Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bush is CLUELESS!!!

From today's Progress Report:

The Economic Costs Of War

With record oil prices, rising family debt, and a slowing housing market, Americans are now worried about the economy more than ever. Even 45 percent of economists expect a recession this year. With the Bush administration spending $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq, it is therefore not surprising that Americans increasingly view withdrawal from Iraq as a way out of this economic slump. In fact, 68 percent of the public rank pulling out of Iraq first on a list of proposed economic remedies, beating out tax cuts. Yesterday, a coalition of progressive groups -- including MoveOn, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, USAction, SEIU, VoteVets, and Americans United for Change -- announced a new "Iraq/Recession" campaign. This $15 million nationwide effort will aim to end the war by raising awareness of the domestic costs that have been neglected because of President Bush's singular focus on Iraq. "There is great concern, anxiety, and angst about economic security," former senator John Edwards told reporters yesterday. "All of these things are made worse by the war in Iraq. ... People don't understand why we're spending $500 billion and counting at the same time we have 47 million without healthcare, 37 million living in poverty."

PRE-WAR MISCALCULATIONS: The Bush administration was anxious to go to war, but not anxious to pay for it. In April 2003, then-administrator of the Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios pledged that American taxpayers would pay no more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq. In March 2003, Paul Wolfowitz infamously predicted that Iraq would be able to "finance its own reconstruction." In reality, total Iraq war requests and authorizations have amounted to $624 billion. Yet just two months after announcing the invasion of Iraq, Bush ordered the first major wartime taxcut in history. The debt was $5.7 trillion when Bush took office; it will be $10.3 trillion by the time he leaves. Economists predicted this fall-out. In 2002, Gerd Hausler, director of international capital markets at the IMF, said that "a serious conflict with Iraq would not be a very healthy development" for the financial markets. Robert Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration stated, "If the [Iraq] conflict wears on or, worse, spreads, the economic consequences become very serious." More recently, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote in Vanity Fair, "The soaring price of oil is clearly related to the Iraq war. The issue is not whether to blame the war for this but simply how much to blame it."

EMPLOYMENT FOR DEFENSE CONTRACTORS: Last week, President Bush stated that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the faltering economy. "I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs...because we're buying equipment, and people are working," he said. The Iraq war has created jobs -- for the administration's defense contractor allies. Bush's most recent budget is a windfall for contractors. Between 2000 and 2005, procurement was the "fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending." Five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, national unemployment is going up. Between December 2006 and December 2007, the national unemployment rate increased by 13.6 percent in seasonally adjusted terms, from 4.4 to 5.0 percent.

NEGLECTING DOMESTIC PRIORITIES: "At a time of mounting deficits, when we are spending about $10 billion a month in Iraq, issues such as reforming the health-care system and repairing the national infrastructure are likely to remain neglected," write John Podesta and Lawrence J. Korb of the Center for American Progress and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations in today's Washington Post. "The United States has too many national priorities that cannot be realized if yet another beleaguered administration prolongs this costly and unpopular war." Indeed, Bush seems to deem domestic priorities as "excessive spending." He recently vetoed a bill to provide expanded health insurance for 10 million children, and then requested $172 billion more for the war. When the Senate passed a broad stimulus package that offered an extension of unemployment benefits and help for borrowers caught in subprime loans, the White House again called it unaffordable government spending.

RISING COST OF VETERANS CARE: While the Bush administration is devoting considerable resources to the conflict in Iraq, it is paying less attention to what happens when U.S. troops return home. A recent American Journal of Public Health study estimated that in 2004, "nearly 1.8 million veterans were uninsured and unable to get care in veterans' facilities." This number has jumped dramatically since 2000, when there were 290,000 uninsured veterans. Recently discharged veterans are also "having a harder time finding civilian jobs and are more likely to earn lower wages for years." These costs will only continue to grow the longer the United States remains in Iraq. VoteVets has released a new ad on conservatives' misplaced priorities here.

Monday, February 11, 2008


From today's Progress Report:

A Surge Of Military Strain

On Sept. 14, President Bush announced a "drawdown" of roughly 20,000 soldiers from Iraq by mid-summer. But during his State of the Union address last month, Bush signaled that he may halt the troop withdrawals, as he "emphasized the risks -- with no mention of the benefits -- of continuing the cutbacks beyond July." The military is operating under serious strain, with forces over-stretched between fighting two wars and sustaining the escalation in Iraq. A recent report by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves found that the "military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country." With Bush intent on maintaining escalated troops levels -- even at the cost of the battle in Afghanistan -- and some presidential candidates suggesting staying in Iraq for 100 years or more, the strains on the military are likely only to get worse.

STRAIN OF THE SURGE: Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates "publicly endorsed the concept of ordering a pause in troop withdrawals from Iraq this summer," saying that "the notion of a brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense." Gates echoed sentiments from Gen. David Petraeus, who last month indicated that the drawdown may halt after this summer, when troop levels in Iraq reach roughly 140,000. "We will...need to have some time to let things settle a bit," Petraeus said. Yet maintaining such high troop levels is unsustainable. Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said, "The surge sucked all of the flexibility out of the system." In September, Casey told Congress, "The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply." The "drawdown" was spurred by necessity. As Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno previously said, "We know that the surge forces will come at least through April...and then we'll have to start to reduce." Speaking yesterday on CNN's Late Edition, former Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed. "My own judgment, looking in from the outside, is that it can't be kept up indefinitely at the size of 140,000," Powell said. "It can't go on at that level much longer."

STRAIN OF LONG DEPLOYMENTS: Last April, Gates announced that he was extending active tours of duty in Iraq from 12 to 15 months. These extended deployments, combined with only 12 months at home between tours, have put undue stress on soldiers and their families. In his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen noted that "this is the longest time that our All-Volunteer Force has been at war." "Our Service members, in particular our ground forces and their families, are under significant strain," Mullen said. He urged an end to 15-month deployments: "At our current force levels, we cannot sustain these cycles. Fifteen month deployments are too long." He suggested moving "as quickly as possible to twelve months deployed to be followed by twenty-four months at home." "The well is deep, but it is not infinite," Mullen said. "We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired." In September, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced a bill requiring soldiers' home rest time to at least equal their active-duty deployment time, but he faced stiff opposition from conservatives. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he hoped the Senate would "steadfastly reject this kind of micromanagement" because it "would create chaos." Bush threatened to veto the bill, and although 56 Senators voted to approve it, the measure failed. The Army is currently considering a proposal to cut troop deployments back to 12 months by August.

UNREADY FOR NEW THREATS: A sobering report from the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves "concludes that the nation 'does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available' to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, 'an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk.'" "We must not allow the challenges of today to keep us from being prepared for the realities of tomorrow," Mullen said last week. "There is risk that we will be unable to rapidly respond to future threats to our vital national interests." With over-stretched forces focused on Iraq, the Taliban has regained large parts of southern Afghanistan. "Some way must be found to deal with this perpetual problem of Afghanistan being overshadowed by the Iraq war," Karl Inderfurth, a former senior diplomat in the Clinton administration, said last month. Center for American Progress scholars Caroline Wadhams and Lawrence J. Korb have called for a renewed commitment to the fight in Afghanistan. "Getting Afghanistan right is critical to preventing it from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists," they write. "This is the war we cannot afford to lose."

Friday, February 08, 2008


I started this past Tuesday (2/5/08) as an 'Eco-Tour Guide' with Elite Land Tours (www.elitelandtours.com) in Palm Springs ... I'm only qualified to give the "Joshua Tree Adventure" tour (the most popular) right now but look forward to giving the San Andreas Fault tour (actually called "It's Our Fault" tour ... the 2nd most popular tour), "Secrets of the Salton Sea" and the rest of the great tours the company has to offer (check the web site out) ... I'm studying like crazy to add to my presentation for the guests since I need to be able to fill their heads with information for 4 hours ... this was the dream job I was looking for and I found it!!!

Friday, February 01, 2008


From today's Progress Report ... one (because there are hundreds) thing Bush will be remembered for is destroying the U.S. Army and National Guard:

HOMELAND SECURITY -- U.S. MILITARY NOT PREPARED FOR A HOMELAND ATTACK: A new report by the Commission of the National Guard and Reserves "determined that 88 percent" of National Guard units are not prepared for a catastrophic attack on the country. The 400-page report "concludes that the nation 'does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available' to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, 'an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk.'" Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, head of U.S. Northern Command, said about 4,000 Guard and Reserve troops would be trained over the next year to be "assigned to a three-tiered response force." Bush's escalation last spring has left the U.S. military overstretched. Earlier this week, Gen. David Petraeus "said the Pentagon wants to bring troops home quickly to reduce the strain on the armed services." Last fall, Army Chief of Staff George Casey said it would take "three or four years" for the military "to put ourselves back in balance" after the Iraq war.