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Archive for February, 2005

The occupation of Iraq has made Americans less secure. Bush administration policy has radicalized Muslim extremists and drastically enhanced the Muslim call to jihad. Bush did this knowingly and deliberately.

In his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, the new CIA Director confessed that the war in Iraq “was giving terrorists experience contacts for future attacks… They represent a potential pool of contacts; build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks.”

The American progressive movement and the U.S. intelligence community have long cautioned against such an outcome. The National Intelligence Estimate of 2002 warned that an invasion could increase the threat of terrorism and the National Intelligence Council has recently concluded that “Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of ‘professionalized terrorists.'” But Bush invaded anyway. The benefits of the ends superceded the consequences of the means.

The means have had dire consequences. For the first time since 2001, the Army began the fiscal year with just 18.4 percent of its recruitment goal met. According to the Washington Post, that amounts to less than half of last year’s figure and falls well below the Army’s goal of 25 percent. Fewer soldiers are joining the army out fear of ending up in Iraq, the epicenter of international terrorism and the local of a poorly planned and ill-justified war. For many potential army recruits, the President’s campaign of lies, misrepresentations and omissions has drained enthusiasm from the American ideal of volunteerism. For this reason, the army has had to offer large monetary incentives and re-enlistment bonuses to potential “volunteers.” The average cost of signing up a recruit has risen from $15,265 in fiscal 2001 to $15,967 in fiscal 2004.

These and other costs have resulted in a staggering $427 billion budget deficit- the great majority of which can be attributed to the President’s irresponsible tax cuts and the $220 billion invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush’s 2006 budget plans to extend the former and supplement the letter. And in order to “cut the deficit in half in five years,” the budget slashes $212 billion from 150 domestic discretionary programs and $138 billion from mandatory programs. These programs disproportionately benefit the poor and middle class. The same cannot be said for Bush’ tax cuts.

An August 2004 Congressional Budget Office study confirmed that from 2001 to 2004, the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans experienced a drop in their federal taxes from 64.4 to 63.5 percent. The richest 1 percent of Americans, “earning $1.1 million saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.” Middle class Americans experienced a tax increase. Those earning $51,500 to $75,600 “saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent.”

The tax cuts have effectively shifted the tax burden from the rich to the middle class. And in his 2006 budget, the President is kicking the poor while they’re down. The more desperate their situation becomes, the greater the possibility for recruitment. Because of this, the $2.5 trillion budget eliminates education, environmental and housing programs. Forty-eight education programs will be cut, rural health grants will be phased out, many federal-funded community food and malnutrition programs will be terminated, food stamp benefits would be eliminated for 200,000 to 300,000 people, “a freeze in child-care funding would cut the number of low-income children receiving help by 300,000 in 2009” and Medicaid will face a $45 billion reduction over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the President plans to make his tax cuts permanent at a cost of $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years and to eliminate two obscure tax previsions that carry with them $115 billion 10-year price tag. And while such policies disproportionately benefit households making over $200,000 a year, they are financed through the sacrifices of the middle class. Most American military families fall below the $200,000 income bracket and find themselves at the mercy of Bush’s domestic reductions.

Here in Poughkeepsie, military and other middle class families are already hurting. In recent weeks, the YWCA has been forced to shut down. The Youth Resource Development Corp., “an agency which provided job training and life skills to [577] local young people for 20 years” has also had to close it doors and file for bankruptcy. Program directors blame the closure on a loss of state and federal funding and foresee more closings in the future. President Bush’s 2006 budget brings this vision to fruition. The proposed budget cuts grants to state and local governments by $10.7 billion and reduces federal spending on domestic programs by 14 percent over the next five years.

If all presidential budgets provide a glimpse into administration priorities, then Bush’s interests lie with the top 20 percent of Americans. While the president acknowledges that “during this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory,” his domestic and foreign priorities endanger the soldiers and financially devastate their families.Such policies only aide international terrorists and endanger Americans. Don’t take my word for it; go read Porter Goss’s statement. I’m simply pointing out the obvious

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A Harris poll found that 44% of Americans now believe that several of the 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis. This is up from 37% in November.

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The occupation of Iraq has made Americans less secure. Bush administration policy has radicalized Muslim extremists and drastically enhanced the Muslim call to jihad. Bush did this knowingly and deliberately.

In his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, the new CIA Director confessed that the war in Iraq “was giving terrorists experience contacts for future attacks… They represent a potential pool of contacts; build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks.”

The American progressive movement and the U.S. intelligence community have long cautioned against such an outcome. The National Intelligence Estimate of 2002 warned that an invasion could increase the threat of terrorism and the National Intelligence Council has recently concluded that “Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of ‘professionalized terrorists.'” But Bush invaded anyway. The benefits of the ends superceded the consequences of the means.

The means have had dire consequences. For the first time since 2001, the Army began the fiscal year with just 18.4 percent of its recruitment goal met. According to the Washington Post, that amounts to less than half of last year’s figure and falls well below the Army’s goal of 25 percent. Fewer soldiers are joining the army out fear of ending up in Iraq, the epicenter of international terrorism and the local of a poorly planned and ill-justified war. For many potential army recruits, the President’s campaign of lies, misrepresentations and omissions has drained enthusiasm from the American ideal of volunteerism. For this reason, the army has had to offer large monetary incentives and re-enlistment bonuses to potential “volunteers.” The average cost of signing up a recruit has risen from $15,265 in fiscal 2001 to $15,967 in fiscal 2004.

These and other costs have resulted in a staggering $427 billion budget deficit- the great majority of which can be attributed to the President’s irresponsible tax cuts and the $220 billion invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush’s 2006 budget plans to extend the former and supplement the letter. And in order to “cut the deficit in half in five years,” the budget slashes $212 billion from 150 domestic discretionary programs and $138 billion from mandatory programs. These programs disproportionately benefit the poor and middle class. The same cannot be said for Bush’ tax cuts.

An August 2004 Congressional Budget Office study confirmed that from 2001 to 2004, the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans experienced a drop in their federal taxes from 64.4 to 63.5 percent. The richest 1 percent of Americans, “earning $1.1 million saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.” Middle class Americans experienced a tax increase. Those earning $51,500 to $75,600 “saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent.”

The tax cuts have effectively shifted the tax burden from the rich to the middle class. And in his 2006 budget, the President is kicking the poor while they’re down. The more desperate their situation becomes, the greater the possibility for recruitment. Because of this, the $2.5 trillion budget eliminates education, environmental and housing programs. Forty-eight education programs will be cut, rural health grants will be phased out, many federal-funded community food and malnutrition programs will be terminated, food stamp benefits would be eliminated for 200,000 to 300,000 people, “a freeze in child-care funding would cut the number of low-income children receiving help by 300,000 in 2009” and Medicaid will face a $45 billion reduction over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the President plans to make his tax cuts permanent at a cost of $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years and to eliminate two obscure tax previsions that carry with them $115 billion 10-year price tag. And while such policies disproportionately benefit households making over $200,000 a year, they are financed through the sacrifices of the middle class. Most American military families fall below the $200,000 income bracket and find themselves at the mercy of Bush’s domestic reductions.

Here in Poughkeepsie, military and other middle class families are already hurting. In recent weeks, the YWCA has been forced to shut down. The Youth Resource Development Corp., “an agency which provided job training and life skills to [577] local young people for 20 years” has also had to close it doors and file for bankruptcy. Program directors blame the closure on a loss of state and federal funding and foresee more closings in the future. President Bush’s 2006 budget brings this vision to fruition. The proposed budget cuts grants to state and local governments by $10.7 billion and reduces federal spending on domestic programs by 14 percent over the next five years.

If all presidential budgets provide a glimpse into administration priorities, then Bush’s interests lie with the top 20 percent of Americans. While the president acknowledges that “during this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory,” his domestic and foreign priorities endanger the soldiers and financially devastate their families.Such policies only aide international terrorists and endanger Americans. Don’t take my word for it; go read Porter Goss’s statement. I’m simply pointing out the obvious

Read Full Post »

Finding ways to torture

The CIA has been operating “a global ‘ghost’ prison system, where terror suspects are secretly interrogated [in foreign countries that practice torture]… several of the Gulfstream flights allegedly correlate with other ‘renditions,’ the controversial practice of secretly spiriting suspects to other countries without due process.”

One former terror suspect tells the story of how “he was taken off a bus in Macedonia in south-central Europe while on holiday on Dec. 31, 2003, then whisked in handcuffs…flown to Afghanistan, where at a U.S. prison facility he was shackled, repeatedly punched and questioned about extremists at his mosque in Ulm, Germany.” He was released months later.

On February 17, Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey reintroduced legislation prohibiting rendition.

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The New York Times is reaffirming the obvious: malpractice law suits are not the root-cause of higher insurance premiums for doctors. Instead, “the more important factors appear to be the declining investment earnings of insurance companies and the changing nature of competition in the industry.”

In the late 1990s, insurers discovered that they had dropped prices below the cost of paying claims. Companies “had to raise prices or go out of business…In 2000, about the same time that under-pricing and other market conditions began to push up prices in medical malpractice, the much larger world of commercial insurance was also going through a cycle of higher prices…the cyclical nature of the insurance business and a drop in insurers’ investment earnings when markets fell had been among the strongest forces behind the rise in medical malpractice premiums.”

As for ‘frivolous lawsuits’

  • In 2004, payments for malpractice claims against doctors and medical professionals fell 8.9%.
  • The total paid out by insurance companies for claims against doctors and medical professionals rose 3.1% between 1993 and 2003 and then declined last year.
  • In 2004, the average payment for malpractice fell to $262,486 and the number of payments made for medical malpractice cases dropped to 17,696 from 18,996 in 2003

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We have to fight them over there so that they don’t come over here

Bush giving a pep talk to German troops: “There is only one option for victory…We must take the fight to the enemy.”

But by taking the fight to ‘the enemy’ in Iraq, “Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of ‘professionalized’ terrorists…Iraq provides terrorists with ‘a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills.'”

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Bush: ‘people ought to be determining policy’

Bush to Iran: “We believe that the voice of the people ought to be determining policy, because we believe in democracy and freedom.”

Oh really? A recent Zogby Poll showed that, 82% of Sunnis and 69% of Shiites now favor a U.S. pullout. As the Post points out, “many Iraqis viewed the election as one way to accelerate the U.S. withdrawal rather than a vindication of U.S. policy.”

The administration hasn’t even drawn up a timetable…
those hypocrites…

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