Friday, March 31, 2006

POLITICS - Has Bush Himself Forgotten

In the article "Plan goes awry" by Gene Lyons, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, asks......

But has Bush himself forgotten? That’s an interesting question.

His question is about the Bush response to another question asked by Helen Thomas ("85-year-old doyenne of the White House press corps") at the much televised press conference the other day.

Thomas: Why did you really want to go to war ?

Bush: He launched into a familiar soliloquy about how 9/11 changed everything, how he’d vowed to protect the American people and how “the Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qa’ida."

Thomas: I’m talking about Iraq.

Bush: I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass [U. N. Resolution] 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.... [We] worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him.

Lyons continues....

Alas, this is false. Regardless of his other sins, Saddam did admit United Nations inspectors. Surely even the most perfervid Bush supporters recall the weeks leading up to the March 2003 invasion when self-styled patriots mocked U.N. weapons experts led by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix and Moroccan nuclear arms expert Mohamed ElBaradei. U. N. teams visited sites all over Iraq, finding no sign of forbidden weapons of mass destruction before Bush began his “shock and awe” bombing campaign.

It is then he asks the question above, and.....

It’s hard to know how deeply the visible world affects the president’s ideological obsessions. The New York Times has quoted British government memos depicting Bush telling Prime Minister Tony Blair in January 2003 that he was determined to invade whether U. N. inspectors found Iraqi WMD or not.

Once again, however, most of the White House press gave Bush a free pass, exactly as they did in July 2003, the first time he made the false claim about Saddam stiffing U. N. inspectors.

I remember the UN Inspectors having to leave Iraq when King George started his "shock and awe" war.

Bush and his conservative cadre have accused liberals, and any nay-sayers, of trying to rewrite history. But just who is doing the rewriting? Do we have a President whose idealogical obsessions distort the history he sees? You bet.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

POLITICS - Much Ado, About Bush

In the essay by Ken Grandlund, "Much Ado About Many Things" he states:

Yet with so much in my favor, with so much good fortune on my side, why is it that I am so angry at what our country is becoming; at what it has become? This is a question posed often in various ways by conservative commenters and writers who fail to see not only what is changing in America, but also how it is that we got to be so advantaged in the first place.

Just one of the many questions posed by conservatives and his answer.....

Why do you hate America?” Why haven’t you been listening? Really listening. Just as no one is perfect, neither is America. Yet in normal times, it is her imperfection that gives her charm and strength. But in times of duress, which is what we entered when planes were used as cruise missles and our government decided to go all squishy while the POTUS had one to many Napoleonic dreams, we can not simply sit back and marvel at our own good fortune. For as government becomes more and more separated from the people, our individual good fortunes will eventually falter. Our collective good times will end if this path is not altered. If you really love America, you wouldn’t sit by and idly accept every lame excuse from the mouths of liars. You wouldn’t profess admiration or fealty to men and women who discard our most important secular documents of all. If you really love America you’d be right here beside me too.

You should read the full essay to appreciate view in full.

I, of course, am in agreement. His Highness, G.W. Bush does have a Napoleonic complex. His slip during his 2000 campaign, that things would be easier if he were a dictator, was a flash into the deepest recesses of G.W. Bush's mind. And then there's the ultra-right-conservatives are whole hearted members of his army. An army set to remake America into their image and to hell with the rest of us.

YOUR VOTE - Votes, the Currency of Democracy

In the article "The Currency of Democracy" by Paul Jacobs , OpEd News, has an interesting opening.

Votes are the currency of democracy, but casting a ballot is far more precious than any monetary transaction. All political power is inherent in the people and that is the core value of the vote. The reason millions of dollars are invested in political campaigns is to capture our votes. We fail to recognize the worth of this treasure we hold and are allowing democracy to be electronically swindled away.

Running a clean election is based on a simple precept: Vote in private; count in public. The secret ballot protects the voter from outside intimidation to afford the freest expression of democracy. Counting votes in public ensures total transparency for security and accuracy in the tallying. Paper ballot systems are vulnerable to tampering at 5 points of entry, but they are inherently reliable and secure because of the simplicity and transparency of the process.

Josef Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.” New York Republican Congressman Peter King paraphrased Stalin when caught on video weeks before the November 2004 election saying, “It’s over. The election’s over, we won. It’s all over but the counting and we’ll take care of the counting.”

Interesting, especially the last paragraph. He is, of course, pointing out that many of today's electronic voting systems have yet to provide the transparency that democracy requires to assure the voter and the public that elections are aboveboard. That is, each vote is accurately counted. Most fundamentally, a paper trail. The most frequently stated excuses are the expense of providing printouts or it would be technically difficult.

BS! I am a Computer Systems Specialist, PC & Mainframe, and I know that these excuses are just that, excuses. Here are examples of how a paper trail could be implemented.

  • Done any grocery shopping lately? Know those small printers that are internal or external to the cash register? A cash register can provide a "paper trail" of your purchases but electronic voting systems cannot!?
  • Not every electronic voting machine needs to have an individual printer. You could have a voting system where 2 or more machines are connected to a common printer (have a network printer at your job?) and these voting machines could print there.
  • Vote Printouts can be done twice or use carbon-copy; one for the individual voter to verify; the other goes into a ballot box, the contents of which, could be use for vote verification or recount.
  • A more suffocated Voting System could have a central PC with certified software running the voting system at the voting place, with the voting booth containing just a terminal, have printer or printers connected for paper trail to voter, the data hard drive (where the actual voting data is kept) be a lockable & removable one. This hard drive would be picked up after the Polling place closes, by certified people with the key, and taken to the Registrar of Voters for the area, where the data would be read and counted and reprinted. This would be the most expensive option in the short run. Note the security issue with the hard drives is the same as using paper ballots and boxes.

As to the cost issue, just what is the worth of your vote?

You have to decide, but don't let the corporate interest who make the electronic voting systems dictate what your vote is worth.

POLITICS - What Would You Do, What Should You Do?

The article "What would you do if you saw your nation going fascist?," by Gary G. Kohls MD, Online Journal Contributing Writer, is so to-the-point, I post it here in its entirety.

Mar 28, 2006, 01:23

Okay, so you call yourself a patriot. But what exactly do you think that word means?
Is it the patriotism that says, “My country, right or wrong?” Is it the patriotism that says, Might makes right? Is it the patriotism of Samuel Johnson who defined it as “the last refuge of the scoundrel?”

Is it the patriotism of the 16th century Protestant “reformers” who believed that every leader of any “Christian” nation was ordained by God, no matter how much that leader promoted the satanic mass slaughter of fellow children of God, and, therefore, Christians were to be unconditionally obedient to that leader? (See Psalm 137.)

Or are you the type of patriot that loves your country so much that you won’t let tyrants or the super-rich or the mega-corporations take it over out of their greed for more power and wealth? Are you the type of patriot that is willing to have a lover’s quarrel with your beloved country that may be temporarily under the control of those that are close to being indicted as international war criminals?

In order to find out which type of patriot you might be, you should read the following “hypothetical” situation; and then you can judge for yourself.

Suppose you are a white, God-fearing, church-going citizen in a country that prided itself on its inventiveness, its literacy, its art, its culture, its glory in past wars and its superpower status, and suppose you saw your democratic institutions and the human rights of your neighbors being degraded by the lawmakers of your nation.

Say that you saw a bunch of powerful legislators and corporations, who lied consistently to enrich themselves and who were obsessed with the desire to wage aggressive war. Say that they started to grab control of our country’s legislature, judiciary and military. Say these cunning politicians, with the support of ruthless financiers, gained control of the highest office in the land -- without winning the majority vote in any fair election -- and started taking away, in rapid succession, the rights of many of its minority citizens, declaring left-wing peacemakers traitors, purging anti-fascists and other resistance groups from their positions of power, eviscerating its democratic institutions, silencing the “liberal” sectors of the press, working to weaken and eventually violently destroy all political opposition, censoring or usurping the open-minded media and marginalizing and silencing the artists, the poets, the writers and the creative thinkers.

You would be in 1930s Germany and the tyrants would have been Adolf Hitler’s cunning henchmen. And what would you have done in that situation?

If you were an average white, affluent, employed citizen, with all the privilege and power granted to you by that majority status, you would have said virtually nothing in opposition, even as the rights of the Nazis targeted minority groups were legally being taken away, disappearing into the gulag of prison and mental institutions.

As an average Bible-believing Christian, you would probably have obeyed your German war-supporting bishops or pastors, almost all of whom had pledged a solemn oath of loyalty to the Fuhrer, duty-bound to follow him instead of their “Lord and Savior,” the nonviolent Jesus of Nazareth. Because of an out-of-context single passage in the Epistle to the Romans you, as an obedient German Christian would have been inclined to obey St. Paul and therefore the existing rulers in Berlin in the time of crisis rather than courageously and faithfully following Jesus, who forbade homicidal violence, said that all are equal in the eyes of God and that the followers should love -- instead of kill -- their enemies.

If you were an average white lawyer, physician or psychiatrist, you would have joined the Nazi Party, for doing otherwise would have jeopardized your practice. And you would have kept your mouth shut when witnessing the anguish of your Jewish, Slavic, Gypsy, socialist, liberal, or gay clients as they were forced to march toward -- and disappear into -- the concentrations camps and gas chambers.

But the question remains -- would you have been a good patriot? Or would you have been on the wrong side of justice by being obedient to the Fuhrer (“Leader”) and to the cloth flag (swastika) that symbolized his rule?

Knowing that any German citizen seen helping the “enemies of the state” was guilty of treason, on whose side would any of us have stood? Would we have taken the side of the innocents -- those oppressed or outcast -- or would we have stood with the fascists?

Knowing that revering the flag was regarded as a crucial act of patriotism would we have saluted along with the victimizers or would we have resisted?

On whose side would we have been, the freedom-fighting groups (labeled “terrorists” by the State) who were courageously and patriotically trying to save their beloved nation from fascism, or would we have been on the “safe” side with the militarists and corporatists and right-wing politicians who looked like they were going to be the winners? Our answer will reveal our politics -- and our theology.

Now fast forward to America 2006 . . . but that shouldn’t be necessary, for the point has been made.

God help us.

POLITICS - Time for a Bill of Particulars on Another George?

In "Time for a bill of particulars on another George" by Sam Newlund, Star-Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, he suggests that it is time to adopt a "Bill of Particulars" against today's "King" George, like our Founding Fathers did in the Declaration of Independence.

Here's his particulars for Mr. I-am-never-wrong G.W. Bush:

• He has used false information that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that threatened a mushroom cloud over this country as a reason for invading Iraq. (The war so far has killed more than 2,300 Americans; estimates of the Iraqi death toll vary wildly -- up to 100,000 or more, including women and children.)
• He has ignored most of our allies (the British are an exception) in starting this war, and turned admiration and friendship for America throughout the world to anger and disrespect.
• He has subverted law and the Constitution, eavesdropping on thousands of Americans in search of Al-Qaida terrorists. Many have been imprisoned without warrants, charges or attorneys and denied the right to challenge their detention in court.
• He has insisted that America does not torture prisoners, but photos taken at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, plus other evidence, have proved otherwise. He has claimed that rules against torture contained in the Geneva Conventions don't apply to many detainees.
• He has had people kidnapped, shackled and flown to dungeons in foreign countries that are known to practice torture, calling this scheme "extraordinary rendition."
• He has tried to subvert a Senate amendment designed to prohibit torture. First he vowed to veto it, then signed it when it was clear a veto would be overridden. But he attached a "signing statement" saying, in effect, that if necessary he would act as he pleased.
• He has sent American troops to war, at least until recently, without adequate body armor and protective shields for their vehicles.
• He has ignored advice from military experts that he sent far fewer troops to Iraq than needed.
• He has failed to plan adequately for managing the country once Saddam was toppled. Nor has he settled on an exit strategy.

Besides Iraq:

• He has pushed a series of tax cuts that give lopsided benefits to the rich, worsen the budget shortfall and shift the burden of deficits to our children and grandchildren. Last week the Senate voted to raise the debt limit to nearly $9 trillion, almost $3 trillion of which has been enacted under Bush.
• He has tried to begin "privatizing" Social Security (Congress has yet to approve) by allowing workers to divert some of their payroll taxes into stocks and bonds. But because current payroll deductions support current recipients, the diversion would create an immediate gap in the Social Security funds that would have to be replaced. Borrowing the replacement dollars would further bloat the national debt.
• He has pandered to the religious right, promoting its views on issues like abortion, contraception, sex education, same-sex marriage and "faith-based initiatives."
• He has severely restricted the use of federal dollars for stem-cell research that could lead to cures for life-threatening diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
• He has fostered an obsession with secrecy, more than any other recent president. He has weakened the Freedom of Information Act, making it harder for private citizens and journalists to learn what their government is doing.
• He has expanded the use of "executive privilege" to deny information to Congress, magnified claims of national security as an excuse for secrecy, and generally stonewalled requests for information.
• He has fallen far short of providing timely aid to New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities struggling to overcome the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita six months ago.
• He has abandoned the 1997 Kyoto treaty to reduce global warming by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, although the United States is the prime source of those gases. Ignoring science, he has claimed global warming is not fully proven.
• He has continued an energy policy relying heavily on oil, mostly from the Middle East. (But Congress has balked at drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.)

We cannot expect a Bill of Particulars from congress because the Repugs are in charge and they worship at "King" George's feet. After all, he Knighted them, right (pun intended)?

So, citizens?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

POLITICS - Slip of the Tongue Admitting Another Vietnam?

OK, here's the question, did G.W. I-am-never-wrong have a slip of the tongue that amounts to admission that Iraq has become a new Vietnam? A war without a definite end? A war that will not end until "we-the-people" say "enough!"

A reporter asked the tap-dancing Texan if, without tying himself to a specific deadline, he could at least assure Americans that all U.S. troops will eventually be withdrawn from Iraq. He couldn't. The man who mired his nation in a war of his own choosing more than three years ago allowed that while bringing home all the "kids" he's put in harm's way is "an objective," he'd leave it to "future presidents and future governments of Iraq" to figure out how to do it.

Read opinion then you decide:

"Bush's way out is staying the bloody course" by Marilou Johanek

Monday, March 27, 2006

POLITICS - Vermont

Lets hear it for Vermont. Hip, hip hooray! Way to go! Freedom rings, it's your state!

See "Right-wingers hate Vermont, and we don't care" by Randolph T. Holhut

POLITICS - The March to U.S. Theocracy

Want to read something really, really scary? Something out of a Stephen King novel?

See "Religion becomes U.S. public policy" opinion By Marie Cocco, WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP.

This is the chilling prospect laid out by Kevin Phillips, the one-time Republican operative and political historian who has made it his business of late to dissect the contemporary Republican Party’s firm hold on power. The most unnerving message of his latest book, “American Theocracy,” is that we who believe in facts or evidence, or that there must be some rational basis for public policy, are mistaken in our trust that objective truth or shared civic principal matters to those who gain power through the enthusiasm of religious zealots.

“Values are what society holds; what churches hold is theology and belief,” Phillips writes. Seen through this lens, the spectacle of Congress’ being called into session last Palm Sunday to pass legislation for Schiavo’s parents begins, oddly, to make sense.


When the fervently religious call the political shots, as they often do in the current Republican Party, religion becomes public policy.

Be forewarned!

More from another view.....

"The left will continue to accuse us of trying to 'Christianize America.' Because it can't debate us on the issues, it seeks to demonize us. But we are the inheritors of the faith tradition that is part of the fabric of America. We seek to return America to the Godly values espoused by leaders like Washington, Adams, Lincoln and Reagan. And we have just as much right to be actively involved in the political process as other citizens."

-- Pastor Rick Scarborough

"A specter is haunting America, and it is not socialism and certainly not communism. It is the specter of Americans kneeling in submission to a particular interpretation of a religion that has become an ideology, an all-encompassing way of life. It is the specter of our nation ruled by the extreme Christian right, who would make the United States a 'Christian nation' where their version of God's law supersedes all human law -- including the Constitution."

-- Rabbi James Rudin, "The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us" (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006)

"War on Christians?" by Bill Berkowitz

Friday, March 24, 2006

POLITICS - It's All About Oil

Get off it. All the carping, belly-aching and complaining about George Bush's incompetence in Iraq, from both the Left and now the Right, is just dead wrong.

On the third anniversary of the tanks rolling over Iraq's border, most of the 59 million Homer Simpsons who voted for Bush are beginning to doubt if his mission was accomplished.

But don't kid yourself -- Bush and his co-conspirator, Dick Cheney, accomplished exactly what they set out to do. In case you've forgotten what their real mission was, let me remind you of White House spokesman Ari Fleisher's original announcement, three years ago, launching of what he called,

"Operation Iraqi Liberation"

O.I.L. How droll of them, how cute. Then, Karl Rove made the giggling boys in the White House change it to "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the 101st Airborne wasn't sent to Basra to get its hands on Iraq's OIF.

"It's about oil," Robert Ebel told me. Who is Ebel? Formerly the CIA's top oil analyst, he was sent by the Pentagon, about a month before the invasion, to a secret confab in London with Saddam's former oil minister to finalize the plans for "liberating" Iraq's oil industry.

Greg Palast, The Guardian

POLITICS - More From "Compassionate" Conservatism

Here's an example of "Compassionate" Conservatism at work.

A first-time vote is expected on the Bush-backed legislation in the Senate health committee today. The bill is a dramatic departure from earlier versions of the proposal because it would allow any health insurer or HMO to ignore state Patient Bill of Rights laws including pending state protections that cap the amount of money that patients must pay out of pocket for care.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

Now that is real compassion for patients - NOT! The only compassion passion is to protect big-contributor HMOs.

POLITICS - What Americans Need To Decide

From Ken Grandlund's article "Special Anniversary: The Stamp Act" come the question in my title. Almost in entirity......

It was 241 years ago today that King George III and the English parliament enacted the Stamp Act on the American colonies, further setting the stage for our eventual Revolution and Independence.

For those who don't remember high school history (or were never taught it in the first place) the Stamp Act was enacted by the English in 1765 on the American colonists as a way to defray the costs of protecting the colonies and fighting the French in the French & Indian War. While not the first duty or tax levied in the colonies, the Stamp Act marked the first tax levied on goods that originated, and for the most part stayed in the colonies. It would require all paper (or similar) items that contained printed material to be embossed with an official stamp, or mark, at the cost of three pence per stamp. To the British rulers, this seemed like a reasonable cost to pass along to the colonists. The colonists, our forefathers, felt differently.

The big problem stemmed less from the tax itself than in the manner in which it was conceived and implemented. Remember the phrase "taxation without representation?" This is where it originated. The colonists were so incensed by the Act due to the fact that they had no input whatsoever on the why, how, and what of this new tax, and the fact that all the revenue raised would leave the colonies and head back to the English crown, despite the fact that the English were already working to strip the colonies of their resources, maintained martial law and the unwanted billeting of soldiers in citizens homes, and all around dismissed the colonists efforts at self rule and independence from a monarchy thousands of miles away.

The colonists revolted by not only by refusing to pay the tax proscribed by the act, but also by boycotting as many British goods as they could, which in turn created turmoil in England's economy as well as it's monarchs ability to maintain control over his territories.

In essence, the Stamp Act was one of the final straws heaped on the backs of colonists by what they saw as a despotic ruler who had no real right to rule in the Americas. We know less than 10 years later, the American colonies turned their revolt into revolution and began a war against the English for independence, a war that we won, solidifying our most basic beliefs into a country ruled by law, elective representation, and individual freedom.

Okay- the correlation for today? Where they fought against taxation without representation, today we must toil against representation without representation. Yes, you read that right. Our government today operates in a fashion not so unlike that of George the Third so many years ago. (It is ironic perhaps that this time, the despotism is being led by George II.) Our elected leadership no longer represents the interests of ordinary, average American citizens. They work for the corporations and special interest groups that yell the loudest. Politicians on both sides of the aisle don't make efforts to represent the mainstream of Americans, who are not so ideologically divided as we are made out to be. Sure, we have different ways to reach our goals, but those goals are pretty much the same- Liberty, Security, and Prosperity.

As the current administration, their rubber-stamping colleagues in Congress, and the ineffective and unwilling minority party continue to chip away at civil liberties and funnel tax dollars towards corporate benefactors, Americans need to ask themselves if this is the country that many hundreds of thousands have fought for and died for since the late 1700's. Americans need to decide whether the excesses and abuses of King George III are being mirrored by Boy George II. If they are, as I and many others suspect they are, it's time for another revolt in the streets of America. No need this time to take up arms though, we have a perfectly peaceful opportunity to turn the tide around.

Of course, he is referring to the November 2006 elections. How we vote can "turn the tide around."

POLITICS - Lip Service, Talk of Rich-Poor Divide

From a fellow blogger, Paul Jordan Sr., on "Lip Service"

Edwards (ex-VP candidate, Dem) claims that poverty is something he is dedicated to fight, "regardless of any political ambitions."

"I've talked about it throughout my political career, and will continue to fight for it and talk about it whether I'm involved in politics or not,"

Here we go with the "talk" word again. Do the Democrats really not understand that "talk is cheap". Have we not had Poor George II to teach us that? Or is this simply a John Edwards thing? I don't know, but in either case, I think it is safe to say, for the moment and for "conversation's sake", "Lip Service", even on an academic level, is not going to get the Dem's any closer than last time. The "Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity". Well, he got the "Opportunity", but I fail to see the "Work". Maybe that's where the "Poverty" comes in?

In other words, when will the "talkers" get off their duff and DO something?

POLITICS - Looking Back, Iraq & Neoconservative Predictions

Joe Conason, The New York Observer, article "Three Years Later, No End in Sight" is another reminder, especially to "neoconservatives," on just how wrong they got it.

Back then, popping open champagne corks while the carnage unfolded, the neoconservatives gleefully announced that anyone who had questioned this great expedition would be held accountable. Page after page of their punditry from the spring of 2003 was devoted to gloating, along with lengthy blacklists of the bad people who had expressed doubt about the wisdom of going to war. Honors would flow to the wise and courageous proponents of war, while the foolish and pusillanimous opponents would suffer eternal disgrace. And so on.


Meanwhile, confident predictions abounded in the conservative media. Democracy would flower, our enemies would wither, and those elusive weapons of mass destruction would be discovered either tomorrow or the next day. In The Weekly Standard, David Brooks, who soon moved on to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, offered an observation that now may be turned on him. No degree of humiliation, he sighed, would dissuade the war’s critics from their folly:

“Even if Saddam’s remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, ‘We were wrong. Bush was right.’”


Today, Mr. Brooks and his fellow neocons quarrel over the quagmire their movement made, seeking to shift the blame to scapegoats in the Pentagon and the press, and to refurbish themselves as critics of the President they once idolized. What they once considered a political watershed that promised them limitless power and influence has become a political disaster they are scurrying to escape.


As the intellectual cheerleaders for war, the neoconservatives knew perfectly well that there were many reasons to doubt the existence of Saddam’s fearsome arsenal and to doubt the rosy scenarios for a postwar Iraq. They angrily dismissed those doubts and beat the war drums louder.

Proven wrong on every count, they insist those arguments no longer matter, but they’re wrong about that too. The American people know they have been repeatedly misled, which is why they are turning their backs on this President and his war.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ASSAULT ON PRIVACY - IRS May Allow Your Tax Info to be Sold

Here we go again, another assault on our privacy in the name of profits. In the local TV News 8 "Consumer Alert" piece "IRS May Allow Your Private Tax Info To Be Sold" warns that the IRS may "loosen" rules on who can look at your tax return.

Yap, after all the ability for tax prepares (H&R Block and the like) to make more money is more important than your personal privacy.

The IRS wouldn't speak on camera, but it says the proposed regulation is a way to safeguard your personal information. It would require the tax preparer to now get consent before selling information to marketers and data brokers.

Robert Fellmeth with the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law though says the current regulation doesn't allow tax preparers to sell your information whether they have permission or not.

"It's gonna be very difficult to control," Fellmeth said. "Once you sell to the first buyer, the first buyer will be harder to control in terms of further disclosure."

Duh, no kidding.

You really think the industry is going to put the (so-called) consent form in big bold letters so the consumer is sure to notice it?

Do you think the consent is going to be worded like, "I hereby give permission for company-name to share my tax information with others outside of this company" or use the phasing, "I do not give permission for company-name to share my tax information" and do it in a signature-at-statement form?

From current evidence, the industry will NOT. They will bury the consent text, with a checkbox, in small print, on a big form; most likely the general contract or agreement for tax preparation. The default will be to give permission to share, unless the consumer specifically does not give permission (forgets or overlooks checking the checkbox).

Remember, industry's (not just tax preparation) attitude is nothing should hinder their ability to make profits. Not your privacy (including identity theft), not your safety, and not your health.

Lets pray; "Great god of profits, please bless us, give us more and more, may you bless us with ever more overflowing coffers, in the name of Greed, amen." ....NOT!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

VIEW FROM IRAQ - Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation

To ignore outside views, outside the USofA, is dangerous. We need to know how "they" see it if we are to know how to respond and if our policies are working.

With that in mind, I submit the following blog article and a telling quote from "Three Years" 3/18/2006

I remember as a child, during a visit, I was playing outside with one of the neighbors children. Amal was exactly my age- we were even born in the same month, only three days apart. We were laughing at a silly joke and suddenly she turned and asked coyly, “Are you Sanafir or Shanakil?” I stood there, puzzled. ‘Sanafir’ is the Arabic word for “Smurfs” and ‘Shanakil” is the Arabic word for “Snorks”. I didn’t understand why she was asking me if I was a Smurf or a Snork. Apparently, it was an indirect way to ask whether I was Sunni (Sanafir) or Shia (Shanakil).

“What???” I asked, half smiling. She laughed and asked me whether I prayed with my hands to my sides or folded against my stomach. I shrugged, not very interested and a little bit ashamed to admit that I still didn’t really know how to pray properly, at the tender age of 10.

Later that evening, I sat at my aunt’s house and remember to ask my mother whether we were Smurfs or Snorks. She gave me the same blank look I had given Amal. “Mama - do we pray like THIS or like THIS?!” I got up and did both prayer positions. My mother’s eyes cleared and she shook her head and rolled her eyes at my aunt, “Why are you asking? Who wants to know?” I explained how Amal, our Shanakil neighbor, had asked me earlier that day. “Well tell Amal we’re not Shanakil and we’re not Sanafir- we’re Muslims- there’s no difference.”

"We're Muslims - there's no difference." Sound familiar, like "we are Americans, regardless of what religion we practice or political party we belong to?"

We should be aware of views from Iraq citizens. We need to know what they think directly if we are to judge our government's policies and actions. The judgment is ours, but we need information that is not just from our side.

"Baghdad Burning" Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation

From another post at the same archive, article "Uncertainty..." 3/28/2006

I was trying to decide between a report on bird flu on one channel, a montage of bits and pieces from various latmiyas on another channel and an Egyptian soap opera on a third channel. I paused on the Sharqiya channel which many Iraqis consider to be a reasonably toned channel (and which during the elections showed its support for Allawi in particular). I was reading the little scrolling news headlines on the bottom of the page. The usual- mortar fire on an area in Baghdad, an American soldier killed here, another one wounded there… 12 Iraqi corpses found in an area in Baghdad, etc. Suddenly, one of them caught my attention and I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering if I had read it correctly.

The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.

That’s how messed up the country is at this point.

We switched to another channel, the “Baghdad” channel (allied with Muhsin Abdul Hameed and his group) and they had the same news item, but instead of the general “coalition forces” they had “American coalition forces”. We checked two other channels. Iraqiya (pro-Da’awa) didn’t mention it and Forat (pro-SCIRI) also didn’t have it on their news ticker.

But it also brings to light other worrisome issues. The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense can’t even trust its own personnel, unless they are “accompanied by American coalition forces”

It really is difficult to understand what is happening lately. We hear about talks between Americans and Iran over security in Iraq, and then American ambassador in Iraq accuses Iran of funding militias inside of the country. Today there are claims that Americans killed between 20 to 30 men from Sadr’s militia in an attack on a husseiniya yesterday. The Americans are claiming that responsibility for the attack should be placed on Iraqi security forces (the same security forces they are constantly commending).

All of this directly contradicts claims by Bush and other American politicians that Iraqi troops and security forces are in control of the situation. Or maybe they are in control- just not in a good way.

POLITICS - What Tomorrow Will Ask

Here's a thought provoking quote from a Leonard Pitts editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune, "Bush censure: Taking solace in a gesture of conscience"

I think tomorrow will ask how we could have shrugged off the very real possibility that the president broke the law. I think tomorrow will want to know how we could have meekly and quiescently allowed our civil rights to be abridged. I think tomorrow will be perplexed by our tolerance of obvious incompetence and brazen untruths. I think tomorrow will wonder how we could have turned blind eyes and disinterested ears to mounting evidence that the war in Iraq was predestined and Sept. 11 just a convenient pretext.

So readers, just what do you think "tomorrow" will ask?

Monday, March 20, 2006

UNBELIEVABLE - Dubai's $1.2 Billion Bid for U.S. Weapons Maker

I just cannot believe this, on top of the Dubai ports debacle they want a foreign government entity to run one of our weapons manufacturers?!!!

Do these idiots in Washington have a brain? Obviously not.

See "Dubai's $1.2 Bln Bid for U.S. Weapons Maker Delayed"

Now we get to see if Congress is also brain-dead.

POLITICS - Iraq War's Pollyanna Pundits

"Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Suggested reading: FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) article "The Final Word Is Hooray!" Remembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna pundits is most definitely heart warming I-told-you-so.

POLITICS - Pre-Iraq War Planing NOT

In last Friday's PBS News Hour piece "BROOKS AND OLIPHANT" (weekly pundit review) included scathing remarks on the pre-war planning for Iraq criticizing both the Whitehouse and the media.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, the book (Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq) is gripping reading, infuriating reading. You want to throttle Donald Rumsfeld and -- and Tommy Franks in particular, but a lot of other people, including the president and the vice president.

What you see is, first of all, how much they stifled debate. There were a series officers who knew better, knew what was going on. And, as -- as Gordon mentioned, one of them was -- they tried to fire. A lot now regret they didn't say something in meetings, because the atmosphere was so stifling of free debate.

And then the other thing you're -- you are furious about is that, as -- as the authors said, March 24 comes along. They are hitting resistance in Nasiriyah. They -- it's time to adjust. They never adjusted. It is not only people in the military who knew they had to adjust. I went back and looked at the punditry from columnists.

Everyone was saying: This is a guerrilla war. It's no longer against the Republican Guard. We need more troops. The colonels who sat at this table, sitting here, thousands of miles.

JIM LEHRER: I remember that. I remember that.

DAVID BROOKS: Colonel Lang, Colonel Gardiner. I think Anderson was here.

JIM LEHRER: That's right. That's right.

DAVID BROOKS: And they -- I went back and read those transcripts. They were saying it.

You didn't have to be some super-secret agent to know what was going on. It was in the papers. It was on TV. Everybody knew it, it seems, but Rumsfeld and Franks, because they had some preconception of the war they were going to fight, and they didn't adjust to reality.

TOM OLIPHANT: And the reason it's so important, because there are going to be more books than this, as this -- these -- this and other -- these and other questions get examined more -- is that -- that the feelings that Andy Kohut was talking about, with regard to the war, people are going to be able to find morsels of information that are very likely to solidify these feelings, rather than to question them.

David is absolutely right. Before, during and after the invasion, you can find the dots, not connecting them. There is no question that David is right about the fault at the top levels of the administration, but, frankly, what I find most interesting is how you can apply this analysis to our own conduct in the press.

And there's no question in my mind that we got sucked along in this atmosphere and didn't really do the kind of questioning job we are supposed to do.


JIM LEHRER: About the point that General Trainor just made to Margaret, that the -- the military just saluted and did not -- Shinseki, for instance, General Shinseki, became a kind of a folk hero.

We pleaded with General -- everybody in the press pleaded with General Shinseki to come and do an interview. And neither none of -- neither he, nor any of the others in the military would ever speak out publicly.

TOM OLIPHANT: However...


TOM OLIPHANT: And -- and there was a -- a tip-of-the-iceberg quality to some of this information, including the -- the punditry that David is citing.

The follow-up job that the press exists to do and that we did not do in this war involves -- you hear the number 400,000 troops, for example, which General Shinseki did not say in open session, by the way. It was in a closed session.

JIM LEHRER: He just said -- he just said several hundred -- several hundred thousand.

TOM OLIPHANT: Several hundred. But he actually used a number in closed session...

JIM LEHRER: In the closed--

TOM OLIPHANT: -- I'm told.

And it didn't come off the top of his head. It came as a result of almost formulas that are used in the military to calculate what you need after something like this.

JIM LEHRER: As they just went through--

TOM OLIPHANT: And there -- that is just one example of an opportunity that we in the press had to develop a story from a tidbit, which, after all, is what we -- what we do in this business.

Humm.... Food for thought?

POLITICS vs SCIENCE - Climate Change "Rewriting The Science"

In 60 Minutes piece "Rewriting The Science" last Sunday is the perfect example of this Whitehouse, and the insiders from industry, purposely misleading the Congress and the people.

You have to read or view the piece to believe just how they mislead us, including our own Congress, and just how much the Whitehouse is in the pockets of industry. In this case the energy industry as represented by the heavy editing of climate reports were co-written by Rick Piltz for the federal Climate Change Science Program by Phil Cooney.

Piltz says he is responsible for editing the report and sending a review draft to the White House.

Asked what happens, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."

Asked who the chief of staff is, Piltz says, "Phil Cooney." Piltz says Cooney is not a scientist.

"He's a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House," he says.

The piece actually shows the draft, with many, many hand written changes by Cooney. All the charges slant the report to make climate change much less immediate and, more importantly, to protect Cooney's handlers (the energy industry). Example...

In a report, Piltz says Cooney added this line “… the uncertainties remain so great as to preclude meaningfully informed decision making. …”

I encourage readers to read or view this piece.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

POLITICS - So Sad, So Very Sad

Form "Guardsman's name missing from memorial-Widow of man killed in Afghanistan awaits recognition of Wiccan symbol" in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart gave his life for his country when the Chinook helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan in September.

But those wishing to honor Stewart, who should have his name on the memorial wall at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, would have a difficult time.

The space reserved for Stewart is vacant. Stewart was a follower of the Wiccan religion, which is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Stewart's widow, Roberta, said she'll wait until her family's religion -- and its five-pointed star enclosed in a circle, with one point facing skyward -- is recognized for use on memorials before Stewart's plaque is installed.

She does have a real problem and it's a sad comment on the VA bureaucracy.

Ref: VA - "Emblems of Belief Available For Placement on Government Headstones and Markers"

You can bet if anyone tries to have the Wiccan emblem added to the "approved" list, the Religious Right zealots (foaming at the mouth) will mount a national campaign to prevent "Satan worshipers" (which the Wiccans are not) being recognized and added to the list. In addition, I would not be surprised to see these zealots demonize this women directly.

POLITICS - On Corruption

The article "That old-fashioned corruption" by Geov Parrish of Working For Change, is a long diatribe on just what corruption is, and is worth reading. But the key paragraphs are....

....most longtime creatures of the Beltway, only sees "corruption" in terms of elected officials breaking the laws written by…elected officials. But that will always be only a bit of the very tip of the iceberg, such a small part of the problem as to be essentially irrelevant. Washington itself is corrupt. All of it. Every elected official wins office through an elaborate system of legalized bribery called campaign donations and quid pro quo, and every single law passed or not passed and signed into law by the federal government is the product of the judgment (and both political and monetary interests, which are basically interchangeable) of the people amoral enough to have already been bribed into office. Most of whom are focused from the moment of that election on raising money for the next election, often from the same corporations and industries they oversee, write bills for, and vote on other bills regarding.

It's hard to imagine a more corrupt system. It's far worse than wheelbarrows full of money, because they don't make wheelbarrows large enough to contain the sort of cash that gets someone elected to Congress (let alone the presidency). We live in an electronic age, and compared to the amount of money a corporation can make from favorable legislation -- sometimes billions of dollars -- wiring money to buy a few Congressmen is astonishingly cheap.

That's corruption....

He is, of course, correct and as he says both parties are guilty. When any politician has to raise as much money as our present system requires to be elected in the first place, and then get reelected, corruption will raise its ugly head.

We, the people, must demand a solution and be willing to support it. The only viable one is public financing of election campaigns. We have to take the corrupting influence of big-money out of our political system so politicians can pay attention to the people rather than the dollars.

POLITICS - Iraq, Three Years Later

The Baltimore Sun Op/Ed by G. Jefferson Price III, "Three years later, they hope you'll forget the truth" is another reminder of what President G.W. Bush did to launch the Iraq war. I have already posted much on this issue, but the last paragraphs of Price's article are worth quoting.

The message has not changed much since the shift from weapons of mass destruction. The president repeated it yesterday. "By helping Iraqis build a democracy," he repeated, "we will gain an ally in the war on terror. ... We will inspire reformers across the Middle East. ... We'll bring hope to a troubled region, and this will make America more secure in the long term."

If those had been the reasons given for going to war three years ago, we would not have invaded Iraq.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

POLITICS - Suppression of Descent

From "Fifth Columnists" by Geov Parrish, Working For Change.

"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," says New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller. Remember, it was Keller's decision, in fall 2004, to sit on the NSA warrantless domestic spying story all through the November election -- and for over a year more after that -- that may well have given George Bush another term. When Bill Keller is crying wolf, you know things must be getting bad.

Keller's comment, coming from a newspaper wed to the hip to the country's political and economic elites, shows just how sweeping and dangerous is the Bush administration's secrecy fetish, its anger over leaks (including aggressive investigations to find and prosecute the whistleblowers who revealed the illegal NSA program and the equally illegal existence of a gulag of secret CIA prisons), and its hostility toward any and all critics, particularly those in the news media. "Critic," in this case, extends to anyone who reports or comments upon unflattering news the White House would rather not see publicized.

Heir G.W. Bush now only needs to have his congressional puppets pass a stronger "enabling act" (stronger than the so-called Patriot Act) and he can have his own official SS to protect his nation, i.e. from any criticism of his policies.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

POLITICS -In a Nutshell

In "The Right and the Left, in a Nutshell" by Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor The Crisis Papers, he defines "Regressives" and "Progressives" which I have not though about, but are very informative. These definitions are worth examination. I present excerpts but encourage readers to see the whole article.

The Regressives:

To begin, it is important to note that the regressivism that controls and supports our present government is not a unified political doctrine. Rather, it is a coalition, some factions of which are in strong disagreement with others, most notably “the libertarian right” and “the religious right.”

In general, most regressives tend to believe that the ideal society is merely a collection of autonomous individuals and families in voluntary association. In fact they assert that strictly speaking, as Dame Margaret Thatcher once proclaimed, “There is no such thing as a society -- there are individuals and there are families,” and Ayn Rand, “There is no such entity as ‘the public’ ... the public is merely a number of individuals. ” It follows that there is no such thing as “public goods” and “the public interest,” apart from summation of private goods and interests. Moreover, there are no “victims of society.” The poor choose their condition; poverty is the result of “laziness” or, as the religious right would put it, a “sin.”

Each individual, by acting to maximize his or her personal self-interest, will always act “as if by an invisible hand” (Adam Smith) to promote the well-being of all others in this (so-called) “society:” that which is good for each, is good for all. Accordingly, the optimal economic system is a completely unrestricted and unregulated free market of “capitalist acts by consenting adults.” (Robert Nozick) Moreover, private ownership of all land, resources, infrastructure, and even institutions, will always yield results preferable to common (i.e. government) ownership and control. Finally, the regressives firmly believe that because economic prosperity and growth are accomplished through capital investment, the well-being of all is accomplished by directing wealth into the hands of “the investing class;” i.e. the very rich, whereby that wealth will “trickle down” to the benefit of all others.

The Progressives:

“Progressivism” is essentially the “liberalism” of most of the twentieth century, as promulgated by both Roosevelts, by the Kennedy Brothers, and by many Republicans, such as Dwight Eisenhower, Jacob Javits and Earl Warren. "Progressivism,” to put it simply, is “liberalism,” free of the slanderous connotations heaped upon it by contemporary right-wing propagandists.

In contrast to the regressive, the progressive regards society not as an aggregate of autonomous individuals but as an “emergent” entity that is more than the sum of its individual human components. In this sense, a society is like a chemical compound such as table salt or water: substances with properties that are separate and distinct from the properties of their component elements. It then follows that there are “social goods” and “public interests” that are demonstrably separate from the sum of private goods and interests. Moreover, there are genuine “victims of society” who are in no way responsible for their suffering and poverty. (The illegitimate child of a teen-age heroin addict did not choose her parents. The decision to “outsource” a job was out of the hands of the worker who loses that job).

Because society (or “the public”) is demonstrably distinct from the sum of its component individuals, behavior that might be good for each individual, may be bad for society as a whole; and conversely, what is “bad” for the individual (e.g., taxes and regulations) may benefit society at large. These fundamental precepts: “good for each, bad for all” and “bad for each, good for all” are of essential importance to the defense of progressivism, and by implication to the refutation of regressivism.

The progressive is not “against” free markets, but rather believes that in the organization and functioning of society and its economy, markets are invaluable servants. But markets can also be cruel masters. Thus, in the formulation of public policy, markets should count for something and even for much, but not for everything. There is a “wisdom” of the marketplace, but that “wisdom” is not omniscient. Adam Smith was right: each individual seeking his own gain might act, “as if by an invisible hand,” to the benefit of all. But as Adam Smith also observed and regressive economists tend to forget, there is a “back of the invisible hand,” whereby self-serving action by each individual can bring ruin upon the whole....

Using these definitions, I have to conclude that I'm a Progressive, and that "the familiar 'liberal vs. conservative' dichotomy is a hoax." A hoax that Regressives in control of today's Republican Party use to keep and gain more power and demonize all opposition.

POLITICS - Conscience of a Conservative

From Conscience of a Conservative By Ernest Partridge Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

This insight comes into focus as I explore the full implications of Websters’ definition of “Conservatism” -- “preserving what is established” and the “disposition to oppose change in established institutions and methods.”

According to this definition:

A Conservative cherishes and defends the founding documents of the American Republic – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Accordingly, a Conservative defends free expression – in speech, the press, assembly – as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Additionally, a Conservative insists upon due process and protection of the individual from excesses and abuses of law enforcement. In particular, the Conservative opposes “unreasonable searches and seizures” (Fourth Amendment), double jeopardy, and self incrimination (Fifth Amendment), and “cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth Amendment). In addition, the Conservative affirms “the right to a speedy and public trial” and the right to confront accusers and “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” (Sixth Amendment).

While respecting the doctrinal differences amongst religions, the Conservative endorses “traditional values” that are taught by all the great world religions: tolerance, mercy, charity, compassion, moderation, peacemaking.

Conservatism vs. “conservatism”

I suspect that the reader might sense where all this is leading.

There seems to be a disconnect between the Conservatism here described (in part), and the program of a political faction that chooses to call itself “conservative,” but which I prefer to call “right-wing” and “regressive.”

For example, the Founders might look somewhat askance upon the restriction of free expression evident today in the corporate media, and upon the retaliation upon individuals who exercise this right – individuals such as Phil Donahue, Tim Robbins, Bill Maher, the Dixie Chicks, and other citizens who choose to ignore Ari Fleischer’s warning to “watch what they say.”

Nor would the Founders be pleased to learn of the “Justice Department’s” violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights of several American citizens – violations upheld by “conservative” appellate judges.

About these clear and explicit violations of the founding principles of our Republic, the (so-called) “conservatives” are generally unperturbed. Moreover, the aforementioned “traditional values” – tolerance, mercy, charity, compassion, moderation, peacemaking – are not conspicuous in the behavior of many self-described “conservative” individuals, nor in the policies of the allegedly “compassionately conservative” Bush Administration.

He goes on with more examples of the disconnect. Today's super-right, religious-bigoted, Republicans are not really conservative. They only want to conserve and maximize their own power, and the power of the super wealthy individual and big business (read contributers).

They only pay lip service to caring and supporting the lower and middle economic classes so they can get their vote. After gaining office, they proceed to squash or tare down any and all protections for these voters, and erect protections and supports for the already wealthy and big business.

The really sad thing is the lower and middle class continue to fall for this gambit.

Monday, March 13, 2006

POLITICS - Abortion, My Own Stance

After my previous article "One Man's Abortion Story" I realized that I should state my own stance on this hot issue.


  • I am a true-blue Agnostic. Though I "know" The Almighty (my personal designation for God, which reminds me and others who I am talking about) exists, but I believe all religions to be human inventions and thereby faulty. For me, there are just too many contradictions in the world's religions to support any one religion as consecrated by The Almighty.

  • Also, I personally don't need another human to act as a go-between, between me and God. I consider books like the Christian Bible (in all its numerous versions), Torah, or the Koran, as "Good Books" written by men as a dialog on man's relationship to The Almighty, but not as edicts from The Almighty.

  • So, on the abortion issue. First I do not like the idea of abortions in general but can see the need if a woman's life is in danger. As to the areas dealing with rape and incest, I do have misgivings.

Having said that, on an ethical level, I believe the following:

  1. (I glance down to check) Yap, I'm male, so how can I justify telling women what to do when it comes to abortion? I cannot be denied that this is primarily a female issue.

  2. When does a fetus become a human being. The Pro-Life side believes at conception but I have no proof that is the truth, and they have only their faith.

  3. Abortion may kill a fetus but a living mother can have another.

  4. To birth a child, to bring it into the world, at the core is a female issue. It is a convenient between women and The Almighty. You, me, the State (local, state, or federal government) have no business judging this convenient or defining it. As to religions, they can only provide guidance to their followers, but have no right to force others to believe as they do.

That is what makes me Pro-Choice, which is not Pro-Abortion. It is for women to choose and not anyone else no matter their moral stance.

Friday, March 10, 2006

UP CLOSE - One Man's Abortion Story

Ken Grandlund's blog article "One Man's Abortion Story" is a very poignant personal story that I highly suggest reading in full.

It is his very personally involved story on the issue of Abortion. It is both heart braking and heart warming. He ends with the following two paragraphs, which I leave you with.

I said earlier that I stand behind a woman’s right to choose. Behind, instead of beside, because they have the uterus and the matter affects them directly and not me. Behind so that I can beat back those who break through the front line, who manage to tear a hole in the wall that women have created to protect their rights. Behind, because that is where support is needed.

Every tale about abortion is personal, and I have never really talked about this part of my life in this detail. I don’t really think about it often, although the recent furor over abortion has forced this back to my mind, especially the current discussion here at this site. But when I do think about what happened all those years ago, I know that the choice we made, that she made, was the best choice at that time. Instead of ending one life, she saved three. And she was able to do so because the law said she could. It is a law to preserve the life of the living. It touches the foundations of freedom. And men, we should all fall in line behind our women and fight to make sure it remains that way.

Ladies, you are not alone.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

POLITICS - Could It Be? What IS Scary

The article "Perfect Knowledge, Perfect Ignorance" Patricia J. Williams of The Nation came up with a very scary idea.

At a symposium I attended the other day, some of the speakers were pondering the nature of citizenship in the wake of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. What does public office mean to an Administration whose response has been such a casual one to the single worst natural catastrophe in the nation's history? It occurred to me, as the seminar participants sifted through racial and political history for precedent, that the Bush Administration has been quite straightforward about its lack of commitment to civic responsibility: Bush always promised he would run the country like a corporation, and so he has (even if the corporation that springs to mind is Enron). In business ethics good corporate leaders are beholden first and foremost to their investors and trustees, not to the public at large.

If one sees this particular set of politicians less as representatives of popular decision-making and more as trustees of a free-market enterprise, then everything else about this Administration makes a lot more sense. Outsourcing the military to the oil industry is logical. Axing Social Security and Upward Bound as unprofitable frills makes sense. The Lower Ninth Ward will make an attractive golf course, so why "incentivize" the return of low-rent residents? Lobbyists pay to play. Money speaks in the most literal way.

Humm.... Now that is scary, very scary, having people like this in charge of our nation.

POLITICS - Twilight's Last Gleaming

The opinion article "Twilight's Last Gleaming" by John Cory of "Scoop Independent News" is mostly a rant against the Republicans, but also contains something for Democrats.

Who are these people? These people who sit in spineless silence unable to speak in defense of America? These people who mime the words of our founders, afraid to act with independence? Who utter the words "We concede," instead of "We the People?" These are the people who lie down - Democrats.


When it comes time for voting, here is what I will remember: the silence.

If there is a voice for America, let them speak now. Let them speak for the poor women who not only will find abortion illegal, but will not be allowed birth control and contraceptives. Let them speak for the old and infirm who will not be able to have healthcare and cost-effective drug prescriptions. Let them speak for true family values of providing for our veterans and protecting our troops with proper body armor and ending a false war so no more loved ones have to die for a lie.

But most of all, let them now speak up for the one precious gift that is America - Freedom. Freedom of speech - Freedom to dissent - Freedom from illegal domestic spying. Freedom, sweet freedom for which our fathers, brothers, and sisters have fought and died for over the past 230 years!

Hunter S. Thompson warned, "Big dark coming soon." Big dark is here.

He is, of course, correct. In the last few years I have wondered if the Democrats have any backbone. They do have a stand but seem unwilling to really fight for it.

John ends with a statement that exactly reflects my sentiments; "Democrats, you want my vote? Earn it! Get up off your ass and take a stand."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

TECHNOLOGY - Example of Buy, Buy Technology

Wired News - "TV's Flat New World":

Television as you've always known it is about to be history. Just weeks ago, President Bush signed into law a piece of legislation that will require all television broadcasts in the United States to use digital signals, rather than the old analog VHF/UHF signals we've received on our tubes for the last few decades -- and make the change by Feb. 17, 2009.

"At some point, the analog waves are going to get shut off, so the government mandate will definitely matter to the consumer," says John Revie, vice president of visual displays for Samsung.

No kidding!

The reason I'm blogging this is that I've read articles in the past on today's consumerism. To boil it down, there are two basic types of consumers:

  • People who have to always have the latest and "greatest"

  • People who buy only when necessary (old one dies, a new function makes the new one worth it, etc.), put me in this category

So, in a few years this consumer driven technology will most likely have manufacturers doing away with the analog tuner TV and providers will also follow by not providing analog signals.

So the consumer industry will be doing Hi-Fives while we are forced to buy a new digital compatible TV or monitor/receiver.

Aghhhh! My TV's have always lasted 15yrs or more, work just fine, looks great (I have a Sony 42") for my viewing distance. Now the industry is soon to force me to toss a perfectly good TV just because of new technology. By the way, I do use Cox Cable but not their box. My Sony already is 160+ channel capable and all I need is the Cox Enhanced Cable option.

Lets all chant: Oh, god of Consumerism, Buy, Buy, Spend, Spend (pat your wallet twice), repeat

Monday, March 06, 2006

POLITICS - "America, We Have a Problem"

In an article by Brian Morton of the Baltimore City Paper, "As They See It" he has a quote from Washington Post's Dana Milbank.

Milbank cited the 14-year-old law that requires all sales to state-owned companies, such as the one to Dubai Ports World, that may affect U.S. national security to undergo a 45-day review process. The review, of course, was never done.

Milbank picks up the testimony from there:

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who wrote the 1992 law, demanded to know “why that investigation was not carried out.”

[Sen. John] Warner [R-Va.] asked Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt to “clarify.”

“Senator,” Kimmitt told Byrd, “we have a difference of opinion on the interpretation of your amendment.” The administration, he said, views it “as being discretionary.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), reading the statute to Kimmitt, said the law "requires—requires—an investigation.”

“We do not see it as mandatory,” Kimmitt repeated.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) grew irritated. “If you want the law changed,” he told Kimmitt, “come to Congress and change it. But don’t ignore it.”

“We didn’t ignore the law,” Kimmitt again maintained. “We might interpret it differently.”

How, one wonders, does the executive branch of a constitutional democracy get away with telling lawmakers that it doesn’t feel like being bound by duly enacted and fairly easy to understand laws? It is an act of breathtaking arrogance and gall from an administration that has frankly displayed no shortage of either commodity since George W. Bush first came into office in 2001 claiming that “we will show purpose without arrogance.”

People who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and its laws, now think they have the right to decide which laws they have to obey or interpret laws in accordance with their own wishes?!!! That "the war on terror" puts them above the law.

This is much more than just arrogance. This is breaking the oath of office, and treasonable. This is the attitude of dictators and totalitarian governments.

People of America, take heed. Your Constitutional freedoms are in grave danger.

Friday, March 03, 2006

POLITICS - Be Careful, They Can Spy On Emails of Non-Terrorists

In an article by Josh Gerstein, Staff Reporter, New York Sun, "Patriot Act E-Mail Searches Apply to Non-Terrorists, Judges Say" .......

Two federal judges in Florida have upheld the authority of individual courts to use the Patriot Act to order searches anywhere in the country for e-mails and computer data in all types of criminal investigations, overruling a magistrate who found that Congress limited such expanded jurisdiction to cases involving terrorism.

The disagreement among the jurists about the scope of their powers simmered for more than two years before coming to light in an opinion unsealed earlier this month. The resolution, which underscored the government's broad legal authority to intercept electronic communications, comes as debate is raging over President Bush's warrantless surveillance program and the duties of Internet providers to protect personal data.

A magistrate judge in Orlando, James Glazebrook, first questioned the so-called nationwide-search provision in 2003, after investigators in a child pornography probe asked him to issue a search warrant requiring a "legitimate" California-based Web site to identify all users who accessed certain "password-protected" photos posted on the site. The Web provider was not named in public court records.

Magistrate Glazebrook said that in passing the Patriot Act, formally known as the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, Congress made clear its focus was on terrorism. He said there was nothing in the language Congress adopted in the days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that suggested the nationwide-search provision should apply to garden variety federal cases.

"The statutory language is clear and unambiguous in limiting district court authority to issue out-of-district warrants to investigations of terrorism, and that language controls this court's interpretation. The government has shown no legislative intent to the contrary," the magistrate wrote. He also noted that many of the examples given during legislative debate involved terrorism. The then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, described the nationwide-search language as applying in terrorism cases, the court noted.

Magistrate Glazebrook denied the search warrant, but it was recently disclosed that the government appealed to a federal judge, G. Kendall Sharp, who granted it without explanation.

You bet there was no explanation, he didn't have any!

Glazebrook has to think that the (so called) Patriot Act is all encompassing and is not, nor ever was, limited to protecting the Nation from terrorism. Next, the SS come knocking at your door.

POLITICS - FDA Shields Drug Companies

Here we go again. The Bush Whitehouse at work protecting big-money over protecting consumers (the people).

In a UseNet post by Evelyn Pringle, "FDA shields drug companies from lawsuits" she has something significant to say. The following are excerpts.

She begins with.....

Last month, the FDA revealed its latest protective policy for drug companies in a statement that said people who believe they have been injured by drugs approved by the FDA should not be allowed to sue drug companies in state courts.

"We think that if your company complies with the FDA processes, if you bring forward the benefits and risks of your drug, and let your information be judged through a process with highly trained scientists, you should not be second-guessed by state courts that don't have the same scientific knowledge," said Scott Gottlieb, the FDA's deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs.

The agency's assertion of "federal preemption" was included as a preamble to its new drug labeling guidelines.

The claim of preemption was quickly attacked by trial lawyers and members of Congress as another effort by the Bush administration to limit the public's ability to bring and win lawsuits, according to the January 19, 2006 Washington Post.

"Eliminating the rights of individuals to hold negligent drug companies accountable puts patients in even more danger than they already are in from drug company executives that put profits before safety," said Ken Suggs, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

...which in itself says allot.

"The fact that the drug industry can get the FDA to rewrite the rules so that CEOs can escape accountability for putting dangerous and deadly drugs on the market is the scariest example yet of how much control these big corporations have over our political process," Mr Suggs told the Post.

In response to the FDA's announcement, Senator Kennedy issued a statement that said: "It's a typical abuse by the Bush Administration -- take a regulation to improve the information that doctors and patients receive about prescription drugs and turn it into a protection against liability for the drug industry."

The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that represents state lawmakers, accused the FDA of trying to seize authority that it did not have.

Over the past several years, lawmakers have been turning up the heat on both the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry in response to their combined failure to reveal problems found during studies conducted on top selling drugs like Vioxx.

At one point, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, came right out and accused the FDA of suppressing studies in order to protect pharmaceutical industry profits and the careers of certain FDA officials.

With all the other examples of the drug industry putting dangerous medications out on the market then we find out, after numerous consumers die or become ill, that the drug should not be on the market. Why, the FDA is more in the drug-promotion industry than consumer protection. No matter what they say, protection of the consumer is much, much lower priority than promoting and protecting the big drug companies.