Silence is Consent

If you don't speak up you accept what is happening. This site was born out of the mainstream media's inability to cover the news. I am just an American cititzen trying to spread the word in the era of FCC consolidation, post 9/11 Patriot Act hysteria, hackable voting machines and war without end. I rant and post news items I perceive to be relevant to our current situation.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
- Thomas Jefferson

Social Security is not broken and therefore does not need to be fixed

So Called Social Security Crisis (SCSSC)

Comments, questions, corrections, rebuttals are always welcome.

Monday, February 28, 2005
 
War Is Hell But..
..coming home isn't all it's cracked up to be either (PBU9). As if on cue USA Today brings us this article in today's paper, Trauma of Iraq war haunting thousands returning home:
"I had real bad flashbacks. I couldn't control them," (Jesus) Bocanegra, 23, says. "I saw the murder of children, women. It was just horrible for anyone to experience."

[and]

Lt. Julian Goodrum, an Army reservist from Knoxville, Tenn., is being treated for PTSD with therapy and anti-anxiety drugs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He checked himself into a civilian psychiatric hospital after he was turned away from a military clinic, where he had sought attention for his mental problems at Fort Knox, Ky. He's facing a court-martial for being AWOL while in the civilian facility.

[and]

(Sean) Huze, 30, says the horror often isn't felt until later. "I saw a dead child, probably 3 or 4 years old, lying on the road in Nasiriyah," he says. "It moved me less than if I saw a dead dog at the time. I didn't care. Then you come back, if you are fortunate enough, and hold your own child, and you think of the dead child you didn't care about. ... You think about how little you cared at the time, and that hurts."

[and]

( Allen Walsh) At home, he found he couldn't sleep more than three or four hours a night. When the nightmares began, he started smoking cigarettes. He'd find himself shaking and quick-tempered.

"Any little noise and I'd jump out of bed and run around the house with a gun," he says. "I'd wake up at night with cold sweats."
In these four people we see a soldier having flashbacks, a soldier being turned away by a military clinic, we see another not waking up to reality until he gets home, and the last becoming very edgy. Do you remember all of those fast food joints that were shot up after Vietnam? Now I'm not saying that's going to start happening again but we have many, many people coming home after a very traumatic experience and if we, meaning every American, don't assist them in working through that it could happen all over again. I haven't even mentioned Depleted Uranium (DU) yet. So here we go. This is one of the most informative articles I've seen on the subject, Weapons of Self-Destruction. This stuff is just horrifying. This is the part that my wife was taken aback by -- it gets pretty graphic:
If D.U. is as dangerous as its critics allege, it can kill even without causing cancer. At her home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Susan Riordon recalls the return of her husband, Terry, from the Gulf in 1991. Terry, a security captain, served in intelligence during the war: his service record refers to his setting up a "safe haven" in the Iraqi "theatre." Possibly, Susan speculates, this led him behind enemy lines and exposed him to D.U. during the long aerial bombing campaign that preceded the 1991 invasion. In any event, "when he came home, he didn't really come home," she says.

At first, Terry merely had the usual headaches, body pain, oozing rash, and other symptoms. But later he began to suffer from another symptom which afflicts some of those exposed to D.U.: burning semen. "If he leaked a little lubrication from his penis, it would feel like sunburn on your skin. If you got to the point where you did have intercourse, you were up and out of that bed so fast-it actually causes vaginal blisters that burst and bleed." Terry's medical records support her description. In England, Malcolm Hooper, professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry at the University of Sunderland, is aware of 4,000 such cases. He hypothesizes that the presence of D.U. may be associated with the transformation of semen into a caustic alkali.

"It hurt [Terry] too. He said it was like forcing it through barbed wire," Riordon says. "It seemed to burn through condoms; if he got any on his thighs or his testicles, he was in hell." In a last, desperate attempt to save their sex life, says Riordon, "I used to fill condoms with frozen peas and insert them [after sex] with a lubricant." That, she says, made her pain just about bearable. Perhaps inevitably, he became impotent. "And that was like our last little intimacy gone."

By late 1995, Terry was seriously deteriorating. Susan shows me her journal-she titled it "The Twilight Zone"-and his medical record. It makes harrowing reading. He lost his fine motor control to the point where he could not button his shirt or zip his fly. While walking, he would fall without warning. At night, he shook so violently that the bed would move across the floor. He became unpredictably violent: one terrible day in 1997 he attacked their 16-year-old son and started choking him. By the time armed police arrived to pull him off, the boy's bottom lip had turned blue. After such rages, he would fall into a deep sleep for as long as 24 hours, and awake with no memory of what had happened. That year, Terry and Susan stopped sleeping in the same bedroom. Then "he began to barricade himself in his room for days, surviving on granola bars and cartons of juice."

As he went downhill, Terry was assessed as completely disabled, but there was no diagnosis as to why. His records contain references to "somatization disorder," post-traumatic stress, and depression. In 1995 the army doctors even suggested that he had become ill only after reading of Gulf War syndrome. Through 1998 and 1999, he began to lose all cognitive functions and was sometimes lucid for just a few hours each week.

Even after he died, on April 29, 1999, Terry's Canadian doctors remained unable to explain his illness. "This patient has a history [of] 'Gulf War Syndrome' with multiple motor, sensory and emotional problems," the autopsy report by pathologist Dr. B. Jollymore, of Yarmouth, begins. "During extensive investigation, no definitive diagnosis has been determined.... Essentially it appears that this gentleman remains an enigma in death as he was in life."
War has long lasting effects and not just on those that were there. Therefore these types of medical conditions are even more egregious when a war is waged that didn't need to happen in the first place. Remember all of this the next time your president talks about how much better off we are now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power and that his torture chambers are closed. Also remember it the next time some asshole says, "they knew what they were signing up for when they got in". Do you think anyone knew about DU when they signed up?

[UPDATE] DU: Possibly the Worst War Crime in History
Terry Jamison, Public Affairs Specialist, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, at the VA Central Office, recently reported that ‘Gulf Era Veterans’ now on medical disability, since 1991, number 518,739 Veterans.” Bernklau added: “The long-term effects have revealed that DU (uranium oxide) is a virtual death sentence,” stated Berklau. “Marion Fulk, a nuclear physical chemist, who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, and was also involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in the soldiers (from the 2003 Iraq War) as ’spectacular … and a matter of concern!’”

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The Point
Remember and don't ever forget this is not about private accounts or any other crap the Republicans will try and use to take your mind of their main goal in this whole discussion on Social Security. This is about whether or not a guaranteed insurance program we call Social Security should continue to exist! Ex-House leader: Social Security should go away. That's their headline. Mine would be: Ex-Delay lackey, Republican Dick Armey: Wants to end Social Security.:
"I think if you leave people free to choose, it will be phased out by competition," the former Republican congressman from Lewisville told reporters before sharing a President's Day Dinner with the Smith County Republican Club.
In other words: Once we take trillions out of it and make it insolvent no one in their right mind would put their money in Social Security. I also like this paragraph:
"We now have a generation of people that are thoroughly committed to investing their hopes and futures in private IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts)," Armey said. "People will always do better for themselves when they are free to choose from among competing options than if they are compelled. Most thoughtful people could do better."
Look asshole, that's the reason Social Security was created in the first place. Most people are not thoughtful with their money. So you guarantee them some money when they retire so they have something. Get it?

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Friday, February 25, 2005
 
What Is This Man Saying?
Is your President completely delusional and believes what he's saying or is he just full of shit? Scroll down until you see Bush's Defense:
It was an amazing moment: After the introductory comments, Andrey Kolesnikov, a correspondent for the Russian business newspaper Kommersant, got up and said -- albeit not so succinctly, and not in English -- Hey, no wonder you guys see eye to eye! You're both authoritarians.

This prompted Bush to launch into a possibly unprecedented defense of himself as a democratic leader. He did it by describing his view of the country.

And while Putin didn't challenge what Bush said, there have been some news reports of late that suggest that things may not be as black and white as Bush said.

"I live in a transparent country.
Floyd
Core Values
But there is a simple reason why patriots on both the right and the left are stymied: because the center is rotten to its well-wadded, self-righteous, wilfully ignorant core. We speak here of the nation's "great and good," pillars of the community and stalwarts of the established order, the "captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters, the generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers, distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees, industrial lords and petty contractors," in T.S. Eliot's words -- to which we might add, as a modern gloss, the highly credentialed academics, extremely well-remunerated corporate journalists, politically wired churchmen and the innumerable massagers of public opinion and commercial desire.
Krugman
Kansas on My Mind
And this week we saw Mr. Frank's thesis acted out so crudely that it was as if someone had deliberately staged it. The right wants to dismantle Social Security, a successful program that is a pillar of stability for working Americans. AARP stands in the way. So without a moment's hesitation, the usual suspects declared that this organization of staid seniors is actually an anti-soldier, pro-gay-marriage leftist front.

[and]

Their first attack may have missed the mark, but it's the shape of smears to come.
More on these nut bags here and here.

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The Filter
Jay Rosen of Press Think has a great post on what the whole James Guckert/Bush press problem, In the Press Room of the White House that is Post Press, many great links in here. One I didn't know was the fact that Gannon was exposed a year ago. The main focus of Jay Rosen's post is about how this administration is trying, and in many ways succeeding, to evade and discredit the press. They evade by calling the press a filter and saying they want to talk directly to the people:
Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock says her boss, with few exceptions, is only granting short interviews to local TV stations as a way of ?explaining key facts directly to the American people and not having as much of a filter from people who are already invested in having a different view of it.?
When I read this two things came to mind. First the administration just want to make sure they are choosing the filter. Second who owns the filter they choose? Any Sinclair stations in that room with Ashcroft? One more thing came to mind as well. What would happen if the press just stopped covering the White House?

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Thursday, February 24, 2005
 
The Cost of War
Why?
A knock on the door
"I remember letting go of my husband’s hand," Pennington said. "I was crying. He was, too."

Sometimes she flips through the journal her husband kept after he arrived in Iraq. Its words reflect an angry, disillusioned soldier tired of fending off increasing rebel attacks.

"I feel this country has potential, but the people must help themselves," he wrote April 14. "I just do not ever see it happening. ... They hate us, or else so many of us would not have lost our lives."

She said she asks herself the same question every time she reads those words.

"It makes you think," she said. "Does he know he’s going to be one of them?"

The journal suggests her husband grew discouraged and lost confidence in his mission.

"I have very little trust in the senior leadership of this country," he wrote. "They lied about weapons of mass destruction. They assured (us) the Iraqis would just transform into Arab-Americans with a new outlook on their own country. ...

"I miss Janet very much. I hope that our time here is shortened."
This looks cool
Independant World Television
Problem

"We don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the people."

-Bill Moyers

Serious news and full-spectrum debate -- on which democracy depends - are disappearing from television. Across the globe, news media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few entertainment conglomerates whose interests determine news coverage. They promote superficial "infotainment" over tough investigation, context and holding authority accountable. Public broadcasters face shrinking budgets and growing political and commercial pressures.

Solution

We must change the economics of journalism.

We need a news and current affairs network which defends the public interest and the highest standards of journalism. independent world television will be such a network -- a non-profit broadcast service financed by its viewers across the globe, independent of corporate or government funding and commercial advertising.

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This editorial has many questions, Press Impostor, here are the opening shots:
How is it that an administration that screened thousands of people for attendance at Bush campaign rallies repeatedly let a fake reporter into the sanctorum of the White House pressroom under a false name? Who was running that background check? How could a president who declares that national security is his prime concern be so ill served for nearly two years by his own security detail?
Keep going there are many more.

Is this President's legacy going to be that he showed the world the limit of our country's power? Your President is a pu**y,
With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans
:
Behind the scenes, there appears to be another explanation: the White House got cold feet. Bush's strategists felt an uncontrolled encounter with the German public would be too unpredictable.
The Germans know it, but most Americans don't.

Where is the outrage from the moral-fetus loving-Christian-conservative-religiofacist-rightwing-nutbags on this?
Rocket-Fuel Chemical Found in Breast Milk
The contaminant, which originates mostly at defense industry plants, previously had been detected in various food and water supplies around the country. But the study by Texas Tech University's Institute of Environmental and Human Health was the first to investigate breast milk.

The findings concern health experts because infants and fetuses are the most vulnerable to the thyroid-impairing effects of the chemical.
More on this, White House Science Phobia, Spin Taint News of Chemical Dangers.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
 
The Republican Playbook
Lie
Go here, Think Progress and scroll down until you start seeing Luntz Watch.

Cheat
Read this, The $200 million disinformation campaign and then read this, Firms lobby Medicare to cover Viagra and its ilk

Lie
Bush?s budget: government by fraud and lies

I know it's redundant.

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Lies, Conceit and Corruption
I wonder if Iran is aware of this?
And finally, this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter.)
- Your President (02/22/2005)

I say it in my speeches, which you fortunately don't have to cover, that I'm a patient man. And when I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man, and that we will look at all options and we will consider all technologies available to us and diplomacy and intelligence.
- Your President (08/22/2002)
This should help being about goodwill
One question each: Europe's leaders are awarded topics for their presidential chat
As the leader of the free world George Bush is known to be a busy man. There have also been question-marks in the past over his attention span and dislike of protracted debate, but, even by the standards of the Bush White House, the assembled heads of Europe will be given short shrift tomorrow when they gather to address the President of the United States.
Hooray for Uncle Bucky
Company's Work in Iraq Profited Bush's Uncle
"Having a Bush doesn't hurt," said Kreher, who acknowledged that the company was routinely engaged in Washington lobbying efforts. But, he said, Democrats, including a party fundraiser, also serve on the panel.

"It certainly doesn't hurt to have people who know who to talk to,"(No shit?! That's the point!) Kreher said, adding that the president's uncle played no role in winning the firm's government contracts.

Some of the firm's Defense Department work has included no-bid, sole-source contracts, including a $48.8-million deal to refurbish military trailers.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005
 
JG/JG
By now I'm sure we are all getting very tired of the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert(JG/JG) affair. I have to admit I've taken delight in watching the wing-nuts take up for a homosexual/male prostitute that wrote for GOPUSA/Talon News whose columns were lifted from GOP documents verbatim for "news reports" and whose questions were inspired by Rush Limbaugh. The wing-nuts have also tried to say the whole prostitution part of the story is just the left going after his personal life when we all know that prostitution is the world's oldest profession. The most disturbing part of this whole story is not that he was allowed in and was able to do what he did. It's that none of the "crack White House Press corps(e)" had the wherewithal to "out" him, as a fake reporter, before the bloggers did. If I had gone to school, paid my dues, and done all the other things it takes to get into the "crack White House Press corps(e)" I would be pissed off to see a Republican shill jump right in and start asking questions. But I assume that once a reporter has paid those dues it's mighty nice there and if you rock the boat you'll be back on the street. So why are the bloggers forced to do this? That's the answer to this question, If journalists won't point out the liars, who will?

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Why?
Have you heard yet that the US is negotiating with the terrorists in Iraq? I mean the resistance. Talking with the Enemy. This should not surprise anyone. Republicans have a history of negotiating with "terrorists" for political gain. Take a trip with me down memory lane and let's remember what St. Ronnie did. The October Surprise, Iran's Ex-President Blows the Whistle. Arms for Hostages, SENT IRAN ARMS FOR HOSTAGE RELEASES; WEAPONS WERE SUPPLIED FOR AID IN FREEING 3 IN LEBANON, GOVERNMENT SOURCES SAY. Who can forget Iran Contra. Oh yeah, don't forget this either, 1984: US troops withdraw from Beirut:
US President Ronald Reagan ordered military personnel to begin pulling out of the area over a week ago following a recent upsurge in terrorist attacks.
So ya see, when they need to they will not only negotiate with terrorists they will also give in when the violence gets to be too much.

Alternet has some analysis here, The insurgent who came in from the cold. But this analysis seems to think this is all meant to bring a political solution for Iraq. I don't think so. To me the question that needs to be asked is, what does our government and the Iraqi resistance share as a goal for their country? I believe it's a Shia dominated government with ties to Iran. In other words the result of the election have forced these two back into each otters arms.

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Monday, February 21, 2005
 
Project for a New American Century
It's good to revisit the Project for the New American Century(PNAC) every so often. Especially their manifesto, Rebuilding America's Defenses, to remind ourselves of what this administration and their cronies vision is for our nation. PNAC has and always will be about maintaining the United Sates as the only "superpower" in the world.

In their statement of principles they state their aims:
Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.
Look over the names at the bottom of that document. A now current and former Vice President. The current VP's chief of staff. The President's brother. The current Sec. of Defense and his assistant. Many more idealogues as well. These are the infamous Neoconservatives or neocons. Their latest screed, Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces, is their call for more forces for their plan of global hegemony. I have always compared PNAC and their manifesto to Mein Kempf. I'm not saying that these people are comparable to Hitler, what I am saying is that just like Hitler they never tried to hide their true intentions. Everything that is happening today is telegraphed in their writings. My advice to everyone is to download a copy of Rebuilding America's Defenses and do a search in the document for the words "pearl harbor" and see what you get. Then ask yourself after reading that sentence, would we be in the situation we are in today if the new Pearl Harbor hadn't happened?

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Here is how this article by David Swanson begins, Thirty-One States and DC Take Action on Minimum Wage:
If George W. Bush finishes a second term and avoids adjusting the federal minimum wage, we will have completed an 11-year record stretch without any adjustment.
Do you remeber the bill that would allow the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees to view federal tax returns? Well read this, Opponents of 'Clear Skies' Bill Examined.

Two on the new Chair:Why triple-talented Dean spells trouble for Republicans and Now He Has the Power

Read this, Standing Their Ground and remeber that tomorrow is National Call Joe Lieberman Day.

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The President and Pat Buchanon
The President is visiting Europe this week. The message he is taking to the continent is this: Ok, so we disagreed on Iraq, it's not too late for y'all to jump in with me for my future wars. I wonder what they think about the current temporary debates going on about Syria and Iran?
Bush sought to reach out to European leaders who had opposed his Iraq war policy, playing down their severe rifts as a "temporary debate" and "passing disagreement of governments."
Once again I am stunned at the writings of Pat Buchanon. In this article, Baiting a Trap for Bush? He says that the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon would not benefit Syria and therefore they wouldn't have done it. So who does benefit? Another topic he explores is that those in this administration pushing for war against Syria and Iran are the same people that gave St. Ronald bad advice about Lebanon back in the '80's. He also does a pretty good job of documenting what a horrible error Iraq has been. He finishes with a fantasy paragraph because logic does not play in this White House:
If FDR can negotiate with Stalin and Nixon with Mao, and this White House can deal with Gadhafi and Kim Jong Il, George Bush can talk with Assad of Syria and Khatami of Iran to prevent a wider war for which the costs in blood and treasure would be far higher and the benefits even less than from this misbegotten war in Iraq.
Like I've said before Buchanon will rip Bush in his magazine but when you see him on MSNBC he just rips Democrats and loves all over Bush. I he would say on TV what he does in his magazine I could take him more seriously.

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Friday, February 18, 2005
 
Soma for the troops
Ecstasy trials for combat stress
American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
The password is move.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Can you tell us if you believe that Syria is linked to the assassination of Mr. Hariri? And further, how far are you willing to go to expel Syria from Lebanon and stop its involvement in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: First, we support the international investigation that is -- will be going on to determine the killers of Mr. Hariri. We've recalled our ambassador, which indicates that the relationship is not moving forward, that Syria is out of step with the progress being made in a greater Middle East, that democracy is on the move. And this is a country that isn't moving with the democratic movement.

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This Buzzflash editorial brings up the question, when the press is the problem who investigates them?

Wanted: An Investigative Reporter to Break Open the Explosive Story of a Mainstream Press that Betrays America
Are you starting to connect the dots? The mainstream press should be connecting the dots, except for the fact that they are the dots.

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The Friday Funnies
Cui Bono? Who Benefits, from a scared public?
Sword Play
While not infallible, the ancient Latin question is still the best guide to penetrating the bloody murk of modern terrorism: Cui bono? Who benefits? Whose powers and policies are enhanced by the attack? For it is indisputable that the "strategy of tension" means power and profit for those who claim to possess the key to "security." And from the halls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Potomac, this cynical strategy is the ruling ideology of our times.
Krugman exposes Alan Greenspan as the GOP shill that he has become
Three-Card Maestro
One last point: a disturbing thing about Wednesday's hearing was the deference with which Democratic senators treated Mr. Greenspan. They acted as if he were still playing his proper role, acting as a nonpartisan source of economic advice. After the hearing, rather than challenging Mr. Greenspan's testimony, they tried to spin it in their favor.

But Mr. Greenspan is no longer entitled to such deference. By repeatedly shilling for whatever the Bush administration wants, he has betrayed the trust placed in Fed chairmen, and deserves to be treated as just another partisan hack

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Thursday, February 17, 2005
 
What's Going On?!
They're Scared
?Liberal? Media Silent About Guckert Saga
Imagine the media explosion if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House. Imagine that he was paid by an outfit owned by Arkansas Democrats and had been trained in journalism by James Carville. Imagine that this gentleman had been cultivated and called upon by Mike McCurry or Joe Lockhart?or by President Clinton himself. Imagine that this "journalist" had smeared a Republican Presidential candidate and had previously claimed access to classified documents in a national-security scandal.

Then imagine the constant screaming on radio, on television, on Capitol Hill, in the Washington press corps?and listen to the placid mumbling of the "liberal" media now.
Boy I can imagine it. All those overly married, overly moral Republicans like Gingrich, Barr, Limbaugh, Hyde, etc.. would be jumping up and down about what an outrage this is.

I'm trying to figure out what the hell the deal is with Gannon/Guckert saga. There have been quite a few stories on it today. I will list them below. I am wondering if this is in some way or another a way for those that are feeling threatened by the blogs -- by the way I hate the word blogosphere and will refer to them as blogs -- to discredit them. Those threatened by the blogs are the mainstream media(MSM). Thus I believe that the MSM believes the blogs are trying to replace them and they have to discredit them to keep their dominance. The blogs are a reaction to the hole that has been left by the lack of investigative, unbiased, unimaginative, reporting as well as just a huge gaping hole that the coporate owned and corrupt MSM has left.

Now say what you will but blogs are where those who have opinions and ideas and are shut out of the process can get involved in a conversation. Dan Gillmor does a great job of laying this out in his book, We The Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. The thing to remember is that blogs are not going to be nor do they want to be like the old media or take it's place. They are not, I report, you decide. They are here is my opinion, what is yours? In other words the MSM takes in information and decides what they want to print and what they don't. The editor, the writer and the producer are filtering what you will see, read or hear. With blogs you are the filter. In other words you get to create what you want. On right-wing blogs, left-wing people post comments and vice versa. It's a conversation and not some schmuck in a suit telling you what someone else said. It's the MSM being scared that they will be left out of the conversation because their plastic way of bringing the news and events to us is a thing of the past.

So remember as you, or if you, read these Gannon/Guckert stories this is a conversation and it's a long way from being over.

CALLING OUT JAMES GUCKERT
To listen to the arrogant and suddenly pious anchors and reporters of the corporate press corps?who've hardly been guardians of privacy in recent years?it's all just so unseemly. The hand-wringing over liberal bloggers' supposed revelations about the fake White House reporter's "personal life" has been comical; and no matter what they say, it certainly does not reflect any newfound regard for privacy. It looks more like the media got beat, again, on a story that was sitting right under their noses. Playing catch up, they had to create a back-story that also acted as an alibi. Thus all the talk about the brutality of the bloggers who beat them to the punch.
Bush's Barberini Faun
I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.
In case, like me, you're not familiar with Barberini's Faun.

A hireling, a fraud and a prostitute
Thus a phony journalist, planted by a Republican organization, used by the White House press secretary to interrupt questions from the press corps, protected from FBI vetting by the press office, disseminating smears about its critics and opponents, some of them gay-baiting, was unmasked not only as a hireling and fraud but as a gay prostitute, with enormous potential for blackmail.
Have you ever read The Rude Pundit?
Why Gannon/Guckert Matters (Rude Version)
See, the Rude Pundit hoped beyond hope that the following would be revealed: apparently Gannon/Guckert was, really, truly a cockmonger of extraordinary appetites. Or, to put it simply, it looks like lil' J. D. Guckert was a gay male prostitute. For $1200, you could spend the weekend with Guckert, who, ya know, has got a nice body although he's got an odd, clumpy penis/balls combination. For $200, you could have an hour. And one imagines that getting access to the President of the United States would make one's price go up. Guckert could now put out an ad wherein you could pay $350 to shove your dick in the mouth that asked Bush a question. For an extra $50, you can slap him around and call him an "enabling little bitch."
The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show'
It is a brilliant strategy. When the Bush administration isn't using taxpayers' money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post discovered that even at an inaugural ball he was assigned "minders" - attractive women who wouldn't give him their full names - to let the revelers know that Big Brother was watching should they be tempted to say anything remotely off message.
Rep. Slaughter Demands Answer
Slaughter to White House - "Stop the Stonewalling!"
Why was Jeff Gannon in the White House Before Talon News Even Existed?

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
 
How Moral Is This?
It's Bush Style Class Warfare
Bush tax reductions dwarf spending cuts
Yet while these cuts add up to only about $6.5 billion a year, no one is supposed to mention that in the same budget Bush calls for implementing two obscure tax provisions that increase personal exemptions and itemized deductions that the top 2 percent of Americans can use to reduce their tax payments to the tune of $115 billion over the next decade.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005
 
Who benefits From Yesterday's Terrorist Attack in Lebanon?
You've heard it, haven't you? Iran, Iran, Iran. It almost makes you think the next target of our imperial forces is Iran. But as with anything, when dealing with this administration, if it's being said loud and in the open there is a good chance it's just a smokescreen. After yesterday's terrorist attack in Lebanon it seems the next target will probably be Syria. It appears that no matter what the reality is of who is to blame, once again the quick and repeated is what sticks. As far as our government and the MSM are concerned it was Syria. Even though logic and the facts on the ground show that this is the last thing that Syria would do right now.

It is my understanding that Syria controls Lebanon. A peaceful Lebanon allows Syria to keep it's control over the country. Killing Lebanon's former Prime Minister would cause major problems for Syria. It doesn't look to me like that would be something Syria would want to do. The only thing Syria could possibly gain by this would be a justification to increase its troop levels in Lebanon but putting your country at risk to gain that would be very foolish.

These next two articles are quite enlightening. On is from the New York Times(NYT) , U.S. Seems Sure of the Hand of Syria, Hinting at Penalties and the other is from the Turkish Press(TP), Syria diverts blame onto Israel after 'odious' Hariri killing.


Now just as an exercise in the difference between what our media says and what they are saying in the Middle Eastern media I will try and hit the high points of these two articles, the NYT first:

- The US is "suggesting" Syria is to blame.
- McClellan admits there is no "concrete evidence" of Syrian involvement.
- Syria has denied involvement.
- McClellan in the ironic statement of the week, so far, also said, "a terrible reminder that the Lebanese people must be able to pursue their aspirations and determine their own political future free from violence and intimidation and free from Syrian occupation."
- A State Department official says, "We're going to turn up the heat on Syria, that's for sure,", "...Even though there's no evidence to link it to Syria.."
- Syria has effectively controlled Lebanon since 1976.
- Our diplomatic corps also seem to believe that Syria is a shill for Iran and is and easy mark, "low-hanging fruit".
- Some in the administration have argued for the last two years that Syria's role has not always been destructive.
- And, "..pressure is building in the administration to do something".

Now TP:
- Syria went of the defensive after the bombing mentioning that, "..Hariri, resigned just four months ago in protest at the dominant role of Damascus in his country.
- The official press condemned the murder as an "odious crime," saying Hariri was a "welcome son" for Syria and accused arch-foe Israel of seeking to sabotage Lebanon's achievements since the 1975-1990 war.
- Syria is trying to point the blame as Israel.
- Several Arab analysts stressed that Syria itself was also targeted by Hariri's assassination. "Syria certainly did not need to complicate the situation, just when it is already in the firing line"
- Political scientist Gamal Salama, also in Cairo, ruled out any Syrian link because the killing could not serve the interests of Damascus.
- It could signal "the prelude to action against Syria"
- ..the attack on Hariri "targeted national unity and civil peace in Lebanon".
- Damascus "always welcomed Hariri as one of its sons and as a major Lebanese figure".
- The Syrian Information Minister said, "The anarchy in Lebanon is perhaps due to the withdrawal of the Syrian army and security agents from most regions of Lebanon at a time when the independence of the country is under threat".

What I'm trying to point our here is the contrast between the reporting. The NYT article shows how the administration keeps trying to blame Syria but has no proof. They also try to connect them to Iraqi resistance and Iran and it appears they want to attack Syria because they are an easy mark and the administration has to do something. Now the TP article they start by saying Syria had nothing to so with the bombing. Mention how yes Syria and Hariri had their differences but that wouldn't cause this. But they also mention Israel which is never mentioned in the NYT article. But they go into the specifics of why Syria wouldn't want to do this. In the NYT article it is just assumed that only Syria would benefit from this. I think it is very informative to look at both sides of this.

One last thing. I came across this just before I posted, U.S. Withdraws Ambassador to Syria. Again I just find statements like this so ironic when you consider what we've done in Iraq:
He (State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher) added, "I think the reason that this particular incident is related to the, sort of, step of recalling our ambassador is that the incident is a horrible thing that happened that shows the distortions of Lebanese politics that are created by the Syrian presence. It shows that the excuse, the reason, the rationale that's given for the Syrian presence really doesn't work. It has not provided internal security for Lebanon."

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The Forgotten Ones
A Soldier and his family's story
'Over my dead body'
Sgt. Curtis Greene loved the military; the structure, the stability. But eight months in Iraq changed him. And the thought of returning led him to a stark proclamation.
And if you want to hear a story here is one from NPR yesterday, Army Widow Struggles Since Husband's Death.

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Morning Reads
Robert Sheer
What We Don't Know About 9/11 Hurts Us
Would George W. Bush have been reelected president if the public understood how much responsibility his administration bears for allowing the 9/11 attacks to succeed?
Paul Krugman
The Fighting Moderates
The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there," Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. "But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe."
Jim Wallis
Bush budget lacks moral vision
Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state or nation. They tell us what is most important and valued to those making the budget.The biblical prophets frequently spoke to rulers and kings. They spoke to "the nations," and it was the powerful that were most often the target audience. Those in charge of things are the ones called to greatest accountability.

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Monday, February 14, 2005
 
Our Christian President Wouldn't Do This, Would He?
Can you say KABOOM
After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon
For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.
Is this why we went to Iraq?
Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision
But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base -- and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy -- $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.
It will probably keep the resistance going.

I meant to link this earlier
Text of Howard Dean's remarks at DNC event
If you told me one year ago that I'd be standing here today, as your choice for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I wouldn't have believed you. And neither would have a lot of other people.

But let me say that standing here with the opportunity to lead this party, is a great honor.

I am thankful.

I am humbled.

And I'm ready to get to work.

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No Plan
From Tapped via ThereIsNoCrisis

First, the President hasn't actually put forth a plan, WHERE'S THE BILL?
Appearing yesterday on Tim Russert's Meet The Press, Charlie Rangel got asked the question that's on the lips of every member of the Beltway media elite. "If you oppose the president's plan, what is your plan? What would you do?" Rangel's answer was just right: "What a question. What president's plan? The president has not presented us a plan."
And second, we haven't seen much but THE MORE WE SEE, the worse it looks:
The president has yet to outline a plan for establishing Social Security's long-term solvency. He has, however, outlined in some detail what kind of private accounts he'd like to see, and serious problems are already emerging.

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Another Veiled Attempt, "Reliable Replacement Warhead" program
Using the excuses of safety, arms reduction and it'll save you money our scientists and the Department of Defense are using the Reliable Replacement Warhead program to justify the need for nuclear testing. As this article shows, U.S. Redesigning Atomic Weapons
Worried that the nation's aging nuclear arsenal is increasingly fragile, American scientists have begun designing a new generation of nuclear arms meant to be sturdier and more reliable and to have longer lives, federal officials and private experts say.

The officials say the program could help shrink the arsenal and the high cost of its maintenance. But critics say it could needlessly resuscitate the complex of factories and laboratories that make nuclear weapons and could possibly ignite a new arms race.

[and]

But arms control advocates said the program was probably unneeded and dangerous. They said that it could start a new arms race if it revived underground testing and that its invigoration of the nuclear complex might aid the design of warheads with new military capabilities, possibly making them more tempting to use in a war.

[but]

"Our goal is to carry out this program without the need for nuclear testing," Dr. Harvey said. "But there's no guarantees in this business, and I can't prove to you that I can do that right now." Another official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the topic is politically delicate, said that such testing would come only as a last resort and that the Bush administration's policy was to maintain the moratorium.

The program, Dr. Harvey said, should produce a wide variety of designs. The Defense Department, which is participating in the effort, will help decide which weapons will be replaced, he said.

"What we're looking at now is a long-term vision," Dr. Harvey said. "We're tying to flesh this out and understand the path we need to be on, and to work with Congress to get a consensus."

Some critics say checking the reliability of the new designs is likely to require underground testing, violating the ban and inviting other nations to do the same, thereby endangering American security.

Dr. P. Leonardo Mascheroni, a former Los Alamos scientist who is critical of the new program, said that it would require not only testing but also changes in delivery systems costing "trillions of dollars" because of its large, heavy warheads. Federal officials deny both assertions, saying the goal is to have new designs fit existing bombers and missiles.

Dr. Mascheroni has proposed that federal designers make lighter, robust warheads and confirm their reliability with an innovative system of tiny nuclear blasts. That would still require a revision of the test ban treaty, he said in an interview, but it would save a great deal of money and avoid the political firestorm that would probably accompany any effort to resume full-scale testing.

Robert S. Norris, a senior nuclear expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private group in Washington that advocates arms control and monitors nuclear trends, said too little was known publicly about the initiative to adequately weigh its risks and benefits, and that for now it raised more questions than it answered.

"These are big decisions," Mr. Norris said. "They could backfire and come back to haunt us."
As our economy deteriorates, our ability to pay for social programs goes away and the environment continues to worsen the need for this becomes more and more apparent! Right? We can do without this right now.


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The New Chair
I am very happy to Have Howard Dean as the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The reasons I like him is because he is not afraid to say what he means and in a party chair I don't think they have to parse their words as much. His job is to rally the troops. I also think another attribute that he has is that he already has a grassroots organization in place which gives him and the party a good base to start from. Another quality that he has is that he is frugal. I remember when he was still in the Presidential race the stories going around about how cheap he is. I think having someone who is wise with money in this time and place will be an asset. I also think that those who perceive Dean to be this raging liberal leftist, mostly Republicans and conservatives, will find that to be incorrect. Overall I think Dean was far and away the best choice of those running. I also hope all those who ran will rally to help this chair. I would really love to see many of them involved like Simon Rosenberg, Donnie Fowler and Wellington Webb. All of us need to get/stay involved as well. Write a letter to the editor, get involved locally and you can also contribute financially, see below. I believe the future is bright with our new leader but we all need to help in any way we can.


Contribution amount:
$





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Friday, February 11, 2005
 
Good Reads
Which moral value is this?
Bush's Class-War Budget
First, the facts: the budget proposal really does take food from the mouths of babes. One of the proposed spending cuts would make it harder for working families with children to receive food stamps, terminating aid for about 300,000 people. Another would deny child care assistance to about 300,000 children, again in low-income working families.
Chris Floyd
Mother Lode
The hoary adage that "there are none so blind as those who will not see" should be carved in stone at the National Press Club in Washington. Surely there can be no better motto for the cozy clubhouse of America's media mavens, who seem preternaturally incapable of recognizing the truth -- even when it stands before them, monstrous and unavoidable, like a giant Cyclops smeared with blood.
Do you know what the Iraqis went to vote for?
Getting the Purple Finger
The election results are in: Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to throw out the US-installed government of Iyad Allawi, who refused to ask the United States to leave. A decisive majority voted for the United Iraqi Alliance; the second plank in the UIA platform calls for "a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq."

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I Thought The War President Didn't Need No Stinking Permission Slip!
Here is how it works. First they twist you words, then they berate your words, then they get you to justify those words, then they use your words. The problem is that then you can't attack those words because they will use your justification against you and their supporters don't care because their man is the one that is now using them. See what I mean? Bush Wimps Claim We Need “Permission Slip”
Here’s the clincher. After the bombshell announcement by North Korea that they have nuclear weapons and will keep them as a deterrent to President Bush’s threats against the Communist state, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wimpishly remarked, “we will have to consult with our allies”.

According to the Associated Press today, February 10, 2005:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would consult allies before responding.
"I think we just have to first look at the statement and then we need to talk with our allies,'' Rice told Dutch RTL television while on a trip through Europe.

This is the exact same statement that Senator Kerry was raked over the coals for. Senator Kerry, during the campaign was mocked, laughed at, ridiculed and smirked at with disdain by President Bush in one speech after another by President Bush. I still hear President Bush’s words and see his grinning smirk as he yelled repeatedly, “AND SENATOR KERRY SAYS THAT WE NEED A PERMISSION SLIP AND TO CONSULT WITH OUR ALLIES BEFORE WE DEFEND OURSELVES. WE DON’T NEED ANY PERMISSION SLIP”.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005
 
It Ought To, But It Can't
Do you know who said this?
"Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."
I thought of this quote several times over the course of the last week or so, since the SOTU. That should give it away. That's right, it was dear leader, POTUS, the leader of the free world, Dubya, Mr. President, whichever you prefer.

He said that during his press conference about two weeks ago. That quote comes from the part of the press conference when he was being asked about Armstrong Williams and the payola scandal. I also find it interesting that the next question that was asked was the one that started the next media scandal for the White House.

Now this type of thing should not be shocking to you. That is if you pay attention. If you don't it may make you take a step back. The government and the media, now both owned by the same corporations, have merged their message and messengers. That only makes good business sense, right? Why I lead with that quote is because it sheds a light on the corruption of your President. Whenever an image or perception of a person or product has to be repeated over and over it's a sign that it's a false image. Like the President being a strong, decisive, bold, etc.. leader. Like Iraq having WMD, ties to Al Qaeda. Like tax cuts for the rich bringing prosperity. You see what I mean? So what this quote demonstrates is that by the President having to run around the country trying to sell his Social Security privatization scam "campaign-style" shows just how pathetic it is. If it is such a good plan why can't he go in front of audiences that aren't pre-screened to keep out those that disagree with him? Why can't our strong, decisive and bold President stand up to the scrutiny? I say it's because the exact opposite is true!

The reason they need people on the inside gaming the system is because their message cannot stand on it's own two feet. Instead they have government paid media to rig the message. If he message was credible he would invite in nothing but those opposed to his plan and with sound arguments tear apart their arguments. What am I saying?

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005
 
So much for a free press
Is this why Karl Rove planted the phony documents on CBS, to kill other stories?
The Emperor's New Hump
The New York Times killed a story that could have changed the election—because it could have changed the election

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Oh My
What do you make of this?
Results of Landmark Iraq Election Delayed
Iraq - Iraqi officials said Wednesday the announcement of final results from landmark national elections will be delayed because the election commission must recount votes from about 300 ballot boxes.

[and]

"We don't know when this will finish," he said. "This will lead to a little postponement in announcing the results."

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005
 
Read about this budget. See if you can figure out what game they are playing.
The Washington Post calls it..
A Breathtaking Budget
THERE ARE TWO ways to treat a president's budget proposal. The realistic, even cynical, method is to unmask the various bits of budget gimmickry involved, to assume that some aspects are dead on arrival, and to view the document as the administration's opening gambit in a long political chess match. The other is to take it seriously, as the administration's idealized vision of what government should be. Either way, the fiscal 2006 budget proposed yesterday by President Bush is breathtaking -- in the first approach as farce, in the second as tragedy
Here is the game: One thing the article fails to mention is that, just like the tax cuts, what they really plan on getting is much lower than what they are asking for. It's just like any negotiation. Start with a an outrageous offer and work down from there. That's what this administration is doing. The more outrageous the better. They will look "compassionate" as they give in to the Democrats. They are asking for way more than they know they can get and then they will wind up settling for less. I'll bet around half, which is probably what they wanted anyway.

David Kay from yesterday
Let's Not Make the Same Mistakes in Iran
A year later we are still awaiting the independent commission's report. The discussion of intelligence reform has focused on reordering and adding structure on top of an eroded intelligence foundation. And now we hear the drumrolls again, this time announcing an accelerating nuclear weapons program in Iran.
Paul Krugman
Spearing the Beast
President Bush isn't trying to reform Social Security. He isn't even trying to "partially privatize" it. His plan is, in essence, to dismantle the program, replacing it with a system that may be social but doesn't provide security. And the goal, as with his tax cuts, is to undermine the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt.
From Bull Moose
Praise the Lord and Shut 'em Down
The fervent Bible believers in the White House have produced a budget that is contrary to the Judeo-Christian tradition. By hiding the costs of the war and social security privatization, the Bushie budget violates the injunction against bearing false witness. By comforting the comfortable with tax cuts and afflicting the afflicted with cutbacks in food stamps and other services, the spending plan is contrary to Jesus' teachings to put the poor first.
If you thought the Oil-for-food program was corrupt, wait until you see what the CPA did
Fraud and corruption
The Republican senators who have devoted their careers to mauling the United Nations are seldom accused of shyness. But they went strangely quiet on Thursday. Henry Hyde became Henry Jekyll. Norm Coleman's mustard turned to honey. Convinced that the UN is a conspiracy against the sovereignty of the United States, they had been ready to launch the attack which would have toppled the hated Kofi Annan and destroyed his organisation. A report by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US federal reserve, was meant to have proved that, as a result of corruption within the UN's oil-for-food programme, Saddam Hussein was able to sustain his regime by diverting oil revenues into his own hands. But Volcker came up with something else.

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Will This Man Replace Michael Powell?
Kevin Martin
The New FCC
It looks like FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin is poised to take Chairman Powell's place, but exactly what would that mean? Martin is generally more conservative than Powell, has shown himself to be less aggressive at deregulating, especially when it comes to Internet providers. Some are most concerned about the possibility that Martin will make a big push to set up some sort of standardized VoIP (and in a way that can be easily tapped by the FBI).
That's not good news.

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Monday, February 07, 2005
 
See If You Can Guess Who Said This...
..and of which country he is President.
Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

'Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

'Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.'
Holy Shit!!

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The Bush Budget
The President's budget was released today. Not surprisingly those hurt the most are the middle class and the poor. That of course is the majority of the people in this country. Who benefits? No surprise here, the rich and the corporations, military contractors in particular. When I see this I am reminded of Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation. This speech is remembered for its reference to the military-industrial complex(MIC). It is a warning of a fascist/corporatist take over of our country. In the next paragraph he sounds like Jefferson when he says, "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." That is exactly what is not happening. We (an un-alert and un-knowledgeable citizenry) are allowing this administration and their corporate backers (the huge industrial and military machinery of defense) to steal our country through fear. This shift in spending from those who need it most to those who need it the least makes it no surprise that, as the corporate owned media sits quiet and our schools crumble, the citizenry is no longer alert and knowledgeable.

The budget and what is does is a great opportunity for the Democrats to start taking away the values issue. Standing up for the most needy among us is one of the highest of all moral values. Also there are many costs left out:
Mr. Bush's budget plan seeks deep cuts in a wide array of government programs, from farm subsidies to education programs. Yet it does not list projected costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will easily top $80 billion this year. Nor does it reflect the price of introducing private investment accounts within Social Security, the administration's top domestic legislative priority.
Were you alert to these items? I mean why would they want to leave that out. The President is also running a scam on his deficit reduction:
Critics contend that the Bush plan is carefully crafted to hit the five-year promise, however, and that the deficit would resume increasing sharply in 2010.

The president's two biggest domestic fiscal proposals - making his tax cuts permanent, and introducing private accounts within Social Security, would both kick in after 2009, noted Mr. Gale. Thus promising to halve the deficit prior to then "is like saying you're going to go on a diet until dinner," he said.
How moral is that? So you see, just close you eyes and remember, Fox is "fair and balanced".

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Friday, February 04, 2005
 
Commentary
A Culture of Secrecy
In the world's oldest democracy, pressure on investigative journalists is usually exerted in sophisticated, non-lethal ways, under the public radar. Every day in Washington, D.C., thousands of government and corporate public relations flaks and lobbyists purvey their "talking points" with a friendly smile, no matter how odious the client, no matter how intellectually dishonest or morally dubious their message. Journalists must trudge through the shameless "spin"-that vanilla word admiringly used these days instead of "lying," which has a harshly judgmental, jarringly rude ring in Washington power circles.
The President and the Sec. of State don't seem to be on the same page
Rice Says U.S. Won't Aid Europe on Iran Incentives
Less than a day after President Bush declared he was "working with European allies" to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would continue to rebuff European requests to participate directly in offering incentives for Iran to drop what is suspected of being a nuclear arms program.
More on Chertoff

Chris Floyd
Criminal World
Another day, another accomplice in the construction of the Bush Regime's torture chambers revealed. Nothing new there; the perp walk of top Bushists colluding in torture could stretch a mile. But the remarkable thing about the latest case is that it exposes an even greater depth of official criminality than hitherto suspected -- no mean feat, given the rap sheet of this crew.
He's a liar too
A Whistle-Blower's Inside View of the Homeland Security Nominee

On Wednesday, in hearings on his nomination to be head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff had this to say: "If you are dealing with something that makes you nervous, you'd better make sure that you are doing the right thing. And you'd better check it out…. You had better be very careful to make sure that whatever it is you decide to do falls well within what is required by the law."

I could hardly believe my ears.
This one is "silly"
Gross criticizes Social Security plan
Gross, managing director at Pimco, called the argument about the solvency of Social Security "silly" and said it was an example of the president not focusing on more important issues, such as the budget deficit.
Here's the link to his Investment Outlook


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Plain And Simple
Man I lovePaul Krugman's columns. I also love Daily Kos, Artios, Talking Points Memo and There is No Crisis. They are all great chroniclers, along with many others, of the lies this administration is telling about Social Security. One point that is not being hammered home enough by all of us is that the President and to a larger extent the conservatives and Republicans want Social Security done away with. The GOP in particular and the far right wing of that party specifically never wanted Social Security and have been out to kill Social Security since the day it was signed into law. They have always seen it as antithetical to their philosophy. Plain and simple. Their plan has been, since Reagan was elected, to run deficits so high that the only way to turn it around is to cut spending on social issues. Plain and simple.

They needed a war to be able to do this as well because that insures no cuts to defense spending. We can debate all the budget priorities and how we can't cut defense during a war blah, blah, blah. But remember Social Security was created during the depression and spending on social issues increased tremendously. Soon after came WWII and with it more government spending. This was not done without much sacrifice. It also spurred one of the greatest economic transformations in our history. If we want to fix Social Security it can be done. Those that have more must pay more. Plain and simple. Those that with the most are sacrificing the least right now and that is not right. Plain and simple.

Now that the Republicans have spent the last four years spending your money on give aways to corporations and the rich in the form of war and tax cuts hey don't want to pay the money back. So in order to make you stomach that fact they want you to put your money into their private account scheme so they can allow the market to take it's course with your money. Every time it is possible to point this out we should. Because when we allow them do speak from the point of reforming, fixing, securing the system it allows them to frame their side of the argument in a way that is fundamentally dishonest. Plain and simple.

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Turnout
The Iraqi election, as far as this administration was concerned, was just another campaign-style event where they manage the message. Perception is reality and what is said first, loudest and most often is what creates the perception. What I am speaking about specifically is the voter turnout in Iraq. As this article shows, Officials Back Away from Early Estimates of Iraqi Voter Turnout, the number has been going down since it was originally announced to be 72% and later revised down to 57%. But as the article says there is no reason to worry because the SCLM is on the case (sarcasm of course):
For three days now, the press has routinely referred to the figure of 8 million Iraqi voters, following the lead of Farid Ayar, the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq. In the original press citations, what Ayar actually said (hedging his bets) was "as many as 8 million," which most in the media quickly translated as "about 8 million," and then, inevitably, "8 million."

Curiously, the day before the election, according to press reports, Ayar had predicted that 7 to 8 million would turn out, giving him some incentive to later spot the numbers in that neighborhood.

Also, one dares to ask: If the commission expected close to 8 million, and that's what happened -- and there was less violence on election day than anticipated -- why was the turnout greeted as such a surprise? Especially since U.S. and Iraqi leaders have spent months knocking the press for failing to report that the vast majority of regions in this country are safe and friendly.

The percentage of turnout supplied by Ayar came to 57% (happily rounded off by the press to 60%). This was based on what was described as 14 million potential voters divided by those 8 million who braved the potential bullets and bombs to go to the polls.

On Sunday, while hailing the millions going to the polls, I also raised questions about the 14 million eligible figure: was that registered voters, or all adults over 18, or what? Few on TV or in print seem to be quite sure, to this day.

It's a big difference. Since Sunday, countless TV talking heads, such as Chris Matthews, and print pundits have compared the Iraq turnout favorably to U.S. national elections, not seeming to understand that 80%-90% of our registered voters usually turn out. The problem in our country is that so few people bother to register, bringing our overall turnout numbers way down.
Logic and hard questioning really shed light on this. Wouldn't it be nice if the media tried this? So you see last Sunday and Monday is when the turnout was first spoken of the loudest and most often and which was also the time it will be given the most attention. Never will there be a time when the true turnout numbers will be discussed with such undivided attention. It will be mentioned by pundits under their breath as they head to commercial break, "..and by the way, as (insert liberal name here) said, the turn out was actually lower than first reported. Back in a moment." A good number had to be reported initially and in time for the SOTU for it to have it's maximum effect. Don't worry some day we will all find out what the real turnout was as election commission member Safwat Rashid tells us, "Only God Almighty knows the final turnout now". Well maybe our President can find out for us the next time God is telling him what to do.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005
 
I've Got A Few Questions
Do you know why the President said this last night?
Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims, and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.
Do you think this had anything to do with it? Halliburton Co. Tuesday said it completed funding its asbestos liability settlements, marking the end of a long-running legal tussle in the oilfield service company's history. I'm sure Cheney appreciates Bush bringing up his biggest f**kup as CEO of Halliburton. More on this below.

Here's a good take on the SOTU
Bush Promises More Pain
Bush?s State of the Union was a great speech if you work on Wall Street, or if you?re a negligent doctor, or if you?re the CEO of an asbestos company or a nuclear energy company, or if you?re a millionaire the old-fashioned way, through inheritance.


Why are these two companies leaving Iran? Why were they doing business with an "Axis of Evil" country anyway? Halliburton and GE. Do they know the bombs are coming and they need to cut their ties now so they can be involved in the reconstruction?

Why is our freedom loving war President afraid of these people?

If the private accounts are such a good deal why do only those under 55 years old get to participate? If they're such a good deal wouldn't everybody want them? Is there something wrong with them?

The Democrats held together pretty damn good today, Democrats Oppose Torture, Republicans Endorse Torture.

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SOTU
Quite a regular Bush SOTU speech. He told us that, "Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world, the state of our union is confident and strong." But Social Security isn't? "The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy." Which is not true. He is telling us we have a great economy but Social Security is going bankrupt. When actually both of those claims are wrong and the exact opposite is true. So why not use the great economy to bolster Social Security? The crux of what the Republicans want to do is make it so they can run a scam so the government doesn't have to pay back the money it's be borrowing for the last 20 years from the Social Security trust fund.

To finish up he used a "wing-nut" connected Iraqi woman and a dead Marines parents -- whose casket cannot be filmed coming home -- to have a warm and fuzzy, ahem, "unscripted" moment for his speech. Lap it up sheep, maybe next year he can have these two marines parents in the balcony.

He didn't mention this, Marines Fall Short of Monthly Recruiting:
The Marine Corps fell short of its monthly recruiting goal in January for the first time in nearly 10 years, officials said Thursday.
But who would want to join an organization with leaders like this?
The comment, made by Lt. Gen. James Mattis, came in reference to fighting insurgents in Iraq. He went on to say, "Actually, its a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. I like brawling."

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for 5 years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
Most of the speech was the general nods to those other programs that he has to mention, a nod to the Christian fundamentalists constitutional amendment that will never pass and more threats of war throughout the world. There was only a miniscule mention of most of our social problems. Jobs, healthcare, education, got nodded to like, "Yeah, yeah, I know, blah, blah, blah". With this report that came out this week it's no wonder he didn't say much about education, U.S. TEENS DON'T LIKE OUR FREEDOMS. Where in the world are they getting that kind of information? Our founders must be doing flips right now! So you see the state of our union is in bad shape.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005
 
A Few To Check Out
An opinion from Asia
The Uglier American
The Ugly American of Vietnam has become the Uglier American of Iraq. It is not the inhumanity of My Lai which defines the US today but the sadism of Abu Ghraib. But even this hideous version may not have reached its nadir.
Heard about this?
Anger as American troops kill four inmates in jail riot
The deaths, on the day the elections were held, drew an angry response from the Iraqi interim government which called for the troops to be put on trial if they were found to have used excessive force
Another soldier that's had enough
Winner of purple heart avoids second tour, flees to Canada
Rather than face another tour of duty in Iraq, a Lexington soldier who won a purple heart after he was wounded by a roadside bomb has deserted to Canada.

Nuclear Hawks?! A person who favors nuclear military force or action in order to carry out foreign policy. Understand?
Bush promotes 'nuclear hawks'
A group of hardline officials known as “nuclear hawks” is being promoted in a shake-up of the Bush administration's arms control and non-proliferation teams, according to officials close to the administration.
That's just great writing to use the word shake-up there isn't it? Couldn't they have said he's going to blow-up his foreign policy instead?

Nicely done
Train wreck of an election
Tomorrow night, like a boy in a bubble, George W. Bush will tell the world it was for "freedom." He will claim the Iraqi election as a stamp of legitimacy for his policy, and many people will affirm it as such. Even critics of the war will mute their objections in response to the image of millions of Iraqis going to polling places, as if that act undoes the Bush catastrophe.



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I saw Eliot Spitzer Monday night on C-span. He gave a speech at the National Press Club on Monday. He was very, very impressive. I recommend watching this speech and you can find it here. Here is a pretty good wrap-up if you don't want to watch it, Eliot “Roosevelt” Spitzer – New York AG Makes the Case. I had never really heard him talk but he has what it takes in my opinion to help the Democrats with a progressive, populist message. He took the corporate leaders in this county to task for being greedy, corrupt and focused on the bottom line only. He pointed out many of them to be the cheaters they are and he personally endeared himself to me when he hammered the insurance industry. This man should be one of the major faces of the Democratic Party at this time. He speaks a great populist message and is not afraid to take on the powerful.

President Bush will deliver his plan for the Repub, er.. I mean America tonight
Dominance on GOP Agenda

President Bush's agenda for the next four years, much of which he will highlight in his State of the Union address tonight, includes many proposals that would not only change public policy but, the GOP hopes, achieve an ambitious political goal: Stripping money and voters from the Democratic Party and cementing Republican dominance for years after he leaves office.
More on the Bush administration propaganda machine
White House-friendly reporter under scrutiny
The Bush administration has provided White House media credentials to a man who has virtually no journalistic background, asks softball questions to the president and his spokesman in the midst of contentious news conferences, and routinely reprints long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website.
..and still more
It's their party, and they'll spy if they want to
Reporters who cover the White House are accustomed to being spun by administration officials. The modern presidential toolbox includes carefully rationed news conferences, say-nothing spokesmen, dead-of-night releases of unfavorable news and phony "town hall" meetings composed solely of sycophantic supporters.


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I Love This Stuff
Scottie & Me
Mokhiber: Scott, last night, in an amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department came down in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments at courthouses and statehouses around the country. My question is - does the President believe in Commandment Number Six - thou shalt not kill - as it applies to the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

Scott McLellan: Go ahead, next question

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005
 
Iraq
Yesterday on Randi Rhodes she had Scott Ritter on. Before he was on live she was playing clips from his previous appearance on her show over 2 years ago. He was right on before the war and yesterday he reminded me and those listening that Iraq is just the beginning of the neocon world conquering agenda that they call "democracy". It must be kept in my especially in light of this, Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces. Check out the signatories of this document. Here is another thing to keep in mind when listening to the Iraqi election cheerleading,The Vietnam turnout was good as well:

On September 4 1967 the New York Times published an upbeat story on presidential elections held by the South Vietnamese puppet regime at the height of the Vietnam war. Under the heading "US encouraged by Vietnam vote: Officials cite 83% turnout despite Vietcong terror", the paper reported that the Americans had been "surprised and heartened" by the size of the turnout "despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting". A successful election, it went on, "has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam". The echoes of this weekend's propaganda about Iraq's elections are so close as to be uncanny.
Yesterday I linked an article that talked about unintended consequences of the election in Iraq. In my opinion one of the biggest of these will be the perception of the American people that it's over and will start wondering why we are still there. Especially in light of all the cheerleading the SCLM has been doing about what a monumental and successful event this was. That's one of my opinions but in reality no one knows what the consequences of this election will be. Only time will tell.

Now as Dahr Jamail is pointing out on his blog that Some Just Voted for Food and also What They?re Not Telling You About the ?Election?:
What they also didn?t tell you was that of those who voted, whether they be 35% or even 60% of registered voters, were not voting in support of an ongoing US occupation of their country.

In fact, they were voting for precisely the opposite reason. Every Iraqi I have spoken with who voted explained that they believe the National Assembly which will be formed soon will signal an end to the occupation.

And they expect the call for a withdrawing of foreign forces in their country to come sooner rather than later.

This causes one to view the footage of cheering, jubilant Iraqis in a different light now, doesn?t it?
Why yes it does. But you won't hear anyone in the SCLM talking about that. With that in my how do you think the Iraqis will feel about this, Iraq president: U.S. troops must stay for now?

The two WMD partners in crime appear to be back in business, Together, Again -- Judith Miller and Ahmad Chalabi. So the embezzeling Iranian spy now is going to be setup in an Iraqi cabinet post by the our government. Once again my thoughts from last May on Chalabi:
"Mr. Chalabi is fighting for his political life in Iraq. But for him stay in power he needs the Iraqis to think he is one of them and not with the Americans"

Filibuster
This is a very good column about how we got to this point regarding judicial nominees, Resist the Filibuster Fiat. Kevin Drum points out in this article how when the GOP assumed power in the Senate in 2002 they changed the committee rules. The rules changes left the minority no other recourse against an appointment they didn't favor other than using the filibuster. He sympathizes with the idea that maybe some of the rules that were changed weren't good rules to begin with but finishes with what I believe to be the main point of all this:
Given this history, fair-minded Republicans would be better advised to restore some of the rules they themselves once defended so fervently than to attempt to tear down the last one remaining.
I think he's is saying that the Republicans are acting like that kid who would take his ball and go home.

The above column is in contrast to this incant:
The media tolerate or even encourage Democratic rage. But the White House can't afford to. Senate Democrats have enough votes to block major Bush initiatives like Social Security reform and to reject Bush appointees, including Supreme Court nominees. They may be suicidal, but they could undermine the president's entire second term agenda. At his news conference last week, Bush reacted calmly to their vitriolic attacks, suggesting only a few Democrats are involved. Stronger countermeasures will be needed, including an unequivocal White House response to obstructionism, curbs on filibusters, and a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq. Too much is at stake to wait for another Democratic defeat in 2006.

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