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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005
 
Freedom is on the march?
Children 'starving' in new Iraq
Malnutrition rates in children under five have almost doubled since the US-led invasion - to nearly 8% by the end of last year, it says.
Maureen Dowd on the latest WMD whitewash report
I Spy a Screw-Up
For instance, on the comic side, The Times reported yesterday that administration officials were relieved that the new report by a presidential commission had "found no evidence that political pressure from the White House or Pentagon contributed to the mistaken intelligence."

That's hilarious.

As necessity is the mother of invention, political pressure was the father of conveniently botched intelligence.
I'm out of town for the weekend, see you on Monday. - LH

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Is A Draft Coming?
Last night I came across a discussion on C-SPAN called The Draft: Inevitable, Avoidable or Preferable?. The transcript is here(.pdf). I didn't see if all but I think this excerpt, from the Q&A session, tells why or why not we will have a draft:
Q: P. J. Crowley, a fellow here at the Center for American Progress. To Phil, don?t we have really a disconnect between the strategy of preemption and the capability of a military force to carry it out? So in favoring a draft, you would be, in essence, advocating for a continuance of the strategy of preemption as opposed to adapting your strategy, funding more nonmilitary dimensions of national power so that you will not overuse your military in future efforts in the war on terror?

MR. CARTER: I think that?s a very good point. I think that one of the assumptions we state up front in our article is that if you be ? if you want to be the world super power and if you continue on this glide path, then you must adopt a draft. Now, we advance that argument because that?s the direction our country is going in now, and we, you know, take our country as it is, not as we might like it to be.

MR. KORB: Thank you, Mr. Rumsfeld.

MR. CARTER: To adapt ? to adapt the secretary. But I think you have to question that assumption, and I think you have to ask yourself again on the demand side, do we want a foreign policy that requires this large of a military and this much military adventurism? It may well be more effective to use the soft power that Joseph Nye talks about or other tools of national power. I think that?s a very good point.

MR. KORB: Well, you know, the ? Bush put out his national security strategy in September, 2002, so he has not basically funded his own national security strategy, and that?s the problem. If you?re going to ? and it?s not just preemption. It?s preventive wars which says, you know, nobody is against preemption. If somebody is about to attack you, you don?t have to wait. Preventive war basically says, you?re going to attack someone who has the capability to do you harm. And that?s ? boy, you?d better have a much more robust military if you?re going to do that.
I always love a good discussion like this. So what's the answer? Yes a draft is coming, as long as this administration continues with its doctrine of preemption.

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Guckert and the NPC
Have you seen the latest news about the Jim Gucker, aka, Jeff Gannon being on a National Press Club panel on Who is a Journalist? Well things have changed,National Press Club bans public from GannonGuckert panel discussion:
Gee, embarrassed about something? I know it's been years since we've had hookers on 15th street, but come on guys, we're all grown ups, and we've already seen him naked (just look further on down this page). And does anyone else find it ironic that a panel about whether non-credentialed media (such as bloggers) are journalists is now banning non-credentialed media? And perhaps the biggest irony, under these rules Guckert wouldn't be allowed to attend his own panel! The "old boys" are circling the wagons.
Now we find out that Reporter, editor say 'Jeff Gannon' plagiarized article. As John at AmericaBlog says, "That sound you hear is the clock ticking off the seconds before the National Press Club is forced to admit they made a massive mistake."

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It's Hard Work
Why in the world aren't the American people buying into your president's private account scheme on Social Security? Those in his own party are having trouble publicly supporting the plan, GOP Lawmakers: Approach Isn't Selling
The president has said that the accounts will do little to fix the long-term solvency issues facing Social Security, but he has not specified the mix of tax increases, benefit cuts and deficit spending he would support to make the system solvent for generations to come. Instead, Bush said he would leave those details to a reluctant Republican Congress.
I think it's pretty humorous how the president and the Republicans in Congress are trying to goad the other into stepping off the cliff first. Why won't the president submit a plan? Why won't our "war" president take a principled stand and do what he thinks it right, stand up for it and sell it? Why can't our first MBA president do that? What happened to all that political capitol he built up from his 51% "mandate"?

The age group the president absolutely has to have, he says, to get his plan passed is young adults
Young adults, a generation with the most at stake in the national debate over Social Security, appear to be losing confidence in President Bush's proposal to boost retirement savings through individual investment accounts.
They don't appear to be buying. That is so strange. I have no idea why anyone wouldn't trust our president. He means what he says and says what he means.

Medicare is facing a crisis not Social Security, What about Medicare? Trustees' report shows where crisis lies
The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare programs submitted their annual report to Congress Wednesday, and it's clear that Medicare should be reformers' first priority. Medicare premiums will rise 12 percent next year, following a 17 percent increase this year. The program's hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2020. By 2024, the cost of Medicare will surpass the cost of the Social Security system, and within 75 years will consume about one-seventh of the nation's gross domestic product. Medicare is an unsustainable program.
Do you know what your presidents plan is to fix Medicare?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 
Another bad apple, General approved extreme interrogation methods, memo linked at bottom of article. Look our Rummy there getting closer. There's plenty of fresh meat, as well

Laugh out loud funny
James Wolcott, The Ghoulies
Joe Scarborough is just a symptom, a noisy, ignorant, pimply symptom to be sure, but still. The real malefactors are the men in executive suits and suites who put such a bozo on the air and allow him to plant his shoes on the dying body of Terri Schiavo and use her as a political soapbox and religious pulpit. It's conservatives who are dehydrating her, draining every last drop of dignity from her death.
Bill Bradley on the state of the Democratic Party
A Party Inverted
If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.

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National Press Club (NPC)
In case your not aware the Gannon/Guckert situation is blowing up again. This time over whether he should be on a National Press Club panel on Who Is A Journalist? Well I would say prostitutes, generally speaking, are not. If you think this is wrong please sign on to Getting It Wrong an open letter to the National Press Club. The other part of this is, of course, the ongoing snubbing of the left on any of these panels about blogging and journalism. Help put pressure on the NPC.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
 
I wrote this post earlier today but was unable to post until now because of the earlier problems with Blogger.

As I looked over the news today there is quite a bit happening.

The Iraqi Parliament met for the second time today and failed to name a speaker and it descended into chaos. Scottie has a different take on it though.

Our tough guy "war" President is too chicken#@$% to take questions from the American people. So after using tax payer money to fund his fake town hall meetings he has RNC rent-a-cops trash citizens first amendment rights.

The president's two latest nominees continue to get heat. Wolfie wants to work at the same place as his girlfriend. Can you picture that conversation. Mr. President can I go to work a the World Bank so I can be close to my girlfriend. Sure Paul. Josh Bolton has plenty of skeletons in his closet. Steve Clemons has all the details at The Washington Note.

But, of course, the main thing is that corpo-religio-fascism continues to come at us at a staggering pace. The latest symbol of this is, of course, the Terri Schiavo fiasco. I think that for the Bush boys, George and Jeb, this has gone on way too long. It's always cool for them to be able to fire up the base of the party but when every network keeps putting them, the crazy ones, like Randall Terry and Bill Tierney, on TV- day after day after day- it starts to make them nervous. Because if the people start realizing that these people and the Bush's are one in the same it's curtains for team Bush. They, the Bush's, want these people to vote for them but they don't want to be tied too closely to them for this long by the media. The people that go to church every week are who they want to be their face to America not these people who are letting their kids get arrested. Americans don't like people that want to force their religious beliefs on them, or any other belief for that matter.

Oh yeah, Michael Moore was right, 'N.Y. Times' Gets Documents on Post-9/11 Saudi Flights from U.S..

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Monday, March 28, 2005
 
Look What This Administration Is Doing To Our Country's Good Name
Is No One Accountable?
The Bush administration is desperately trying to keep the full story from emerging. But there is no longer any doubt that prisoners seized by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been killed, tortured, sexually humiliated and otherwise grotesquely abused.

These atrocities have been carried out in an atmosphere in which administration officials have routinely behaved as though they were above the law, and thus accountable to no one. People have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed, without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals.
Army report discloses more Iraq prison abuse
"There is evidence that suggests the 311th MI personnel and/or translators engaged in physical torture of the detainees," a memo from the investigator said. The January 2004 report said the prisoners' rights under the Geneva Conventions were violated.
And there's more
Government is Manipulating Release of Torture Documents in an Attempt to Minimize Scandal, ACLU Charges

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How To Combat Propaganda (PBU13)
In my opinion the only way to combat propaganda is to be aware of a sources background, no matter who it is, and to make sure everyone else knows it too. Even if it is someone you usually agree with. Their point of view on a given topic must be a major consideration. Of course that takes time to research. Here are a few sites that can make that research easier and hopefully less time consuming:

Media Matters, Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Cursor and Media Transparency, The Money Behind The Media, These sites are useful to media practitioners, students, researchers, and the general public -- adding context to the mainstream medias output by illuminating the structures and methods employed, as well as by providing an ongoing library of links to the best media education, research and commentary available on the Internet. We supplement this with our own original research and commentary.

The Center for Public Integrity's Well Connected, The Media Tracker is a tool for the public to use to learn about media ownership in America. To create the search, a team of researchers and database experts compiled a 51,870-record database consisting of every radio and television station and cable television system in the United States.

In these times of mass corporate ownership of the media and government payola scandals involving "journalists" it is more important than ever to know the background of who the person speaking is and also who controls the media they are speaking through.

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Bush Let's Contractors Steal Your Money And Lets Them Get Away With It. They Must Have Something On Your President!
If there is any conservative asshole out there that wants to keep talking about how welfare is such a waste and how welfare mothers are stealing from the government, they should read this and then kiss my ass! There has never been the kind of theft of taxpayer money through welfare, corporate that is, that is now occurring with this administration and war. War Is A Racket, after all.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
 
A Rant
If you still believed in the myth of "liberal media bias", before this past week, I hope you now know that it no longer exists. What has been all over your media for the past week would not be covered like it has been if the liberals were in running the media. So let's refer to it how it should be referred to as the "so called liberal media" (SICILIAN) or religious conservative media bias. There are no liberals on TV anymore. Name one. Chris Matthews, please. Every show is hosted by someone who would not claim the moniker of liberal and most are conservative. You're lucky to even get a liberal on as a guest. Robert Reich, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Al Franken or someone like that are what you'll get as a liberal guests. Other than that you're stuck with some ex/former/once-Democratic Party operative/consultant/once-had-a-friend-that-was-a-Democrat to try and tell you what they think the liberal point of view is. If the media was liberal they would call him thrice admonished by the House Ethics Committee Tom DeLay whenever his picture came up. They would introduce him as pro-torture Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They would call him the first in 100 years to gain office without winning the popular vote George W. Bush. So you see the media would be much, much different if it was liberal. There would be people talking about universal health care, the crisis in Medicare, paying workers a living wage, all the good that Social Security has done, etc. So you see the media isn't liberal. Here is what you might see if the media was liberal, The Undoing of America, Gore Vidal on war for oil, politics-free elections, and the late, great U.S. Constitution.

Sidney Blumenthal, A confederacy of shamans
The politics of piety were transparently masked by Republicans attempting to make capital over the fate of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman who has been locked in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years and whose feeding tube was ordered to be removed by a Florida state judge at the request of her husband.
Juan Cole, The Schiavo Case and the Islamization of the Republican Party
The cynical use by the US Republican Party of the Terri Schiavo case repeats, whether deliberately or accidentally, the tactics of Muslim fundamentalists and theocrats in places like Egypt and Pakistan. These tactics involve a disturbing tendency to make private, intimate decisions matters of public interest and then to bring the courts and the legislature to bear on them. President George W. Bush and Republican congressional leaders like Tom Delay have taken us one step closer to theocracy on the Muslim Brotherhood model.

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Soldiers Critique The War
Operation Truth, the Nation?s first and largest OIF(Operation Iraqi Freedom)/OEF(Operation Enduring Freedom) Veterans? group, has release an After Action Review(.pdf). It is described as:
The After Action Review is used to encourage improvement in all aspects of the military, from the Department of Defense in Washington to the squad on the ground. In principle, this is a valuable exercise meant to reinforce the successes and prevent future failures. Unfortunately, the most valuable source of information -- the unfiltered voice of the Troops -- is often overlooked.

For well over a year, Operation Truth has been collecting information directly from the Troops who were deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation
Enduring Freedom (OEF).

These are some of those stories ? unedited and uncensored ? as they were submitted directly to our Web site. These stories make up a different kind of After Action Review. Instead of official platitudes, these stories offer real, firsthand insight into what went wrong, what went well and what needs to change. The Troops offer both praise and criticism, describing their experiences in the field and their return home.

The men and women of the Armed Forces now comprise a smaller percentage of the population than at any time in this country?s modern history. Now more than ever, there is a disconnect between our Troops, our leaders in Washington and the public at large. Operation Truth hopes this report, composed exclusively of stories straight from the ?boots on the ground,? will help bridge that gap.

A note on the report?s format: Operation Truth has combed through the hundreds of stories submitted to our Web site and categorized the comments by theme in Sections II and III. The branch of service and home state of the writer precedes each comment, and the Troops are identified by their chosen usernames; we?ve also noted the date each story was submitted.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 

George W. Bush Is A Flip-Flopper! If A Man Is Going To Chang Their Mind About Such Important An Issue As Life And Death How Can He Ever Be Trusted To Do What It Right?


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Monday, March 21, 2005
 
My Last Word On This
Unfortunately what Congress did yesterday has nothing to do with this poor woman. It's an attempt to take the stink off of Tom DeLay and to hide the many other things going on. Not to mention the fact that DeLay, Frist, Bush Dramatically Out of Touch.

These people are sick, GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo:
This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.

This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.
See Scottie Lie, McClellan: Twisting the Facts About 1999 Law

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Schiavo & DeLay
Nobody loves the attention this case is getting more than Tom DeLay. Isn't he so compassionate?

From Digby, The Days Of Our Lives:
By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. (READ THAT AGAIN!) It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the "family", the congress and the church against this woman's husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo's right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism.

This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn't the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.

One of the things that we need to help America understand is that there is a big difference between the way the two parties perceive the role of government in its citizens personal lives. Democrats want the government to collect money from all its citizens in order to deliver services to the people. The Republicans want the government to collect money from working people in order to dictate individual citizen's personal decisions. You tell me which is the bigger intrusion into the average American's liberty?
Off the Kuff has the DeLay update.

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Two Years Later (PBU12)
It's been two years now since our President started his revenge war in Iraq against those that struck us on 9/11. No, no that's not it. It was because Iraq had WMD. NO, no, it was because they had a weapons program. No, it's because he had weapons program related activities. No, it was to free the Iraqi people from brutal dictator. No, it was to spread freedom and democracy throughout the region. Well, whatever reason has been used these last two years you can bet that's not the reason we went. Whether you think it's oil, WMD, democracy, Iran, payback or anything else there is one fact that cannot be denied. If there was little or no Oil in Iraq this administration would treat it like the Sudan.

So as you read this New York Times piece about how great things are going in Iraq now notice a couple of things about this article. John Burns is one of the better American reporters in Iraq. No matter how good an American reporter is though, they are still in a bubble, and are not free to move about the country. The only people in this article that talk about how much better things are going are US military personnel. There are no Iraqis quoted in this article to back up what it's premise. So to be honest there is no real change here. The US military has been saying since we set foot on the ground that everything is going great.

As usual though if you turn to the foreign press you get a totally different view, 45 dead in Iraq unrest on 2nd anniversary of US-led invasion. Not to worry though. Our Secretary of Defense, ex-CEO by the way, knows exactly whose fault the resistance in Iraq is. The one thing you can be sure of is that it's not his our your President, aka Mr. Accountability's fault. Why it's Turkey's fault, of course. This administration's pre-planned chaos is Turkey's fault? Maybe if they could have waited 45 more days... Oh yeah, I forgot Iraq was an imminent threat. It just keeps going.

If you have children you need to read this, Uncle Sam Really, Really Wants You...:
If the shortage of new soldiers persists, many worry that the government will be forced to reintroduce a compulsory military draft for the first time since the Vietnam War.

There are already signs that the Selective Service System (SSS), as it is known, is gearing up for business. By Mar. 31, the SSS boards in every state must certify to Washington that they are ready to induct the first young men within 75 days.

They're putting in place the mechanisms to actually do a draft,” said Dustin Langley, a spokesman for the Troops Out Now Coalition representing more than 400 labour, community and human rights groups.
Remember what started this war in Iraq. What allowed the American public to go to war based on a fictitious threat. It was a "terrorist attack" on our country. That this administration had warnings about. I've asked this question before but It needs to be asked again. What would it take for you to willingly sacrifice one of your children for this administration? That is what keeps me awake at night and what I fear may be coming next. Happy Second Anniversary!

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Friday, March 18, 2005
 
Greg Palast is at it again
Secret US plans for Iraq's oil:
Ms Jaffe says US oil companies are not warm to any plan that would undermine Opec and the current high oil price: "I'm not sure that if I'm the chair of an American company, and you put me on a lie detector test, I would say high oil prices are bad for me or my company."
You've got to give the Iraqi people credit. They still have their sense of humor after all they've been through, Iraqi press pokes fun at politics:
Al-Sabah, one of Iraq's leading newspapers, featured a photograph of puffs of smoke rising from the mortar blasts outside the assembly during its opening ceremonies. The tongue-in-cheek headline: "They met, but they did not agree to meet again."

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American Haters (Pun Intended)
Why Does George H. W. Bush Hate America?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH DISAVOWS PRIVATIZATION:
I think it's a nutty idea to fool around with the Social Security system and run the risk of [hurting] the people who've been saving all their lives.... It may be a new idea, but it's a dumb one.
Why Do These Soldiers Hate America?
Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way Out:
"It wasn't what I thought it would be," Private Hughey said. He said he enlisted at 17 from his home in San Angelo, Tex., because a recruiter promised that the military would buy him the education his father could not afford. He said he had tried to push aside little doubts he had, even back in basic training, but realized as his unit prepared to leave Fort Hood, Tex., for Iraq last March that he could not go.

"There are people who would want to hang me for this," he said in a telephone interview from Toronto. "The thing is, yes, I did sign up for this. And, when I did, I had this vision that I'd be a good guy and defend my country. But killing people for something I don't believe in just to fulfill a contract just didn't seem right to me either."

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Going Off The Rails....
Over the course of the last few months I have found it hard to get my thoughts together. Not because some kind of depression or stagnation because Kerry lost. It's more about trying to find a starting point. There is so much going on. The recent nominations of Wolfowitz and Bolton being covered so well by The Washington Note. Who better to have head the World Bank than the main planner of the disaster in Iraq? And who better to be the UN Envoy than a man that hates the UN? There was also the appointment of a torture proponent as AG, and promoting the person who was in charge of national security on 9/11, and so on.

This administration and his party cohorts have made their main domestic focus the destruction of Social Security. As I pointed out yesterday from the President's Press Conference he is in favor of individual greed as opposed to shared prosperity.

What it comes down to is blatant hypocrisy. No one points this out better, on a regular basis, than Chris Floyd. In his column today, Filter Tips, he does a great job again of pointing that out:
Here's an excellent example. Earlier this month, the American media completely ignored an important announcement from an official of the Iraqi government concerning the oft-maligned U.S. operation to clear insurgents from the city of Fallujah last November. Although the press conference of Health Ministry investigator Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was attended by representatives from The Washington Post, Knight-Ridder and more than 20 other international news outlets, nary a word of his team's thorough investigation into the truth about the battle made it through the filter's dense mesh. Once again, the American public was denied the full story of one of President Bush's remarkable triumphs.
Doesn't it make sense that The Washington Post(WaPo) and Knight-Ridder(KR) would at least mentioned this? I did a Google search and look what I got, US, Fallujah, Chemical Weapons, Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli, no articles by the WaPo or KR on this topic. In other words, if your military uses chemical weapons (napalm) and levels an entire city, displaces 200,000+ people and the MSM doesn't cover it, did it actually happen? Well when the US military is a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton and the media is controlled by corporations and defense contractors this is what you get. War and occupation are good for business.

From this it is clear that the only place to find this information is in the foreign press, and it makes it hard to look at Chris Matthews and his ilk. Do ends justify the means? It appears that in an effort to spread freedom and democracy around the world we are taking the stance that you we will become a democracy or else, U.S. used banned weapons in Fallujah ? Health ministry:
He said that researches, prepared by his medical team, prove that U.S. occupation forces used internationally prohibited substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, and other burning chemicals in their attacks in the war-torn city.

[and]

During the U.S. offensive, Fallujah residents reported that they saw ?melted? bodies in the city, which suggests that U.S. forces used napalm gas, a poisonous cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel that makes the human body melt.
And finally, The Christian Science Monitor asks, Is US losing moral authority on human rights? To me the answer to that is obvious. The question should be what, if anything, can we do to get it back?

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Sign Up
Barbara Boxer says, "Tell the big oil companies to stay out of ANWR!"
I've set up a petition form on my PAC for a Change website to make it easy to send an email to the CEOs of ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch/Shell, and ChevronTexaco and tell them to stay out of ANWR. I hope you'll join me in this effort.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005
 
Republicans Are Wimps!
Republicans are afraid of a debate on Social Security. An open debate that is, GOP boards up the 'town hall':
This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable," says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Republican leaders are urging their party's lawmakers to take the spotlight off themselves by convening panels of experts from the Social Security Administration, conservative think tanks, local colleges and like-minded interest groups to answer questions about the federal retirement program.

The shift in venues and formats, Santorum says, is aimed at producing "more of an erudite discussion" about Social Security's problems and possible solutions.
Let me see how I can put this. Republicans like say Democrats are elitist. Don't know how to talk to the regular guy like they do. Well the Republican Senators and Representatives went back to their districts a few weeks back and had "town hall" meetings with their constituents, aka regular people, and got their asses handed to them. So now they say that the need to have an educated discussion about Social Security. What a bunch of rich chikenshit elitists! Their plan is bad and the people know it do they instead want to send out their well paid liars from their Mellon-Scaife financed think tanks to tell us what a bunch of dumbasses we are for not accepting their shitty plan. Excuse the expletives please. These Republicans make me sick, especially Santorum. No wonder Osama is still on the run.

Check this our from your President's, ahem, press conference yesterday:
Q Mr. President, you say you're making progress in the Social Security debate. Yet private accounts, as the centerpiece of that plan, something you first campaigned on five years ago and laid before the American people, remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with a majority of Americans. So the question is, do you feel that this is a point in the debate where it's incumbent upon you, and nobody else, to lay out a plan to the American people for how you actually keep Social Security solvent for the long-term?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Dave, let me, if I might correct you, be so bold as to correct you, I have not laid out a plan yet, intentionally. I have laid out principles, I've talked about putting all options on the table, because I fully understand the administration must work with the Congress to permanently solve Social Security. So one aspect of the debate is, will we be willing to work together to permanently solve the issue.

Personal accounts do not solve the issue. But personal accounts will make sure that individual workers get a better deal with whatever emerges as a Social Security solution.

And the reason why is because a personal account would enable a worker to, voluntarily, by the way -- this is a voluntary program, you can choose to join or choose not to join. The government is not making you do that, it's your option, and you can decide whether or not you want to put some of your own money aside in a conservative mix of stocks and bonds to earn a better rate of return than that which you would earn -- your money would earn inside the Social Security system. And over time, that compounds, it grows, and you would end up with a nest egg you could call your own.

And so I think it's an interesting idea, and one that people ought to discuss to make sure the system works better for an individual worker. But it's very important for people to understand that the permanent solution will require Congress and the administration working together on a variety of different possibilities.
We learn several things from this one answer. First, the President has not plan. Second, Private accounts do nothing to fix the solvency problem with Social Security. Third, your President is more concerned with the individual worker than the state of the workforce as a whole. In other words your President by saying this is trying to shred the hallmark, if you will, of Social Security. Every worker chipping in to make sure that no worker has to retire in poverty. Nothing makes A Republican more mad than that.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005
 
Blogging vs. Journalism
Yesterday I went to the the SXSW Interactive Festival and listened to the panel on Blogging vs. Journalism. Those on the panel were Jason Kottke, Jason Calacanis, Rebecca MacKinnon and Brad Owens. Here is the only article I could find on it so far, Austin conference explores blogging vs. journalism. It was a good discussion with very interesting panelists. One of the most interesting points made were about bloggers living in their own bubble. The all link to each other and just live in this little cocoon. I think Ms. MacKinnon referred to it as just as, "First World white geeks." Meaning, in my opinion, that at this time it is just the people who have the knowledge and the resources to blog. Which means there is enormous room for growth and transformation. The other was the vitriol and frankness about editing -- I prefer censorship -- in the MSM. Mr. Owens made good points about the lack of competition in media and bloggers filling that gap. All the usual things were there as well. Journalism is now focused on the bottom line and not what's important. Good hard news and investigative reporting. The lack of foreign news in this country. Media consolidation. Mr. Calacanis told a humorous story about working with a "journalist" on a blog who wanted to talk all the time and how this business is about posting, "So post something already". How blogging has built in checks and balances, if you make a mistake you will be called on it and be forced to correct your mistake. But the main point of blogging vs. journalism or is blogging journalism was discussed too. This has been hashed and rehashed many times and I think the answer is no doubt yes. Blogging is filling a void, a gaping hole, created by the fluff put out as journalism by the MSM. Blogging is where it's at. A conversation if you will and will continue to be it as long as the government leaves it alone.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
 
Uh Oh!
I've been thinking. When I say that to my wife her response is usually, "Uh oh!" What I've been thinking about is that there are some eerie similarities to what is happened in Bush's first term to what is happening in his second term. Mainly that everything he was trying to do wasn't working in his first term just like now. His Social Security scam is not going well. Members of his own party are starting to make noise about his budget priorities. Iraq, despite the elections, is still a mess for the average person. It also seems inevitable that this administration will "preemtively strike" somewhere else in that region eventually. We have major competition on the world stage with China now. Let me put it this way, in order for Bush to get the things done that he needs to do he needs little if no dissent. In order to get that he needs something to shut people up and make them toe the line. So just think about this. What would it take for most people in this country to allow their retirement security to be taken away, their children to be drafted and their civil rights to be completely taken away? It would probably be something pretty bad. Uh oh!

Oh yeah, Halliburton is crooked
The Spoils of War
Halliburton subsidiary KBR got $12 billion worth of exclusive contracts for work in Iraq. But even more shocking is how KBR spent some of the money. Former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official Bunnatine Greenhouse is blowing the whistle on the Dick Cheney?linked company's profits of war
Oh yeah, Halliburton is REALLY crooked
Shipping was extra ? a lot extra
Iraq needed fuel. Halliburton Co. was ordered to get it there ? quick. So the Houston-based contractor charged the Pentagon $27.5 million to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel.
You can do that if your former CEO is not the Vice President. - LH


The revolving door keeps spinning
Ex-TSA/DHS leader Asa Hutchinson joins SAFLINK Board
Biometric and smart card security company, SAFLINK, has added an influential member to its board of directors. Former Homeland Security Under Secretary and TSA head, Asa Hutchinson will help the company by "work(ing) with its management in solving present and future security needs of the nation." No doubt he can help to gain the attention of government project leaders and decision makers as well.
Isn't that overstating the obvious - LH

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Monday, March 14, 2005
 
Have You Heard Of Bassim Chmait? (PBU11)
It's a bizarre story of a young man who was shot by an off duty federal agent, Douglas Bates, in an apartment complex. No matter which side of this story you are on it seems obvious that this federal agent is being treated much different than if Joe Citizen had pulled the trigger. Here is a good recap of the story, Police Killing of Bassim Chmait:
Douglas Bates, an off-duty Migra agent, shot Bassim Chmait in the head with his pistol in brutal cold blood without a word of explanation in the courtyard of the Madrid Apartments in Mission Viejo, California, in the early morning hours of February 5, 2005. There were witnesses--friends of Bassim and neighbors of the killer. The Orange County Sheriffs came within minutes and found Bates in his apartment with the gun that ended Bassim's life.
They never even took the Mr. Bates down for questioning?
The Sheriff's Department "investigation" was a whitewash. There was no chase, no weapon, no "hand reaching for the waistband"-- none of the usual justifications that the police come up with when they kill someone. So what could they say in this case? A spokesperson for the Department said, "There was no clear evidence of a crime being committed, so there was nothing to book him on." Days later the Sheriffs added, "As soon as a deputy believes all the elements of a crime are there, and he or she has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, then he or she will arrest a person."
If this was someone in my family I would be out of my mind! Well the Orange County DA has finally decided to Grand Jury look into this. The slow pace at which this case is being pursued makes it almost certain that there is something else going on here. My prayers and thoughts go to the Chmait family and I hope you receive peace and justice.

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Over the weekend it has become blatantly obvious. (Well only if you haven't been paying attention. Which is most of the country. The only excuse you have now is that you just don't want it to be true.) That your president and his corpofascist -- Is that redundant? -- anti-Social Security coalition has been feeding it's sheeple a line of crap using propaganda paid for by your tax dollars. It's all here, Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News in sickening detail, Business, RNC lend hand to Bush blitz. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the fact that our war President is Scared of The American People. Now we get these two articles reinforcing that premise, Winning the 'Debate' and Social Security: On With the Show, (look at your president's face in the picture). Low and behold after all of this those in the "media" are starting to think there is a problem, Broadcast Journalists Fire Back.

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Friday, March 11, 2005
 
Documenting The Atrocities
George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Remember these lies, Remembering all those arguments made 1,500 deaths ago:
Something about anniversaries prods us to pause and reflect on what's transpired in the intervening time. March 20 is the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and it's a good time to consider what's happened since then.
Thom Hartmann Teresa Heinz Kerry - Hacking the "Mother Machine"?
"Two brothers own 80 percent of the [voting] machines used in the United States," Teresa Heinz Kerry told a group of Seattle guests at a March 7, 2005 lunch for Representative Adam Smith, according to reporter Joel Connelly in an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Connelly noted Heinz Kerry added that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."
Impeach Him
For the Iraq war alone, George W. Bush should be impeached. It won't happen, of course. The Republican legislators so concerned about presidential honesty as it concerned a stained dress back in the late 1990s seem to care nothing of the distortions, deceptions and lies of the Bush administration that have led to and obscured much more heinous stains ? bloodstains ? upon the clothing of 1,500 dead American troops, thousands more wounded, not to mention tens of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis.
John Bolton is The enemy within
Now that same John Bolton has been named by President Bush as the US ambassador to the UN. "If I were redoing the security council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world," Bolton once said. Lately, as undersecretary of state for arms control, he has wrecked all the nonproliferation diplomacy within his reach. Over the past two decades he has been the person most dedicated to trying to discredit the UN. George Orwell's clock of 1984 is striking 13.
No. 1?
No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.
Slanting Social Security
Many people involved in the debate over Social Security's future worry that the 2005 trustees' report will be slanted in favor of privatization.
The retrain has left the station:
"Long-term unemployment, defined as joblessness for six months or more, is at record rates. But there's an additional twist: An unusually large share of those chronically out of work are...college graduates."

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The, ahem, Leaders In Our Government Have Gone Off The Deep End!
The next time you hear a Republican say they are doing such and such to protect the children now you know they are full of shit, US held youngsters at Abu Ghraib:
"He told me he was almost 12," she said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."
This is what your government is doing now. What kind of sick people are Bush, Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Lugar, Roberts, Frist? If these people had any decency they would resign. As those responsible for the torture by our military continue to go unpunished, Pentagon Clears Top Personnel, Policies in Abuses:
The Pentagon said its policies and top officials did not cause the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, but in a report released on Thursday cited a series of missed opportunities to correct lapses that led to the abuses.
It should come as not surprise that they continue their work, Pentagon Seeks to Transfer More Detainees From Base in Cuba:
The Pentagon is seeking to enlist help from the State Department and other agencies in a plan to cut by more than half the population at its detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in part by transferring hundreds of suspected terrorists to prisons in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen, according to senior administration officials
Another feel good story, The Rendering:
"We don't kick the [expletive] out of them," one top Bush official told The Washington Post on Dec. 26, 2002. "We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them." In that same article, other Bush honchos boasted about withholding medical treatment from wounded prisoners; knowingly sending prisoners to be tortured in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan ("I do it with my eyes open," said one top agent); and breaking international law as a routine part of interrogations by U.S. operatives. "If you're not violating someone's human rights," said an interrogation supervisor, "you're probably not doing your job." These freely admitted violations included beatings, hooding, exposure, sexual humiliation and the medieval barbarism of strappado: chaining a prisoner with his arms twisted behind his back and suspending him from the ceiling, where the weight of his own body tears at his sockets and sinews.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005
 
Juan Cole helps illuminate the problem with the media in this country, Breaking News: Government to Be Formed.

I have purposefully not written anything about the shooting of Giuliana Sgrena and Nicola Calipari. Things like this usually take a week to 10 days for everything to come out. It's starting to come out, Italian Leader Says U.S. Knew of Rescue Plan and U.S. Troops Who Fired on Freed Italian Journalist Were Security for Negroponte. Hmm, sounds like someone forgot to tell Negroponte's boys that the Italians were coming.

Why did Joe Biden vote for the Bankruptcy Bill?

Oh the hypocrisy, Addicted to Porn: How Members of Congress Benefit from Pornography.

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America's Favorite Pastime
My first love as a child was baseball. I lived in San Jose, California. I was/am an Oakland Athletics fan and Jim "Catfish" Hunter was my hero. The A's won three World Series in a row in the 70's and life was good. Then Charlie Finley and free agency broke up the team. "Catfish" went to the Yankees and all the other players were spread around major league baseball. It was a rude awakening. I have been a sports fan all my life. Initially baseball and football, which I played growing up. I have come to love college basketball and most especially the NCAA tournament, which my wife refers to as the "spider thingy". Over the past few years sports have started to occupy less and less of my time. Marriage and children will do that. So will the disaster that has been occurring since George W. Bush became President. Sports are a diversion. They are for enjoyment and right now it is hard to enjoy these diversions given the current state of our union. So today when I heard this story, Baseball Stars Called to Testify on Steroids on NPR I couldn't help but wonder why Congress can drop everything and investigate steroids in baseball as if it's a case of national security but won't touch any of these, The Scandal Sheet. Any good athlete will tell you they are LUCKY to get paid millions of dollars to play a kids game. I agree. Congress should focus on real problems and investigating steroids in a kids game is not one of them.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
 
Gene Lyons writes great editorials. He co-wrote The Hunting of the President with Joe Conason. What Democrats are up against in today?s GOP.

I used to take Softball seriously and it would piss me off. Now I watch it and catch The Grapevine segment, late night, on Brit Hume's show just to see what disinformation they are spreading. Chris is like Greenspan, a "Hack", Save Democracy, Shut Off Chris Matthews. On the heals of that story telling us what a bunch of corporate shills the media is we get this, Halliburton operates in Iran despite sanctions:
Halliburton says the operation ? videotaped by NBC News ? is entirely legal (because the Vice President used to be the CEO). It's run by a subsidiary called "Halliburton Products and Services Limited," based outside the U.S. In fact, the law allows foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations to do business in Iran under strict conditions.

Other U.S. oil services companies, like Weatherford and Baker Hughes, also are in Iran. And foreign subsidiaries of NBC's parent company, General Electric, have sold equipment to Iran, though the company says it will make no more sales. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Marc Cooper on the state of Democrat/Liberal/Progressive, The Grand Delusions of the Democratic Party

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I Know Nothing
I believe that one of the funniest tricks in politics is the one Tom DeLay is trying to get away with. This guy, "The Hammer", as he likes to be called is a no holes barred, win at any cost politician. But now, when the heat is on, we are being led to believe that Tom DeLay was just an innocent bystander in the doings of Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC). Now to think that Mr. DeLay -- who needed a Republican majority in the Texas Legislature so he could redistrict Texas out of turn -- was not in the know about what his committee was doing much less running the show is naive. Which means this headline, Documents Suggest Bigger DeLay Role in Donations, is overstating the obvious. My larger point is that Whenever a politician is campaigning, like your President, they want us to think he is smart, hands on, and directing what should happen next. If they get in trouble though, like Dubya or Ronnie, it's a whole different story. All of the sudden they were not involved and out of the loop. So watch this, Tom Delay and Ronny Earle, from 60 Minutes on Sunday, if you haven't already. You can see my Congressman John Carter make an ass out of himself, if nothing else.

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Monday, March 07, 2005
 
News Roundup
Santorum for sweatshops:
This is as low as it goes, as the GOP fights to expand sub-minimum wage sweatshops across the country. Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is leading the charge for a GOP bill that would ostensibly raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour, but in reality would cut wages for millions of American workers and expand unregulated sweatshops across the country.
This is a must read about how the Republican Party is trying to shred labor. If you work for a paycheck you need to be very, very concerned.

John Arovosis takes the LA Times to task. In the LA Times, Sex, Lies and Spies: This Isn't News?:
I can think of three possible reasons The Times didn't cover this obviously major story with any vigor:

(1) Trepidation about gays, sex and power. In the age of wardrobe malfunctions, news organizations are extra cautious about covering anything involving s-e-x. And a gay angle only makes things more confusing. Would you be anti-gay or pro-gay if you wrote about an allegedly homophobic journalist who happened to be gay? Answer: Allegations of prostitution aren't just about someone's private life, they're about a crime that can lead to blackmail, especially if state secrets are involved. And in any case, your readers are adults ? give them the facts and let them decide for themselves.

(2) Reverse liberal guilt. Too sensitive to right-wing accusations of being liberal, traditional media have overcompensated by becoming too timid in covering certain stories. They seem loath to aggressively report on scandals involving Republican politicians, in general, and this White House in particular.

(3) Blogophobia. Liberal bloggers scare the mainstream media. Media critics fret over our supposed lack of professional credentials, even though many of us are journalists. They doubt our facts but don't independently investigate the stories.

The lack of coverage plays into the hands of the White House. Mainstream media editors act as if our investigation of Guckert is about prurience and lacks merit. But there is more than enough evidence to make any reporter want to check out the possibilities of White House deception and media manipulation.

The Times' editors shouldn't allow themselves to think they are above the fray. In truth, they are failing to speak truth to power.
The state of reporting in Iraq, NPR correspondent Amos details Iraq assignments:
Amos, who addressed and audience of more than 500 on Saturday, Feb. 26 at the 2005 Camden Conference on the Middle East, said the full story of what is happening in Iraq is not being reported for two reasons: the dangerous situation in the country severely restricts movement, and the U.S. military restricts media access.
Since Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been so busy keeping us informed about the Republican Social Security Phase-out Scheme (RSSPS) that he is allowing a group from Harvard Law to keep us informed on the Republican Bankruptcy Bill Scheme.

Are we targeting journalists? Italian hostage accuses US of trying to kill her as thousands mourn her rescuer.

Have they hit their nadir? The can't cut taxes any further. Is this the end of the road for the Republican agenda? They have control of every branch of government and they're done. Tax Cuts Lose Spot On GOP Agenda:
President Bush and Republican lawmakers are being forced to temper their anti-tax ambitions, as the party that consolidated power in Washington by promising to shrink government grapples with the high cost of its efforts to expand the Defense Department and the nation's two largest entitlement programs.

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Donald Rumsfeld, The Bell Tolls For Thee (PBU10)
Our Secretary of Defense has been sued, ACLU and Human Rights First Sue Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Over U.S. Torture Policies (They have a Hard Facts Timeline (.pdf) as well:
"Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture," said Lucas Guttentag, lead counsel in the lawsuit and director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "He gives lip service to being responsible but has not been held accountable for his actions. This lawsuit puts the blame where it belongs, on the Secretary of Defense."
That's great but I tend to disagree. I believe that ultimate responsibility lies with the President. Rumsfeld in jail would be a start though. Here is the DoD response:
Q: And the lawsuit?

MR. DI RITA: The lawsuit. This is a matter -- as an official of this government operating in his official capacity, the secretary is represented by the Department of Justice, in a manner of speaking. So it's the Justice Department that is going to evaluate this claim and determine what the steps going forward are. We're, through the general counsel's office, very closely connected to the Justice Department. There are aspects of it that are being -- are still being considered how best to approach this. I would like to just reiterate what we said when this claim was made, and that's that we just continue to vigorously reject any assertion or implication that any of the policies that were approved inside the department or by the commanders -- General Sanchez approved the policies in Iraq -- were intended to be policies of abuse, and in fact none of the investigations that have been conducted concluded that there was a policy of abuse. I should say it more positively: all of them concluded that there was no policy of abuse. So we just -- there's just no basis for any of these claims. But again, it's the Justice Department that will determine the way forward on this.
Next we have two analyses of the "independent" Schlesinger panel from last summer, Excerpts From the Schlesinger Panel Report. It makes me feel especially proud when the Secretary of Defense of my country has to be assured of not being arrested before he can go to Germany to participate in a conference, Germany Won't Prosecute Rumsfeld. Now Condi has surpassed him and Rummy may be gone by the end of the year. It almost makes you feel sorry for him. But I'm sure he'd be back selling reactor components to countries in the Axis of Evil in not time.

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Friday, March 04, 2005
 
It looks like the sheep may be waking up, Army misses recruiting goal. There were are couple of interesting things in this article. First it looks like bribery isn't working anymore,
The February shortfall is especially worrisome because it comes as the Army is trying to lure recruits with the largest enlistment bonuses it has ever offered: up to $20,000 to some recruits willing to sign on for four years. The Pentagon has also been adding thousands of recruiters for the Army and other branches.
And Second because of this paragraph:
Doug Smith, a spokesman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky, attributed the shortfall in part to competition from the improving economy and parents' fears that their children could be injured or killed in Iraq. As of Wednesday, nearly 1,500 U.S. service members had died in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003.
It just have one question. Why do these kids parents hate America? Isn't this a fight for the future of civilization. Good vs. Evil. Are they with the terrorists? Once again, if this fight is so noble, like WW II, wouldn't families be willing to sacrifice their loved ones for the future of civilization?

Shame on you Senators!
When Democrats Join the Dark Side

The trouble here is that the relationship each Democrat has with his home-state business interests is the relationship every Republican has with every business interest. The bankruptcy bill enjoys unanimous GOP support in the Senate. It's a familiar pattern: Noxious laws enjoy support from a coalition of all the Republicans plus a rotating handful of Democrats who have ties to interested parties. Almost all the Democrats are on the side of the angels on almost every issue. But it doesn't take many Democratic defectors to give the Republicans a majority.
A lesson in Hypocrisy from Chris Floyd.

Another crazy Texas Republican Congressman: "Nuke Syria".

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Thursday, March 03, 2005
 
The Latest On The SCSSC
There are several stories to focus on today on the SCSSC front. Two that take the "hack" to task, Greenspan Talks Tax Increases:
It's not Mr. Greenspan's place to be too specific about what lawmakers need to do, and not do. But a couple of things should now be clear to anyone who is concerned about healing the economy: there can be no new life for old tax cuts - and no new tax cuts.
and Deficits and Deceit:
Does anyone still take Mr. Greenspan's pose as a nonpartisan font of wisdom seriously?

When Mr. Greenspan made his contorted argument for tax cuts back in 2001, his reputation made it hard for many observers to admit the obvious: he was mainly looking for some way to do the Bush administration a political favor. But there's no reason to be taken in by his equally weak, contorted argument against reversing those cuts today.
The other is a reminder from Josh Marshall of what the SCSSC is all about, Phase Out:
I've said probably too many times over the last couple days that however they choose to dress it up and whatever sort of compromise they want to present it as, the president's goal is still phase-out. That's why he's invested so much in this politically. And if you want to grasp the stakes of all this -- both politically and in terms of policy -- just look at the fact that the White House is now redoubling its efforts to push privatization in the face of public opinion which appears to be congealing against them. They understand the consequences of defeat.
Finally, 42 Senators Address Bush on Social Security :
We write in the hope that we can achieve a bipartisan agreement to strengthen Social Security for the long term and enhance the retirement security of all Americans.

Soon after your reelection, you made clear that your Administration's top priority is to move toward the privatization of Social Security. Your proposal would cut Social Security's funding by diverting payroll taxes into privatized accounts, which would weaken the program and force deep cuts in benefits. Your Administration also acknowledged that the proposal would require borrowing trillions of dollars, much of which we know would come from foreign countries like China and Japan.

Democrats in the Congress believe this approach is unacceptable, and it appears that most Americans agree with us. Funding privatized accounts with Social Security dollars would not only make the program's long term problems worse, but many believe it represents a first step toward undermining the program's fundamental goals. Therefore, so long as this proposal is on the table, we believe it will be impossible to establish the kind of cooperative, bipartisan process we need to truly address the challenges facing the program many decades in the future.
Molly Ivins documents the atrocities of the Bankruptcy Bill
Creators Syndicate
What, our Republican Congress passing a bill that favors rich people at the expense of "honest Americans who play by the rules and have to foot the bill"? If you have a lot of money (most people filing for bankruptcy don't have this problem), you just put it in an asset protection trust and walk away. You don't even have to set up the trust offshore anymore -- five states have made it legal to set them up in their borders, and you don't even have to live in any of the five to do it.

If you don't like that feature of the bankruptcy bill, try this one: You may have read of the hardship on the families of those who have been called to fight in Iraq, including, of course, severe financial stress leading to many bankruptcies. Democrats in the Senate tried to put an amendment on this bill exempting military personnel, and the Republicans voted it down.

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Bush Is Scared of The American People
If privatizing Social Security is such a good idea why to they have do try and trick us into liking it?

If privatizing Social Security is such a good idea why do they have to fudge the numbers when the try and explain it to us?

And if privatizing Social Security is such a good idea why can't President Bush go in front of a whole room full of people that oppose it, take their questions and try and sway them using the facts and the truth? I mean he's a straight talker, right? He says what he means, right?

I know why and you do too. Because the truth is their, ahem, "so called plan" to privatize Social Security is shit. And our President would look bad trying to explain a plan, that he doesn't know the details of, to a bunch of people with legitimate questions. Not to mention they might even ask a follow up question, unlike the press corps. Can you imagine Bush treating a citizen like he does the press corps? Sorry you had your one question, no away with you.

Here is the skinny on the White House's 60 day campaign to school you on Social Security, The President and His Traveling Revival Show.

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Chris Bell onThe New Mainstream
He's not officially in yet but this speech sure sounds like something a candidate would say, The Mandate of the New Mainstream. Here are some of my favorite parts:
Not too long ago, Rick Perry walked out of the Capitol, stepped up to a microphone and said something that I think pretty well sums up his record in office. He said that government" "cannot dispense hope." This is a country whose government first recognized God's gift of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is Texas, a "free and independent state" founded on the "great and essential principles of liberty." Given that, the very idea that a Governor of Texas won't dispense hope concerns me and offends me deeply. In Texas, we must dispense hope. We know there's never enough money to solve every problem, but refusing to take responsibility for dispensing hope betrays a bankrupt spirit.

[and]

Rick Perry leads a government that no longer reflects the ethics and values of the New Mainstream. Rick Perry only listens to divisive, partisan screeching or the gentle cooing of his staffers who cycle on and off the retainers of state contractors. Rick Perry thinks he can afford to ignore the cost that his hopeless ideology passes down to the least of us.

[and]

You want to know how broken the system is? When I was thinking of filing the ethics complaint against Tom DeLay, leaders of my own party tried to get me to back down. They wanted to preserve the so-called ?ethics truce.? Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? Only in Washington, D.C. would an ?ethics truce? make sense.

[and]

Most of the nation is learning that political openness is one of the precursors to economic prosperity, yet we have a political system designed to prevent access to all but high-rolling lobbyists and entrenched partisan ideologues. We need to renew our democracy, opening it up to real collaboration, creativity, and cooperation. We need politicians who pay more attention to November's voices than to the partisans of March.

[and]

Rick Perry seems blind to this simple truth. He continues to brag about cutting the budget and not raising taxes on one hand, and he declares an emergency in protecting children from abuse on the other. Forget a Republican primary. Rick Perry needs to debate himself.

[and]

You're either dispensing hope, or you're spreading despair. You're either for opening democracy, or you're defending a closed political ideology.
Makes many good points, I recommend reading the whole thing.

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The FCC Is Coming, The FCC Is Coming!
Why does the FCC hate blogs? Because their corporate/fascist paymasters cannot control the message of them. The coming crackdown on blogging. This goes to the heart of the reason blogs have become so popular in the first place. The fact that the MSM, aka, cooperate media, is crap and they know it. So to protect themselves the corporations and their less-government conservative lackeys in the Republican Party are going put government regulation on blogs?
In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
 
Greenspan Is A Joke
Greenspan is now just a total tool, Greenspan Warns Congress That Deficits Are 'Unsustainable'. Did Luntz write this for him?
The Fed chairman emphasized that his strong preference was to reduce the deficit through spending cuts rather than tax increases. But he insisted that Congress needed to offset the costs of making Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent.
Let me translate. In order for the rich, er, the American people to keep their tax cuts we will have to cut spending for the neediest among us, er, I mean, on those low perfroming social programs.

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Press Passes Are Hard To Get and A Lesson In Government
Follow along as a media outlet that meets the criteria for a day pass tries to gain access to the "gaggle":
With all of the news about White House credentialing--hard passes vs. day passes, Congress passes vs. White House passes--it became clear that few people, including many White House correspondents themselves, understood exactly the process that allowed their brethren to show up for work each day. Since Fishbowl D.C.'s main goal is to cover the media industry in Washington, we thought that figuring out that process was a natural story.
Scottie on Gannon:
My understanding was, when he started coming to the White House about two years ago, the staff asked to see that it -- that he represented a news organization that published regularly. And they showed that, so he was cleared and has been cleared ever since based on that time.
It scares me when I post a Pat Buchanon article. But this is a distinction most Americans are ignorant about.
A Republic, Not a Democracy
Our fathers no more trusted in the people always to do the right thing than they trusted in kings. In the republic they created, the House of Representatives, the people's house, was severely restricted in its powers by a Bill of Rights and checked by a Senate whose members were to be chosen by the states, by a president with veto power, and by a Supreme Court.
More here, An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic:
These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (b) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual and The Minority; as we shall now see.

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There Is A Plan and A Republican That Wishes Liberals Were Dead
Don't forget how these same Republicans rode AARP to victory in the Medicare sham bill last year. Now they're doing this, GOP Lawmakers Attack Democrats, AARP. Here is what the Majority Leader had to say:
Republicans attacked the AARP as well as congressional Democrats on Wednesday as they struggled to build momentum behind President Bush's call for personal investment accounts under Social Security.

The AARP, which claims 35 million members age 50 and over, is "against a solution that hasn't been written yet," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay after a closed-door meeting with the GOP rank and file.
To me that means the Republicans haven't written or seen a plan from the President yet. But that article ends with this:
Younger Americans would be allowed to invest a portion of their payroll taxes on their own. In exchange they would receive a lower government benefit than they are now guaranteed, on the assumption that the proceeds of their investments would make up the difference. In addition, though, even younger voters who choose not to establish personal accounts would receive a reduced government benefit under Bush's plan, according to GOP congressional officials who have been briefed on the plan.
Another bright spot in the Republican Party
Nevada Democrats decry Gibbons' remarks
"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," he said.

He added it was "too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket" to become human shields in Iraq.

Gibbons' comments in Elko came a week after he apologized for calling those who oppose corporate donations for President Bush's inaugural parties "communists."
I hope he wasn't planning on too many cross-over voters in his run for Governor.

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Conservatives Love More Government
As I gaze over the news today I can't help but be struck by how controlling the government hating, the less government the better, get government off your back and out of the way, conservatives have become. Below I will document the horrors.

The county in which I reside in Texas, Williamson, is EXTREMELY conservative. It is just north of Austin -- Travis County -- and Williamson County is, at this time, a counterbalance to it's liberal/progressive tilt. Last week this story broke, Deputy stopped, not arrested after drinking, driving. Now when you get pulled over for suspicion of DWI in Williamson County and your not a Sheriff well they don't call your boss to the scene and then have you wife come pick you up. Although Office Poteet disagrees:
Officers treated Ferguson "just like any other citizen," said Round Rock officer Eric Poteet, a spokesman for the department.

"In fact, he was held to an even higher standard," Poteet said. "In a case where there is not probable cause to arrest, we do not call someone's employer."
That may be true but I say an officer seeing the vehicle being all over the road, smelling alcohol on the driver's breath and the driver stating he had a couple of pitchers to drink is probable cause. Especially in Williamson County. Once again if it's Joe Citizen and he refuses to take the field sobriety tests, his wife will not be called to come pick him up from the Target parking lot. Joe Citizen's wife will be called by Joe from a jail cell. Also, after Joe has told the officer he had "a couple of pitchers" of beer at Hooters and the smell of alcohol is on his breath, our friend Joe is going to jail. In my opinion one question left out here is who did wrong in this case? I believe that not only should the officer that was driving drunk be punished but the officer that pulled him over should be punished as well. Unless his superiors want to admit that they tell officers to give preferential treatment to fellow officers.

Now, in an effort to stop these types of horrible atrocities and in his infinite wisdom the Williamson County DA has come up with a plan to blood test.. well I'm having trouble finding much on this but here is the story from the local radio station I heard it on, BLOOD COULD BE USED IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY DWI STOPS:
WILLIAMSON COUNTY ATTORNEY JOHN BRADLEY ANNOUNCES A TOUGH NEW POLICY AIMED AT PUTTING SOME TEETH BACK INTO THE ENFORCEMENT OF DRUNK DRIVING LAWS. CURRENTLY, IF YOU?RE PULLED OVER AND YOU REFUSE A COP?S REQUEST FOR A BREATH SAMPLE, YOUR LICENSE CAN BE SUSPENDED?.

NOW -- EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, WILLIAMSON COUNTY LAW ENFORCMENT WILL GET A SEARCH WARRANT TO FORCE YOU TO BE TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL FOR A BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST.
For more here is the link form the county news site(scroll down) DA Announces New Policy: Search Warrants for DWI?s. Now I don't want to get in to things like, don't judges have better things to being doing with their time. Shouldn't my tax dollar's be used for better things. But shouldn't they? Just becuase one of your deputies gets pulled over when he's drunk and gets preferential treatment that doesn't mean you have to start making new rules. Just start using the laws on the books. Show me some statistics of how many people are getting let go, like this, because they won't take the tests.

Enough of my local rantings now we move on to the naitonal scene where a Republican Senator Bids to Extend Indecency Rules to Cable:
But Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) told a group of broadcasters yesterday that he wants to extend that authority (the same indecency regulations that govern over-the-air broadcasts) to cover the hundreds of cable and satellite television and radio channels that operate outside of the government's control. In addition to basic cable channels such as ESPN, Discovery and MTV, that would include premium channels such as HBO and Showtime and the two satellite radio services, XM and Sirius.
Next thing you know he'll be wanting to shut down websites with homosexual republican prostitutes on them.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
 
Paul Krugman steals a line from Nancy Reagan about what the Dems should do on Social Security, Just Say No.

Bush is in trouble so his new plan is to put the pressure on his own party, For GOP, Urgency On Social Security.

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Local Social Security Blather, Kenny Boy Mehlman and Novakula
During the local part of Morning Edition today I heard this story, Central Texans on Social Security. Here is most of what was said:
Ms. Harding (School nurse retiring in a few years): There's nowhere to go to look for the information that isn't hype. We don't know where to go to look to for the information that's not, uh, put out by somebody that's biased.

Narrator: Harding and several others at last nights forum say they walked away feeling Social Security doesn't need as much change as the President has suggested. But Brain McAuliffe says he like some of what he's heard about the President's plan, the financial planner who probably won't retire for at least another 15 years, says no matter what it's time for his generation to get serious about Social Security.

Mr. McAuliffe: Unfortunately, ahh lot of people.. just tend to.. not really seem to care about what goes on. They may gripe but they don't want to take the time to take some action and I wish people would get a little bit more involved and take action and talk about things and investigate.

Narrator: Need to know more about all the proposals for Social Security before they take a position on any of them.
So the first person has no idea where to go to find unbiased information about Social Security. Do you? And the financial planner, no surprise, likes "some of what the he's heard about the President's plan". Probably the part about the fees he would get. But he says we just need to stop griping and take some action. Although no one there knows what that should be. They need more information. Very informative.

Then came Kenny Boy Mehlman to tell us all about the RNC's plan to sway African Americans to the party of Lincoln and the state of the President's, yet unreleased, Social Security plan, Mehlman: GOP Needs to Reach Out to Black Voters, he was interviewed by Steve Inskeep:
Mehlman: My message is, give us a chance and we'll give you a choice. What I'm hearing is folks who recognize that the African American community is not well served when one political party, the Democrats, too often takes their votes for granted and assumes them and another party, the Republicans, don't compete hard enough for their votes. What I'm here to say is, the party of Lincoln, no matter how well we do in elections won't be whole until we get more African American support. And we're competing hard for it.

Q: On this question of trust you mentioned the party of Lincoln. This is also the party that made a historic calculation in the 1960's to welcome former Democrats who had opposed civil rights. Do you think it is necessary for your party to acknowledge that a mistake was made?

Mehlman: (Let me summarize, NO!)I think that our Party hasn't done enough in explaining our positions to the African American community. That's what I intend to try to do.

Q: President Bush in his arguments for changing Social Security, one of his arguments for private or personal accounts as you refer to them, is that African Americans have a shorter life expectancy. Therefore under the current system they get less money under Social Security and if there was an individual investment account there'd be something to leave their children. Are you saying that you don't expect anything to be done about the factors that cause African Americans to have shorter life expectancies such as health care?

Mehlman: Obviously the President is very committed to helping to reduce the gap, not only when it comes to home ownership and not only when it comes to income and not only when it comes to education but to health care. But there is something else that we need to do. There's another gap that this personal retirement account concept addresses and the gap is the gap in savings.(How? It's 6.2% going in. No matter if it's a private account or if it's Social Security. How does that address the "savings gap"?) Giving that option to every poor person, the same option that is available to every rich person, will do an incredible amount in my judgment to reduce the disparity that too often exists between the wealth of the African American household and the wealth of the white household. (The question is about the life-expectancy of African Americans, which he avoids. What I don't understand is what is the relationship between African Americans' life expectancy and poor people/savings gap? Is he saying that if African Americans saved more they would live longer? The other thing is he makes it seem like poor people can't save money now, I mean legally. We all know that the real reason poor people can't save money is because they don't have any money. That's why they're poor, right?)

Q: The President has said in recent days he would be willing to consider a form of a tax increase in order to finance some of the changes in Social Security. The amount that affluent Americans pay in Social Security taxes would increase substantially under that suggestion if it became law. Why didn't he talk about that before the election?

Mehlman: (Because every asshole in the media, like yourself, was too busy saying that this President says what he means. But seriously, did he actually ask this question? Let's me see. Hmm, because he was running for office and his name is Bush so that means, lie, lie, lie!)I don't think that what he said recently is different than what he has said before. What he has said is there are certain bright lines that are absolutely off the table. He was asked a specific question on this other issue and what he said is that's not one of the bright lines he has and therefore welcomes Democrats and Republicans with ideas. Come to the table. He's open minded. He wants to work with everybody on a proposal and a solution.

Q: This is a proposal that would cause some Americans, over time to pay substantially more. This is a President who said repeatedly during the campaign that he was against tax increases and attacked his opponent and called him a tax raiser.

Mehlman: And I think that...

Q: How does he get around to this new position?

Mehlman: (Well you see Steve, we know that the media in this country are a bunch of corporate owned squids like yourself that won't ask follow up questions or hold our feet to the fire and I can answer questions with vague nothingness.) Well I think that we don't know what the overall plan is gonna look like. There are a lot of proposals. Ultimately you need to look at this from the perspective of what is the net effect in terms of the tax rate. To say that the President came out for an increase in the net tax rate, in my judgment, misrepresents what the President said.

Q: Some conservatives have been against Social Security for many, many years on philosophical grounds. Is that part of the reason the Democrats are having so much trouble trusting what the president says, because the goal here is for some is to eliminate a Democratic New Deal program because of what it is?

Mehlman: (No Steve, they're having trouble trusting the President because he lies about everything! Remember? WMD, Saddam/Al Qaeda link, Saddam/911 links, tax cuts create jobs, tax cuts for the rich spur the economy, need I go on?)I wouldn't want to be in a place where I, as a Democrat, say to a young person, I traded your long-term retirement security for a short-term political gain for me. And I wouldn't want to have to explain to voters why it is that I, as a member of Congress, along with every Federal worker has the option of setting up a personal retirement account but that same option's not good enough for that voter.(I wouldn't want to be in a place where I, as a Democrat or Republican, were responsible for losing a your persons retirement savings and killing one of the most popular and successful government programs ever invented! - LH)


Oh yeah, Bob Novak is a liar! Novak misquoted Dean for second time in three days. Here is the e-mail I sent to CNN:
Look it's bad enough that you still let Novak on your station after he broke the law by outing a CIA operative. Why do you let him blatantly lie like he did about Howard Dean. Dean said, "..if Social Security were left alone for 30 years, its benefits would be reduced to 80 percent of what it is now." Eighty percent of..., not as Novak said, "..over the years it's going to lose about 80 percent of the benefits." See the difference? Now I understand it's not Bob Novak's fault he is still on your channel, that's your fault and one of the reasons I no longer watch CNN. When my Grandparents got old and their minds weren't so sharp anymore we took away the car keys. Just a suggestion.

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