Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Even the troops are on board to end this quagmire
Monday, February 27, 2006
This Week on the Daily Show
Monday, 2/27: SARAH VOWELL, NPR commentator/author, "Assassination Vacation"
Tuesday, 2/28: MATTHEW FOX, actor, "Lost"
Wednesday, 3/1: ROGER EBERT, film critic, Chicago Sun-Times
Thursday, 3/2: JULIANNE MOORE, actor, "Freedomland"
Wililam Buckley on Iraq
February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.
It Didn’t Work
"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are "Zionists." It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.
A problem for American policymakers — for President Bush, ultimately — is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.
One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.
The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.
This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.
Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.
He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.
Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.
(c) 2006 Universal Press Syndicate
America's younger workers losing ground on income
In the race to get ahead economically, America's young workers are falling behind.
A new survey shows that median incomes fell for householders under 45, even as they rose for older ones, between 2001 and 2004.
Income fell 8 percent, adjusted for inflation, for those under 35 and 9 percent for those aged 35 to 44. The numbers add new weight to longstanding concerns about whether younger generations of Americans will achieve living standards that are better - or at least equal to - those of their parents.
"It's a scary question," says Carrie Brown, who runs the Blue Frog Bakery in Boston. She says that for now, at least, she's not keeping pace. And if she and her husband have children, she says she's not sure if her children will enjoy the same lifestyle she did while growing up.
Her concern is shared by many Americans who follow the baby-boom generation. One often-voiced worry is about generational fairness in tax burdens, given the prospect of a soaring federal tab in coming decades for Medicare and Social Security as the number of elderly Americans rises.
But today, even long before any such fiscal shock arrives, younger workers are already feeling squeezed by other trends. An increasingly competitive global economy, the rising cost of higher education and healthcare, and changing patterns of family life are among the factors that have combined to make the career environment tougher, economists say.
"There's no guarantee" that US living standards will continue to rise, says Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University specialist in generational economics.
For now, the prospect of a generation underperforming their parents may be more of a fear than a reality. By many measures, America continues to grow more prosperous with each passing decade.
A long-term trend of falling interest rates since the 1980s, for example, means that even after the recent runup in home prices, houses are generally more affordable today than they were 20 years ago. And homes today contain gadgets - from a child's video-game system to an adult's pocket e-mail device - that didn't exist a generation ago.
At the same time, however, evidence of economic challenges also abounds.
The signs include:
• Rising debt levels. Over the past decade, the volume of federal student loans tripled, reaching $85 billion in new loans last year, according to a new book by Anya Kamenetz, "Generation Debt." Nearly a quarter of college students are using credit cards to pay some of their tuition costs, she writes.
• The median income for men under age 44 was significantly lower in 1997 than in 1970, after adjusting for inflation, according to a long-term analysis by the Census Bureau in the late 1990s. For those over 45, incomes barely held their own during that period.
• The entry of women into the workforce in those decades has helped push median family incomes up over time. But even when men and women are included together, younger workers (age 25-34) are earning well below what they did in 1970. And at all ages, evidence suggests that families are putting in more hours of work to make their household incomes rise.
• Even with extra time at work, median family income has barely budged since 1995 for householders below 45, up about 5 percent after inflation through 2004.
Those aged 45 to 54 did better, with family incomes rising 23 percent during that period, according to the numbers released last week from the Federal Reserve Board.
And since the end of 2001, at the outset of the current economic expansion, younger workers again have underperformed, with incomes generally falling while their older counterparts have seen incomes rise.
That all helps explain the subtitle of Ms. Kamenetz's book: "Why now is a terrible time to be young." The book is partly a manifesto on generational politics, as she eyes the cost of baby boomers' retirement for her generation.
It's unfair, some economists say, to blame the baby boom generation, since the larger issue is that healthcare costs keep rising and people keep living longer in general. Rising healthcare costs are hitting younger workers in another way, too. As benefit costs rise, employers often have less left to boost wages.
Another factor behind the weak incomes for younger generations may be shifts in household composition.
The past few decades have seen a rise of single-parent and nonfamily households, which typically have lower incomes than married-couple households.
Perhaps most significant, though, is a labor market that has become tougher on workers, especially those with lower skills. Global competition has compressed wage gains.
Thus, despite a boom in worker productivity, "what the typical family or typical worker has to show for it has been remarkably little," says Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.
In his view, the biggest issue is the rising inequality of incomes during the past quarter century.
At the Blue Frog Bakery, Ms. Brown sees that trend among her own peers. "People are either doing phenomenally well or living paycheck to paycheck," she says, as the smell of fresh croissants wafts through the air.
Still, many economists say progress is possible.
"In the long run I'm optimistic," says Michael Shields, an economist who specializes in demographics at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.
What worries him most, he says, is the long work hours for his children who are just out of college. "When are they going to be able to take a break?" he asks. "I don't see it."
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Welcome to the Brave New World
Happy Anniversary to the Blog!
I would like to thank Progressive Grannie, Jackie, VTexan, and Wild Horse Annie for your help with this. You have so eloquently and consistently filled in the gaps when my participation was noticeably lacking. It makes me glad to be among such wonderful Democrats!
What? It's worse than we thought? Surprise!
Filibuster for Independence
In our day the people of Texas must again win their independence from the modern dictatorship of corruption, cronyism, and corporate government.
We have a Constitution to save!
Please join Democratic Attorney General Candidate
DAVID VAN OS
in honoring the
170th Anniversary of the Texas Declaration of Independence
by conducting a
24-hour Filibuster for Independence at the seat of Texas government on the State Capitol grounds.
Commencing 6:00pm Friday March 3
continued until 6:00pm Saturday March 4
The Filibuster for Independence will be conducted on the South Steps or Grounds of the State Capitol Building, 11th Street at Congress Avenue, Austin
The Capitol Building and Grounds belong to the People, and public discourse on issues of public concern is their highest and greatest use.
Other local & statewide candidates have been invited to speak. The public is invited to attend, observe, and listen. Representatives of the press are welcome to attend.
Hospitality Suite to be held during the 24-Hour Filibuster at the
David Van Os Campaign Headquarters
1101 Music Lane Suite 304, Austin Texas
(South Congress @ Academy, behind Doc's Restaurant)
Walkable (under 2 miles) else a Dillo Bus ride (free) or short Bus Route 1 (50¢) away.
At office/hospitality suite we will have refreshments, shower, resting place, use of internet for blogging the event, telephone use for getting friends to come out and join us.
Volunteer for this Event
WE ARE GOING TO MAKE HISTORY: BE A PART OF IT!
We need volunteers to hang flyers, blog the event, pick up garbage, hand out flyers, maintain the hospitality office, and more.
We will be holding a flyer-hanging party. Details, exact time/place to come.
Contact Austin Campaign crew at 512-326-1970
Ask for Sonia, Debbie or Robin
You may also reach Debbie Russell at email@example.com : 512-326-1970
FOR ALL MAJOR PRESS AND MEDIA RELATIONS
PLEASE CONTACT PERRY DORRELL AT (713) 594-4714
CONTACT RACHEL BARRIOS-VAN OS AT 210-225-1955 (OFFICE)
210-332-7080 CELL and or
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Missed the peace march to do the "grannie thing"
Ice skating while holding up little Miss NaNa. We switched off holding up NaNa's brother, Xavier (age 6), but he is such a girl magnet that most of the time he had 2 little girls holding his hands! Much to his mother's amusement and chagrin (thinking about what he will be like as a teenager). 3 hours of skating was fun, but we found out what muscles we had not used in a long time. One other comment...if you have your own skates, they are a must as the rental skates are terrible. Next stop, roller skating! But Blake and I will definitely be at the next peace march.
You will need this information on March 7th
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Hill Country Peace Group March in Fredericksburg
The much-needed overnight rain passed, leaving semi-blue skies and 68 degrees for today's Fredericksburg Peace march. Organizers (the Hill Country Peace Group) will be hard-pressed to rival today's weather for the next one in Austin. More on that next march at the bottom.
The 50 of us (the number near-doubled after the picture was taken) who showed up for the march at the Gillespie County courthouse grounds were a decidedly un-seditious group of American patriots who just want its government to do better. We served as a reminder to all who passed by that there is an un-just war being fought on their dime, and that the best way we can support the troops is to bring them home.
I talked to several people from Bandera, to a few from Fredericksburg, and the Moore brothers from Utopia, on whose initiative this march happened. Unfortunately, Kendall County had only one representative that I spotted, and that was me.
There's a major protest to mark the three-year anniversary of the war being declared for Saturday March 18th in Austin. Barring unforseens, I'll be going. I'm hopeful the wife and daughter will be there too. And I hope we can arrange for an extended Boerne, or Kendall County contingent to go as well. We'll be discussing it in the three weeks between now and then.
Remember this: protesting is your right, and using it is a patriotic act.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Never Been To a Peace March? Here's Your Chance:
You'll meet lots of people like yourself, and guaranteed, some not at all like yourself. And that's a good thing. This is not an anti-military march, but an anti-war one. Your passion is welcome, but if you have hate, please leave that hate at home.
--If you're a patriotic American, you're more than welcome to come to the march.
--If you want to see how it feels to publicly say what you've been saying in private, you really should come.
--If you want to personally discover one of the outstanding things that still makes America great, come and disagree publicly with the powers that be, and live to tell the tale.
You can't really claim you're a free American unless you exercise that freedom.
So exercise it. The Texas Hill Country Peace Movement is affiliated with the Texans for Peace. Their web site is here.
It could have been a felony charge...but....
"Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.
Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.
According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.
We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others say they saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.
"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it.
...Oh this sounds SO Texas heh? Sigh.We let drivers and hunters drink and drive or shoot, no big deal. And...if you are a big wig the Sheriff will get you off. for more
And in a second story today, Doug Thompson noted
"It wasn't a story we went looking for. A friend who works in the Bush administration tipped us on the report late last week and I started making phone calls. By late Tuesday, I had all I needed to go with the story: three sources that said a Secret Service Agent filed a report claiming Cheney had consumed several drinks and "appeared inebriated" while hunting on the Armstrong Ranch on February 11.Mr. Thompson noted that the bizarre antics of the Bush administration provided far more interesting fodder for stories than anything his imagination could possibly conjure up.
Calendar of area events available
Don't forget the re-start of Demo dinner discussion on March 22 at the Dodging Duck at 7 pm...or sooner if folks want it earlier?
The Mean Season
We've seen what this kind of 'polling' can do. Push polling, the Diebold paperless voting machines,a weighted Supreme Court and the usual Republican dirty tricks portend a mean November.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
This Week on the Daily Show
Wednesday, 2/22:MATTHEW FOX, actor, "Lost"
Thursday, 2/23: ROGER EBERT, film critic, Chicago Sun-Times
Good news Texans!
Rick Perry: 36%
Chris Bell: 19%
Carole Strayhorn: 16%
Kinky Friedman: 10%
Will these guys lose their jobs again afterwards?
Monday, February 20, 2006
Early voting starts tomorrow
Need more informatio before you vote? League of Women Voters Guide
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I'm sure this list will change in the very near future!
Friday, February 17, 2006
Close Guantanamo! NOW !
Their website notes the following (below) and has a copy of the letter that will be sent:
Today the National Council of Churches’ General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, sent a letter to Secretary of State Conoleezza Rice urging compliance with the United Nations recommendations. Edgar also renewed a request to allow an interfaith delegation to Guantanamo to monitor the physical, mental, and spiritual condition of the detainees.
Rick Bolanos for 23rd Congressional District
We just returned from Washington DC, where Vietnam Veteran Rick Bolanos was very warmly received and applauded. Rick’s message, along with that of other Vietnam and Iraqi War veterans, candidates to The US Congress, at a gathering sponsored by VETPAC was carried live and then re-run several times around the world by C-SPAN. Most of the candidates highlighted their decision to run as being motivated by the need to correct the current wave of political corruption which has turned our great country into the laughing stock among every other nation world-wide.
As a Vietnam veteran and as a concerned and disgusted American citizen, I ask for your support in helping bring forth desperately-needed change for the better in the 23rd Congressional Districts. Rick and his three brothers valiantly answered our country’s call to arms and all four fought in Vietnam at the same time for their and our country. Now Rick is once again answering our troubled country’s call, to fight the-enemy-from-within which through greed and corruption is tearing at the very fabric of our Democracy. He will fight to restore dignity, honesty, transparency and accountability to our government, which so many brave soldiers have sacrificed their lives for. We need to immediately stop the exportation of American jobs so that American workers can continue to properly provide for their families; Bolanos is the right person for the job. He and other veteran candidates have shown their willingness and ability to lay their lives on the line for our freedom. In my book, he is a proven leader who has earned our trust, and our vote.
Our working families, including school teachers, police officers and firemen, farmers, small business owners, construction workers and so many others are desperately in need of affordable health insurance and medication. As an educator Rick Bolanos understands the frustration of our teachers in trying to comply with federally-directed but un-funded mandates, such as the “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” disaster. Adequate funding for much-needed health care for our senior citizens and our children needs to be restored. The ridiculous and reckless budget cuts which adversely affect the education of our children, the health care of our combat troops and our veterans, being rubber-stamped by present congressmen must be reversed. Funding for our brave combat troops and for our veterans must be mandatory and not discretionary. How dare we send our brave troops (your son or daughter, mother, father or neighbor) into combat, without adequate life-saving protective gear or weaponry? This grave mistake would not be made by any leader with military experience, or by someone with even minimal concern for the lives of our American soldiers.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
If You Have HBO, Friday Night Is Must-See TV...
Haven't seen Real Time? Here's what it's like: the best dinner party discussion you've ever been involved in (provided of course you have smart friends who are articulate). Bill calls the shots, and he's decidedly liberal, though often speaks quite ill of the Democrats.
"They got beat by Bush...twice???" When he speaks ill of us, we tend to deserve it mightily.
His guests are most always interesting, often bizarre, usually quite informed. From Gore Vidal to Howard Dean To Paul Hackett to Michael Moore to Ann Coulter--yes, Ann--to Arianna Huffington to...well, the list goes on and on. His conservative guests tend to be bright and bold, and they have to be because they take quite a flogging from Bill and guests.
I'm a big fan of the diverse views clashing. It's like springtime in south Texas. A cold front from the north, a tropical front from the coast, BAM! But Maher keeps things in the realm of fact, or at least well-spoken opinion. It's like intellectual television, but on steroids.
This Friday at ten his guests will be Helen Thomas and Dan Senor. Senor being a key advisor to Paul Bremer and Helen being a vocal critic of the Iraq war, this promises to be interesting. There will be another 3 or 4 guests, but they are as yet unannounced. Perhaps one will be from the waitstaff on a south Texas ranch who can tell us how many beers Dead-Eye Dick downed before mistaking a six-foot man dressed in orange for a quail. I wouldn't put it past Bill to land an interview like that.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
This Week on the Daily Show
Wednesday, 2/15: Julianne Moore, actor, "Freedomland"
Thursday, 2/16: Ed Harris, actor, "Winter Passing"
Monday, February 13, 2006
Puffy McMoon Face Does it Again!!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Bush's sleight of hand on Social Security
Wednesday, February 8, 2006; D02
If you read enough numbers, you never know what you'll find. Take President Bush and private Social Security accounts.
Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.
His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.
If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union message last week.
First, he drew a mocking standing ovation from Democrats by saying that "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security," even though, as I said, he'd never submitted specific legislation.
Then he seemed to be kicking the Social Security problem a few years down the road in typical Washington fashion when he asked Congress "to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," adding that the commission would be bipartisan "and offer bipartisan solutions."
But anyone who thought that Bush would wait for bipartisanship to deal with Social Security was wrong. Instead, he stuck his own privatization proposals into his proposed budget.
"The Democrats were laughing all the way to the funeral of Social Security modernization," White House spokesman Trent Duffy told me in an interview Tuesday, but "the president still cares deeply about this. " Duffy asserted that Bush would have been remiss not to include in the budget the cost of something that he feels so strongly about, and he seemed surprised at my surprise that Social Security privatization had been written into the budget without any advance fanfare.
Duffy said privatization costs were included in the midyear budget update that the Office of Management and Budget released last July 30, so it was logical for them to be in the 2007 budget proposals. But I sure didn't see this coming -- and I wonder how many people outside of the White House did.
Nevertheless, it's here. Unlike Bush's generalized privatization talk of last year, we're now talking detailed numbers. On page 321 of the budget proposal, you see the privatization costs: $24.182 billion in fiscal 2010, $57.429 billion in fiscal 2011 and another $630.533 billion for the five years after that, for a seven-year total of $712.144 billion.
In the first year of private accounts, people would be allowed to divert up to 4 percent of their wages covered by Social Security into what Bush called "voluntary private accounts." The maximum contribution to such accounts would start at $1,100 annually and rise by $100 a year through 2016.
It's not clear how big a reduction in the basic benefit Social Security recipients would have to take in return for being able to set up these accounts, or precisely how the accounts would work.
Bush also wants to change the way Social Security benefits are calculated for most people by adopting so-called progressive indexing. Lower-income people would continue to have their Social Security benefits tied to wages, but the benefits paid to higher-paid people would be tied to inflation.
Wages have typically risen 1.1 percent a year more than inflation, so over time, that disparity would give lower-paid and higher-paid people essentially the same benefit. However, higher-paid workers would be paying substantially more into the system than lower-paid people would.
This means that although progressive indexing is an attractive idea from a social-justice point of view, it would reduce Social Security's political support by making it seem more like welfare than an earned benefit.
Bush is right, of course, when he says in his budget proposal that Social Security in its current form is unsustainable. But there are plenty of ways to fix it besides offering private accounts as a substitute for part of the basic benefit.
Bush's 2001 Social Security commission had members of both parties, but they had to agree in advance to support private accounts. Their report, which had some interesting ideas, went essentially nowhere.
What remains to be seen is whether this time around Bush follows through on forming a bipartisan commission and whether he can get credible Democrats to join it. Dropping numbers onto your opponents is a great way to stick your finger in their eye. But will it get the Social Security job done? That, my friends, is a whole other story.
Sloan is Newsweek's Wall Street editor. His e-mail email@example.com.
Progressivegrannie's comment: Can you believe this B.S.? When will our fellow citizens wake up? Arrrggghhhh! ! !
The Kendallian Online Newsletter
I'm still working out the kinks, but look in the upper lefthand corner when you open it and you'll see the link to the second page.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The knots in my stomach are growing
The first fishy Abramoff/Bush photo surfaces
Friday, February 10, 2006
(The)Dick hangs out with great folks!
Sedition? Sedition??? You must be kidding?
February 8, 2006
(AP) - Sen. Jeff Bingaman asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson
for a thorough inquiry of his agency's investigation into whether a VA
nurse's letter criticizing the Bush administration amounted to "sedition."
The agency's human resources office ultimately cleared her of any
wrongdoing, but Senator Bingaman, D-N.M., said Tuesday he was concerned that
the VA investigated Laura Berg of Albuquerque in the first place.
Merely opposing government policies and expressing a desire to change course
"does not provide reason to believe that a person is involved in illegal
subversive activity," he said.
Senator Bingaman said such investigations raise "a very real possibility of
chilling legitimate political speech."
"In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government's actions does
not amount to sedition or insurrection," he wrote. "It is, and must remain,
protected speech. Although it may be permissible to implement restrictions
regarding a government employee's political activities during work hours or
on government premises, such employees do not surrender their right to
freedom of speech when they enlist in government service."
Senator Bingaman said he wants the matter investigated so VA officials will
have guidance about handling similar situations in the future.
Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist, wrote a letter in September to a
weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the Bush administration
mishandled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She urged people to "act
forcefully" to remove an administration she said played games of "vicious
She signed the letter as a private citizen, and the VA had no reason to
suspect she used government resources to write it, according to the American
Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, which last week asked the government to
apologize to Berg for seizing her computer and investigating her.
VA human resources chief Mel Hooker had said in a Nov. 9 letter that his
agency was obligated to investigate "any act which potentially represents
sedition," the ACLU said. Copyright 2006 The Associated Press
Here is a portion of what Ms. Berg wrote:
I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!...The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder....
Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence....This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
We Deaniacs knew it all along!
Bush Administration policies and the deficit
In federal budgeting, what is said and what is done can be very different. Past talk of spending cuts by Republicans has not panned out. A comparison of Bush policies, judging by performance to date, suggests that a Howard Dean Administration would be doing much better with regard to control of deficit spending.
Polling data suggest that much of the electorate favors a winding down of the U.S. mission in Iraq, the continuance of domestic spending programs, and better control of deficits. Some popular commentary holds these goals to be mutually exclusive. The chart below compares two illustrative fiscal scenarios, one based on the current policies of President George W. Bush, and the other based on a fictitious Howard Dean Administration. (All estimates were prepared by staff of the Congressional Budget Office.)
chart to be loaded asap
The Bush deficit scenario, shown by the red bars, is based on the following assumptions: military operations in Iraq continue; the tax cuts enacted since 2001 are made permanent; certain long-standing tax preferences (known as “tax extenders”) are reauthorized; the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is cut back so that it does not cover as many new taxpayers; and non-defense discretionary spending continues to grow at no less than the rate of growth of gross domestic product (GDP). During Bush’s years in office, the annual growth rate of non-defense outlays has averaged close to that of GDP, though for the past three years the administration has proposed and Congress has enacted somewhat smaller increases.
The result in the Bush scenario is an unsustainable trend of rising deficits, relative to the GDP, reaching 3.7% in 10 years.
Howard Dean criticized the Bush tax cuts and the decision to invade Iraq. He also indicated support for domestic spending growth. For the Dean scenario in this analysis, we assume that the tax cuts passed since 2001 will be allowed to expire, but that Dean would face the same costs for an AMT fix, the tax extenders, and increased domestic spending. We also assume savings from a phase-down of military operations in Iraq. The result, shown in the blue bars, is a much-improved deficit path, culminating in a sustainable level of 1.8% of GDP.
It should be noted that, in the scenario where tax cuts are allowed to expire, the reduced deficit does begin to rise in the latter part of the period. This reflects the imminent retirement of the baby boomers in the form of rising health care costs. Tax increases and cuts in military spending will not solve the long-run problem of unsustainable increases in health care spending.
Given the unsustainable nature of our current fiscal imbalances, and the potential for severe disruption if the dollar runs into trouble in world financial markets, the question of the Howard Dean alternative might be said to boil down to a matter of “when,” not “if.”
The president, the stripper and the attorney general
Thursday February 9, 2006
In 1996, Governor George W Bush received a summons to serve on a jury, which would have required his admission that 20 years earlier he had been arrested for drunk driving. Already planning his presidential campaign, he did not want this information made public. His lawyer made the novel argument to the judge that Bush should not have to serve because "he would not, as governor, be able to pardon the defendant in the future". (The defendant was a stripper accused of drunk driving.) The judge agreed, and it was not until the closing days of the 2000 campaign that Bush's record surfaced. On Monday, the same lawyer, Alberto Gonzales - now attorney general - appeared before the senate judiciary committee to defend "the client", as he called the president.
Gonzales was the sole witness called to explain Bush's warrantless domestic spying, in obvious violation of the foreign intelligence surveillance act (Fisa) and circumvention of the special court created to administer it. The scene at the Senate was acted as though scripted partly by Kafka, partly by Mel Brooks, and partly by John le Carré. After not being sworn in, the absence of oath-taking having been insisted upon by the Republicans, Gonzales offered legal reasoning even more imaginative than that he used to get Bush off jury duty: a melange of mendacity, absurdity and mystery.
The attorney general argued that Fisa did and did not apply; that the administration was operating within it, while flouting it; and that it didn't matter. The president's "inherent" power, after all, allowed him to do whatever he wanted. It was all, Gonzales said, "totally consistent". His explanation, observed Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the judiciary committee, "defies logic and plain English".
Congress, Gonzales elaborated, had no proper constitutional role, but in any case had already approved the president's secret programme by voting for the authorisation of the use of military force in Afghanistan - even if members didn't know it; or even, when informed years later that they had approved the secret programme, objected that they hadn't known that that was what they were doing.
The legislation that was ignored, Gonzales declared, shouldn't be amended to bring this domestic spying under the law because the secret programme was already legal, or might be legal; and anyway it doesn't matter if Congress says it's legal. The all-powerful president should be trusted, but when Bush states wrongly that he goes to court for warrants, it's all right that he doesn't know what he is talking about. "As you know," said Gonzales, "the president is not a lawyer."
Who was or wasn't being spied on couldn't and wouldn't be explained. When Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, asked whether the programme could be used to "influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media", Gonzales replied: "Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible." When Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked for assurances that only al-Qaida or suspected terrorists were subjected to surveillance, Gonzales answered: "Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance."
Nor would he say what the programme really was. "I am not comfortable going down the road of saying yes or no as to what the president has or has not authorised," Gonzales said. "I'm not going to respond to that. I'm not going to answer."
Gonzales's ultimate argument was an appeal to history. George Washington, he pointed out in a display of erudition, "intercepted British mail", footnoting a 1997 CIA report on the subject. In the civil war, the telegraph was wiretapped. And during both the first and second world wars, communications were intercepted. Gonzales's ahistoricism about technology aside (George Washington had no cell phones to tap, no computers to hack), Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt could not have broken a law that did not exist.
Through his convoluted testimony, the attorney general represented "the client" as a useful factotum again. But in his tour of history, he neglected the disclosure by the Associated Press on February 3 of about 200 pages of documents from the White House of President Gerald Ford. These papers highlighted the objections made by Ford's secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his chief of staff, Dick Cheney, to getting court warrants for domestic surveillance. It was partly to thwart such unaccountable executive power that Congress enacted Fisa in 1978.
Once again Cheney, the power behind the throne, has found a way to relieve the frustrations of the past. But he is fulfilling more than the curdled dreams of the Nixon and Ford era. The Bush presidency is straining to realise a pre-Washington ideal - unconstitutional monarchy.
· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is the author of The Clinton Wars. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
Katrina survivors march on Washington DC
The Katrina Survivors Association said progress in rebuilding after the hurricane was unacceptably slow. A further rally, attended by Senate Democrats is planned for Thursday.
The march on Wednesday was attended by at least 300 evacuees currently living in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia, the organisers said. We've lost everything but our minds, said survivor Leonard Dowden. Many were frustrated by what they saw as a government failure to listen to them. "Where is the money? That's the thing I want to know," survivor Leonard Dowden told Reuters news agency. "We've lost everything but our minds." The marchers later attended a Democrats' hearing on Capitol Hill about the housing crisis in New Orleans. Ms Stukes said the survivors planned to give federal officials a list of demands and that they wanted answers in 30 days "or we are going to return". BBC
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Bush squirms as policies denounced at King funeral
By Andrew Gumbel
Published: 08 February 2006
President George Bush led a crowd of 10,000 mourners at yesterday's funeral for Coretta Scott King, one of the icons of the civil rights movement, only to squirm in his seat as one speaker after another invoked Mrs King's spirit to lambast his administration on everything from the Iraq war to the response to last year's Hurricane Katrina.
The lavish occasion, bringing together civil rights veterans, three former presidents, more than a dozen senators, musicians and poets at a megachurch in the suburbs of Atlanta, was both a tribute to the woman who carried on the campaigning legacy of her assassinated husband, Martin Luther King Jr, for almost 40 years and also an opportunity to invoke some of the Kings' passionately outspoken rhetoric.
President Bush called Mrs King, who died 10 days ago at the age of 78, "one of the most admired Americans of our time".
Her nearest and dearest pointedly did not return the compliment. "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," said Joseph Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr King more than 40 years ago, "but Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here."
The Rev Lowery issued a searing indictment of the Bush administration's economic priorities. "For war billions more," he said, "but no more for the poor."
Far better received than President Bush was Bill Clinton, who won an enthusiastic ovation as he described how Mrs King might easily have given up the civil rights struggle after her husband's assassination in 1968. Instead, he said, she asked herself "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?"
This Week on the Daily Show
Wednesday, 2/8: Harrison Ford, actor, "Firewall"
Thursday, 2/9: Eugene Linden, journalist, author, "The Winds of Change"
Monday, February 06, 2006
SAAPAC Movie night
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Bethany Congregational Church
500 Pilgrim at Panda
Review: Occupation: Dreamland is an unflinchingly candid portrait of a squad of American soldiers deployed in the doomed Iraq city of Falluja during the winter of 2004. A collective study of the soldiers unfolds as they patrol an environment of low-intensity conflict creeping steadily towards catastrophe. Through the squads activities Occupation: Dreamland provides a vital glimpse into the last days of Falluja. The film documents the citys waning stability before a final series of military assaults began in the spring of 2004 that effectively destroyed it.
Snacks and drinks provided
Come enjoy good company, good food and a good movie.
There will be a discussion immediately following the film
To benefit SAAPAC
For Info: Madeleine Dewar
210-884-3766 or email@example.com
SAAPAC meeting on Feb. 4th
We attended the SAAPAC meeting and met up with Rick Bolanos(pictured). Rick is running against Bonilla. In addition, there was a presentation by Charlie Jackson on his trip to Iraq as a member of the Christian Peacemaking Team.
John Courage and San Antonians running for office also spoke.
Other news at the meeting: There will be poll watcher training on Feb. 11 at Collins Gardens Library from 1 to 3 pm. Email progressive grannie for directions.
SAAPAC movie night is 2/19 at Bethany Congregational Church 500 Pilgrim at Panda. It's usually quite a fun gathering of folks.
Don't forget to attend your precinct conventions on March 7th! Early voting beings very soon, get out and vote.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Look at the Texas branch of the Band of Brothers
In response to the Swift-Boat attack on Rep. Murtha, Band of Brothers 2006, along with VETPAC, has organized an event to take place on February 8, 2006. This will be the largest event of its kind in recent history. Not since 1946 have so many veterans come together as candidates for one political party. We already have commitments from over half of our candidates to come to Washington D.C., rally around Rep. Murtha, and lay the groundwork for a populist reform movement that will oust the integrity-challenged GOP leadership in our Congress. We will release more details about the upcoming event in the days to come and hope that many of you will be able to attend.
Look who is going from Texas!
TX-21: John Courage
John Courage’s name embodies what Texans in District 21 are looking for in their next congressman - the courage to insist that their mainstream values, and not just Tom DeLay’s, be represented in Washington; the courage to stand with ordinary Texas families and small businesses against the corporate special interests; the courage to rekindle that faith they once had in government to be a force for positive change in their daily lives.
TX-23: Rick Bolanos
Rick and his three brothers all served in Viet Nam at the same time, the only four brothers to do so. LBJ recognized them for their service as did the Texas Legislature in the recent session. Active in both Democratic and veterans affairs, Rick is a strong candidate to take on former news talking head and DeLay rubberstamp Henry Bonilla.
Rick is obviously strong on Veterans issues, but that is only the start of his concerns with the direction of this country today.
Camp Casey Flashback
Camp Casey Flashback
By Peter Dudar
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 03 February 2006
The Texas heat was blistering in a Crawford roadside ditch at "Camp Casey." 800 people had just arrived from all over America to support Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen Iraq War hero Casey Sheehan, who died saving his buddies. During the President's five-week vacation in time of war, he could not find the time to meet with Cindy, who waited daily down in the ditch for a month.
The 100-degree heat was just beginning to loosen its vice-grip on Prairie Chapel Road, a few miles from the Commander in Chief's plantation. At about 5:00 p.m., one of our Veterans For Peace, a Medic, was responding to comments coming from the pro-war supporters across the street when, suddenly, a Secret Service helicopter circled down to only 90 feet above us. For the next hour, this honored Medic experienced a "flashback" triggered by the whirling chopper blades. It took four strong Vets to hold and calm him.
The Medic couldn't see us, although his eyes were open. He looked past us as if he were watching a horror movie in his mind. He felt he was back in the war, disconnected from us in a journey into the Twilight Zone. In his mind, he had returned to a helicopter with a Red Cross emblem and a name his buddies had painted on the chopper, "WHY?" The Medic's mouth foamed, his head tossed wildly. He wept and moaned:
"How can they shout and yell out lies with such venom? The Liars never go to war! Oh, how is it that the Liars never go? They're accusing me of being 'Un-Patriotic?!' 'Un-American?!' But they weren't in war! I saw the death, man, I saw the killing!! The Liars convince us to have a war but they never go to war! Man, I can see the dead soldiers all around me! I can see them! They're here with us!"
His eyes widened, as he looked right through us in great pain and sorrow.
"We tried to save our young men's lives ... we flew in for them but again and again we lost them. Oh, but the ones sending them to war never see the dying, man. I was there, and the people across the street in support of the war are calling me a 'Traitor?!' The Liars never go! I can feel all the pain of our dying soldiers ..."
His head was tossing to and fro. His mouth foamed even more. Then, a Veteran urgently tried to calm him as four of us held the Medic's hands and shoulders and supplied ice and water.
The Veteran must have had experience with this before. He kept calmly telling the people crowding around to "give him some room, give him breathing room, and let's keep the ice coming ..." The Medic continued: "The Liars are the most dangerous! Where were they when I saw the suicides? There were so many young guys that just couldn't take what they'd seen and done, man. Where were the Liars when I walked into my buddy's tent and he had a gun to his head, man, a rifle. This huge gun. He held it right here like this between his eyes and before I could say anything ... he pulled the trigger!!"
"Some sound, man! I'll never forget that sound ... like a cannon. Oh, it blew out the whole back of his head!" Full of sorrow, the Medic gestured with his shaking hands to show how much of his friend's head was missing - all behind the ears ... gone.
"I saw his brains go flying ... I was covered with blood, man, his brains were on my hands!!" The Medic wiped his hands nervously. "Oh, who are these people across the street who cheer for war and never see it, never smell it?!"
The Medic's eyes would roll up occasionally. The Veteran gently, fervently, wiped the Medic's face, clearing away the foam from his mouth. The Veteran kept the ice moving quickly around the top and sides of the Medic's head, neck, and chest, saying, "Stay with us now, c'mon man, c'mon now, we're here for you bro, look at me, open your eyes, stay with us, we need you, man."
The Veteran kept circling the ice around the Medic's face. A number of times, the Veteran almost burst into tears over the condition of this Medic breaking down. Somehow, the Veteran held back. The Medic began crying,
"I wish my Mama were here!! I wish my Mama were here! Oh Mama, why can't I see you? Where are you? Mama!!" We got goose bumps.
The Veteran drew a very serious expression of concern like, "Uh, oh. Now we're in deep," and he quickly stepped up the dispersion of the ice pack around the Medic's face, chest, and shoulders, trickling more ice water on his head. The Medic's mind was on the precipice between life and death. Many soldiers cry "Mama!" before they die. But this could be a "mental death" from which the mind of the Medic didn't return. Working in field medicine, how often had the Medic heard these cries for "Mama?" The Veteran urgently said,
"Let it out bro! Come on, we're here for you; let it all out, man, it's okay. Dude, we're all here with you!"
The Medic kept swinging his head back and forth. The attending Veteran knew he had to try to engage the Medic's mind (although his own eyes were brimming with tears). He held the Medic's hand and said, "Bro, you've got 3 or 4 Purple Hearts, man, and a Silver Star. Hey bro, maybe if you shared some of your medals with ALL those guys across the street, you'd still have two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star left!"
The Medic sobbed, "Oh man, do you know I've been through 25 therapists? 25 therapists, Man! Oh, when's it gonna end? Where's Mama? I can see all of the dead soldiers around me! The dead soldiers are here with us."
The Veteran held the Medic's face in his hands and looked deep into his eyes,
You gave your all to save your men, you did EVERYTHING you could and beyond, man ... you were there for them! You were in the Battle Zone for your boys, and we're here for you now ... stay with us, you've got a lot more to do HERE before you go, bro ... stay with us and tell us all about it, let it all out.
The Medic slowly opened his eyes filled with tears and looked at the Veteran.
"You're a 'southern boy' aren't ya? You're so kind to me!" He cried, "Thank you, man!" He looked all around, "You're all too kind to me, I thank you all for being here."
The Medic's mind, like a journey through time, had slowly returned to him from the flashback. He continued with calm recollection,
"We had a young soldier who'd been hit by a bullet in the stomach. He was a young black soldier, and I'll never forget him. Never. He was hanging onto life when we began to Medi-Vac him out. We had to wait for him to stabilize before we could transport him. Finally, we got flying. We were in the air en route to the field hospital when his condition took a turn for the worse. The hospital was too far, so we quickly flew back to try and stabilize him. But on the way back ... we lost him. He died in the chopper. 19, he was just 19 years old. I'll never forget him ... I'll never forget him ..."
The whole episode had been triggered by the sound of a low flying helicopter ...
Revealed: Bush and Blair discussed using American Spyplane in UN colours to lure Saddam into war.
A New Downing Street Memo
Also see David Corn's "The Mother of All Downing Street Memos?" for more on this outrageous meeting.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Meet Our New KCDC Officers
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
14 ways of looking at fascism
Those wussies are so scared of Cindy!
Freedom of speech is a myth under Bush
So, in one evening Bush violated the 1st and 4th amendments. To refresh your memories (from The Constitution Explained website):
1st Amendment protects the people's right to practice religion, to speak freely, to assemble (meet), to address the government and of the press to publish. The 4th amendment protects people from the government improperly taking property, papers or people, without a valid warrant based on probable cause (good reason).
I am very, very angry about the direction our country is headed in....to hell in a handbasket!
Cindy arrested due to her T-shirt. Big Brother and the Thought Police are ready to get you...
GSFP co-founder Cindy Sheehan was arrested last night at the state of the union address. She was invited to attend by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey. . She was escorted into the chambers by a representative of Congresswoman Barbara Lees office. Cindy had no intention of disrupting the speech. Partly out of respect for Lynn Woolsey . It was released by someone from the capital that Cindy unfurled a banner and was disruptive.
The truth is Cindy was wearing a t-shirt the VFP had made to commemorate the grime milestone of the death of the 2000th soldier in Iraq. The shirt says 2245 dead how many more. Cindy had been wearing this shirt all day and wore it to the SOTU. I was told by a congressional staffer that as far as they were aware there was no dress code guidelines for the guests who sit in the gallery. Cindy was in the gallery.
She was seated at 8:30 pm. It was hot in the building so Cindy unzipped her sweater to remove it. Before she even had it off a capital police officer began shouting “protestor” and hustled her out of the chambers. They were very rough and rude with her. She was given a citation for demonstrating inside the capital building…..after being detained for 3 ½ hours.
This has got to stop. How many of your civil liberties are you willing to give up?
No one with a dissenting viewpoint is allowed anywhere near where King George speaks.
Ordinances have been put in place in the county around King Georges ranch that effectively hinder protestors from exorcizing their right to free speech and to petition our government officials.
You can’t wear a message t-shirt inside the capital which in effect is another infringement on our 1st amendment guarantee to freedom of speech .
King Georges henchmen are spying on American citizens under the guise of battling terrorism.
Show your support for Cindy and daily wear the number of Service members killed in Iraq on your shirts
Show your support for Cindy and daily wear the number of Service members killed in Iraq on your shirts or blouses. Even you just jot it on masking tape and stick it to your top. We need to show the administration and those Americans with their heads in the sand this horrific number.
UNTIL WE RISE UP AND SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH THIS WILL ONLY GET WORSE