Saturday, May 31, 2008

Election Count Reversals a BIG DEAL

Since this is a fairly new blog, I haven’t had a chance to include any voting machine stories yet. Today, I’m going to cheat a little by not doing my own analysis, but giving you this important news from I could never do justice to Brad’s coverage, so I defer. What angers me most is the lack of major media coverage of election count problems. I allowed myself to forget because of that, losing track of one of the most important issues in our liberal democracy. The cornerstone of our representative government. That’s why Brad’s coverage is so important. This is frightening stuff.

Failure of ES&S Touch-Screen Voting System 'Should Not Have Been Possible,' Says Arkansas Official Where Election Outcome Was Reversed

Bucking Trend, More Gas Guzzling Hybrids U.S. says

When will they ever learn? The big three auto makers still don’t get it, which unfortunately will result in more lost jobs and car sale profits going overseas to foreign competitors. Instead of anticipating the trend to more fuel efficient cars, they embraced the by gone era of gas guzzling four wheel behemoths.

According to the New York Times, with jaw dropping recklessness and indifference to the American worker and consumer, U.S. car makers have decided to dig their hole much deeper offering hybrid versions of their biggest vehicles. Again, their BIG cars and trucks:
“Now Detroit is hoping to cast its biggest sport utility vehicles (General Motors and Chrysler) in a new light: green. (And) are betting that their 5,500-pound, eight-seat S.U.V.’s — long the scourge of environmentalists — can be reformed as hybrid models, albeit ones getting 20 miles to the gallon (that’s from 14 mpg).”

It gets worse:
"G.M. plans to follow (that) with hybrid versions of the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Silverado pickup. Chrysler is planning hybrids of its Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen sport utilities and the Dodge Ram pickup. At Chrysler, sales of big S.U.V.’s have plunged 22 percent this year. But a spokesman…said adding hybrids, which will be available this fall, reflected the company’s commitment to the full-size sport utility market."

This inexcusable behavior by GM and Chrysler shines a light on why this country is losing ground around the world shifting to the new emerging economic opportunities. America’s competitors are not so foolish.
“While G.M. and Chrysler are converting their biggest vehicles into hybrids, other automakers are going in the other direction. Honda, for example, recently said it would build a hybrid version of its Fit subcompact. Despite the slow start for the Yukon and Tahoe hybrids, G.M. officials said they are pleased with the initial market reaction.”

One personal complaint, and this is directed at all the car makers. Minivan hybrids are missing in action. Imagine all the families who rely on this basic mode of transportation. Are they all crazy?

Rachel Maddow Joins Blathering Bunch

What big media touches, big media infects. Air America’s Rachel Maddow has been forced to compromise her program with a MSNBC simulcast in her first hour, pushing her into the background and featuring the big media bias of David Gregory. As much as I have cheered Gregory on with his tough questioning, his split personality of political appeasement is infuriating.

Maddow was just one of many who have criticized the media failure, breakdown if you will, to hold this administration accountable. Let’s not forget the media’s mea culpa, admitting it failed to seriously question the reasons for going to war. It wasn't some liberal conspiracy theory either. But Maddow has been put in the position of having to ignore Gregory’s incredible denial.

The MSNBC tie in is an important step for Air America, I understand that, but Maddow’s silence on Gregory’s irresponsible comments are troublesome. Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan admitted the media should have been more unyielding when it came to the outpouring of administration propaganda. But David Gregory thinks otherwise, as Media Matters points out:

NBC's David Gregory, for example, said McClellan "also writes in the book that he think that the so-called liberal media got it wrong and was not hard enough on the administration about the war. You know, I don't know where he gets that idea. I don't know where other people get that idea." Later, Gregory said:

"I think he's wrong. He makes the same kind of argument a lot of people on the
left have made. I tried not to be defensive about it. I thought a lot about this over a number of years, and I disagree with that assessment. I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that."

Air America should be guarded against losing it’s independence and critical eye, as it becomes a fully credentialed member of the fourth estate.

Climate, Guns & Church and State

New, Three Year old Climate Change Report Out

After three years and a court order, the Bush administration has released it’s summary of federal and independent research making its case about the harmful impact of human-caused global warming in the United States.

Deniers will not like this because it makes them look wrong, again. You can find the complete report online at,

The findings: “An increased frequency and severity of heat waves is expected, leading to more illness and death, particularly among the young, elderly, frail and poor. A two thirds chance that Lyme disease and West Nile virus would have expanded ranges because of warming. The same goes for food- and water-borne diseases.

Vatican Reveals History of Church-State Separation, Who saw this Coming?

The Vatican Museum is putting on display the period of struggle between popes and emperors that led to the Western modern concept of the separation of powers. "Matilda of Canossa, the Papacy and the Empire: History, Art and Culture at the Origins of the Romanesque" is the exhibitions title.

The biographical and political events of Matilda's life explain a period of confrontation between popes and emperors that led to boundaries and eventual separation of the two powers -- religious and secular -- and laid the foundations of the modern concept in the West.

Of course, it’s a crazy idea ignored by our founding fathers. Onward Christian soldiers march......

Guns in National Parks, What would Yogi and Boo Boo Say?

The federal government is inching ever so close to allowing visitors to carry loaded, concealed weapons in some national parks, wildlife refuges and monuments.

The National Rifle Association likes the new rule, arguing ( and I’m not kidding) that it would help keep crime down and protect visitors from potentially dangerous wildlife. Here’s the official language of these stark raving lunatics:

“You read stories about people attacked by animals or who stumble upon meth
labs or women who are raped in a national park. We don’t believe
law-abiding citizens should be kept from protecting themselves

National Park Service officials say it could easily ruin the family-friendly atmosphere of the parks and other attractions. Do ya think?

Seven former National Park Service directors say the new rule addresses a nonexistent problem.

Friday, May 30, 2008

McCain’s Corrections as bad as Missteps

The difference is 14,000 troops. That’s too big number to dismiss as “miniscule,” as John McCain’s policy advisor recently did, after McCain wrongly stated the Iraqi troop levels. What I found ludicrous, are the excuses he and his people come up with to explain their mistakes.

Here’s the set up from AP: Republican John McCain's estimate of U.S. troop levels in Iraq touched off squabbling with Democrat Barack Obama. McCain said: "We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet." In fact, U.S. troop levels are not yet down to levels before President Bush's troop increase last year, a strategy shift McCain had pushed for some four years before the president authorized it.

Here are the punch lines as McCain insisted he didn't misspeak:

"Of course not. I said we've drawn down," the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said at a news conference. "The rest of them will be home at the end of July."

The Arizona senator added, "It is correct that the levels of troops there are not the same as they were during the surge, and, in fact, all of them will be home by the beginning of July."

McCain's senior foreign policy adviser: "The difference is so minuscule that I'm not sure it rises to the level of nitpicking."

Take a look at the list of other gaffes McCain has dropped in the laps of the media without as much as whimper of skepticism. Thank you Earth Times:

Obama Gives in to McCain’s Dog & Pony Show

In not what I would call an encouraging sign, Barack Obama fell victim to John McCain’s “you haven’t been to Iraq” frame of the issue. How important would it be for the Democratic candidate to make the visit now, in the throws of a presidential campaign, when the results would be less than informative? CNN went right to the source, Michael Ware in Iraq, and soon quickly shelved the revelation that it would be nothing but a “dog and pony show.”

The Washington Post had a few interesting twists to this story:

Sen. John McCain has attacked Sen. Barack Obama for not traveling to Iraq to see the "facts on the ground." But a recent statement by McCain about troop levels has his opponents raising questions about his own knowledge. In comments to reporters…McCain asserted that ‘I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr city are quiet and it's long and it's hard and it's tough and there will be setbacks.’ …the troop level in Iraq is at about 155,000 right now,
well above the 130,000 that would mark a return to pre-surge levels. McCain's
comments about Mosul being "quiet" also have raised some eyebrows. On the day
that he said that, three suicide bombings in Mosul and the surrounding areas had
left 30 Iraqis dead.”

Supporters of “Free pass” McCain should be troubled by the high price they’re paying in the polls.

Bush Saved Us, So what are you complaining about?

One of the most successfully “framed” issues, packaged and sold through repetition by the Republican Party, has been its prevention of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

It’s actually been just the opposite, since September 11th happened well after the Bush administrations took power, and had numerous warnings of an impending attack inside the U.S. which they ignored.

An incredible feat, when you consider they completely change the public perception of a failed security policy, into an administration and Party people most trust to keep us safe.

But this myth will only last as long as no one calls them on it, and GOP loyalists continually remind us of the “frame,” disregarding the reality. U.S. News was wise to point out this “through the looking glass” opinion from a fiction writer, ironically:

“Novelist and Fordham law professor Thane Rosenbaum writes in the Wall
Street Journal
, ‘With President Bush-bashing still a national pastime, it's notable how much international terrorism has been forgotten, and how little credit the president has received for keeping Americans safe. ... Terrorism is now largely off the table in the minds of most Americans,’ and ‘in gearing up to elect a new president, we are left to wonder how, in spite of numerous failed policies and poor judgment, President Bush's greatest achievement was denied to him by people who ungratefully availed themselves of the protection that his administration provided."

Where was Thane Rosenbaum's praise and gratefulness, after President Bill Clinton’s 1993 capture of the World Trade Center terrorists, and subsequent 8 years of “keeping Americans safe?” Both attacks happened in the first 8 months of the Clinton-Bush presidencies.

I’m sure it was an inadvertent omission.

Suicides & Guns Messy Result of Long War

I’m going to make an observation based solely my own early impressions and not factual data regarding news reports of suicides and murders in the 70’s and 80’s by Vietnam vets. Again, I don’t know if the facts would back up my detached recollections of that time period, or it’s a case of selective memory. I personally knew some very messed up vets back then, and because many were forced to go because of the draft, I was sympathetic to their treatment in the press and by war protesters. I feel uncomfortable writing from the gut and not from well documented research.

My main fear is that we might see a repeat of the past, (the past I remember) if we don’t do something to prevent it today. Regardless of whether my impressions are right or wrong, the following stories don’t bode well in dealing with this public safety issue.

Due to lack of money, southwestern Wisconsin’s Boscobel Area Health Care Hospital will close its suicide care unit, while at the same time AP is reporting soldier suicides are hitting its highest rate. This is a big area of Wisconsin, and could be a nightmare for treatment and access.

Law enforcement and mental health agencies have no where else to go locally
to fill the oncoming void. The hospital lost $300,000 over the last year because
reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid and surrounding counties, did not
cover their costs. Where are the five to six patients a day going to

Add to that, the Veterans Administrations attempt to short change returning troops by not testing them for PTSD.
According to AP, “The US Army says 115 soldiers on active duty committed
suicide in 2007, the most in one year since the service began keeping records in
1980. Nearly 1,000 soldiers attempted suicide. Colonel Elspeth Ritchie said,
"Mainly it is the long time and multiple deployments away from
, the exposure to really terrifying and horrifying things,
the easy availability of loaded weapons."

On the issue of “the easy availability of loaded weapons,” many Republican state houses across the country actually want to allow soldiers to legally carry firearms because of their service and weapons training.

Call me crazy, but I sense a dangerous outcome for returning vets, their families and local communities. The above short sighted actions, withdrawing treatment and accessible weaponry, will result in many unintended deaths and social instability and tragedy.

As for Republican tax cutters and vet short changers, maybe Scrooges was right after all: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Real Rove-Lawless

Wikipedia defines Karl Rove this way: "the former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush until his resignation on 31 August 2007. He has headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Now he’s working as a political analyst and contributor for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal."

My definition would be less kind and sure to include Joseph Georbells, a German politician and Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Georbells inclusion is intentional for the purpose of asking this question; Would you hire him after the fall of Nazi Germany as a political analyst for any media outlet? Then why has the U.S. media been so reckless calling on his services at a time when their own credibility is being called into question. Perhaps author James Moore of "Bush's Brain" put it best when he said this;

As the Democurmudgeon, I have been attempting to point out the elements of marketing; positioning and framing. Over the two Bush terms, Karl Rove has ruthlessly defined his enemies and crushed them, mastering the art of propaganda in politics as a blood sport. Too continue to allow his voice to subvert and poison the important role the media has as a checks and balance over the three branches of government is a mistake we can't afford to make.

CNN’s Kyra Phillips Connected the Dots

Remember Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, open letter to all in uniform to refrain from getting involved in politics? After all, it only makes sense so close to a presidential election, that “Keeping our politics private is a good first step. The only things we should be wearing on our sleeves are our military insignia. It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway."

My earlier post on this military “open letter” suggested perhaps the administration didn’t want the troops vote to count like they did in previous elections because of the popular sentiment of American troops in Iraq. Mullen got the clue when he visited with U.S. military personnel around the world, and got a series of right wing questions from those who sensed a change of mood in the military: “What if a Democrat wins?” and, “What will that do to the mission in Iraq?”

CNN’s Kyra Phillips spoke to Iraqi soldiers and got an enthusiastic thumbs up for the prospects of a Democratic president.

“Within that whole group, not one wanted a republican in the US presidential
seat. They were all for a democrat. They were all for that type of change
because they said they were living a republican war.”

McClellan Speaks While White House in state of Denial

AP) - Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan between May 2003 to April 2006, defended his bombshell book about the Bush administration (and that) he didn't speak up against the overselling of war in Iraq at the time because he, like other Americans, gave the president the benefit of the doubt. He hoped his book would help change the culture that has turned governing into a never-ending campaign.

A Main Turning Point: The president was leaving an event in North Carolina, McClellan recalled, and as they walked to Air Force One a reporter yelled out a question: Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence information, enabled Scooter Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times to bolster the administration's arguments for war? McClellan took the question to the president, telling Bush: "He's saying you yourself were the one that authorized the leaking of this information." "And he said, 'Yeah, I did.' And I was kind of taken aback," McClellan said. "For me I came to the decision that at that point I needed to look for a way to move on, because it had undermined, I think, a lot of what we had said." "Republican critics dismissed him as a turncoat, a sellout and a disgruntled former employee. The White House called the book puzzling and sad." What is sad is their cruel disrespect to McClellan, the dozen or so former officials who have written similar expose's. The vaulted to No. 1 on's best-seller list.

Yellin at the top of Her voice, Media is to Blame

It's noteworthing to point out that in Scott McClellan’s new book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," McClellan passed some of the blame off onto the well deserving media. Remember the numerous mea culpa? Congressional correspondent MSNBC Jessica Yellin, while on Anderson Cooper 360, admitted there had been network pressure to put a positive spin on the Bush administration on the run up to war.

This dramatic admission will get little play, and frankly, fade quickly from the discussion. The media framing and positioning in the run up to a war of choice, was handled like any other public event, an opportunity to shape public opinion based on the social mood at the time. The ultimate ad campaign, with deadly consequences.

Cathartic McClellan Betrays Bushies With Truth

Former press secretary Scott McClellan produced “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," a memoir bashing his old boss from a deceptive selling the Iraq war, secrecy at all levels. And when it comes to mistakes, what mistakes?

According to AP, Scott McClellan calls:

the operation "insular, secretive and combative"

“pushed to leave earlier than he had planned…kept out of the loop on key decision-making sessions.”

"I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be.”

The news media were "complicit enablers" for focusing more on "covering the march to war instead of the necessity of war."

Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, a determination McClellan says the president had made by early 2002 - at least a full year before the invasion - if not even earlier.

"He signed off on a strategy for selling the war that was less than candid and

During the "political propaganda campaign to sell the war to the American people," Something else was downplayed as well, McClellan says: any discussion of "the possible unpleasant consequences of war - casualties, economic effects, geopolitical risks, diplomatic repercussions."

In Bush's second term, as news from Iraq grew worse, McClellan says the president was "insulated from the reality of events on the ground and consequently began falling into the trap of believing his own spin."

"The Iraq war was not necessary," McClellan concludes.

Bush's weaknesses:

“someone with a penchant for self-deception if it ‘suits his needs at the

"an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader’ who has a lack of interest in delving deeply into policy options”

“a man with a lack of self-confidence that makes him unable to acknowledge when he's been wrong.”

“lacked real accountability in large part because Bush himself did not embrace openness or government in the sunshine.”

McClellan calls Vice President Dick Cheney "the magic man" who "always seemed to get his way" and sometimes "simply could not contain his deep-seated certitude, even arrogance, to the detriment of the president."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was national security adviser earlier in Bush's presidency, "was more interested in figuring out where the president stood and just carrying out his wishes while expending only cursory effort on helping him understand all the considerations and potential consequences" of war. Rice "was somehow able to keep her hands clean, even when the problems related to matters under her direct purview," McClellan says, but he predicts that "history will likely judge her harshly."

Karl Rove "always struck me as the kind of person who would be willing, in the heat of battle, to push the envelope to the limit of what is permissible ethically or legally."

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005…the administration went on autopilot "rather than seizing the initiative and getting in front of what was happening on the ground."

The White House responded angrily "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about
his experience at the White House," said White House press secretary Dana
Perino. "We are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew."

McClellan says Bush loyalists will no doubt continue to think the administration's decisions have been correct and its unpopularity undeserved. "I've become genuinely convinced otherwise," he says.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Overrated Genius Rove Sputters Under Questioning

Bush’s brain Karl Rove made a strategic error thinking he could easily dismiss the media’s questions about his involvement in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman on corruption charges. This over confident buffoon is not sitting with the usual gullible audience he had gotten used to in the White House. Near the end of the video, you’ll see this sick cornered nerd turn to goo with this exchange:

ABC's "This Week":

Rove: "I read about -- I'm going to simply say what I've said before, which is I found out about Don Siegelman's investigation and indictment by reading it in the newspaper."

George Stephanopoulos: "But that's not a denial."

Rove: "I've -- you know, I read - I heard about it, read about it, learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper," Rove replied.

What has struck me about this supposedly brilliant man is that he speaks in simple clichéd terms, not like some conservative intellectual. And anytime you think in such clichéd terms, I would expect a more instinctive sense of hate for the opposition, as opposite to a well argue conceptual disagreement.

The mere fact that he is still respected, and allowed to spew spin and propaganda in the media, is reason enough for anyone to lose faith in the fourth estate.

U.S. Weapons Supplier to the America’s

The Gun Guys recent article “U.S. Should Focus On Stemming Gun Trafficking, Mexican Officials Say” should be a wake up call all gun owners. We don’t like the idea that Iran supplies weapons to other countries in the middle east, but it’s ok if we do the same to our neighboring countries. I’ll let the Gun Guys tell you the rest of the story:

The first paragraph of this May 24th Reuters article speaks for itself:

“The chief of Mexico's war on drug gangs said Washington should concentrate
on halting the flow of arms to Mexican drug cartels rather than haggle over how
much aid to give Mexico's anti-smuggling operation.”

Wow! So American politicians are worried about crime increasing along with illegal immigration from Mexico, and the Mexican government is concerned that loose U.S. gun laws are fueling violence and gun trafficking in their nation! That is some irony, a tragic one to be sure.

“Reacting to a vote by U.S. lawmakers to trim an aid package for the drug
war, Mexico's deputy attorney general, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, said an
alternative would be to keep the cash in the United States and use it to curb
illegal arms trafficking across the border. Indeed, Vasconcelos claims that 97
percent of the guns used by the drug gangs come from the U.S."

That’s 97%!” the gun industry in the U.S. is "looking the other way" and making money off of the drug cartel battles in Mexico which also spill across the border into our nation.

Profit based on the shedding of blood is a profit worth living without. The Mexican government understands that – and our elected officials should too.

The full story is here:

GOP Assassination Agenda continued

You may have heard or read about the theory that liberals have a strange form of brain damage, processing information in a way that may result in advocating a dangerous social agenda, like health care or something. Really, I’m not kidding. Well I can be just as nutty (or am I?). Is the conservative desire to have opponents assassinate for their ideological differences a psychopathic behavior?

Here we go again: CBS/AP)
“Pittsburgh-area sports radio host Mark Madden has been permanently taken
off the air by ESPN. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has quoted Madden as saying he had hoped Sen. Edward Kennedy ‘would live long enough to be assassinated.’ The Massachusetts Democrat has a brain tumor.”

Are we seeing a trend here? I’ve included a few comments from a few brain damaged readers?
“He meant it in good clean fun.” -johndevinejr

“What is the world coming to when you can''t poke fun at someone''s brain tumor or wish for them to be assassinated on the air? Just another example of the liberal media.” -

“Cannot blame Madden... he is just another of the damned liberal media... like Rush” - Nancy_Naive

J Street Takes on Hagee and Lieberman

I have only recently discovered the orginazation, and found them to be a refreshing alternative to the Joe Liebermans of the world, so I've included their recent email as a way to introduce them, get their message out and get your imput.

Dear J Street Supporter,
When John McCain renounced Pastor John Hagee's endorsement last week, you thought Hagee would be banished from mainstream American politics, right? Wrong!

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is still standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Pastor Hagee, the same man who preaches Hitler was only doing God's bidding.

This July, thousands of Hagee followers will head to Washington for an "Israel Summit" where they will demonstrate the strength of their alliances across Capitol Hill -- and Lieberman is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at their banquet dinner.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Senator Lieberman has:

• Compared Hagee to Moses, calling him "A man of God....Like Moses," in his address to Hagee's "Israel Summit" last year.
• Spoken regularly with donors and supporters of CUFI on conference calls.
• Regularly defended Rev. Hagee's extremism in the media, citing his so-called "pro-Israel" credentials.

Max Blumenthal writes today in the Huffington Post, reminding us of the depth of Lieberman's ties to Hagee. How can Joe Lieberman continue to stand with a man who preaches that Hitler was only doing God's bidding in the Holocaust? Sign our petition to Joe Lieberman telling him not to speak at Hagee's Israel summit in July.

This is the same John Hagee who has said:
• On Muslims: "All Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews."
• On Hurricane Katrina: "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that."
• On women: "Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist."

Lieberman's excuse for Hagee's outrages? He's "pro-Israel." To us, Senator Lieberman, an alliance with John Hagee is not what it means to be pro-Israel. Hagee opposes Israel giving up a single inch of land to achieve peace and he supports military action against Iran. Why? Well, according to Hagee, Armageddon will begin in Israel any day now. Following a great war, where Israel will be covered in a "sea of blood," Jews will be offered "the opportunity to receive Messiah, who is a rabbi known to the world as Jesus of Nazareth." Hagee's group also funds Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, a major obstacle to a two-state solution peace process.

Those positions serve Hagee's particular brand of apocalyptic theology, but not the best interests of Israel or the region. At J Street, we believe that Israel's security and survival depend on resolving its conflicts with its neighbors through diplomacy and by making the compromises necessary to establish a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Joe Lieberman should know better. Tell him yourself -- sign our "Don't go, Joe" petition right now.
Isaac Luria
Online Campaigns Director, J Street

P.S. As a Jewish American, it has been very upsetting for me on a personal level to watch Senator Lieberman draw so close to some of the worst people and ideologies in the so-called pro-Israel community. Much too often lately, some of the Jewish community's most prominent leaders are willing to trade away what the Jewish community has traditionally stood for in American politics - justice and equal rights for all - for support on Israel. Joe Lieberman's recent drift toward Hagee embodies this disappointment for me.

The McCain Gramm Wrecking Ball

MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olberman exposed an outrageous influence advising Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

His “national campaign general co-chair, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy. McCain himself has often cited Gramm’s influence as a way to establish his bona fides with economic conservatives.”

In a shockingly irresponsible moment, McCain has hinted that he might make Phil Gramm Treasury Secretary. A quick run down by Keith himself will give you a painful insight into a party bent on destruction.

A few tidbits more from MSNBC, read it and weep:

“When Gramm chaired the Senate Banking Committee, he wrote and passed
deregulatory legislation…establishing himself as a pre-eminent foe of government
regulation. McCain’s March 26 2008 speech recommended further deregulation of
the banking industry as his response to the mortgage crisis.”

“After Gramm passed a law easing regulation of energy-commodity trading,
California experienced a sharp run-up in energy costs. The energy-trading
company Enron was blamed and soon collapsed.”

“In 1999, Gramm successfully undid the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, removing the decades-old wall between commercial banking (put in place to prevent another depression). Some economists fault Gramm’s deregulatory successes, as well as lax enforcement of remaining oversight powers, not just for the subprime mortgage crisis, but for its spread to other sectors of

Gramm was lobbying the Senate in the second half of 2007 (against) the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act. The bill failed.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

S.E.C. Backs Health Care, DID HELL FREEZE OVER?

I’m still not sure I’m awake or have somehow fallen through the looking glass. According to the NY Times- “The Securities and Exchange Commission, shifting its position, has told companies they must allow shareholders to vote on a proposal for universal health insurance coverage…religious groups and labor unions (say it’s) an effort to draw the nation’s largest corporations deeper into a debate over the future of health care. The commission said it had reversed its position on certain issues to reflect ‘changing societal views,’ and that now appears to be the case with respect to health care.”

It comes across like a set up article in the Onion. The initiative basically says health insurance should be universal, continuous, “affordable to individuals and families,” and “affordable and sustainable for society.

Those are fighting words for some, especially the health insurance industry. And you thought they cared about you…!

Lawyers representing UnitedHealth, told the S.E.C., “The proposal provides that ‘health care should be universal,’ dictating to whom the company should provide coverage.” Moreover, by asserting that “health care coverage should be affordable,” the proposal usurps the company’s right to decide what prices to charge for its policies. The proposal does not relate to a ‘significant social policy issue,’ as that term has been defined” by the commission.”

UnitedHealth’s breathtaking position is this:

1. When it comes to treating sick people, THEY want to decide who gets healthy and who doesn’t.

2. Affordable access to health care GETS IN THE WAY of what prices they want to charge.

3. Health care is NOT related to a SIGNIFICANT SOCIAL POLICY ISSUE.

Remember, these are the money grubbing ghouls deciding what treatments are covered and which ones you’ll go broke pay for yourself. They are not alone.

The business geniuses at General Motors, the same ones who destroyed the
auto industry in this country and handed the car keys to Toyota and Honda, said
that “adoption of these health care principles will not advance the legislative
debate or facilitate the enactment of federal legislation that would benefit the
corporation, its stockholders or the country.” In that order too. The
country is last, an after thought.

And the company that has put more people into our costly health care system,

“Reynolds American, the cigarette maker, expressed concern that universal
coverage would be financed by more tobacco taxes.”

Bottom line: The actual S.E.C. is pushing universal health care. Sounding like Norway, they even framed the issue like some kind of socialist European country: “The shareholder proposal asks top corporate executives to view the issue in a broader context, as a question of social policy.”

GOP Assassination Agenda Exposed

Not a lot of people walk around wanting to "knock off" their opponents. It was shocking to hear Pat Robertson take up the banner of assassination because that's an area where God's the decider. But really, what is it about conservatives...

So casual, so witty and so illegal. And for sick minds teetering on the edge, the power of suggestion.

Comparing Health Care Cost Help Patients And Competitors

I admit, I don’t know everything, so I’m going to pose a “what if” scenario to highlight a possible future problem in health care cost shopping.

An Australian article in the Kennebec Journal pointed out a how health care information might drive down costs.

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine unveiled…Anthem Care Comparison,
an online program that allows members to find the typical costs for 40 different medical procedures (breaking out costs for hospital, physician, anesthesia and post-procedure care) at hospitals all over the state. You can sort the tables for geography, procedure, minimum and maximum typical price and the annual number of times that procedure is performed at the hospital.”

“Want to know how much a knee replacement might cost? You'd pay a low of $13,822 at St. Mary's in Lewiston to a high of $46,992 at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.”

You can also comparison shop at the governments web site The problem is this.

If consumer can compare prices, hospitals and doctors can do the same. As with all other major services, prices average out over time. Health care services will see a rise in prices knowing that people have been willing to pay more at other hospitals and with other doctors. Sure higher prices my come down a little, but the wide differences will eventually narrow, settling in at one average escalating price.

Think about it, needing a cataract removed, hip replacement, a cancerous mole removed or treatment for a viral borne illness is not something you can put off for very long without being a danger to society, incapacitated or dead. Plasma television, video game or lawn ornaments are all items you can live without (kinda). We’re all kind of over a barrel when it comes to ending the pain.

Again, it’s a doom and gloom “what if scenario” I think we should all consider possible, in this mean old ugly world.

Is this what our top notch health care system has come to?

Hunger often goes hand-in-hand with poor health. That is why the Houston Food Bank is teaming up with Baylor College of Medicine and St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities to deliver medical care along with nutritional foods to low-income neighborhoods in and around Houston.-Houston Chronicle

Medical missionaries in U.S. cities, just like those in developing countries, should make us all feel so God fearing proud.

Bush, Appeasement and “I know you are but what am I?”

Weak and hypocritical are the end results of the Bush administrations tough impossible stances with America’s perceived and real enemies. While the rest of the world looks on in disbelief, the administrations reversals and contradictions are viewed by the White House as having been part of the plan, or a misunderstood position.

The Washington Posts story, “Despite stance on negotiating with tyrants, U.S. lends Bashir an ear” highlights their “aw shucks, did we say that” attitude toward foreign policy.

Hypocrisy 101:

“It has at least provoked charges of hypocrisy, because Bush recently accused those advocating talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other radical figures of "appeasement…underscoring how White House policy has departed from his pointed public call to shun talks with radical tyrants and

Appeasement #1:

“A special envoy of President Bush plans to meet with Sudanese President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose government sheltered Osama bin Laden and pursued a scorched-earth policy in southern Sudan that resulted in more than 2 million deaths… spoken to or exchanged letters with Bashir on numerous occasions…reportedly offered the regime major concessions in exchange
for minor steps and rolled out the red carpet for some of its most reprehensible officials,
" said Susan Rice, who handled Africa policy in the Clinton administration and is a top adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).”

So Bush has offered letters, personal meetings and major concessions with a tyrant and mass murderer. That is the true definition of appeasement; giving something away in order to get something back. It’s interesting to note just who might have been tougher pursuing and punishing state sponsors of terrorism. “The Clinton administration…tried to isolate Sudan because of its ties to Osama bin Laden, imposed stiff sanctions against the government and placed it on the official list of state sponsors of terrorism.”

Appeasement #2, #3, #4, #5, #6:

His appointees have also pursued aggressive diplomacy with North Korea and
Libya and have even conducted limited business with Cuba, Syria and Iran.

I personally think the White House is really trying to desensitize us so we generally accept a certain level of “minor” corruption and incompetence. The more egregious misconduct in office charges have been successfully thwarted by simply not cooperating.

There are advantages to being in the highest office and hovering confidently above the law.

Monday, May 26, 2008

It really is a Health Care Solution

There are some sobering dollar amounts listed in Dennis Cauchon’s “Bill for taxpayer’s swells by trillions” in USA TODAY. “The federal government's long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits…Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. That's nearly $500,000 per household.”

Instead of giving up, or solving these shortfalls with tax cuts (hey, it’s the Republican answer to everything) Economist Dean Baker says, "If we fix health care, then our deficits can be easily dealt with."

Health care is the solution. The introduction of a single payer system in this country would put more money back in the pockets of Americans than any GOP tax cut.

The fact is nearly 70 percent of the public wants a government health care plan.

Framing the issue; a more accurate description would be a government insurance plan. Taking the focus off of medical providers and focusing on insurance for all, Republicans will have a difficult time defending insurance company profits and administrative costs. Because it’s an insurance plan, one could make the argument that a national program would free up 20 percent or more of administration costs, or 20 cents out of every dollar; a fact that would not go unnoticed by taxpayers.

New GOP Manifesto

So how did Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” work out?

Well here comes part two, the GOP’s “Get to Know Us Again” manifesto.

You’ll like their 7 point fresh message:

1. A constitutional limit on federal spending. Hey, Colorado did it, dropped it. It was a dramatic economic failure, so let's try it on America. It’ the old is fresh idea of The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

2. A new “voluntary” simplified flat income tax alternative. Wow, two tax systems instead of the complicated one we have now. And I’m sure it would cost nothing to make the partial change, right?

3. A proposal to require recipients of food stamps or housing aid to meet work requirements, “so that those who are not old, young or disabled are either working in the private sector or serving in their community.” Work or don’t eat. Don’t you love getting tough with the homeless and hungry during down turns in the economy? “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”- A Christmas Carol.

4. Tax credits for buying health insurance. Ah yes, a handful of dollars compared with the actual cost of your insurance premiums. That will help. I hope it's indexed to inflation.

5. More domestic energy production. So many mountain tops, so little time.

In what might be the understatement of the year, one Republican proudly proclaims, “We have to get back to our core identity.”

A rotten to the core identity, that is.

The Conservative Myth: Strict Constructionists, Party of Law and Order

The Republican media machine claims it’s all true: they are the law and order party and unwavering strict constructionists of the Constitution.

Disputing these assertions is easy. Simply mention the suspension of Habeas Corpus, the disregard of international treaties, presidential signing statements claiming Congressional law as advisory, military force, warrentless wiretaps, , the politicazation of the Justice department and the “unitary executive” -where a U.S. President in the exercise of his Constitutional war powers cannot be restrained by any law national or international. This is a partial list of course.

The few conservatives I know who advocate the passage of a concealed carry law in Wisconsin tote one around with them anyway for the simple reason they don’t agree with the current legal ban. Bad laws can be ignored, especially if you assign blame those big government left wing liberals.-Me

In combination with the concept of justifiable lawlessness, they have now done away with the moral and ethical arguments once advocated by such books as…oh, the Bible.

Just look at how Republican’s work their magic with political ads. They deceptively mislead the public through omission and ambiguous terminology. Conservatives are quick to point out they did nothing illegal, never mind the moral and ethical bankruptcy of their tactics.

One lawyer representing a few right wing advocacy groups responsible for the defeat of a liberal Wisconsin Supreme court Justice said, in “the vast majority of ads they could find nothing untrue-they just thought they were unfair. The thing they need to get into their heads is, life is unfair.” He’s got a point. It might be unfair to mislead the voters, but certainly not illegal. Get over it.

Just for fun, I’ve included some classic statements from the former stars of the Bush administration.

Pentagon Neocon and now a professor at Georgetown University Douglas Feith
: “’The problem with moral authority, was ‘people who should know better, like yourself, siding with the a**holes, to put it crudely.”

Feith and his reason for the attack on Iraq, as written in his memoir, "War and Decision: "anticipatory self-defense."
Feith on whether the war in Iraq was the right decision; "I think the president made the right decision given what he knew. And given what we all knew. And to tell you the truth, even given what we've learned since." 60 Minutes

Karl Rove, formerly of the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, now political analyst and contributor for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal, on his feelings about a confrontation with a college student objecting to how he shredded the constitution: “He had no question, he just wanted to accuse me of undermining the Constitution and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” GQ Magazine

I rest my case.

'In God We Trust' Motto Part 2

In our continuing series (who would have thought) of "In God We Trust" stories, the new wedge issue is born. I wish I were making this up.

“Porterville city officials plan to ask voters to put God back into local
government -- or at least on city stationery -- with the words 'In God We
.' A measure on the June 3 ballot would declare those words the city's
official motto. There is one public opponent.”

“The motto idea started with Council Member Pedro ‘Pete’ Martinez. While the words ‘In God We Trust’ are already on display in the City Council chambers, Martinez wanted to go a step further, letting voters make the phrase an official motto. Many…like the idea of having a motto that reflects the faith of Porterville's Christian citizens.

I hate to state the obvious, but these insecure “politicians of faith” have an apparent self esteem problem.

“Council Member Eddie Hernandez said, ‘We need to show we believe in
a higher being

Yes, the need “to show you believe” is what’s behind this shredding of, and dangerous ignorance of, the Constitution and the rights of others. And the best way to pass something so exclusionary is to leave it up to the majority in the form of a ballot measure, bypassing the elected representatives who were sworn to uphold the constitution. Porterville’s faith was so strong that they were willing break the law (not God’s law).

“(In a)City Council meeting in 2005, residents urged officials to continue
the practice despite a state court ruling against sectarian prayer.”

We should note, that the courts have already determined the phrase as generic enough not to violate the establishment clause of the Constitution.

Sure there are people in this country that don't have a belief in God, and are most certainly considered citizens, but not if this country slowly and inevitably changes public opinion. It bares repeating from a previous post on this very “In God We Trust” issue.

“Bakersfield Council Member Jacquie Sullivan’s organization ‘In God We Trust
America,’ has signed up more than 30 California cities like Porterville to display the phrase in their council chambers. Sullivan said ‘It's the highest form of patriotism. I feel that it is committed to the values our country was founded on.”

God is patriotism.

Canadian Government Works, Reports Surplus, Ours Doesn't

Our liberal northern neighbor, Canada, must be doing something right. And we must be doing something wrong. How would you explain this from the CBC:

Canada’s government surplus for its latest fiscal year came in around $10.2 billion, the finance department said. The government said its budgetary revenues for the year that concluded on March 31 increased by $10.6 billion, or 4.6 per cent, driven by gains in income tax revenues and other revenues.”

And to think, they didn’t have the Bush tax cuts to help. Hey wait, we do, and we’re in a recession.

How’d they do that?

Creating Jobs in a Slumping Economy, Blame the Unemployed

The economic downturn nationally has hit all the states hard, especially those that just got their budgets back in order from the last recession. So it wasn’t surprising to see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headline, “Need for food stamps rising.”

I want to highlight just why the Republican Party cannot be trusted to solve the problem of human suffering. The weak economy along with state program changes increased foodstamp enrollment nearly 10%.

The change removed a requirement that people enroll in a job-training program. The point of the program is to feed people and families, so who would object to that? A Republican of course. In a wild display of convoluted logic, even the hungry are to blame for their joblessness.

Here’s Rep. Kitty Rhoades (R-Hudson), co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, with her mean spirited attack on the needy, suggesting the state withhold food stamps until the unemployed get job training in a jobless market.

"Especially in a down economy, we want to be creating jobs and putting people to work, not re-creating welfare,' Rhoades said."

It may seem like a dumb conclusion, but Republicans have been relentless pushing this mumbo jumbo in the Wisconsin state legislature for years. They hate it when poor people get something for nothing, especially people with nothing.

It never occurred to Rep. Rhoades that businesses create jobs, and in a down economy, they typically lack the demand to “put people to work.” How hard is this to understand anyway?

I think it might be this; Commerce loves the Republican Party because they lack the business sense to realize they’re being played for suckers. Republicans run up debt, spend money supporting special interests and sabotage their own children’s future salaries so they can freeload off the taxpayer while transferring responsibility and power to private for profit interests.

How do they sleep?

McCain Doesn’t Trust Our Troops

Its simple isn’t it? John McCain doesn’t trust our troops to serve out of respect to our country. Instead, he worries that Americans will join and fight, to game the system and reap huge benefits, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Here’s what Sen. McCain said, as reported by AP:

"John McCain used a Memorial Day appearance to defend his opposition to
Senate-passed legislation that would provide additional college financial aid to
veterans…'I feel just as he (Democratic Sen. Jim Webb) does, that we owe
veterans the respect and generosity of a great nation"...However, McCain said he
opposed Webb's measure because it would give the same benefit to everyone
regardless of how many times he or she has enlisted. He said he feared that
would depress reenlistments by those wanting to attend college after only a few years in uniform.”

It’s clear that some of our more dishonorable troops would enlist just so they could fleece the hard working taxpayers of their hard earned money. Imagine giving up just 3 years of their life for their country; maybe even fight a war, and get an all expenses paid college education. McCain won’t let these patriotic crooks make out like Republican lobbyists.

Just to be clear, here’s how the two bills differ:

“The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking
into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean
veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would
have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans' home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

“The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold.”

Gag order Issued: Military Chief Warns Troops About Politics

Oh sure, now they tell us.

In a blatant attempt to silence the growing number of war critics in and out of the military, just in time for the presidential election I might mention, the New York Times abdicated its fourth estate responsibilities by falling in line with a runaway war policy.

Like a deer in headlights, the Times printed without question or scrutiny an
“open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as
the nation approaches a presidential election in which the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan will be a central, and certainly divisive, issue. The U.S. military
must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways,” wrote the chairman, Adm.
Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest-ranking officer. “It is and must always be a
neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”

It’s no coincidence that this messaged was meant to blunt the Defense Department investigation of a Pentagon public affairs program that sought to transform retired military officers who work as television and radio analysts into “message force multipliers” who could be counted on to echo Bush administration talking points about Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and terrorism in general.

I’m not alone with what I’m sure Republicans would say is a mischaracterization of the Admirals message.

“Veteran officers said they could not remember when a similar “all-hands” letter
had been issued to remind military personnel to remain outside, if not above,
contentious political debate.”

In fact, the military point blank admits its intention to censor.

“Members of the Joint Chiefs have expressed worries this election year about the
influence of retired officers who advise political campaigns, who have publicly
called for a change in policy or who serve as television commentators on the
war. Among the most outspoken were those who joined the so-called generals’
revolt in 2006 demanding the resignation of Defense Secretary
H. Rumsfeld
, as well as former officers who have written books attacking the
Bush administration’s planning for and execution of the war in Iraq.”

Try and pull that statement out of context. Adm. Mike Mullen follows that up with the “fear frame.”

“While retired officers have full rights to political activism, their colleagues
still in uniform fear its effect on those trying to carry out the mission”

The fear card continued with the suggestion that a Democratic president will lose the war for us and abandon the mission. Just look at the “troubling questions” he received from military personal;

“…he was inspired to write the essay after receiving a constant stream of
legitimate, if troubling, questions while visiting military personnel around the
world. He said their questions included, “What if a Democrat wins?” and, “What will that do to the mission in Iraq?” and, “Do you think it’s better for one party or another to have the White House?

I nearly dropped the newspaper after reading those comments. Thankfully, I was inspired enough to explain my first, second and third impressions of this article, coming each time to this same conclusion;

We are living under a dangerous administration right now, and I don’t believe it will end soon enough.

Which Came First, Higher Wages Or Skilled Workers?

After reading the AP story, “Wisconsin workers' wages less than national average,” I was struck by not what has been obvious for years for those of us who have worked here, but by the solution touted by corporate executives and free marketers.

First the bad news: “In a Department of Labor report released last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the average weekly wage earned across the United States is $818. But no counties in Wisconsin matched that figure…Residents there average $814 week.”

For example, the menial job of a morning weather anchor at a local Madison television station had to move to a market similar in size, South Bend Indiana, to double his salary. I knew that to be true of radio wages as well from my days as a political talk host. From that experience, I concluded that because Wisconsin provided more entry level jobs in media, once these novices honed their skills, they moved on and up into higher paying markets. In this case, states that had higher wage averages.

What struck me was this well accepted point of view from this same article;

“Alec Loftus, a spokesman with the Department of Workforce Development, says the state is working to raise wages by training a highly skilled
work force.”

But if you have a highly skilled work force in a state with low pay, no matter how much training you provide, those workers will leave for greener (money) high wage pastures.

The “great sucking sound” of jobs moving overseas we know now are the high wage positions moving to markets where they can do the same job for less, while the U.S. cuts wages and benefits for current and future skilled labor. It’s a no win situation for citizens of this and other countries that have bought in to the neo liberal policy of trade.

The solution is now a lost opportunity; Instead of trade deals that forced developing global markets to establish a wage floor under threat of tariff equalizers, raising the boats of all, the allure of dollar-a-day labor proved too strong and profitable to resist.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bush, Ice Cream, Ethics and the Authoritarian Elites

The President's Council on Bioethics former chair, Leon Kass, was small potatoes amid the reported stories of misconduct and corruption within the Bush administration. The fact that he didn’t break any laws might even be a plus, except for his bizaar world view as the one person in charge of scientific medical advances not reliant on God’s gift of miracle making.

Ice cream part one:

“Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of
eating, like licking an ice cream cone
--a catlike activity that has been made
acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in
public is offensive. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many
reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the
view that eating in the street is for dogs…and in many quarters complete
shamelessness is treated as proof of genuine liberation from the allegedly
arbitrary constraints of manners. To cite one small example: yawning with
uncovered mouth
. Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural
elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public (not so much brazenly or
forgetfully as indifferently and "naturally"), unaware that it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements…But eating on the street -even when undertaken, say, because
one is between appointments and has no other time to eat -- displays in fact
precisely such lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly.
Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using
his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. This doglike
feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where,
even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful
behavior.”– Leon Kass, The Hungry Soul, pp. 148-149. University of Chicago
Press, 1994, 1999,

Who is this Leon Kass, Wikipedia offers this short bio:

Leon Kass, best known as a leader in the effort to stop human embryonic stem cell
and cloning research as former chair of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2002–2005.[1]Kass places "special value on the natural human cycle of birth, procreation and death", and views death as a "necessary and desirable end". As such, he has opposed most kinds of interference in the reproductive process—including birth control—as well as all deliberate efforts to increase human longevity.

In his essay, “The End of Courtship" he sees as obstacles to a lasting marriage,
feminism. Kass treats modesty in women as a very important element of sexual
morality. "The supreme virtue of the virtuous woman was modesty, a form of
sexual self-control. Kass argues that when women behave with modesty, they are
better able to achieve their own "genuine longings and best interests," and that
female modesty also helps men to control lustful desires in favor of love and
"real intimacy." Kass attacks the use of birth control technology, and states that any woman's destiny is motherhood. The essay contains one explicit reference to homosexuality, as one of the "sexual abominations of Leviticus—incest, homosexuality, and bestiality". A footnote also mentions aging bachelors and their "self-indulgent" ways.

This is just another example of the conservative mindset, whether extreme or moderate, that is festering below the surface in what I believe to be a failed ideology. It breeds a new group of zealot elites, fast tracks them into the circles of power, and hands authoritarian power to control the wayward masses; Us.

Ice Cream part Two: Mark Russell writes:

“The dairy lobby holds an annual ice cream party for Congress, but under the new
lobbying restrictions, attendees will get no more than a single scoop. This
should end any doubt as to whether they are serious about ethics. Congress'
acceptance of the ban on double-scoop cones is every bit as praiseworthy as
President Bush's giving up of golf for the duration of the war. And they say we
Americans are not willing to sacrifice.”

Franken’s Humorous “Porn-O-Rama” Over the Heads of GOP Women

Who would have thought that Al Franken’s political career would go down in flames because of “robots that look like women?” Thank you ABC News for uncovering this news shocker.

Al Franken's candidacy for the United States Senate is hanging by a chad because he wrote in 2000 a Playboy magazine column called "Porn-O-Rama!" in which the former Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he takes part in sexual acts with humans and machines..

Recognizing the importance of this issue to the American public, and while others get sidetracked with the economy and health care, “The Minnesota Republican Party released a letter, signed by six prominent GOP women, including a state senator and state representative, calling on Franken to "Denounce this article and apologize immediately."

The “denounce and apologize Party” has found yet another way to show how humorless, petty and strangely bizarre they can be;

“The words and descriptions you write about are beyond vulgar. While you may
attempt to defend your writing as satire, we hardly find anything defensible
about your finding humor in your desire to have sex with women or robots that look like women simply to give yourself a good time
….we are horrified to believe that someone running for the U.S. Senate could have written them."

Frankly, I’m horrified that they didn’t notice the subtle nuance in his Playboy article, the contributions robot women have made in society and at the prestigious sex institute like Porn O Rama?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

“We Get It!” Evangelicals, Don’t

In the ongoing attempt to blather on about anything, Christian leaders have come up with another canard to keep the faithful distracted. And with this lunatic list of names, like Focus On the Family’s James Dobson, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the Family Research Council, Institute on Religion and Democracy and Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, how could you possible question the sincerity of their convictions.

Just when we thought the religious right “Got It” back in 2006 acknowledging the fact that humans cause global warming, a “coalition of conservative evangelical leaders wants to enlist 1 million Christians to sign a statement questioning whether human-caused global warming is a real threat and arguing that restrictive environmental policies harm poor people(AP).”

The "We Get It!" campaign is filled with nutty contradictions, like this example
from this zany statement: "Our stewardship of creation must be
based on Biblical principles and factual evidence."

With a belief in minimal factual evidence in the Bible, they’ve chosen to apply a much higher standard of evidence in their own current history, the one they see and read about daily.

“The campaign's materials argue that "recent, slight warming" is an unproven
threat that could lead to restrictions in energy use and drive up the cost of energy and food for the world's poor.”

They have got to be putting us on? Besides not answering the question about how much of the Bible has been proven, as opposed to the body of evidence proving global climate change is real, wouldn’t unrestricted use of energy drive up the cost of energy? Weaning ourselves off of consuming energy would lessen demand and drive down prices…Wait, now they’ve got me blathering on about nothing. The saner voices are fewer in number:

“More than 110 backers, has endorsed legislation to decrease carbon dioxide
emissions…saying the threat of global warming is too grave to wait for perfect
knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to it.”

So if the “We Get It” campaign could just get one million instead of the mere 110 greenies, then they will have to proved that the current list of environmental disasters is an “unproven threat.”

It’s good to see the hysterical right taking on the global warming myth and defending the First Amendment by getting city councils to adopt “In God We Trust” as their city motto.

Propaganda and the Pentagon's Message Force Multipliers

I finally put this story together, I'm done with my kids birthday party and I watched the Nicktoons Speed Racer episode. If you have a chance, and the time, the NY Times has an incredibly detailed video on the propaganda pundit generals you really should see (below).

"The inspector general’s office at the Defense Department announced that it
would investigate a Pentagon public affairs program that sought to transform retired military officers who work as television and radio analysts into “message force multipliers” who could be counted on to echo Bush administration talking points about Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and terrorism in general. The Defense Department suspended the program last month(April 2008).

“The G.A.O. said it…would give a legal opinion on whether it violated
longstanding prohibitions against spending government money to spread propaganda to audiences in the United States.”

Since we’re a healthy democracy, it would be a no brainer to reject any program that would intentionally lie or mislead the citizens of the U.S., right? Not if you’re a fear mongering conservative (name calling or the truth?), willing to give up a little freedom to your trusted government authority.

Representative Paul Broun, Republican of Georgia, said: “Of course Americans
engage in propaganda. It’s a vital part of the mission of the United States
to promote democracy and protect our country from harm.”

This is the Party that hates our big intrusive government. Perhaps Rep. Broun is unaware that it is illegal to carry out domestic propaganda. Foreign programs are permissible, but here at home, a no-no.

But if lacking common sense and any historical perspective wasn’t enough, maybe the most outlandish possibility of all will spark another needless debate.

“Representative Duncan Hunter of California, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, objected to the amendment, arguing, ‘The idea that somehow Don Rumsfeld got these people in a room and told them what to say, if you believe that you don’t believe in the independence of these general officers,”

Why the very idea that military officers would do what they were told is….probable, and another crazy rant from former presidential candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter.

The stakes are high: If the investigation determines the Pentagon did have an active domestic propaganda program in place, then laws were broken and those accountable would be charged.

But if the G.A.O. decides the Pentagon did not break any laws, the bar would be set so low we would no longer be insulated by law from being told anything the governments what’s us to hear.

It would be all over.

Watch Video Here.

Guess Who’s Wasting Taxpayer Money Again-the GOP

For all the boastful proclamations about watching over government spending, and need to stop wasting taxpayer money, we now know it’s nothing but meaningless tough talk and framing. Is there any other explanation for our sending our taxes to unaccountable private schools in the form of vouchers?

We’re hearing again that they just don’t give a damn about wasting taxpayer dollars as long as it’s on their own “bridge to nowhere” boondoggles.

The NY Times reported that:

“A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United
States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal rules and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received.”

While Republicans might pare $400,000 or $100 million dollars from the tight educational funding in states across the country, it appears to be too much trouble to get a receipt for $8.2 billion dollars from army contractors.

"The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the
United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets,
which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or
pallets of cash."

"$11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the
basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered."

"But perhaps the masterpiece of elliptic paperwork is the document identified at
the top as a “Public Voucher for Purchases and Services Other Than Personal.” It
indicates that $320.8 million went for “Iraqi Salary Payment,” with no explanation of what the Iraqis were paid to do. The Pentagon’s deputy inspector general for auditing (said) that the absence of anything beyond a voucher meant that ‘we were giving or providing a payment without any basis for the payment. We don’t know what we got.’ Expenditures lacked other information required by federal regulations governing the use of taxpayer money — things like payment terms, proper identification numbers and contact information for the agents involved in the transaction."

i.e. school vouchers, faith based initiatives and outsourced federal and local government contracting.

“The Pentagon report, titled ‘Internal Controls Over Payments Made in Iraq,
Kuwait and Egypt,’ also notes that auditors were unable to find a comprehensible
set of records to explain $134.8 million in payments by the American military to its allies in the Iraq war. 'It sounds like the coalition of the willing is the coalition of the paid — they’re willing to be paid,' said Mr. Waxman, who later in the day introduced what he called a “clean contracting” amendment to a
defense authorization bill."

As insane as the conservative agenda has been since the mid 1990’s, like borrowing money to support two wars while depleting the governments general fund with tax cuts, they are pleading with voters to give them another chance to get it right.

That could happen if the Democrats don’t mention, every time they open their mouth, that we got to where we are right now in this country because of Republican economic bungling. But since they haven’t made that point, the public in a recent poll didn’t know who to blame for the countries disastrous direction.

For any political party, missing a chance to pass along that one simple message is first; irresponsible, and second; pathetic. And it appears the Democratic numbskulls qualify in both categories.

Good day sir.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Florida "feeling lucky?" Health Care Gamble

Feeling lucky? Well do you punk?” A memorable quote from Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry films. Now, Florida's governor has taken the line and not only made it his own, but makes Dirty Harry look weak-kneed. Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law the most dangerous health care solution on the planet, next to not providing any coverage at all. They are crazy loco down there in Florida, where government is run by those "go it alone" Republicans. It’s also fun watching Republicans pass laws that throw tax dollars at private schools with no accountability and their deliciously perilous “take your guns to work” law.

According to AP, ‘The new law lets insurance companies offer scaled-back health plans without all the usually required coverage’s.’ That might make insurance available to some people for as little as $150 a month, Crist said.”

Can you say, “You get what you pay for?” Hold on, because you won’t believe how the “feeling lucky?” health care plan works.

"Some insurance companies (after joining) a state program will be required to
cover many basic health care needs, such as drugs, emergency care and
hospitalization, but won't be required to pay for many treatments that insurers
generally must cover.”

Those costly treatments:

"certain screenings or coverage of certain transplants. Insurers said those
requirements contribute to rising health care costs

You know how it is when you have to pay for a persons treatment that might reduce your profit margin? Costly.

Gov. Crist had the brazenness to say "It will take away a lot of worry."

Why would anyone worry that they, or a family member, might need treatment not covered under their plan? We can live (maybe die) with that, if you get my meaning?

The state program, "Cover Florida," will also allow insurers who don't
participate in the program to make changes…(to) provide
cheaper policies."

This is the “screw you, you’re on your own” plan.

“Under that part of the law, organizations and insurance companies would be
allowed to offer scaled-back plans that have even fewer requirements than the
ones participating in the state program."

If you thought it couldn’t get more dangerous or irresponsible, hold onto your 911 call centers.

According to supporters, “plans that don't cover everything are better than no
insurance at all.”

(Have we fallen into the rabbit hole?)

Florida has done away with troublesome transplants requirements and the number of days a women must be allowed to remain in the hospital after child birth.

Crist said "One in five Floridians goes to bed at night worrying about how to
pay for medical care."

Thanks to their barbarous Republican legislature and a remorseless Gov. Crist, now five of five Floridians will go to bed worrying that they might have to go bankrupt paying for uncovered medical expenses and pray they’ll still have a roof over the heads.

These sadistic fiends should be ashamed of their inhumanity. But they won’t be, because they’re cutthroat Republicans. They saved insurance companies money at the expense of human suffering.


Authoritarian Rule under Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen

Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had a rocky electoral road to office. For example, his...

Pro Gun, No Brain agenda: A flier from the Van Hollen campaign attributed this quote to Waukesha District Attorney Paul Bucher: "I would feel safer, in a perfect world, if there were no guns." Van Hollen, was pictured himself holding a dead deer on the campaign piece. Efforts to find its source were not successful.

War Against Liberal Agenda: In September 2005 Van Hollen successfully convicted Chai Vang of killing six deer hunters and wounded two others in Madison, even though he argued that Madison liberals might be more likely to go easy on Vang, or wouldn't understand deer hunting issues. Of course, lawyers and judges said such notions were simplistic.

Fear and War on Terror Agenda: J.B. Van Hollen said in a Capitol news
conference; "We have in Wisconsin terrorists who are training and raising funds.
We don't need to be paranoid, but we need to be vigilant." His conclusions were
based on information he had access to as U.S. attorney, but Mike Johnson, a
supervisory special agent for the Milwaukee FBI office said Van Hollen's comment
about the FBI were "completely inappropriate"

The Nonexistent Voter Fraud Agenda: Van Hollen wants to set up a special Justice Department unit to enforce state elections law and create teams to monitor the polls on Election Day.

As crazy as all this appears, Van Hollen won the confidence of the voters and swept the election. Would it surprise anyone that there are now problems in the AG’s office?

War On Wasted Taxpayer Money Agenda: On May 23, 2008, the Wisconsin State Journal reported “the head of the state Department of Justice's public integrity bureau was demoted just weeks after she questioned (in an email) whether Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen could legally receive taxpayer-funded security at the Republican National Convention in September.” As another conservative guardian against wasting taxpayer money, Van Hollen would be using state resources for his own personal political activities.

If that weren’t bad enough, sprinkle on this little falsehood; “the Attorney
Generals office said no determination has been made as to whether Van Hollen
will need taxpayer-paid security in Minneapolis during the GOP convention in
September.” (But) “an April 21 e-mail obtained by the State Journal and
not released by DOJ, (the demoted employee actually gave this order), ‘Agents
are to provide 24/7 security detail for the AG at the Republican National
Conference September 1-5."

Ouch! Guess that was a blatant lie from the AG’s office. These Republicans really are the “law and order Party.”

Note: All of this comes after the recent news that Van Hollen “demoted Carolyn Kelly, director of the special assignments bureau and state fire marshal, for sending e-mails he said threatened his staff. Earlier this year, Jim Warren, (long time) administrator of the Division of Criminal Investigation…was forced out and that his year under Van Hollen was "very difficult."