May 24, 2006

'Progress' In Bush's War On Terrorism

The Brookings Institute recently published its latest "Iraq Index" which I found particularly interesting. The subtitle of this publication is "Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Sadaam Iraq", and it's jam-packed with information about the so-called 'progress' that Bush and his apologists lie about on a daily basis. The full report can be viewed here.

There are a multitude of graphs, charts, and tables which detail everything broken out over various categories and circumstances. What I wanted to draw your attention to was page #19. The first table on this page is entitled "Insurgency Indicators", and it breaks down terrorism attacks between 2004 and 2005. Immediately following that table is another table which depicts the level of terrorism activity both in Iraq and worldwide. These statistics are astonishing:

Insurgent attacks (total)26,49634,131
Car bombs420873
Suicide car bombs133411
Roadside bombs5,60710,953
US Soldiers Killed848846
US Soldiers Wounded79895939


Number of Terrorist Attacks Worldwide



Number of Fatalities Worldwide due to
Terrorist Attacks

Number of Terrorist Attacks in Iraq
3,474 (~30% of total)

Number of Fatalities in Iraq due to
Terrorist Attacks
8,300 (~55% of total)

Take a good look at these tables. Take a good long look at the 'progress' in our big "War on Terrorism". Take a look at how much safer we are now. The way I read this second chart, the level of terrorism has doubled in Iraq between 2004 & 2005, while the worldwide level of terrorism has skyrocketed four-fold over that same period.

Thank you, Georgie. You're doin' a heckuva job!

May 21, 2006

My interview on Boston's Progressive Talk

Hello Readers,

All this time you've been loyal readers of my blog, and I sincerely appreciate your support and words of warmth.

Recently I had my blog listed on a progressive radio station in the Boston area, called "Boston's Progressive Talk". If you live in the Boston area, please tune in 1200 or 1430 on the AM dial for a great connection to Air America and the Jones Radio network.

After listing my blog, the station contacted me and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed. So now, instead of just being a reader, you can be a listener too!

Click here to listen to my interview, which aired Sunday, May 21st 2006.


Scott Shuster

May 19, 2006

Here We Go Again - Republicans Whoring Themsleves With Tax Cuts

I suppose I should expect this from the Republicans in our government. It happens with each election cycle, and I probably should be used to it by now, but I'm not. I can't accept in all good conscience, politicians who cut taxes for rich people, at the expense of our economy and our future, in an underhanded, backdoor, sleazy effort to get re-elected.

I turn on the news and hear it all the time from the right-wingnuts.... that tax cuts have bolstered our economy! Yes, our economic recovery... it's all due to tax cuts! I guess it doesn't matter that our deficit is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. I guess it doesn't matter that our debt is measured in trillions of dollars (soon to be measured in tens of trillions of dollars).

This is the lie that we're continually being sold... that tax cuts (which is basically the act of giving donations to rich people) are directly or indirectly causing our economy to be strong. In fact, the first lie is that our economy actually IS strong. Unfortunately, many millions of people actually believe that bullcrap, and that's why they blindly vote Republican. Sure, everyone hates to pay taxes, and they ignorantly think that under Republican rule, they'll be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.

So let's revisit (i.e. Let's not let the Conservatives re-write history)...

Following the devastating recession of 2001-2002, after George W. Bush took office and started deregulating every industry, paving the way for an unprecedented plethora of corporate corruption & scandal, our economy had no where to go but up. The US economy, and all its economic indicators are cyclical in nature. It's going to have its 'ups' and 'downs' and tax breaks for rich people is not the best 'stimulus' to bringing the economy up. T
hat's not to say that tax cuts don't have any effect whatsoever. ANY action which pumps money into the economy will stimulate it somewhat, but at what long-term cost given the size of our deficit & debt?

By the way, is there any doubt that the top 1% of the wealthiest people are the real beneficiaries of tax cuts? Obviously, they pay more taxes, so they're going to benefit more from tax cuts. Don't forget though... much of the Bush tax cut initiatives are centric on ownership income, as opposed to wage income. Working people do not sincerely benefit from tax cuts...

  • Capital Gains tax cuts benefit those who own (and sell) capital, such as stocks. Working people, who live paycheck-to-paycheck, who have to tighten their belts because they're getting squeezed by the price of gas, don't sincerely benefit from Capital Gains tax cuts.
  • Estate tax cuts benefit those who stand to inherit many millions of dollars from dead relatives. Working people, who don't come from a long bloodline of wealth, don't sincerely benefit from Estate tax cuts.

If you're going to pump money into our economy to stimulate it, certainly pumping it into the bottom or middle would stimulate it faster and healthier than pumping it into the top. Rich people simply don't need the money nearly as much as those who are less wealthy. Therefore, it only stands to reason that if the money were pumped into the bottom and middle, it would be spent faster.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not advocating that we should give tax cuts to poor people instead of rich people. What I AM advocating however, is that programs which help the needier populace become productive, thriving, and contributing members of society, yield a far better return than giving donations to rich people. Programs such as job training to help unemployed and lower-skilled workers get back into the workplace. Programs like child care subsidies for single mothers so they can... yes... get back into the workplace. Programs like a Universal Health Care system, which would help everyone live healthier lives, so they can... you got it... stay in the workplace.

But we must also not forget our obligations to care for people, even if they're not able to be productive workers in our society (and don't get me started on Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" bullcrap). Some people are never going to return to the workplace, such as the (very) elderly and disabled.

What effects does tax cuts have?

The Republican's "Trickle-Down" economic theory (thank you, Ronald Reagan) assumes that cutting rich people's taxes will spur investment, which will create jobs. Then they look at the job creation/unemployment statistics and think that their tax cutting initiatives are working. This is an absolute farce.

  • First of all, you can't look at the quantity of jobs being created in the United States if you totally ignore the quality of those jobs. In-depth analysis of jobs creation statistics have consistently found that new jobs are overwhelmingly service oriented and not manufacturing. That means we're not creating and exporting products, which has a significant impact on our trade-deficit.

    At the same time, the higher-paying jobs continue to be exported to countries where businesses can pay considerably less wages. There is NO effort by our government to help keep the jobs domestically or even 'level the playing field' to help American businesses compete in the global market.

  • Secondly, the unemployment rates never reflect those who have lopped off the other side of the unemployment grid and can no longer collect benefits. Nor do those numbers reflect the masses who have gone back into the workforce at lower paying (c'est moi), and often career-changing (and not for the better) opportunities. Through the bulk of the George W. Bush presidency, we've been working harder, earning less, and paying more (and don't even think about blaming that on Clinton).

  • Thirdly, tax cuts directly add to our already overblown deficit, and therefore balloon our debt, the burden of which will have to be shouldered by future generations. Try to imagine a pie chart of our national budget in the years to come. You see that huuuuge chunk that dwarfs the other slices? That's called 'Debt Servicing'. We have to pay that back, ya know! And the interest!

  • Fourthly, the cutting of taxes, which theoretically reduces the national budget, must be accompanied by a reduction in spending. Otherwise, the deficit would be even larger than it already is. Who suffers when budgets are cut? We all do. Sure, I could go on-and-on about the various categories of needy like the poor, elderly, veterans, hurricane-stricken, underprivileged, sick, out-of-work, etc. But, what about the rest of us? Did it ever occur to you that the reason you're paying more & higher fees for various things, all starts from tax breaks for rich people? By the way, whatever happened to that after-school arts (or sports) program?


Tax cuts for rich people, at a time of war, at a time of gargantuan deficits & debt, is completely, absolutely, and utterly irresponsible. These people are looking at minute short-term economic gains (if any) as well as re-election rewards, at the expense of long-term solvency (i.e. our future).

Any politicians who vote for tax cuts should be thrown out on their asses. They certainly do not have our country's best interests at heart.

May 15, 2006

Is America Moving Towards Martial Law?

As I was driving into work this morning, I was listening to Air America as I always do, and enjoying Rachel Maddow's rendition of what she calls "The Underbelly". By the way, if you're not listening to Air America talk radio in your car, you should be. Find a local station that carries it and reserve a button on your radio dial. It's far & away the best method of staying informed and the only place you'll find truth & honesty in non-Internet media.

Anyway, back to Rachel Maddow's 'Underbelly'... This segment is all about exposing right-wing political tactics ("...poking a sharp stick at the soft white underbelly of the right-wing scheme machine, giving you a little peak at their political playbook..."). Today's 'Underbelly' was entitled "Plan B", where she spent several minutes espousing on the failures of George W. Bush to govern our country, and how he turns to 'Plan B' with each failure.

What's 'Plan B'?

'Plan B' involves calling in the man who is essentially the one running our country - Donald Rumsfeld. Sure, he's the Secretary of Defense and as such the one running the war, but what about all these other things?

What happened after George W. Bush thumbed his nose at New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and essentially 'hung it out to dry' (or 'soak' to correct the metaphor)? The National Guard was brought in to pick up the pieces (all under the guise of Donald Rumsfeld, of course).

As I write this, George W. Bush is preparing for his presidential address this evening at which time he's expected to recommend the stationing of National Guard troops on the Mexican border to address the illegal immigration 'problem'.

At the same time, in the wake of Porter Goss' resignation from the top job of the CIA, Bush has nominated a military general to replace Goss. Even some Republican Congressmen have denounced the placement of a military figure as the head of the last bastion of US civilian intelligence gathering.

So, where are we going with this?

Let's think about it...
  • We're living in fear, not really from terrorists, but from our government relentlessly barraging us with all derivatives of the word 'terror'.
  • Our government, which is the most secretive in history, expects our citizens to be more open & less private so they can tap our phones, read our email, and track our every movement.
  • Our government, through a hastily composed, middle-of-the-night, backdoor tactic, passed a law (the USAPATRIOT act) which essentially decimated our civil liberties and constitutional rights.
  • And now, our government is using the military to handle just about every problem that they can't control through proper governance.

Gee, I wonder why the poll numbers suggest that our country is MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!

May 12, 2006

Kenneth "Conflict-of-Interest" Blackwell

If you're not familiar with Kenneth Blackwell by now, you should be. This man is one of the vilest pieces of garbage in public office today, in my opinion. And that's quite a distinction considering the garbage we now have in the White House.

Kenneth Blackwell is currently the Secretary of State in the State of Ohio. Like Katherine Harris in the 2000 Florida election debacle, Mr. Blackwell (ab)used his position as the state's top election official and openly served as co-chair of the Bush presidential re-election campaign in 2004. He was the one responsible for the systematic disenfranchisement of (largely Democratic) voters. He was the one responsible for the inequities in voting machine allocations causing huge waiting lines and effectively suppressing an incalculable number of (largely Democratic) votes. He was the one who thwarted and stonewalled all attempts to obtain a fair recount.
He is the one responsible for delivering Ohio to Bush in such a corrupt and crooked way, and essentially delivering Bush to the Nation for a second 4-year term of evil, fear, darkness, and despair. (Or, perhaps you choose to believe the right-wingnuts in some of the media who say the economy is strong and everything is rosey).

A New Election Cycle

Mr. Blackwell is at it again... He's running for Governor in Ohio to replace
Bob Taft, who as a sitting Governor, is a convicted criminal for state ethics violations. As Blackwell stacks the election deck to ensure an all-electronic election in the state of Ohio, he awarded bids to the infamous Diebold company for voting equipment. Oh, and did I forget to mention that he invested in Diebold stock (by accident, he claims)? Couldn't possibly be a conflict-of-interest there, now could it?

Don't forget that these Diebold voting machines are paper-less and audit-less and easily hackable. We know that from the extensive research that was conducted in and around the November 2004 election. We know that there have been many hundreds of election irregularities specifically involving these machines.

And now, with an
election investigation underway in Ohio, what do you think Mr. Blackwell did to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation? Do you think he recused himself and allowed a truly independent investigation to take place? Noooooooooo. Kenneth Blackwell has decided to head up the investigation himself..... the investigation on himself! Well, that's one way to ensure that you're not found guilty of any wrongdoing!

Does This Sound Familiar?

It should. This is a very typical political tactic that the Bush Administration and Republicans in the Senate & House have employed. Did they appoint an independent counsel to investigate the post-Katrina debacle when Hillary Clinton proposed it? Noooooooo. Did they appoint an independent counsel to investigate the Downing Street Memos and the Bush Administration's flagrant misuse and fabrication of pre-war intelligence? Nooooooo. Did they appoint an independent counsel to investigate the misuse of power in wiretapping Americans without warrants? Noooooooo. Did they appoint an independent counsel to investigate the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? Noooooooo.

This is the way they operate. With a majority in both the Senate & House, they have all the power to control the investigations... of themselves. I think the only reason some of these scandals have scored (Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Scooter Libby, Tom Delay) is because their offenses are so numerous and egregious that the public won't allow them to get away with them anymore. Plus, the Republicans in Congress need to start wiping their noses clean with an election coming up in November.

But, I'll tell you... if the Democrats really do take back Congress in November, there will be a massive, rude-awakening in Washington. And we can only hope it goes all the way to the top.

May 10, 2006

What Really Happened on September 11, 2001?

Although I consider myself an avid Bush-hater, and have long since distrusted everything spewing from the mouths of these facist, neo-conservative, war-mongering bastards, I've never really considered myself to be a conspiracy theorist.

Even though I never really bought the story of how a lone gunman (Lee Harvey Oswald) shot John F. Kennedy, I've never considered myself one who believes the Government is behind just about everything that has happened. Still, as more and more lies from the Bush Administration are debunked, I have a natural (okay, 'burning') curiosity to explore these theories. After all, I want to be well read and hear all perspectives.

Introducing: "Loose Change 9/11, 2nd Edtion"

My son brought this documentary to my attention... Every American should watch this film. It's free and can be downloaded from '' in 3 parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. If you choose to believe everything in this documentary, it appears that the Government was behind everything that happened on 9/11 and Osama bin Laden & al Qaeda had nothing to do with it. The documentary poses a number of questions and raises a number of unanswered issues.

Why has the government been so secretive in respect to all facts and facets of 9/11? Why has the government stonewalled every attempt to determine the truth about the events of 9/11? This film collated as much evidence as it could find and purports very compelling arguments that contradict the 'truth' (or should I say the 'official account') as we know it concerning the events of September 11, 2001. You may or may not believe some or all of its content, but at the very least, you really should watch it. It's nothing short of astonishing.

May 05, 2006

The Republican Mantra: Privatization of Government

The original Republican mantra was selling the guise that Government was too big and should be much smaller. They think that if Government were smaller, then taxes would be lower. Republicans selfishly think that if the liberal deadbeats were taken off the welfare roles, then they'd be able to keep more of their hard-earned money. So, let's take a closer look at that strategy (i.e. illusion, diversion, & deception) of "smaller government = lower taxes".

Reality: Republican control = Larger Government

Under Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II the size of government has grown astronomically. Only under the Clinton Administration did the actual size of government decrease slightly. But the 'size' of government is only part of the story. The 'privatization' of the government is the real story.

Obviously, the government cannot expect to be expert in all things. So, it's natural to assume that the government will contract private industry to fill in the gaps where that expertise is needed. But where do you draw the line? This is a question I've raised many times. I believe that in so many cases, our government has drawn that line in the wrong place. Now we have private industry making unconscionably huge profits off of our tax dollars.

The excesses and overcharges in Iraq are well documented, particularly with regard to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary 'supplying' our troops or putting out oil well fires. Then there's the Custer Battles fiasco. All I know is that billions of dollars are missing. That's all I need to know to know that in many cases privatization of government is a farce.

Privatization of government means that my tax dollars aren't just providing necessary governmental services. My tax dollars are also providing gads and gads of profit for the right-wing companies which secure these (sometimes no-bid) contracts with the government. Why? 'Cuz that's the American way! That's "Free Enterprise"!

The Operative Question

We have to ask ourselves one basic question... Is it better to increase the size of government enough to perform necessary governmental tasks, or is it better to outsource the tasks to private industry? There's no 'right' or 'wrong' answer to this question, nor is there a single answer to this question because it must be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the task.

Republicans believe that the government should outsource (i.e. "Privatize") just about everything because they believe the government is hopelessly buracratic, mismanaged, and inefficient. Or, perhaps privatization affords corrupt politicians the opportunity to scam tax money from the taxpayers. I wouldn't begin to debate the incompetence and inefficiency of the US government in accomplishing any given task. After all, we all remember the $600 toilet seats. However, my contention is that by outsourcing the tasks to private industry, we introduce more complications and fail to solve the initial problems.

We failed to solve the initial problems because we're still paying exorbitantly for the governmental services such that our taxes couldn't possibly be lowered. In fact, from what I've read, it appears we're over-paying for services we're not receiving; we're housing contractors in high-cost luxury settings while our soldiers are in tents; we're paying contractors much more then we pay our soldiers; and day-in and day-out money seems to be missing.

We introduce a myriad of corruption and (lack of) accountability issues by attempting to accomplish tasks with private contractors. Such outsourcers are not subjected to the same rigorous standards & ethics that are required of our soldiers. And if they do something wrong, we can only blame & fire them, while our soldiers are court-marshaled and imprisoned for the same misconduct.

Our Democracy Privatized

This one takes the cake. It's bad enough that we're outsourcing/privatizing huge chunks of our war effort, we're also outsourcing/privatizing our democracy by contracting private companies to provide equipment and management of our election processes. This alone cuts to the very core of our democracy because it puts into question the legitimacy of our elected officials.

These private companies are openly Republican, and manufacture, distribute, & operate equipment that is secretive, unaccountable, and unverifiable. They not only provide paper-less, audit-less voting machines that have a history of malfunctions and questionable results, but they often also perform the ballot counting function which effectively shields & protects the lack of sanctity of the machines. Not only is the fox guarding the hen house, but that same fox is reporting on how many hens there are. No oversight. No checks-and-balances. No legitimacy to our democracy. This is how George W. Bush 'won' the 2004 election and this is why we're stuck with him for another 2 1/2 years. This is also why the Democrats will not win back the House or Senate or any semblance of control in Congress, despite overwhelming poll results which would support such a change.

I predict that this November will deliver results similar to the last election in 2004. Republicans will win the ballot boxes, while the Democrats win the exit polls. That is, unless our leaders in government do something about the illegitimacy of this privatization farce.