• (function() { (function(){function c(a){this.t={};this.tick=function(a,c,b){var d=void 0!=b?b:(new Date).getTime();this.t[a]=[d,c];if(void 0==b)try{window.console.timeStamp("CSI/"+a)}catch(l){}};this.tick("start",null,a)}var a;if(window.performance)var e=(a=window.performance.timing)&&a.responseStart;var h=0=b&&(window.jstiming.srt=e-b)}if(a){var d=window.jstiming.load;0=b&&(d.tick("_wtsrt",void 0,b),d.tick("wtsrt_","_wtsrt", e),d.tick("tbsd_","wtsrt_"))}try{a=null,window.chrome&&window.chrome.csi&&(a=Math.floor(window.chrome.csi().pageT),d&&0=c&&window.jstiming.load.tick("aft")};var f=!1;function g(){f||(f=!0,window.jstiming.load.tick("firstScrollTime"))}window.addEventListener?window.addEventListener("scroll",g,!1):window.attachEvent("onscroll",g); })(); .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    S. American, Arab nations condemn Cheney Administration attempt to control Venezuela's resources


    Cracker Misogynist Tom Coburn spews His Idiot Opinions Yet Again

    Sen. Tom Coburn, who was an advocate for President George W. Bush's decision to take the country to war against Iraq, now says going to war was "probably a mistake." The Oklahoma Republican's comment came at the beginning of remarks at a weekend town hall meeting in Muskogee, the Tulsa World reported Thursday. "I will tell you personally that I think it was probably a mistake going to Iraq," he said. He made it clear he did not believe the U.S. could withdraw but had to stay.
    During his 2004 Senate campaign, Coburn expressed support for the decision to go to war. Last weekend, Coburn said "we are on a glide path in the Muslim world" to creating a sustainable democracy and warned that withdrawing would "expose 570,000 people to genocide."
    Of course we've already committed genocide against at least twice that many. Yes Rebecca, Oklahoma is an OIL INDUSTRY state.


    Next Mega-Credit Problem Looming?

    This is what comes from deregulation
    CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace explains that credit default swaps constitute a shadow financial system, out of sight and unregulated, that greases the wheels of business.

    The swaps are a form of insurance, Wallace observes, with "big players -- banks, pension and hedge funds -- engaging in a high-stakes crap-shoot, trying to protect themselves if companies fail."

    "This is a big one," cautions Harvard Economics Professor Kenneth Rogoff. "If this one got into trouble, it would be a big problem."

    Wallace points out that the market for the exotic financial instruments has leaped, by some measures, from $1 trillion to $45 trillion -- about twice the size of the entire United States stock market.

    What could be scarier than a market about defaults when things go bad, Wallace asks, rhetorically? How far-reaching could the problem be if they all start going belly up?

    "Remember," says Forbes magazine Associate Editor Matthew Mill, "that ... everything in the economy is tangled together."

    And, Financial Times U.S. Managing Editor Chrystia Freeland told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith Thursday, "An estimate from (one very bearish economist) this week was about $250 billion could be the hit from credit default swaps, which is similar to the hit from the sub-prime mortgage instruments."



    The Rising Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown: The Twelve Steps to Financial Disaster


    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Another Important Step in Turning the US into a POLICE STATE: Real ID

    REAL ID sets tough document security and information-sharing standards for state licensing authorities and bans the issuance of licenses except to those who can prove they are U.S. citizens or are in the country legally. States are not required to comply, but licenses that do not meet the act's standards will not be valid for federal purposes, including boarding airplanes and entering federal courts and other buildings.

    The act comes into force in May and will apply to states that have not filed for an extension, giving them until December 2009 to meet its standards. Air travelers and visitors to federal buildings trying to use licenses from hold-out states as identification after the deadline will be turned away, said Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner.

    Only a handful of states filed for an extension before the publication of regulations governing the new standards last month. More than a dozen state legislatures passed legislation or resolutions opposing the act last year. In several states, including Washington, lawmakers tried to make the laws binding, in some cases by banning state governments from spending any money to implement the act.



    Yet Another GOP Pedophile

    The Hagerstown home of Maryland Delegate Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, was searched by police officers for reasons that haven't been publicly disclosed.


    Experts cast doubt on Agra’s soil fertility plan

    Agriculture experts have criticised a programme seeking to restore soil fertility in Kenya and other African countries, saying that similar programmes implemented in India and elsewhere aggravated farmer’s problems instead of providing solutions.

    At stake is the future of the continent’s agricultural practices —what is grown, how it is grown, who gets to grow it, who processes it, who sells it and where and how much the African consumer will pay.

    The programme is an initiative of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), which recently announced that it was committing $180 million to the five-year project in 13 African countries. Agra’s soil health programme is targeted at small scale farmers and aims to increase farm yields and incomes by giving farmers seeds and inputs such as fertilizers through licensed agro-dealers.

    The Sh12.6 billion grant has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Sh11.55 billion) and the Rockefeller Foundation (Sh1.05 billion).


    herbicide shortage may threaten grain crop

    With two months to go until the Wimmera-Mallee's sowing season, farmers are struggling to get hold of the herbicide glyphosate.

    The Victoria's Farmers Federation's Geoff Nalder says he understands the shortfall is because less of the product is being manufactured overseas.

    "It's a major problem. Short-term wise, there's only limited supplies coming in and from what I can ascertain from the research that I've done, that short-term supply problem could well last until well into this year, which will take us well past our sowing window," Mr Nalder said.

    The group opposed to genetically modified (GM) grain, Gene Ethics, says the chemical shortage is a sign of things to come.

    A spokesman for the group, Bob Phelps, says new herbicide-resistant crops rely on the use of specific brand glyphosate weed killer.

    He says farmers will be at the mercy of the world's big farm chemical and seed producers, Monsanto and Bayer.


    Five-seat concept car runs on air

    Aircar. Image: BBC


    Since the Bush administration took office in January 2001, it's targeted Hugo Chavez relentlessly

    It's no surprise how the US media portray Chavez and the Exxon dispute. Bloomberg.com called it his way to use the "Exxon Battle to Stoke Anti-US Sentiment" as though he's the aggressor and poor USA and giant Exxon his victims.

    Then, there's the Washington Post's editorial view on February 15. It's astonished that "Mr. Chavez himself threatened to cut off exports of crude oil to America" over Exxon's having "moved to freeze" its assets. It lamentes how "regrettable" the US "voracious consumption of oil" is because it "underwrites Venezuela's Chavez regime....If the Bush administration were really as committed to overthrowing Mr. Chavez as Mr. Chavez claims (it ought to boycott) Venezuelan oil (to) devastate" its economy. "Two cheers for ExxonMobil. In standing up to Mr. Chavez through 'peaceful, legal means,' it has once again exposed the hollowness of the anti-imperialism with which he justifies his rule."

    The Chicago Tribune was just as hostile by asking "Where is the king of Spain when we need him?" Chavez "says the 'bandits' at Exxon are trying to rob Venezuela. From where we sit, it looks like the other way around."

    Then there's the Houston Chronicle in Exxon's home city. It blasted Chavez for "making a fool of himself on the floor of the UN General Assembly last year," called him a "clown," and said "his buffoonery is neither amusing nor benign." Ignoring Exxon's shenanigans in cahoots with Washington, it stated that Chavez "was in full bluster (and that he) and his henchmen (were launch(ing) a war of words in response (that is) little more than political theater, sound bites for the loyalists back home, and You Tube fodder abroad."

    This type bluster gets supplemented with outrageous comments about how Chavez "seized power," shuts down his opposition, control's Venezuela's media, took over American oil fields, is a "destructive menace" to the region, and even worse a communist and a dictator with a terrible human rights record. Is it any wonder that Americans know almost nothing about Venezuelan democracy and the man who shaped it for the past nine years. Under his leadership, it's the real thing, is impressive and improving. Compare it to America where "The People" have no say, democracy is nowhere in sight, and under the Bush administration it's pretense, lawless, and corrupted.

    What's Going On and What's At Stake

    Throughout most of the last century, and especially post-WW II, America's international relations have been appalling and destructive. It's the world's leading bully, it practices state terrorism, disdains democracy, defiles the rule of law, tramples on human and civil rights, demands unquestioned obedience, and rules by what Noam Chomsky calls "the Fifth Freedom" that shreds the other four: to "rob, to exploit and to dominate society, to undertake any course of action to insure that existing privilege is protected and advanced." Outliers aren't tolerated, national sovereignty is sinful, independence is a crime, and dare disobey the imperial master guarantees certain punishment.



    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    No Wonder Cheney and McCain want to attack Iran

    Iran on Sunday inaugurated its first stock exchange for oil products and petrochemicals, in a bid to become a major player in the global downstream industry.

    OPEC's number two crude oil producer hopes that its oil exchange can lead the way for a domestic downstream industry to match its upstream crude oil production, the country's main foreign currency revenue winner.

    "We have been a good seller (of crude oil) and now we have a higher objective to have a share in the oil trade," Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari told reporters.

    Iran claims to rank second in the region after Saudi Arabia in terms of production of petrochemicals at 22 million tons a year.
    But it has failed to gain a significant share in the world export market because of state control of its petrochemical industry and state subsidies.

    "The objective is to make transactions (of oil products) transparent, create competition and motives for investment," the oil minister added.

    "And so that we can reach out to international markets as a big oil producer as well as an oil trader," he added.


    More Poisoned Food and Animal Abuse From Agricultural Industrial Complex

    The federal agency said the recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and to some major fast-food chains.

    Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said his department has evidence that Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.

    "Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, Food Safety and Inspection Service has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall," Schafer said in a statement.

    Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/Hallmark after an undercover video surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.

    Two former employees were charged Friday with animal cruelty. No charges have been filed against Westland, but an investigation by federal authorities continues.



    More Tax Payer Dollars Handed to Private Energy Interests or This is called Fascism


    With court orders and settlements, the federal government has already paid the utilities $342 million, but is virtually certain to pay a total of at least $7 billion in the next few years and probably over $11 billion, government officials said. The industry said the total could reach $35 billion.

    The payments come from an obscure and poorly understood government account that requires no new Congressional appropriations, and will balloon in size, experts said.

    The payments are due because the reactor owners were all required to sign contracts with the Energy Department in the early 1980s, with the government promising to dispose of the waste for a fee of a 10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour. It was supposed to begin taking away the fuel in the then far-off year of 1998.

    Since then, the utilities have filed 60 lawsuits. The main argument — employing legions of lawyers on both sides — is when the government would have picked up the fuel if it had adhered to the original commitment, and thus how much of the storage expense would have fallen on the utilities anyway.



    How The Reagan Administration and Other Right Wing Extremists Destroyed America

    Bush's energy problems stem largely from growing worldwide demand for limited supplies of oil and natural gas. The situation has grown worse because of the war in Iraq and, recently, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which knocked out rigs in the Gulf Coast and hampered refineries.

    Carter faced a crisis from a combination of economic problems, failed policies of his predecessors and, finally, an Iranian revolution that cut access to some Middle Eastern oil.

    Carter met the problems by starting sweeping oil-reduction reforms, including creation of the Cabinet-level Department of Energy.

    He began spending millions of dollars researching alternative sources for electrical power, including solar power. He got utilities to cut their use of oil for electricity and ramp up their use of natural gas or coal.

    "Up until Carter, we were getting about 20 percent of our electricity from oil generation," said Jay Hakes, director of the Energy Information Administration under Carter and an authority on modern presidents and oil. "And post-Carter, it went down to about 3 percent."

    Carter insisted that U.S. automakers build more fuel-efficient cars, with a goal of 27.5 miles per gallon over the following decade - a requirement passed under Gerald Ford but put into force by Carter.

    He offered incentives for getting oil from shale, creating a boom initially in the Rockies - and a bust when it failed to be cost-effective. He offered deductions for using solar water heaters in homes and commercial buildings.

    "People in the upper-income bracket were always looking for tax cuts. They were going to build a house anyhow, so they were saying, 'Well let's look at this solar stuff and see what we can do,' " said Marc Giaccardo, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who at the time was an Albuquerque architect.

    Carter even had solar collec tors installed on the White House grounds to heat the executive residence's water.

    Then Carter lost re-election to Ronald Reagan in 1980. The so lar panels at the White House eventually came down - and Reagan and his aides gutted the solar research program.

    "In June or July of 1981, on the bleakest day of my professional life, they descended on the Solar Energy Research Institute, fired about half of our staff and all of our contractors, including two people who went on to win Nobel prizes in other fields, and reduced our $130 million budget by $100 million," recalls Denis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, who had been hired by Carter to spearhead the solar initiative.

    Reagan and Congress stopped aggressively pushing new auto efficiency standards, acceding to Detroit's desire to leave them at Carter-era levels. They let the solar tax benefit expire, and the nascent solar industry went belly- up.

    It was time to let the markets work their magic and stop all this government tinkering, Reagan and conservatives said.
    Meantime, the solar energy industry is hopeful - not because of anything that occurred in the White House after Carter, but because the 2005 energy bill, signed by Bush, will give up to $2,000 in tax credits for anyone installing solar energy in a home. The credits begin next January, although they will be available for only two years unless Congress extends them.

    Solar-energy champions say such a boost was needed 20 years ago, as the Carter tax credits were expiring. "The solar water heating industry instantly went from a billion-dollar industry to an industry that now installs, in the U.S., about 6,000 solar hot water heaters a year," said Noah Kaye, spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    Had Reagan not squashed it, the research that Carter started could have triggered a substantial shift to solar, wind power and other renewable forms of energy - possibly providing as much as 25 percent of the nation's electricity supply, says Hayes, the Carter solar expert.

    "We were all aware of what in theory could happen by the year 2000, and it occasionally comes back and haunts us," Hayes said.

    That is all hypothetical, of course, because the theories never got a chance to run their course.

    Yet solid data exist on what happened after the free market- loving Reagan chopped Carter's programs to shreds.

    Oil prices dropped and stayed relatively stabile for two decades. Motorists were thrilled.

    Oil prices plunged in the early ’80s after the Iranian crisis ended; after a worldwide recession sapped productivity (a less productive economy uses less fuel); and — especially — after Reagan eliminated price controls. The controls, limiting how high the cost of fossil fuel could go, had been in place since Richard Nixon used them in an effort to rein in inflation and dampen consumer prices during the Arab oil embargo. Carter started to eliminate them but never finished.

    While the controls kept a lid on prices, they also prevented oil companies from earning enough to make them want to reinvest in more exploration and production. “When there’s a shortage of supply and you put in price controls, it makes the matter worse because it decreases incentives to produce more,” Hakes said. “And it decreases the incentives for drivers to cut back.”

    Reagan couldn’t wait to fix that problem. “He signed the order the day he came in,” said Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

    Labels: ,

    US spy satellite plan 'a cover'

    Russia's defence ministry said the US planned to test its "anti-missile defence system's capability to destroy other countries' satellites".

    The US says the satellite lost power and communications shortly after it was launched in December 2006 and is now uncontrollable.


    But Russia's defence ministry said the US had not given enough information on the reasons for the decision.

    "Speculations about the danger of the satellite hide preparations for the classical testing of an anti-satellite weapon," a statement reported by Itar-Tass news agency said.

    "Such testing essentially means the creation of a new type of strategic weapons," it added.

    "The decision to destroy the American satellite does not look harmless as they try to claim, especially at a time when the US has been evading negotiations on the limitation of an arms race in outer space," the statement continued.

    The Russian defence ministry argued that various countries' spacecraft had crashed to Earth in the past, and many countries used toxic fuel in spacecraft, but this had never before merited such "extraordinary measures".



    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    The Obama Illusion

    If the Democrats’ candidate in 2008 is Obama, we can be sure that the right-wing Republican noise machine will denounce the nation’s potential first non-white male president as a dangerous “leftist.” The charge will be absurd, something that will hardly stop numerous people on the portside of the narrow U.S. political spectrum from claiming Obama as a fellow “progressive.” Certain to be encouraged by Obama and his handlers, this confusion will reflect the desperation and myopia that shaky thinking and the limited choices of the U.S. electoral system regularly instill in liberals and some squishy near leftists.

    So what sorts of policies and values could one expect from an imagined Obama presidency? There is quite a bit already in Obama’s short national career that has to be placed in the “never mind” category if one is to seriously to believe his claim (cautiously advanced in The Audacity of Hope) to be a “progressive” concerned with “social and economic justice” and global peace.

    Never Mind

    Never mind, for example, that Obama was recently hailed as a “Hamiltonian” believer in “limited government” and “free trade” by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having “a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS.” Or that he had to be shamed off the “New Democrat Directory” of the corporate-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by the popular left black Internet magazine Black Commentator (Bruce Dixon, “Obama to Have Name Removed From DLC List,” Black Commentator, June 26, 2003).

    Never mind that Obama (consistent with Brooks’s description of him) has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and “other Wall Street Democrats” to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party (David Sirota, “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington,” the Nation, June 26). Or that he lent his politically influential and financially rewarding assistance to neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman’s (“D”-CT) struggle against the Democratic antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont. Or that Obama has supported other “mainstream Democrats” fighting antiwar progressives in primary races (see Alexander Cockburn, “Obama’s Game,” the Nation, April 24, 2006). Or that he criticized efforts to enact filibuster proceedings against reactionary Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

    Never mind that Obama “dismissively” referred—in a “tone laced with contempt”—to the late progressive and populist U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone as “something of a gadfly.” Or that he chose the neoconservative Lieberman to be his “assigned” mentor in the U.S. Senate. Or that “he posted a long article on the liberal blog Daily Kos criticizing attacks against lawmakers who voted for right-wing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.” Or that he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Or that he told Time magazine’s Joe Klein last year that he’d never given any thought to Al Gore’s widely discussed proposal to link a “carbon tax” on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation’s millions of working poor (Joe Klein, “The Fresh Face,” Time, October 17, 2006).

    Never mind that Obama voted for a business-friendly “tort reform” bill that rolls back working peoples’ ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations (Cockburn; Sirota). Or that Obama claims to oppose the introduction of single-payer national health insurance on the grounds that such a widely supported social-democratic change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry—at places like Kaiser and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Sirota). Does Obama support the American scourge of racially disparate mass incarceration on the grounds that it provides work for tens of thousands of prison guards? Should the U.S. maintain the illegal operation of Iraq and pour half its federal budget into “defense” because of all the soldiers and other workers that find employment in imperial wars and the military-industrial complex? Does the “progressive” senator really need to be reminded of the large number of socially useful and healthy alternatives that exist for the investment of human labor power at home and abroad—wetlands preservation, urban ecological retrofitting, drug counseling, teaching, infrastructure building and repair, safe and affordable housing construction, the building of windmills and solar power facilities, etc.?


    Chicago's Crown Dynasty financially backs U.S. federal candidate Barack Obama.

    “General Dynamics, more than any other aerospace company, is dependent on the Pentagon; government defense contracts account for two-thirds of their sales…The power behind the scenes is Henry Crown, a Chicago financier and one of the richest, but least known, men in the country. A group headed by Crown, who was 83 in 1980, owns about 20% of the company. His associates, who sit on the General Dynamics board with him, are his son, Lester Crown, and Chicago industrialist Nathan Cummings, founder of Consolidated Foods…”

    After Henry Crown's death, General Dynamics sold its F-16 fighter jet production unit and the Crown family reduced its ownership stake in General Dynamics from 20% to 8%. But, according to the General Dynamics web site at www.generaldynamics.com/, in 2005 "General Dynamics Combat Systems” was “becoming the world's preferred supplier of land and amphibious combat systems development, production and support;" and "its product line” included “a full spectrum of armored vehicles, light wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, suspensions, engine transmissions, guns and ammunition handling systems, turret drive systems, and reactive armor and ordnance."

    The General Dynamics web site also indicated in 2005 that members of the Crown family like Henry Crown & Company President James Crown and Henry Crown & Company Chairman Lester Crown still sat on the General Dynamics corporate board in 2005—between retired Pentagon officials (like former U.S. Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology Paul Kaminski, former U.S. Naval Chief of Naval Operations Jay Johnson, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff John Keane, Retired U.S. General George Joulwan and former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Lester Lyles) and a former Royal Navy Vice-Admiral for the UK Ministry of Defense named Robert Walmsley.

    A 2003 press release of the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems business unit in St. Petersburg, Florida also noted that it had formed "a strategic alliance with Aeronautics Defense Systems, Ltd.," an Israeli firm based in Yavne. Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. is the firm that developed the Unmanned Multi-Application System (UMASa) aerial surveillance tool which the Israeli military uses to "provide a real-time 'bird's eye view' of the surveillance area to combatant commanders and airborne command posts." According to then-Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the agreement between General Dynamics and Aeronautics Defense Systems to bring together "both companies' state-of-the art technologies in defense and homeland security" was "additional proof of the technological and commercial benefits that alliances between industries from the U.S. and Israel can produce."
    From its investments in Pentagon war contractors like General Dynamics and U.S. real estate, the Crown family has accumulated a family fortune of $3.6 billion, according to a 2004 Forbes magazine estimate. The Jerusalem Post also noted in its February 27, 2005 issue that “the Crown family of Chicago ” is also “well-known for its support of sectarian Jewish causes.” In addition, long-time General Dynamics board member Lester Crown was also a member of the Advisory board of Medis Technologies, a joint venture business partner of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. in recent years.

    Yet, ironically, the 2008 presidential candidate who apparently is being financially backed by the next generation of the Crown Dynasty seems to be marketing himself these days as "the next generation's anti-war candidate."


    U.S. women reporting rapes in Iraq remain in limbo

    Mary Kineston, an Ohio mother who went to Iraq to drive trucks, thought she had endured the worst when her supply convoy was ambushed in April 2004. After car bombs exploded and insurgents began firing on the road between Baghdad and Balad, she and other military contractors were saved only when army Black Hawk helicopters arrived.

    But not long after the ambush, Kineston said, she was sexually assaulted by another driver, who remained on the job, at least temporarily, even after she reported the incident to KBR, the military contractor that employed the drivers. Later, she said she was groped by a second KBR worker. After complaining to the company about the threats and harassment endured by female employees in Iraq, she was fired.

    "I felt safer on the convoys with the army than I ever did working for KBR," said Kineston, who won a modest arbitration award against KBR after returning to Ohio. "At least if you got in trouble on a convoy, you could radio the army, and they would come and help you out. But when I complained to KBR, they didn't do anything. I still have nightmares. They changed my life forever, and they got away with it."

    Kineston is one of a growing number of American women who have reported that they were sexually assaulted by co-workers while employed as contractors in Iraq, but find themselves in legal limbo, unable to seek justice or even significant compensation.



    Bush Admin Hides More Data, Shuts Down Website Tracking U.S. Economic Indicators

    The U.S. economy is faltering. Family debt is on the rise, benefits are disappearing, the deficit is skyrocketing, and the mortgage crisis has worsened. Conservatives have attempted to deflect attention from the crisis, by blaming the media’s negative coverage and insisting the United States is not headed toward a recession, despite what economists are predicting.

    The Bush administration’s latest move is to simply hide the data. Forbes has awarded EconomicIndicators.gov one of its “Best of the Web” awards. As Forbes explains, the government site provides an invaluable service to the public for accessing U.S. economic data:

    This site is maintained by the Economics and Statistics Administration and combines data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, like GDP and net imports and exports, and the Census Bureau, like retail sales and durable goods shipments. The site simply links to the relevant department’s Web site. This might not seem like a big deal, but doing it yourself–say, trying to find retail sales data on the Census Bureau’s site–is such an exercise in futility that it will convince you why this portal is necessary.

    Yet the Bush administration has decided to shut down this site because of “budgetary constraints,” effective March 1:


    House holds Bush confidants in contempt.

    H.RES.982 - PASSED by 223-32 - Most Republicans walked out

    Title: Providing for the adoption of the resolution (H. Res. 979) recommending that the House of Representatives find Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten, Chief of Staff, White House, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with subpoenas duly issued by the Committee on the Judiciary and for the adoption of the resolution (H. Res. 980) authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas.


    Happy Valentine Day!