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.