The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Howard Zinn | War Is Not a Solution for Terrorism

War Is Not a Solution for Terrorism
By Howard Zinn
The Boston Globe

Saturday 02 September 2006

There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations - the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - and were forced to withdraw.

Even the "victories" of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence - the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of A People's History of the United States.

Maureen Dowd - Much Ado About Reading

Much Ado About Reading



’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. W., the most simple, unreflective and Manichaean of men, communing with Will, the most subtle, reflective and myriad-minded of men.

Under Laura the Librarian’s tutelage, the president is discovering the little black dress of 60’s education, as one scholar referred to the president’s summer reading list of “The Stranger,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.”

Mr. Bush’s bristly distaste for the intellectual elite has been so much a part of his persona, from Yale on, that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around a heavy W., steeped in French existentialism and Elizabethan tragedy.

On the 2000 campaign trail, W. told me that he did not identify with any literary hero, that baseball was his favorite “cultural experience,” and that he liked “John La Care, Le Carrier, or however you pronounce his name.”

He was a gym rat, not a bookworm. He told Brit Hume in 2003 that he rarely read newspaper articles, preferring to get his information through aides, and he told Brian Lamb in 2005 that he would fall asleep after 20 or 30 pages of bedside reading.

But the first lady must have grown alarmed at seeing her husband mocked as a buff bubblehead wrapped in a bubble. She began giving interviews saying her man did too read newspapers, and she slipped W. some Camus and other serious fare.

Jackie Kennedy once complained that the Kennedys could turn anything into a competition — even oil painting. Just so, W. tried to keep his new gravitas homework interesting by engaging in a book competition with Karl Rove. Bush aides told Ken Walsh of U.S. News & World Report that the president wants it known that he is a man of letters.

W.’s claim of having read 53 to 60 books already this year has been met with some partisan skepticism — The American Prospect calls it “demonstrably ridiculous” — despite a Wall Street Journal article pronouncing speed-reading back in fashion among busy executives.

But I’m tickled that W. is reading Shakespeare, even if it’s just to please his wife or win a bet with his strategist. The president has been so tone-deaf in dealing with the world, and even with his own father, that he can only benefit from a dip in the Bard’s ocean of insight about the vicissitudes of human nature and war. Not to mention the benefits of being exposed to the beauty and precision of the language.

Stephen Greenblatt, the Harvard professor and author of “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare,” demurs, noting that “there’s no reason to think reading Shakespeare necessarily makes you a more reflective or deeper person. Otherwise, the Nazis who kept the German Shakespeare Society going in the 30’s and 40’s would have learned something.”

Shakespeare’s texts are so complex, he says, that they “allow a huge range of readings and political views, like the Bible.”

Take “Macbeth,” Professor Greenblatt says. Bush critics might see irony in W.’s reading a play about a leader who makes a catastrophic decision to overturn a regime that ultimately brings his country and himself to ruin. But the president may be reading it differently, seeing shades of Saddam Hussein in Macbeth, a homicidal tyrant who gets his bloody comeuppance.

But he agrees there are some trenchant lessons that W. could glean, including Shakespeare’s doubt about quick and easy wars, and his conviction that what the professor calls “the rose-petal view” is an illusion; Shakespeare found a gigantic gap between what we imagine and what is actually likely to happen.

Ken Adelman, the former professor of Shakespeare and arms control director under Reagan, has compared W. to Prince Hal. But the Republican consultant, who teaches a management seminar with his wife, Carol, on Shakespeare, agrees that W.’s insulation prevents him from having the leadership strength of Henry V, who mingled among the common folk in the taverns and the soldiers on the battlefield.

Sometimes the second-term President Bush seems more like Henry’s opponent, the Dauphin of France, who has no sense of the reality of battle or his troops, misunderstands the situation and treats Henry with undeserved scorn.

The relentlessly black-and-white Bush could learn from the playwright’s riveting grays. “With Shakespeare,” says Marjorie Garber, a Harvard professor and the author of “Shakespeare After All,” “nothing is ever finished. You never close the door on anything. There’s never any ‘Mission Accomplished.’ ”

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pentagon Releases Grim Report on Iraq - New York Times

September 1, 2006
Pentagon Releases Grim Report on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — Iraqi casualties soared by more than 50 percent during the roughly three-month period ending in early August, the product of spiraling sectarian clashes and a Sunni-based insurgency that remains “potent and viable,” the Pentagon noted today in an comprehensive assessment of security in Iraq.

In a grim 63-page report, the Pentagon chronicled bad news on a variety of fronts. One telling indicator was the number of weekly attacks, which reached an all-time high in July.

The American-led coalition suffered the brunt of the attacks, but an increasing number are being directed against civilians. In Baghdad, for example, civilian targets accounted for 22 percent of all the attacks, up from 15 percent in April. And the attacks on Iraqi troops and civilians caused many more deaths than did those on American troops.

“Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife, with Sunni and Shia extremists each portraying themselves as the defenders of their respective sectarian groups,” the report noted. “The Sunni Arab insurgence remains potent and viable.”

The Pentagon report on “Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq” is mandated by Congress and issued quarterly. It covers a broad range of subjects, ranging from the economy to public attitudes to the training of Iraqi security forces.

This time, the study has been the focus of special interest because of increasing fears that Iraq is sliding into civil war. And its grimmer notes, echoing recent Congressional testimony by military commanders, come at a time when President Bush and members of his cabinet have been trying to present a strong case in support of the war, in the face of vehement criticism from Democrats.

Addressing that scenario, the report notes: “Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, especially in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi population has increased in recent months.”

As a consequence of the rising violence, the number of Iraqi casualties — civilian and well as military —jumped to almost 120 a day. Further, the confidence of Iraqis in the future has diminished, according to public opinion surveys cited in the Pentagon report. Still, the study asserts that the fighting in Iraq does not meet the “strict” legal definition of a civil war.

The period of the study does not cover either a surge in bloody attacks during the past week nor a relatively low number of civilian casualties earlier in the month; a joint American-Iraqi security campaign in Baghdad is expected to contribute to a relatively low civilian death toll for all of August.

The assessment provides bad news on a variety of fronts.

It said that Al Qaeda is active despite the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, because of the group’s “cellular structure,” that the Sunni insurgency is strong and that militias are undiminished.

The Pentagon distributed the report on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend, a common time for government officials to put out bad news. A Pentagon officials denied that this was the intent and said the report was issued when it completed.

Thomas Frank - Rendezvous With Oblivion

Rendezvous With Oblivion


Over the last month I have tried to describe conservative power in Washington, but with a small change of emphasis I could just as well have been describing the failure of liberalism: the center-left’s inability to comprehend the current political situation or to draw upon what is most vital in its own history.

What we have watched unfold for a few decades, I have argued, is a broad reversion to 19th-century political form, with free-market economics understood as the state of nature, plutocracy as the default social condition, and, enthroned as the nation’s necessary vice, an institutionalized corruption surpassing anything we have seen for 80 years. All that is missing is a return to the gold standard and a war to Christianize the Philippines.

Historically, liberalism was a fighting response to precisely these conditions. Look through the foundational texts of American liberalism and you can find everything you need to derail the conservative juggernaut. But don’t expect liberal leaders in Washington to use those things. They are “New Democrats” now, enlightened and entrepreneurial and barely able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone muster the strength to deliver some Rooseveltian stemwinder against “economic royalists.”

Mounting a campaign against plutocracy makes as much sense to the typical Washington liberal as would circulating a petition against gravity. What our modernized liberal leaders offer — that is, when they’re not gushing about the glory of it all at Davos — is not confrontation but a kind of therapy for those flattened by the free-market hurricane: they counsel us to accept the inevitability of the situation and to try to understand how we might retrain or re-educate ourselves so we will fit in better next time.

This last point was a priority for the Clinton administration. But in “The Disposable American,” a disturbing history of job security, Louis Uchitelle points out that the New Democrats’ emphasis on retraining (as opposed to broader solutions that Old Democrats used to favor) is merely a kinder version of the 19th-century view of unemployment, in which economic dislocation always boils down to the fitness of the unemployed person himself.

Or take the “inevitability” of recent economic changes, a word that the centrist liberals of the Washington school like to pair with “globalization.” We are told to regard the “free-trade” deals that have hammered the working class almost as acts of nature. As the economist Dean Baker points out, however, we could just as easily have crafted “free-trade” agreements that protected manufacturing while exposing professions like law, journalism and even medicine to ruinous foreign competition, losing nothing in quality but saving consumers far more than Nafta did.

When you view the world from the satisfied environs of Washington — a place where lawyers outnumber machinists 27 to 1 and where five suburban counties rank among the seven wealthiest in the nation — the fantasies of postindustrial liberalism make perfect sense. The reign of the “knowledge workers” seems noble.

Seen from almost anywhere else, however, these are lousy times. The latest data confirms that as the productivity of workers has increased, the ones reaping the benefits are stockholders. Census data tells us that the only reason family income is keeping up with inflation is that more family members are working.

Everything I have written about in this space points to the same conclusion: Democratic leaders must learn to talk about class issues again. But they won’t on their own. So pressure must come from traditional liberal constituencies and the grass roots, like the much-vilified bloggers. Liberalism also needs strong, well-funded institutions fighting the rhetorical battle. Laying out policy objectives is all well and good, but the reason the right has prevailed is its army of journalists and public intellectuals. Moving the economic debate to the right are dozens if not hundreds of well-funded Washington think tanks, lobbying outfits and news media outlets. Pushing the other way are perhaps 10.

The more comfortable option for Democrats is to maintain their present course, gaming out each election with political science and a little triangulation magic, their relevance slowly ebbing as memories of the middle-class republic fade.

Thomas Frank, a guest columnist, is the author, most recently, of “What’s the Matter With Kansas?’’

The ghosts of Nazi appeasement

Editorial: The ghosts of Nazi appeasement
Bush, Rumsfeld resurrect old fears as elections approach.

If Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld truly believes the loaded words he spoke earlier this week, words comparing critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy to "morally confused" apologists for Hitler in the 1930s who "still have not learned history's lessons," and who want to "appease" a "new type of fascism," if he truly believes that the ghost of Neville Chamberlain haunts America, then he should urge a military draft and a mobilization of millions of young men and women for war against the Islamic-fascist hordes.

But he is silent on that point.

So, we suspect that Rumsfeld is just fronting for a desperate White House. President Bush should, indeed, worry that the public now recognizes that his detour into Iraq was an epic blunder, that it has weakened the nation against the true terror threat and that it has damaged the nation's standing in the world. The consequences in the fall elections could be devastating for Republicans.

This is all about politics. It's about trying once again, as the 9/11 anniversary and the midterm elections approach, to convince voters that the war in Iraq and the fight against Al-Qaida are the same thing.

Bush, when pressed at his Aug. 21 news conference, conceded that Iraq had "nothing" to do with 9/11, and he pledged not to impugn the patriotism of his critics. Yet, out of the other side of his mouth, he has begun to use the Islamic-fascism rhetoric, as if to rally the nation in a holy crusade against infidels who, by the way, bear a striking resemblance to Nazis.

Yesterday in Salt Lake City, he said that victory against terror depends on victory in Iraq and once again stirred the fear of fascism.

It's a shameful tactic. But since the Red-baiting of the 1950s, Republicans have found votes in hyping foreign threats, playing on fears of subversives and invaders, and branding critics as soft on the "ism" of the moment. It's a cynical ploy to portray the world in such simplistic terms, especially for an administration that has failed so profoundly to mount a coherent strategy against the true terror threat.

Bush keeps saying that he will not "quit Iraq before the job is done." We agree. But what is the job? There were no WMD, no links to Al-Qaida, no mass welcoming of American troops with hugs and flowers.

All Bush and Rumsfeld have accomplished is to incite a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 2,600 brave U.S. troops. Will the job be done when Iraq is totally engulfed in war with itself?

Who, in this case, is "morally confused"? Who has forgotten the lessons of history? It was Rumsfeld's arrogance and hubris that, once the Iraq folly was hatched, insisted on a force far too small to secure the country's stability.

Rumsfeld's most outrageous comments, perhaps, came on Monday when he challenged an audience in Reno, Nev., to "feel each day as you did on Sept. 12, 2001."

We don't know whether to laugh or cry. No one has done more to destroy the tearful unity that Americans felt on that terrible day -- or to destroy the solidarity America enjoyed with the rest of the civilized world -- than Rumsfeld and his unfortunate boss, George W. Bush.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rumsfeld's Enemy: It's Us

Rumsfeld's Enemy: It's Us

William M. Arkin
Washington Post

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered a fire-and-brimstone speech at the American Legion's annual convention yesterday -- after acknowledging young soldiers serving in Iraq and giving the boy scouts a shout-out, the secretary wove an elaborate picture of an enemy made up of terrorists, morally misguided Westerners, disagreeable military strategists, and a cynical news media.

Rumsfeld stated there could be no appeasing the enemy and any "any moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere."

The "who" Rumsfeld is talking about is himself.

Rumsfeld is the "who" that is right, and everyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but a danger to freedom.

Within minutes of the conclusion of Rumsfeld's speech yesterday, I received an e-mail from Thayer C. Scott, the secretary's speechwriter, serving up talking points.

The Defense Department then took the unusual step, usually reserved for its broadsides against Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, of issuing a statement saying that the Associated Press coverage of Rumsfeld's Salt Lake City remarks mischaracterized them.

Either Rumsfeld has delivered one of the most important speeches of the modern era, or he's gone crazy.

I think the latter, not just because I think the secretary is wrong on his intellectual characterization of terrorism, and not just because he is wrong about the media and its intentions, and not because he is so pugnacious, or because he has been wrong so many times before.

Rumsfeld is so wrong about America. His use of World War I history and the specter of fascism and appeasement, and his argument about moral weakness or even treason in any who oppose him, is not only polarizing but ineffective in provoking debate and discussion about the proper course this country must take to "fight" terrorism.

This is not the first time that Rumsfeld has shown himself to be so out of touch, so contemptuous of America. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense has displayed a contempt from long before 9/11 for anyone who disagrees with him, particularly in his initial wars against those in the uniformed military.

Moreover, Rumsfeld's declaration of war yesterday follows from his basic view that the Defense Department has to do it all: He has created an intelligence bureaucracy because he is distrustful and contemptuous of the CIA and all others. He has built up a secret army and covert capabilities in special operations forces because he wants to control and to rely only upon his own warriors. He has created a homeland security apparatus that looks over the shoulder of the Department of Homeland Security and is the ultimate arbiter of security. He has created his own FBI in the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), and fought to ensure that the NSA stays under Pentagon control. He has created his own law and his own human rights policy. He has subverted Congress through unexamined supplemental budgets and super-secret programs.

Even as a military strategist, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld pushed a losing strategy in Afghanistan. This is not just because he went to war with an initially small force. After all, the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda began just weeks after 9/11 and that was what could be mobilized in that short period. The tragic error was that Rumsfeld continued to think that the terrorist threat existed in the form of a small army to be routed by his fabulous "transformed" warriors.

It is Rumsfeld who declared "mission accomplished" long before President Bush stepped on to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Rumsfeld has been wrong in fighting and too quick to declare victory thereafter.

Rumsfeld declared victory in Afghanistan, in addition, because he was twitching to move on to the next enemy, and the next and the next. But even when the weaknesses and problems became apparent about how the Afghanistan war had been fought, Rumsfeld still pushed an identical military strategy in Iraq, brushing aside any criticism as naïve and appeasing and out of touch with the new gathering storm of weapons of mass destruction.

And even as Iraq has become one of the biggest hornets' nests in history, the secretary has convinced himself over and over that progress is being made and victory is just around the corner. America, Rumsfeld says, is not to blame, conflating a just war with a preemptive American strike. America is not to blame and therefore Rumsfeld is not to blame: no missteps, no errors of judgment. The secretary just wants his soldiers to believe now that he anticipated all along that the enemy was totalitarian and fascist and that Iraq was part of the big plan.

If I were the conspiratorial type, I'd say Rumsfeld was a particular menace to America because in his view of a monolithic and totalitarian terrorist enemy, and in his analysis of the weakness of American society, he can only come to the messianic conclusion that he indeed needs to takeover the country in order to save it. And this might even be worth speculating about were it the case that Rumsfeld reflected the views of those in the military leadership, or were it the case that Rumsfeld could actually engineer such a coup.

But alas, the secretary would get the intelligence wrong, employ too few troops and send tank columns on thunder runs through Manhattan and Hollywood, prematurely declaring victory and then being befuddled about the American desire to recover and preserve its way of life, which is not the Rumsfeld way.

"Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world’s troubles?," Rumsfeld asked yesterday.

This has got an easy answer: World troubles? Rumsfeld is the source of troubles much closer to home.

Executives Cash In on War and Oil Bonanza

Executives Cash In on War and Oil Bonanza
by Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON - Top oil and defence industry executives in the United States are raking in record personal profits on the backs of the U.S. wars following the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001 and sky-high oil prices, two think-tanks said Wednesday.
"CEOs (chief executive officers) in the defense and oil industries have been able to translate war and rising oil prices into personal jackpots," says the new report "Executive Excess 2006," a 60-page study by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy.

The report's authors say U.S. taxpayers are funding much of this bonanza and faulted U.S. political and congressional leaders for not exercising better and more thorough oversight.

"Americans across the political spectrum should be outraged by the sight of executives cashing in on war windfalls," says report co-author Sarah Anderson. "Unfortunately, partisan politics has stopped Congress from effectively overseeing this war contracting free-for-all."

The study surveys all publicly held U.S. corporations among the top 100 defence contractors that had at least 10 percent of revenues in defence.

It found that the top 34 CEOs combined have earned almost a billion dollars since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. This would have been enough money to employ and support more than a million Iraqis for a year to rebuild their country.

The defence executives' average compensation jumped from 3.6 million during the pre-9/11 period of 1998-2001 to 7.2 million dollars during the post-9/11 period of 2002-2005.

Among other startling facts revealed in the report is that in 2005 alone, defence industry CEOs garnered 44 times more pay than military generals with 20 years experience, and 308 times more than Army privates.

The report names United Technologies CEO George David as the winner of the top spot in executive profits after the Iraq war with more than 200 million dollars in pay since 9/11, despite investigations into the quality of the company's Black Hawk helicopters.

Health Net's CEO Jay Gellert secured the biggest personal pay raise after 9/11, a gigantic 1,134 percent leap over the preceding four years.

"The company owes its earnings growth to American taxpayers, who may not realize they pick up a hefty share of cost overruns in the privatized military health care system," said the report.

Halliburton CEO David Lesar made a modest 26.6 million dollars last year, even though his company has been criticised for its links to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

"While Halliburton's future Iraq work is uncertain, Lesar will enjoy the nearly 50 million dollars he has made since the 'War on Terror' began," the report says.

Oil company chief executives are also making three times the pay of CEOs in comparably sized businesses.

In 2005, the top 15 U.S. oil industry CEOs got a 50 percent raise over 2004. They now average 32.7 million dollars, compared with11.6 million dollars for all CEOs of large U.S. firms, the report finds.

The top three highest-paid U.S. oil chiefs in 2005 were William Greehey of Valero Energy at 95.2 million dollars, followed by Ray R. Irani of Occidental Petroleum at 84 million dollars and Lee Raymond, the outgoing CEO of ExxonMobil, at 69.7 million dollars.

The lowest paid was Chad Deaton, CEO of Baker Hughes, at 6.6 million dollars.

"The average construction worker at an energy company would have to work 4,279 years to equal what Greehey collected last year," the report noted.

Executive pay at U.S.-based oil companies also far outpaced pay at oil companies based outside the United States, says the report.

International oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell, the second and the third largest internationally, paid their top executives only one-eighth what their U.S. counterparts received -- 5.6 and 4.1 million dollars in 2005, respectively. Both companies operate in the same global marketplace as their U.S.-based competitors.

Since 1990, the overall CEO-worker pay gap in the United States has grown from 107-to-1 to last year's 411-to-1, said the report

The study came out a day after another U.S think-tank, the Phoenix Centre for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies, issued a report defending oil industry profits by comparing the overall profitability of the U.S. oil firms to other industries.

It concluded that "selling beer or bleach is more profitable than selling gas and oil, even during times of 'record' profits for the oil companies."

The Phoenix Centre, which looks into broad public-policy issues and promotes a free-market approach, studied profits from companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Marathon, Hess and Sunoco.

"It may be fashionable to beat up on oil industry profits, but it appears that these firms do bear at least some of the burden of high oil prices," said George S. Ford, Phoenix Centre's chief economist and author of the study.

"Our analysis shows that when gas prices are at their highest, oil industry profitability is at its lowest," he said.

But the Phoenix Centre's position may be a lonely one in light of reports that BP, which operates some of the largest oil field in the United States, is under investigation by the Justice Department and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission for possible manipulation of crude oil and gasoline markets.

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service

George Soros | Blinded by a Concept

Blinded by a Concept
By George Soros
The Boston Globe

Thursday 31 August 2006

The failure of Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.

In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in attacking Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted ?ezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.

Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates ``us" from ``them" and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.

A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish among Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations, being different, require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because both have deep roots in their societies; yet there are profound differences between them.

Looking back, it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, allowing an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt; and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented. This contributed to Hamas's electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold elections, then backed Israel's refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect was to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus, engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from Israel - which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening a second front.

That is how extremists play off against each other to destroy any chance of political progress.

Israel has been a participant in this game, and President Bush bought into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have shown that this policy leads to the escalation of violence. The process has advanced to the point where Israel's unquestioned military superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative consequences of its policy. Israel is now more endangered in its existence than it was at the time of the Oslo Agreement on peace.

Similarly, the United States has become less safe since Bush declared war on terror.

The time has come to realize that the present policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. The Israelis must realize that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.

There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel's position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The ?alestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political - as distinct from the military - wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better-balanced approach.

Given how strong the US-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel to achieve its own legitimate aims if the US government were not blinded by the war-on-terror concept.


George Soros, a financier and philanthropist, is author of The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.

Positive Press on Iraq Is Aim of U.S. Contract

Positive Press on Iraq Is Aim of U.S. Contract

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 31, 2006; A20

U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq.

The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a program to provide "public relations products" that would improve coverage of the military command's performance, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal.

The request for bids comes at a time when Bush administration officials are publicly criticizing media coverage of the war in Iraq.

The proposal, which calls in part for extensive monitoring and analysis of Iraqi, Middle Eastern and American media, is designed to help the coalition forces understand "the communications environment." Its goal is to "develop communication strategies and tactics, identify opportunities, and execute events . . . to effectively communicate Iraqi government and coalition's goals, and build support among our strategic audiences in achieving these goals," according to the statement of work that is publicly available through the Web site .

A public relations practitioner who asked for anonymity because he may be involved in a bid on the contract said that military commanders "are overwhelmed by the media out there and are trying to understand how to get their information out.

"They want it [news] to be received by audiences as it is transmitted [by them], but they don't like how it turns out," he said. As an example, he said, there are complaints that reports from Iraq sometimes quote Shiite cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr more than military commanders.

The proposal calls for monitoring "Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international and U.S. national and regional markets media in both Arabic and English." That includes broadcast and cable television outlets, the Pentagon channel, two wire services and three major U.S. newspapers: The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

Monitors are to select stories that deal with specific issues, such as security, reconstruction activities, "high profile" coalition force activities and events in which Iraqi security forces are "in the lead." The monitors are to analyze stories to determine the "dissemination of key themes and messages" along with whether the "tone" is positive, neutral or negative.

The media outlets would be monitored for how they present coalition or anti-Iraqi force operations. That part of the proposal could reflect Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's often-stated concern that the media does not cover positive aspects of Iraq.

In a speech before the American Legion on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said that a search of leading newspapers revealed that a soldier punished for misconduct was written about "10 times" as often as the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in anti-terrorism efforts.

The proposal suggests a team of 12 to 18 people who would provide support for the coalition military command as well as the Iraqi government leadership.

Prospective contractors are also asked to propose four to eight public relations events per month, such as speeches or news conferences, including "preparation of likely questions and suggested answers, themes and messages as well as background, talking points."

An attempt yesterday to reach the contracting officer for this project was not successful. Bids are due Sept. 6, and the 24-month contract is scheduled to begin on Oct. 28.

The Rendon Group, which has represented organizations such as the Iraqi National Congress, currently holds a much smaller year-to-year contract with the military command in Iraq. That contract includes creating an Arabic version of the command's Web site, .

The Blog | Rep. John Conyers: Wall Street Journal Hit Piece Misses the Mark | The Huffington Post

Wall Street Journal Hit Piece Misses the Mark

Rep. John Conyers

Psychologists use the term projection to describe a defense mechanism used by those who have unwanted or undesirable impulses or motivations. Lacking an effective way of dealing with those impulses or motivations, the individual projects them onto others. In essence, a person claims that other people are driven by the forces that he or she is driven by.

That's what I thought of when I read the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page today.

While accusing me and others of plotting various partisan agendas, motivations and vendettas should the Democratic party gain control in November, I was left wondering about the Journal's standing to make such accusations in light of its own "storied" history in journalism.

When the Journal editorial page takes on Democrats on tax policy, I wonder if this is the same Wall Street Journal editorial page, that in 2002 called those who are in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners "lucky duckies", as the President pushed a tax bill that did nothing to benefit the working poor?

Is that the level of mendacity they are projecting?

When the Journal editorial page takes on Democrats on budget and spending policy, I wonder if this is the same Wall Street Journal editorial page that in 1993 labeled President Clinton's 1993 budget, which is widely credited with producing the best economy in American history, as a "Class-Warfare Economy"?

Is that the laughably bad economic know-how they are projecting?

When the Journal editorial page accuses me and other Democrats of plotting partisan vendettas based on conspiracy theories, I don't see how they can keep a straight face.

After all, is this the same Wall Street Journal editorial page that -- under headlines like "Mysterious Mena" and "Investigate Mena" urging the Republican Congress to examine allegations that President Clinton and the C.I.A. conspired to run drugs through an Arkansas airport? (I would simply note that the Republican Congress complied with this request).

Is this the same Wall Street Journal editorial page that so viciously attacked Clinton White House Counsel Vince Foster with conspiratorial headlines like "Who is Vince Foster"? These attacks were a substantial cause of Vince Foster's depression and subsequent suicide. Rather than apologizing for these attacks, is this the same Wall Street Journal that ran an editorial entitled "A Washington Death" urging an investigation into whether Foster's suicide was, in fact, a murder and disgustingly implying that the Clinton's were involved? (I would simply note that the Republican Congress complied with this request. The Chairman of the Committee that conducted this investigation, a hero of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, famously conducted his own ballistics tests in his backyard to prove foul play, shooting a watermelon repeatedly with a handgun.)

In a fine denouement to the Wall Street Journal editorial page's sterling record of accuracy during the Clinton years, didn't it shamelessly flog the hoax of widespread vandalism by outgoing Clinton staffers during the Clinton/Bush transition, with one writer labeling it a crime?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Journal lies to make its case against Democrats. With respect to my staff's report, the "Constitution in Crisis," they claim it is "a road map of Mr. Conyers's explicit intention to investigate grounds for impeaching President Bush."

I think they need a dictionary and a fact checker. Explicit means "fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal." I have explicitly said exactly the opposite of what they claim I have said. And the report doesn't accuse the President or others of "violating no fewer than 26 laws or regulations." It says 26 laws and regulations are "implicated by" their alleged conduct. It's a distinction between allegation and fact, apparently too fine for the Journal's editorial writers to grasp.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Journal thinks Democrats will be out to get Bush the same way they and the Republican Congress were out to get President Clinton. We will not. But with a long record of a propensity to engage in delusions and conspiracy theories mixed with a pitiful record of fact checking, I guess it must be projection.

Pipe Down, Rummy

Pipe Down, Rummy
Rumsfeld's cranky outburst mangles a historical analogy, bad-mouths legitimate critics, and illustrates once again why the defense secretary should resign.

August 31, 2006

TWO REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS ago, the mantra of conservatives was "Let Reagan be Reagan." Apparently President Bush has decided to let Rumsfeld be Rumsfeld — even when Bush himself is no longer the Bush who taunted Iraqi insurgents with "Bring 'em on!" and posed in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished."

In a cranky speech Tuesday to an American Legion audience, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld compared critics of U.S. policy in Iraq to those who sought to appease Hitler before World War II. For good measure, Rumsfeld suggested (echoing Jeane Kirkpatrick's liberal-bashing speech at the 1984 Republican National Convention) that those same critics "blame America first."

One effect of Rumsfeld's outburst was to serve as a reminder that he is still in office. Once the public face of the war in Iraq, he lately has been AWOL from the administration's public advocacy, ceding the spotlight to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The assumption was that, although Rumsfeld remained fireproof, his cocksure contempt for criticism was out of favor now that Bush has acknowledged that the prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq is "straining the psyche of our country."

Maybe Rumsfeld never got the memo, or, if he did, he crumpled it up. His speech was vintage Rumsfeld. It was also unfair and, in places, inane.

Take the suggestion that critics of Bush's Iraq policy are the moral equivalent of those who refused to stop Hitler. There's a reason why high school debaters are warned away from Nazi analogies: They're almost always disproportionate. Even Bush, who recently raised eyebrows by identifying "Islamic fascism" as America's enemy, stopped short of referring to critics of his policies as latter-day Neville Chamberlains.

Even more offensive is Rumsfeld's "blame America first" canard. Who exactly has been pushing what he called "the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world's troubles"? Certainly no one in mainstream American political discourse, not even those members of Congress who want to set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Their argument, right or wrong, is that Iraq is descending into civil war and that the U.S. presence there is unavailing and a drain on resources better expended elsewhere, including on counter-terrorism at home.

The Bush administration can and should respond to that argument without recourse to overheated analogies and straw men like the "blame America first" crowd. Rumsfeld is obviously unwilling to step down. Could he at least pipe down?,0,892661,print.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keith Olbermann - Good Night and Good Luck

Note: This may be the single most important statement made on the Bush administration by a broadcast journalist, period. Everyone should watch the online video, avaiable here.
History will remember the day an anchor on a major news network called the Bush administration by its correct name---fascist.

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

What Keeps Don Rumsfeld Up at Night? Hint: It's Not the Body Count in Iraq

Arianna Huffington

What Keeps Don Rumsfeld Up at Night? Hint: It's Not the Body Count in Iraq

Forget the escalating sectarian violence. Forget the rising influence of Iran. Forget the 100-Iraqi-deaths-per-day. Forget the 2,638 American dead.

For Don Rumsfeld the problem isn't that we are not winning the war in Iraq, the problem is that we are not properly spinning the war in Iraq.

Along with comparing his critics to Hitler appeasers, the beleaguered Defense Secretary has spent the early part of this week making the case that the horrific state of affairs in Iraq is really just a case of bad PR.

"The enemy is so much better at communicating," he whined to a gathering of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say -- all of which are not true -- is harmful."

And during a question-and-answer session with Navy personnel, he bemoaned the ability of terrorist groups -- who, according to Rummy, have "media committees" -- to "manipulate the media," saying, "That's the thing that keeps me up at night."

That's all you need to know about Don Rumsfeld. He's not losing sleep over the bloody reality in Iraq (and his role in creating it); he's tossing and turning over the fact that he hasn't been able to package that bloody reality more effectively. It's all about appearances.

You can just picture him in bed, fuming -- not over the latest body count stats or the latest dire predictions by U.S. generals, but over the latest batch of bad press clippings.

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he said. "They are actively manipulating the media in this country... They can lie with impunity."

It wasn't hard to detect a hint of envy in his voice and a wistful look in his eye as he said this. After all, hadn't he and Doug Feith created the Office of Strategic Influence before the war so the Pentagon also could lie with impunity? Damn the New York Times! If it hadn't exposed their plans, America could be winning the spin war (if not the real one).

But even without the OSI, Rummy still manages a little manipulation of his own. During his Navy Q&A, he claimed that the terrorists groups -- using their crack "media committees," no doubt -- had tried to undermine support for the war by falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As if it was it the terrorists' PR geniuses who came up with the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Haditha, the rape and murders in Mahmudiyah, and the long line of civilian casualties from American bombing runs in Afghanistan.

And how about today's report that the sergeant who led the Haditha attack had originally been recommended for a medal for his actions that day? Was that a terrorist media committee plant, too? (If so, maybe Tom Cruise should have replaced his sister with these guys.)

No matter. The facts are besides the point with Rummy. As he's made clear from the beginning, he doesn't see Iraq as a war that needs to be won. For him, it's a PR campaign that needs to be spun.

It's a long, hard media manipulation slog.

Bush's Tax Cuts Haven't Worked; The Deficit is Out of Control

Bush's Tax Cuts Haven't Worked; The Deficit is Out of Control

by bonddad (Dailykos)
Wed Aug 30, 2006 at 07:52:59 AM CDT

The Republicans are at it again - using the basic theory that a lie told often enough becomes truth. Well, at least these people are consistently wrong. I guess that counts for something. Kudlow and Polipundit are once again doing the "tax cuts pay for themselves and the deficit is under control" argument. Below are the basic facts of the matter. Guess what? Tax cuts don't pay for themselves and the deficit is nowhere near under control.

Tax revenues from individual taxpayers were $290 billion in 1981 and $451 billion in 1989 for an increase of 55%. Over the same period, the GDP price deflator increased from 59.128 to 78.569, or an increase of 32.87%. This makes the inflation-adjusted increase in tax revenues from individuals for Reagan's presidency 22.13%.

Tax revenues from individual taxpayers were $505 billion in 1993 and $994 billion in 2001 for an increase of 96%%. Over the same period, the GDP price deflator increased from 88.39 to 102.42 or an increase of 15%. This makes the inflation-adjusted increase in tax revenues from individuals for Clinton's presidency 81%.

Tax revenues from individual taxpayers were $994 billion in 2001 and $924 billion in 2005 for a decrease of 7%. Over the same period, the GDP price deflator increased from 102.42 to 112.744 or an increase of 10%. This makes the inflation-adjusted increase in tax revenues from individuals for Bush a decrease of 17%.

So, we get the following inflation adjusted increases in individual tax revenue for each of the last three presidents:

Reagan: 22.13%
Clinton: 81%
Bush: -17%

As for the "deficit is decreasing argument"...

In 2002, the total deficit was $157 billion. Yet total debt outstanding increased from $5.807 trillion to $6.228 trillion, or $421 billion.

In 2003, the total deficit was $377 billion, yet total debt outstanding increased from $6.228 trillion to $6.783 trillion, or $555 billion.

In 2004, the total deficit was $412 billion, yet total debt outstanding increased from $6.783 trillion to $7.379 trillion, or $596 billion.

In 2005, the total deficit was $318 billion, yet total debt outstanding increased from $7.379 trillion to $7.932 trillion or $553 billion.

So far in 2006, total debt outstanding has increased from $7.932 to $8.5 trillion, or $568 billion.

Notice that in each of the last 5 years, the total amount of debt issued was larger than the reported fiscal deficit. In addition, notice that total amount of debt is between $553 billion to $596 billion for the last 3 years. There one and a half more months in fiscal 2006, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. However, the outlook does not look promising especially considering the US Treasury has issued a near record amount of debt this year.

So - the historical record indicates the following:

After adjusting for one of the broadest inflation gauges in economics, the Republicans theory of tax cuts pay for themselves is garbage. BTW: If you're a right wing pundit reading this, could you PLEASE START ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION?

In addition, the US Treasury is issuing over $550 billion in new debt per year. That means there is a really big problem. To put it another way, THE DEFICIT IS NOWHERE NEAR UNDER CONTROL

In case you are wondering, all of this information is publicly available at the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Public Debt.

Will the Karr Debacle Lead the Media Addicts to Rehab? Don't Count on It

Will the Karr Debacle Lead the Media Addicts to Rehab? Don't Count on It

Arriana Huffington

Channel-surfing last night's wall-to-wall TV coverage of the decision to drop all charges against John Mark Karr was like walking through the halls of a drug rehab center -- everywhere you looked, you saw addicts unable to break their addiction.

All in the MSM -- well, all except Nancy Grace -- know how sick they are for continuing to talk and talk and talk and talk about this case.
But they just can't help themselves. They know they shouldn't do another eight ball -- they know, after all, this guy is not the killer -- yet they go on and on and on.

The sad thing is, they can't even enjoy the cheap buzz of dishing out the titillating trash -- you can see the embarrassment on their faces as they reach for the ersatz-breaking-news bottle. As I wrote about scandal-addicted newshounds during the Robert Blake bacchanal: "They're like Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in the last reel of Days of Wine and Roses. They're no longer drinking to get high; they're just hoping to avoid delirium tremens -- which in TV-land translates to 'big time ratings slump.' You know, just a little pick-me-up to 'take the edge off.'

But the 12-day Karr bender is worse than any of its lampshade-on-the-head predecessors. Worse than OJ, worse than Robert Blake. At least those media circus clowns were connected in some way (wink, wink) to the crimes in question. Karr is nothing but a disturbed wannabe -- the walking, talking embodiment of a non-story (or, perhaps, a minor mention buried deep inside the pages of the Rocky Mountain News). Instead, the media tumbled down the 12 steps and embarked on a frantic binge that saw countless articles and hours of airtime devoted to the minutest details of the life, times, and airplane menu of a pathetic murderer manqué (Fried king prawns and roast duck -- oh my!).

In one of the creepiest displays of schizophrenic TV I've ever witnessed, Nancy Grace, captain of the lurid crime cheerleading squad, managed last night to conflate for a few fleeting moments the war in Iraq with the Karr scandal. At the end of yet another show devoted exclusively to the Karr nonstory, Grace sought the reassurance of her guest, People magazine staff editor Larry Sutton, that she wasn't going to have to go cold turkey on the Karr/JonBenet juice.

GRACE: Larry Sutton, do you really believe it's over with John Mark Karr, yes, no?

SUTTON: Over as far as JonBenet, yes. Over as far as, will we be wanting to learn some more information about him when he goes to California? No, we`ll be following him.

After breathing a sigh of relief, Grace jumped into a hurried salute to a fallen soldier in Iraq:

GRACE: I want to stop for a moment to remember Marine Corporal Paul King, 23, Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. He joined Marines straight from high school, receiving multiple honors, including the Purple Heart. Recently wed, King loved riding motorcycles with his bride, Rebecca. Paul King, still just a baby, American hero.

"Still just a baby." Sound like anyone else you know? Just in case we didn't get the link, Grace tossed in a quick tip of the hat to the kids on the Little League World Series-winning team from Columbus, Georgia*, then ended the show with a familiar photo of a forever six-year-old JonBenet.

I guess even Nancy Grace knew she had to devote at least one percent of her show to something more important than Karr and JonBenet -- provided, of course, she ended with JonBenet.

So will the media wake up from this lowly high with a booming hangover and reach for a box of Head On ("Apply directly to the forehead!")? Don't count on it. Indeed, just turn on your TV. The addicts are already mainlining the story of fugitive polygamist Warren Steed Jeffs.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but don't you find it just a tad suspicious that Jeffs was busted the day after the no-match DNA test signaled the beginning of the end of the John Mark Karr feeding frenzy?

*The team was from Georgia, not Ohio. Thanks to commenters adaitch and characterfirst for pointing this out.

Fox News' Ratings Take a Nosedive | The Huffington Post

Fox News' Ratings Take a Nosedive

by Alex Koppelman

Somewhere, Keith Olbermann is sticking pins in a Bill O'Reilly voodoo doll: Fox News' ratings, TVNewser reports, are down since August of last year. Like, way down. Like down 28 percent in primetime among all viewers, down 20 percent in primetime in the 'money demo' (viewers aged 25-54) and down 7 percent in daytime viewership overall. In fact, the only place Fox is up is during the day, when they managed a ratings increase of just 2 percent, and even then only in the money demo.

And lest you think this is an industry-wide trend, consider this: over the same time period, CNN and MSNBC are up. CNN's up 35 percent during the day -- 46 percent in the money demo -- and up 21 percent in primetime overall, 25 percent in the money demo. MSNBC's ratings increases aren't quite as impressive -- up 6 percent in primetime overall, 8 percent in the money demo, and up 36 percent in the money demo during the day, 26 percent overall.

We, of course, are Fair and Balanced here, so there won't be any celebrating later tonight. Certainly we will not be opening any champagne. That would be wrong.

Inquiry Criticizes U.S. Broadcasting Official Over Hiring

Inquiry Criticizes U.S. Broadcasting Official Over Hiring

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — State Department investigators have concluded that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, improperly hired a friend on the public payroll for nearly $250,000 over two and a half years, according to a summary of their report made public this afternoon by Democratic Congressional staff members.

They also said that Mr. Tomlinson, whose job puts him in charge of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, used his government office for personal business, including running a “horse racing operation” in which he supervised a stable of thoroughbreds he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai and the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, that have raced at tracks across the United States. They also said that Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly used government employees to do his personal errands and that he billed the government for more days of work than the rules permit.

The State Department inspector general presented those findings in a report last week to the White House and on Monday to some members of Congress. Three Democratic lawmakers, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representatives Howard Berman and Tom Lantos of California, requested the inquiry last year after they were approached by a whistleblower from the agency about the possible misuse of federal money by Mr. Tomlinson and the possible hiring of phantom or unqualified employees.

In providing the report to the members of Congress, the State Department warned that making it public could be a violation of federal law, people who have seen the report said. Today, Mr. Berman’s staff released a summary of the report.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year following a separate inquiry that found evidence that he had violated rules meant to insulate public television and radio from political influence. His renomination by President Bush to another term as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors is pending before the Senate.

The summary of the State Department inspector general’s report said the United States attorney’s office in Washington had been given the report and decided not to conduct a criminal inquiry into the matter. It said the Justice Department was pursuing a civil investigation that focused on a contract Mr. Tomlinson had awarded to his friend.

The three lawmakers who had requested the inquiry sent a letter to the president this afternoon urging him to remove Mr. Tomlinson from his position immediately “and take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”

Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said President Bush continues to support Mr. Tomlinson’s renomination. She declined to comment about the State Department report.

Asked about the report and the call for his ouster, Mr. Tomlinson and his lawyer, James Hamilton, would not immediately comment.

Mr. Tomlinson is a 62-year-old Republican and former editor of Reader’s Digest who has close ties to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s political strategist and senior adviser. Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson served together on the board of predecessor agency to the Broadcasting Board in the 1990’s. Mr. Tomlinson has been chairman of the Broadcasting Board since 2002.

The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government’s foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Marti, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

Mr. Tomlinson’s ouster last November from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was prompted by a separate investigation by that organization’s inspector general. That inquiry found evidence that Mr. Tomlinson had violated rules as he sought more conservative programs and that he improperly intervened to help the staff of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page win a $4.1 million contract — one of the largest programming contracts issued by the corporation — to finance a weekly program on public television.

The heavily edited State Department report on Mr. Tomlinson’s activities at the Broadcasting Board of Governors did not specify the identity of the friend who received the improper contract at the direction of Mr. Tomlinson. Agency officials said he was a retired worker already on a government pension who was rehired by Mr. Tomlinson, without the knowledge of the board or any competitive bidding process, to work on projects for him. The employee was known by other employees as “the phantom” because he was often not at work, other agency employees said.

Mr. Tomlinson was rebuked in the earlier inspector general report by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for improperly hiring an acquaintance from a journalism center founded by the American Conservative Union to monitor several public radio and television shows, including Bill Moyer’s “Now” program, for political bias.

The State Department report said that from 2003 through 2005 Mr. Tomlinson had requested compensation in excess of the 130 days permitted by law for the post he holds. It said that he had requested and received pay from both the broadcasting board and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same days worked on 14 occasions, but that investigators were unable to substantiate whether they were for the same hours worked on the same days.

Investigators who seized Mr. Tomlinson’s e-mail, telephone and office records found that he had improperly and extensively used his office at the Broadcasting Board to do nongovernmental work, including work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and horse racing and breeding ventures. The material seized included racing forms and evidence that he used the office to buy and sell thoroughbreds.

Mr. Tomlinson’s longstanding interest in foreign affairs has carried over to his horse breeding operation. As the owner of Sandy Bayou Stables near Middleburg, Va., his most recent horses have been named after Afghanistan leaders who have opposed Russian and Taliban control of the country. The horses include Massoud, Karzai and Panjshair, the valley that was the base used by forces to overthrow the Taliban. Most of the horses have not been in the money, although Massoud appears to have been quite successful, earning purses of more than $140,000 over the last two years, according to track records.

People who have seen the report said it noted that in the middle of in interview with investigators, Mr. Tomlinson terminated the interview on the advice of his lawyer. One person familiar with the inquiry said Mr. Hamilton ended the interview as the investigators started to ask about the use of Mr. Tomlinson’s office for his horse-racing venture.

Mr. Hamilton declined to comment about the interview.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rudy's Grand Illusion

Rudy's Grand Illusion
What Giuliani likes to remember about 9-11—and what he actually did (or didn't do)
by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins
August 29th, 2006 1:10 PM
Village Voice

From the book GRAND ILLUSION: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins.
Copyright 2006 by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins.
Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

When Rudy Giuliani looks back to September 11, he relies not upon the memory of the day itself, but on his memory of the telling of the tale, which he has recounted over and over. That is always the way for people who have lived through a complicated, high-adrenaline event. We sort it out in our minds, assigning order to the confusing rush of images. But there are invariably other realities—sights and sounds and irrefutable facts that we failed to notice at the time, or that we edit out later to give some order to the story in our own minds.

His vision filtered by the years of retelling, Giuliani remembers an order beneath the chaos of falling debris and jumping victims. The city's emergency services were functioning as they were meant to, with him at the helm. "The line of authority is clear," he told the 9-11 Commission. "The mayor is in charge. In the same way the president of the United States is commander in chief, the mayor is in charge. That's why people elect the mayor, so they get the choice of whether they get a strong captain or a weak captain or a lieutenant or whatever." Praised for heading toward danger rather than away from it, Giuliani replied, "That was my job. I was mayor. Part of my job description was to coordinate and supervise emergencies. The agencies that were the primary responders were all agencies that worked for the mayor. We had a format for how we did it, and part of that included my being there, so that I could coordinate and make sure everybody was working together."

Rudy Giuliani's performance on 9-11 is legendary, but for most people, the story boils down to one image: the mayor walking north from the disaster, covered with dust. Afterward, in his greatest achievement, he was able to give voice to all the things the rest of us needed and wanted to hear. He articulated our grief, shored up our confidence, and insisted on a level- headed response that gave no berth to intolerance. We resist knowing anything more—about the eight-year history of error and indifference that preceded that moment, or the toxic disengagement that followed it.

We also actually know very little about what the mayor really did before he stood up, covered in the remnants of the World Trade Center, and began to speak to the world. Giuliani has been allowed to be his own solitary storyteller, and his unexamined 102 minutes transformed him into an international brand of public courage.

Shortly after the second plane slammed into the twin towers, Giuliani's car pulled up slightly northeast of 7 WTC, where his extremely expensive and ultra- sophisticated Emergency Operations Center was perched high up above many large tanks of combustible fuel. Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who was waiting to meet him, decided it was too dangerous to bring the mayor up to the command center he had so carefully and expensively built. Instead, Kerik pointed out a nearby office building at 75 Barclay Street and said they were "taking people out and setting up a command post" there.

"Is this going to be our main command post?" Giuliani asked Kerik in his own account of the day's events, and Kerik said yes. Then the mayor wanted to know where the fire department was set up. Kerik told him that the top chiefs had their command post two blocks away, on West Street, and the two men headed over there.

Looking back with serene hindsight, it's easy to see what the mayor's most important mission should have been at that critical moment. He needed to make sure the proud and fractious police and fire departments were working together. The fire officials were clearly at the center of the action. Chief of Department Pete Ganci, First Deputy Commissioner Bill Feehan, and search-and-rescue chief Ray Downey had begun the day in the North Tower. Then, looking for a location with a better view of the fires, they set up an impromptu command post on the far side of the eight-lane West Street, where they would manage the total incident, working with the board that locates all department resources involved in fighting a fire.

When Giuliani arrived at 9:20, Ganci and the chiefs told the mayor that "they had already gotten some people out above the plane," that they'd been "lucky enough to have a stairway that they could come down." Giuliani thought the chiefs were talking about a stairway in the North Tower, where, in fact, none were ever passable. But he may have misunderstood the chiefs, and they may have been talking about Stairway A in the South Tower, the single passageway to survival that, in the end, only 18 people found. Neither fire dispatch nor 911, which handled countless calls from people stuck above the South Tower fire, were ever told about an open stairway, though the chiefs apparently knew about one.

"What should I tell people? What should I say?" Giuliani asked.

"The message has to be: 'Get in a stairway and come down. Do not stay there,' " the mayor recalled Ganci saying. Of course, the city's emergency operators never stopped giving precisely the opposite advice.

Kerik and Ganci talked briefly. It was the only time the two leaders of these often dueling departments would speak that day. Uncomfortable about the exposed location, Kerik then said, "Mayor, we've got to get you out of here and set up a command post." Hector Santiago, a member of Kerik's detail, heard the false alarm of a third plane over the radio and yelled, "Boss, we have to go. There's a third plane coming. We're underneath the building. We have to go." With chunks of the towers falling on West Street, Giuliani urged Ganci to move the command post. They exchanged God-bless-you's.

Then the mayor, Kerik, Deputy Police Commissioner Garry McCarthy, and other top cops all left. The chief of the department, Joe Esposito, was on his way to the fire command post when Giuliani left. Informed by radio that the group was leaving just as he approached, Esposito, the highest-ranking uniformed officer, was also diverted to Barclay Street. Joe Dunne, the first deputy police commissioner, arrived shortly after Giuliani departed and was told to turn around and join the mayor. Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota, who also met Giuliani on Barclay and went to West Street with him, said, "There were no police officials at the command post when we got there and none when we left."

After presiding over endless turf battles between the two proud departments, Giuliani knew how critical police-fire cooperation was, and he knew it wouldn't happen automatically. Yet in his book Leadership, Giuliani wrote: "I turned north and headed to the Police Department command post." In his 9-11 Commission testimony, he said, "I then walked up with, at this point, the police commissioner, the deputy police commissioner, and the chief of the department. I was really brought into 75 Barclay and told this would be our command post."

The "our" was the police and the mayor. Yet the fire department was responsible for managing the city response to any fire—a series of interagency directives that Giuliani had signed only a few months earlier said so. Giuliani's role at that moment was to do everything he could to put police and fire commanders at the same post, not participate in setting up a police command post at Barclay that would be separate from Ganci's. If the mayor felt that he needed to go to Barclay—for reasons of safety or to get hard phone lines and hold a press conference—why did he bring all of the top police commanders with him? Why did he never raise the subject of a joint response while at West Street? And since Ganci said he was moving his post, why was there no discussion of a new joint location that would include some of the top police decision makers?

Everyone agrees that a critical problem that day was that the police and fire departments could not communicate; that's one of the reasons the lack of inter- operable radios became such a focus of fury. If the top brass of the two departments were at each other's sides, they could have told each other whatever they learned from their separate radio systems. Many of the command and control issues that might have saved lives could clearly have been better dealt with had Giuliani stopped, taken a deep breath, and pushed Kerik and Ganci to fully and effectively join forces. Insisting that Kerik, McCarthy, Esposito, or Dunne stay at the incident post would have established a joint operation.

Even Fire Commissioner Tom Von Essen, who also left West Street to join the mayor, said later: "There should be a representative from the Police Department there; there should be a high-level chief from the Fire Department there. They should be controlling the operation from that command post. That day the police did not hook up with the Fire Department. I don't know why."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology found that "functional unified operations were diminished as a result of the two departments' command posts being separated." In fact, said NIST, there's no record that "any senior police department personnel" were assigned "to provide liaison or assist" with Ganci's incident post. The longtime head of Giuliani's emergency management office, Jerry Hauer, pointed out the most dire consequence of the split command posts: "Had there been a senior police liaison at the command post, information about what the police were observing in the air could have been relayed to the ground." He, the 9-11 Commission, and NIST agree that at a joint post, the fire chiefs would have gotten the warnings of collapse issued by police helicopters that they otherwise missed.

Giuliani had the opportunity to make that kind of unified direction happen—and, by his own description, the obligation to make it happen—but he didn't. In his first detailed post–9-11 television interview he recalled that he "walked away" from Ganci's post "and took my people with me." But they were not just "his" people, meaning his City Hall deputies. Included in his entourage was the entire police command.

In that same September 22 interview, Giuliani offered a different explanation for his initial decision to go to the FDNY post on West Street: "I wanted to join the Fire Department and the Police Department together at one command post, so I asked where the Fire Department command post was." He had inadvertently described what he should have done, indeed what his own protocol required him to do. But obviously, that story didn't fit the facts. So by the time he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 27, he remembered things differently. "And then when I got there," he said, "I wanted to make sure that the police department had a command post so that we could communicate with the White House, and the fire department had one so they could actually focus their attention on fighting the fire and the rescue."

By the time he wrote Leadership in 2002, he'd come up with a detailed rationale. He said the separation of command posts was "absolutely necessary" because "the Fire Department had to lead the rescue and evacuation," while the Police Department "had to protect the rest of the city." Since the departments were "performing different tasks," he argued, they had to have different command posts. Of course, the departments have some different duties in virtually all emergencies, but that reasoning flew in the face of not only all modern understanding of how to coordinate responses to epic catastrophes, but also all the plans Giuliani'sown government had put in place. If it were true that different emergency functions required a separation of command, there would have been no rationale for a coordinating Office of Emergency Management. Everybody could just do their own thing. Unified command is now such accepted wisdom that the Department of Homeland Security requires it.

And of course, as the mayor well knew, the police department was deeply in- volved in the rescue and evacuation on 9-11. That's why 23 cops died. Five emergency service units were sent in to climb the steps just like firefighters, as were other plainclothes and patrol cops. Kerik recounts in his book how "our ESU guys were pulling on their masks and marching off toward the buildings" just like the "brave firefighters."

The real, and obvious, explanation for why Giuliani left things as they were at West Street was that he was as unnerved as everyone else. The fire and police departments were acting on long-held instinct by staying apart, and the mayor shied away from interfering with men who were busy making life-and-death decisions. It was as human a response as his calming and compassionate statements later that day. But it was also a mistake with consequences, and if New York and the nation actually examined Giuliani's unified-command dysfunction that day, both might be better prepared the next time. Unfortunately, admitting all this would not square with Time's salute: "When the day of infamy came, Giuliani seized it as if he had been waiting for it all his life, taking on half a dozen critical roles and performing each masterfully. Improvising on the fly, he became 'America's homeland-security boss,' as well as its 'gutsy decision-maker' and 'crisis manager.' "

There was another reason for the Barclay command post, and Kerik hasn't been as shy as the mayor about mentioning it: security. "I was worried about the mayor and making sure we didn't put him in harm's way," he said later. Kerik's "immediate problem" was finding space "far enough removed that the mayor wasn't in danger." As sensible as protecting Giuliani was, it's a far different explanation from the mayor's rationale for the two posts.

Whatever the mix of reasons, Giuliani has never been forced to explain, by investigators or reporters, how he squares the two-post decision with his own rules for how the police and fire departments were supposed to behave. John Farmer, the 9-11 Commission's top investigator for the city response chapter of its report, says Giuliani can't. "I don't know if he thought of it that day, but yes, it was not consistent with the protocol he established," Farmer says. "I think what he would tell you is that he thought coordination was occurring. He had Kerik with him, and the reality of these situations is that the coordination has to be not just two guys at the top; it has to be more integrated." Asked if Giuliani should be held accountable for this and other disarray that day, Farmer said, "Of course, the answer is yes. If you're the top official, you're accountable."

The 9-11 Commission members reached conclusions similar to Farmer's, but so quietly that no one noticed. The commission report never described Giuliani's step-by-step actions that day, though it chronicles just about everyone else's, and it certainly never mentioned his role in creating two posts. But when it reached its ultimate conclusion that the fire department was not "responsible for the management of the City's response as the Mayor's directive would have required," the very next line was "the command posts were in different locations." Thus, the commission's best example of the violation of the mayor's directive was the mayor's own action.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology added: "Unified command was hampered by the fire department and police department setting up separate command posts." It also found that the governing fire department protocol that day—issued in 1997 when Von Essen was commissioner—said that at a fire like this, "the departments act as 'one organization' and are managed as such." Instead of "several posts operating independently," the department circular provides that "the operation is directed from only one command post." Daniel Nigro, the only top fire chief at West Street to survive, said, "I think there should have been one command post. It should be run according to the incident command system, and that system puts one person in command and all the other agencies are there and they work from a single location."

Ray Kelly, the police commissioner who preceded and followed the Giuliani years, said in an interview, "Sure, the separate command post was a violation of the protocols. The radios would have been no problem if they had been at the same command post, if they'd been face-to-face. The Office of Emergency Management was supposed to make that happen under the protocols, but Jerry Hauer wasn't there any-more. OEM had the power to direct that to happen. Giuliani had the power to direct that to happen."

The mayor's main mission, as he has put it in repeated accounts, was to gather the information he needed to tell a television and radio audience what they should do, especially people in jeopardy. By the time he talked directly to an audience, however, both towers had collapsed, and the message Ganci asked him to give occupants was moot. The mayor was, in the end, just one more dispatcher who failed to relay useful information. He said he went to Barclay for hard phone lines, but once he got there, his most pressing concern was reaching the vice president and that went nowhere—someone's phone line went dead, although it's unclear whether it was Giuliani's or Dick Cheney's.

Right after the Cheney call disconnected, the South Tower collapsed. No one in the police department had apparently considered how Giuliani and, by then, a very large entourage would get out of the building in an emergency. So when the tower knocked out windows and drove rubble and ash into their first-floor safe haven, the group ran through the basement until they found a way into a neighboring building and out onto the street. They walked up Broadway and then Church, finally hooking up with cameras and press, searching again for a command post, with Giuliani pointing everyone north.

Even the mayor eventually acknowledged that it might have been a mistake that his entire 25-member inner circle, including three deputy mayors, the police, fire, and Office of Emergency Management commissioners, was marching with him on this hazardous pilgrimage, a vulnerability that hardly reflected strategic thinking. This time, Giuliani's preference for the comfort of a huge entourage had disconnected the city's management and its fighting force at a crucial moment.

The only time this confounding management choice took the form of a critical media question was on Fox the day after Giuliani's commission testimony in 2004, when John Gibson asked Hauer's successor at OEM, Richie Sheirer, about it. Gibson referred to "the worry" about how the Giuliani entourage had operated, questioning whether it was "fortuitous" that a single "chunk of concrete" hadn't fallen "on Rudy Giuliani, you, or somebody else," causing "the whole thing" to have "fallen apart." Gibson appeared to be questioning the wisdom of the fact that "all of the leaders of the city's emergency structure got together and had this little command center that moved around." Sheirer's answer was pure bluster. "No, there was nothing fortuitous about it," he said. "It was well planned. Our succession plan for the highest levels of government, the mayor and people like me, is very well in place and embedded. That was implemented to the degree that it needed to be."

Kerik was actually a prime example of this managerial dysfunction all morning. For the 102 minutes when the city most needed a police commissioner orchestrating an overall response with an embattled fire department, Kerik became Giuliani's body guard, just as he had been in the 1993 mayoral campaign. His own account of what he did that morning contained no indication that he was actually managing the police response to this emergency. The command center at 1 Police Plaza wasn't opened until 9:45, an hour after the attack, a decision that led the independent consultants commissioned by the Bloomberg administration, McKinsey & Company, to raise questions about why it was "underused."

McKinsey also criticized the "number and continual movement of command posts," and the absence of any "clearly identifiable, main command post," errors associated with the top brass including Kerik, who, unlike Von Essen, is an operational chief. "Many leaders of the Department," the independent consultant found, "indicated that they operated primarily from instinct and experience during an emergency rather than according to a prioritized or structured set of objectives." Only 45 percent of the 557 cops who were surveyed by McKinsey said they "received clear instructions regarding my role on 9-11," with 34 percent saying they didn't and the rest undecided. A meager 24 percent said they were "confident" that the police department had adequate emergency plans. Remarkably, 89 percent had no training in building collapse, 84 percent had none in counterterrorism, 73 percent none in fire rescue/evacuation, and 70 percent none in bio/chem. Of the few who had training in any of these areas, less than a third found it "useful."

The McKinsey report faulted virtually everything Kerik did that day without naming him or anyone else in top management, criticizing a "perceived lack of a strong operational leader commanding the response" and the "absence of clear command structure and direction on 9-11."

Instead of dealing with any of these complex tactical issues on 9-11, Kerik's decisions—at 7 WTC, West Street, Barclay, and the basement—all revolved around the mayor's safety. Chris Marley, the building engineer at Barclay who guided the Giuliani group out, said, "Kerik had his arm around the mayor to protect him." Kerik was later asked what his priorities were that day and he told NPR, "Well, the first thing to do was to get the mayor out of there and get to a secure site." With Kerik, Esposito, Dunne, and McCarthy guarding him at points, Giuliani was protected by the highest-ranking detail in the history of the New York City Police Department. Yet not once did he look around and ask the question: Who's running the shop?

"I don't know de facto who was in charge," Kelly said. "The police commissioner was the head of the organization. I don't know who was directing. I literally don't."

Kerik was with the mayor because Giuliani wanted him to be. "I need the police and fire commissioners with me," Giuliani said when he summoned Von Essen. He also reached out to Richie Sheirer—the third member of the team who would be at his side for every 9-11 press briefing, then go with him to Giuliani Partners. All three had no real management credentials until Giuliani promoted them. Von Essen and Kerik went from the lowest ranks of their departments to the very top without ever passing a promotional exam. Giuliani had begun his mayoralty with a circle of managers, like Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and OEM's Hauer, who had track records elsewhere. He was ending it with a cult of personality. When he chose Kerik over the seasoned professional Dunne, he told reporters that the decision had come to him in a moment of personal inspiration. Not surprisingly, all Kerik could think about in a moment of great crisis was protecting the leader, even if it meant leaving a void in the department he was charged with commanding.

Despite all these missteps, Giuliani was depicted almost immediately as the calmest man in the eye of the worst storm—decisive, self-sufficient, ironhearted. "It was so well orchestrated that you would have thought he had prepared for it forever," his lifelong secretary Beth Petrone-Hatton told Time. His own Time comments set the subsequent television interview tone: "There were times I was afraid. Everybody was. But the concentration was on. If I don't do what I have to do, everything falls apart. Something I learned a long time ago, from my father, is that the more emotional things get, the calmer you have to become to figure your way out. Those things have become a matter of instinct for me at 57 years old. I didn't have to invent them." He told CNN, "When it's an emergency, I'm very, very calm and very deliberate."

If Giuliani had actually been doing all the things he now sees himself as having done that day—prioritizing, making strategic decisions about deployment of personnel, command centers, and communications—it would have been a superhuman performance. But actually, in those first hours, Giuliani was doing what most of us, in his place, would have done—struggling, stumbling, and even making a weighty mistake, in the case of the two command posts. His decision to try to get on the air as quickly as possible was sensible, as was his hunt for phones and, later, an alternative command center. But as unforgettable a visual as he was, roaming the canyons of Lower Manhattan, he did not do one thing in those 102 minutes that had any impact.

And it isn't just his own story that he has hyped. Giuliani has repeatedly contended that 25,000 people were rescued, though government investigators determined that there were actually 15,000 survivors and that most of these people were able to make their own way to safety. While these facts do nothing to dim the magnificent bravery of the firefighters, police officers, and other responders who saved many lives that day, they do turn Giuliani's claim into just one more self-serving boast.

The centerpiece of Giuliani's experience on 9-11, his dust-covered march uptown, was truly important to the city and the nation. His ordeal was not about management or even leadership—it was the sight of the mayor sharing that terrible experience with so many other fleeing New Yorkers. The symbol of the city was on the ground with his constituents, dirty and determined, conscious of the fact that there were many others who had been less fortunate. He did not have to save any lives to be important that day. Imagine how different our memories of Hurricane Katrina would be if Mayor Ray Nagin had been out in the water with the dispossessed, splashing his way toward the Convention Center.

We rely on our leaders to behave well in such a moment, to set an example of calm and compassion. But we do not expect them to manage the intricacies of the rescue operation. For that, we hope there are men and women throughout the government who have been preparing and training just so that if a crisis comes, they can operate on instinct, yet automatically make the proper decisions. If the mayor of New York had made sure that the city's emergency headquarters was securely located and had put in place communications and command systems that worked, he would have been of greater service on 9-11—even if he had spent the whole day cowering under his desk.

Giuliani has never acknowledged a single failing in his own performance. Yet he did nothing before September 11 to alleviate the effects of a terror attack. He embodied his city's lack of preparation on West Street that morning. And he did not do anything later that matched the moments of grace and resolve he gave us the day we needed him most. What we have left is this: At a moment when the public needed a hero, Rudy Giuliani stepped forward. When he assured New York that things would come out all right, he was blessedly believable. It was a fine thing. But it was not nearly as much as we, at the time, imagined.