Friday, May 02, 2008

Bush's GOP Legacy: A Third World America

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

As the US faces a very real prospect of utter collapse where millions may be may be made jobless and homeless, the GOP drags out a tired old lie that goes like this: 'Be happy! Recession is goooood for you!' If that were true, millions would be trying to move to a third world country instead of trying to get out of one.

If fact, the third world is coming to you! Millions have yet to recover from Ronald Reagan's 'recession' of some two years following an improvident tax cut which benefited only the nation's privileged elite. What Reagan failed to achieve was left to Bush Jr to polish off.
The trend begun in 1982 resumed shortly after Reagan's first tax cut. October 2003 figures from the US Census Bureau make stark reading:
  • Median household incomes are falling
  • The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 5.7 percent to 43.6 million individuals.
  • The number of people living below the poverty line ($18,392 for a family of four) climbed to 12.1 percent — 34.6 million people.
  • Wages make up the majority of income for most American families. As "Downward Mobility," NOW's report on workers and wages illustrates, many American workers are facing corporate efforts to cut pay and benefits, which could lead to more American families struggling to stay out of poverty.
Republicans, having taken the rap for a Great Depression that followed closely on the heals of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and, of course, Herbert Hoover, were eager to shed their scales with Ronald Reagan --a man who, if he was not of the people, did the Hollywood version of it.

To be expected, nothing said by the GOP about Ronald Reagan is true. One of his adoring partisans was overheard telling reporters --"But he made us feel good about ourselves"! Thus, Reagan inspired and encouraged among his adoring partisans the very worst motives.

Truth is, Reaganites ought not feel good about themselves. They ought not be comfortable inside their gated "communities". They ought to have nightmares and night terrors! They ought to lose sleep at night! They ought to be troubled, neurotic and insecure. Stanford Studies say that, indeed, they are!

Because Reagan would not be bothered to think deeply about issues, it was, to be fair, his adoring multitudes who told most of the lies about him. The lingering myth, the one that is most firmly embraced, defended and spread far and wide is that the Reagan presided over a great economic boom. To drive home the point, Reagan partisans contrast what is called "Reagan's Prosperity" with Carter's "Stagflation".

The Truth About Reagan's 'Prosperity': there was none!

Reagan never presided over what the GOP would have you believe was a modern golden age. Truth is, his policies (GOP policies) triggered a depression of some 18 months or more, the longest since the Great Depression. It followed promptly on the heels of his tax cut of 1982. The results in black and white:
  • Twenty percent of the population owns 84% of our private assets, leaving the other 80 percent of the population with 15.6 percent of the assets.
  • In 1960, the wealth gap between the top 20 percent and the bottom 20 percent of Americans was thirty fold. Four decades later it’s more than seventy-five-fold.
  • Either way -- wealth or income – America is more unequal, economists generally agree, than at any time since the start of the Great Depression…
  • And more unequal than any other developed nation today.
Bush's economic vampires alone have benefited from a war of endless death and carnage. In January George W. Bush deigned to acknowledge what the rest of us have known for years --the growing gap between rich and poor in America. America's GOP had always denied, ignored or excused the verifiable fact that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is understandable that the GOP would do this. Inequalities are historically worse under GOP regimes since the regime of Herbert Hoover.

Bushies and Reagan-heads had embraced a failed theory called trickle down theory or supply side economics, not because it was true but because it made them feel good about themselves. Trickle down theory is the absurd notion that by shifting the proportionate tax burden to working class families while giving a tiny elite whopping tax cuts, the increase in investment capital will eventually increase and trickle back down.

Still Waiting after all these years

Wealth has never trickled down in America. It invariably trickles up --by design.
Why not "leave" that capital where it is working, supporting small business, hiring people and putting food on tables? Unfair tax cuts --GOP tax cuts favoring only the rich --have never trickled down. It is no coincidence that when the US was most egalitarian it was also most productive. The US led the world in numerous areas.

Ronald Reagan's orgy of union-busting, offshore tax havens and outsourcing is euphemistically called "globalization". This panoply of bullshit is responsible for the fact that the US imports most of its automobiles, appliances, and electronic goods --items that had been the staple of the US economic engine.

Compounding the tragedy, Ronald Reagan slashed taxes for millionaires and everyone else got poor. The US now pulls up the rear, behind China, behind Japan, behind Europe, behind much of the world. Everything from jeans to binoculars come from China; IT is outsourced to India. I see few Americans driving anything but Japanese cars. Where is Detroit these days? Is it still in Michigan. And, if not car makers, who lives there?

Given the hole dug over more than twenty years, I am as outraged as I am utterly unimpressed with the crumbs now thrown the rest of us by this profligate administration, this profligate, arrogant party.
Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006, not statistically different from 2005. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006.
--US Census Bureau Release, AUG. 28, 2007
Capital "trickling up" to Bush's base is money lost to productive investment, lost to small business, lost to consumers who might have spent it in ways that would have created jobs here in the US. Lost to consumers who must pay higher prices as wealth concentrates among monopolists.
It has never been proven or supported that the increased wealth of those benefiting most from tax cuts has trickled down in any way whatsoever. There is no data at BEA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to support the insane idea that tax cuts have ever in any way created more job or trickled down to benefit working, productive people. The reverse is true. The transfer of wealth, since Reagan's infamous "tax cut" of 1982, has been up and up to a tiny elite. As this elite grows richer, the GOP rewards the base by excluding them entirely from some forms of taxation.
For example, Senate Republicans have made ending the estate tax their number one priority. Supply-side economics has become the GOP's raison d'etre, a defining issue above even Iraq. Click the image for a larger, readable version.
Being wrong has never stopped the GOP, a party tha that has shown no interest in being right. Party faithful believe that if the right wing noise machine repeats something often enough and loudly enough, many will begin to think it true.

The GOP, meanwhile, trots out a tired, old labeling tactic. With a classic strawman, they label critics "liberals" or "commies" and they are accused of favoring the re-distribution of income. In fact, everyone favors the re-distribution of income and every government --right or left --does it! The GOP, especially, embraces the re-distribution of income upward and will support those policies which result in the transfer of wealth and income from middle and poorer families up to an increasingly tiny elite --the GOP base. The result: a less efficient economy! But that is a fact that is of no concern to the GOP and those who support them.

Indeed, I favor re-distributing the re-distribution. I support the un-doing of every stupid thing done by the GOP. I support efforts to undo every GOP policy. I favor a more efficient, productive and egalitarian society, in other words, the kind of society that might have resulted had the GOP not robbed the poor to give it to the very wealthy who did not need it, did not deserve it, did nothing to earn it and, upon receiving it have not used it wisely.
How did Reagan get away with it? It was an age of disillusionment and Iran-inflicted humiliation. Americans were suffering low self-esteem following the seizure of the US embassy in Iran and a failed helicopter rescue attempt in a desert sandstorm. Pat Buchanan's speech to the GOP National Convention in Houston in 1992 was designed to pluck up a party embarrassed by back to back scandals --BCCI, the Savings and Loan Debacle and Iran/Contra.

The 1992 GOP convention was a right wing circle jerk, remembered for a phrase about Ronald Reagan heard from the floor: "...he made us feel good about ourselves". But a two year recession, the effects of which are still with us, is a very high price to pay for a temporary "feel good". Media whore was a growth profession --and still is.

The re-distribution of income via GOP tax cuts is wasteful and inefficient. This nation's elite is an unproductive, economic vampire, living upon investments which, in themselves, produce absolutely nothing. Had tax cuts stimulated the economy, there would have been an increases in jobs. That did not happen. It has never happened. Reagan's tax cut of 1982, for example, was followed by a recession of some two years, the worst since Herbert Hoover's Great Depression. Unemployment rose. People lost homes and slept in tents. Even 'prosperous' Houston was not spared. Tent cities sprang up under freeway overpasses but --it was hoped --out of sight of the Bush crime family.

If tax cuts had worked as Reagan-heads predicted, more people would have joined the middle class. In fact, the reverse occurred: many in the 'middle class' joined those in the lower quintile! If tax cuts had stimulated the economy, inequalities would have decreased. Instead, wealth inequities increased and the gap between rich and poor widened; wealth, simply, trickled UP --not down! Blinded by the right, the GOP saw no people of any color but a whiter shade of pale.

The most pernicious effect of GOP economic policy is the effect of declining opportunity, a corollary of declining in wealth among all but the very rich.It is merely rhetorical to ask: why does the GOP seem to repeat ad nauseam utterly failed strategies that have never been shown to work? The answer is simple: the GOP sales pitch is what David Stockman called a 'Trojan Horse'.

Like everything else GOP, tax cuts are sold disingenuously. GOP tax cuts always do precisely what GOP insiders know they will do, that is, they enrich the GOP base! It's a payoff.
The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
--Steve Kangas, The Origins of the Overclass
Over a ten-year period, the richest Americans—the best-off one percent—are slated togwb0602a.gif - 10559 Bytes receive tax cuts totaling almost half a trillion dollars. The $477 billion in tax breaks the Bush administration has targeted to this elite group will average $342,000 each over the decade. This is a calculated, deliberate transfer of wealth, legalized theft!

Only those already rich beyond almost everyone's ability to imagine will benefit [See: The L-Curve; L-Curve: The Video]. Bears repeating: this is planned! This is deliberate! This is by GOP design and conspiracy! This is a nation's privileged and crooked feeding upon the carcasses of those left behind by GOP profligacy, crookery, waste, and outright theft!
By 2010, when (and if) the Bush tax reductions are fully in place, an astonishing 52 percent of the total tax cuts will go to the richest one percent—whose average 2010 income will be $1.5 million. Their tax-cut windfall in that year alone will average $85,000 each. Put another way, of the estimated $234 billion in tax cuts scheduled for the year 2010, $121 billion will go to just 1.4 million taxpayers. That's less than half the population of Houston.
Although the rich have already received a hefty down payment on their Bush tax cuts—averaging just under $12,000 each this year—80 percent of their windfall is scheduled to come from tax changes that take effect after the year 2005 and beyond.
1968 was the year in which measured postwar income was at its most equal for families. The Gini index for households indicates that there has been growing income inequality over the past quarter-century. Inequality grew slowly in the 1970's and rapidly during the early 1980's. ...Generally, the long-term trend has been toward increasing income inequality. Since 1969, the share of aggregate household income controlled by the lowest income quintile has decreased from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent in 1997, while the share to the highest quintile increased from 43.0 percent to 49.4 percent. Most noticeably, the share of income controlled by the top 5 percent of households has increased from 16.6 percent to 21.7 percent. Over the same time period, the Gini index rose 17.4 percent to its 1997 level of .459.

Income Inequality, Census Bureau
What is to be said of an entire class of people who are happiest when others are miserable?
Another “benefit” of a recession is that it purges the excesses of the previous boom, leaving the economy in a healthier state. The Fed's massive easing after the dotcom bubble burst delayed this cleansing process and simply replaced one bubble with another, leaving America's imbalances (inadequate saving, excessive debt and a huge current-account deficit) in place. A recession now would reduce America's trade gap as consumers would at last be forced to trim their spending. Delaying the correction of past excesses by pumping in more money and encouraging more borrowing is likely to make the eventual correction more painful. The policy dilemma facing the Fed may not be a choice of recession or no recession. It may be a choice between a mild recession now and a nastier one later.
--Does America need a recession?
The article quoted conveniently leaves out the millions who never fully recovered from the Reagan 'depression' of some two years following his tax cut, nor does it address the careers lost when the .dotcom bubble burst. If you happen to be among that top sliver of the population that earns more than the remaining 95 percent then --sure --recessions are gooood for you! For every one else, they stink!
On the one hand, environmentalists and those with a sound spiritual foundation rightly point out that over consumption is the cause of so many problems, from plundering the planet's resources to obsession with materialistic satisfactions.
On the other hand, two-thirds of the gross domestic product in the United States (and similarly elsewhere) is composed of personal consumption expenditures, by households; and the lower your income, the more of your income you tend to spend, rather than can save. Those two Econ 101 facts mean that the economy is naturally "demand sided" -- not "supply sided," as Reagan and the other big-business boys have had so many believe -- and that regressive taxes, taking more of the income of those at the bottom than at the top -- the opposite of what progressive taxes do -- are not only unfair but also unwise, "killing the goose that lays the golden eggs."
Doug Drenkow, Producer, Barry Gordon from Left Field, LA
Any credit given the GOP is unfounded. The administration of Ronald Reagan should have been the wake up call. The GOP has presided over worse economic growth married to increased federal spending at least since World War II. Reagan's tax cut of 1982 was followed by a depression of some two years. GOP types counter that following the recession, the economy rebounded with a boom.


At the end of two years of negative growth, in fact the worst "depression" since the crash of 1929, Americans were lucky that the economy had merely resumed an anemic 3 percent growth rate -- nothing to write home about. Big corporations could write off many if not most losses but individuals and families, as usual, were stuck on bottom with the tab. Many never really fully recovered.
The intellectually bankrupt GOP can be counted on to repeat failed strategies expecting a different outcome. Bush stays a failed course amid warnings that our nation is falling apart at the seams heading for third world status and catastrophe.

The warnings come amid the valid assessment that Bush's tax cut for the rich failed to make good on two empty promises: it did not trickle down or prime the economic pump and it did not pay for itself as Bush himself had promised it would. Just one year after Congress bowed to Bush and passed the tax cut of 2001, the Brookings Institution would write:
The official federal budget outlook has deteriorated dramatically since early 2001, due to last year's tax cut, the economic slowdown, and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In addition to the pressures from the long-anticipated increase in entitlement spending as the nation ages, the government now also faces growing spending needs for defense and homeland security. These trends imply that future taxes must rise, future spending outside of defense and the elderly must decline, or obligations to the elderly and to defense be reduced.

—Alan Auerbach, William G. Gale, and Peter R. Orszag, June 2002, The Budget Outlook: Options for Restoring Fiscal Discipline, Brooking Institution
But GOP supply side, trickle down economics also promises more opportunity, a growing economy, more jobs.
Some in Washington say we had to choose between cutting taxes and cutting the deficit….Today’s numbers show that that was a false choice. The economic growth fueled by tax relief has helped send our tax revenues soaring. That’s what has happened.
—George W. Bush
Bush knows that's not what happened. Any idiot knows that's not what happened. The GOP knows that's not what happened. What happened is an increasingly tiny elite got special treatment. Everyone else got screwed over. Wealth has never trickled down and there is no "higher pie". A Treasury Department analysis refuted Bush directly, confirming in its analysis what many experts and Bush critics had been saying all along: tax cuts do not come remotely close to paying for themselves. [PDF] . In other words, the two promises of "trickle down" theory are dead wrong: wealth does not trickle down and tax revenues do not increase to make up the short fall.

Bush either lied or was stupid or both

We haven't seen incompetence on this scale since Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan or Bush Sr. (all Republicans, need I remind?)
The time has come to bury forever two tired, old, worn-out GOP shibboleths: 1) Wealth does not and never will trickle down; 2) there is no invisible hand!

In the meantime, check out these budget deficits below, caused primarily by profligate tax cuts which have never stimulated the economy and have, in fact, never trickled down. Notice that the worst deficits --like terrorism --are worse during GOP regimes.
According to supply-side theory, these actions should have nudged the economy in the right direction, not plunged it into the worst recession in 40 years. Other problems involve timing: Reagan's first tax cuts went into effect in 1982, but this was also the summer that the Federal Reserve Board slashed interest rates and expanded the money supply. Most economists believe the Fed, not Reagan, was responsible for the following recovery. Finally, the recession of 1990 began four months before Bush broke his "no new taxes" pledge. The recession began in July 1990; Bush signed his tax increases into law in November 1990.
And supply-siders are careful to note that Reagan's was the longest peacetime expansion since World War II. In truth, the Kennedy-Johnson expansion was longer: 106 months compared to Reagan's 92.1

--The Reagan Years
Moreover, the Fed's "peace time expansion" following Ronald Reagan's "depression" of almost two years was uneven. The worst income disparities in American history had already been triggered. As if by design, Reagan's rich base got even richer; everyone else lost ground. They are still losing ground despite an all-to-brief respite in Bill Clinton's second term. The GOP has ruined the American economy, perhaps forever. The budget shown below --your money squandered by Bush.
The terms "liberal" and "conservative" are all but meaningless in the world apres Bush. Both terms already mean something different than they did in the 19th Century. For example, British economist John Maynard Keynes was until very recently scorned by the right wing; his brand of economics was called "liberal" and he was simplistically, perhaps, simple-mindedly, associated with Marx. Yet, Keynes took issue with Karl Marx on key points. "I don't want a social revolution", Keynes said. He went on to characterize poverty as a "...dysfunctional threat" to a capitalist system which he favored. Fact is, Keynes, for all his notoriety, was conservative.

Nevertheless, that Keynes denounced "poverty" is enough to earn him the enmity of modern conservatives who obviously like the feelings of superiority they experience when millions of others are without jobs and scrambling to feed themselves or, as Bush put it, to "...put food on your families".

It is Keynes' use of the phrase "...extending the traditional functions of government" that inspires conservatives to cross themselves and wear garlic. It was by "extending" those traditional functions that Keynes believed unemployment could be eliminated. This is, of course, anathema to laissez-faire throwbacks like Ron Paul whose economic thinking is stuck in 19th Century mud. The same conservatives are not bothered by "extensions of government" effected by Reagan, Bush Sr., and now the Shrub. Ronald Reagan's program would have been thought "liberal" had the same program been advocated by a Democrat. As Richard Nixon committed the nation to deficits of truly "liberal" proportions, he famously said: "We are all Keynesians now".

The GOP invoke the name of John Maynard Keynes in vain.

When Democrats practice Keynesian economics, it works. When the GOP does it, the nation slides into recession or depression as the rich get rich off the carcasses left behind. Check the chart! The reason for that is the fact that GOP "tax cuts" enrich an already elite. GOP knowledge of 'Keynes' is limited to its pronunciation.

The biggest spending "liberals" are the GOP, yet, unlike "big spending Democrats" whose deficits were accompanied by handsome and egalitarian growth, GOP big spending is invariably associated with depression, stagflation, outsourcing and rising unemployment! If this is done deliberately to enrich cronies, then the GOP leadership should be tried en masse for criminal conspiracy, pilloried as crooks, liars and/or incompetents.

Reagan had been our biggest spending liberal, tripling the national debt, running up historically high deficits, doubling the size of the Federal Bureaucracy. Bush has now put Ronald Reagan in the shade and achieved even less good --if that's possible! None of the GOP theories worked as planned because none of their theories benefited working Americans in fact.

Reagan had in mind "extending the traditional functions of government" but only in order to benefit the wealthy and the corporate. When FDR extended the traditional functions of government, the nation experienced what Paul Krugman has called the 'Great Compression', arguably the most egalitarian period in American history. Sadly, it didn't last nearly long enough.

Even the GOP cannot ignore the effect of the Iraq war on the US economy. But, as John Dean points out, business folk, normally considered the GOP base, are just as fed up with the war as are most other, normal Americans. No one can now deny the fact that the war against Iraq has very nearly defeated the US economy, now on the brink of collapse.

Google the title: "Terrorism is always worse under GOP Regimes". That was originally my article and it would appear that it has gone "viral". I am grateful that those who have graciously published it on hundreds, if not thousands of blogs and other sites are kind enough to link back to the original which is parked right here on this cowboy's ranch. Let us hope that another irrefutable truth goes viral: the Republican party is bad for a good economy!
The idea that by cutting a robber baron's taxes, the economy will boom is just plain stupid on its face. The robber baron class has it all their own way anyway. More money in the hands of those who spend it, thus driving the economy might have a stimulus effect. But cutting taxes for privileged elites has never, ever in any way, put money into the hands of those who need the money and would, in fact, circulate it.

GOP tax cuts have never, ever trickled down!

In fact, the opposite has always occurred: wealth has trickled up! Those already rich have gotten richer still! I've got the stats to prove it and some of them are posted here. The 'middle class' must be slow learners. Most were not 'rich' enough to have qualified for Ronald Reagan's tax cut of 1982. No one I know benefited from it. At the end of a recession of two years, many 'middle class' had fallen into the bottom quintile, three or four rungs down the ladder, never to pull out again though they had paid dearly for the 'privilege' of joining Reagan's 'new poor'. Their crime? Not rich enough to qualify for GOP tax cuts!

Until now, China has had an interest in keeping the U.S. ponzi scheme propped up --they sell billions to U.S. citizens via Wal-Mart, the economic Kudzu that ate America.
Between 1989 and 2003, the ever-increasing US trade deficit with China has led to about 1.5 million jobs that either moved overseas or never were created in this country as production shifted to China, according to a report released Jan. 11, 2005, by the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), a congressionally appointed panel. The pace of job losses has picked up since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, with about one-third of the total, or 500,000, occurring in the past three years.

Lower Wages for US Workers

By supporting foreign-made goods on such a massive scale, the company that trumpets its All-American image is creating incentives for corporations to destroy good jobs in the United States.
By purchasing such a large amount of goods produced in China, Wal-Mart indirectly supports continued workers’ rights abuses by Chinese authorities.
--Wal-Mart's Imports Lead to US Jobs Exports
Meanwhile, don't miss a Washington Post report that shows how Wal-Mart pits suppliers against one another and squeezes them for the lowest price. The result is that factories respond with longer hours and/or lower pay. Wealth, as we have learned the hard way, trickles UP --not down. The robber baron will always make up his losses out of your ass. In China, the workers have no choice: China forbids independent trade unions. That is a policy not unlike that of the US GOP and Ronald Reagan, specifically, who is not fondly remembered for his effective War on Labor and his ineffective war on terrorism and drugs. [See also: The Peace Tree]

Since a Chinese sub popped up undetected in the middle of the U.S. fifth fleet, it has been apparent that the honeymoon is over. The rest of the world had kept the U.S.S dollar afloat not because the dollar or the economy was strong but because they were not. China now leads the world in dumping dollars. The phrase "debtors death spiral" is used to denote what happens when consumers borrow to cover only the interest on previous loans. New debt compounds old ones and bankruptcy is just around the corner. The rest of the world is little better off. They cannot afford not to keep us afloat. What would happen to China if Wal-Mart suddenly went belly-up?

It is because Iran is accepting Euros for oil --not 'nukes' --that the country is now a target of the war criminals inside the Bush White House!

If this were mere recession staring back at us from a fun house mirror, it might be shrugged off. After all, the GOP has always loved recessions and benefited from them. A clue is found in the work of conservative Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter who regaled his Harvard students in the mid-1930s with a pithy observation about how economic depressions actually benefit certain social and economic classes.
Chentleman, [sic ] you are vorried about the depression. You should not be. For capitalism, a depression is a good cold douche.
--Joseph Schumpeter, Economist, Harvard University Lecture, circa 1930s
Everyone who is not an initiate into the cult of gopperism gets douched. The administrations of Reagan, Bush and Bush are like lab experiments that prove the hypothesis: GOP policies are designed to benefit an increasingly tiny elite or, as Bush called it, "my base."
"During the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America, as labor unions organized and gathered power, as socialism grew in popularity among working and other oppressed peoples, industries owned by Rockefeller, Morgan, Harriman, Carnegie, and others, began hiring their own police forces and goon squads to infiltrate labor unions and spy on the political and personal activities of union organizers for the purpose of bringing arrests and convictions and eliminating all socialist activity in the nation. The most notorious example was the Homestead Strike of 1892, when Pinkerton agents killed several people while enforcing the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie."
--Carolyn Baker, PhD, US Government Targets American Dissent - Part I
This is no mere recession but complete collapse.
As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures.
Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week's auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. "It was a disaster," said Ray Attrill from 4castweb. "We may be close to the point where the uglier consequences of benign neglect towards the currency are revealed."
The share of foreign buyers ("indirect bidders") plummeted to 5.8pc, from an average 25pc over the last eight weeks. On the Richter Scale of unfolding dramas, this matches the death of Bear Stearns.
Rightly or wrongly, a view has taken hold that Washington is cynically debasing the coinage, hoping to export its day of reckoning through beggar-thy-neighbour policies.
--Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Foreign investors veto Fed rescue, UK Telegraph
Bush, meanwhile, seems unconcerned, perhaps, like Nero, fiddling as Rome burns. Then again, the GOP 'class' has always benefited from US recessions, depressions, and other economic catastrophes.
  1. Recessions, though not caused by declining stock markets, are always accompanied and often predicted by a plunging stock market. Republicans sell out at the peak, taking their profits. Enough selling will trigger the plunge; less knowledgeable investors begin to follow suit from fear but too late. Last man out loses.
  2. Having taken their profits on the upside, a depressed market is but an opportunity for the rich Republican to get back in at lower prices. Guess who sells at the lower price: the poor schmuck who is 180 degrees out of phase and can only dream of being a rich Republican. In reality, those he aspires to join are exploiting him.
  3. Very knowledgeable investors make money "selling short", buying "put options". These investors get peak prices for stocks even as the price declines. Illegal insider information is executed with "calls" and "puts." The perpetrators of 911, for example, made millions, possibly billions, selling short the stocks of UA and AA. I defy anyone to come up with an 'innocent' explanation. The recipients of those profits had guilty foreknowledge of 911 --an inside job! The name 'Buzz' Krongard comes up in connection with a known terrorist organization: the CIA.Now --a planned financial meltdown might have presented the same opportunities. Historically, 'elites' have always emerged richer, stronger from recessions. On the other side of Ronald Reagan's recession of some two years, the rich had gotten richer while the middle class was all but wiped out. The ill-effects of that recession are still seen in the decline of middle class neighborhoods, the permanent loss of manufacturing base and the jobs it created.The profits and volume were most certainly outside norms, proof that those executing the options had precise foreknowledge of the attacks. Those making those profits had "guilty knowledge" of the attacks; they were at the very heart of a murderous conspiracy.
  4. Unemployment always goes up in a recession. At the end of a longer recession, companies have the luxury of hiring from a larger labor pool at lower wages and/or salaries. Some companies --citing hard times --may reduce benefits, cut vacation or sick time. Big business must hate good times; it is only during times of full employment that workers have any leverage at all. Offhand I can think of only two times in history that have come close: the Clinton years, and, interestingly, Europe after the Black Death. The labor supply had been depleted by plague. Employers were often forced to accede to worker demands for better conditions, money, a place to live! Serfs had been freed and it marked the beginning of the end for Feudalism and set the stage for 'corporate feudalism', an age in which we still labor and suffer.
  5. Admittedly, many businesses go belly-up during recessions. While lip service is given to 'free markets' and Adam Smith's 'invisible hand', die hard robber barons hate the 'free market'. They prefer 'monopoly' when they can create one and 'oligopoly' when they can't. Free competition among many sellers is the last thing they want. Recessions are welcomed. It's the 'cold douche', a ruthless flush, so beloved by Schumpeter and the robber barons of American capitalism.
  6. Don't expect recessions to bring down prices. More often, higher prices are the light that is seen at the end of the long, dark tunnel. In other words, those businesses fortunate enough to survive a 'downturn' are in the enviable position of raising prices on the other side. Higher prices benefit businesses that manage, even with government help, to stay in business during a recession. So much for laissez-faire capitalism. Those fortunate businesses now make more money per unit produced and will do so with fewer employees. The world is not so kind to everyone else, primarily smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, freelancers, and worker bees. Prices, we learned in Economics 101, are determined by supply and demand. If the demand is such that the market is quite willing to pay any price for it (prescription drugs, gasoline, certain rents) then demand is said to be inelastic.
  7. At the expense of over-simplifying, consumer demand is the arbiter of price only in markets characterized by diffuse competition. Recessions militate against a market of this sort, weeding out all but 'privileged' businesses, primarily those with juicy government contracts or GOP cronies in office. Only in the textbook model, is it assumed that the oligopolist's market demand curve becomes less elastic at prices below a certain point. In markets characterized by the continuing decline in the number of 'sellers', it is obvious that there are fewer motivations for oligopolists to reduce prices. In such a market, the oligopolist (an aspiring monopolist) makes more money selling fewer units at higher prices than could be earned selling more units at lower prices. How many people are out of a job makes no difference to the American right wing for whom Scrooge is their abiding inspiration.
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons...then let them die and decrease the surplus population."
For 'one brief shining moment' in Bill Clinton's second term a trend begun with Ronald Reagan not only slowed but reversed. The robber barons are not concerned that as a result of preferential treatment given them by the GOP they had starved the market for their consumer junk. America doesn't seem to be manufacturing anything anymore anyway. Steel, cars, and electronic geegews are made in Japan; oil is 'stolen' in Iraq; programming is done in India; and the shelves at Wal-Mart are stocked by China. Detroit neighborhood look like ghost towns. Nor can I image Pittsburgh exporting steel to the world. Pittsburgh was already on the rocks when I was a kid.

The legendary talk show host Brad Crandall (WNBC, deceased, 1991) said of the "Big Apple" that it was more properly a cow to be milked by Albany. We are Bush's cows though he is but a phony cowboy. What we spend does not circulate. It trickles up and out to China and India and the robber barons of big oil, i.e, Dick Cheney's consortium of oil thieves and war mongers.

Gore Vidal was correct: the Pentagon, which now, as the enforcement arm of the Military/Industrial complex, is an economic black hole. Our GDP, inflated by military spending, does not reflect the fact that we haven not been a net producer of real jobs nor a net exporter of "made in the U.S.A."  products since Ronald Reagan sold us down the river to fascists.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Origins of the Bush Regime in Hitler's Third Reich

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Germany may have lost the war but the Bush family transplanted Nazi ideology to American soil where it took root and thrived. The history of the rise of the Bush family is a history of how Nazi ideology rose up like a Phoenix in its new 'homeland' --America. It will be tragic if the final triumph of Nazi ideology should prove to have been the stolen election of George W. Bush.

It's up to the American people to write a new and final chapter and right the wrongs that a transplanted Nazi ideology has visited upon us and the world. During World War II, the Bush family betrayed America, helped finance Adolph Hitler, and laid the groundwork for the creation of the CIA.

On Oct. 20, 1942, the US government ordered the seizure of Nazi German banking operations in New York City which were being conducted by Prescott Bush. Some ten months after the US had entered WWII, as America prepared a first assault against the Nazi military machine, Prescott Bush, the shrub's Grandfather, was managing partner of Brown Brothers Harriman. His 18-year-old son George, the future US President, had just begun training to become a naval pilot.
US forces landed under fire near Algiers on Nov. 8, 1942; heavy combat raged throughout November. Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corporation, long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law George Herbert Walker, were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act on Nov. 17, 1942. In this action, the government announced that it was seizing only the Nazi interests, leaving the Nazis' US partners to carry on the business.

These and other actions taken by the US government in wartime were, tragically, too little and too late. President Bush's family had already played a central role in financing and arming Adolf Hitler for his takeover of Germany; in financing and managing the buildup of Nazi war industries for the conquest of Europe and war against the USA.; and in the development of Nazi genocide theories and racial propaganda, with their well-known results.

The facts presented here must be known, and their implications reflected upon, for a proper understanding of President George Herbert Walker Bush and of the danger to mankind that he represents. The President's family fortune was largely a result of the Hitler project. The powerful Anglo-American family associations, which later boosted him into the Central Intelligence Agency and up to the White House, were his father's partners in the Hitler project.
President Franklin Roosevelt's Alien Property Custodian, Leo T. Crowley, signed Vesting Order Number 248 seizing the property of Prescott Bush under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The order, published in obscure government record books and kept out of the news, explained nothing about the Nazis involved; only that the Union Banking Corporation was run for the `` Thyssen family '' of `` Germany and/or Hungary ''--`` nationals ... of a designated enemy country. ''
By deciding that Prescott Bush and the other directors of the Union Banking Corp. were legally front men for the Nazis, the government avoided the more important historical issue: In what way were Hitler's Nazis themselves hired, armed and instructed by the New York and London clique of which Prescott Bush was an executive manager? Let us examine the Harriman-Bush Hitler project from the 1920s until it was partially broken up, to seek an answer for that question.
--George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin, Chapter - II - The Hitler Project
While Americans in general opposed involvement in foreign wars, American industrialists were not inclined to turn down a quick buck. While Americans were at war with Hitler, the American corporate establishment was ideologically sympathetic to Hitler --his cause, his war aims, his partnership with big corporations like I.G. Farben, Thyssen, Krupp and other big corporations, including American companies, who financed Adolph Hitler. [See: Who Financed Adolf Hitler?]
On December 20, 1922 the New York Times reported4 that automobile manufacturer Henry Ford was financing Adolph Hitler's nationalist and anti-Semitic movements in Munich. Simultaneously, the Berlin newspaper Berliner Tageblatt appealed to the American Ambassador in Berlin to investigate and halt Henry Ford's intervention into German domestic affairs. It was reported that Hitler's foreign backers had furnished a "spacious headquarters" with a "host of highly paid lieutenants and officials." Henry Ford's portrait was prominently displayed on the walls of Hitler's personal office:
--Henry Ford and the Nazis
Opposition to US involvement in World War II is most often linked to Charles Lindbergh.
However, most AFC supporters were neither liberal, nor Socialist. Many simply wanted to stay out of the war. Since many also came from the Midwest, an area never as sensitive to European problems as the east coast, isolationist arguments was soon buttressed by more traditional prejudices against eastern industrial and banking interests. (Almost two-thirds of the Committee’s 850,000 registered supporters would eventually come from the Midwest, mostly from a radius of three hundred miles around Chicago.)[13] Many AFC supporters were certain industry and the banks wanted war for their own profit.[14] Many other supporters were Republicans who flocked to the AFC for partisan political reasons. [or treasons?] Still others were covertly pro-German. Some were German-Americans whose sentimental attachments had not been diminished by the crimes of the Nazi regime. Others, whether of German origin or not, were attracted to Hitler’s racism and anti-Semitism.
--David Gordon, America First:the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941, History Department, Bronx Community College / CUNY Graduate Center
Ideologically, Bush and Lindbergh have much in common. It is no stretch to imagine this faction welcoming a Hitler victory in Europe, perhaps plotting a Nazi coup d'etat in the US had Hitler won in Europe. Certainly, Prescott Bush had planned a coup intended to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictatorship. It would appear that where Prescott Bush failed, his idiot grandson succeeded. [See BBC: US Businessman (Prescott Bush) Planned Fascist Coup in US ]
Lindbergh wanted Hitler to destroy the Soviet Union, and was willing to accept Nazi domination of Europe as the price.[118] His protests to the contrary are not convincing.[119] Long before most Committee members, he had come to believe the existence of the Soviet Union had made Hitler’s dictatorship necessary. The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 made the need to keep America out of the war greater than ever. As a result, the efforts of America Firsters to keep America neutral became more frenetic as German successes in Russia mounted, and Roosevelt’s efforts to enter the war increased.
--David Gordon, America First:the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941, History Department, BronxCommunity College / CUNY Graduate Center
Lindbergh opposed US entry into WWII for the same reasons the Bush family continued to do business with Hitler and the Nazis' after war had begun. The Bush family were Hitler's trading partners.
The debate over Prescott Bush's behavior has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.

The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had also been seized.
--British Guardian: How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power
By now it is common knowledge, verified in the public record, that in October of 1942, Prescott Bush was accused of "Running Nazi front groups in the United States". He was charged under the Trading With the Enemy Act as the US government shut down the operations at New York's Union Banking Corporation.

Bush's actions might have been considered high treason. They are interesting by virtue of the myriad connections about what is commonly referred to as the "Bush Crime Family" and partners --Avril Harriman, the Rockefellers, Allen Dulles, James Baker III, Gulf Oil, Pennzoil, and ominously, Osama bin Laden. The connections are labyrinthine, involving a host of corporate connections, high ranking Nazis, the CIA and Allen Dulles.

More recently, we have learned of yet more Bush family treasons: Prescott Bush, the "President's" grandfather, was involved in a fascist coup attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.
The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.
--William Bowles, The Bush Family Saga
Now that the cat is out of the bag, Bush apologists would have you believe that the Bush/Nazi nexus is long over. Not so! Documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress confirm that the Bush family continued 'Nazi' dealings well into 1951. GWB's grandfather, Prescott Bush and his 'Nazi' colleagues --a 'secret web of Thyssen-controlled ventures' --routinely attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators. This web including former New York Governor W. Averell Harriman and younger brother, E. Roland Harriman and the New York private banking firm of Brown Brothers Harriman, presided over a 'quarter-century [1924-1951] of Nazi financial transactions. These activities included a financial relationship with the German city of Hanover and several industrial concerns. They went undetected by investigators until after World War Two.

The sub-plot is equally interesting. Allen Dulles found a 'young Naval Officer' who was in charge of captured Nazi documents that would have revealed Dulles to have been a traitor to the United States. The 'young Naval officer' eagerly sold out, agreeing to bury the documents if Dulles would finance the young man’s first political campaign. The 'young Naval officer' was Richard Nixon. The timeline of this infamy records that in 1946, Richard Nixon defeated Jerry Voohris for congress and he did it by selling out to Allen Dulles, a prominent figure in the Bush/Nazi axis of bankers and Nazis. In 1950, however, Prescott Bush lost his race because of the Nazi company he kept --the American eugenics movement.

At about this same time, Project Paperclip began importing Nazis into the US. The CIA recruited five of Adolph Eichmann's Nazi assistants. This information came to light only as the result of a lengthy battle waged by the non-profit group --The National Security Archive. It's mission statement is to 'expose government documents under the framework of the Freedom of Information Act'.
The newly-revealed documents are based on internal investigations in the CIA's history department. The agency has steadfastly refused to make the documents public for fear they would cause embarrassment.

The revelations cast a negative light not only on American intelligence activity but also the US Army's conduct in Germany at the conclusion of the war. The military made efforts to recruit members of the SS and the Gestapo into its ranks despite simultaneously waging a campaign of de-Nazification over vanquished Germany, a process which included arresting and trying Nazi war criminals.
The documents also reveal in great detail CIA efforts to recruit Reinhard Gehlen, who was the Wermacht's chief intelligence officer for the eastern front during the war. The recruitment evolved into a new intelligence sub-organization known as "Gehlen's Organization," which served as the basis for what would later become West Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).
According to the new findings, Gehlen's Organization employed a number of Gestapo and SS officials. Gehlen and his senior associates secretly operated out of a building with the knowledge of the American occupation forces.
--Documents reveal CIA recruited five of Eichmann's associates
The documents were discovered in internal investigations by the CIA’s history department; they had been kept secret for fear 'they might cause 'embarrassment', or cast the agency in a 'negative light'. It is not only the CIA but efforts by the US army to recruit former Nazis --SS and Gestapo members --that justifies the charge of high treason throughout the ranks of the American 'intelligence community' and the Pentagon. After all, the US went to a great deal of trouble to prosecute high ranking Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. Justice Robert Jackson lead the prosecution through an historic trial that, in the face of history and precedent, dared to bring 'war criminals' to account for crimes in a court of law.

The most tragic chapter is being written at the very moment you read this. Whether or not Jackson's historic achievement at Nuremberg will stand depends upon whether or not the Bush regime gets away with the crimes of aggressive war and crimes against humanity. Hermann Goring called the Nuremberg trials "victor's justice". George Bush, like Goring at Nuremberg, places himself about this nation's historic commitment to international justice. If the illegitimate regime regime of George W. Bush is allowed to get away with the crimes charged Nazi defendants at the end of WWII, then Bush's legacy will be that he proved a Nazi --Hermann Goring --to have been absolutely correct. That is, it's all politics. There has been no crime, there has been no war, there has been no slain.
It is against such a background that these defendants now ask this Tribunal to say that they are not guilty of planning, executing, or conspiring to commit this long list of crimes and wrongs. They stand before the record of this Trial as bloodstained Gloucester stood by the body of his slain king. He begged of the widow, as they beg of you: "Say I slew them not." And the Queen replied, "Then say they were not slain. But dead they are..." If you were to say of these men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to say that there has been no war, there are no slain, there has been no crime.

--Summation for the Prosecution by Justice Robert Jackson, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, July 26, 1946

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bush's Conspiracy to Create an American Police State: Part VII, The Government Denies 'Due Process of Law'

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

The Bush administration is credibly compared to a cult. Like Hitler's 'Third Reich', its assault on civil liberties and democracy have resulted in a 'state' bearing no resemblance to the one created or envisioned by the 'founders' and ratified September 17, 1787. Like the history of any 'police state', a history of the Bush administration must chronicle its methodical, deliberate dismantling of 'Due Process of Law'
There's a lot of anxiety inside the -- you know, our professional military and our intelligence people. Many of them respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as much as anybody here, and individual freedom. So, they do -- there's a tremendous sense of fear. These are punitive people. One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we have been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease.

--Seymour Hersh, We've Been Taken Over By a Cult
It is a 'cult' which has historically opposed what good Americans, legal scholars, historians, and jurists call 'Due Process of Law'. Due Process of Law is the difference between a tyranny and legitimate government, between a free citizenry and slavery, between totalitarian decrees and Democracy.

American history is stained by the likes of Prescott Bush and other fascists and fascist sympathizers who found in "Due Process of Law" an obstacle to their dreams of installing a fascist dictatorship in America. While the Project for the New American Century openly pined for a 'catalyzing event like Pearl Harbor' that would rally Americans to their fascist dreams, the real Pearl Harbor thrust the US into a great world war that was, presumably, intended to defeat the fascist threat once and for all. Simply, with the defeat of the Axis powers, all the fascists but those in America were defeated. Here, under Bush, the threat of fascism to the Due Process of Law has never been greater.

'Due Process of Law' in the US is codified in the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and in the principle of Habeas Corpus, codified in Article I, Section IX, US Constitution.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

US Constitution, Fifth Amendment, Findlaw
Also see: US Constitution: Fourteenth Amendment, likewise at Findlaw.

Following is what the US Constitution has to say about the writ of habeas corpus:
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

--US Constitution, Article I, Section 9
It doesn't take a legal eagle to conclude that 'Due Process of Law' is a major stumbling block to Bush, who most certainly had planned to torture people even before 911 so conveniently gave him the pretext he needed.
“[I]t’s not all about John Yoo. The U.S. didn’t just start torturing its detainees because a government lawyer said it was okay, or because some executive-branch extremist like David Addington determined that anything and everything was permissible in a time of war, or because some dim-witted troops at Abu Ghraib just didn’t know any better. At some point, early on, a decision to allow torture, to enable it, must have been made — and it must have been made at the highest levels of government.”

--Michael Stickings noted.
Many Americans were unconcerned about 'torture'. That was for 'terrorists', they told themselves, forgetting that Bush has assumed dictatorial powers. If Bush merely 'deems' you a 'terrorist', perhaps because you oppose his coup d'etat, you may be termed a 'terrorist'.
According to an explosive ABC News report on April 9, dozens of top-secret meetings took place in the White House, beginning in 2002, in which the president’s top advisors approved the use of torture. Those involved were members of the National Security Council’s “Principals Committee” — Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft. Unfortunately, however, these dramatic revelations have been largely ignored by the media and the public. Yet we now know more clearly than ever before that it is because of these senior officials — and not just Animal House on the night shift — that America is regarded around the world as a Torture Nation.

The techniques that the advisors not only approved, but reportedly even choreographed in particular cases amount to torture by any reasonable standard. Near drowning (waterboarding), sleep deprivation,subjection to temperatures of extreme cold (hypothermia), physical assault and stress positions are proscribed by international anddomestic law. They are gulag tactics that have no place in a democratic society. John Ashcroft rightly asked at one point: “Why arewe talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”

But according to the report, Condoleezza Rice prevailed, telling the CIA:“This is your baby. Go do it.” Nor does it seem that the president was insulated from these decisions. As the head of the National Security Council, he signed adecision memo in which torture was effectively authorized (February 7, 2002). He has also admitted that the new report is accurate: “And, yes,” he told ABC News, “I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.” Commenting on these developments, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley stated bluntly: “This was a torture program . . . and it goes right to the President’s desk.” He added: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that [the president] was aware of this. The only doubt is simply whether anybody cares enough to do something about it.”

--George Hunsinger, History Will Not Absolve Us
Habeas Corpus' is addressed unambiguously in the body of the US Constitution itself and means, simply, that one cannot be held against his/her will without just or probable cause. You cannot be jailed and held if there are no charges against you. Upon demand, a court must issue a writ of habeas corpus, compelling those holding you to state the reasons for your detention. If there are no good or compelling reasons, you must be released. It was an ancient principle by the time it was codifed in the Magna Carta signed by King John. Bush assumes powers that not even Kings had. Certainly, the Bush administration would have been, should have been compelled to release hundreds, possibly all of the detainees at Guantanamo and the gulag archipelego of US torture centers and concentration camps throughout Eastern Europe.
At last, some of the truth about George W. Bush has hit the mainstream media.
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of “combined” interrogation techniques — using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time — on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The “Principals,” ABC reported, included Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who chaired the meetings.

According to one top official, Ashcroft reportedly asked aloud after one meeting, “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
--ABC News, Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'
Later, Bush's unrelenting subversions of the US Constitution were most often facilitated by Ashcroft's successor --Alberto Gonzales. It was two reversals concerning so-called 'enemy combatants' that compelled Bush to move quickly. Bush summarily dismissed the US District Court in Washington, notifying the court that it no longer had jurisdiction in such cases and may no longer consider "... hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba."
Habeas corpus, a Latin term meaning "you have the body," is one of the oldest principles of English and American law. It requires the government to show a legal basis for holding a prisoner. A series of unresolved federal court cases brought against the administration over the last several years by lawyers representing the detainees had left the question in limbo.

Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases, Washington Post
Clearly —the bill demanded by Bush and duly passed by the obeisant Congress is unconstitutional on its face. Even the stodgy Wall Street Journal said that the law was "... a stinging rebuke to the Supreme Court", stripping the courts of all jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus claims filed by so-called "enemy combatants" anywhere in the world.

Over two years ago, Rasul v. Bush decided in favor of the Guantanamo detainees, giving them the right to challenge their detentions. More recently, Hamdan v Rumsfeld ruled decisively in favor of the detainees. The decision was blunt and precise, unequivocal. Clearly —Bush's position is un-American yet the issue persists with congress giving Bush an unconstitutional authority to try detainees before military commission while denying courts all judicial review of habeas corpus claims. Re-writing the laws to make legal crimes Bush had already committed was the task assigned to Mssrs Gonazales and Yoo. But Gonzales proved in this Senate hearing that he is more qualified to hold the office of Minister of Propaganda than that of Attorney General.

Gonzales tried to snow the committee with transparent sophistry. Clearly --since Magna Carta habeas corpus is an inalienable right by common law so ingrained in Anglo-Saxon tradition that the founders felt it necessary to prohibit its arbitrary abrogation by any government at any time. As the US Constitution itself establishes in the preamble and as Jefferson affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, government has no inherent powers to withrdaw rights that are clearly possessed already by the people. Moreover, it is the people who imbued the government with whatever powers it possesses. Gonzales' fallacious argument has it the wrong way 'round and betrays his ignorance of elementary principles of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. I would suggest he go back to law school. Those traditions, those established principles are, in fact, our jurisprudential heritage, a tradition at least as old as Magna Carta.
US Rep. Darrell Issa said Wednesday he was "outraged" that executive branch officials recently gave a congressional hearing misleading and inaccurate testimony based on information that both the Department of Justice and the White House knew to be untrue.

"We can soft-pedal it a lot of ways, but Congress was lied to," Issa, R-Vista, said in a Wednesday phone interview from his Washington office.
-- Issa: 'Congress was lied to'Calls for ouster of attorney general if involved in providing false information to lawmakers, WILLIAM FINN BENNETT - Staff Writer
Some background on habeas corpus
In common law, habeas corpus (Latin: [We command that] you have the body) is the name of a legal action or writ by means of which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of himself or another person. The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.

Also known as "The Great Writ," a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a prisoner be brought before the court so that the court can determine whether that person is serving a lawful sentence or should be released from custody. The prisoner, or some other person on his behalf (for example, where the prisoner is being held incommunicado), may petition the court or an individual judge for a writ of habeas corpus.

The right of habeas corpus—or rather, the right to petition for the writ—has long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Albert Venn Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty." In most countries, however, the procedure of habeas corpus can be suspended in time of national emergency. In most civil law jurisdictions, comparable provisions exist, but they may not be called "habeas corpus."[1]
Bush asserts that wartime and "inherent powers" give him all the legal authority he needs to conduct widespread domestic surveillance of US citizens at home or abroad. I maintain that a bona fide 'state of war' cannot be simply 'declared' by the executive. The Constitution has reserved that power to Congress and only Congress. Moreover, the so-called 'war on terror' of which Iraq is supposed to have been a part is a criminal fraud based upon a pack of malicious lies. No decree issuing upon a fraud is lawful. At last, even if the 'war on terror' had been legitimate or even declared by Congress, Bush's adventure against Iraq is not. Bush's position was best summed up recently and fallaciously by Newt Gingrich who stated that Bush found it necessary to rescind our 'rights' in order to defend them --a phony baloney inherent contradiction on its face!


Put another way --what if in the act of defending against 'terrorism', we become terrorists? Yet again --what difference does it make to me if my rights are abrogated by terrorists or by Bush? And, precisely, what IS the difference between Bush, who has claimed millions of victims in the Middle East, and the gang of alleged terrorists, whose body count is somewhere between three and four thousand? Why is Bush, who flouts the rule of law, not considered to be the world's number one terrorist? A final note on this topic: the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq are not due to 'terrorism' or 'terrorists'. We invaded them!

In the meantime, the Congress saw fit to renew the Patriot Act which now includes a little known provision that creates a US "Gestapo" —a new federal police force that will enforce Bush's blatant violations of the Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. Sec. 605 reads:
'There is hereby created and established a permanent police force to be known as the "United States Secret Service Uniformed Division."'

US Patriot Act, Sec. 605, Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service Uniformed Division
An excerpt:
...officers of the Secret Service Uniform Division will "carry firearms" (sec. 3056A (b)(1)(A)) and be authorized to make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony" (sec. 3056A (b)(1)(B))
Please note: the statute establishes "reasonable grounds"! That, in itself, violates the Constitution which establishes as the standard "...probable cause", not "reasonableness". Read the Constitution.
As Bush "bunkers down" over Nixon's old assertion of "executive privilege", Congress shops around for a special prosecutor to go after Alberto Gonzales who most certainly lied to Congress.
(Shermer news conference Press Conference on Gonzales Special Counsel Investigation]

Lying to Congress is something Bushies will have trouble covering or defending with assertions of "executive privilege". Gonzales is to Bush as Heydrich was to Hitler --an enabler tasked with trying to make crimes legal after they've already been committed. Sen. Leahy stated "We have now reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States Attorneys last year." Indeed! Bush was firing every attorney whose opinions were based on law rather than the caprice of a would-be dictator.
"It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to US attorneys."--Washington Post
The "rule of law" is to have an enforcement mechanism. If 'a' rogue 'President', like Bush, refuses to prosecute, the Congress must impeach. If Congress asserts something must be done, but is not willing to back that claim with impeachment, then Congress makes itself irrelevant, a mere rubber stamp. What if I were to tell you that Congress has already gone home? Did anyone notice?

When Bush sought 'powers' beyond those delegated in the Constitution, 911 had not yet occurred. When Bush sought to exempt US soldiers from war crimes prosecution, 911 was months away. Had Bush foreseen the events of 911 psychically or had he, in fact, planned them with Dick Cheney? What 'forbidden knowledge' or, more realistically, what 'secret plots' had he already hatched to foment a dictatorship that would exploit 'terrorism' in order to assume the powers of a dictatorship, abrogate habeas corpus, and roll back the Bill of Rights? Certainly, no one but Bush --or those who had planned to help him perpetrate them --would have or could have foreseen that US atrocities at Abu Ghraib, GITMO and a gulag archipelago of US torture centers throughout eastern Europe would have necessitated measures in advance to get them off the hook, measures that would put Bush, US brass and members of his criminal junta above the law! This measure amounts to a criminal administration positioning itself --in advance --to exploit the crime of 911. It is more evidence that 911 was anticipated. It is evidence that 911 was an inside job.

Additional resources