Tuesday, November 22, 2005
  ... well Duh!
"But there must be a time limit. Mr. Bush and his crew have to understand that American blood and treasure are not unlimited. It is not undermining the war to suggest giving the Iraqis a realistic private timetable to defend themselves. Basic training for a U.S. soldier is six weeks. We've been training the Iraqi army for almost two years now. Even Gomer Pyle would be up to speed."

-- Bill O'Reilly Fox News host.
Monday, November 21, 2005
  Power Über Alles
by Paul Craig Roberts

Perfidy loves company. George W. Bush instructed his British puppet, Prime Minister Tony Blair, to get moving on the detention issue so that he, Bush, would have company when he attacked the Constitution's guarantee of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus prevents authorities from detaining a person indefinitely without charges; the guarantee of habeas corpus ensures that no one can imprison you without a trial. The Bush administration wants the power to detain indefinitely anyone it declares to be an enemy combatant or a terrorist without presenting the detainee in court with charges. In England the power to arrest people and to hold them indefinitely without charges was taken away from kings centuries ago. Bush apparently thinks he is the reincarnation of an absolute monarch.

The puppet Blair set to work. He soon discovered that at most he could try to pass a law that permitted the British government to hold a detainee for 90 days, a far cry from Bush's desire for indefinite detention. Blair took what he called his "anti-terror" legislation to Parliament and was handed his first-ever defeat as Prime Minister.

The British Parliament knew enough history to realize that Blair's "anti-terror" legislation was in fact the opposite. Parliamentarians perceived Blair's proposal as a police state trick that could be used by an unscrupulous government to terrorize Her Majesty's subjects by the use of imprisonment without charges. The British Parliament refused to put up with such injustice.

Eleven of Blair's former cabinet ministers joined in voting down the legislation. That happened on Wednesday November 9.

On Thursday November 10, the Republican controlled US Senate voted 49 to 42 to overturn the US Supreme Court's 2004 ruling that permits Guantánamo detainees to challenge their detentions. How dare the US Supreme Court defend the US Constitution and the civil liberties of Americans when we have terrorists to fight, argued the Republican senators. What are civil liberties, the Republicans asked rhetorically, but legal tricks that allow criminals and terrorists to escape.

The Labour Party-dominated British Parliament will not allow 90 days detention without charges, but the Republican-controlled US Congress favors indefinite detention without charges of whomever Bush wants to detain.

Nothing more effectively undercuts the image that Bush paints of America as the land of freedom, liberty and democracy than the Republican Party's destruction of habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus is essential to political opposition and the rise and maintenance of democracy. Without habeas corpus, a government can simply detain its opponents. Nothing is more conducive to one party rule than the suspension of habeas corpus.

It is heartbreaking to watch the Republican Party overthrow the very foundation of democracy in the name of democracy. The name of Lindsey O. Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, the sponsor of this evil legislation, will go down in infamy in the book of tyrants.

The next time Bush declares that "they (Muslims) hate us for our freedom and democracy," someone should ask him how there can be freedom and democracy without habeas corpus.
The Bush administration has also resurrected that second great feature of tyranny – torture. "We have the right to torture," say President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Attorney General Gonzales.

What a hypocritical spectacle the Bush administration and the Republican Party have made of America. They boast of "freedom and democracy" while they destroy habeas corpus and practice torture.

Americans must recognize the Bush administration and the Republican Party for what they are. They are tyrants. They are bringing evil to the world and tyranny to America.

According to the Washington Post (Nov. 11), there are 750 detainees at Guantánamo. These people have been held for 3 or 4 years. If the Bush administration had any evidence against them, it would be a simple matter to file charges.

But the Bush administration does not have any evidence against them. Most of the detainees are innocent travelers and Arab businessmen who who captured by warlords and armed gangs and sold to the Americans who offered payments for "terrorists."

The reason so many of them have been tortured is that the Bush administration has no evidence against them and is relying on pain and the hopelessness of indefinite detention to induce self-incrimination. The Bush administration is desperate to produce some "terrorists."

What has become of the American people that they permit the despicable practices of tyrants to be practiced in their name? The Bush administration is in violation of the US Constitution, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Standard, and basic humanity. It is a gang of criminals. The Republican Party is so terrified of losing power that it supports a tyrannical administration that has brought shame not just to the Republican name but to all Americans.

When a Republican next campaigns, all he can say is "vote for me because I want power to lock you up and torture you."

Habeas Corpus Act of 1679
Responding to abusive detention of persons without legal authority, public pressure on the English Parliament caused them to adopt this act, which established a critical right that was later written into the Constitution for the United States:

An act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for prevention of imprisonments beyond the seas.
WHEREAS great delays have been used by sheriffs, gaolers and other officers, to whose custody, any of the King's subjects have been committed for criminal or supposed criminal matters, in making returns of writs of habeas corpus to them directed, by standing out an alias and pluries habeas corpus, and sometimes more, and by other shifts to avoid their yielding obedience to such writs, contrary to their duty and the known laws of the land, whereby many of the King's subjects have been and hereafter may be long detained in prison, in such cases where by law they are bailable, to their great charges and vexation.

and from wikipedia:
In English Common Lawhabeas corpus is the name of several writs which may be issued by a judge ordering a prisoner to be brought before the court. More commonly, the name refers to a specific writ known in full as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, a prerogative writ ordering that a prisoner be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not he is being imprisoned lawfully.

The right of habeas corpus has long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty."

Find this article at:
Friday, November 18, 2005
  Billions for Bombs - Crumbs for Children.
The new budget bill passed in the wee hours this morning by the House of Representatives is an outrage to civilized society, a society to which this congress and this administration can no longer claim membership. The Republican supported plan ripped enormous holes in the already tattered safety-net of programs for the poor, college students, single parents, and disease control.

If you are one of the lucky ones whose job has not been out-sourced to another country yet, you can help by volunteering in your community to open some new soup kitchens. We are going to need them. This bill eliminates 74% of current food stamp recipients from the program, leaving only 80,000 people who will still qualify for assistance. This is in a country were it is now estimated that 12,000,000 people go to bed hungry every night.

Let’s see now. If we took the $6 billion a month we are spending to train terrorists in Iraq (oh, excuse me – I meant fighting insurgents) and divided it up between those 12 million hunger people, they could spent $500 a month EACH on groceries. Well, of course, we can all see how absurd that would be. People who produce food never contribute as much money to politics as people who produce weapons.

In addition to the food stamp program, the bill cut deeply into money allocated to the agency that enforces court ordered child-support. Now, dead-beat “dads” who just don’t want to pay child support can not be forced to pay it.

Well, that’s OK. A single mom can always sign up on food stamps to keep her kids from starving. Oh yeah – forgot there for a moment - no more food stamps. And money for college – that was drastically cut back too, and Medicare benefits and, you remember Duhbya saying he was “gonna protect us all from the burd flu”? Well, money for the Disease Control Center got cut back too...

Well, OK, you might be saying, “I’m really sorry but times are tough. Our country is deep in debt. We’ve got to cut somewhere.”

Guess what. At the same time the Republicans were taking food out of the mouths of children and making medical care more expensive, they gave the richest 1% in the nation another 70 billion dollar tax break.

The bill does not reduce spending. It does not reduce deficits. What it does do is give 50% of every tax dollar to the Defense Department so they can continue to drop white phosphorous on civilians in Iraq and run gulags around the world.

This bill is truly an outrage to civilized society. Strange that our government is not outraged.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
  Open Letter To Tucker Carlson
I read your article on MSNBC website concerning your interview with Professor Stephen Jones. I did not see the interview but have read extensively on different hypotheses concerning 9/11. Obviously I wouldn't be writing if I didn't take issue with your article.

You state, "When one of my producers first told me about him, my first thought was: Stephen Jones is insane." Then, in the same paragraph you say, "In the interest of open-mindedness, we booked him." Obviously a contradiction and proof of a previously conceived notion of the "truth."

As far as Professor Jones being "totally incapable of explaining his own ideas" and "an epically bad guest" may I remind you that six minutes is a short time to explain anything in layman's terms that has to do with physics. Further, physics and astronomy professors are not known for their ability to do so. Even the great communicator and astronomer Carl Sagan needed an hour every week and a million dollars worth of computer graphics to convey some simple ideas to the American public.

Perhaps if you had truly had an open mind and done a little homework on Professor Jones' 9/11 theory, you - being the suave, debonair professional interviewer you are - could have done a better job of asking intelligent questions that would have encouraged Jones to get to the nitty-gritty of his theory.

What really encouraged me to write this letter though is the following part of your article:

"...a lot of people seem to think it's possible that the U.S. government had a hand in bringing down the World Trade Center buildings.

Ponder that for a second: The U.S. government killed more than 3,000 of its own citizens. For no obvious reason. Then lied about it. Then invaded two other countries, killing thousands of their citizens as punishment for a crime they didn't commit. If you really thought this - or even considered it a possibility - how could you continue to live here? You couldn't. You'd leave the United States on the next available flight and not come back. You'd have no choice. Continuing to pay taxes to a government capable of something so evil would make you complicit in the crime."

While I am not sure that I completely agree with Professor Jones, I think there is some merit in his assertions. I also believe that there has never been a thorough, unbiased attempt to determine exactly what did happen that tragic day.

Right now, it is sort of like solving a single murder. You look for motive, opportunity and weapon but the big question is, who benefits the most? The answer to me is obvious. The beneficiaries were Bush, Cheney, Big Oil, the Neo-Conservatives, Haliburton, and a host of other administration cronies.

As to leaving this country because a bunch of opportunists are using this tragedy to rob this country of its wealth and to steal the freedoms from its citizens, I say, "No thanks." This is my country. I will stay and fight for my birthright that is guaranteed me by the Constitution. One of those rights is to look at the evidence available to me and then make up my own mind. Right now, the evidence available to me tells me that the official story of 9/11 is hogwash.

Then comes the wrap up of your story, which from a logical point of view is itself hogwash:

"So of course most of the people who wrote to say they think the government might have been behind 9-11 don't really think the government might have been behind 9-11. For whatever reason, they just like to say so. Which as far as I'm concerned makes them phony and irresponsible."

All I can say to that is, I'm sure you know a lot more about being phony and irresponsible than I do.

Then you go on to say:

"Incidentally, we still have an open mind here on the Situation, even after Professor Stephen Jones. So if evidence ever does arise that the government lied substantially about what happened on September 11th, we'll be on it immediately. I promise."

One thing I will agree with; your mind is as open as it ever has been. However, I doubt if you would know evidence if it ran over you in the middle of the street and apparently logical argument also eludes you. But there are people who do understand logic and higher math. Professor Stephen Jones is one of them. I promise.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
  Bullshit Talks. Money Walks.
There is still a law on the books stating that any person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making “any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation” to Congress. Of course, in this Neocon world where justice stands on its head, “Bullshit talks, Money walks, and poor people go to jail.” Where, Barbara Bush would undoubtedly say, “.... you know (they) were underprivileged anyway, so this – this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”

What am I talking about? In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips were asked a simple question

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): “Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001?”

“No,” said Exxon Chief Executive Lee R. Raymond.

“No,” said Chevron Chairman David J. O’Reilly.

“We did not, no,” said ConocoPhillips chairman James Mulva.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” said BP America chief executive Ross Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. “I wasn’t here then.”

“But your company was here,” Lautenberg replied.

“Yes,” Pillari said.

“Not to my knowledge,” said Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since earlier this year.

Documents released yesterday prove these masters of multi-billion dollar international oil corporations were lying. However, thanks to extraordinary maneuvering by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AL), the executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury. Committee Democrats who strongly protested this decision were over-ruled.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from all these oil companies, with the exception of Chevron, met in the White House with Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy. A great deal of those corporate written policies have now been passed into law and funded, including massive tax breaks to energy companies that are already raking in record profits.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that “gave detailed energy policy recommendations” to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP’s chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force’s work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

Environmentalists protested the task force’s secret, closed door meetings with corporate oil. They contended environmental and other public interests had no input into this important legislation. The White House refused to release a list of participants in the task force and subsequently was sued by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club to obtain the records. And, guess what? As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise,” the lawsuit was unsuccessfully.

Bullshit talks. Money walks.
Monday, November 14, 2005
  Silence is Betrayal

"A time comes when silence is betrayal."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Buddha said:
Hatred never ends by hatred in this world;
By love alone does hatred end.
This is an Eternal Law. (Dhammapada, Verse 5)
He explained further:
Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up both victory and defeat.(Dhammapada, Verse 201)

Opposing the war in Iraq is absolutely necessary. Extending the American Empire only invites national destruction. How can any educated person doubt the truth of that? For proof, read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire or follow in history books as the sun finally sets on the English Hegemony.

The first of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt not kill." If we allow others to kill in our names without protest, our hands are covered by the same blood and we are as guilty as if we had pulled the trigger ourselves.

"Thou shalt not kill" also implies that we are not to live at the expense of the misery, suffering and death of others. Inciting further violence in Iraq by occupying their country so that we might gain control over their oil resources will only earn us implacable enemies and deepen the cycle of violence. Disastrous fruits of war will haunt the world for generations, and will come home to us in terrible, unseen ways.

Just as the seeds of World War II were planted in World War I, the seeds of war with Iraq were planted years ago by our political leaders in a self-serving effort to further American interests. It was the American government that supplied chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. It was the American government that stood by as Hussein used his new toys to kill thousands of his own people.

Now our leaders have changed their minds. They seem locked in a delusion that they are bringing freedom and liberty where they are actually delivering carnage and mayhem. Of the six and a half billion people on this planet, there are only a handful that still share this delusion. Unfortunately, that handful is currently running the mightiest killing machine ever built - the United States Armed Forces.

Not one of this handful of leaders has ever lived with the horrors of war. Not one of them has listened to a buddy crying for Momma and God as his blood and guts spilled on the ground. They sit in sterile rooms in Washington and plan obscenities like "Shock and Awe" which rained death and destruction day and night on innocents. They knew when they were planning that: 1.) their justifications were built on lies; and, 2.) the Iraqi leaders whom they were supposedly after were in bombproof shelters.

The Bible says "We reap what we sow." The Buddhist believe the same thing but state it a bit differently. They say our actions co-create each other’s reality, that ourselves and others external to us are never completely separate. So how we conduct ourselves in opposition to war makes a great difference to the world. Because we co-create reality in conjunction with everybody else - including Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield, we who are aware that we reap what we sow must walk a path of peace.

I know that many times I forget that we are all in this together; together we have created the reality of today's Iraq and Darfur. It is up to us, right here, right now, to help our leaders and our opponents see this.

Yes, I know. It is easier to turn away. We all get angry and at times we are all afraid. We all have our own demons. But if we indulge this anger and fear, we only create more anger and fear. We will reap what we sow. We will create more anger and fear in an endless cycle of reactive violence.

Despite their torturing and their killing and their scheming, Bush, bin Laden, Cheney, Hussein, Sharon, - to paraphrase, "If you cut them, do they not bleed? If you prick them, do they not feel pain?"

This then is our challenge: We must resist their actions and this war without placing them outside the circle of humankind. We must try to be more like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and King every day. And, it wouldn't hurt if everyday we offered a little prayer, that no matter how far-fetched it seems, that our leaders might forsake war and take up the cause of peace.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
  Some kind of manly
by Molly Ivins
11.10.05 - AUSTIN, Texas -- I can't get over this feeling of unreality, that I am actually sitting here writing about our country having a gulag of secret prisons in which it tortures people. I have loved America all my life, even though I have often disagreed with the government. But this seems to me so preposterous, so monstrous. My mind is a little bent and my heart is a little broken this morning.

Maybe I should try to get a grip -- after all, it's just this one administration that I had more cause than most to realize was full of inadequate people going in. And even at that, it seems to be mostly Vice President Cheney. And after all, we were badly frightened by 9-11, which was a horrible event. "Only" nine senators voted against the prohibition of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control the United States." Nine out of 100. Should we be proud? Should we cry?

"We do not torture," said our pitifully inarticulate president, straining through emphasis and repetition to erase the obvious.

A string of prisons in Eastern Europe in which suspects are held and tortured indefinitely, without trial, without lawyers, without the right to confront their accusers, without knowing the evidence or the charges against them, if any. Forever. It's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." Another secret prison in the midst of a military camp on an island run by an infamous dictator. Prisoner without a name, cell without a number.

Who are we? What have we become? The shining city on a hill, the beacon and bastion of refuge and freedom, a country born amidst the most magnificent ideals of freedom and justice, the greatest political heritage ever given to any people anywhere.

I am baffled by these "arguments": But we're talking about really awful people, cries the harassed press secretary. People like X and Y and Z (after a time, one forgets all the names of the No. 2's after bin Laden we have captured). The SS and the Gestapo and the KVD weren't all that nice, either.

Then I hear the familiar tinniness of the fake machismo I know so well from George W. Bush and all the other frat boys who never went to Vietnam and never got over the guilt. "Sometimes you gotta play rough," said Dick Cheney. No shit, Dick? Now why don't you tell that to John McCain?

I have known George W. Bush since we were both in high school -- we have dozens of mutual friends. I have written two books about him and so have interviewed many dozens more who know him well in one way or another. Spare me the tough talk. He didn't play football -- he was a cheerleader. "He is really competitive," said one friend. "You wouldn't believe how tough he is on a tennis court!" Just cut the macho crap -- I don't want to hear it.

If you are dead to all sense of morality (please let me not go off on the stinking sanctimony of this crowd), let us still reason together on the famous American common ground of practicality. Torture. Does. Not. Work. Torture does not work. Ask the United States military. Ask the Israelis.

There seems to be some fantastic scenario floating around -- if Osama bin Laden had an atomic bomb hidden in a locker at Grand Central Station, and it was due to go off in 12 hours, and we had him in prison ... I seem to have missed some important television program on this theme. I am told it was fiction, but it must have been really scary -- it certainly seems to have unbalanced the minds of some of our fellow citizens.

Torture does not work. It is not productive. It does not yield important, timely information. That is in the movies. This is reality.

I grew up with all this pathetic Texas tough: Everybody here knows you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs; and this ain't beanbag; and I'll knock your jaw so far back, you'll scratch your throat with your front teeth; and I'm gonna cloud up and rain all over you; and I'm gonna open me a can of whup-ass ...

And that'll show 'em, won't it? Take some miserable human being alone and helpless in a cell, completely under your control, and torture him. Boy, that is some kind of manly, ain't it?

"The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have 'disappeared,' like the victims of some dictatorships." -- The Washington Post.

Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it? Shame. Shame. Shame.
(c) 2005 Creators Syndicate
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
  That's A Mighty Big Neighborhood!
Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, 4/6/05:
What we’ve seen over and over again is that over a relatively short time, people come to appreciate what we offer. … They appreciate it that we hire from the neighborhood.
USA Today, 11/8/05:
In the affidavit, investigators said testimony and taped conversations from 2003 showed two executives at Wal-Mart headquarters knew that contractors and subcontractors cleaning its stores in several states employed illegal immigrants from eastern Europe and elsewhere.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Its time everyone in this country had a “Come-To-Jesus-Meeting.” This is a “Southern thing” that’s not unknown in other regions of the country. It started in revival tents on hot sultry summer nights and the tradition was transported behind the woodshed when a father felt a boy needed a serious lesson in manners.

A sincere "Come To Jesus Meeting" is that moment when an individual is compelled by the weight of evidence and looming penalty to admit wrong doing, seek forgiveness and agree to avoid wrong doing again. The meeting consists of three parts.

During the first part, the errant admits their guilt and wrongdoing. If there is no admission there is no point in continuing with the proceedings. Second, the errant one has to sincerely repent and commit to stop doing wrong. Last, the errant ones must attempt to make restitution.

To participate in this meeting you don’t have to believe in Jesus. You don’t have to be a Christian. You don’t even have to believe in God or any “higher power.” All you have to believe is that this country has done wrong in the past and is doing wrong in the present. You have to believe that somehow we have lost our way and are now stumbling down the wrong path – a path strewn with injustice, cruelty and greed.

If you believe that, it doesn’t matter if you are Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Left or Right; all that matters is that you believe there has to be a better way than the way we are going. If this is you than let’s get this meeting started.

We, the American people are guilty of a type of patriotism that makes lawless ambition into a virtue. For too long we have always assumed that God was on our side without once asking if we were on the side of God. I know the following piece of advice is trite and non-Christians might find it offensive but I think it is time we ran our country by asking ourselves, “If Jesus were running this country, what would he do?” (Feel free to substitute Buddha, Gandhi, or your favorite compassionate philosopher.)

We, the American people have allowed our political processes to be perverted by the insatiable greed of a few people at the expense of the many, especially those least able to bear the expense and least able to defend themselves. We must admit this and commit ourselves to changing the system. Regressive taxes in all forms must go if we are to stop repression of those who are already down. A social net must be provided including a living wage and national health care.

We, the American people are guilty of idolatry. We worship corporations as if they were gods. Corporations aren’t gods, they aren’t even people. They are soulless business entities setup for a single reason only – to make a profit for their owners. As a business entity, they should have no rights remotely resembling those of people and a clear distinction must be made under the law. This is a country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” not for corporations. It should be illegal for businesses and corporations to contribute to political candidates, issues, or parties. It should be illegal for such contributions to be accepted by candidates, issues, or parties. Can you think of a single reason, for the public good, that a corporation would donate to a politician? Further, to remove any temptation or hint of impropriety, revolving doors between government and corporations must be closed.

We, the American people are guilty of holding our religious beliefs (even when those beliefs are non-beliefs) with such certainty that we count it as a moral deed to jam our beliefs down other people’s throats. I know this is a touchy subject, but consider this for a moment: Most religions teach that the Supreme Being is infinite. If that is true than that Being has many sides, like a multi-faceted jewel so large we can only see one facet at a time. Perhaps one group sees one facet and calls it “God.” Another group sees another facet and calls it “Allah.” Yet another group may know the facet they see as “The Great Mam-Jube.” Whatever – the point is – just maybe it’s all a matter of semantics; where you are standing when you learn to “see” a Supreme Being. Just maybe we’re all talking about the same being. This leads to our next guilt.

We, the American people are guilty of a divisive spirit. We tend to look at all who are not like-minded as enemies rather than fellow human beings that might share common ground. This is not a guilt unique to our nation. Throughout history when conflict between nations was imminent, each government made every effort to dehumanize and demonize the people of the other nation to the populace at large. If your people see their people as “people” with faces, and wives and children, your people are more apt to sit down and talk about the weather with them than they are to maim and/or kill them. A government intent on war just cannot have that, now can they?

That’s a lot of guilt and a lot of wrongdoing. Acceptance of such a burden is not something most people will take on willingly. Before you decide, ask yourself these questions:

Does might make right?
Should the United States impose our form of government
on another country by force?
Is it right that almost 40 million people live
below the poverty level in this country while the richest 5% of our citizens
control 50% of the wealth?
Is it right that a person can work forty hours a
week in this country and be forced to live in a shelter for the homeless because
they can’t afford to eat AND pay rent?
Should corporations have the same
rights as a human being (and to add insult to injury, they get taxed at a lower
Is this country to be run for people or corporations?

We know these things are not “right.” They do not conform to any set of moral values taught in any church in this country. They are counter to the intent of the Constitution. No matter our political beliefs, I think we can agree there is a lot in this country that needs to be fixed. Its time we invited our politicians to a “Come-To-Jesus-Meeting.”

Friday, November 04, 2005
  Crony, Phony - It's All Bologna

"The success of the Bush-Cheney administration will depend on the quality appointees we choose to join us to lead this nation in the years ahead. I will look for people who are willing to work hard to do what is best for America, who examine the facts and do what is right whether or not it is popular."
- President George W. Bush,

cro·ny: a political hanger-on
pho·ny: not genuine or real
bologna: soon to be the only meat Americans can afford.
Michael Brown - CRONY
Position (still?) held: Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Responsibilities: In charge of a coordinated approach to national security from emergencies and disasters - both natural and man-made. Oversees 2,500 full-time employees in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate and is responsible for preparing for, preventing, responding to and recovering from disasters.
Resume: College friend of previous FEMA director. Michael Brown had no disaster-related experience prior to joining FEMA. His most recent job prior to joining FEMA was as the Commissioner of Judges and Stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization. Although his responsibilities as FEMA director have now been suspended due to serious public discontent in his handling of Hurricane Katrina, he is still on the payroll in an unknown capacity.
Julie Myers - CRONY
Position nominated for: Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE)
Responsibilities: In charge of the second largest investigative agency in the Federal Government with over 20,000 employees, including 6,000 investigators, and an annual budget of more than $4 billion. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is comprised of five integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities, including preventing terrorists from entering the country.
Resume: Currently a special assistant handling personnel issues for President Bush. Recently married to John Wood, Chief of Staff to Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security. Niece of General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Worked briefly for Chertoff in the criminal division of the Justice Department and former Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Commerce Department, supervising a $25 million budget. Republican Senator George Voinovich told Ms. Myers at her nomination hearing: "I'd really like to have [DHS Secretary Mike Chertoff] spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job. Because based on your resume, I don't think you are."
David Safavian - CRONY
Position held: Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OMB)
Responsibilities: In charge of a $300 billion budget and ensuring fair competition for federal contracts. Sets the procurement policies for the Office of Management and Budget, including funds for Hurricane Katrina efforts.
Resume: Currently out on bail after being arrested and charged with obstructing the criminal investigation into indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Married to Jennifer Safavian, chief counsel for oversight and investigations to Rep. Tom Davis, Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee which among other things, oversees federal contracting for Katrina relief. David Safavian's previous experience included lobbying partnerships with Grover Norquist and Jack Abramoff.
James Fuller - CRONY
Position:Chief of Staff for the Transit Security Administration (GSA)
Responsibilities:Top staffer in the TSA whose mission is to protect the nation's transportation systems. The agency was created in direct response to 9/11 so as to close security gaps in our air travel system.
Resume: Only professional experience is as a campaign manager, including those of Senator Domenici's (R-NM) 2002 re-election efforts, Bush-Cheney 2000 in New Mexico, and Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-NM) 1997 special election. Mr. Fuller also served as Chief of Staff for the Republican Senate Caucus at the New Mexico State Legislature during two legislative sessions (1999-2000).
Jeffrey Holmstead - PHONY
Position: Assistant Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Air and Radiation
Responsibilities: Leads the Air and Radiation division of the EPA whose main mission is to protect human health and the environment. The Air and Radiation division is responsible for monitoring, studying, and preventing ozone depletion, acid rain, pollution, radiation and climate change.
Resume: Formerly a lawyer at the law firm Latham & Watkins where he represented a conglomerate of coal, energy, and utility companies in their fight against EPA air pollution standards. Since he joined the Administration, Holmstead has been the Administration’s chief proponent of the “Clear Skies” initiative, which allows for weaker standards for mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide emissions from power plants. Not only has Holmstead been accused of lying to Congress over the impact of some of the Administration’s rules to implement the initiative, but a report by the Washington Post found that EPA’s new mercury emissions proposals were nearly identical to a memo circulated earlier by lawyers at Latham & Walkins – Holmstead’s former employer.
Daniel Troy - PHONY
Position held: Chief counsel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Responsibilities: Led the legal team of the FDA to ensure that the public is protected from unsafe food, drugs and other medical products. The FDA regulates products that account for close to one quarter of every dollar spent by consumers in the United States.
Resume: Formerly a lawyer who made a name for himself by going after the FDA’s right to regulate industry. Troy successfully defended the tobacco industries’ suit against the FDA’s efforts to regulate tobacco advertising while working for Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. Troy had another controversial victory when he won his fight with the FDA to allow drug companies to provide doctors with information on “off-label” uses of their drugs. US News & World Report found that Troy held dozens of private meetings with drug manufacturers after he joined the Administration, and that he had kept no minutes or notes of the meetings, despite FDA policy to do otherwise. Troy’s bias became clear over the FDA’s stalled investigation of Ephedra, a dietary supplement that has been linked to at least 100 deaths. Troy also took the side of the citrus juice industry over consumers on new rules to rid fruit juice of contaminants like E. coli. Troy also sided with lobbyists from Fashion Wear Services, a company that makes decorative contact lenses, allowing the lenses to be regulated as cosmetics instead of medical devices. After a 15-year-old girl was almost blinded in one eye from inserting a tinted lens with no professional instruction, the FDA reversed course and banned the import of the lenses citing public health concerns. There was also a falloff in overall FDA enforcement actions against drug companies under Troy’s tenure, specifically for false advertising claims. Between January 1999 and December 2001, the FDA averaged roughly 90 enforcement letters a year to drug companies for misleading advertising. That number dropped to 30 under Troy, following a change in FDA policy requiring all enforcement letters be approved by his office.
Ann-Marie Lynch - PHONY
Position held: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Policy, Health and Human Services (HHS)
Responsibilities: Provides analysis and advice to the President on key consumer issues, including prescription-drug policies. HHS is the lead agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
Resume: Prior to her HHS job, Lynch worked as a lobbyist for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a drug-company trade group. As a lobbyist, she fought against congressional calls for price controls of prescription drugs. As Deputy Assistant she blocked the release of at least a dozen research reports, including ones that challenged drug company claims that price capping resulted in a lack of medical innovation and another that showed Bush's Medicare drug plan would not serve rural areas. As Congress considered the Medicare drug bill, this report was used as an argument for banning the government from negotiating drug prices. As our seniors are often forced to choose between food and medicine, Lynch is in a position to decide who profits, drug companies or Americans.
Charles Lambert - PHONY
Position: Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Responsibilities: Oversees policy development and the day-to-day operations of the three agencies that comprise the Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) and its $800 million budget. MRP's mission is to safeguard our animals and crops from pests and diseases, monitor the agricultural marketing system, ensure fair trade practices, and assure value and quality in agricultural products. Includes determining the safety and labeling of all food products grown and sold in the US.
Resume:Before Lambert joined the USDA, he worked for 15 years at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the lobbying group for the cattle industry. At the USDA, his main public safety duty is to regulate the meat packing industry. Before the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States, Lambert testified in a congressional hearing that mad cow disease wasn't a threat. In fact, he agreed to bet his life and his job on it. He also fought hard for a provision in the 2004 Omnibus appropriations bill to delay for two years a requirement that supermarket meat and produce carry labels identifying them by country of origin. When mad cow disease was discovered in the US six months later, it was this very lack of labeling that made it so difficult to determine from which country the diseased meat had originated.
Scott Gottlieb - PHONY
Position: Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Responsibilities: Coordinates medical and scientific affairs for Lester Crawford, Commissioner of the FDA. Serves as senior policy advisor to Mr. Crawford, developing agency policy which directs and coordinates the agency’s rulemaking activities and regulations.
Resume: Before his FDA appointment, Gottlieb's was the editor of a Wall Street newsletter analyzing medical technology stocks. His connections to the pharmaceutical industry were so extensive, that he had to recuse himself for a year from any deliberations on the nine companies regulated by the FDA. These companies include Eli Lilly, Roche and Proctor & Gamble. Despite telling TIME magazine that he would not interfere with the scientific or medical experience of the FDA, he has already questioned FDA decisions to stop a drug trial on MS and the non-approval of a Pfizer drug for osteoporosis, which has a large impact on the stock value of the pharmaceutical companies.
Timothy Flanigan - CRONY
Position nominated for: Deputy Attorney General (DOJ)
Responsibilities: The Deputy Attorney General advises and assists Alberto Gonzalez, Attorney General, in formulating and implementing departmental policies and programs and in providing overall supervision and direction to all US Attorneys. Second in command at the DOJ, the chief law enforcement office of the Federal Government, oversees legal matters and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments.
Resume: Flanigan has already had experience advising and assisting Alberto Gonzalez. He worked as a legal advisor in the Bush Administration under Alberto Gonzalez and has been reported to have been involved in meetings discussing the controversial detainee interrogation and torture techniques. He was also part of the legal team arguing on behalf of Bush for Florida's electoral votes in the Presidential election of 2000. Flanigan is currently the Senior Vice President and general counsel of Tyco International. At Tyco, he oversaw the work of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff to block the Corporate Patriot Enforcement Act and similar bills designed to penalize American firms that incorporated outside the US to avoid taxes.
To learn about Democratic efforts to oppose these types of appointments, including the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act Click here.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
  EXTRA! The War in Iraq is All Clinton's Fault.
WASHINGTON - The White House sought to deflect politically charged questions Wednesday about President Bush’s use of prewar intelligence in Iraq, saying Democrats, too, had concluded Saddam Hussein was a threat.

“If Democrats want to talk about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed and the intelligence, they might want to start with looking at the previous administration and their own statements that they’ve made,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
He said the Clinton administration and fellow Democrats “used the intelligence to come to the same conclusion that Saddam Hussein and his regime were a threat.”
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
  Iraq – A Foreign Policy Misadventure?
For days now, I have been stewing over John Kerry’s latest Iraqi “exit strategy” and I think this stew has simmered long enough.

I tried to like John Kerry. I really did but somewhere deep in my stomach; listening to him during the campaign made me just slightly nauseous. Kerry was obviously more intelligent than Bush, better informed, and a better speaker. However, at the end of every speech, it seemed that he disagreed with Bush but not necessarily with Bush’s policies, especially those regarding Iraq. Finally, I voted for Kerry – because he wasn’t Bush.

Now, he’s trying to serve up leftovers from last year’s campaign disguised as a new exit strategy. He wants to pull out gradually over 12 to 18 months – with the caveat that we would have to stay longer if “necessary.”

Well John, old buddy, I didn’t like that dish the first time you passed it around. Keeping it in the refrigerator for a year didn’t improve its appearance or its odor. Furthermore, referring to the U.S. war of aggression in Iraq as “a foreign policy misadventure” gives me more than indigestion. Frankly, it makes me want to regurgitate.

Do you, Mr. Kerry, want to explain to Cindy Sheehan and the other two thousand Gold Star families that Iraq was “a foreign policy misadventure?” Explain to the 15,000 severely wounded American service men about this “foreign policy misadventure.” Tell the 100,000 families of the dead in Iraq, “Oh, we’re sorry. This was just a little foreign policy misadventure.”

This was not a frigging foreign policy misadventure. This was and is a war crime and a conspiracy on a massive scale. In the words of General Anthony Zinni, the Bush administration “cooked the books.” There were no WMDs in Iraq. There were no Al Qaeda connections. There were no 9/11 connections. There were no Osama bin Laden ties. These facts were all known by the U.S., Israeli, and British intelligence long before this little “misadventure” began.

If there is any Democrat (or Republican) in Washington D.C. with any gonads at all who voted in any way for this war, it is time they stand up, admit the war is illegal and immoral, apologize for being duped into voting for it, then insisting loud and clear that we get out of Iraq NOW! Then, we should begin the war crimes tribunal.

That, Mr. Kerry, is an exit strategy I could swallow.
Samizdat: an underground system for the circulation of forbidden works of literature and political criticism in the Soviet era of Russia.

Location: Arkansas, United States

Angry, angry, angry ... but still, any day above ground is a good day.