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Did He Look in Madoff’s Eyes? December 17, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Business & Society, Corruption, Economics, Government, The Big Crash of 2008, The Bush Administration.
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In an editorial the Kansas City Star’s resident ultra-conservative, E. Thomas McClanahan actually says that an inept SEC led to the Madoff scandal. I’m sorry, Mr. McClanahan, but in fact the SEC was basically doing what your hero Dubya wanted them to do, which is largely nothing. Was there any regulatory agency that wasn’t having their budgets cut under the Bush administration? Any agency that wasn’t full of political appointees whose main goal was to forward a particular political agenda? Look at Cox’s background. What else would anyone expect of an SEC he’s in charge of? Let’s face it, everything went according to plan and if you think Madoff is the only one out there…

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Laws? We don’t follow no steenking laws! August 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Does Not Compute, Terrorism, The Bush Administration, What is Justice?, WoT.
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So the Bush Administration and the Pentagon got what they wanted in the arrangements for the “trial” of Salim Hamdan. They just didn’t get the verdicts they wanted. And now, like a version of the child who decides to change the rules when they lose but with far greater stakes they are debating completely ignoring the results of what they expected to be a show trial and keep Hamdan in detention indefinitely after his sentence is up.

Apparently some people realize there just might be a problem with that idea.

Defense Department officials said there are concerns about the public perception of holding Hamdan after his prison term runs out, because it could label the military commissions a “show process” with no meaning to its sentences.

Gee, ya think?

Here He Goes Again (Updated) February 16, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Government, The Bush Administration.
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While it’s true that we’re only stuck with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania for another 11 months or so he hasn’t lost his ability to annoy. The amount of “say one thing and do another” that George W. Bush accomplishes is truly amazing. Here is a section this year’s SOTU.

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. (Applause.) Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. (Applause.) Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. (Applause.) Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. (Applause.) Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.

OTOH, here’s an analysis of what he actually proposed in the FY 2009 budget for energy. And then of course the funding for FutureGen was pulled with the only replacement being nothing but vague proposals. I’ll be so glad when Dubya’s gone. But the cleanup from the disaster that has been the Bush Administration will be long and difficult.

 Minor update: Just after I wrote this I ran across a Washington Post editorial about the funding cut for FutureGen.

If at first… October 26, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Foreign Relations, Politics, The Bush Administration.
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When was consistency declared the supreme virtue? You’d certainly think that it had been promoted to that status based on the actions of our current administration. From “stay the course” to the latest speech on Cuba it seems to be the only virtue that interests the powers that be lately. Time reports on the hard line that Bush echoed yet again. It’s been the constant line from every politician of every party who wanted to pander to an irrational subset of the Cuban immigrant community for over four decades now. And what has it gotten anyone? Maybe some votes, but that’s it. Has it helped one Cuban still in that country? No. Over forty years of embargoes that no one else takes part in and constant rhetorical hits and no real progress towards ending the repressive Castro regime to show for it. I’m not going to say that some of it, maybe a lot of it made sense before the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the client state status of Cuba but that boat sailed 18 years ago now and maybe some change would have made sense by now. But will anyone anytime soon be able to see past the votes that might be gained by political pandering to part of the Cuban population in Florida? Somehow I doubt it.

Why? October 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Economics, Government, Health Insurance, Politics, The Bush Administration, The War in Iraq.
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Why does anyone believe anything that George W. Bush or anyone who represents him or allies themselves with him says anymore? Remember the good old days when he was saying that he hadn’t made up his mind about going to war with Iraq?  And that thinking that it might cost $50 billion was dismissed as speculation? When Mitch Daniels said that Larry Lindsey’s estimate of $200 billion was the upper end of a hypothetical?

Now there are estimates that the combined total of Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $2.4 trillion before it’s all said and done. What’s the White House reaction?

The Bush administration has declined to make long-term projections because “the war is ever-changing” and costs are difficult to predict, said Sean Kevelighan, press secretary for the White House budget office.

“Congress got a predictable answer to its leading question, which was clearly intended to artificially inflate war costs (by) politicians in Washington trying to manage our military commanders,” Kevelighan said.

“Budgets follow military decisions, not vice versa,” he said.

What do Bush’s allies in the Republican Party have to say about it?

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the estimates fail to show that as a percentage of gross domestic product, the nation is better equipped to pay for these conflicts than previous wars.

Of course I want to know what the percentage of GDP has to do with it? Government revenues and debt are what matter if you’re going to discuss an enterprise that the government is paying for and these same people want Bush’s tax cuts to stay the course. They want the estate tax eliminated. Many of them want capital gains taxes eliminated or at least reduced even further than where they are already at. Look at these numbers and realize that President Bush is once again threatening to veto SCHIP, claiming that part of the reason is the expense, $35 billion over 5 years.

As I said to begin this post, why does anyone still believe this man or his minions?

No Thanks for the Memories October 7, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Government, Politics, The Bush Administration.
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The Washington Post reports on the people who have left the Bush Administration and how they are dealing with life after Bush.

The article speaks of soul searching but for at least two of Bush’s former staff there isn’t any of that at all. Rove and Bartlett don’t seem to regret or doubt anything. I just love this one about Bartlett:

He started to watch Bush’s last news conference on television, then turned it off halfway through after finding himself pacing the room. He still resents the newspaper articles that present Bush as “the most-isolated, stupid moron in America today,” but he knows he needs to move on.

Apparently Mr. Bartlett doesn’t appreciate what he, Mr. Rove and President Bush have done to deserve that opinion so richly. In addition when asked about regrets he said

“As far as how the presidency has gone,” he said, “these are the cards we were dealt, these were the decisions we made. I learned too much in that job — you can’t second-guess every decision you made.”

What cards were they dealt that forced them into Iraq when they chose to invade? None. There was no overwhelming weight of facts or some imminent threat that forced them to choose the date they chose. There was nothing forcing them to not give the U.N. weapons inspectors more time and put forth more effort in the cleanup of Afghanistan. Not if you looked at the intelligence objectively instead of trying to mold it into something to justify a decision apparently already made.

As for Rove, consider this gem of information:

Rove said his book will be worth it. “It will be vicious and slashing,” he promised. He sounded as if he was joking. Sort of. But it’s not as if he has gone off the reservation. At the end of the interview, he asked that his quotes be sent to the White House first. “I’m still a cog in the great machine,” he explained.

What?? Karl Rove do something vicious and slashing? Say it ain’t so!

The Bald Eagle’s Poor Cousins July 4, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Business & Society, Environment, Government, Politics, The Bush Administration.
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The removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list has been in the news a lot recently. However, the state of the agency tasked with managing the list and protecting endangered species seems pretty endangered itself. As noted in the L.A. Times it’s budget is being slashed, positions are left unstaffed and what passed for an assistant secretary of the interior who was in charge of it had the competence and integrity so common among Bush administration appointees. The article notes at one point that

Meanwhile, the endangered-species staff is rife with in-fighting, according to a report last month by the Interior Department’s inspector general. And recovery programs, listing decisions and efforts to remove wildlife from existing protections have been heavily influenced by Bush appointees with close ties to industries that have contested the law.

Julie A. MacDonald, a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior who oversaw the endangered-species program, resigned last month after the inspector general found that she had ordered scientists to change their findings, and shared internal documents with lobbyists for agricultural and energy interests.

Somehow this reminds me of the Administration’s approach to global warming. The current head of the program,  Bryan Arroyo, defends the approach that he takes as a loyal Bush employee. He says it’s more effective to work with industry. You can’t affect the economy for the sake of protecting an endangered species is what he seems to be saying. What’s interesting about his claims about the superiority of his approach is that the only example he gives is from his days in Texas. Couldn’t he think of a success story at the federal level of the superior approach he espouses?

I know that lots of people, myself included, wonder about some of what happens because of a species being declared endangered. Aren’t they going too far in thinking that all species, especially those with extremely limited habitats should stop all development? Sometimes they are reasonable doubts. But I worry more right now about the pendulum going too far the other way when 54 out of 58 species added to the list during the Bush administration were only added because of the government being sued. It is true that a reasonable balance should be struck. I just don’t trust anyone that the current Administration might appoint to do that.

Petty Concerns July 3, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Government, Politics, The Bush Administration, What is Justice?.
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I won’t bother providing a link to any one story. Anyone who follows the news at all knows that President Bush has announced that he believes that a sentence 6 months under the maximum allowed for by federal sentencing guidelines is just too harsh for Scooter Libby. So his sentence has been commuted so he won’t serve a single day in prison. Bush couldn’t wait and maybe let him serve a month for perjury in an important investigation. No, no. Far too harsh for such an upstanding citizen. Well, maybe a week just to show that the Bush administration doesn’t consider itself above the law. Nope. How could someone of such delicate sensibilities as an aide to Dick Cheney survive that interminable sentence? Maybe he could report in for a day? Just one little overnight visit to a nice minimum security place near Washington, where a well-paying job with a conservative think tank or lobbying firm awaits on his release from a grueling incarceration? Just to make it look good? No, the wisdom of American conservatism, that bastion of hard core belief in law and order is that a Republican who committed perjury called for a pardon but even GWB wouldn’t go that far just now and pardon Libby. But he did make certain that not one day would be spent in jail by such a loyal apparatchik. But these are petty concerns, meaningless in the greater scheme of American political life.

Let’s move on to something much more important. Who’s starting the betting pools on how soon after the November 2008 election that complete pardon will be announced?

You Say Tomato I Say… July 2, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Government, Politics, The Bush Administration, What is Justice?.
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In the New York Times Adam Liptak notes that Bush only commuted Libby’s sentence. He didn’t pardon him. Does anyone really doubt that the pardon is just waiting in the wings for about 18 months?

Foreign Policy Minus Realism June 26, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in The Bush Administration, The Middle East.
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Newsweek writes that the Mullahs of Iran aren’t even close to having a population willing to overthrow them. And of course the Bush Administration doesn’t realize this. In fact they have insisted on taking actions that hurt the cause of Iranians that would like to see their country be a republic in more than name. Virtually anyone who was paying attention to attitudes in that part of the world towards the U.S. could tell what kind of reaction our “aid” to democracy activists would produce. But I just have to seriously wonder if anyone in this administration asked anyone and if by chance they did ask did they pay any attention to the answer.