Thursday, March 27, 2008

BushCo's Last Days List ~ To-Do's While Still In Office

Ill: Wizard of Whimsy

Your Demon's admittedly dark and perverse sense of humor doesn't prevent her from looking eagerly forward and, yes, rather naiively, to the day we finally learn the real reasons behind America's abysmal failure to oust Dick Cheney and George Bush via the self-restorative tonic of impeachment for various crimes at home and abroad when the red flags were awave in all our faces ~ scintillating as it's sure to be ~ but I rather doubt history's judgment will be anywhere near complete in my lifetime. Or during the lifetimes of any of the major actors ~ certainly not Bush himself, who's promised to keep his "Presidential Library" in Texas off-limits to serious scholars for many years to come.

I mention it only because I can't help a whistful game of "what if" as I launch into this evening's topic of things we shouldn't have to suffer again: the fact that the neocon wish list of things undone so far continues to be pursued with unabashed vigor and with no more grounds nor imagination than we've had to endure previously, no matter how unsuccessful to date and transparent the insult to our collective intelligence.

War with Iran, for instance: Cheney should be embarrassed to keep harping on it, never mind resurrecting the highly credible argument of WMD's, despite no intelligence to support it. Deja vu, anyone?

"Vice President Dick Cheney charged in an interview released Tuesday that Iran is trying to develop weapons-grade uranium, though international inspectors and U.S. intelligence services have not found evidence of such an effort.

"'Obviously, they're also heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade levels,' Cheney said, according to a transcript released by the White House of an interview done Monday in Turkey with ABC's Martha Raddatz.

"Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful energy production, but the U.S. and other Western countries fear Tehran will eventually develop nuclear weapons.

"In its latest report, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, says Iran is enriching uranium at its plant in Natanz to less than 3.8%, which is the level necessary to create fuel for a civilian reactor. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 80% or 90%.

"Cheney's comment also contradicted the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded in a report revealed late last year that Iran had halted its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003.

"The vice president's statement was the second time in a week that a White House official has made an allegation regarding Iran's nuclear program and its intentions that did not square with publicly known facts.

"President Bush said last week that Iran's leaders had 'declared' they were seeking nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied the charge, and the White House later backpedaled, calling the president's remarks 'shorthand.'",1,7973825.story

Another favorite Bushco agenda bugaboo, besides expanding Middle Eastern boondoggle-wars, is the continuing campaign to privatize social security (after borrowing against it for lo these many years), but oddly enough, we do have money for bailouts of "riverboat gambler" investment and commercial banks who've brought ordinary America to its knees financially, and, of course, we always plenty of money for war! (Through some little dishonest budget trix like not counting the costs of private contractors, or the waste and fraud lost to friendly no-bid contracts).

"US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Tuesday that America's Social Security program for the retired is 'financially unsustainable' and needs an urgent overhaul."

What most people don't realize is that retirement benefits haven't been keeping up with inflation because of by-now-familiar Bushco jiggering of figures, comparing apples to oranges, while the "privatization through the back door" of Medicare Advantage programs that lure Medicare recipients away from Medicare and into private plans that often are more expensive to those in desperate need of reliable health care with cost containment have been heavily subsidized. Wonder if those sacks of money in subsidies to private entitites are being counted as a "cost" to the taxpayers as well, in the rush to pronounce social security on its last legs.
Senior's League reports:
"Newly Released 2009 COLA Forecast Would Keep Five Million Seniors Below Poverty Line 2.8 Percent Increase Would Raise Average Benefit Just $30.20 Per Month During Economic Downturn"

"February 14, 2008 (Washington, DC) – Late last month, the Congressional Budget Office published a little-noticed estimate that forecasts seniors will receive just a 2.8 percent increase in their Social Security checks beginning in January, 2009.
Despite the increase, at least five million people aged 65 and over will remain in poverty, since senior costs are rising significantly faster than the annual Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

"Between 2001 and 2008, Medicare Part B premiums have soared by more than 93 percent while the COLA has crept up just 19 percent, leaving many seniors on their own to cover all other rising costs. Part B premiums cover doctors’ visits, tests, and outpatient hospital care. Although the COLA is intended to help seniors keep up with inflation, a recent study by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) that analyzed eight key expenditures found that people 65 and over have lost 40 percent of their buying power since 2000. Expenses such as home heating oil and gasoline have more than doubled since the beginning of the decade, while food staples such as potatoes and butter have increased by 47 and 39 percent, respectively.

"A majority of the 48 million Americans aged 65 and over who receive a Social Security check depend on it for at least 50 percent of their total income, and one in three beneficiaries relies on it for 90 percent or more of their total income.

“'Social Security is supposed to protect seniors in need – but with five million seniors below the poverty line, it’s clear the system is failing them,' said Shannon Benton, executive director of The Senior Citizens League. 'If it’s true that a nation’s greatness is defined by how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then we must do a better job of protecting impoverished seniors.'

"To help offset the cost of Medicare Part B, TSCL is lobbying for a change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used to determine the COLA. The government currently calculates the COLA based on the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), a slow-rising index that tracks the spending habits of younger workers who don’t spend as much of their income on health expenditures.

"However, the government also tracks the spending patterns of older Americans with the CPI for Elderly Consumers, or CPI-E. By tying the annual increase in the COLA to the CPI-E, seniors would see much needed relief in their monthly checks."

So, while Bush dreams of his legacy and insists that someday America will look back and see him as a visionary, your Demon thinks that proper word for it would be, not visionary, but delusional.

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