Thursday, March 31, 2005

Greetings from Hell

Here is the Chimp's statement on Terri's death.
Today millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schiavo. Laura and I extend our condolences to Terri Schiavo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life.

Fuck you George from Carla Fay Tucker.
Rot in Hell from the 150+ people executed in Texas while you were governor.
Eat Me! from the 1500 plus American dead in Iraq
Fuck Off from the 10,000 plus wounded and disabled in Iraq.
Kiss my Ass from the millions of people that stem cell research might help.
We will meet you in Hell from the 100,000 Iraqi "liberated" so far.
There is a special place in Hell for Georgie boy and his minions and I have already volunteered to be a host. And guess what! Jesus has volunteered to be my assistant.

Living Will Time

As a public service I am providing a link to a site that can provide guidance and the actual forms necessary for you to have a “living will” otherwise known as an AHCD (Advance Health Care Directive) or you can Google your own. Now I wouldn’t have even thought of this just a week ago but now that we have seen what legions of insane, fanatical, jumped-by-Jesus born-again idiots and right-to-lifers can do to the world; I think it is a necessary thing.

While these hypocrites are killing and wounding thousands of our own soldiers and killing and maiming untold numbers of Iraqis and Afghans they are rabidly praying and threatening judges and whoever disagrees with them with death for not allowing a once vital human, now vegetable, die with dignity. We now have clear evidence that these rabid evangelicals and congresspersons and right-to-life Bushys, without a shred of true spirituality, ethics or even commonsense, will have no problem, whatsoever, in deciding exactly what needs to happen to you or your loved one’s body regardless of the law, if they think otherwise or they can make a buck.

All you have to do is fill out the simple form and designate an agent, This can be your spouse, parent or an informed friend that you trust to make health care decisions for you. After filling out the form make a bunch of copies and sign them in the presence of a couple witnesses who understand the importance of what is happening. Keep one in your personal file and if you have an attorney give them one as well. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to spread a few more around among some trusted friends and family either.

Do this now, regardless of how well you might feel or you just might find yourself the unwitting player in a political shit storm and have a bunch of psuedoreligious whackos saying prayers over your helpless ass while threatening your loving wife or husband with murder if they interfere.

I cannot tell you how damn serious this is. There is a giant black cloud over this country and a horde of hypocrisy soaked, rapture fearing, misguided and sanctimonious zealots are trying to force their beliefs down everyone else’s throat. If you don’t want this bunch telling you how to enter the next phase of existence or even stopping you from entering it according to your desires, seriously consider the AHCD. Remember, these people don’t care if you are Zen Buddhist Wiccan Hedonist free thinking sinner who has his or her own ideas about what heaven and hell should be or just a moderate Christian who wonders what has happened to your religion. Hell, they wouldn’t care if your Jesus Fucking Christ his ownself. Once they latch their hypocritical claws on to you and start praying your pleasant trip to Nirvana will turn to shit and the pigs will eat it.

Trust me on this.

Thanks to Mark Morford for the link and the idea.

Lying Again

The Chimpster lied again yesterday in Iowa. I quote:
"By the way, we don't have a trust in Social Security. It's called, pay-as-you-go. See, some people think there's a Social Security trust where we've taken your money, and we've held it for you, and then when you retire, we give it back to you. No, what happens is we take your money, we pay money out for the promises for those people who have retired, and if we've got anything left over, we spend it on things other than Social Security. That's just the way it works. It's been working that way for a long period of time. And what's left are a pile of IOUs, paper."

He is telling the world that the extra money we have been into Social Security which, in turn, has been invested in Treasury Bonds is worthless. Does the world not realize that the bonds they are buying from out government are worthless? Why isn't the mainstream press calling the president on this?

Smelling the Coffee

John Danforth is waking up. This op-ed in the New York Times should be a message to the Republican party. Here is a highlight"
I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

He's Happy!

I didn’t really expect to see him again. It hasn’t been that long and most people never get the chance at all. It was on my daily walk this morning, on the usual route which takes me by the giant Baptist church, when I was surprised to notice someone in the parking lot apparently waxing a Humvee. As I came closer I thought the person looked familiar and closer still the recognition kind of washed over me like a bad chill. Sure, I knew him, but it wasn’t from this lifetime but from the last and again another a few cycles further back.
But I was committed -- Nothing to do now though—too close to ignore—and frankly to dangerous to be rude.
“Morning” I said. “Morning” he responded pleasantly enough.
Curiosity wouldn’t let me keep walking though. There had to be a pretty good reason why the Devil himself was standing in a dark parking lot in an Atlanta suburb. I had to ask.
”Pardon me, but what brings you here this morning? From our last two meetings, that I remember, it doesn’t bode well for me.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “No trouble for you this time…besides… I kind of owe you a favor or two for your help those times.”
See-- the first time we had crossed paths was a good 400 years ago or so when I got burned at the stake for witchcraft and more recently was when I was hung from an oak tree in South Georgia for being black and in the wrong place.
“Owe me?”
“Oh Yeah…you helped me lead quite a few souls to Hell on both occasions and they were especially good ones…I always like hypocrites best.”
“Oh well, my pleasure I guess. Not looking for my help again?”
“No, I have more than enough help right now…this compassionate conservatism was a really good idea. Matter of fact, I’ve had to put on an extra shift these last few years and the way it’s going I might have to add staff again. It’s not that I need help recruiting, mind you, it's the damned processing that’s causing the bottleneck. You know…I thought I had lost a major battle when people began to accept the death with dignity idea but thank “You Know Who” that’s all going down the tubes. There is nothing better for me than a lot of people suffering needlessly…causes all kinds of desperation and desperation is my game.”
“Then I guess you are kind of keen for the wars in the Middle East?” I asked.
“They’re OK as far as they go.” He said. “There is some pretty good torture and innocent suffering going on and that’s good for me but the balance is all wrong, for all its worth. There are just too many innocent souls dying, especially children, and that is hurting the numbers. You know it takes torturing several hundred innocent people to offset one child killed needlessly...but you take what you can get.”
“I see, well I really have to go and I know you must have some important business as well.” I said, well realizing that I was really pushing my luck standing here with Scratch himself.
“Right” he said. “The “Don’t Starve Terri” bus from Florida is just coming up the road and I have to count heads.”

No Way-No How!

Over at Mahablog Maha is discussing the marketing of the candidates for 2008. He mentions the so called "National Security Democrats" and how all the front runners are in this camp. He references Matt Taibbi in the New York Press and has the following quote.

In the midst of all of this, the Democratic Party is preparing its shiny new 2008 position on Iraq and terror. Described in Goldberg's New Yorker article, the political plan is centered around a new faction that calls itself the "National Security Democrats" (a term coined by that famous liberal, Richard Holbrooke) and is led by revolting hair-plug survivor Joe Biden. The position of the "National Security Democrats" is that the party should be "more open to the idea of military action, and even preemption" and that the Democrats should "try to distance themselves from the Party's Post-Vietnam ambivalence about the projection of American power." Additionally, the Democrats ought to reconsider their traditional stance as an opposition party and learn to embrace Republican heroes like Ronald Reagan. ...

It would be easy to dismiss the Biden revival as a cheap stunt by a discredited party hack with all the national appeal of the streptococcus virus, except for one thing. Biden's "national security" camp includes all four of the expected main contenders for the Democratic nomination—Biden himself, Hillary Clinton, Indiana senator Evan Bayh, and John Edwards. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, another outside contender, is also a member of this camp. We are going to be hearing a lot about "National Security Democrats" in the next three years.

I can't tell you what a bad idea this is. I am not sure how we change the electorate but I can tell you that becoming war mongers is not the right way. We on the left know this with all our hearts. We know with reason and compassion we can do better than the other guys. We just have to figure out how to show the majority that moral values are not just abortion and gay marriage but about jobs,healthcare and peaceful resolutions to the worlds's problems. I for one will not vote for anyone that supports the concept of right through might and that threats of violence are the answers to today's problems. No way no how.

Update: edited for spelling and format

They're Kidding, Right?

Here is a link to an article by a philosophy professor in Florida that is very dis-heartening. Now that the main stream media are under Rove's thumb they are turning on the last opportunity for young people to actually learn and validate, repudiate, or modify what they have learned. Evidently this movement in Florida is just one of many similar ones initiated by conservative David Horowitz’s.

Here is a snippet:
Philosophers have a long tradition of questioning conventional norms and popular beliefs. Socrates was accused by the mob for being unpatriotic because he didn’t believe war with Sparta and the poorly planned Sicilian invasion were good ideas. As it turned out, he was right and they were wrong. Athens was demolished. He was promptly executed on trumped up charges, “Corrupting the Youth” and “Atheism” (gee, that sounds familiar!). In other words, Socrates was found guilty for being a critic of society, which made him an “enemy of the state.”

The intended goal of this bill is to allow students the opportunity to express FOXTV lies or misinformation, and their conservative views, in the classroom without teachers getting in the way. If the teachers challenge their Limbaugh or Hannity views, then the teacher will be sued, tarred & feathered and thrown into prison in the name of “Academic Freedom.” Oh, and let’s not forget the Hemlock

Monday, March 28, 2005

Worth Repeating

James Wolcott lists the "statement of principles" from the Free Inquiry website. I think they are worth repeating. They match my sentiments, more or less, though I resist putting myself in the "Secular Humanist" pigeonhole. I can and do resonate with their principles on the whole. This whole recent affair around the "Culture of Life" and bullshit that it is propogating has served to remind me why I have drifted so far from the religion of my childhood. It has become embarrassing. I can remember when it wasn't so and it is a little saddening to know that so many people today have taken what is fundamentally a humanist and very Zen teaching of Jesus and twisted it into a hateful and intolerant disease.

Anyhow here they are:
* Our best guide to truth is free and rational inquiry; we should therefore not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy. We should defer to no dogma - neither religious nor secular - and never be afraid to ask "How do you know?"
* We should be concerned with the here and now, with solving human problems with the best resources of human minds and hearts. If there is to be meaning in our lives, we must supply it ourselves, relying on our own powers, observation, and compassion. It is irrational and ultimately harmful to hang our hopes on gods, the supernatural, and the hidden, which arise out of imagination and wishful thinking. It is pointless - and often dangerous - to push aside human intelligence to reach for some flimsy veil of alleged truths.
* We must be committed to moral principles, which are derived from critical intelligence and human experience, and we must pursue positive ideals. We should therefore observe the common moral decencies: integrity, humanitarianism, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. This means caring for one another, being tolerant of differences, and striving to overcome divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, creed, or class.
* Constitutional democracy is the best known means for protecting the rights of all people to form worldviews and live out their commitments in a free and mutually respectful way. Governments should promote open societies, ensure universal human rights, and be secular, having no bias against any religious or non-religious group.
* We should strive to bring about a genuine world community and nourish an appreciation for global ethics and our planetary interdependence.
* Secular humanism aims to bring out the best in people so that all can achieve fullness in life. Thus we must strive to realize personal potential, maximize creative talents and artistic expression, and choose joy and hope over despair, guilt, and sin.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Reason and Compassion

Lindsay over at Majikthise has done an excellent job of distilling the talking points we on the left should be using around this whole "Culture of Life" vs "Culture of Death" thing that is evolving around the tragedy of Terri Shiavo.
It boils down to valuing reason over emotion and recognizing that there are practical limits to everything. We can make positive changes to our world but we have to reasonably measure the effects of our actions and put our limited energy to work where it will do the most good. It means taking the emotion out of the process and replacing it with reason and compassion.

Keep the Faith

Mark Morford's column this morning is not a happy one. He has zeroed in on something that has been riding on the edge of my conciousness for a while and I just didn't take the time or energy to ferret it out. Here are a few snippets but, as usual, he is always worth reading in the whole.
"Just look around. No one anywhere, not priests, not nuns, not healers or mystics, not Christians, not pagans, not Repubs or Demos or Libertarians, no one anywhere in this country is saying, hey, doesn't it feel like we're entering into a new era of health and healing and positivism and spiritual rebirth? Aren't our schools just teeming anew with eager students who seem to be getting smarter and more articulate? Isn't the air getting cleaner and aren't we proud of our government for protecting the health of future generations by pushing for more natural foods and signing on to the Kyoto Treaty and advocating antitoxin regulations and by protecting our forests and improving school textbooks and revolutionizing the hideous national health care system?"
"There's a reason for that. We are not headed for light. Not yet, anyway. The coming years are not going to be about friendship and repaired foreign relations and a sense of our shared humanity, about equality and sexual freedom and a renewed sense of human rights. To believe this is to believe in fairy tales almost as insidious and hopeless as evangelical Christians who are right now stuffing themselves with Cheez-Its and pink wine and praying for Armageddon."

As Mark says a little further on, about all one can do is stoke up the Karmic fire, radiate as much positive force as you can and pray to the goddess that she helps you dodge the biggest turds that are screaming our way.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Good Tools for Free

Via Corrente The Cost of Iraq War site is worth a visit. It shows comparisons of how much is being spent on yhe disister in Iraq to what could be spent on lots of issues. One example, health insurance for kids: around 95 million kids could be insured for what Iraq has cost us. Or we could have funded global hunger programs for 6 years for what we have spent so far in Iraq. Or, we could have ensured that every child in the world was given basic immunizations for 52 years. There are some very sobering numbers there that you can use.
SOme of the tools on the site allow you to localize the numbers for you state or city. These local impact numbers can be a valuable weapon for charts and graphs for local presentation.
Two other highlights at related sites:
Local Cost Of Iraq War and The President's Budget: Impact on the States

Thanks for the heads up RDF.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Same Old Liars Different Lies

Did you ever wonder where all the money is coming from to maintain the fight to keep Terri Schiavo alive? It must have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars so far. The Schindlers are not wealthy. So how do they do it? Gilgamesh's Diary over at KOS has the answer and guess what? It is the same old bunch of whackos that funded the witch hunt of the Clintons. Yep--Scaife, Coors et al.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Out of Touch

The latest ABC News poll(PDF) around the Schiavo flap is pretty conclusive. The GOP is out of touch with America and not just marginally.

Removal of feeding tube

Support 63
Oppose 28

Federal Intervention

Support 35
Oppose 60

Appropriate for Congress to get involved?

Appropriate 27
Not Appropriate 70

Reason political leaders are trying to keep Shiavo alive

Concern about Shiavo 19
Political Advantage 67

Can anyone say "Overstepped"?

Smelling the Coffee

Steven Roach of Morgan Stanley has some interesting views on the current state. The article is worth a peruse.
Tipping points are a great concept, but virtually impossible to identify ahead of time -- let alone when they are occurring. It is only with the great luxury of hindsight that we can look back and know that the proverbial bell has rung. In my view, March 16, 2005 could end up in the running as a possible tipping point for America. Suddenly, the US has taken on a very different aura in an increasingly unbalanced world: The confluence of a record current account deficit, a disaster from General Motors, and yet another new high for oil prices all speak of an increasingly precarious role for the global hegemon. World financial markets have barely begun to sniff that out.

The article highlights something which has become fairly apparent to me. Our "elected" officials AKA the Bushies are setting the United States up for a fall. I am truly concerned that this coming fall will not simply be a recession buta full blown collapse of everything we are currently taking for granted. How long can we expect the rest of the world to finance our party? How long before we come to the point that we realize that we cannot expect the world to continue to invest in our country while we do not? Oil is reaching new highs, the current account deficit is at a record and foreign banks are beginning to realize that the dollar is not such a good investment.

Pelosi Speaks

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on Congressional involvement in the Terri Schiavo case:

"The case of Terri Schiavo is a sad and tragic situation. Congressional leaders have no business substituting their judgment for that of multiple state courts that have extensively considered the issues in this intensely personal family matter. The actions of the majority in attempting to pass constitutionally-dubious legislation are highly irregular and an improper use of legislative authority.

"Michael Schiavo is faced with a devastating decision, but, having been through the proper legal process, the decision for his wife's care belongs to him and to God.

"This rush to exploit a personal tragedy is not fair to those involved and will not create good policy."

Enough Said!

Constitution? What Constitution?

It really just heaps on the disgust. That in order to pass this Bill of Attainder for Schiavo which is specifically prohibited in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9) that they just threw out the rules and passed it without a quorum. They have now seriously flawed the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution and done it by suspending the rules of the House. These guys know absolutely no bounds and no one is going to challenge them -- that's the sad part.


Digby says

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

I am so absolutely disgusted over this that I am speechless. If there is a Hell they are preparing a special place for Bush, DeLay and their ilk.

Sad State of Affairs

Yeah, I am still on Central European Time but I am getting a lot of backed up reading done. Still, I kinda wish I hadn't stumbled on this fact over at Roachblog
As noted, when I was doing my stint in the 60's and 70's, the North Vietnamese were the worst nightmare when it came to being a POW. I even went to a special school in California that simulated being captured by the North Vietnamese to sort of teach you what to expect. Now it turns out that 114 Americans died while in captivity there. That's the whole long bloody war. Bad, yes, but nowhere near as appalling as the fact that 108 have died while in American custody during the Iraq adventure.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I Have Escaped

Whilst I am still shell shocked by a 21 hour travel nightmare I am, in fact, back from France after four weeks. The client decided they needed a few more weeks of preparation before opening their checkbook again. Suits. I may even get to a day or so of the Master's now.
Let's hope that the blog will have a little more activity now that I will have full Internet access and some time to surf and write.

BTW. If I don't remember later, I want to tell you how mad I am at Delta for suddenly changing my seat from an aisle (which was specifically requested and granted) to the center seat in the center section for the 9 hour flight from Paris to Atlanta. Is this the gratitude for the loyalty over the years? Do you expect to keep the loyalty this way? I might expect to be treated this way if I were only an part time traveller but I am a Platinum Medallion and have been pretty much every year for 20 years. Thanks.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nurse Ratchet Spins

How is Karen honey going to spin this?

"The two terrorists died while in American custody of self inflicted wounds. Valiant attempts to revive them were in vain even the direct transfusions of cherished American blood."

"Two known Al Qaeda suspects committed suicide today in Afghanistan rather that reveal the exact location of the upcoming dirty bomb attack on some midwestern American town."

"Interupted while plotting another cowardly terrorist attack on America, two Al Qaeda suspects where killed by a 19 year old Army reservist while she was on routine patrol. Military police specialist Christy Lee White from Denton, Texas said she saw saw the two men drawing pictures of Idaho in the sand and knew right away they were planning an attack using Weapons of Mass Destruction on her country. Christy is soon to be transferred to Iraq for duty at the Abu Ghraib prison where she hopes to apply the lessons she as learned so well in Afghanistan."

I give up.. I obvioulsy don't have the "God Given" talent of Madame Hughes.

The real story from The New York Times

Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.

. . . The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner. The reports, obtained by Human Rights Watch, provide the first official account of events that led to the deaths of the detainees, Mullah Habibullah and Mr. Dilawar, at the Bagram Control Point, about 40 miles north of Kabul. The deaths took place nearly a year before the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Among those implicated in the killings at Bagram were members of Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg, N.C. The battalion went on to Iraq, where some members established the interrogation unit at Abu Ghraib and have been implicated in some abuses there.

Arctic Refuge Alert:-2k Acre Footprint Scam

From Daily KOS
There are several excellent diaries over at Kos on this issue. I am just trying to increase it's presence.

The vote on the FY 2006 Budget Resolution that will contain language authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is due on Wednesday. Several excellent and informatative diaries have been posted during the last couple of days concerning this issue.(Links below for talking points.) What's been missing our discussion is the "2000 Acre Footprint Scam" described in this month's editon of the Audubon Society magazine (March/April 2005)page 16: "There's a catch, of course. The 2,000 acres don't have to be contiguous.."

Fodder for Letters to everyone;

From the National Wildlife Federation:

1. The 1.5 million acre coastal plain where oil drilling is proposed is the most biologically productive part of the Refuge.

2. The Refuge is home to thousands of calving caribou, denning polar bears, roaming grizzlies, and rare muskoxen.

3. Northern pintail ducks, mallards, tundra swans and white fronted geese are among the many migratory species known to inhabit the coastal plain during the year.

4. According to the US Geological Survey and the oil industry, it would take at least a decade to tap any oil from the Refuge.

5. 95% of Alaska's Arctic coastal lands are already available for oil exploration including the National Petroleum Reserve (the size of Indiana).

6. Refuge oil will make no difference in prices at the pump. The amount of oil would be such a small percentage of daily world oil production that it would have no effect on the globally established price of oil.

7. Audubon Society: The impact of the drilling operations would extend far beyond the 2,000 acres stated in the law. Road building, gravel pit excavation, and pipelines would create a spider web of encroachments on the entire coastal Refuge.

Nurse Ratchet

I think it is very telling, on some level, that the Bush malAdministration is bringing back Karen "Ratchet" Hughes and to the State Department no less. In spite of the lying, torture, war, voter suppression and general thuggish behavior they think all of their problems are merely public relations issues. How do you deal with a group of people that believe that it is just a matter of public perception with respect to the 1513 dead American soldiers and thousands of maimed. These people believe that with the right spin the entire global disaster that they have created is not a problem. Raising "Lipstick on a Pig" to new levels and guess what...we get to pay for it. Such a deal.

Stars Fell on Alabama

From the Gadsden Times
Half of Alabama public school students now in poverty
The percentage of Alabama public school students living in poverty has crossed the 50 percent mark for the first time, according to the state education officials.

The Alabama State Department of Education released more than 1,200 "report cards" Thursday rating the state's 1,529 public schools. The reports show that 50.7 percent of Alabama's students receive free or reduced-price meals at school, an indicator of poverty.

Excuse me but why in the hell is Bush spending millions of dollars flying around the country doing staged/scripted "Town Hall Meetings" on the non crisis of Social Security?
Forget I asked that I already know the answer.

Paying to be Lied To

In an article in The New York Times today details what many of us have known for some time. We are paying to be lied to by the government. I have known for some time that much of what I see on various news shows etc. is slanted toward what the mis-adminsitration wants me to believe but this in depth article details just how pervasive the practice is and how completely we are being deluded.
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

Can we have some outrage heew? It is bad enough that we are being lied to by our elected officials but do we have to pay for it as well? What happened to the fourth estate that now we have to question everything we hear or see? We cannot take a thing we see or hear on the MSM at face value and must question everything. We have granted the media the use of our radio and TV spectrum to perform a public service and instead we are fed a steady diet of propoganda at our expense. This is a crime...and there is no other way to define it.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

No Compromise

Jonathan Chait has an excellent article over at The New Republic with an insightful look at the “deeply disingenuous” effort by the conservative right via Bush and company to destroy Social Security. The article is well worth the read.
What it boils down to is that not only is Social Security a retirement program it is an insurance program that protects everyone from being left destitute should they become disabled and unable to work or suffer radical decrease in income. It spreads the risks of life across the whole society and in turn provides a safety net for the entire society. They key point, however, is that the truth of the whole discussion is that this is really not about Social Security and whether private accounts are a worthwhile adjunct but an ideological battle over what the conservatives see as an unwarranted government intrusion into private business.
The hard right Republicans know that this complete control over all three branches of government will not last. This is their best chance to destroy Social Security or at minimum get the wedges in to start the process.
Everyone needs to recognize that there are ways to privately augment their income during retirement via IRA’s and 401Ks, etc. but that they are subject to the whims of the market nd income. It is also true that the lowest income members of our society don’t have a spare nickel to invest in a Roth and that the current Social Security program is their only hope. Take it away and they will wind up, at some point, both destitute and homeless, a burden on their family or society or just die a slow and miserable death in some way.
I also know that it is only my current earning capability that is allowing me to sock away a little extra and that these earnings could disappear tomorrow either through my employer going bust or by simply becoming disabled. Private accounts are not going to address this if Social Security goes away. There will be no “income of last resort” as is represented by Social Security today. I am pretty sure I won’t have to live on Social Security alone but there are millions that will and are.
There is talk on the left of compromise and alternative proposals. This is a very large mistake as it does not recognize that this is not about how to “save” social security but how to destroy it. Compromise on this issue by the left is a recipe for disaster because nothing will get enacted and signed by Bush that doesn’t meet the goal of setting the stage for the destruction of Social Security. Compromise on this issue is consigning millions of middle and low income to a future of destitution. Plain and simple. The Republicans are trying and succeeding, with the help of the MSM, to keep the argument away from the stark truth that the goal of this administration is to destroy the program and they will not be happy until they do. Chait’s article goes into much greater detail and I hope it gets as much distribution and discussion as possible.

I Am On My Own I Guess!

In a two-paragraph letter dated March 7, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States proposed the protocol in 1963 and ratified it -- along with the rest of the Vienna Convention -- in 1969.

The protocol requires signatories to let the International Court of Justice (ICJ) make the final decision when their citizens say they have been illegally denied the right to see a home-country diplomat when jailed abroad.

What this says to me is that Bush nd Company are more concerned with preserving their ability to imprison, torture and murder foriegners suspected of not agreeing with the United States than they are with protecting the rights of American citizens detained in foriegn countries. Since I spend a lot of time outside the U.S. this, for some silly reason, is causing me some concern.

was this treaty ratified by Congress? If it was can Bsuh withdraw without Congressional approval? Just asking.

What Constitution?

The following quote from Mr. Bush taken directly from the Whitehouse transcript is very telling...
"Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem."

Bush is basically telling us that he is going to default on the Social Security Trust Fund. This trust fund was specifically created at the urging of Mr. Greenspan to specifically address the upcoming situation where SS income will be overtaken by expenses.
As Josh Marshall points out this is very close, if not blatantly flaunting his oath of office where he promises to uphold the Constitution. There is the sticky little article about government debt. The 15th Amendement, Section 4 reads:
"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Can someone tell me why this statement has not caused outrage? I am stuck in France and only have access to CNN International but I would have thought that this kind of baldfaced lie would have received some kinds of MSM coverage. Do people not remember Greenspan's statements back in 1983 that recommended the intentional creation of a surplus in the Social Security collections?
How have we fallen so far? I sincerely think this is grounds for impeachment.

Friday, March 11, 2005

French Labor

Interesting day yesterday. French tranport workers struck for the day which shut down the metro and buses for the day. In a town where the bulk of the population uses the public transport it was a zoo. Cabs were refusing to even drive in the traffic and we were quite lucky to even get one from the client back to the hotel. As far as I can tell the strike was to make the 35 hour work week more flexible. Which means everyone want s to work more not less. I sure hope another strike doesn't happen in the next two weeks...I'll jus tstay inthe hotel if it does.
Back to work but it is Friday so I might get some blogging done over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Welcome FireDogLake to the BlogRoll

Welcome Jane to the BlogRoll. Jane publishes FireDogLake as is a most welcome addition to out family.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

More Disgust from the GOP.

Nathan Newman has the scoop on the disgusting peice of trash being pushed by Rick Santorum (PA). It guts the minimum wage system, turns the tip-worker into a slave and encourages sweatshops to proliferate. I'm too sleepy to elucidate but you can read all about here at the Nathan's.
What have these people got against those just trying to earn enough not to starve. They're touting this as a pro labor bill.

Consumer Protection - Republican Style

There is an excellent post over at DailyKos by Maryscott OConnor that has promoted from the diaries that is a must read for those interested in the so called "Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection" Act. This bill deals primarily with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. These are the two options available to most individuals as the Chapter 11 variety is more complex and costly and usually reserved for business. The Kos posting covers it in detail but I want to highlight for effect what is happening, to who and by whom.
Various Democrats have been putting potential amendments forward that are designed to protect the most vulnerable consumers and the issues of predatory lending and loopholes for wealthy individuals. Maryscott OConnor ‘s post goes into far greater detail on each of the amendments and has done some excellent research. I am just going to hit the high spots in the hopes that you will go and read the entire ugly story outlined my Maryscott OConnor. Pay special attention to Amendment 42, the smoking gun.

Sponsored by Sen. Schumer (D), Amendment 42 -To limit the exemption for asset protection trusts. In other words to limit the protection afforded to wealthy individuals that put their assets in a “Wealth Protection Trust” which are available in five states to anyone regardless of residence.

Every Republican voted against it.
They were joined by Democrats Nelson(NE), Johnson, and Carper.

Durbin Amendment. 49 - Protect employees and retirees from corporate practices that deprive them of their earnings and retirement savings when a business files for bankruptcy.
Every Republican voted against it. They were joined by Democrat Nelson

Durbin Amendment. 38; To discourage predatory lending practices.
Every Republican voted against it. They were joined by Democrats Nelson(NE), Johnson, and Carper.

Nelson (FL) Amendment 37; To exempt debtors from means testing if their financial problems were caused by identity theft.
Every Republican voted against it. They were joined by Democrats Nelson(NE), Johnson, and Carper.

Dayton Amendment 31.; To limit the amount of interest that can be charged on any extension of credit to 30 percent.
Every Republican voted against it. They were joined by 19 Democrats. We assume the amendment was poorly written.

Corzine Amendment 32; To preserve existing bankruptcy protections for individuals experiencing economic distress as caregivers to ill or disabled family members.
Every Republican voted against it. Democrats Baucus, Bingaman joined Nelson(NE), Johnson, and Carper Every.

Kennedy Amendment 28.; To exempt debtors whose financial problems were caused by serious medical problems from means testing.

Kennedy Amendment 29; To provide protection for medical debt homeowners.

All Republican Senators voted against these amendments.
Democrats voting against Amendment 28 were Biden, Carper, Johnson and Nelson(NE).
Democrats voting against Amendment 29 were Bingaman, Carper, Johnson and Nelson(NE).

Akaka Amendment 15; To require enhanced disclosure to consumers regarding the consequences of making only minimum required payments in the repayment of credit card debt, and for other purposes.
Every Republican Senator voted against this amendment. Joined by Democrats Baucus, Biden, Carper, Johnson and Nelson(NE).

Feingold Amendment 17; To provide a homestead floor for the elderly.
Every Republican voted against it.

Durbin Amendment 16, As Modified.; To protect service members and veterans from means testing in bankruptcy, to disallow certain claims by lenders charging usurious interest rates to service members, and to allow service members to exempt property based on the law of the State of their pre-military residence.
All Republican Senators voted against.
Democrats Baucus, Biden, Byrd, Carper, Johnson and Nelson(NE) joined them.

Do you get the sense here?
Protection for the elderly – Repubs NO
Medical disaster relief – Repubs NO
Service men and Women – Repubs NO
Consumer Protection - Repubs NO
Protection from Usury – Repubs NO
Help victims of Identity Theft – Repubs NO
Protect Retirees from Corporate Thugs – Repubs NO

Protect Credit Card Companies – Repubs – YES
Screw the Consumers – Repubs YES

Now let me see?? The biggest single contributor the Republican party?
MNBA – the biggest credit card company. Fancy that.

I hope this encourages you to read the entire post over at KOS.

Expanation and Excuses

I know some of you(the few that stop here periodically)are wondering at the woeful lack of activity on this and the livejournal of the same name.
Welllll...The typical workweek here in Lyon is up at 5:30 in time for a run through the rain locker, and a bowl of 19 Euro cereral (that's about $24) and on to the Metro at 7:30 for the journey to the other end of Lyon. Then a bus to the back gate of the client's sprawling facility. Meetings with the client all day until 1800 or so then back to the hotel by about 1930. Then if the strength is still sufficient find someplace for a reasonable dinner which usually takes a couple of hours. A quick dinner is not in the language here. Back to the hotel and collapse. Repeat.
Couple this with a spendid French cold and the fact that Internet access goes for 5 Euro per half hour or 15 Euro for 24 hours (that's $7 and $20 more or less) and you have several excuses. Cold and snow this weekend have allowed some slack this weekend so I am trying to catch up both with my reading and writing and other work. I will try and do better but I have at least 3 more weeks on this stint and the way things are going it will only be the first of several more trips.
Lyon is a lovely city, the people, in general, are polite and friendly, not to mention very tolerant of my atrocious French. Some are even beginning to understand my southern accent.
We only have the BBC and CNN in English on the TV and the endless repitition wears thin very quickly. I have purchased a kettle so that I can make tea and coffee in the room and I broke down yesterday and bought some instant soup. Those that know in real life will know what that means.
Anyhow, please excuse the dearth of activity and do check back periodically as I am pretty sure I will survive this and return to my normal level of writing and posting.

Unreasonable Sheep

Ezra Klein has a very important post up. I really can't add much to it and Digby has done a fine job in this area.
What I want to do, however, is add something to the mix.
This is not just simply a discussion or fight about social security or health care or who wins the most seats in the next election. This is about the future of the world. "I wouldn't go that far." you say?
Think about this...we have a president who was elected by the overwhelming support of the religious right. These are the people who believe that war in the Middle East is a necessary step toward the "Rapture". These are the people who want this conflict extended to the final battle of Armageddon. These are the people who believe that God intended for humans to dominate the earth and that regardless of the depletion of resources and the dirty air and water God will provide. These are the people who believe that conservation is unnecessary as the "Rapture" is close and they and all others who have the true faith in Jesus will be lifted up whole into heaven to sit at the hand of God and enjoy the suffering of all the rest of us during the tribulation. Why conserve? These people believe every word in the Bible is true. These people believe that man lived with dinosaurs. These people believe that the theory of evolution is a lie. If you are gay these people will gladly see your basic human rights denied and a good many of them would gladly see you die. If you are a woman these people believe that they control your womb. If you are a black, Muslim or another non white, or even non Christian person these people believe you are an animal and should be treated as such.
The above crowd and their kin are cheering at the murder of Judge Lefkow's husband and mother. This bunch sees absolutely nothing wrong in our invasion of Iraq. These folks are cheering Bush on in his threats to Syria. (As if he can back them up).
We folk, whether we call ourselves Democrats, Liberals, Communists, Greens, Socialists or Progressives need to wake up to the reality of the world that is developing around us. The conservative right/GOP/KKK/Church of the Creator/whacko has no morals when it comes to getting their world vision forwarded. They lie, steal, cheat, murder, maim, whatever it takes to win. I am not advocating crawling down into the gutter with them...that makes us no better than them. To further Ezra's point we need to take every advantage of openings they present, especially those resulting from their over confidence. We should never refuse the opportunity to pull back the curtain on their true nature. They are creatures of the night and darkness and will wither in the full light of truth. We should not let our desire for civility keep us from taking the fight to them.
The thing we always have to remember, however, is that these people are not living in the real world. They do not listen to reason. The harsh truth of the world is not for them. They need their delusions of immortality. They need their feeling of superiority. They need someone to push down and denigrate. They need to find evil in the world. They do not want to accept an equal footing with their fellow man.
We have to work within the world they live in. It has been shown over and over that they will not be dragged into the light. How we do this is an entirely different issue and not an easy one but it can be done. They are sheep and cannot think for themselves and we just need to figure out how to supplant the "Wonder Bread" they are eating now with something of substance, flavor and nourishment for their withered souls.


I really need someone to explain to me why this is not illegal. How can the Bushites spend our tax money on propoganda against us. This is another example of these guys flaunting the law with impunity. What whould the MSM have done if Bill Clinton had done the same.