Monday, June 30, 2008

Celebrate Freedom

This year, I'm offering two YouTube fireworks videos. I prefer the first one with the fireworks over the water because it reminds me of the many times we went by boat and anchored in the river, as close as we could get to the barges, to see the fireworks shows during the International Freedom Festival.

Finale 1, Thunder on the River '08 [1:01]:

The second video is a longer version, and is from a little more upriver and across from the display.

Finale 2, Thunder Fest [3:00]:

On the Fourth of July we celebrate our freedom from British rule, the birth of our country, and the adoption of our Constitution which guarantees the natural law of our rights and freedoms.

Remember in November those who would seek to limit your rights. Keep pressure on Congress to uphold and defend our Constitution. Fight for your rights.

And have a safe and happy Holiday.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

On Passage Of The 21st Century GI Bill

Sen. Jim Webb on White House's Embrace of his 21st Century GI Bill:

"For the past 17 months, I and my staff have been working every day to provide first-class educational benefits to those who have served since 9/11. I am delighted that after having opposed this legislation, the President has now pledged that he will not veto it when it comes before him as part of this year's supplemental appropriations package.

"The bill being sent to the President contains every provision in S. 22, which has received meticulous scrutiny and the full support of every major veterans' organization. It will pay for a veteran's tuition, books, and a monthly stipend, along the lines of the benefits given to those who returned from World War II. As such, it fulfills the pledge I made on my first day of office to provide today's veterans with the opportunity to move forward into an absolutely first-class future.

"I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans' service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

"It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 -- seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity."

Sen. Jim Webb on the passage of 21st Century GI Bill:

“Today, the Senate took a final historic step toward a modern and fair educational benefit for the men and women who have served honorably since 9/11. This bill properly responds to the needs of those who answered the call of duty to our country—those who moved toward the sound of the guns—often at great sacrifice.

“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we have accomplished that goal.

McSame No Show:

As if trying to steal credit for Webb’s GI Bill wasn’t bad enough, McCain yesterday skipped the Senate vote on the legislation, which passed 92-6. The only other senator not present for the vote was Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who is battling a brain tumor. [snip]

McCain has not voted in the Senate since April 8 and has missed 367 votes (61.4 percent) during the current Congress.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

FISA Vote Postponed

Mark Fiore: The Spies Who Love You

Feingold wins delay on surveillance bill

Post-Crescent, WI:

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and other opponents of a compromise electronic surveillance bill left town today with a victory: They delayed action on the legislation until Congress returns from a Fourth of July break.

"I hope that over the July 4th holiday, senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people," Feingold said in a statement. "It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.”

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he will likely take up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act on July 8.

Senate Delays Vote on Immunity

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

It's official: Thanks to overwhelming grassroots action, and the heroic efforts of Senators Dodd and Feingold, the Senate's vote on whether to grant phone companies immunity from the law for assisting in the President's illegal wiretapping program has been delayed until after July 4th Recess!

This is an unexpected reprieve for civil liberties and the rule of law. As recently as last night, the mainstream press was reporting that the immunity bill would see swift and uncontested approval. Senate Leaders emphasized that passing an immunity bill this week was one of their highest priorities. And yet, in the end, the bill simply wasn't as uncontested and noncontroversial as the pundits and politicans thought it was. [snip]

EFF would like to extend its sincere thanks to everyone who's taken up this cause as their own. Whether you've contacted your Congressperson, blogged or written your thoughts on the issue, or just talked it over with friends, your action has made a difference today.

Keep calling and/or writing your senators and remind them of our rights of natural law as guaranteed by the Constitution, the highest law of this country, which they took an oath to support and defend:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The End Of An Error

An Honor That Bush Is Unlikely to Embrace


Reagan has his highways. Lincoln has his memorial. Washington has the capital (and a state, too). But President Bush may soon be the sole president to have a memorial named after him that you can contribute to from the bathroom. [snip]

From the Department of Damned-With-Faint-Praise, a group going by the regal-sounding name of the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is planning to ask voters here to change the name of a prize-winning water treatment plant on the shoreline to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

The plan, naturally hatched in a bar, would place a vote on the November ballot to provide “an appropriate honor for a truly unique president.”

Supporters say that they have plenty of signatures to qualify the initiative and that the renaming would fit in a long and proud American tradition of poking political figures in the eye.

The renaming would take effect on Jan. 20, when the new president is sworn in. And regardless of the measure’s outcome, supporters plan to commemorate the inaugural with a synchronized flush of hundreds of thousands of San Francisco toilets, an action that would send a flood of water toward the plant, now called the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant.

“It’s a way of doing something physical that’s mentally freeing,” said Stacey Reineccius, 45, a software consultant and entrepreneur who supports the plan. “It’s a weird thing, but it’s true.”


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back from vacation

A lot has happened since I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago. So here is a brief wrap-up of what's been going on.

1. I was disappointed that Congress gave in on letting telecom companies have immunity for breaking the law in the FISA bill and also on Iraq war funding. Giving in on important issues like this in exchange for more pork is NOT a compromise. For a lame-duck President I'm disappointed that Congress is still letting him lead them around by the nose on crucial issues involving Iraq and warrantless surveillance. It's no accident that Congress' approval rating, which was rising for a couple of months into 2007, started tanking to the day that they first knuckled under to the Bush administration on Iraq war funding.

2. I'm encouraged by how quickly the party is coming back together. It's been eighteen days since Hillary suspended her campaign, and it's safe to say that while there is still work that needs to be done, the rate that Clinton supporters have been uniting with the Obama campaign is faster than the rate at which conservatives were rallying to McCain after he in effect decided the issue on Super Tuesday, or even after he clinched the GOP nod a month later.

3. In 1977, Jimmy Carter proposed (and Congress for the most part passed) a plan to make us energy independent by 2000. Unfortunately, virtually all of it (except for the original Alaska pipeline, which was only a small part of the whole) was dismantled during the 1980's. Also last year Congress finally passed increased CAFE standards for the first time since the Carter administration-- and it was a combination of Republicans and oil or auto-state Democrats who had scuttled it for thirty years. Keep in mind that a model-T Ford got 25 mpg, and that was a hundred years ago. If the GOP wants to make energy an issue, then bring it on. And yes, while in California I did have to pay $4.679 a gallon for a tank of gas.

4. I was encouraged by some state polls out the last couple of weeks. A survey USA poll out today shows Obama slightly ahead though statistically tied with John McCain in Indiana. The Hoosier state politically has always been a staunch Republican bastion that the GOP could pretty much count on to avoid getting shut out in the Rust Belt even in years when the rest of the region went to the Democrats. That may not be true this year. And a poll in Alaska the other day showed Obama within four. Alaska has also been a solidly Republican state, but then again-- maybe not this year. Obama has said he intends to send paid staff to all fifty states, which he will have the funds to do and McCain won't be able to counter him everywhere.

5. That leads into this observation-- Yes, Obama's decision to pass on Presidential matching funds was a flip-flop and a crass political decision. So what? He's trying to win, and does anyone honestly believe that if McCain had a way to raise $200-$300 million for the general he wouldn't do the same thing? Obama's learned quickly how to play the game, and having a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 money advantage (McCain will be limited to $84 million) in the fall will allow him to do exactly what Republicans have done in the past to Democrats (when they had the big money advantage.) The real root of the problem is that campaigns are getting more expensive and fewer Americans are dedicating that $3 of their taxes to go to the Presidential campaign. One reform that I would suggest Congress may want to pass sometime would be that when one of two major party candidates opts out of the system then the funds that would have gone to that candidate go to his or her opponent.

6. This observation-- when we went to Disneyland (we were lucky to be able to go this year ourselves, but we had promised the kids and we never break promises to them, plus they themselves worked harder and raised more for going to the Cinderella finals than they needed to this year) it was a lot less crowded than it was the last time we went-- on the same days and the same time of year-- in 2004.) Granted we were only there for two days, but either Disney raised prices too fast or less people can afford to go this year. Likely a bit of both.

7. The state legislature, after shutting everyone out (especially members of the Democratic minority) for months has two budgets out-- the house Republican budget that makes deep cuts (and looks great for political grandstanding), and the Senate budget, more or less supported by the Governor, that is more reasonable given the current fiscal pressures facing the state. They will then resolve the differences by negotiating a budget that is likely to be closer to the Senate version. This is the same thing as happens every year. Here is an idea to save the state money-- since we know how this will turn out anyway, why not come out with the budgets in February and have the process wrapped up by March. Just think how much money this would save--especially by not having to pay legislators per diem pay for another three or four months. Well, read that last line again and you'll know why they give us this show every year. Incidentally, I want Obama to win, but if he does I'm well aware that it will hurt us in Arizona because Governor Napolitano would likely get a cabinet post, which would mean that Jan Brewer would move into the Governor's office-- and she'd likely sign the nutty stuff that comes out of the legislature. Plus, a cabinet call for Napolitano would likely deprive us in the Arizona Democratic party of our top candidate for McCain's Senate seat in 2010. Ah, well-- sometimes you are called on to sacrifice for your country and an Obama win would benefit all fifty states.

8. Apparently Senate Banking Committee Chairman and former Presidential candidate Chris Dodd got special treatment on his home loan from Countrywide (though he denies knowing he was getting anything better than anyone else.) He is now sponsoring a bill (actually a bi-partisan bill with Senator Shelby) to help bail out lenders, most notably Countrywide. It's a good thing Dodd isn't the nominee, otherwise this story would be broadcast wall to wall and would be called the biggest banking scandal since Credit Mobilier. In fact, it shows questionable judgement but no wrongdoing and will probably be gone within a week. But the fact that it will shows how much of a higher standard Presidential nominees are held to than also-rans.

9. I admit to being wrong about something. I picked the Lakers in five. What they really need is five. Five guys. Five guys playing defense. They are lucky they play in the western conference because the way they don't play defense I doubt if they would have even beaten Detroit or Cleveland to get to the finals if they were in the east. In fact, I'm wondering whether Tim Donaghy is right-- because the Lakers that showed up in the NBA finals weren't even good enough to have really beaten the Spurs.

10. It's good to be back.

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Wait... money > Constitution??

That equation or whatever it is called in the title shouldn't be right, should it? I was researching a little on FISA and what the Democrats (real, strong, good Democrats) can do to either filibuster or deny it's passage. Lo and behold I found out why it passed the House in the first damn place, thanks to this.

Politics gets to be a real hairy issue when money is involved. I've always placed the Constitution ahead of money, but my living isn't based on spending it to get elected to office... an office which ironically is sworn to protect and obey the Constitution. Hmmmmmm... we gotta get these rat bastards out. Not only the corporatist DINOs but the Bush crime family as well.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Moment Of Silence

For George Carlin


Sunday, June 22, 2008

McSame Flip Flop Boogie

Steve Benen at Carpetbagger Report has a list:

Long-time readers know that I’ve been emphasizing John McCain’s dozens of major policy flip-flops for months now, hoping that this would a) catch on as a campaign issue; and b) undermine McCain’s unearned reputation for principled stands on the issues.

I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, the criticism is taking root.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Dinner Belle

Another baby!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm Voting Republican!



Bobble Head Oily Express Ways

These people are amazing. They will say anything and continue to prove that they are a self-servative and pandering political party not to be trusted.

Bush wants to lift the offshore and arctic drilling bans.

McSame as Bush III has the same line and flip flops on oil drilling, pandering to the big oil companies who have donated 74 percent of his lifetime campaign contributions since he announced running for president.

Even Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) has flip flopped on the offshore drilling moratorium, hoping for a chance at the VP spot.

Meanwhile, "catapult the propaganda" bobble heads Jean Schmidt (R-OH), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), George Radanovich (R-CA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) continue to parrot the false story of China drilling for oil off the Florida coast near Cuba.

Bush's stance that lifting the drilling ban will benefit gas prices is contrary to his own administration's Department of Energy report and even McCain's top advisor admits that there will be no immediate effect on prices.

Bad enough McSame doesn't have a real grasp on economy, too often he's just talking out of his cap.

Do you really want McMore of McSame?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McSame Flip Flop Pandering

McCain's Straight Talk & Support For the Military

BarbinMD, KOS:

...Throughout the course of this presidential campaign season, we’ve watched McCain pander for the evangelical vote, contradict himself on issues ranging from tax cuts to immigration, call himself the anti-lobbyist candidate while surrounding himself with lobbyists, vilify special interests despite his history of brokering deals for big-money contributors, denouncing 527 groups as he parrots their message, all while running as fast as he can from George Bush even as he embraces a stay the course X 100 Iraq policy.

The bottom line is, associating the words "straight talker" with John McCain is nothing short of laughable. Volumes could be written on the issues that he has flip flopped on, or the positions he has embraced in an effort to pander to a particular voting bloc, but today let’s focus on the John McCain whose devotion to the men and women of the military is unquestionable. [snip]

Time and again we are told that his support for the men and women serving in our military is unwavering and unquestionable, and that as someone who has sacrificed for his country, to question him somehow dishonors his own service. But as the saying goes, "facts are pesky things," so instead of relying on McCain's rhetoric, let's look at some of those facts:

  • McCain has repeatedly voted against amendments in the Senate that would have...covered such important services as improving care at veterans’ hospitals, providing mental health services to soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problems. [2006 Senate Vote #7, 2/2/2006]

  • In 2006, McCain voted against the Kerry amendment that would eliminate increased fees and co-payments for veterans in the TRICARE health care program by raising the discretionary spending limit by approximately $10 billion. The provisions would have been fully offset by eliminating creating corporate tax breaks. [2006 Senate Vote #67, 3/16/2006]

  • McCain was one of only 13 Republicans to vote against an amendment that added over $400 million for inpatient and outpatient care for veterans. [2006 Senate Vote #98, 4/26/2006]

  • McCain voted against increasing funding for veterans health care by $2.8 billion in 2006. [2005 Senate Vote #55, 3/16/2005]

  • McCain joined his Republican Senate cohorts in opposing exempting all military personnel and veterans from means testing in bankruptcy cases. [2005 Senate Vote #13, 3/1/2005]

  • McCain opposed an amendment that would reduce from 60 to 55 the age at which certain members of the National Guard and Army reserves could receive retirement benefits. [2004 Senate Vote #136, 6/23/2004]

  • Senator McCain opposed $322 million in funding for "battlefield clearance and safety equipment for U.S. troops in Iraq." A reduction in Iraqi reconstruction funds would have funded the additional protection for troops in the battlefield. [2003 Senate Vote #376, 10/2/2003]

  • McCain voted against an amendment that would increase spending on the veterans health care program TRICARE by $20.3 billion over 10 years to members of the National Guard and Reserves. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts. [2003 Senate Vote #81, 3/25/2003]

  • McCain opposed an amendment that would have increased veterans spending by $13 billion from 1997-2002 to be offset by closing corporate tax preferences and reinstating expired taxes. [1996 Senate Vote #115, 5/16/1996]

The reality and the rhetoric of John McCain are at complete odds, yet the fact that McCain is a champion of the military is the unchallenged, conventional wisdom in the traditional media. Which brings us to McCain’s more recent opposition to Senator Jim Webb’s G.I. Bill of Rights (pdf), a bill that provides real educational benefits for veterans and that enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support. McCain’s objection? That providing the men and women who have risked their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq with the means to attend college when their service is complete might hurt retention rates in the military. All of this cuts right to the heart the problem with the media’s unwillingness to meaningfully challenge McCain on his issue...Iraq and his alleged support for the troops.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Flip Flopping Speed Record?

McCain Sets a New Record: 10 Flip-Flops in Two Weeks

Jon Perr, Crooks and Liars:

In his eternal quest for the Republican presidential nomination, the supposed maverick John McCain has repeatedly reversed long-held positions and compromised purportedly core principles. From the Bush tax cuts, the religious right and immigration reform to overturning Roe v. Wade, proclaiming Samuel Alito a model Supreme Court Justice and bashing France (just to name a few), McCain changed sides as changing political conditions dictated.

But over the past two weeks, McCain’s rapid fire, acrobatic flip-flops have produced whiplash, at least for voters. 10 times since the beginning of June, McCain has retreated from, upended or just forgotten positions he once claimed as his own. On Social Security, balancing the budget, defense spending, domestic surveillance and a host of other issues so far this month, McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” did a U-turn on the road to the White House.

  1. Social Security Privatization.
  2. Raising - and Slashing - Defense Spending.
  3. First Term Balanced Budget Pledge.
  4. The Media’s Treatment of Hillary Clinton.
  5. The Estate Tax.
  6. FISA, Domestic Surveillance and Telecom Immunity.
  7. Restoring the Everglades.
  8. Divestment from South Africa.
  9. Fighting Job Losses in Michigan.
  10. Opposing Hurricane Katrina Investigations.

...And so it goes. As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west each day, so too will John McCain change positions. (Like that other law of nature, McCain’s flip-flops are literally becoming a daily occurrence. Since this piece was originally drafted on Saturday, McCain added two new policy turnabouts - on phasing out rather than repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and on requiring a litmus test for his judicial appointees - to his litany of reversals.)

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hugs For Dads

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived,
and let me watch him do it.

~ Clarence Budington Kelland

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Air Force Association Endorses GI Bill

But McSame Still Does Not Support The Troops

Think Progress:

Air Force Association Endorses Webb’s GI Bill

...McCain’s record on veterans issues may have given the AFA pause. McCain has been a vocal opponent of the Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill. He offered his own watered-down version of the bill but shut out most veterans groups from the crafting of the legislation. Now the AFA and McCain have officially parted ways, with the AFA endorsing Webb’s bill, S.22:

Updating the bill to tie it to the current costs as proposed in S. 22 will help Airmen achieve a complete four-year education and thus a better quality of life after serving, while bolstering recruitment efforts throughout the military and helping lower post-military unemployment rates of veterans.

The AFA specifically urged providing “the full benefit to anyone who has served three years active duty,” a component of Webb’s bill McCain has rejected and the Pentagon has mocked.

McCain has claimed he has the support of “literally every veterans organization in America.” Yet the AFA is just one of many groups who object to McCain’s opposition to the GI Bill — a bill he found so unimportant he skipped the vote on it:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

American Legion

Military Officers Association of America

Student Veterans of America

Veterans of Foreign Wars
This is only a partial list of the 15 veterans groups — not to mention the 30 governors — who have endorsed Webb’s bill.

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Today's Lesson

New York teacher gives Democrats radio address


Democrats tapped a teacher from upstate New York to make the case that their party will do more for working Americans than Republicans will.

Jeff Alberici, an eighth-grade history teacher in Auburn, N.Y., was chosen to deliver the Democrats' Saturday radio address - an unusual choice for a weekly task usually performed by elected officials. [snip]

Alberici said he supports Democrats because they "understand what families like ours are going through, and they're trying to make things better."

Republicans, Alberici said, "haven't offered much of anything. In fact, Republicans are spending their time blocking Democrats from getting anything done at all," including several recent bills that Democrats contend would lower energy costs.

One bill that would have ended tax breaks for big oil companies and imposed a windfall tax on their profits was blocked by Senate Republicans. Days earlier, a bill aimed at curbing global warming was defeated.

"Republicans only want more of the same old ideas that got us into this mess in the first place," said Alberici. "More of the same isn't working for my family, and I bet it's not working for yours."

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Friday, June 13, 2008

GOP: I'm With...


Third Term McSame Agrees With Bush:

McCain in ‘05: I’m ‘totally in agreement’ with Bush on ‘the most important issues of the day.’

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is working hard to dispel the notion that his presidency would effectively constitute a third Bush term, saying recently that he has “disagreed strongly with the Bush administration” on Iraq. But McCain took a very different stance in June 2005... [Video at HuffPo]

Tim Russert: The fact is you are different than George Bush.

SEN. McCAIN: No. No. I–the fact is that I’m different but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I’ve been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.

More fallout from NRCC embezzlement scandal:

House Republicans have had to deal with the nearly $2 million tab from its embezzlement scandal ($725,000 stolen by their former treasurer, and continued legal and accounting costs trying to sort out the mess), not to mention the severe public embarrassment which allows people like me to say, "Republicans run their committees the same way they run the country."

Morally Bankrupt:

In response to today's landmark Supreme Court decision granting habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees, Lindsey Graham has decided he wants to amend the United State Constitution to strip it of any pesky kinds of civil rights protections that have existed since the Magna Carta. [snip]

Every member of the Congress that approved the Military Commissions Act and the Detainee Treatment Act, now correctly reversed by the Court, will have the moral stain of having been a party to it besmirching their careers and their legacies forever. History will be only slightly less unforgiving to the Congress which allowed the grave abuses of the Constitution by the Bush administration than it will be to Bush himself. So no member of the Senate should be quick to follow Graham further down that path to complete ignominy.

More of this sort of bluntness, please:

GOP claim about Chinese oil drilling off Cuba is untrue

"China is not drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters, period," said Jorge Pinon, an energy fellow with the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami and an expert in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Martinez cited Pinon's research when he took to the Senate floor Wednesday to set the record straight.

Who's guilty of spouting this particular line of bull?

Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech Wednesday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, picked up the refrain.


But guess what? It wasn't a lie, it was "faulty intelligence!"

Cheney quoted a column by George Will, who wrote last week that "drilling is under way 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are."

The article also catches House Minority Leader John Boehner -- whose otherworldly tan is itself rumored to be of offshore Chinese manufacture -- repeating this crap, as well as relative nobody Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA). It also reportedly appeared in an Investor's Business Daily editorial earlier this week. [snip]

Moral of the story: These guys will lie about absolutely anything. WMD. War and peace. POW rescues. The combat records of actual war heroes. Whether or not they marched with Martin Luther King. Everything.

And you can't "work out bipartisan compromise" with liars. Compromise requires at least two genuine positions to start with.

McSame Flip Flopping, again:

"But I'm not for quote privatizing Social Security, I never have been, I never will be."
[New Hampshire Town Hall, 06/12/08]:

"Without privatization, I don't see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits."
[C-Span Road to the White House, 11/18/2004]

Ok, you need more? You got it. Here is McCain from March of this year on at least partially privatizing Social Security:

"As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it – along the lines of what President Bush proposed."
[Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2008]

Once again, case closed. McCain has conveniently changed what he believes, because that's just what "straight-talking mavericks" do.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hey, Babe!

"In small proportions we just beauties see,
And in short measures life may perfect be."
~ Ben Jonson

"It was a splendid summer morning
and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong."
~ John Cheever

"People take pictures of the Summer,
Just in case someone thought they had missed it,
And to prove that it really existed."

~ Ray Davies

"Be intent upon the perfection of the present day."
~ William Law


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MOAA Endorses GI Bill

Military Officers Association of America endorses Webb’s GI Bill

Think Progress:

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) has announced that it “strongly supports” Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill. MOAA said they “understand the concerns of those who would prefer to see enhanced GI Bill benefits tied to extended military service” but “the GI Bill has always been a veterans’ benefit, not a military retention benefit“:

MOAA is, indeed, concerned about the serious potential for a retention downturn among today’s forces, but believes strongly that any such downturn will be due to too-frequent extended combat tours and family separations that have been imposed on a too-small force.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No! Not the beer!

McSame will veto beer?

Yep, that's exactly what he said:

"I will veto every single beer bill with earmarks."

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Bush warns of paycuts for troops

Bush said that if Congress does not act promptly, “critical accounts at the Department of Defense will soon run dry.” He added that civilian employees may face “temporary layoffs,” and the Pentagon would be forced to “close down a vital program that is getting potential insurgents off the streets and into jobs.” If the supplemental spending bill is not enacted after July, Bush said, the department would “no longer be able to pay our troops,” including ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
--From The Hill

Where do your loyalties lie, George? You're either with the troops or against them. You're either with the privitized military contractors who you're still going to pay or against our troops. Which is it? Rather then cut the pay to the contractors (who've literally stole billions of tax dollars) you threaten Congress by using the all volunteer military as a pawn? What kind of sick person are you?

Rep. Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic presidential contender, said Monday he wants the House to consider a resolution to impeach President Bush.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi consistently has said impeachment was "off the table."

Kucinich, D-Ohio, read his proposed impeachment language in a floor speech. He contended Bush deceived the nation and violated his oath of office in leading the country into the Iraq war.

Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.

Kucinich won 50 percent of the vote in a five-way House Democratic primary in March, beating back critics who said he ignored business at home to travel the country in his quest to be president.
--From The AP

Why is Congressman Dennis Kucinich the only one with cojones? Why is he the only one standing up for our Constitution, the same Constitution that many brave men and women have died defending? The same Constitution that George W. Bush called "just a Goddamned piece of paper." I wonder how many phone calls, faxes and letters it would take for the other members of Congress to not deny justice as Kucinich is? Shall we see?

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

McFlip McFlop McSame = Third Term Bush

You know, lil duhbya, there is a difference between "looking" at intelligence and "reading" intelligence:

Bush says he's credible:

Iraq Report Undermines Bush’s Claim That He Is A ‘Credible’ Leader Because He ‘Reads The Intelligence’

Today, [Jun 5th, 2008] the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released the final two sections of its pre-war intelligence report. As Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, the report concludes “that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.”

. . . . .

“All of the intelligence I looked at…the Congress looked at, said the same thing,” Bush said in 2004. Unfortunately, it seems that Bush only selectively “looked at” the intelligence.

Richard Clarke (author of Your Government Failed You), on war mongers:

Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

McCain, not good for the environment:

McCain thinks funding the environment is too pricey, but he is willing to support the Iraq war at any cost.

McCain endorses illegal wiretapping:

Flip flopping McCain - against breaking the law, before he was for it:


Douglas Holtz-Eakin, top adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said McCain believes that the Constitution gave President Bush the authority to wiretap Americans “without warrants,” bringing him “into closer alignment” with the Bush administration’s views of executive power.


In December, McCain, when asked if he would authorize illegal wiretapping, said the President should not disobey "any law":

There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.

. . . . .

I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.

Flip: So, what if illegal spying is against the law?
"...So there’s ambiguity about it. Let’s move forward."

McCain on balancing the budget:

McCain has gone from pushing a balanced budget by 2012, to a balanced budget by 2017, to a “who cares” approach.

. . . . .

So which budget plan is it? 2012? 2017? Or none at all? As Holtz-Eakin said in May, “You have to pay for that somehow or you are George Bush III.”

I'm rubber, you're glue:

McCain policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin — attempting to fight off the fact that McCain is running to continue President Bush’s key policies — ludicrously claimed that Barack Obama would be like President Bush on the economy. Obama is “dedicated to the recent Bush tradition of spending money on everything,” Holtz-Eakin said.

But even conservatives aren’t taking the bait on the new talking point. Reacting to Holtz-Eakin’s interview, conservative pundit Robert Novak said on Bloomberg TV:

That is the silliest thing I have ever heard! And I won’t even dignify how stupid it is.
Same Old McSame:

In a widely-ridiculed speech last Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) noted that “you will hear from my opponent’s campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I’m running for President Bush’s third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy.” He added that he believes those comparisons are “false.”

But it seems that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), McCain’s chief surrogate and attack dog, disagrees.

George Stephanopoulos:

... Senator Graham, John McCain is calling for an extension or maybe enhancement of the Bush policies.

Lindsey Graham:
Yeah, absolutely.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Obama's experience was right for Lincoln.

I will be leaving on vacation for a couple of weeks, so I'd like to bring up a topic that I've been mulling over today.

John McCain has said already he wants to contrast his experience with Obama's relative inexperience. OK, ask Hillary Clinton how well that worked. However, one point that has been overlooked-- Obama's experience (lawyer, community activist, Illinois state legislator, four years in Washington) bears an uncanny resemblance to the experience that America's greatest President had, when he held the reigns of power during America's worst crisis. So to assume that Obama is too inexperienced to be President is rebutted by historical fact.

I wrote a letter on the subject to the USA Today. Since I've had three letters published in that publication (the most recent was last year) my guess is that it won't be published. So I have no problem posting it here.

Dear Editor,

Barack Obama is running for President of the United States. He was a lawyer, active in his community, was in the Illinois state legislature for a few years and spent four years in Congress.

Which is exactly the same governmental experience as Abraham Lincoln had when he ran for President in 1860.

The real experience question is why anyone would think that the best way to solve problems that have been created in Washington is to elect someone who has spent decades in Washington, as John McCain has.

Eli Blake

It's amazing to me that McCain can try to say, "I can fix your problems, after all I helped make them."

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


What Do We Stand For?

The Liberation Of The Human Spirit

January 4, 1968

We must look not only to immediate crises, but also to the nature and the direction of the civilization that we wish to build, that we wish to take part in. The great national debate must not become a contest of only particular programs. We need discussion, we need understanding of the most basic and far-reaching goals of American civilization. But we have been told by cabinet officers and commentators, by journalists and citizens, that America is deep in the malaise of spirit, and dividing Americans from one another by their age, their views, and the color of their skin. We have fought great wars, made unprecedented sacrifices at home and abroad, made prodigious efforts to achieve personal and national wealth. Yet we ourselves are uncertain of what we have achieved and whether we like what we have accomplished.

. . . . .

Beyond our borders, we have become the greatest force in the world. Some have even spoken of us as the new imperial power. Even if we should desire such a role, it is no longer possible, as the history of the last 20 years has so unmistakably shown. The day has passed when a country can successfully rule distant lands by force. The issue for us is whether we will live as an island in the midst of a hostile world community or whether we will be joined with other independent nations in search of common goals. We must understand this, because so much depends on what is going to happen in the future as to whether this concept is clear to us. Other countries will associate themselves with us, not because they will be forced to, but because they find in our acts and in our policies a common interest and an understanding of their own ideals and their own aspirations; an understanding of the values that they can respect and admire; an understanding of the values that they can strive to emulate; thus consideration of our wealth and our power brings us full circle to the question with which we began: What do we stand for?

Robert F. Kennedy
November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hey, Hey, Hockeytown!

Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Being Wrong

John McCain doesn't like to be proven wrong on the economy, even if his statments are documented.

Sorry John, but more than half the people polled said their families were financially worse off than they were a year ago. The USA Today/Gallup poll finds that “Americans are more downbeat about their personal financial situations now than they’ve been in decades.”

And how can you claim that you have a history of fighting to reform government and the way business is done in Washington when you've got all these lobbyist problems and these other unsavory issues within your own campaign?

NASA's own agency watchdog reports that -- hey, guess what? -- political appointees in the NASA press office were downplaying scientific conclusions about global warming by withholding certain press releases and limiting reporters' access to top scientists who might veer off message.

Utah Crandall Canyon mine owner, Robert E. Murray, in spite of all his bellowing and blustering that an earthquate caused the mine collapse, has been proven wrong:

Almost a year later, the scientific side of the argument is buoyed by new calculations from the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. Here’s a statement from Walter Arabasz, director of the stations, which is remarkable for its certainty:
As seismologists, we’re as certain as we can be that the seismic event registered as a magnitude-3.9 shock was due to the collapse of the mine and not a naturally occurring earthquake.
. . . . .

While officials had no way of knowing it at the time, the moment came “essentially instantaneously” at Crandall Canyon, the Utah Seismograph Stations said in Monday’s news release. Within this finding was some comfort for those who worried that the trapped miners had suffered for hours or days before dying.

“The collapse probably happened within just a few seconds and was not a long, drawn-out affair,” Jim Pechmann, another researcher, said. “There would have been no time for anybody to get out of the way. It would have happened too fast for that.”

John Albaugh pled guilty: the former aide to Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) has pled guilty to a conspiracy to defraud the House as part of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Albaugh, 41, is the latest in a string of more than a dozen former government officials and lobbyists to plead guilty in the scandal involving members of Congress, their aides and Bush administration officials. He faces 18 to 24 months in prison, but that sentence could be reduced based on his continued cooperation with the government because of the investigation.

. . . . .

Albaugh was in a position to help while Istook served as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, treasury and independent agencies.

Lobbyist C is not identified by name, but details in the documents make clear that it is Kevin Ring, a one-time aide to Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., who later went to work for Abramoff.

Messages were left seeking comment at Albaugh's office Friday. There was no immediate response from Ring's attorney.

Ring and Doolittle both are under investigation in the Abramoff probe. Doolittle is retiring from Congress at the end of this year, partly because of the investigation.
John Doolittle isn't going to run:

Republican incumbent Rep. John T. Doolittle has decided not to run again in California's 4th Congressional District, which stretches from the Sacramento suburbs to the Oregon border, because of a long-running FBI investigation into his ties with disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Republican Lobbyist Connections

Former House aide charged in lobbying scandal:

A one-time chief of staff to former Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the House as part of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

John Albaugh is accused of accepting meals, sports and concert tickets, and other perks from lobbyists in exchange for official favors, according to charges outlined in a criminal information filed in federal court on Friday.

Abramoff Probe Takes a New Turn

Albaugh has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the House. The specifics may sound familiar, as he is accused of offenses similar to those of other Abramoff scandal figures: Taking meals, sports and concert tickets from Abramoff and his lobbying colleagues in exchange for legislative help. [snip]

The charges against Albaugh could be a step towards a federal move against Istook, who is referenced in the charging documents against Albaugh. Istook was previously known to have accepted concert tickets and campaign contributions from Abramoff.

Is this a sign that the Abramoff investigation is heating up again, and will soon reel in more fish?

Former Chief of Staff Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Case:

Federal prosecutors have a new helper in their investigation of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

The former chief of staff to Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) pleaded guilty in federal court today and agreed to cooperate.

And, there are still those Lobbyist Express problems...

McCain's Top Strategist Lobbied For Iran-Linked Firm

In the summer of 2005, John McCain's chief strategist Charlie Black, working for his firm Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey, was paid $60,000 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of the Chinese oil conglomerate CNOOC. At the time, CNOOC was mounting an aggressive bid to buy Unocal, a California-based oil giant, and Black was tasked with churning up congressional support. But the bid ultimately fell through, in part because of objections over the China oil industry's ties to Iran, a country in which it had already invested tens of millions of dollars. [snip]

Indeed, in addition to Black, McCain employs several other campaign aides and fundraisers who have served in lobbying capacities in which they advocated on behalf of foreign clients with investments and interests in Iran.

As Talking Points Memo reported, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and his firm, Davis Manafort, "helped Akhmetov's conglomerate, System Capital Management Holdings, to develop a 'corporate communications strategy' between the beginning of 2005 through the end of summer 2005... [snip]

A bit further removed, one of McCain's fundraisers, Peter Madigan, and Black's wife Judy, both lobby on behalf of the United Arab Emirates a country that AIPAC itself says is a major hub for shipment of illegal goods into Iran. Another McCain adviser, Carly Fiorina, formerly headed Hewlett Packard, which Forbes Magazine reported, kept offices in Dubai in efforts of facilitating trade with Tehran.

But it's not just economic ties that bind, however tangentially, McCain's campaign and the Iranian government. There are political connections as well. One of the controversial figures represented by Black and his firm was Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi dissident who pushed for the invasion of Iraq with key Pentagon and administration officials before the war and has since, reportedly, passed U.S. information on Iraq to Iran.

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