A Cheat Sheet for Ostrich Hunters
by David Brin, Ph.D.
(Copyright © 2007)
[image from io9]
Visit the Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://www.bea.gov/) and check out Table 3.9.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment. In summary:
- G.W. Bush Grew the National Government by 27.3%
- Clinton "Grew" the National Government by -10.8% (that is an 11% shrinkage.)
- G H W Bush Grew the National Government by 1.6%
- Reagan grew the National Government by 33.9%
- Carter grew the National Government by 11.7%
Fact: Accusations that Democrats represent big government, fiscal irresponsibility or runaway debt are simply lies. Big lies. Giant whopping lies.
A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. "For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.... A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations..... And example cited in the article: "In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company, which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president. Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won."
In fact, this is the tip of the iceberg. Arguably THE biggest reason for the war may have been the excuse it offered, to bypass normal contracting rules using "emergency" clauses in the law. Now look back at how the far-right howled over the UN's "Oil for Food" program and some possible graft that might have added up, over a decade, to a billion dollars. Where is the same indignation over theft that directly betrayed our troops in the field, amounting to tens and even hundreds of times as much?
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID IF CLINTON HAD....
sent twelve billion dollars of taxpayer money into a war zone -- as a raw cash, unsupervised slush fund -- then managed to lose nine billions of it... including almost a billion dollars that were "misplaced" by the side of an Iraqi road? (HOW do you "lose" 270 tons of one hundred dollar bills? That's ninety million $100 bills, or the average monthly mortgage payments of TEN million Americans)
Self-check: Remember how mad you were over "Whitewater corruption," amounting to at most $80,000? Would you have let Clinton get away with "losing" a hundred thousand times as much without even attempting an explanation? Then how about George W. Bush?
HOW WOULD YOU HAVE REACTED IF BILL CLINTON....
made US taxpayers subsidize a huge, private, mercenary army, controlled by one of his closest and most fanatical liberal-democrat supporters?
then lavished more tax dollars on that crony-contractor, for him to lure top soldiers out of the Army and Marines, into that private force, instead of using a fraction of the same taxpayer money to simply make re-enlistment palatable to those highly skilled men and women?
then signed documents making that liberal mercenary force immune from any law, American or foreign?
then let those leftist mercenaries exonerate themselves from cold-blooded murder, by allowing them to ghost-write a "report" under US diplomatic letterhead?
while also using tax dollars to create many more secret liberal groups, to perform intelligence-gathering, interrogation, kidnapping and international "operations" without even a figleaf of supervision by the CIA?
then ruined the effectiveness of one of the best of those groups, by leaking its methods, simply to make a minor political point?
WHAT IF CLINTON...
upon facing more criticism from serving and retired senior military officers than all other presidents since Lincoln, combined, routinely responded by having his minions attack their character?
then refused to discuss why other whistleblowers and war critics -- including airborne and special forces noncoms -- have been killed, some shot in the head, at a rate far exceeding normal combat casualties in their units?
WOULD IT HAVE ANGERED YOU IF BILL CLINTON...
canceled rules requiring that government contracts be awarded by competitive bidding -- (it's called capitalism) -- and instead granted multibillion dollar sweetheart deals directly to liberal cronies and Clinton family friends, free of supervision or auditing?
used the words "emergency" and "top secret" to conceal those crooked deals?
hid the fact that each private contractor costs five to ten times as much as a soldier or civil servant, while doing astonishingly shoddy work?
then appointed "inspectors" to many cabinet departments and Iraq reconstruction agencies, who had no professional qualifications other than longtime political loyalty to Bill Clinton?
then managed to lose, waste or "misplace" more Iraqi oil each and every week than the UN "Oil For Food Program" did in its entire history?
DO YOU FIGURE YOU'D HAVE NOTICED IF BILL CLINTON...
sent our National Guard units into endless deployments, wrecking families, demolishing our reserves, and leaving our states and cities defenseless, in case of natural disaster. Or in case of a future terror attack?
allowed a great American city to be destroyed through staggering bureaucratic negligence, despite plenty of warnings about hurricane danger? Then allowed graft and corruption to siphon off billions, in the aftermath?
allowed U.S. air travel to decline into a morass of filthy, overcrowded airports, overbearing security and deteriorating service, while the rich escape to charters and corporate jets?
allowed our nation's infrastructure, bridges, highways etc to deteriorate at the fastest rate in history?
oversaw the worst spiral into national debt the world has ever seen, reversing 1990s surpluses into record-breaking deficits?
WOULD YOU CRITICIZE YOUR "COMMANDER IN CHIEF" IF IT WERE BILL CLINTON WHO...
supervised and directly oversaw the steepest decline in U.S. military readiness since the War of 1812? With the Army and Marines running out of troops and equipment, unable to train, and unable to meet recruitment quotas, despite steeply lowering standards and offering signup bonuses in excess of $20,000?
brought us to the point where only two Army brigades are currently trained, equipped and prepared to fight a national land force? And those two are in Korea? (Hint: that's fewer ready brigades than Belgium or Mexico have.)
fired, transferred, punished, or forced into retirement hundreds of US military officers, for refusing to parrot a party line or for not helping twist our armed forces into a political tool?
appointed to top positions at the FBI, Justice Department, CIA, Defense and Homeland Security men and women without experience in those fields, whose sole attribute was partisan loyalty and a willingness to bully civil servants, harassing professionals into toeing the line?
WOULD YOU HAVE LAUGHED ALOUD -- OR CRIED -- IF BILL CLINTON...
declared that he was the one and only "decider," in what had previously been a vast and sophisticated democracy?
declared repeatedly that a president can refuse to answer to any kind of accountability or oversight by our elected Congress?
promised (as a candidate) never to commit troops without a timetable, an exit strategy, adequate financing, or clear, achievable goials that directly help our nation, enough to outweigh our soldiers' sacrifice? What if Clinton had promised all that... then did the opposite?
declared "Mission Accomplished" when an endless, Vietnam-style quagmire had only just begun?
WHAT IF -- BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES -- "COMMANDER IN CHIEF" BILL CLINTON...
transformed our military's reputation from one of agile invincibility (after Gulf-I, the Balkans and Afghanistan) to one of floundering quagmire-incompetence? (And reputation is what deters aggressors.)
transformed our nation's reputation for always taking the moral high ground to one that makes excuses for torture and treating prisoners as non-humans? (Wasn't that reputation more valuable, over the long run, than any short term access to coerced information?)
drove away nearly all of our allies and made the United States more unpopular around the world than at any time in our history?
WOULD YOU HAVE PROTESTED, IF DEMOCRATS...
systematically dismantled dozens of independent scientific panels, including all of those charged with advising Congress? Then stocked the remaining panels with second-rate shills who are despised, all across the scientific community?
...allowed major special interests to write the administration's energy and other policies?
... spent 13 years blocking energy research that might have helped America wean its addiction to foreign oil?
...poured most of the remaining energy "research" money into agri-business ventures closely linked to cronies and political allies?
WHAT IF THE MOVEMENT YOU OPPOSED...
first denied the existence of a looming threat to our climate, then pressured government and independent scientists to censor their reports, then claimed "the jury is still out and we need more research"...
while slashing climate research budgets...
and then, finally, after years of delay, when the proof-of-danger was too blatant to ignore any longer, blithely did a complete and dizzying 180 reversal, suddenly calling human-generated climate change "a dire international crisis"?
WOULD IT REDUCE DEMOCRATS' CREDIBILITY IF THEY...
praised and supported and encouraged Saddam Hussein for decades? Then fought to eject him from Kuwait, only to prop him back up and protect him, yet again? Then, after leaving him to brutalize Iraqis for 12 more years, finally decided to go after him -- in the stupidest way possible?
praised and supported and encouraged Osama bin Laden? Armed and helped him gain power in Afghanistan. Then, finally decided to go after him, declaring "We'll never rest till he is brought to justice!" Only... thereupon seemed to forget?
WHAT IF A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT HAD...
encouraged us to be far more afraid of vague "terrorists" than we were ever afraid of a monstrous communist empire, bristling with tens of thousands of hair-trigger nuclear weapons?
vastly increased government secrecy, to levels never seen before, not even when we were in a life/death struggle against the Soviet KGB? (Would you have wondered if the president was doing it in order to hide misdeeds? You bet you would have! That is, if it were a democrat.)
engaged in illegal wiretapping schemes, spying on American citizens and interfering with their rights?
appointed scores of US attorneys who were openly partisan Democrats, then fired a few of them for not going after Republicans harshly enough? (Would you wonder about the remaining ones, who weren't fired? Worrying what kind of a country you are living in, when a majority of US attorneys are acceptable to such a partisan regime?)
WHAT IF BILL CLINTON HAD...
taken every bill passed by the Newt Gingrich Congress and signed it, while scribbling in the margins that "this bill means only what I say it means"? Would that have angered you?
reversed his party's long commitment to "states rights"by asserting federal supremacy over every state law, to a degree never before seen, even under Franklin Roosevelt?
Would that have raised your hackles, denouncing Clinton as "undermining the Constitution and grabbing power?" Ah but Clinton didn't do any of that. Bush has. So, any denunciations?
WOULD YOUR HACKLES RAISE IF IT WERE DEMOCRATS WHO...
insist that it is just fine for two companies, run by a pair of extreme-partisan brothers, to manufacture the nation's voting machines, never submitting their software code for open testing, obstructing paper trails or auditing, while lobbying for state laws that forbid exit polling as a last ditch way to verify election results? Wouldn't that combination make you a little, well, paranoid? That is, if democrats did it.
kept buying up newspapers, radio stations and television outlets, aided by rule changes that allow just a few men to control most of the news Americans get to hear? Fabulously rich men who are actively and relentlessly partisan?
let politically connected companies control the FDA, write laws, pick the inspectors who regulate them, and allowed Big Tobacco to settle court judgements for one penny on the dollar?
WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN UPSET IF BILL CLINTON...
responded to a terror attack by grounding all Americans for two days, not allowing them to fly...
but meanwhile whisked out of the country, in luxury, every rich or well-connected citizen of a hostile foreign power? The same foreign power from which most of the terrorists had come? Including some relatives and close friends of the plotters? Not even allowing the FBI to ask them any questions?
WHAT IF BILL CLINTON...
initiated intimate and unwanted body contact with a female foreign leader? On camera?
preened and preached about his own personal courage, then had himself put unconscious under anesthesia, simply to avoid the discomfort of a routine colonoscopy? Not once but twice? While the White House made a big deal out of "minimizing the risk" this caused the nation, by transferring power officially to the Vice President? Can you imagine what Rush would have made of such incredible wimpiness, if Clinton had cried to be put out for a routine exam?
preened and preached about his own personal courage, then hid out for the first few days after a nation's trauma with a major terrorist attack? (That is, after finishing reading a 2nd grade children's book aloud, before watching cameras.)
mocked and sneered at a condemned woman's plea for clemency, on national television? (Whatever your opinions on capital punishment, is a "mature leader"someone who treats such matters with sober dignity, or with fratboy nastiness and hand-rubbing glee?)
spent his first days in office re-assigning scores of FBI agents away from proper duties, sending them, instead, sifting through executive department files, in a vain and (utterly!) fruitless search for any kind of dirt on the previous administration? Agents who were thus not on duty, looking out for dangers to the people, during months leading up to a terrible terror attack upon the nation?
MORE OSTRICH BAIT (added 7/1/08)
Imagine how a Republican might feel if - late in the Clinton Administration - the Justice Department's own Inspector General reported that Clinton's White House staff had meddled with nearly all Justice Department hiring decisions, ending the traditional practice of hiring and promoting on advice from neutral commissions and instead applying blatant political tests, transforming the U.S.J.D. into a massive, private law firm serving one political party... relentlessly ignoring crimes by their "side" and pursuing vendettas against the other.
If This happened under Bill Clinton, and only fiercely partisan liberal Democrats were allowed inside Justice, would you have called it a scandal? But the Inspector General says that this did NOT happen under Clinton. It happened under Bush and the Republicans. So where's your righteous sense of anger?