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    26 May 2006

    Poll indicates people don't trust Repubs

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    A recent Zogby poll has indicated that Americans are more "distrustful than ever of political ... leaders." No one should be surprised by this, but let me take a stab at a theory.

    Let us assume that trust starts at a mid-point and is either eroded or enlarged as time and events come and go. Let it also be true that cycles in power offer a legitimate reference point. And finally let's assume that trust and approval are somewhat related.

    So this recent poll states that
    Only 3 percent believe Congress is trustworthy: ... 24 percent say President George W. Bush can be trusted; and 29 percent trust the courts.
    Three out of four respondents said they trust politicians less than they did five years ago.

    Now for my theory…

    Congress gets the lowest score at 3% of Americans expressing trust in them. We know that the republicans took the House in 1994 and later took the Senate - though slim. Not since 1994 has their approval been at this level. They were the first branch in recent years to break right.

    Moving on to the Executive, the compassionate conservative Presidency of George Bush ended in the wake of 11 September 2001. At this point the popular leader broke hard right, embraced neoconservativism, and began attacking countries - some unilaterally. His popularity fluctuated for some period getting boosts from time to time by appealing to American nationalism, stoking fear, and taking credit for things like capturing Saddam. This graph charts the beginning of his decent in approval and where the Administration may have used fear as a tool. His approval now hovers in the low to mid 30s.
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    (click to enlarge - chart from JuliusBlog)

    Anyway, the Executive branch was the second to go to the Republicans and went hard right after 2001. Therefore, the polls are higher than congress - with their head start - but still depressingly low at for a President. Trust in him is 24%.

    Then in 2005 Sandra Day O'Connor left the Supreme Court moving it to the right. This was followed by the death of Chief William Rehnquist. This allowed the Republicans - theoretically - to take control of that political body as well. Being the third branch of the three to break right it gets the highest level of trust from Americans at an equally depressing 29%. This chart indicates that the Court has been descending since 2003 but went way low in 2005 to 42% approval. (note: the Zogby poll, as reported by UPI, refers to trust in the courts not the Supreme Court so ponder that and if anyone can dig up more info please let me know in the comments.)

    So my conclusion is that Republican leadership has failed Americans so fundamentally that they can no longer garner a legitimate reputation for trust. They have failed to provide trust in three separate bodies of our government in recent history, one at a time, the longer they hold power the less trust they have, all declining steadily after they take control. It also implies that the opposition hasn't done enough to exploit this weakness - at least not enough for me.

    Posted by Geoff

    24 May 2006

    Tough days for neocons [UPDATED]

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    Man this week - not to mention ever since "Mission accomplished" - has been tough on the so-called foreign policy experts at the American Enterprise Institute (a neoconservative dormitory in DC). Yesterdays bitch-slap by thinkprogress.org blogger Faiz Shakir of Peter Wehner (warning: link will take you directly to BS. Do not click unless you seek to comfort yourself from the reality of how piss-poor Republican policy has been these past 5 years). And now today's Op-Ed by WaPo's Harold Meyerson takes Willie Kristol to school on the Iraq war and the misguided course neoconservativism has taken since the days of Bill's father, a liberal named Irving Kristol.

    Meyerson writes, quoting Willie:
    "There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America," he told National Public Radio listeners in the war's opening weeks, "that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's been almost no evidence of that at all," he continued. "Iraq's always been very secular."

    He wasn't entirely wrong. Iraqi professionals were disproportionately secular. Now they are packing up their secularism and taking it to other lands. The war, and the failure to establish order that led to the barbarism that's driving Iraqis away, can't be laid solely on the neocons' doorstep, of course. These second-generation neos needed a trio of arrogant, onetime CEOs -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld -- to actualize their vision. But actualize it they did, and the ideologues whose forebears once argued that the drugged-out Bronx was a monument to liberal folly have now made blood-drenched and depopulating Baghdad the monument to their own neocon obsessions.


    Col. Pat Lang writes, "Yes. It is the non-secular majority of Iraqis, as opposed to the very Westernised and secular minority who are now in command of the 'national unity government.'"

    Dr. Juan Cole piles on:
    Oh, yeah, Kristol is a big Iraq expert who can avoid "pop sociology." Bill Kristol should have read my co-edited book of 1986, "Shi'ism and Social Protest," if he thought the Iraqi Shiites were not interested in establishing an Islamic state. Hanna Batatu could have given him some information on the Dawa Party and the Badr Corps, which are now more or less in control of Iraq, thanks to Kristol. Kristol, by the way, once argued that the US should have 1.2 million troops available solely for foreign occupations, and that 400,000 each should be allotted to occupy Iraq, Iran and North Korea. And this looney tunes, smug man has the ear of the wealthy and powerful in our country!

    It was my birthday yesterday. I'll take this as an extra present.

    The ideals of neo-neoconservatism are all but gone, and what a mess they've left.

    [UPDATE] Philip Slater at the Huff Post has more...

    Posted by Geoff

    23 May 2006

    Neocon false claims debunked

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    This deserves to be read in its entirety.

    Posted by Geoff

    Gotta love this Letter to the Editor

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    Ratings and IQ equal for Bush

    As is the case now, have there been any other presidents whose approval rating matched their IQs?




    Posted by Geoff

    22 May 2006

    Prove guilt,

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    book him...

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    and lock him up!

    Getting to the core of the illegal NSA, et al, onion

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    The ongoing avalanche of information regarding the illegal wiretapping of Americans has another layer of the onion peeled of by the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
    In short, phone companies currently caught up in a controversy over reports that they gave the National Security Agency access to records of customers' calls are hardly the only businesses fretting over how to cooperate with the government in the war on terror. Internet and financial companies also are frequently targeted by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, forcing them into situations where they must choose between customers' rights to privacy and their own corporate desire to help the government without being seen as agents of the government.
    In other cases, companies have no choice but to surrender records. New powers granted to the government under the Patriot Act mean that Washington can secretly access people's records from businesses without having to provide any notification or seek a judge's permission. Companies are in fact prohibited by the law from disclosing that they had received such requests.

    Also reveled is the way the major telecommunication firms are able to claim (lie) that they have done nothing illegal, legally.

    From thinkprogress.org
    Ordinarily, a company that conceals their transactions and activities from the public would violate securities law. But a presidential memorandum signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security. (See 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A))

    That's convenient, no?

    In addition, Business Week offers another way to violate your privacy, one that goes far deeper than recently reveled.

    The Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security spend millions annually to buy commercial databases that track Americans' finances, phone numbers, and biographical information, according to a report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Often, the agencies and their contractors don't ensure the data's accuracy, the GAO found.

    Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules. The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts how federal agencies may use such information and requires disclosure of what the government is doing with it. But the law applies only when the government is doing the data collecting.

    "Grabbing data wholesale from the private sector is the way agencies are getting around the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and a member of the Homeland Security Dept.'s Data Privacy & Integrity Advisory Committee.

    People this is much larger than what we know so far. And it doesn't deal exclusively with terrorism but, it would appear, anything that calls into question government actions. These usually mean illegal government actions.

    These revelations have gone much further than deterring terrorists; in fact these programs haven’t been proven to have done anything to deter terrorists. Speculations that it has, as embraced by Rummy, Bush, and Gen. Hayden among many others, is just that; pure speculation. But it has placed a chilling fear on journalists and their sources whose job it is to reveal what horrible atrocities or illegal activities our government does in our name or to fight the so-called War on Terror.

    ABC reporter, Brian Ross (who's story is mentioned here), come out today on CNN saying (according to thinkprogress.org)
    [I]t makes me feel, in a way - and this is, I think, the disturbing part - as if we are drug dealers or terrorists trying to traffic in information, and should we be using bags full of quarters like old Mafia capos to avoid having our phone calls traced? I don't think I'm doing anything wrong; I don't think any other reporter is, either. we're trying to cover these stories, which are difficult, but which are very important.
    I'm working on a big story now with people who are confidential sources inside the Federal Air Marshal Service. They were all alarmed that they might be exposed as talking with me in violation of rules. So It's of great concern.

    They have a full transcript and video at thinkprogress.org.
    The Administration could at least be fair and use the NSA, FBI, and cooperative companies to reveal who blew the cover of WMD and Iranian nuclear weapons spy, Valerie Plame-Wilson. I think we all know why that isn't the case.

    Imagine if the mentioned (by Brian Ross) story is exposing serious problems with the US Air Marshals, but it is stalled due to this new war on truth, press freedom, and the age-old art of the leak. This could mean terrible consequences for some future passengers of a hijacked airline right? Something to think about...

    Remember: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press."

    Posted by Geoff

    21 May 2006

    A New Timetable for Iraq... and Iran?

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    Looks like we are going to be getting an "'objective' timetable" in Iraq. The new Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, believes our troops will begin leaving by years end. That is, if they can get an actual government put together. Seems likely that they will need to have some united leadership in the police and army to ensure that this government doesn't get overthrown because without the police, army, and coalition troops, the religious strife/civil war blend that exists, indefinitely, in Iraq will easily upset the greenzone government.

    Currently there are a handful of wars ongoing in Iraq, as laid out the Professor this morning:
    There are now four distinct wars going on in Iraq simultaneously

    1) The Sunni Arab guerrilla war to expel US troops from the Sunni heartland

    2) The militant Shiite guerrilla war to expel the British from the south

    3) The Sunni-Shiite civil war

    4) The Kurdish war against Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk province, and the Arab and Turkmen guerrilla struggle against the encroaching Peshmerga (the Kurdish militia).

    spreading out from Iraq, the Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, preparing for a visit to DC, claims that the Iranians are "just a few months from acquiring the technological know-how that will allow it to build a nuclear bomb."
    "This technological threshold is nearer than we anticipated before. This is because they are already engaged very seriously in enrichment," Olmert said. "The technological threshold is very close. It can be measured in months rather than years."

    This should work in nicely with republican Rovian politics that will have us attacking Iranian targets, conveniently just before the November mid-terms. Nationalism is a bitch, especially when it is misplaced and abused (see Michael Billig Banal Nationalism 1995).

    Posted by Geoff


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