Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraq Elections: Lessons of Vietnam?

President Bush hailed the spectacular success of the Iraq elections yesterday. As reported in USA Today, he stated:
"The world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East,"
the article reported:
"Some Iraqis were killed while exercising their rights as citizens," Bush said. He also mourned the loss of American and British troops killed Sunday. "Their sacrifices were made in a vital cause of freedom."

Newly confirmed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also was on the news circuit with her view of the Iraq elections:
"What we are seeing today is what the Iraqis want their future to be," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday."

"They want it to be one based on democracy - on the vote, not the gun. And yet there are some terrible thugs, mostly from the old regime, who are trying to forestall that process, and we saw today that they are not succeeding."

You know all of this positive talk was starting to convince me. Maybe things were going to work out just fine. Maybe we could just sort of spread democracy to that corner of the middle-east.

However, Senator John Kerry was a little less than convinced about the election in Iraq. As he stated:
"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

I was getting a little concerned that Kerry might have missed on this one.

That is, until I read the post on Daily Kos about a similar situation some 37 years ago--as was first reported in the New York Times:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.

Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.

NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.

Now I was really discouraged. Didn't all of this sound more and more like Vietnam? Maybe it takes a Vietnam War veteran to understand that this situation is more like Vietnam than not. Maybe John Kerry has a deeper understanding of the policy we have involved ourselves in better than these armchair warriors in the White House.

Senator Kerry, we need you to keep that door open in 2008. Keep a door open and pull our soldiers out of the water that is the War in Iraq!


Another Great Blog: On The Road to 2008

Just a short comment this morning. I have come across another great blog, On The Road to 2008. Daniel Kirkdorffer writes well, thinks clearly, and is worth visiting!

Please visit Dan and I don't think you will be disappointed!

Have a great week everyone. And remember, only 1372 days more until the next Presidential election on November 4, 2008.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Progress Despite Bush Policy

As reported today out of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, scientists are making progress on using embryonic stem cells:
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have coaxed human embryonic stem cells into becoming spinal motor neurons in an experiment the might lead to treatments and cures for spinal-cord injuries and diseases like Lou Gehrig's disease.

So what's the big deal about a little disease like Lou Gehrig's? Well, for one thing, read the description of this horrible condition, as explained by University of Kansas physician, Dr.
Anne D. Walling:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neuromuscular condition characterized by weakness, muscle wasting, fasciculations and increased reflexes. Approximately 30,000 Americans currently have the disease. The annual incidence rate is one to two cases per 100,000. The disease is most commonly diagnosed in middle age and affects more men than women. It usually presents with problems in dexterity or gait resulting from muscle weakness. Difficulty in speaking or swallowing is the initial symptom in the bulbar form of the disease. Over a period of months or years, patients with ALS develop severe, progressive muscular weakness and other symptoms caused by loss of function in both upper and lower motor neurons. Sphincter control, sensory function, intellectual abilities and skin integrity are preserved. Patients become completely disabled, often requiring ventilatory support and gastrostomy. Death usually occurs within five years of diagnosis and is attributed to respiratory failure or cachexia. The etiology of the disease is unknown. Current research is focused on abnormalities of neuronal cell metabolism involving glutamate and the role of potential neurotoxins and neurotrophic factors. New drugs are being developed based on these theories. Current management involves aggressive, individualized alleviation of symptoms and complications.

And what has been the difference between Senator John Kerry and President Bush (as well as all of the other Republicans who support this suppression of the Sciences)?

As Senator Kerry explained in the 2004 election:
Bush "has an extreme ideological agenda that slows instead of advances science," Kerry said. "When I am president...we will lead the world in stem cell research."

As USA Today explained in the same article:
Bush banned federal funding for research that uses stem cells from destroyed embryos. In 2001, he allowed research by government-funded scientists on 60 existing lines of cells. Citing moral considerations, he did not allow research using new lines from embryos that had not already been destroyed.

To top it off, as recently reported, all of the embryonic stem cell lines approved by the Administration are contaminated, and unfit for human implantation.

As Laura Bush, our First Lady, stated during the last election:
"We don't even know that stem cell research will provide cures for anything — much less that it's very close" to yielding major advances.

Well we know that things are closer in Madison, Wisconsin. We know that Christopher Reeve won't be around to appreciate the results of research. We know that this President has limited scientific support to just a few embryonic stem cell lines. And we know that those cell lines are unfit for human implantation due to contamination.

We also know, that we could have done better in 2004. That 55 million Americans weren't wrong about John Kerry. That we need him now as President. But we shall have to wait for 2008. Keep that door open John!


John Kerry on Meet the Press

Thank you John Kerry! And thank you Marie from the Right Left Story who is helping me with the HTML.

John Kerry is "Facing the Nation" and giving us all some perspective on the Iraq conflict and the elections.

As Kerry pointed out:
“It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can’t vote and doesn’t vote,”

But then again, this is the election that was brought to you by the same people who gamed the election machines, no-vote lists, and voter intimidation that characterized the 2004 election right here in the United States.


eMail Your Senator! Just Say NO to Gonzales! Please copy this post for your blog!

As we all make our posts on Alberto Gonzales, and other future actions by this Senate, it may be helpful to our readers that they can email their Senators and let them know what we think! Here is the link to the list of Senate email addresses that can be used to get our opinions across!

Please email your Senator! Let him or her know what you think about Alberto Gonzales!


Education Secretary Spellings Pressures PBS on Buster Lesbian Episode

Like everyone else, I was rather encouraged by all of the talk of freedom in President Bush's Inaugural Address.

He expounded on the "spread of freedom" and at one point stated:
In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character — on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives.

I wanted to find something to explain what "tolerance" was. At the Southern Poverty Law Center, there is a tolerance project, that is designed to "fight hate and promote tolerance." The SPLC explains:
Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other differences.

The 20th Century saw major progress in outlawing discrimination, and most Americans today support integrated schools and neighborhoods. But stereotypes and unequal treatment persist, an atmosphere often exploited by hate groups. Spread on the Internet and accessible by personal computers, hate clearly knows no geographic bounds.

WGBH has used the show "Buster" to promote understanding of diversity. The grant under which it received federal funds states:
"diversity will be incorporated into the fabric of the series to help children understand and respect differences and learn to live in a multicultural society."

And yet, earlier this week the new U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, denounced the PBS for spending money on a cartoon with homosexual characters. In a letter she stated:
"Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode." Likewise, she wrote, "Congress and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television." She also told the PBS executive that "in the future the Department will be more clear as to its expectations" for any programming it chooses to fund.

In addition, she requested that PBS refund taxpayer dollars used in the production and distribution of "Sugartime!", the episode produced by WGBH.

And what about the creator of Buster? As was reported:
Marc Brown, creator of "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster," said: "I am disappointed by PBS's decision not to distribute the 'Postcards From Buster' 'Sugartime!' episode to public television stations. What we are trying to do in the series is connect kids with other kids by reflecting their lives. In some episodes, as in the Vermont one, we are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that 'Postcards From Buster' does this in a very natural way -- and, as always, from the point of view of children."

It is shameful that this President speaks of tolerance and freedom and then when put to the test, uses censorship to delete the very lessons of tolerance that this Administration professes.

It is ironic that Secretary Spellings should be requesting a refund of money from PBS. Are we then to expect that we shall soon be hearing of a request for the $240,000 from Armstrong Williams who didn't receive a grant, but was paid secretly to editorialize and advocate intolerant views for this President? And what about the other reporters who also received money? Will there be requests for those funds as well?

Senator Kerry, we need you to pull this intolerant nation from the water. We need a President who believes that every person is worthy of respect and understanding. That our nation must act to promote understanding and not to encourage division. That respect for majority views does not mean disrespect of those who have different political, religious, or even sexual orientation than others.

Keep that door open for 2008! 55 million Americans are right with you!


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Corsi to Challenge Kerry for Senate? Bring it On!

The co-author of the "Swift-Boat Vets" attack-book has indicated that he plans to move to Massachusetts this year to challenge Senator John Kerry in the 2008 election.

Dr. Corsi, who earned his PhD from Harvard in 1972, plans to run:
"It may be time for a conservative movement to take hold in Massachusetts,'' Corsi said.

The Massachusetts Democratic chairman Phil Johnson had this to say:
``I know Massachusetts will not welcome a candidate whose calling card is a disturbing track record of slandering Catholics, the pope, Jews and Vietnam veterans. Carpetbaggers spreading lies and smears are not welcome in our state.''

I am not even sure that the Republican Party of Massachusetts or the Republican voters will embrace this marginal candidate who had his moment of fame participating in a mean, spiteful, and dishonest smear of a great American, Senator John Kerry.

What did Corsi say to earn such an awful reputation?

Here are some of the quotes that Media Matters for America discovered:
Corsi on Islam: "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion"

• Corsi on Catholicism: "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press"

• Corsi on Muslims: "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters -- it all goes together"

• Corsi on "John F*ing Commie Kerry": "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

• Corsi on Senator "FAT HOG" Clinton: "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"

And this is the man who co-authored a book challenging the decency of John Kerry? Shame on him. Shame on his publisher. Shame on the Republicans if they embrace this scum.

America deserves better. America deserves John Kerry to lead us to a Better America! Keep that door open John! And pull everyone from the water first...pull Corsi only when you know the rest are safe!

Bring it on Corsi! You can at least do as well as that other famous carpetbagger Alan Keyes who faced Barack Obama. Meanwhile, why don't you go crawl back under the rock that you came out from under. With all the other worms.


Friday, January 28, 2005

484 Blogs Against Gonzales-Daily Kos

I am proud to be one of the 484 weblogs as of this moment (the number growing all of the time), that are on record on Daily Kos opposing the Confirmation of Alberto Gonzales for United States Attorney General.

Together, our voices will be heard. America believes in the rule of law, in honesty and integrity in our elected officials.

We shall overcome.


Good News: 1 Week Down, 207 to Go!

One of the great things about an inauguration of a President who you don't like is that you know that the clock is ticking.

One week down, 207 to go. Time sure goes fast when you're having fun.


Alberto Gonzales: Unfit to Lead Justice Department

I do not need to belabor the torture memo problem facing Alberto Gonzales. That should be enough to disqualify him for the Attorney General position.

Nor do I have to point out how his inadequate advice to then Governor Bush of Texas led to the record executions in that state. That should be enough to disqualify him for the Attorney General position.

More revealing, and most disturbing, was his apparent total lack of ethics while sitting on the Texas Supreme Court. As reported:
Gonzales had been appointed to the bench in 1999 by then-Governor George W. Bush, but had to run in 2000 to keep his seat. That year, he accepted $2,000 from an insurance company after the court heard arguments -- but before it issued a decision -- as to how much the company should pay a man injured in a car accident. In a similar case, he voted in favor of another insurance company whose law firm gave his campaign $2,500 just before the court heard arguments.

Both cases involved whether insurance companies had to pay interest to plaintiffs whose final awards were delayed because the case went to court. The watchdog group said the decisions were ''a costly slap in the face to Texas consumers."

The group sarcastically called the donations ''prejudgment premiums" collected by Gonzales and another justice who voted in favor of the insurance industry.

There seems to be something wrong about taking payments while sitting in judgment in the highest court of the State of Texas. Or is it just me who sees something rotten in the whole affair.

There is a word for it and I found it in the dictionary. "g-r-a-f-t": As defined:
1. Unscrupulous use of one's position to derive profit or advantages; extortion.
2. Money or an advantage gained or yielded by unscrupulous means.

Why is it that this Administration must continue to practice questionable, and seemingly corrupt practices? Whether it be about Armstrong Williams receiving money for "good reporting" or Halliburton receiving no-bid contracts, the stench over this crowd is getting thick. Did Ken Lay advise Mr. Cheney on setting national energy policy? Will we ever know?

Senator Kerry, we need a return to Washington of decency, integrity, and the respect for the laws of our nation and the Constitution under which it was founded. Please leave that door open wide for 2008. 55 Million Americans want to walk through that door to a New America!


Health and Human Services: $10K for McManus Journalist

It is disappointing, but not surprising, to learn of another journalist, Michael McManus who writes the ironically titled "Ethics & Religion" column that appears in fifty newspapers who is another subcontractor for the Department of Health and Human Services to promote an administration marriage initiative.

As Mr. McManus has written:
I have argued that a marriage should not be terminated, if children are involved, except by mutual consent, unless there is evidence of grievous fault such as adultery or physical abuse. What was entered into by two willing adults should only be exited by both adults. The reform of No Fault Divorce is Mutual Consent Divorce.

I also oppose same sex marriages that can not provide a proper home for children

Well thank you Mr. McManus. I love to hear morality lessons from a paid propaganda mouthpiece of this Administration!

I would like to refer all of you again to what Thomas Jefferson had to say about this particular problem we find ourselves mired in:
"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785. (*) ME 5:181, Papers 8:632

Mr. President, you have recently spoken of "Spreading Freedom". How about right here? How about Freedom of the Press? How about every American's right to trust that the Press is free to report what it wants and is not corrupted by payments to alter content in the media. This is much worse than Dan Rather Mr. President!


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Judy Bachrach: Tells it "Like it Is" on Fox!

Every once in awhile, fair and balanced shows up on Fox network only to be shut right down and silenced. KUDOS to Judy Bachrach of Vanity Fair who spoke for the soldiers. Watch and see for yourself. She manages to point out the farce of $40 million for an Inauguration, while our soldiers travel in flimsy vehicles due to lack of armor in their Humvees.

Thank you Judy Bachrach. We need more courageous Americans like her!


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Senator Kerry: "We've Got Your Back!"

Pamela Leavey was kind enough to post here reminding all of my readers to get on board the "Kids Come First Act" (S.114). The children of America have much to thank Senator Kerry for this effort on his part. We all need to get together and place our support behind John Kerry as he makes his push for this piece of legislation.

As Pamela wrote in her wonderful blog, Light up the Darkness:
John Kerry’s new Kids Come First Act (S.114) deserves our support. We have created an action alert on to make it easy for everyone to send a letter to their Senators urging them to Co-Sponsor the Kids Come First Act in the Senate.

We’re asking that other Blogs join in this effort as well, by posting a thread of support for the Kids Come First Act and linking to our Action Alert. Post a link to your thread in support of the Kids Come First Act here in the comments and we will add you to our list of Bloggers who have “Got John Kerry’s Back”!

To send a letter to your local Senators Click Here. You can copy my letter below and use it to send to your Senators, or write your own:

Dear Senator,

I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor Senate Bill S.114, the Kids Come First Act.

There is absolutely no reason why children in our country should be without healthcare coverage. Our children are the future of this country. As a Senator of the United States, it is your duty to stand up and help families who cannot afford healthcare coverage meet their parental obligation and responsibility to get their children insured. The Kids Come First Act will provide health insurance for every child in America.

With your support in the Senate of this Bill, you can do the right thing for the children of this country. I know that you are aware of the number of children in this country who have no healthcare coverage and the toll this takes on their parents and their parent’s employers. Ultimately, the Kids Come First Act will help the economy because healthy kids mean parents miss less work.

President Bush has expressed that he looks forward to bridging the gap between the political parties in our country. By co-sponsoring this Bill, you can begin that effort, today. America’s children should not suffer due to partisan politics. Please co-sponsor Senate Bill S.114.

Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor the Kids Come First Act

Thank you Pamela for being a responsible and dedicated blogger for John Kerry! And for all of my readers, please join in with Senator Kerry, write your own Senators, sign his "co-sponsor petition" and give Senator Kerry a hand.

We have all got your back John!


George W. Bush: "New Math"

If you have been reading a newspaper lately, you cannot avoid the reports regarding the current budget problem. Apparently this Administration is putting together a budget with a record deficit, greater than the $412 BILLION deficit last year, to approximately $427 billion.

Does this sound like a traditional Republican "fiscal conservative"? Never fear, George W. Bush is here! For even though to the unsophisticated observer like myself, it appears that we are spending ourselves into fiscal disaster, President Bush is steady at the wheel. Steadiness is his middle name! And we shall be, according to him, stay 'right on track' to halving the deficit by 2009. As he stated:
"I'll promote a package that will show the budget being cut in half over the next five years," Bush said at a White House news conference. Bush is set to unveil his fiscal 2006 budget request on Feb. 2.

I don't think President Bush has ever been involved in such a creative accounting scheme, well, at least not since his "off-book accounting" effort for Harken Oil a few years back.

Which made me remember a wonderful ditty from Tom Lehrer in the '60's. New Math. Here are the lyrics and they are for you President Bush! I thought you would enjoy these lines:

You can't take three from two
Two is less than three
So you look at the four in the tens place
Now that's really four tens
So you make it three tens
Regroup, and you change a ten to ten ones
And you add them to the two and get twelve
And you take away three, that's nine
Is that clear?

Now instead of four in the tens place
You've got three
'Cause you added one
That is to say, ten, to the two
But you can't take seven from three
So you look in the hundreds place

From the three you then use one
To make ten tens
And you know why four plus minus one
Plus ten is fourteen minus one
'Cause addition is commutative, right?
And so you've got thirteen tens
And you take away seven
And that leaves five

Well, six actually
But the idea is the important thing

Now go back to the hundreds place
And you're left with two
And you take away one from two
And that leaves

Everybody get one?
Not bad for the first day

Hooray for new math
It won't do you a bit of good to review math
It's so simple
So very simple
That only a child can do it

Now actually, that is not the answer that I had in mind because the book that I got this problem out of wants you to do it in base eight. But don't panic. Base eight is just like base ten really, if you're missing two fingers. Shall we have a go at it? Hang on...

You can't take three from two
Two is less than three
So you look at the four in the eights place
Now that's really four eights
So you make it three eights
Regroup, and you change an eight to eight ones
And you add them to the two
And you get one-two base eight
Which is ten base ten
And you take away three, that's seven

Now instead of four in the eights place
You've got three
'Cause you added one
That is to say, eight, to the two
But you can't take seven from three
So you look at the sixty-fours

"Sixty-four? How did sixty-four get into it?" I hear you cry. Well, sixty-four is eight squared, don't you see? Well, you ask a silly question, and you get a silly answer.

From the three you then use one
To make eight eights
And you add those eights to the three
And you get one-three base eight
Or, in other words
In base ten you have eleven
And you take away seven
And seven from eleven is four
Now go back to the sixty-fours
And you're left with two
And you take away one from two
And that leaves

Now, let's not always see the same hands. One, that's right. Whoever got that one can stay after class and clean the erasers.

Hooray for new math

Senator Kerry, we need a President who can add and subtract. Please leave that door open for 2008.


Kerry Champions Children: Leaves "Door Open" for 2008

An article today explained Senator Kerry's current priorities:
"You talk about family values, you talk about the moral fiber of our nation, I think it's inexcusable that millions of children are outside the system" with no health insurance, said Kerry. "I'll bring them in."

Thank you Senator Kerry! You speak for the children. The smallest among us with the least influence in our Society.

What about 2008? Kerry had this to say:
"I've said publicly I'm not closing any doors. I'm not going to open any doors," Kerry said. "It is way too early."

"I think we came phenomenally close (in 2004). I'm very proud of the race that we ran under difficult circumstances," Kerry said, citing in particular the war in Iraq.

Kerry added, "We'll see where we stand in the future. Period

Thank you Senator Kerry. 2008 is four years away. There is a lot of work to do in the Senate. There is a lot of work for America. And whoever is President in 2008 will have more work as we strive to put America back on the path it has always been on. We need a President who works to support Social Security, not tear it down. We need a President who bridges the gaps between the haves and the have-nots, not one who pads the wallets of the wealthy. We need a President who loves the land, air and water of this nation, who loves our national parks and the freedom we all cherish.

America needs you John Kerry. Leave that door open for the 55 million who want to walk through it with you at the helm.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Bush Embryonic Stem Cell Policy: End of the Line

As reported today in the Mercury News:
All human embryonic stem-cell lines approved for use in federally funded research are contaminated with a foreign molecule from mice that may make them risky for use in medical therapies, according to a study released Sunday.

Researchers at the University of California-San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego report that if the stem cells are transplanted into people, the cells could provoke an immune system attack that would wipe out their ability to deliver cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes

All of the lines? Well that doesn't leave many of the cell lines created under the brilliant policies of President Bush for therapeutic purposes.

So what does the White House have to say about that? According to Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary:
the president is satisfied those existing lines are "adequate" for the "basic research that needs to be done."

Satisfied? Adequate? Is this White House aware of what it has already said about Embryonic Stem Cells?

In 2001, when this ill-conceived policy of limiting stem cell lines to those already in existence was established, the White House itself pointed out:
Many scientists believe that embryonic stem cell research may eventually lead to therapies that could be used to treat diseases that afflict approximately 128 million Americans. Treatments may include replacing destroyed dopamine-secreting neurons in a Parkinson's patient's brain; transplanting insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in diabetic patients; and infusing cardiac muscle cells in a heart damaged by myocardial infarction. Embryonic stem cells may also be used to understand basic biology and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new medicines.

Well what about the 128 million Americans? As a matter of fact, as of July, 2004, according to CIA estimates, there were only 293 million Americans. So according to the White House itself, the potential for Embryonic Stem Cells is hardly trivial. They might be helpful to treat over one of every three Americans alive today!

But then again, as Governor Pataki at the Republican National Convention pointed out about President Bush:
George W. Bush says what he means, he means what he says.

You wouldn't want him to change his mind would you? My goodness, a rash action like that would amount to a "flip-flop"! Just like Horton, who in Dr. Seuss was an elephant (some coincidence?):
"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant...
An elephant's faithful-one hundred per cent!"

I mean if Horton was faithful, shouldn't President Bush?

And John Kerry? As reported in USA Today before the election:
If Kerry wins, he promises to lift Bush's restriction. Dozens of newer stem cell lines, undamaged by long periods of cell replication, would become available for federal financing.

Well Senator Kerry, 128 million Americans afflicted with disease are waiting for you to pull them from the waters of disease and disability. We have a President who finds mediocrity and failure in science "satisfactory" and "adequate". We have a President who would rather trade consistency for progress, and fundamentalism for fundamental advances in Science.

See what you can do about this in Congress Senator Kerry. Until 2008, when we shall be working to have you as President!


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Dobson: Intolerance on Display at Election Celebration

Who would have thought that SpongeBob Squarepants could be controversial? How about Dr. James Dobson, who Michael Crowley, of Slate, refers to as "The religious Right's New Kingmaker". As Slate reports:
Dobson earned the title. He proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida.

Now that the Religious Right has successfully motivated the church-goers to vote against the more moderate John Kerry, their attention is now turning to more important issues like cartoon characters. As reported in the New York Times, Dobson at an election celebration in Washington D.C. spoke:
Now, Dr. Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."

Since when has "tolerance" become a dirty word. Since when is respect something to be avoided. Has our nation sunk into the total morass of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred? Is this what President Bush meant in his inaugural address about "spreading liberty"?

And what was that "pledge"?

Going to the We Are Family Foundation website, you can find that pledge which was part of the Southern Poverty Law Center's National Campaign for Tolerance:
Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination.

To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own

Imagine that. Respect for others. Perhaps Dr. Dobson needs to be reminded of the biblical scripture from Matthew 22.36-40:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Senator Kerry we need you badly on this one. We have people influencing decisions in this country who don't believe in simple respect of each others' differences. They view those who profess respect as encouraging the sinners. I am scared John.

Pull us from the waters of Intolerance and Ignorance!


Please Sign petition: "Replace Donald Rumsfeld"

The John Kerry Website is alive and well thank you. Not my blog, but the OFFICIAL website! Things are on the move for John Kerry!

One of the first orders of business is to reform our Defense Department policies and strategy. John Kerry has asked that we all sign his petition to have Donald Rumsfeld replaced. You can sign the petition here.

Thank you John Kerry for continuing to stay involved in America! We cannot wait until 2008 to have your leadership. You were brave in joining together with Barbara Boxer dissenting during the Rice hearings. You are brave now in working to change the direction of America. We are right with you!

And for all of us, let's get over to and sign the petition!


Another Website for John Kerry 2008!

I will try to gather all of the links here, but another website for John Kerry for President 2008 has been put out there in cyberspace. Hopefully, there will be so many websites and blogs that are published that my small effort will disappear into the crowd!

John Kerry, we are all pulling for you! America needs you now more than ever!


Will Teresa Support another 2008 Run?

Questions are arising about whether Senatory Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, will go along with another run for the Presidency.

According to
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," an unidentified Heinz Kerry friend told the Boston Herald. "Teresa will never do it again."

As an intellligent, assertive, and outspoken woman, she became the target of the right-wing media. Media that would prefer women to be more quiet and submissive to their husbands. Women like Laura Bush.

As Rush Limbaugh explained:
Well, you're nothing but the latest target of a gigolo, Ms. Kerry. You're just the latest target of a gigolo, is what you are, and you've fallen hook, line and sinker for the latest gigolo to come along. His name is John Kerry. If we want to talk about people who have not had real jobs, can we talk about your husband, madam? You want to talk about real jobs?

Or as Ann Coulter attacked:
John Kerry's meal ticket, Teresa Heinz, continuously made remarks that were wildly inappropriate, such as when she strangely referred to the "seven-year itch" in relation to herself and John Kerry, creating at least three images I didn't want in my head. On the other hand, for any voters who considered the most important campaign issue to be whether the first lady was an earthy, condescending foreigner who had traveled extensively and spoke several languages, Teresa was a huge asset.

Surprisingly, Teresa never became a major campaign issue. It turned out that supporters of a phony war hero who preyed on rich widows were also OK with the notion of a first lady who might use the F-word during Rose Garden press conferences.

Teresa, if you are reading any of this, you may rest assured that we can only imagine the pain you felt watching your husband go through the right-wing meat-grinder of Karl Rove politics. And you were part of the target that honored no individual and encouraged no decency. And if you were to recommend that John Kerry not run in 2008, well I would have to ask Senator Kerry to respect your wishes.

But America needs John Kerry as President. It was the job he was born to fill. It is his place in History.

I have never been more convinced of this. I am sure you understand and share my feelings. He should have won in 2004. The problems facing America are not going away. The attacks on the environment continue. The erosion of civil rights threatens the least-advantaged of our society. Social Security and even Medicaid is under attack. World peace is threatened and the new Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war to "spread freedom" is sending chills through the bones of our allies.

America can and will do better. And I believe that John Kerry is the one to lead that cause. And you are the woman with the brains, the heart, the skills, and the compassion to share that stage with him on this most important mission.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bush Allows Hubble to Die: Threat to Creationists?

As reported today , the Bush Administration intends to cut funding to repairs to the Hubble telescope. As noted by Reuters:
The Bush administration plans to propose cuts in funds to fix the aging Hubble Space Telescope, a U.S. official said on Saturday, as the head of the telescope project said he hoped Congress would approve money for repairs.

This decision goes against the National Academy of Sciences who studied the Hubble problem. As reported:
A panel of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences to study the Hubble service issue said in a report issued on Dec. 8 that the space telescope was too valuable to science to be allowed to die in orbit. Concluding that the robotic option posed too many unknown challenges and might not be ready in time, the panel recommended that NASA send astronauts to repair Hubble as previously planned.

Dr. Louis J. Lanzerotti of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the panel chairman, said on Saturday that he was surprised to hear that the Hubble mission might be cut. "The committee concluded that Hubble was one of the outstanding space science achievements of the United States and, with upgrades and servicing, could continue to contribute enormously to science," Dr. Lanzerotti said

One of the accomplishments, among many, has been to help scientists understand the age of the universe. This seemingly non-controversial research is described:
Though previous Hubble research sets the age of the universe at 13 to 14 billion years based on the rate of expansion of space, the universe's birthday is such a fundamental and profound value that astronomers have long sought other age-dating techniques to cross-check their conclusions. "This new observation short-circuits getting to the age question, and offers a completely independent way of pinning down that value," says Harvey Richer of the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Who could have a problem with that? Well if you are a fundamentalist "young earth creationism" believer, well that would simply contradict with your basic faith. As described:
The young earth creationist firmly maintains that Genesis chapter one is a literal, historical document that briefly outlines God's creative activity during six literal twenty-four hour days. If one assumes that the genealogies of Genesis chapters five and eleven represent a reasonable pre-Israelite history of the world, then the date of creation cannot be much beyond thirty thousand years ago.

And how does our President view evolution and creationism? Basically as being two equally worthy theories. As was related during the 2000 election campaign:
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the GOP front-runner, believes both evolution and creationism are valid educational subjects.

"He believes it is a question for states and local school boards to decide but believes both ought to be taught," a spokeswoman said.

Thus, science efforts like the Hubble may be viewed as some sort of sinful Tower of Babel, as humans seek to study the universe and in that way somehow take a closer look at God himself.

As one Christian website, critical of the Hubble states:
The Hubble is perhaps one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time. However, one must remember the primary reason we are funding NASA and the space exploration effort - to prove that evolution is true! For all the advertising about the military, communication, medical and technological spin-off benefits derived from the space program, the single biggest reason we are in space is to prove evolution true. Consider the reason given for funding Hubble in the first place. We were going to be able to "see" back in time across the universe to the very beginning, perhaps even to be able to see the remnant of the Big Bang itself.

As one fellow blogger wrote about the threat to the Hubble from creationists:
They do not really support our space program because the facts evolving from that research might threaten their religious views of the timeline and method of Creation. It would not surprise me if the Hubble telescope's proposed demise is a result of Fundamentalist pressure on the White House.

And is it because we just don't have the money? To give one perspective, recall again the amount this nation is spending on the Iraq conflict. As summarized by Bloomberg last week:
The U.S. spent $102 billion through Sept. 30 on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, with costs averaging $4.8 billion a month, the Pentagon comptroller's office said today.

In 1993 the Space Shuttle serviced the Hubble telescope successfully. Certainly with advances in technology since 1993, a trip to the Hubble would be safer than ever.

And with our nation capable of spending $1.2 billion/week in Iraq alone, we could find the $1 billion for a peaceful scientific effort to save this telescope.

What about John Kerry? Kerry has supported NASA and has been critical of cuts to its budget that have threatened Hubble. As reported:
Kerry said that the most immediate impact of the Bush plan is that NASA’s resources are being stretched “even further than they were before the Columbia tragedy,” forcing NASA to make unpopular choices like canceling a space shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA is currently seeking industry proposals for servicing Hubble robotically, but space agency officials have made clear that the highest priority of such a mission is attaching a module to Hubble that can be used to guide the space telescope safely into the ocean at the end of its life.

We needed John Kerry in 2004. We need a President who believes in the pursuit of Science and not its restriction whether it be by limiting Embryonic Stem Cell research, or turning off the view to the far ends of the Cosmos. John Kerry has the vision to lead our nation and make the right decisions for our future. If not in 2004, then in 2008!


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bush Trades Affordable Drugs for Seniors for BSE infected Beef

Washington D.C. was all abuzz today of the Inauguration of President George W. Bush for President. What a world of difference it would have been if it were John Kerry instead!

President Bush spoke a lot of freedom. He also stated:
"My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats."

Unfortunately, this President fails to see the threat to Americans of deadly disease and the need that Americans have for access to affordable drugs for the treatment of such illnesses.

On December 3, 2003, just about six weeks ago, President Bush made a visit to Ottawa. During that visit, he met with Prime Minister Paul Martin to discuss:
"...continental security, mad cow disease, and softwood lumber trade, among other topics."

But what about "mad cow disease". And so what is the big deal about a disease that makes cows go "mad"? First of all, according to the USDA, BSE is:
"a chronic degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of cattle. BSE is named because of the spongy appearance of the brain tissue of infected cattle examined under a microscope."

So how does this affect people? As reported by the Centers for Disease Control:
Since 1996, strong evidence has accumulated for a causal relationship between ongoing outbreaks in Europe of a disease in cattle called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") and a disease in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Both disorders, which are caused by an unconventional transmissible agent, are invariably fatal brain diseases with unusually long incubation periods, which are measured in years. Transmission of the BSE agent to humans, leading to vCJD, is believed to occur via ingestion of cattle products contaminated with the BSE agent; however, the specific foods associated with this transmission are unknown. Bioassays have identified the BSE agent in the brain, spinal cord, retina, dorsal root ganglia, distal ileum, and bone marrow of cattle experimentally infected by the oral route, suggesting that these tissues represent the highest risk of transmission.

For a little historical background:
When Canada reported a case of mad cow disease in May 2003, the United States banned Canadian cattle, beef and beef products. Restrictions were later eased to allow imports considered at very low risk of the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. The closing has cost the Canadian beef industry at least $3 billion.

At the same time, American pharmaceutical firms have been feeling the heat of drug reimportation from Canada. As Congressman Pallone of New Jersey testified July 13, 2004:
The pharmaceutical companies can continue to charge outrageous prices because Republicans refuse to give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate better prices for seniors in the government.

The pharmaceutical companies also benefit from the fact that Republicans also refuse to allow for the reimportation of prescription drugs from other countries. My colleagues probably heard of seniors taking bus trips across the border into Canada to purchase their prescription drugs. And that is because drugs in other counties, including Canada, cost 40 percent less than they do here.

This year alone experts at Boston University estimate that Americans would save $59.7 billion by paying Canadian prices for brand name drugs, and, yet, Republicans refuse to include a provision in their legislation that would provide seniors with this much needed assistance.

So as reported by Canada NewsWire, in regards to internet sales of Canadian drugs to Americans:
Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal Minister of Health, has recently made statements
threatening to shut down the industry, which employs an estimated 4,000
Canadians directly and many more indirectly. He admitted to CTV news on the
weekend that U.S. President George W. Bush raised the issue with Prime
Minister Paul Martin during his recent visit to Ottawa

As the story explains:
Bush is responding to pressure from drug manufacturers that are opposed
to American citizens having access to lower-priced Canadian pharmaceuticals.
Canadian drug prices are controlled, unlike those in the U.S., where drug
companies can charge higher prices that many patients, especially the
elderly, cannot afford. "It's really a question of drug company profit,"
said Dr. Zickler.

But for many Americans, the reduced cost of access to Canadian drugs may determine whether they can afford medications at all. This is a decision that balances drug company profits against affordable medications for many senior citizens!

Shortly after Bush's visit to Canada, the USDA announced a relaxation of rules concerning importations of Canadian beef:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Dec. 29 that after conducting an extensive risk review it is establishing conditions under which it will allow imports of live cattle under 30 months of age and certain other commodities from regions with effective bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prevention and detection measures.

However, things are not going better with mad cow disease. Additional cases are being reported while the USDA is loosening restrictions on imports, clearly putting the American people at risk for fatal neuro-degenerative diseases. All apparently done to protect American Drug Companies from the threat of allowing Americans access to lower cost Canadian drugs at the expense of Big Pharma profits.

As noted today on Bloomberg:
Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- At least six animals that were raised in Canada with an eight-year-old cow that had mad cow disease were exported to the U.S., Canadian officials said.

Investigators are trying to trace the dairy cows to determine whether any were slaughtered and whether the meat may have entered the human food chain, said Alain Charette, spokesman for Canada's Food Inspection Agency. They were among 141 animals born on the same Alberta farm within a year of the cow whose mad cow infection was confirmed Jan. 2, he said. Canada confirmed another mad cow case -- its third -- on Jan. 11.

And what about John Kerry. I found the best comments in support of John Kerry's understanding of BSE on a website called "Top Five Reasons Bush is Best for Cattlemen":
Sen. Kerry questioned the science pertaining to the U.S.'s BSE risk. After Dec. 23, Kerry told national media "I am calling on President Bush to act immediately to improve our food safety and inspection process." He believes additional surveillance beyond the current, highly sophisticated USDA program is needed.

In addition, Sen. Kerry supports ban of imports from Canada. On April 7, 10 Democratic U.S. senators, including presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, signed a letter that said it was "premature " to lift the ban on imports of live cattle. The letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman claimed Canada has been lax in measures taken so far to test for the disease.

And drug reimportation? As reported by WebMD:
President Bush signed a prescription drug bill that barred Medicare from negotiating better prices for prescription drugs. John Kerry would allow Medicare to negotiate better prices, and that would start to cut into some of the $139 billion in windfall profits the prescription drug companies made from the Medicare prescription drug bill last year. John Kerry supports allowing Americans to reimport safe prescription drugs from countries like Canada. This is something that the president has had the authority to do, but for four years he has stopped it from happening. In the second debate the president made some wishy-washy, "flip-floppy" comments on reimportation, but the basic reality is there for anyone to understand. Sen. Kerry is in favor of it, George Bush is opposed to it.

Senator Kerry, welcome back to the U.S. Senate and to the forefront of the battle for what is right for America. We needed a President inaugurated today who would fight for America's health and not sell out to Drug interests who were more concerned about their corporate profits than Americans' access to medication.

John, please keep up the fight for us! This President is ready to endanger us, our children, and our families to "emerging threats" including the dangers of importing BSE infected animals from Canada and eating beef contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Please fight for us in the Senate! Please keep this government on our side! We need you in 2008! Why couldn't it have been YOU who was inaugurated today?


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Kerry Leading fight for Bush Accountability!

John Kerry is back! Oh we would rather have him being inaugurated tomorrow of course.But his voice is being heard and he is now more effective than ever at getting his message out!

At yesterday's Senate Hearings on the Confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, he had this to say:
"You know, we went in to rescue Iraq from Saddam Hussein," Mr. Kerry told Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's nominee for secretary of state, at a confirmation hearing. "Now I think we have to rescue our policy from ourselves."

John Kerry is a decorated veteran with years of experience in the Senate. He understood what America needed in Iraq, and this Administration has failed to provide that leadership due to a basic failure of understanding the scope of the problem in Iraq. As Kerry pointed out Ms. Rice:
"You sat there this morning and suggested it was the right number of troops," he said, "contrary to the advice of most thoughtful people who have been analyzing this."

And people ARE talking about 2008. Even if the Kerry camp doesn't want to publicly announce anything so early in the game. As his spokesman David Wade said about the possibility of a 2008 run:
"It's wildly premature to be talking about the next presidential election before we've even had this inauguration,"

Well welcome back John. We really should have been inaugurating you tomorrow. But we cannot focus on yesterday or the last election. We have four years to get you up and running. And I for one would rather be "wildly premature" than a moment too late. America's future is too important to delay.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Please Sign a Petition for John Kerry!

Jordon Wright, who has written me to remind everyone to PLEASE stop by and sign the petition for John Kerry to let him know that we care. That we care about what happens to America in 2008. That we cared in 2004 and we haven't stopped caring.

And when you get a second, please stop by John Kerry for America and let Jordon know that we all care about the future of America. That we are not heading in the right direction now. That America depends on clean air, clean water, and safe food to eat. That we are concerned about poverty in America and peaceful relations with all of our neighbors and allies. Tell Jordon that "BobsAdvice sent you!".


Bush Policies: "Unsafe for Children"

Over the weekend, President Bush declared Sunday "Sanctity of Human Life Day" to oppose abortion. He stated:
"We have a responsibility in America to defend the life of the innocent and the powerless,"
Unfortunately, the depth of his concern for the unborn and his stand against abortion, while appealing to his Evangelical Christian supporters is in reality more symbolic than real, as many of the other policies this Administration has supported have worked against the health and well-being of unborn children and the youth of America.

As also reported yesterday, air pollution is a major cause of childhood illness, in particular childhood cancer. As it was related in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health:
Knox says a variety of pollutants that a pregnant mother inhales contributes to the risk of childhood cancers, but emissions of 1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide carry the highest risks.

Knox concluded that, "Most childhood cancers are probably initiated by close prenatal encounters with one or more of these high emissions sources

Well what has been the record of the Bush Administration on air pollution? In a word disastrous.

During the first administration of President Bush, the Clean Air Act was gutted with changes in the policy of "New Source Review". This law was designed to force power plants and refineries to clean up their act.

As explained by the League of Conservation Voters:
The New Source Review program was designed to reduce air pollution from industrial facilities by requiring them to install up-to-date pollution controls when they make changes that increase air pollution. In 2002 and 2003, the Bush administration changed the rules and created loopholes in the Clean Air Act’s “new source review” program. This rule allowed 17,000 power plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities to install replacement equipment without updating pollution controls, even when the replacement increased air pollution.

Or as Hilton Kelley, the Port Arthur, Texas, Director of the Community In-power and Development Association in Port Arthur and a member of the Refinery Reform Campaign testified to the United States Senate about his specific area:
BASF Corp. - Port Arthur
Jan. 21, 2002, the plant experienced an upset, during a 14-hour period, about 57,000 pounds of benzene, 1,055,000 pounds of ethylene, 675,000 pounds of propylene, 462,000 pounds of butylene, 2,200 pounds of butadiene and 2,200 pounds of toluene were released

As Mr. Kelley states:
New Source Review should be preserved and fully enforced. It is a grave matter of environmental justice to people who need the help of the U.S. Senate to protect their health and the health of innocent children. Going backward to allow refineries to pick a baseline and the other proposals are unthinkable to people living on the fenceline suffering from current levels of pollution.

The policies of this Administration, by yielding to polluters and irresponsible industrial activity, has been to jeopardize the health of all Americans, but especially as we now now, the most defenseless, the young and the unborn.

And what about John Kerry? As reported:
Clean Air Act
In 1990, Kerry was an instrumental leader in efforts to combat the first Bush Administration's attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act, and later pushed legislation to create tougher anti-smog regulations.11
Mercury, NOx, SO2, CO2 Emissions
Kerry is a co-sponsor of the Clean Power Act of 2003, a plan which would cap carbon dioxide emissions from power plants at 1990 levels, reduce SO2 and NOx emissions by 75 percent, and cut mercury pollution by 90 percent

John Kerry, we need you to lead America! We need you to pull our unborn children, our children, and our infirm from the pollution that engulfs us!


Monday, January 17, 2005

Kerry Speaks on 2004 Voting during Martin Luther King Celebration

It is nice to hear Senator Kerry gain his voice in America! Welcome back John! At the occasion of Martin Luther King Day, John Kerry had this to say about voting in America:
``Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, eleven hours to vote, while Republicans sorted through in ten minutes - same voting machines, same process, our America,''

He concluded:
``We're here to celebrate the life of a man who if he were here today would make it clear to us what our agenda is, and nothing would be made more clear on that agenda that in a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that too many people here in America were denied that democracy,''

It is a pleasure to see John Kerry back on the road speaking out for America and what our future direction should be. Thank you Senator Kerry. America needs your voice, your idealism, your enthusiasm, and your leadership. November, 2008, is closer than you think!


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered

Tomorrow is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. But what does that mean for America? The today selected an apt selection from one of Reverend King's speeches. On February 4, 1968, he stated,
"I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.... I want you to say that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity...."
Isn't that what we need for America?
Isn't leadership about giving of your life in service to others? Not about giving no-bid contracts to your friends!

And Martin Luther King tried to love somebody. Has President Bush upheld this ideal? No this is the President who is more interested in "bad guys". He would rather make war than make love.

And being right on the war question? President Bush? Are you kidding? This President is about pro-active war, not about avoiding war. As he says, at least he is consistent, you always know where he stands.

And trying to clothe those who were naked? Well, at least John Ashcroft managed to clothe Lady Liberty, but has he done anything for the poor? Come on, this President is most concerned about lowering taxes for the top 1%. He is worried about whether the wealthy have to pay high taxes on dividends. This is the President who has yet to create any net jobs during his Administration.

And visiting those in prison? Huh? This President got famous executing prisoners in Texas, not visiting with them. This is the President who has put people in prison without even charging them. This is the President who tortures prisoners and figures out how the laws about torture don't apply.

And trying to love and serve humanity? This President is about having people do things for themselves. To reduce the size of government. It is certainly not about service.

In other words, Martin Luther King's words ring true. This nation needs a leader who can love and who can serve. Who clothes the naked, and feeds the hungry. Who visits the prisoners, who avoids war and seeks to find peace and who believes that our government has a job to do and isn't ashamed of the government seeking to solve the ills of society.

We need Martin Luther King, Jr. today. His words ring true. His ideals should be our ideals. Let us seek to set this nation on a path that Reverend King pointed out for us. Let us not walk off that path to seek our own personal wealth at the expense of world peace, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, enlightening the ignorant, and loving the unloved among us.

Have a wonderful Monday.


A "Senior Moment" for Bush

I came across this joke on the internet:
At the senior center-- Friday night dance
A very elderly gentleman (nineties), very well dressed, hair well-groomed, great-looking suit, flower in his lapel, smelling slightly of a good after-shave, presenting a well looked after image, walks into the "cocktail lounge" section at the senior center.

Seated at the bar is an attractive elderly looking lady (mid-eighties).

The gentleman walks over, sits alongside her, orders a drink, takes a sip, turns to her and says, "So tell me, do I come here often?"

Well it appears that our President is having one of those moments right now. He calls it an "accountability moment", as in his interview with the Washington Post as reported today:
"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Well that's a nice thought, but what actually was on the voter's minds when they voted? President Bush fails to remember the terribly negative campaign run by the Republican Party where they stooped so low as to compare Senator Kerry and the Democrats to Adolf Hitler on the Bush/Cheney website.

President Bush forgets about all of those one-issue "moral" voters who voted their intolerant views on abortion-rights, gay marriage, and guns.

In fact, as Rasmussen reported on November 8, 2004, only 41% of voters said that National Security was the most important issue. That is less than half Mr. President. And not all of those who said it was most important were voting for you! So mandate this was not. In fact, as Rasmussen summarized:
Overall, on Election Day, 56% of Bush voters named National Security Issues most important. Fourteen percent (14%) said Cultural Issues, 13% Economic Issues, 6% Domestic Issues, and 3% Fiscal Issues.

Kerry voters had a different focus--40% named Economic Issues most important, 24% National Security Issues, 15% Domestic Issues, 6% Cultural Issues, and 4% Fiscal Issues.

So this was no "mandate" on Iraq.

But do you have a mandate today, Mr. President? What do the polls say about Iraq?

As was reported just the other day, the support for your Iraq policy is less than convincing.
The poll, conducted Jan. 7-9, finds 56% of Americans disapproving the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, up from 51% in November. Just 42% approve.

When Americans were asked how well things are going for the war in Iraq, 40% say they are going well, and 59% say they are going badly. This is a decline of 6% in optimism since September.

So please don't tell me how this election was some sort of mandate for your policy in Iraq. The voters didn't believe that in November, 2004, and they don't believe it now in January, 2005.

As Senator Kerry this past week stated in Egypt, on the prospects in Iraq:
"All of the countries of the region have a significant stake in the outcome and yet they are frustrated," Kerry said in Cairo, where he met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"They are frustrated because they don't feel that the steps necessary to be able to advance the stability of Iraq are really being taken

John Kerry, we needed you on the 20th to be Inaugurated, but we shall have to wait another four years. America is in line with your understanding on Iraq and the complexities involved in the solution to this problem. We shall be here for you in 2008. Pull us all from the water Senator Kerry!


Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Bush Administration: "No Integrity Left Behind"

This Administration is led by a President that cannot think of any mistakes he may have made. As reported by Helen Thomas of that now famous White House Press Conference:
President Bush told his news conference that he couldn't think of any mistakes he has made since he was inaugurated.
And this is an Administration that when it DOES make mistakes, it denies them and circles the wagons as in a B-grade Western Movie.

There is simply no excuse for the Armstrong Williams fiasco. The government is simply prohibited from producing propaganda to influence public opinion.

And this Administration should know about this. The production of propaganda and passing off paid productions as news is illegal. In May 20, 2004, it was reported that the Bush Administration violated federal laws in this regard. As reported:
The General Accounting Office concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services illegally spent federal money on what amounted to covert propaganda by producing videos about the Medicare changes that were made to look like news reports. Portions of the videos, which have been aired by 40 television stations around the country, do not make it clear that the announcers were paid by HHS and were not real reporters.

You see Armstrong Williams was not a real commentator. He was a paid spokesman of this Bush Administration, which, not finding the news suitable to its liking, hires news personnel to report the "good news". It only cost the American taxpayer $240,000 for Mr. Williams. What other payments have been made?

And what does Mr. Roderick R. Paige, the Education Secretary say about these payments? Does he apologize? Does he promise to never to do it again?

Of course not.

According to today's Washington Post:
Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige yesterday defended payments to a conservative black commentator to promote the No Child Left Behind law as a standard "outreach effort" to minority groups who stand to benefit most from the Bush administration's showcase education program.

The Post story continues:
In his statement, Paige said the money paid Williams's company, the Graham Williams Group, "went exclusively" to the production of advertisements promoting the No Child Left Behind law. "The funds covered those costs alone and nothing more. All this has been reviewed and is legal," Paige said.

Sorry Mr. Paige. But when you spend $240,000 to buy the efforts of a media person, you are paying for propaganda. And that is illegal. You and the President made a mistake, at the least. Please say you are sorry.

I cannot tell you how much I feel this nation is hurting without John Kerry as President. We have an Administration that censors the news by denying access to the pictures of returning coffins from Iraq. We have a President who hides in the White House or in Crawford, Texas, and refuses to regularly answer questions from the press. And now we have a Presidency that pays to get the news coverage it desires.
Shame on them.

John Kerry we need you now and we will need you more in 2008. Pull our nation from the water!


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

WMD's: George W. Bush's "Gulf of Tonkin"

I was rather young when the United States was plunging into the war in Vietnam. Back in 1964, young Daniel Ellsberg was starting out in his new job at the Pentagon as the new Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. Ellsberg commented extensively on the now infamous Gulf of Tonkin episode and how our entry into Vietnam was facilitated by events that now in retrospect, appear manipulated and questionable.

On August 4th, a second attack on American vessels was reported in the Gulf of Tonkin. As Ellsberg explains
The President's announcement and McNamara's press conference late in the evening of August 4 informed the American public that the North Vietnamese, for the second time in two days, had attacked U.S. warships on "routine patrol in international waters" (10); that this was clearly a "deliberate" pattern of "naked aggression"; that the evidence for the second attack, like the first, was "unequivocal"; that the attack had been "unprovoked" (11); and that the United States., by responding in order to deter any repetition, intended no wider war.

By midnight on the fourth, or within a day or two, I knew that each one of these assurances was false.

The problem was that Daniel Ellsberg knew that the evidence suggested that there had been NO second attack on American forces. And that this contrived episode became the pivotal point in American policy on Vietnam, plunging our nation into that conflict.

As Ellsberg explains about the problems with the President's announcement:
Unequivocal"? In the President's initial public announcement and in every official statement afterward, it was implicit that the August 4 attack on our ships, which had triggered our retaliatory strikes, was a simple fact. There was no official hint, either to Congress or to the public, that in the minds of various experienced Navy operators and intelligence analysts at the time of our retaliation, as well as earlier and later, doubt adhered to every single piece of evidence that an attack had occurred at all on August 4.

A "routine patrol in international waters"? The two destroyers were on a secret intelligence mission, codenamed DeSoto patrols, penetrating well within what the North Vietnamese regarded as their territorial waters. We assumed, correctly, that the North Vietnamese claimed the same limits as other communist nations, twelve miles from their coastline and from their islands. The U.S. did not officially "recognize" this extended limit; nevertheless U.S. Navy ships were prudently directed to keep at least fifteen miles out from the Chinese islands or mainland. But before the August 2 incident, the Maddox had been frequently eight miles from the North Vietnamese mainland and four miles from its islands. The purpose of this was not merely to demonstrate that we rejected their claims of limits on our "freedom of the seas" but to provoke them into turning on coast defense radar so that our destroyers could plot their defenses, in preparation for possible air or sea attacks. Thus, it was true that the August 2 attack had been twenty-eight miles out to sea, but that was because a warning of attack when the Maddox was just ten miles from the coast had led the skipper to change course and to head out to sea, with the torpedo boats in pursuit.

"Unprovoked"? Hanoi had claimed that "puppet" forces of the Americans had shelled two of their coastal islands, Hon Me and Hon Nieu, on the night of July 30-31. In public releases, the State Department denied any knowledge of any such attacks, as did McNamara in his press conferences on August 4 and 5. In top secret testimony to Congressional committees in closed hearings over the next two days, Secretary of State Dean Rusk and McNamara acknowledged such attacks but insisted that they could not realistically be considered U.S. provocations that justified or were intended to evoke North Vietnamese counterattacks because they were entirely "South Vietnamese" operations, run by the South Vietnamese navy, aimed at stopping infiltration from the North.(12) The United States supported them and knew about them in general terms, but, Rusk claimed, not in detail; there was little knowledge of them in Washington. They had no relationship at all with our destroyer patrols, they were in no way coordinated, and in fact the commander on the destroyers knew nothing of them at all. It was implicit in this testimony, and not challenged, that in any case no such raids were taking place in the context of the second attack, or since July 31st. The resolution that Congress was being asked to pass quickly and as nearly unanimously as possible was nothing other than a gesture of support for the president's action, to demonstrate solidarity to Hanoi and to deter future attacks on our forces. Each one of these assertions was false

Does this scenario sound familiar?

In October, 2002, in an address at the Cincinnati Museum Center, President George W. Bush outlined his rationale for the war in Iraq. He stated:
The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

President Bush went on:
The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions.

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th.

And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.

Unfortunately, all of this turned out to be untrue.

In case anybody hadn't heard what Bush had to say, Vice-President Dick Cheney joined in the chorus. As he stated on August 26, 2002, in an address to the VFW:
The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts. After his defeat in the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam agreed under to U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 to cease all development of weapons of mass destruction. He agreed to end his nuclear weapons program. He agreed to destroy his chemical and his biological weapons. He further agreed to admit U.N. inspection teams into his country to ensure that he was in fact complying with these terms.

In the past decade, Saddam has systematically broken each of these agreements. The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago. These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq; these are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.

In case there was any question of Cheney's certitude on this issue, he emphasized:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors -- confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no basis in Saddam Hussein's conduct or history to discount any of the concerns that I am raising this morning

I am certain that you all have heard the news. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And we are no longer going to be looking for them. As was reported:
The U.S. force that scoured Iraq for weapons of mass destruction -- cited by President Bush as justification for war -- has abandoned its long and fruitless hunt, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The 1,700-strong Iraq Survey Group, responsible for the hunt, last month wrapped up physical searches for weapons of mass destruction, and it will now gather information to help U.S. forces in Iraq win a bloody guerrilla war, officials said.

"I felt like we would find weapons of mass destruction ... like many -- many here in the United States, many around the world," Bush told ABC's Barbara Walters, according to excerpts from an interview airing on Friday.

Bush said "we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering," and that the invasion was "absolutely" worth it even if there were no weapons of mass destruction.

I am glad President Bush had a FEELING that there would be weapons of mass destruction. So what went "wrong". You did Mr. President. You and Vice-President Bush and all the rest of you who lied to the American people.

The Republican talking heads have been screaming about a reporter, Dan Rather, who repeated lies that were fed to him. But what about you Mr. President, who has been feeding lies to all of us? Do you deserve a Medal of Freedom?

John Kerry was misled as well. But he stood up to the Republicans and the War Machine and challenged them this past election. He stated:
"I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq,"

America needs John Kerry today. We need honesty in our leaders. We need truth told to the public. We need to avoid wars and make sure that we have the proper intelligence. And don't go around telling people that your assertions are unassailable. Pull us from the water Senator Kerry. You couldn't pull the over thousand men and women who have already died for a lie. But there are still so many more lives at stake.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Williams Affair: Another Attack on 1st Amendment

Thomas Jefferson many years ago wrote:
"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785. (*) ME 5:181, Papers 8:632

A despotic government?
The Detroit Free Press describes the Armstrong Williams fiasco, in which it has been revealed, news commentator Williams was paid to advance the cause of the Bush Administration. As reported:
The U.S. Department of Education paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to run ads on his radio and TV shows promoting the controversial new law, to host Education Secretary Rod Paige on his shows and generally to talk up No Child as the best thing to happen to education since the chalkboard. Williams says he believes in the program, so no real damage was done.

So what is the big deal? So Mr. Williams received almost a quarter of a million dollars "payola" to help out the Department of Education advancing the case for the No Child Left Behind Act. Is there a problem.

You bet there is. You see we have something called the Bill of Rights in America. A part of the Constitution that safeguards the basic freedoms that we as Americans are so proud of.

As the United States Information Agency reported not too long ago, in an article by James C. Goodale, the government is prohibited from mandating the contents of the press. As Goodale explains:
The First Amendment also prevents the government from telling the press what it must report. In Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974), the Supreme Court considered whether a state statute could grant a political candidate a right to equal space to reply to a newspaper's criticism and attacks on his record. The court struck down the law, holding that the First Amendment forbids the compelled publication of material that a newspaper does not want to publish. The court held that the statute would burden the press by diverting its resources away from the publication of material it wished to print, and would impermissibly intrude into the functions of editors.

It is not just an embarassment. It is a perversion of the normal protections of the Press against Government interference. And this came from the Department of Education, from the Executive Branch of this Government, that is supposed to be enforcing the "laws of the land".

And we still haven't heard about Valerie Plame and who in this administration leaked information, which would be a felony, and outed a CIA agent. This Administration fails to hold news conferences, uses the media to out CIA agents, and bribes news commentators to provide favorable coverage. Shame on them.

And what has John Kerry had to say about Press Freedoms?

John Kerry during the last campaign pledged to have a Presidency committed to honoring the press. He stated:
"I will hold a full press conference at least once a month," he promised. "You should welcome the opportunity to talk with you folks. It is a wonderful opportunity to market." Kerry also said he would seek to have "an open discussion on health care."

During more than three years in office, Bush has held only 12 formal press conferences, including just three in prime time.

In addition, this Administration has advanced censorship as an American value. They have suppressed dissent and tried to keep the pictures of the returning caskets from Iraq out of the American view.

Kerry also cited press freedom and the need for open access by mentioning the recent uproar over photos of coffins carrying the dead back from Iraq, which ran in The Seattle Times and other papers despite a military ban on the release of such photos.

"We see the haunting images of our soldiers loading flagged draped coffins," Kerry said during his prepared speech. "We see rows of them in the belly of a cargo plane for their long flight home. We see images of them being saluted on their final march to their final resting place. And those images are paired with a story about a husband and wife who took photos to show the world the touching way we honor our fallen. And they were fired for their openness and honesty."

John Kerry we needed you in 2004. We need you in 2008 more than ever! Our Constitution and the very freedoms that define us as a nation are under attack. Please pull our nation from the waters of intolerance and despotism!