July 10, 2004
@ 06:09 PM

While reading Dave Winer's blog today I stumbled on a link to the New York Times editorial on the Sentate Intelligence Committee's recent report. Below is an excerpt

In a season when candor and leadership are in short supply, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the prewar assessment of Iraqi weapons is a welcome demonstration of both. It is also disturbing, and not just because of what it says about the atrocious state of American intelligence. The report is a condemnation of how this administration has squandered the public trust it may sorely need for a real threat to national security.

The report was heavily censored by the administration and is too narrowly focused on the bungling of just the Central Intelligence Agency. But what comes through is thoroughly damning. Put simply, the Bush administration's intelligence analysts cooked the books to give Congress and the public the impression that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear arms, that he was plotting to give such weapons to terrorists, and that he was an imminent threat.

These assertions formed the basis of Mr. Bush's justifications for war. But the report said that they were wrong and were not a true picture of the intelligence, and that the intelligence itself was not worth much. The freshest information from human sources was more than four years old. The committee said the analysts who had produced that false apocalyptic vision had fallen into a "collective groupthink" in which evidence was hammered into a preconceived pattern. Their bosses did not intervene.

The report reaffirmed a finding by another panel investigating intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks in saying that there was no "established formal relationship" between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. It also said there was no evidence that Iraq had been complicit in any attack by Osama bin Laden, or that Saddam Hussein had ever tried to use Al Qaeda for an attack. Although the report said the C.I.A.'s conclusions had been "widely disseminated" in the government, Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have repeatedly talked of an Iraq-Qaeda link.

Sadly, the investigation stopped without assessing how President Bush had used the incompetent intelligence reports to justify war.

It is now quite clear that GW Bush and his cronies started a war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis, cost the US and Iraq billions of dollars, and has increased the negative feelings towards the US across the world [especially in the Middle East] for no just cause. What I'd like to know is if anyone is going to go to is what the legal punishment for their transgressions actually will be.

Growing up in Nigeria, I saw first hand what happens when the government commits crimes against the people with no fear of accountability. Lack of accountability seeps into the national fabric and varying degrees of corruption follow. Hopefully, America won't follow the example of the tin pot dictatorships across the third world where everyone knows the governments lie and are corrupt but shrug it off as being a way of life.

Bush and his cronies are destroying America and everything it stands for one day at a time. I pray we don't get four more years of this disaster.


Saturday, July 10, 2004 8:45:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
If you go send troops to some region to remove (or kill) people just because you don't like them (whether it be because of their beliefs, or simply because "Saddam Hussein tried to kill my Pa"), there is a name for that. They call it "ethnic cleansing". Last time I looked, that was illegal.

Considering the number of lives lost and the cost to taxpayers for Dubya's personal crusade, it seems frivolous that we almost impeached Clinton just for having an affair...
Saturday, July 10, 2004 10:12:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The only way to prevent another four years is to vote for Kerry/Edwards and to encourage all your friends and acquaintences to vote and to vote for Kerry/Edwards.

A vote against Bush by voting for Nader is more likely to elect Bush, so if you really don't want four more there is really only one choice.

I wish I could vote..
Sunday, July 11, 2004 10:06:52 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
This entry reminds me a more basic issue that while most of us possess very little power to directly affect great change, the two things we do have at our disposal (of many) that we take for granted is both the power of ideas that convince people of alternative viewpoints that lead to collective changes in behavior, and the vote where the collective voice is formed and heard to redirect the political leadership and direction of a free society. Take it to heart: If you don't vote or act this November and/or have other speak on your behalf (support MoveOn or some other organization that acts on your views), you are keenly responsible for what's to unfold in the the upcoming decade.

Too many Americans have become disonnected from the public debate believing good times will continue, as our basic fabric of society deteriorate horribly (e.g. education, basic sciences, skilled workforce, national competitiveness). If you take a hard look at history, that is never so. You have to work hard at it or you lose it, and in a mere 3.5 years we've lost a lot of it. It's now or never to act, vote, changing what you buy and how (e.g. hybrid cars, anyone), and speak out to whoever will listen. Either that, or we fall victim to our own apathy a la Romans or the British Empire of past, as India and China, lacking fully developed democratic institutions yet full of raw ambition, workout in the economic gymnasium full-time, jostling to become the next powers in waiting, ready to assert themselves just in time as our kids grow up.

Food for thought:

Only 47 percent of American adults read "literature" (poems, plays, narrative fiction) in 2002, a drop of 7 points from a decade earlier. Those reading any book at all in 2002 fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent.

NEA chairman Dana Gioia, himself a poet, called the findings shocking and a reason for grave concern.

"We have a lot of functionally literate people who are no longer engaged readers," Gioia said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This isn't a case of `Johnny Can't Read,' but `Johnny Won't Read.'"

The likely culprits, according to the report: television, movies and the Internet.
Sunday, July 11, 2004 11:09:44 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The death toll for the US-led coalition in Iraq has topped 1,000.
Monday, July 12, 2004 6:33:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Stick to technology. Your politics make me want to puke.
Jay Meta
Monday, July 12, 2004 9:42:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It's silly to say "Bush's intelligence analysts". This was a Clinton-appointed CIA director, and democrats and republicans alike were fooled by the poor intelligence. I think it's ridiculously partisan to assert that the crappy quality of CIA was Bush's fault.

I also think it's silly to that Bush should not have acted on the information. A president would be derilict to say, "I have all of this information from the CIA, but I am going to gamble that they are wrong". First he gets slammed for not "connecting the dots" at 9/11, then he gets slammed for paying too much attention to the CIA analysts.

I agree that the CIA needs to be fixed, but Kerry saw the same intelligence and voted to go to war (and voted numerous times previously to cut CIA funding and limit ability to gather HUMINT), so he is just as culpable. And you're also ignoring the fact that Saddam himself had plenty of opportunities to avert the war over the past 10 years. There are plenty of culprits here; blaming Bush (or lionizing Kerry) is just naive and partisan.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 3:34:54 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
All of Bush's reasons as originally stated justifying the rush war remain 100% false. Though it hasn't prevent him and his minders from baiting and switching coming up with new rationales, the main premise was to rid the world of terror that was a *clear and present danger* to the United States.

As one would expect from an experienced US senator, Kerry has publicly stated early on that his vote supporting the war was to give the president the authority and flexibility to do what's necessary in a deliberate fashion with coalition partners using Gulf I as model, not an all-or-nothing blanket pass to go to war unilaterally w/o taking the time needed for the world community to fully determine the extent of culpability of an enemy's involvement and ongoing intent to harm us (lest we all forget, we did and do know w/o a doubt that al Qeada methodically planned and attacked us, which is much more then could ever be said for Hussein).

Bush's legacy to-date has been to use 9/11 as pretext to start up and leaved as unfinished business for our children that will span generations to address. Afghanistan remains a hotbed of unabated Taliban activity that at present still only has 13,000 troops to find Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, while our 140,000 troops in Iraq spent far more energies finding Hussein, who as egomaniacal dictator never wanted to get in the US crosshairs and was certainly never an immiment danger to the US.

His policies has made the country a lot less safe by inciting even more Middle East youths to join terror groups, failing to secure nuclear material that could fall into the hands of terrorists and by allowing North Korea to become a much greater threat given their historical willingness to sell arms technology that we remain quite disengaged from.

Admittedly, this administration has done a great job spinning and wrapping their actions in a set of idealogical principles, which lack substance evidenced by lack of much tangible results (undoubtedly, Rove puts the Clinton spin machine to shame).

Some other big policy failures that come to mind:
- Taking away support of stem-cell research and related medicine that will revolutionize key medicines at behest of right-wing Christian fundamentalists.
- Withdrawal from Kyoto protocols and ABM nuke treaties, rather than negotiate and reset expectations as a mature superpower should to address this obvious and real global problem. The latter, to actually funding the development of a new class of mini-droplet nukes with lighter, more agile reentry capabilities for purposes of more-assured Mutually Assured Destruction, no doubt.
- Promoting disproved supply-side tax cut policies as economic stimulus largely benefiting people making over $300k who tend to save than spend.
- Drastically underfunding No Child Left Behind and Africa AIDS initiative (there's no money left after tax cut)
- Not to mention his desire to inscribe into the founding document the banning of gay marriages (epitomy of wedge issue lacking any substance except to the theocratically-minded).

In this and more, despite his compassionate conservative mantra (a brilliant piece of politics that Gore left unmatched), he has done a great job dividing the country more than put forth an actual record he or any American can point to with tangible accomplishment we can be proud of. Talk about a president that says one thing, does another - his short 3.5 year record is replete with examples.

From his tough talk and singular accomplishment of attacking Iraq one safely surmises that Bush is a tough leader that will quickly bring us to war as he (and nobody else) sees fit and quickly panders to simpleton short-sighted policies, at the expense of almost everything else. 4 more years of this and in a decade we'll need to start teaching Hindii or Chinese K-12, increase foreign aid to Israel for ongoing reinforcement of the Palestinian encirclement-wall, and enforcing the Patriot Act II.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004 10:51:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

Veering away from the politics, I wanted to comment on "people making over $300k who tend to save than spend."

This is wrong on several counts.

First, people who make $300k are not any more likely to save. This has been proven time and time again by demographic studies (including IRS-conducted studies). One thing to consider is that the only reason someone would "make over $300k" is to spend it; in most cases. People with large net worth still work very hard to minimize their realized income, because relaized income is taxed income. It's not income until you take it out, and you would be dumb to take it out unless you plan to use it. Very, very few people can afford to "make $300k" per year without quickly depleting their net worth.

Next, the tax cuts benefit people who spend far more than it benefits people who save. For someone who has net worth of $2m, and realizes income of $200,000 per year; his tax bill each year is a small fraction of his net worth (single digits) -- and the $2500 reduction is just a fractional percentage decrease in tax. It is insignificant. These people do not care about tax decreases, since taxes are not a large part of their net worth.

However, for a person who makes $300,000 per year, has net worth of $100,000 and spends $250,000, the effective taxation rate is equal to 100% of his net worth every year. Any change to the tax rate is very significant.

Additionally, thus far the fact that the maximum credit is $2500 has meant that people in the $300,000 range are less helped (as a percentage) than people in $200,000.

In other words, the tax credits so far have done the most for the people who spend, but certainly only encourage more spending on the part of these people. Saying that the tax credits would help people who save (and therefore do not realize any income, and therefore do not pay taxes, and therefore do not benefit the IRS) is just plain wrong. The IRS is very clever; and you can bet that the tax credit plan ultimately benefits them and continues to drive high-consumption lifestyles.
Comments are closed.