Monday, May 29, 2006
We can not, will not, and must not forget those who have fallen from our ranks, and the ranks of previous generations, as we are they and they are we.
No matter what your political affiliation, views of the war or personal convictions, the sacrifice of all those who wear the uniform is undeniable. Instead of celebrating this weekend, let's take this time to reflect on what personal sacrifice really means. "
I hope you spent some time reflecting this Memorial Day. I know we did at our home, all 4 generations of us.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
While claiming that they must "secure" America for a post-9/11 world, the BushCheney zealots are taking us back to a pre-1776 world. They have been astonishingly successful in a remarkably short time, insidiously taking autocratic step after step, which a compliant Congress and the establishment media have mostly missed, ignored, minimalized or applauded. These two "institutions of vigilance" have failed us. So it is up to "We The People" to assert ourselves against this dangerous rise of authoritarianism in Bush's America.
"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you have to concentrate on," George W said with a laugh at Washington's Gridiron dinner in 2001.
If only we'd known then that behind George's snickers, the Bushites were serious. Employing a combination of deceit, defiance, arrogance, flag-waving and secrecy, they have fooled a majority of Congress and the media into accepting the overlay of a "spook society" on our "Land of the Free." The far-reaching extent of their efforts are only now becoming clear.
The legislation has yet to pass, but intelligence watchdogs say that Bush has already implemented it by fiat - Executive Order 13388 appears to authorize the Pentagon to access domestic intelligence files. Also, the military has already created a robust collection system of its own. A new Northern Command, established in Colorado in 2001 to monitor Americans, now employs more intelligence analysts than does the Homeland Security Department. Also, the Marines launched an operation under a 2004 executive order for the "collection, retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons," noting that the corps will be "increasingly required to perform domestic missions." And, during the past five years, each of the service branches has created its own domestic snooping enterprises. As Sen. Ron Wyden complained last year, "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [public] hearing."
This is an article well worth reading. Our country is going down a road that will take it far, far from the constitution. Beware.
It is amazing to me that Bush even dares to compare himself to anyother President. After all, Bush is the only idiot ever not elected to the office.
Express-News Staff Writer
KERRVILLE — Vowing to fight as hard for fairness as they did for their nation, South Texas veterans are sounding a call for health care services in areas they say are underserved.
Amid budget cuts and revamping of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, the Kerrville Veterans Hospital, a full-service hospital in the 1990s, has been stripped of such specialties as cardiology, endocrinology, orthopedics and dermatology.
A contract for the urologist there will expire next month, forcing veterans in a 14-county area to go to San Antonio for treatment, Alan Hill, president of the Hill Country chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, said at a rally Saturday.
Though routine procedures such as oral surgery, colonoscopies, podiatry care and X-rays are still done in Kerrville, Hill said the hospital will close by the end of the year, "if we don't put a stop to it."
"A nursing home with a clinic is all it'll be," he told about 120 supporters outside the hospital.
Local officials of the Veterans Affairs Department say there are no plans to close the Kerrville hospital.
Hill said veterans, one of the largest voting blocs in the nation, should take nothing for granted and be ready to vote against leaders who don't support veterans.
"They're lying to us. We've got to let them know we're tired of it," he said. "Vote someone else in who'll be pro-veteran."
President Bush asked for $34.3 billion for veterans health care next year, an 11.3 percent increase. But members of Congress, including Chet Edwards, D-Waco, questioned a recent budget resolution that would cut funding by about $6 billion between 2008 and 2011.
"I do not understand, and I can tell you it didn't come from this subcommittee, why somebody, somewhere, staff or otherwise, put together a budget resolution that's on the floor today" that would cut expenses, Edwards said during an April 6 meeting of a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Rick Bolanos of El Paso, a Vietnam veteran and Democratic challenger facing U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, also spoke at Saturday's rally.
Though Gulf War II has cost at least 2,465 lives, compared with 58,000 in Vietnam, Bolanos said many young veterans may not have access to counselors for post-traumatic stress, believed to affect 20 percent to 25 percent of veterans of Iraq.
"What you don't realize is we've lost more than 60,000 Vietnam veterans to suicide," he said.
After the rally, Sally Tarasoff, a former Army and VA nurse from Boerne, said the system needs to be built up to provide therapy for burn victims, counseling for veterans with delayed stress symptoms and lifetime care for vets with head wounds.
"What they're doing to the veterans is disgusting," she said.
A similar rally is set for 2 p.m. today near the McAllen VA Outpatient Clinic. Although the VA is building an outpatient clinic in Harlingen and contracts with hospitals in the area to provide routine surgery, patients must travel to San Antonio for most major procedures.
Tony Roman, a Vietnam veteran and one of about 20 San Antonians at the rally, said he blames leaders in Washington.
"They're trying to pay for the war on the backs of veterans," he said.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Today, in the sweltering heat and humidity of south Texas, veterans and those who support them, gathered outside the Kerrville VA. The subject of conversation? Simple. Budget cuts in the VA and how they affect yesterday's and today's veterans. Contrary to popular belief, Memorial weekend is when we remember those who served our country in the armed forces. This event was not covered by very many news media. Our elected representatives, who purport to support our troops, such as Henry Bonilla, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry were invited to attend. Who attended? Rick Bolanos, who is running against Henry Bonilla, and a pretty young lady who identified herself as Bonilla's "communications representative." No elected official bothered to show up.
What was discussed? Restoring funding to the Kerrville VA. The men and women who get medical care from the VA must go to San Antonio for many areas of care such as dermatology, gerontology, pulmonology and oncology (cancer) because that is not available in Kerrville. A bus goes to Kerrville twice a week. Often their appointments are canceled, but the veteran won't know until he arrives in San Antonio. So, he/she must wait all day for the bus to return to Kerrville. Is this right? I don't believe it is.
Furthermore, as we daily add veterans to the system, in the Iraq war, which was started on lies, these men and women will add to the VA backlog and get crappy care. One VA nurse per 23 patients, for inpatient care. How is that quality of care? When will we, as a nation, value and honor our veterans?
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
If I thought Al Gore’s movie was as you like to say, fair and balanced, I’d say, everyone should go see it. But why go see propaganda? You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t go see Al Gore’s films to see the truth about global warming.
Can you believe this moron? I am nonplussed. WTF?????
On Monday, Murtha is to be awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in Boston for his bold pronouncement that U.S. troops should be pulled out of Iraq — a statement many say helped change the public debate over the war, because of Murtha's past as a Democratic hawk and retired Marines Reserves colonel who enjoyed easy access to presidents.
"There aren't many around like him any more," said Jack Johannes, a political science professor at Villanova University. "As a result, when the generations change, the environments change, even someone like John Murtha has to change."
Being honored along with Murtha on Monday is Alberto Mora, a former Navy general counsel who warned Pentagon officials that U.S. policies dealing with terror detainees could invite abuse.
Speaking truth to power! They deserve the award.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Here is an interesting fact that I just learned.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, there were 24.5 million military veterans in the United States. I could not find the figures for the current year.
So they didn't miss too many veterans on that data base did they? Basically the records of everyone that has served in the military have been stolen.
Hastert, kiss my middle class a** ! You big jerkw**. I can only hope and pray that the Dems get a backbone, somewhere, somehow.
By Molly Ivins
Monday 22 May 2006
Austin, Texas - Last week, Bush visited Yuma, Ariz., to tour a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border by Border Patrol buggy. Maybe Jorge was doing a little measuring for the $3.2-million-a-mile fence the Senate recently approved, which I guarantee will be really helpful.
Are they insane? As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano observes, "Show me a 50-foot wall, and I'll show you a 51-foot ladder."
Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have constructively declared English the national language. That'll fix everything. Every foreigner at our borders will stop and say: "Gosh, ma foi! English is the national language here. Good thing to know. I'll begin speaking it immediately."
Yes sir, you want a solution, call a Republican.
Of course, I am enchanted to discover that the entire project will be turned over to Raytheon, General Dynamics and other military contractors - think Halliburton with noncompetitive bids, anyone? Because this outsourcing stuff is just working like a charm. Another Republican solution.
Naturally, in Texas, National Laboratory for Bad Government, we do it all first and worst. We started with this dandy plan to outsource applications and enrollment for social service programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. In theory, we were to save millions - though I never could understand it myself. You see, Texas has one of the cheapest state governments on the continent, but when we hire outside contractors, they expect to make a profit. Add profit, add cost. Oh well.
So the state hired this firm based in Bermuda on an $899-million, five-year contract. So far, the health and human services commissioner has been forced to ask 1,000 state employees who were scheduled to be laid off by the end of the year not to leave after all - and to offer each of them a $1,800 bonus to stay. Oops.
Among other errors, the private consortium mistakenly dropped 6,000 children from the children's health insurance program. The state comptroller (who is running for governor against the incumbent, Goodhair Perry) says the program is "a perfect storm of wasted dollars, reduced access to services and profiteering at the expense of Texas taxpayers."
With a record like that, of course, Republicans want more outsourcing. Ted Koppel suggests in The New York Times that we outsource war: "Blackwater and other leading security companies are seriously proposing to officials at very high levels of the government that their private forces could relieve a number of the burdens now being shouldered (or not) by American troops. ... The Pentagon ... is nonetheless struggling to come to terms with what it now calls 'the long war.' There is every expectation that the fight against global terrorism and the most extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism will last for many years. This is a war that will not necessarily require aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, fighter jets or heavily armored tanks. It will certainly not enable the United States to exploit its advantages in nuclear weapons. It is a war, indeed, that favors the highly mobile and adaptive fighting skills of the former Special Forces soldiers and other ex-commandos ...."
"Will"? Hell! Did and does. This is a war that is being fought with the wrong tools-and, in Iraq, at the wrong time, in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy.
It never did call for tanks, jets or carriers - just a combination of good detectives and good intelligence. In other words, smart, clever people with language skills. All of which we have fully available to us because of ... immigration. Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis and Indonesians have all become Americans, and in so many cases we got the bravest of the brave - those who fought Saddam, the ayatollah and Assad, Lebanese who saw their country torn apart by religious factions. These are Americans who know the culture and language of the Middle East and other Islamic countries, and who care deeply about how it all comes out.
By all means, reform immigration with this deep obeisance to the Republican right-wing nut faction and their open contempt for "foreigners." But do not pretend for one minute that it is not a craven political bow to racism (yes, racism - I am actually calling them racists, although they pretend it hurts their feelings. Try reading their websites and see for yourself), and to nativism, to xenophobia and to Know-Nothingism. Just don't forget what you are throwing away in the process.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Fair-minded Americans will not stand for these attacks, but we need your help to spread the word to stop the FMA. Watch the video here
Friday, May 19, 2006
Second, it addresses private civil litigation. This bill provides that before a private party may subpoena a journalist in a civil suit, the court must find that the party is not trying to harass or punish the journalist,
and that the public interest requires disclosure. Again, this should help clarify the existing law in federal courts.
Finally, the Free Flow of Information Act adds layers of safeguards for the public. Reporters are not allowed to withhold information if a federal court concludes that the information is important to the defense of our Nation's security or is needed to prevent or stop a crime that could lead to death or physical injury. Also, the bill ensures that both crime victims and criminal defendants will have a fair hearing in court. Under this bill, a journalist who is an eyewitness to a crime or takes part in a crime may not withhold that information. Journalists should not be permitted to hide from the law by writing a story and then claiming a reporter's privilege. "
How Does President Bush Compare with Other Wartime Presidents With Respect to Free Speech Issues?: "Bush and Cheney Are On Track To Outdo Their Rights-Infringing Predecessors
It's true that Bush and Cheney did not call for the arrest of Howard Dean in 2004, as Woodrow Wilson did with Eugene Debs during World War One - an analogy Stone offers to suggest some progress is being made. But as more and more comes out about what they have done, it is clear that they plan to outdo all their predecessors when it comes to dramatic infringements of civil liberties in the name of wartime necessity. Stone may have been premature in believing progress has been made. The facts suggest otherwise.
Rather than suspend habeas corpus, Bush and Cheney declare people 'enemy combatants' and keep them out of the jurisdiction of federal courts. No one knows how many Arab Americans (or Middle Easterners) have been rounded up, but rather than create internment camps, they are deporting them, sending them to secret prisons, or turning them over to countries where civil liberties do not exist, in a process delicately known as 'diplomatic rendition' but better described as 'torture by proxy.' .
More generally, Bush and Cheney have surely topped all their predecessors in their unbridled support for and use of torture. They have outdone all their predecessors, too, in their high-tech, relentless fear-mongering. In their claim of strengthening the presidency, they have shown they are cowards hiding behind the great power of the offices they hold, the prerogatives of which they are determined to abuse.
Professor Stone quotes Justice Louis Brandeis, who wrote 'Those who won our independence � knew that � fear breeds repression and that courage is the secret of liberty.' There is no such courage in the Bush and Cheney presidency.
John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist"
Daily Kos: State of the Nation: "Welcome to Iraxico!
Fri May 19, 2006 at 06:39:55 PM PDT
Does something sound vaguely familiar here?
President Bush's planned deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border would last at least two years with no clear end date, according to a Pentagon memo obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The one-page 'initial guidance' memo to National Guard leaders in border states does not address the estimated cost of the mission or when soldiers would be deployed. But high-ranking officials in the California National Guard said they were told Friday that deployments would not begin before early June.
No clear end date? Check.
Not a clue of the final cost? Check.
Fuzzy on deployment dates? Check.
And does any of this language ring a bell?
The document described an 'end date' for the mission when the U.S. Border Patrol operation 'gains independent operational control of the (southwest border) and National Guard forces are no longer required for this mission.'
and....my favorite comments to this post...
When the Americans Stand Up
The Americans can stand down.
by Carl Ballard
KXAN in Austin interviewed Willie. Here are some excerpts of that interview:
Willie's latest song is about gay cowboys.
"Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other. What do you think all them saddles and boots was about?" Willie sings.
He's says the song has been in the closet for more than 20 years, and the movie Brokeback Mountain made it easier for the song to come out.
"It was a beautifully made movie. Ang Lee is a great director and you know the guys didn't turn me on. I saw a couple of sheep that turned me on," Willie
"I rarely think of them (gay cowboys) actually, but when I do, it's not a negative thought," Willie said.
That's especially true. His friend and road manager David Anderson came out two years ago.
"I think when he started all of us were wearing jeans and one day he showed up in a suit and tie, we looked at each other and said, 'Hmmm,'" Willie said.
"I think its time for all of us to stop taking ourselves so seriously, and it's no big secret there are gay cowboys. There have been gay rodeos for 45, 50 years. Everyone seems to be now finding out about it, which seems to make it even funnier," Willie said.
"I found out through the years they don't care whether you're straight gay or what. It doesn't really matter. It's what kind of man or woman you are. What kind of person you are," Willie said.
"That's their business. I'm an advocate for freedom, whatsoever," Willie said.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Former NY Times reporter Judith Miller to assert she was warned of large scale attack before 9/11
Published: Thursday May 18, 2006
In AN ALTERNET EXCLUSIVE THURSDAY, former New York Times reporter Judy Miller tells Rory O'Connor and William Scott Malone about the story she'll regret for the rest of her life -- the fact that an anonymous White House source told her in July 2001 that an NSA intelligence report predicted a large al Qaeda attack, possibly on the continental United States, RAW STORY has learned.
“I think everybody knew that an attack was coming -- everyone who followed this. But you know you can only 'cry wolf' within a newspaper... before people start saying there he goes -- or there she goes -- again!" Miller says in an interview.
"I remember the weekend before July 4, 2001 in particular, because for some reason the people who were worried about Al Qaeda believed that was the weekend that there was going to be an attack on the US or on major American target somewhere," Miller recounts. "It was going to be a large, well-coordinated attack."
Two months later -- on September 11 -- ALTERNET.ORG says Miller and her editor at the Times, Stephen Engelberg, both remembered and regretted the story they "didn't do."
"There was always a lot going on at the White House, so to a certain extent, there was that kind of 'Cry wolf' problem," Miller says. "But I got the sense that part of the reason that I was being told of what was going on was that the people in counter terrorism were trying to get the word to the President or the senior officials through the press, because they were not able to get listened to themselves."
The future of the Internet depends on it!
By Tim Wu
Posted Monday, May 1, 2006, at 4:35 PM ET
The Internet is largely meritocratic in its design. If people like instapundit.com better than cnn.com, that's where they'll go. If they like the search engine A9 better than Google, they vote with their clicks. Is it a problem, then, if the gatekeepers of the Internet (in most places, a duopoly of the local phone and cable companies) discriminate between favored and disfavored uses of the Internet? To take a strong example, would it be a problem if AT&T makes it slower and harder to reach Gmail and quicker and easier to reach Yahoo! mail?
Welcome to the fight over 'network neutrality,' Washington's current obsession. The debate centers on whether it is more 'neutral' to let consumers reach all Internet content equally or to let providers discriminate if they think they'll make more money that way. "
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Normally, Democrats would do cartwheels if Congressman Henry Cuellar fell on the opposite side of an issue as his Republican colleague Henry Bonilla. But the recent 217-213 vote on the GOP lobby reform package has raised questions about party loyalty for both area lawmakers. As one of only eight Democrats to support the legislation, Cuellar has renewed criticisms that he is a Democrat in name only.
"I never received any questions or concerns about lobbyists from calls to our office, e-mails or at constituent meetings," said Bonilla, who is married to a lobbyist.
Bonilla lied. I emailed Bonilla about my concerns over lobbyists, and I am sure that I was not the only one in the San Antonio area to do so. There was an internet form letter that I filled in, one of those that you recieve via email. So I figure, if it's easy to fill in those form letters, more than one person did so.
And Cuellar is a DINO, period, the end, and deserves to be voted out of office!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
by Greg Palast
I smell mendacity! The sticky-sweet Atlanta drawl of the PR flack for America's private KGB was dancing in rhetorical circles with Randi Rhodes, Air American, on her broadcast yesterday. Unfortunately for the Bush-friendly Spies-R-Us contractor, Randi also has a keen nose for the telltale scent of pure bullshit.
By "private KGB," I mean ChoicePoint, Inc., the Atlanta company that keeps over 16 billion records on Americans which it sells to the FBI, Homeland Security and, through a bit of a slip-up, identity thieves.
They are watching you because George and Dick don't have time to track everyone in America (and that would be illegal, to boot), ChoicePoint does it. Then turns over the electronic you -- cross-matched profiles of voting registration, your DNA info and who knows what else -- for a price.
Randi was on the phone to one James Lee, Marketing Director of ChoicePoint. He was trying to explain some of the good work they do for government -- and responding to the evil lies about his corporation by a reporter (me).
I was listening in from a glass booth. The Eichmann treatment was required by ChoicePoint -- they wouldn't let her interview the company if anyone else was in the room. They also warned her, her interview would be "taped" ... AND, they didn't have to add, they know where she lives -- and where she votes and a whole lot more about Randi that maybe Randi herself doesn't know. Just a friendly warning.
It seems the data guys were upset that she had me on her show on Monday to talk about my investigations of the company which I conducted for BBC-TV, for Harper's and for my new book, Armed Madhouse. [ Yeah, that's a plug: order it at www.GregPalast.com ]
The company's name came up because of the Bush regime's getting caught with their hands in the data jar: spying on Americans, sucking our phone records into data bases where George and Dick can peruse them at leisure, without warrants.
ChoicePoint's the big banana in the data game, with fat no-bid contracts with Big Brother Bush's agency and the Department of Fatherland Security. (Homeland? Deutschland? Whatever.) Other governments, including Mexico, threatened ChoicePoint operatives with arrest for their use and misuse of data, but Dick and George like'm just fine. That's because ChoicePoint provides just the data that suits their needs -- not necessarily accurate, but accurate is not what is needed.
For example, ChoicePoint is the company that gave Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush the list of Florida voters, most of them Black, which were removed as "felons" before the 2000 election. The list was ridiculously inaccurate -- these were innocent citizens -- but those African-Americans lost their voting rights anyway and Jeb's brother thereby took the White House.
That's not nice, what Jeb and Katherine did -- but ChoicePoint kept silent. In return, they received a high, and highly suspect, fee for their "work."
And that's dangerous. Because, after ChoicePoint selected our president for us, our president selected them for no-bid jobs to save us from terrorists -- which they do by keeping track of us. (Odd, I thought Americans were the VICTIMS of terror -- they've made us the SUSPECTS.)
In Armed Madhouse, I reveal that one ChoicePoint executive confidentially told me the company's chairman hoped to build a national DNA database. Dracula's got nothing on these guys: they are already the biggest providers of DNA info to the FBI, they boast. They boast about it one week -- then they deny it another. This week's flavor is denial.
Back to Randi. I wasn't allowed in the room with her, so I waited in the glass booth. ChoicePoint had a huge list of complaints about my latest comment on their activities. I thought it important for the public to know how these private "data mining" companies drill into you and sell up the valuable nuggets they find to Mr. Bush's spy apparatus.
As a public service -- everyone needs a laugh once in a while -- I'm reprinting their inventive rebuttal to my report, "The Spies Who Shag Us" (for Buzzflash, May 12).
The company uses some clever rhetorical sleights of hand: "No data files or 'dossiers' exist at ChoicePoint." Now that's just darn strange for a data company.
But that's a quibble. Let's move to the out and out flaming fabrications, whoppers and what, before George Bush took office, we used to call "stinking, bald-faced lies." (Now we call it, "intelligence.")
ChoicePoint swore to Ms. Rhodes that they do not have or sell "credit" information. Yet, according to the company's own filing, among their other Big Brother products, they sell:
"...claims history data, motor vehicle records, police records, CREDIT INFORMATION and modeling services...employment background screenings and drug testing administration services, public record searches, vital record services, credential verification, due diligence information, DNA identification services, authentication services and people and shareholder locator information searches...print fulfillment, teleservices, database and campaign management services..."
Uh, oh. They are either fibbing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (their CEO is already under investigation by the SEC) -- or they are prevaricating to Randi. They shouldn't do that, because, the lady has class -- she let ChoicePoint give their goofy alibi uninterrupted; but, lie to her, and, as my editor says, "she'll bite off a chicken's head while it's laying eggs."
So who are you toying with, Mr. ChoicePoint, the SEC or Randi?
There's more. ChoicePoint's PR apologist says it doesn't maintain credit card records, but they fail to mention that they sell "credit report headers" -- which is why the federal government just fined them a record $10 million for letting identity thieves run off with this kind of info. They sell "SSN verification" (your social security number), financial reports, education verification, reference verification, felony checks, motor vehicle records, asset location and information on criminal suspects and their neighbors and relatives. Howdy, neighbor!
Let's go back to ChoicePoint's dirty work for the Brothers Bush. ChoicePoint writes that it didn't get its corporate hands dirty in the racist purge of voters which fixed the 2000 election. That was the fault of some company called "DBT" which ChoicePoint only purchased, they claim, "after DBT's work was done for the state."
Au contraire. ChoicePoint bought DBT before the election, while the purges were in full swing. Then, right after the "election," ChoicePoint's PR mouthpieces boasted about how the company was going to cash in on its "success" (their word) in purging Florida voter rolls. Their PR flack told me at the time, "Given the outcome of our work in Florida, and with a new president in place (!), we think our services will expand across the country." But then we caught them -- and they quit elections games and moved on to saving us from Al Qaeda. Lord help us.
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn about ChoicePoint. They're in it for the money. If they turned a blind eye to evil, if they abetted the theft of an election and kept silent to keep the money, well, that's the Fear Industry for you.
It's not what ChoicePoint sells that terrifies me, it's whom they're selling it to: a regime for whom information is a weapon and disinformation a way of life.
That has to be the best sentence I have read...ever! It nails the whole fear mongering of the Bush administration and Americans' response down to a T. Wussies will give up anything to feel safe. Read on...it's great!
Look very closely, back it up, watch it again and again....an airliner is really big. I don't see an airliner at all.
May 16, 2006
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
"Is Congress aiding and abetting the creation of a police state? Recently, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., helped to give the CIA and NSA unprecedented police powers. By inserting a provision in the FY07 Intelligence Authorization Act, Hoekstra has undermined the existing statutory limits on involvement in domestic law enforcement. This comes after revelations in January of direct NSA involvement with the Baltimore police in order to "protect" the NSA Headquarters from Quaker protesters.
Add to this, the disquieting news that the White House has been barraging the CIA with totally improper questions about the political affiliation of some of its senior intelligence officers, the ever widening use of polygraph examinations, and the FBI’s admission that it acquires phone records of broadcast and print media to investigate leaks at the CIA. I, for one, am reminded of my service in the police state of the U.S.S.R., where there were no First or Fourth Amendments.
Like the proverbial frog in slowly boiling water, we have become inured to what goes on in the name of national security..."
WAKE UP sheeple! If our nation's founders rolled over this easily, we would still be British! The system of checks and balances in our constitution are being eroded as our liberties are eroded. Quit giving in to the Bush fear-mongering, and stand up for your constitution and your constitutional rights!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Blog | Deborah Burger: While Washington Giggles, California Nurses Cure | The Huffington Post: "While Washington Giggles, California Nurses Cure
There's a new comedy playing in Washington. Perhaps you've heard of it? It's called 'Congress Pretends to Clean Up Corruption.'
As profiled yesterday in the LA Times, the comedians in the Senate have voted to ban accepting meals or gifts from lobbyists, but they will let politicians continue to accept trips paid for by donors.
Who can blame them, really? Paris is nice this time of year. The jokers in the House voted to ban such trips, but--and here's the punch line--they're only banned until June 15. They know Paris is nice in July, as well.
It actually might be funny if it weren't so deadly serious. The farce our elected officials are engaging in is supposed to distract voters from the problem. Our democracy isn't being corrupted by knick-knacks, snacks, or junkets. It's being corrupted by the record contributions that lobbyists and their corporate employers are pumping into the bank accounts of politicians from both parties--and the favors that politicians give in return.
Almost no one from either party in Washington is talking about this problem, not even in jest.
The California Nurse Association, however, is tired of seeing our patients used as political bargaining chips by big corporations. We have a solution. We have just turned in 600,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that will let candidates run 'Clean Money Elections,' or publicly-financed elections. Under this system, qualified candidates agree to give up private fundraising, turning off the spigot of lobbyist and corporate money. In return they get enough money from public funds to get their message out to voters.
It's a si"
West Point Grads Against The War- Laws And treaties violated by President George W: "The Nuremberg Principles, which define as a crime against peace, 'planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of any of the forgoing.'
So if they expect that this will silence conspiracy theorists, they have another think coming. It's a stretch of the imagination.
Truthdig - Reports - Molly Ivins: Could Lunacy Explain Bush's Policies?: "Posted on May 15, 2006
By Molly Ivins
AUSTIN, Texas�I hate to raise such an ugly possibility, but have you considered lunacy as an explanation? Craziness would make a certain amount of sense. I mean, you announce you are going to militarize the Mexican border, but you assure the president of Mexico you are not militarizing the border. You announce you are sending the National Guard, but then you assure everyone it�s not very many soldiers and just for a little while.
Militarizing the border is a totally terrible idea. Do we have a State Department? Are they sentient? How much do you want to infuriate Mexico when it�s sitting on quite a bit of oil? Bush knows what the most likely outcome of this move will be. He was governor during the political firestorm that ensued when a Marine taking part in anti-drug patrols on the border shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez, an innocent goat herder from Redford, Texas. That�s the definition of crazy�repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result. "
Monday, May 15, 2006
Ok, this is old news from May 12, but I had to comment on it. When I was in Crawford, Tx for the first weekend with Cindy Sheehan, when we veterans had to walk in the ditch with the fire ants, we had an unpleasant experience with the Secret Service. The one big, black SUV drove inches from my feet, and the agent leaned out the window and said, "you better watch out, someone could get hurt." That was my first inkling that freedom of speech would soon be gone.
I have learned many things about the perils of speaking out in the past few years, and none of it has been pleasant. I have been given the finger by people in their 80's, almost had my vehicle rear ended by an old man in a Ford F250 with cattle guard on the front, and I have been called a commie, a pinko and worse. Why? Because I support PEACE. Is that such a horrible concept?
I have sent innumerable boxes to co-workers and friends stationed in Iraq, sent medical textbooks and current medical journals to the medical school in Baghdad. I have demonstrated for peace, campaigned for democratic candidates, and taught my grandchildren the value of freedom of speech and of peace. Why does that make me a commie and pinko? Because I don't agree with those who drank the Bush koolaid? I guess so.
And now, Bush's secret service detail decides to aim at protesters. Bush will be militarizing our border with Mexico even as he expands the detention facilities, as noted in his speech tonight. Will it stop when those of us that disagree with this regime put us in the detention centers? Probably not.
So down the fascist road we go, while most Americans are oblivious. Just like Hitler's rise to power, people refuse to see, and refuse to believe. Only if it touches them directly will they then squirm.
This is not the America I grew up in or served in the military. God help us!
Why do we know they will be lies?
After six years of President Bush, everyone knows that his vision for America has nothing to do with immigration--nothing to do with protecting our country, human rights or a fair economy---but consists entirely of two, reckless and illegal invasions:
1. The invasion of Iraq
2. The invasion of our privacy
`Improving America' for the self-declared `War President' has always meant launching a `pre-emptive' war and lawyering up against the United States Constitution. And we all know President Bush never changes his mind on those two issues--because he tells us as much, with the mindless repetition of a mechanical doll, every single day.
So, given that we all know the truth about President Bush's vision for America, what lies will he tells us tonight and what can we say back?
Lie #1: President Bush Cares About `Enforcing The Border'
President Bush does not give a fig about enforcing, patrolling, guarding, closing, monitoring or otherwise thinking about American borders. The only reason he will talk about controlling the borders is to appease the racist wing of his party. Drunk with Neo-Con ideology, President Bush does not care about our borders because he does not believe that America faces any danger from our borders. Instead, he believes that America faces danger only if we are not aggressively using our military to dominate the world. What President Bush knows is that there really is no `War on Terror' that threatens our borders, but that the `War on Terror' is an political ruse designed by his advisors to win re-election and justify the ruthless his arrogant policies. But still, he will tell us, tonight, that he will dispatch the National Guard--what little there is left of it that has not been exhausted in Iraq--to `the border.'
Response: "We don't need another Great Wall of China--We need a great leader!"
We do not live in ancient China where we must protect our nation from Mongol hordes by building a giant wall. This is the 21st Century! People enter America through airports, train stations, commercial truck lines, inflatable boats, and shipping containers. While President Bush's summer suntan grows darker and darker, the gates into America continue to be unguarded. Guarding our borders while we leave our ports wide open is like installing a security fence, then leaving the gate unlocked. It is useless. We don't need another great wall of China! We need a great leader.
Lie #2: There Are `Jobs Americans Will Not Do'
Corporate donors to the Republican party want nothing more than for President Bush to convince the country that we need illegal immigrant workers for the `jobs Americans will not do.' This is a huge lie. There are no jobs Americans will not do. There are only fair wages that U.S. employers will not pay, living benefits that U.S. employers are desperate to avoid, obscene profits that U.S. employers insist on pocketing, and working class Americans that U.S. employers look up on with contempt. U.S. employers do not just hire illegal immigrant labor--they recruit it!! They seek out that illegal labor force because it is the only way they can break the Fair Labor Standards laws that govern the minimum wage and benefits for workers in this country.
Response: "Jobs Americans Do Not Want?? Prove it or Go To Prison!"
When unemployed Americans show up to collect their benefits, they must first prove they have been looking for work. The same standard should be applied to U.S. employers who recruit illegal workers. Want to hire immigrant employees? Great! But first prove that you sought out and were turned down by a legal work force. Prove it or go to prison.
Lie #3: Bush will `Hold To Account' Corporations
President Bush is going to puff out his chest tonight and say he will `hold to account' businesses that violate labor laws by hiring illegal workers. Yeah right. This is a joke. President Bush has still not `held to account' his cabinet members who left Americans stranded to die in a city flooded by a hurricane. President Bush has still not `held to account' his cabinet members who have trapped us in a useless war that now leaves us with only losing options. President Bush has still not `held to account' those members of his own advisory staff who have been indicted for criminal charges. President Bush will never hold corporations to account because he believes that a strong America requires--yes `requires'--that all wealth be accumulated in the hands of a few corporate moguls.
Response: "Start by holding your own staff to account for breaking the law!"
Americans no longer believe that President Bush cares at all about enforcing the law. They see, as a result of his behavior, that he breaks the law then finds lawyers and loyal party members to excuse him. If he wants to participate in--let alone be a leader of--a national discussion about enforcing labor laws, he first has to earn his way back into the public trust.
So there you have. 3 Lies the Bush will tell tonight, and three possible responses.
Of course, if these responses are too difficult to remember, not to worry. Just walk over to the nearest open window and scream, "ENOUGH!!"
"ENOUGH!!" is always a good response to anything President Bush says.
© 2006 Jeffrey Feldman
Posted by Jeffrey Feldman on May 15, 2006 at 09:54 AM Permalink
Friday, May 12, 2006
But we should also be concerned with this as just another stupid idea that is not likely to result in any useful intelligence. The following is from a blog discussing whether or not this approach is likely to find anything of value.
NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst Says
It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all? A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that "it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free."
Re-reading the USA Today piece, one paragraph jumped out:
This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for 'social network analysis,' the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.
So I called Valdis Krebs, who's considered by many to be the leading authority on social network analysis -- the art and science of finding the important connections in a seemingly-impenetrable mass of data. His analysis of the social network surrounding the 9/11 hijackers is a classic in the field.
Here's what Krebs had to say about the newly-revealed NSA program that aims to track "every call ever made": "If you're looking for a needle, making the haystack bigger is counterintuitive. It just doesn't make sense."
"Certain people are more suspicious than others," he adds. They make frequent trips back-and-forth to Afghanistan, for instance. "So you start with them. And you work two steps out. If none of those people are connected, you don't have a cell. Because if one was there, you'd find some clustering. You don't have to collect all the data in the world to do that."
The right thing to do is to look for the best haystack, not the biggest haystack. We knew exactly which haystack to look at in the year 2000 [before the 9/11 attacks]. We just didn't do it...
The worst part -- the thing that's most disappointing to me -- is that this is not the right way to do this. It's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free.
A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency said Thursday he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens."
All I can say is, holy cow! Bush might as well stroll over to the National Archives and light the constitution with a match. Or like burning the Reichstadt?
Crawford's List the blog by Craig Crawford had this post today:
Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
-- Patrick Henry, 1775
Americans must now tap into their inner Patrick Henry. A radical among revolutionaries who opposed the U.S. Constitution for giving government too much power, the fiery Virginian would probably set himself on fire today. The government spies on people, lies about it, and, when caught in the act, refuses to give security clearances to the investigators.
If we believe the dubious claim that terrorist threats justify sweeping surveillance without any checks and balances then, in a different context, we have truly come to the ultimate choice that Henry posed: Are we prepared to die for liberty? Not in battle against foreign occupiers, but as a possible consequence of preventing our own government from spying on us? My answer is Yes: If losing freedom be the price of safety, then safety be damned.
Is it legal? Bush insists it is, but that's questionable. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires a court order to gather a person's current phone records. A 1934 law requires phone companies to protect customers' privacy. And the Fourth Amendment forbids 'unreasonable searches and seizures.'
Is it useful? Taken as a whole, such a database is of dubious utility. U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies are already suffering from an abundance of raw information and a dearth of good intelligence. Looking for suspicious patterns among billions of phone numbers seems like the ultimate search for a needle in a haystack.
Is it foolproof? These types of databases invariably have errors. The federal terrorist 'watch list,' which is used to screen airline passengers, has ensnared a number of innocent travelers � among them Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and a 23-month-old toddler � whose names are similar to, or the same as, suspects on the list. Once you're mistakenly targeted, the error can be nearly impossible to fix and your life can be turned upside down. "
Exactly. As a person who was born in a country that is know to harbor "terrorists" I can be branded a persona non grata at any moment. Never mind the fact that my parents are US citizens and my family lived in the US before the Revolutionary War (which some fought in). What B.S.! Daily B.S. from the Bush crime family.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
There appears to be more here than simply a tendency of Bush's to hang around with a bad group of kids. Bush himself has long displayed an equally dismissive view of the law, claiming the right to violate federal law when he considers it to be in the nation's interest.
As these shadowy figures multiply, you can understand why civil libertarians increasingly see the White House like a gathering at Tony Soprano's Bada Bing! club. In Soprano's world, you cannot become a 'made man' unless you first earn your bones by 'doing' some guy or showing blind loyalty. Only when you have proven unquestioning loyalty does Tony 'open the books' for a new guy."
To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among the elite, and a degree of debate will be permitted; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized�usually by �the people� themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by a thoroughly impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, left ignorant of current events by a corporate media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control. "
Add to this the NSA tapping of our phones and all the other ways Bush and Co. have broken with constitutional law, and you get a very frightening picture of where our country is going. And yes NSA, I am fully ready to be taken to an internment camp for dissidents. I am NOT scared. My ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War in the Massachusetts militia, so I will carry on the tradition of fighting for freedom.
In that vein, don't forget that the internet as we know it is now up for grabs as our "illustrious" leaders in Congress "discuss" the issue...or more likely, are told what to do by the big phone companies. It may be that blogs, internet banking, internet shopping, etc will be a thing of the past, unless you have the $$ to pay big bucks to an ISP. Screw the middle class is the motto of our Congress, if and when they actually come to work. I am thinking they should just go home for the remainder of the year and continue to do nothing because what they do is too hurtful to the average American.
"Michael V. Hayden, nominated by President Bush to head the CIA, is the man responsible for the most extensive attack ever on the privacy of U.S. citizens. As USA Today reveals, it was during the six years that Hayden ran the ultra-secret National Security Agency that the Feds gained access to the phone calling records of most Americans.
By cross-checking those phone record against other readily available databases, the Feds are now in a position to profile the intimate daily lives of the citizenry--providing a tool that no Big Brother could ever have dreamed of obtaining before the advent of modern telecommunications technology. Yet this assault on our freedom was never disclosed to the public, debated by our elected representatives or tested by the courts.
Most disturbing is the revelation by USA Today that leading members of Congress-- Democrats as well as Republicans--had been told of this ghastly assault on our freedom but did nothing to thwart it. They must now be held accountable. So too General Hayden, who obviously should not be trusted with running the CIA spy agency after having engineered such massive spying on the American public."
Big brother, the 2 minutes hate, the memory hole, lack of privacy...Orwell was right. Add to that the 14 defining characteristic of fascism: powerful and continuing nationalism (think flag lapel pins and car magnets); disdain for the recognition of human rights (think Guantanamo); identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause (think terrorists and immigrants); supremacy of the miiltary (think big pentagon budget), rampant sexism (think anti-choice, anti-contraception), controlled mass media (think propaganda on the TV); obsession with national security (think Bush and Co.); religion and government are entertwined (think faith based group federal funding); corporate power is protected (no kidding); labor power suppressed (think fear of joining a union); obsession with crime and punishment (think people willing to forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism); rampant cronyism and corruption (think Katrina); fraudulent elections (think Florida and Ohio)....and does this add up to the country I grew up in and served in the military? Hardly! This is a place I do not recognize. A place going somewhere very, very scary.
The US Congress will be voting on May 19, 2006 to decide on taking away one of the monthly checks of veterans who receive VA Disability Compensation and Social Security Disability. This would affect Veterans who were awarded compensation for injuries related to their military service but who were able to work in civilian life and later became injured or disabled in relation to their civilian employment. If they paid enough quarters into Social Security they would then be eligible for social security compensation, so one has nothing to do with the other. There are several Congressmen who retired from teaching or other employment, but still manage to receive full compensation for their political work, since - one has nothing to do with the other. Their compensation is a helluva lot more than disabled veterans, and they have much better health care.
Between now and November, I urge you to go on-line and check if your legislator voted against the military and VA medical care budget, and then cast your vote accordingly. Military and Veterans are a BIG VOTING BLOCK and we must make sure that the legislators get the message that they can no longer send our troops into combat, while voting against funding for military pay, equipment and medical services, without getting voted out of office.
We will not tolerate one more American soldier dying because she/he did not have proper protective combat gear. We must not allow our government to treat future veterans with the same indifference and disrespect that Vietnam Veterans are still being treated, practically having to beg for our disability compensation. No more closing veterans' medical care facilities, doctors and nurses not having proper critical tools and supplies to provide desperately needed treat and comfort to our wounded and burnt heroes.
Our government must not be permitted to consider future budgeting for the care of our injured heroes as "discretionary" but "A MANDATORY OBLIGATION." How dare they deploy and redeploy our men and women into combat, and then treat those who are lucky enough to return alive as 'expendable or discardable equipment.' Where is the 'compassion' of a supposedly grateful nation? Why must veterans always have to worry about having rightfully earned compensation terminated whenever a president goes wild squandering taxpayers' money, rubber-stamped by a spineless body of politicians, too preoccupied with pleasing crooked/criminal lobbyists to properly fulfull the obligation to their constituents, but most importantly, to the troops they have placed in harms way? To what gutter-level of corruption has the morality of so many of our politicians descended? My fellow-veterans, if our elected officials remain passive, we must clean house, from the Court House to The White House this next election!
Starting tomorrow morning, I urge all of you to jam the phone lines and emails of Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission Director - RAY WILBURN at (202) 756-2293 and the phones and emails of every US Congressman and US Senator. Call as many times as you have time for. Also send plenty of emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let them know that "You DO NOT mess with a soldier's or veterans' pay OR HIS MAIL, without expecting a good fight - come election time." Please pass this on to every veterans organization or to every civilian, this is their problem, too. Remember, everybody said they "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS?" NOW is the time to prove it, WE NEED YOU.
Placido Salazar (USAF Retired) Vice-President, American GI Forum Rudy Ramos Chapter (210) 658-9756.
FYI: Ray Wilburn's email is email@example.com
to find your congressman
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Take the time to read the entire open letter. William Rivers Pitt eloquently explains our anger.
George W. Bush and his pals used September 11th against the American people, used perhaps the most horrific day in our collective history, deliberately and with intent, to foster a war of choice that has killed untold tens of thousands of human beings and basically bankrupted our country. They lied about the threat posed by Iraq. They destroyed the career of a CIA agent who was tasked to keep an eye on Iran's nuclear ambitions, and did so to exact petty political revenge against a critic. They tortured people, and spied on American civilians. You cannot fathom anger arising from this?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Meet: 1130 to 1200 hrs May 27th in Boerne to caravan to Kerrville.
Where to meet in Boerne: The new shopping center parking lot across from Wal-mart in Boerne where Benjamin Moore paints and Sarika's are located. We will then caravan to Kerrville to the VA Hospital.
Boerne-- Sally Tarasoff 210-454-7059 (cell) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Rick Bolanos, Congressional Candidate:
We would appreciate your energetic support and participation to create the BIGGEST-EVER gathering of veterans, and Citizens who support our troops, on Saturday the 27th of May 2006, 2:00PM at the credit union across the street from Kerrville VA Medical Center in Kerrville.
On Sunday the 28th of May, 2006 at 2:00PM we will gather in front of The VA Clinic, in McAllen.
Representatives/contacts from Sonora, Junction, Del Rio, Uvalde, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Gonzalez, Seguin, New Braunfels and anybody else from other communities who can join in, please email us and let us know the place and time for veterans and civilian supporters in your respective area to meet. The more the merrier, and please bring your Colors, banners and posters. (³VETERANS¹ HEALTH CARE IS NOT NEGOTIABLE² ³VETERANS¹ FUNDING SHOULD BE MANDATORY, NOT DISCRETIONARY² - ³OUR SERVICE WAS MANDATORY, SO SHOULD FUNDING FOR OUR HEALTH CARE²
An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore hosts this movie. The trailer is available and worth watching. This movie will arrive in selected theaters May 24. Let's hope it comes to San Antonio. So far it is playing in Austin, Houston and Dallas in June.
I do wonder if enough people see this film will global warming seem more real to them or will they continue to believe the cowed US scientists who bow to Bush and Co. and say there is no such thing as global warming? Heaven help us all. I can't see my neighbors giving up their gas guzzlers any time soon, short of being struck by a bolt of lightning.
Monday, May 08, 2006
This is just what the Democratic party needs right now. We don't need 'Bush lite' or people who tack to the left or the center or the right based on the morning polls. Emanuel is a guy who plays for keeps. He'll f**k with you and beat you down. But best of all, he wants to win."
I don't know a lot about Rahm Emanuel, but I think I'll learn more. What we need is someone who will not back down, period. However, we also need all of us, the bloggers and those in the netroots to push away from the keyboard and get out there and put the rubber to the road, and support our candidates despite what the Democratic party bigwigs say. They helped kill what Howard Dean was doing, let's not let them get the upper hand again.
As usual, Molly Ivins has her hand on the pulse in D.C.
"I don’t care what anyone smoked 20 years ago, I approve of those who boogie ‘til they puke, and I don’t care who anyone in politics is screwing in private, as long as they’re not screwing the public.
On other hand, if you expect me to pass up a scandal involving poker, hookers and the Watergate building with crooked defense contractors and the No. 3 guy at the CIA, named Dusty Foggo (Dusty Foggo?! Be still my heart), you expect too much. Any journalist who claims Hookergate is not a legitimate scandal is dead—has been for some time and needs to be unplugged. In addition to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Hookergate is rife with public interest questions, misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance, and many splendid moral points for the children. Recommended for Sunday school use, grades seven and above."
A floating poker game, prostitutes, limo rides, defense lobbyists, elected officials, what more could anyone want? It is like the "good old days" in Washington politics. Back when we heard great gossip at parties in D.C., met interesting people, and our phone was tapped. When the Congressman or was it Senator dumped his mistress in a fountain in DC? Back before the so-called Christians had a grip on the White House.
Funny how those with great religious fervor also have great secret sexual issues, and act them out. These individuals are just asking to be blackmailed...and some of these folks lead our country. Intelligence remains an oxymoron.
I found this very disturbing. Realize that I was a 36 year old mother of 2 when I joined the US Army in peacetime, 1987. I had a very gentile basic training as an officer and a nurse. There was no drill Sgt. there was no horrible experience. The highlight was a stint at Camp Bullis north of San Antonio where we were introduced to camping Army style which was posher than my Dad's idea of camping. After all, I did not have to haul 5 gallon Gerry cans of water for 1/2 mile or so, chop wood, pee in the woods, or suffer at all. We learned about sound, noise and light discipline and hiked to the top of a hill, as we hummed oh we oh, we oh oh (from the Wizard of Oz) and saw a spectacular shooting star. The next day it was back to the Omni hotel and the swimming pool, and a weekend off on the San Antonio River Walk on St. Patrick's Day....were we had too much beer, got a bit rowdy and were asked to leave the Hyatt Hotel. I was carded at Durty Nellies, where the young man howled very loudly that I was old enough to be his mother.
Yep, that was the old days. Now, women are afraid to even walk to the bathroom. We were smart enough in the olden days to never go anywhere alone, because we were taught by our mothers and the Army to never go anywhere alone. Now, young women in the military don't have that luxury. It's disgusting what they must go through, and without any support for improved conditions from the upper echelons in the military. Rumsfeld should be screaming about this, but he is strangely silent, unless confronted by my idol, Ray McGovern.
Ladies...stay home and don't join, it's not worth it.
This is what I sent in return.....
As a US Army Veteran, I was offended by the doctored patch in the photo. However, I know it was sent out of concern for the plight of our soldiers.
So,thought I would send information on ways to help our military in a seriously real way. It is better than magnets on your car or emails with soldiers' pictures. Give your time and your money. Sacrifice for those who have sacrificed for you. I suggest you donate your dollars to:
Operation Helmet which buys helmet liners for Marines, the US government buys liners for the US Army but not the Marines. The liners help prevent closed head injuries from bomb blasts (IED's)
Fisher House where wounded soldiers and their families stay for treatment of their long term war injuries
Food for Marines who are going hungry
collected by the Greenwood Credit Union in Warwick, R.I.
Intrepid Fallne Heroes Fund
Or donate your time to your local VA medical center.
If a unit in your area has been deployed, call them and ask where you can send care packages. We have sent boxes and boxes of stuff, all of which was well received. I may be an activist and march for peace, but I put my money where my mouth is, and support the troops actively. I hope you will consider doing the same.
In addition, if you know of others who are unaware of how to support the troops, please send these links on to them.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
KENT STATE 1970: : "At 11 a.m., about 200 students gathered on the Commons. Earlier that morning, state and local officials had met in Kent. Some officials had assumed that Gov. Rhodes had declared Martial Law to be in effect--but he had not. In fact, martial law was not officially declared until May 5. Nevertheless, the National Guard resolved to disperse any assembly.
As noon approached, the size of the crowd increased to 1,500. Some were merely spectators, while others had gathered specifically to protest the invasion of Cambodia and the continued presence of the National Guard on the campus. Upon orders of Ohio's Assistant Adjutant General Robert Canterbury, an army jeep was driven in front of the assembled students. The students were told by means of a bullhorn to disperse immediately. Students responded with jeers and chants.
When the students refused to disperse, Gen. Canterbury ordered the guardsmen to disperse them. Approximately 116 men, equipped with loaded M-1 rifles and tear gas, formed a skirmish line towards the students. Aware of bayonet injuries of the previous evening, students immediately ran away from the attacking National Guardsmen. Retreating up Blanket Hill, some students lobbed tear gas canisters back at the advancing troops, and one straggler was attacked with clubs.
The Guard, after clearing the Commons, marched over the crest of the hill, firing tear gas and scattering the students into a wider area. The Guard then continued marching down the hill and onto a practice football field. For approximately 10 minutes, the guard stayed in this position. During this time, tear gas canisters were thrown back and forth from the Guard's position to a small group of students n the Prentice Hall parking lot, about"
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Benefits Texans will lose:
Texas Alcoholism Treatment
Bone Density Screening
Drug Abuse Treatment
Home Health Care
Mental Health (General) Mental Health (Parity)
Metabolic Disorders (PKU)
Minimum Mastectomy Stay
Off-Label Drug Use
Prostate Cancer Screening
and from AARP:
CEO Bill Novelli said the following about the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act:
"While it is a laudable goal to make health insurance more accessible and affordable for small businesses, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, which the US Senate is expected to consider in early May, does so by placing older workers at significant risk.
In its current form, this legislation would drive health care premiums higher for many employers and employees, put critical benefits—like cancer screening—out of reach for many Americans, and create a disincentive for employers to hire or retain older workers.
The elimination of discriminatory restrictions has been tried before with disastrous consequences. When a state law was passed in 2003, employers in New Hampshire would not hire older or ill workers for fear that their health insurance rates would increase.
Rumsfeld called out in Atlanta by Ray McGovern. Now I met Ray in Crawford, and he is a very well informed kind of guy, and I think he performed a bit of national service today. The odd thing to me is that in so many places it is said that he was ejected. However, if you watch the CNN video, Ray just walked to his seat and sat down. I found that interesting.
However the best part of the whole thing was watching Rumsfeld stumble over his words and then try to obfuscate...because he had no clue who he was dealing with. I am sure Rumsfeld thought he was just dealing with some schumck hippie person, instead of the very well informed Ray McGovern.
Lt. Gen. Terry Scott (U.S. Army, ret.), who is Chairman of theVeterans' Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC), wants to study vetswho get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as well as VA compensation. The goal is an offset (reduction) in payments to veterans.The VDBC's charter doesn't allow this, so, in an unconstitutional move, he asked Congress to interpret their own law, to give himpermission to do this. Go here VA Watchdog to read more.
The Big Frame by Robert P. O'Reilly, Ph.D.
At the time the ideas and feelings came on me as-formless, like words in the mind without physical identity of any kind. Yet somehow I seemed to know, to feel, and to hear though I could not say what the experience was all about. But I knew what to do and I did it. Without thinking.
As the TV debates between the contenders for the past presidential election came to a close my wife an I were mildly elated by the highly rational and seemingly effective performance delivered by John Kerry. He seemed to touch all of the bases of public concern at the time-values, the economy, the environment, and so on. He came on as dignified, complex but yet understandable, presidential, moderate, and only occasionally contentious in contrast with the conceptually simple, halting, and almost vacuous GW Bush. At the time we thought the debates at both executive levels might prove to be a turning point for the Democratic Party in the coming election. But as that day approached I saw any advantage that might have been gained in the debates buried in an avalanche of dirty tricks and purulent propaganda. Some of the techniques used at the time were new while others had been well practiced in politics by Lincoln's day. The whole business of social control through propaganda became a well-honed fixture in modern times in Nazi Germany in the '30s and later in Communist regimes in Russia and East Germany. Unexpectedly, we were again seeing the awful specter of deadly propaganda arise ominously in our midst-in a democratic society!. Soon, we would see the Bush machine resort to a level of ugliness that simply fell out of our time. I watched incredulously as the Swift Boat scene came on repeatedly, spreading lies and revulsion that precluded any rational response. I watched as the Dems were buried irretrievably in a message that touched deeply, indelibly and almost subliminally on the common experience of many Americans.
As the TV campaign spread its corrosion I began to see in the Republican message a beguiling technique of influence that has its modern origins in linguistics and cognitive psychology in the '8Os known as framing. This is the subject of our discussion, a highly technical concept that some see as heavily accounting for how individuals construct meaning from their personal experience. In modern politics, television is the principal medium; the message is systematically devised by Madison Avenue types to capture the minds and emotions of the public. Visual and verbal metaphors are standard routine but political advertising extends the use of metaphor to repackage lies as truth, foster dissimulation, and manipulate emotion to engage loyalty.
A well known example of metaphor, one level of framing used endlessly in the past election, portrayed John Kerry as a:
Here the frame uses a type of metaphor known as metonymy. Like any metaphor, flipflopper conjures up a whole raft of conceptual referents in one's personal experience such as unreliable, unbelievable, inconsistent, undependable, not credible, and so on. By repeating the term over and over it sticks in the mind like a cat stuck on the back of a terrified dog. Even worse, one could not imagine Kerry indignantly saying, "Look here, I'm not a flipflopper! Yeah! We know, John." Diabolically, those who pushed the term soon brought up numerous examples of inconsistency from Kerry's political record and from other aspects of his personal life. Soon, we could see, "Here lies poor Kerry. Buried in an avalanche of metaphor: liberal, atheist or Deist, spender, patrician, tax supporter, criminal lover, and the like."
One property of metaphors is emphasis. The term flip flopper, for example, is meant to be dwelt on for its unstated implications. Emphatic metaphors resonate with the listener. For political purposes, strong or emphatic metaphors are among the best. We can even change the meaning of a once good metaphor into something personally deadly as when the term liberal got re-translated into more or less a creeping social virus that, unless contained, would insidiously spread corruption, big-spending, and oppression throughout the land.
According to one view metaphors have two distinct subjects, a primary one and a secondary one. The metaphor accomplishes its work by projecting onto the primary subject a set of implications that draw on the real world of personal experience. The primary subject such as, has a good head, draws on a whole range of experiences with people who can think, are intelligent, know what to do in complex settings, and so on.
In an especially well-constructed metaphor, the primary subject such as, a cancer on society, quickly conjures up emotional and other experiential referents that suggest an immediate need to act. Draconian measures such as military attack might be implied.
A metaphor can help us to see things we never saw before, i. e., to see the facts about our experience differently and thus get a better handle on reality. Metaphors, on the other hand, can be used to disguise or distort the nature of the interactions or implications between the primary and secondary subjects. Thus the phrase, war on terror, disguises the true nature of the interactions between the U.S. and Iraq in initiating and conducting our latest war. Note how this phrase is used repeatedly to justify our continuing presence in Iraq. The idea is to repeat and repeat until you believe, even though the implications have turned out to be false.
As seen above, metaphors often deal with emotions as implied in terms such as faithbased, tax-relief (that helps only the rich) and compassionate conservative (an oxymoron?). They reach deep down into our most cherished belief systems and feelings. Really good metaphors may immediately incite people to respond with strong feelings, This kind of manipulation is often not in our interests. Our schools take on the mission of the madras in Pakistan; churches get paid to treat social problems.
Finally, metaphors may make some aspects of life believable and even desirable while placing others in the background where they may not be seen. Think of the negative implications of housewife (God's intended way for women), labor (as purely an economic not a human factor), money (as the goal of life), and even love (unattainable for some).
There are several types of metaphors such as orientational, structural, and causal. The whole business of metaphor has now been analyzed so thoroughly that metaphors may be constructed systematically and tested and then tried out to see how well they work. This may be what the Republican Party did in the past 30 years to capture the interests and loyalty of the public. When metaphors are organized into a thoroughly coherent system with multiple levels of reference and expression, we have a frame. A frame might be thought of as many levels of metaphor built on metaphor. Every frame tries to capture objective reality in a way that will attract and hold listeners. A frame might also be thought of as a kind of blend. The Republicans have in fact blended frames encompassing a conservative brand of economics, corporate business and financial interests, cultural populism, and Christian theology. They have blended these frames with a Southern rights tradition that goes back to before civil war times. Notice, this frame isolates us into the blue states again--the vile habitat of the bluenoses.
In the meantime the Dems have been left behind because they seem to lack a message or they have been framed so fatally they may never recover. Will it be a death sentence? After all, who wants to vote for the party of the non-believers--not many when we know that 90% of voters profess to believe in God. We might take some heart in knowing that George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, the fellows who wrote the seminal book on metaphors, Metaphors We Live By (1980), have been working for the Dems. Lakoff’s ideas seem to have changed the way the Democratic Party will approach the next election. But the Republican frame remains strong, even as Bush weakens. The Contract With America marches on! There are also signs that America itself may be weakening under an onslaught of fiscal and political irresponsibility. The frame this country was built on lies somewhere--moldering in the shadows. Can it be resurrected and blended with the new realities that face us? What kind of a blend might that be? Perhaps we ought to try framing it?
I took the Pulse of the People. There were many but the overall trend was down. The people had become blind, trapped in unspoken words and fearful visions.
Sticker suggestions: Try fact-based thinking ~ Cheney looking like devil at GW's grave ~ Think free! With GW jackass picture ~ Lost in faith with Bush in head-lights look ~ GW Is Listening with FBI wiretap visual
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
And how much did the CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield make this year? I could be wrong, but it was in the neighborhood of 42 million dollars. We all know that for a corporation to make profits this big, someone is being short-changed, and it's us.
What concerns me is the fact that Americans are being sold down the river for profit. All other industrialized nations have a form of national healthcare. It is an investment in their country's future.
According to an article in the New York Times "Americans 55 and over are much sicker than their British counterparts even though the United States spends more than twice as much per person on health care as Britain, researchers said Tuesday. The article, in the issue of JAMA to be published Wednesday, said "middle-aged to older U.S. residents have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, lung disease and cancer than their English counterparts."
Gee, do you think that healthcare for everyone just might be a good idea? I do. But the NY Times article attempted to spin the information, saying "But, the press release said, the study found that "differences in socioeconomic groups between the two countries were so great that those in the top education and income level in the U.S. had similar rates of diabetes and heart disease as those in the bottom education and income level in England."
My interpretation would be that the wealthy in the US get poor healthcare across the board, with the poor being totally left out. If 45 million Americans have no healthcare, then how can we actually compile statistics, except to extrapolate from hospital admissions? We all know that you have to be practically dead to be admitted to a hospital. Patients are sicker when admitted than ever before.
We need a national healthcare plan, a single payer plan. F** the insurance companies. They ration care now, although they deny it. It is very sad that we, as a nation, do not value our citizens. The poor are throwaways, and the middle class will soon be gone. We will just die off because we can't afford healthcare or medications.
CALL YOUR CONGRESSMAN TODAY AND SAY NO TO THIS BILL!