Sunday, July 29, 2007

"HEALTHY" ECONOMY ?

Joshua Holland's AlterNet piece from 7/28/07 gives us a look at some telling statistics showing how the healthcare industry, while reaping huge gains, is actually strangling the rest of the economy. Full article here.




  • Between 2001 and 2006, the healthcare sector added 1.7 million new jobs.

  • Every other sector combined contributed a net gain of zero new jobs.



You read this right. Except for the huge gains in healthcare jobs, the Bush economics policies have fueled exactly no new jobs.



Why would this be? One reason is that corporations are moving their jobs out of the U.S. to lower labor costs. One of the biggest costs corporations have to face these days, aside from energy costs and wages is the staggering cost of health insurance for their employees. Corporations worship at the altar of the prophet profit, and for them to earn one they must trim costs where they can, by laying off workers, moving their jobs out of the country, avoiding new hires, eliminating pay increases, cutting benefits, or a combination of all those things.



Between 2000 and 2006:


  • Workers pay increased an average of 18%

  • Inflation rose 20 %

  • Employers healthcare premiums went up 90%

Between 2000 and 2005, total healthcare spending increased by 47%, and for 2007 it is estimated that it will reach $2.25 trillion, which is 16% of our GDP.

The private for-profit health industry is placing such a burden on employers that only 50% of companies even offer health insurance to their employees, and those that do are negotiating insurance contracts that are shifting an ever-increasing share of the costs to the employees, whose wages are not keeping up with inflation.

Fully 50% of personal bankruptcies result from medical bills that people simply are unable to pay. With increased co-pays and lessened coverage straining wage earners, there is less money available to fuel the other sectors of the economy, such as travel, entertainment, clothing, and housing.

Housing is problematic now because of all the sub-prime mortgages going into default, due in part to increasing medical costs, and is seriously depressing the housing market, with a potentially disastrous ripple effect into the financial markets. A recession or a depression may result.

Our total economy is being strangled by out-of-control healthcare costs. Insured workers have less to spend, employers are dis-incentivized to retain jobs or expand or grant wage increases, and there are 47 million people who have no private insurance at all, because they can't afford it.

That's another part of the part of the problem, because a fully insured family pays about $1,000 per year in increased premiums to subsidize part of the costs incurred by the uninsured.

Defenders of privatized health insurance are lying through their teeth when they extol the "benefits" of our present system. Rather than providing a healthy populace and a healthy economy, it's literally killing us.

The "American dream" is quickly, very quickly becoming an "impossible dream".


Monday, July 23, 2007

VICK TO GITMO, BUSH SAYS

From Homeland Security News,7/23/07

President Bush today declared Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick an "Enemy of the Fatherland", and ordered him detained at Guantanamo Bay after being told of allegations made by all of the teams on Atlanta's schedule that Vick had the President's dog, Barney, on a "short list" for execution.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, defending the President's bold action, said "We have solid intelligence on this, and also have reason to believe that Mr. Vick is , in fact, the son of Osama bin Laden. In my opinion, we've struck a major blow in the "War on Terror", and I'm putting my money on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl".

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Buzz Flash agrees- THIS IS NOT A DRILL !!!

Just yesterday, my post DEMOCRACY WATCH-"GOING,GOING....." raised my real concerns about a Bush takeover of the government by the excuse of another terrorist attack. On 7/17/07, my post Bush pays Pakistan to protect Osama bin Laden spelled out my belief that Bush needs bin Laden alive and well to perpetuate the "War on Terror".

Read them again, because Buzz Flash, a very well-respected progressive website, has just today printed an editorial dovetailing neatly with my posts.

Here is their very nicely done think piece:


How The White House Will Manipulate Events and Emotions to Maintain GOP Executive Branch Control in 2008
Submitted by mark karlin on Sat, 07/21/2007 - 9:53am.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL

Okay, let’s look at some Bushevik assaults on democracy this last week:

Bush and Cheney Make the Novel and Totalitarian Assertion that the Department of
Justice is Prohibited from Investigating a Congressional Contempt Citation Over
Anyone (Even if They are No Longer Working for the Government) Asserting
Executive Privilege

Bush’s PR Operation Claims to Issue a New Document
Forbidding Torture, When the Details Actually Just Reconfirm the Right of the
CIA to Continue Renditions and Torture

A Bushevik Partisan Hack Judge Throws Out the Plame Civil Suit Against the Bush Administration, Just as the Same Bush-Appointed Judge Has Made Partisan Decisions Before that Favor Bush

A Pentagon Official Who is a Former Cheney Aide Accuses a Sitting U.S. Senator
(Hillary Clinton) of Being a Traitor for Exercising Her Rights to Receive
Military Readiness Information

Bush Accuses the Dems of Holding Up Funds and Safety Equipment for Our Troops When the White House Told the GOP to Sink a Bill Last Week That Would Have Mandated Proper Preparedness, Proper Training, Adequate Rest, and Adequate Protective Gear. The Republicans, Under White House Orders, Defeated the Bill to Support Our Troops.

That’s a lot to swallow in just week, and those are just some egregious examples of the slow creep into fascism that never seems to halt no matter how badly Cheney and Bush fare in the polls, and no matter how strongly Americans oppose the Iraq War.
The Democrats MUST remember this most important axiom about Bush, Cheney and Rove: There interest is not necessarily to stay in Iraq forever; it is to ensure that the Republicans can hold onto power indefinitely.

The quagmire in the battle against terror, in which the Busheviks have prima facie failed by being unable to beat back a relatively small hardcore Al-Qaeda movement, is really only a strategy from which they see opportunities to maintain power, not defeat. (Even if the NIE this past week stated another offense for which Bush and Cheney should be removed from office: After years of lies, hundreds of thousands of lives of Iraqis and Americans lost, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever. What Bush and Cheney have done, through their failure, is make Al Qaeda into some sort of "Superman" Force. In short, the perception of Al Qaeda is strengthened by the Bush Administration’s ineptness in dealing with them.)

But the failure of the Bush Administration’s "war on terror," which was mounted to achieve goals having nothing to do with halting terror, is not causing the Bush Administration – as the partial list of last week’s actions indicate – to back off from their assault on the American Constitution?

Why?

It would be a mistake to think that Bush’s ongoing chipperness and indifference to public opinion can be attributed to his sociopathology alone. It would also be an error to think that Dick "Dr. Evil" Cheney is simply becoming more hunkered down in his delusions that he is the power behind the throne, the rabble in the Congress be damned.

So why are the Busheviks continuing to proceed full steam ahead in seizing absolute powers and barreling ahead in Iraq?

BuzzFlash speculates that one of the reasons relates to their confidence in their ability to continue to manipulate events and emotions. Although the mainstream media has started to expose more of the reality of the utter debacle of the Iraq War, it still is more likely than not to give a White House spin to headlines and stories, as it did in Bush’s completely hypocritical and mendacious attack on Democrats for allegedly not legislatively "supporting our troops."

In a crisis, moreover, the mainstream media, which surfs the news cycles without a nano-second of historical context, is likely to completely hop aboard the White House propaganda express again, as it did post-9/11 – and is it did for nearly four years of a record of failed declarations and promises in the Iraq War

Rove knows that one big event that is perceived as a military challenge to America can erase all the accumulated negative perceptions of Bush for enough time to ride the next Republican presidential candidate through an election cycle (or according to the worst fears of some, suspend the elections based on Executive Branch emergency powers that Bush has been incrementally accumulating through executive orders and with the consent of Congress.)

So what might these precipitated "rally round the president" crisis events be?

Here are three options – and they are not the only possible ones – that we are sure that Rove and Cheney and others are mulling over:

1) A short-term military assault on the Pakistani "tribal lands," bordering Afghanistan, where the Saudi dominated Al-Qaeda has allegedly
been living openly and freely --- and where Osama bin Laden has possibly been
ensconced for several years. If Bush were able to score a real or propaganda hit
on Al Qaeda, the Democrats would have little alternative but to congratulate him
for doing what they have been advocating all along. The mainstream media would
applaud Bush for finally accepting a need for recalibrating the "War on Terror."

Potential risks of this action: Rove would be worrying that it could
backfire if they don’t come up with significant Al-Qaeda members. There is also
the very real risk that a U.S. incursion into Pakistan (remember the impact of
Kissinger’s secret bombing of Cambodia leading to the emergence of the Khmer
Rouge) could result in an Islamic fundamentalist overthrow of the Musharraf
regime. Finally, because of the strain on forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, there
might not be a sufficient special force capability to launch such an attack.

2) An air attack, likely employing nuclear weapons, on Iranian nuclear facilities. Cheney and his Neo-Con cheerleaders are just dying to pull this one off. It would precipitate a right wing echo chorus of the need to rally behind the president in a time of war and that only traitors wouldn’t support our troops in combat. It would further bolster the "U.S.A. # 1" empire contingent and play to the wounded egos of Americans who don’t like to lose wars, as is the case in Iraq. Also, the Iranian Prime Minister has made himself especially unlikable, so the Busheviks have anotherbogeyman to demonize.

Potential risks of this action: All Hell would break loose in the Middle East. Hezbollah and Hamas would probably launch a full-scale assault on Israel, backed by Iran. The Iranians would start to directly engage U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Syria would probably be drawn into a full-scale Middle Easter war. The strong pro-democracy movement within Iran would be suppressed almost immediately, as Iranians patriotically rally around their leadership, however, distasteful, just as Americans would rally around Bush. Iranians would probably launch surrogate terrorist attacks against American interests.

3) A 9/11 repeat attack on U.S. soil. Despite the fact that such an attack would make a mockery of the often stated Bush mantra that "we are fighting them over there,
so we don’t have to fight them over here," the Republicans would – in their
usual disciplined message point fashion – quickly blame the Democrats for not
supporting the Iraq War. The mainstream media would disseminate the Republican
message points pretty much intact. Bush would be positioned as having been right
"all along" about the ongoing terrorist threat and seen as a seer and leader,
who was wrongfully scorned. In fact, more than one Republican leader has implied
that they would welcome a terrorist attack on the U.S., because – as their
twisted and destructive desire to hold power dictates – it would "validate" the Bush/Cheney war strategy.

Remember, it can be completely illogical, but the Republicans, under Rove in particular, know how to ride the power of emotional reactions to events as seen through the prism of a mainstream media that surfs the emotional tug of unfolding events. Of course, the debate on to what extent the Bush Administration is responsible for not preventing 9/11 rages on, with their being guilty of malfeasance – at a minimum – because Bush and Rice were warned in August of 2001 of impending terrorist hijackings and did not one thing to warn airports or intelligence agencies to take preventive actions.

But anyone who has been in politics knows that there are people in the White House secretly hoping for another 9/11 type of attack on the "Homeland." Remember, the goal of the Bush Administration is to hold onto Executive Branch power for the Republicans indefinitely. Sometimes, such Neo-Con fanatics believe that Americans have to die for the larger good of ensuring that the steering wheel of government isn’t handed over to the Democrats.

Potential risks of this action: It could be a large-scale attack so devastating that it could create a political upheaval in the United States. If the attackers are again primarily Saudi members of Al-Qaeda, the calls for clamping down hard on Saudi Arabia may rise to a frenzy. The U.S. military, already stretched to the breaking point, might not have the ability to retaliate successfully. There is the slight chance
that rationality might emerge from the ashes and that Bush would be blamed for
getting sidetracked in Iraq, but that is not how the media and demagoguery work.
In all likelihood, this would be the most desirable option for the White House,
because it would result in renewed calls for "getting even with someone," which
helps Bush and Cheney string out the endless war.

In short, why we concentrate on ending the Iraq War, the White House is kicking the ball down the field trying to figure out which of the above three scenarios (and others) might be the best diversion from the Baghdad conflict, while boosting Bush’s ratings in one fell swoop – and recharging the hopes of a Republican candidate for
president.

The bottom line is that the White House has its eyes on continuing the march toward consolidating Executive Branch and Federal Court Republican
control over any efforts by Congress to assert their Constitutional powers.

Manipulating world events and renewing fear with a new "terrorist event" or "terrorist prevention attack" are what’s on the table right now.

They are just stalling for time to make a decision on the least risky alternative.

It is the White House that continues to be a dangerous threat to the national security of Americans, because their interest is the accumulation of power, not our well-being as a nation.

  • Write your Congressperson. Write your Senator. Write your newspaper.
  • Call your Congressperson and your Senator. Call your local radio talk shows.
  • Hit the streets.
  • Scream and shout.
  • PRAY.
  • IMPEACHMENT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Is Michael Vick guilty?--Doggone if I know

Pity Michael Vick.The poor guy has just been named in a multi-count Federal indictment charging him with running a large dog fighting operation on a property he owns in Virginia. Allegedly, he's been at it since 2001, and the indictment reveals some of the gruesome, inhumane methods that were used to dispose of under-performing dogs. It is almost as if they had been sent to Abu Ghraib prison.

Anyway, consider this a heads-up to all of you fantasy football fans. Draft somebody else. Same to the Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is in the dog pound over this stuff, and has a $100 million contract plus endorsement money at stake. The NFL hasn't said what they plan to do, since Vick hasn't been found guilty, but the public outcry may force their hand.

From Pensito Review:


ARCHIVES
NFL Quarterback Accused of Hanging, Drowning, Electrocuting, Shooting and Beating Dogs
Posted by Jon Ponder Jul. 19, 2007, 8:29 am

[] A raid on a kennel in Virginia co-owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on Wednesday uncovered a horrendous animal abuse operation:
The news focus on this story is all about what these allegations will do to Vick’s career and his $100 million-plus NFL contract, not to mention product endorsements.
Vick, 27, and three others are accused of violating federal laws against staging dogfights, gambling and engaging in unlawful activities across state lines. According to the indictment, they ran Bad Newz Kennels out of a property the quarterback owns in Surry, Va., and executed pit bulls - by methods such as hanging, drowning, electrocution, shooting and beating - that didn’t perform well as fighters

How involved was Vick?

The indictment identifies Vick as a key player in an operation that dated to 2001, just before his rookie season with the Falcons. Listed are at least 30 fights that Vick or other members of the kennel arranged or participated in, including details such as the names of the dogs and the amount of money — often thousands of dollars — awarded to the owners of the winners of matches that were frequently fought to the death.

Peace, Phillips and Vick also allegedly executed “approximately eight” dogs that did not perform well during so-called “testing” sessions in April. Later, authorities seized from the property 60 dogs — most of them pit bulls — along with treadmills, a stick used to pry fighting animals apart, and a “rape stand” device used to hold down aggressive females for breeding.
The news focus on this story is all about what these allegations will do to Vick’s career and his $100 million-plus NFL contract, not to mention product endorsements. But it’s hard to see what football has to do with this — other than providing the revenue that funded this horror.

One interesting side note is that Al Sharpton, along with music producer Russell Simmons, have teamed up with PETA to send a letter of protest to the NFL, which says, “dogfighting is unacceptable. Hurting animals for human pleasure or gain is despicable. Cruelty is just plain wrong.”[ ]

Al Sharpton must be having nightmares about all the horrible things that weren't done to Tawana Brawley.

For their part , the Atlanta Falcons, in a strong show of support for their franchise player, have announced that at their first exhibition game, the fans will be treated to a pre-game show from the SPCA Drum and Beagle Corpse, free hot dogs wrapped in PETA bread will be offered throughout the game, and kennels will be available to keep the kids out of trouble.

ARMAGEDDON ON YOUR MIND--YOUTUBE

You have got to watch and listen to this cold "parody" of Heaven on Their Minds from the rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ytWb_d1YvbA&mode=related&search=

Hell, watch it two or three times and send it to everybody you know.

DEMOCRACY WATCH-"GOING, GOING....."

If SOMEBODY doesn't stop Bush, he will have his police state within a year. All the elements are there, put in place one at a time, and now any excuse will seal the deal, like say, another terrorist attack in the U.S. before the next election. Am I an alarmist? Maybe, but I've warned about this for a long time now, and now I've got some high-powered company.

Well-known talk show host Thom Hartmann recently interviewed Paul Craig Roberts, a staunch conservative known as the "father of Reagonomics", and his analysis meshes so seamlessly with my own that it's eerie. Pay CLOSE attention.

From Muriel Kane at Raw Story:

BlockquoteThom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.
He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."
"I don't actually think they're very strong," said Roberts of his words. "I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face."
Roberts said that because of Bush's unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why "the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's election."
However, Roberts emphasized, "the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling." Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.
"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."
Hartmann asked what we as the people can do if impeachment isn't about to happen. "If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it," Roberts replied. However, he added, "I don't think these wake-up calls are likely to be effective," pointing out the dominance of the mainstream media.
"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."
Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."
Roberts final suggestion was that, in the absence of a massive popular outcry, "the only constraints on what's going to happen will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may have had enough. They may not go along with it."
The full audio of Thom Hartmann's interview with Paul Craig Roberts can be found here.Blockquote

Follow the links provided :
Listen to the interview(it's 25 min. long but very important)
Read the Executive Order, but Hartmann explained it pretty well.

In addition to this latest directive, meant in practice to stifle all dissent and criticism, be aware that:

Bush has already stripped Habeus Corpus from the Constitution, and has taken upon himself the power to proclaim any one of us an enemy combatant and jail us forever with no rights whatsoever.

Bush has already issued a directive stating that he will assume full control of the government in a "catastrophic emergency".
http://carpebaloney.blogspot.com/2007/06/bush-names-himself-emperor-no-kidding.html

Bush has set himself above the law in too many ways to count, has elevated secrecy to unheard of levels, has lied us into a war, rebuffed all attempts to rein in his power grabs, and is cold-bloodedly unrepentant. And desperate.

He will do anything and stop at nothing to get what he and the rest of the neocon traitors want-total control ! He controls the media, controls the courts, and controls the Congress.

As Paul Craig Roberts said, and as I have stated many times, it may take our military to stop this takeover.

Start screaming "bloody murder" because that is what it's going to be.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Speak up-speak out-speak often

Here are e-mail letters sent to Harry Reid and my Senator, George Voinovich, regarding the Levin-Reed amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization bill.

Let your legislators know how you feel. Keep the pressure on!


The Honorable Harry Reid, Majority Leader, United States Senate

Dear Senator Reid,

I commend your efforts with the Levin-Reed amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization bill.

Pulling the bill from consideration was absolutely the right thing to do, considering the Republican obstructionism which forced failure of cloture on debate.

I wish to remind you however, that the Republicans action has given you a golden opportunity to finally end the Iraq occupation. There are two courses of action that you can take, one of which is much better than the other.

The "nuclear option" is one, but you know that any bill with any teeth sent to the Presidents desk will surely be vetoed, and the terrible waste of lives and money will continue unabated while you are forced back to the drawing board.

There is a much more sensible and effective course which I beg you now seriously consider, and it is this:

Split the funding for military operations in Iraq out of the Defense Authorization bill. Everyone recognizes that the military must be funded for their everyday operations, and care should be taken to ensure that all necessary funding be allocated for those purposes. The President would be very unlikely to veto such a bill.

As for Iraq, offer no funding bill at all. None. Don't permit it to come to the floor. You have the "power of the purse", Senator. No branch of Government can spend funds for any purpose unless you approve them, and it has been this way for over 200 years.

The obstructionists steadfastly defending President Bush and his illegal invasion can blather and posture and lie ( and trust me, an overwhelming majority of the American people aren't buying it any more), but they can't filibuster a non-existent bill, and the President likewise can't veto one.

Please do this,Senator Reid. Do it for America.

With sincere thanks,

***

Dear Senator Voinovich,

I was gratified to hear you voice your displeasure over the failed management of the Iraq occupation, and appreciate that you have begun to speak out.

I am a constituent living in Cincinnati, but having lived most of my life in Akron, I have followed your career with some interest from its earliest days. Though we have different political philosophies, I've always considered you to be a man of integrity who follows his conscience and works in the best interests of his constituents.

That said, it greatly disturbs me to think that my assessment may have been wrong.

I refer specifically to your vote against cloture on the Levin-Reed amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization bill. That you voted against bringing a bill up for a vote that would have started the process of extracting us from Iraq belied your words, Senator,and that you claimed the amendment was based on Democratic partisonship was particularly galling and hypocritical.

You know Senator, that we must exit the Iraq debacle. We have destroyed Iraq and have lost thousands of troops in a war that clearly we should never have started.

You will have other opportunities in the near future to make your actions reflect your aversion to what is transpiring in Iraq. Please, Senator Voinovich, for the lives of all the troops which might yet be saved, and for the good of America, be a statesman.

Help me to re-gain my faith in you.

Sincerely,

John D Wood Sr

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nice try, Harry--now de-fund the damn war !

The strategy of the Senate Republican since the start of the 110th Congress has been to use parliamentary procedures to stop virtually all legislation from passing, even bills that they support. They use the threat of filibuster to stop any legislation from coming to a simple yes or no majority vote, and since the Democrats cannot muster the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules to pass cloture (stop the filibuster), nothing gets passed. The Republicans do this for (im)purely partisan political reasons. They want the American people to get the perception that the Democrats are weak and can't get anything done. So far it's working just as they planned, as the polls show Congress with an approval rating even lower than the President's. The Republican obtructionism has stopped almost all legislation from moving forward, including the Defense Authorization Bill for 2008.

The Defense Authorization Bill provides funds for the entire military budget, including for the first time, funding for the Iraq occupation (war?), which had previously, when the Senate was under a Republican majority, been funded through emergency supplemental bills separate from the rest of military funding.

Both parties have been jockeying for political position, with the Democrats trying(vainly) to pass amendments to force a troop withdrawal (i.e. the Levin-Reed Amendment), and the Republicans offering up totally toothless amendments of their own while stopping any Democratic amendments through the threat of filibuster.

Well, Majority Leader Harry Reid has had enough of the Republican tactics, and when they threatened to filibuster Levin-Reed he called them on it and ordered an all-night debate on the amendment, which concluded this morning. The cloture motion failed on a 52-47 vote. The Republicans will not allow a simple majority vote on troop withdrawal. The Republicans, voting as a nearly solid bloc to support the President's insane Iraq policies, have won another round. Or have they?

After cloture failed, Reid pulled the entire Defense Authorization Bill from the Senate floor, indicating that it would not be re-introduced until the Senate is prepared to offer a future course in Iraq. Here is some of what he said:


[...]"Because Republicans continue to block votes on important amendments to the Defense Authorization bill, we can make no further progress on Iraq and this bill at this time.
For these reasons, I have temporarily laid aside the Defense Authorization bill and have entered a motion to reconsider.
But let me be clear to my Republican colleagues — I emphasize the word “temporarily”. We will do everything in our power to change course in Iraq. We will do everything in our power to complete consideration of a Defense Authorization bill. We must do both.
And just to remind my Republican colleagues — even if this bill had passed yesterday, its provisions would not take effect until October.
So we will come back to this bill as soon as it is clear we can make real progress. To that end, I have asked the Democratic Whip and Democratic Manager of the bill to sit down with their counterparts to work on a process to address all outstanding issues related to this bill so the Senate can return to it as soon as possible."[...]

Smart move, Harry-take the bill down until the Republicans come to their senses-but you really don't have to do that at all. You have other avenues you can take to achieve your goals.

One way is the so-called nuclear option, which is to eliminate the filibuster as a parliamentary tool so that every vote comes to the floor and passes or fails on a majority vote. The Republicans threatened to do this when the nomination of Sam Alito forJustice of The Supreme Court was coming up for a vote, and the Democrats were suckered into not filibustering his nomination (the fruits of which will rot for years, but that's another subject). This can work, but will not achieve what the American people want. There is no advantage in passing weak, half-assed legislation that drags out the waste of lives currently going on for no good reason.

Another way is to simply exercise the power of the purse. The Senate has to fund literally everything the Government spends. This is not rocket science--DE-FUND THE WAR. IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER. Separate the Iraq funding from the rest of the bill, pass that so the military can do their day-to-day, but split out the Iraq funding and DO NOT OFFER ANY LEGISLATION TO PAY FOR IRAQ. Easy, huh? Doing nothing wins! AND, OUR FREAKIN' PRESIDENT CAN'T VETO A BILL HE DOESN'T HAVE.

Let the Republicans piss and moan. Let the President piss and moan. Instead of all the ridiculous posturing and blather from both sides about "supporting the troops", "support the President", "fighting terrorists","six more months", and the best one "protecting our assets", stop the madness!

Not only will we save countless lives (and don't they matter?) and countless billions of dollars, the Senate, led by strong Democratic action, will FINALLY get in line with the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who are desperate for the U.S. occuption of Iraq to end NOW.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. DO THE RIGHT THING AND BRING OUR TROOPS HOME.

NO MORE KILLING!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cheney "invited" to testify--Is Hell freezing over?

This is relevent to a House investigation into Cheney's alleged politically influenced interference in negotiations conducted by the Department of the Interior. The investigation can be characterized as a "fishing expedition" insofar as Cheney's meddling resulted in the collapse of the West Coast salmon industry.

Reprinted from The Gavel:

Vice President Cheney Invited to Testify on Klamath Salmon KillJuly 17th, 2007 by Jesse Lee
From the Natural Resources Committee:
Cheney Invited to Testify on Klamath Salmon Kill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, today confirmed that Vice President Dick Cheney, a former Member of the Committee, has been invited to testify at a July 31 oversight hearing on his apparent role in influencing scientific and policy decisions at the Department of the Interior.

As reported in The Washington Post on June 27, 2007, Cheney’s intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River resulted in the 2002 die-off of an estimated 77,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border – and the subsequent collapse of the West Coast salmon-fishing industry.

The hearing will seek to examine the causes and consequences of political intervention in the decision-making process at the Interior Department, an alarming trend the Committee began exploring at a May 9 hearing that delved into the role of the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in politicizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Background:

Leaving No TracksJo Becker and Barton Gellman, Washington Post - June 27, 2007
First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.
Because of Cheney’s intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.
Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.

The full invitation:

July 12, 2007

The Vice PresidentUnited States SenateWashington, DC 20510
Dear Vice President Cheney:
The Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on July 31, 2007, to examine the role that elected officials and political appointees within the Administration have played in the scientific decision making processes under the Endangered Species Act and other laws governing the conservation and management of our nation’s natural resources. I cordially invite you to testify at this hearing.

As you are aware, a June 27, 2007 Washington Post article detailed your apparent efforts, as well as the efforts of political appointees in the Administration, to influence a wide range of scientific and policy decisions at the Department of Interior and Commerce to benefit industry at the expense of our natural resources. For example, the article alleges that your intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River resulted in a 2002 die-off of around 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border – the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West. We invite you, as a former member of this Committee, to offer your views on these reports and explain your role in this and other decisions.

Please have your staff submit electronically (in Word or WordPerfect) statements of proposed testimony to Nancy Locke, Chief Clerk, Nancy.Locke@mail.house.gov, no later than Friday, July 27, 2007. Your oral testimony should not exceed five minutes and should summarize your written remarks. You may introduce into the record any other supporting documentation you wish to present in accordance with the enclosed guidelines.

The Committee on Natural Resources Rules are available on its website at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/ and the Rules of the House of Representatives, including clause 2(k) of Rule XI, are available at the House of Representatives’ website at http://www.house.gov/rules.pdf . Copies can also be sent to you on request.

Should you or your staff have any questions or need additional information, please contact Amelia Jenkins, Jean Flemma or Ms. Nancy Locke, Chief Clerk at 202-225-6065.

With warm regards, I amSincerely,
NICK J. RAHALL, IIChairman[...]


That Dick Cheney is "invited" to testify is a hoot. He's as likely to show up and testify as he is to get a conscience. It aint gonna happen. He probably won't even respond, and if he does, it will be to tell the House committee to "go F*** itself. Cheney can drag this out forever, and will.

Nuclear energy for a "glowing" tomorrow

If you are one of those folks tilting toward nuclear energy as a safe alternative to hydrocarbon- based sources, conveniently forgetting both the stupendous construction costs and the trillion-year toxicity, here is a little reminder that there are more immediate disastrous consequences you should consider. It seems Mother Nature has PMS. This from Grist:

A Barrel of Gaffes:
Earthquake causes nuclear headaches in Japan
Blockquote A strong earthquake hit northwestern Japan yesterday morning, and aftershocks continued into the night. The 6.8-magnitude quake killed at least nine people, injured more than 900 others, and flattened houses and highways. It also led to a fire, leak, and waste spills at a powerful nuclear plant. The Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility, which produces the most electricity of any nuclear plant in the world, shut down during the event, but not before a transformer caught on fire and a reactor ruptured, sending about 315 gallons of radioactive water into the sea. The trembling also toppled at least 100 barrels of nuclear waste stored on site. Company officials delayed, then downplayed news of the damage, saying there was little environmental risk. But others in the country, which is home to 55 nuclear reactors, were left feeling uneasy. Weakness in the face of quakes is, said Aileen Mioko Smith of the Japan-based eco-group Green Action, "the Achilles heel of nuclear power plants." Or one of them, anyway. Blockquote

straight to the source: Detroit Free Press, Associated Press, Eric Talmadge, 17 Jul 2007
straight to the source: Reuters, Issei Kato, 17 Jul 2007
straight to the source: The Guardian, Associated Press, Koji Sasahara, 16 Jul 2007
straight to the source: Bloomberg News, Mariko Yasu and Jonathan Tirone, 16 Jul 2007

Remember, every nuclear facility is "an accident waiting to happen", with enough potential for harm to us and our environment that the Exxon Valdez oil spill will seem like a leaking lawnmower in comparison, and any "expert" who defends nuclear energy is flat out lying.

UPDATE 7/18/07:
It is now reported that the earthquake damage to the nuclear facility was a little greater than first announced. A company spokesman said that 400 drums of radioactive waste had been knocked over and the lids came off 40 of them, and that about 460 gallons of radioactive water had been released into the sea. OOPS !



Bullshitter Vitter Bitter, no Quitter

Senator David Vitter (R-La), laying low for over a week since his "outing" by the "DC Madam", has re-emerged, issuing a statement attacking his enemies for trying to profit from his situation.
His "situation" of course, results from his history of "looking for love in all the wrong places" while unashamedly blathering about the importance of the "sanctity of marriage" and calling Bill Clinton "unfit to lead" due to his lack of "moral character".

Links to my previous post on Vitter and a Pensito Review editorial on his latest attempt at damage control here:
http://carpebaloney.blogspot.com/2007/07/david-vitter-special-kind-of-hypocrite.html
http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/07/17/vitter-challenges-media/

The Pensito Review article also mentions that Vitter, in a fighting mood, basically dared anyone to prove that previous allegations of "swordplay" with a hooker from New Orleans are true. That challenge could make him look even more like the basement of an outhouse. Let's hope.

In the meantime, a conservative Christian group has called for Vitter to resign:
From Raw Story:

[...]Arguing for "intellectual consistency," the Louisiana-based group 'Christian Conservatives for Reform' have called on Senator Vitter to resign following revelations of his numerous trysts with DC escorts and frequent patronage of brothels.
The Rev. Grant Storms explained that, "when Bill Clinton fell...we said 'resign', when William Jefferson was indicted we said 'resign', now it's one of our people, and we need to be consistent and say, 'David, do the right thing and resign.'"[...]

I'm serious when I say that although I may strongly disagree with nearly everything the "Christian Conservatives for Reform" stands for, I must applaud them for following the admonition "If thy Vitter offends thee, cast it out!". At least they're consistent.

But, is Vitter likely to heed their call? Nope, because he makes too damn much money from companies who pay well for favorable contracts, and money to a senator speaks louder than words. Read this to get an idea:
http://www.alternet.org/stories/56772/?page=1

This will be my last post about David"The Cornered Rat Critter" Vitter unless he resigns , because I'm running low on rhyming words.


Bush pays Pakistan to protect Osama bin Laden

From The Times of India we learn that the U.S. is paying Pakistan $100 million per month to cover their cost of deploying 80, 000 troops along the border with Afghanistan. This is in addition to other aid to Pakistan which brings the total annual payments to approx. $2 billion. Some people are getting upset, but the money keeps flowing.

Here's an excerpt and a link to the full article:

US renting Pak army for $ 100 million a month14 Jul 2007, 0340 hrs IST,CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA,TNN


BlockquoteWASHINGTON: The United States is paying around $ 100 million a month for the deployment of 80,000 Pakistani troops on its border with Afghanistan ostensibly for the war on terrorism, a key US official revealed on Thursday.
The money is meant to be "reimbursements" to Pakistan "for stationing troops and moving them around, and gasoline, and bullets, and training and other costs that they incur as part of the war on terror," US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, told a Congressional panel.
"That's a lot of money," Boucher admitted before the panel about what amounts to a $ 1.2 billion per year reimbursement. "I don't know if it comes to the whole amount of their expenses, but we support their expenses, yes."
In all, US aid to Pakistan is now close to $ 2 billion a year, according to figures provided by Boucher, the top U S diplomat for South Asia.
Besides, the $ 1.2 billion reimbursements, Washington also gave Pakistan an addition $ 738 million in 2006 in assistance programs, including $ 300 million in separate military aid. The overall figure would put Pakistan on par with Israel and Egypt -- with a higher component ($ 1.5 billion) in overall military assistance -- as the top three recipients of US aid.
The Pakistan allocations are being met with deep misgivings and scepticism in Congress and strategic circles where there are growing demands on the Bush administration to tie aid for Islamabad's military to its performance and delivery in the war on terror.
"There are far more jihadists, extremist madrassas, Al Qaida operatives, Taliban safe havens and international terrorist training camps than Pakistani government officials are willing to admit. Is our current aid package, one in which we are providing at least 10 times more for military aid than for basic education assistance, in the best long-term interest of United States national security?" asked Congressman John Tierney, who chaired the hearing that for focused exclusively on the Pakistan question. [...]Blockquote
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/US_renting_Pak_army_for__100_million_a_month/articleshow/2202810.cms

What the hell, you say--we waste billions all the time all over the world, so what's the big deal?

Here's the big deal! Bush has known since 2005 that Osama bin Laden is sheltering (thriving, actually) in Pakistan, and WHERE, but Pervez Musharraf will not grant permission to the U.S. to enter Pakistani territory to get him.

And George Bush respects sovereign borders sooo much that he will not go in after bin Laden until Pakistan says "OK, c'mon in"?

What an overflowing crock of "bushwa" that is. This is the guy who had no qualms about sending troops into Iraq uninvited, and for NO legitimate reason, but won't go after "Arch-Enemy #1"? If not, why are we even there?

In my view, it's all for show. Invading Afghanistan was the widely-supported U.S. response to 9/11, and was the opening salvo in Bush's "War on Terror". However, Bush planned from the start to make it a PERPETUAL war, and use that as the rationale for his blatantly unconstitutional power grabs and illegal invasions. He is refusing to go after bin Laden because to do so would make it harder for him to continue to justify the concept of "perpetual" war to the American people. If he pinches the head off of the AlQaeda pimple, he'll effectively be cutting off his own head, so he won't do it.

And so Afghanistan is sliding into chaos with the Taliban sweeping back into control, troops are continuing to be sacrificed, money continues to drain from our Treasury for the war profiteers, and Musharraf gets paid $2 billion/yr to protect bin Laden. Sweet deal, huh?

Here are the details from Pensito Review:
http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/07/14/intel-official-bush-knows-where-bin-laden-is-hiding/

If Congress pinched off George Bush's head with impeachment proceedings, they would have destroyed the worlds biggest terrorist organization and "won" the war on terror at very low cost.






Sunday, July 15, 2007

Madam Speaker--Do It Now!--IMPEACH

A friend of mine, someone who appreciates the importance of the U.S. Constitution, sent me a copy of a letter he had sent to Nancy Pelosi, urging her to begin impeachment proceedings against George Bush and Dick Cheney. Shamed by his activism (hint hint), I was compelled to send Speaker Pelosi a similar missive, and am printing both letters here.

ACTIVISM matters--flood her office with letters . She has to know where we stand. Make 'em long or make 'em short, but make 'em to the point--We MUST impeach to save our country. Use these as templates if you want, or you may have a better way of expressing yourself. Either way, do something today.

My friend's letter:

Dear Madam Speaker, First let me congratulate you on your position, and more importantly on the job you are doing for the Congress and our Country.
I'm not one of the 75% who thinks the Congress is doing a poor job. I'm one of the 25% who knows how to count to 60 or 67 as the case may be. We know who the obstructionists are.
I also know that my Congresswoman (Jean Schmidt) will be one of the last hold outs who thinks that the Current Occupant can do no wrong. My calls and letters are responded to with so much blather. She probably thinks that Congressman Murtha is still "a cut and run coward".
Which brings me to my message. It's time to stop ignoring the "I" word and instead of keeping it "off the table", put it front and center where 45% (Bush) and 54% (Cheney) of the American bi-partisan public want it. IMPEACHMENT is NOT a four letter word, and we're ready to start hearing more of it in the news and in the Gallery.
Inside the beltway, you folks are way behind what's going on out here. We want, NO, we demand that you our elected officials stand up for the accountability that this administration has evaded, stonewalled, and dismissed as so much pap, unbecoming to the sitting MONARCHY.
Oh yes, there are grounds-let me count the ways. You know them better than I Madam Speaker. Let's go for a TWOFER, Cheney first then the Current Occupant.
IMPEACHMENT, it's a concept whose time has come! Let's stand with a rising tide of folks who hold with the framers and still have faith in the Constitution that promotes impeachment as the cure for an administration who believes the document to be nothing more than something to be abused for their own political agendas.
Best wishes Madam Speaker and may God bless you in your endeavour.
"You shall not side with the great against the powerless".
Sincerely,
Dick Manoukian

And my letter:

Dear Madam Speaker:

An oft-heard fallacy these days is that impeachment would create a constitutional crisis. I was recently reminded that the truth is something quite different.

Our founding fathers specified impeachment as the sole means by which constitutional crises can be remedied,crises such as the one we are in right now.

The illegal, unconstitutional usurpation by the Executive branch of powers rightfully belonging to the Legislative branch are well-documented, and if those powers are not restored through impeachment, it could spell the demise of our democracy.

It is vital not only that impeachment proceedings begin, but that they begin immediately, for if the powers taken from the Legislative branch are not restored before the next election, you will likely never get them back. No future President will relinquish them voluntarily, and the checks and balances so necessary to a functioning democracy will be effectively eliminated. The concept of "separate but equal" branches of government will have been destroyed.

The citizens of this country are restive, sensing if not knowing the danger we face, and we are becoming increasingly desperate for someone to "don the mantle of statesmanship", putting aside petty political considerations for the greater good.

Madam Speaker, surely you recognize that this is an issue of paramount importance. I'm sure that when you consider your oath to "protect and defend", you will do what must be done.

With sincere appreciation,

John D Wood Sr


YOU MAY E-MAIL NANCY PELOSI HERE:http://speaker.house.gov/contact/

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Senate vote shows Republicans DON'T care about troops

There are 56 Republican Senators (including Joe Lieberman) who can no longer lay claim to "supporting our troops" in Iraq. They proved their lie by voting down an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have required that are troops be "rotated" home from their duty assignments for twice as long as they were overseas, as set in historical precedent.

The time stateside is considered necessary so that combat soldiers can repair the stress damage caused by their deployments, rebuild their lives and relationships, and heal. They also are supposed to get up-to-date training while at home, so they are better able to perform their duties when they go back. This is basic stuff we're talking about, not some radical new concept. If you want an effective fighting force you have to take care of the troops.

BUT NO--the Republicans shot that notion to little bloody pieces with their vote. I'm linking to two articles from Bob Geiger.com to give you the details--

http://bobgeiger.blogspot.com/2007/07/webb-stepping-up-on-excessive-troop.html
http://bobgeiger.blogspot.com/2007/07/republicans-kill-webbs-troop-protection.html

Here is a list from Geiger of the frauds who insist that our troops stay in Iraq until they are crazy, maimed, or dead. My own Senator Voinovich is on this list. Is yours?


Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Michael Moore-kickin' some serious butt

Michael Moore recently appeared on CNN to discuss his new health care documentary "SiCKO" which details the inhumanity and inequity of the profit-driven system we "enjoy" in the U.S. Moore should have been a surgeon, the way he carved new assholes for both Wolf Blitzer and his resident medical "expert", Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I can only give you links to the videos (and to Moore's website), but they are very entertaining. Follow and watch!

First, Guptas distortions--
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/07/09/cnn-reality-check-that-got-michael-moore-fired-up/

Moore fires back at Blitzer--this is better than a prize fight--
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/07/09/michael-moore-demands-apology-from-wolf-blitzer/

As promised , Moore rebuts every one of the falsehoods on his website--
http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/news/article.php?id=10017

Here's the continuation of Moore's interview with Blitzer, which aired the next night-
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/07/10/michael-moore-vs-wolf-blitzer-round-ii/

Last but not least, Moore squares off with Gupta on Larry King Live--
http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Moores_spat_with_CNN_correspondent_continues_0711.html

Moore deserves a medal for carrying this fight and refusing to allow any of the industry-backed bullshit to go unchallenged. It's only going to get worse, the right-wing hacks and flacks are out in force, with lies and even personal attacks against Moore.

They do fight dirty, the bastards, because they can't win fairly. Like terrorism, their methods are a tactic, and like terrorism, it takes many innocent lives.

Iraqi's meet a $282 million benchmark

No, silly-not one of the stupid benchmarks the U.S. established to measure"progress" in Iraq. I'm talking about one of the benchmarks the Iraqi's set for themselves. From Alissa Rubin's article in the International Herald Tribune, this is how they measure success:

BAGHDAD: In an astonishing heist, guards at a bank here made off with more than a quarter-billion dollars on Wednesday, according to an official at the Interior Ministry.
The robbery, of $282 million from the Dar Es Salaam bank, a private financial institution, raised more questions than it answered, and officials were tight-lipped about the crime. The local police said two guards engineered the robbery, but an official at the Interior Ministry said three guards were involved.
Both confirmed that the stolen money was in American dollars, not Iraqi dinars. It was unclear why the bank had that much money on hand in dollars, or how the robbers managed to move such a large amount without being detected.
Several officials speculated that the robbers had connections to the militias, because it would be difficult for them to move without being searched through many checkpoints in Baghdad. ...



Assuming that the robbers don't intend to purchase A-Rod's baseball contract, I think that our troops will recover this money, although slowly.One truck bomb and I.E.D. at a time.

Whoinhell is running their security--Michael Chertoff???

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

David Vitter-- a special kind of hypocrite

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has just been "hooked" by the DC Madam, who a few days ago released the complete phone records of customers who used her "escort service" cum prostitution ring. Properly contrite, he has issued a statement apologizing for his indiscretion, and this is what he said:

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there-with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

He sounds more sincere than "whore boy" ex-televangelist Jimmy Swaggart ever did, and I, being a forgiving sort, was perfectly willing to let bygones be bygones, until I found out a little more about him. This , for example, excerpted from Mike Schleifstein's post at bloggingneworleans.com :

"What the articles on this are neglecting to mention is... this is not the first time he has been found out as not the family candidate. Hypocrite Vitter was accused of an extramarital affair in 1999 with a New Orleans prostitute, Wendy Cortez. Wendy Cortez contacted former Governor Treen's office during the 2002 campaign for governor that year, because she was unhappy he was claiming to be a family values candidate and cheating on his wife with her. The whole thing can back to almost hurt Vitter before he won his Senate seat in 2004 (around the time, I can only assume, he may have been visiting the DC madam). Salon.com did a huge write up on this at the time (via Your Right Hand Thief). They found out about this from Louisiana Weekly, whose September 9, 2002 article helped force Vitter to leave the race for governor at the time. He said the race was putting a strain on his marriage and denied the hooker allegations, but now we can only assume that the hooker who went to the papers then was telling the truth and his cheating was the real problem. ....."

So, the DC Madam thing wasn't an isolated indiscretion--Vitter has a loonnnggg track record! And then there's this bit of hypocrisy, from his campaign web site:

Vitter Statement on Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage
“This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it.
We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage. I am the only candidate proposing changes to the senate rules to stop liberal obstructionists from preventing an up or down vote on issues like this, judges, energy, and on and on.” stated David Vitter.

And the capper, thanks to Think Progress:

Vitter Flashback: Clinton should resign.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) first got his start in Congress after replacing former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), who “abruptly resigned after disclosures of numerous affairs” in 1998. At the time, Vitter argued that an extramarital affair was grounds for resignation:
“I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess,” he said. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 12/20/98]


God might have forgiven Vitter for his active sex life outside of the "sanctity of marriage", but He is reputedly less forgiving about other things. Vitter is the worst kind of sinner- a double fucking hypocrite!

When will they ever learn?

Monday, July 9, 2007

I'm no expert, but I know INTEGRITY when I see it

What is integrity? I see it as the courage to do what's right regardless of personal consequences. Integrity is an attribute too few people possess, especially in politics and government.

Here are a few examples of how the lack of integrity displayed by some members of the Executive branch led us into the Iraq war/occupation/genocide, and also covered up a blatantly illegal act by our President, who instituted an illegal wiretapping program over the strong objections of the Department of Justice. Lastly, I will show you an example of real courage- an op-ed piece by a still-employed attorney in the DOJ.

Let's start with Colin Powell, Bush's former Secretary of State. He said recently that he spent a solid 2.5 hours(!) trying to dissuade Bush from invading Iraq.


From Times Online July 08,2007
Sarah Baxter, Washington
THE former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.
“I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”
Powell has become increasingly outspoken about the level of violence in Iraq, which he believes is in a state of civil war. “The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty to watch, but I don’t know any way to avoid it. It is happening now.
Link to full article here:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article2042072.ece

This really sounds great, but Powell was the guy who helped sell this freaking invasion by appearing in front of the United Nations and presenting "evidence" that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program, possessed stocks of bio-terror weapons such as anthrax, and had missles hidden and ready to deliver death and destruction on a moments notice. All the while he KNEW he was spouting lies, and told an aide immediately afterward that it was all "bullshit".

So why did he do it? Because he was more loyal to the President than to the truth. He was so used to saying "YES, SIR" and following orders unquestioningly throughout his whole career in the military that it was much easier to go along and lie with a straight face than to show disloyalty to a "superior officer" by immediately resigning his position in protest, and possibly stopping the Iraq disaster in its tracks. He proved himself a weak man with no integrity at all, and just look what happened. Thanks, Colin, for speaking out when it could have done some good.


Next up- James B. Comey,Deputy Attorney General, then Attorney General John Ashcroft, Ashcrofts chief of staff David Ayres, and others. In a nutshell, these men were aware that President Bush OK'd a secret wiretapping program that the DOJ refused to certify was legal and NEARLY resigned in protest, but didn't. You really HAVE TO READ the Washington Post article linked below to get an idea of how vile the people in the White House are. This is a story that should be made into a movie.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/15/AR2007051500864.html

Here's my problem- Comey, Ashcroft and the others SHOULD have resigned in loud protest because they knew that Bush instituted an illegal program. How could they NOT, if they had any integrity. The crime had been committed! The fact that Bush relented after the fact should have made no difference. Those men were working for a man who was so intent on doing what he wanted that legality didn't matter. Those cowards stayed put and stayed silent, and the clearly impeachable offense by Bush stayed secret until a few months ago. In the interval, the destruction of our Constitutional rights proceeded unabated, and the DOJ has become so politicized that true justice is not being served and citizens across the nation have lost faith in our entire legal system. Another disaster that a display of integrity could have avoided.


Lastly, I offer an example of true integrity, a display of courage by John S. Koppel, a still-employed career attorney in the DOJ, who wrote an opinion piece published July 05,2007 in The Denver Post. Mr Koppel tells it like he sees it, and boy is he pissed.

Bush justice is a national disgrace
By John S. Koppel
Article Last Updated: 07/05/2007 11:48:30 PM MDT

"As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.
The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.

In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." Enough information has already been disclosed to support the conclusion that this is exactly what happened here, at least in the case of former U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico (and quite possibly in several others as well). Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."

In his long-awaited but uninformative testimony concerning the extraordinary firings of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales did not allay these concerns. Indeed, he faced a no-win situation. If he testified falsely regarding his alleged lack of recollection and lack of involvement, he perjured himself and lied to both Congress and the American people. On the other hand, if he told the truth, he clearly has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job. Either way, his fitness to serve is now in doubt.

Tellingly, in his congressional testimony, D. Kyle Sampson (the junior aide to whom the attorney general delegated vast authority) expressed the view that the distinction between "performance" considerations and "political" considerations was "largely artificial." This attitude, however, is precisely the problem. The administration that Sampson served has elided the distinction between government performance and politics to an unparalleled extent (just as it has blurred the boundaries between the White House counsel's office and the attorney general's office). And it is no answer to say that U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The point that is lost on those who make this argument is that U.S. attorneys must not serve partisan purposes or advance a partisan agenda - which has nothing to do with requiring them to promote an administration's legitimate policy priorities.

As usual, the administration has attempted to minimize the significance of its malfeasance and misfeasance, reciting its now-customary "mistakes were made" mantra, accepting purely abstract responsibility without consequences for its actions, and making hollow vows to do better. However, the DOJ Inspector General's Patriot Act report (which would not even have existed if the administration had not been forced to grudgingly accept a very modest legislative reporting requirement, instead of being allowed to operate in its preferred secrecy), the White House-DOJ e-mails, and now the Libby commutation merely highlight yet again the lawlessness, incompetence and dishonesty of the present executive branch leadership.

They also underscore Congress' lack of wisdom in blindly trusting the administration, largely rubber-stamping its legislative proposals, and essentially abandoning the congressional oversight function for most of the last six years. These are, after all, the same leaders who brought us the WMD fiasco, the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Valerie Wilson leak, the arrest of Brandon Mayfield, and the Katrina response failure. The last thing they deserve is trust.

The sweeping, judicially unchecked powers granted under the Patriot Act should neither have been created in the first place nor permanently renewed thereafter, and the Act - which also contributed to the ongoing contretemps regarding the replacement of U.S. attorneys, by changing the appointment process to invite political abuse - should be substantially modified, if not scrapped outright. And real, rather than symbolic, responsibility should be assigned for the manifold abuses. The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk. "



Re-read Mr Koppel's last paragraph-That's INTEGRITY.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

FTC OK's U.S. TAKEOVER

Today, in a long-awaited move, the Federal Trade Commission gave formal approval to the largest leveraged buyout in United States history when it OK'd the corporate takeover of the U.S. Government.

As you know, the U.S. Government paid for its takeover with a combination of tax cuts, no-bid contracts and privatization of government jobs, using tax money paid into the Treasury by working and middle class citizens.

FTC Chairman Nevile Bush Chamberlain acknowledged that the approval is largely symbolic, as the takeover, begun in earnest during Ronald Reagan's presidency, has progressed so far it would be pointless to object.

But, he pointed out, the FTC could find no potential violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act because "No one has trusted the United States for many years now".

Chamberlain also said he has received strong assurances that the completion of the takeover in a "seamless transition" would cause minimal disruption in the lives of peaceful citizens and that "no one who co-operates will be hurt".

"I'm very pleased", he said in closing, "for they are honorable men, and we can trust them to keep their word".

Friday, July 6, 2007

SICKO--RIPPLE OR TSUNAMI?

Michael Moore's just-released movie SICKO, is playing to large audiences across the nation, and is really pissing people off-both the viewers and the health care providers who have been exposed as the greedy uncaring frauds they are. Moore does a masterful job comparing our profit-driven health care system to the government-run, single-payer universal health care offered in virtually every other developed country. The indisputable consensus is that our system sucks-sucks bad, sucks hard, and sucks your money into the pockets of the companies that routinely deny coverage for people who they deem to be "at risk", and deny payments for specious reasons for people who ARE covered. They even reward employees who deny the most claims!

Not to mention the 46 MILLION people in this country who aren't covered at all because they can't afford it! All men may be created equal, but after that?

The pharmaceutical companies are every bit as bad as the insurance companies that Moore concentrates on, and because they give so much money to OUR legislators, there are no controls over the prices they charge, and any attempt to mitigate the crushing financial burden they impose is automatically shot down in Washington.

Moore is opening some eyes with SICKO and people are realizing how rotten and unfair our health care system really is, and the industry is mounting a full-fledged propaganda campaign of mis-information, distortions, and outright lies to counter the mounting outrage of our citizens.
Their bullshit, now that millions of people are able to see it for what it is, may not work this time around, especially if you make sure that your Senators and Representatives know EXACTLY how you feel about this subject. They need to understand that their careers are in peril, so SPEAK OUT.

The battle is being joined, in the streets, in the boardrooms, and the media. Follow these links:
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/07/05/texas-screening-of-sicko-inspires-health-care-activism/

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/07/06/michael-moore-releases-secret-hmo-memo-on-sicko/

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/07/05/fox-news-universal-health-care-breeds-terrorists/

That last one is such a stretch that "Plastic Man" would be jealous, but it points up the lengths to which industry apologists will go when they have no defense for their despicable practices.

Will the industry prevail? Will they be successful in keeping a call for change only a ripple , barely noticed by the scum floating on the top of the health care pond, or will our concerted action develop into a tsumani that will send them to the bottom?

SICKO--SEEN IT YET???

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I WANNA KNOW SOMETHIN'

If President Bush believes that excessive sentences should be commuted, then WHY ARE OUR TROOPS STILL SERVING TIME IN IRAQ?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Laura Bush linked to DC Madam (kinda)

Here's some background, and a link to a Think Progress article with a video of Laura Bush in a CNN interview.

In 2003, George Walker (a commuter by foot?)) Bush, to look like someone who gave a damn, mounted a PR campaign announcing that the U.S. would take the lead in fighting AIDS in 15 countries (think poor African nations) where the disease is epidemic. Congress dutifully appropriated scads of money for this worthwhile effort, but included a provision that 1/3 of the prevention $$$ be spent on abstinence-only programs instead of rational real-world preventative measures that actually work, like condoms.That blatant bribe to the far, far religious(?) right resulted in much of the available funding being made unavailable to countries as well as in-country relief organizations that would not or could not agree to drop basic methods of prevention. As a result, AIDS continues to ravage whole populations while the self-righteous religious(?) conservatives smugly rejoice over their influence.

Well, in June this Congress passed legislation to overturn the abominable abstinence-only provision of the AIDS bill, and now George Bush is threatening to veto it. Laura Bush basically called him an asshole on CNN, saying flatly that condoms are necessary for AIDS prevention, and implying (to my mind, at least), that a lot of lives would have been saved if her husband's parents had used them.
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/07/04/laura-bush-abstinence/

I'm thinking that maybe Laura has reached her breaking point. With this idiotic AIDS obstinancy, alcoholism, and the obvious corruption that she can't not be aware of, including the Libby shit, she may be about to throw him under the "scooter" and clear out. Boy, could she ever write a book if she got mad enough.

But I digress. The guy who ran this program pushing this abstinence crap was Randall Tobias, a man much admired in some circles for his government service (you know-like Libby). After he moved on to his next post as Deputy Secretary of State, he had occasion to use an "escort service" several times. Unfortunately for him, they kept good records.

The owner of the "escort service" was charged in April with running a prostitution ring, and instantly became known as the DC Madam. Considering what she did for a living, I feel she should be called "Ms. Hooker T. Washington", just because it's punny.

Anyway, Hooker T. (yes, I bet she drives old MGs) had the records for over 10,000 customers, most from the DC area, and threatened to cost a helluva lot of highly placed people their careers if they didn't squash the charges against her. She busted Randall "Mr. Abstinence" Tobias to prove she meant business. Tobias of course claimed hilariously that he used the escort service only to get massages, and then resigned his job the next day. Serves his hypocritical ass right.

So there you have the connection. Laura Bush to George Bush to Randall Tobias and a "killer" AIDS program to the DC Madam. This is the kind of thing that has the makings of a really good PBS series. I'll pitch the idea to them tomorrow.

Monday, July 2, 2007

LIBBY SENTENCE COMMUTED--CRIMES UPON CRIMES

Mere hours after a court decided that Scooter Libby would have to begin his 30 month jail term while his conviction for obstruction of justice is being appealed, President Bush commuted his sentence so that he will NEVER have to spend a day behind bars.

It is not a full pardon, and Libby will still have to serve two years probation and pay $250,000 in fines, UNTIL his appeal is upheld by a blatantly partisan Appeals Court, and his conviction overturned.
http://carpebaloney.blogspot.com/2007/03/libby-appeal-fix-is-in.html

Bush's only comment was that he felt the 30 month sentence was "excessive", although it fell well within the sentencing guidelines. What Bush didn't say is that now Libby has no incentive to tell the truth about his former bosses complicity in criminal acts, the investigation of which he obstructed. That would be Cheney and Bush, the"co-godfathers" of the crime family running this country.

The commutation of Libby's sentence is indicative of our Presidents unbounded arrogance and total disdain for the rule of law, and is every bit as damaging to the concept of "equal justice" as what Bush and Rove have done by politicizing the Department of Justice.

Common people no longer have any faith that our system is fair, and rightly perceive that you can get away with anything if you're well-connected or rich. If you're neither of those, you are in trouble.

What Bush did- commuting the sentence of HIS FORMER EMPLOYEE in order to keep the law away from himself-should be grounds for immediate impeachment, followed by a first degree felony conviction.

A clear majority of the American public wants Bush to be gone, and the outrage continues to build. I expect that soon a clear majority will want him gone by any means necessary. Bush claims he speaks to God. That is not true-he talks to himself and thinks he's God. A face-to-face meeting with the real God, in His place, would be a good thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Typical morning meetings at the Executive branch

A private meeting in Cheney's bunker:

Federal investigator--"Mr Vice President, why did you order the destruction of your visitor logs?"
Cheney--"I'll tell you why, you fucking idiot! Cuz I need HEARTS, and YOU WERE NEVER HERE! GET 'IM BOYS!"
*******
A CIA briefing in the Oval Office:

Briefer--"It's all set, Mr President. Iran's government will be overthrown next month.We've arranged a coup."
Bush--"Gesundheit!. What'd we arrange?"
Briefer--"A coup."
Bush--"Man, you gotta have an allergery. Talk to me when yer feelin' better."
*******
Ann Coulter meets with Karl Rove:

Rove--"You know, if I was gay I'd put some moves on you."
Coulter--"Karl, I'm getting nervous about all those checks from the RNC. I want cash from now on."
Rove--" No problem-I'll make a call."
Coulter--"Thanks, that's mighty white of you."
Rove--"Ooh, that's good, but save it for the idiots."
*******
Bush in a meeting with some attorneys:

Bush--"OK guys-I don't have to pardon Libby if the Appeals Court overturns his conviction. They asked for some ideas."
Gonzalez--"We've hashed this out, Mr. President, and I think this one'll work."
David Addington--"Here's the deal, Mr. President. I'll keep it simple for you. The U.S. Criminal Code covers all 50 states. But, since the District of Columbia isn't a state, any crimes committed here do not fall under the purview of the statutes and cannot be prosecuted under U.S. laws. The conviction is therefore nullified."
Bush--"That's some tortured logic. Sounds like something John Yoo came up with."
John Yoo--"'Torture' is my middle name, Mr president."
Tim Griffin--" Very cagy--I like it."
Bush--"Hey! This saves ALL our asses, don't it? Oh,hot damn, this is great!
Bush--"Gonzo, commute over to the Court an' tell our boys to run with it. And score some blow on the way back-I feel like celebratin'."
*******

Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace--A yardstick dipstick

General Peter Pace, outgoing(thank God) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a total dipstick about the Iraqi "success" yardstick. Excerpted here is an article from Think Progress.


Pace: Success In Iraq Based On Whether Iraqis ‘Feel Better Today Than They Did Yesterday’

During a press conference last week, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace said that “the recent rise in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq is the ‘wrong metric‘ to use in assessing the effectiveness” of the U.S. military in Iraq. “So it’s not about levels of violence,” he explained. “It’s about progress … in the minds of the Iraqi people.”
Today, Pace made similar remarks. He called the measuring the level of violence in Iraq a “self-defeating approach to tracking results” and added, “What’s most important is do the Iraqi people feel better about today than they did about yesterday, and do they think tomorrow’s going to be better than today?” When asked if he actually knew how the Iraqi people currently feel about the U.S. occupation of Iraq he conceded, “I do not have that in my head.”

If Pace did consult the Iraqis about whether they “feel better about today than they did about yesterday,” the answer would be a resounding “no.” As a recent ABC News/BBC News poll found, “The optimism that helped sustain Iraqis during the first few years of the war has dissolved into widespread fear, anger and distress amid unrelenting violence“:

- 39 percent of Iraqis said they feel their lives are “going well,” compared to 71 percent in November 2005.”
- 40 percent of Iraqis said the situation in Iraq will be “somewhat or much better” a year from now, compared to 69 percent in November 2005.
- 26 percent of Iraqis said they feel “very safe” in their neighborhoods, compared to 63 percent in November 2005.
- 82 percent of Iraqis said they “lack confidence” in coalition forces.
- 69 percent of Iraqis said coalition forces make “the security situation worse.”
Whether one measures results in Iraq based on “how the Iraqi people believe they are today,” or on the increasing levels of violence, it is clear the United States is not succeeding in the war.
Ryan Powers


So Pace is now saying success should not be measured by the amount of death and violence in Iraq, nor by the amount of money squandered, nor by the failure of the Iraqi forces to "stand up", nor by destruction of anything resembling a normal life for the Iraqi citizens, nor by the dramatically lowered life expectancies of the Iraqi's, nor by the elimination of AlQaeda in Iraq, but should be measured by how much the Iraqi's LIKE what's happening to them!!!!

What idiocy! Pace is spouting this garbage at a time (and I'm not kidding) when Iraqi's are reduced to celebrating whenever a family member is fortunate enough to die a natural death. They won't even eat fish from the Tigris river any longer because so many of their murdered fellows are dumped into it every night.

By Pace's insane logic, all we have to do to "succeed" is convince those poor bastards that what has and is happening to them is for their own good. Can you hear it?--"You should rejoice! This is exactly what American democracy is becoming!".. "Don't Stop-Thinkin' About Tomorrow".."Don't Worry-Be Happy".."Success is Just a Smile Away".."Way to go,kid-now you're the head of the family!".."It's always darkest before the dawn"

And of course, the surest way to get the "happiness" quotient into positive numbers is simply to kill all the pessimists. At least, I'll bet that's what Pace is advocating, brilliant strategist that he is. Shouldn't take more than fifty years or so.