Monday :: Jul 17, 2006

Dumm Iz Whut Dumm Duz

by pessimist

There is a lot of rampant stupidity involving major players in the Bu$hCo War On America.

John Mellancamp was playing at Harvey's Casino, with former VP Dan Quayle in attendance. After Mellancamp dedicated a performance of Walk Tall "to everyone hurt by policies of the current Bush administration", Quayle - whose lack of intellectual ability used to be the standard for supid politician until supplanted by King George, walked out, tossing insults over the event later in media interviews.

Quayle should have read the papers before defending a fellow Know-Nothing:

Jonathan Chait: Is Bush Still Too Dumb to Be President?

[I]t is now increasingly clear that Bush's status as non-rocket scientist is a serious problem.

It's true that presidents can succeed without being intellectuals themselves. The trouble is that Bush isn't just a nonintellectual, he viscerally disdains intellectuals. "What angered me was the way such people at Yale felt so intellectually superior and so righteous," he told a Texas Monthly reporter in 1994.

[T]he more we learn about how Bush operates, the more we can see we were right from the beginning. It matters that the president values his gut reaction and disdains book learnin'. It's not just a question of cultural style. The president's narrow intellectual horizons have real consequences, sometimes cataclysmic ones.

He prefers verbal briefings and often makes a horse-sense judgment based on how confident his briefer seems in what he's saying. In August 2001, the CIA was in a panic about an upcoming terrorist attack and drafted a report with the title, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." When a CIA staffer summed up the memo's contents in a face-to-face meeting with Bush, the president found the briefer insufficiently confident and dismissed him by saying, "All right, you've covered your ass, now," according to Ron Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine.

That turned out to be a fairly disastrous judgment.
[I]t jibes with the picture that has emerged from other sources. L. Paul Bremer III's account of his tenure as head of Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority depicts Bush as uninterested in the central questions of rebuilding and occupying the country.

Video of a presidential meeting that came to light this year showed Bush being briefed on the incipient Hurricane Katrina. His subordinates come off as deeply concerned about a potential catastrophe, but Bush appears blase, declining to ask a single question.

In an effort to save King George, Newt Gingrich - a person who earned advanced degrees and has taught college courses - made some really stupid statements over the weekend - and had to change whot he said once he went on television:

Gingrich says it's World War III
by David Postman
July 15, 2006

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so. Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the Administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and "connect all the dots" for Americans.

Gingrich said he has been studying recently how Abraham Lincoln talked to Americans about the Civil War, and what turned out to be a much longer and deadlier war than Lincoln expected.

This evening, Kelly Steele, spokesman for the Washington Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, did respond and sent this e-mail:

"Gingrich and Bush seek to elect a new crop of loyal rubberstamps ... to blindly support and extend their monopoly on their "tough and dumb" conduct of the war in Iraq and the larger battle against global terrorism.

This may well not be playing well in America, as the next morning on Mete The Cess, Gingrich changed his tune:

A different tone from Gingrich on World War III
David Postman
July 16, 2006

I just watched Meet the Press, and read the transcript, which I use for quotes from the program in this post, and there's something missing.

When Gingrich was talking to a national audience today he dropped the overt political references and the attacks on the left, the Democratic Party and its chairman, Howard Dean, that were a part of our interview yesterday. [see: previous link]

On TV the most pointed criticism seemed to be aimed at the Bush Administration.
In telling the story to Tim Russert "the left" was replaced with "Americans."

In both interviews he praised John F. Kennedy, though in Bellevue [WA] it came with a clear shot at the current leadership of the Democratic Party:

"The old Democratic Party was led by John F. Kennedy who threatened nuclear war over missiles in Cuba; because the old Democratic Party was a very patriotic, hawkish party. It had fought the Second World War, the First World War and the Korean War. It was a tough party.

"The current Democratic Party would say, 'Well, if only if we had abandoned Miami than Cuba wouldn't have any grievances' -- the Howard Dean vision."

On TV Gingrich said only:
"And John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who understood the importance of power in the world, was prepared to go to nuclear war to stop missiles from being in Cuba."
Why the two messages from Gingrich?
Gingrich was playing more to the senior statesman role than the campaign strategist and GOP tough guy role. Hard shots at the Democratic Party and the suggestion that Howard Dean would abandon Miami to appease Fidel Castro wouldn't play on the blue chip Sunday morning political talk show.

That is quite a change, isn't it? Since when does Sunday morning television ever show any respect to the opposition to those who would impose one-party rule on this nation?

In addition to American Republicans appearing to be losing their touch, so is the case with George's Killar Attack Lap Poodle, Toney Blair. He's gotten busted in a stupid scheme which only a Shooter could devise - and Pooty-Poot is rubbing it in hard:

A gleeful Vladimir Putin has publicly embarrassed Tony Blair over the cash-for-peerages scandal. The Russian president spoke of 'corruption' in Britain and singled out the arrest of the Prime Minister's personal fundraiser Lord Levy. Mr Blair's latest attempt to grandstand on the world stage was left in tatters. [T]he cash-for-honours affair has made him a public laughing stock with other leaders and undermined his ability to fight for Britain's interests at the summit.

Later Mr Blair was humiliated again. Standing next to President George Bush he was asked if his international role is now being seriously undermined by Lord Levy's activities? He replied: "No I don't," but acknowledged that he would "have a discussion" about the issue with Mr Putin.

The exchange was stunning evidence of Mr Blair's diminished international status.

What's it all about, Alfie?

[I]t has emerged that Lord Levy has left police in no doubt that the Prime Minister played a key role in the cash-for-peerages scandal. Labour's top fundraiser has told investigators that the key decisions on whether to accept secretive loans from wealthy donors were left to the Prime Minister.
Mr Blair is said to have insisted on secretive arrangements
as a way of encouraging donors who did not want to go public
to support the party.

Tony may have thought he had a good reason, since Master George's government is hauling off his top bankers for conspiring with Enron:

Whatever the Texas jury decides, this weekend the NatWest Three must be ruing the day that they got involved with Fastow. On the way into the chamber, the three men had passed under huge portraits of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney staring down above the security lines in a way that looked strangely Orwellian. It was a strong reminder they were a long way from British justice.

The typical Briton is getting fed up with King George's meddling with British jurisprudence:

[A]nger at a perceived 'lopsided' extradition policy that makes it easier for the US to extradite Britons than vice versa has created a sense of injustice. Under the 2003 Extradition Act [2-part PDF], the US no longer has to make a prima facie case when asking British courts to extradite a suspect.
Instead it must show only that there is a 'likelihood of guilt'.

This is where the problems for King George appear, a definite short-sightedness on the consequences of their actions which will come to haunt them:

'Whatever the guilt or innocence of the NatWest Three, the current extradition arrangements are an affront to natural justice,' says Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI.
'If the government does nothing to correct the current imbalance
it risks damaging the UK's position as a leading financial capital market.'

Horrors! Messin' With The Money!

That what is going on in China right now.

The word is getting out about the working conditions of the New World Order, Consumerism Supply-Side Division. This is what American consumers don't know about thw products they buy with money borrowed from the very people who sell them their fancy new toys:

Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Chronicle Foreign Service
July 16, 2006

Born poor in rural China, they have come to this manufacturing mecca to make the latest gadgets for the world -- the iPods, cell phones and laptops that, of course, they can't afford.

Incomes vary widely in China, where the communist government is scrambling to address growing social unrest caused in part by huge pay disparities. Farmers in central and western provinces earn on average $400 per year or less, while workers in large urban areas like Beijing and Shanghai typically make four times as much, according to government statistics.

A recruiting poster tacked to a utility pole near the factory's main gate tells the story in black and white. Foxconn, it says, seeks 16- to 21-year-olds to work in production for $72.50 to $80 per month, plus housing and meals, and hourly overtime. Most workers are under 25.

This is the mega-factory complex of Foxconn Electronics, trade name of Taiwanese electronics giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Corp. Foxconn counts Apple, Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Nokia and Sony among its customers and collaborators. This plant in Longhua, an outlying suburb of Shenzhen, is the world's largest electronic-components work space, exporting $20.7 billion in products last year.

Recent charges that Foxconn workers making iPods here earn low wages and work crushingly long hours has spurred an investigation by Apple and stinging criticism from around the globe. Foxconn sets the wages and working conditions, but Apple and other brands that hire Foxconn exert major influence over its operations.

That the criticism fell squarely on Apple, a company that trumpets the lofty ideals of Gandhi and Bob Dylan, was not a surprise. "Apple is selling a lifestyle aimed at youth," said Robin Munro, research director of China Labor Bulletin, a workers-rights group in Hong Kong. "It would not probably have attracted attention if the products had been axle grease or steel-punching machines."

Foxconn, a low-key industry giant, ranks in the middle among China-based electronics-makers for its wages and working conditions, according to labor organizations. Here in Guangdong province, low wages, long hours and crowded housing are common. "It's quite normal to have these kinds of working conditions in China," said China Labor Bulletin's Patrick Poon.

Foxconn denied allegations made in two British newspapers that its workers earn $50 a month in "sweatshops" making Apple's iPods. Company officials said workers make at least the Shenzhen minimum wage, $72.50 per month, which increased this month by $15. Neither Foxconn nor Apple responded to requests to go inside the factory, which is fenced, guarded and off-limits, like most big production complexes.

What are they trying to protect? Their inventory, or the methods they use to create it?

An estimated 90 percent are part of China's massive, illegal migrant workforce. They leave inland, poorer farming provinces where work is scarce and head to coastal areas in the south where factories produce the world's consumer goods. The migrants eat in factory canteens, sleep in factory dorms and in their few days off a month, "all they can do is walk around and look at the prosperity" they helped create, Munro said.

"They're not sharing proportionally in the benefits and profits in this huge globalization effort," Munro said. "They're just doing the work. The only reason they can survive in these cities is because all they do is work." Overtime, sometimes 15 to 20 hours a week, which is more than is legally allowed, is the norm.

There was some inconsistency among the workers interviewed as to whether overtime is voluntary or required. An iPod assembler, a 20-year-old with an easy grin, described factory housing, where hundreds of workers share common rooms, bunk-style, in large dorms. It's 96 degrees, and the dorm has no air-conditioning, said this worker, who earned about $130 last month for working as much as 12 hours a day.

The factory floor is air-conditioned, however,
so working a Saturday shift
rather than resting in the hot dorm
is an easy choice.
About a dozen Foxconn factory workers interviewed said they earned $120 to $140 per month, about half of that from overtime. They included young women building Sony laptops, others making Nokia cell phones and one iPod assembler.
Many were reluctant to speak and would not give their names for fear of repercussions.
Most workers are on the job more than 40 hours a week. Since these young men and women are not locals, the base salary does not justify coming all these miles to work. Most are here to toil and send money home to struggling families. They're not here for a social life.

The all-work lifestyle is evident at Foxconn's mega-site. These workers aren't rushing off on Sundays to Happy Valley, the giant amusement park a few miles away, and they're not traveling the 20 miles to Hong Kong to go shopping. They're buying 10-cent ice-cream bars and iced water during their brief Saturday breaks, then trudging back to work.

Like any traditional company town, no benefit goes without a corresponding debit:

The factory wages and work hours may be the norm, said Munro, but the situation nonetheless is unacceptable. The cost of living in southern China has skyrocketed 300 to 400 percent over the past 15 years, he said, while average worker wages have risen just 13 to 14 percent.

At Foxconn, even the housing benefit is in danger. Some 2,000 employees have already left the factory after learning they would be charged for their rooms starting this month, just as the minimum wages were set to increase, according to the Institute for Contemporary Observation, a migrant workers rights group.

"The fact that Chinese workers are willing to work for these kinds of wages
doesn't make it right,"
Munro said.
"Ultimately, it is the Western consumer who has to examine their role in this."

This is the future of working in America, people! Pay attention!

Frost said, Apple ought to follow the example of other U.S. companies that have adopted training programs for factory managers and others in charge of operations where they contract for labor. The garment industry learned this lesson the hard way a decade ago when it faced similar allegations and consumer boycotts.

"Apple has so much money and American consumers pay so much, they should be concerned with their workers getting so little," said Liu Kaiming, founder of the Institute for Contemporary Observation.

"If all the workers could afford to buy an iPod, then Apple would have even more profit."

But like I said above, Stupid is as stupid does. go for the short-sighted fast buck and ignore the potential for a longer-term profitability. And while you're at it, ignore the workers who will at some point get fed up with corporatism dominating their lives and keeping them impoverished with the tantalizing benefits of the New World Order kept from them just out of their reach.

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