Posts Tagged ‘Bush’
Blair learned his lessons well from Bush, didn’t he? $16 billion in U.K. tax fraud from lack of oversight
The head of Britain’s Work and Pensions department charges that fraud in the country’s tax-credit system has cost taxpayers more than $16.2 billion.
Ian Duncan Smith said a system of tax credits targeting lower-paid Britons is open to abuse because of the inadequate number of checks on those who receive the assistance, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.
In an article published in the newspaper, Smith wrote that Britain’s welfare bill rose 60 percent between 2003 and 2010, with nearly $278 billion disbursed during that period…
The tax credits are based on a person’s estimate of salary for the coming year. At the end of that year, tax collectors are supposed to compare the person’s actual earnings against the estimate and reclaim any overpayments.
Smith said the revenue department conducted only about 34,000 checks a year on individuals who received what were considered “high risk awards.”
Blair followed Bush’s best practices all the way from war to poverty. No oversight. No responsibility. Nothing achieved beyond death, destruction and deficit.
Back during the late unlamented era after the Supremes installed W in the White House, it was common to hear assertions from the Beltway types to the effect that the effectiveness of the Bush political campaign demonstrated that the Bush team had the competence needed to run the country.
This was completely wrong-headed; many of the skills needed for campaigning have nothing whatsoever to do with governing. Smearing your opponent, flattering the news media, and suppressing the vote may work fine against hapless Democrats (back then they really were hapless in a way they no longer are); they’re no use at all in dealing with foreign governments and a troubled economy.
Yet there are some skills that do apply to both campaigning and governing — above all, an ability to face up to reality. And this, we’re now learning, was a skill that the Romney campaign utterly lacked. At least if postmortems are to be believed, they drank their own Kool-Aid, “unskewing” the polls and thus failing to understand what anyone reading Sam Wang, Drew Linzer, or Nate Silver knew.
Now, it’s one thing to do this and misjudge the prospects of rival American candidates. But suppose Romney had somehow ended up winning, and made the same kind of misjudgement of, say, Iran or al Qaeda — or of the economic outlook. Living in a bubble of conservative denial can lose much more than an election if it becomes a style of governing.
And look, we’ve already seen that play. Remember the Bush administration’s state of denial over the failing occupation of Iraq? (We were supposed to be welcomed as liberators, and the Bushies were the last to realize that it wasn’t happening). Remember how Bush’s aides ended up making a DVD of Katrina coverage to get his attention and convince him that Brownie wasn’t actually doing a heckuva job?
So this time the campaign was indeed an indicator of fitness to govern. Romney wasn’t ready, and neither was his party.
Bush came through his re-election [an affirmation of Confederate gullibility] prattling about political capital and how he deserved to spend it. The media barons lapped it up – as did most of Congress. The rest of us were reasonably distracted watching the 2nd Fall of Iraq and preparing for the collapse of the incredibly corrupt greed-bubble that resulted in the Great Recession.
So, Bush and the Republicans wrapped themselves in the incantations of Grover Norquist, Kool Aid drinkers became the Tea Party [along with millions in cash from industrial pigs] and almost everything that might be done to restore order to a broken economy was diminished before it began.
Anyone who pays attention to the same crowd – now that they’ve been thoroughly discredited and defeated – is a fool. The line forms on the Right.
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a cry of alarm five years ago in the form of three separate report cards on the state of the nation’s infrastructure in 15 major categories — from bridges to rail lines, pipelines, dams, waterways, highways and all other publicly regulated facilities…
U.S. infrastructure repairs and new projects have been repeatedly postponed as defense requirements and two wars over the past 11 years took priority…
Infrastructure has been a key U.S. priority — on paper. On average, since World War II, the United States earmarked 3 percent of its gross domestic product to infrastructure. But this was cut by one-third to 2 percent since 1980…
As U.S. national priorities changed, the U.S. government gradually shifted the lion’s share of its infrastructure responsibilities from federal to state and local. Thus, the federal government moved an estimated 75 percent of public infrastructure costs off its books.
Years of deferred infrastructure costs followed.
Imam Abu Omar, now living in Egypt
Italy’s highest appeals court has upheld guilty verdicts on 23 Americans, all but one of them CIA agents, accused of kidnapping a terror suspect.
Their case related to the abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003.
The man, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly flown to Egypt and tortured.
The Americans were tried in absentia, in the first trial involving extraordinary rendition, the CIA’s practice of transferring suspects to countries where torture is permitted.
The practice has been condemned by human rights groups as a violation of international agreements.
The group of Americans – 22 of whom were CIA agents and one an Air Force pilot – are believed to be living in the US and are unlikely to serve their sentences.
Italy has never requested their extradition but they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest…
The court upheld the sentences of the lower court which had sentenced all of them to seven years in prison, apart from Seldon Lady [CIA station chief], who was given a nine-year sentence.
The Court of Cassation also ruled that five senior Italian secret service agents – including the former head of the country’s military intelligence agency – should be tried for their role in the kidnapping.
I have no idea if Abu Omar was connected to terrorism or not. What I do know is that my government, the government of the United States of America broke every relevant law on civil liberties with the rendition and torture program run under the governance of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Anyone associated with that program – especially including the thugs whose only defense is that they were just obeying orders – is equally guilty in my eyes and I am certain in the judgement of history.
NATO’s decision to scale back joint operations with Afghan forces may protect the lives of Western troops increasingly targeted by “insider attacks,” but it raises troubling new questions about President Barack Obama’s strategy to stabilize Afghanistan.
After ramping up Afghan security forces at a breakneck rate to allow for a drawdown of Western troops, NATO is coming to grips with a rash of deadly assaults by Afghan recruits who turn their guns on Western allies. Muslim rage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad has further stoked the risk.
The White House and NATO leaders have stressed that the suspension of some mentoring operations announced on Tuesday is only a temporary step, limited in scope, that does not alter America’s withdrawal timeline. It applies to front-line missions involving units smaller than an 800-strong battalion, and even then, there will be exceptions…
But James Dubik, a retired lieutenant general who oversaw the training of Iraq’s security forces, warned that the move would undoubtedly act as a drag on training of Afghan forces, an urgently needed step to prepare them for the time when most NATO combat troops have gone home at the end of 2014…
How much of an impact the restrictions have depends on how long the policy is maintained, he said…
Marine General John Allen, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan, said last month that about a quarter of the attacks can be blamed on the Taliban, both by direct infiltration of Afghan forces and coercion of Afghan troops to attack their NATO counterparts.
Other attacks are attributed to disputes between Afghan troops and their foreign partners, or chalked up to the violence that comes with the trauma of a decade of war.
And who gets the credit for that?
Bush and Cheney invaded. Obama followed the “guidance” of Pentagon types who said they could wind it down quickly and easily. Now, we all get to see how well that is working out.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu called Sunday for Tony Blair and George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq
Tutu, the retired Anglican Church’s archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to “answer for their actions.”
The Iraq war “has destabilized and polarized the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history,” wrote Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984.
“Those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague,” he added…
Tutu has long been a staunch critic of the Iraq war, while others opposed to the conflict — including playwright Harold Pinter — have previously called for Bush and Blair to face prosecution at the Hague.
“The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand — with the specter of Syria and Iran before us,” said Tutu…
Report from auditors finds that massive US programme to train Iraqi police was unwanted and led to ‘de-facto waste’.
More than $200m was wasted on a programme to train Iraqi police that the government in Baghdad neither needed or wanted, US auditors have found.
The Police Development Programme, which was to be the single largest programme launched by the US State Department anywhere in the world, was envisioned to be a five-year, multi-billion dollar effort to train local security forces after the US military pulled out last December.
A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, to be released today, found that the US embassy in Baghdad never received a written commitment from Iraq to participate in the programme.
Now, facing what the report called Baghdad’s “disinterest” in the project, the embassy is massively cutting what was planned to be the centrepiece of ongoing US training projects in Iraq.
According to the report, the embassy now plans to turn the $108m Baghdad Police College Annex over to Iraqis by the end of 2012, and will also stop training at a $98m site in the southern city of Basra…
“A major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programmes is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities”…auditors wrote in a 41-page summary of their inspection…
In ordinary English – understand we’re talking about a government made up of survivors of Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
The report concluded, “the decision to embark on a major programme absent Iraqi buy-in has been costly” and resulted in “a de-facto waste”…The findings have called into question funding needs at the US embassy in Baghdad, the largest such mission in the world…
In a July 26 letter responding to a draft of the report, Carol Z. Perez, an acting US assistant secretary of state, said that the embassy would be requesting additional funding for the police training programme in 2013…
Moreover, Perez said, the embassy had been assured by Adnan al-Asadi, the Iraqi principal deputy interior minister, that his country is committed to a streamlined version of the training programme.
The auditors, however, said that those assurances fall short of a written commitment. They quoted al-Asadi as telling US inspectors that the police training programme was “useless”.
Bush’s imperial adventure into the Middle East will go down in history as comparable to the political and military disaster that was VietNam. We weren’t wanted. We did nothing useful to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
We convinced the few people who may have been sympathetic to the United States in the Middle East and the rest of the world – that our foreign policy is as backwards as the rules of order governing Congress. And our nation is run by liberals and/or conservatives who have learning nothing from our past – or the failures of every imperial nation that preceded us.
George W. Bush and one of his cheerleaders
About two-thirds of Americans believe Republican former U.S. President George W. Bush is responsible for the nation’s struggling economy, with a smaller percentage blaming Democratic President Barack Obama, a Gallup poll showed on Thursday…
Isn’t that a brilliant sentence? Cripes – if Bush gets 68% that only leaves 32% for the balance. I hope some editor gets the blame for making Susan Heavey include that.
Independent voters, who could play a critical role in the November election, were more likely to blame Bush (67 percent) than Obama (51 percent)…
Many Americans are still struggling to recover financially from the nation’s deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Obama is trying to regroup after recent setbacks, including an anemic May jobs report.
“Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago,” Gallup said. “… This suggests that Obama’s argument that he is on the right track and needs more time to turn the economy around could fall on receptive ears, particularly those of independents…”
Critics say Bush’s tax cuts combined with increased spending to fight two wars, among other costs, helped plunge the nation into a deep economic crisis.
If you care to round out the blame game, you might consider the role of corporate lobbying in the buying and selling of our elected representatives in Congress. It was Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America in 1994 that set the ground rules [a] for increasing the power of lobbyists by 400 to 1000% – and [b] establishing the Republican protocol of blocking any possible progress by a Democratic administration – even if that includes stopping the passage of any useful bipartisan legislation.
Meanwhile, add in Bush policies that freed the whole range of property speculators from storefront mortgage brokers to proprietary trades in mortgage-backed securities from oversight and regulation. A deeper and more pernicious vein of Republican corruption that also tracks back to Bush and his handlers.
Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree. As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”
Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.
But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.
Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has. Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:
• In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.
• In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
• In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
• In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
• Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.
Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.
What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock.
The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
Republicans who aren’t in the Kool Aid Party Ignorance Patrol know enough to activate Keynesian remedies while plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The crap about dribble-down economics may keep meatballs like David Stockman in royalties from book sales at Koch Bros. jamborees – but, when push comes to economic shove, keeping the unemployed from storming the Wall Street Bastille or the Congressional Clown Show requires doing things that actually work.
The Wall Street Journal – the owners of Marketwatch – have a responsibility to provide legit numbers to their subscribers as often as possible. A certain amount of Heritage Foundation agitprop is always icing on the reality cake and the transfer of power to Rupert Murdoch layered the frosting of rightwing lies a bit thicker. But, they can’t afford to dump reality altogether in the face of competition which ain’t about to disappear.
Republicans and the Mittster will crank up Rove-ish lies about these facts as much as they can. And don’t kid yourselves – they know they will be lying. They are part of that investing class the WSJ wants to keep as subscribers. They know this is the real deal. But, ideology is dearer to Tea Party Republicans than to an infomercial peddler offering you abs of titanium from 2 double-A batteries and a patented whirligig.