Friday, September 30, 2005

Court Date Set For “The Hammer”.

A Texas judge ordered Thursday that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) to appear in court in Austin on October 21st to face the charge that he conspired to distribute corporate money to Texas state election campaigns. Behind the scenes DeLay’s lawyers are scrambling to prevent DeLay from being handcuffed, photographed, and fingerprinted when he appears in Austin.

$100 Grand Bounty For The Arrest Of Republicans.

A coalition of 120 liberal and progressive groups calling themselves Velvet Revolution has launched a “Government Accountability Reward Fund” that offers $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of “high government officials” in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Judy Miller To Testify.

New York Times reporter Judy Miller, who had been in jail for the past three months for refusing to identify her source for leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, has been released from prison after agreeing to testify in court about the case.

Miller said her source “voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our conversations.” That source was the Vice President’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The NY Times says that Miller met Libby in July of 2003 and talked to him by telephone later that week. Strangely, in a statement from Libby, he said that he released Miller from the promise of confidentially a year ago.

Don’t Wait Until You’re 40 To Have Kids.

Got a kid? Don’t got a kid? If you’re waiting to have kids later in life, take some advice from me. Don’t wait until you’re 40 to have them, otherwise they might just end up being kinda fucked in the head…like me.

Being 12 years old is an interesting time in life. Who you are as a person begins to develop. Prior to then, you’re just a little snot ankle biter. After that you learn about something you come to know as pussy.

For me being 12 years old was kinda like going to those Mexican donkey shows…as a performer. Everyone else I knew had parents who were ex-hippies with white collar jobs. As my friends discovered this wonderful thing called music, they could at least kinda relate to their parents, because all of their parents had cool stuff like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath in their record collection. Of course, that’s because their parents were ex-hippies. My parents, having been born back during the fucking GREAT DEPRESSION thought the musical stylings of Bing Crosby, George Jones, and Merle Haggard counted as “cutting edge.”

For me, being 12 years old is also a time when you start to figure out that you want to dress the way you want to, but your parents haven’t quite figured that part out yet. And if you think my parent’s musical tastes were grand, you haven’t seen nothing of their fashion sense.

Not that I give too much of a shit about clothes or fashion, I never did. But you know that Buy One Get One Free discount bin at Wal-Mart? Where they keep the clothes they sell that are too gross to put on hangers because it might scare some of Wal-Mart’s customers away? If you’d brought that stuff home to me when I was 12 years old, and if those discount Wal-Mart clothes had seen the miserable shit I had in my closet…the Buy One Get One Free clothes would have laughed themselves sick.

Ever seen those short-shorts that you might see some hot chick wear at the gym? The kind that are so short that if she bends over too far you can get a bird’s eye view of her fallopian tubes? Those were a staple in my horrific clothes collection. I could take a shit on the toilet without anything being around my ankles; all I had to do is wiggle a certain way. Of the many wonderful colors these gems came in, my mother in her infinite wisdom had thought daisy yellow and brand-new socks white were ideal for me. That’s the kinda hell I was in.

But if you think that was bad, then you didn’t know my grandparents. These people remembered what it was like before there were child-labor laws. My grandfather particularly was a special gem. He was…how should I put this…fucking creepy. This guy made Marilyn Manson look like the Easter Bunny…plus he was old. The guy would stare at you with this look of anger so deep that you thought demon possession was involved. I later learned that was his idea of smiling.

Every Sunday my parents would visit my wonderful grandparents, and I’d always be FUCKING TERRIFIED of somehow making one wrong move or saying one wrong thing that would trigger this guy and push him over the fucking edge. I often worried that he might cut my eyes out with fishing knives and mix them in with the lima beens….and then demand that everyone at the table eat all the lima beens because they cost 75 cents a pound.

I remember one Sunday, one of my nitwit cousins got the bright idea to throw a Nerf ball at me while in the house. It bounced off my head, knocked over a little statue, and cracked the glass of my grandfather’s fishing tank. I’m amazed I didn’t go into cardiac arrest. I expected my grandfather to come into the living room, cut a hole into my belly, and rape my stomach.

A few months later my grandfather was admitted to the hospital. I didn’t quite grasp what the hell was going on. My mom came home from the hospital late one night and sat me down and told me that my grandfather had died. She then hunched over and started weeping. It’s not like I had seen anything like this before. At first I thought she was giggling her ass off. Once I realized she was actually crying, I thought to myself, “Um, what the hell do I do now?” No one ever teaches you that shit. No one ever tells you that when woman cries you give her a hug. It’s just something you eventually learn…usually in hope that it’ll score you blowjob later. Well, this was my freaking mom. I didn’t know what the hell to do. Should I pat her on the back and say, “oh don’t worry, it’ll be alright. He’ll be just as creepy dead as he ever was alive.”

My mom got herself together, wiped the tears from her eyes and asked me, “I was wondering if you wanted any of your grandfather’s clothes?”

When was the last time you saw your granddad mowing the lawn in his knee-high socks and thought to yourself, “I gotta go to where THIS guy is shopping”? Despite that I knew that this was a weird as fuck thing to ask me, I knew my mom was upset, so I told her, “sure, bring some of them over and we’ll see if they….gulp….fit.”

Not that I was serious. I was just trying to placate my mom. I figured she’d bring over some of his dark blue gas-station-attendant-without-the-name-tag type clothing, and I’d hang it in my closet, trying not to get any of his creepy old dead guy essence on the rest of my fabulous wardrobe.

A week later my mother comes home and brings a heavy green suitcase in the door. She calls for me to come to the door as if she’s just brought home some birthday goodies that are so wonderful she just can’t wait to give them to me. I rush to the door to see what she wants, and on the floor is that big heavy green suitcase. “Oh Christ!” I thought. “She’s actually gone and brought this shit home.”

My mother waits until my eyes are deadly focused on this suitcase, and she pops the latches. I can see from the way she’s working the latches and opening the suitcase that it was overstuffed with whatever ungodly menace lay inside. Slowly she opens the lid and a massive pile of white clothes fall out and spills to the floor. I stare at the clothes, blinking my eyes, in complete shock and horror at what lay in front of me. All these clothes all piled into this suitcase, all of it exactly identical. The entire suitcase had been stuffed and filled with my creepy dead grandfather’s underwear.

My mom reaches down and picks one of the briefs up and stretches the elastic waistband in front of me in her hands. My mother then tilts her head to one side and says, “Wanna try one on?”

This is why I say don’t wait until you’re 40 to have kids.

Judge Orders Abu Ghraib Photos To Be Released To The Public.

The Associated Press is reporting that a US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered the pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib to be released by the government.

The ACLU brought the case forward suing for the release of 87 photographs and 4 videotapes taken at the prison, under the contention that the abuse at the prison was wide spread and systematic. However, the Bush administration attempted to block the release of the images of detainee abuse on the basis that it could damage the United States’ image and give fuel to potential terrorists.

In a 50 page decision, Judge Hellerstein said that the United States “does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed.”

The SEC Turns The Heat Up On Frist.

Bloomberg is reporting that as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has recently come under intense fire in allegations of possible insider trading, the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an formal order of investigation into Frist’s sale of all his shares in HCA.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the independent Rothenberg Political Report said, “This turns the flame up under the kettle.”

Republican Candidate Attempts To Prevent Katrina Victims From Returning Home.

The Huffington Post is reporting that Louisiana State Senator Republican Craig Romero visited Washington on the premise to raise money for Katrina disaster relief.

But Romero also made the trip to get gain support for his Congressional run in the 3rd district of Louisiana, a seat currently held by Democrat Charlie Melancon. However, The Huffington Post has acquired a papers that Romero has been handing out to special interest groups. In it, Romero is states that he doesn’t want Katrina’s victims don’t move back home because it could make the district go Republican.

In Romero’s campaign papers, he included a pie chart of the district’s make up without the residents displaced by Katrina. Without those residents, Romero’s campaign literature says that the district would solidly go Republican.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bill Bennett Makes Racist Links Between Crime Rates And Black Babies.

Former Reagan administration Education Secretary Bill Bennett, on his September 28th radio show Morning In America, made some very disturbing comments between abortion rates and crime rates. Discussing a book, Freakenomics, Bennett refuted a claim allegedly made in the book that the crime rate has gone down due to the past increase in abortion rates. However, Bennett came to a different conclusion when discussing abortion rates among African-Americans.

Listen to the audio clip for yourself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tom DeLay Indicted.

The House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been indicted on conspiracy charges by a Texas Grand Jury. DeLay has been indicted with two others, on charging stemming from an alleged deal to accept corporate money through DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, and giving that cash to Texas Republicans running for office. Texas law prohibits corporate contributions to individuals running for office.

The charge has forced DeLay to step down from his post, and the House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) is expected to become the new House Majority Leader. Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) was rumored to become the next Majority Leader, but Dreier may have been shelved for the position because of speculation that Dreier is a homosexual.

Do We Really Need To Conserve Gas?

President Bush urged Americans on Monday to conserve gas when possible because the damage to the nation’s refining industry from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Additionally, Bush announced he would suspend some anti-pollution laws adding, “We need alternative sources of energy. And that’s why I believe so strongly in nuclear power.”

Perhaps Bush doesn’t know this, but nuclear energy requires massive amounts of fossil fuels to create energy. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Meanwhile, Bush has been happy to fly around in Air Force One for his many photo-ops, which requires over $6,000 of jet full to use…every hour.

Despite the record gas prices that Americans are seeing, there is no shortage of energy to fuel our automobiles. There is no need to conserve energy resources. What we need to be doing is exactly what President Bush has said: find alternative fuel sources.

The recent energy bill has given massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, most particularly coal. Despite that coal is a horribly filthy fuel source, and is extremely dangerous and difficult to mine, some energy companies are looking into refining coal into gasoline to use as a fuel source for automobiles. The reasoning is that the United States has a vast reserve of coal, but our oil reserves are nearly exhausted.

But all fossil fuels have draw backs. None of them are renewable sources of energy. All of them leave behind pollution and carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, and an increase in the strength of the hurricanes. And because the United States does not have a good mass transit and public transportation system, US citizens are practically forced to massively consume vast amounts of energy supplies that is not sustainable, and are coming harder and harder to come by.

But there is a viable alternative.

Imagine if there was an energy source whose reserves was so vast that that it is virtually free. Imagine if that energy source would give your car more horsepower and leave 100% clean emissions that actually benefited us. Imagine an energy source that could give us gas mileage that was so superior, that you could drive from Los Angeles to New York City on just 22 gallons of it.

That energy source is here, and the technology exists, and has been around for decades. That energy source is among the most abundant sources of energy on earth. That energy source is none other than water. Yes, water.

During the first Gulf War an inventor, Stan Myers, invented a water fuel cell that could run on any automobile. He converted a dune buggy that ran on tap water. Unfortunately, his invention ended with his sudden death, as an unknown assailant shot and killed him, and destroyed much of his research.

However, Myers patented much of his inventions, and others have expanded upon it. One of those who have is a UK non-profit organization called Earth 2012 which are developing a water fuel cell technology to license to the major automobile industry. Projections have varied, but Earth 2012 has said that the technology may be complete as early as 2007. However, if you’re mechanically inclined, or know someone who is, there is no need to wait, as you can try it out yourself. You can download detailed blueprints for converting your own junker to run on nothing but water.

Michael Brown Lies To Congress.

The former head of FEMA, Michael Brown has again come under fire, as the GOP-led investigation into what went wrong to the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina is underway on Capital Hill. The Republican led investigation, which Democrats have boycotted, calling it a white wash, yesterday saw the former FEMA head coming under intense criticism.

One of the only two Democrats attending the hearing, Representative Gene Taylor of Mississippi, who lost his home in the hurricane, said, “You can try to throw as much as you can on the backs of Louisianans, but I’m a witness as to what happened in Mississippi. You folks fell on your face.”

Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT), asked Brown how he coordinated the evacuation of New Orleans. Brown’s response was, “By urging the governor and the mayor to order the mandatory evacuation.” Shays asked, “And that’s coordinating?” Brown replied saying, “What would you like for me to do, congressman?” Shays response was, “And that’s why I’m happy you left [FEMA].”

Additionally, Michael Brown told Congress that Louisiana Governor Blanco neglected to the adjacent parishes of New Orleans in her disaster relief request. Unfortunately for Brown, the evidence indicates otherwise.

St. Patrick’s Four Acquitted Of Conspiracy.

In what their legal advisor Bill Quigley called a “major victory”, four peace activists, known as the St. Patrick’s Four were acquitted on conspiracy charges on Monday. Clare and Teresa Grady, Peter DeMott, and Daniel Burns were the first peace activists charged with conspiracy since the Vietnam War. They were arrested in March 2003 after spilling their own blood at a military recruitment station. They were convicted of two misdemeanor counts, for trespassing and damaging a government facility.

Mass Arrests Against Peace Protesters.

Over 300 peace activists were arrested Monday for refusing to obey police orders to leave. Outside the White House police arrested Cindy Sheehan and Cornel West while sitting down outside the White House. Sheehan was charged with demonstrating without a permit, and told The Huffington Post that she plans on fighting the charges on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

Lynndie England Convicted.

A military jury convicted Lynndie England of abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. England, a 22 army reservist, was photographed holding a naked Iraqi prison at the end of a leash while pointing at the detainee’s genitals. England could face up to 10 years in jail.

Monday, September 26, 2005

It Was All A Lie.

The Newhouse News Service is reporting that reports of violence and chaos at the Superdome was wildly overstated.

After days of reports of murders, rapes, gang violence, even to infants, FEMA doctors prepared for the most as they arrived with a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to remove and process the bodies.

Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron said a FEMA doctor told him that he’d been given “a report of 200 bodies in the Dome.”

However, it seems that the media reports of the violence in the Superdome was wildly inaccurate. The total dead inside the Superdome? Just six. How many of them were murdered? None.

Four died from natural causes, one overdosed and another committed suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies to state health officials. The official count of the dead came to 10, but Beron said that it included four bodies that were found in the street outside the Dome. None of them had been murdered.

George Bush Seen As A Greater Threat Than Osama Bin Laden.

A Congressional study has found that President George Bush is seen as a greater threat than Osama bin Laden in the Arab world. In much of the world the United States is viewed as “less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered.” The Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy warned that “America’s image and reputation abroad could hardly be worse.”

American Troops Admit Army Tortured Iraqis.

Three US army personnel has told Human Rights Watch that Army troops in Iraq beat and tortured Iraqi detainees on a regular basis. The alleged torture happed at a base in central Iraq. Some of the torture is described as incredibly sadistic, including breaking detainees legs with baseball bats, applying chemicals to detainees eyes and skin, kept in rooms at extremely hot and cold temperatures, and other techniques. The soldiers said the mistreatment was ordered by Military Intelligence personnel as an interrogation tactic and to “relieve stress.”

The Saudis Call The Iraq War Destabilizing.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and his government is concerned that the war in Iraq could lead to the destabilization of the entire Middle East. Al-Faisal said a possible break up of Iraq “will draw the countries of the region into conflict.” Fearing Iran’s influence as the Iraqi Shiites gain more control of Iraq, al-Faisal said the Bush administration ignored Saudi warnings that an Iraq war would lead to destabilizing effect on the region. Prince Saud said, “It is frustrating to see something that is clearly going to happen, and you are not listened to by a friend, and soon harm comes out of it. It hurts.”

Americans Not So Giving To Iraq.

While millions and millions have poured in to help those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Observer of London is reporting that hasn’t been the case with Iraq.

Last month the Bush administration made an plea to the American people to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq. The appeal was launched earlier this month to “give the American People a stake” in the rebuilding of Iraq. That plea has raised a grand total of 600 bucks.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

This Is What Democracy Looks Like.

As many as a million people descended upon Washington to call for peace and the end of the war in Iraq. Thousands upon thousands gathered near the Ellipse at noon, rallying for peace, and demonstrating with street theater.

As I approached the Ellipse I came across a field of make-shift white crosses, just as we saw at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas during Cindy Sheehan’s protest outside of George Bush’s ranch. As I got closer to the growing massive crowd, with the Washington Monument right next to us, you could already see elaborate protest signs depicting a not-so-flattering image of our nation’s leaders.

I saw this guy standing on 15th Street, waiting for the march to begin. His sign gave me a laugh, and I insisted on taking a picture of him with it. He was more than happy to oblige.

The crowd continued to grow before the march began, with so many people filling the streets that you felt like you were in a can of sardines. Up and down Constitution Ave and 15th Street was a massive group people, stretching as far as the eye could see.

On the corner of Constitution and 15th five protesters climbed a column, playing a drum and chanting protests of, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Bush has got to go!” in repetition, encouraging the gathering crowd to join them.

Finally, the march kicked off, but because the crowd was so large, it was more like a shuffle.

I hurried up ahead to get a better look at some of the different groups participating. Among them, were Veterans For Peace, who marched with the US flag leading to procession, as they sang their cadence.

Up ahead were a large group of protesters holding cardboard likenesses of burned Iraqi bodies. They were led by a procession of drummers, who mimicked the sounds of artilliary being shot at them. As the drumming sped up the bodies waved back and forth more dramatically, looking as if a herd of desperate people were running for their lives. With a final roll, the drumming stopped, and the bodies fell to the ground, recreating an impromptu die-in.

I marched on, trying to get ahead of Veterans and the die-ins. As I went ahead, I saw this woman holding this sign, right before the march turned left onto Pennsylvania Ave.

As soon as I turned onto Pennsylvania, it began to rain. Long lines of rope stretched up and down the street, with images of soldiers who had died in Iraq.

Here, we caught our first glimpse of some “counter-protesters.” The Billionaires For Bush were there in force, standing on the sidewalk, holding some humorous signs.

The march began to slow down to a crawl, and I began to wonder why. Perhaps the police were causing trouble up ahead. As I marched further, trying to dart around people, I saw a large group of people dancing, with the sounds of drums blaring in the distance. I was wondering why everyone decided to suddenly break down into song and dance until I looked over to my left. We had arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and the crowd wanted to make sure that the administration heard us loud and clear.

Outside the White House was some interesting characters, such as this man on stilts, depicting a likeness of Uncle Sam mixed with Pinocchio.

This was not the first peace protest I’d been too. I’d been to a few where the number of cops had outnumbered the protesters by 2 to 1. I had never seen a single incident of violence at a single one of these protests that was not initiated by the police. At this protest, I got my first glimpse of any police presence. Despite that this was by far the largest peace protest I had ever attended, the police very extraordinarily laid back. Some 30 feet away, half way across Lafayette Park were a group of police on horseback. Children approached them to pet the horses, and the police obliged.

At one point, one police officer got his horse to prance around in circles, in beat to our drumming outside the White House. It was hilarious.

We began to wonder with all this ruckus, if the President would make an appearance. To our surprise he did show up. Standing on the sidewalk outside the White House, he was holding a briefcase which was labeled “secret memos”, as he held world, a pretzel, and a quart of oil in his hands. Right behind him was Dick Cheney and none other than Satan himself.

As I left the White House, I noticed a few police officers who were standing guard between the building and us. They numbered only about a half dozen, and they looked quite bored.

As the march continued down to the other side of Lafayette Park, a few people stopped to sit down and take a rest.

I was beginning to tire myself, and thought I should head back a bit early, so I wouldn’t be stuck on the Metro with a million other people all trying to get back home.

As the march headed down 14th Street we finally got to some genuine counter-protesters. They were lied up along one sidewalk, and numbered at most to be about 30 people. As the massive peace protest walked past them, they were shouted down with chants of “Sign up!” and “Enlist!”

At that point I left the march because my feet had begun to blister. I had been marching for the last 4 hours. It was a lot of fun, and certainly worth it to participate in his historic march to end the war in Iraq. The size of our numbers made it clear who the majority was. This is what democracy looks like.

Friday, September 23, 2005

An Open Letter To The DLC Democrats.

September 23, 2005
By Alva Goldbook

As a genuine Liberal, I have a confession I would like to make. In 2000 I proudly voted on the Green ticket for Ralph Nader. Many progressives did. And if I had to relive that moment a million times over, even knowing what I know now, and how horrific the Bush presidency would become, I would proudly do it again.

In 2000 we were given a choice. The choice was between a drunk failure who could be counted on to never do a thing for the American People. But what you didn’t see what that the other option was to vote for a robotic plastic failure who would do never do a thing for the American People.

Let me say right now, I respect Al Gore. I think he legitimately won the 2000 election. He has done some great things since then. But he was a candidate that I could never have voted for.

Why you ask? Wouldn’t voting for Nader just be a vote for Bush?

Let me answer you this way: why should I have voted for Al Gore?

Perhaps some of you DLC Dems have looked around at the battlefield and have come to a conclusion that the American People just don’t want some radical kooky left winger in there. America would prefer someone who is a bit more conservative, and that you can win by playing it safe and staying in the middle. But as Jim Hightower famously put it: there’s nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos. It’s long overdue for you to get rid of the yellow stripes down your backs.

When you look around America today and you see the destruction of New Orleans, the high gas prices that are squeezing the middle class, the loss of jobs that are going overseas to Timbuktu, you can always look yourselves in the mirror and say, “see what happens when Republicans run everything.”

Yes, Bush has done much harm to this great nation, but it isn’t Bush you should be blaming. You should be blaming yourselves.

In 2004 so many of you were hopeful that we would see a Kerry presidency. But why? Because, for once your team would actually win, and get to reap the rewards too? Time after time I heard the same thing. “I would rather vote for a ham and cheese sandwich than George W. Bush.” Guess what? Kerry was that ham and cheese on rye.

The sad fact is that you middle-of-the-road-let’s-play-it-safe Democrats brought this on us. You did not fight to stop it. And it is not you who are paying the price, it is US.

It was you who cost the Democrats control of the House and Senate. It was you who bent over backwards to Newt Gingrich. It was you who didn’t fight for an increase in the minimum wage in the last 8 years. It was you who passed NAFTA that sent millions of good paying American jobs overseas. It was you who allowed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to pass, giving way for the creation of the Fox News Channel. It was you who have done virtually nothing to ensure that Americans have access to health care. It was you who passed the morbid Bankruptcy bill. And it was you who allowed this administration to send nearly 2,000 of our troops to their deaths in an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. It’s time for you to take a good hard look and mirror and acknowledge who you are. You are turncoats.

There’s the sad fact that you continually forget. Nobody would choose a rubber ham and cheese sandwich over the real thing. That is why the Republicans control everything. They are wrong, immorally corrupt, and don’t have a clue how to properly run a nation…but they at least say what they mean. When Bush says “some call you the elite, I call you my base,” he means it. He’s unapologetic about it. And he supports that elite each and every day with every breath he has. The question is, when are you going to start supporting us?

Two days ago a read a letter by Nancy Greggs that said you should either get a spine or resign. But I say if you are not ready, at this very moment to be our representatives, then you should not only resign, but you should leave the Democratic Party.

If you do not support pulling all American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support a woman’s right to choose and would instead want the government to make that decision for her, then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support ending the death penalty for all criminal crimes, no matter how heinous they are, then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support an immediate and dramatic increase in the minimum wage, making it a real living wage of at least $10 an hour, and then fixing it to inflation, then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support a universal single payer health care system that every other industrial nation on earth enjoys then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support the US completely pulling out of NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and the WTO then you should leave the party.

If you don’t support completely repealing the USA Patriot Act that gives the FBI the right to look at which books I check out of the library and to violate my 4th amendment right to be secure in my persons, papers, and affects against unreasonable searches and seizures then you should leave the party.

If you support Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Bectel, Halliburton or any other massive transnational corporation over small local businesses than you should leave the party.

And if you think you can win a war on terror by dropping bombs on the heads of innocent people instead of giving them the same opportunities that Americans USED to enjoy, then you most definitely should leave the party.

It’s not that hard. All you have to do is look into your hearts, and say exactly what you mean. Be honest. Be true. And have the guts to be honest and true. And if you’re too much a coward to do that, then do this great nation a favor and get the hell out of the way.

The Defense Department Identified 9/11 Hijackers A Year Before The Attacks.

Reuters is reporting that the Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committing is accusing the Pentagon of stonewalling an inquiry into claims that the Defense Department had identified four of the terrorist hijackers over a year before the 9/11 attacks.

The Defense Department has barred several witnesses from testifying before the judiciary committee on pre-9/11 intelligence on a covert operation known as Able Danger. The Pentagon has claimed that the witnesses cannot testify on classified information.

The judiciary chairmen, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who once served as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said “that looks to me like it may be obstruction of the committee’s activities, something we will have to determine.” Specter continued by saying, “The American people are entitled to some answers.”

Members of the military team Able Danger said they had identified the September 11th mastermind Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers in the early months of 2000. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer said that members of the Able Danger team tried three times to pass the information to the FBI, but were forced by Pentagon lawyers to cancel the meetings.

New Orleans Floods Again.

As millions are again fleeing the Gulf Coast, the effects of Hurricane Rita is already being felt. Millions have fled Houston, that nation’s 4th most populous city, and have been stuck in 14 hour traffic jams. Some of those stuck in the traffic on Interstate 45 have run out of gas, and police and national guard is reportedly attempting to deliver gas to strainded motorists.

In New Orleans, there are oral reports coming that the city’s damaged levees have again begin to break. USA Today is reporting that waters have begin to overtop the Inner Harbor Canal. In some of the low lying areas of the city around Canal Street there are unconfirmed reports that flood waters have again begun to rise as high as four feet.

Bush Vows To Stay The Course…Again.

Just two days before a massive anti-war protest in the nation’s capital, President Bush said Thursday in an address at the Pentagon that the he would not withdraw US forces from Iraq.

Bush said that withdrawing US forces would not happen “on my watch”, saying that it would give terrorists the ability to “claim an historic victory over the United States.”

In speaking of the rapidly growing anti-war movement, Bush said, “Their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001.”

Bill Frist Under Investigation By The SEC.

After questions were raised yesterday on Bill Frist’s possible insider trading of his stock with his family’s company, Hospital Corporation of America, the Securities and Exchange Commission has contact the Senate Majority Leader’s office. A spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican made the announcement Thursday.

Iraqi Officials Cut Relations And Demand Apology From The British.

Iraqi officials in Basra had decided to cut off relations with the occupation forces until the British military and government provide compensation and an apology for a British attack on an Iraqi prison that left 5 Iraqi civilians dead and 44 wounded.

The 41 member Basra Governing Council said the decision cut ties with the occupation came after a meeting Thursday night, as demonstrations have erupted in the city, calling for the British to leave.

Britain Looking For An “Exit Ticket.”

The Guardian is reporting that despite public claims to the contrary, diplomats in the UK’s Foreign Office are working frantically to developing an “exit ticket” from Iraq.

The Foreign Office is attempting work out a plan to begin British and US troop reduction next year, but that the violence in Iraq is making task more difficult. The ambitions for Iraq has been reduced, as a Foreign Office official said. The official said, “we will settle for leaving behind an Iraqi democracy that is creaking along.”

Bush Waives Saudi Sex And Slave Trade.

The Associated Press is reporting that on Wednesday President Bush decided to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia for failing to halt the slave trade of prostitutes, child sex workers, and forced laborers.

Of the 14 nations that the State Department said in June that was failing to adequately address the problem of human trafficking, Bush concluded that Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates had made enough improvements to avoid any cuts in foreign aid.

However, Cuba, Myanmar and North Korea were left as the only nations on the list of 14 that are barred completely for receiving any kinds of foreign aid. The White House offered no explanation for different treatment.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bill Frist: Inside Trader?

The Associated Press is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) sold all of his stock in his family’s hospital corporation just two weeks before it issued a lower than expected earning report that caused the price to fall by 15%

The value of Frist’s stock has not been disclosed, but Forbes magazine has said that the Frist family is worth $1.1 billion dollars.

This isn’t the first time the Frist family’s Hospital Corporation of America has been a problem for the Republican Senator. In 2000, HCA was forced to pay $745 million in civil fines and penalties in an alleged conspiracy to defraud public health care programs by bribing doctors to submit false bills. In addition, HCA was forced to pay over $95 million to settle criminal fraud charges against the company.

HCA employees and it’s political action committee have given Frist more than $80,000 in campaign contributions over his political career.

Faulty Levee Design Caused Flooding.

The Washington Post is reporting that the levee system in New Orleans failed not because the storm surges were so strong, so much as the construction of the levees were poorly done.

This flies in the face of the Army Corps of Engineers’ explaination that Hurricane Katrina’s storm surges were just too massive. The Corps have said that the levees were only design to withstand no greater than a Category 3 storm, and that the flood from nearby Lake Pontchartrain were caused by storm surges overtopping the walls.

However, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina’s surges have been overstated, and did not come close to overtopping the levee system. Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center’s deputy director said the barriers failed not because of overtopping, but because of “catastrophic structural failure” that should have been easily able to withstand the hurricane. Heerden said that “we are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped.”

Dear Elected Democrats...

September 21, 2005
By Nancy Greggs

It’s time we had a little talk.

I am a Democrat. While I do not deign to speak for everyone of my party, I do keep up with current political news and have been made aware, painfully so, of a certain attitude amongst my fellow party members that is impossible to ignore. I don’t speak for everyone, but I do speak in concert with many.

For the past four-plus years, we have watched our once-great nation dissolve into something unrecognizable. It is now a nation where torture of our fellow human beings is accepted policy; a nation where American citizens can be held in prison, indefinitely and incommunicado, without charge.

It has become a nation where hard-working Americans watch their jobs and their way of life shipped overseas, where the middle class is constantly under siege in a battle that can no longer be won. It is a nation where our senior citizens must choose between medicine and food, and, more recently, where Americans must choose between food and the necessary funds to fill their gas tanks in order to get to work.

We are angry, very angry. Not only as Democrats, but as Republicans, Greens and Independents; we, as a nation, are angry. And the pressing question is: where have you been?

For too long now, it seemed as though your collective strategy to deal with this Administration has been “give them enough rope, and they’ll hang themselves.” Well, congratulations. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they have hung themselves with a vengeance.

We have now seen how their stewardship of our government agencies has played out, thanks to the patronage appointments of people with no training or skill, thanks to the gutting of budgets to these agencies in order to more fully fund an unwinnable war in Iraq that was, from the outset, based on lies.

Yes, they have hung themselves. But at the cost of how many lives, lives both lost and damaged beyond repair? Do you intend to dole out more rope, hoping they’ll do themselves in yet again? Which American city are you willing to sacrifice next? How many lives are you willing to see lost or destroyed in order to be able to stand back and say, “Well, we told you so!”

This is not the time for handing out more rope. This is the time for figuratively tying that rope around this Administration’s neck and yanking on it for all you’re worth.

We are past the point of bargaining with these people. We are past the point of saying, “I’ll just give in to them on this one issue, this one policy, and things will work themselves out down the road.”

We are no longer fighting over gay marriage, or the public display of the Ten Commandments. We are past the point of debating the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, or whether flag-burning is a crime. Those things may be important to some of us, somewhere down the line.

But when Americans die on their own native soil as a result of this Administration’s incompetence and self-serving political agenda, it is time to focus on a more important goal: the very survival of our nation as it was, as it could be, as it was envisioned more than two hundred years ago by people who put their very lives on the line to make it everything it should be.

You might ask the age-old question: where is the outrage? Believe me, it’s out here. Check out the websites, read the angry letters, listen to the conversation at the local diner. We are outraged indeed.

The more pertinent question is: where is your outrage? You are the people elected to reflect the thoughts, attitudes and will of the people you represent. Where has that outrage been reflected in your behavior over the last four years?

There are those among you who often inspire confidence – the passion of Kennedy, the no-nonsense eloquence of Boxer, the knight-like sense of purpose of Conyers, the poetic statesmanship of Byrd.

But while their words and actions inspire the masses, they seem to go unnoticed and unsupported by many of you who sit in public office. Where were you when the 2000 election was stolen, and the facts of same were blatantly obvious? Where were you when the Ohio vote in 2004 was being questioned, when irregularities were surfacing on an hour-by-hour basis? Why did John Conyers deliver his petition without a vast contingent of his colleagues standing proudly behind him? In short: why do we never see you doing anything?

I realize that many of you have your own political ambitions, and want to retain the position you now hold, or even move beyond it someday. There have been times in the past when – although I don’t agree with it – I could appreciate your reticence in standing up for issues that might lose you the support of American voters.

But what is your excuse now? You don’t have to fund massive surveys to know, without a question of a doubt, that the majority of Americans – not just Democrats, but Americans – feel that the country is on the wrong track. The vast majority of Americans now believe that Iraq is all but a lost cause, that our dependence on foreign oil is a catastrophe, that the ever-ballooning deficit is a time-bomb waiting to go off, if not in our lifetime, certainly in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren.

To put it succinctly: what in God’s name are you waiting for? How far do you think a do-nothing, sit-on-the-fence attitude about everything that is currently undermining our American way of life will get you in future? How many voters do you think will be bothered to go the polls and cast a ballot in your favor, when they’ve seen nothing of meaning having been accomplished to date?

There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of you are decent, well-meaning people with the best of intentions at heart. But intentions without words are meaningless, and words without action are without consequence.

I am loathe to condense the feelings of millions of Democrats down to a bumper-sticker, but for the sake of the bluntness called for here, I will do it just the same: Get a Spine, or Resign.

We Democrats are a patriotic, visionary group. We have funds to contribute to campaigns, the will to volunteer our time and resources, the votes to put the right people in office. But we are not likely to expend these things on people who sit by and do nothing. In the past few months, I have been horrified to hear devoted Democrats I know saying things like, “Next election, I’ll vote Green or Independent,” or, worse yet, “Next election, I won’t vote at all.” Their reasons for saying so are all too valid: why vote for people who have consistently sat in silence while our democracy is being dismantled?

Many times in the past, especially watching the events of the last few weeks unfold, I have thought that the Democrats would handily win next year’s mid-terms, and the presidency in 2008 – not through effort, but by default, simply because the country will be ready for a change in view of the disastrous path this administration has led us down. As a stand-up comic once said, “Of course the meek shall inherit the earth – they’ll be too timid to refuse it.”

Unfortunately, I am now having visions of a different turn, visions of a Republican presidential hopeful standing up and saying, “I’ve seen where we’ve gone wrong. Vote for me, and I'll make it right.” His campaign speeches will be carefully worded to avoid placing any blame on Bush, or his supporters. It will simply be a matter of suggesting a ‘correction’ here and there, after which everything – the economy, the situation in Iraq, the security of our borders – will all be back on track.

What will you say then? That he’s saying the very things you should have said all along, but didn’t?

It is time for each of you to examine your own conscience. Am I up to the job of representing my constituents? Am I willing to stand up for what my constituents believe in, without regard to how it might affect my own political ambitions? Am I willing to fight for what is right, instead of meekly sitting on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to speak up?

If you are not up to the job, step down now and let it be filled by someone who is willing to take what is happening to our country seriously; someone who is ready to fight – and, more importantly, to win.

We are about to enter a battle – no, a war – to save our democracy from an Administration whose only goal is the financial enrichment of themselves and their corporate cronies, and the economic enslavement of those unfortunate enough to be born into the poorer and working classes.

You may think I am over-stating the situation. I can assure you that millions of Democrats would accuse me of not stating it vociferously enough.

As I’ve said, we Democrats are a great party. We have the guts to fight for what is right, and the will to see that fight through to the end. We are a great bunch of people. We would like you to join us.

There is still time to make this right, to take up the sword of battle and lead. And if you choose to do so, you won’t ever have to look behind you. I assure you, there will be an army of millions at your back.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

US To Burn Food Rations For Hurricane Survivors.

The Mirror of Britain is reporting that the US government plans to burn 400,000 rations of food shipped from Britain to feed the hungry survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The Mirror reported that the Food and Drug Agency has determined that the NATO ration packs are unfit for human consumption, despite that British troops are eating them in Iraq. Additionally, thousands of gallons of pear juice donated by Israeli relief agencies has already been destroyed, and food from Spain and Italy has also been judged unfit for human consumption.

White House Aide Arrested.

The White House’s head procurement officer, David Safavian, was arrested on Monday on charges of obstructing a federal investigation and making false statements into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Safavian, who was the chief of Procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, has been accused by the Justice Department of aiding an unnamed lobbyist to acquire government property to take a golf trip to Scotland with said lobbyist. This marks the first criminal complaint filed against the ongoing corruption probe against Abramoff.

Mississippi Sues Insurance Companies.

Jim Hood, the Mississippi Attorney General is suing five private insurance companies, saying adjusters are attempting to trick Hurricane Katrina survivors out of millions of dollars in homeowner claims. The insurance companies are offering $3,000 in living expenses if the homeowners sign a waiver saying that damage to their property was caused by flooding not covered in the homeowner’s insurance policies.

FBI Focuses On Fighting Pornography.

The FBI is now recruiting agents for a new anti-obscenity unit, aimed at fighting pornography. The FBI job posting shows that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez believes that fighting pornography is one of the Justice Department’s “top priorities.”

Make no mistake, there is a serious problem with the exploitation of children in the pornography industry in the form of child porn. However, shouldn’t the Justice Department be more focused on preventing terrorist attacks, white collar crime, violence in the streets, and kidnapping?

Army To Recruit High School Dropouts.

With a plan announced Tuesday, the Army will begin enlisting high school drop-outs as recruits. The military is offering to pay the recruits to attend a GED test preparation class and to cover the cost of taking a GED exam. The Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve has fallen short of their annual recruiting goals.

One Billion Dollars Stolen From Iraq Defense Ministry.

The Independent of London is reporting that as much as $1 billion has been stolen from the Iraq Defense Ministry under the US-backed government of Ayad Allawi. An arrest warrant has been issued for Hazem al-Shaalan, the former Defense Minister, in what is possibly the largest thefts in human history.

White House To Blame Environmentalists For Hurricane Flooding.

The Mississippi Clarion Ledger is reporting that the Justice Department has indicated that the Bush administration may seek to blame the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina on environmentalists. The Clarion Ledger obtained some internal emails from the Justice Department, coming from various US attorneys offices on whether they have defended any cases involving environmental groups attempting to block the Army Corps of Engineers from working on the levees around New Orleans.

Republican Governor Calls For Wiretapping Mosques.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has called for law enforcement agents to begin wiretapping mosques. In a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation he said, “How many individuals are coming to our state and going to those institutions who have come from terrorist-sponsored states? Do we know where they are? Are we tracking them?”

Romney, who is a likely Republican candidate for president in 2008, may not have considered that perhaps mosques aren’t the only thing that should be considered for wire tapping.

Tim McVeigh, who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, and Eric Rudolph, were set off a pipe bomb at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta were both devout Christians. Should the federal government include Baptist churches in such a wiretapping scheme? Would Romney be the first to agree? Somehow, I think not.

73 Year Old Woman Held For Looting Sausages.

Merlene Maten, a 73 year old woman, is being held in jail for looting sixty dollars worth of sausage. Maten was staying in a hotel in New Orleans with her 80 year old husband at the time of her arrest. She said they had followed orders to stock up on food and had stored some sausage in her car. When she took the sausage from the car, police handcuffed her and put her in jail. Maten was bail was set at $50,000, 100 times to maximum $500 fine for minor theft under Louisiana state law.

The Army Corps Of Engineers Admits To Mistakes.

The chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock admitted that the federal government should have pre-positioned more sandbags and helicopters around New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Strock said that doing so would have allowed the military to quickly repair the broken levees.

Another Union Pulls Out Of The AFL-CIO.

United Here has officially withdrawn from the AFL-CIO, following suit with three other unions who have withdrawn from the labor federation. The Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers have all recently defected from the AFL-CIO.

Homeland Security Chief Failed In Katrina Response.

Knight Ridder is reporting that it was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former head of FEMA Michael Brown, who had the authority to mobilize the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Internal records show that Chertoff failed to give Brown the authority to react until 36 hours after the storm hit the Gulf Coast.

The Knight Ridder report found that Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action with any request from state and local officials, even before the Katrina reached landfall. This according to the procedures laid out in the National Response Plan.

Additionally, Knight Ridder has obtained an internal memo that indicates that Chertoff might have been confused about his lead role in the disaster response.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

GOP Blocks Numerous Investigations Into White House Corruption.

Despite that a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll shows that 70% of the Americans support an independent investigation into the federal government’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina, Senate Republicans have rejected a proposal by Hillary Clinton for such an investigation on a party line vote of 54 to 44.

This marks a continuing strategy by the GOP to simply block all investigations into White House wrong doing. In the House, Republicans blocked attempts by Democrats to force the Bush administration to reveal pre-war intelligence documents about Iraq in connection to the Downing Street Memo. The British memo shows that the United States has planned to attack Iraq a year before the war began, and that intelligence was “fixed” to justify the invasion.

Last Wednesday, Republicans on the International Relations and Judiciary Committees rejected attempts by Democrats to force the Bush administration to turn over information and records in relation to the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Did Condi Lie To The 9/11 Commission?

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission has come under scrutiny in light of recently declassified sections of the report. Rice, then the National Security Advisor to the President, told the 9/11 Commission that “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.”

However, Rice’s testimony, which eerily resembled the President’s recent false claim that nobody could have imagined the levees breaking in New Orleans, has come into question due to newly declassified sections of the 9/11 report. The information reveals that the Federal Aviation Administration was warned as far back as 1998 that Al Qaeda could “seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a US landmark.” Additionally, further declassified sections show that two of the three airports used by hijackers had suffered repeated security lapses, and that officials were aware of the lapses months before the September 11th attacks.

The Nitwit Planet Shoppe Is Now Open.

I have just opened a new merchandise shop on Spreadshirt. There’s shirts of all types and sizes, and even a Nitwit Planet mouse pad! Like the Nitwit Planet Goodies from Café Press, all the profits will go to help our fellow Americans who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, until the end of the year.

I have moved all the clothing off of Café Press, but you can still purchase vinyl bumper stickers there. Also, if you want any particular kind of item that you don’t see listed, e-mail me and I’ll see what I can do.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Have You Been Touched By His Noodly Appendage?

Last June, the Kansas Board of Education sought to include Intelligent Design into Kansas’ school rooms, giving it equal time to the theory of evolution. That was until Bobby Henderson had anything to do with it.

Henderson, an out of work physics major, wrote an open letter to the school board, demanding his own religion’s theory of the creation of the universe be included in the school’s curriculum, and given a third equal time with evolution and Intelligent Design, and if they refused, he would take legal action against them. Henderson’s religion? He is the founding member of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose members call themselves “Pastafarians,” believe that the entire universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and that all evidence pointing towards evolution was intentionally planted by Him. The FSM created the world starting with a mountain, trees and a midget, and guides mankind with His “noodly appendage.” Most importantly, Pastafarians believe that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct consequence of the decline in numbers of pirates since the 1800s.

Henderson concluded his letter to the Kansas Board of Education by saying, “I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

An Open Letter To Christopher Hitchens.

Mr. Hitchens,
I heard you debate Mr. Galloway the other day, and I have to say that I was quite impressed by your presentation. Not really with the weight of your arguments, but with a certain inability to be honest with the audience.

I find it quite strange how a man who so highly admires George Orwell could pen this “A War To Be Proud Of.” It seems to me that despite war is sometimes necessary to maintain one’s freedom and autonomy, it is never anything to be proud of, nor would I suggest that any war in the history of mankind ever was.

That aside, I find it remarkably disingenuous to compare the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib under American control with the same prison under Saddam. For one, the American public simply has not seen all the evidence of what has happened at the prison, and currently the Bush administration is fighting like cats and dogs to prevent the American people from seeing it. The argument seems to be the administration does not wish to “embarrass” the Iraqi detainees further, by showing the American people just how brutally they have been beaten, raped, and killed. It is an argument of such repugnancy that it simply does not merit any further comment.

But given all this, the best one could possibly say is that the United States does not torture Iraqis as gruesome a manner as did Saddam. This is akin to a battered wife thinking that her husband is not so bad after all, because this time he didn’t break her ribs.

It is also dishonest to suggest that Saddam Hussein (the aggressor against Kuwait) shared a “deep and abiding hatred” of the United States. Prior to Saddam’s invasion of it’s southern neighbor, Iraq was indeed our ally. Even from his jail cell he has said that he deeply misses his friend Ronald Reagan.

Before Saddam invaded, the United States had declared victory in the Cold War. There were pressures for the American People to finally enjoy a peace dividend. The Defense Department saw it’s spending cut, and further cuts were in the works. The George H.W. Bush administration needed a war, and needed one quick.

It is true that Saddam was faced with leading his nation into another war, hoping this time it might be successful. However, when Saddam asked the US ambassador to Iraqi, April Gillespie, if an invasion of Kuwait would be an issue, Gillespie said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Gillespie went on to say, “[Secretary of State] James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”

Would Saddam ever have invaded Kuwait if at that moment the Bush administration had told Saddam straight out that if you were to invade you would see your support from the United States disappear and your presidency overthrown? I hardly think so.

During the Indonesian occupation and genocide in East Timor, Suharto was only able to act as long as liberal and conservative US presidents kept the arms flowing. The occupation was dealt a death blow overnight with a single telephone call from President Clinton. That set in motion Timor’s independence, and a new democracy was born. The same could have been done in the case of Saddam invading Kuwait, but George H.W. Bush had ulterior motives.

I am further appalled that no matter what the circumstances, that you could say that “Osama bin Laden did us all a service” in the attacks on 9/11. I remember the horror of that day quite starkly, as a northern Virginia resident I spent much of that morning hoping loved ones weren’t dead. 8 people from my hometown of Woodbridge and dozens of others in nearby communities weren’t so lucky.

One thing that is genuinely overlooked by the neoconservatives, such as yourself, is that as despicable as the Talliban was, they at least brought some order to the place. They may not have permitted Afghans to own pet parakeets and to watch television, but they also didn’t permit them to grow poppies. Since that time poppy production has soured, and heroin hooks and kills more New Yorkers every year than bin Laden had ever hoped. Unfortunately, the United States made the mistake of aiding that Talliban in Afghanistan (just as it once aided Saddam, as well as Osama bin Laden), and paid the price for that colossal blunder. The United States continues to blunder as today it supports the Talliban-style government of Uzbekistan - who are quite fond of boiling dissidents alive - as well as Turkey, whose oppression against the Kurds is right up there with Saddam’s own exploits.

You are correct that the United States managed to overthrow the Talliban in Afghanistan, but it came with a price. It behooves one to recall that it was the Talliban who threw the Bush administration a bone, and offered to turn bin Laden over to a third party. Had Bush not foolishly declared that negotiations were not on the table, the terrorist attacks on the UK and Spain would likely have not happened. And while the Talliban no longer controls Kabul, they do control much of the countryside.

And you are again correct that Saddam’s Iraq had invaded its neighbors - with US assistance - and committed genocide on its own soil - namely the 1988 gassing of the Kurds, with US supplied WMDs. Those facts are inarguable, as they are well established fact. However, if these are the conditions for which a nation is to sacrifice its legal sovereignty, than I dare say that Saddam’s Iraq is not alone in the world. Given that the United States has repeatedly invaded nations around the world; has stood as the only nation guilty of aggression by the International Criminal Court; had committed genocide on its own soil on a level that would have made Hitler cringe; harbored numerous wanted international terrorists in Boston, New York City, and Miami; and has illegally given weapons to third world dictators in violation of US federal law; then should the United States be stripped of its sovereignty?

I realize that you, Mr. Hitchens, have a general distain for religion, but why are you so eager to acknowledge the splinter in Saddam’s eye, when there is an entire Home Deport lumberyard in your own? It is true that a few scattered terrorists made Iraq their home, but one could say this of with some certainty of every nation on earth - perhaps with the exception of Greenland. That is hardly a reason to suggest that Saddam was harboring terrorists. If one is to be honest, you should recognize that the primary funding for terrorist operations originate in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Bandar bin Sultan has been a key player in this. His own wife, Princess Haifa has written numerous personal checks to those very terrorist groups you dislike so much. Meanwhile, one should rightfully recall that bin Laden and his marry band of Islamists were exiled from Saudi Arabia when he sought to invade Iraq and overthrow that “socialist infidel.”

Bin Laden wasn’t the only one who attempted such an overthrow. Anslar al-Islam, which primarily operated in NE Iraq outside of Saddam’s reach, wished to see the Baathist government gone as well. A spokesman for the group said that, “we believe that Saddam Hussein, him and his ministers also, are outside of Islamist zone,” and that Saddam and his government is, “also our enemy.” The United States did al-Qaeda’s work for them by getting rid of that “socialist infidel,” and they are now there to make sure that the Islamist revolution started in Egypt and won a foot hold in Iran has now spread to Iraq. No matter what one thinks of this war, an Islamic Iraq does not spell victory.

It may be a bit cliché, but I think it is important to remember the definition of insanity is “trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Just how many ‘insurgents’ is it necessary to kill, before we realize that the US occupation of Iraq is not the solution, but the problem?

But what I find most disturbing is your argument that it is silly that we - being the United States - should never mind the consequences of being “mean” to the people of the Middle East. This argument might have some credence if one is to assume that the Iraqis are children who must be disciplined. It is the old colonial concept that we must teach the savages to be civilized. In the end that experiment ended with the “savages” wiped out, but not without them teaching us ‘Muricans fundamental lessons from the Iroquois Confederacy that has stood as the blueprint for the American system of government that we enjoy today. Similarly, we are behaving as if the Iraqis are incapable to govern themselves, but that instead we must lead them by the hand, while we drop high explosives upon their heads, because only we know how to teach them to be civilized.

It is as if a drunkard is surprised that when he spends years beating his Rottweiler that one day his dog when bite the hands that beats him. Mr. Hitchens, the Iraqi people are not children and they are not dogs, they are human beings. And while a bully may be able to chase his victim with a Lewisville Slugger for years, constantly beating him upside his head, one should be hardly surprised when one day his victim turns around and slugs him. And if that baseball bat was big enough, and the beatings lasted long enough, one should hardly be surprised to one day see that bully beheaded. After all, the flight or fight response is a basic element of human nature.

Another, more wiser than I said it more eloquently,

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alva Goldbook.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush Tells Condi He Needs To Pee.

Recently, we’ve suffered through a month long stand-off at Bush’s “ranch”, and a flood that has wiped out an entire US city. The heavy news I’m sure will not end soon, as next weekend there will be a massive antiwar protest in the nation’s capital. Given that, every once in a while it’s nice to be able to report some news that’s just plain funny.

The Times of London is reporting that while at the Security Council meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday, President Bush picked up a pencil and wrote a short note to Secretary of State Condi Rice.

Bush to Condi:
“I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible W.”

The number of puns one could think of here is well, limitless. For now, I will simply allow Leno and Letterman to the work for me, and just like this image speak for itself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush Admits The Impossible: He Screwed Up.

On Tuesday, President Bush for only the second time in his 5 year presidency, did something right. He admitted that “the federal government didn’t fully do its job right” and said what almost no one on the left ever imagined he’d ever say: “I take responsibility.”

I couldn’t believe my hears, eyes, and the rest of my senses. Could this be happening? Was Bush really admitting that he screwed up?

When I heard the news I thought maybe someone had dropped some acid into my chocolate soy milk. Maybe I was beginning to enjoy a ride to Disneyland and the stuff was just kicking in. I pondered if I should rush to my computer and look up the latest AP wire or if I should pop in a few Pink Floyd records and turn on the black light.

I figured I shouldn’t get my hopes up and give Floyd a pass until I checked the news online. I scrambled to my computer and started greasing my Google. And there it was: “Bush Takes Responsibility for Blunders” right there on the ABC News website.

“Oh my God”, I said. “Maybe this guy wasn’t so bad after all.” A bit in shock, I also recalled that just a few days ago this administration did something else right too - they recalled FEMA Director Mike Brown back to Washington, who just days later turned in his resignation, and put Thad Allen in charge of the Katrina clean up. I was sure Allen could get the job done better since he was an experienced Coast Guard admiral, and who better to head up the relief effort? I know if I was stuck in a city where everyone was drowning, I’d want the Coast Guard looking out for me. I mean, their job is to keep people from drowning in the first place!

Then it hit me. Maybe the Bush administration had finally turned the corner. Maybe President Bush and the rest of the neocons saw the horror of New Orleans and collectively had a sudden epiphany. Maybe they suddenly realized that at their helm their extremist right wing ideology was destroying everything America was founded upon, including the lives of everyday American citizens. That when playing these stakes the cost wasn’t whether or not a few of their friends could keep more of their tax dollars, but the cost of the lives of thousands of Americans being abandoned and left to drown.

Finally it was over. The horror of neo-fascism that had left the United States a shell of the country it once was, and the most hated nation on the planet had ended. Finally, the president could admit that he had been led astray like a lamb, but finally he had seen the light.

He could finally admit that it was wrong to snap and shout at his underlings, because if they were afraid to give him bad news then he could not act to fix it. He could finally admit that it was wrong to dismantle FEMA by eviscerating its leadership and replacing them with his own political clown hacks. But that wasn’t all.

He could admit it was wrong to have his spinmeisters attack a grieving mother just because she was critical of him. He could instead meet with her and let her ask, “What noble cause did my son die for?” He could humbly say that there was no noble cause, and in his tears he could beg her to forgive him for destroying her family. He could admit that it was wrong to use force to steal Iraq’s oil and to win “political capital” to get his agenda passed. He could admit it was wrong to put a single one of our soldiers in harm’s way for his ill-conceived messianic vision of the world, and that he would bring them home just as quickly as planes could fly. He could admit that even though Saddam was a brutal killer, that at least he didn’t make Iraq an Islamist nation where women would be forced into burkas. He could admit that it was wrong to kill 100,000 or more Iraqis in a fire storm of bombs and death. He could admit that he was wrong that Saddam didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction to begin with, and that it was wrong to open an Office of Special Plans to manipulate intelligence. He could admit that it was wrong to sack General Shenseki for telling Congress the truth that it would require thousands more troops to secure Iraq for the peace. He could admit that it was wrong to out Joe Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame, bringing down an entire CIA operation designed to catch leading terrorists like Osama bin Laden, just to get retribution against him for telling the truth about the forged Niger documents that proved that Saddam couldn’t have gotten yellowcake uranium to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. He could admit that it was wrong to torture innocent people in Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay, keeping them cages like rapid dogs. He could admit that it was wrong to put American citizens in “free speech zones” when they were simply trying to peacefully assemble to petition their government for a redress of grievances. He could admit that it was wrong to manipulate, rig, and steal three elections, based on fear mongering, lies, or outright criminal conduct. He could admit that he did nothing to prevent the attacks of 9/11, despite that he got over 50 warnings telling him that Osama bin Laden was determined to attack the United States. He could admit all this, and so much more, and stand humbled before us with tears in his eyes, as we all gave him a much deserved standing ovation…

And as the Floyd record came to a stop and the drugs wore off reality came rushing back. True, Bush was admitting he had screwed up, but this only after the Karl Rove spin machine couldn’t place the entire blame on the local officials. Perhaps Rove figured out that if Bush could say “I take responsibility” for not “fully do[ing] [his] job right,” that it was the only way for him to avoid any consequences.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Bush has seen the error of his ways. But if so, he should be willing to accept those consequences like Michael Brown did, and turn in his resignation.

John Roberts’ Iran-Contra Connection.

US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts may have known about dealings in the Reagan White House to exchange arms for hostages and to illegally aid the Contras while he worked in the White House’s counsel office in 1985 through 1986.

In January of 1985 Roberts was asked to give a legal opinion on the White House’s involvement in the private fundraising to aid the contras who were fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Additionally, Roberts wrote several memos in early 1986 concerning the private fundraising of activities of individuals who later were prosecuted in the Iran-Contra Affair.

In one instance, Reagan proposed remarks that said, “I ask you - and I ask private citizens throughout the country - to give private donations to the freedom fighter cause. Help them survive this Soviet-Cuban-supplied onslaught. Help these brave freedom fighters last out until American aid can reach them.” When Roberts reviewed the draft on March 20, 1986, he wrote in a memo that Reagan’s remarks “raises serious concerns under the Neutrality Act.” Roberts continued, writing, “Private citizens who contribute money to buy arms for use against a country with which the US is not at war would be violating federal law and be subject to a fine and prison term.” The Supreme Court nominee concluded by saying, “The president cannot encourage private citizens to engage in such activity. The reference to private donations must either be deleted or revised to make clear that only donations for humanitarian aid (not covered by the Neutrality Act) are encouraged.”

Roberts left the Reagan White House in May of 1986, just six months before the Iran-Contra scandal became known to the public, which nearly resulted in impeachment hearings against the President Ronald Reagan. Although it isn’t unusual for lawyers to circulate in and out of government service, what is unusual is that between January and June of 1986 the entire White House counsel office, where Roberts worked, all left, including Reagan’s personal presidential counsel Fred Fielding.

Another Labor Union May Quit The AFL-CIO.

Unite Here has announced it may quit the AFL-CIO in as little as a few days. Unite Here represents more than 450,000 US hotel, casino and restaurant workers. In July, the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers all pulled out of the labor federation.

US Gives Financial Support To Chavez’s Opposition.

The Miami Herald is reporting that the US’s National Endowment for Democracy will give Sumate - a leading opposition group in Venezuela - $100,000 in funding. This just weeks after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered donations to offer aid for those affected by Katrina.

Sumate lead a failed effort last year to oust Chavez through a recall referendum last year. Chavez’s supporters, about 70% of Venezuelans, have long accused the US of helping to facilitate the overthrow of the democratically-elected Venezuelan president by financing opposition groups. The NED says the money will be used to strengthen democracy in the country.

Bush Doesn’t Care About Them.

A new USA Today Poll has found that 72% of African-Americans feel that President Bush does not care about Blacks in America. Strangely, 67% of white respondents said he did care about them.

Dead Bodies Found In New Orleans Hospital.

Relief workers have found the bodies of 45 people inside of New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center. It is not yet known who might have died while waiting to be rescued.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Did Bush’s Temper Prevent Action On Katrina?

Amid stories coming out of Newsweek, Time, and other places, insiders are saying that the White House was slow to react to Hurricane Katrina because the president simply does not like to hear bad news.

Newsweek reported that there’s a standing joke among the Bush’s top aides: who gets to deliver that bad news. 24 hours after the storm ripped through New Orleans, White House chief of staff Andy Card, deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, White House counselor Dan Bartlett, and Press Secretary Scott McClellan held a conference call to discuss the delicate task to asking Bush to cut his vacation short by a few days.

Several White House aides who wished to stay anonymous because of Bush’s temper, said that the reality of the situation did not sink in until Thursday night, four days after the storm hit. Dan Bartlett had to make a DVD of the newscast so Bush could see them as he flew down to the Gulf Coast on Air Force One.

It seems that when the hurricane struck there was no one to tell Bush that the state and local governments were overwhelmed, and FEMA was did not have the leadership to react properly. Only the military had the adequate resources to react to the a disaster as large a scale as the flooding of an entire major US city, and yet the commander-in-chief remained isolated from reality.

What kind of situation does this put on the nation for our safety and security? Should another terrorist attack take place, would it be seen as bad news to White House insiders? Would such a disaster prevent key White House staff from keeping the president informed? The only thing we know for sure is that Homeland Security has failed it’s first test in preparing the nation for an emergency, a disaster everyone could see was in the works. Will terrorists give us those same warnings?

All The President’s Friends.

This is a piece by Paul Krugman Published on Monday, September 12, 2005 by the New York Times.

The lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina revealed to everyone that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which earned universal praise during the Clinton years, is a shell of its former self. The hapless Michael Brown - who is no longer overseeing relief efforts but still heads the agency - has become a symbol of cronyism.

But what we really should be asking is whether FEMA’s decline and fall is unique, or part of a larger pattern. What other government functions have been crippled by politicization, cronyism and/or the departure of experienced professionals? How many FEMA’s are there?

Unfortunately, it’s easy to find other agencies suffering from some version of the FEMA syndrome.

The first example won’t surprise you: the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a key role to play in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, but which has seen a major exodus of experienced officials over the past few years. In particular, senior officials have left in protest over what they say is the Bush administration’s unwillingness to enforce environmental law.

Yesterday The Independent, the British newspaper, published an interview about the environmental aftermath of Katrina with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst in the agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, whom one suspects is planning to join the exodus. “The budget has been cut,” he said, “and inept political hacks have been put in key positions.” That sounds familiar, and given what we’ve learned over the last two weeks there’s no reason to doubt that characterization - or to disregard his warning of an environmental cover-up in progress.

What about the Food and Drug Administration? Serious questions have been raised about the agency’s coziness with drug companies, and the agency’s top official in charge of women’s health issues resigned over the delay in approving Plan B, the morning-after pill, accusing the agency’s head of overruling the professional staff on political grounds.

Then there’s the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, whose Republican chairman hired a consultant to identify liberal bias in its programs. The consultant apparently considered any criticism of the administration a sign of liberalism, even if it came from conservatives.

You could say that these are all cases in which the Bush administration hasn’t worried about degrading the quality of a government agency because it doesn’t really believe in the agency’s mission. But you can’t say that about my other two examples.

Even a conservative government needs an effective Treasury Department. Yet Treasury, which had high prestige and morale during the Clinton years, has fallen from grace.

The public symbol of that fall is the fact that John Snow, who was obviously picked for his loyalty rather than his qualifications, is still Treasury secretary. Less obvious to the public is the hollowing out of the department’s expertise. Many experienced staff members have left since 2000, and a number of key positions are either empty or filled only on an acting basis. “There is no policy,” an economist who was leaving the department after 22 years told The Washington Post, back in 2002. “If there are no pipes, why do you need a plumber?” So the best and brightest have been leaving.

And finally, what about the department of Homeland Security itself? FEMA was neglected, some people say, because it was folded into a large agency that was focused on terrorist threats, not natural disasters. But what, exactly, is the department doing to protect us from terrorists?

In 2004 Reuters reported a “steady exodus” of counterterrorism officials, who believed that the war in Iraq had taken precedence over the real terrorist threat. Why, then, should we believe that Homeland Security is being well run?

Let’s not forget that the administration’s first choice to head the department was Bernard Kerik, a crony of Rudy Giuliani. And Mr. Kerik’s nomination would have gone through if enterprising reporters hadn’t turned up problems in his background that the F.B.I. somehow missed, just as it somehow didn’t turn up the little problems in Michael Brown’s résumé. How many lesser Keriks made it into other positions?

The point is that Katrina should serve as a wakeup call, not just about FEMA, but about the executive branch as a whole. Everything I know suggests that it’s in a sorry state - that an administration which doesn’t treat governing seriously has created two, three, many FEMA’s.

Christian Bush Supporters Increasingly Condemn US Involvement In Iraq.

“We had no plan for making the peace. We continue as a superpower to be arrogant,” said Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the national Council of Churches. The leader of a coalition of Protestant and Orthodox denominations said, “We have acted as though all is well, when, in fact, daily we have reports of suicide bombings and more disruptions in Iraq.”

Increasingly, Christians are condemning the US military involvement in Iraq, and their support for President Bush continues to erode. After Bush declared major combat operations had been completed in Iraq in 2003, 68% of white Protestants, 74% of white Catholics, and 79% of white evangelicals agreed with the US military effort, a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found.

Those numbers, a key element of Bush’s base, has dramatically fallen since then. Pew asked the same question last July, which showed that their support for US military involvement in Iraq has fallen by 12% among Protestants, 20% among Catholics, and even 11% among evangelicals.

US Leads The World In Military Arms Sales.

The Congressional Research Service has found that global arms sales rose to $37 billion in 2004, the highest level in four years. US companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing saw $12.4 billion in weapons contracts, more than twice of that of Russia, the second largest arms exporter.

The US had a long history of arming, training, and aiding some of the world’s most repressive regimes. In Uzbekistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Columbia, Indonesia, and the Sudan, US weapons and military training is used against civilians. In the last decade the US sold $177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations. In 2003 along, the Pentagon and State Department delivered $5.7 billion in nations in the developing world that are riddled with poverty. Nearly half of these weapons went to countries with undemocratic regimes and poor human rights records.

FEMA Director Finally Resigns.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown resigned Monday after two weeks of criticism aimed at FEMA for their inaction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Brown said in a news release, “As I told the president, it is important that I leave now to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA.”

President Bush chose David Paulison, FEMA’s preparedness division director, as interim director of FEMA. The resignation came three days after Brown was recalled to Washington by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and replaced by Vice Adm. Thad Allen, the Coast Guard’s chief of staff, to head the Katrina relief efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said he was not surprised by the move, while Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said to CNN, “I think it is clearly in the country’s interest.” President Bush, who just 11 days ago said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”, was asked about the resignation as he toured the devastation in Gulfport, Mississippi. Bush said he had not talked to Chertoff and could not comment on it.

Bush did have a comment for a reporter. According to Democracy Now! when Bush was asked for comment from a reporter he said,“Maybe you know something I don’t know.”

Was this a public jab at his staff who neglected to deliver him with the bad news of Katrina?

Private Paramilitary Mercenaries Deploy In New Orleans.

Common Dreams is reporting that heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the private security firm Blackwater are openly patrolling New Orleans. Infamous for their work in Iraq, some of the mercenaries say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force.

Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world, and are accustomed to operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, with no worries of legal consequences to their actions. Some of the men patrolling New Orleans returned from Iraq just two weeks ago.

Blackwater rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah, and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March of 2004. The killings sparked the seize of Fallujah later that year.