Friday, December 30, 2005

Rethuglicans again trying to cut VA benefits...

December 30, 2005

Dear Sally:

This week, the Washington Post reported on an increasingly politically charged debate in Washington centered on one of the most serious costs of war -- post traumatic stress disorder, and its impact on war veterans.

At the center of the debate is a sharp increase in recent years in PTSD claims filed with the VA, largely accounted for by Vietnam veterans who are only now seeking treatment for combat related stress. According to the Post article, the increase in PTSD benefits does not account for new claims coming into the system from Iraq and Afghanistan vets, many of whom are suffering from severe trauma.

"What they are trying to do is figure out a way not to diagnose vets with PTSD," said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a veterans advocacy group. "It's like telling a patient with cancer, 'if we tell you, you don't have cancer, then you won't suffer from cancer.' "

As long as three years ago, Veterans for Common Sense argued that a tremendous hidden cost of going to war in Iraq would be the long term costs associated with medical care and treatment of veterans. What we did not anticipate then would be increasing attempts from the VA, the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Administration to redefine veterans health care and disability as an "entitlement" program.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santa brought just what I wanted!

The "Barbie Tar" filled the bill, but unfortunately the crass music that came with it, did not fill Mama and Grandma's bill, but Nana loved it!
Merry Christmas everyone!

What is really happening in New Orleans

From activist-extraordinaire, Lisa Fithian...

December 24, 2005

Dear Friends and Allies,

Seasons greetings to you to all. I hope this email finds you with loved

ones and some quiet peaceful time. As many of you know I have been working the last two months in New Orleans with a group called the Common Ground Collective. We are an all volunteer, grassroots, activist organization that is still providing direct relief and support to residents and returning evacuees. I am writing to ask for your support and let you know about a report back I will be doing in Austin next week. ( see details below)

It is quite amazing being in New Orleans. The utter destruction – miles and
miles of it, is impossible to convey. The infrastructure in a major US
city collapsed. What is being rebuilt favors middle to upper class predominately white communities. The reconstruction plans do not adequately address the levees and whole communities are being discouraged from returning. Housing is hard to find, schools, health care facilities and most stores are still closed. Huge areas are still without power and mounds of debris still covers the streets. Hot water can be hard to find. Phone and mail service is non-existent in some places. It is becoming all to clear that the government and corporate America are planning a land grab preventing many historically Black communities from coming back together again.

New Orleans has similarities to a war zone (military in the streets, Halliburton contracts, ruin and rubble) - and the policies that led us into war in Iraq are at work in New Orleans as well. Each day there is more reason to drive this Administration out and rebuild something new. That is what we are doing in New Orleans

Common Ground has become a light of hope amidst the destruction and greed We talk about Solidarity Not Charity. We are taking a holistic approach– from providing basic food and water to cleaning supplies and tools, a free medical clinic (the first to open after the hurricane) roof tarping, home gutting, clean up and repair, legal and anti-eviction housing support, a media center which hosts Radio Uprising along with free internet and phone.

We have cleaned up, repaired and are now using 2 daycare and one community center.--these will be returned to their owners ready to go. We have done soil and water sampling, initiated a small bioremediation project, cleaned up three community gardens and planted one. We are now in the process of setting up a childcare cooperative and home school program.

We started with $50 and 5 volunteers and have grown to a core group of about 40 “organizers” and hundreds of volunteers. Over thanksgiving week we had 300 volunteers in and have on average 200 volunteers a week now through the end of January.

As I drove back to Austin, literally emerging from a disaster zone, I found the holiday season and nice clean functioning neighborhoods surreal. Life for most continuing as usual, with few having any clue about what is still really going on – or not going on in New Orleans.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Those crazy folks in Boston! Brrrrr !

The annual Speedo run, benefitting The Ellie Fund, which is a non-profit organization that helps families in their fight against breast cancer.

A motion for censure, thanks Mr. Conyers!

[posted online on December 22, 2005]

On December 20, 2005, I issued a 273-page report outlining the Bush Administration's panoply of misconduct associated in the run-up to and since the Iraq War.

In brief, I have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high-ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
full article

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Darth Vader breaks a tie

$40 billion from federal spending will be cut over five years, including cuts to social welfare programs such as health care for the elderly and poor, funding that helps enforce child support payment, funds for college, and more.
Darth Vader (Vice President Dick Cheney)broke a 50-50 tie when he voted in favor of the spending cuts.

This looks like another way to make sure women and children live in poverty and have no way out. God forbid anyone wants to do the old fashioned American thing..pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Darth Vader took the bootstraps so you are on your own and best of luck.

Secret History of the Credit Card

If you have not seen this Frontline report, you missed something great. watch online

This is truly the screwing of the American people. But then, we have been stupid enough, and strapped for cash enough that we just fell into the abyss.

Debunking Clinton and Carter "did it" claims that they authorized spying on US citizens

DEBUNKING THE EXECUTIVE ORDER MYTH: Conservative activist Matt Drudge yesterday posted the following headline on his popular website: "Clinton Executive Order: Secret Search on Americans Without Court Order." This is false. Drudge highlights one sentence from an executive order issued by President Clinton in February 1995: "The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order." But the order also includes the following text: "Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act (FISA), the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section." That section of FISA requires the Attorney General to certify that the search will not involve "the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person." That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States. In stark contrast, Bush’s program permits, for the first time ever, warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens and other people inside of the United States. Neither Clinton’s 1995 executive order, nor President Carter's 1979 executive order (which Drudge also claims allows warrantless searches of Americans) authorizes that.

American Progress Report

2005 the year in review

Jib Jab came up with another good animation worth watching.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

TSA Wants Access to Veterans’ Files to Add ‘Mental Defectives’ to Watch List

Great, Bush sent our military off to fight his bogus war, without necessary equipment, and now when they get home, his administration wants to prevent them from flying? Puhleeez! A bunch of draft dodgers are gonna decide this one? What ignorant, pompous asses!

Dec. 9, 2005 – 8:57 p.m.
TSA Wants Access to Veterans’ Files to Add ‘Mental Defectives’ to Watch List
By Jeff Stein, National Security Editor
Is there an efficient, legal way to keep crazy people off airplanes altogether, like the manic depressive man shot dead at the Miami airport last week?

As it turns out, the government was taking steps in that direction almost a month before Rigoberto Alpizar was plugged by U.S. air marshals after he ran down the Jetway with a bundle in his hands while saying, according to the government, that he had a bomb.

A Nov. 15 notice put out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is always thinking about new ways to keep potentially dangerous people off our airliners, states TSA is looking for contractors to add a number of new databases for screening passengers and airport workers.

Up first are the files of the Defense Department (DoD) and Veterans Administration (VA), which the TSA says it wants scoured for “mental defectives.”

As if troubled veterans didn’t have enough to worry about. According to a 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, about 15 percent of the soldiers coming home from the intense guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to be afflicted with what was once called “combat fatigue.”

The New England Journal of Medicine also reported in 2004 that “15.6 percent to 17.1 percent of returning soldiers from Iraq exhibited signs of anxiety, major depression or other mental health problems.”

Today those symptoms are lumped together in what’s called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which afflicted hundreds of thousands of soldiers who came home from Vietnam combat with “a thousand-yard stare” and fell into depression, suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse.

One of them might be sitting next to you on an airplane: More than half, or 53 percent, of the 1 million combat veterans of Vietnam were afflicted to one degree or another, said a four-year, $9 million study published by the VA in 1990.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Are we really this stupid?

Cenk Uygur, Huffington Post
The deficit is careening out of control. Health care costs are through the roof. We’ve started a disastrous war in Iraq that threatens the stability of the whole region. Osama bin Laden has never been caught. The 9/11 Commission says four years after the attacks on this country, we are failing to protect the American people.

And what are the Republicans talking about? Tax cuts that go largely to the upper class. The war on Christmas. The gay marriage amendment. Flag burning. Does anyone believe these are the real pressing concerns of the American people? Is our top problem that the rich don’t have enough tax breaks?

Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide. The Young Turks began as Sirius Satellite Radio’s first original program, and, while still on Sirius, is now nationally syndicated and available on itunes and online at and


In the Kingdom of the Half-Blind

Bill Moyers does it again with an awesome speech on 12/09/05 for the 20th anniversary of the National Security Archive at GW University.
summary and link

Monday, December 12, 2005

Obama calls it!

Republicans Practice “Social Darwinism”…

Sen. Barak Obama of Illinois, a fast-rising Democratic star, told Florida party members that only a philosophy among Republicans of sink or swim explains why some Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans still live in cars while Republicans in Washington prepare next week to enact $70 billion in tax breaks.

"It's called the 'Ownership society' in Washington. This isn't the first time this philosophy has appeared. It used to be called Social Darwinism," Obama said late Saturday at the Democrats meeting at Walt Disney World.

Republicans running the federal government believe, "You are on your own to buy your own health care, to buy your own retirement security ... to buy your own roads and levees," Obama said, referring to flood barriers that gave way in New Orleans during Katrina last August.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Texans, we got screwed!

Editorial from the NY TImes
Fixing the Game
But The Washington Post's Dan Eggen reported last week that the Justice Department has been suppressing for nearly two years a 73-page memo in which six lawyers and two analysts in the voting rights section, including the group's chief lawyer, unanimously concluded that the Texas redistricting plan of 2003 illegally diluted the votes of blacks and Hispanics in order to ensure a Republican majority in the state's Congressional delegation. That plan was shoved through the Texas State Legislature by Representative Tom DeLay, who abused his federal position in doing so and is now facing criminal charges over how money was raised to support the redistricting.

Full article

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Get your copy of the RollingStone and read this!

The Man Who Sold the War
Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war
link to RollingStone

Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before al-Haideri took the lie-detector test, the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power."
Costco CEO Finds Pro-Worker Means ProfitabilityHigh Wages, Employee Benefits Build Loyalty -- and P.R. Ambassadors


This year's sales total more than $52 billion from 462 stores in 37 states and eight countries. Costco is now the nation's fourth-largest retailer, selling everything from crab legs to flat-screen TVs to caskets — and even a Picasso painting.
In an era when many CEOs are seen as greedy and sometimes corrupt, Sinegal is proving that good guys can finish first — and without all the corporate frills.

Sinegal is unfazed by his critics. "Wall Street is in the business of making money between now and next Tuesday," he said. "We're in the business of building an organization, an institution that we hope will be here 50 years from now. And paying good wages and keeping your people working with you is very good business."

What Sinegal has proven is that a company doesn't have to be ruthless. Being humane and ethical can also make you money.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Randi Rhodes posted these photos of the midshipmen at The Naval Academy and their reaction to Bush's repackaging of the war in Iraq. Yawwwwnnnnnn.
My favorite line from Bush's speech: "The Iraqis know their culture and they know their language." Duh! How moronic is that?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush, trying to go through a locked door in China. What an idiot! He is President of the USA, this is not a frat party.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dirty Libby
Richard Bradley
November 17, 2005

I don’t normally associate bestiality with Republicans, because they screw poor people more than animals. But in Scooter Libby’s case, one has to make an exception....Libby’s 1996 novel, The Apprentice, which chronicles the depraved training of a Japanese prostitute...So the fact that Dick Cheney’s closest confidante scripted a work featuring bestiality, rape and general licentiousness would seem to constitute hypocrisy in the GOP’s war against immorality—lashing out against others’ smut and sin while profiting off them yourself.

But then, it’s hardly the only such example. Here are a few more.

Despite years of speaking out against gambling, Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, recently admitted that he had taken more than $1 million in fees from lobbyists representing Indian casinos.
Conservative White House “reporter” Jeff Gannon turned out to be a former gay hooker.
Rupert Murdoch, the owner of conservative Fox News and the New York Post, is also part-owner of DirecTV, which makes millions distributing pornography. Illinois GOP candidate Jack Ryan dropped out of a race for U.S. Senate after disclosures that he had pressured his former wife, the actress Jeri Ryan, to go to sex clubs with him.
Lynne Cheney is the author of Sisters, a 1981 potboiler described by USA Today as including “brothels, attempted rapes, and a lesbian love affair.”...
The list could go on (Strom Thurmond, anyone?...The GOP bills itself as the party of family values, and in a hundred different ways imposes its moralistic judgments about sex and reproduction on the American people...And all the while the party’s most powerful members live by a double-standard of personal vice and ill-gotten gain.

Of course, hypocrisy on the part of individuals doesn’t entirely negate a morality platform. But at the least, it does suggest that some of the most powerful proponents of “family values” are deeply cynical about that aspect of the Republican agenda. They feel free to impose these values on others even while making a mockery of them in their own lives.
full article

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rush wants to make money off our troops. He will send a newsletter to a member of the military if you, the consumer, pay Rush $50.00! This is sick!

Circus Maximus

Abuse Included Use of Lions, Iraqis Allege

Ex-Detainees Say Troops Also Used Mock Executions

According to the Washington Post two Iraqi men who were arrested in Iraq in 2003 but never charged with crimes say that U.S. troops put them in a cage with lions, pretended to execute them in a firing line and humiliated them during interrogations at multiple detention facilities.

Our administration is sending Muslims to the lions and sent the poor and elderly (in New Orleans) to the Superdome to suffer and/or die, is planning on cutting food stamps and cut heating assistance for this winter. Anybody remember the history of the Roman Empire?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dubya to remember Veterans at Tobyhanna

Dubya will speak at Tobyhanna Army Depot smack dab in the middle of the Poconos in PA. It's in the middle of nowhere, and according to the website Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest employer in the region. Total employment at the installation is approximately 4,300. That's civilian workers (although, in fairness, the website notes that 49% of the workforce consists of veterans). Why in the world would Dubya speak to a bunch of civlians on Veteran's Day?

To my fellow Veterans, thank you for your service.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wal-Mart movie

One screening is with the SAAPAC group, where I will attend because I know many of the former Deaniacs in this group.
You can RSVP here

SAAPAC Movie Night (San Antonio, TX)
WHEN: November 19, 2005 07:00 PM
DETAILS: The San Antonio Area Progressive Action Coalition is pleased to present this movie for our monthly movie night. We will have music about Wal-Mart from songwriters living in a Canadian town that has been fighting Wal-Mart for ten years. There are always snacks, interesting people and a lively discussion period after the movie. Our movie poster can be found at:

Bethany Congregational Church 500 Pilgrim at Panda inside Loop 410.
San Antonio, TX 78201

DIRECTIONS: From Loop 410 exit at Vance Jackson and go south and make a right turn onto Pilgrim. Go 1 block to the Bethany Congregational Church on the left. From IH 10 exit Vance Jackson and go north/east to Pilgrim. Turn left on Pilgrim and go 1 block to Bethany Congregational Church on the left.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rosa Parks arrives at the Capitol

Seen on C-span. Rosa Parks' family arrived via a 1955 era bus. Ms. Parks' casket was taken into the Capitol rotunda by pall bearers, while We Shall Overcome was hummed quietly. She was placed on a bier, and then the Morgan State University choir sang. President and Mrs. Bush were there. Bush looked like he had been made to attend, he had that sucked up, thinned lip look that he affects when he is doing things he doesn't like. He kept looking right and left like he had never seen that many black people assembled in one place in his entire life; obviously uncomfortable. In the background I could see Sen. Frist (with a dorkey smile) and Sen. Harkin (IA)looking thoughtful. (And yes, I am biased, because I like Sen. Harkin). Bush and wife shook hands, I could not read his lips all the time, the one time I could, I think he said, God be with you. Then they left.
Rosa Parks deserves to be remembered as a woman of great strength. If you have not read any history of her life, google her name and get to work. What a gracious and courageous woman.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rosa Parks to lie in state in Capitol

Congress gave final approval Friday to a resolution to allow the public to pay respects to Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol building Sunday and Monday - a unique honor for a private citizen.

When I was about 4 years old (1955) we lived in Montgomery, Alabama while my father attended the US Air Force War College. We lived in a rented house in downtown Montgomery. It's one of my earliest memories. There was a big, wide front porch, and a scary, scary whole house fan on the 3rd floor (where my oldest sister's bedroom was). That fan was so huge I felt it would suck me in! I remember several things about living in Montgomery for that short period of time:
• I got a cracker smeared in my face at the playground for drinking from the “wrong” water fountain (the “colored” one)
• I remember my father talking about civil rights, and seeing KKK rallies either on TV or on our block, I am not sure
• Our maid, telling my father that she would walk home rather than accept a ride, because it was important that she walk and not ride the bus

Background on this is important. My father, a USAF Chaplain and veteran of WW II, was a missionary in the Philippines from 1949 to 1952 (and was a USAF reservist). He returned to active duty during the Korean War, and we were transferred to Japan when I was less than 2. I spent most of my time in the car of maids, who did not speak English, and who certainly did not look like me. My first language was Japanese. Obviously from a very young age I thought all people were the same inside, some just looked different on the outside. To this day I do not know why I remember the bus boycotts so vividly, but I do. I like to think it is because I had already experienced the fact that a person’s outward appearance has nothing to do with what they can and cannot do, achieve, or aspire to be.

I was also fortunate to have a father who marched with Martin Luther King, who heard King’s “I have a dream” speech in person, and who worked for civil rights, freedom of expression, and the downtrodden all his life. I helped him with an equal housing initiative in Allentown, Pa while I was in high school.

Rosa Parks, took a seat so my father could stand up, so I could stand up, so my children could stand up, so we could all stand up for the promotion of equal rights in this country.

So, over the next 2 weeks or so, during early voting this week, or on Nov. 8th, remember Rosa Parks and vote NO on proposition 2. In doing so, we will be violating the civil rights of many people.

Proposition 2: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Scooter Libby's indictment

A Washington Post editorial noted, "And as absorbing as this criminal investigation has been, the big point Americans need to keep in mind is this: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." link

The key issue, IMHO, is that there is a potential that this investigation into the Plame leak will lead to a broader investigation of abuse of power and the lies that led us into Iraq. We can only hope that in the end, the liars will be exposed. This is a matter of national security, and is of utmost importance to our democracy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This is from my favorite Episcopal Priest, and is one of her almost daily eMo's (eletronic meditation)
To the end of her life, Rosa Parks was beautiful: her radiant smile, the knowing snap of her black eyes, the braided coronet of her hair that went from coal black to white over the years. Her clothes were classic and understated, and you never saw a photograph of her in which she was not elegant.

But these things were details, not at all her main focus in life. She had more important things to think about than her hair or her clothing, and she thought about those important things for as long as she could think at all. The dangerous act of integrating the seating arrangements on Montgomery's public transportation was begun by this slight young woman and carried forward by thousands of people who walked, drove, bicycled, even skated to work and school -- got there any way they could that did not involve taking a city bus, and did it there for more than a year.

A lovely young woman, looking younger than her 42 years. A very young Dr. King -- we forget how young he was when all this was going on: he was only 39 when he was killed in 1968. We forget how young and how human they were: not supermen and superwomen, not without fault and not without error -- just human beings who understood their own worth and were brave enough to claim what they knew was theirs by right. And smart enough to know that the rightness of their cause would not by itself ensure its success, but that sheer numbers would, that you can't run a bus system if nobody rides the bus.

Depending on how you count, Mrs. Parks either had no children or millions of them. "The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement," she is often called, although she herself usually brushed that title aside. She was more interested in the movement. She knew that the movement had many fathers and many mothers, that it was in its unity that its strength and its future lay.

And in its children. Mrs. Parks feared that young people would take their freedoms for granted, would not remember what it had cost to win them. That their parents would be embarrassed to tell them how they used to live, about the colored restrooms and drinking fountains, the restaurants in which they could not eat, the car trips they planned carefully, carefully, so that there would be a colored motel to stay in, a colored gas station on the way, a place to pull over and have a picnic of food they brought themselves because there might be no place for a black person to buy any. About being cautioned never to look a white person in the eye. About yielding, always yielding, always giving place, no matter what.

White people didn't know the strength of the black community. Didn't know about its dedicated teachers, doctors, ministers, merchants and business people. Did not know about its reverence for education and civility. Did not know how self-sufficient it had been forced to become, and what that self-sufficiency would mean for the system of American apartheid that was beginning to show cracks.

But on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a city bus to a white man who demanded it, they were about to find out.

Copyright © 2005 Barbara Crafton -

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hutchison flip-flops on the importance of perjury

Yesterday, offering a hint of the attack White House allies will launch on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald if and when he announces any indictments, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison dismissed the possible felony indictment of perjury as a mere “technicality”


On February 2, 1999, Hutchison stood with a bipartisan group of senators at a press conference announcing a resolution to open the Senate trial on the impeachment of President Clinton. At the time, Hutchison said it was vitally important to prosecute on perjury charges because telling the truth is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system link

What a hypocrite! I plan to call her on it, do you?

Friday, October 21, 2005

While vacationing in California, we found that DeLay surrended to a Sheriff

We were thrilled to read about it in the local paper, the San Diego Union Tribune!
Hurrah, it's just too bad that he deprived the Democrats of well deserved footage of his arrest.

Here is an article on it:

DeLay Quietly Surrenders to a Texas Sheriff

Published: October 21, 2005 link

HOUSTON, Oct. 20 - Representative Tom DeLay, forced by criminal charges to step aside last month as House majority leader, was fingerprinted, photographed and released on $10,000 bond Thursday after turning himself in at the Harris County sheriff's office in downtown Houston.

Harris County Sheriff's Office, via Associated Press
The booking photo of Tom DeLay was taken soon after he surrendered Thursday in Houston.

Forum: The 109th Congress
The booking photo of Mr. DeLay, whose surrender was carefully choreographed, showed him smiling, his Congressional pin visible on his suit lapel, and did not include booking numbers that many associate with a mug shot. His allies on Capitol Hill joked that the picture was suitable for the Congressional Directory.

"I just may use that photographer for my family Christmas photo," Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said in Washington.

Mr. DeLay had been expected to surrender in adjacent Fort Bend County, his home. By doing so here instead, he avoided a scrum of about 25 journalists waiting outside the Fort Bend sheriff's office, many with cameras. Democrats were thus deprived of powerful videotape.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The death knell of the middle class

"The next shoe to drop will be the report of the Bush Advisory Commission on Tax Reform. The commission is scheduled to deliver its recommendations on November 1. We may have gotten a sneak peek in the past few days, as commission members have floated a few trial balloons. The chief option put forward is to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which would be a tax cut for relatively wealthy, and to replace the cut revenue by reducing or eliminating deductions for health insurance, home mortgage interest and state and local income tax." full article

This is the continuation of the Republican party's genocide of the middle class. Bush adds to it by saying he will quarantine cities for avian flu (although IMHO wouldn't it be better to plan for Tamiflu stockpiles, and medical treatment?). Well, you figure it....46% of us have no health insurance, so no access to medical care anyway, then you quarantine the rest of us, with no access to medical care, and poof! you can kill off a bunch of the middle class and poor with the flu. If that isn't enough, add to it the cold weather and a 50% increase in the cost of heating oil and natural gas, and plenty of poor and middle class and the elderly will freeze to death, thus eliminating more of those pesky folks. Oh, don't forget taxing the few of those who still have medical insurance, on their insurance, and it will make it too costly for them to carry insurance, and businesses will have an excuse to drop coverage for their employees. And don't forget that new bankruptcy bill....if you get sick, with perhaps the avian flu, and require expensive medical care, well you can't declare bankruptcy if your expenses are too much to bear. Therefore you will be stuck paying back every creditor, while being unable to afford food, housing or further medical care. Then there is also that dirty little secret...if you need surgery or a procedure of any kind, you have to put money down on the procedure BEFORE they will perform it. So, if you can't afford it, too bad for you.

Now, does this sound like the country you grew up in? Does this sound like America? Hardly. It sounds more like a third world country where only the rich can afford anything, where there is no middle class and the poor are treated with contempt.

Don't forget history has a lesson for us: In Bonn, Gottingen, Heidelberg, Munich, and other cities throughout Germany, Nazi youth performed similar ceremonies, mostly aimed at "cleansing" public, church, and other types of community lending libraries of books and journals thought to be "un-German." By the end of July 1933, Hitler was in complete control of the government, and the Nazis were the only legal political party in Germany. They had created the first concentration camps, restricted the freedoms of speech and of the press, enforced boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses, and had begun a sterilization campaign of citizens the new government considered genetically undesirable. Read more at this website, When Books Burn

Suggested reading: 1984 by George Orwell; The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bush hammers like a girlie man

To get maximum use of a hammer you don't 'choke up' toward the head of the hammer, if you do you have less leverage and it takes a lot more effort to hammer in a nail.
I may not be President, but I sure do know how to swing a hammer!

F is for Freddie

We needed to find something for the letter F, that was tonight's homework. Freddie (the dog) suited the bill. After all, he is Freddie From Fredericksburg!
A Snake Oil President
Timothy Karr
October 11, 2005 its zeal to promote sales of the Bush brand, this administration has crossed the line that separates honest brokers from snake oil salesmen.

Bush and company sold Americans defective goods in clear violation of federal law. Yet Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hasn’t budged. Instead, the man charged with enforcing our laws has tasked his army of lawyers to throw a legal shield around the White House, telling the administration to ignore investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which repeatedly has blasted Team Bush for using taxpayer money to fund “covert propaganda.”

In its latest report, issued on Sept. 30, the GAO’s federal auditors scolded the White House for squandering American tax dollars to hire fake news reporters and unleash a pre-packaged new blitz in advance of the 2004 elections. The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 forbids the domestic dissemination of government-authored propaganda or "official news" deliberately designed to influence public opinion or policy. The law singles out materials that serve "a solely partisan purpose." The GAO has now found on at least four separate occasions that administration agencies violated this and other federal restrictions when they disseminated news written by the government or its contractors without disclosing the conflict of interest.

Justice says that all the government’s publicity is legal, because they have been fact-based...since the legal prohibition on propaganda does not apply to government-made television news segments that are "factual, politically neutral and useful to viewers." The GAO’s most recent investigation correctly shot down that sophistry, saying that pre-packaged government news is inherently false because "the essential fact of attribution is missing."

The ball is now back in Gonzales’ court. But if Bush’s sagging approval rating is any guide, Americans are no longer buying.
A *Real* Contract With America

[from the October 24, 2005 issue of The Nation Magazine]

Lethal incompetence and indifference in Katrina's wake. Republican House boss Tom DeLay indicted--twice. Senate Republican leader Bill Frist under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Casino Jack" Abramoff's cynical cesspool of conservative corruption. Stagnant wages and rising prices. Quagmire in Iraq. Have Americans had enough? Will Katrina and corruption threaten the right's hold over Congress and open a broader challenge to the conservatism that has dominated our politics over the past twenty-five years? It's possible--but only if Democrats can make themselves a compelling force for change.

1994 and the Gingrich Revolt

The last successful effort to nationalize Congressional races in a nonpresidential year came in 1994, when Newt Gingrich and movement conservatives unfurled their Contract With America and shocked themselves by gaining fifty-four seats to take control of Congress, ending forty years of Democratic rule. That election offers pointed lessons for Democrats hoping for a similar reversal twelve years later.

Conservatives like to paint 1994 as a noble campaign run on ideas and values, with Republicans offering voters a concrete agenda and a principled choice. The reality was something different. The right set up the election with two years of unrelenting, scorched-earth assault on the newly elected Bill Clinton. The resignation under a cloud of the Democratic Speaker and minority whip, the indictment of a powerful committee chair and the post office and House banking scandals helped Gingrich paint Democrats as corrupt, arrogant and out of touch.

Gingrich's Contract With America was a notably cynical document. The controversial social passions of the conservative base--abortion, school prayer, guns--were left out. The Contract promised a balanced-budget amendment to appeal to Perot voters but also more tax cuts. It called for term limits for legislators that few would observe. Most of the measures were poll-tested conservative staples--tax cuts, a bigger military, tough on crime and welfare, plus the inevitable corporate pandering of "tort reform" and deregulation.

Substance was less important than symbol. Republicans had a specific plan that included bold political reform, and they promised to be held accountable. Despite Democratic attacks, most voters didn't know the details, yet the Contract helped the GOP present itself as a unified party with a positive plan for change.

2006: A Liberal Revolution?

Twelve years later Democrats face a far more forbidding challenge in attempting to nationalize the election. Reapportionment has left fewer contested districts. The political machine built by the right still has no Democratic equivalent. In 1994 the country was at peace. Now the Iraq War--even as Americans turn against it--divides Democratic politicians from their voters. Rebuilding after the Katrina catastrophe blurs partisan differences on the role of government. Yet the potential for a landmark election is clear. The corruption and crony capitalism of the Republican Congress and Administration are sources of unending scandal; it is simply the way they do business. The folks who came to make a revolution stayed to run a racket, and independent voters might well conclude that it's time for them to go. Moreover, Katrina exposed the tragic costs of the conservative scorn for government, and it brought to public attention the spreading poverty that marks Bush's failed economic policies.

Just as Clinton and the Democratic Congress's failure to deliver on a central promise--affordable healthcare--turned voters off in 1994, heading FEMA with incompetent cronies exposed the fact that Bush and the Republicans punted on the central promise they made after 9/11--that they would keep America safe. And the response to Katrina revealed how out of touch the antigovernment crowd is. To defend the Administration's ineptitude, they sang from the conservative hymnal, charging that the Administration's failures prove big government doesn't work (the Cato Institute even called once more for abolishing FEMA). They blamed the victims, or as Linda Chavez, head of the Civil Rights Commission under Reagan, said of those who were stranded: "You are dealing with the permanently poor--people who don't have jobs, are not used to getting up and organizing themselves...and for whom sitting and waiting is a way of life." Senator Rick Santorum called for "tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out." (He later amended this to exempt the one-fifth of the population in the Katrina disaster area that did not own a car.) But Karl Rove realized this wouldn't sell, so Bush vowed to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the Gulf Coast, while ruling out any rollback of his top-end tax cuts to pay for it. Conservatives then detailed offsetting spending cuts--mostly in Medicaid and Medicare, as well as other poverty programs--that would only add to the misery of the most vulnerable.

Americans are clearly looking for a way out. Bush's approval numbers have tanked. Congress stands in low repute, with Republican declines giving Democrats strong leads in generic Congressional face-offs. Pessimism about the country's course has deepened, along with opposition to Bush's signature policies--privatizing Social Security, the Iraq War and trickle-down economics. As home-heating bills soar this winter, disaffection with the crowd in power is likely to grow.

Can Democrats Get Their Groove Back?

Democrats are likely to pick up seats next year just by continuing to hammer at GOP failures and corruption. But to engineer a landmark election that dislodges incumbents and marks a fundamental shift, Democrats have to make themselves the party of change, championing an activist government in service to the common good. House leader Nancy Pelosi has stated that Democrats are working up their version of a Contract.

In concept, the task isn't too difficult. Simply putting forth popular progressive alternatives that contrast with glaring Republican failures would provide a clear platform for change. Central elements could include:

§ Crack Down on Corruption: In contrast to conservative cronyism, shut the revolving door between corporate lobbies and high office. Prohibit legislators, their senior aides and executive branch political appointees from lobbying for two years after leaving office. Require detailed public reporting of all contacts between lobbyists and legislators. Pledge to apply this to all, regardless of party. Take the big money out of politics by pushing for clean elections legislation.

§ Make America Safe: Commit to an independent investigation of the Department of Homeland Security's failures in response to Katrina. Detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. End the pork-barrel squandering of security funds.

§ Unleash New Energy for America: In contrast to the Big Oil policies of the Administration that leave us more dependent on foreign supplies, pledge to launch a concerted drive for energy independence like the one called for by the Apollo Alliance. Create new jobs by investing in efficiency and alternative energy sources, helping America capture the growing green industries of the future.

§ Rebuild America First: Rescind Bush's tax cuts for the rich and corporations, which create more jobs in China than here, and use that money to put people to work building the infrastructure vital to a high-wage economy. Start with challenging the Administration's trickle-down plans for the Gulf Coast, which will victimize once more those who suffered the most.

§ Make Work Pay: In contrast to the Bush economy, in which profits and CEO salaries soar while workers' wages stagnate and jobs grow insecure, put government on the side of workers. Raise the minimum wage. Empower workers to join unions by allowing card-check enrollment. Pay the prevailing wage in government contracts. Stop subsidizing the export of jobs abroad.

§ Make Healthcare Affordable for All: Pledge to fix America's broken healthcare system, with the goal of moving to universal, affordable healthcare by 2015. Start by reversing the Republican sellout to the pharmaceutical industry by empowering Medicare to bargain down costs and by allowing people to purchase drugs from safe outlets abroad.

§ Protect Retirement Security: In contrast to Bush's plan to dismantle Social Security, pledge to strengthen it and to require companies to treat the shop floor like the top floor when it comes to pensions and healthcare.

§ Keep the Promise of Opportunity: Instead of Republican plans to cut eligibility for college grants and to limit loans, offer a contract to American students: If they graduate from high school, they will be able to afford the college or higher technical training they have earned. Pay for this by preserving the tax on the wealthiest multimillion-dollar estates in America.

§ Refocus on Real Security for America: In contrast with Bush's pledge to stay in Iraq indefinitely, sapping our military and breeding terrorists, put forth a firm timeline for removing the troops from Iraq. Use the money saved to invest in security at home. Lead an aggressive international alliance to track down stateless terrorists, to get loose nukes under control and to fight nuclear proliferation.

These proposals are concrete, doable and poll well. They pose a sharp contrast to the priorities of the Republican Congress. Other measures or different framing could be proposed as well.

But gaining widespread agreement from risk-averse politicians--even on a poll-tested agenda--isn't easy. In 1994 many Republicans thought Gingrich's Contract was political folly, giving Democrats something to attack when they were down. Most Republican Senate candidates would have nothing to do with it. Some worried that excluding the right's social issues would alienate their base. The Contract was far more popular with the challengers Gingrich had helped groom than with incumbents.

Those same problems bedevil today's Democrats. As the corruption of the Republican majority makes headlines, Democrats continue to observe the truce against filing ethics complaints. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has even found it hard to get Democrats to unite behind basic reforms that would apply to them, like banning legislators from taking lucrative lobbying posts after leaving office. Calls to invest in energy independence and affordable college education poll off the charts, but Democrats are reluctant to support any large new investments in the face of Bush's deficits. Democrats who went through the collapse of Hillarycare shudder at the thought of taking on our broken health system. Controlling drug prices is a natural, but the drug-company lobby insures that even the Democratic leadership splits on this question. It is hard to present yourself as a party of change if you're not ready to break with the present.

Iraq poses the hardest questions. Democrats in office are deeply divided on the occupation, which their base overwhelmingly opposes. If they could, Democratic leaders would deal with Iraq the way Gingrich treated right-wing social issues, omitting it from any common platform, arguing that it isn't a problem voters expect Congress to solve and that Americans want more attention paid to domestic concerns anyway. But ducking on the war is likely to dismay more than Democratic activists. By next fall the war will have cost many more lives and more than $250 billion. With no compelling domestic agenda, Bush and the Republicans may seek to turn the election into a referendum on who stands with the troops. If they don't face the issue, Democrats will look like they're playing politics with the nation's security. And if they remain divided, Democrats will be hard pressed to say they are ready to lead.

Gingrich was able to pull off the Contract in 1994 partly because Republicans were ready to try anything after four decades in the minority. Gingrich also had built a farm team of candidates who were willing to follow his lead. And he had the support of an independent conservative movement on the march against Clinton and the Democratic Congress. If Democrats are to find their voice in 2006, it will take aggressive leaders who are willing to take big risks and overcome internal opposition as well as a strong citizen's movement that's driving the attack against the right and pushing Democrats to stand up.

It took DeLay's Republicans barely a decade to grow even more arrogant and corrupt than the old order they had challenged. The yet-unanswered question is whether Democratic politicians and progressive activists are as determined and desperate after a decade in the wilderness as Republicans were after forty years.
Bush's Fantasy Foreign Policy
Rami G. Khouri
October 11, 2005
Rami G. Khouri is editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, published throughout the Middle East with the International Herald Tribune.

I heard then read President George Bush's speech on the war on terror last Thursday while my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful two-day, two-night train journey across most of the United States, from Chicago to San Francisco. But I only fully grasped the meaning of Bush's "global war on terror" when I arrived here and had a useful discussion with one of my sons on the fantasy football league that he and my other son in Beirut are deeply engaged in.

For readers who may not follow these things closely, fantasy football is a virtual world over the Internet in which individuals create their own teams by choosing real players from the existing rosters of the National Football League. Every week the performances of the real players are tallied to give the fantasy team a score, and the fantasy team with the highest score at the end of the season wins. The exciting week-to-week interaction between the actual and imagined worlds makes it hard to separate fantasy from realityŠ which brings me back to George Bush's speech and policy on terrorism.

My conclusion after this rich week of travel and conversation is that sensible middle class Americans get on with the hard work of making a living in challenging times, while their federal government in Washington conducts a fantasy foreign policy based more on make-believe perceptions and imagined realities. The latest public opinion poll figures here bear this out, showing that about one-third of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the Iraq war, while nearly two-thirds disapprove -- a sharp reversal of the situation two years ago.

The long train ride through the American heartland was an opportunity to visually see the varied beauty of this land and the socio-economic variety of its inhabitants, and to engage a small sample of ordinary Americans about the problem of terrorism and how they relate to it in their everyday lives. The Americans I spoke to -- a computer engineer from Denver, a train service employee from Chicago, a retired professor from Omaha, a seminary student from South Carolina, a young university engineering graduate from Alabama, among others -- expressed lingering anger about 9/11 and concern about a future attack. They also seemed perplexed about two important points: why this terror threat remains so vivid, and why so many people around the world criticize the United States.

I sensed a great disconnect in America today between the sentiments and perceptions of ordinary citizens and the rhetoric and foreign policies of their federal government, articulated again last week by Bush's cosmic speech about fighting the new global threat of Islamist jihadi terrorism. Bush and his ideological warhorses in Washington want to take this fight to the enemy in Iraq and elsewhere and keep fighting until freedom prevails everywhere. Ordinary Americans would settle for a more effective, productive policy that makes them feel safer at home and less opposed around the world. Bush's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy last week reaffirmed to me that Washington's policy to fight terrorism is a mishmash of faulty analysis, historical confusions, emotional anger, foreign policy frustrations, worldly ignorance, and political deception, all rolled into one. The fundamental flaw is that Bush confuses and conflates a range of separate issues that have very different causes and consequences. As a result, he formulates an ineffective or even counter-productive strategy on the basis of distorted analysis and a wrong reading of the symptoms and causes or terror.

He sees the Islamist jihadi movement of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi as a global totalitarian threat in the same tradition as Communism and fascism, and sees all acts of terror, against American, Arab, European or Asian targets, as emanating from a single, common inspiration. This is nonsense taken to peculiarly Texan heights of intellectual contortion and confusion.

He completely ignores the impact of American, Israeli and other foreign policies on the mindsets of hundreds of millions of people in the Arab-Asian region, whose degraded political and economic environment eventually spawns the desperate and futile criminality of terrorism. This is willful political blindness that makes the analytical basis of American foreign policy a laughing stock around the world.

He correctly notes that more democratic, prosperous and free societies in the Arab-Asian region would spawn fewer terrorists, but he refuses to acknowledge that America's war-making, military-based approach to promoting democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq is more feared than admired in our troubled region, and creates more resistance to, than embrace of, America's rhetoric and policies.

He wildly exaggerates the capacity of Bin Laden-style jihadi terrorists to achieve their goals, which he correctly identifies as ejecting the U.S. and other foreign armies from the region, toppling Western-supported Arab regimes, and imposing their vision of Islamic rule. He also grossly misdiagnoses the relationship between the jihadi terrorists and regimes such as Syria and Iran, both of which have established records of political enmity and warfare against such Islamist movements.

Bush keeps making the same speech about fighting terror and promoting freedom around the world month after month, but with progressively less credibility with his own citizenry on every occasion. The cautious, sensible wisdom of ordinary Americans is challenging the emotional zealotry and reckless global militarism of the Bush foreign policy team. This is because Bush's policies have proved less effective than the rousing rhetoric of his speeches, and after a while Americans prefer genuine security to perpetual warfare, and reality to fantasy.

This was such a good article that I had to post the entire thing.

Monday, October 10, 2005

na na na na

Randi Rhodes is speaking and the conservative, Janet Parshall, can't listen to the truth!
listen to this craziness!

Death toll rises for U.S. military reservists as their role grows in Iraq

by Robert Burns
By Robert Burns

11:00 a.m. October 10, 2005

WASHINGTON – The National Guard and Reserves are suffering a strikingly higher share of U.S. casualties in Iraq, their portion of total American military deaths nearly doubling since last year.
Reservists have accounted for one-quarter of all U.S. deaths since the Iraq war began, but the proportion has grown over time. It was 10 percent for the five weeks it took to topple Baghdad in the spring of 2003, and 20 percent for 2004 as a whole.

The trend accelerated this year. For the first nine months of 2005 reservists accounted for 36 percent of U.S. deaths, and for August and September it was 56 percent, according to Pentagon figures.

Mier's helped cover up Bush's National Guard duty or lack thereof

While Miers was chairwoman of the Texas Lottery commission, the former executive director filed suit, claiming that he was fired to ensure that allegations were not made public that then-Gov. Bush had gained acceptance into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 as a result of political favors. At roughly the same time -- and also during her tenure as chairwoman -- Miers was paid by Bush's re-election campaign to investigate Bush's Guard record in order to deflect allegations that Bush received preferential treatment.
Of course the whole story is available at Media Matters

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bush avian flu plan "madness"

Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told The Associated Press the president's suggestion was dangerous.

Giving the military a law enforcement role would be an "extraordinarily Draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said.
Read on the
Assisted-reproduction bill would bar singles, gays

"An interim legislative committee is considering a bill that would prohibit gays, lesbians and single people in Indiana from using medical science to assist them in having a child. [sponsor: Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis]

The bill defines assisted reproduction as causing pregnancy by means other than sexual intercourse, including intrauterine insemination, donation of an egg, donation of an embryo, in vitro fertilization and transfer of an embryo, and sperm injection. It would require "intended parents" to be married to each other and says a single person may not be an intended parent." They would have to undergo screening in order to get the required gestation certificate before the assisted reproductive procedure could be performed. Anyone attempting to have or performing assistive reproductive procedures would be subject to arrest, a fine and imprisonment. The required information includes the fertility history of the parents, education and employment information, personality descriptions, verification of marital status, child-care plans and criminal history checks. A description of the family lifestyle of the intended parents also would be required, including participation in faith-based or church activities.

boingboing says it best:

If the Virgin Mary had been born 2000 years later, she might have ended up in an Indiana State prison, if Republican lawmakers there get their way. A proposed bill hopes to make criminals out of unmarried women in Indiana who conceive "by means other than sexual intercourse."
Peter Svensson says: "Under the proposed Indiana law, if [Mary] willingly accepted the Holy Spirit's visitation, that would be a misdemeanor:

As it the draft of the new law reads now, an intended parent 'who knowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproduction procedure' without court approval, 'commits unauthorized reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.' The criminal charges will be the same for physicians who commit 'unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction.'
"Presumably, if the Holy Spirit didn't give her a choice in the matter, she would have been let off. But in either case, the Holy Spirit would be charged."

Subversive influence of money in politics

"Theodore Roosevelt warned a century ago of the subversive influence of money in politics. He said the central fact in his time was that big business had become so dominant it would chew up democracy and spit it out. The power of corporations, he said, had to be balanced with the interest of the general public. That warning was echoed by his cousin Franklin, who said a “government by organized money is as much to be feared as a government by organized mob.” Both Roosevelts rose to that challenge in their day. But 100 years later mighty corporations are once again the undisputed overlords of government."
Bill Moyers again speaks the truth loud and clear!
Southwest boots woman because of her politically charged T-shirt.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Lorrie Heasley, of Woodland, Wash., was asked to leave her flight from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., Tuesday for wearing a T-shirt with pictures of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a phrase similar to the popular film title "Meet the Fockers."

Hmmmm....what shall I wear on my upcoming flight on Southwest? It's not like I have a shortage of politically charged T-shirts!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Interpreting Harriet Miers
Robert Reich
October 06, 2005


Before 1937, a majority of justices, saying they were "strictly interpreting" the Constitution, struck down as unconstitutional laws setting minimum wages and maximum hours, and barring child labor.

The economic values of those justices favored private property over community standards of fair play. To them, due process of law was mostly about freedom to contract and liberty was the ability to accumulate personal wealth.

Then, early in 1937, one of those justice switched sides (coincidentally, his last name was Roberts) and the court’s new majority chose community over property. They said they were still strictly interpreting the Constitution. But suddenly, due process was about making laws fairly, and liberty was about giving people opportunities to get ahead.

We no longer have a Great Depression to contend with, as we did then. But we’ve still got big questions of economic values. The U.S. economy has been growing at a healthy clip. But the typical household’s income has barely budged for years. Meanwhile, the number of poor Americans continues to grow. According to the Census Bureau, only the top 5 percent of households have been enjoying real economic gains. Almost all the economic growth has gone to the top.

This raises profound questions about American values. Not since the Gilded Age of the 1890s has this nation experienced anything like the inequality of income, wealth and opportunity we’re now witnessing.

Should we try to reverse this trend? Does the Constitution require that we provide all our citizens with an equal opportunity to get ahead? Is the widening gap evidence we’re failing at this?

If you see our society as a group of individuals for whom government exists mainly to protect property, you’d probably answer these questions with a "no." If you see America as a national community whose citizens have responsibilities for the well-being of one another, you’d say "yes."


I say YES! We have a responsibility for the well being of each other. Guess some of these right wingers should review the words of Jesus.

Here is the lesson right from the pages of the CBN: (Why don't these folks practice what they preach?).

"While Jesus was teaching he admonished an expert in knowing God’s law to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

Then Jesus asked, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:30-37 NIV)"

Quarantined by the military?

WASHINGTON CNN -- "President Bush says the possibility of an avian flu pandemic is among the reasons he wants Congress to give him the power to use the nation's military in law enforcement roles in the United States.

"I'm concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world," he told reporters during a Rose Garden news conference on Tuesday.

Such an event would raise difficult questions, such as how a quarantine might be enforced, he said."

Ok, this is pretty frightening. There is no mention of how hospital care, antibiotics and/or other supportive care would be implemented. What is he planning to do, quarantine an entire town, leaving those who can afford medical care and medications to get what they can, and leaving the poor to die? Will they just deport folks to "flu camps'? Will martial law be far behind? The Bush administration is more and more fascist all the time, and it's scary.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 says this is actually real

How cool is this, it's not faked, it actually happened!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

screw the poor in the gulf states some more...

Post-Katrina easing of labor laws stirs debate

Foreign workers may form a big part of Gulf Coast reconstruction.

read it here

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush directly involved in leak scandal?

Source to Stephanopoulos: President Bush Directly Involved In Leak Scandal
Near the end of a round table discussion on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos dropped this bomb:

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.

This would explain why Bush spent more than an hour answering questions from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It would also fundamentally change the dynamics of the scandal. President Bush could no longer claim he was merely a bystander who wants to “get to the bottom of it.” As Stephanopoulos notes, if Bush played a direct role it could make this scandal completely unmanageable.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video.

Congress and more blow to the victims

What perfect timing: the bankruptcy law set to go into effect Oct. 17 is arriving just in time to inflict more pain on Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas residents who have been hit by the gulf hurricanes. They lost their homes, businesses and even loved ones and now may face financial ruin without the protection of bankruptcy. for more

It amazes me how little play the screwing of Katrina victims makes the news. Since you can't show this in pictures, I guess it's not newsworthy. What a sick society, and a namby pamby media!

Right wingers jumping off the cliff over Miers nomination

Conservatives jumping off the cliff over Miers nomination

A round up from crooksandliars

It seems like another crony nomination to me. Keeping it in the family. A little "Clemenza" action. Ezra Klein has some of the reactions from the right wingers. Here's an example:

" Harriet Miers? Are you freakin’ kidding me?! Oh, and if any of you RNC staffers are reading, you can take my name off the mailing list. I am not giving the national Republican Party another dime."

Atrios:J-Pod Said All That Needs to be Said/Armando: Leap of Faith/ AmericaBlog: Conserv. Bloggers not happy/Think Progress-Right-Wing Peanut Gallery Hits Miers Hard/Michelle Malkin: UTTERLY UNDERWHELMED/ Ben Winkler: David Frum just deleted his post/ John Cole: I Don't Get it/ Hugh Hewitt wants them to trust the President/Booman Tribune: A "Pitbull in Size 6 Shoes"

No word from God's Own Circus yet...(send me anything from the Circus Clowns)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Rise of Hitler compare to Bush and Co.

The rise and fall of Hitler, includes these details, gleaned from a teacher's guide and other historical sources. Substitute Muslim for the word Jew.

"Once he became head of state by legal means, Hitler consolidated his power by neutralizing all political opponents and democratic institutions. As dictator, he began a campaign of terror to rid Germany of Jewish influence. The Nuremberg Laws negated civil liberties for Germany's Jews, many of whom fled to safer lands.

Students will learn:
1. How the Nazis consolidated their power and control of the German government.

2. That dictatorial power can evolve from forces other than through a military or civilian coup d'État.

3. That Hitler rose to power in a democracy which had a structure similar to that of modern democracies.

4. That historical events often trigger political responses and mold public opinion, and that extremist political movements do not suddenly rise to power in a vacuum but do so as a result of latent instability of the society in which they exist."

And here is the discussion question from the teacher's guide (think about it)...

"Discuss what motivated the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act. How jealously does our own Congress guard its rights to pass legislation? Is there an appropriate balance of power between the President and the Congress today? Has this balance changed in the last 40 years? The last 20 years? 5 years? 1 year?"

Another point of interest, by Ben S. Austin: "Please take special note of the similarity between these laws and the Jim Crow Laws which were passed in the United States following the Compromise of 1877, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy vs Ferguson (1896) and remained in effect until the court reversed the "separate but equal doctrine in Brown vs the Board of Education of Topeka (1954). It is clear that Hitler used the Jim Crow segregation statutes as his model for defining Jews in the Third Reich."

And still more information, which sounds a lot like what is going on here and now.

"On March 23, 1933, the newly elected members of the German Parliament (the Reichstag) met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. It was officially called the 'Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.' If passed, it would effectively mean the end of democracy in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.

The 'distress' had been secretly caused by the Nazis themselves in order to create a crisis atmosphere that would make the law seem necessary to restore order. On February 27, 1933, they had burned the Reichstag building, seat of the German government, causing panic and outrage. The Nazis successfully blamed the fire on the Communists and claimed it marked the beginning of a widespread uprising.

On the day of the vote, Nazi storm troopers gathered in a show of force around the opera house chanting, "Full powers - or else! We want the bill - or fire and murder!!" They also stood inside in the hallways, and even lined the aisles where the vote would take place, glaring menacingly at anyone who might oppose Hitler's will.

Just before the vote, Hitler made a speech to the Reichstag in which he pledged to use restraint."

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one." - Hitler told the Reichstag.

He also promised an end to unemployment and pledged to promote peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But in order to do all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act.

A two thirds majority was needed, since the law would actually alter the German constitution. Hitler needed 31 non-Nazi votes to pass it. He got those votes from the Center Party after making a false promise to restore some basic rights already taken away by decree."

I am telling you, the worst may yet happen, particularly if the Bush administration changes the Posse Comitatus Act.

Change the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878?

If this doesn't scare you, then you need to re-read some history. Excerpt of report:

"President Bush yesterday said he wants Congress to consider putting the Pentagon, not state and local agencies, in charge of responding to large natural disasters in the future….

That would require a change of law, since the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids the military from performing civilian law enforcement duties. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is investigating possible reforms to the act, which Pentagon officials consider archaic.

[C]ritics are already warning against repeal of Posse Comitatus. "Washington seems poised to embrace further centralization and militarization at home," cautioned Gene Healy, senior editor at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "That has the makings of a policy disaster that would dwarf Hurricane Katrina."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Peace March, more photos and stuff

I know that this photo of Sept. 24, 2005 peace marchers must be an early photo because we marched only 1 hrs less than we did at the March for Women's Lives last April, where 1.5 million women marched. photo courtesy of Jerry

The women's march of April 2004 compared to the Million Man March

There were more people present in Washington DC on Sept. 24, 2005, than the media will tell you. However, Stars and Stripes estimated 250,000 people, which is close, but I think it still is an underestimation. Why do I say that? The photo below shows a large contingent of police at 1600 hrs, however, at 0900 hrs there were 3 police officers deployed in this location. I think they were not expecting so many people. Worse yet, they were rude, and not a professional as the police officers in Crawford. The DC police should get lessons from the Crawford police.

The police, I think, did not expect such a crowd. That must be why the train from NY to DC had a "power outage" and those folks had to find another way to get to DC. I am sorry I missed the civil actions on Sunday when folks got arrested, including Cindy Sheehan. Go Cindy!

All in all, it was an amazing and historic experience as we mixed a historic peace march with historic tours....

and just plain fun

and a run in with Oscar the Grouch:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sept. 24th Peace March

The peace march takes place on Sat. For more information on events, and to read the Code Pink blog link

We're marching because we are distressed over the continued war in Iraq, an unprovoked, unnecessary war that has cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 2,000 US soldiers. We grieve for those families who have already lost loved ones in this war, and we want to stop other families from suffering such painful losses.

We're marching because we want to hold George Bush accountable for dragging us into this war on false pretenses. For more reasons

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bush administration appoints a Veterinarian in charge of women's health

Washington, DC — In a curious move today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) named two acting directors to the office of women's health. This morning FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford appointed a man who has spent the majority of his career in the office of veterinary medicine to the position of acting director of the Office of Women's Health. By this afternoon, Dr. Norris Alderson had been replaced with a Ms. Teresa Toigo. Ms. Toigo will replace Dr. Susan Wood, a key women's health expert, who resigned on August 31 in protest of the FDA's handling of the application to make Plan B emergency contraception (EC) available over the counter.

This according to Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Open letter to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

I noted that you asked President Bush to do the following:
“Relax certain McKinney Act restrictions as they relate to the evacuee-students in order to give school districts more flexibility to place them in schools.”
What are those certain restrictions? I have heard that the restrictions you want lifted would allow Katrina refugee children to be placed in separate classrooms from local children; sort of a "separate but equal" throwback to the days of segregation. I think that is totally wrong. These children need to be able to feel normal, and should be mainstreamed.
I lived through a large natural disaster, 40 years ago, when I was 14, and although only one person I know died as a result of that incident, and I was not homeless, it was an emotionally charged experience. I can only imagine how scarred these children will be from this experience. Making them feel different and separating them from their peers will only harm them more.
As a women, and a parent, surely you know these things, and know in your heart that this is really wrong.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Crawford to silence further protests...they think..


WACO, Texas -- Two weeks after Cindy Sheehan left her anti-war
campsite by the road leading to President Bush's ranch, county
commissioners have banned parking along 23 miles of roads in the area.

Before the 4-1 vote Tuesday, McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows
said about 80 residents had complained of blocked roads, loud music
and public health and safety concerns during the 26-day protest near
Bush's ranch outside Crawford, about 20 miles west of Waco.

"It's not a First Amendment issue. It's a safety issue," Meadows said,
adding that "no parking" signs could be put up this week."

In progressive grannie's humble opinion, no parking signs won't stop anything. We are much more creative than that!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

FEMA's body recovery underlying scam

FEMA brought in SCI (Service Corporation International) for removal of bodies. SCI President is a crony of Bush's, and Bush bailed him out of an investigation into their embalming practices in 1999.
This same firm "is known for its "experience" at hiding and dumping bodies" according to Raw Story

Why FEMA chose to outsource mortuary services to a paid contractor is also mystery to Dan Buckner, co-owner of the Gowen-Smith Chapel in the Gulf area. Buckner had planned to serve with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Responses Team, which reportedly told Buckner's partner, Gary Hicks of Paducah, KY, to expect up to 40,000 deaths from Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Upon learning of Kenyon’s contract, Buckner expressed puzzlement. He told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, "Volunteers would have gone at no charge."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina viewed by the world

Oh yeah, democracy really looks more attractive now. Show us your tired, your poor, your hungry...and Katrina showed the world that we don't have streets paved with gold, but US citizens mired in poverty and stranded with no way out, and a government that didn't care. Slate outlines the impact in depth:

"The initial federal and local reactions to Hurricane Katrina, however, have sent the opposite message. The images seen around the world communicated a lack of competence and considerable chaos and suffering. The dominant overseas reaction has been sympathy mixed with shock and horror at what was seen by many as evidence of racism and a reminder of the extreme poverty in which many Americans live.

The global impact[of Katrina on foreign policy]goes beyond impressions. A priority of this administration's foreign policy is to promote democracy around the world. But the attractiveness of the American model, and the ability of the United States to be an effective advocate for more democratic, capitalist societies, which had already been weakened by the disarray in Iraq, is now weaker still as a result of the disarray at home. It will be more difficult to make the case for free markets and more open societies if the results of such reforms come to be associated with the disorder seen in New Orleans." more
Al Gore's speech A Moral Moment
"...This is a moral moment. This is not ultimately about any scientific debate or political dialogue. Ultimately it is about who we are as human beings. It is about our capacity to transcend our own limitations; to rise to this new occasion; to see with our hearts, as well as our heads, the unprecedented response that is now called for; to disenthrall ourselves; to shed the illusions that have been our accomplices in ignoring the warnings that were clearly given; and hearing the ones that are clearly given now.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. And Lincoln said at another moment of supreme challenge that the question facing the people of the United States of America ultimately was whether or not this government, conceived in liberty, dedicated to freedom, of the people, by the people, and for the people -- or any government so conceived -- would perish from this earth.

There is another side to this moral challenge. Where there is vision, the people prosper and flourish, and the natural world recovers, and our communities recover. The good news is we know what to do. The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. We have all the technologies we need, more are being developed, and as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait, we have every thing we need -- save perhaps political will. And in our democracy, political will is a renewable resource. [sustained applause]....

We brought down Communism, we brought down apartheid, we have even solved a global environmental crisis before -- the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer -- because we had leadership and because we had vision and because people who exercise moral authority in their local communities empowered our nation's government "of the people by the people and for the people" to take ethical actions even thought they were difficult.

This is another such time. This is your moment. This is the time for those who see and understand and care and are willing to work to say this time the warnings will not be ignored. This time we will prepare. This time we will rise to the occasion. And we will prevail. Thank you. Good luck to you, God bless you. [sustained applause]"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just relaxing

Just relaxing, originally uploaded by skystone461.

Ok, I chased Mr. S (the kitty) and he got away to the top of the dryer, does this mean I should relax now?

Poverty in America, the truth....

The Economic Policy Institute September 1, 2005,Briefing Paper #165

Working families' incomes often fail to meet living expenses around the U.S.

by Sylvia A. Allegretto

The ability of families to meet their most basic needs is an important measure of economic stability and well-being. While poverty thresholds are used to evaluate the extent of serious economic deprivation in our society, family budgets, that is, the income a family needs to secure safe and decent-yet-modest living standards in the community in which it resides offer a broader measure of economic welfare.1

The family budgets presented in this report take into account differences in both geographic location and family type. In total, this report presents basic budgets for over 400 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children). That the budgets differ by location is important, since certain costs, such as housing, vary significantly depending on where one resides. This geographic dimension of family budget measurements offers a comparative advantage over using poverty thresholds, which only use a national baseline in its measurements.

Basic family budget measurements are adjustable by family type because expenses vary considerably depending on the number of children in a family and whether or not a family is headed by a single parent or a married couple.

The second part of this analysis compares data on actual working family incomes and the associated basic family budgets. Such a comparison can show, for example, what percentage of two-parent families with two children in Pittsburgh, Pa., are actually earning enough income to meet basic family budget thresholds.2 These comparisons can also show not only the share of families falling below family budget thresholds, but the number of total people—parents and children—that are affected. Given recent policies that emphasize work as the solution to poverty and economic hardship, this analysis is important because it shows that sometimes work simply isn't enough.

The following are major findings from this analysis:

The range of basic family budgets for a two-parent, two-child family is $31,080 (rural Nebraska) to $64,656 (Boston, Massachusetts). The median family budget of $39,984 is well above the $19,157 poverty threshold for this size family.

Over three times more working families fall below the basic family budget levels as fall below the official poverty line.

Of the six family types examined, over 14 million people (28%) live in families with incomes below the basic family budget thresholds.

The incorporation of cost-of-living differences into basic family budgets makes them advantageous in many ways. For example, when using poverty thresholds, approximately 37% of families fall below "twice poverty" (i.e., double the poverty line), whether they reside in cities or rural areas. But when using family budget measures, which embody the higher cost of living in cities, one finds that 42% of families living in cities and 30% of families residing in rural areas fall short of basic family budget thresholds.

Think of it as being in steerage

The Titanic Of Our Era
by Bill Fletcher, Jr.,September 09, 2005.

"The complete failure of the Bush administration—and to a lesser extent state and local authorities on the Gulf Coast— to respond to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina has raised questions about the motives at play. The fact that the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and black people were thrown up for grabs and that the Bush administration could not mobilize any significant response for five days has led many people to assume that this was an act of planned genocide. How else, one may wonder, could such a thing have been allowed to happen?

There is another way to think about the disaster: the steerage on the Titanic. To refresh your memory, that was the section of the ship that provided the cheapest accommodations and where the poorest were housed. It was also the lowest part of the ship, the least safe and the site of overwhelming death. One may remember, as portrayed in the film Titanic , that the passengers in steerage were literally locked in, trapped like rats such that they could not escape the rising water.

Does this somehow sound familiar?

Did the builders of the Titanic design it in such a way that they aimed to kill the occupants of steerage? Not at all. They did, however, design it so that if anyone was going to die, it would be those in steerage. Their deaths were acceptable for the builders of the Titanic. After all, those in steerage were considered a less-relevant population than the rich on the upper decks.

The capitalism of the contemporary era shares many of the same values informing the builders of the Titanic; the poor are not the responsibility of society at large. The construction of the Titanic was not simply a technological matter. There was a decision that the poor could be sacrificed in order that the rich survive. That is the essence of capitalism in general, but particularly neo-liberal capitalism—the capitalism of this era. There need not have been an intent to wipe out thousands of poor and black people in the Gulf. The assumptions about how money would be spent, what was necessary, etc., meant that in the face of disaster, the poor and the black would be sacrificed, and the rich would have their SUVs [read: life boats]"

Obviously, the middle and poor classes of this country are expendable to the neocons and the Bushites. They now continue to plot to decrease medicaid and medicare benefits, but may concede that they can't remove those benefits from the gulf state residents because it might look bad or unsavory.

DeLay--Katrina kind of fun

"While on the tour of a shelter with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, ``Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?''

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed."

What in God's green earth is wrong with this man? Does this look like summer camp? How condescending, rude and outrageous! Of course, we already know that DeLay has no ethics, and here is more proof.

To read the entire article Houston Chronicle

Come to Washington DC

S24 general button 3

Friday, September 09, 2005

Federal restrictions on reporters covering Katrina

"September 7 Reuters article reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath" and "refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas." FEMA's actions, along with further reports that the government is obstructing journalists in New Orleans, have drawn little attention -- and even less outrage -- from the very media institutions that the agency, part of the Bush administration, seeks to repress. Media Matters for America wonders: What will it take for the media to protest (or at least report) the Bush administration's efforts to control them?...
In a September 8 Philadelphia Inquirer column, television columnist Gail Shister quoted Alex Jones, director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy: " 'I think they want to minimize the perception that the government didn't do its job,' says Jones, a former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner. 'I'm very suspicious of their motives.' " Editor & Publisher also noted FEMA's actions and the reactions of journalist groups in a September 8 article." For more go to media matters

"NBC anchor and managing editor Brian Williams noted in his weblog that journalists are being forcibly prevented from covering certain aspects of the Katrina disaster: The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of Guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media ... obvious members of the media ... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. ... Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history."