(a great presentation to click through and pass on to others)
October 5, 2010
New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should Be Vilified
New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It's so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being "rich", or what tax rate is "too much." But I've done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.
And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that asshole. I kid Ben -- so, the other day Ben wrote an article about his struggle. His struggle as a wealthy person facing the prospect of a slightly higher marginal tax rate. Specifically, Ben said that when he was finished paying taxes and his agents, he was left with only 35 cents for every dollar he earned. Which is shocking, Ben Stein has an agent? I didn't know Broadway Danny Rose was still working.
Ben whines in his article about how he's worked for every dollar he has -- if by work you mean saying the word "Bueller" in a movie 25 years ago. Which doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's just that at a time when people in America are desperate and you're raking in the bucks promoting some sleazy Free Credit Score dot-com... maybe you shouldn't be asking us for sympathy. Instead, you should be down on your knees thanking God and/or Ronald Reagan that you were lucky enough to be born in a country where a useless schmuck who contributes absolutely nothing to society can somehow manage to find himself in the top marginal tax bracket.
And you're welcome to come on the show anytime.
Now I can hear you out there saying, "Come on Bill, don't be so hard on Ben Stein, he does a lot of voiceover work, and that's hard work." Ok, it's true, Ben is hardly the only rich person these days crying like a baby who's fallen off his bouncy seat. Last week Mayor Bloomberg of New York complained that all his wealthy friends are very upset with mean ol' President Poopy-Pants: He said they all say the same thing: "I knew I was going to have to pay more taxes. But I didn't expect to be vilified." Poor billionaires -- they just can't catch a break.
First off, far from being vilified, we bailed you out -- you mean we were supposed to give you all that money and kiss your ass, too? That's Hollywood you're thinking of. FDR, he knew how to vilify; this guy, not so much. And second, you should have been vilified -- because you're the vill-ains! I'm sure a lot of you are very nice people. And I'm sure a lot of you are jerks. In other words, you're people. But you are the villains. Who do you think outsourced all the jobs, destroyed the unions, and replaced workers with desperate immigrants and teenagers in China. Joe the Plumber?
And right now, while we run trillion dollar deficits, Republicans are holding America hostage to the cause of preserving the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 1% of people, many of them dead. They say that we need to keep taxes on the rich low because they're the job creators. They're not. They're much more likely to save money through mergers and outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor, and pass the unemployment along to you.
Americans think rich people must be brilliant; no -- just ruthless. Meg Whitman is running for Governor out here, and her claim to fame is, she started e-Bay. Yes, Meg tapped into the Zeitgeist, the zeitgeist being the desperate need of millions of Americans to scrape a few dollars together by selling the useless crap in their garage. What is e-Bay but a big cyber lawn sale that you can visit without putting your clothes on?
Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.
Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.
We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.
The dead do not want us dead;
such petty errors are left for the living.
Nor do they want our mourning.
No gift to them--not rage, not weeping.
Return one of them, any one of them, to the earth,
and look: such foolish skipping,
such telling of bad jokes, such feasting!
Even a cucumber, even a single anise seed: feasting
Playing for Change: Peace Through Music
Read about and listen to the remarkable
Playing for Change project, a multimedia music project that seeks to
bring together musicians from around the world in order to inspire, connect,
and bring peace
to the world through music. The project's first single, an amazing version of
"Stand by Me", began with a single
Santa Monica street performer, but now you can buy the entire Songs Around the World CD here.
October 8, 2009
Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize
OSLO — President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision
designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world
and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism. Read
July 27, 2009
This is rather wonderful -- William Shatner reads Sarah Palin's
farewell speech as beat poetry:
June 10, 2009
CODEPINK Peace Delegates Show the Children of Gaza that Another World is Possible!
CODEPINK's two new delegations visited Gaza by entering through Egypt May 28-June 5 and Israel June 5-14. Both delivered toys, school supplies and materials to build three playgrounds. Due to the Israeli siege, items such as toys, paper and construction materials are almost non-existent in Gaza.....
read more here...
March 31, 2009
U.S. and Iran open Afghanistan peace talks
Iranian and American officials have held their first talks about ending the war in Afghanistan amid signs that President Barack Obama’s efforts to thaw relations with Tehran are paying off.
While television cameras focused on Obama in Washington during the unveiling of his strategy for Afghanistan last Friday, US and Iranian diplomats were holding a remarkable meeting in Moscow.
The Russian initiative brought together Patrick Moon, the US diplomat in charge of south and central Asia, and Mehdi Akhundzadeh, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, as well as a British diplomat who has been acting as a mediator.
“We’ve turned a page to have Iranians and Americans at the same table all discussing
Afghanistan,” Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told delegates...
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
November 3, 2008
Fired up and ready to go
A terrific reminder from Barack Obama about what this election is all about:
October 16, 2008
When people ask me why they should vote for Obama, I tell them he's the future, the
other's the past -- which do you want to vote for? That simple message seems to
resonate more soundly than any other chatter about the issues. And I think this inspirational picture says it
all for many people, with a stunning sense of history, and hope.
August 26, 2008
Two Great Speeches: Michelle Obama, and Ted Kennedy
If you missed them, or even want to watch them again -- they were both
quite inspiring, including the Ken Burns' mini-documentary on
Ted Kennedy's life included before his speech.
Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention
Ted Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention
August 18, 2008
Garrison Keillor: Maybe McCain, Obama can go have a nice steam
People accuse us old liberals of smarmy self-righteousness and God knows they are right. Four of us had lunch the other day and we agreed before we sat down: no politics. We know what we're going to say so why say it?
Self-righteousness is a good old American vice, and we have it, and though preferable to cruelty and cynicism and deliberate dumbheadedness, nonetheless remind yourself: You are not so different from the others.
So when we got onto politics halfway through my tuna sandwich, I said a deliberate unself-righteous thing: "I don't think any of us believe what we say we believe. It's just our neurons responding to a phrase or something, a learned response that makes us feel warm for some reason that goes back to childhood. And in the end it doesn't matter.
"We're motes of dust on a tiny insignificant planet spinning around in a solar system so vast our minds can't comprehend it, and one day the planet will implode and all will be lost — Beethoven, Plato, Monet, the Minnesota Twins — and it won't make any difference to the cosmos whatsoever, so why should we care who wins the election in November?"
There was a moment of silence and then somebody said that Barack has a commanding lead in Wisconsin and that McCain is in deep mud in Ohio.
What I didn't get to talk about at lunch was my bath last week. Somehow the subject of cleanliness never came up. We covered children, gardens, travel, the Olympics — swimming was the closest we got to the subject — but then somebody got on a soapbox about China and how dearly we will someday pay for the cheap goods.
My bath. (Thank you for asking.) I went to a Japanese spa and sat in a steam bath and after 20 minutes felt some of my liberal smugness trickle down my legs. Extreme heat breaks down moral arrogance — look at equatorial peoples; do they lecture the rest of us about our duty to the environment?
No, they don't — and I sat feeling more and more chastened, and then a stout Japanese woman poked her head in and led me into a tiled room and laid me out face-down on a padded table and sloshed me with hot water from a basin and splorted some soap on my back and started scrubbing. She wore rough gloves for this. She rinsed me with pans of hot water and scrubbed some more.
My nakedness did not interest her. I suppose that repeated exposure to the male form will do that, just as plucking chickens might make you a vegan. It was luxurious, being bathed, all the sploshing and skritching, but also humbling, a naked creature feeling scourged, the sheer ordinariness of it. Here you are, wet and naked, and you are not so different from any other wet naked person.
And then came the tiny masseuse with the powerful thumbs, and the steam room again, and a shower, and out into the world I went, cleansed and twanged, somewhat chastened, my neurons trembling. "You look extremely clean," someone told me.
I think I still believe what I believe. Liberals hold that the test of a civilized society is how it deals with the weak, the sick, the powerless. As William Blake wrote:
A Dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Or as Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these" and so forth. And so the test of the state is the state of the public schools and the treatment of the elderly, the ill, the demented, the incarcerated. And so the adoption of torture as American policy and loosing the darkness of the soul upon some poor manacled wretch at Guantanamo is no small matter. We are all wretches. But I will spare you the rest of the sermon.
Let's bring back community baths. I honestly think that if we all got together naked in a steamy room and got sploshed with hot water and scrubbed down hard, we would be more civil people. Cleaner, too.
Before the first debate, put the geezer and the skinny guy in a steam room for 30 minutes and see if it doesn't bring out something fine in them, something profound and memorable. It's a great country, no matter what the rich and the privileged say, and the truth is marching on.
Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard at 4 p.m. Saturdays on Classical KUAT (90.5-FM and 89.7-FM) and at 10 a.m. Sundays on KUAZ (89.1-FM and 1550-AM).
Reprinted from the Ariz Daily Star
July 26, 2008
John McCain was 47 years old in 1983, the year he voted against making Martin Luther
King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. Listen to his description now of his
47-year-old perspective about one of the most important and high-profile people
in the history of the United States:
Most Republicans in the House voted for the holiday (89 voted for the holiday, 77 opposed),
though all three Arizona House Republicans were opposed. Reps. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming,
and Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, voted for the holiday. (Cheney had voted against it in 1978.)
The holiday went into effect in 1986. Only 27 states and D.C. honored the
holiday that first year. Activists in state after state tried to prevent it
from being recognized.
And as a direct result of Arizona not recognizing MLK Day in a referendum in 1990,
the National Football League rescinded its original decision to have Super Bowl
XXVII played in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
In November 1992, Arizonans finally voted in favor of an MLK holiday. But it wasn't
until 2000 that all 50 states honored the MLK Holiday which had been passed 17 years before.
John McCain has since apologized.
February 20, 2008
from Gary Hart, on politics as transcendence:
"...Some see Barack Obama as the long awaited champion finally come to slay the awful dragon of
race. And they are right. Some see him as a new start for the Democratic Party and national politics.
And they are right. Some see him as the walking embodiment of internationalism, ready to restore an
honorable and respected place for America in the world. And they are right.
I see Barack Obama as a leader for this transcendent moment, the agent of transformation
in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century
and to convert threat to great new opportunity..."
Even if your candidate didn't win last night, you have reason to celebrate. We all do. Barack Obama's
stirring victory in Iowa -- down home, folksy, 92 percent white Iowa -- says a lot about America.
Because tonight voters decided that they didn't want to look back. They were warned that a vote for
Obama would be like rolling the dice, and they went ahead and rolled the dice -- as if a country exhausted by
the last seven years wanted to recapture its youth....
"The Internet, not the street, not the campus, is the fundamental component
of today’s antiwar movement — a force for organizing, raising money and
influencing politicians and the media via blogs and e-mail messages. Earlier this year,
MoveOn even staged a “virtual march on Washington” in which participants’ phone
calls to Congress were aggregated on an online map of the country...."
What Are the 2008 Presidential Candidates Saying About Women's Health Issues?
Check out the latest comments
from the presidential candidates, including Hillary's interesting comment "“I have introduced a law every year since I’ve been a senator called
Prevention First. And I said, let’s increase family planning access. Let’s increase access to good education
and responsible decision-making for young men and women. I’ve not been able to get one Republican co-sponsor.
So my challenge is if you’re really against abortion, help us prevent them in the first place.”
April 4, 2007
Clean Air Is For Liberals - Just how did global warming become a left-wing conspiracy?
"One of the stranger things to happen in recent political discourse -- and this
is a crowded field -- is the morphing of global warming into a left-wing plot, a
conspiracy by godless scientists to ... well, it's not clear what benefit the scientists
get from spreading lies about global warming. Maybe they just want research money
to study this nonexistent warming thing...."
Nov. 19, 2002: "The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself,
so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country
Jan. 16, 2003: "I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if
that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd,
20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, 'Horrible three-way civil war?' "
July 14, 2003: "I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I'd rather not see my prediction come true and I don't think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don't need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers -- we need people who know how to fix water and power plants."
Oct. 7, 2003: "Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...
"I've got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I've had a bet out that I hoped I'd lose."
So Molly Ivins -- who didn't mingle with the great and famous, didn't have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East -- got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?
With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war -- or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn't see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.
Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver.
Watch Barack Obama's videos -- his most
recent statement on his decision to form a Presidential Exploratory Committee, and his background
October 30, 2006
When you hear that Republican party "talking point" that claims Democrats don't know what they stand for,
here is a handy 6 point response that spells the answer out:
Honest Leadership & Open Government
We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves, starting with real ethics reform.
2. Real Security
We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies. We believe in a strong national defense that is both tough and smart, recognizing that homeland security begins with hometown security.
3. Energy Independence
We will create a cleaner, greener and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop energy alternatives, and investing in energy independent technology.
4. Economic Prosperity & Educational Excellence
We will create jobs that stay in America and restore opportunity for all Americans, starting with raising the minimum wage, expanding Pell grants and making college tuition tax deductible. We also believe in budget discipline that reduces our deficit.
5. A Healthcare System that Works for Everyone
We will join 36 other industrialized nations in making sure everyone has access to affordable health care, starting by fixing the prescription drug program and investing in stem cell and other medical research.
6. Retirement Security
We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, starting with pension reform, expanding saving incentives and preventing the privatization of social security.
Let's believe her. When she says she's a patriotic American and that
she typifies patriotic Americans, let's agree that she does. American
history is filled with people who have used hateful words to enrich
themselves and to destroy others who were quite often weaker or more
vulnerable than themselves. On every middle school playground in
America, right now, some bully is tormenting some other, weaker child
out of the sight of the adults, and some of the other children are
egging him on, and still other children are watching from the
sidelines. It's as American as apple pie. As she demonstrates with the
filth she spews out of her mouth and her pen, Americans aren't nice or
decent people, and conservative, overtly patriotic Americans are even
less decent and less nice. They do harm, and they like to do harm, just
as she likes to do harm, and they even expect to profit from the harm
they do. At the very least, they expect to get a laugh. ...
Bombs kill more troops than bullets these days, and these blessed souls at
Operation Helmet are providing
upgraded helmet retrofits to troops, which will help protect them, with 100% of donations
going to the helmet upgrade kits sent. They have more requests from troops than they do
funds, so they appreciate any and all amounts that are contributed.
A big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to Major Bob's Iraq school supplies project through the PayPal account" (And imagine opening your e-mail inbox and finding someone has donated an entire classroom's worth of supplies.") Just to give you a sense of the generosity of your readers, I have received contributions from folks who had -- already -- contributed to similar projects of relatives serving in Iraq, but still wanted to show their support for Major Bob, people who made far-from-paltry donations and then apologized for not being able to give more, even a sailor serving stateside who volunteered logistical help (I politely declined but given the level of donations I may reconsider!). I’ll shamelessly pitch again: here’s his description of his project and how to send supplies directly.
The PayPal account for contributions is under the name/address IraqSchools@hotmail.com .
Tonight I want to talk to you on a subject of deep concern to all Americans and to many people in all parts of the world the war in Iraq.
I believe that one of the reasons for the deep division about Iraq is that many Americans have lost confidence in what their Government has told them about our policy. The American people cannot and should not be asked to support a policy which involves the overriding issues of war and peace unless they know the truth about that policy.
The war was causing deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.
In view of these circumstances there were some who urged that I end the war at once by ordering the immediate withdrawal of all American forces.
From a political standpoint this would have been a popular and easy course to follow.
For the future of peace, precipitate withdrawal would thus be a disaster of immense magnitude.
A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends.
Our defeat and humiliation in Iraq without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest.
This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere.
Ultimately, this would cost more lives.
It would not bring peace; it would bring more war.
For these reasons, I rejected the recommendation that I should end the war by immediately withdrawing all of our forces. I chose instead to change American policy on both the negotiating front and battlefront.
We are Iraqizing the search for peace.
Under the plan, I ordered first a substantial increase in the training and equipment of Iraqese forces.
—The Iraqese have continued to gain in strength. As a result they have been able to take over combat responsibilities from our American troops.
We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the Iraqese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces, and their replacement by Iraqese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable. This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As Iraqese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.
My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war. -I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Iraq without regard to the effects of that action.
-Or we can persist in our search for a just peace … through continued implementation of our plan for Iraqization if necessary a plan in which we will withdraw all our forces from Iraq on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the Iraqese become strong enough to defend their own freedom.
I have chosen this second course.
It is not the easy way.
It is the right way.
It is a plan which will end the war and serve the cause of peace not just in Iraq but in the Pacific and in the world.
In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.
Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people.
In San Francisco a few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators carrying signs reading: "Lose in Iraq, bring the boys home."
Well, one of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this Nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the Nation by mounting demonstrations in the street.
And so tonight to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support.
SOURCE: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 901-909, excerpted, here. Editor's Note: the word “Iraq” has been substituted for the words “Vietnam” and “South Vietnam” in the speech above; Approximately 27,000 U.S. soldiers, and millions of Vietnamese and Cambodian citizens died during the phase of the war Nixon termed “Vietnamization” before the president was forced to resign in disgrace and his successor, Gerald Ford, was forced to admit the futility of the war and accept America’s defeat.
Traveling on the roads of America, we see the “Support Our Troops” ribbons on cars everywhere. Though all of us wish the men and women in the military well and want them to return home as soon as possible, we know there is another larger message that needs to be stated.
"Support Our Troops" does not mean support our war. The best way to support our troops is to question war itself. It is time the voices questioning war become stronger than those justifying war. We are the growing majority and the question is fundamental. Share this message and help create a collective voice at a critical time.
October 26, 2005
SOMBER MILESTONE: After 2 1/2 years of war and the insurgency in Iraq, the toll of U.S. service members killed reaches 2,000. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq war inflicts heavy casualties on older, experienced troops.
Jim Weber, a veteran of World War II, and the Bay Area chapter of Veterans for Peace observe the group's 2,000-candle vigil at Lake Merritt's Lakeside Park in Oakland to honor the Iraq war dead.
Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.
Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'
In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.
Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.
A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.
In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."
"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.
In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.
In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.
On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."
Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is writing a column for Salon and the Guardian of London.
August 15, 2005
You just have to love this woman (Cindy Sheehan):
"George Bush took a 2 hour bike ride on Saturday, and when he got back, he was asked how he could go for a two hour bike ride when he doesn't have time to meet with me, and he said: "I have to go on with my life." (Austin Statesman, August 14) WHAT!!!!!????? He has to get on with his life!!! I am so offended by that statement. Every person, war fan, or not, who has had a child killed in this mistake of an occupation should be highly offended by that remark. Who does he think he is? I wish I could EVER be able to get on with my life. Getting on with my life means a life without my dear, sweet boy. Getting on with my life means learning to live with a pain that is so intense that sometimes I feel like throwing up, or screaming until I pass out from sorrow. I wish a little bike ride could help me get on with my life."
Saying he was on a ''mission to ignite peace,'' Carlos Santana played before a sold-out crowd at a concert in Hiroshima, Japan, to mark the 60th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack. Tuesday's concert was among events the city is holding ahead of the memorial on Saturday. About 50,000 people, including Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, are expected to gather in Peace Memorial Park.
July 19, 2005
Be sure to check out Arianna Huffington's interesting new Web site, the Huffington Post, which " marries Drudge Report-style links to news stories and media sneak peeks, with dozens of brief blog entries by Hollywood celebrities, celebrity wives, comedians, opinion journalists, book authors, playwrights, magazine editors, an economist, a writer-director, a law professor, a former lobbyist, a music tycoon—and probably Huffington's gardener if you click deep enough...." (Slate)
This is the true face of the Bush crowd: extremism in pursuit of vice. It has to be said again and again. It should certainly be a 2006 theme. Opposing thuggery is a policy -- it's called decency. And I suspect some elemental sense of fair play is not dead in the land.
Rove's indecency knows no limits. He parachuted into Manhattan to declare: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
They lie and lie. The lies carry them into the disaster that is Iraq. They insult, they sneer, and then they lie again. This isn't an accident -- it's an identity.
Check out Books for Soldiers,
which lets soldiers make requests (sci-fi, mystery, etc) and provide their addresses, while humble State-side folks grant
their wishes. You can also donate money to the program via their Paypal link.
April 12, 2005
A CORNUCOPIA OF DEATH
By Arianna Huffington
Paint the last month black. It's been an orgy of mourning; a cornucopia of death. We've had Terri Schiavo, Pope John Paul, Prince Rainier, and Charles and Camilla's wedding--which felt as grim as any funeral. All brought to us in no-longer-living color. If nothing else, the media have outed themselves as the ultimate necrophiliacs. I expect CNN and Forest Lawn to announce a sponsorship agreement any day now.
The pope's interminable interment was the magenta-colored cherry on the death sundae. The TV coverage was so over-the-top and utterly uncritical, it was as if John Paul had been, well, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Or, at least, Jim Caviezel.
Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that the last week should have been spent trashing the late pontiff. His many achievements--taking on communism, embracing the Third World, speaking out for the poor, and standing up against war--surely deserved recognition and praise. But you'd think the wall-to-wall coverage would have included some serious discussion of the two tragic failures of his reign: his woeful mishandling of the church's child molestation scandal, and how his archaic position on condoms contributed to the deaths of millions of people, especially in Africa.
The molestation outrage is a black mark that can't be whitewashed.
Over 11,000 children were sexually abused and close to $1 billion in settlement money has been paid out, but the pope did not go much beyond decrying "the sins of some of our brothers." He never met with any victims, he never offered practical solutions to dealing with the problem, he never addressed the decades-long cover-up of the abuse. He even rejected a "zero tolerance" policy calling for the immediate removal of molester-priests, concerned that it was too harsh.
Too harsh?! This is a man who wouldn't allow a priest to become a bishop unless he was unequivocally opposed to masturbation, premarital sex and condoms. So, in his perversion pecking order, you had to be dead-set against "self-love" but when it came to buggering little kids, there was some wiggle room.
And let's not forget that the Pope appointed Cardinal Bernard Law, who was one of the architects of the sex scandal cover-up, and who even faced potential criminal prosecution for his role in the concealment. But instead of making an example out of Law, the pope gave him a cushy sinecure in the Vatican. Adding insult to the grievous injury suffered by the abuse victims, Law was one of the nine cardinals specially chosen to preside over the pope's funeral masses. It is a disgrace--and an indication of how detached the Vatican became under this pope.
The other stain on the pope's legacy is his tireless opposition to the use of condoms--even in places like Africa, where AIDS killed 2.3 million people last year alone, and where the disease has driven life expectancy below 40 years in many countries.
But even in the face of that kind of suffering, he fought tooth and nail against condoms...
The "Eyes Wide Open" traveling exhibit features 1,525 pairs of military boots tagged with the names of U.S. soldiers who have died in the Iraq war. Read the rest here.
February 13, 2005
From Governor Dean, the new Chair of the Democratic National Committee
In less than a year you have built a national political powerhouse that helped shape the national debate and supported good candidates across the country. And you have built dozens of grassroots organizations that work for change locally.
There's still a lot of work to do -- Democracy for America and other like-minded organizations face huge challenges as we take on a Republican infrastructure built up with billions of dollars and decades of experience.
But just look at how far we have come. So many of you have grown as leaders and as citizens in such a short time. Your hard work and faith in democracy are beginning to fundamentally shift the balance of political power in this country.
I want to introduce to you two people who will help you continue that work -- and take DFA to the next level.
First let me introduce my brother, Jim Dean -- the new Chair of Democracy for America. Jim has been a tireless supporter of the grassroots, and many of you have met him at events around the country.
Like many of you, he wasn?t very political until recently. He was drawn into political life because of his deep concern for the credibility of our political process.
He believes in protecting every vote and protecting our democracy from corruption like Tom DeLay?s money-for-influence machine. Most importantly he believes in amplifying your role in our political process.
Like Jim, Tom Hughes -- the new Executive Director -- has spent the last several months as one of the primary networkers for the DFA grassroots. Many of you already know Tom -- those of you who don't will soon know his energy, enthusiasm and passion for the people of this organization.
DFA will continue to be your place to support socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates. That process will soon be gearing up -- you will be an important part of it. And you will hear more from Jim and Tom soon about how DFA can help your local organization.
I look forward to continuing our conversation about the future of our party and our country in my new role at the DNC. You will see less of me in this space for a while, but this organization is in good hands -- yours.
You have taught me so much -- about our country, about our democracy, about the hope and determination of our people. Change is possible. And you have the power to make it happen -- you already have.
February 3, 2005
Can the FBI Monitor Your Web Browsing Without a Warrant?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI and other offices of the US Department of Justice, seeking the release of documents that would reveal whether the government has been using the USA PATRIOT Act to spy on Internet users' reading habits without a search warrant.
Who had the courage to vote against the first African-American female nominee for Secretary of State merely because she has proven to be profoundly incompetent, incorrigibly dishonest, and absolutely unwilling to recognize, much less admit her many, many mistakes?
The Honor Roll:
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
John Kerry, D-Mass.
Carl Levin, D-Mich.
James Jeffords, I-Vt.
Jack Reed, D-R.I.
Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii
Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?
January 18, 2005
Subject: Request from Bill Moyers
Subject: Not One Dime Day
From: Bill Moyers
Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005
Since our religious leaders will not speak out against
the war in Iraq,since our political leaders don't have
the moral courage to oppose it,Inauguration Day,
Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime
Day" in America.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is
happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a
24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer
During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend
money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn
dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not
one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart,
Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience
store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any
groceries at all for that matter).
For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the
retail economy down. The object is simple. Remind the
people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and
illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and
that it is their responsibility to stop it.
"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that
they work for the people of the United States of
America, not for the international corporations and K
Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and
funnel cash into American politics.
"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the
troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and (some
estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians
owe our troops a plan - a way to come home.
There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left
or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn
Dime Day" you take action bydoing nothing.
You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.
For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime,
to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of
their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and
give America back to the people.
Please share this email with as many people as
possible Commercial speech must not be the only free
speech in America!
Is Howard Dean writing a manifesto to rebuild the Democratic Party in anticipation of the election of a new Democratic National Committee leader in January? In his latest column, he seems to be doing just that. "I truly believe that Democrats can return to national dominance. But, we must not be afraid to compete in every race, in every district and in every state. We can start rebuilding the Democratic Party from the bottom up," he writes.
"Our task is to remind ourselves and the American people of the hallmark issues that distinguish Democrats from Republicans. For example, Democrats historically tackle economic issues with bold, common-sense policies. Our last Democratic president created 22 million new jobs in this country. In the last four years, George W. Bush oversaw the loss of over 1.5 million. Democrats balance budgets, Republicans do not. Democrats consistently try to pass legislation that would provide some kind of affordable health care, Republicans do not. Democrats believe we ought to raise the minimum wage to help the average worker keep up with the cost of living, Republicans do not. Democrats believe corporations have too much power over our daily lives; Republicans do not - and to prove it, they have given away billions of dollars of our tax money to the biggest corporations in the world over the last four years. "
"Cycles of Addiction" tree grate, designed by recovering drug addicts at Milestones drug rehabilitation center. One gun is destroyed for each grate.
Peaceful Streets' mission is to curb gun violence by working to remove banned assault weapons from the streets. They work directly — they physically destroy these weapons by melting them and transforming them into art. Through their various public outreach and education projects they aim to empower communities to take an active role in creating safer neighborhoods. Their newest project is Afghanistan: Guns Into Food.
November 9, 2004
This is probably the best map we've seen that truly represents the reality of "red states."
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
I rise in opposition of this bill, but I would like to clarify something. We are not trying to scare kids. This President's foreign policy is what is scaring the kids of this country. And people have said today, why are people believing this? Why are people believing this big Internet hoax?
It is the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11; the same people who told us Saddam Hussein had something to do with weapons of mass destruction; the same people who told us we would be able to use the oil for reconstruction money; the same people who told us we would be greeted as liberators, not occupiers; the same people, the same President who told us the Taliban is gone; the same President who told us that Poland is our ally 2 days before they pull out; the same President who tells us Iraq is going just great; the same President who tells us the economy is going just great; the same people who told us the tax cuts were going to create millions of jobs; the same people who told us that the Medicare program only cost $400 billion when it really cost $540 billion.
So please forgive us for believing what you are saying. Please forgive the students of this country for not believing what you are saying. Not one thing, not one thing about this war that has been told to the American people or that has been told to these college students has been true. Not one thing. Bremer says we need more troops. The Pentagon says we need more troops, and this President cannot get them from the international community. There is only one option left. Let us be honest with the American people.
October 15, 2004
favorite comment about the final debate
"...What Kerry is, was, and always will be, is someone who can always make the other guy on the stage look like he’s applying for a night manager’s job at a Gas ‘n Sip somewhere. I think they’re discovering what every one of Kerry’s opponents always discovers – that there is too much substance to the guy to cover with easy labels. Sooner or later, people just decide to hire the guy who looks most like he’s up to the job. I mean, look at the answer to the “How does faith inform what you do?” question...One guy rattled off some vaguely faith-based talking points as though he were doing calisthenics. The other guy (Kerry) sounded like Teilhard de Chardin with PAC money."
As Oprah Slaps Bush --
With 30 states poised to smack down women's rights again, the one true savior emerges
There was Oprah, doing what she does so freakishly well, cheerleading and extolling and impressing upon, getting women up and getting them angry and demanding that they exercise their hard-won right to vote and demanding that they quit dissing their feminist ancestors, the ones who worked so damn hard for suffrage and for freedom of choice and for the right to tell powerful white sexist Republican men where they can shove their repressive sexist antichoice bigotry.
This was her fabulous, much-needed message: Take your rights for granted at your peril, ladies. Move, or else. Choose how you want the laws to treat and respect you and your body -- or someone else, someone who hasn't touched a vagina for 30 years and who thinks sex is only tolerable in the dark, fully clothed and with a respectable prostitute, will choose for you.
Sound like a cliché? Same ol' quasi-feminist rally message? Not exactly. Not this time. Just imagine this:
Imagine Bush filches another election in November. Nations mourn, black clouds gather, children cry, colons spasm, the remaining shreds of the American experiment wither and die.
And within a very short time, as many as 30 U.S. states have recriminalized abortion and made repressing women and hating sex fun again, as young American females everywhere who thought their right to choose was pretty much incontrovertible and indisputable and unfailing and who therefore didn't bother to vote in '00 or '04 suddenly go, oh holy freaking hell.
Hello, 1950s. Hello, coat-hanger surgery. Hello, millions of despondent daughters of uptight parents. Hello, dead or mutilated teenage girls who suffer botched procedures. Hello, a fresh national nightmare, revisited, regurgitated, reborn. And hello again to smug right-wing males who've wanted to put women back in their place for the past 50 years. Check that: 200 years. Check that: forever.
Just a silly nightmare? Utterly impossible? A ridiculous liberal daydream? Not even close, sweetheart.
It's all about the Supreme Court, of course. Fact is, our next president will almost surely get to appoint a number of new high-court justices to replace those who will likely retire after enduring Bush's toxic first term. They hung in there, these few -- especially progressive stalwart Sandra Day O'Connor and moderate, pro-choice John Paul Stevens -- hoping to disallow the nation's highest judiciary from becoming overly stacked with homophobic self-righteous right-wing neocon wingnuts (hi, Justice Scalia!) who would have us revert -- morally, sexually, spiritually, misogynistically -- to 1953. Check that: 1853. Check that: 1353.
With the exception of nearly useless neoconservative sycophant Clarence Thomas, not a single justice now serving on the court is under 65. Many insiders say Stevens, O'Connor and bitter old man William Rehnquist (almost 80) are all likely to retire before 2008. BushCo's chosen replacements could easily tip the scales of the court the other direction, from its very precarious 5-4 progressive tilt to a very sneering 6-3 conservative one, a court that would then very easily overturn parts or even all of Roe v. Wade. Talk about a malicious legacy.
It gets worse. It gets nastier, more widespread. Because should Shrub swipe another term, he will also be on his way to naming more federal trial and appeals judges -- hundreds, by most counts -- than either Clinton or Reagan, the last two-term presidents. Bush could, in short and for all intents and purposes, stack the nation's courts with enough neoconservative, antichoice, antiwomen crusaders to make Strom Thurmond giggle in his grave.
Which brings us straight back to Oprah. Say what you will about the often weirdly effusive and overtly gushy and often slightly smarmy woman who just gave away 276 Pontiacs to her entire studio audience (hard to tell if that was an act of astounding generosity and beneficence, or some sort of weird punishment -- I mean, they were Pontiacs), but the woman can electrify and inspire and educate her millions of devoted viewers like nobody's business.
And if there's one famously disenfranchised and alienated and apathetic voting bloc that needs to get off its collective yoga butt and stand up and make itself known this election lest it lose an even larger chunk of its basic human rights than it even realizes, it's youngish women.
This is, after all, what so many women don't seem to know. That the Bush administration has already, in just a few short years, managed to roll back a truly astounding number of their basic rights, making it more difficult, for example, for doctors to perform abortions, or making it illegal for schools to discuss contraception or for hospitals to discuss pregnancy-termination options.
From demeaning and ineffectual abstinence-only programs to biased counseling to cutting all funding for international women's health organizations that provide care to poor women in third-world nations (hell, Bush hacked that one away in his first month in office), Dubya has done more than any president in the last 100 years to smack women upside their sexually empowered heads.
Oh and by the way, that suggestion currently being floated by some in the GOP that the Iraq war has become so nasty and desperate that we might very well need to reinstate the military draft? That draft includes young women. And oh yes, Bush has already upheld the ban on abortions for servicewomen stationed overseas, even if they were raped, even if they pay for it themselves. Feeling patriotic yet?
This has been the GOP's message to women since, well, forever: Be like Laura Bush -- submissive, matronly, heavily shellacked and ever flashing a disquieting mannequin grin, off in the corner reading stories to the kids and cutting lots of pretty ceremonial ribbons and keeping quiet about the Important Stuff and never having sex and always be standing just out of the spotlight, secondary and inferior and in the background. You know, right where you belong...
"Hell no. It's never over for them [Republicans] until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.
“They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them--they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all--the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.
“Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president--Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a...Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal.
“Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?”
It’s searing, it’s punchy, it’s emotional, and it lines up with almost everything you’ll read in serious journals of foreign affairs (The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The Christian Science Monitor, The Financial Times).
September 21, 2004
From Monday night's Letterman show, which was very funny when read by Kerry:
Kerry's "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals" are:
10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.
9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.
8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.
5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.
3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.
2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."
1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.
In Japan, 1,000 paper cranes has become a worldwide symbol of peace, demonstrating the power of a single person to create change. According to Japanese myth, the gods will grant the wish of one who folds 1,000 paper cranes...
"I wasn’t surprised by Bush’s economic policies, but I was surprised by the foreign policy, and I think he was, too,” Gore told me. “The real distinction of this Presidency is that, at its core, he is a very weak man. He projects himself as incredibly strong, but behind closed doors he is incapable of saying no to his biggest financial supporters and his coalition in the Oval Office. He’s been shockingly malleable to Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the whole New American Century bunch. He was rolled in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He was too weak to resist it.
"I’m not of the school that questions his intelligence,” Gore went on. “There are different kinds of intelligence, and it’s arrogant for a person with one kind of intelligence to question someone with another kind. He certainly is a master at some things, and he has a following. He seeks strength in simplicity. But, in today’s world, that’s often a problem. I don’t think that he’s weak intellectually. I think that he is incurious. It’s astonishing to me that he’d spend an hour with his incoming Secretary of the Treasury and not ask him a single question. But I think his weakness is a moral weakness. I think he is a bully, and, like all bullies, he’s a coward when confronted with a force that he’s fearful of. His reaction to the extravagant and unbelievably selfish wish list of the wealthy interest groups that put him in the White House is obsequious. The degree of obsequiousness that is involved in saying ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’ to whatever these people want, no matter the damage and harm done to the nation as a whole—that can come only from genuine moral cowardice. I don’t see any other explanation for it, because it’s not a question of principle. The only common denominator is each of the groups has a lot of money that they’re willing to put in service to his political fortunes and their ferocious and unyielding pursuit of public policies that benefit them at the expense of the nation."
September 4, 2004
Big news here in Colorado is that we've officially become a "swing state" (rather
than a "leaning Republican" state), with
polls now running even at 47/47% Kerry/Bush! Here's the map:
and Newsweek (9/6) has its 'spotlight' on Colorado, some of this in part because we
have a strong Dem Senate candidate who is also Hispanic running for Ben (ethics-problems) Nighthorse-Campbell's
open seat (Ken Salazar, vs....Pete Coors)
So, a new Kerry campaign office is opening up, almost in my neighborhood (just south of Denver), today! And
the most hopeful moment of my week is when I finally got my Kerry/Edwards sign up on my lawn, and many
neighbors in my mostly conservative neighborhood are coming out of the woodwork with thumbs up, including
my next-door neighbor, an older retired man, flag-flying, conservative, traditional... who simply can't
stand the Bush administration's policies & wants a sign for his lawn.
August 31, 2004
A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican
by Donna L. Lavins and Sheldon Cotler
Joe gets up at 6:00 AM to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot with good, clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan. Because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast -- bacon and eggs this day. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
Joe takes his morning shower, reaching for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount that is contains because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and the breakdown of its contents. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer meets these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get worker's compensation or an unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should loose his home to temporary misfortune.
It's noon time. Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification (those rural Republican's would still be sitting in the dark).
Joe is happy to see his dad, who is now retired. Joe's dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to. After his visit with dad, Joe gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives. After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
In the years to come, Joe's life will change dramatically. The U.S. dollar will be devalued as a result of our huge deficit, our living standards demolished, our standing with the world diminished and our social security gone...all because some conservative republican made sure he could take care of himself and his buddies.
August 23, 2004
Here's a rather stunning litany of George W. Bush lies, all with links to facts if you click
through, courtesy of The Poor Man blog:
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then … we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
I finally saw Farenheit 9/11, waiting a bit, since I don't do sold-out movie theaters for anything, and it was sold-out most of the time for the first
week or two here, in 4 Denver area theaters.
I feel the same way about this movie that I do about Bowling for Columbine -- everyone should see it, and then discuss it honestly somewhere. After, of course, checking into those facts that they may not believe (recommend the FAQs on Moore's site, or most anywhere else).
I didn't see much in the film that I wasn't already aware of, but put all together it's very powerful. (And is there anything on earth creepier than watching John Ashcroft sing his eagle song?) The college-age kids I know are even going to see it, just to see what's so "controversial," and that's a great thing. But the real question to discuss at the end, which is not easily answered, especially if you've read things like this very interesting day Web site about the timeline of 9/11, is an opened-ended "What the hell...? What do you believe has really been going on? What is this all about? Incompetency? Money? Oil? Religion? Just a bunch of hawks? Some neocon vision of gaining a democratic foothold in the Middle East, conveniently swung into place following our "new Pearl Harbor"?
"This is a great country of great traditions. And all this 'threats against marriage' - now, I don't know how my colleague feels about it, I've been married for 42 years and I can tell you I know a lot of people with long-term marriages. They are not threatened when two people who happen to be the same gender move down the street, and care about each other, and visit each other in the hospital. This does not threaten their marriages. And I think if someone is threatened, if their marriage is threatened by this, they have deeper issues they have to deal with."
And, here's one of the best quick-read political/media sites on the Web, Media Matters, run by David Brock, former right-wing propaganda-guy, now reporting daily on the amazing, though untrue, things that are said via the right-wing media.
And last but not least, here's the Draft Bruce (Springsteen) movement!
June 10, 2004
LEAHY NAILS ASHCROFT: THE MOTHER OF ALL LITANIES
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, speaking to Attorney General John Ashcroft in a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Tuesday:
Mr. Attorney General, welcome. It's been, I believe, about 15 months to pass since your last very brief appearance in March last year. Your testimony here comes today about 1,000 days after the September 11th attacks, and the subsequent launch of your efforts against terrorism.
As National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged in her testimony before the 9/11 commission, the terrorist threat to our nation did not begin in September 2001. But the preliminary findings of the 9/11 commission suggest that counterterrorism simply was not a priority of your Justice Department prior to September 11th.
Problems ranged in your department from an understaffed foreign translation program, woefully inadequate information systems, cultural attitudes that frustrated information sharing across agencies. Just one day before the attacks, on September 10th, you rejected the FBIs request to include more money for counterterrorism in your budget proposal.
And while you have recently been critical of the so-called wall between criminal investigators and intelligence agencies, you did nothing to lower it during your first seven full months in office.
In fact, you put up exactly the same wall in your administration.
The president is fond of saying that September 11th changed everything, as if to wipe out all missteps and misplaced priorities of the first year of this administration. After the attacks, you promised a stunned nation that its government would expend every effort and devote all necessary resources to bring the people responsible for these crimes to justice. Certainly the American people would expect no less.
So a thousand days later and it is time to ask for the fulfillment of the promise you made.
Mr. Attorney General, your statement lists accomplishments of the Department of Justice since 9/11, but you leave out a number of things.
For example, of course the obvious, Osama bin Laden remains at large.
At least three senior Al Qaida operatives who helped plan the 9/11 attacks are in U.S. custody, but there has been no attempt to bring them to justice.
The Moussaoui prosecution has bogged down before any trial.
A German court acquitted two 9/11 co-conspirators, in part because the U.S. government and Justice Department and others refused to provide evidence to them.
Three defendants who you said had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks did not have such knowledge. The department retracted your statement and then you had to apologize to the court because you violated a gag order in the case.
The man you claimed was about to explode a dirty bomb in the U.S. had no such intention or capability, and because he's been held for two years without access to counsel, any crimes he did commit might never be prosecuted.
Terrorist attacks on Capitol Hill and elsewhere involving the deadly bioterror agent anthrax have yet to be solved, and the department is defending itself in a civil rights action brought by a man who you probably identified as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation.
U.S. citizens with no connection to terrorism have been in prison as material witnesses for chunks of time, and then, "Oops, I'm sorry," when what the Justice Department announced was a 100 percent positive fingerprint match turned out to be 100 percent wrong.
Non-citizens with no connection to terrorism have been rounded up seemingly on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, held for months without charges, and in some cases physically abused.
Interrogation techniques approved by the Department of Justice have led to abuses that have tarnished our nation's reputation and driven hundreds, if not thousands, of new recruits to our enemies to terrorism.
Your department turned a Canadian citizen over to Syria to be tortured. And then your department deported another individual to Syria over the objection of experienced prosecutors and agents who thought he was a terrorist and wanted to prosecute him.
And one of the most amazing things, your department, under your direction, has worked to deny compensation to American victims of terrorism, including former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime. You have tried to stop former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein -- Americans -- you tried to stop them from getting compensation.
And documents have been classified, unclassified, reclassified, to score political points rather than for legitimate national security reasons.
Statistics have been manipulated to exaggerate the department's success in fighting terrorism. The threat of another attack on U.S. soil remains high, although how high depends primarily on who within the administration is talking.
Mr. Attorney General, you spent much of the past two years increasing secrecy, lessening accountability and touting the government's intelligence-gathering powers.
The threshold issue, of course, is -- and I believe you would agree with me on this -- what good is having intelligence if we can't use it intelligently. Identifying suspected terrorist is only a first step. To be safer we have to follow through.
Instead of declining tough prosecutions, we need to bring the people who are seeking to harm us to justice. That's how our system works. Instead, your practices seem to be built on secret detentions and overblown press releases.
Our country is made no safer through the self-congratulatory press conferences when we're facing serious security threats.
The government agency that bears the name of justice has yet to deliver the justice for the victims of the worst mass murder in this nation's history.
The 9/11 commission is working hard to answer important questions about the attacks and how the vulnerabilities in our system that allowed them to occur, but it can't mete out justice to those involved. Neither the 9/11 commission nor this committee can do the work of your Department of Justice.
Mr. Attorney General, since September 11th, you blamed former administration officials for intelligence failures that happened on your watch. You've used a tar brush to attack the patriotism of the Americans who dared to express legitimate concerns about constitutional freedoms. You refused to acknowledge serious problems, even after the Justice Department's own inspector general exposed widespread violations of the civil liberties of immigrants caught up in your post-September 11th dragnets.
Secretary Rumsfeld recently went before the Armed Services Committee to say that he, he Secretary Rumsfeld, should be held responsible for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners on his watch.
Director Tenet is resigning from the Central Intelligence Agency. Richard Clark went before the 9/11 commission and began with his admission of the failure that this administration bears for the tragedy that consumed us on 9/11.
And I'm reminded this week, as we mourn the passing of President Reagan, that one of the acts for which he will be remembered is that he conceded, that while his heart told him that the weapons for hostages and unlawful funding of insurgent forces in Nicaragua should not have been acts of his administration, his head convinced him that they were, and he took personal responsibility.
We need checks and balances. As much as gone wrong that you stubbornly refuse to admit. For this democratic republic to work, we need openness and accountability.
Now, Mr. Attorney General, your style is often to come to attack. You came before this committee shortly after 9/11 to question our patriotism when we sought to conduct a congressional oversight and ask questions.
You went before the 9/11 commission to attack a commissioner by brandishing a conveniently declassified memo and so unfairly slanted a presentation that President Bush himself disavowed your actions.
So I challenge you today to abandon any such plans for the session. Begin it instead by doing that which you have yet to do: talk plainly with us and with the American people, about not only what's going right in the war on terrorism -- and there are those things that are going right -- but also about the growing list of things that are going wrong, so we can work together to fix them.
Let's get about the business of working together to do our job, a better job of protecting the American people and making sure that the wrongdoers are brought to justice, are brought to trial and are given the justice that this country can mete out.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
June 9, 2004
From James Carville:
"Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be dammed if all those things didn't come true."
It's pretty hard to beat the "Hero. Zero." ad for Kerry right now, when pictures are worth far more than a thousand words -- click through on the picture to see hundreds of items
available that support the Democratic Underground.
Senator John McCain's Letter to Sinclair Broadcast, regarding their preemption of Nightline's
show honoring troops killed in Iraq
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued the following letter today to Mr. David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, in response to the preemption of this evening's Nightline program:
I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair's ABC affiliates to preempt this evening's Nightline program. I find deeply offensive Sinclair's objection to Nightline's intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.
I supported the President's decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision. But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.
There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.
These are the official statements from Bush & Kerry:
"The president believes we should work to build a culture of life in America and regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, we can all work together to reduce the number of abortions through promotion of abstinence-education programs, support for parental-notification laws and continued support for banning partial-birth abortion."
"John Kerry believes that women have the right to control their own bodies, their own lives, and their own destinies. He believes that the Constitution protects their right to choose and to make their own decisions in consultation with their doctor, their conscience, and their God. He will defend this right as President. He recently announced he will support only pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court. Kerry also believes that we should promote family planning and health plans should assure women contraceptive coverage."
April 25, 2004
death red white & blue
hope falls tonight
... How does the president think history will judge him for going to war in Iraq?
“After the second interview with him on Dec. 11, we got up and walked over to one of the doors. There are all of these doors in the Oval Office that lead outside. And he had his hands in his pocket, and I just asked, ‘Well, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war,’” says Woodward.
“And he said, ‘History,’ and then he took his hands out of his pocket and kind of shrugged and extended his hands as if this is a way off. And then he said, ‘History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.’”
the palestinians are carrying a man on tv
whose forehead has been blown open by a bullet
the finnish man said in the war
he saw a man gaping open, his stomach blown away
and the ribs and the backbone and muscle
showing like a butchered animal's
another man described a young kid
whose face had been blown apart
people opened like flowers
their dripping petals flying
in the twirling wind
the spring of their lives
Here are Salon's 10 recommended questions for Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday when he goes under oath before the 9/11 commission, including the rather amazing #5 --
5) Beginning in the summer of 2001, Ashcroft stopped flying commercial airlines and traveled exclusively by private jet because of an FBI "threat assessment." What, exactly, did the threat assessment say? Why is the threat assessment still being withheld from the public?
...which probably won't get answered, since it seems that this is photographic evidence of what John Ashcroft's brian is obsessed with(little porn people warning, almost x-rated).
April 8, 2004
The following is a speech I imagine Sen. John Kerry giving to announce his choice of a running mate
Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you today to speak of an America at a crossroads.
Internationally, we face a threat from brutal, psychotic thugs who, though mostly unheeded in their own countries, still hope to use terror to export a twisted, religiously-based version of fascism. We face global environmental and economic threats that will only succumb to the most difficult kind of cooperation, cooperation among peoples from different stages of development, with differing goals and aspirations and beliefs, and we face that threat at a time when America’s reputation as a leader for peace and democracy and stability is in tatters, squandered by reckless adventurism.
Domestically, we have a country that is bitterly divided between those on the left and right, with competing voices that beat and batter good sense and our better angels. We have a country that is deeply in debt due to reckless spending, and a country in which individual citizens are themselves sinking further and further into debt, our jobs insecure as they are exported, our health insurance, if we have any, at risk, the schools our children attend hostage to political quick fixes and federal mandates.
We arrive at these crossroads led by a man who is, at his core, dishonest about the way he conducts the government’s business. He does what he wants, when he wants, and damn the facts, and damn the consequences, and damn anything but what benefits his wealthy friends. His instinct is to dissemble and hide. He doesn’t trust the leadership of other countries, he doesn’t trust Congress, or the states, or the cities, and worst of all, he doesn’t trust the American people.
My friends, I am sorry to say that we arrive at these crossroads in our long, great history led by a man who wishes to turn the reigns of government over to the worst among us, men and women who will savage our civil liberties, men and women who believe in a cramped, nasty and brutal view of human nature and the great American experiment. A man who believes that fear is the greatest motivator.
We deserve better, and we must have better if our great country is to continue to be a shining city on a hill, if this generation is going to make America a better place for the next generation.
That is why I stand before you today to announce that I have asked Senator John McCain of Arizona to be my running mate, and that he has accepted my invitation.
Senator McCain is a man of profound integrity. He is an honest, decent and deeply serious man, a man who has served and sacrificed for his country, a man with strong beliefs who knows when to compromise, and when not to compromise. We disagree about much, Senator McCain and I, but we have come to agree about the most important thing: a strong America, here and abroad, needs both parties working together. We need an America in which the conversation is honest and intense, but polite and respectful. We need an America where those who disagree with us are not demonized and at this critical time in American history, we need an America in which both left and right, both Democrat and Republican, are working together for the good of all of us, an America where the voice of the people, and not just the privileged, is heard again.
Senator McCain and I will spend the next four months in this campaign bringing our vision of that America to you, and if you trust us with your votes in November, it is our pledge to you that we will govern honestly and openly, that we will cross party lines and bring dignity and respect to the public debate, and that we will dedicate our service in government to working together to make this country great.