Friday, February 29, 2008

21st Century GI Bill

Senator Jim Webb (D - VA) joined representatives of the nation's leading veterans groups to advocate comprehensive educational benefits for post-9/11 veterans in the fiscal year 2009 budget. The groups unveiled their Independent Budget to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs earlier in the day, advocating a "21st Century GI Bill," similar to the Webb-Hagel bill (S.22) that enjoys widespread support.
"This independent budget represents the voices of our nations' veterans' service organizations who truly understand the costs of war," said Senator Webb. "These advocates have called for a '21st Century GI Bill' that provides returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with benefits that respect their service and reward their sacrifice like the WWII veterans that came before them."
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For any of those who claim that it is too expensive, consider this: The estimated yearly cost for this program is $2 billion - equivalent to one week of spending on this war.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tim Russert Is Embarrassing

Stop Tim Russert before he moderates again

The Carpetbagger Report:

In the last post, we talked a bit about how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did in last night’s debate in Cleveland. But I’d remiss if I neglected to note how truly awful Tim Russert was as a moderator. His performance was rather embarrassing — for all of us.

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The entire series of questions for Obama about Farrakhan was even more noxious, as Josh Marshall explained.

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Digby drove all of this home beautifully.

The country wants change. They want Washington to stop all the partisan bickering and they want a different tone. They want their government to be serious and deal with real problems.

Can someone please explain to me how that can possibly happen until something is done about the reprehensible political press? From tax returns to Farrakhan to footage shown by “mistake” to the endless, trivial, gotcha bullshit, this debate spectacle tonight was a classic demonstration of what people really hate about politics. It isn’t actually the candidates who can at least on occasion be substantive and serious. The problem is Tim Russert and all his petty, shallow acolytes who spend all their time reading Drudge and breathlessly reporting every tabloid tidbit and sexy rumor and seeking out minor inconsistencies from years past in lieu of doing any real work.

Judging by their silly questions tonight, Russert and Williams obviously know nothing about health care policy, Iraq, Islamic terrorism, economics, global trade or any other subject that requires more than five minutes study to come up with some gotcha question or a stupid Jack Bauer fantasy. It’s embarrassing.

It is, indeed, and it’s harmful to the process. There’s no reason for debate moderation to be this bad.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

De-mythologizing Republic-speak

From our Rev:

We're, what now? 6 or 7 generations away from the American Revolution. We're spoiled with always having had the Bill of Rights. These Republics, they've got nothing into it, so it's easy for them to exchange actual freedom for just the mere trappings of freedom.

Take this flag-burning beeyess that Congress had to put through instead of taking care of actual business. The Republics were all for it; they never once stopped to think that when a symbol of freedom is raised above freedom itself, then freedom itself becomes an unattainable dream.

In the republic-world, down is up, black is white, science is fantasy and fairy-tales are not to be questioned as a matter of "faith". Similarly, endless restrictions and punishments equate to "freedom". Yeah, you'd have to be as crazy as a shithouse rat to believe half the things they do; but that's another post. I've come to regard republicanism as a mental disorder that prevents people from considering the consequences of their actions, no matter how self-destructive those actions may be.

F'r instance, if you throw away your first and fourth amendment rights and can no longer dissent with an obviously corrupt government, then add to that the notion that the government can spy on anyone at any time, how TF can any sane person regard that as being "freer". Right. A sane person can't, but a republic will argue you into the grave. They'll buy any marketing-schmooze from a republic official, but fact is anathema.

I'm all for de-mythologizing republic-speak. F'r instance:

Values Voter - These are wedge issue voters. It is not a sense of national duty nor civic pride that brings them to the polls. The only thing that gets this bunch off their dead arses and into the polling booth is the joy of taking something they didn't appreciate in the first place away from someone else who desperately needs it. These are short-sighted and mean-spirited people who haven't the mental capacity to realize that they're voting their own sorry hides right down the river along with whatever group they're hating this week.

Protect America Act - Bullshit. Call it what it is: The Protect Corporate Colluders in Criminal Activity Act. The only reason the repugs in Congress and the Oval are pitching such a bitch about it is that they know they broke the law and now they want retroactive forgiveness.

Patriotism - Becoming an informed voter? Serving your country or community? Not in republic-world. In the republic-world "patriotism" is sticking a magnet on your gas-hog SUV while you send someone else's kids off to fight for oil. Patriotism is parroting party line (no matter how crazy) and (of course!) wearing a lapel pin. With more "patriots" like these, they'll have to call the Iraq occupation a day for lack of interest.

Illegal Immigrant - Any person of color, regardless of whether or not they were born in the US; except for African-Americans who were brought here against their will. The Republics can't and don't care to figure who's who. Did you know that hate crimes against Hindus increased dramatically after 9/11? Think about that! That's our "mental giant" republics at work.

Defense of Marriage - Yeah right. Just because a couple of guys across town want to live in peace and equality, the frantic sheeple republic's marriages are suddenly going to explode. Well, with a 54% divorce rate, I'd have to say they're doing a fine enough job ruining their own marriages. Let's call this bullshit what it is: Defense of Baby Bounty Tax Breaks for People too Irresponsible to Control Their own Procreation.

There's a million of these republic-speak words and phrases that need de-mythologizing. We're dealing with a group of people who read "New Lower Price" at the market and get all excited, never stopping to consider that what it really means is "New Smaller Bottle". The price per unit is of course higher, but the republic mentality will never take the extra 5 seconds to pencil that out. They're perfectly fine with getting f'ked so long as it's phrased prettily or can be turned into a slogan.

It's like George Orwell and P. T. Barnum had a nightmarish love-child and called it the republic party.

While they may be perfectly happy to throw their own rights away, they are absolutely not welcome to mine. If they want to live with a big-brother government that's more concerned with who's getting along in the bedroom than who's not eating in the kitchen; if they want forced religion in schools and to replace hard science with fairy-tales; if they want to live under a "justice" system that takes its cues from the maunderings of sun-baked prophets rather than well-thought-out system of fair justice, then I submit that their heaven on earth has already been created and they can leave America alone. The place that they so idealize is called Iran.

I say let's pass the hat and send them on the way to their Beulahland they so much wish to impose on the rest of us.


Monday, February 25, 2008

FISA and Henny Penny

Henny Penny: The sky is falling!

February 22, 2008

The administration's strategy became clear yesterday: there will be no compromise. The Democrats will back down and pass the Senate's version of the surveillance bill (with retroactive immunity for the telecoms), or they will be consistently attacked for exposing the country to risk.

The strategy continued today. For the second day in a row, Republicans boycotted talks to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the surveillance bill.

And Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey got in the act, sending a letter to House intelligence committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) that claimed that the lapse of the Protect America Act this past weekend has already had a significant impact on intelligence collection. You can read that whole letter here.

Henny Penny: Oops! Never mind. (*blush*)

February 24, 2008

Whoops. Strike that: the sky is not falling. But it'll probably fall soon. So Dems should still give in, pronto. From The Washington Post:

The Bush administration said yesterday that the government "lost intelligence information" because House Democrats allowed a surveillance law to expire last week, causing some telecommunications companies to refuse to cooperate with terrorism-related wiretapping orders.

But hours later, administration officials told lawmakers that the final holdout among the companies had relented and agreed to fully participate in the surveillance program, according to an official familiar with the issue.

Will bozo time never end?

"Be afraid, very afraid." - "No wait, don't be afraid quite yet." - "But of course, be prepared to be afraid." They can't even get their lies straight.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the issues knows this is all horsepuckey. The FISA law permits intercepts with a rubber stamp warrant from the FISA Court, or without a warrant for thirty-six hours until a warrant can be obtained. The PAA says that all existing wiretaps can continue for one-year without renewal. All existing wiretaps can be expanded to include any additional subjects that are part of the same group. And the telecoms have immunity from liability for any new "taps" if there is a warrant authorizing the activity.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

DeLL Daddy

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meet Mr. McCain-- part II (The Sopranos aren't finished yet)

NOTE: THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN DECEMBER 2006 UNDER THE TITLE St. McCain Married to the Mob. It has been edited and updated.

Ever since the 2000 election, when Vietnam combat veteran John McCain burst onto the scene in the Republican Presidential primaries as a 'moderate alternative' to George W. Bush, it seems that he has led a charmed political life. George Bush is known to detest McCain personally, but he has needed him. Liberals held their fire because every now and then McCain throws them a bone (in fact John Kerry wasted valuable time and effort trying to convince McCain, who was the chair of the Bush campaign in Arizona, to defect and run on a ticket with him; what it also meant was that when John Kerry picked John Edwards for the ticket, everyone knew he was a second choice.) Independents ooze over the conservative McCain (and conservative he is, just look at his voting record,) as if they think he is one of them. Even Bush backers, like Pat Robertson (who thoroughly trashed McCain in South Carolina) have warmed up to him.

And one of McCain's biggest assets, according to most of these people is that he eschews negative campaigning.

There is a good reason for that though. It's a tale that involves organized crime, corruption and murder. Let's say that John McCain never runs a negative ad against his opponents because he doesn't want them to dig too hard.

It's because McCain is where he is because of his marriage to his second wife, Cindy. No, Cindy Hensley McCain is not where the story begins. She was a young 25 when McCain married her (he was 43). According to the Arizona Republic on June 5, 1999, McCain joked that his marriage was based on a 'tissue of lies.' Both he and she had lied to each other, she claiming to be older than she was and he claiming to be younger. Yeah, I know-- what a good foundation for a marriage to start off on. To their credit the McCains however have stayed together. Or maybe there are other reasons...

One wonders what Cindy told McCain about her father. When did McCain learn how his father-in-law Jim Hensley made his fortune? Sooner or later he had to be dealt in on the 'family jewels.' After all, they helped finance a run for Congress and not long after that for the Senate.

Jim Hensley and his brother Eugene went to work after World War II for Kemper Marley, a wealthy wholesale liquor distributor. Marley, in fact, had once been a bookie, getting his start working for the Transamerica Wire Service, a betting service established by mafiosi Gus Greenbaum (who was murdered with his wife when their throats were slashed in bed in 1958). Until 1947, liquor was rationed by the government. Apparently Marley did quite well in spite of the restrictions, and in 1948 the reason why became clear. Eugene and Jim Hensley were convicted of falsifying records on behalf of Marley's distributorship, United Liquor (along with fifty other Marley employees) to conceal the illegal distribution of hundreds of cases of liquor. Jim Hensley got a six month suspended sentence.

In 1953, Jim Hensley, then the General Manager for United Liquor, was once more charged for doing the same thing again. Marley paid for top notch legal representation though (future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.) Hensley still went to prison, but took the fall when the rest of the company was cleared. According to an article in American, Marley rewarded Hensley for his loyalty to the organization:

When Hensley strolled out of the joint, Marley bought his silence with a lucrative Phoenix-based Budweiser beer distributorship.

That distributorship and the rest of Marley's empire did very well over the decades for both Hensley and Marley, making both men multi-millionaires.

In fact, Marley was interested in more than just liquor. In 1976, then Gov. Raul Castro, a Democrat, appointed Marley, then a billionaire and the state's richest man, to the state racing commission.

And that's when one of those pesky investigative reporters got in the way. The reporter's name was Don Bolles and he worked for the Arizona Republic. Bolles discovered a land fraud ring and other crimes that appeared to lead to Sen. Barry Goldwater and other movers and shakers in Arizona. And he discovered that Kemper Marley, newly appointed to the State Board Racing Commission, had connections to the Mafia. In fact, Marley was a close associate of Peter Licavoli, the mob boss for Arizona. Marley had also served as Chairman of the Board for Valley National Bank, which helped bankroll Bugsy Siegel's construction of the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Digging into Marley's past also uncovered his earlier work for Gus Greenbaum. The revelations forced Marley to resign from the commission.

And Kemper Marley and his associates in the Mafia weren't people whose business you interfered with lightly.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles climbed into his car and was blown apart by a bomb under the driver's seat. Pieces of his body were strewn around the parking lot. Bolles amazingly survived for eleven days and said to investgators on the scene, "They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John (Harvey) Adamson."

Adamson was later convicted of the murder. But who hired him? That trail was never really followed up on, according to members of the Arizona Project, a group of reporters who began looking into mob ties after the murder.

Following Bolles' death, more than 30 journalists from the then-newly formed Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) group arrived in Phoenix to carry out their late colleague's work....

Don Devereux, another Arizona Project reporter, feels the IRE team may have trusted the authorities too much. "We accepted very uncritically their scenario. In retrospect, we were very naive to get lead around. It really isn't something that we should be running around congratulating ourselves about," says Devereux of the IRE investigation...

"The biggest disservice we did to Bolles was not paying more attention to him," says Devereux. "His dying words were words we should have glommed onto a little more seriously, because when he was lying on the pavement he said: `Adamson, Emprise, Mafia. ... Emprise was almost Bolles' white whale. He was obsessed by them...."

Emprise, a Buffalo, NY based sports concessionire with known mob ties, had a circuit of Greyhound racing tracks in Arizona. So who was named to the Racing Commission was of vital interest to Emprise. Enter Kemper Marley. Exit Kemper Marley, courtesy of Bolles.

The Phoenix police theorized that Marley wanting revenge enlisted the help of local contractor Max Dunlap. Dunlap then allegedly hired Adamson to carry out the bombing. Adamson claimed that plumber James Robison assisted him.

Over the years, Dunlap and Robison have maintained their innocence. Dunlap remains incarcerated.** Although, Robison gained acquittal in a retrial, he is still awaiting release from prison on a related charge. Meanwhile, the state paroled Adamson [in 1996], and he disappeared into the federal witness protection program.

The Phoenix police never even arrested Marley, who died in 1990.

**-- Dunlap has since died in prison after the source article was published.

Meanwhile, Jim Hensley remained a close confidante and associate of Kemper Marley. In fact, it was Bolles who wrote that the Hensleys had bought Ruidoso Downs horse racing track in New Mexico on behalf of Marley. Eugene Hensley later sold the track to a buyer linked to Emprise (linked here as described in the Phoenix Gazette, Jan. 4, 1990.)

One thing that Marley and Hensley didn't have-- governmental authority themselves. They had to depend on their friends in government to help them out. But then Hensley got a gift-- his daughter married the former Navy pilot and decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict, John McCain. Hensley knew right away what to do. According to an article published in 2000 by the Phoenix New Times,

[McCain] retired from the military in 1980, divorced his first wife, wed Arizona native Cindy Lou Hensley and moved here to plunge into the world of politics. His first job in Arizona was as a public affairs agent for Hensley & Company, one of the nation's largest beer distributors. He was paid $50,000 in 1982 to travel the state, touting the company's wares. But he was promoting himself as much as he was Budweiser beer. A better job description might have been "candidate."

Then in 1982, McCain ran for Congress. That takes some quick money, and McCain had access to it-- thanks to his father in law (whose employees at his liquor distributorship were 'persuaded' to donate thousands of dollars to McCain), and one of Hensley's friends, Charles Keating of the Lincoln S&L (I won't get into the Lincoln S&L scandal here because it is pretty well known by now that McCain was one of the 'Keating Five.') To seal the deal, Jim Hensley and Cindy Hensley McCain invested $359,100 in one of Keating's projects. In fact, when McCain first ran for the Senate, in 1986, even Kemper Marley, through his son Kemper Jr. (who was now running United Liquor-- Marley himself had become politically radioactive) donated money to him.

It has been said that the Mafia never really left, they have just moved upscale. That is certainly the case in Las Vegas, where the casinos are corporations and run in a businesslike manner (so a Bugsy Siegel would be an anachronism, but I'm also not sure I'd want to make an enemy out of some of the folks who have those offices on the top floor.) The original Cosa Nostra may have been largely broken up, but the remnants of the Mafia are still around, mostly in fat family bank accounts and people they have helped push into positions of power, and John McCain is privvy to one and is the other.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bush The Economist

See the video and read more at Think Progress:

Bush Dismisses Iraq Recession:
The War Has ‘Nothing To Do With The Economy’

This morning on NBC’s Today Show, President Bush denied that the there’s any link between the faltering U.S. economy and $10 billion a month being spent on the Iraq war. In fact, according to Bush, the war is actually helping the economy:

CURRY: You don’t agree with that? It has nothing do with the economy, the war — spending on the war?

BUSH: I don’t think so. I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs…because we’re buying equipment, and people are working. I think this economy is down because we built too many houses and the economy’s adjusting.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Very Bad American

Bush is an un-American SOB, period.

Last Chance Democracy Café:

In the years that have followed Sep. 11, 2001, George W. Bush has, of course, repeatedly manipulated the fear Americans feel over terrorism for political gain. He does this in a particularly reprehensible way — working to actually stoke, rather than to retard, the fear, so that he can use it as a tool for turning one American against another. Then, like some evil alien parasite from a Star Trek episode, he’s feasts on the resulting hatred to his political benefit.

A great American president once said — and yes, it’s become a cliché, but sometimes only a cliché will do — that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Bush, of course, has consistently taken the opposite approach, teaching us to embrace our fears until they’ve become part of every drop of our national lifeblood.

And it’s worked like a charm. Under his tender mercies, America often seems to have redefined itself from a powerful (if far from consistent) model for the possibilities of freedom, into a frightened little child. We seem all too willing to do anything — up to and including betraying our most sacred rights — in a vain attempt to beat back the monster in the closet.

It’s been a long and tiresome journey: the endless manufacturing of terrorism alerts at just the right moment to be politically helpful, the demonizing of opponents as being disloyal to America and, worse yet, as being friends to the terrorists, the refusal to ever engage in good faith political compromise, but instead to demand all or nothing, with nothing always portrayed as a gift to those who are seeking to harm us.

There is some good news, however: fear, it turns out, has a limited shelf life. As I said recently, “But the thing about being scared all the time is that people will only cower in fear for so long before saying, screw it, and getting on with their lives.” And sure enough, Bush’s political manipulation of the fear of terrorism is starting to lose its punch: so much so, in fact, that House Democrats are actually showing signs of fighting back.

Bush, being the one act wonder he is, of course, is doing the only thing he can in response — turning up the volume on the same old scare tactics. [snip]

Every word of this is a lie, of course. Delaying (or even withholding altogether) adoption of the FISA legislation won’t put America at risk. US intelligence agencies have all of the authority they need to conduct necessary surveillance without the statute. And as others have noted, even if there were some increased risk, the blame would rest squarely on Bush’s shoulders for holding the bill hostage to his demands for retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies.

We’ve lived through almost seven years of “terrorism baiting” now. To be honest, Bush has lost his capacity to shock me. But if the surprise is gone from him, the shame isn’t.

And it is a shame that will stain him for however long people bother to remember his name.

The point, you see, isn’t that history will eventually judge him to have been a very bad president, which, of course, it will — probably the worst ever. No, what he should really be worried about is that history will judge him to have been a very bad American.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meet Mr. McCain-- part I (the conservative Republican)

The media likes to harp on John McCain as some kind of a 'moderate' (not a conservative). And recently he has been only reluctantly accepted by many conservatives while others have continued to whine about his getting the nomination. They claim that because of his support and authorship of a few specific bills that McCain is 'not a true conservative.'

Well, they don't need to worry. He is. And trust me, by the time the election rolls around all or virtually all of the conservatives will be back on board. President Bush already is, and has been lavish in his praise of the man who gave his former rival, Bush, the notorious 'Hug' at the 2004 GOP convention:

Don't ever forget that hug, because it makes it clear like nothing else ever could who McCain's master is, and where his loyalty lies. The trick will be to get people who believe that McCain is some kind of a 'moderate' to realize that he isn't.

Start with the fact that McCain has a lifetime 82% rating from the American Conservative Union. This puts him much more in line with most Senate Republicans than it does with 'moderates.' McCain has a 100% anti-choice voting record in the Senate and uniformly supports any kind of a bill that opposes abortion. Of course hardcore conservatives like to harp on the fact that he hasn't supported amending the Constitution to make abortion illegal, but part of the reason is because McCain is smart enough to realize that such an amendment (just like an anti-gay marriage amendment) is a pipe dream that would never be ratified by the legislatures in 3/4 of the states, as required by law. So he instead pushes legislation to make it as restrictive as possible.

Further, when asked about Supreme Court nominees, McCain recently asserted his support of the Bush nominees on the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice John Roberts. He disparaged Justice Antonin Scalia for 'wearing his conservatism on his sleeve.' This upset some talk show hosts but the truth of the matter is that if McCain appoints judges like John Roberts-- quiet conservatives who keep their conservatism hidden deep down in their vest pockets-- the result will be the same as if he appointed a loudmouth like Scalia. So look at what happens: John McCain is portrayed as a moderate, but the result if he is elected is that we will get more right-wing judges. For that matter, with four solid conservatives now on the Supreme Court, McCain could help achieve his anti-choice supporters biggest fantasies by appointing a fifth justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. And if he gets the chance, he will.

John McCain has long opposed what he sees as 'pork' spending. Of course most so-called 'pork' is money that is invested in projects, especially in rural areas, which help people and communities but might not be affordable without the federal support. Recently though he has in fact redoubled his attacks and suggested that he will if he is President simply veto bills that have 'pork' in them, regardless of whether they are worthwhile projects or not.

Now granted, one could ask the 'anti-pork' crusader whether President Bush should have vetoed his own bill that directed $10 million to create the William H. Rehnquist Center here in Arizona (memorializing another arch-conservative Supreme Court justice who McCain admires a great deal.) But certainly his promise to blanket veto spending on such projects is hardly 'moderate.' It could be justified as hard-nosed fiscal responsibility though, if it weren't for his stance on the Bush tax cuts. Though McCain, still angry over his 2000 loss to Bush opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001, he now supports making them permanent. And of course that will cost the government far more in revenue that the relative trifle he plans to save with his vetoes.

Health care? Well, just read what John McCain's own website says about it (if you dig deep enough and scroll down to near the bottom.)

Reform the tax code to eliminate the bias toward employer-sponsored health insurance, and provide all individuals with a $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for families)

Now, the average family insurance policy now costs in excess of $12,000. So in other words, McCain plans to discourage your employer from continuing to offer you insurance, and replace it with a tax credit for less than half of what the premium is now (so if your employer pays half your premium now, then you will be $1,000 in the hole.) And of course if you or a family member has health issues like being a cancer survivor or having a chronic illness or disability then your premium will go much, much higher (if you can buy insurance at all once your employer quits covering you) but Mr. McCain's partial tax subsidy won't rise to cover it. So the bottom line is that the McCain plan will create more uninsured than there are now. Yup, that's what conservatives do too.

Above all, McCain is a strong conservative on foreign policy, especially the Iraq war. McCain is the chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Republican Insitute (IRI). The IRI is a para-governmental organization which was originally founded by Jeanne Kirkpatrick and other conservatives during the Reagan administration to provide a counter to Jimmy Carter's work certifying foreign elections. It found a new lease on life during the Bush administration. Because it is not a governmental agency, the IRI can conduct foreign policy (including setting up elections and educating foreign voters and perhaps less laudible goals than that-- including spreading American-style conservatism) where direct involvement by the State Department could violate U.S. or foreign laws. A quick glance at the full membership of the Board of Directors shows that in addition to McCain, it includes Paul Bremer (the first U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the war), Bush I-era cronies Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, former GOP chairman Frank Fahrenkopf and three other sitting or former Congressmen or Senators (all Republicans) and various members of the military-industrial complex.

McCain voted enthusiastically for the AUMF in October 2002 and was a supporter of the 'surge' from its opening days. He has spared no expense, supporting close to a trillion dollars in new Iraq spending (all while grousing about a few million in 'pork'; well, McCain recently admitted that he didn't understand economics.) McCain recently said that he is willing to stay in Iraq for a hundred years (Yikes!) So it is obvious that on the Iraq war, a McCain administration would be another four years of the Bush administration.

Part of the appeal that John McCain has to independents and moderates is that they don't see him as being as 'bad' as other Republicans.

Well, he is every bit as bad. Maybe he can see the benefits of working with Democrats on a handful of issues that will get him a lot of press, but on the issues that count, he's still just as conservative. And like his 'huggy buddy' McCain gets stuck on an issue, and he is a stubborn jackass who won't change his mind even when everyone can see that he is wrong.

So don't be fooled by John McCain. He's a conservative. He's just a smart enough conservative that he knows how to play the media game and once in a while keep up appearances. But his supporters in Virginia who the other night when he finally won the primary broke into chants of, 'four more years,' know better. They are Bush backers, and this year McCain is their man.

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Olberman Comment on FISA

President Bush Is A Liar and a Fascist.

Mr. Bush, you say that our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.

Yet you have weakened that ability!

You have subjected us, your citizens, to that greater danger!

This, Mr. Bush, is simple enough even for you to understand.

For the moment, at least, thanks to some true patriots in the House, and your own stubbornness, you have tabled telecom immunity, and the FISA act.


By your own terms and your definitions — you have just sided with the terrorists.

You got to have this law or we’re all going to die.

But practically speaking, you vetoed this law.

It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an Ex Post Facto law, which could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibilityfor their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.

But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn’t even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.

“The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.” Believed?

Don’t you know?

Don’t you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you?

Does this endless presidency of loopholes and fine print extend even here?

If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business — come out and say it!

There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.

You’re a fascist — get them to print you a t-shirt with “fascist” on it!

What else is this but fascism?

See Crooks and Liars for video and transcript.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

According to GOP talking heads, that guy was unqualified.

Tonight, Feb. 12 (though this post will show up as Feb. 13) the talking heads, at least those who are talking from the GOP side, seem to enjoy discussing the role of Commander in Chief and suggesting that maybe Barack Obama is not qualified for the job.

They picked a bad night to do it.

Tonight is the 199th birthday of that other guy who was a little known lawyer from Illinois before serving four years in Federal office (Congress) before being elected President.

Maybe they would have preferred a second James Buchanan term instead?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's The Stupid Economy

Which party, historically, is better for the U.S. Debt?

Certainly NOT the republics!

Since 1938 the Democrats have held the White house for 35 years, the Republicans for 34. Over that time the national debt has increased at an average annual rate of 8.7%. In years Democrats were in the White House there was an average increase of 8.3%. In years the Republicans ran the White House the debt increased an average 9.7% per year. Those averages aren’t that far apart, but they do show a bias toward more borrowing by Republicans than Democrats even including World War II.

If you look at the 59-year record of debt since the end of WWII, starting with Truman’s term, the difference between the two parties’ contributions to our national debt level change considerably. Since 1946, Democratic presidents increased the national debt an average of only 3.2% per year. The Republican presidents stay at an average increase of 9.7% per year. Republican Presidents out borrowed and spent Democratic presidents by a three to one ratio. Putting that in very real terms: for every dollar a Democratic president has raised the national debt in the past 59 years Republican presidents have raised the debt by $2.99.

Prior to the Neo-Conservative takeover of the Republican Party there was not much difference between the two parties’ debt philosophy. They both worked together to minimize it. However the debt has been on a steady incline ever since the Reagan presidency. The only exception to the steep increase over the last 25 years was during the Clinton presidency, when he brought spending under control and the debt growth down to almost zero.

Comparing the borrowing habits of the two parties since 1981, when the Neo-Conservative movement really took hold and government spending raced out of control, it is extremely obvious that the big spenders in Washington are Republicans and their party’s presidents. The only Democratic president since then, Mr. Clinton raised the national debt an average of 4.3% per year. The Republican presidents (Reagan, Bush, and Bush II) raised the debt an average of 10.8% per year. That is, for every dollar a Democratic President has raised the national debt in the past 25 years, Republican presidents have raised the debt by $2.53. Any way you look at it Neo-Conservative Republican presidents cannot or will not control government spending.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On The Iraqi Civil War

From our Red Letter Rev:

G'day, {{Y'all}}...

Yes, there has been civil strife between the Shi'ites and Sunnis for decades, if not centuries. We can thank British imperialism and redrawing up political maps for monetary gain for that. The administration should have realized how well nation-building and imperialism worked out for the British (not so well, actually) and taken a note from that. But nooOOOOOooo.

As rotten a sumbitch as Saddam was, he at least had a lid on it (equal-opportunity oppression). There was not the wholesale sort of slaughter during his regime as there is now. What ShrubCo did in removing him (IMHO because he quit playing ball and they wanted the oil), was to remove the cork from the bottle penning up the evil genie. Now instead of one dude committing the slaughter over there, they're all doing it (with our active participation) -- and our resident is responsible for allowing it to happen, if not actively inviting it to happen.

If Saddam had suddenly been offed by someone else (who'd'a missed him?) I believe the same civil strife would probably have started. But they didn't; our government did, and as the party responsible for releasing the genie from the bottle, the stank is on us. Otherwise, our hands would have been clean and the trillions of dollars spent on trying to clean up the wholly-predictable and inevitable mess would have stayed here in our pockets. Now, they're going to Cheneyburton, where ShrubCo wanted them to go all along.

From this end of the cheap seats, it looks like a carefully planned heist of taxpayer money.

No, we didn't start the civil war over there, but the buck clearly stops at the desk of our resident for concertedly and premeditatedly enabling it to resume in full force for the benefit of no-one but Cheneyburton with the American taxpayer footing the bill.

Just thinkin' out loud here, trying to find a middle ground.

It always slays me when someone talks about "winning" in Iraq. To win usually means to obtain something of value, with or without personal effort ("win" like lotto, no effort vs "win" like a basketball game, sweat-effort). Since we have been involved in an act of aggression, with neither the consent of Congress nor the American people, I have to ask what is it that we're supposed to "win"?

Peace? Hardly. There was a sort of peace in place before Shrub went in.

Protection from turristesses? Nope. Acts of terror (which were zero in Iraq before the invasion) increase on a weekly basis. Thousands of new terrorist training camps have sprung up in Africa and the Far East since and directly because of the invasion. We're in far more danger than ever because of the invasion.

To strike back at those who attacked us? Wrong! All but one of the attackers were Saudi -- y'know, Bush's handholding buddies, the ones his oil-buddies get a chunk of their profits from and the ones we sell arms to. Well, that makes a load of sense, dudnit (snark!). The funding for the attacks was laundered through Dubai -- y'know, the new home of Blackwater (offshore, where they can't easily be prosecuted for war crimes, how convenient). To attack Iraq in retribution for the attacks on 9/11 is the same as you stepping on my foot, then I go to your neighborhood and slap some poor sod down the street for it.

To combat Islamic Fundamentalism? To what end? Replace it with our own, equally nuts version of Christian Fundamentalism? Yah, there's a real improvement (again, snark!). I'd rather we keep a close eye on the volatile nutcases right here in our front yard than go stirring up somebody else's on top of the trouble and irritation we already have. There is absolutely no question that the invasion has done more to increase Islamic Fundamentalism, whilst cynically using Christian Fundamentalism to achieve that end.

To export democracy? It is philosophically and physically impossible to "export" democracy at the point of a gun. The concept is insane, even on the face of it. Then again (while I'm in a wry and snarky mood), why not? We're not using it much here. We allow obvious criminality in the administration and intelligence arms to go on in full view and unpunished. We allow election fraud and obvious rigging to go on in full view and unpunished. We allow torture and war crimes to go on in full view and unpunished. Our government then cynically uses doomsday-cult fringe-religion and a complicit media to justify it all.

Gee, except for the choice of religious writings, there's little difference between the government that the Islamic fundamentalists are trying to achieve over there and one that the Christian fundamentalists are trying to achieve here, with BushCo's full blessing and support. In either case, the only ones who benefit are of the plantation-owner class.

It's a funny twist of events to me (funny-crazy, not funny-haha). I was in the military during the Cold War and went through school during the 60's. These are exactly the actions for which we castigated Communist Russia and China. They were the Great Enemies, simply because their governments were doing exactly what ours is now. Yet, somehow, and completely inexplicably to me, these actions which were burn-for sins then are justifiable practice now. Isn't a sin still a sin?

I'm Quaker to the core; unprovoked acts of aggression are abhorrent to me, from the skin all the way to my soul. While, like my ancestors during the Revolutionary War, I will defend myself if I am the victim of unprovoked violence, I cannot understand how anyone who calls him/herself Christian can justify committing an unprovoked act of murderous aggression -- and still lay head to pillow at night or expect the rewards of Heaven later. From where I sit (and I may be completely biased due to my practice of faith), but cheering on a sin carries equal damnation to committing the sin itself.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rev On Voting

This morning, from our Red Letter Rev:

G'mornin' {{y'all}}

I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show on the way in to work. They were carrying reports from 1-866-MYVOTE1; very intereting things going on. They were getting an average of 5-7 calls per minutes, largely about where to find polling places. It appears that primary polling places are different from the general election places and not everyone was getting the word. Thank goodness for resources like 1-866-MYVOTE1.

There were numerous complaints from Georgia. The new republican-backed voter ID requirements were working as predicted and quite a few people were being turned away. Also, there aren't nearly enough machines, making the lines very long and ensuring that voters who had to get work had to give up before being able to vote. There were numerous reports of machines breaking down and this problem only agitated the problem of not having enough machines in the first place.

I'm going to interject right here and ask why in heck is it that during Democratic primaries and in heavily Democratic precincts, there never seem to be enough resources? I'd also like to know when it is that we're going to stand up and counter the Republic meme of "voter fraud" (which has been proven to be near non-existent and concentrate on the real problem of Republic-engineered election fraud. Here it is, the year 2008 and we're still dealing with the same dirty tricks that went on in 2000. I'm thoroughly disgusted with Republic engineering, fraud, suppression and in-your face, don't-care-who-knows rigging and mobster tricks. That's the kind of crap that we castigated Russia for in the 1960's.


Thank heaven for people who have courage, a voice and a microphone, like Tom Joyner, are speaking out. A lot of folks listen to his morning show. Perhaps we'll finally be inspired to concrete action before the general election, rather than being thwarted in getting to the truth afterward. It's up to us to break the pattern of republic election abuse, suppression and fraud. Y'all listen in and follow, because we're getting reports right from the ground. This time, the republics can't tell us it isn't happening — we're hearing it all live.

I have the sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of moderate Republicans who are secretly going to push a (D) presidential button this fall. 'S'awright, nobody's gonna tell on 'em — even secretly cheer them on for coming to their senses.

It looks pretty evident that only the koolade-drenched 26% want more failed policies, more lies, more war, more debt, more lawlessness, and more destruction. If they want war so damn badly, then they need to get off their chickenhawk asses and go fight one, rather than cheering when someone else's child or spouse is sacrificed to their bloody, bitter, evil war-god.

The more we all work at it now, the bigger the landslide will be.

Oh, how I'd love to shove a dose of STFU down the 26%-ers' wackogelical, Constitution-despising, America-hating, chickenhawk throats.

In the last few years, they've worked on us to convince us to give up the very last remaining thing that makes America "America" — to wit: the Constitution and its precious Bill of Rights. It is presently only the thinnest of lines between us and a complete collapse of the Union, putting once-proud Americans on their knees as slaves. Not just a segment of us, as once was a shameful part of our history — but all of us universally.

Give up my rights, my Constitution, my pride? Over my dead body. They might accomplish that in a hand-to-hand, but they'll by-G'd know I was there and I was an American.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Bush's Budget

Bush Budget Forecasts Deficit Hike

President Bush wants to cut funding for teaching hospitals and freeze medical research in a $3 trillion budget for 2009 that is still likely to generate a record deficit once war costs are tallied up.

The Bush budget to be submitted Monday would cut the budget for the Health and Human Services Department by $2 billion, or 3 percent. By contrast, the Pentagon would get a $35 billion increase to $515 billion for core programs, with war costs additional.

With tax revenues falling as the economy slows - and with the deficit-financed economic stimulus bill adding more than $150 billion in red ink to federal ledgers over 2008-2009 - the White House acknowledges that the budget deficit for this year and next is projected to reach $400 billion or more.

The largest-ever budget deficit, $413 billion, was recorded in 2004. Bush's budget will forecast a deficit for 2009 that's below that, an administration official said. But that assumes costs of $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, well below the almost $200 billion request for this year.


Bush's budget plan will also, on average, freeze most domestic programs funded by Congress each year. Since departments such as Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security will be getting increases, that means other agencies would bear difficult cuts.

The budget for the Health and Human Services Department, for example, would be reduced by almost 3 percent under the Bush budget plan to be released Monday. The $2 billion in HHS cuts are about double the size of the reductions Bush sought last year; Democrats controlling Congress rejected them.


These reductions would be in addition to almost $200 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years that administration officials acknowledge are in Bush's budget. Much of the savings would come from freezing reimbursement rates for most health care providers for three years.


Within HHS programs, Bush would eliminate a $302 million program that gives grants to children's hospitals to subsidize medical education. A $300 million program for public health improvement projects would be eliminated, while grants to improve health care in rural areas would be cut by 87 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control's budget would face a 7 percent reduction of $433 million. The budget for a program to treat and monitor the health of first responders and others exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks would be cut by 77 percent, from $108 million this year to $25 million in 2009.

The National Institutes of Health, which funds health research grants, would see its budget frozen at $29.5 billion.

A program providing grants to help mental health and substance abuse providers update their treatment programs would be cut almost in half. Bush also would eliminate a new $49 million program to help states provide health insurance to people who are ailing and cannot obtain health insurance in the commercial market.


At the same time, a popular program that provides heating subsidies to the poor would be cut by $570 million, to $2 billion.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

Patriots or the Giants??
No Giants!

I really have no clue.

And....Zogby has the latest polls in case you have been following the Presidential Primaries.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rainbow Amongst the Wind Turbines

I just thought some would appreciate this picture.

Friday, February 01, 2008

FISA and Telecom Immunity

Special Comment by Keith Olbermann:

President Bush has put protecting the telecom giants from the laws… ahead of protecting you from the terrorists.

He has demanded an extension of the FISA law — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — but only an extension that includes retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped him spy on you.


Mark Klein is the AT&T whistleblower who appeared on this newscast last November, who explained, in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all of AT&T’s circuits — everything carrying every phone call, every e-mail, every bit of web browsing — into a secure room…

…Room Number 641-A, at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco — where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

Not some of it; not just the international part of it; certainly not just the stuff some truly patriotic and telepathic spy might be able to divine had been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist.

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