Sunday, May 29, 2005

Kerry Remembers our Soldiers on Memorial Day 2005!

American soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

One of a few Pentagon photos released in April 2004

Senator John Kerry paid tribute to these brave Americans this weekend as we celebrate Memorial Day:
“Memorial Day is a day of mixed emotions: sorrow for the families whose sons and daughters have given their lives for our country, coupled with universal pride in the great Americans who for generations and particularly today teach us the full meaning of service and sacrifice. The courage and bravery of our young men and women fighting overseas continues to inspire all of us, and indeed inspire the free world and those yearning for freedom.

“America’s fallen soldiers shouldered a responsibility greater than any of us will ever know. Their families, their units, and their nation depended on them, and they answered the call of duty with selflessness and devotion. Our soldiers did not shirk from this responsibility, and all the uncertainty, danger and honor that came with it. Their families remember them as special sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and cherished friends. Their nation remembers them as special citizens. Grown men will touch their names etched on granite walls and will today weep for fallen comrades who gave their lives so that others can live.

“In this time of war, and in memory of our fallen heroes, we must be mindful to do everything in our power to keep our troops safe as they keep us safe. We must do better to take care of their families, who sacrifice in ways too many count.

“While we can never repay our nation’s debt to families who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we must always remember the legacy of their fallen sons and daughters: a safer and freer world. On this Memorial Day, I believe it appropriate to take a small step in that direction by recognizing in the record those exceptional individuals from Massachusetts who this year gave their lives, and earned the eternal gratitude of the American people:

Arredondo, Alexander S., Lance Corporal, USMC, 25-Aug-2004 - Randolph, MA Connolly, David, S., Major, USA, 6-Apr-2005 - Boston, MA Cunningham, Darren J., Staff Sergeant, USA, 30-Sep-2004 - Groton, MA Depew, Cory R., Private, USA, 04-Jan-2005 - Haverhill, MA Desiato, Travis R. Lance Corporal, USMC, 15-Nov-2004 - Bedford, MA Farrar Jr., Andrew K., Sergeant, USMC, 28-Jan-2005 - Weymouth, MA Fontecchio, Elia P., Gunnery Sergeant, USMC, 04-Aug-2004 - Milford, MA Fuller, Travis J., 1st Lieutenant, USMC, 26-Jan-2005 - Granville, MA Gavriel, Dimitrios, Lance Corporal, USMC, 18-Nov-2004 - Haverhill, MA Johnson, Markus J., Private, USA, 1st Class 01-Jun-2004 - Springfield, MA Lusk, Joe F. II, Captain, USA, 21-Jan-2005 - Framingham, MA Moore, James M., Colonel, USA, 29-November-2004 - Peabody, MA Oliveira, Brian, Corporal, USMC, 25-Oct-2004 - Raynham, MA Ouellette, Brian J., Petty Officer, 1st Class, USN, 29-May-2004 - Needham, MA Palacios, Gabriel T., Specialist, USA, 21-Jan-2004 - Lynn, MA Schamberg, Kurt D. Sergeant, USA, 20-May-2005 - Melrose, MA Sullivan, Christopher J., Captain, USA, 18-Jan-2005 - Princeton, MA Vangyzen IV, John J. Lance Corporal, USMC, 05-Jul-2004 - Bristol, MA Zabierek, Andrew J., Lance Corporal, USMC, 21-May-2004 - Chelmsford, MA.”

Photo of President Bush

President Bush used his weekly radio address to honor the nation's war dead on Memorial Day:
"Throughout our history, America has fought not to conquer but to liberate," Bush said. "We go to war reluctantly, because we understand the high cost of war. Those who have given their lives to defend America have the respect and gratitude of our entire nation."
But President Bush has not always acted to respect and show gratitude to America's veterans.

As reported:
President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday.
America needs a President who supports our soldiers and veterans when they return and not one who just rallies around war! America deserves better! Keep that door open to 2008 Senator Kerry! America could use a real veteran who understands the sacrifice that each soldier makes in wartime!


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Kerry Visits Orlando: "Head Start" for 2008!

John Kerry keeps kids first!

of Senator Kerry in Orlando

Senator John Kerry addressed 5,000 delegates at the National Head Start Association in Orlando yesterday.

He talked about how conservatives use the Bible to advance causes that contradict the very teachings of the New Testament. He stated:
"I went back and reread the whole New Testament the other day. Nowhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ did I find a suggestion at all, ever, anywhere, in any way whatsover, that you ought to take the money from the poor, the opportunities from the poor and give them to the rich people," Kerry said.
He added:
"We need to enlist and join together in a great cause across the country that puts a simple choice before our fellow Americans. It's a choice that, I think, is based on values," Kerry said.
Thank you Senator Kerry for working to restore values to America!

Real values about helping children have access to medical insurance, protecting the environment, and fighting for peace around the world!

America needs a fighter like you at the helm! A Senator who can inspire us to a society that works to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and pound our swords into plowshares!

We have your back Senator Kerry! America needs your wisdom now more than ever! Bring back the America we love! Hope is on the Way!


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bush: Supports Death Penalty for Criminals because it Saves Lives; Opposes Science that Saves lives if it destroys life!

President Bush selectively likes to protect life. Especially the life of clumps of embryonic cells that are destined to be destroyed anyway. He recently stated:
"I made [it] very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life, I'm against that," Bush told reporters. "Therefore if the bill does that, I will veto it."

Photo of President Bush

On March 2, 2000, in a GOP debate in Los Angeles, President Bush explained his enthusiastic support of the death penalty:
I support the death penalty because I believe when the death penalty is administered surely, swiftly and justly, it will save lives.
So I guess saving lives is important to this President. Sort of. Except, he finds it more important to save the "lives" of clusters of cells that are scheduled to be destroyed, whose "parents" have consented that they be donated to Science.

I am so proud of him.

Who cares about Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and Spinal Cord Injuries. What a bunch of cry-babies.

We can extend the lives of frozen eight cell clumps of embryonic tissue for a few moments longer until they thaw to death anyhow.

What is wrong with America? When will common sense and decency return to Washington? When will we elect a President that can understand a little basic ethics?

America needs new leadership in Washington! I supported John Kerry for President in 2004 and I am supporting him for 2008 as long as he is interested in the job!


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Congressman Langevin Understands The Potential of Stem Cells First-Hand!

Photo of Congressman James Langevin (D-R.I.)

Sometimes it takes the insight of one who has suffered a spinal cord injury to understand the need of advancing our research and understanding in the development of stem cell therapies.

Congressman Langevin of Rhode Island said it best in his testimony to Congress in support of H.R. 810, the "Stem cell Research Enhancement Act":
At 16, I was an Explorer Scout in my hometown police station. One afternoon, in the police locker room, a gun accidentally discharged. The bullet severed my spinal cord, and I have been paralyzed ever since.

This experience shapes my perspective in many ways. Above all, it has given me tremendous appreciation and respect for life. My life as a quadriplegic is filled with challenges and obstacles, yet I am grateful for every minute. This gratitude has become a passion - and it has motivated me to help create a culture that values and protects life from its beginning to its end.

To me, being pro-life also means fighting for policies that will eliminate pain and suffering and help people enjoy longer, healthier lives. And to me, support for embryonic stem cell research is entirely consistent with that position. What could be more life-affirming than using what otherwise would be discarded to save, extend and improve countless lives?
This Act is about using frozen embryos that are about to be discarded from fertility labs in order to advance research to treat people who are alive and suffering today!

As well as to provide us for the cures for people who are not even born yet!

No, but Tom Delay (R-Tx) doesn't get it.

I found a picture of one of those frozen embryos.

This is a day three blastocyst that has approximately eight cells. These are the embryos that freeze best and the ones that are most likely to be destroyed as they age. This is an example of the cell cluster that is used for stem cells.

You can see there is no brain, no spinal cord, no specialized tissues. Nothing.

Is it sad to destroy one of these cell clusters? Perhaps, but do the "parents" of these embryos that are about to be destroyed have the right to donate them to science that their creation should not have been in vain?

Isn't it obvious?

So what did our esteemed Texas Congressman, Tom DeLay, have to say about using these clumps of cells to research the treatment of diseases like spinal cord injury, Lou Gehrig's Disease, or Parkinson's disease?

He stated it would result in:
"the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings for the purposes of medical experimentation."
Mr. DeLay is confused. I think maybe he is thinking of the recent revelation of the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan:
Within days after the two deaths in December 2002, military coroners determined that both had been caused by "blunt force trauma" to the legs. Soon after, soldiers and others at Bagram told the investigators that military guards had repeatedly struck both men in the thighs while they were shackled and that one had also been mistreated by military interrogators.
Does Mr. DeLay find those violations of the Geneva Conventions of any concern? Or does he find it more important to defend clumps of cells destined for the garbage dump from dismemberment?

Or does he wish to tell Lt. Dawn Halfaker who lost her right arm in Iraq about dismemberment of Americans fighting a war on false pretenses? Does that alarm him?

Photo of Lt. Halfaker from USA Today

I am so tired of this phony morality.

Senator Kerry himself said it best in the 2004 campaign:
"We know that progress has always brought with it the worry that this time, we have gone too far," Kerry said. "Believe it or not, there was a time when some questioned the morality of heart transplants. Not too long ago, we heard the same kind of arguments against the biotechnology research that now saves stroke victims and those with leukemia."

Such work, Kerry said, is too important to risk for an ideological base and must be "a priority" in the nation's medical community.

"People of good will and good sense can resolve the ethical issues without stopping life-saving research," he added. "America has long led the world in great discoveries, always upholding the highest standards, with our breakthroughs and our beliefs always going hand-in-hand. And when it comes to stem cell research, we will demand no less."
Thank you Senator Kerry! America deserves a President who fights for the poor, the disabled, the suffering, and who doesn't lead America backwards into the Dark Ages of suppression of science, the denial of evolution, and the advancement of war over peace! America deserves better.

Hey John, How about leaving that door open for 2008! We have your back! You can cover America's stem cells!


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Bush: Will Veto Embryonic Stem Cell Research-Pandering to his Fundamentalist Base!

Nancy Reagan, the former Republican First Lady and wife of the late President Reagan has said this about stem cell research:
"Science has presented us with a hope called stem-cell research, which may provide our scientists with answers that have so long been beyond our grasp," she said. "I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this—there are just so many diseases that can be cured, or at least helped. We have lost so much time already, and I just really can't bear to lose any more."

Photo of Nancy and Ronald Reagan

Mrs. Reagan knows about the pain of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. It is not clear that Alzheimer's will be particularly amenable to stem cell research, but the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer's Association on June 13, 2004, had this to say:
"In keeping with its mission to eliminate Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Association opposes any restriction or limitation on human stem cell research, provided the appropriate scientific reviews, and ethical and oversight guidelines are in place."

Christopher Reeve understood the importance of embryonic stem cell research.

Photo of "Superman" Christopher Reeve and "Lois Lane" Margot Kidder

Unfortunately, Christopher Reeve has not lived to see the benefit of seeing embryonic stem cell research assist in finding treatments for spinal cord injuries.

But this is some of his testimony to Congress on this issue:
We must pursue research on embryonic stem cells.

With the life expectancy of average Americans heading as high as 85 to 90 years, it is our responsibility to do everything possible to protect the quality of life of the present and future generations. A critical factor will be what we do with human embryonic stem cells. These cells have the potential to cure diseases and conditions ranging from Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis to diabetes and heart disease, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, even spinal-cord injuries like my own. They have been called the body's self-repair kit.

Their extraordinary potential is a recent discovery. And much basic research needs to be done before they can be sent to the front lines in the battle against disease. But no obstacle should stand in the way of responsible investigation of their possibilities. To that end, the work should be funded and supervised by the Federal Government through the National Institutes of Health(NIH). That will avoid abuses by for-profit corporations, avoid secrecy and destructive competition between laboratories and ensure the widest possible dissemination of scientific breakthroughs. Human trials should be conducted either on the NIH campus or in carefully monitored clinical facilities.
Christopher Reeve also found it hard to believe that some would find working on embryonic clusters of cells that were bound to be discarded in fertility labs would somehow seem to be "unethical" to some parties. He went on:
But why has the use of discarded embryos for research suddenly become such an issue? Is it more ethical for a woman to donate unused embryos that will never become human beings, or to let them be tossed away as so much garbage when they could help save thousands of lives?

Michael J. Fox knows first-hand why embryonic stem cell research is imperative. He has stopped acting, in large part due to the continued effects of Parkinson's disease on his ability to walk, to speak steadily, to even to hold still without shaking.

Photo of Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future

He has stated about this controversy:
It's ridiculous. It's so self-defeating for those of us with Parkinson's and other degenerative diseases. We don't want to create Frankenstein or clone our Uncle Charlie so we can play poker with him again. It's nuts. We just want to save lives.

If the government were to allow funding for embryonic stem-cell research, it could use its own power of oversight to apply standards to the research that people will feel comfortable with. The research will happen anyway. But it will happen in other countries now, and we won't have as much input.
He added, about getting legislators to act:
It's hard to get them to focus, with everything that's going on in the world right now. But I do think it's trending positively. This is all about patients and their families. All those people in Washington can trace this issue back to someone in their family who has an illness that might be affected by this research.

I believe it was a 19th-century scientist who said there are three stages of every breakthrough: First, everyone thinks you're crazy. Then the church comes out against you. Then it changes the world. We're in stage two. But I don't see any backsliding in momentum.
And what has President Bush done about this?

President Bush has threatened to veto a bill that is currently moving through the Republican-controlled House and Senate that would expand Federal support for embryonic stem cell research because for one thing, the available lines of human embryonic stem cells are contaminated!

Photo of President Bush

President Bush had this to say:
"I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life, I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it," he said at a White House photo session with the prime minister of Denmark.
Thank you President Bush. It is reassuring to hear you slip back into the Dark Ages of Scientific Investigation, preventing the great crime of using embryonic cells destined for the garbage dump to be donated to science in pursuit of cures to spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease, Diabetes, Lou Gehrig's Disease and other maladies facing our world.

President Bush finds it acceptable to relax mercury pollution which endangers unborn children.

President Bush finds it acceptable to cut funds for child care assistance, school breakfast programs and aid for low-income students.

And worst of all, this President has sent our children into a war in Iraq that was justified on false pretenses, on WMD's that were never found.

Over 1,797 of our Children will never return from this war and over 12,516 Americans have been injured. And for what?

And this President is worried about saving life that exists in liquid nitrogen, destined for the garbage heap?

America deserves better! We need a President who pursues scientific investigation and does not hide under fundamentalist dogma. We need a President who values life, who avoids war, and helps our children.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bush Administration "Killing the Messenger!"

Cleopatra, in "Antony and Cleopatra" spoke about receiving messages that were less than encouraging:
Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message.
An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.

Portrait of William Shakespeare
It is thus with Newsweek that has erred by reporting information given to it by a reliable source regarding the treatment of the Koran in Guantanamo.

Even the White House, via Scott McClellan, the President's spokesman has jumped into the discussion:
“The report has had serious consequences,” he said, referring to anti-US riots throughout the Muslim world for which the report was blamed.

“People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.”
It is easy to blame the media for the messages that are presented.

However, even Senator John McCain realized that things were a bit more complex than this:
McCain said the article had damaged U.S. efforts in the region but added that "there's been a lot of things that caused long-term, significant damage, including [the abuse of detainees by Americans at] Abu Ghraib [prison in Iraq] and the stories and pictures surrounding that terrible situation.

"But we have a war of ideals and ideas, and that is to sell democracy and freedom and tolerance to the world and the stories like these set us back," McCain said.
Well Senator McCain almost got it right.

Stories like this do set us back in the Moslem world. But then again, maybe it is stories like this that hurt us the most. Stories about torture and abuse of detainees.

America has to choose the method in preventing stories like this from being in the press. Either, as some in this Administration seem to prefer, we can control the Press by manufacturing news in the form of Video News Releases, pay money to commentators to write positive stories, as has been done, prevent the President from answering questions by failing to schedule news conferences, facilitate phony reporters in the few White House News Conferences that are held, prevent access to Guantanamo itself, denying reporters the possibility of talking with detainees, and censor photos of returning caskets to prevent the deterioration of morale, or we can prevent the events from happening by cleaning up our own act!

Or perhaps, as seems to be current policy, attack CBS, and attack Newsweek Magazine, and attack the media.

On the other hand, you might consider the alternative. Maybe returning morality to government and opening up our secret Administration to inspection. Maybe abiding by the Geneva Conventions and prosecuting Generals who failed to prevent and instead implemented the policies that led to Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo abuses instead of whitewashing investigations.

But that would be more difficult. The right way is not always the easiest way!

America deserves better. We need an America that is a beacon of liberty, a standard for other nations to follow. We need new leadership in Washington and a return to the America that makes all of us proud!


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Senator Boxer: Finding out what the Bush Administration means by What They Say!

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an avante-garde American writer who in 1913 wrote "Sacred Emily" and penned the line: "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Words cannot change reality no matter how much we would like them to!

From The Gertrude Stein Webpage

Sometimes in difficult times a courageous politician stands her ground for truth and places integrity above politics. Once again Senator Boxer, who was the Senator who demanded the Senate consider the certification of the vote in the 2004 election, has acted upon convictions and put a hold on the much-criticized Bolton nomination for the United Nations.

The Foreign Relations Committee asked for material from this Administration regarding this nominee and was stonewalled by the White House.

As reported:
Boxer and the other Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the Bush administration had failed to turn over documents in three areas: notes and drafts of a Bolton speech on Syria's military capabilities, private business records of Bolton's assistant Mathew Friedman and information from the National Security Agency and other spy services about whether Bolton tried to get the names of American officials whose communications were intercepted.
Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman had this to say:
"The administration has been very responsive to the needs of the Senate, to make sure that they have the information they need to do their job,'' said McClellan.
But they haven't been "responsive"! They have blocked access of this material from the United States Senate.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California says it clearly:
Boxer said McClellan's statement wasn't true. "How do they say they gave us everything when our request for more information is still outstanding? Just because you say something doesn't make it true,'' she said.

Just because you say something doesn't make it so!

Unfortunately, we have a Humpty Dumpty Presidency with an Administration that uses words as it sees fit! As Lewis Carroll wrote describing a discussion between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass":
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

America needs more Senators like Barbara Boxer who see through "spin" to find truth from those who wish to have us all in a "looking glass" where truth is lies and reality becomes fantasy.

America needs leaders who lead when they say they are leading. And who share information with our representatives who we elect to perform their Constitutional responsibilities of confirming Presidential appointments. America deserves better!


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

President Bush Loves Heavy Metals: Dances to the Beat of the Polluters!

Bald Eagle with Lead Poisoning

President Bush has not been good for the environment.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy explained:
When Bush ran for president in 2000, he made a commitment to multipollutant legislation, Smith pointed out. The four specific pollutants Bush promised to target were nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide.

But within two months of being elected, Bush pulled out of the international Kyoto Agreement on global warming, an agreement that required reductions in carbon dioxide.

Then Bush negated a Clinton administration rule that utilities had to reduce mercury output by 90 percent when he agreed to let utilities only reduce mercury by the amounts filtered out through nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide ``scrubbers,'' Smith said.

Such scrubbers only reduce mercury by around 50-60 percent, he said.

``By the time Bush proposed Clear Skies, he had pulled carbon dioxide out of the equation and reduced mercury controls,'' Smith said.

``To add insult to injury, he went to the states that were suing other states for pollution drifting across state lines and said you can't do that.''
Mercury, a neuro-toxin is tolerated and now ten states are suing our own federal government to reduce Mercury pollution and protect children and pregnant mothers from serious harm. What is happening in America when States have to sue the Federal Government to make sure the Environmental Protection Agency protects the environment? What is wrong with this picture?

Just when you think it can't get any worse, now comes the lead pollution story!

Apparently this President has something for heavy metals.

According to a Los Angeles Times story:
The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly delayed work on completing required rules to protect children and construction workers from exposure to lead-based paint, exploring instead the possibility of using voluntary standards to govern building renovations and remodeling.
The spin begins. As an EPA spokesman, Eryn Witcher, stated:
the agency had not abandoned the possibility of issuing mandatory regulations, and that it was simply exploring alternatives that might be more effective, as well as less costly to industry and the public.
The story provides a little background on lead toxicity and its origins:
Lead-paint exposure threatens about 1.4 million children a year, according to the EPA. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 434,000 children had dangerous levels of lead in their blood, and said that minority children had been disproportionately affected.

Lead poisoning is linked primarily to exposure to lead paint and lead-contaminated dust, often created during home remodeling. Lead exposure is especially dangerous to infants and toddlers, and has been linked to developmental disabilities and behavioral problems.

But who cares about developmental delay, loss of I.Q., behavioral problems and the like if there is a cost to small businesses? Apparently not this administration.

As noted:
EPA officials emphasize that they are concerned about lead exposure and its effect on children. They also point to an internal study showing that the cost of the regulations — $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion annually — could be an overwhelming burden for the mostly small businesses that renovate buildings.
But the EPA's own estimates show even greater monetary benefit than that cost!
However, an agency estimate showed that such rules would provide health benefits of greater value, from $2.7 billion to $4.2 billion annually.
Are you feeling sick yet? Does this Administration have no sense of decency? Does it even favor poisoning of our children, the pregnant mothers of America so that Industry can make another nickel?

And Senator Kerry? He spoke last month about the relaxation of mercury pollution controls in America:
“You can't talk about a culture of life in one breath and turn around and poison our children with the next,” Kerry told a small crowd, including several environmental youth groups, on the riverfront behind the Tsongas Arena.

Thank you Senator Kerry! The children of America need a President concerned about their health! America's health is at risk. Monetary gain is prioritized in this Administration over the very health and protection against poisons in our environment.

America Deserves Better! America needs an administration that protects our children from neurotoxins and does not allow swaps of poisons between polluters! America deserves a government that requires clean air, clean water, and a safe place for our children to be raised and that does not instead promote "voluntary" regulations.

I am scared Senator Kerry! Scared of what is happening to us and our children! Keep that door open for 2008!


Monday, May 09, 2005

Republicans "Force-Feed" America: Shoving Judicial Nominees Down Democrats' Throats!

Recently in Oregon, the State Senate voted to end the force-feeding of geese for the production of foie gras. Animal rights activists feel that this practice, causing an enlarged liver in the geese, is inhumane.

Photo of Force-Fed Goose

But in Washington, D.C., the President of the United States through Senator Bill Frist, is attempting to 'force-feed' previously blocked judicial nominees down the throats of unwilling Senate Democrats. The tyranny of the majority against the minority is beginning!

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has explained:
“In renominating some of their most controversial nominees, the Bush Administration has again chosen confrontation over cooperation and ideology over moderation.

“The President’s words about wanting to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats are ringing a little hollow at this point. Democratic senators cooperated in confirming 204 of President Bush’s judicial nominees in his first term, and we were able to reach the lowest judicial vacancy rates in 16 years. Yet many of these controversial nominees are certain to continue to divide the country and to divide the Senate.

“The Senate should not be a rubber stamp for this or any White House. The independent federal judiciary should not be made into an arm of either political party, and when any president tries to do that, it threatens the public’s trust in our courts.

“The President and his partisans might consider toning down their rhetoric as they reflect on the fact that only ten of his nominations were blocked in the 108th Congress, while more than 60 of President Clinton’s judicial nominees were blocked by Republicans.”
And why must this President be renominating blocked judges? Are there no new conservative candidates that he can find to fill these positions? Of course not.

This is about arrogance. This is about intolerance. And this is not about bipartisanship. To add insult to injury, the so-called nuclear option will diminish the input of the Democrats in the Senate further denying them the basic Senate protection of filibustering that minorities have long enjoyed in America.

Someday Republicans just might be in the minority. As they attempt to force-feed Democrats on distasteful nominations, they should recall that "What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander!"

America deserves better than this government of fake news, phony bipartisanship, Orwellian double-speak, and no-bid government give-aways! America is calling for new leadership! Senator Kerry, we need you to answer that call!


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Church Expels Kerry Supporters! Religion Run Amuck?

Photo of President Bush at the Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover

As reported, Pastor Chan Chandler of Waynesville, North Carolina, participated in an expulsion of church members who didn't support George W. Bush in the 2004 elections.
Members of the congregation said Chandler told them during last year's presidential campaign that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry needed to leave the church.
The pastor now calls it a "misunderstanding" and stated through his attorney today:
"No one has ever been voted from the membership of this church due to an individual's support or lack of support for a political party or candidate," he said.
However, the story continues:
Nine members said they were ousted during a church gathering last week by about 40 others because they refused to support President Bush. They attended Sunday's service with their lawyer and many supporters.

Chandler noted their presence in his welcome to the congregation, saying, "I'm glad to see you all here. ... We are here today to worship the Lord. I hope this is what you are here for."
What is going on in America? And what are Americans doing to each other in the name of God? Was Jesus a big advocate of war? Was Jesus a big advocate of cutting programs for the poor and cutting taxes for the wealthy?

And where did all of this start anyhow?

Last July, the Washington Post looked at President Bush's religion strategy. They reported a very detailed plan for church members:
The instruction sheet circulated by the Bush-Cheney campaign to religious volunteers lists 22 "duties" to be performed by specific dates. By July 31, for example, volunteers are to "send your Church Directory to your State Bush-Cheney '04 Headquarters or give [it] to a BC04 Field Rep" and "Talk to your Pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and Voter Registration Drive."

By Aug. 15, they are to "talk to your Church's seniors or 20-30 something group about Bush/Cheney '04" and "recruit 5 more people in your church to volunteer for the Bush Cheney campaign."

By Sept. 17, they are to host at least two campaign-related potluck dinners with church members, and in October they are to "finish calling all Pro-Bush members of your church," "finish distributing Voter Guides in your church" and place notices on church bulletin boards or in Sunday programs "about all Christian citizens needing to vote."

So is it surprising that these kind of abuses should occur? This kind of thing is absolutely outrageous....but somehow we have gotten used to this. It shames me that this is going on in America.

Thomas Jefferson, in his famous 1815 letter to Peter Wendover, a new member of Congress, about the role of preachers in giving political advice:
Whenever, therefore, preachers, instead of a lesson on religion . . . [teach] on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried . . . In choosing our pastor we look to his religious qualification without enquiring into his [scientific] or political dogmas, with which we mean to have nothing to do.
It is time for America to have preachers that preach religion and politicians who speak of the law! It is time for Americans to honor the First Amendment requirements keeping religion out of government and government out of religion!

America Deserves Better! As John Kerry has stated:
"My entire person is affected by my belief structure, by the values given to me both through my parents and through religion," he said. "But I don't make decisions in public life based on religious belief, nor do I think we should. I think there is a separation of church and state."
Thank you Senator Kerry! Our very freedom to worship God as we choose depends on that committment by government to protect the religious freedom that brought Americans here from Europe and elsewhere, seeking the safety and protection our freedom offered them! Keep that door open for 2008!


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Evolution Debate: "This isn't Kansas!"

In 1939 the Wizard of Oz was released and Judy Garland starred as Dorothy who, upon arriving in this strange world states, "This isn't Kansas Toto!"

Photo from The Wizard of Oz

Well, unfortunately, it is Kansas Dorothy!

Kansas is now 'ground zero' for the fight against Science in our public schools. The place where scientific theory is being challenged and religious dogma substituted for honest curriculum.

As reported, the Kansas State Board of Education has concluded three days of hearing on the issue of Evolution vs. what is called "Intelligent Design", a creationism lightly-disguised philosophy.

According to the news story:
The minority group wants the state board to endorse a more critical approach to evolution and expect teachers to explain some of the holes in the central theory of biology. They also want to change the way science is defined as a search for "natural explanations," because they say that represents an endorsement of naturalism and atheism.
The goals of the Intelligent Design (ID) group were explained:
"We're not asking for it to be taught, only permitted," retired attorney John Calvert said in his closing testimony. "If you outlaw it, you're endorsing an ideology."

Calvert, who runs the Intelligent Design Network out of Lenexa, Kan., has helped spread the arguments for intelligent design nationwide, and he presented the case challenging Kansas' proposed standards. Proponents of the intelligent design theory say the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power.

Now that makes sense! We cannot understand how evolution could explain our biologic life forms, so we can invoke a supernatural being that is invisible and everywhere who created things in seven days.

But of course that isn't religious. It is "intelligent" design. Right.

Painting of Galileo

In 1609 Galileo Galilei developed a "spyglass" with two lenses that could magnify objects nine times; later he developed a 30 power telescope! He studied the sky with his new telescope and in 1610 observed that Jupiter had four moons and that they were moving around the planet.

At that time, it was accepted dogma that the Earth was at the center of the Universe and that the moon, the planets, and the stars rotated around the Earth. This was first challenged in 1530 by Copernicus who suggested that it was the Sun which was at the center of celestial bodies. With his telescope, Galileo could see that Copernicus was right:
First, the old rule was that heavenly bodies only revolve around the fixed earth. But Jupiter's moons clearly move around Jupiter. The phases of Venus could only really be explained if Venus revolved around not the earth, but the Sun, and if it was lit up like the moon rather than glowing like a star.
Galileo ran right into religious objections. Science was seen as threatening the religious order. Galileo tried to fight back:
He was denounced in a sermon in Florence. His crime was to make the earth move, which apparently went against Holy Scripture. Galileo countered that theology was the business of the church, investigation of nature was the business of the scientist, and that he had merely been accounting for his observations.
Galileo tried to reconcile the views of his time with a book called the "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems." But that wasn't enough. Galileo's challenge was a "threat" and need to be "dealt with".

As summarized:
He completed the Dialogue in 1630, and tried to get it published in Rome, but couldn't get a license. It was finally printed in Florence in March 1632.

A few copies were circulated, and then the printer received an instruction to halt all further printing or sale of the book. Galileo was to appear before the Inquisition in October. Galileo was not well enough to travel, but the Pope insisted he make the journey.

The result of the trial was, of course, never in doubt. The Vatican showed that Galileo was 'suspect of heresy' having held a view that went against holy scripture. His specific crime was believing that 'the Sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west'. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, though this was reduced to permanent house-arrest at his villa in Arcetri. Perhaps worse Galileo was forced to Abjure, in other words to confess his views and to condemn them:

'I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei of Florence, being 70 years old [...], swear that I have always believed, believe now and, with God's help, will in the future believe all that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church doth hold, preach and teach. But since, after having been admonished by this Holy Office entirely to abandon the false opinion that the sun is the centre of the Universe and immovable, and that the Earth is not the centre of the same and that it moves, and that I was neither to hold, defend, nor teach in any manner whatsoever, either orally or in writing, the said false doctrine; and after having received a notification that the said doctrine is contrary to Holy Writ, I wrote and published a book in which I treat this condemned doctrine and bring forward very persuasive arguments in its favour without answering them: I have been judged vehemently suspected of heresy, that is of having held and believed that the Sun is at the centre of the Universe and immovable, and that the Earth is not at the centre and that it moves. Therefore, wishing to remove from the minds of your Eminencies and all faithful Christians this vehement suspicion reasonably conceived against me, I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith these errors and heresies, and I curse and detest them as well as any other error, heresy or sect contrary to the Holy Catholic Church and I swear that for the future I shall neither say nor assert orally or in writing such things as may bring upon me similar suspicions; and if I know any heretic, or one suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place in which I may be.'

In other words, under a life sentence, the suffering Galileo was forced to deny what his eyes told him was the truth, because "religious" people, analogous to today's fundamentalists, felt threatened.

And President Bush? He hasn't made up his mind on evolution.

Darwin, himself said it best:
Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work. worthy the interposition of a deity, more humble & I believe true to consider him created from animals.
As for the State of Kansas Board of Education, one can only hope, that they, like Dorothy and the Scarecrow would just travel to the Emerald City to see the Wizard, that they too might "get a brain". As the Scarecrow sang:
I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin' while
my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le,
In trouble or in pain.
With the thoughts you'll be thinkin'
you could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.
Oh, I could tell you why The ocean's near the shore.
I could think of things I never thunk before.
And then I'd sit, and think some more.
I would not be just a nothin' my head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only had a brain.
Wouldn't it be nice if more people had brains that they used! Wouldn't it be nice if we had a President who respected Science! And Americans who could tell the difference between science and religious dogma!

America Deserves Better!


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Being Accountable for Darfur on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is the day to remember the more than 6 million Jews and other victims murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

Photo of Burning Synagogue during Kristallnacht

But we have failed to learn the lessons of history.

Genocides are not just a matter for historians but rather we as Americans must shoulder responsibility for confronting the genocide of today. In particular, the ethnic cleansing going on in Darfur, a region of Sudan.

Map of Darfur

As reported by the CBC, the human toll in Darfur has been nothing short of horrendous:
On Monday, January 31, the UN released the report of its Commission of Inquiry on Darfur. The Commission "found that Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity." The Commission concludes that, "the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."
It is hard to know how many have already died in Darfur because of violent attacks, rapes and murders. As the BBC has recently noted:
Some analysts are estimating that the true death toll could be four or five times higher than the 70,000 figure.

One significant problem in establishing a clear idea is that the Sudanese government and their allies, an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed, are blamed for most of the deaths, so the Khartoum authorities show little interest in encouraging any accurate assessment. Indeed they consistently underplay the scale of the crisis.
As in every tragedy, the victims that are hardest to accept are the children. Human Rights Watch recently collected and shared drawing by children who are victims of the Darfur genocide.

Drawing by "Mahmoud" (name changed), age 13. Caption:
“These men in green are taking the women and the girls. They are forcing them to be wife. The houses are on fire. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people.”
Meanwhile, in Congress, Senator Jon Corzine, along with Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) have introduced and the Senate unanimously passed a bill called the "Darfur Accountability Act" which calls for sanctions to be placed against Sudan, and the "establishment of a special presidential envoy to the region."

But apparently the "war on terrorism" requires friendship with Sudan and this President feels he must look the other way when it comes to genocide.

As reported today in the Journal Sentinel:

But U.S. policy on Darfur seems to have collapsed. Far from backing the Darfur Accountability Act, the Bush administration opposes it. This opposition, perhaps stemming from a desire to retain Sudanese cooperation in the war on terrorism, is indefensible. The measures contained in the bill are sensible.

It seeks a new United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing sanctions against the regime; imposes an arms embargo on Sudan; freezes the assets of and denies visas to Sudanese officials; provides help to an African Union military mission in Darfur; imposes a military no-fly zone over Darfur; and calls for the appointment of a special presidential envoy for Sudan.
"Never Again" is the call on Holocaust Day.

But with this President it is "Again and Again!"

America deserves better! The world needs an America that doesn't drop the ball on questions of Genocide.

And John Kerry? He understands the horrors of genocide! Speaking at an Armenian memorial ceremony, Kerry stated:
"Armenians can understand what's going on in Darfur [Sudan] today. Our responsibility is to honor them by recognizing the genocide."
"Never again" should any child have to say "We needed help. There was no one to protect us."


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pfc. England "Taking the Fall"

It is hard to be very sympathetic for Pfc. Lynndie England, who has admitted mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Photo of Pfc. England at Abu Ghraib

And yet in the same batch of news stories comes the report of an internal investigation conducted by the Army clearing officers of responsibility for this outrageous episode in the American campaign in Iraq.

According to the report:
In addition to clearing Sanchez, the Army inspector general has determined that there should be no punishment given to Sanchez's former top deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski; to Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, who was Sanchez's intelligence chief in Baghdad; or to Col. Mark Warren, Sanchez's top legal adviser at the time.
Meanwhile Private England faces up to 11 years in prison. And Private Charles Graner Jr. was convicted in January on abuse charges and is serving a 10 year sentence.

I guess in America, the buck stops pretty fast. The little guys go to jail and the officers get cleared. I am ashamed.

It was the United States Justice Department that, as reported:
In the Justice Department's view -- contained in a 50-page document signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee and obtained by The Washington Post -- inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture. Torture, the memo says, "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
And what happened to the author of that fateful memo who facilitated torture?
Photo of Judge Bybee

As reported on October 17, 2003:
The Nevada legal community gathered in Las Vegas Friday (Oct. 17) to celebrate the ceremonial investiture of Jay Scott Bybee as a judge of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Surrounded by family and friends on the University of Las Vegas campus, Judge Bybee received the oath of office from Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder. Moments later, he was presented with his judicial robe by family members, including his wife, Dianna, and children, Scott, David, Alyssa and Ryan.
This President rewards an architect of torture with a lifetime judicial appointment.

And another woman, General Janis Karpinski becomes another scapegoat for this fiasco. As was reported:

She said current Iraqi prisons chief Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller - who was in charge at Guantanamo Bay - visited her in Baghdad and said: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have."

"He said they are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."

Gen Karpinski repeated that she knew nothing of the humiliation and torture of Iraq prisoners that was going on inside Abu Ghraib - she was made a scapegoat.
And that is exactly what happened to Karpinski. As was reported:
Only one senior officer, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who oversaw the prisons in Iraq, has been punished in connection with the abuse.

Brig Gen Karpinski was given a letter of reprimand and relieved of duty.
I am not proud of Lynndie England did.

But she didn't operate in a vacuum.

From the very top, the limits of inhumane treatment, the rationale about the Geneva Convention not applying was advanced, and the pattern of abuse was repeated in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan.

This is not the work of Privates in the Army.

America deserves better! America deserves integrity and leadership that is willing to take responsibility.

President Truman knew where the buck stopped. This President cuts programs for the poor and gives tax relief for the rich. His Administration provides cover for the Generals and sends the Privates to jail.

America needs a new President that can provide leadership and take responsibility for our Nation! America needs John Kerry!


Republicans Hijack Public Broadcasting

Bill Moyers gets it.

Photo of Bill Moyers

After the 2002 Mid-Term elections with the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, the Presidency and the Supreme Court, Moyers sounded a warning to America:
That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives.

It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable.

And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming.

And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don't even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote 'a Biblical worldview' in American politics?
And the Republicans have never forgotten. Even though everything Bill Moyers warned about is coming to pass!

Read here about how the Republican Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is now advancing his conservative agenda. Kenneth Tomlinson "who has close ties to Karl Rove" advances the right-wing on the last bastion of independent journalism.

And read here from Media Matters about how even the New York Times failed to get the entire Republican trail.

Read it and weep.

America needs Bill Moyers without being censored. We need an America where dissent is tolerated and respected. We need an America that isn't led by an Administration that attacks Public Broadcasting while defiling the First Amendment with manufactured news. We need an America where the President is available for Press Conferences and only real reporters are allowed in the White House Press Pool.

America deserves better! John Kerry, America is Calling!