Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Damn Fool Presses On

Who Most Threatens America?

by Ron Fullwood

There have been no major acts of terror outside of Iraq which can be attributed to the 'enemies' that can be identified in Bush's congressional war authorization as the 'perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks'. Just who are we at war with in Bush's rhetorical war on terror? [...]

When Bush decided to invade and occupy Iraq there was no threat from that country to the United States. [...]

Bush in August, 2006:

Q: What did Iraq have to do with that?

Bush: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q: The attack on the World Trade Center?

Bush: Nothing. . .

Bush's own admission, there were no WMDs in Iraq, and there was no connecting Saddam Hussein to the tragic events of 9-11. If we are to accept his rhetoric about Iraq being the 'center' in his terror 'war', then it would follow that his invasion and occupation has made us less safe and secure. Again, by Bush's own admission, Iraq has gone from no significant threat to the United States to, what he describes as "more dangerous than Afghanistan" sans Taliban. [...]

So, in the next few weeks, Bush is going to be flying around the country on our dime warning Americans that the Iraq that he took over and claims responsibility for is now a "haven for terrorists", and "more dangerous than the Taliban they are still trying to kill and suppress in Afghanistan. [...]

It's almost inconceivable that Bush would choose to dig his heels in and promote and continue his devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq. But, there he is . . . insisting that his failure there is actually resounding success, that some sort of victory is at hand, that his actions are a model for 'spreading democracy.' [...]

All the while, Bush is using the chaos and heart-wrenching mayhem his occupation has created and aggravated to strike another round of fear in the heart of Americans who intend to change the course of our own democracy in the November midterm congressional elections. It's Bush we should fear, not the 'terrorists' our soldiers are 'fighting over there' in Iraq and in Afghanistan. [...]

So, who is our nation's enemy? Who most threatens America? How does Bush intend to complete the job he was originally tasked to do in the Authorization for use of Military Force resolution he claims gives him the power to disregard laws and wield power supreme? [...]

"Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage," Lincoln warned, "and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

This government and this administration have become accustomed to trampling, and bondage. And we have allowed them to skirt accountability for their sly justifications for their attacks on our civil liberties; demagogic appeals to patriotism and to our nationalism; the deliberate inflaming, and careful stoking of the sparks of fear that flashed from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; and the mortgaging of ours and our children's future toil and tribute to the subsidizing of both of the Bush president's bloody and costly wars of opportunity.

We are not any safer for our invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. We are, in fact, less safe as a result of Bush's blundering mimic of military commander. In his occupation, he contradicts the most basic of our nation's values of freedom, liberty, and democracy.

With his theft of the industry and resources of Iraq, our country has joined the long line of oppressors and brutal opportunists who have sought to dominate that region for greed and power. History will wonder at our nation's arrogance, and at our citizen's inability to restrain our military and its agents from pursuing ambitions far outside of the mandate of our constitution or conscience.

And yet, the damn fool presses on unabated, unrestrained by those we elected to hold him accountable.

Come November . . .

On a Personal Note: Whaddup wid dat?

I have two beefs. One is more about frustration while the other is astonishment. I'm not sure what I'll do with either, beyond sharing them with you.

First, I am often asked (since I recently graduated) what my major is. When I tell people it is English, they respond, "Oh you want to teach!" I've heard this a gazillion times, and it makes me nuts. NO, NO, NO! I don't want to teach. Why does everyone assume that every English major wants to be a teacher? The next question they ask is, "Well, what do you want to do?" I respond, "I want to write." "WRITE?" (Like I'm some sort of crazy person). Yes, I want to write for a living. So sue me!!

The next issue stuns me to this day I have a button affixed to the handle of my pocketbook. It says, "Friends don't let friends vote republican." Guess what the responses are? "Did I miss the election?" "When is the election?" "Who is running?" "What are the offices in play?" (Okay, I admit that this question came from the Korean woman who did my manicure. She's probably not a citizen. She asked if the presidential election was next year!! (geez!). She even went further to ask if banks are closed on election day (huh?)!

I had a similar line of questioning at the gas station two days after our primary (Lamont/Lieberman), when the young cashier asked if she missed THAT as well! What the hell is wrong with these people? I mean, if they don't even know when to vote, what does that say about their potential selections? They don't seem to get that it is a privilege, and they should make informed decisions.

When I think about how hard women fought for the vote (and they recruited the African American community in that plight -- at least here in Hartford), it makes me crazy.

Seems to me that we have the lock-step group of right voters; we have the apathetics (who don't do much of anything); and we have the dems, who lack cajones.

Where do we go from here?


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hall Campaign Rocks the Grassroots

19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, NY - John Hall’s Congressional campaign gains more momentum as the primary election draws near, with more than 350 volunteers joining the effort and criss-crossing the 19th Congressional district in a show of staunch support unmatched by any other opponent in the race.

Local Hall supporters are canvassing daily in their neighborhoods and joining Hall at supermarkets, train stations, bagel shops, post offices, community events, diners and elsewhere around the district—talking with voters, discussing the issues and making plans to win in November.

Earlier this week Hall attended two separate gatherings of activists in efforts to fight the NYRI power line proposal in Orange county.

The response to Hall’s strong voice for change has been overwhelmingly positive.

Les Boulton, a carpenter who is supporting John Hall and has been going door to door for the past three months, said, “I have never done this before, but I want voters to know we need John Hall in Congress and that they have to remember to vote on September 12th.”

John Hall for Congress

(Posted for busy Lizzy)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Warren Jeffs arrested

Good news this morning. After several months on the FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted List,' FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs has been captured. Jeffs was in a vehicle that was pulled over near Las Vegas a few hours ago.

Jeffs, the leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist LDS Church (which has nothing to do with the main LDS church, of which I am a member) is wanted on charges of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a married man, and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution here in Arizona, and in Utah with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice, for allegedly arranging the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man in Nevada.

I wrote a post in July (The Real Lost Boys and it's Usually not a Happy Ending) in which I wrote,

Now, I want to say at the outset that what any number of consenting adults does, is not the state's business. However, in this case, we see girls who have been forced to drop out of junior high school being forced into marriages with men old enough to be their grandfathers. Neither the word, 'consenting' nor the word, 'adult' applies here, so this is child rape, pure and simple.

And I still stand by that. I don't support polygamy in my own life, but I don't think it should be illegal if it involves only consenting adults (particularly since in today's society it would be hard to figure out how to apply some arcane laws against it anyway, for example if an adult bisexual woman is sharing a home with a straight man, to whom she is legally married, and a lesbian woman). However, what the FLDS community did is child abuse. They force young girls, often no older than thirteen, to get married to old geezers who are old enough to be their fathers (or even grandfathers), and who then rape them, and when the old man inevitably dies, theyt can be 'reassigned' as property by Jeffs and the rest of the FLDS leadership. In fact, if their husband even fails to obey church leaders (for example, standing up for one of his daughters who does not yet want to get married) his wives can still be reassigned to other men. So there is little if any consent on the part of the women, and teenage girls are raped under the guise of marriage.

In the July post I actually focused more on the plight of boys and young men who are forced to leave Colorado City and Hildale, also at ages as young as 13, who being dumped on the streets with only a junior high school education and knowledge of a little bit of scripture often end up as transients, behind bars, drug addicts or dead. As I wrote in July:

The 'lost boys' as they are called, are teenagers, raised in the insular fundamentalist community where they have probably read the Book of Mormon only (this community is so fundamentalist that some families don't even read the Bible) and who usually about 15 or 16-- though some have been as young as 13, on the pretext of committing the smallest transgression, are dumped in some nearby town and left there. The families file runaway reports with the local police in order to protect themselves legally.

These boys have very few skills to make it in the outside world. They do probably possess rudimentary construction skills (when driving through Colorado City, as I have many times, it's not hard to pick out the polygamist homes-- large, unfinished homes that look like under construction hotels, except they aren't.) Their reading and schooling level is junior high level at best (and they know one or perhaps two books (if they come from a family 'enlightened' enough to read the Bible), as described above, mostly from memory, but know virtually nothing else that might be read about). They have been forbidden since infancy to speak to females except for their mothers (who they have several of), and so have no social skills at all when it comes to knowing how to talk to or relate to a female at or near their own age.

Many of them when they get out into the world, end up in prison, sexually abused by older men or women who 'take them in,' drug addicts, or dead. Others stay together and live in small groups, finding what work they can, in towns across southern Utah (very cosmopolitan to these boys, though my wife is from one of these towns, and thinks Flagstaff is a big city.)

One of the commenters in the July post suggested that they might also get picked off as easy prey by white supremacist and neo-nazi groups, which given the high level of activity of these groups throughout the intermountain west, it is hard to imagine that some of them haven't been recruited by hate groups.

So Warren Jeffs has presided over a community in which 13 year old girls are raped, and 13 year old boys are dumped on the street with nothing and told not to come back.

It is also worth noting that we are paying for these abuses. Though I generally believe that what fraud there may have been in individual welfare has almost been eliminated by a decade of welfare reform that has now led to cases where some families have been forced out onto the streets precisely because the rules have grown too stringent (and where the amount of taxes spent on corporate welfare, where abuse is rampant, is now is many times what is spent on individual welfare) it is no secret that plural wives and families in the community often apply for and get Federal welfare, claiming (as is in fact the case as defined by current law) that they are single and unemployed. There are some relatively responsible religions that practice polygamy (for example, under Islam a man can have up to four wives but there is a stipulation in Islamic law that he cannot have more wives than he can support).

Over the past three years, under the leadership of Arizona authorities, primarily Attorney General Terry Goddard, along with authorities in Utah, progress has been made in gaining control over the group. The resources of the church (which includes all the polygamist homes-- none of the people who live in them actually own their building) have been ordered by a judge to be controlled by a group of outside trustees for the benefit of the community and individuals within it. Where crimes are discovered, they have been prosecuted, and in particular Jeffs will now be prosecuted.

And that will hopefully be the beginning of the end for this nightmare of what amounts to sexual slavery, or of exile, for the children of Colorado City and Hildale.

As I've said many times, I don't care what any consenting adult does with any other consenting adult, but in this case, there is much justice that needs to, and I hope will, be served in our court system.

See Dick Run

Watch the new animation, See Dick Run, that was featured at the MDP's State Convention on Saturday.

_ _ _

From Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s speech at the Michigan Democratic Convention, Detroit:

When you lay off over a thousand Michigan citizens, and then invest $200 million to hire people in China, those are fighting words in Michigan.

We call it outsourcing. He can call it "restructuring." He can call it "personnel reallocation." Just don't call him "governor."

You can buy a lot of blue smoke with a billion dollars but eventually that smoke's going to clear and the truth will be there for all of Michigan to see.

No matter how much negative advertising my opponent buys, he can't change one fundamental truth. I am fighting for the things the every day people of Michigan want and need; my opponent has spent his time and a considerable part of his fortune fighting for things that hurt our citizens.

The choice could not be clearer.

Does Michigan need a Governor who would dismantle public education through private school vouchers?

Does Michigan need a Governor who's one of George Bush's top backers?

Do we want a Governor who would criminalize the personal medical decisions of a woman and her doctor even in the case of rape or incest?

Does Michigan want a Governor who has sat on the boards of organizations that advocate for slashing Medicaid, privatizing Social Security, drilling in the Great Lakes and making Michigan a right to work state?

My opponent was the CEO of Amway. Amway used to stand for American Way. Is it the American way to ship American jobs overseas?


Text and video of Gov. Granholm’s MDP speech here.

(The Amway company, cofounded by his father, Rich DeVos, has changed its name to Alticor Inc.)

Kirsten Gillibrand - Democrat for NY's 20th District

In her own words:

"I can’t recall a time when there has been more distress about the direction our country is moving in – or more dissatisfaction with the leadership that is taking us there. There is an urgent need for change, and as an attorney with Federal experience and a wife and mother with deep roots in the region, I know I can provide better leadership.

Over the last year I’ve been listening to people across a region my family has called home for over five generations. The issues that concern my family are the same ones that our neighbors talk about every day. My cousins, uncles, aunts and family are teachers, policemen, small business owners, healthcare workers, local government workers, insurance agents, secretaries, lawyers, students and National Guardsmen. We fish and hunt, spend time at Lake George, go to church, and get together for holidays and birthdays.

We worry about how to pay growing local tax demands when gas and oil are busting our budgets. We worry about not having health insurance or being able to afford retirement. We worry that nothing is being done to stop American production lines closing and our children leaving home to find opportunity far away. Most of all, we worry about how our young men and women are doing in Iraq and what we can do to help them. All of this when our representative does not seem to be listening and continues to support big Government waste and special interests, while demanding ever more from the pockets of the hard-working people of this district.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I have worked as an attorney for 14 years, including serving as Special Counsel at the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- solving complex problems, drafting legislation, working with Congress, and negotiating at the highest levels. I have been involved in local politics since I was 10 years old when I passed out flyers and stuffed envelopes for our favorite local candidates with my grandmother, who founded the area’s first women’s democratic club. I know the importance of standing up for what we believe in and serving the public good. That’s something you can count on from me – it’s part of my family’s values and the values of this community.

But to bring real change, I need your help. Please join our team and work with me to bring integrity and accountability to Washington and give our country a fresh start. This is a race that we can and must win. I will bring all my strength and commitment to bear, and together we will do great things for our country."

This race has turned into a real fight. John Sweeney is the freshman PAC's honorary chairman, has brought a lot of pork to the area and he has a strong Republican following.

Please visit Gillibrand 2006 to learn more about what she stands for. This is a very important race and Gillibrand is behind in the polls. Let's see what we can do to help.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This is when Bush descended into Failure

Think Progress once again has an excellent post up about what has NOT been done in New Orleans, even after the idiot President promised this.

Prime Scout has a video and the story of helping:

Yesterday as part of the Rising Tide Conference the Nola Bloggers went out with the Arabi Wrecking Krewe to gut the home of 84 year old Mrs. Cora Foster. The Arabi Wrecking Krewe works on the homes of NOLA musicians in order to make sure they can come home and the music of New Orleans will not die. These guys are Magnificent.
And just what does Bush have in store for tomorrow? We will be plagued by lies and photo ops. Spare yourself the lies and Dine out on Tuesday, August 29th at your favorite participating restaurant, you'll be helping relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Eli!

Happy belated Birthday, Eli!

And, fifty lashes with a wet noodle for me. You see, Eli's actual birthday was on August 7th. Today, while cleaning out my desk, I found The Birthday List. And, to my horror, saw that I had completely missed August birthdays!

Eli, if it makes you feel any better, you were not alone in my temporary birthday memory lapse. Another deserving blogger was also missed, so stay tuned for more birthday self-berating rants. And, I trust your birthday was wonderful, happy and all things special. And, you now get to celebate another birthday with your blogger family!! Happy Birthday to you!

PS. The numbers on this cake reminded me of your brilliant, logical, analytical mind (and, no I am most certainly not kissing up to you because I forgot your birthday - I mean every word) and also remind me that time stops for no one - not even cyber birthday cake bakers.

One Year Later

Howard Dean said on Wednesday:

The response to Katrina, was effectively the end of the Presidency for Bush. People all of the sudden saw the small man behind the curtain. People in America and throughout the rest of the world, for a long time have believed that Americans can fix anything, that we are better organized, and better managed, and managed better than anybody and if something really awful happens - Call on the Americans.

For the first time in our lifetime and the world's lifetime since World War II, since before World War II, we suddenly saw an American President just descend into failure.
Thank You Dr. Dean for speaking the truth. RJ Eskow over at Crooks and Liars has a great post up about The Third-World-ization of the USA. One important fact that he brings up is "American Society of Civil Engineers last year graded the nation "D" for its overall infrastructure conditions, estimating that it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to fix the problem." Just who do we blame for giving this cost to our children? Do we blame just Bush or do we include in that the comatosed voters who cast their vote for him.

So now that Ernesto has been upgraded to a Hurricane we have to contend with fucking spin from a political appointee of Bush's, on Fox News Sunday. We all watched the devastation of New Orleans because of the lack of repair to the levees by the Bush Government. Yesterday we did not get very good news from the head of the Army Corps of Engineers:
Despite aggressive efforts to repair the New Orleans levee system following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, it isn't clear yet whether it could withstand a hurricane with heavy storm surge this year.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Rain Comes Down

I really don't mind though. I have been so busy with the campaign for John Hall. The Lawn Signs are coloring our district Blue as I write this. I worked really to coordinate the entire project, so today, while my youngest has a bunch of friends over, I am going to relax. To start with I am cozy in my Vermont Sweatshirt, with a bag of raisinets and catching up on Ned Lamont.

I love those Connecticut bloggers, they are just so instantaneous, keen, perspicacious, astute, clear-sighted, bright, canny and not to mention competent.

Ct. Blogger is wondering when Lieberman placed the bong down and has picked up the crack pipe.

Kirby is minding Connecticut Bob's Blog while he is circumnavigating the East Coast on his boat. "Must Love Boats" that Bob. Kirby has the wrap on this cool rainy Saturday.

Just who has a vested interest in defeating Ned Lamont?

Bluck, that is all I have to say about these two names linked in one head at My Left Nutmeg.

Spazeboy caught Lieberman under the Q bridge, something about how Lieberman brought so much transportation money to the state.

And Tim is Over his Head.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Night Music

Ian Anderson will be playing at the The BroadwayTheater - UPAC
on October 8, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ned Lamont on Katrina

- FEMA should be returned to an independent, cabinet level agency, as it was under the Clinton Administration where it performed effectively and admirably;

- We need to have our National Guard Forces and other resources returned to protecting America, this will not only protect us from natural disasters, but terrorist attacks as well;

- A thorough investigation needs to be conducted, including subpoenaing the White House if necessary, to obtain documents and information that were withheld to ensure the necessary steps are taken to prevent future failures;

- Congress needs to fully scrutinize all administration nominees to ensure their qualifications, not simply rubber stamp Bush's choices.

The Lamont Blog has more.

I think Hillary has a Crush on Ned

What else could it be? Well, maybe it is politics as usual. But it was fun writing it.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet Friday with Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont to discuss how she can help his campaign in a three-way race against Sen. Joe Lieberman, now an independent candidate.

"Senator Clinton looks forward to meeting with Ned Lamont and discussing how she can be helpful to his campaign," Howard Wolfson, Clinton's campaign strategist, said Wednesday.
I am not going to be so quick to give kudos to Hillary, after all, she has not really been working for the people. However she has been working the voters of New York.
The day after political newcomer Ned Lamont stunned the political establishment and beat longtime Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary, Senator Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail in a major way Wednesday.

She visited a senior center and made other stops across the city, a sign perhaps she's thinking about the message Lamont's victory means for Democrats who are facing anti-war opponents.
Hillary has not called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. So she really isn't very different from Lieberman. Come on Hillary, I demand that you say the following line: "Our sons and daughters are dying in an unjust war that has no mission, and I made a grave mistake in voting for this war in Iraq. Our soldiers need to brought home now."

Maybe a private meeting with Ned Lamont will knock a little sense into her. Here's to hoping.

They are Tomorrow's Leaders

It is not surprising that the children of this country have more compassion and care for the victims of Hurricane Katrina than the Corporations.

School children across the United States have raised more money for Katrina relief efforts than many major U.S. corporations, according to a non-profit group, RandomKid, which has tracked donations by children.

Over $10 million was raised by school kids through bake sales, lemonade stands, car washes and other fundraisers, according to RandomKid. That's more than almost every major U.S. corporation gave. More than wealthy oil and petrochemical companies, such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips. It's more than what AT&T and Verizon gave combined. And it's more than major brand name corporations like GE and Coca-Cola gave.
To children, the color of the skin or the religion that folks worship does not matter, they see people. They see people in need and they want to help them. What an elementary way of thinking, perhaps the CEO's should learn from them by spending a day in school with the children. Apparently these greedy CEO's never learned about caring for people in need, they must have been absent from school when the lesson was taught.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LTE: Just say NO to DICK

The News-Herald - Heritage Newspapers
Wayne County, MI

LTE (unavailable online) 8/23/06:

Sick and tired of seeing TV ads

At this point in time, I am sick and tired of seeing the political advertisements of one Richard DeVos. His flooding of the airways is a perfect example of a George W. Bush clone.

It is yet another example of a very rich man trying to buy the governorship. As of this writing, DeVos has spent more than $10 million in advertising.

Assuming that DeVos is a halfway decent businessman, am I to believe that he doesn’t expect a financial return of some sort for this investment?

Let us examine the cold, hard facts.

What we have is a man with absolutely no experience whatsoever in running government of any sort.

DeVos seems to think that the only thing necessary is to campaign with glittering generalities as opposed to specifics.

Like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and his drum beating for the repeal of the Single Business Tax without saying how to replace the lost tax revenue, DeVos seems to think that all is needed is yet another clever catch phrase.

I had my own small manufacturing firm for more than 20 years and never once was the Single Business Tax the problem that DeVos, Patterson and the Republican Party in general paint it out to be.

The misguided concepts of globalization were, and still are, the No. 1 problem.

DeVos and the Republican Party in general keep baying that we, as a nation, must join in the free trade policies in order to reap the financial benefits.

Why then, when DeVos wanted to expand his business, was he forced to expand in China?

Could it be that if he tried to sell his Amway wares in China, while manufacturing them in the United States, the import taxes imposed in China would be so great as to make them non-competitive?

Can anyone honestly say they are better off now than when the Republicans took office?

When the Republicans took office there was an approximately $300 billion surplus in the treasury.

Today we have a $300 billion deficit, and thanks to the war in Iraq, it continues to grow.

I am not looking forward to Republican control of the state government. We had it for more than 10 years with John Engler.

All things being equal, I can’t blame Engler and his Republican cronies for the weather — but that’s about it.

~Robert Marakotan, Allen Park


"Never Forget" that Bush Failed in New Orleans

On Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 it will mark one year since the good folks in New Orleans were left to drown by the Bush Administration. Americans should never forget the pictures of the people left on rooftops, begging for help and the complete devastation of New Orleans.

Spike Lee has put together a compelling documentary and I had the opportunity to view it. I hope that everyone takes the time to watch it on Tuesday Evening.

I am greatly ashamed but not surprised that Bush is using this anniversary as a photo-op. However, the real reason that Bush will be spending 2 days in New Orleans and visiting the Lower 9th Ward is to counteract the Democrats' plans. The Democratic candidates, particularly the Congressional races have been reminding their voters that their government and their President utterly lacked response in aiding the people of New Orleans and now one year later, the recovery has been next to nil.

Many civil rights leaders have charged that the White House was slow in their response because so many victims were black. If someone asked me five years ago, that our country would be viewed as having a racist president, I would have thought they were bonkers or on drugs. Now, we see that our racist president is completely nuts while some say he is on drugs. He cares not one iota about the black people who drowned and is merely using this anniversary as "a public relations blitz" just as he has done for the past 5 years in New York on September 11th.

Digby says:

Obviously Iraq is the primary political issue in the coming election. But the real issue, cutting across all the others, is the fact that the Republicans simply cannot handle the responsibility of government whether it's terrorism, gas prices or a crisis in a major American city. Katrina is the most vivid image of their incompetence and lack of accountability right here in the US.

The country is going to be reminded of this lowest moment of Republican rule next week. Let's hope the Republicans aren't able to turn that soggy lemon into lemonade. They are absolutely terrible at governing and with Bush they have a guy who they can't count on to react well during the crisis. But nobody manufactures a campaign photo-op better than they do. [more]
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released "Broken Promises: The Republican Response to Katrina."
This report details the failed response in the almost one year since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. One year after the hurricanes showed the American people that even so long after 9/11 their government was still not prepared to protect them, the report makes clear the disastrous effects incompetence and mismanagement continue to have on Gulf Coast residents. As the Bush Administration seeks to trumpet its "accomplishments" in the year since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, this report makes clear how much work remains to be done.
We must never forget that the Bush Administration failed America and the Gulf Coast when Katrina hit and levees broke.

Scout Prime at First Draft has put together a video. Watch it here. You may need your hankie though, it cuts to the heart.


This is just after he realized that he said Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The picture is priceless, but I wonder if the jeenyus boyking, that can't do the public speaking thing, realizes that its FREE ON THE INTERNET(S).

US President George W. Bush listens to a reporter's question as he conducts a press conference inside the White House Conference Center across the street from the White House in Washington, DC. Monday August 21, 2006 (AFP/Paul J. Richards)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Protecting the Oil Revenues

The U.S. Marine Corps will start recalling thousands of inactive service members in the coming months to counter a steady decline in the number of non-active troops volunteering for duty, the service said on Tuesday.

This is wrong. We need to bring our boys home NOW. One can only shake their head in bewilderment when 60% of Americans want out of Iraq and our idiot president is involuntarily sending more.

Crooks and Liars has the video of Sen. Hagel stating "Don't Feed More Troops to Iraq."

And if that news isn't enough, we have Joe Lieberman agreeing, not once but SIX times with ultra-Conservative radio host Glenn Beck that the real reason we invaded Iraq wasn't over WMD but because we wanted to "pop the head of the snake in Iran." Lieberman simply agreed, which makes one wonder if he has any thoughts of his own. Is this what Lieberman means by unity of the parties? He is a democrat (in name only) and is distancing himself more and more from True Progressive Democrats when he goes on a show like this and agrees with this right wingnut. All I can say is that it seems Lieberman fits in nicely with his own kind now.

So now, we didn't invade Iraq for WMD's, nor because it was connected to 9/11 according to the idiot president yesterday.

The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Except for it’s part of — and nobody’s ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize.

"I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course," Bush said, citing Iraq as part of what he called "a global war on terror."

"A failed Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists. It will embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers.

"In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales."

I am truly ashamed to be an American when our President tells us that he went on a "freedom agenda" and in doing so he used shock and awe. But even worse is when our President lies in using the words "Take threats before they fully materialize . . ."

Afterall, we all know that North Korea was and still is the genuine threat that is materializing before our eyes, but our idiot president does nothing...could it be because N. Korea has no oil. Instead, he sends more young men to Iraq to protect oil revenues.

Times are Bittersweet

On Sunday, August 20th the campaign for John Hall held a great concert at Town Hall in New York City. While the concert was great, I also felt sadness.

Two of the interns who have worked unceasingly on the Campaign for John Hall had to leave to return to college. I am reminded of Marian Wright Edelman, who was council to the Poor People’s Campaign and established the Children’s Defense Fund. She also who became the first African-American Woman admited to the State Bar in Mississippi. She is quoted as saying:

"Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."
Ariel and Kelly accomplished so much for the Campaign and they will be sorely missed. While we forge ahead for John Hall and for gaining control in the House with our message of bringing the troops home, universal healthcare for all and solving the energy crisis, all the while thinking often of Ariel and Kelly.

The words to a song by Jackson Browne always come to mind while Ariel and Kelly go forth with their education:

People stay just a little bit longer
We want to play - just a little bit longer
Now the promoter don't mind
And the union don't mind
If we take a little time
And we leave it all behind and sing
One more song...

Summer Days Driftin' Away?

When I was a kid, Labor Day weekend marked the official end of summer. Well, of course. Because it was (back then) AFTER Labor Day that we went back to public school. In the 15 years since my kids were in public school, only ONCE did they go back AFTER Labor Day. Since then, there was no more of that. Yet many people still use Labor Day to gauge their summer's end.

Now that both of my sons are out of public school and into college, it's no different. Tomorrow (yes, that's what I said), we take Matthew up to WPI to begin his sophomore year. Can you believe it? It's criminal, I tell ya! Brian, on the other hand, doesn't begin his freshman year at college until August 30. That's STILL before Labor Day!! It makes me crazy!

So, I have already entered into the end-of-summer doldrums about two weeks too soon. Even Friday, when I had taken Matthew to get needed clothes before his send-off, I got depressed. I was driving home around 8:20 PM. The sun had already GONE DOWN!! I moaned to Matthew, "It's getting dark earlier! The days are shorter," as I mocked a sobbing state of mind. It's so depressing!

But I'll try to see a positive in it (this is so hard when Matthew has been saying he can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas!). TV rerun season will end relatively soon. That's good because TV sucks these days! I won't have to shave my underarms and legs as often. I'll stop getting pedicures soon. We'll save money on our electric bill since we won't have to use the air conditioning as much (Boy, has it been beautiful today!!). Foliage will begin. That's always beautiful. Oh, but wait. Is that positive? Living in a community called "Timber Village," can you only imagine the TON of leaves we have to RAKE every fall? And in the past two years, the snow has started early so the town hasn't removed the leaves (they use the same trucks to suck up the leaves as they use to plow -- different mechanisms needed to plow SO screw the leaves until April or so). It gets yechy looking with sand, snow and other dirt on top of leaf piles in the road. Then again, pre-season basketball begins in late November. I love that!

Yet, I cannot help think that I cannot wait until NEXT May. The time where summer's approach is imminent and exciting. "Summer Lovin' Had Me a Blast. Summer Lovin' Happened So Fast . . . "

Grease is the word. Just not always. I can moan all I want, but it's not going to change this New England climate. This squeaky wheel can't get the grease. So, it's probably better to try and go with the flow. I'll try, anyway.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Great News!

From The Carpetbagger Report:

For several years, the administration has stalled, lied, and obfuscated when it came to making Plan B emergency contraception available to women without a prescription. Finally, earlier this month, the FDA indicated it would approve Barr Pharmaceuticals' application, and in the process, smooth the way for Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach to be approved as the head of the FDA.

The religious right was less-than happy about the announcement, particularly after Von Eschenbach testified last week that he saw no reason to restrict the sale of Plan B to women over 18. Several far-right groups, including James Dobson's Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, ultimately asked that the president withdraw von Eschenbach's nomination before he could be approved by the Senate.

With this in mind, it was particularly interesting to hear the president respond to the very last question from today's press conference.

Q: Thank you very much. Mr. President, some pro-life groups are worried that your choice of FDA Commissioner will approve over the counter sales of Plan B, a pill that, they say, essentially can cause early-term abortions. Do you stand by this choice, and how do you feel about Plan B in general?

Bush: I believe that Plan B ought to be — ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy's decision.

Oddly enough, so do I, and with the president's public statement this morning, it seems almost certain that the correct policy will be implemented, two full years after an FDA advisory panel voted 23 to 4 to approve over-the-counter access to Plan B, with one panel member calling it the "safest drug that we have seen brought before us."

Two things to keep in mind: one, if Bush hadn't let politics trump science, Plan B could have been widely available two years ago, preventing an unknown number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. And two, the Dobson crowd is going to be thoroughly displeased by today's comments. I'll let you know just how far the religious right is willing to go in its criticism, but it might get a little ugly.


I was up late and browsing through political issues in Tennessee on the web. I have been waiting a long time for Bill Frist to move on. I am thrilled that he is not running again for the Senate. I will say, that I am looking forward to the day that Lamar Alexander decides the same thing. Needless to say the fight for Frist seat is heating up, before the elections are over I am sure this will be one of the most down and dirty, ranking right under the Lieberman/Lamont primary. I want to share this site with you all and I hope you have a minute to take a look see!

It was created by the Democratic Senatorial Committee in response to a similar site that the National Republican Senatorial Committee created on behalf of Frist.

All I can say is, "it's a bloodbath campaign in Tennessee", maximum republican dollars are pouring in and this state needs all of our help. I know we have all been involved with races all over this country, but Frist seat is the trophy seat for the Democrats. I hope if you know anyone living in TN that you will call, write or otherwise communicate the great need for the Senate seat and to get out and vote in November.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We are winning, damnit!

An excellent diary from georgia10 at Daily Kos:

It's difficult to appreciate the magnitude of self-censorship in the American media until you're exposed to how the foreign press reports on a given conflict. Watching the news here in Greece has helped to put things into perspective.

Here, and in nations across the globe, America's dirty little secret is exposed for the entire world to see. It's a difficult transition to make, the one from filtered news dolled up in blazing graphics and theme music to this unadulterated version of reality pouring into television sets around the globe. The anchor will usually preface the segment with a warning ("the images you are about see are disturbing, but we feel we have to show them to you"), and before your heart has a chance to tell your mind to look away, you're looking at Iraq. The camera pans the street. It's strewn with debris, not flowers. The blackened skeleton of some family car is in the foreground. There's a screaming woman on her knees, slapping her hands on the ground (the puddle of blood she's in, the reporter kindly reminds us, is that of her son). And suddenly, you feel that all-too familiar feeling as your eyes begin to sting and tear up for the death of a stranger.

A Sense of Urgency, Please

Is filth running this country?

As the world watched in horror, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Like many who watched the unfolding drama on television news, director Spike Lee was shocked not only by the scale of the disaster, but by the slow, inept and disorganized response of the emergency and recovery effort. Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy, a morality play witnessed by people all around the world. The result is WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS.

The film is structured in four acts, each dealing with a different aspect of the events that preceded and followed Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans. Acts I and II premiere Monday, August 21 at 9pm (ET/PT), followed by Acts III and IV on Tuesday, August 22 at 9pm on HBO East, HBO Latino and HBO HD. All four acts will be seen Tuesday, Aug. 29 (8:00 p.m.-midnight), the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
And as if there is need for any more proof that we know that the BUSH goverment has fucked over New Orleans and its people, just read the article in AP.

"Our goal is to get the work done quickly," the president said.

He promised to spend federal money wisely and accountably. And he vowed to address the poverty exposed by the government's inadequate Katrina response "with bold action."

A year after the storm, the federal government has proven slow and unreliable in keeping the president's promises.

I don't think I could have said it any clearer than in this comment by purvis ames at Think Progress:
Hezbollah is handing out twelve thousand dollars apiece to the people who lost their homes in Lebanon. Maybe the idiot Boy Emperor should take a cue from the “terrorists” but he probably thinks that helping out the people of New Orleans is equivalent to supporting al Qaeda. What kind of filth is running this country?
Spike Lee will be on "This Week with George Stephanopolus."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Time to help Ohio (0H-3)

I was just reading, or should I say trying to catch up on the weeks news and I came upon this piece over at Swing State Project.

Stephanie Studebaker, the Democratic candidate in OH-03, has formally withdrawn from the race after being arrested on domestic violence charges. The Buckeye State Blog does an extensive roundup on who might replace her. The most intriguing name at the top of the list: One Paul Hackett.
We all remember so well what happened with Paul Hackett by my own Senator Schumer last February. I understand that Paul made a promise not to run for Congress since other candidates had announced they were running, but sometimes I wonder about the DCCC and whoever is working the Ohio Branch.

The Buckeye State Blog has a round up of the potential candidates being eyed for the Ohio-3, just take a look who is at the top of the list - Paul Hackett.

I surely hope that he decides to run, being that there are close to 55 Veterans in the Band of Brothes, who are dedicated to electing Democratic veterans to national office.

Now is a time for the DCCC to court the Veteran, Paul Hackett to run and give all the assistance he needs. After all, Paul deserves it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CT's New Nedwards!

I thought Lizzy might like a visual to go with her post ;-)

Hot Air Balloon Festival

We had the opportunity to go to the City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec and see the International Balloon Festival. There were about 55 balloons that took off. There was a balloon from Ohio too.

John Edwards in Connecticut

Damn, I missed him, but I really needed to spend some time with my family.

Spaze Boy has a good video of John Edwards speaking about Bush's failure in New Orleans.

New Haven Independent has the article.

The Lamont Blog has another video.

Crooks and Liars has part of the speech.

I do not think Lieberman should be running. I do not believe he should be running as an Independent. I mean, if he ran as a Democrat, he asked Democratic voters to vote for him, they chose someone else, you know, we have to show respect for the people who voted in the primary. So, I would go further than just being for Lamont. I do not think that Lieberman should be running.
Ct. Blogger has some great pictures and a video also.

My Left Nutmeg has video of the bloggers meeting and greeting John Edwards.

Daily Kos has more.

And I found this interesting comment at C&L

Great Lakes Shipwreck: THE GRIFFON

Excerpts from articles:

Ever since the loss of LaSalle‘s Griffon in 1679, the Great Lakes have continued to claim ships. There are literally thousands of shipwrecks littering the floor of the five Great Lakes and tributary waters. What often distinguishes these wrecks from others is their excellent state of preservation. Because the Great Lakes are so cold and because of the relative scarcity of marine life, many wrecks remain intact and undiscovered for hundreds of years. [...]

In terms of historical significance, Great Lakes wrecks are unparalleled. [...] It is a startling realization that a short 150 to 200 feet under nearby waters lie many remarkable archeological resources which are largely undiscovered.

The Griffen was built by LaSalle on the Niagara River, a few miles above the falls, in 1678 - 79. She was sixty feet long, weighed between forty-five and sixty tons, and had five cannons mounted below her main deck. Her two square sails were ornamented with the fleur-de-lis, her prow with the crest of the house of Louis de Buade, Comte Palluau de Frontenac, i.e., a griffin, the fabled animal having the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.

The French vessel,
The Griffen (Griffon), with LaSalle her commander and Hennepin the journalist on board, arrived at what is now St. Ignace. This was the first voyage ever made by Europeans on "these inland seas." The Griffen was anchored in a bay overlooked by two rocky bluffs, known in Native American tradition as He and She Rabbit.

Leaving the straits, The Griffen set out on Lake Michigan and sailed as far west and south as Green Bay. Here, LaSalle sent The Griffen back, loaded with furs and bound for Niagara. The vessel was lost, with all 5 hands on board --- in the northern part of Lake Michigan, it is thought by some, and in Lake Huron, it is thought by others. What is known is that The Griffen, her crew, and its cargo vanished without a trace. The loss of The Griffen was the first recorded loss on the Great Lakes of a commercial vessel and her crew. Since the loss of The Griffen, more than six thousand ships have been lost on the Great Lakes.

Did a curse do in the Griffon? Built in the wilderness from hand-cut timber, the Griffon was a one of a kind ship.

It was the first European vessel to sail on the upper Great Lakes, making its maiden voyage in 1679.

Rev. Louis Hennepin, a priest and member of the expedition headed by the famed French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, wrote that the American Indians were surprised Europeans could build such a large boat from wood.

La Salle, known as the explorer who claimed the Mississippi River Valley for France, planned to use the Griffon for fur trading to help pay for his explorations.

The Griffon is believed to have been 30 to 40 feet long, 10 to 15 feet wide, with one mast that carried several square sails.

Hennepin wrote that it was a "45-tun" ship, with a tun being the weight of a cask of wine, or about 250 gallons.

On its maiden voyage, the Griffon sailed from the Upper Niagara to what today is Green Bay, Wis., where it was loaded with 6,000 pounds of furs. La Salle then sent it back on Sept. 18, 1679, with a crew of about five. It was destined for Ft. Michilimackinac in what today is Mackinaw City.

As the ship left the harbor, the crew saluted onlookers with a single cannon shot. That was the last recorded sighting of the Griffon.

Theories abound about what happened to the ship.


Has the Griffon been located?

Shipwreck explorer hires help: An amateur underwater explorer who believes he has found the Holy Grail of Great Lakes shipwrecks has enlisted a Michigan maritime research group to plan the next phase of his exploration efforts -- despite a stern warning from state officials.

Steve Libert, who thinks he found the 17th-Century wreck of the Griffon in Lake Michigan, has recruited the St. Johns-based Center for Maritime and Underwater Resource Management (CMURM). [...]

It's historically important because it was the first sailing ship to sink on the upper Great Lakes, and it is a time capsule of the period.

Both the State of Michigan and Libert agree that if the wreckage is indeed the Griffon, it should be preserved. And they agree that additional research should be done to determine whether it is in fact La Salle's famous ship.

But that's where the agreements end. The two are locked in a federal court battle, each claiming rights to study the wreckage.

The State of Michigan claims all wrecks within its portion of the Great Lakes, and would like to handle the research, but it doesn't know where the Griffon is. Libert has kept that bit of info a secret, fearing that if the state steps in, he'll be edged out of the studies.

Because the Griffon sailed under the French flag, Libert and his attorney, Rick Robel, say that the matter is one of international law, which would give the nod to the French and Libert, France's designated explorer for the site.

Marine heritage group assisting Griffon search: A nonprofit marine heritage group is throwing its support behind an entrepreneur who believes he has located the Great Lakes' oldest shipwreck but is battling with the state over rights to oversee it.

The Center for Maritime and Underwater Resource Management wants to help Steve Libert determine whether the wreckage he found in 2001 is the Griffon, the 17th century ship built by the French explorer La Salle.

"Government alone should not be writing our maritime history," Ken Vrana, president of the center, said Monday. "We should all be involved." [...]

Libert's company
, Great Lakes Exploration Group LLC, and marine archaeologists issued a report last month with findings from their examinations of what they believe may be the Griffon's bowsprit.

Carbon testing of wood slivers shows they could date to the period when the Griffon was built, Vrana said at a news conference. Historical research also shows the area where the wreckage was found is consistent with where the ship likely foundered, he said.

Wreckage may be that of Le Griffon: New evidence may solve the mystery of the disappearance of Le Griffon.

After a 28-year quest, explorer Steve Libert believes archeological, historical and environmental clues are bringing him closer to the discovery of the fabled ship.

“The key question is, is this the Griffon?” asks Kenneth Vrana, president of the Center for Maritime Underwater Resource Management. “So far nothing excludes the site.” [...]

In 2001, Libert, who has a second home in Charlevoix, found what seems to be the Griffon sitting in less than 100 feet of water on the bottom of Lake Michigan. [...]

Recently, carbon-dating tests have been performed by Beta Analytic Laboratories of Miami, Fla., and the University of Arizona, confirming that the wood dates back to before the 1670s. Vrana said ax marks on the wood indicating it was hand hewn, is a sign that it may be the Griffon.

Libert believes the Griffon's bowsprit and the rest of the ship may be buried behind it. The location matches historical accounts of the ship in Father Luis Hennepin's journals. Hennepin chronicled La Salle's voyages. [...]

The Great Lakes Exploration Group has filed an admiralty arrest to bring the wreck under the protection of the court.[...]

The next phase may solve a 325-year-old puzzle. [...]

Alan Butler, of the Discovery Channel, said viewers are drawn to maritime mysteries.

“The Griffon once found would be of historical significance,” Butler said. “Stories like this appeal to our adventurous spirit.”

The archeological adventure is also piquing the interest of area history buffs.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Illegal Wiretaps are ... ILLEGAL

US Judge Rules Wiretaps Illegal:

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, a Federal judge in Detroit, has ruled that bUSH’s Terrorist Surveillance Program scheme to tap some phones without warrants violated protections on free speech and privacy, is unconstitutional, and must be halted at once.

TSA Surveillance Q & A:

The scheme, approved by President George W Bush in 2001 - and uncovered by the New York Times in December 2005 - involves tapping conversations between some callers in the US and people in other countries.

Do you smell a racist in George Allen's comments?

A hat tip to Indy Voter at CHT:

George Allen shows his true colors-- and they aren't friendly to colored people.

ARLINGTON, Va. - Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) met Wednesday with Indian-American political leaders concerned that he referred to a rival's campaign staffer as "Macaca" and told the Virginia native of Indian descent, "Welcome to America."

Members of the US Indian Political Action Committee said they have received hundreds of e-mails about the comments Allen made Friday at a speech that S.R. Sidarth was videotaping for his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb.

"Obviously this is something that has us very, very concerned," said Sonjay Puri, a northern Virginia businessman and founder and director of the PAC, which claims 30,000 members. "The remarks are very insensitive."

Sidarth and others consider the remark offensive. Macaca is a genus of monkeys including macaques, but Allen has said he just made up a word that sounds similar to "Mohawk," a nickname Allen staffers gave Sidarth because of his partially cropped hair.

"This fellow over here with the yellow shirt — Macaca or whatever his name is — he's with my opponent," Allen said during a GOP rally at Breaks, Va., near the Kentucky border. "He's following us around everywhere."

After mentioning that Webb was in California on a fundraising trip, Allen exhorted the crowd: "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Allen, who is positioning himself for a possible presidential run in 2008, has said he apologizes to Sidarth if he took any offense, but the 20-year-old college student has said he thinks Allen's remarks were an attempt to highlight Sidarth's race in what he says was an all-white crowd.

Puri said before the meeting that the context of Allen's remarks are intended to offend.

"If you read his comments in their totality, it becomes very clear no matter how you explain the phrasing it is insensitive to a young kid who is of Indian American descent," Puri said.

The term 'macaca' (or 'makaka') is pejoratively used in France to describe people of North African descent. Allen claimed not to know this, but since his mother is French and he is fluent in the language, that explanation does not bear close inspection. In other words, it is clearly in reference to Sidarth's dark skin pigmentation. And further, since Sidarth has been videotaping all of Allen's campaign speeches for rival Jim Webb, why would Allen wait until he had an all white crowd, in one of the most historically 'southern' parts of Virginia to try out the racial slur? Dare we say that he is playing the race card? Of course he is. I wonder if he thought about using the slur in a mixed race crowd, or in cosmopolitan northern Virginia.

And this guy is being talked about by some Republicans as a Presidential candidate. A few weeks ago I gave GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney a pass when he made the 'tar baby' comment when describing cost overruns on the 'Big Dig' in Boston, because clearly he was talking about the project and seemed sincere enough in his assertion that he did not know it had racial connotations (though he probably hasn't taken the time to learn that either). But read through Allen's remarks, in which he uses the term twice, and consider that he grew up with a French speaker who would have at least known the term as a demeaning phrase for colored people, spoken to an all white crowd, and tell me if you perceive a racist intent. Because I sure do.

Suspect arrested for 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey

I've been wrong about something for nearly a decade. I've believed for ten years that John Bennett Ramsey, and his wife, Patsy Ramsey, murdered their daughter, JonBenet, and managed to avoid prosecution mainly because they were rich (very rich-- at least at the time of the murder, it was reported that John Bennett Ramsey was a billionaire). Patsy Ramsey joined JonBenet when she died in June of ovarian cancer, still living under a cloud of suspicion. But today it turns out that a 41 year old former teacher, John Mark Karr, has been arrested in Thailand (where he was already in prison after being arrested for an unrelated sex crime-- which in Thailand almost certainly involves a child; I will put up a post next week sometime about child sexual exploitation but that would divert from the topic of this post.) I doubt if John Bennett Ramsey (a billionaire whose most recent headlines were made when he ran in Michigan as a Republican candidate and lost) ever reads liberal blogs but I will say it anyway: I was wrong, and I'm sorry for some of the things I've said and written over the past ten years.

Now, I've said before that justice is for sale in America-- in that the amount of money that you can pay, as well as celebrity status-- for your defense may have as much to do with whether you are ever found guilty or go to prison as the evidence.

And we've certainly seen evidence of that. In the trials of O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Michael Jackson, the defendants were able to hire very expensive legal representation, and together with the star power of their celebrity status, may (or may not) have gotten away with murder or child molestation. On the other end of the scale, in the large majority of cases involving convicted felons whose convictions are later overturned because it turns out that they did not commit the crime in the first place, the defendants have one thing in common-- they were represented by a public defenders office. That isn't to say that all public defenders are poor lawyers or are lazy-- I've known of some public defenders who were very dedicated to giving their clients the best defense they could-- but it is also true that those lawyers who are at the bottom of the barrel-- they passed the bar exam (maybe barely) but are consistent losers, just don't get hired by law offices or prosecutors, and often end up as public defenders. And public defenders are often overworked and have a low budget to work with. As just one example, DNA tests are often just too expensive for a public defender's budget to afford as a rule.

So, I believed quite bluntly that the Boulder, Colorado D.A. did not file an indictment against the Ramseys (who at the time were not only the prime, but in fact the only known suspects in the case) because they knew he could spend more on his defense than the entire budget of their office (remember this happened shortly after Los Angeles prosecutors got outgunned by O.J.'s 'dream team.')

The problem as it turns out was that the Ramseys were the only suspects in the case. Certainly there was plenty of reason to suspect them, but as we've seen in some cases in other places, police sometimes believe they 'have their man' and focus only on one suspect (generally a family member) pretty much to the exclusion of any other possibility. Often, they turn out to be right, as for example in the case of Scott Peterson. However, there are other cases when the 'fixation' by police agencies on a particular suspect results in a trial by press of that individual while the real culprit avoided suspicion (as it was for Richard Jewell). And clearly this case is in that second category.

So we have identified two problems with our system. Unequal justice based on one's ability to pay, and failure by investigators to investigate alternatives to their prime suspect instead of devoting 100% of their effort just to that one person.

And in John and Patsy Ramsey's case, those two flaws together have belatedly produced justice. The police wrongly focused on only one theory ten years ago, specifically that John or Patsy had murdered their daughter. Graphologists even claimed that the writing in a ransom note matched Patsy's handwriting (meaning that I may not trust a graphologist next time I hear one on TV). But then John Bennett Ramsey had an asset that the rest of us would not have had in the same set of circumstances-- the resources to fight it (so that, for example, the police could not even interview him or his wife until they gave the defense attorneys copies of the evidence they had collected to that point.)

Justice has now been served. It is now known that John Bennett Ramsey, whatever else he is, is not a murderer. His daughter was brutally ripped from him at a young and tender age, and his wife died much too young as well after they spent the last decade with a cloud hanging over their every move. There are some things that no amount of money is enough to compensate for. And John Mark Karr had ten more years to prey on kids around the world. In fact, he apparently posted information on the internet that led police to him, or he'd be out there still, with John Bennett Ramsey continuing to take the blame for the murder he committed while he molested, raped and perhaps killed more kids.

But let's not forget the thousands of others who have found themselves in a similar situtation, as suspects in crimes they did not commit, and who don't have the resources to fight it. In our quest for law and order, let's not forget that justice still must be just.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

U.S. Fighter Jets NOT Ordered To Stand Down Today

The media continues its job. But where were those fighter jets on September 11, 2001? Were they ordered to "stand down"?

Disturbance diverts London-D.C. flight

Fighter jets escorted a diverted London-to-Washington, D.C., flight to Boston's Logan airport Wednesday after a distraught passenger pulled out a screw driver, matches, Vaseline and a note referencing al-Qaida, an airport spokesman said.
United Flight 923 landed safely, Logan airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said.
The flight, with 182 passengers and 12 crew members landed safely, UAL Corp. spokesman Brandon Borrman said. Borrman said a female passenger was spotted engaging in some "suspicious" activity, but he could not immediately say what the activity was.
State Police and federal agents met took control of the plane after it landed.
Passengers were seen coming off the plane on the tarmac and being loaded onto a bus. Orlandella said their carry-on luggage was being checked.
The flight from London's Heathrow Airport was scheduled to land at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Amy von Walter said. According to Von Walter, the fighter jets launched and trailed the flight out of an abundance of caution.
Last week, British authorities said they foiled a terror plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights from London to the United States.

I don't list the source because its a Yahoo link and I expect it to change within the hour. Yahoo is historically notorious for using the same URLs for different stories or ones that they consider updates.

The Congressional Race

MyDD has a post up about Howie Klein following many Congressional Races around the country. Kid Oakland mentions in particular the race in NY-19 and how Down With Tyranny wrote a really informative post. I wanted to share this post with you, because I know that there are many people out there that are following their Congressional Races. It is really important that the people decide who will take control of the house in November. We don't just want any candidate to beat the incumbent or republican candidate. We want the candidate to stand up for the people and for what is right for this country now.

I have supported John Hall from the moment he sat down with us at Take 19's monthly meeting and explained his reasons for joining the race in New York. It is John's stand on the war in Iraq, the environment, Indian Point, education, healthcare, women's privacy, energy, voter integrity and social and economic justice for working families that aligns him with the people. We really need to get rid of Sue Kelly, who has been our representative for 12 years. Too long, if you ask me and she needs to taken down. Sue has consistently voted with Bush on many of the issues.

Just yesterday, John Hall received the endorsement of the New York State AFL-CIO yesterday at the State Labor Federation’s political convention.

In a statement released, New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes said: “The 2.5 million member New York State AFL-CIO is proud to endorse John Hall for Congress. John has made a strong case to the local unions in his district that he will champion the cause of working men and women. His willingness to sit with rank and file members and listen to their concerns, coupled with his commitment to support issues important to working people, make John the ideal candidate for organized labor.”

John Hall is working for the people in my district and I am really proud that he is running. It is so important that we elect a Congressman that will represent the people and not with Bush.

Daily Kos has an article by Dan Walter about the AFL-CIO endorsement. Dan has been consulting for John's campaign. I met Dan and I have a lot of respect for the man.

Side Note: I was walking on Church Street in Burlington, VT. yesterday and came upon the Peace and Justice Store. Of course, I dragged my whole family into it. They have the best bumper sticker there - 1-20-09 Bush's Last Day!! (I thought that you guys would get a kick out of that one, especially Chuck)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fear rises along with death tolls

Report: BAGHDAD, 10 August (IRIN) - Fear of violence among Iraqis has been amplified by the latest violent death toll of nearly 2,000 in July, making it by far the deadliest month this year. Sectarian violence has overtaken insurgency as the cause of death, officials said.

"Day after day we find that Iraq is more impossible to live in," said Mustafa al-Khuri, 36, father of four and a hairdresser in the capital, Baghdad. "With the latest numbers released by the government, we find that even to go to buy food is dangerous, and it is impossible even for our children to go to school due to the increasing violence."

According to statistics from the ministries of health and interior, nearly 1,800 Iraqis were killed in July in sectarian violence and criminal attacks. The Health Ministry's Forenic Medicine Institute estimates that the actual number is nearly 2,000, because a number of bodies are given directly to families from the hospital.

The number of violent deaths has risen steadily since January, when there were about 600. Of those, 113 of them were due to sectarian violence; the rest were the result of the US military fighting insurgents and other causes.

A year ago, in July 2005, Iraq had 1,100 violent deaths – none of them due to sectarian violence.

Sectarian violence took a dramatic upturn after 22 February, when a revered Shi'ite shrine was bombed in Samarra, north of the capital.

In the latest incident of sectarian violence, at least 35 people were killed and 90 others injured on 10 August in a suicide bomb attack at a market in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. The attack occurred in close proximity to the Imam Ali shrine, one of the most sacred Shi'ite Muslim sites. A Sunni group claimed responsibility.

Experts say that many Sunnis who were formerly insurgents attacking the US military are instead aiming their guns at the Shi'ites.

Dr Sabah al-Husseiny, deputy health minister, said that 70 percent of the deaths reported since January were due to sectarian violence, fuelled by the rise of criminal gangs and death squads nationwide. But in 2005, almost no deaths were caused by sectarian violence – and about 75 percent were due to military actions and the insurgency, he said.

Now, al-Husseiny said, "Each day the methods of killing are more horrifying."

Torture, strangulation, and multiple gun shots to the head are increasingly common, said Dr Fa'aq Amin, director of the Forensic Medicine Institute at the Ministry of Health.

"Instead of the government's new plans improving security in Iraq, it looks like they are worsening the problem," Amin said, referring to the reconciliation plan announced in June.

Government officials emphasised that the rise in violence is largely due to the growing number of extremist vigilantes and criminal gangs countrywide. For example, a vigilante might shoot a teenage couple kissing on the street for improper behaviour.

Gang members sit in ordinary cafes offering to carry out contract killings along sectarian lines.

"The government is focusing on terrorists and insurgents, but now we see that the reality is different," said Mahmoud Obaid, 54, a doctor and professor at Mustansiriyah University. "It has to change its plan and tackle the criminality issue faster."

Fearing that the violence is inescapable, more Iraqis have started to pack their bags to flee the country.

"We cannot stay in Iraq one more day," said Ibrahim Younis, 35, a government employee who just quit his job and plans to take his family to Jordan. "Death is near the door of any innocent civilian just because he prays in a different way."

In Jordan, Younis said, "even if I have to work as a garbage collector, my family is going to be safe."

_ _ _ _ _

Maybe bUSH's plan all along was just to empty Iraq out. Have all civilians so scared to live there that they leave. Then we get the oil. If we are supposed to be there, providing security and training the Iraqi Security Forces to provide security, are we successful in Iraq? With death tolls amongst civilians rising I have to doubt the Iraq mission's success right now. Our soldiers are still being killed on a daily basis. Please George, for the sake of human life, strategically redeploy our soldiers in Iraq to a safer area. We are getting nowhere.

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A warm welcome to


our newest contributor!!

GOP stuck in panic mode over Lamont

Shazam! A whole week now, and the GOP is still fuming over the Ned Lamont win over Joe "Dino" Lieberman...

See, WTW fans, it's like this, the GOP is praying we will be nice, and offer "centrist" candidates who will roll over, play dead and do whatever the GOP dictates. The last thing they want...or pure opposition.

Opposition. Meaning, we Dems are not the GOP's buddies, and why should we be? The GOP sold us all out, turned this nation into a crapfest, a laughingstock, and as of late, a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. And they want us to be nice?

Read full article here (this is the first I've seen this blog, so caveat emptor):

Meanwhile, I heard from my best friend tonight. She was in Europe for the month of June. From there, she has been in RURAL PA until yesterday. I'm talking no internet, no cell phones, and no real coverage of the Lamont/Lieberman primary. She's a politically savvy person, so I was REALLY surprised that she didn't know about the hacking accusations against the Lamont camp on primary day. She knew nothing about the "kiss" buttons nor the mobile. To say that NOTHING was covered on the Malloy/Destefano campaigns. The ONLY coverage in hooterville (I teasingly call that place in PA where her parents live), was Lieberman's "concession" speech.

I told her that CSpan covered our local elections. Her parents have a dish, but she hadn't thought of checking that station. Oh well. At LEAST she knew Lamont won, and she is thrilled about it. When I think about my obsessive coverage of that night, I would be miserable to have missed it! But she was happy that I could fill her in on the details.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mind the Fountain

Before New York's big push for the September 12th Primary, I am taking a week off to spend some time with my family. We will be holed up in a rustic log cabin on Lake Champlain in South Hero, Vermont.

As we all saw today, Howard Dean spoke with a reasoned voice. And I just had to chuckle at this comment from RobertD over at Crooks and Liars. If Howard is still in town tomorrow I will be knocking on his door. I don't really know what I would say to him, but I will think of something.

We will be kayaking and swimming, and I will be catching up on some much missed reading. Have any suggestions on a good book, political of course?

Be kind and post anything you want, except porn.


Once upon a time, there was a boy named George W. One day his mother found him standing by a chopped down cherry tree with an axe in his hands.

The mother asked George W, "George W, did you chop down that cherry tree?"

And George W replied, "I cannot tell a lie... IT WAS THOSE DAMN BLOGGERS!"

(Thanks for the giggles, Benji!!)

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