Thursday, June 30, 2005

The "I" Word

So Zogby is out with a new poll that shows Bush received basically no bounce for his little stage show the other night and his approval numbers continue to tank. No surprises there. But what I find really interesting is that Zogby is asking about the "I" word: Impeachment. And even more encouraging is just how many people are thinking it:

President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.

[...]

In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.

[...]

A large majority of Democrats (59%) say they agree that the President should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, while just three-in-ten (30%) disagree. Among President Bush’s fellow Republicans, a full one-in-four (25%) indicate they would favor impeaching the President under these circumstances, while seven-in-ten (70%) do not. Independents are more closely divided, with 43% favoring impeachment and 49% opposed.


One in four Republicans favor impeachment if he lied about the war. Someone get these people a copy of the Downing Street memos quick! Independants are nearly tipping, and if they do, Bush better look out because there just won't be anything Karl will be able to say to save him at that point.

So for those who missed it, let's see if we can recall whether Bush has been truthful about our mission:
"Our mission is clear in Iraq.  Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament."
- Bush, March 6, 2003

"In Iraq today, our military is focused and unwavering.  We have an effective plan of battle and the flexibility to meet every challenge.  Nothing--nothing--will divert us from our clear mission."
- Bush, March 26, 2003

"Our forces have been given a clear mission--to end a regime that threatened its neighbors and the world with weapons of mass destruction, and to free a people that had suffered far too long."
- Bush, April 14, 2003

"Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all--to see the Iraqi people in charge for the first time in generations."
- Bush, May 24, 2004

"Well, as I stated earlier, the clear mission of the multinational force, and in particular, the United States military is to help the new Iraqi government stabilize a country, deal with the security threat, and help improve the lives of the Iraqi people."
- "Senior Administration Official", June 28, 2004

"The United States military and our coalition partners have made a clear, specific and continuing mission in Iraq.  As we train Iraqi security forces, we'll help those forces to find and destroy the killers."
- Bush, June 28, 2004

"Some of tomorrow's veterans are in combat in Iraq at this hour.  They have a clear mission: to defeat the terrorists and aid the rise of a free government that can defend itself."
- Bush, November 11, 2004

"And our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting; make sure they can stand up to defend their freedoms, which they want to do."
- Bush, June 2, 2005

"Our goal is clear: a democratic and peaceful Iraq that represents all Iraqis."
- Bush, June 24, 2005

"Our military strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their freedom and protect their people, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."
- Bush, June 25, 2005

"Our mission in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down the terrorists.  We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror.  We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East.  We are removing a source of violence and instability and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."
- Bush, June 28, 2005

Yes, Mr. President, that sure is a clear mission there that you've been honest about. No wonder people are using the "I" word.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Warning Label

I had to post this on this blog. Over at dKos a wonderful thing has happened. The Blogosphere has come to the aide of Christine Cegelis, and taken on her fundraising goal, stomping it into the ground. In under 90 minutes they raised over $3,000 for her campaign and put her over her goal of $100,000 in less than four months. Why is this important? This comment from "austinmayor" sums it up:
Before you donate money to the Christine Cegelis campaign, be aware of the message that you will be sending to the Democratic "leadership" in D.C.

You will be telling the leaders that the members of the Democratic party can decide for themselves who they will send to Washington.

You will be expressing the strength of grass-roots progressives as opposed to establishment party politicians.

You will let the party know that you fully support a brave candidate like Christine, a candidate who took on a petrified GOP fixture like Henry Hyde, backed only by some die-hard supporters and a willingness to work damn hard.

You will be saying that 44% against Henry Hyde matters, that driving Henry Hyde from the House of Representatives matters, that courage and hard work -- not connections and deep pockets -- matters.

So proceed with caution, because your contribution will send a very powerful message.

A truly grassroots, hard working Democrat of principals and values reached her campaign goals today. I wonder if the DCCC with notice yet, and finally start to support this worthy candidate, or if they will continue to look only to millionaire candidates with no constituent base or support other than their checkbooks.

Pony Up

It's time to put up or shut up. If you live in District Six, or even if you don't, it's time to support a candidate that represents what my blog is all about: Christine Cegelis. The FEC filing deadline is tomorrow. She's nearly reached her fundraising goal for the quarter. She is painfully close to meeting a goal that will require establishment types to stop ignoring her and start lending her some support. Christine is not the run of the mill, hand picked by the establishment, millionaire candidate that we've seen around here. She the genuine article and working her rear end off to make her campaign a success.

She's the type of representative I want in my district. Please adopt her and help her reach her fundraising goals. Contribute to the Cegelis campaign here.

Conversations with Christine

Last night I went to the Cegelis campaign's first "Conversations with Christine" event. The idea behind this series of community conversations is best summed up by the campaign:
Cegelis stated that, "Everyone's voice needs to be heard. Only by listening to people's stories and concerns will I be able to work with my neighbors in the 6th District to fulfill our dreams for our families and children."

With this in mind, the event was more about community interaction than passively sitting and listening to a canned speech by the candidate while eating the usual catered finger sandwiches. In fact, the audience was the center of the event, and an active participant, responding to three questions regarding protecting retirement security. Subsequent "conversations" will cover other topics like health, jobs, local economy, small business, and education.

Below, I have some of the dialog highlights that happened during the event. These are just the responses that caught my attention during the 90 minute event, and by no means an exhaustive summary as I just can't type that fast! The conversation and interaction between those in attendance was the highlight of the evening.

Question 1:
What should the government’s role in retirement security be? Should government provide a safety net? Should it involve Wall Street? Demand personal responsibility? What do you expect from your government?

Industrial and IT economy changes show a lack of planning in job creation. The engine of the economy creates the jobs. Where we are at now is that DC makes it easy for capital to go anywhere regardless of what that does to the economy or job creation. Look at our loss to Korea regarding Stem Cell research.

When we turn to other nations to fund our deficit, we allow nations like China to dictate where investment happens. Investment by other nations makes our nation reliant upon them.

In the past if you worked hard and played by the rules, your pension was assured. Times have changes. Now business looks only at bottom line. Government seems to be rewarding this behavior and forcing this view on how Social Security is handled.

It should be valuable to government to provide this type of insurance (Social Security) because it helps to keep people out of institutional programs (Welfare, etc). It is valuable to for society to keep seniors out of poverty.

Any changes to Social Security should focus on how do we preserve it for the generation to come. Not how do we make a quick fix.

There should be no cap whatsoever on contributions to Social Security. This may not play well with millionaires, but it is a matter of fairness and paying back a system that has allowed them to prosper.

When Bush says you are going to invest your money he fails to note several things. First 10% of Wall Street is personal investment. Unless you are savvy, study, and understand investment, Wall Street is kind of like Las Vegas.

We should encourage savings by exempting taxes on savings. This would be a boon to our nation. This would create more capital and more reserves for individuals when rough patches hit. Instead, under Bush’s privatization, even if you do well in the market, you still have to pay back any gains you’ve made to the system.

Question 2:
What should the individual’s role in retirement security be? Should they have to understand investing? Should individuals be able to opt out of Social Security? Who should they rely on? Themselves? The government? Pension providers? What should the individual’s role be?

Privatization approach is being pitched as some magic easy way to make money quickly.
Christine noted that when 401K plans first were introduced that they were sold the same way and that they were supposed to be superior to existing retirement plans.

There needs to be an educational approach as early as possible. On a national scale there needs to be an understanding of the different investment and savings options for retirement.

Maybe Wall Street isn’t the only place we should think about investment. Maybe we should look at community based investment. You could easily argue that Wall Street doesn’t have the interests of this nation or local communities at heart as they are bottom line driven. This promotes moving jobs and investment to any location that will increase profits, not strengthen the community.

Christine: So then should the role of government be to encourage local or community investment?

For example: The AFL-CIO looked into where their capital was invested. They found many of their investments did not support organized labor. The decided that any firm that backed Bush Social Security plan they would pull investment from. They used their own capital to support local and organizational labor needs.

Question 3:
What should corporate America’s role in retirement security be? Should they have any role? If they chose to have a role, can they change it in mid-stream? Who is responsible for making sure they fulfill their promises: the government, organized labor, individuals? What is their role?

Corporation’s role is to make money. That’s why their scruples don’t make as much difference to the individual. They are not in business for the individual. They are in business to make money.

We’ve set up a model where we are sending jobs to China, and all small business has to compete with China. Look at Walmart. When small towns/business compete with Walmart, Walmart wins and communities suffer. Small business can’t compete with China.

The role of Corporations should have some kind of vehicle helping to keep quality jobs in USA. Corporate and union responsibility needs to ensure good jobs stay in the community.

Christine: “One of the issues that got me off the couch was where are we going to provide jobs for the next generation? Every job that goes overseas is another job that isn’t paying taxes or supporting the social security system. This hurts our communities and our nation.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why Don't We Trust the Media?

I remember when I was still playing guitar and performing as a solo act, I did a lot of press releases and had regular interaction with the press. I remember getting stories in the local paper and a couple in the major daily papers where I lived. I also remember every story containing at least one misquote, one misstatement, and several factual errors. Atrios notes the treatment by "major" media is no different for him:
Not to get meta, but god I get annoyed every time my name pops up:
Duncan Black _ who founded the www.atrios.blogspot.com blog _ featured a headline Monday on his Web site, "Bite me, Congressman," that linked to a diatribe against a Republican House committee chairman over global warming.

First, it wasn't the headline, it was the content of the post. Second, it didn't link to a diatribe it linked to this rather non-diatribe like post by Chris Mooney. Third, it wasn't "over global warming" it was over a member of congress sending an intimidating letter to a scientist.

So we start off with a factual error, then a misquote, then a misstatement. Small world.

Stage Props

Remember the last time Bush used our troops as stage props on national TV?


That went well, didn't it? So here's asking: How many times do you think he'll say the following: "9-11" If I were a betting man, I'd guess 12 times, and I'd put the first mention of it at less than 30 seconds in.

Bush and Timetables

Clear exit strategies and time tables are important to Bush. When he isn't in charge and it's not his war of choice. From Political Wire via Think Progress:
George W. Bush, 4/9/99:
“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

George W. Bush, 6/5/99
“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

George W. Bush, 10/12/02
"I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious." -- Bush, in response to a question from Jim Lehrer, 10/12/00.

George W. Bush, 6/24/05:
“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”

So what's the reason for the flip flop, George? Ooh, ooh, I know this one: 9-11 changed everything! Before, when Clinton was President he should have had a clear exit strategy and set a time table for withdrawal. Now, post 9-11, the president (that would be Bush) shouldn't do that anymore! So why is it that the troops Clinton used have been withdrawn, and the troops Bush is using are still in Iraq? For a generational committment. And with higher casualties?

Say it with me everyone: "9-11 changed everything!" The Republican answer to everything.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dear Karl: Part III

We've heard from a 9-11 widow, Kristen Breitweiser. We've heard from a soldier in Iraq. Now it's time for Celeste Zappala, the mother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker who was killed in action in Iraq on April 26, 2004, to speak:
Yesterday I tried to call Karl Rove at the White House, you will not be surprised to learn that they were insulting and snippy to me and I could not get through to his office.  The comment line was as close as I got and  they were clueless as to why the switchboard would not transfer me to the public servant known as Mr Rove.

If I had reached him I would have asked him as he blathered about how anxious and proud the conservatives were who jumped at the chance to have a war, - where are they now on the streets of Baghdad? My son was a very liberal Democrat. When he signed up for the National Guard no one asked, when he was deployed no one asked his opinion or his politics, and after he lost his life protecting the people looking for those weapons of mass destruction, no conservative hawk came forth to take his place. Nor have they lined up at recruiters offices to answer the needs of our exhausted Army.

I hope Mr Rove will show his true colors and sign up for a guard unit, no one is too old now, Pennsylvania guards men in their 50s are serving. If he is too busy slandering half the people in this Country perhaps he could send a child he loves dearly to take my Sherwood's place?

So, what do you have to say for yourself Karl?

Dear Karl, Part II

This time, it's one of our fighting men writing from Iraq:
I'm writing you from [Location Withheld] Iraq, about 35 miles NW of Baghdad.. And I'm too tired to give Karl the verbal beating he deserves for his insults. I'm too tired because we're jsut a bit shorthanded over here, fighting his war for him. A war taht has made nearly every country in the world fear and distrust America, a war fought for a knowing lie dreamed up by Karl and his buddies, none of whom have ever heard a shot fired in anger, or helped pick up the parts of another human being after an IED blast.

[...]

Never insult me and my fellow liberals again, Karl. Watching a fat, hateful thing like you that has never faced any greater danger in your life than a long golf shot denigrate every liberal who has put on a uniform is more demoralizing than ten thousand speeches that uphold America's highest ideals from Sen. Biden or Byrd.

"A Fundraiser for Haliburton"

So Bush and Cheney and the rest say everything is going great in Iraq and the insurgency is in its "final throws." The majority of Americans disagree. But what do troops who are there think? Here is one's opinion:
The leadership says we're winning the war, that Hagel and others are wrong. I hate to tell you this. Mr. Hagel and Mr. Kennedy are right. We are losing. This IS a quagmire.... Almost every soldier I talk to says we're losing ... Every soldier that dies now is A NEEDLESS DEATH ... Including very conservative soldiers who are diehard Republicans ... About those who say that objections lower the morale of soldiers: We are calling our families back home and telling them... this is a fundraiser for Halliburton, KBR...."

Booman's got the links to MP3's of these actual voice mails left by troops calling home.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bush, In the White House, With a Pipe

According to 49% of Americans, Bush is the one who dun' it:
June 23, 2005--Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that President Bush is more responsible for starting the War with Iraq than Saddam Hussein. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 44% take the opposite view and believe Hussein shoulders most of the responsibility.

More responsible for war than Saddam. More. What will Karl have to say to now? Look for the terra alert to go to Elmo and evil doers to threaten the very safety of our malls any moment now.

Forget the Yellow Ribbon Magnet

Do you want to show your support for the troop in some real way other than some stupid yellow magnet on the back of a big ass SUV? Then try actually sending the troops things they need. From Nameless Soldier today at dKos:
There are several sites that can be used to reach soldiers who don't have family at home to support them.  Soldier's angels and Any Soldier are both good ones, and there are several more out there.  These websites are excellent because soldiers are able to register themselves and their units to recieve care packages from people who wish to send them, by unit gets 2 or 3 a week from these organizations.  Individual soldiers can also register with their email addresses if they wish to begin a relationship with an "adoptee."

I still can't believe that our soldiers have to rely on websites and donations like this. Parents buying body armor for their kids in the service is just beyond my comprehension. But that's how the Bush Administration supports the troops. We can't hold it against the soldiers in the field that their Commander in Chief is an idiot.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dear Karl

Who could put the smack down to Karl Rove better than Kristen Breitweiser, one of the 9-11 widows who has been quite outspoken in highlighting Bush and Republican hypocrisy. This is a must read:
More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.

For the record Karl, does Iraq have any connection to the 9/11 attacks? Because, you and your friends with your collective “understanding of 9/11” seem to be contradicting yourselves about the Iraq-9/11 connection, too. First, we were told that we went to war with Iraq because it was linked to the 9/11 attacks. Then, your rationale was changed to "Iraq has WMD". Then you told us that we needed to invade Iraq because Saddam was a "bad man". And now it turns out that we are in Iraq to bring them "democracy."

[...]

It was only after your invasion of Iraq, that Bin Laden's goals were met. Because of your war in Iraq two things happened that helped Bin Laden and the terrorists: al Qaeda recruitment soared and the United States is now alienated from and hated by the rest of the world. In effect, what Bin Laden could not achieve by murdering my husband and 3,000 others on 9/11, you handed to him on a silver platter with your invasion of Iraq - a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.


Which leads me to my final questions for you Karl: What are your motives when it comes to 9/11 and are you really sure that you understand 9/11?

I have absolutely nothing to add. Please share this with everyone you know. This should be required reading for every American.

The Democratic Difference

From the DNC's Kicking Ass we find that Rove was right. There is a difference between Democrats and Republicans:
Democrats
Believe capturing the person primarily responsible for the attack should be a top priority.

Republicans
It's been four years, and Osama bin Laden is still free, even though Bush's CIA chief says he knows where he is.

Democrats
Investigate the intelligence failures that led to 9/11.

Republicans
Do everything in their power to block the 9/11 Commission from doing its work.

Democrats
Propose creating the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans
Push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Democrats
Believe we should have stayed the course in Afghanistan, not allowing the Taliban to resurge, the warlords to take power, and the opium trade to skyrocket.

Republicans
Ignore Afghanistan as the situation worsens.

Democrats
Believe that we should be honest with our troops about the reasons we go to war, give them everything they need to be safe, and make sure we go in with an exit plan.

Republicans
Manipulate intelligence to trump up reasons to go to war, don't give our troops the support they need, constantly mislead the public about the direction the war is going, and fail to make an exit plan. And turn Iraq into the ultimate terrorist training ground.

Let's not forget that Republicans will use 9-11 for political gain, dishonoring those who died in the tragety. Democrats want to make sure another 9-11 never happens again.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Outrage Game

So this week, the Republicans and the Right (along with some idiot Democratic mayor who can't read) were all condemning Democratic Senator Dick Durbin for saying the obvious: Torture is not American.
If I read [the FBi description] to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Oh, the outrage! Durbin should apologize! Durbin is a traitor! Why? For daring to mention what the rest of the world is thinking? For speaking with dissatisfaction about the way the Bush administration is handling Iraq and their war on terror? Which, by the way, happens to be the opinion of the majority of Americans.

Nope. If you're Republican, it's just fine to insult the Democrats. It's even better to insult Liberals. So that's why when Durbin is questioning whether our treatment of "enemy combatants' is in keeping with American values, Karl Rove, Bush's chief advisor, is feeling free to question the patriotism of Liberals:
Rove, in a speech Wednesday evening to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, said, “Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” Conservatives, he said, “saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.”

That's right Karl. Conservatives, like your boss, prepared for war with the wrong country after 9-11. By the way Karl, where's Osama again? Is he in Iraq yet?

But this is only one of several comments of late that pass as perfectly acceptable to these people. Earlier this week, on the floor of the Senate, we learned from the Republicans that Democrats are waging a war on Christianity:
Washington, DC: During a debate today surrounding an amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) to fully examine allegations of proselytizing and religious intolerance at the United States Air Force Academy, six-term Republican Rep. John Hostettler (IN) rose to assert that "Democrats can't help denigrating and demonizing Christians." [Rush transcript.] Rep. Obey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, interrupted Hostettler's deeply disturbing remarks and demanded that they be formally retracted; Hostettler ultimately agreed to retract one sentence from his diatribe.

Earlier in his remarks, Hostettler discussed the drive by Democrats to erase every "vestige" of Christianity from America; he also prefaced his remarks by noting that "The long war on Christianity today continues on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Now there's a statement based on facts. I wonder if any pundits will ask whether he should apologize. Oops. Forgot. He's a Republican, so never mind. Then there's the guerrilla war by Democrats against our troops:
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who joined Pryce at the press conference, told Cybercast News Service that it "is just inconceivable and truly incorrigible that in the midst of the war, that the Democratic leaders would be conducting guerrilla warfare on American troops.

Do these guys actually listen to themselves? Do they have any idea how idiotic they sound? Why not just start telling everyone that Democrats eat babies and kill kittens. Or would that be too close to home for Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist?

Even Vice President Cheney can't be civil or act like a grown up. Last year he told Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to "Fuck off" on the floor of the Senate. Now just last week he's childishly insulting Howard Dean:
"I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does. He's never won anything, as best I can tell," Cheney said in an interview to be aired Monday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."

Not only does this sound like a 3rd grade insult more suited to the school yard than the Vice President of the USA, but it's not even close to factually accurate. Last time I checked, Dean was elected Governor a few times in a row, and president of the American Governor's Association. But that's OK. Dick is a Republican so it doesn't matter.

So what do the people most affected by 9-11 have to think about Rove's liberal comments? From the Families of September 11th:
As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative, or any liberal stakes a "high ground" position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive. We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.

People like Rove are not patriotic. They are not interested in the troops, the war on terror, or Osama. All they care about is power and they'll use anyone and anything - even the attacks on 9-11 - to secure their power.

Support the Troops, Not Their Spouses

So you've used up all your sick time caring for your epileptic son and gone through your vacation time seeing your husband off to Iraq. But now he's home on leave for a week before being deployed again. Would your employer:
A: Give you additional time off to allow you to be with your husband before he's sent back to Iraq.

B: Allow you to work extra shifts to make up for taking time off to be with your husband before he's sent back to Iraq.

C:Refuse to give you the time off no matter what, and fire you for taking time off to be with your husband before he's sent back to Iraq.

If you've worked for McClane Cumberland for ten years, the answer is "C."
A Jessamine County woman is looking for work after being forced to make a tough decision - take two days to spend time with her husband on leave from Iraq, or lose her job.

Shirley Blankenship thought 10 years of service at McClane Cumberland, a distribution company, was enough to get her a couple of days off to be with her husband David before he returned to Iraq.

[...]

Finally, Shirley said she decided that, no matter what, she would take the last two days of her husband's visit off. "I even asked to work a double shifts," she said. "You know, came in and worked on a Friday because I don't work on Fridays. Nothing seemed to (work)."

Blankenship was was fired Tuesday. She said that while she's upset, she knows in her heart she made the right decision.

"I called from the airport, so my husband knew I had lost my job," said Blankenship. "So he was really upset about it. But he said we can deal with this."

Support our troops! Freedom isn't free! It's just that no one is willing to pay the price. Even simple ones like this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Honoring Iraq War Dead Illegal

Unbelievable:
Since Mike Norton, of Layton, began displaying the pictures of American soldiers killed in Iraq on an illuminated sign in his front yard, his home has been vandalized, cars have stopped in front of his home and honked horns in the early morning hours and he has received anonymous harassing phone calls.

Now the city of Layton has gotten into the act.

Norton, who was told by a city official last winter that the sign in his yard did not violate zoning ordinances, received a letter from the Layton City Attorney's Office recently informing him that, upon further review, the sign does violate the ordinance and he would have 10 days to take it down.

The sign currently contains 1,715 postage-stamp-sized pictures of each dead soldier that Norton downloads from CNN's Web site. The number is updated whenever there is a new casualty. Above the pictures is a large bold-faced headline denoting the latest number of Americans killed in Iraq. Next to the sign is an American flag.

Norton says that by day, many people, including veterans, stop by and thank him for keeping the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families in the public eye. But by night he is harassed by anonymous antagonists, including one who shined a spotlight into his 6-year-old daughter's window.

The letter, from Layton Assistant City Attorney Stephen Garside, said the city inspector who told Norton six months ago that his sign was OK used the wrong code section in reviewing the sign.

Norton responded by telling the city to cite him, because he could find nothing in the code to indicate a violation and, he noted, the city code specifically exempts memorials. His sign is a memorial to the soldiers.

Norton has obtained an attorney and is prepared to fight. "I will go to jail before I will pay a fine for displaying a sign that honors the war dead," he said.


I just don't get it. These Chickenhawks want everyone to think the war in Iraq is clean and sanitary; a nice shoot-em up video game where no one gets hurt. So our guys go over there and bravely do their duty. Some pay the ultimate price for their service. This guy puts up a memorial to our fallen soldiers and he's harassed? His house vandalized? His family terrorized? The city cites him for zoning violations?

True patriotism there boy.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rice's Generational Iraq Timetable

Never mind what Bush and his administration said about how Iraq would be a slam dunk and we'd be out of there in "weeks rather than months." Now that we are there we are there for a generation. Condi Rice on Fox News Sunday says so:
The administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq.

This isn't the first time she's said this either. On August 7th 2003 at 28th Annual Convention of the National Association of Black Journalists she basically said the same thing:
Now that Saddam's regime is gone, the people of Iraq are more free, and people everywhere need no longer fear his weapons, his aggression, and his cruelty. The war on terror will be greatly served by the removal of this source of instability in the world's most volatile region. And Saddam's removal provides a new opportunity for a different kind of Middle East.

But if that different future for the Middle East is to be realized, we and our allies must make a generational commitment to helping the people of the Middle East transform their region.

This has been the President's clear and consistent message.

Well this is generational commitment is news to most people - including some of the Bush Administration's top people. From Think Progress:
Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/16/03:
[M]y belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly. . . (in) weeks rather than months

Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03:
It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

Former Budget Director Mitch Daniels, 3/28/03:
The United States is committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid…

So who's lying here? My guess: All of them.

The New Conservative Bogyman: Fonts

Here's what really bothers me deeply about Conservatives: they think they are morally superior in every way. What's more, because they think they are morally superior in every way, they think that they can apply this moral superiority to every single topic whether they know anything about or not. It's like some bad episode from some 1950's TV show where the theme of the story is "silly children, adults know what's best. Now eat your asparagus."

This lack of understanding of what they are talking about is what makes their application of moral perfection to everything so maddening. Abortion, stem cell research, birth control, patriotism. Even font selection. Via Billmon, The Citizen Journal, a conservative political forum, has an example of applying Conservative moral perfection to the modern evils of "decadent fonts":
AND YET THE ALTERING OF FONTS strikes everyone as much more benign. The digital age has made a font for every mood no longer the province of the monastery or the tenth-grade art class. We all know which styles of lettering look “scary,” “technological,” “elegant,” “childish,” or “authoritative.” Half of the ugliness in a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building, or a Federal agency in Washington, is the spare, squat, sans-serif font of the letters used to identify it. Contrast such a font with the fine, chiseled lines of, say, the Supreme Court or the Treasury. There one reads culture—skill wrought by the practiced human hand—with all the sophistication of shape and style that communicates an ennobled social message about aesthetic virtue.

I'm a designer. I love type. This paragraph illustrates that this author is more interested in pushing his version of moral perfection than understanding both the aesthetic and utilitarian nature of typography. There's a reason the typeface used for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building is different from that of the Supreme Court. Any idiot can figure out that these two buildings have radically different purposes and aspire to radically different potentialities. The Water and Power building is a place of basic functional needs; a utilitarian building made to economically provide and maintain a basic human services. Hence it uses a utilitarian san-serif font with no frills, easy readability, and efficient features. The Supreme Court obviously is national in focus, has impact on the very core of government, and aspires to transcend the rule of law in the service of humanity. Somehow, I just don't think Helvetica would do in this instance.

But of course, since Conservatives are morally perfect, the author continues to explain that not only are "decadent fonts" a canary foretelling the downfall of our society, but they are the reason for our poorly behaved children:
The still-accelerating decision by, say, restaurants—fast-food restaurants particularly, but now, increasingly, sit-down joints as well—to print their children’s menus or their titles (“Kidz Only,” etc.) in “kid-like,” zany fonts reflects a conscious and ultimately business-based determination that the presentation of products for children will be more profitable if that presentation is anchored by visual cues that communicate certain characteristics or psychologies. In the case of kids’ meals, the broad consensus is that children ought to be marketed to by visual cues that depart as much as possible from “adult” (i.e. “boring”) typographical styles. Uniform, consistent fonts executed with professional and aesthetically refined style are particularly unfashionable.

But wait. “Kid-like” fonts? “Boring” typefaces? What moral and cultural judgments about the nature of juvenility are impacted in those phrases? Inescapably tied up in the business judgment that children will be more likely to buy (or will be more successful in pestering their parents to buy) products marketed with zany or deliberately outrageous fonts (or misspellings) is a broader, psychologically informed norm that says children ought to be or are inherently zany and deliberately outrageous...

AS FAR AS “KID FONTS” GO, one can see that the new norm, conveyed by the font-choice version of “coloring outside the lines,” has been permitted—and encouraged—to extend itself into the actual physical behavior of the children themselves. Regularly, predictably, we are treated to the invasive spectacle of unmanaged children running rampant throughout indoor public places, ducking in and out of clothing racks, rolling about on the floor, and generally causing the low-grade sort of mayhem that makes most shopping centers crass and intolerable places to stroll through. This is not a phenomenon coded to class, either. For every grubby toddler pawing around on the carpets of a K-Mart, there’s a petulant little hellion knocking down neat rows of espresso bean chocolates at Starbucks, with an abdicated parent in arm’s reach, maxed out by the demands of a cell phone conversation.

Did this guy grow up in Victorian England or something? Has he ever had children? If he has, I feel sorry for them because as any parent knows children are not uniform or consistent. They rarely execute anything with professionalism and are hardly aesthetically refined. That's because they are children. They are all unique, inconsistent perpetually in the moment, messy, loud, emotionally driven wonderful little gifts from God. Using "kid like" fonts of course has to do with marketing to children and their parents. But rather than encouraging children to be "inherently zany and deliberately outrageous" it recognized the fact that often they are. And wonderfully so. But in the Conservative's moral perfectionist view, children should not be this way. They should be perfect little copies of adults who are always "managed" and subdued. How sad.

Fonts do not encourage children to run "rampant throughout indoor public places." Poor parenting does. Zany fonts to not encourage a "petulant little hellion knocking down neat rows of espresso bean chocolates at Starbucks." The lack of the surrounding adults to confront the little bastard does. But in the moral perfection of the Conservative "ownership society" there must be always a bogyman to blame other than the actual person responsible. Michael Moore. Janet Jackson's boob. Television. Muslims. The French. And now, fonts.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"Disconnected From Reality"

You know it's getting bad for Bush when Republicans start sounding so... Liberal:
Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is angry. He's upset about the more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers killed and nearly 13,000 wounded in Iraq. He's also aggravated by the continued string of sunny assessments from the Bush administration, such as Vice President Dick Cheney's recent remark that the insurgency is in its "last throes." "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," Hagel tells U.S. News. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

At least someone in the Republican party isn't yet succumb to the pod people. So what is Bush's response? A major PR campaign of course:
Still, the Bush administration is planning to hit back, starting this week, with a renewed public-relations push by the president. Bush will host Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari and has scheduled a major speech for June 28, the anniversary of the handover of power to an Iraqi government from U.S. authorities. But Congress's patience could wear very thin going into an election year. "If things don't start to turn around in six months, then it may be too late," says Hagel. "I think it's that serious."

Silly people. We've turned the corner in Iraq. The insurgency is in its final throws. Look at that great Democracy we've brought to Iraq. Now run along and stop paying attention to the increasing death toll and all those nasty Downing Street memos. Don't you know there's evil doers out there? Be afraid. But still go shopping. I hear GM is offering big ass SUVs cheap.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Summer Break

I'm tired. My wife is having surgery tomorrow. The GOP is out of their minds. See you in a week.

The Henry J. Hyde End to Peacekeeping

Why can't Hyde just fade off into retirement? No, instead he's got to push his conservative Republican agenda with idiotic ideas like this:
The House bill, grandiosely titled the Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005, would condition the payment of half of Washington's annual dues on the U.N.'s rapid compliance with a long list of Congressional demands. America's dues, roughly $400 million a year, support 22 percent of the U.N.'s basic budget.

The Hyde proposal would also lower American peacekeeping contributions and block the creation or expansion of all peacekeeping operations, including those urgently needed to halt genocide in Africa, until a series of changes sought by Congress had been put into effect.

In addition, the United States' contributions to certain other United Nations activities would simply be declared voluntary."

That's right, boys and girls, since we provide the UN with 22% of its budget, why not use that as leverage to get what we want! After all, the United Nations is really all about the US and its needs, not those silly peace keeping efforts. And he's titled his legislation so modestly too. Peace keeping is so overrated to Hyde that he wants to lend his name to the end of it!

Great idea Henry. Let's continue to reinforce the image of America the bully.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Schavio Blind, Frist More So

Straight from Think Progress:
Freshly-released autopsy results reveal that Terri Shiavo was blind:
Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin concluded that…her brain was about half of normal size when she died.

[...]

Thogmartin says her brain was “profoundly atrophied” – and that the damage was “irreversable.” He also says, “The vision centers of her brain were dead” – meaning she was blind.


Which makes Dr. Frist’s expert “diagnosis” all the more outrageous:
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”

“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”


So was renown heart surgeon and Republican Majority Leader Frist just wrong or was he unethically performing medical diagnosis via highly a selective video for political gain? You don't need half a brain to figure that one out.

Republicans and Lynching in 2005

In 2005, who wouldn't want to vote for a congressional resolution apologizing for not passing anti-lynching laws? A bunch of Republicans. And who wouldn't want a vote for such a resolution to come to an on the record roll call vote. The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Bill Frist. Simply amazing:
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) refused repeated requests for a roll call vote that would have put senators on the record on a resolution apologizing for past failures to pass anti-lynching laws, officials involved in the negotiations said Tuesday.

[...]

As dozens of descendants of lynching victims watched from the Senate gallery, the resolution was adopted Monday evening under a voice vote procedure that did not require any senator's presence.

Eighty senators, however, had signed as co-sponsors, putting themselves on record as supporting the resolution. By the time the Senate recessed Tuesday evening, five other senators had added their names as co-sponsors, leaving 15 Republicans who had not.

[...]

But the group that was the driving force behind the resolution had asked Frist for a formal procedure that would have required all 100 senators to vote. And the group had asked that the debate take place during "business hours" during the week, instead of Monday evening, when most senators were traveling back to the capital.

Frist declined both requests, the group's chief counsel, Mark Planning, said Tuesday evening.

So here it is, 2005, and there are Republicans out there who refuse to put their name anti-lynching anything. Are they worried about losing the KKK vote? If co-sponsoring a resolution such as this, something that can be done after the vote, is politically dangerous for these Republicans, what does that say about who they represent? Who are these Senators. Here's the Lynching Wall of Shame:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

So tell me again about how the Republican party is inclusive of minority rights?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

No Room For You!

First, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) gavels a hearing on the Patriot Act to a close ignoring committee rules, objections to the closing, and remaining witnesses. Now he's refusing to allow any Democrat a room in which to hold hearings, specifically Rep. Conyers hearings on the Downing Street Memo. From The Hill:
In a sign of how far relationships on the committee have soured, majority staff recently announced a new policy to deny any request from a committee Democrat for the use of a committee hearing room.

Majority spokesman Jeff Lungren said the Republicans have given Democrats three opportunities to make clear that the forums are not official committee business. Nevertheless, Lungren said, in at least one case, members were addressing Conyers as “Mr. Chairman.”

“They were unwilling or unable to make those changes,” Lungren said. “At this point, if they want to hold these forums, they’ll have to find some other place to do it.”

Sean McLaughlin, deputy chief of staff for Sensenbrenner, recently wrote to a minority staffer in more pointed language.

“I’m sitting here watching your ‘forum’ on C-SPAN,” McLaughlin wrote. “Just to let you know, it was your last. Don’t bother asking [for a room] again.”

That's right, boys and girls, we wouldn't want Conyers to have an official looking hearing that was covered on C-Span. Especially not on the Downing Street Memo, which in case you forget comes right out and says Bush was "fixing" intelligence on Iraq WMD eight months prior to his leading us into a war "of last resort" based on the same "fixed" intelligence. We couldn't have that. Especially if we were Republicans. Why, with the majority of people thinking the war was not worth it, what would they think if they found out Bush lied? Heavens, we can't have that! After all, a witness called Conyers "chairman." The nerve!

Protocol is some much more important than the truth about a war that has cost 1,700 US soldiers their lives.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Gay Warning Label

Wow. Shades of Nazi Germany from radical Christian leaders. Via Raw Story:
(New York City) The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group says that gays should be required to wear warning labels.

"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports," said  Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition.

[...]

He called on people to "pray for those who are deceived by the lies of popular culture, who are caught up in a destructive lifestyle, and for the children who are being zealously evangelized by radical homosexuals."

It is not the first time gays have been told they should wear labels. In Nazi Germany gays were forced to wear the pink triangle to differentiate them from other internees at concentration camps.

Where's the outrage? This nutcase wants to label gays. Dick Cheney is insulting Howard Dean. Rush is claiming Democrats don't work. But all the media talks about is Dean's truth about Republicans being mostly white with a Christian agenda.

Dick

Republican Vice President Dick Cheney:
"I think Howard Dean's over the top. I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does," Cheney told Fox News Channel.

Dick, meet DNC members:
"I hope Governor Dean will remember that he didn't get elected to be a wimp," said DNC member Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a South Carolina state representative. "We have been waiting a long time for someone to stand up for Democrats."

[...]

But in a series of interviews DNC members backed the former Vermont governor, known for his fiery rhetoric during his failed 2004 White House run, and said they knew what they were getting when they elected him in February as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

"Howard Dean is going to be much more aggressive, much more outspoken and much more of a risk-taker outside the Beltway than any chairman has been. We knew that," said Alvaro Cifuentes, chairman of the DNC Hispanic caucus.

"We have to get our politics out of Washington. We cannot continue to be held captive by party leaders who I respect but who have to play their own local politics," Cifuentes said, calling congressional Democrats "timid" and the flap over his comments "mostly a Beltway play."

[...]

Karen Marchioro, a DNC member from Washington state, said she was stunned to see so many congressional Democrats back away from Dean.

"We always defend them, why won't they defend us? And they want us to support them for president?" she asked. "I have no desire to lose, I just think this is the way you win -- you let people know where you stand and you fight."

Cobb-Hunter said Dean "should consider the source -- congressional Democrats. What's their track record? He's doing what a lot of us wanted him to do and expected him to do."

[...]

Western Democrats said they were thrilled Dean attended a regional meeting in Helena, Montana, last weekend. "How many Democratic chairmen have gone out to Montana?" asked Steven Alari of California.

"When we elected Dean we knew we were getting a leader who would be good at organizing the base and getting the message out to the American people, and that's what he's doing," Alari said. "He's our guy."

What's Dean's take on Dick's slam:
"My view is FOX News is a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party and I don't comment on FOX News," Dean said. That was in response to vice president Dick Cheney calling Howard Dean "over the top" on Fox News on Sunday.

Give 'em hell, Howard.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The "Christian" Part

So if you've been reading here, you've read of my bewilderment at the furor over Dean's comment that the Republican Party is "... pretty much a white, Christian party." I've written about the "white" part of this statement, but what about the "Christian" part of it? What would a former Republican Senator, and Episcopal minister say? Well, John C. Danforth, a former United States senator from Missouri and Episcopal minister, had this to say about his party:
St. Louis - By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

Once again, Dean is correct.

1,700

Another depressing milestone:
At least 1,701 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

But the insurgency is in its final throws. Right.

Republicans: 1.2% Minority Representation

Boy, the talking heads on the Sunday Funnies are determined to demonize Dean's comment about the Republican Party being a "pretty much a white, Christian party" just because he dared mention this White Elephant about their party. Never mind his point or the truth of it. How dare he say the Emperor has no clothes! The depth to which the Republican Party is naked on this issue is pointed out by William Rivers Pitt, at Truthout. I thought Dean was correct from the start. But I didn't know he was this correct:
Of 3,643 Republicans serving in state legislatures across the country, only 44 of them are minorities, amounting to 1.2%. Texas, with a minority population of 47%, has 106 Republicans in the state legislature. There are exactly zero African Americans and exactly zero Hispanics serving in that body as Republicans. In Washington, 274 of the 535 elected Senators and Representatives are Republican. Exactly five are minorities.

Of course, there are ethnic and religious minorities within the rank and file of the GOP, but every demographic analysis of the party’s makeup clearly shows the vast majority of Republicans fit exactly into the description offered by Mr. Dean. His point, by the way, was not that white Christians are bad people. His point was that, in this pluralist society made up of so much diversity, the Republican Party does not represent the true face of this country.

Let's get this straight everyone: 98.8% of the Republican Party state representation is white. Why aren't the talking heads discussing the hypocracy of this simple fact? Even more confounding to me, why aren't the Democrats backing Dean up by citing these numbers? You want minorities to doubt the Republican Party, tell them that they only have 1.2% representation in within its ranks.

It's time we stopped worrying about offending people, and told them the truth. The Emporer and his party have no clothes.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' (Parliamentary) Rules

So if you are the Republican chairman of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the renewal of the Patriot Act and you don't like what the witnesses are saying, what are you to do? If you are Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) you ignore all parliamentary rules, all objections, even the remaining witnesses, and gavel the proceedings to a close! From The Hill:
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), one of the Democrats who kept the hearing going after Sensenbrenner left, said, "At the end, I wanted to make a statement. I sought recognition, but the chairman declared the hearing adjourned. I said, 'point of order,' and he just got up and walked out." Proper parliamentary practice in the House generally requires that committee chairman adjourn on motion or without objection, neither of which was the case this morning. "Despite the fact that [Sensenbrenner had left], I went ahead and made the statement, at which point, someone turned off my mike and I had to comment loudly," he said. The hearing was one of a dozen the Judiciary committee has held on the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, but it was the only one to feature solely witnesses put forth by the panel's Democrats.

Don't like what those witnesses or Democrats are saying? Well, just break the rules, pick up your marbles, and leave. Can you say "abuse of power" Mr. Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Party of White Elephants

Markos asks why all the outrage over Dean's comments calling Republicans a party that is "primarily white, Christian." Here's my explanation from the comments:

Good social graces demand that one not speak about the "unspeakable" truths in people's lives. I believe the higher up the social ladder, the stronger this truth becomes.

Hence when Dean, or anyone else, dares talks about the Republicans' room full of White Elephants such as their party being primarily white, their agenda being one of a radical Christian making, and their policies being those based primarily on deceit and lies, they are chastised for breaking socially acceptable norms.

It's a phenomenon we've all witnessed all our lives. The one who complains is labeled the "disgruntled employee" even if the complaints are valid. The referee throws the flag when a player finally reacts to another's cheap shots. Mom yells at the kid who hits his brother back.

The centrist Democrats seem to subscribe to the same social contract that the GOP does. Hence, when it is broken, rather than realize the opportunity to hammer the truth of the White Elephant home, they feel obliged to be apologetic towards the offended party. And the Republicans have being offended down.

The Democrats should take a page out of the GOP book and feign all kinds of outrage that Republicans would be upset at being called a party that is "primarily white, Christian." They should do what the Republicans do, and press the issue. They should dare the Republicans to prove they are not a party that is "primarily white, Christian." They should hammer this home each and every press interview they get.

But Howard Dean is a threat to the power base of the centrist Democrats, so they won't. He's building up the state parties, and making many allies along the way. If he is successful in 2006, their power will be lessened.

If we learned anything in the primaries, we learned that the centrists would rather keep what power they have, then beat the Republicans and lose their powerbase.

My two cents.

Mandate?

Seems Bush's approval rating is at an all time low. From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON -- When it comes to public approval, President Bush and Congress are playing "how low can you go." Bush's approval mark is 43 percent, while Congress checks in at 31 percent, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found. Both are the lowest levels yet for the survey, started in December 2003.

"There's a bad mood in the country, people are out of sorts," said Charles Jones, a presidential scholar and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Iraq news is daily bad news."

The public also is showing concerns about the direction of the country as the war in Iraq drags on. Only about one-third of adults, 35 percent, said they thought the country was headed in the right direction. Forty-one percent said they supported Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, also a low-water mark.

Now there's a mandate for you. So how does Bush compare with other second term presidents according to Gallup (all for March):
Truman, 1949: 57%.
Eisenhower, 1957: 65%.
Johnson, 1965: 69%.
Nixon, 1973: 57%.
Reagan, 1985: 56%.
Clinton, 1997: 59% .
Bush, 2005: 45%

I love Republican logic. A "Culture of Life" means killing tens of thousands of Iraqis. The insurgency is in it's final throws yet our casualties rise. And Bush, with a 43% approval, has a mandate? Ah... not so much.

These People Are Evil

Boy, what was Dean thinking when he said Republicans are "pretty much a white, Christian party?" Maybe he was talking about this lady quoted in a story in Ohio:
"We love the President. He's a Christian and these people are evil,'' said Ms. Brandon, referring to the protesters. "I have plenty of military background in my family and all of us love the President. I wish we had a flag to wave."

If only she had a flag to wrap herself in she could call them evil and not patriotic too! Let's review why those supposedly evil and non-Christian protestors that Ms. Brandon is referring to are out there. The President, who took us into a war that 57% of American now believe wasn't worth it, which according to the Downing Street Memo is based on lies, and under who's leadership 1,600 Americans have been killed, turns out have received $100,000 in campaign contributions from Toledo-area coin dealer and Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe. The same Tom Noe who created the state-funded rare-cond fund that happens to be missing $10 million to $12 million. The "Coingate" scadal that is widening its implications for the Ohio Republican party, yet Mr. Bush sees fit to only return $4,000 of the $100,000 that his "pioneer" fund raiser Mr. Noe seems to have stolen from his highly unusual state-funded rare-coin fund.

But Bush is swell and these protestors are obviously not Christians and therefore evil. The Republican party is so inclusive that anyone who disagrees with them is labeled evil. What was Dean thinking?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

White Christian Mobile

From Annatopia, via MyDD, we find out what "GOP" actually stands for:



When Dean called the Republicans a "pretty much a white, Christian party," I guess he must have known about this.

The "No Spin" Zone?

Now, where I come from, "no spin" means that you don't try to mislead or cherry pick quotes. Before you scream "you're a hypocrite" let me remind you, I never said that anything I write is not partisan. In fact everything I write if partisan, and blatantly so. I'm a Damn Liberal, and proud of it. But Bill "falafel" O'Reilly claims he's not partisan. His is the "no spin" zone. I guess that's why he is cutting and splicing quotes to make his point. From Perrspecives blog:
Less than a year after savaging Dan Rather over his use of dubious documents in the Bush National Guard case, The O'Reilly Factor massively - and without disclosure - doctored video to distort comments by Senator Joe Biden.

As reported on The Al Franken Show, O'Reilly butchered tape of an appearance on June 5th by Biden on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous. In that interview, Biden discussed legislation he had proposed to calling for an independent investigation of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the entire U.S. network of detention camps. Biden continued that while he personally believed the U.S. ultimately should close Gitmo, he felt that the President needed an independent investigation to drive a consensus conclusion.

That exchange is not what O'Reilly's viewers saw on June 7th in a segment called "The Truth About Guantanamo Bay." The Factor spliced Biden's comments, leaving out all mention of the legislation and his call for independent investigation. O'Reilly then not only savaged Biden for joining "the abuse chorus." He went on to claim as his own the very idea that "the Bush administration should set up an independent commission to investigate American detainee policy across the board."

Ah, Bill. That's beyond spin. That's dishonest.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dean Notes the Obvious

Look out now, Dean is at it again. He's being jumped on by the SCLM for stating what we all know to be true: Republicans are mostly white Christians:
Dean told a forum of journalists and minority leaders Monday that Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party."

Challenged on that during the NBC interview, Dean said "unfortunately, by and large it is. And they have the agenda of the conservative Christians."

Gadzooks! The man is crazy! Why, how dare he say such a ridiculous thing? Wait. Isn't that true? After all, I do live right by the DuPage GOP county headquarters in the affluent predominately white suburb of Wheaton, which just happens to be located only a couple blocks from Wheaton College - a major evangelical Christian college. From their mission statement:
The doctrinal statement of Wheaton College, reaffirmed annually by its Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff, provides a summary of biblical doctrine that is consonant with evangelical Christianity. The statement accordingly reaffirms salient features of the historic Christian creeds, thereby identifying the College not only with the Scriptures but also with the reformers and the evangelical movement of recent years.

Coincidence? How about this: I remember joking about this during each party's conventions in which the shots of the GOP showed a bunch of white guys, but the shots of the Democrats showed a mix of men, women, black, white, Latino, and Asian faces. Maybe that's just TV adding 20 pounds to the Democrats ethnic majority. But what if we look back at the conventions.

For the GOP:
Minorities at this year's Republican convention make up 17 percent of total delegates, a 70 percent increase over the 2000 convention.

For the DNC:
According to statistics compiled by the Democratic National Committee, nearly 40% of the delegates to this month's Convention in Boston are minorities. More African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, and Hispanics will attend the Convention than ever before.   

In addition, approximately 50% of this year's Democratic Convention delegates are women.

WOW! 17% minorities! And that's up 70%. Now there's an ethnically diverse organization if ever there was one.

And what has Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and all the rest of the Republican leaders done this session: they've focused on interfering in the medical decisions of the family of Terri Shiavo, pushed conservative Christian judges on the courts, and harped about their "culture of life" as a reason to let America fall behind South Korea in stem cell research. That's sounds pretty much like a Conservative Christian agenda to me.

Let's face it people: Whatever Deans says is going to be criticized. Especially if the truth is a little too close to home for the Republicans to take. But I feel this is a good move by Dean. Now when Democrats are asked if they agree with him or not, they can all point out that the GOP is a party that is pretty much white and Christian and the Democrats are the party that is inclusive and open to everyone.

The GOP can dish out the trash talk, but they can't take it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bush vs. Downing Street

A couple days ago, I wrote about the six points we should all know about the Downing Street Memos - the minutes of a confidential meeting about military action in Iraq between the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top cabinet members. The memo was dated July 23rd, 2002 and stated:
Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

So what was Bush saying publicly at this time. From Think Progress we find these on-record public quotes from Mr. Bush:
Bush: “Of course, I haven’t made up my mind we’re going to war with Iraq.” [10/1/02]

Bush:“Hopefully, we can do this peacefully – don’t get me wrong. And if the world were to collectively come together to do so, and to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and convince him to disarm, there’s a chance he may decide to do that. And war is not my first choice, don’t – it’s my last choice.” [11/7/02]

Bush: “This is our attempt to work with the world community to create peace. And the best way for peace is for Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm. It’s up to him to make his decision.” [12/4/02]

Bush: “You said we’re headed to war in Iraq – I don’t know why you say that. I hope we’re not headed to war in Iraq. I’m the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully.” [12/31/02]

Bush: “First of all, you know, I’m hopeful we won’t have to go war, and let’s leave it at that.” [1/2/03]

Bush: “But Saddam Hussein is – he’s treated the demands of the world as a joke up to now, and it was his choice to make. He’s the person who gets to decide war and peace.” [2/7/03]

Bush:“I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully.” [3/6/03]

Bush: “I want to remind you that it’s his choice to make as to whether or not we go to war. It’s Saddam’s choice. He’s the person that can make the choice of war and peace.” [3/6/03]

Bush: “We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.” [3/8/03]

Bush: “Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.” [3/17/03]

Clinton lied when he said he "did not have sexual relations" and he was impeached. The information he lied about was amoral, but personal. He committed adultery. No one was injured or killed. No one died.

Bush lied as noted above. The Republicans, in charge of both houses of congress, are ignoring these lies. The information Bush lied about was not of a personal matter, but one of national security, and involved our nation's military forces. Under his command, 1,600 Americans have died, more than 10,000 Americans have been wounded, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been killed, our military weakened, and our moral leadership in the world lost.

Explain to me who should have been impeached again?

IL-06: Roskam Raises $150K

Republican candidate for IL-06, and former DeLay aide and resident wingnut, Peter Roskam has gone public that his campaign has raised $150,000 in 30 days:
Saying he is "trying to send a message," state Sen. Peter Roskam announced Monday he raised more than $150,000 for his bid for Congress in just 30 days.

"I'm very encouraged," the Wheaton Republican said. "I'm trying to send a message that there's a great deal of support out there for this campaign."

[...]

Carney was not impressed by Roskam's fund-raising, saying he has received $400,000 in pledges from potential donors and has offers for 11 fund-raisers in Illinois and four other states.

"I've been around a long time, and I've got a lot of friends," Carney said. "So 150,000 bucks is really nice. I'm happy for him, but it's going to take a lot more than that. And this race is about money."

Roskam entered the race a week ago, but has been raising money since he formed an exploratory committee in April. Federal law does not require him to file a financial disclosure report until July.

Since the FEC reports don't happen until July, we don't know how many people that $150,000 represents. Given Roskam is a politically connected lawyer from Wheaton (the GOP center of the universe in DuPage County), I'd bet that number of donors won't be too far from 75 people. What message exactly would that send?

As Carney, his potential GOP primary challenger notes, it's going to take a lot more than $150,000 to claim Hyde's seat. Which brings me to Christine Cegelis. The GOP in IL-06, located in the one of the richest districts in the nation, are going to pull out the stops and throw money at this race. What about the Democrats? Cegelis has the organization, the grassroots, and the name recognition. But does she have your donation yet?

Roskam and the Republicans are going to trying to buy IL-06 with huge campaign war chests filled by their fat cat donor base. Question is, are Democrats going to let them? Donate to the Christine's campaign today.

Monday, June 06, 2005

"What Are Jenna and Barbara Doing this Summer?"

America is wising up to Bush and his chickenhawk "war without sacrafice" lie. Recruitment is down and those most supportive of the war aren't enlisting. No one is surprised. They are Chickenhawks after all. From the New York Times LTE:
The obvious question between the lines of "Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents" (front page, June 3) is, Where do our leaders in Washington stand on this issue? They are parents, too, and they overwhelmingly support the war in Iraq. Are they encouraging their children to enlist?

When President Bush stands in the Rose Garden extolling the virtues of the war in Iraq, I wonder: What are Jenna and Barbara doing this summer? The disturbing reality is that the children of the men who decided to take our country to war are pursuing the cushy, safe jobs of the elite while other people's children are fighting and dying.

Isn't leadership more than mere words?

Barbara Ash
Weston, Conn., June 3, 2005

[...]

After two decades of enlisted and commissioned Army service, on active duty and in the Reserve (including a year in Iraq), I have but one response to parents who resist attempts to recruit their children into the armed forces: "Well done."

The most common refrain heard in the Army is, "My recruiter lied to me." Self-deprecating and a bit of an inside joke, it remains a phrase nearly everyone in the Army can relate to.

Travel, adventure, high-tech equipment. Cargo planes with no seats, weeks without hot showers, latrines scrubbed with tin buckets and wooden brushes. My recruiter lied to me!

Russell Burgos
Thousand Oaks, Calif., June 3, 2005

Here's a common refrain we should all start hearing shortly if Iraq keeps going to hell and our military continues to be gutted: My President lied to me!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Iraq from an American Who's Been There

Why does Newsweek hate America?
Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. There is no evidence that all the mistreatment and humiliation saved a single American life or led to the capture of any major terrorist, despite claims by the military that the prison produced "actionable intelligence."

[...]

Living and working in Iraq, it's hard not to succumb to despair. At last count America has pumped at least $7 billion into reconstruction projects, with little to show for it but the hostility of ordinary Iraqis, who still have an 18 percent unemployment rate. Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security. Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.

The most powerful army in human history can't even protect a two-mile stretch of road. The Airport Highway connects both the international airport and Baghdad's main American military base, Camp Victory, to the city center. At night U.S. troops secure the road for the use of dignitaries; they close it to traffic and shoot at any unauthorized vehicles. More troops and more helicopters could help make the whole country safer. Instead the Pentagon has been drawing down the number of helicopters. And America never deployed nearly enough soldiers. They couldn't stop the orgy of looting that followed Saddam's fall. Now their primary mission is self-defense at any cost—which only deepens Iraqis' resentment.

Norland's a war supporter who's been on top of Iraq for two years and he's this pessimistic. He must just hate America because Cheney said the insurgency is in its death throws. Who are you going to believe: the guy who's been there or the war hawk cheerleader in chief?

Our Modern Heath Care System

Next week my wife is going to have a hysterectomy. She's had really bad pain now for years, and has tried nearly everything to avoid the surgery her doctor recommended six months ago after she had a laparoscopy to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis. Which it didn't. Instead she has a condition called adenomyosis with adhesions on her uterus, which is similar, but different. And painful. Her doctor has told her it will be a fairly involved surgery, with three, maybe four, nights in the hospital and a lengthy recuperation.

So, like any surgery in our modern health care system, we had to get the surgery pre-certified by our insurance carrier. Now you'd think such a precertification would involve checking to see if her doctor and hospital were in the approved service provider network, if the surgery was covered by my plan, and if the procedure involved was up to acceptable medical practices. But instead, as spelled out in the letter of precertification, the process seems instead to focus on diagnosis and treatment:
While we have recommended an original confinement of 2 days for this admission, we understand that additional days may be necessary. This allows us the opportunity to monitor your progress with your physician and the hospital, as well as better assist with any discharge planning needs.

My insurance company is going to monitor my wife's medical progress with her physician? Are you kidding me? That's what I want. Her doctor, a trained M.D. and OB-GYN who knows my wife's medical history (not to mention what her uterus looks like first hand), is going to check with an insurance company about the doctor's prescribed treatment? Some bean counter with minimal medical experience, not anywhere near the hospital, is going to determine with her physician the best plan for her discharge? Again, are you kidding me? Why not just involved me in that decision as well. I'm sure I'm qualified. I am a guy and all.

The doctor recommended three, maybe four, days stay in the hospital, but the insurance company recommends two? Recommends? Boy they sure are swell to understand that additional days might be necessary. How do they know that two days is all that's needed? Statistical averages? Who they hell are they to recommend anything? What if her doctor is not sure my wife is ready to go home, but rather than fight with the insurance company and enduring the associated paperwork to justify an added day as "medically necessary" to the insurance company, she just discharges her? What if my wife is discharged per the insurance company's recommendation, and has complications at home? Again, don't I as her husband have any say in this too? After all, I am a guy remember.

What's wrong with this picture? Now I have no doubt my wife's doctor will do the right thing, and have no doubt my insurance carrier will cover anything asked for. But that's not the point. When did we as a nation, so proud of our private for profit health care system, come to accept that medical treatment decisions should be made by anyone other than the patient and their physician? When? When are we going to pull our heads out of the sand and realize insurance companies are for profit corporations not health and wellness organizations.

I may be a guy. I may be her husband. But decisions about my wife's medical treatment are not something I should have much if any say in. Neither should my insurance company.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Koran Abuse Confirmed

So Newsweek got it wrong. The Koran wasn't flushed. It was "accidentally" pissed on. From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American jailers at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects splashed a Koran with urine, kicked and stepped on the Islamic holy book and soaked it with water, the U.S. military said on Friday.

[...]

In the incident involving urine, which took place this past March, Southern Command said a guard left his post and urinated near an air vent and "the wind blew his urine through the vent" and into a cell block.

It said a detainee told guards the urine "splashed on him and his Koran." The statement said the detainee was given a new prison uniform and Koran, and that the guard was reprimanded and given duty in which he had no contact with prisoners.

The guard, on duty, leaves his post and just happens to piss near an air vent just as a gust of wind blows by. Honest accident. I'm sure it could happen to any guard who leaves his post while on duty and pisses next to an air vent in a windy location. That's probably why he was reprimanded and given duty that kept him away from the prisoners.

This one really tells me they are full of crap:
In the fifth "confirmed incident" of mishandling a Koran, Southern Command said a prisoner in August 2003 complained that "a two-word obscenity" had been written in English in his Koran. Southern Command said it was "possible" a guard had written the words but "equally possible" the prisoner himself had done it.

That's right Joe American (with no knowledge of Islam) this fundamental Islamic religious extremist, who sees the Koran not as a book, but as the Word of God incarnate, defiled his own Koran by writing obscenities in it. In English. Anyone who knows anything about Islam knows this to be incredibly difficult to believe.

How could U.S. Southern Command release such terribly anti-American information! After 6:00p.m. on Friday, no less. Don't they know people lose their lives because of these types of stories. How could they do such a thing. First Newsweek. Now our own army. Why oh why do they hate America so!

Limbaugh: Most Democrats Don't Work

News to me. Why, whatever am I doing all day long? From Media Matters:
LIMBAUGH: The two to three big opportunities so far mentioned by Howard Dean -- pension portability and changes to election laws. ... So portability of pensions. What's the second one? Oh, yeah, Election Day a holiday. And well, you know -- I don't know why they need to do that. Most of their voters don't work anyway, so I don't know how that's going to help them that much. At least in a percentage basis.

OK, all you lazy bums. Get off this blog and start looking for a job!

How Stupid Can They Be?

Very. From dKos via PoliticsNJ. Gee, that crowd looks familiar:





So not only does Schundler, Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, rip off a photo of a crowd, but his campaign does a bad job of PhotoShopping him into it. But not only do they do a bad job of PhotoShopping him into it, they rip off a photo of a crowd behind a Democatic candidate. But not just any Democratic candidate, but the Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean. And not just any photo of Howard Dean, but one of the most famous, most used, well liked photos in Dean's run for president.

Idiots.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

As Heard on Air America

I just heard over at dKos that Mike Malloy on Air America mentioned my last diary (also posted on dKos) on his show. Then he went on to plug downingstreetmemo.com a whole bunch. Cool! The wider the audience this gets, the better.

Downing Street Memo for Dummies

I haven't written much about the Downing Street Memo. Maybe I was just weary of yet another "smoking gun" that "proved" Bush lied about the facts to lead the country into a war of choice. But last night I took the time to read the memo for myself. Since I suspect we will continue to hear about the memo's formerly top secret contents, none of which have be denied or even remotely challenged by British officials, I'd like to highlight the key points for those new to the story. A story that broke a month ago in the UK, but for some strange reason, the SCLM in this country had yet to even print a word of. You can read the memo for yourself here.

Point 1: Date and Origin:
"SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents."

Note, this is not some low level email from one bureaucrat to another over in the UK somewhere. This is essentially the minutes of a meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top staff about military action in Iraq. Is is dated eight months prior to the invasion of Iraq. Let me note that again: this meeting happened eight months prior to the US led invaision of Iraq.

Point 2: Bush Wants Military Action Regardless of Facts
"Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Read that last line again: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Remember the date of this memo. All Bush's talk about not wanting to use force is a lie.

Point 3: The Iraq War Time Table:
"The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections."

Note the political timing of the war here. There was a conscious attempt to place the war after congressional elections, with action to begin in the new year. Just like it happened.

Point 4: The Case for War was Thin
"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force."

"The case was thin" so here they are deciding on a way to provoke Sadam into giving them a legal case to invade. This paragraph also notes Iraq's real WMD capabilities as less than that of "Libya, North Korea or Iran."

Point 5: There was No Legal Reason to Invade
"The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change."

Regime change wasn't enough. There was no self-defense or humanitarian intervention. The UN resolution was shaky at best. There was no legal reason to invade and this created a problem.

Point 6: Link Regime Change to Fear of WMD
"The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change."

Essentially, if Bush and Blair can convince the public that Sadam's got WMD's and he's a threat, then regime change would be supported politically regardless of the facts. It wasn't about WMD, it was about legalizing regime change.

I've read a lot about smoking guns. But this one's got fingerprints.