Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that it is extremely crappy. Unfortunately, if you depend on resources such as the Washington Post, you do need me to tell you that.

For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.

The New York Times had an eerily similar comment. See below, and compare. Could it be that they are both only pretending to be reporters, and actually transcribing the copy fed to them by the White House political office? Naaaah. Dean Baker has news for the independent media who guard our liberties:

The NYT had a piece today on President Bush's economic legacy. In the second sentence it tells readers that:

"Mr. Bush has spent years presiding over an economic climate of growth that would be the envy of most presidents." adding that "Yet much to the consternation of his political advisers, he has had trouble getting credit for it, in large part because Americans were consumed by the war in Iraq." Is that right? Let's check the numbers. Here the ranking of the presidential terms since 1960 by average annual GDP growth:

Kennedy-Johnson -- 5.2%
Clinton -- 3.6%
Reagan -- 3.4%
Carter -- 3.4%
Nixon-Ford -- 2.7%
Bush II --2.6%
Bush I --1.9%

In addition to having the second worst average growth rate in the past 50 years -- losing the booby prize only to his father -- the Chimpoleon emperorship failed to deliver one penny of that feeble growth to U.S. workers - 100% of it went to his obscenely wealthy friends. And yes, he did get credit for that.

Then there's that improved security situation in Iraq, which the corporate media have been relentlessly touting for the past few months. As I do every Sunday, I did the Iraq Today post yesterday, so I've been paying close attention all this time. In the first place, the Post, and the Times, and the TV networks only bother to report a small fraction of the political violence that occurs in Iraq every day. Based on what I've been reading in Aswat al Iraq (the Iraqi news service), DPA, AFP, Reuters, and McClatchy, the amount of violence that goes down every day seems pretty much the same as it has been for years now.

More of it is directed against Iraqi police and military, which doesn't get counted here in the U.S.; and the daily tally of tortured corpses dumped in Baghdad is down from a couple of dozen to four or so, simply because the sectarian cleansing process is complete. The really big car bombings in marketplaces have also become infrequent, but instead we have a continual plague of smaller attacks on police checkpoints, universities and schools, government offices, and so forth. In the Shiite south, civil and political order have been continually deteriorating, and the region is now a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by party militias and local warlords. North of Baghdad, where "al Qaeda" has supposedly retreated after ostensibly being chased out of the capital, the U.S. has bought comparative safety for its forces by bribing elements of the insurgency with weapons and money. Now that isn't working so well after all. My post yesterday included two U.S. KIAs, and there have been five more announced already today, along with one who died stateside of wounds suffered earlier. After a dip in December, we're back up to the rate of October 2007 now, and trending higher.

Of course, there has been no political progress whatsoever, even though the Times and Post transcribe administration propaganda claiming that there has been. Meanwhile, the situtation in Afghanistan is deteriorating radically. For all this we're continuing to throw billions of dollars down the rathole every week. But Bush is frustrated that he isn't getting credit.

Listen folks, president Obama isn't going to be able to dig us out of this shithole. Let's hope he at least makes a start and things don't get a whole lot worse next year, but you know what, it may be too late. There is far too little sense of urgency in this country right now. I haven't even mentioned the rest of our crises and ongoing disasters. Sure, politicians feel that they can't afford to sound too pessimistic or critical of the current condition of the U.S., because it doesn't play well with voters or the corporate media. But somebody has to stand up and say it. The current climate of complacency is killing us.

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