise $51 billion. However, an auction of four-week Treasury bills due to be completed on Nov. 18 will have to be postponed unless Congress acts before then to raise the debt ceiling.

"Due to debt limit constraints, we currently do not have the capacity to settle our four-week bill auction scheduled to settle on Nov. 18," Timothy Bitsberger, acting assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets, said in a statement.

The need to raise the debt ceiling reflects the record budget deficits of the past two years. The deficit for the 2004 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, was an all-time high of $413 billion, surpassing the old mark, in dollar terms, of $377 billion in 2003.

The administration says the president has a plan to cut the deficit in half by 2009 (Yeah, right), but critics contend that the real problems will come in later years as retiring baby boomers put unprecedented strains on Social Security and Medicare.

In its announcement Wednesday, Treasury said it will sell $51 billion in new securities next week including $22 billion in three-year notes on Monday, $15 billion in five-year notes on Tuesday and $14 billion in 10-year bonds on Wednesday.

We can sell but will they buy?

According to the Post:

...a rash of new data, including Treasury Department figures released yesterday showing a net sell-off by foreigners of U.S. bonds in August, has stoked debate over whether overseas investors -- private individuals, institutions and government central banks -- are growing dangerously bearish on the U.S. economy.

Foreign governments and individuals hold about half of the $3.7 trillion in outstanding U.S. Treasury bonds, for example, and the government has been heavily dependent on continued overseas bond purchases to finance the roughly $1 billion a day it has to borrow to pay its bills. Foreign lending and investment are also needed to finance the country's roughly $50 billion monthly trade deficit, while foreign capital has been a key prop to U.S. stock prices.

A turn in overseas attitudes toward the United States could ripple deeply through the economy, depressing the market, raising interest rates and pushing down the value of the dollar.

In August, foreign private investors actually sold $4.4 billion more in Treasury bonds and notes than they bought that month, the Treasury Department said yesterday -- the first time in a year that net foreign purchases were negative. That followed a 20 percent decline in July that shrunk net foreign purchases to $18.3 billion.

Bond purchases by foreign central banks also dropped sharply in July, falling 76 percent, to $4.1 billion. A rebound in August brought them back to $19.1 billion. The recovery was timely: Without it, the dollar may have taken a serious hit, said Ashraf Laidi, chief currency analyst at MG Financial Group in New York, who headlined yesterday's client newsletter, "Foreign Central Banks Save Dollar From Disaster."

Foreign purchases of stocks are off as well, going from net purchases of $9.7 billion in July to a net sell-off of $2.1 billion in August. Over the past 12 months, private foreign investors have purchased a net of $17 billion in U.S. stocks, compared with $30 billion in the 12 months before that.

The fear among economists is that those foreign lenders may grow concerned that their portfolios are too swollen with dollar-denominated assets.

Global balance of financial terror.
(Don't piss the Chinese off!)

The U.S. dependence on foreign capital concerns economists on both ends of the political spectrum. In a speech this March, Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and now the president of Harvard University, warned of "a kind of global balance of financial terror," in which the economic well-being of the United States depends on the actions of foreign governments.

"There is surely something off about the world's greatest power being the world's greatest debtor," he said. "In order to finance prevailing levels of consumption and investment, must the United States be as dependent as it is on the discretionary acts of what are inevitably political entities in other countries?"

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:48 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 November 2004 6:52 PM EST
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Bush wins, we lose.

Well, I guess that last post is pretty much moot at this point. Good lord, what is wrong with this country?

Hungary to pull out of Iraq

From the BBC:

Hungary will withdraw all of its 300 troops stationed in Iraq by the end of March 2005, the country's prime minister has said.
Ferenc Gyurcsany made the announcement at a military ceremony in the capital Budapest on Wednesday.

He said Hungary was obliged to keep its troops, who have a non-combat role, in Iraq until after elections in January.

There has been intense pressure from the public and opposition groups to pull them out.

The main conservative opposition party initially supported the war but changed its position and now favours withdrawal.

Mr Gyurcsany, who was chosen as prime minister in August, made the announcement at a ceremony marking the end of compulsory military service in Hungary.

Source: globalsecurity.org
"We are obliged to stay there until the [Iraqi] elections," he said. "To stay longer is an impossibility."

TROOPS CURRENTLY IN IRAQ
(Probably not for much longer.)

US - 142,000
UK - 8,361
Italy - 3,169
South Korea - 2,800
Poland - 2,400
Ukraine - 1,400
Netherlands - 1,345
Australia - 920
Romania - 700
Japan - 550
Denmark - 496
Bulgaria - 485
El Salvador - 380
Hungary - 300

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:08 PM EST
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Tuesday, 2 November 2004
The Rehnquist question

If Bush loses he can still appoint a justice to replace the ailing William Rehnquist. Judging by the seriousness of the Chief Justice's health, is it too hard to invision Bush sticking it to us by putting a real nut-job into the court to do some damage as a recess appointment?

If the election were to come down again to the supreme court, without Rehnquist there could be a 4-4 tie. So, Bush can put in the winning vote.

Maybe, I'm being paranoid but the timing is very disadvantagous to Kerry in case of a close vote.

The Post reports the situation is very bleak:

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did not appear as planned at Supreme Court oral arguments yesterday, announcing that his pledge to do so after receiving a cancer-related tracheotomy 10 days ago was "too optimistic," and that he would remain at home while receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

A diagnosis of anaplastic thyroid cancer, the most serious of four forms of the disease, would account for Rehnquist's situation, several experts on thyroid cancer said yesterday.

And no other diagnosis would adequately explain his doctors' treatment decisions, the experts said.
Rehnquist's doctors' approach, in sharp contrast to techniques usually used for milder cancers, suggested the physicians were throwing everything they had at the illness, the experts said.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:55 PM EST
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Monday, 1 November 2004
More pie in the sky. (Man, these bastards are really shameless.)
Don't worry, there's no danger of Osama Bin Laden launching a ICBM at us! W is spending a butt load of money to make damn sure it doesn't happen.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is set to declare operational [Ha!] soon a multibillion dollar system intended to defend America from attack by ballistic missiles, but which critics say will not work.

And to think I thought "Mutual Assured Destruction" (M.A.D.) was crazy!

"We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world -- you fire, we're going to shoot it down," President Bush August.

Take that Kim Jong-il!

Hey, Ayatollah! Suck it! You fire at us, we'll shoot it down!

The Guardian says:

This has nothing to do with terrorists, repeatedly described by Bush and Blair as the greatest threat to the west. The al-Qaida network of terrorists may want to get their hands on biological or chemical weapons, or a dirty bomb, but they are unlikely to be able to launch a long-range intercontinental ballistic against the US, or anywhere else.

Duck and cover.

Budgeted at more than $50 billion over five years, it is built on the simple concept of blasting one missile out of the sky with another.

With a country like North Korea developing nuclear weapons and honing missile capabilities, advocates argue, America would be foolish not to guard against ballistic missiles.

Pentagon officials said the system will get better with time -- and that even a limited missile defense is superior to none at all. [Yeah, that makes sense.]

Rummy says:

I think there are any number of things that you benefit greatly by getting it out there, playing with it, working with it, testing it, evolving it, learning about it, showing people what it can do, learning what it can do and what it can't do,"

"And that is not rush to deployment, that's a rush to learning, by my standard."

No Donald, thats 50 billion dollars a year pissed down the toilet!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:55 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 November 2004 3:11 PM EST
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Metro Center bracing for Iraq vets with mental problems.

This is a heart warming story from the Post. Once again the military is showing the same kind of weird disconnect the White House has with their perceptions of what is going on in Iraq versus what the real situation is.

They act like we're still in peace time. They can't maintain the troop levels and have any chance of success in Iraq, or in Afghanistan. We are headed toward disaster. Our military cannot keep on this track and survive.

It doesn't matter how many billions they pump into the "military-industrial complex;" unless the big shots at Boeing and Ratheon are willing to mount up and kick some insurgent ass, we're screwed.

Soldier to be punished for going to hospital:

1st Lt. Jullian Philip Goodrum, U.S. Army Reserve, is being prosecuted because he did not request the appropriate military leave before checking himself into a civilian psychiatric hospital last fall, during a mental breakdown. He is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

According to the Post " An Army survey, completed last December, found that 17 percent of soldiers and Marines who'd returned from duty in Iraq reported symptoms of major depression, anxiety or PTSD.

The number is expected to go higher with time, as more soldiers return from duty in this conventional war that has become a harsh counterinsurgency campaign.

And Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for PTSD, predicts that many more PTSD cases will go unreported; the Army survey also found that soldiers still are intensely reluctant to divulge their symptoms because of fear of being stigmatized as weak."

This is just the beginning. Go down to Metro Center in D.C. when it gets really cold and see all the Vietnam mental casualties rolled up in sleeping bags.

You'll be happy to know however, according to ABC News

"Oct. 14, 2004 -- Following inquiries by ABC News, the Pentagon has dropped plans to force a severely wounded U.S. soldier to repay his enlistment bonus after injuries had forced him out of the service.

Army Spc. Tyson Johnson III of Mobile, Ala., who lost a kidney in a mortar attack last year in Iraq, was still recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he received notice from the Pentagon's own collection agency that he owed more than $2,700 because he could not fulfill his full 36-month tour of duty.

Johnson said the Pentagon listed the bonus on his credit report as an unpaid government loan, making it impossible for him to rent an apartment or obtain credit cards.

"Oh man, I felt betrayed," Johnson said. "I felt, like, oh, my heart dropped."

Great, now he can stop living out of his car. See, the military really is getting up to speed on this problem. And that multi-billion dollar boondoggle called Star Wars will protect him from ICBMs some time in the distant future. Rummy is busy testing it and rolling it and playing with it.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:01 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 November 2004 10:28 PM EST
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Higher fuel costs with Bush win?
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices fell sharply on Monday on speculation that a U.S. election win for Senator John Kerry could ease the geopolitical friction that has helped fuel this year's record-breaking rally.

"Under a Kerry administration we'd likely have a much more interventionist SPR policy," said Jamal Qureshi, market analyst at PFC Energy in Washington.

"And when you look out a bit further, Bush is more likely to be aggressive in the Middle East, particularly in Iran."

The Bush administration continues to add crude to the SPR, the national strategic petroleum reserve, despite high prices.

Kerry says he would stop filling the reserve at current prices to keep more crude on the market. That difference is important for a world oil market suffering a shortage of light, sweet crude, which makes up about 40 percent of the SPR.

"A Bush status quo results in somewhat higher oil prices both in the short and the longer term, in my view," said Tim Evans, senior analyst at IFR Energy Services.

Predictions:

Hmmm...wonder why Bush isn't concerned about souring oil costs? Last I heard Saudi Arabia had an $80 billion budget surplus. Any connection there? That's in contrast to our 7 billion dollar debt, by the way.

Note the reference to Iran. On the 17th of Nov. things are going to come to a head over Iran's nuclear program, where a decision about sanctions may be made. Cheney I hear doesn't think much of sanctions, in particular the ones on Iran, the ones that prevent Halliburton from doing business there.

Maybe, the Bush administration after 4 years, finally comes up with a policy regarding Iran?

Maybe, whether he gets elected or not, the neocons finally win the argument and we attack Iran?

If W gets elected we declare victory after the Iraqi "elections" and move on to Iran. (Real men still want to go to Tehran}

No doubt, Wolfowitz and Co. will convince Bush if we only stop Iranian meddling in Iraq everything will be alright, and naturally Israel will be happy. (By then Netanyahu will probably be running things anyway.)

(Newt will become the Secretary of State, so there'll be no more negative nabobism from that quarter.)

If he doesn't get elected he'll invade out of desperation and leave Kerry with a much bigger mess than Daddy did in Somalia.

Iran is next on the list, I have no doubt. We'll clobber them with air power and shock and awe for a while and by then the draft will be rolling so man-power won't be such a big issue.

Bush and the pentagon make a lot out of the volunteer army's value of being full of motivated highly skilled soldiers but the evidence so far is that they treat them like cannon fodder, just like the drafted army of the Vietnam era.

The U.S. army is on the verge of collapse, the only way to keep it viable at this point is the draft.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:21 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 1 November 2004 6:25 PM EST
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Sunday, 31 October 2004
Freedom is still on the march.
It is really getting hard to keep up with the multiple disasters that occur everyday that freedom marches on but:

Only a day after the Brits moved up to watch our backs:

BBC: Rockets have been fired at the base south of Baghdad used by British troops from the Black Watch battle group.

There were four explosions at the base, known as Camp Dogwood, early on Sunday but no-one was reported injured.

BBC correspondent Nick Springate, who is with the troops, said those in the base were busy filling sandbags to build up defenses.

The troops have come under attack every night since their arrival on Friday and on Saturday the Black Watch's commanding officer, Lt Col James Cowen, took part in reconnaissance patrols to survey the area around the camp.
Camps and vehicles in Basra have also been attacked overnight.

NY Times:

Eight marines were killed and nine others wounded west of the capital on Saturday when a suicide car bomb rammed into their convoy, military officials said, resulting in the deadliest day for the American forces in half a year.
[The Marines later reported a ninth combat death on Saturday, The Associated Press reported,

...the insurgents who have seized the offensive in recent weeks, and the number of attacks per day has risen by 30 percent or more since mid-October, at the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, military officials say.

Freedom is on the march, for the insurgents at least:

The relentless assaults have driven a wall between the foreign presence here and the rest of the country, with soldiers, diplomats and contractors holed up in their fortified hotels or bases while guerrillas move freely and strike at will.

Another hostage killed:

A decapitated body wrapped in an American flag and found in an insurgent-controlled section of Baghdad was that of a Japanese man kidnapped by Islamic militants, a Japanese official said Sunday, The Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in Tokyo that the government had confirmed that the body found Saturday was that of Shosei Koda, 24, a Japanese traveler being held by the militant group of Jordanian fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The Iraqis probably need a little more training before the election:

On Saturday, Iraqi police officers and National Guardsmen fired wildly at civilians on a road south of Baghdad after insurgents attacked an American convoy, The Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi forces shot at and threw grenades at three minibuses and three vans, killing at least 14 people and injuring 10 others, witnesses and a doctor said.

Video from Associated Press Television News showed bodies riddled with bullet holes inside buses and on the road near Haswa, a town 25 miles south of the capital. An interior ministry spokesman, Sabah Kadhum, confirmed in an interview that Iraqi forces had fired on six vehicles.

[And of course of whole bunch of car bombs that killed at least 15. BNut that's so mundane now at days its almost not worth mentioning.

We need Bush to keep us safe from all the weapons he let slip through his hands.

On to Fallujah. And remember, real men still want to go to Tehran!]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:44 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 31 October 2004 6:45 PM EDT
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Thursday, 28 October 2004
Donald Rumsfeld: Desperate.

Seriously, is this man insane?

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested Thursday that the removal of 377 tons of explosives from an Iraqi munitions base probably took place before U.S. forces arrived, saying any large effort to loot the material afterward would have been detected.

[No one would have seen 377 tons of explosives being moved before the invasion, of course. Between Jan. 2003 when the IAEA sealed the facility and March the U.S. wasn't watching. Certainly they wouldn't have noticed hundreds of trucks kicking up a bunch of dust, right?]

"We would have seen anything like that," he said in one of two radio interviews he gave Thursday at the Pentagon. "The idea it was suddenly looted and moved out, all of these tons of equipment, I think is at least debatable."

[Oh, by the way, that report about ABC seeing the munitions after the invasion is just an illusion.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:18 PM EDT
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Bush not one to jump the gun...

After two days of ignoring the story of the missing high explosives in Iraq the president shot back today:

"Our military is now [19 months later] investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site."

Unfortunately there's a little problem with that statement:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

ABC News on Thursday showed video that appeared to confirm that explosives that went missing in Iraq not disappear until after the United States had taken control of the facility where they were stored.

ABC said the video was shot by an affiliate TV station embedded with the 101st Airborne Division when members of the division passed through the facility on April 18, nine days after the fall of Baghdad.

ABC said experts who have studied the images say the barrels seen in the video contain the high explosive HMX, and U.N. markings on the sealed containers were clear.

The barrels were found inside locked bunkers that had been sealed by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war began, ABC reported.

Bush didn't look before he lept.

Responding to John Kerry's attacks on him that he blew it on the lost weapons Bush said:

"A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

Too bad W has no sense of irony. I should think a Commander in Chief who "jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts" is much more dangerous somehow. 1,105 troops and dead and 20,000 wounded later he's yet to admit one mistake!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:55 PM EDT
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