Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Relief "Stingy"

It is wrong to turn a disaster like the Tsunami that swept Southeast Asia into a political commentary. But it is the very response to disasters that defines a person, a society, and the world we live in.

Recently, President Bush has been back-pedaling on his initial meager offer of $15 million of aid. As reported in the Los Angeles Times:
President Bush launched an aggressive defense Wednesday of his administration's response to the southern Asian tsunami disaster, calling critics "ill-informed" and predicting that U.S. aid ultimately would surpass the $35 million in initial cash assistance.

"We're a very generous, kindhearted nation," said Bush, vacationing on his ranch near Crawford, Texas. "What you're beginning to see is a typical response from America."

Bush said that the tsunami had "brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension," and pledged that the U.S. would "stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims."

The president's remarks came amid assurances from administration officials that the U.S. response would include a substantial deployment of ships and military personnel. He also announced the formation of a four-nation bloc to coordinate relief efforts and telephoned the leaders of the hardest-hit countries.

The announcements marked an apparent shift in public relations strategy as White House officials sought to rehabilitate the administration's image amid criticism that the U.S. was not offering enough assistance and that Bush personally was slow to respond.

U.S. officials initially pledged $15 million. But the administration upped that to $35 million Tuesday, after a United Nations official was quoted calling the U.S. and other wealthy nations "stingy" when it came to aid.

But what does $35 million mean to America?

Just today in an article in the New York Times, the Pentago indicated a willingness to cut back some expensive military systems.

This is necessary because as the article points out:
Since the November elections, the White House has been under growing pressure to offset mounting deficits and at the same time pay for the unexpectedly high costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which combined now amount to more than $5 billion a month.

That's right $1.25 billion/week. Or $178.6 million/24 hours. And how long would it take to spend $35 million on the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict? A little under 5 hours worth of expenditures on war and destruction.

Aren't the 114,000 deaths and MILLIONS of individuals facing untold suffering worth more than 6 hours of military spending? Could we spare just a day?

A more revealing suggestion was put forward by Matt Pettigrew, a Philadelphia attorney who as was reported today in the Philadelphia Daily News, suggested:
In an impassioned e-mail he sent me and others yesterday morning, Pettigrew noted that while our government is promising $35 million for tsunami aid, President Bush's people are planning to spend $40 million or more on next month's inauguration and the parties afterward.

"Apparently," Pettigrew wrote, "most of the costs are being paid by corporate and individual donors. But, obviously the government will have to foot some of the bill for the overwhelming security, if nothing else."

So it occurred to him that it would be an "amazingly generous and humanitarian gesture to cancel or at least reduce the size of the inauguration parties and parades."

All the millions of diverted private and government money could go for tsunami relief instead.

And what about John Kerry? As reported in the Los Angeles Times before the election, foreign aid is an important part of healing the world. We need to respond to disasters promptly, with assistance proportional to the needs. It is so much easier to help a hungry person, than to deal with terrorism that derives from exploitation of those same problems by extremist elements. As was written in the Times:
Kerry's team may be more likely than previous generations of Democrats to turn to the military. But they are still more inclined than the Bush advisors to see military force as only one arrow in a quiver that includes diplomacy, foreign aid and economic ties — what one leading Democratic thinker has called "soft power."

In an election where voters may weigh national security more than in any campaign since 1980, Democrats agree the political challenge is to convince Americans their approach won't only improve the nation's image abroad, but its security at home.

"I think that Democrats can make foreign policy a net plus for us in this election if we can convince the American people that we are both tough and smart," said Rubin, an advisor who just joined Kerry's team.

"Tough on terrorists, tough on the states that take actions that are unacceptable, but also smart enough to understand that problems that will come home to bite the American people won't always come in the form of state-sponsored activities.

John Kerry, I would like to say the world needs you to pull them from the water. And I believe that. But even you could not prevent the death and destruction of the horrific Tsunamis. But a Kerry Presidency at the helm would know that America must once again lead the fight against catastrophe and suffering around the world as vigorously as it leads the fight against terror.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

EPA Denies Dow Extension for Dursban Sales

In an earlier post, I reported on the speculation that the EPA was preparing to extend the authorization to sell Dursban (Chlorpyrifos) to home builders for termite protection. Fortunately, that turned out to be an incorrect assessment and I was happy to read that in fact the EPA denied Dow the right to continue the sale of this dangerous pesticide. According to the Washington Post:
On Monday, Debra Edwards, director of EPA's special review and reregistration division, wrote Dow that the new data are "not sufficient to allow" a deadline extension.

EPA spokesman Cynthia Bergman said yesterday that Dow provided information on the effects of the pesticide after construction is complete but that the agency wants more data on exposure throughout the process.

It is nice to report some good news for a change.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Military Pollution: Bush Administration Accommodates, John Kerry Opposed.

As reported in the December 27, 2004, New York Times, the Military, under George W. Bush, has been moving ahead in reducing environmental requirements of its own activities in the name of "national security."

As reported:
The draft revisions eliminate the reference to environmental security, and emphasize instead that it is the Pentagon's role to sustain the national defense mission. Potential risks to the environment and worker safety, it says, should be addressed as part of a larger effort to manage risks, save money and preserve readiness.

And when was the original policy of the Pentagon developed? Under that scandalous Democrat, President Bill Clinton. As was reported:
The 1996 directive was produced under the Clinton administration, at a time of heightened concern over environmental issues. It was unclear when the revised draft directive might go into effect.

But the copy made available on the Web site of an environmental group made it clear that it represented a fundamentally different philosophy. Kyla Bennett, leader of the New England chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which released the directive, said the draft policy "says, 'We'll do whatever we have to do under the cloak of readiness and national security.' " Ms. Bennett added, "It's discouraging to me that the Department of Defense uses the terrorist attacks as a cloak to excuse themselves from environmental laws."

And what about John Kerry? As the League of Conservation Voters wrote, in their assessment of Kerry:
With a history of engagement that extends back to the first Earth Day in 1970,Senator Kerry is one of America 's premier environmental leaders. His voting record has earned him the highest lifetime LCV ranking of all the presidential candidates, and he has taken a leadership role in promoting higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, combating attempts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and in overturning efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act. On a range of domestic issues -from clean air to clean water to public lands -Kerry has repeatedly staked out pro-environment positions. His record on international issues is equally distinguished: he sponsored legislation to incorporate environmental protections into trade negotiations and has participated in international climate change negotiations beginning at the 1992 Earth Summit and extending through Kyoto. In his run for the presidency, Kerry has made the environment a central issue, devoting several significant forums to his plans for environmental action if elected.

And specifically, what about the Military and Military-related pollution? Senator Kerry has a record on fighting for the environment and keeping the military responsible for its environmental actions. As reported, in regards to the 2001 Defense Budget:
If Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) amendment flies, the Department of Defense (DOD) would be subject to large environmental fines without the protection of prior congressional approval.

Kerry will try to have Section 342 of the 2001 defense authorization bill eliminated, Celeste Hughes, a Kerry defense legislative aide, told DC June 7. That section would require a special vote of Congress before DOD would be allowed to pay environmental fines or penalties above $1.5 million.

The authorization measure is being debated on the Senate floor. Hughes could not say when Kerry's amendment would be introduced. As DC went to press, speculation centered on June 9.

The penalty section has drawn fire from environmental activists and state officials. The Sierra Club is campaigning to eliminate the measure by asking individuals and organizations to sign on to a letter directed at members of the Senate.

"The $1.5 million cap in this bill language could create a perverse incentive for the DOD, encouraging the military to engage in especially egregious behavior," the letter says. It says the provision was added "specifically in response to a large environmental fine proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at Fort Wainwright, Alaska." That is Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-Alaska) bailiwick.

State groups believe the senator will try to put the measure in defense appropriations legislation.

While being strong on national security is admirable. Using this as a 'cover' to weaken the responsibilities of every branch of this Government to protect the environment is shameful.

John Kerry, our air, our water, our land, and our very well-being cries out to you! Pull us all from the water Senator Kerry! If not in 2004, we need you in 2008!


Monday, December 27, 2004

Independents for Kerry (IFK)

It is certainly early for 2008 but we are up and going. I wanted to encourage you all to visit a wonderful blog I have come across from a fellow Wisconsinite (is THAT good English?), Independents for Kerry (IFK). Jim Witkins is a superb writer and clearly presents the case for John Kerry!

When I started this blog, I thought there weren't too many fellow bloggers out there writing for Kerry. I am greatly relieved that there are other voices of reason in the "blogosphere" working to encourage Kerry and to help America realize that if Kerry was the right candidate in 2004, they should think about 2008 in earnest.

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who was a Senator who failed in HIS first attempt. What would America had been like if everyone said we need to find someone other than a Senator from Illinois?

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2005 that is full of good health, optimism, and determination!


Saturday, December 25, 2004

"Strawberry Fields Forever" (apologies to Lennon/McCartney)

In the 1960's Lennon and McCartney wrote their song, "Strawberry Fields Forever".

A wonderful song, they wrote:
Let me take you down
cause I'm going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone
but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me

This Administration has been living and governing "with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see." As was reported in the Washington Post:
International negotiators ruled yesterday that the United States can continue using methyl bromide, a pesticide set to be banned next year because it contributes to the destruction of the Earth's ozone layer.

The pesticide, which has also been linked to prostate cancer and neurological damage, is used widely by American tomato and strawberry farmers and was slated to be eliminated worldwide in 2005 under the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 treaty to restrict the use of ozone-destroying chemicals. The Bush administration had previously secured a one-year reprieve on the grounds that the pesticide qualified for a "critical use" exemption because viable alternatives to methyl bromide are lacking. Yesterday, experts on ozone policy and diplomats extended the U.S. exemption until next year but said the country must cut its use in 2006.

For a strawberry farmer, opposition to this pesticide is silly. As was reported, a Florida strawberry farmer called:
...the people who think methyl bromide depletes the ozone "tree huggers and frog kissers."

In reality, methyl bromide has been shown to deplete the ozone layer and results in serious medical consequences. Depletion of the ozone layer will result in greater transmission of UV-B radiation to people and result in harmful effects including as noted:
The best understood harmful effects of UV-B radiation on human health are basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin and eye damage, including cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

UV-B radiation also contributes to the development of melanoma skin cancer and perturbs the body's immune system in ways that can reduce immunity to infectious agents, although magnitude of the impacts cannot yet be estimated. UV-B radiation may also affect human health indirectly by interfering with the food chain. On a global scale, UV-B radiation may increase the infectious disease burden, cause blindness, and reduce the world's food supply.

The current pattern of ozone depletion will cause the incidence of skin cancer to continue to rise at least until the year 2050 and probably beyond. For each 1% reduction in ozone, the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer will increase by 2%. This means that a sustained 10% decrease in the average ozone concentration would lead to about 250,000 additional non-melanoma skin cancers each year.

-Each 1% decrease in ozone concentration is estimated to increase the incidence of cataracts by about 0.5%.

-Increased UV-B radiation could increase the severity of some infections in human populations. Furthermore, skin pigmentation does not seem to provide much protection against the immunosuppressive effects of UV irradiation in humans. Any lowering of immune defenses is likely to have a devastating impact on human health.

Once again, this President has put the pursuit of profits ahead of the quality of life and the general welfare of the American people.

And what has Kerry had to say about this? He stated in an interview:
"The ability to allow countries to pursue critical use exemptions for methyl bromide was a key component of securing many countries' support, including the U.S., for a graduated phase-out of most methyl bromide use in 2005. As President, I would support the continued granting of critical use exemptions for those users that have no technically and economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide. And recognizing the fact that methyl bromide is both an ozone depleting substance and a critical tool for many U.S. farmers, I would support an aggressive research effort, both through public research and publicprivate partnerships, to develop, field test, and register efficacious and cost-effective replacements for methyl bromide".

Once again demonstrating a moderate, common-sense answer, aware of the risks, the needs for usage, and the role of research in finding replacements. Wouldn't our nation be stronger with Kerry at the helm?


Friday, December 24, 2004

"The Right Left Story" Another Great Blog

Just a quick note here. I, like so many of you, scan the net about interesting sites and want to share with you those that I think are worth your while. I just came across "Blogging for Truth, The Right Left Story". It is an interesting weblog and I encourage you to go and visit!


Recycling Failed Judicial Appointments

On November 14, 2002, President George W. Bush declared that November 15, 2002, would be "America Recycles Day". He stated
Our Nation also continues to develop innovative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste. Although we have made significant progress, much work still remains. Americans generate more than 230 million tons of solid waste each year. Simple measures can help communities, businesses, and individuals decrease waste and extend the use of our natural resources. Individuals and families can participate in the recycling programs offered in their neighborhoods.

Sometimes it is helpful to reuse things in our society. However, is it wise or politically effective to bring back rejected judges from the prior term so that you can with a so-called razor-thin mandate, try to force these judges down the throats of your loyal opposition? Is this called working with the guys across the aisle?

As reported today in the Springfield, Missouri,
Refusing to be brushed off by Democratic opposition in the Senate, President Bush plans to nominate for a second time 20 people who did not receive up or down votes on their nominations for federal judgeships.
The Democrats' ability to stall certain White House picks for the federal bench was one of the most contentious issues of Bush's first term.

During the past two years, despite the GOP majority in the Senate, Democrats used filibusters to prevent final votes from occurring on 10 of 34 of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts.

As Senator Patrick Leahy so eloquently has stated:
The earlier Democratic-led Senate confirmed more Bush judicial nominees than the Republican-led Senate has. In all, Democrats have joined in confirming 173 Bush judicial nominees – 100 of them, during the Democratic-led Senate.

So 173 have been confirmed. Six controversial nominees have been blocked. Two of them have been unilaterally appointed by the President during Senate recesses. One has withdrawn to rejoin a lucrative job with a law firm. That leaves three who have been blocked. One-hundred-seventy-three confirmed, to three blocked. Compare that to the more than 60 Clinton judicial nominees who Republicans blocked from even getting hearings, let alone votes.

We also continue to hear a lot of loose talk about so-called “unprecedented” filibusters of a few judicial nominations. These speeches usually include other inaccurate assertions, including the claim that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional.

And have the Republicans used filibusters in the recent past to block the sitting President's actions? Leahy continues:
During the first two years of the Clinton Administration, Republican filibusters were quite common. In 1993 and 1994, a very disciplined Republican minority in the Senate used the filibuster to block key pieces of President Clinton's legislative agenda, including an economic stimulus package, campaign finance reform, lobbying reform, health care reform, a bill to prohibit hiring permanent replacement workers for striking employees, and racial justice provisions in a crime bill.

Republicans also used a filibuster to block the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster to become Surgeon General, in addition to their failed attempts to block the nominations of judicial nominees. I call the Senate’s attention in particular to the Republican filibusters on the Senate Floor during this period of the nominations of Judge Rosemary Barkett and Judge Lee Sarokin.

And Mr. President, the record in more recent times is replete with other examples of the more than 60 Clinton judicial nominees who Republicans filibustered in committee, denying them hearings and votes.

And what has George W. Bush said himself about working with all Americans? In a speech in Pittsburh on November 4, 2000, he made the now oft-repeated claim:
There’s Democrats all around America who understand there’s a better day tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be the way it is in Washington. We need a uniter, not a divider. The president can set an example for the moms of dads of America.

And what about Kerry? As the Lexington Herald-Leader opined in their endorsement of Senator Kerry:

Kerry was part of the centrist Democrat coalition who, working with Republicans, balanced the budget, put welfare recipients to work, expanded the number of Americans with health insurance, reduced poverty and produced unprecedented economic growth.

In 1985, Kerry voted for the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings balanced-budget act, and he voted again in the '90s to constrain spending. Kerry's record backs up his promise to "pay as we go" and trim the deficit.

In 1859, the English philosopher, John Stuart Mills warned about the "tyranny of the majority." His words today echo every more importantly as we examine the current trends in America:
Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism. — On Liberty, The Library of Liberal Arts edition, p.7.
John Kerry, our nation needs a leader who understands Freedom and the cost of defending it. We needed you in 2004, and need you more for 2008!


Light up the Darkness

Another great blog to visit is Light up the Darkness. A well-written and convincing website working hard to keep John Kerry's name and his platform in the public light!

Regards from Wisconsin.


John Kerry 2004: The Unofficial Kerry for President Blog

The John Kerry 2004: The Unofficial Kerry for President Blog is still up and running and talking about 2008. They were kind enough to put me on their links list....and if I ever figured out the HTML to do it here (lol), then I should return the same favor. Meanwhile, go and visit (but come back here occasionally).

Have a great night everyone!


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush Opposes Free Trade in Pharmaceuticals

Did it really come as a surprise when George W. Bush's appointed task force came out with the conclusion that the importation of prescription drugs from Canada would be costly and of questionable safety? Didn't we know that conclusion in advance? As was reported yesterday:
In a report submitted to Congress, the department outlined its concerns and objections to prescription drug imports, which amounted to $700 million last year from Canada alone, through Internet sales and personal travel.

"It would be extraordinarily difficult and costly for 'personal' importation to be implemented in a way that ensures the safety and effectiveness of the imported drugs," the HHS Task Force on Drug Importation said.

The 145-page report, unveiled in Washington by U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, cited significant risks from importing drugs and long-term damage to the leadership role the U.S. drug industry plays in developing new medicines. Although Carmona said he could not point to specific instances of people dying from imported drugs, he said there is a "great, great potential of harm" from people buying imported drugs.

This was what we might have called in the recent election a Bush "flip-flop". As the article reports:
Only two months ago President Bush, in the heat of the election campaign, left open the possibility of supporting drug importation. "Now, it may very well be here in December you'll hear me say, I think there's a safe way to do it," Bush said during the Oct. 8 presidential debate in St. Louis.

In fact, he commented:
HORSTMAN: Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada which would have cut 40 to 60 percent off of the cost?

BUSH: I haven't yet. Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.

And that's why the FDA and that's why the surgeon general are looking very carefully to make sure it can be done in a safe way. I've got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you.

And what my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world.

And we've just got to make sure, before somebody thinks they're buying a product, that it works. And that's why we're doing what we're doing.

Now, it may very well be here in December you'll hear me say, I think there's a safe way to do it.

And what has John Kerry been saying about drug imports? As was reported in Medical News Today:
John Kerry says that if he wins the US presidential elections he will allow drug imports from Canada. John Kerry had opposed the Medicare bill signed last year. He said "We can do a better job of making prescription drugs affordable for all the seniors in this country."

At present, Americans are not allowed to buy drugs from abroad, even so, millions of them do, most of them are law-abiding seniors who just cannot afford US drug prices. The USA has the world’s highest prescription drug prices – many seniors are faced with the choice of either eating and not getting their prescriptions or getting their drugs and going without certain foods.

Of course THAT is just common sense. Not really liberal or conservative, just practical!

And do American support drug importation from Canada! You bet they do. As has been reported:
More than 80% of Americans believe US citizens should be able to purchase drugs from outside the US, according to a new study by NOP World Health. Canada is the only country, however, which the majority of Americans (60%) view as a safe source of prescription products.

And has Congress reflected the wide-support by Americans for importation of drugs from Canada! Of course. The final Medicare reform agreement, adopted last year,
The final Medicare reform agreement, which allows imports from Canada only, requires that the department certify the safety of reimportation, again all but assuring that the practice will remain illegal.

Well would it actually be safe and cost-effective? Listen to what a Pfizer official had to say:
Rost added, "We have to speak out for the people who can't afford drugs, in favor of free trade and against a closed market." Rost said that he decided to make the comments after he posted a review on last month about the book "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It," written by former New England Journal of Medicine editor in chief Marcia Angell.

And why then should the Bush Administration be so opposed to importation of drugs from Canada? Isn't that where they are getting doses of flu vaccine? Also from Germany?

Could it be about campaign contributions? Or is that too cynical? CAN we even be too cynical about this Presidency. Every day delivers more surprises!

As was originally reported in the Washington Post on June 19, 2002, and later re-reported on Common
Pharmaceutical companies are among 21 donors paying $250,000 each for red-carpet treatment at tonight's GOP fundraising gala starring President Bush, two days after Republicans unveiled a prescription drug plan the industry is backing, according to GOP officials.

Republican officials declined to disclose the donors to the event at the Mayflower Hotel, which is expected to net as much as $30 million for the party. But people familiar with the dinner said drug companies, as well as financial service firms, are among the biggest contributors. Both industries are lobbying aggressively to fend off new, costly regulations in the waning days of this congressional session.

Drug companies, in particular, have made a rich investment in tonight's event. Robert Ingram, GlaxoSmithKline PLC's chief operating officer, is the chief corporate fundraiser for the gala; his company gave at least $250,000. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group funded by the drug companies, kicked in $250,000, too. PhRMA, as it is best known inside the Beltway, is also helping underwrite a television ad campaign touting the GOP's prescription drug plan.

Pfizer Inc. contributed at least $100,000 to the event, enough to earn the company the status of a "vice chairman" for the dinner. Eli Lilly and Co., Bayer AG and Merck & Co. each paid up to $50,000 to "sponsor" a table. Republican officials said other drug companies donated money as part of the fundraising extravaganza

And can importation save significant amounts of money in practice? Let's take a look at the experience of several cities in the northeast of this nation:

Of the four cities prepared to implement programs this year, each expects substantial savings. Springfield has saved roughly $1 million to date with projected annual savings of approximately $4 million annually. Boston expects to save a minimum $1 million the first year and approximately $1.5 million per year thereafter. Burlington expects to save approximately $146 thousand annually which would be about a 30 percent savings of its overall drug costs. Worcester estimated savings at $1 million of the current $16 million annually being spent on these drugs.

Concerns raised by the mayors were drug safety and quality, Canadian drug availability, and the legal issues associated with importing drugs from Canada. Quality and safety issue is but a "red herring," stated Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle. "The real safety issue is people not taking the drugs that they need because of prohibitive costs," he continued.

Quality in Canada is believed to be at or above that of the U.S. in most cases and they are each dealing with verified organizations according to the mayors. An information portal between the U.S. and Canadian pharmacy databases is also currently being developed to minimize the danger of drug interactions.

So once again, this President takes action to help out the wealthy, the strong and the influential in this country. The poverty-stricken patient that must decide about whether or not to buy medications or eat, is not a concern of this President. Oh John Kerry...we really need you in the White House. What about 2008?


The Sound of the Trees

I started this weblog a couple of weeks ago. I was sure that I would soon exhaust every subject I could write about. What could one say about an election that didn't turn out right? How many things could a novice like me write about?

And yet, when I go to Google and check the news, I seem to never be at a loss to find something disturbing about the direction our nation is heading. I want to pinch myself to find out it was just an awful dream that November election. I want my faith in America restored. That we should once again be that beacon of idealism, that place where each person no matter how little his means or different his beliefs can find a home.

But all that corny stuff is true. I love America more than I can tell you. And I am afraid that somehow our ship of state is steaming ahead without direction. Or in a direction that I fear is far from where we should be directing our nation.

Reading the news tonight I found one more disturbing article. Earlier today, as reported in the New York Times, "
The Bush administration issued broad new rules Wednesday overhauling the guidelines for managing the nation's 155 national forests and making it easier for regional forest managers to decide whether to allow logging, drilling or off-road vehicles.

The long-awaited rules relax longstanding provisions on environmental reviews and the protection of wildlife on 191 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They also cut back on requirements for public participation in forest planning decisions.

Our National Forests are at risk to the chainsaw. Profit over Conservation. Love of money over love of our national resources. It really makes me sick.

This is not the first time our nation has been rocked by 'robber barons'. As reported in the Christian Science Monitor:
Yet throughout the country's history, there have been men like the "Robber Barons," who believed that "government was part of the problem, not the solution." The Great Depression and the New Deal proved them at least partly wrong, when a majority of Americans came to see government as the provider of last resort.

"The country since the New Deal has been a far richer, far more economically secure, far more just society," Gordon writes. "It has been one that has proved to offer far more opportunity for all and produce far more wealth as a consequence." Indeed, the United States has been more democratic than most, its history characterized by "the tendency of new fortunes to supplant the old ones.

Oh where ARE you John Kerry? Even our trees need you to watch their backs. Pull our nation from the water, pull our trees and valleys, our rivers and skies from the threat of exploitation and destruction.

Robert Frost wrote a poem about trees:
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.

I wonder much about trees. I wonder about America. And the world wonders when America shall return, the America they love and remember.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Kerry in Idaho: 'Keep working toward 2008'

It was a big thrill in Blaine County, Idaho, last week when Senator John Kerry showed up at the December 14th Democrat meeting. As was reported by the Idaho Mountain Express, Betty Murphy, the Blaine County Democrats chair stated:
"He thanked us, mostly, for all our hard work," Murphy said. "He said we need to regroup and stay involved and informed and keep working toward 2008. We were all just really surprised and thrilled. It meant a lot. It really did."

Well, if you are out there and are reading this blog Senator Kerry, we are ready to regroup, we are ready to stay involved and informed, and we are already working for 2008.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Where to find "Kerry for President 2008" gear!

I really get quite serious around here. I apologize if I do, but I guess I take all of this quite seriously.

Please join in this community and comment on and question and inform the readers who stop by this site from literally all around the globe!

By the way, I came across a website where you can purchase "Kerry for President 2008" gear. Things like tee-shirts and bumper stickers. Needless to say, I am not associated with that site. (I wonder if I should ask for a commission?)

Thanks again for visiting, we have a long four years ahead of us. But I believe strongly in everything that America is all about. That one person can make a difference and I intend to do my part to get Kerry in the White House in 2008!


Does EPA stand for "Environmental Pollution Agency"?

In June, 2000, the EPA announced the end of 'over-the-counter' sales of Dursban (Chlorpyrifos). As reported by the University of Illinois Extension:
Exposure to chlorpyrifos may present some risk for children, according to the USEPA. Chlorpyrifos is an organo-phosphate pesticide that kills insects by damaging their nervous system. In studies, the nervous system of rat fetuses do not develop properly when exposed to even low levels of chlorpyrifos.

Of course, THAT was when the EPA was run by the Democrats who have demonstrated a priority for public health over corporate interests that seems to elude their Republican replacements.

When Mike Leavitt was announced as the nominee for the top Environmental Protection Agency job, this is what Utah environmentalists (Leavitt was previously Governor of Utah) had to say:
"Based on his Utah record, Governor Leavitt will bend over backwards at EPA to make sweetheart deals with American industries that jeopardize the American public's health. We're asking Senators to safeguard our environment and public health by opposing his appointment." said Zach Frankel, executive director of Utah Rivers Council.

That report continued:
"Governor Leavitt will likely gut the EPA by putting industry interests far above public health concerns thereby making the agency a toothless watchdog" said Jason Groenewald, Executive Director of Families Against Incinerator Risk.

Just "liberal hysteria"? Unfortunately not.

As reported today in the Washington Post, the EPA, based on new information from Dow Chemical, is considering to lift the ban on the use of Chlorpyrifos (DURSBAN) in termite control pesticides in new homes. This chemical was scheduled to be PHASED OUT at the end of the month.

The newspaper noted:
Jim Jones, who directs the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, said the agency still expects Dow to cease selling Dursban for home construction on Dec. 31 under an agreement the two parties struck in 2000. But he added that the administration will review the company's petition over the next month and a half to judge whether Dow will be allowed to resume marketing the pesticide for new homes.

"We wouldn't allow them to use it if it wasn't safe," Jones said.

Oh really? Since when does the EPA depend on the industry it is regulating for studies on whether the products they are selling are safe? And what about all of the other research that says it isn't?

What a contrast to all of this is John Kerry's views on the environment. As has been reported, John Kerry has stated:
"On Earth Day 2003, I announced a proposal to resume the battle against environmental injustice, in part by greatly elevating it priority for the EPA and other federal enforcement agencies and in part by creating environmental empowerment zones, in which the impact of federal decisions on the health of low-income and minority citizens would have to be taken into account before they are implemented.

I also called for a measure that will be critical not only in dealing with environmental injustice but also in dealing with environmental health issues generally: establishing a national tracking system for chronic diseases and environmental health hazards."

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.159-60 Oct 1, 2003

Our nation, our environment, our world need John Kerry more than ever. If not in 2004, can we wait for 2008?


Monday, December 20, 2004

What Graphology Reveals About Donald Rumsfeld

There are many people who believe that one's character can be assessed through one's signature. Graphology is the "science" of divining a person's character through his or her handwriting. I came across this article on handwriting analysis where it was written:
As handwriting comes from the unconscious, it contains a great deal of information which can be useful for interpreting ones character. Any time we write, we are under the influence of emotions that dictate our mood at the time of writing. The brain transmits its instruction via the motor nervous system for the hand to carry out. This expression is a mixture of conscious thought and unconscious automatic responses learnt as part of the stimulation.

Each individual’s handwriting is unique to them and so can reveal a lot about their nature and behavioural characteristics, such as aggression and manner.

So what are we to make of Donald Rumsfeld character when he signs letters of condolence to family members who have lost loved ones in combat with a machine? As was reported today:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has decided to personally sign condolence letters to the family members of U.S. troops killed in action rather than letting a machine affix his signature.

Republican and Democratic members of Congress criticized the Pentagon chief Sunday for not signing all along.

''My goodness, that's the least that we could expect of the secretary of defense, is having some personal attention paid by him,'' said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), noting that President Bush signs such letters himself

But this President and this Administration has always wanted a "clean" conflict. None of this personal touch that might bring attention to the horrible personal cost of this war.

Of course, this year Bush honored the veterans at Arlington this year as "These are the hidden heroes of a peaceful nation."

Keeping a proper distance from these heroes, whether it be by mechanically signing letters of condolence or preventing photographs of returning caskets is part of the effort by this Administration to manage public opinion by preventing the casual observer from realizing the true impact of this war.

As was reported on PBS:

But on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of last year, the Bush administration reinstalled a ban on pictures of the arrival of war coffins and expanded it to include all U.S. bases. No more pictures like these of arriving coffins. Some Americans say the ban allows the administration to hide the body count of the Iraq war. Others, like Kirk Morris of Gurnee, Illinois, say the blackout prevents a media circus at a very tragic and private moment for the families.

The report/interview explains further:
Officials say the photo ban is in deference to the privacy and the sensitivity of the families of the fallen. And, that President Bush believes we should honor and show respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. So when these pictures, almost 300, appeared on the Internet in April, the private Defense Department contractor who took them was fired and the debate about the policy rekindled.

And what does this have to do with John Kerry? Is this just more 'Bush-bashing'?

This has everything to do with Kerry. On April 22, 1971, John Kerry came forward to the U.S. Congress and testified about the Vietnam War and revealed some of the horrors of war to Congress and to America. He stated:

We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

John Kerry had the courage to speak out and tell America what was going on in Vietnam. This Administration could learn much from Kerry. They choose to suppress that information, to distance themselves from the worst of tragedies, reducing letters of condolence to mere machine signatures. Shame on them.

John Kerry was lambasted by the Conservative talking heads about what he did that day in Washington. But it is courage to be honest to America. Cowards hide behind censorship and mechanical penmanship.


Friday, December 17, 2004

"Just Say No" to bad drugs

A Pfizer study released today suggested an increased cardiovascular risk for Celebrex, a drug in the same "cox-2 inhibitor" group as Vioxx, a drug that was withdrawn by Merck in September over similar concerns. The Pfizer statement:
As reported to Pfizer by the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, one of the studies (the APC cancer trial) demonstrated an increased cardiovascular risk over placebo, while the other trial (the PreSAP cancer trial) revealed no greater cardiovascular risk than placebo,” the statement said.

“These clinical trial results are new. The cardiovascular findings in one of the studies (APC) are unexpected and not consistent with the reported findings in the second study (PreSAP). Pfizer is taking immediate steps to fully understand the results and rapidly communicate new information to regulators, physicians and patients around the world,” said Hank McKinnell, Pfizer chairman and chief executive officer.

At the same time, reports are also coming to light that almost 20% of FDA scientists surveyed in 2002 feel that they
"were pressured to approve or recommend approval of a medicine despite their reservations about the drug's risks or effectiveness, according to documents made public on Thursday."

The article goes on to decry this apparent problem of oversight:
"Also, two-thirds of the scientists questioned by the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general said they lacked full confidence in the FDA's ability to monitor side effects of prescription drugs after they hit the market.

The survey shows at least some government scientists backed accusations last month by FDA safety officer Dr. David Graham, who told a Senate hearing he had felt pressured to water down safety concerns about Merck & Co. Inc.'s painkiller Vioxx. The drug was pulled from the market Sept. 30 over links to heart attacks and strokes.

Although the FDA agreed with Mr. Graham, he went on to point out:

"...the survey "confirms that the FDA is more interested in taking care of business clients than it is in taking care of the American people." Safety "is not given the priority it deserves" while the agency focuses on approving drug company applications to market new medicines, he said."

This report did not come from some "liberal" think-tank; it was released by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General.

During the second Bush-Kerry debate, President Bush emphasized what he called his priority for safe drugs. Discussing reimportation of drugs from Canada, he stated:
"I just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you. And that's why the FDA and that's why the surgeon general are looking very carefully to make sure it can be done in a safe way. I've got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you."

Clearly, protecting the consumer is not the highest priority for this Administration.

The Cato Institute, a well-known conservative think-tank, has expressed the philosophy about FDA regulation in a recent article where it was written:
"The next greatest regulatory cost, according to Conover, is imposed by the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medicines and medical devices. The FDA has long been criticized for delays in approving new medicines and for preventing patients from trying new therapies. Conover estimates those delays impose a net annual cost of $41.8 billion.

A sensible way to cut down on unnecessary delays would be to let independent private agencies certify the effectiveness of new medicines, just as they now certify effectiveness for new uses of existing medicines. Yet neither Bush nor Kerry has issued a proposal that would reduce the lives lost to the FDA's delays or reduce the costs the FDA builds into the prices of prescription drugs.

Clearly, the "neocons" would like to see less regulation, less oversight, and quicker approval of medications for the market-place.

Beyond this, a major failing of this Administration has been to appoint lobbyists for those industries to regulatory positions regulating those very same industries. Nothing could be closer to the foxes guarding the hen-house with this President. As reported by the Denver Post, more than 100 industry lobbyists are filling regulatory positions in this Administration. As they reported:
"Daniel E. Troy, lead counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, extended the government's help in torpedoing certain lawsuits. Among Troy's targets: claims that medications caused devastating and unexpected side effects.

Pitch us lawsuits that we might get involved in, Troy told several hundred pharmaceutical attorneys, some of them old friends and acquaintances from his previous role representing major U.S. pharmaceutical firms.

The offer by the FDA's top attorney, made Dec. 15 at the Plaza Hotel, took the agency responsible for food and drug safety into new territory

The article goes on to report:
"The FDA is now in the business of helping lawsuit defendants, specifically the pharmaceutical companies," said James O'Reilly, University of Cincinnati law professor and author of a book on the history of the FDA. "It's a dramatic change in what the FDA has done in the past."

Troy's switch from industry advocate to industry regulator overseeing his former clients is a hallmark of President Bush's administration

An absolute disgrace.

As the article points out regarding Mr. Troy:
"As a lawyer in private practice, Troy repeatedly sued the FDA, arguing that it had only limited ability to regulate drug companies. He filed those suits through the Washington Legal Foundation, a group funded by businesses, including drug companies. Donors include charitable foundations run by Pfizer Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and Eli Lilly & Co.

Troy also represented Pfizer through his firm, Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Troy said in an e-mail to a reporter that his Pfizer work was mainly communications and insurance law, and averaged only 80 hours a year.

At the FDA, Troy still is fighting for causes that benefit drug companies

And what about John Kerry? What his position on all of this?
In an article (re-reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal) from Nature magazine, Kerry stated:
"As president, I will ensure that the FDA has the resources it needs to approve drugs in a safe and timely manner. In the U.S. Senate, I sponsored and supported legislation that requires drug manufacturers to pay fees to the FDA and allows the agency to hire more reviewers and significantly accelerate drug reviews and approvals.

Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, new drugs are being approved rapidly by the FDA - and I believe that more should be done to assure the safety of those drugs once they are marketed.

The biggest threat to our success in expanding patient access to medical breakthroughs is the Bush administration's ideological approach to scientific decision-making. When it comes to the safety of our medicines and food supply, the public health is taking second place to special interests and ideological agendas.

John Edwards and I support a return to sound science at the FDA and throughout the federal government.

A return to sound science. That doesn't sound liberal or Democratic to me. That just sounds like honesty and common-sense.

America and the World needed John Kerry in 2004. But we shall have to wait for 2008.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ohio Recount - Excellent letter from Baltimore Chronicle

This is a letter run by the Baltimore Chronicle today regarding the Ohio recount: (

"To the Media:

Remember the people that cried foul before the Iraq War, because we had Saddam successfully contained for over 12 years, because Richard Clarke, Scott Ritter and the World said that the war was a bad idea?

Well, we're back. This time trying to straighten out the election in Ohio.

Documented evidence so far in Ohio:

Triad sent a computer hacker to the various precincts where recounts are taking place and told election worker Sherole Eaton to write the number of the handcount on a chalkboard, so that when the 3% of the "random" votes go through the machine the election workers get a head's up and can make sure the number of the handcount will match the computer count exactly. In other words, lie so that you can go home and not have to do a 100% recount. Whether the same statement by said Triad computer hacker was made at all the recount precincts remains to be seen. This is called Fraud.

The "Texas Strike Force" was employed by the Ohio Republican Party to call ex-cons on election day and tell them the "FBI' was waiting for them at the polls. This is called Fraud.

The Warren County lockdown was a complete sham and a lie. The FBI stated categorically that there were no known terrorist threats to Ohio or any other State. The "FBI" agents that showed up on election day are who? This is called fraud.

There were over 80 functioning machines left in a warehouse, when poll workers called repeatedly and asked for more machines. Some people waited 11 hours to vote. This is called obstruction.

The owners and manufacturers of the paperless machines used in Ohio and nationwide are brothers. One of them openly stated that they intended to provide Bush with a victory.

The largest donor to the upcoming $50 million inauguration is a weathy man from Cincinnati.

There are a lot of dots to connect and we are working on it. Why isn't the media?

Republicans blast the Democrats as "hacks" and "tin hat wearers." I guess when the Republicans have their backs to the wall they name-call. I was called "unpatriotic" and "unAmerican" before. I can take the name-calling but consider the source...

I am volunteering with one goal in mind, to secure the vote. I am a 39-year-old, law-abiding mother of two sons ages four and sixteen. I have never been involved in politics or protests and I had never written a letter to the editor until this year. It is about time I did something. That is American!

What's your excuse? Dig a little deeper, please."

R. Howell

Thank you Ms. Howell. Your concerns are our concerns. This only goes to show you the extent that the oppositions would go to guarantee the election. Seems like one can get a better election process even in the Ukraine!


What do YOU think?

I have been posting here for a couple of weeks and would love to have some of you comment. Have I made the argument for Kerry? Do you think he should or shouldn't run again in 2008? Why? Did any of you vote for Bush? Why?

Please help make this a community and not just a soapbox for me.


P.S. If you haven't registered with Blogger you can still post with an "anonymous" posting!

Throwing Away Medals

A column in today's Washington Post by Richard Cohen critiques President Bush's decision to award Presidential Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer, and then retired General Tommy Franks.

As Cohen writes:
"Had the president given the awards a moment's thought, he might have asked himself what he was doing. A pretty good argument can be made that Tenet was incompetent. He not only failed to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 but he failed to protect the president from what has to be a historic embarrassment: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

As for Franks and Bremer, they cannot -- on the face of it -- both deserve medals. Since coming home from Iraq, Bremer has said the United States did not use enough troops there. "We never had enough troops on the ground," he confided to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers in October. This allowed the looting that broke out shortly after Baghdad was captured and the subsequent insurgency. For the record, Franks -- prodded by Donald Rumsfeld -- is the guy who never had enough troops on the ground. Which one deserved the medal? Easy. Neither

Essentially President Bush "threw away" these medals in some sort of political face-saving.

Contrast this with how the Republicans treated John Kerry for his anti-was protest and 'throwing his medals' (or ribbons) during a 1971 war protest. As none other than Rush Limbaugh states:
"As a further public relations coup for our adversaries and to gain more publicity for himself he then threw medals he claimed were his own over the White House garden wall. However, as soon as his medals proved to be a political asset as opposed to a publicity liability he confessed that the medals he threw over the garden wall in fact were not his own and now displays his own medals. He has used them for political advantage ever since and they are now the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. We may never find out who owned the medals he so callously threw over the garden wall or what sacrifices that soldier endured to win those medals. I guess John Kerry wants us to honor his medals which he now so prominently hangs on his wall more than he honored the medals of that fellow veteran. I wonder if John Kerry would have thrown the veteran over the wall wearing those medals if it would have resulted in better press or more accolades from his anti-American admirers."

You can see that the far-right supporters of George W. Bush applaud when medals are thrown at failures who have led America into the quagmire of Iraq, where thousands of young American men and women have died and have been maimed and where no end in sight is seen for our involvement.

But when John Kerry protests a similar war of his generation, they find his protests and ceremonial throwing of medals treasonous, as a "public relations coup for our adversaries."

John Kerry, you are the real American hero. You fought and were wounded for America's mistakes. You came back to America and testified about the failures that we had pursued. You understand where America needs to go.

America and the world needs John Kerry in 2008.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"Voodoo Economics" Redux

As reported in the Boston Globe, the current Administration's plan to increase spending, lower taxes, and reduce the federal deficit just doesn't make sense.

The article comments:
"The analysts said Bush's commitment to lowering taxes while expanding large parts of the budget makes it impossible to meet his deficit-reduction goals. The White House budget office acknowledged that Bush's next budget proposal, to be filed in February, will not include costs associated with his plan to partially privatize Social Security, a move that could cost $2 trillion.

"Politicians love to promise higher spending, lower taxes, and a reduced budget deficit, but those three goals are incompatible," said Brian M. Riedl, lead federal budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank."

Unfortunately, the scenario is much the same as the "Reagonomics" practiced by then President Ronald Reagan. According to this BBC article on that era:
"Mr Reagan believed that getting the government out of the lives of its citizens as much as possible would boost economic growth.

He pushed for tax cuts, especially for the rich, on the grounds that giving them greater incentives would stimulate risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

His advisers believed that the additional economic activity would actually boost tax revenues.

However, his parallel commitment to fight communism led him to propose a vast increase in military spending, draining the public purse.

The result was a burgeoning budget deficit which worried conservative Republicans as much as Democrats."

Ironically, this caused an increase in interest rates (note the recent FIFTH increase in interest rates this year), and an ultimate recession with terrible balance of trade results (note the recent report on the American trade deficit hitting a record $55.5 billion). Ironically, it was George W. Bush's dad, George H. W. Bush who labeled this economic theory advocated by President Reagan, and adopted by George W. Bush, as "voodoo economics."

Today, President Bush kicks off an economic summit to cheerlead his reckless economic activity. As reported in Bloomberg:
"Bush probably won't hear anything new or critical at the conference, said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's ``hard to imagine that people with different views will be invited,'' he said in an e-mail. ``My sense is that there is some skepticism'' about the value of the conference

This President likes to surround himself with those who are in agreement with his ideas. I recall all of those Presidential rallies where loyalty oaths were required to attend! THAT is how this President makes decisions.

But his team remains optimistic. As his Treasury Department representative related:
Bush's goal of reducing the deficit in half in five years will be reached, said Richard Clarida, the Treasury Department's chief economist until 2003 and now chief economic strategist at the Clinton Group Inc., a hedge fund based in New York. ``Economic growth will generate additional tax revenues, and it's important to continue the spending discipline.''

But things have never looked more bleak for the budget deficit. As was reported:
The U.S. saw four consecutive years of surpluses from 1998 to 2001 and has had deficits every year since. Democrats blame Bush's $1.85 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years.

``You don't borrow your way into prosperity,'' said Alan Blinder, who was Federal Reserve vice chairman under President Bill Clinton.

You see John Kerry did vote for the $87 billion in supplemental spending first, WHEN THEIR WAS FISCAL DISCIPLINE TO PAY FOR IT! He only opposed it because of the massive deficits that are being created by this reckless Administration intent on bankrupting America to the tune of TRILLIONS of dollars.

As reported:

"Kerry was referring to a measure he co-sponsored that would have provided the $87 billion while also temporarily reversing Bush's tax cuts for those making $400,000 a year or more. That measure was rejected 57-42."

Our country needs John Kerry now more than any time in its history. He should have been elected in 2004, but we shall have to wait and press ahead with 2008 for Kerry!


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Who's Allowing Dioxin Poisoning?

The world was shocked to learn of the dioxin poisoning of Ukranian opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko. As reported on CNN,
"Dr. Michael Zimpfer told CNN Sunday that he based his conclusion on a physical examination of the patient and "various blood tests" carried out at Vienna's Rudolfinerhaus Clinic and elsewhere.

Zimpfer told reporters over the weekend that the concentration of dioxin in Yushchenko's body was "1,000 times above the normal levels" and that he suspected "third-party involvement

The horrific consequences of this poisoning can be visibly seen in the scarring dermatitis across Yushchenko's face.

And yet, as recently reported by the Sierra Club, this Administration refuses to deal with dioxin pollution and allows dioxin-laced sludge to be used as fertilizer:
"October 17, 2003
Administration Refuses to Regulate Use of Dioxin-Laced Sludge as Fertilizer
The Bush Administration refused to regulate dioxin-laced sewage sludge for use as a farm fertilizer today. Dioxins, a highly toxic chemical compound, are known to cause cancer and damage to the neurological and immune systems of humans and animals, according to government and private experts. Americans' primary source of dioxin exposure comes from meat, milk, and other dairy products such as ice cream. Allowing sludge containing dioxins to be freely spread on dairy pastures is a health hazard because of the large amount of soil cattle eat while grazing. Land-applied sewage is the second largest source of dioxin exposure in the United States.

Also, as reported in a Montana report:
"The report, titled ‘‘Toxic Neighbors,'' was released by the National Environmental Trust late last week and analyzed pollution information gathered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2001.

Power plants are the largest source of toxic pollution in the nation, outpacing all other industries, the report found. In terms of overall pollution, Montana's power plants did not rank very high. The state ranked 40th in the country for toxic pollution from power plants.

But dioxin, a cancer-causing chemical formed from the burning of coal, was more prevalent in Montana pollution. Montana ranked 11th in the nation as a source of dioxin from power plants and PPL Generation LLC, which owns coal-burning plants in Montana and elsewhere, ranked third in the nation among power companies.

Montana produced 16.62 grams of dioxin in 2001, the report said.

‘‘That may not sound like a lot,'' said John Stanton, vice president of the National Environmental Trust and an author of the report. ‘‘But these chemicals are so toxic that you need only miniscule amounts, parts per trillion, to trigger carcinogenic effects.''

The story goes on to relate the Bush Administration position on Dioxin pollution and the company's preferences:

"There is currently no limit on the amount of dioxin that power plants can produce and the Bush administration recently quashed plans to establish a limit, Stanton said.

But Paul Wirth, a spokesman for PPL Corp., in Allenstown, Penn., said the company has ‘‘made significant strides in reducing emissions.''

The company favors a Bush administration plan that would reduce mercury from power plant pollution, but not put a limit on the amount of dioxin plants can produce

This might not be the Ukraine, but you may be finding more dioxin in your soup, the air you breathe and the land you walk on

As "Clean Water Action" reported in its endorsement of Kerry:

"By appointing officials from polluting industries to top posts in the U.S. EPA, Department of Interior and other federal agencies, President Bush continued a disturbing practice begun during his tenure as Texas governor."

They go on to contrast this with John Kerry's positions:
"In contrast, Senator Kerry has worked tirelessly to defeat polluting proposals that threatened communities and has favored an open, honest approach to environmental policymaking"

John Kerry, our land, our air, our water resources, and our children are calling you to pull us out of the water! We needed Kerry in 2004, but we shall have to wait for 2008!


Sunday, December 12, 2004

George W. Bush "Hatches the Egg"

I still scratch my head in puzzlement trying to figure out 'what those 59 million people were thinking.' I mean, HOW could Kerry have lost in 2004?

I recall hearing Secretary Evans on the tube relating that it was the consistency of George W. Bush that made him so attractive. As Evans stated, with George W. Bush, you know where he stands because 'he says what he means and he means what he says.'

That was SUCH a familiar comment. Where HAD I heard that before. Tonight, again trying to get some reason out of cyberspace, I came across the American Enterprise Institute, that famous conservative 'think tank', where they wrote:
"There is no doubt that John Kerry showed great skill at embracing deeply contradictory positions, but that does not make him unusual; all politicians have mastered the art of self-contradiction. What was remarkable in this election is that one candidate, President Bush, never changed: He said what he meant and meant what he said."

But then it all came back to me. It was HORTON! Dr. Seuss's famous elephant who was put up to hatching an egg! As Seuss wrote:

"I mean what I say, and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful 100 percent."

Who says the Republicans aren't big readers! Perhaps the Cat in the Hat can come back and get us out of Iraq too. Or maybe the Sneetches with stars upon thars?

John Kerry, America needs you today and they need you to be our President, but we shall have to wait for 2008!


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Kerry Thanks Iowa: Leaves Door Open for 2008

John Kerry visited Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, to visit with and thank supporters who worked hard for him in the 2004 campaign. As was reported today, Kerry addressed approximately 200 Democrats who attended the evening reception.

He commented:
"We, all of us, are going to remember what this race was about and we're going to continue this fight."

He went on to add:

"Obviously the outcome is disappointing to every person here. I just want to say to all of you at this special time of year, thank you, Iowa, for being Iowa."

John Kerry has not given up the fight. He has come to us to thank us for our work for him. I am here to say "Thank you" to John Kerry for running for President in 2004 for things that we all hold important. And thank you for keeping the door open for 2008.


"Johnny Got His Gun"-Iraq Version

It has been a lot of years since high school. I don't really recall which English class I was taking when I read Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun". If you haven't read it, go and find a copy. As Elinor Hoefs comments:
Trumbo's premise is devastatingly simple: For 300 pages he puts you inside the head of a World War I veteran. We share Johnny's*** memories of life before the war. With him, we recall how he was swept up in the tide of patriotic fervor as war came closer and closer. He was sure that if his country would just give him a gun along with a bit of training, he could cross the ocean and find glory as he defeated the enemy.

And we also share, in relentless detail, the horrific nature of his present situation.

Johnny, you see, wound up in a trench in France as a shell exploded nearby. Johnny survived, but with a certain amount of collateral damage. He lost both legs, both arms, his face, his eyes, his ears, and his voice. He is the ultimate basket case.

Johnny got his gun, all right. And now everybody agrees he's a hero. The only thing is, he's also a monster--this ultimate basket case--tucked away in a veteran's hospital where nobody but the medical staff has to think about him.

Is war worth it? Is pride in any system of human governance that repeatedly leads to war justified? We all, experts and non experts, have various answers to those questions. Before you speak your own answer with too much confidence, I'd urge you to get a second opinion from Johnny. Lend him an ear, which he is in much need of.

Fiction? Yes. But we can dismiss it only because we choose not to think about the real Johnny's who are still tucked away in veterans' hospitals, well tended unto the end of their days of suffering.

And now comes the Iraq version. As depressing the thought is, the war is creating more Johnnies that are being treated in Veterans Hospitals. As the Kansas City Star reported:

It isn't that their injuries were less serious, a new report says. In fact, some young soldiers and Marines are now returning home badly maimed, with their faces, arms and legs blown off.

But they have survived thanks, in part, to armorlike vests and fast treatment from doctors on the move with surgical kits in backpacks.

“This is unprecedented. People who lose not just one but two or three extremities are people who just have not survived in the past,” said Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who researched military medicine and wrote about it for today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The journal also published a five-page spread of 21 military photographs that graphically depict the horrific injuries and the conditions under which these modern-day MASH surgeons operate.

“We thought a lot about it,” said the journal's editor, Jeffrey Drazen, and ultimately decided that the pictures told an important story.

In one traumatic case, Gawande tells of an airman who lost both legs, his right hand and part of his face. “How he and others like him will be able to live and function remains an open question,” Gawande writes.

Kevlar helmets and vests are two reasons for the high survival rate.

“The critical core, your chest and your abdomen, are protected,” said George Peoples, a Walter Reed Army Medical Center surgeon who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Paradoxically, what we've seen is devastating extremity injuries because people are surviving wounds they otherwise wouldn't have.”

By mid-November, 10,369 American troops had been wounded in battle in Afghanistan or Iraq, and 1,004 had died — a survival rate of roughly 90 percent. In the Vietnam War, one in four wounded died, virtually all of them before they could reach MASH units some distance from the fighting.

And we are not done with this war.

John Kerry, watch those soldiers backs. Pull them from the water. Pull our nation from the water. America and the world needs you now.


Friday, December 10, 2004

"Connecting the Dots"

I read with interest today the article about the new appointment to the Bush cabinet, Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, who shall be succeeding Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

O.K., who IS this guy? I mean, I keep up with things generally, and here is some Samuel Bodman, coming out of the haze into the Secretary of Energy post. And WHAT is his connection to George W. Bush.

Relying on the trusty Google and an internet connection, I set out on my detective work. According to the Commerce Department bio, Mr. Bodman Graduated in 1961 with a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University. Hen then completed a ScD at MIT, and served for six years as an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Pretty impressive actually! After that he was working over at Fidelity Investments where he became CEO in 1983. And then the trail gets interesting. In 1987 he joined Cabot Corporation, where he served as Chairman, CEO and a Director. According to a 2001 article on Bodman, he served as CEO for 15 years...I guest since 1987, until joining the Commerce Dept in 2001.

O.K., so this is fantastic, so WHAT does this have to do with Bush? (I can hear you asking!).

As a recent Houston Chronicle article points out: "While serving as Cabot's chief executive officer, Bodman spearheaded the decision to split off the company's oil and gas exploration and production business into a separate entity, Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas.

Bodman continued to serve on Cabot Oil & Gas' board of directors until joining the Bush administration.

Cabot Oil & Gas spokesman Scott Schroeder called Bodman "a talented individual" and "a smart man

Drum here is, as Paul Harvey likes to say, 'the rest of the story.'

Recall, that as this Washington Post article points out: "When President Bush served as a director of an energy company 12 years ago, he approved the creation of an off-balance-sheet partnership that reduced the company's debts and improved earnings in a transaction similar to those that led to the collapse of Enron Corp.

As a director of Harken Energy Corp. in 1990, Bush, who had sold his own oil business to Harken and was retained as a consultant, made the motion at a board meeting to negotiate the transfer of struggling Harken assets into a partnership with Harvard University's investment arm, Harvard Management Co. Inc., documents indicate.

The article goes on: "Harvard Management, which invests the university's endowment, was a major investor in Harken, at one point owning 30 percent of its shares. Its investments began at about the time that Bush, the son of the then vice president, became a director of the company in 1986."

Another article from The Nation Magazine, points out an interesting connection: "That same year (1993), Harvard also got out of HAP - selling it to the Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, a spin-off of the Cabot family conglomerate. (More old school ties: Walter Cabot headed the Harvard Management Company from its 1974 founding to 1991.) In exchange for the HAP properties, Harvard took Cabot Oil & Gas stock worth $34.6 million."

You see, Mr. Bodman was CEO of Cabot at THAT TIME. Well it has taken over 10 years to pay back THAT favor, but the Harken bail-out is remembered well by this President. THAT, is the rest of the story.

Why do we still have to wallow in this Harken Oil mess with the good old boys from Texas and elsewhere? Why couldn't John Kerry have won the election in 2004; now we shall have to wait for 2008!


Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Closer Look at Bush "Morality"

I am still trying to figure out the "morality" of the vote for Bush. I Googled "moral values" and came up with an article by Walter Williams in today's Southern Mississippi Sun-Herald. Certainly a writer in one of the "redder" states would understand the moral view!

Williams writes of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction", Nicollette Sheriday's towel malfunction, and the Piston/Pacers game melee of examples of a "new culture" that somehow is subverting America. He doesn't mention the larger moral questions of waging a war on Iraq, or the failure of the war on AIDS, both more significant moral struggles in my opinion, because they involve the injuries, diseases, and deaths of MILLIONS of people, a moral situation that trumps Janet Jackson's left breast.

Williams writes: "During the 1960s, the education establishment launched its agenda to undermine lessons children learned from their parents and the church with fads like "values clarification." So-called sex-education classes were simply indoctrination that sought to undermine family/church strictures against premarital sex. Lessons of abstinence were ridiculed, considered passe, and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills and abortion. Further undermining of parental authority came with legal and extra-legal measures to assist teenage abortions with neither parental knowledge nor consent." Clearly, Mr. Williams has some kind of hang-up about sex. His list his about sex, sex, and more sex. What about DEATH AND DISEASE Mr. Williams? Doesn't that count in the question of morality?

Mr. Williams concludes: "Customs, traditions and moral values have been discarded without an appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now, we're paying the price. What's worse is that instead of a return to what worked, many of us fail to make the connection and insist "there ought to be a law." As such, it points to another failure of the so-called "great generation" - the failure to transmit to their children what their parents transmitted to them."

Mr. Williams, ironically, finally touched on something important. The "failure to transmit". THAT is what AIDS is all about; the TRANSMISSION of disease. And that moral issue is where this Administration has failed miserably.

As reported today in The Guardian, "The HIV/Aids pandemic is the worst catastrophe in history and is blighting childhood across the developing world, especially sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations said yesterday."

The report goes on: "Unless action is taken, swiftly and decisively, to stem the tidal wave of infection and loss, it is estimated that by 2010 over 18m African children will have lost one or both parents to HIV/Aids." Hey Mr. Williams, What do you think about THAT? Is that a MORAL problem, I mean EIGHTEEN MILLION AFRICAN CHILDREN LOSING A PARENT TO DISEASE? Or is Janet Jackson's left breast on T.V. more of a moral failing of our country? ARE YOU IN TOUCH WITH WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD??? Sometimes, I just HAVE to shout.

But what does this have to do with the Republicans? Well, an interesting point was made in an column from the October 12, 2003, St. Petersburg Times. This column reviews the history of how this Administration BLUNDERED in a very big way in its handling of AIDS.

One of the first things this Administration did was to reinstate the "Mexico City Policy"..."also known as the global gag rule, as one of his first official acts. It was also one of his meanest. The policy bars organizations that receive U.S. international family planning funds from having anything to do with abortion; even uttering the word in counseling is verboten.

Ronald Reagan gets the credit for this political stroke, announced at the 1984 Mexico City Conference on Population. It was a way to spread an antiabortion agenda around the world - delighting the religious right - without doing much political damage at home. Americans notoriously have little interest in what our government does relative to the developing world.

Bill Clinton retracted the policy and Bush resurrected it. Think of it as our culture wars exported

The column goes on to report on the "moral" effects of this reinstated Bush policy:

"In Kenya, five established clinics have closed; some were the only affordable reproductive health services in the area. One was located in Kisumu, a town with the highest HIV prevalance rates in the country. In Lesotho, where one in every four women suffers from HIV/AIDS, the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association no longer receives any donated condoms from USAID, the U.S. government agency that doles out family planning money and supplies. During the years 1998 to 2000, the Lesotho group had received 426,000 donated condoms.

In short, thanks to the closure of medical clinics and reductions in supplies wrought by the policy, more Africans will contract HIV, more mothers will transmit it to their babies and more of the population will die. Those tend to be the calculations in places like Lesotho when a lifeline gets snatched back

But George W. Bush was effective in STOPPING the usage of CONDOMS, one of the basic methods of slowing the transmission of AIDS. (There we go again talking about transmission!).

The column continues: "USAID is the single largest donor of condoms in the developing world, providing $75-million worth annually, or about a third of all donations. Yet, according to the PAI report, 16 poor countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have been cut off from USAID condom shipments because their family planning groups are associated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which refuses to sign the antiabortion pledge.

In another 13 countries, including Ethiopia and Zambia, the nations' leading providers of reproductive health services also no longer receive USAID condom supplies.
" Perhaps Bush would rather the African natives "just say no" or some other Polyanna approach to the AIDS Epidemic.

But the effect of this policy has been highly IMMORAL. As the article concludes: "But stopping the supply of condoms to organizations that counsel clients on all legal reproductive health options is leading inexorably to HIV's spread and a rise in unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Hillary Fyfe, chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia, which counsels young people on abstinence, reproductive issues and HIV prevention in nine provinces, says the funding cuts have been devastating. There is not a donated condom to be had in the region,"completely nothing," she says, and "when the (young women) fall pregnant they have no place to go. They take a knitting needle and push it down or they go in the bush and dig up a poisonous root and push it down. Half the time they die

So please don't bother to tell me about the moral voter. These are prudes who think that the worst thing that has happened this century was Bill Clinton having consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky. Or maybe as John Ashcroft would point out, it is the problem with the exposure of Lady Liberty's breast.

We Democrats know morality from amoral behavior. To deny condoms to Africans in the midst of an AIDS epidemic is obscene on a global scale. To show Janet Jackson's breast on T.V. is simply tacky.

It was the world's loss and Africa's tragedy that John Kerry lost in 2004. As was reported by the Kaiser Foundation: "a Kerry administration likely would promote a "more realistic" approach to sex education by encouraging condom use as well as abstinence and monogamy, according to the Star (Toronto Star, 10/30). Bush believes that condoms are not always the best method to prevent the spread of HIV, and he and his congressional allies have supported funding for groups that promote abstinence, USA Today reported on Thursday. Kerry has alleged that Bush puts ideology ahead of science by requiring government-funded HIV prevention groups to point out condom failure rates in their education programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/28)."

Only a child thinks that morality is about sex while ignoring sexually transmissable diseases that kill the world's poor.

John Kerry, America and the world is calling you!


Learning from Howard Dean

The Democratic Party has much to learn from Howard Dean. As reported today, Dean, addressing a crowd of supporters stated, "We cannot win by being Republican light. We’ve tried it, it does not work."

The article reports, ""Honesty is a moral value," Dean said, drawing cheers from those who still love to hear the former Vermont governor reproach the president, even indirectly.

"If this election had been decided on moral values, the Democrats would have won," Dean continued. "I think it’s time for us to start framing the debate. We have to learn to punch our ways off the ropes.

Again emphasizing the need to draw upon our basic Democrat-values, Dean continued:

"Some within the party say losses in the presidential race and Congress this year show that Democrats need to elect a centrist leader who can attract independents and moderate Republicans. That was the consensus of the nation’s Democratic governors, many who were elected in states that supported Bush.

But Dean said he rejects the philosophy that "if you don’t beat them, then join them."

"When some people say that we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified," Dean said. "They cannot. On issue after issue, we are where majority of the American people are

I respect and admire Howard Dean for his leadership. I am not ready to change this blog's name, and transform it into "Dean for President", but his wisdom cannot be lost on us. We cannot compromise our fight for the essential values that bind this party together. We cannot stop struggling for the poor, those without access to healthcare, women seeking to preserve their hard-fought reproductive rights, Americans of minority groups seeking to move ahead in our society, the basic physical environment that we live in, and those around the world who share our dreams of peace and progress.

Let us remember all of these things as we prepare ourselves for 2008.


Does Rumsfeld "Support our Troops"?

As reported today, Donald Rumsfeld faced tough questioning from American soldiers in Kuwait regarding both the question of adequate armor for protection and the back-door draft.

One soldier questioned, "Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don't we have those resources readily available to us"

The Secretary had to ask the soldier to repeat the question.

He responded, "A lot of us are getting ready to move north (into Iraq) relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted -- picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat."

"We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north

Rumsfeld admitted there wasn't adequate armor protection for the soldiers but stated, "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

"If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up

During the Vice-Presidential debate between John Edwards and Dick Cheney, the question of armor did come up. As reported by Fox News, John Edwards asserted, "They sent 40,000 American troops into Iraq without the body armor they needed"

Fox quotes Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs who stated "every soldier and Marine on the ground over had body armor."

America's soldiers need John Kerry for President. He watched his buddies backs then and he would watch all of the soldiers now. It is not enough to rush into combat into a pre-emptive war and say, 'you go to war with the Army you have' and not wait until you have the Army you need! John Kerry you are going to have to pull all of those soldiers out of the water now!