Thursday, November 30, 2006

Global Warming Heats Up SCOTUS

Justices' First Brush With Global Warming

Published: November 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 — A Supreme Court argument Wednesday on the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate carbon dioxide in automobile emissions offered three intertwined plot lines to the audience that had come to watch the court’s first encounter with the issue of global climate change.

On one level, the argument was about the meaning of the Clean Air Act, which the Environmental Protection Agency maintains does not treat carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases as air pollutants and thus does not give the agency the authority to regulate them.

On another level, the argument was about whether the dozen states, three cities and many environmental groups that went to federal court to challenge the agency’s position had legal standing to pursue their lawsuit.

And on still another level, the courtroom action was an episode in a policy debate that began well before this case arrived on the Supreme Court’s docket and that will continue, in the political sphere, no matter what the justices decide.

By the end of the argument, that continuing debate appeared the only certain outcome.
Continue here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Warming Goes A Courtin'

Global Warming Goes to Court

NYT Editorial

Published: November 28, 2006

The Bush administration has been on a six-year campaign to expand its powers, often beyond what the Constitution allows. So it is odd to hear it claim that it lacks the power to slow global warming by limiting the emission of harmful gases. But that is just what it will argue to the Supreme Court tomorrow, in what may be the most important environmental case in many years.

A group of 12 states, including New York and Massachusetts, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly do its job. These states, backed by environmental groups and scientists, say that the Clean Air Act requires the E.P.A. to impose limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by new cars. These gases are a major contributor to the "greenhouse effect" that is dangerously heating up the planet.

The Bush administration insists that the E.P.A. does not have the power to limit these gases. It argues that they are not "air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. Alternatively, it contends that the court should dismiss the case because the states do not have "standing," since they cannot show that they will be specifically harmed by the agency’s failure to regulate greenhouse gases.

A plain reading of the Clean Air Act shows that the states are right. [...]

The Supreme Court can strike an important blow in defense of the planet simply by ruling that the E.P.A. must start following the law.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Democratic Leader

Following requests for an investigation of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless surveillance program from Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and other House members, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn A. Fine today informed Hinchey and Lofgren that his office has opened a review of the agency's involvement with the program. Hinchey and Lofgren have led the call for nearly a year for DOJ officials to examine the NSA warrantless surveillance program with Lofgren pushing for Fine to investigate the matter and Hinchey pursuing a probe through the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

Congressman Hinchey said:

"After trying for nearly a year to get DOJ to conduct an investigation of the NSA's warrantless spy program, I am very pleased to learn that the agency's Inspector General is finally opening an investigation that we were made to believe would never happen. While I'm glad that the White House finally relented and granted additional clearances for DOJ officials to conduct an investigation, I can't help but be skeptical about the timing. I wonder whether this reversal is only coming now after the election as an attempt to appease Democrats in Congress who have been critical of the NSA program and will soon be in control and armed with subpoena power. While it is important to learn how DOJ officials have handled the NSA program and determine whether any information gathered from the program such as phone numbers has been used inappropriately, we need Inspector General Fine to expand his probe to examine how the warrantless spy program was born, how it evolved, and what laws may have been violated by administration officials as they implemented the program."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bobby - A Speech

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

Robert F. Kennedy
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

Excerpts from his speech:
"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.
. . . . .

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
. . . . .

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Full text of this speech at: RFK Memorial dot Org

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bobby - The Movie

Last night I had the opportunity to see "Bobby." I recommend seeing this movie. The story evolves around the lives of people during that period of time that worked on the California Primary Campaign, worked in the Ambassador Hotel or came to stay at the Hotel.

The movie has live footage of speeches that Robert F. Kennedy made while campaigning for the presidency. One speech struck me as simply timeless:

"I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can."
While it was not stated in the movie an important point needs to made insomuch as the business community condemned Bobby Kennedy as immature and irresponsible. Business, it was said, was disquieted "by the reputation for radicalism that he has developed."

The picture above is quite famous. A Mexican kitchen worker held the head of Bobby Kennedy until help came. Times were tough back then as they still are today for the Latino Population.

There is footage of the Vietnam War also and I walked away after seeing this movie realizing that times are not that very different, even though this took place 38 years ago.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway
Thanksgiving comes again.
~Old Rhyme

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the changes,
and to remember that we, too, grow and change
from one season of life to another.

A little "funny" on NCIS tonight

I won't get too much into the case of the show. But some Navy guy was murdered on a college campus. He had shared two girlfriends from the campus. One of the girls was questioned by Gibbs (Mark Harmon). She gave him incriminating stuff about the other girl, who "posted nasty stuff on her blog." Gibbs asks, "What's a blog?" The girl says, "It's a blog. A place where people post stuff." He was puzzled, but it was kind of dropped.

Later (several segments), Gibbs asks Ziva if she knows what a "Clog is?" Ziva responds, "You mean a shoe or something stuck in a drain?" Okay, this may sound stupid, but Ziva is Israeli. She has always had serious problems with the English language.

Then Gibbs says, "It's something someone has on the computer." Ziva responds, "Oh, I thought that was called a blog. But I don't know."

It just kind of tickled my funnybone.

Bill Clinton on Ellen Show

Didja see it? It was fabulous. He was on for three segments. One aspect of it just blew me away and gave me the chills! I'll try to briefly describe.

Ellen is taping in NYC this week. She posted a sign on a neighboring building that said, "Ellen wants to meet her neighbors. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx." Well, one woman (that I know of) called. Ellen called her back while on the air. The woman freaked out. Clearly, she did not know that "Ellen" was Ellen Degeneres. It was funny.

Anyway, the woman walked out onto her balcony of the neighboring high-rise. They shot her pretty clearly. She said she was a mom of a 2.5 year old and a 2 month old. Ellen invited her over to the show, and she accepted.

The show continues on. Bill Clinton is the first guest (oh, he still gives me goosebumps!). The next segment begins, and the new mom arrives with baby in pram. She walks right across the stage. Clinton shakes her hand (I am dying here!). The woman embraces Ellen.

Bill is looking at the baby in the pram. The camera closes up to that shot of the baby. Next thing you know, Bill lowers the baby blanket and picks the baby up! He's holding him and talking to him. Mom seems to be freaking out, but she holds it together. I would have said, "Excuse me. I'll be back in two minutes." Then I'd run LIKE HELL to get a camera and shoot a picture of President Clinton holding my son! Oh, I was all shivery over this scenario. I cannot even imagine! (Mind you if Dubya tried to lay one FILTY hand on my offspring, I'd knee him in the crotch!).

The lady took her baby in the pram to a seat in the front row. Bill and Ellen sat down, and he said that was a beautiful baby. It was priceless!

All of that as a result of a seemingly random phone call by a stay-at-home mom trying to be a good neighbor. That's what I'm talkin' about!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seat belts on school buses: a no-brainer that has never been done.

We've seen yet another story of a school bus involved in a horrific accident today, this time in Alabama. Three students were killed and more than thirty were taken to the hospital after the bus plunged thirty feet over an embankment, possibly after having been struck or cut very close to by a car driven by another student.

All of which begs the question of why this bus, like most school buses was not equipped with seat belts.

It seems to me that this should be a no-brainer and I wondered about that when I was a kid (I never had to ride a bus to school but went on them on field trips; my parents had always insisted that I buckle up, and it was on a school bus that I first encountered the experience of not having a seat belt.) Yet now, thirty plus years later, we still see this kind of story in the news (periodically-- this seems to happen once or twice every year.)

Why not? Is there any good reason not to put them there? Granted, a 'you must wear it' rule might be hard to enforce, especially among kids who are used to not wearing it (bus drivers have a tough enough job already-- though it could be argued that having kids in seat belts would cut down on the amount of hanky-panky that goes on back there) but it certainly could be enforced on field trips where there are teachers present in the bus, and even in a daily routine, they would be available to students who wanted to put them on, which is an improvement over 100% of the students being thrown around in the bus in an accident, as is the case now.

For that matter, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on whether people who don't wear seat belts as adults often rode buses to school when they were kids? I bet the results of such a study would be interesting. As a parent, yes, as a matter of fact, I have heard from my kids when I make them put on their seat belts, 'well we didn't have to when we got on the bus to go on our field trip,' which makes it that much harder for me to get them to put it on in the car (though they do-- rule number one in my car is that all passengers will wear seat belts; but will they when they are teens, and the idea that it's not necessary was first planted in their minds courtesy of the school district?) And as a parent I really wonder about this-- if a police officer pulls me over and my kid doesn't have a seat belt on then it's a stiff fine, payable to the state of Arizona. But if my kid gets on a school bus without seat belts then the state is forcing them do what they fine me for if I let them do.

Greyhounds and other interstate buses have seatbelts, so it's not like you can't build a bus with them.

I'm frankly sick of reading (or in some cases watching video) of kids thrown around inside of school buses. There need to be seat belts on school buses. NOW.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Learning from Vietnam

Olbermann: Lessons from the Vietnam War

Keith Olbermann responds to Bush's comparison between Vietnam and Iraq


Asked if there were lessons about Iraq to be found in our experience in Vietnam, Mr. Bush said that there were, and he immediately proved he had no clue what they were.

"One lesson is,” he said, "that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."

"We’ll succeed," the president concluded, "unless we quit."

If that’s the lesson about Iraq that Mr. Bush sees in Vietnam, then he needs a tutor.

Or we need somebody else making the decisions about Iraq.

Mr. Bush, there are a dozen central, essential lessons to be derived from our nightmare in Vietnam, but "we’ll succeed unless we quit," is not one of them. [...]

And, in particular, the one over-arching lesson about Iraq that should’ve been written everywhere he looked in Vietnam went unseen.

"We’ll succeed unless we quit"?

Mr. Bush, we did quit in Vietnam! [...]

Finally, in Vietnam, we learned the lesson. We stopped endlessly squandering lives and treasure and the focus of a nation on an impossible and irrelevant dream, but you are still doing exactly that, tonight, in Iraq.

And these lessons from Vietnam, Mr. Bush, these priceless, transparent lessons, writ large as if across the very sky, are still a mystery to you.

"We’ll succeed unless we quit."

No, sir.

We will succeed against terrorism, for our country’s needs, toward binding up the nation’s wounds when you quit, quit the monumental lie that is our presence in Iraq. [...]

Mike Moore's Thanksgiving Letter

Many commented that Michael Moore is quiet during the recent campaign. He was busy. But I didn't forget us on the eve of Thanksgiving. He is his pledge, in its entirety:

November 14th, 2006

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.


Michael Moore

Bear With Me

I just can't help myself. It's like an addiction. Yes, it's another "Caption This" photo of the Bushster on his Asian tour. He has become even more lame than I can stand. My sincere apologies to all of you serious posters. I promise you I will get back to a more earnest stance soon. For now, I just can't help myself. The midterms have tickled me. YeeHaa!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Tribute to the People

For the last 5 months my life was taken over. Every morning I headed to Beacon in the hope of Changing the Course of this country by working on the John Hall For Congress Campaign. I would listen to my daughter's iPod as I took Route 84 West through the Hudson Valley. Every night I would then head home in the darkness to my family, who missed me terribly but understood why I was doing this daily trek that lasted 15 hours many days.

If you told me 20 years ago that I would be fighting the good fight to elect a former singer, anti-nuke activist, environmentalist and alternative energy candidate I would have believed it.

But that is enough of me... I wanted to tell you about the people that helped on the John Hall Campaign. The volunteers!! The souls of this campaign. The Grassroots because they kept me going every day.

Some came to bring food, cookies, baked goods or fresh fruit. The apples were a big hit of many as New York has many, many apple orchards. But the candy corn was the most requested. For some reason our volunteers always placed the food on my desk. Were they testing me? I was on a strict diet to lower my cholestral and half of these treats were off limits to me.

Dick Mendes came every Monday to help with anything that needed to be done. He is 87 years old and a retired Professor. He reminded me of Christopher Llyod in "Back to the Future." Then one Monday he was not there and I became worried and asked if anyone had heard from Dick. No one had. Then the next Monday he did not come, I really worried so I called his home and cell phone but I only got voicemail. So I left a message that I was truly worried that something had happened to him. He appeared the next Monday and insisted that he speak with the Campaign Manager because he had to tell her how moved he was by the gesture of the campaign to check up on him.

Dick had a sense of humor that left me smiling. As he left one day, he requested that I lay a red carpet the next time he came. I told him I was sorry that I could not do that but I would lay a blue carpet. And lay it I did for him.

Lucille working the phonebanks

Lucille was our star phone banker. She could speak to anyone. Lucille needed 2 phone books to sit on to reach the computer comfortably. We got her a cushion to put on top of those phone books. She would place the headphones on and log into our Pop Vox system and never stop til her time was up. Lucille would give the message of the day but also listen to what the voters said. She was always polite. I remember she showed up on the Friday before GOTV all eager to make her phone calls and I had to tell her to take the day off, because we were collecting all the data. She was not happy about that. The next day she did not come to the office to phone bank because we had set up staging sites outside of HQ. I missed her. So I gathered up a tin of candy and I went to visit her with Vane (our Tech Assistant). She was happy to see us as well as others, although the Phone Bank Captain wasn't too happy, since I literally shut down the phone bank for 10 minutes so they could enjoy a treat.

Rosemary doing datawork

Rosemary and Bram were from New York City. They had called me in early August and wanted to volunteer for John Hall. They took the train from Grand Central to Beacon, where I would pick them up. After the first day of volunteering they asked if they could come again each day and they did. Rosemary is a retired History teacher but she had such spunk and was a wiz at data entry or anything else that was given to her. Bram was also retired from teaching at the age of 25. He taught in the South Bronx for 3 years and needed to find a new profession. Bram ended up joining the staff and he said to me when he was hired, "I think I sold my soul for lunch and a train ticket." He came to stay with my family a couple of times as opposed to travelling back to New York each night. Rosemary lost her travelling partner but it was Aida who volunteered to pick up people from the train station every morning and bring them back to the train each evening.

Bram buried in paperwork.

Steve Ives was a volunteer that never ceased to amaze me. He is a photographer. He did not mind getting up on the roof of the building to hang the John Hall Sign. Steve would pick up the phone when he saw that I was busy with someone. He would take out the garbage. But more Steve was a star Canvasser. He would come in and get the lists and walk the streets handing out literature and speaking with people about John Hall. He knew when to back off with a person who felt that the bombardment of campaign literature was too much. I remember calling Steve to see if he would help with security when Pres. Clinton was coming. He left me a message "Sorry, Beth I will have to pass up the visit from Bubba as I have to do a shoot." Steve ended up driving the Visibility Van on Election Day. He had a blast too.

Jo-Ellen was invisible. She would sit for hours doing data entry and peek out from behind the computer to say a joke or just let us know she was still there. Jo-Ellen was available whenever we had crunch time. She would call before she came in to ask if we needed anything and many times she made trips to Staples for us when we were doing mailings. I remember Tate (our Tech Guru) said that it was time to put Jo-Ellen on the phones. But that was one thing Jo-Ellen would not do. She stood firm and she won. Tate had to find someone else. Jo-Ellen loved to talk and she gave great advice too.

Then there was Adell. She came from Tarrytown, due south and not in our district. She had no clue where Beacon was but she was coming. I gave her the directions. She needed to come in the morning because she could not see well in the evening. She brought 3 friends with her. They were all the ripe age of 85. They were the greatest. They did a mailing for us. But Bernice insisted that she was not going to put the flag stamps on the envelopes unless she was able to place them upside down. She said her country was in distress. Funny thing that day that the "Geriatric Woman From Tarrytown" came, the staff seemed to be very busy in their cubicles. The women stayed for 2 hours and then needed a good restaurant to go to after their hard work. I directed them to a lovely outdoor cafe down the street and they left. I was exhausted, too, after all the tending I had to do for them.

Sherwood Martinelli was a special person. He and his wife attended every fundraising concert, but he did not buy the cheap seats, he bought the most expensive in order to help the campaign. He would come to the concerts all decked out in his tuxedo jacket, or Grateful Dead T-shirt. Sherwood would call all the time. He had a very distinct voice too. The volunteer coordinator, Jonathan just did not have the time to talk to Sherwood so I did. I told him what was occuring at times. I told Sherwood about the first debate between Sue and John and he called from the parking lot to say that he had plastered his car full of signs. Sherwood became our runner for GOTV and a driver for Election Day. But each morning he would bring donuts for the canvassers. On Election Day, he had delivered an assortment of pastry and coffee. I remember I complained to him that he only ordered regular coffee and not decaf. Sherwood told me I was a wimp if I drank decaf, he said I needed high test for Election Day.

Bob with Mike Richter

Bob was John's driver. He is a school psychologist who would donate his weekends and holidays to take John to all the events. Bob placed lawn signs all around our district. He is also an excellent photographer. He would take pictures of John at the events and then come back to the office and upload them on my MacBook. At first no one really wanted to pay attention to his pictures, so I asked Bob to make a slideshow for my screen saver. Within a few days everyone was coming to me asking for a picture that Bob had taken. Bob drove a Volvo SUV which had a navigational system. So every Friday and Saturday I would make sure he had the addresses to the different events so that he could program his system. He is gentleman who cared so much about getting John elected.

But it was Janet who is to be thanked for me joining the Campaign. She was the Vice Chairwoman of our Democratic Committee. Every meeting she would talk about Take 19, a group who were telling our District of the failures of Sue Kelly. No one was listening to her, so I did and we attended the meetings and that is where we met John Hall. I came home that night and I wrote an email to John telling him I wanted to work on his campaign. I blogged about him in the early days. He told his Campaign Manager, my mentor, Amy Little to get in touch with me. I met Amy in January at a Candidates Forum and she asked if I could be her Field Director. I asked her what a Field Director did and she looked at me. Lord knows what went through her mind that day.

Janet and me

When school ended, I got a call from Amy. She asked if I would be the Office Manager for the summer. I knew what an office manager did and I took my job very seriously. The week before GOTV weekend we held a staff meeting and at that meeting they announced that I was going to be the Volunteer Services Director. I looked at Amy and then asked "What does a Volunteer Services Director do?" She said she was not quite sure but she knew I would be fine at it. I was responsible for finding housing and making arrangements for all people coming in from out of state to help. The highlight of that job was meeting Ambassador Joseph Wilson and driving him to his hotel after a House Party. He told Bob and I the story of when he was on CNN and a Senator was not acknowledging him as an Ambassador. When we said good night to the Joe Wilson we said, "GOOD NIGHT AMBASSADOR" but he said, "CALL ME JOE."

So I tribute this post to all those special people who volunteered their time to help the campaign. Without their help, dedication, humor and donations we could not have accomplished all that we did.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

Amy on Election Night

Caption Contest

The way I see it, there's only a finite amount of time that we will have these kind of photos to roll on the floor laughing at. Go at it.

Houston, We Have A Problem

MyDD has the full story:

The Houston janitors continue to get attacked viciously, this time through legal means, for standing up for their economic welfare. At first they were trampled by horses, then they were arrested and mistreated in jail, and now bail is set at a ridiculous level so the 44 people arrested can't pay it.
There are more pictures here.

Statement of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
"A protest is a sign of freedom in the United States and exercises our basic rights to free speech. I am calling for a swift and fair resolution to this matter before more people get hurt needlessly."

Act Now!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Karen Carter vs. Bill Jefferson (LA-02)

Recently it was posted on MyDD that Tim Tagaris (Ned Lamont's Web Guru) went down to New Orleans to cover the run-off between Karen Carter and Bill Jefferson. He posted some Local New Orleans Bloggers, which I have put up on the sidebar, because I plan on following what the people have to say. The People matter. It is my hope that the people of New Orleans feel empowered to vote in this race.

The most important thing to remember is that Jefferson is facing some ethics problems. Although he has has not been indicted, he will be investigated for allegations of bribery which include the raid by the FBI at his House office and the report that says he hid $90,000 in his freezer. He has earned himself a name by the local bloggers in New Orleans of Dollar Bill.

A third candidate that lost in the primary was Sen. Sheppard and on Friday he announced that he would be endorsing Jefferson. To me, it becomes very disconcerning when a Senator endorses an incumbent Representative who takes bribes over a Progressive State Representative, "whose social views are shaped by the twenty-first century, not the nineteenth."

Tim writes more:

I'm looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of the local bloggers tomorrow afternoon to get a better understanding of the political landscape in the 2nd, but even my foreign eye recognized two key themes in the LA-2 run-off election: region and "social issues."
And he did just that. If you have a chance read it.

Ashley has a good post up which is a reminder to our Government. It is an eye opener.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Blue Tiger Democrats


Michigan Becomes First State

to Adopt Blue Tiger Democrats
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer announces that his state will become the first in the nation to adopt the Blue Tiger Democrats program as a part of its permanent mission starting in 2007:

Jackson Hole, Wyo. — Determining that the Democratic Party must embrace civic engagement in order to further restore credibility and respect among citizens, Mark Brewer, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee, announced today that Michigan will become the first state in the nation to adopt the principles of the Blue Tiger Democrats organization and make it a permanent part of their state organizational structure.

Brewer made the announcement Friday before the post-election meeting of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, of which he is the President, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

At the meeting, Brewer and Bill Samuels, founder of Blue Tiger Democrats made a presentation to the state chairs reviewing the organization’s 2006 programs and plans to implement the next phase of civic engagement.

Frank Houston, who spearheaded the initial Blue Tiger Michigan pilot project, was named as the Civic Engagement Organizer (CEO) for the MDP’s Blue Tiger Democrats activities in Michigan.

Brewer also announced that he would form a Blue Tiger advisory board that includes Democratic state chairs, vice-chairs, executive directors and elected officials to provide input on Michigan’s new program. To start, Brewer named the following officials to the advisory board:

Terry Lierman, Chairman, Maryland Democratic Party;
David Waid, Chairman, Arizona Democratic Party; and
David Paterson, New York State Senator and Lt. Governor-elect

“Despite the gains the Democratic Party made in the midterm elections, many people still do not believe either party cares much about them. Our goal is to regain respect for the Democratic Party and for the political process.” Brewer said. “The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to making civic engagement an integral part of our state organization. By giving Democrats things to do between elections and providing meaningful services we Democrats can show citizens that parties want to engage them more than just on election day.” [...]

“Blue Tiger’s approach of civic engagement, campaign finance reform and greater accountability and transparency in government can go a long way to helping address the respect gap between people and party. It’s time to put the self back in self-government.”
More here

And here

Solving hunger with a dictionary

The Bush administration has ended hunger.

Well, not that the twelve million Americans who, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) experienced involuntary hunger because of an inability to obtain food during 2005 have now been 'cured,' but they have ended hunger by redefining it.

Hunger is now 'Food Insecurity.'

If they are embarrassed that some Americans (including millions of children) are hungry, then they shouldn't get rid of the embarrassment by hiding behind some banal bureaucratic label. They should get rid of the embarrassment by giving FOOD to the people in question.

This is not about an 'entitlement.' It is true that there are many things in life which are in fact privileges and that people have assumed is a basic right. But having an adequate supply of food is a basic right. Considering what we spend on farm subsidies, and what we spend to hand out food in other countries, we should have no problem at least giving every hungry person in America a loaf of bread every day.

Maybe if you want to eat better than that, then it is your responsibility to provide it. It's not the government's responsibility to buy you steak and ale. But I believe that society as a whole, operating through a government of and by the people, should provide at least a loaf of bread. There absolutely should never be a person who goes to sleep hungry in America.

And if you aren't willing to do that, then at least admit you aren't and call hunger, 'hunger.'

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy 50th Mackster


Read about it here

When I was a Junior in high school I had an English teacher who was an amazing teacher has well as an amazing person. Every Friday our English class consisted of "Silent Sustained Reading," as they liked to call it. I looked forward to Friday because I could a book of my choosing, which was usually a book about a famous athlete or sports. One day I forgot my book. My teacher said to me, "Brian, I've been waiting for you to forget your book because I want you to read something that matters. From now on, as your punishment you will read books of my choosing for the rest of the year."

I read a lot of books that I didn't know were wonderful books such as A Catcher In the Rye, Animal Farm, Steal This Book and a poetry book with poems mostly by Edgar Allan Poe. Near the end of the school year he gave me Nineteen Eighty-Four. Being as we only had a couple weeks of class left, I didn't finish the book. I finally got around to finishing it 10 years after the fact and can only say one thing, thank goodness for my teacher. Had he not showed me that other things besides sports existed, had he not tapped into my intellect (which he planned to do, he was just waiting for the right time) I may never have understood why being politically active and seeking more information then you get from the news is so important. Granted I have changed my political views over the years from being a conservative to becoming a supporter of the Democratic Party but it was because of my English teacher pushing the importance of expanding your horizons onto me.

One lesson he taught me, other then reading books that weren't all sports books, was to never stop thinking and to always seek out answers. Once a month we were allowed to read a magazine. Seeing as my teacher chose my reading material for me, I had to read the Utne Reader. For a spell, I wrote it off as liberal spin on issues that were unimportant, but it did encourage me to seek out reasons why I thought this. (Thank goodness most of my thinking was done for me, by Rush Limbaugh at that time.) Well there came a point where I'd start seeking deeper into issues that Limbaugh was spewing about and seen how wrong a lot of views were according to my worldly views.

Now getting back to Nineteen Eighty-Four. My teacher warned me before I read that book. He told me it may forever change my world views and I may see things differently from the time I finish that book on. He was right. With modern technology progressing the way it has, the seemingly neverending war on terror and the Patriot Act we are well on our way to such things. It may seem far fetched but Big Brother's plan didn't happen overnight either. Was George Orwell's book a book of prophecy? Only time will tell.

My Congressman Elect is in the House

On the front cover of the New York Times is the picture of the Newly Elected Congress and a good article. They mention my Congressman Elect:

John Hall, the musician and newly elected Democrat from New York (his song “Still the One” was used briefly by Mr. Bush’s campaign in 2004, until Mr. Hall complained), said everyone was most excited about the office-space lottery on Friday. “Where your office is affects how much time you spend running around,” he said.
It was such an honor to be part of the grassroots effort and work to help the Honorable John Hall succeed in his campaign. He is the first person in the line at the bottom right.

Back at home, seems there is some nasty resentment of an owner of the local lumberyard over how voters casting their ballots and choosing John Hall over Sue Kelly. Daily Kos has more.

J.D. concedes (finally).

Well, it looks like something I said late last week was right.

Congressman J.D. Hayworth, whose race in the fifth district against Harry Mitchell was called fairly early in the evening by the networks, insisted that he wouldn't concede until all the votes were counted.

[Note: consider this post a response to Richie Rich's comment on the 'three guys I won't miss' thread.]

Now I am happy about J.D.'s new found conviction for making sure that every vote is counted, but I also knew that Democrats here in Arizona have outhustled Republicans this year, including on absentee ballots. So I knew the networks were making the right call.

And sure enough, after several days of counting what J.D. thought were mostly his votes, Mitchell's lead had grown from 5,900 votes on election night to 6,600 votes by today. So Hayworth finally conceded.

So the new Congress will begin without one of its most loud and obdurate partisans. With the regular angry, and increasingly nasty and vitriolic attacks on Democrats that J.D. unleashed during his twelve years in Congress as a member of the majority party, one can only imagine how he would go after them in a Congress run by Democrats.

On second thought, I don't have to imagine that. Because it won't happen.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And make the money order payable to his Legal Defense Fund

I know that there was a corruption problem this year in Congress, but this is ridiculous.

I wanted to do some research on a member of Congress a few minutes ago. So I typed into a search engine, 'Congressman' and the state he is from.

What came back as the top entry was an ad that said, 'Looking for [state] Congressmen?' And the address was ebay.

That's exactly what the problem has been.

I wonder, if I make a bid on a defeated GOP incumbent whether I can get a bargain price for the lame-duck session?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Listen to Barbara Lee (CA-9)

The Nation has an excellent article by John Nichols where he asks "What will be the largest of the ideological caucuses in the new House Democratic majority?" I am going to put the whole article up so that those who are not registered may read it.

Why, of course, it must be the "centrists" affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council's "New Democrat Coalition." Yes, that's got to be the case because all the commentators at the Wall Street Journal keep saying that centrists were the big winners on Tuesday.

Er, no.

Well, then, it must be the more conservative Democrats who identify themselves as "Blue Dogs." Surely, that's the answer because all the folks on Fox News keeping talking about them.


The largest ideological caucus in the new House Democratic majority will be the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with a membership that includes New York's Charles Rangel, Michigan's John Conyers, Massachusetts' Barney Frank and at least half the incoming chairs of House standing committees.

The caucus currently has 64 members -- up 14 since last year -- and its co-chairs, California Democrats Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, say they expect that as many as eight incoming House Democrats will join the CPC. The number could actually go higher, as several candidates in undecided House races ran with strong progressive support. (The CPC worked with labor and progressive groups to assist a number of candidates in targeted races around the country this year, reflecting the more aggressive approach it has taken since the caucus was reorganized under the leadership of Lee and Woolsey and hired veteran labor and political organizer Bill Goold as a full-time staffer.)

The caucus will need an infusion of new members -- not because those associated with it lost elections Tuesday but because they won. CPC members Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio will be leaving the House to become U.S. Senators. Interestingly, the two members of the "Blue Dog" caucus who ran for the Senate, Hawaii's Ed Case and Tennessee's Harold Ford, both lost.

Says Lee: "Some inside-the-Beltway commentators, columnists, and conservatives want the American people to believe that last Tuesday's election results have especially empowered moderate-to-conservative elements within the House Democratic Caucus in the 110th Congress, but that is an incomplete picture of the new political landscape on Capitol Hill."

She's right. The convention wisdom may say that the new crop of House Democrats is conservative or centrist: Political Correspondent Gloria Borger: "the people coming in are going to be these moderate conservatives"; New York Times columnist David Brooks: "For the most part they exchanged moderate Republicans for conservative Democrats."

But, as is so often the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong.

House winners like Jerry McNerney from California, Ed Perlmutter from Colorado, Bruce Braley from Iowa, John Sarbanes from Maryland, Keith Ellison from Minnesota, Carol Shear-Porter and Paul Hodes from New Hampshire, John Hall from New York, stood for election on platforms that echoed the commitment of the CPC to bring the troops home from Iraq, promote economic fairness, make elections more honest and government more ethical, and promote energy independence. Many of the new members of the House, including New York's Yvette Clarke, won hotly-contested Democratic primaries by associating themselves with Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha's advocacy of rapid withdrawal from Iraq.

Do the math. While the Blue Dogs are predicting that the membership of their caucus may grow from 37 to 44 members, and the New Democrats hope their membership will edge up from the mid-forties to over the 50 mark, the Progressives are looking at the prospect that their caucus -- the most racially and regionally diverse ideological grouping in the Congress -- could number more than 70 members once the new House is seated.

Forget the spin. Listen to Barbara Lee, whose habit of deviating from the conventional wisdom in order get things right is now well established, when she says of Tuesday's election results, "It is important to recognize that this was not just a vote against George Bush and the Republican Congress, it was a vote for a Democratic agenda that is rooted in progressive values."

Has Joe gone Senile?

This morning on Meet the Press, Joe Lieberman spoke of the of the results of the Mid-terms Elections. He said:

The fact is that this was not a major realignment election in my opinion. This was the voters in Connecticut and elsewhere saying we are disappointed with the the Republicans. We want to give the Democrats a chance. But I believe that the American people are considering both major political parties to be in a kind of probation because their understandably angry that Washington is dominated too much by partisan political games and not enough by problem solving and patriotism.
Think Progress has the video. I must agree with the following comment over there:

poor joe, he has become a back bencher and meaningless. nothing could be worse except trying to find a job that had any actual qualities for. So he may have gotten lucky, has 6 more years before retirement, and the poor people of CT get a yesterday’s meals on wheels delivered to their door.
Sums it up pretty much!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This Veteran's Day-- support the troops. Change the mission.

Today is Veterans Day.

The Eleventh of November. Because the guns fell silent across the Western Front on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, ending World War I on November 11, 1918.

And so today we again find ourselves in a war.

And we should support the troops. And I mean that in the purest sense. Somehow Republicans have co-opted the term to mean 'support the President's foreign policy.'

But it does not mean that.

Where the mission is clear and the objective is made clear then absolutely we should support its completion, whether we agreed with the initial decision to go into a war-- any war-- or not. And we were told in March of 2003 that the mission was to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. So, even opponents of the war came together to support it once the bombs started falling.

And Saddam Hussein was deposed. And captured. And tried. And convicted. And sentenced to hang. All of the places where there were thought to be weapons of mass destruction were exhaustively searched. Even the soil was tested. Nothing, other than a handful of old and apparently long forgotten mustard gas shells left over from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's that we didn't even find for years.

So then the mission became to fight 'terrorists.' Never mind how this war pushed the war in Afghanistan (where the terrorists who were behind the 9/11 attacks are in hiding to this very day) onto the back burner. Never mind how we have seven times as many troops fighting in Iraq as we have in and around Afghanistan. Never mind how the whole argument about 'fighting them there' is bogus-- as we've seen in the Bali, Istanbul, Madrid and London bombings having terrorists in Iraq is not an all exclusive to having terrorists elsewhere, and it is hard to understand why a terror strike that originates in some cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan and reaches fruition in New York or Washington or Chicago or Los Angeles involves Iraq. The mission became 'fighting terrorists' apparently since the first justification didn't bear fruit.

But then that also didn't hold water. It became clear that while there were a few hundred al-Qaeda members in Iraq, most of the people we were fighting were home-grown Iraqi insurgents. Patriots who fought an invading and occupying force just as we would protect our homeland from an invader. Anyone who finds this at all surprising hasn't read thousands of years of history.

So then the justification changed again, to establishing a democratic government in Iraq. Only when we got one, it was composed of religious fundamentalists, who wanted to impose Afghan or Iranian style sharia in the country. So we helped them gain the cloak of legitimacy by ensuring that they got elected. And they have responded by leading anti-American demonstrations and burning American flags in Baghdad. When al-Qaeda in Iraq leader al-Zarqawi was killed in an American airstrike, the phone numbers of several elected members of the Iraqi parliament were found on his cell phone. Well, Iraq may be a 'democracy,' but don't think of it as a success.

So then when the 'democracy' turned out to be run by the same bad guys just in politicians' clothing, the 'mission' changed yet again. To 'making Iraq stable.'

Unfortunately, Iraq won't be stable in its present form (unless a brutal strongman comes along and holds it together by fear and force.) It is really three countries (I've been saying that for a long time, but unlike a year ago when I was one of the only people saying it, most thinking people-- both in and out of the United States-- have reached much the same conclusion.) Most of its boundaries were drawn arbitrarily with little regard for ethnic, religious or tribal boundaries by British and French colonialists when they hacked up the Ottoman empire among the spoils of World War I. Trying to hold the three regions of Iraq-- Sunni, Shia and Kurd-- together puts us in the position of a Gorbachev or a Milosevic. Gorbachev couldn't bring himself to be a Stalin (who simply exterminated anyone who opposed him) and Milosevic didn't have the power to be a Tito (who was also ruthless to anyone who opposed him.) Lacking a Stalin, Tito-- or a Saddam-- Iraq is no more going to be held together than the former Soviet Union or Yugoslavia were as multi-national states. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And they still can't today. We have to begin any plan for Iraq by recognizing that stark reality.

I could support a mission in Iraq which was realistic enough to recognize that the best we can do is help smooth a transition to three separate states, and then sets out to do that. But lacking that, we have no realistic mission we can achieve there, so the best way to support the troops is not to 'support the President's foreign policy,' but rather to oppose the President's foreign policy. Losing more Americans while fighting against the inevitable is stupid, and we should not be afraid to say so.

Need Something to Complain About?

If we simply must find something to be upset about, then I suggest extending some venom to those Dems who hoarded campaign contributions left unspent for for future races, should they live so long. For you-know-who's sake, several of these dems were unopposed. Yet they would not help their fellow dems who desperately needed help. I refer for one (1) to Marty Meehan, a congressman from my home state. I made several very pointed calls to his offices- he sat on $4.8 m. He should have shared 1/3, according to MoveOn. My support for Rep. Meehan is most unlikley in his hoped-for run to replace a stepping down John Kerry.

Politics is the definitive present value proposition. If you don't help a candidate in his moment of need, don't bother calling later.

Howard Dean, vindicated

The DNC chairman's "crazy" strategy of rebuilding the Democratic Party across all states helped it ride the national wave against the GOP.

By Joe Conason

Only weeks after the Democratic National Committee chose Howard Dean as its chairman last year, the nasty whispers began to circulate around Washington and among longtime party donors and activists in cities from New York to Los Angeles. "He's going to be a disaster," they muttered. "He can't raise any money. He doesn't know what he's doing. And what does he mean by this crazy 50-state strategy?"

Those early days must have been painful for the former Vermont governor -- still smarting back then from his presidential primary defeat and that endlessly looped "scream" video -- and he endured a barrage of snarks and snipes from the Democratic congressional leadership as well. Unfortunately for Dean, he doesn't play the Washington press corps nearly as well as do rivals like Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who ran the House Democrats' campaign committee, or Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who performed the same role in the Senate.

But this week, he is enjoying vindication far earlier than he ever expected. [Read more here]

Howard Dean started the grassroots effort and taught us how to work our constituents. I am thankful for all that he has taught us, the people, because now our country has the leadership it needs to protect the people and re-build the foreign policy we once had. There is a lot of work ahead of us, as we are inheriting a true mess in our districts and states. We need to keep our constituents informed of each failure of the predecessor but more to correspond with them of the progress we are making on their behalf.

It is going to be a tough road, but we have something behind us that the GOP never did -- THE PEOPLE and human decency. I so often remember through these past 6 years of hell the lack of human decency by the Republicans, but now it will return.

It truly is a great time in our country -- we have pulled in the reins from the "Rogue Elephant."

Truly Honor Our Veterans

Veterans Day, Our Opinion:

It is fitting that Veterans Day occurs just a few days after Election Day. Voting is American citizens' right and duty. It is one way we exercise the sacred freedom that has been won and defended by the men and women who have fought in this nation's wars.

Originally called Armistice Day and commemorating the end of World War I, the holiday became Veterans Day in 1954. It is an occasion to celebrate and honor all U.S. war veterans.

In the five decades since Veterans Day was established, the United States never has gone very long without being engaged in war. Now, when more than 150,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are risking their lives thousands of miles from home in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is especially fitting that the American people honor all who have put themselves in harm's way for their country.

Truly honoring veterans requires more than throwing a nice parade and cheering the uniformed heroes who march by. Besides reminding us all of what war veterans fought for, the proximity of Election Day and Veterans Day should remind members of Congress that a nation's gratitude ought to be in deeds as well as words.

It is the responsibility of elected representatives to stand up for veterans and make sure that the services they need are properly funded. And it is the responsibility of those who cast their ballots to tell their representatives that they expect veterans' services to be accessible and first-rate.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Still The Legend Lives On

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
with the gales of November remembered.

When it was launched the SS Edmund Fitzgerald became the largest laker to sail on the Great Lakes, a title it held for more than a decade. On November 10, 1975 the Fitz sank during one of the worst storms ever known on Lake Superior. This year, for the first time, the memorial services will be held in River Rouge — the city where the vessel was built in 1957-58.

Several speakers will be on hand at Belanger Park including people who helped build the ship, as well as captains from other ships who helped out in rescue efforts after the Fitz went down. Relatves of some of the lost crew members will call and address the crowd through a speakerphone. Artifacts and photographs will be on display.

At 7:10 PM — the time the ship sank — a memorial wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River and a bell will be rung 29 times for the men that were lost with the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Roscoe Clark, who is working on a documentary about the ship and one of the organizers for the event, said he is pleased the memorial service has been moved from Detroit to River Rouge: “The best place in the country to hold this memorial service is where the ship was built.”

Roscoe Clark also set up a website containing video clips and photos of the ship at where you will also find another account of that fateful night, and much more.

Visit YouTube for the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” written and recorded by Gordon Lightfoot.

A 30th anniversary memorial tribute post was entered here at Night Bird’s Fountain last year.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call “Gitche Gumee.”
“Superior,” they said, “never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early.”

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The three guys I'm most happy to see gone

All day long I've been listening to the right wing spin machine, saying that the reason Republicans lost is that they weren't conservative enough. Saying that it was the moderates like Lincoln Chaffee who lost, and that real conservatives did just fine. They also touted the success of a bunch of conservative ballot propositions to make their point.


Sure there were moderates like Chaffee who lost but some of Congress' most conservative and most partisan members who were among the casualties. I had planned on listing three here but I've bumped one of them down to the 'not so honorable mention' category to make room for one guy who may not have been a congressman, but who I'm very happy to see go,

3. Donald Rumsfeld

Yes, today the President announced the departure of the Secretary of Defense. I actually think this move was literally years overdue, but late is better than never. And let's be honest. If there is one single individual among the many in the Bush administration who is the most responsible for the mess we are in right now in Iraq, it is Don Rumsfeld. And the reason is his conservatism. Fiscal conservatism in particular. Don Rumsfeld developed the 'Rumsfeld doctrine,' in which he believed that wars could be fought with fewer, lighter, cheaper more mobile units than traditionally used in warfare. Now I'm not knocking him for pushing this idea forward. As Defense Secretary, suggesting innovations in warfare is a part of his job. However with Rumsfeld it became an obsession. I blogged a couple of days ago on the report out this past week about how Rumsfeld and the President ignored a 1999 simulation of a war in Iraq which showed that at least 400,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. Then in the run up to the war, General Eric Shinseki (who unlike Rumsefeld had apparently read the report) pushed that number back at Rumsfeld and said that 400,000 would be needed to prevent an insurgency, and Rumsfeld made an example of Shinseki and sent a chilling message to anyone in the military who would dare question him by forcing Shinseki out of the army. Later General Casey sweet talked Rumsfeld into upping the occupation force from in the neighborhood of 100,000 to 150,000; but as we've seen Eric Shinseki and the 1999 report were in fact right. Since then, Rumsfeld has presided over one incompetent decision after another, from authorizing interrogation procedures which resulted in Abu Graib, to his repeated failures to provide troops with adequate body and vehicle armor, to his insistence for a long time that things were going according to plan (though more recently he has acknowleged that things have not gone according to plan, but has not articulated exactly what the plan is. Do you know what the plan is in Iraq? I sure don't, and it's not from a lack of paying attention to what Don Rumsfeld is saying.) Once the election was in, I think there was little doubt that Rumsfeld had to go. It was Rumsfeld who has caught more fire over Iraq than anyone in the administration except perhaps (and only 'perhaps') the President himself. The flak was earned, but I will commend President Bush (I don't write that very often) for seeing that having a lightning rod like Don Rumsfeld sitting there would probably have hindered his ability to work with the new Congress. Don Rumsfeld did achieve one thing-- he became the longest serving Secretary of Defense in history. And the guy he overtook in that regard? Bob McNamara. How ironic.

2. Rick Santorum

Ah, yes. Anyone who claims that conservative Republicans rode out the wave obviously isn't thinking about Rick Santorum, who is as of this moment (until the new Senate is sworn in) likely the most conservative Republican in the Senate. If not the most, then certainly in anyone's top three. Further, Santorum, now the number 3 Republican in the Senate, would have (as a young Senator) have had a very good chance of becoming a majority or minority leader had he remained in the Senate. In fact, had he won his race this year, it would have held the majority for the GOP and Santorum might very well have made a run at Mitch McConnell from the right for the job of majority leader (some conservatives don't like McConnell after all since he stood up against amending the constitution of the United States to ban flag burning last year, almost the only Republican to do so; Santorum in contrast was one of the leaders of the fight to get flag burning banned.) Santorum also spoke out in favor of privatizing Social Security and compared gay people to people who sleep with animals (his infamous 'man on dog' comment.) Santorum was more than just a conservative, he was a conservative activist, which helped his rise in the Republican leadership, working hard to push other Republicans into supporting his positions. Santorum was an unrepentant partisan as well, refusing to compromise with Democrats on anything and instead forcing bill after bill after bill through by twisting the arms of enough Republicans in the Senate to get a majority. One almost wonders how Santorum would have handled being in the minority. Well, we will never know that, as we will never know whether the people who kept pushing him to run for President (now THAT would be my worst nightmare) would have succeeded. And that is a good thing. Rick Santorum's Presidential candidacy for 2008 has been stillborn. And yes, I would like to personally thank Elizabeth B. for working to get rid of Santorum.

1. J.D. Hayworth

Yes, we failed to kick out scandal plagued Rick Renzi up here, but until redistricting in 2002, I had the "privilege" of being 'represented' by one of Congress' most partisan jerks, J.D. Hayworth (a.k.a. J.D. Blowhard, or J.D. Hayseed.) Hayworth is a great public speaker, except that what he is speaking about is usually pretty much limited to one of the following topics: 1. Bashing Bill Clinton. 2. Bashing Democrats. 3. Bashing the media. 4. Bashing illegal immigrants. 5. Bashing liberals. 6. Bashing environmentalists. 7. Bashing gay people. 8. Bashing anyone who doesn't agree with his far right viewpoints. Well, you get the theme here-- and that's pretty much J.D.'s whole repertoire of speeches. The word, 'demogogue' doesn't quite capture the essense of J.D. Maybe more like 'enraged demogogue.'

In fact, Hayworth, whose actual list of achievements in Congress is almost non-existent, did have a stroke of 'genius' about a year ago. It was not long after the John Murtha announcement when Congress was engaged in a serious bipartisan debate on the future of Iraq. Hayworth, who doesn't like anything that smacks of 'bipartisan,' suggested to fellow Republican Duncan Hunter that they offer a bill on which house members could vote 'yes' or 'no' on supporting the President or immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Of course Murtha was not advocating a 'drop your guns and run' approach as the bill in effect said, but what it did was end all meaningful debate on the topic. That's normal for Hayworth.

Let me quote from the editorial that the Arizona Republic ran in deciding not to endorse Hayworth for the first time since he was elected in 1994.

The biggest problem in Congress is extreme partisanship, and Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., is among Capitol Hill's worst offenders.

Hayworth always has been an enthusiast for rough-and-tumble politics.

And there's a place for that. The outraged-partisan routine works pretty well on Sean Hannity's radio show or the Fox News Channel, where Hayworth often does yeoman's work blasting anybody who doesn't agree with him. It works poorly, though, in discussions or debates - forums in which even small measures of civility can go a long way.

And that scalding approach doesn't help get anything done.

It is high time to hit this matter squarely: J. D. Hayworth is a bully. He may not yet have reached the point where you can't take him anywhere, but you certainly can't take him to a calm, civil discussion.

The Arizona Republic has recommended Hayworth's election each of the past six times he has run for Congress. In those editorials, we noted his characteristic bluster and needlessly confrontational attitude but also praised his strong work ethic and dedication to serving his district's constituents.

Not this time. This time, we're going to recommend his opponent, Harry Mitchell...

During this past term, Hayworth has devolved from a windy and sometimes cartoonish politician into an angry demagogue who has shamelessly and divisively exploited the immigration issue, arguably the No. 1 concern of Arizonans. Hayworth and Joe Eule, his chief of staff, rushed out a quickie border-security book, Whatever It Takes, and the congressman transformed himself into Mr. Tough Guy on illegal immigration, reliably appearing on the cable-TV news shows as a spokesman for the fire-breathing hardliners.

Meanwhile, other Republicans in Arizona's House delegation - most notably Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe - have been positively statesmanlike as they pursued a comprehensive approach to dealing with this complex problem. Hayworth and like-minded allies did manage to monkey-wrench this year's hope for realistic immigration reform. Some accomplishment.

As wrongheaded as Hayworth's "enforcement first" mantra is, Americans still can disagree on public-policy strategies toward immigration and other topics. It is Hayworth's increasingly combative demeanor and high-octane partisanship that is more troubling...

Hayworth's bombastic rhetoric and obnoxious behavior have gotten him into his toughest political fight yet.

In a meeting last week with The Republic's Editorial Board, Hayworth repeatedly positioned himself like a smirking hawk, inches from the face of his "prey," Mitchell, while the Democrat responded to questions. For that overbearing attempt at intimidation, Hayworth deserves a sound rap on the knuckles.

Not that this surprises me, having (as I said) once had Hayworth 'representing' me. And he ran a hideously negative campaign against Mitchell this year but I think voters have learned by now what J.D. is all about.

And I'm sure that J.D. (a former sportscaster) will be offered a job pretty soon as a talk show hose where he can compete for the right wing kook audience with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

And one other thing that I should tell you about J.D. It speaks volumes about the man. This race was not that close. Mitchell won by four percent. True there are a number of absentee ballots and provisionals to be counted, but there is absolutely no way they will change the outcome of this race. The networks called it not that long after Arizona closed, and Mitchell, after waiting overnight and into the morning for a call that was not forthcoming went ahead and claimed his victory today. J.D. Hayworth still hasn't conceded. And he probably won't concede. Because that would be civil.

I would like to personally thank the folks in district 5 (and I know a number of you) for working hard to get rid of J.D. (especially I'd like to thank Larry King for stepping aside and letting Harry Mitchell run unopposed in the primary when it became clear that there was a chance to actually win this race.)

Not so honorable mention

Here are a few others I won't miss: Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), who last year tried his hardest to pin 9/11 on the Democrats; Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), the scourge of the environment; Sen. George Allen (R-VA), another former next Republican nominee for President, who was a leading proponent of the war (apparently because he figured that 'macaca' can go instead of his son); Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), who wrote the prescription drug bill-- and yes, thank God she lost in a campaign in which that was an issue.); Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) who was so fiscally conservative that he opposed spending Federal money to build a monument to the flight 93 heroes who died in a field in Shanksville, PA, after 9/11.

Let me Finish with the ballot propositions, so we can bury that little bit of spin in a deep grave. In South Dakota, there was a measure on the ballot to ban all abortions except to save the life of the mother. It lost, and in one of the most Republican states in the country. And in losing it negates the law that the South Dakota legislature passed last year trying to do the same thing. California and Oregon voters rejected a parental notification measure. Gay marriage? Bans on it did win in some places, but in contrast to 2004 when it won easily everywhere it was tried, this year it was a close contest in several states. Further, here in Arizona the 'defense of marriage' constitutional amendment lost. The proposed amendment not only banned gay marriage (which is already illegal in Arizona) but prevented the alternative, civil unions laws. So voters here decided they don't want to amend the state constitution for the sole purpose of making life harder on some other people. And we've heard about nothing but the Missouri stem cell research bill for a long time. It is a good bet that no one in Missouri was not pretty well acquainted with all sides of the debate when they stepped into the voting booth. And it won. And, seven states had minimum wage hikes on the ballot and it won in all seven, in almost all of them quite handily. And in three states there were taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) initiatives on the ballot, which would limit the ability of state and local governments to levy and collect taxes, but in all three the measures lost. Yes, there were some conservative propositions that won (especially anti-immigrant ones) but anyone who tries to claim that the propositions were a victory for conservatism is full of crap.

The People Have Spoken!

Over this past 24 hours, I am so PROUD of where this nation has moved in the political sphere. I expected that we would win the house. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine we'd take the senate! I haven't felt this hopeful about our government in six years!

Voters of all persuasions have sent a message to the dumbya administration. Y'all have f*cked up WAY TO FAR! We're not going to take it anymore! Heck, I even heard that Rushbo is pulling more BS like his whole platform over the years was a LIE! Ummm, what's the matter, Rush? You afraid you're career is in jeopardy now that you are on the losing side? Me thinks so.

Yes, I'm very disappointed that Ned Lamont lost. I mean, I did endure a plethora of abuse doing phone banking for the campaign. But, okay. Even so, I don't sense that Ned really lost. I think he made HUGE waves within the party -- not only in CT -- across the country. Just like Howard Dean, Ned said what everyone else was afraid to assert in their campaigns, "Iraq is wrong. We must get out." YAY!

(I digress, but I'm watching Jon Stewart interview Howard Dean on the Daily Show. Howard is ABSOLUTELY BEAMING! What a beautiful thing!).

I see so much promise in our futures. I am so PROUD that Nancy Pelosi will be our Speaker. The good ol' boy network will be infiltrated by a very smart, female democrat. No doubt, it will kill Dick Cheney to have to be by the side of Pelosi for presidential speeches. That, in itself, will be priceless!

And because we gained the senate, I have to say that I predict that PEOPLE WILL BEGIN TO TALK. Media spin is going to change (aka Rush's claims today). The TRUTH will come out. It may take time, but it will happen. It will take time, but it will happen.

I feel like I'm Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she is skipping down the yellow brick road with scarecrow, tinman, and the lion. This time, it isn't the wonderful things that the wizard does. It is because of the wonderful things our democratic majority will do to restore some sanity in this asylum erected by Bushco.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

John Hall is My New Congressman

We did it!! Our Grassroots effort of over 1,400 volunteers helped to remove a rubber stamp Bush Congresswoman. This race was never really looked at seriously by the DCCC or the blogosphere, but we still kept our focus and worked hard. There were many ugly things done by the Republicans in my district, but I made sure that our base knew what was going on.

With control of the House, this country will return
the power to the people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Keep Kickin'

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Eve

Sunday, November 05, 2006

EXPONENTIAL DEGRADATION And The Opportunity For The Cure

On January 16, 2006, Al Gore told us, in no uncertain terms, that the United States Constitution is in grave danger, that bush is a LIAR, that an agenda of fascism is about to take over our country and that we are doomed if we do not act now...

So here we are, nearly ten months later- two days out from the second most important election in the history of our country. Take time to consider all that bush has initiated to negatively impact this country since then. We have lost so much. Each time he gets away with something he immediately tries to get away with twice that much again...


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ambassador Joe Wilson with John Hall

LinkRead more here

Friday, November 03, 2006

Big Box Preachers: “Let Us Prey”

*Time Wounds All Heels*

(More from our Rantin’ Rev:)

One of the most important things we have to do nationwide is to remove the Republican machine district gerrymandering. In far too many districts, the Democratic vote is extremely diluted on purpose. That's part of how the pugs built their machine to steal and hold on to absolute power.

The other big part of their power-hold may be slipping - the one with the big-box “preachers” (vote cheerleaders) and their cult-freak followers who are willing to sell theirs and everybody else's Bill of Rights right out from under us. I didn't give anybody permission to shred the Constitution nor to sell my rights to a bunch of greedy, corrupt Republican corporatist despots. Especially snake-charmers like Haggard who are throwing GLBT people to the wolves while he's sneakin' off for a li'l down-low.

Bastid. May he rot in hell for selling out his country and his cult-followers like that.

If the pugs steal it again (which I'm positive they are in the process of doing), it will be “to the streets and never let up until every thieving, lying, traitorous pug is in jail forever.” Never again. They're not going to steal another one and get away with it. Not this time, not ever again.
. . .

Most folks still don't realize just how deeply in jeopardy America is. The so-called federalists, the PNAC-ers, the southern separatists have joined in an unholy (no pun) alliance whose very mission is to destroy the Constitution: hence, America itself.

This is far, far more serious than a few gay guys getting outed. The far-right have been active in the crime of sedition for years. Not one single American should sleep a wink until every one of these seditionists is rotting in jail and the Constitution is once again safe from domestic enemies of America.
. . .

Ain't any religion in it -- it's just an poor attempt at trying to put Jesus' face on their duplicity. Anyone who is willing to sell their fellow Americans into slavery or, at the very best, non-citizenship cum Jim Crow, is a seditionist who should rightly swing from a high branch with a short rope. Luckily, I won't ever have to worry about that -- the Lord will be a much better getter-backer on the Last Day than I will ever be in the here-and-now.

Dang, I'm tired of being lied to, discriminated against and told that I'm not a human being. I know I'm just as much an American (if not WAY MORE) than any of these chickenhawk apologists to sedition.
. . .

The Haggardites are going “now, let's pray for the man” and everyone else is going “not when you sell the Constitution and the nation down the road by bashing everyone else, we ain't.”

Gotta love it when the hypocrites and seditionists are called out.

~Red Letter Rev


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Help! Save Claudia!

One young woman’s plight offers a glimpse into the very near future of immigration enforcement

This 26-year-old mother of two has been sitting in the Williamson County Jail for two weeks. She’s waiting for a hearing before a federal judge in Memphis. Chances are that the judge won’t give her good news but will instead order that Nuñez be removed from the U.S. immediately.

In that case, she will be separated from her husband and two little girls, ages 4 and 8. Christina, the 4-year-old, is developmentally disabled and does not understand why her mother can’t come home. Christina and her sister are U.S. citizens. Nuñez’s husband is also here legally. Claudia is not. She arrived in the U.S. legally from her native El Salvador on July 4, 2001, and was issued a six-month tourist visa. That was five years ago. She never left and didn’t apply for protective status, which she probably would have qualified for.

What separates Claudia Nuñez from other undocumented immigrants who find themselves in the belly of the deportation beast is the way that she got there.

Read the rest here

There is additional information on Mack's blog here

And, if you have a heart, sign the petition.

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