Sunday, February 27, 2005

Another Gannon Video: Bill Maher, Robin Williams, Joe Biden on Gannongate

I found a new Gannon Video that is worth a view. I came across this one through my own "blog-browsing" and should credit chronopolis/New York where I first found this tape. Thank you Chronopolis!

As Joe Biden points out, it takes a Chairman of a committee to initiate an investigation. Chairmans are selected from majority parties. Remember that when the elections of 2006 are being held!


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bush Drug Policy: The Fox watching the Hen House

Why does the latest story about the Bush Administration not surprise me? Am I becoming jaded to the corruption of this Administration that supports and passes Medicare Drug bills that prevent the Government from even negotiating with Drug Companies?

The New York Times reported recently that:
Ten of the 32 government drug advisers who last week endorsed continued marketing of the huge-selling pain pills Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx have consulted in recent years for the drugs' makers, according to disclosures in medical journals and other public records.

Did this affect the review of these drugs?


As reported:
If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx's return.

Why should we surprised when drug companies write the rules that prevent the government from negotiating for better prices? Isn't it also reasonable that they should control the very panels designed to rule on the safety of medication for Americans?

This is not about conservative. This is not about liberal. This is not about values. This is about lying and stealing and failing to protect the American public from unsafe medications. This is simply shameful behavior by this President and his Administration. America deserves better!


Thursday, February 24, 2005

President Bush: Violating the 14th Amendment?

On January 20, 2005, President George W. Bush was inaugurated as this nation's 43rd President. On that day, he took the Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This is no little promise. Upholding the Constitution is the most important aspect of the Presidency. In fact, President Bush himself went on to comment on this:
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

Painting of Congressman Samuel J. Randall

After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was passed. Section 4 of this Amendment dealt with debts of the Federal Government as well as of the Confederacy. As has been reported:
On December 5, 1865, the second day of the 39th Congress, Democratic Congressman Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania introduced a resolution affirming that the federal debt could not be repudiated. It received overwhelming bipartisan approval in the House, 162-1. The Joint Committee on Reconstruction then took up the issue and drafted a proposed constitutional amendment upholding the federal debt and rejecting Confederate debt. It was reported to the full House on December 19, 1865, and passed the same day with large bipartisan support, 150-11. No action was taken on the proposed constitutional amendment in the Senate. It was superseded by the Fourteenth Amendment, which incorporated its text into Section Four.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states:
Section. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

The emphasis of this analysis is on the first sentence. The Constitution prohibits questioning of the public debt of the United States.

There has been recent questioning of the validity of the Social Security Trust Fund. The argument has been advanced by columnist Charles Krauthammer
who wrote in the Washington Post on February 18, 2005:
The Social Security system has no trust fund. No lockbox. When you pay your payroll tax every year, the money is not converted into gold bars and shipped to some desert island, ready for retrieval when you turn 65. The system is pay as you go. The money goes to support that year's Social Security recipients. What's left over is "lent" to the federal Treasury. And gets entirely spent. It vanishes. In return, a piece of paper gets deposited in a vault in West Virginia saying that the left hand of the government owes money to the right hand of the government.

These pieces of paper might be useful for rolling cigars. They will not fund your retirement. Your Leisure World greens fees will be coming from the payroll taxes of young people during the years you grow old.

"Pieces of paper" and "useful for rolling cigars"??? What could Mr. Krauthammer be thinking? The Social Security Trust Funds are the "Old=Age and Survivors Insurance" (OASI) Trust Fund and the "Disability Insurance (DI)Trust Fund."

The Social Security Administration reports on what happens to these funds:
The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund is a separate account in the United States Treasury. A portion of the taxes received under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act are deposited in the fund. The trust fund is used for paying monthly benefits to retired-worker (old-age) beneficiaries and their spouses and children and to survivors of deceased insured workers. Funds not withdrawn for current expenses (benefits, the financial interchange with the Railroad Retirement program, and administrative expenses) are invested in interest-bearing Federal securities, as required by law; the interest earned is also deposited in the trust fund.

Would you call Interest Bearing Federal Securities "pieces of paper good for rolling cigars?" Isn't that questioning the "public debt of the United States?"

But what did President Bush say about this? As reported, Bush stated:
"Every dime that goes in from payroll taxes is spent. It's spent on retirees, and if there's excess, it's spent on government programs. The only thing that Social Security has is a pile of IOUs from one part of the government to the next."

To call interest-bearing Federal Securities just "a pile of IOU's" is certainly questioning the debt of the United States Government. Americans can and shall do better than this assault on our own credit-worthiness by our own President!

He didn't just say this once. Before the Commerce Department, President Bush had this to say:

"Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security -- are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust."

Does anyone really believe that the United States of America will not make good on its debt instruments? Do American believe that the Federal Government will not honor their Treasury Bills, their EE Savings Bonds, or their Treasury Certificates? And won't it send a wrong signal to credit markets that the President of the United States thinks that interest-bearing Federal Securities are worthless?

As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote in its editorial of February 14, 2005:
Moreover, as some have pointed out, the president's approach hints at being simply unconstitutional. Amendment 14, ratified in 1868, says in Section 4 that, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." The president, need we point out, has taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

America needs a President who talks up the United States and not one who bad-mouths our own government securities. America needs a President who believes in the Dollar and the American Economy. We need a President who believes that the full faith and credit of the United States government is more than just a piece of paper with IOU's. America deserves better!


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Humorous Clip: "Fool me Once"

We had such a great response from the Jon Stewart video clip on Jeff Gannon that I thought I would run one more (requires Quicktime): This is the famous "fool me once" video!

If you liked THAT video, watch this one about 'Our enemies': "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we...."


Thom Hartmann: Learning the "Warnings of History"

Thom Hartmann, as reprinted on, had this to say about the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany. It is worth the time to read this one:
Published on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 by
When Democracy Failed - 2005
The Warnings of History

by Thom Hartmann

This weekend - February 27th - is the 72nd anniversary, but the corporate media most likely won't cover it. The generation that experienced this history firsthand is now largely dead, and only a few of us dare hear their ghosts.

It started when the government, in the midst of an economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist. Some, like Sefton Delmer - a London Daily Express reporter on the scene - say they certainly did not, while others, like William Shirer, suggest they did.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.

He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.

His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.

Two weeks later, the first detention center for terrorists was built in Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.

Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures, and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator.)

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us.

Playing on this new implicitly racial nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.

His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called a "New Christianity." Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared "Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us - and most of them fervently believed it was true.

Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation's leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various troublesome "intellectuals" and "liberals." He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader.

He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.

His assistant who dealt with the press noted that, since the terrorist attack, "Radio and press are at out disposal." Those voices questioning the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past, had by now faded from the public's recollection as his central security office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors. This program was so successful that the names of some of the people "denounced" were soon being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included opposition politicians and news reporters who dared speak out - a favorite target of his regime and the media he now controlled through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.

To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against the Middle Eastern ancestry terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas. He encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those previously owned by suspicious people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow. Industry flourished.

He also reached out to the churches, declaring that the nation had clear Christian roots, that any nation that didn't openly support religion was morally bankrupt, and that his administration would openly and proudly provide both moral and financial support to initiatives based on faith to provide social services.

In this, he was reaching back to his own embrace of Christianity, which he noted in an April 12, 1922 speech:

"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers ... was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.
"In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders...

"As a Christian ... I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice..."

When he later survived an assassination attempt, he said, "Now I am completely content. The fact that I left the Burgerbraukeller earlier than usual is a corroboration of Providence's intention to let me reach my goal."

Many government functions started with prayer. Every school day started with prayer and every child heard the wonders of Christianity and - especially - the Ten Commandments in school. The leader even ended many of his speeches with a prayer, as he did in a February 20, 1938 speech before Parliament:

"In this hour I would ask of the Lord God only this: that, as in the past, so in the years to come He would give His blessing to our work and our action, to our judgment and our resolution, that He will safeguard us from all false pride and from all cowardly servility, that He may grant us to find the straight path which His Providence has ordained for the German people, and that He may ever give us the courage to do the right, never to falter, never to yield before any violence, before any danger."
But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent again arose within and without the government. Students had started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, his corruption of religious leaders, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.

With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity.

He called a press conference and publicly delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe - at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.

It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring "peace for our time." Thus Hitler annexed Austria in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war. The Austrian government was unseated and replaced by a new leadership friendly to Germany, and German corporations began to take over Austrian resources.

In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, Hitler said, "Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier [into Austria] there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."

To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of his politically savvy advisors, he and his handmaidens in the press began a campaign to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the nation itself. National unity was essential, they said, to ensure that the terrorists or their sponsors didn't think they'd succeeded in splitting the nation or weakening its will.

Rather than the government being run by multiple parties in a pluralistic, democratic fashion, one single party sought total control. Emulating a technique also used by Stalin, but as ancient as Rome, the Party used the power of its influence on the government to take over all government functions, hand out government favors, and reward Party contributors with government positions and contracts.

In times of war, they said, there could be only "one people, one nation, and one commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that critics of his policies were attacking the nation itself. You were either with us, or you were with the terrorists.

It was a simplistic perspective, but that was what would work, he was told by his Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels: "The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."

Those questioning him were labeled "anti-German" or "not good Germans," and it was suggested they were aiding the enemies of the state by failing in the patriotic necessity of supporting the nation's valiant men in uniform. It was one of his most effective ways to stifle dissent and pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came) against the "intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies.

Another technique was to "manufacture news," through the use of paid shills posing as reporters, seducing real reporters with promises of access to the leader in exchange for favorable coverage, and thinly veiled threats to those who exposed his lies. As his Propaganda Minister said, "It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion."

Nonetheless, once the "small war" annexation of Austria was successfully and quickly completed, and peace returned, voices of opposition were again raised in the Homeland. The almost-daily release of news bulletins about the dangers of terrorist communist cells wasn't enough to rouse the populace and totally suppress dissent. A full-out war was necessary to divert public attention from the growing rumbles within the country about disappearing dissidents; violence against liberals, Jews, and union leaders; and the epidemic of crony capitalism that was producing empires of wealth in the corporate sector but threatening the middle class's way of life.

A year later, to the week, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia.

In the months after that, he claimed that Poland had weapons of mass destruction (poison gas) and was supporting terrorists against Germany. Those who doubted that Poland represented a threat were shouted down or branded as ignorant. Elections were rigged, run by party hacks. Only loyal Party members were given passes for admission to public events with the leader, so there would never be a single newsreel of a heckler, and no doubt in the minds of the people that the leader enjoyed vast support.

And his support did grow, as Propaganda Minister Goebbels' dictum bore fruit:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
Within a few months Poland, too, was invaded in a "defensive, pre-emptive" action. The nation was now fully at war, and all internal dissent was suppressed in the name of national security; it was the end of Germany's first experiment with democracy.

As we conclude this review of history, there are a few milestones worth remembering.

February 27, 2005, is the 72nd anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus van der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag) building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to legitimacy and reshaped the German constitution. By the time of his successful and brief action to seize Austria, in which almost no German blood was shed, Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation. Hailed around the world, he was later Time magazine's "Man Of The Year."

Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by its most famous agency's initials: the SS.

We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly violent warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while generating devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly desirable "shock and awe" among the nation's leadership according to the authors of the 1996 book "Shock And Awe" published by the National Defense University Press.

Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using religion and war as tools to keep power: "fas-cism (fâsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.

Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, bust up unions, and create an illusion of prosperity through government debt and continual and ever-expanding war spending.

America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.

To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.

Thom Hartmann ( lived and worked in Germany during the 1980s, is the Project Censored Award-winning, best-selling author of over a dozen books, and is the host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk radio program. This article, in slightly altered form, was first published in 2003 by and is now also a chapter in Thom's book What Would Jefferson Do?, published in 2004 by Random House/Harmony.###

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Keep on Coming Senator Kerry

The Los Angeles Times seemed surprised today that John Kerry wasn't just "fading away".

As they wrote:
Sen. Kerry goes against precedent, getting back in the political spotlight in a leadership role.

Senator John Kerry has not been sitting still. As they report:
Since losing in November, the Massachusetts Democrat has delivered a series of speeches on healthcare, electoral reform and military preparedness. He helped lead the unsuccessful opposition to Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's pick for secretary of State, and Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush's choice for attorney general.

Thank you Senator Kerry. All of those 59 million Americans are still looking for your leadership. The challenges facing America are large and they demand greatness in our leaders. You have what it takes to restore America to its proper place in the world.

We need a President who is honest with us and with our Allies. Who leads us into Peace and not into War. A President who loves the government and wants to keep it healthy. We have a President who hates government and is trying to starve the beast.

We don't need talk of Compassion from our leaders, we need Americans to lead this nation who care about those with the least powerful voice. Those who suffer from Poverty, unemployment, disadvantage due to their handicaps. We need a President who cares for our soldiers; who provides them with proper equipment and then doesn't forget them after they have fought, but instead cares and respects their service with the proper veteran benefits.

We need you John Kerry! America is calling upon you to leave that door open in 2008! Pull us all from the water!


Friday, February 18, 2005

Gannongate: The Daily Show

There is very little to say about the embarassing "Jeff Gannon" White House Press Pool story. This is once again another indictment of this Administration which manipulates the Press by hiring reporters, and now, supporting this Republican operative as reporter. Since we cannot always cry, we can thank Jon Stewart who on the Daily Show, summarized the situation the best way possible: with a humorous report. Enjoy!

Another video interview with "Jeff Gannon" with Anderson Cooper may be seen here.


The Tortured Administration of George W. Bush

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson wrote on the subject of religious intolerance:
Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.

It was with a heavy heart that I read once again today of new evidence of torture in Afghanistan in addition to the already known torture problems in Iraq and Guantanamo.

As is reported:
New evidence has emerged that U.S. forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking "trophy photographs" of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation. Documents obtained by the Guardian contain evidence that such abuses took place in the main detention center at Bagram, near the capital Kabul, as well as at a smaller U.S. installation near the southern city of Kandahar. The documents also indicate that U.S. soldiers covered up abuse in Afghanistan and in Iraq -- even after the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light last year.

Are we fools? Hypocrites? Or both?

I am ashamed of those who have implemented those policies.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:
[W]e are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

And not only is there evidence of such activity, but now there is evidence of destruction of incriminating evidence:
Meanwhile, photographs taken in southern Afghanistan showing U.S. soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Battalion posing in mock executions of blindfolded and bound detainees, were purposely destroyed after the Abu Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage," the documents show.

In 1971, a much younger John Kerry returned from Vietnam to testify to Congress about the atrocities in Vietnam.

As John Kerry stated at that time:
We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

Our very effort at establishing free countries in these regions is threatened by our policies of torture. Do we engender support for the American way? What is the American way anymore? What do we stand for?

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. hold an important message for us. He wrote:

[E]very human life is a reflection of divinity, and... every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

Senator Kerry, our nation calls out for you to speak once more on Justice and Decency in America. We cannot treat our most despised prisoners worse than we should wish them to treat our own soldiers. We cannot lose our own humanity and relinquish the high ground on decency in this war.

Keep that door open for 2008. Our country, our soldiers, our ideals call out to you to run for President in 2008. We have your back!


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bush Policy: Rewarding Failed Programs While Children Suffer

President Bush released his outrageous budget cuts to social programs last week, among the 150 programs whose funding was cut:
¶Spending on veterans' medical care would drop 16 percent after inflation, despite an expected surge in costs from veterans of the war in Iraq.

¶Education and vocational training, an area that grew rapidly during Mr. Bush's first term, would decline 15 percent.

¶Basic scientific research would be reduced 13 percent.

¶Nutritional assistance for impoverished mothers and their small children, provided through the Women, Infants and Children program, would be cut by 9.6 percent; some 740,000 fewer people would receive assistance.

The White House has explained these cuts by pointing out:
The more than 150 federal programs that are to be eliminated or substantially reduced either are not succeeding, are duplicating other efforts, or are not essential, the White House said. "Every government program was created with good intentions, but not all are matching good intentions with good results," the president said in defending his $2.57 trillion spending blueprint.

The Administration denies that politics played a part in determining the fate of programs. As reported:
Program assessments "are completed based on evidence," insisted a White House source involved in the process. "Sure, there is professional judgment on what evidence you consider and how much weight you give it, but we try to disclose all of that. There is nothing in our process that influences ratings by presidential priorities."

If that was the case, why then did this President request $39 million in addition funding to a total of $206 million, for "abstinence-only" education programs?

As Governor of Texas, George W. Bush pressed hard for and implemented abstinence-only programs. And how did they work. Not only were these programs a dismal failure, but teens actually had more sex after taking these courses! As reported:
The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

As Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed this study of the Texas program points out:
The federal government is expected to spend about $130 million to fund programs advocating abstinence in 2005, despite a lack of evidence that they work, Pruitt said.

“The jury is still out, but most of what we’ve discovered shows there’s no evidence the large amount of money spent is having an effect,” he said.

But worse yet, many of these "abstinence-only" programs are spreading lies and conveying disparaging remarks about condoms and other birth-control devices. As reported:
Linda Grisham, a science teacher at Temple High School who is working on Scott & White's new ninth grade curriculum, told Human Rights Watch that she plans to use an activity she learned at a recent teacher training to show how condoms are not effective. Participants are given cut-up pieces of plastic or latex of different strengths and thicknesses and asked to identify which one is a condom, a rubber glove, or a plastic bag. "We were shown how condoms were one of the thinnest kinds of plastic [sic] and how easy they were to break with a fingernail."120

Grisham explained that her HIV prevention curriculum promotes abstinence until marriage as the "way to go."

Look at condoms: they don't work. I show the percentages of times that condoms don't work and tell the students that most kids that use condoms don't use them correctly, because they puncture them, or don't put them on all the way. I allow kids to know that maybe condoms will help, but they're not 100 percent safe. I try not to tell them that "it's better than nothing." Condoms are not safe sex, because it doesn't prevent against sexually transmitted diseases.121

However condoms DO help prevent the spread of AIDS. As reported:
There is a broad scientific consensus, including among federal health agencies, that condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS.104 Some Texas abstinence-only programs obscure this important fact and provide misleading information about the efficacy of condoms in protecting against transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

But educators are censored and cannot discuss condoms with their classrooms even if they personally believe that they are in fact effective. As noted:
Texas' federally funded abstinence-only programs restrict information on condoms because they are barred by federal law from "promoting or endorsing" contraceptive use. Texas-based abstinence-only education programs also contend that encouraging abstinence while also teaching about "safe sex" or "safer sex" sends a "mixed message" to young people that is "misleading at best and, at worst, irresponsible."78 These programs also teach that condoms don't adequately protect against sexually transmitted diseases, particularly among teenage users, and therefore there is no such thing as "safe" or "safer" sex with condoms. As a result, abstinence-only programs omit any discussion of condoms and contraception altogether, or provide inaccurate or misleading information about condoms as a method of HIV/AIDS prevention.

And what about John Kerry? During the campaign, this was not a big issue for him. However, it has been reported that he:
Supports federal funding for comprehensive sex education, including but not limited to abstinence.

Senator Kerry, the children of our nation need your leadership in Washington! We have an Administration who cuts essential public programs while expanding programs shown to be ineffective, yet popular with his Fundamentalist base. America can and should do better! Keep that door open for 2008! The health of our children depends on new leadership in Washington!


Bush Pollution Policies: Threat to the Unborn

A study reported today by Columbia University researchers documented the risk of environmental pollution, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, to the unborn who were at risk for genetic mutations.

As reported:
"This evidence that air pollutants can alter chromosomes in utero is troubling since other studies have validated this type of genetic alteration as a biomarker of cancer risk," Perera remarks. "While we can't estimate the precise increase in cancer risk, these findings underscore the need for policymakers at the federal, state and local levels to take appropriate steps to protect children from these avoidable exposures." The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

Needless to say, the Bush Administration has not been very sensitive to pollution issues in America. In fact, the Republicans have been extremely cozy with polluters and lobbyists representing polluting industries.

I found a nice summary of some of the environmental policy decisions during the first four years under President Bush.

Read it and weep. Weep for America the Beautiful now becoming America the polluted.

Senator Kerry has had this to say about protecting the environment:
On Earth Day 2003, I announced a proposal to resume the battle against environmental injustice, in part by greatly elevating it priority for the EPA and other federal enforcement agencies and in part by creating environmental empowerment zones, in which the impact of federal decisions on the health of low-income and minority citizens would have to be taken into account before they are implemented.

I also called for a measure that will be critical not only in dealing with environmental injustice but also in dealing with environmental health issues generally: establishing a national tracking system for chronic diseases and environmental health hazards.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.159-60 Oct 1, 2003

Senator Kerry, the health of our nation, the quality of our air we breathe, the water we drink, and our very genetic make-up cries out to you to pull us from the water of irresponsible environmental regulation! Keep that door open for 2008. A clean and healthy America awaits you on the other side!


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Links to Other Political Websites Expanded!

You might be surprised to see links to some of the other Democratic candidates websites listed on the right hand side of the link list. In fact, if you know of other Democrat websites for candidates, declared or not, please feel free to email me with those sites and I will add to my list (or comment right here and I will do the same.)

My loyalty is to John Kerry but I share values, philosophy, and policy beliefs with most of the other Democratic candidates.

In fact, I shall be posting as many of the Republican website links on this blog in the near future as well. For I believe in American values of politics. And understanding all sides of an issue is essential in making one's decision.

I hope we are helping start something much bigger right here for John Kerry! He had the right ideas in 2004. He is smarter now and ready for 2008!


President Bush: "Giving Away The Store" with Medicare Drug Benefit

On March 17, 1992, just a few weeks before Sam Walton's death, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom. At that event he called Mr. Walton
"an American original who embodied the entrepreneurial spirit and epitomized the American dream."

And how did Mr. Walton manage to procure the "American dream" as the first President Bush described his work?

Wal-Mart, where "Everday Low Prices" have been made famous does this by both keeping their labor costs low, and by pressure on their suppliers who visit headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and find that they better give Wal-Mart their lowest possible price for merchandise.

As John Lehman, a former Wal-Mart store manager described the process:
Well, it's very one-sided. There is no negotiation. There's not much negotiation at all. The manufacturer walks into the room. I've been in these little cubicles, I've seen it happen. The buyer says, "Look, we want you to sell it to us for 5 percent on a dollar – at cost – lower this year than you did last year."

They know every fact and figure that these manufacturers have. They know their books. They know their costs. They know their business practices– everything, you know? So what's a manufacturer left to do? They sit naked in front of Wal-Mart. You know, Wal-Mart calls the shots. "If you want to do business with us, if you want to stay in business, then you're going to do it our way." And it's all about driving down the cost of goods.

Wal-Mart knows, that the most profitable way to do business is to keep your costs down and to make sure that your suppliers sell to you at the lowest possible cost. It is the American way of business.

Recently, the cost of the Medicare Drug program has been raised from $400 billion to $720 billion for the next ten years.

As Congressman Pete Stark of California stated:
"I told you so. We can't trust numbers provided by administration officials. They'll say anything to get a bill passed. And if the new drug benefit costs more, the extra money goes to their friends in the pharmaceutical industry, not to senior citizens."

But is that a fair criticism? Extra money going to the pharmaceutical industry?

Yes it is.

As part of this legislation, the federal government is prohibited from negotiating for lower prices with their suppliers. But didn't Sam Walton teach us the lesson that negotiations can bring down costs?

As Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas states on his website:
"First, the Republican Leadership, at the request of the big drug manufacturers, actually put language in the bill that says the federal government shall be prohibited from negotiating with drug companies to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs! The Secretary of Health and Human Services cannot use the collective purchasing power of 40 million Medicare beneficiaries to negotiate deep discounts."

This federal largesse would be bad enough if we were running close to a balanced budget. But we cannot afford such "generosity" to the large pharmaceutical firms when our nation is mired in I.O.U.'s.

The national debt, which was at $5.8 trillion on 9/28/01, already nine months into the first term of the Bush Administration, has increased to $7.6 trillion as of 2/10/05.

We cannot tolerate "no-bid contracts" for Halliburton, as we were made to pay under President Bush. And we cannot afford "no-negotiating" payment plans to the big drug companies, no matter how much they have donated to the political campaigns of our politicians elected to serve us. There is simply not enough money in the federal cookie jar to throw it away!

And what has Senator Kerry said about deficits?

During his last campaign he stated:
"We can't restore fiscal responsibility unless we have a president willing to bring our divided parties together, and ready to be straight with the public about what we can and can't afford,"

Can't we learn about the lessons of Sam Walton in negotiating with suppliers to bring down the cost for all of us and for Americans of future generations saddled with intolerable debt?

Senator Kerry, please leave that door open for 2008! We need a leader to pull us out of the water of irresponsible government spending that "gives away the store" to corporate interests!


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Democrats: We Are Our Brother's Keeper!

Cain and Abel, by Titian.

What is it that distinguishes Democrats from Republicans today? For me, it is the apparent difference about the role of government in our daily lives. President Bush preaches individual responsibility. That is why he has disdain for Social Security, Medicare, and even Public Schools. He thinks that churches should educate and provide personal rehabilitation. He believes that the individual should be responsible for and gain from individually-geared retirement accounts.

Democrats believe that we are all responsible for each other.

In the Bible, Genesis 4:1-17, the story is told of Cain and Abel.:
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?

Democrats answer yes with a loud and confident voice. Republicans plead that each individual must be responsible for themselves.

Democrats believe that when there is one American who suffers in poverty we all suffer. When one American is without healthcare, we are all ill. When one child fails to get an education, we all suffer from ignorance. And when one American is without a job, we all suffer from unemployment.

We believe that government is a tool that can be used to better the lives and raise the aspirations of all people. It is not an evil beast that needs to be starved. We believe that elected officials are stewards of government for their term in office. They are responsible for keeping America's finances healthy. And that irresponsible deficits are a burden for future generations.

It is the cynic who believes that government is evil. That deficits are a good way to prevent the implementation of social programs.

Democrats understand that morality starts with taking care of one's brother. And that we all are family.

John Kerry has my support for 2008. I look forward to hearing more from Howard Dean who has expressed the heart and soul of America and who shall be leading the Democrats to victory in 2006 and 2008.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bush Budget: "Where's the Beef?"

In 1984, Clara Peller had her fifteen minutes of fame as the little old lady who went from hamburger joint to hamburger joint complaining about the burgers with no meat. "Where's the Beef?" became the rallying cry for the Wendy's hamburger chain.

As the Bush Administration has just submitted its now rather well-reviewed budget, we are again forced to ask "Where's the Beef?"

The Concord Coalition, that now historic group that has fought for a balanced budget, reports that no money has been budgeted for Social Security "reform", even though Dick Cheney has said it will cost trillions. And even the war in Iraq is not included in the budget.

As they report:
No funds have been set aside in President Bush’s new budget for Social Security reform, says the The Concord Coalition. Vice President Cheney said only a day earlier that the private accounts proposed for Social Security will cost “trillions of dollars.”

As this report summarizes:
"The main problem with this budget is not what's in it, but what's left out. It assumes that the upcoming $81 billion supplemental spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan will be the last one and that the Treasury will get a growing revenue windfall from the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Neither is a realistic assumption, and in fact, neither is Administration policy. The cost of continuing the war efforts and providing AMT relief could easily add another $500 billion to the deficit over the next five years and over $100 billion in 2009 alone. Rather than cutting the deficit in half, as the Administration proposes, its budget policies are more likely to result in persistent annual deficits of about $400 billion," said Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby.

And what about John Kerry? Will he be able to better manage the budget than the imcompetent leadership we now have in the White House?

As Debbie Marquez in the Vail Daily News pointed out:

Kerry's plan has a greater chance of balancing the budget, because it actually brings in revenue! Balancing the budget is not a new position for Kerry. He, John McCain and several other senators have long championed a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

There is something awful going on in Washington Senator Kerry. We have an Administration that is not about Conservative. It is not about being a responsible steward for us and the future generation of Americans.

This Administration has a dark side. They are now embracing extravagant spending with plans to keep tax cuts permanent. They plan to take the meat out of the social programs that make America a safe place to live. They wish to destroy Social Security by "reforming it". They raise the expenditures going to the Military-Industrial Complex and wage pro-active wars while pressuring for cuts on aid to the least powerful and least influential in our society. They say "No child left behind" and then they propose multiple cuts to Education.

This President subscribes to the "Starve the Beast" theory that hates central government of any form. As Ed Kilgore has written:
Conservative Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, exemplifies the trend. "I came to the House as a real deficit hawk, but I am no longer a deficit hawk," he told The Hill newspaper in February. "I'll tell you why. I had to spend the surpluses. Deficits make it easier to say no."

Deficits seem to make a lot of things easier. As University of California economist Brad DeLong observed in the autumn of 2002: "The whole point of the strategy is to do something that makes the country worse off-create a large deficit that slows economic growth, raises the chances of higher inflation in the future, and diminishes the government's capacity to undertake any expensive new initiatives in the future that national security might require -- and then to count on the fact that one's political opponents care more about the well-being of the country than you do to fix the situation."

It's clear the "starve the beast" theory offers Republicans the political equivalent of a bottomless crack pipe. Tax cuts no longer have to be rationalized by any particular theory of economic growth, efficiency, consistency, or fairness. Politicians are free to defend or extend corporate or other narrow tax subsidies; free to target tax cuts to their favored constituencies; and entirely free from the constraints normally supplied by budgetary arithmetic.

Senator Kerry, America needed you in 2004. Our need for your leadership becomes even more acute each day that passes. Pull our nation from the water! Leave that door open for 2008 and step right through. We have your back!


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Statue of Liberty Weeps: Mistreatment of Asylum Seekers In America

In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" for an auction that was to raise money for "In Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund". As she wrote:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

It was in 1903, sixteen years after Emma Lazarus' death, that the inscription was engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Those words have become ingrained upon the psyche of what defines America. A place of asylum, where the "wretched refuse" can find a home.

That is until the Bush Administration took over.

I was very upset to read in a story in the February 9, 2005, edition of the Washington Post, that asylum seekers are often mistreated by the very government that they are seeking asylum in, the United States of America.

As was reported:
As refugees wait in jails and jaillike facilities nationwide, they sometimes have been strip-searched, shackled, handcuffed in their cells or placed in isolation as part of an ordeal so harsh that some give up and return home.

For those who stay, the psychological damage from confinement can be lasting, wrote Craig Haney, a psychologist who co-wrote the section of the study on detention. "Most people experience incarceration as painful and even traumatic," he said. "It is certainly not the case that everyone who is incarcerated is disabled or psychologically harmed by it. . . . But few people end the experience unchanged by it."

Have we forgotten about even the Pilgrims? As the first President Bush has stated:
And it was here to Leiden that the Pilgrims came to escape persecution -- to live, work, and worship in peace. In the shadow of Pieterskerk, they found the freedom to witness God openly and without fear. And here, under the ancient stones of the Pieterskerk, the body of John Robinson, the Pilgrims' spiritual leader, was laid to rest.

And it was from this place the Pilgrims set their course for a New World. In their search for liberty, they took with them lessons learned here of freedom and tolerance.

I weep for Lady Liberty. I weep for America the land of opportunity. The land where the tired, the hungry and homeless, can now be detained and shackled.

Senator Kerry, Lady Liberty is calling for you. America needs you to keep the door open to the Presidency and the door to asylum seekers open to America.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Cheney: Personal Social Security Accounts to Cost Government Trillions

In an interview today on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney stated that the United States goveernment will need to borrow $754 billion just in the next ten years to fund the Social Security personal accounts proposed by President Bush.

But that is just the beginning.

Cheney continued:
``We think that's a manageable amount,'' the vice president said. He said the government will have to borrow ``trillions more after that'' as the percentage of Social Security payroll taxes that workers can set aside for the personal accounts is increased.


But that shouldn't be a problem according to Cheney. For as he pointed out:

``It is important to manage the fiscal impact of these transitions in an intelligent fashion, and we're well aware of that,'' he said. ``That's one of the reasons you do phase it in.''

But this is a fiscally conservative government, isn't it? So there is only one thing to do about the deficit. Take it out of the poor, the disabled, and the disadvantaged. That is what is meant by 'Compassionate Conservative.'

As reported in the 2000 election about then Governor Bush:
His goal was to help people. He believed the best way to do that was to develop government programs and policies that allowed them to help themselves. He did not see the government as the enemy, as the traditional conservatives did. Often, adjusting existing programs could achieve results while saving taxpayers money. Reducing taxes, in turn, was yet another way to help people.

Hmmm "adjusting programs". Maybe like destroying Social Security and putting our nation into further debt by the trillions?

And what about "fiscally conservative" Dick Cheney? What happened to the man who as has been reported was a sponsor of multiple "balanced budget laws"?:

Cheney co-sponsored the following bills in Congress:
H.J.RES.147 (1984):A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution to require that congressional resolutions setting forth levels of total budget outlays and Federal revenues must be agreed to by two-thirds vote of both Houses of the Congress if the level of outlays exceeds the level of revenues.
H.R.5000 (1984) and H.R.1481 (1986):A bill to authorize the President, on a limited basis, to impound funds made available for the fiscal year when economic conditions necessitate reductions in the Federal deficit.
H.R.3520 (1986):A bill to require a graduated reduction of the Federal budget deficit, to balance the budget, to establish emergency procedures to avoid deficit overages.
H.J.RES.321 (1988):A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution to provide for a balanced budget for the United States Government and for greater accountability in the enactment of tax legislation.
Source: Thomas Register of Congressional Votes Jan 1, 1986

Could this be another "Cheney Flip-Flop"? As Cheney accused Senator Kerry at the Republican Convention, doesn't this apply to the Vice President rather clearly?:

"His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion," he said in one of his harshest critiques yet of the Massachusetts senator. Delegates responded with chants of "flip flop, flip flop" and some waved flip-flop sandals.

And do we really need to go into TRILLIONS of additional debt to save Social Security?

In 2001, this President commissioned a Social Security Taskforce which was hand-picked to deliver his desired result. Buried on page 27 of this 39 page document are comments which are rather telling:
"In 2001, earnings in employment covered by Social Security that exceed $80,400 are neither subject to payroll tax nor considered for calculating benefits. This "contribution and benefit base" increases automatically each year with increases in the average wage. Currently, about 84 percent of all covered earnings are below the base, but this percentage has been falling from about 90 percent in 1983 and is projected to continue to fall to about 83 percent in 2010.

Making all earnings covered by Social Security subject to the payroll tax beginning in 2002, but retaining the current law limit for benefit computations (in effect removing the link between earnings and benefits at higher earnings levels), would eliminate the deficit. If benefits were to be paid on the additional earnings, 88 percent of the deficit would be eliminated."

But what is the problem with THAT? I mean, even if we had to CREDIT these higher earners with a higher social security payment, that would cover just about 90% of the problem! Isn't that better than putting the Federal Debt further into the red by TRILLIONS of dollars?

But the problem is explained:
"These changes would cause higher-paid workers and their employers to pay higher taxes. They would mean that higher-paid workers (those above the current taxable maximum) would receive a lower average rate of return on their Social Security taxes than they do today."

So in other words, to avoid 'higher-income' earners from suffering with a lower return on their Social Security dollars, it is worth it for the government to put the nation TRILLIONS of dollars further into the hole.

Thank you very much. But no thank you.

I am so tired of the alarmist Presidency that might just as well raise the "fiscal alert" to orange on the basis of a shortfall in the year 2038. This is a problem that could easily be handled just by an adjustment of the top limit of income subject to Social Security Taxes.....without even raising the tax rate!

But this isn't about Social Security. Don't you see? This is about stripping a social program, the pride of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, from the Government. It is about shrinking government. This is a President who is inspired by Grover Norquist, the 'brilliant' strategist for the Republicans who said:
“I don’t want to abolish government,” Norquist said. “I just want to get it down to the size where I can drown it in a bathtub.”

Hey John Kerry, we got something else in the water. We got Social Security drowning under the love of this compassionate conservative President and his flip-flopping Vice President. Pull America and this Government out of the water! They are trying to drown us!


Saturday, February 05, 2005

New Blog for Kerry: JFK 2008 UNITED

Casey Reese has a new blog, JFK 2008 UNITED, for John Kerry. When I saw the blog, I first thought that Casey was a 'newbie' at this, but in fact, I have already linked to his PetitionSpot petition for Senator John Kerry. If you haven't signed that one or Jordon Wright's Petition for John Kerry, get over there and sign and show your support for Kerry for 2008.

Above all, make sure you get over to and sign the petitions for both replacing Rumsfeld and making sure the children of America have healthcare!

I hope that doesn't sound like a lot of homework for you...but we have a lot of work ahead of us on the way to 2008.

Hopefully, there will be so many blogs out there that this one will fade into the background of a sea of "Kerry for President 2008" websites! If any of you are starting a site, please let me know, and I will publicize it the best I can right here! We are all in this together. And John Kerry is going to be pulling us all out of that water!


America's Seniors are not Cowards

Mary Pitt has it right when she defends America's Seniors from criticism that they are afraid of losing their benefits and that is why they defend the current program. As Mary Pitts, writing in the Democratic states:
They know that there is still almost two trillion dollars in the "trust fund" in Treasury bonds that can be used to continue the benefits far into the future. They know that the national debt has been allowed to grow so large that it will be inconvenient for these bonds to be redeemed. And they also know that defaulting on the debt which these bonds represent is tantamount to declaring national bankruptcy. Let's see them try that with China, our major national creditor! They are not at all likely to accept the excuse that there is no money to pay because American millionaires needed tax cuts.

This generation fought so that the next generation would not have to fight another war. They may have not succeeded to end all wars, but they have always been concerned about the next generation.

Pitt writes:
No, the concerns of the senior citizens of America are not for themselves. Their thoughts have always been concentrated on the welfare of those who come after them. They have walked through the fire and survived. They have saved the world for democracy. They are empowered and they know it, and their energies are channeled toward leaving our country and the world a better place.

However, the President had best beware. This generation of seniors votes, they are politically active, and they are not afraid to assert their wishes.

Pitt concludes:
It would behoove the President and the Congress to pay attention to their protests. They do vote, more reliably than any other component of the electorate and are quite ready, willing, and able to offer tickets home for any elected representative that dares threaten their families and the American way of life.

If this effort to destroy the most stable and effective program of the governmental system in our history continues, a regime change could be taking place in Washington, beginning with the next election.

And what has Senator Kerry have to say about this? Last week, Kerry responded:
The truth is, we don't have a Social Security crisis in America," Kerry said before President George W. Bush addressed the nation. "Instead of trying to tear down Social Security, Americans deserve an honest dialogue. So far all they're getting is a government-financed PR campaign against Social Security and a privatization gambit that will get us nothing but more debt and lower benefits."

Senator Kerry, our Nation is calling on you to Leave that Door Open! America can do better and Senator Kerry, over 55 million Americans want to walk through that door to a better tomorrow with you at the helm!


Friday, February 04, 2005

President Bush Uses Blacklist in Fargo

Senator Joe McCarthy used blacklists to forward his political agenda. As reported by Ellen Schrecker, from the University of Pennsylvania:
"The listings in Red Channels were compiled, so J. B. Matthews claimed, from his collection of front group letterheads, congressional and California Un-American Activities Committee reports, and old Daily Workers. They were not always accurate, but they were devastating. By 1951, the television networks and their sponsors no longer hired anyone whose name was in the book, and the prohibition soon spread to anyone who seemed controversial. A tiny group of true believers enforced the blacklist by deluging networks, advertising agencies, and sponsors with letters and phone calls whenever someone they disapproved of got hired. One of the blacklist's most ardent enforcers was Laurence Johnson, a supermarket owner in Syracuse, New York, who threatened to place signs in his stores warning customers not to buy the products of any company that sponsored a program featuring one of "Stalin's little creatures." Although Johnson represented no one but himself and his employees, some of the nation's largest corporations capitulated to his demands.

Broadcasters scrambled to ensure that they did not hire the wrong kinds of talent and often enlisted professional anti-Communists to check the backgrounds of prospective employees. One of the authors of Red Channels charged five dollars a name; the ex-FBI agents of American Business Consultants provided similar services, sometimes, it was said, after threatening further exposures in Counterattack. CBS inaugurated a loyalty oath and, like the other networks and big advertising agencies, put full-time "security officers" on its payroll. In Hollywood the studios worked closely with the American Legion and the film industry's own anti-Communists and informers. The criteria for the blacklists varied. People who were cleared by one network or studio were banned by others. Even within a single network or agency, some shows hired performers that other shows refused to touch. The blacklisters' targets extended far beyond the Communist party and sometimes seemed to encompass almost every liberal in show business. One producer found that a third of the performers he wanted to hire were turned down by his superiors--including an eight-year-old girl."

During the 2004 Campaign, it was common knowledge that the Bush people screened audiences and required oaths of allegiance to stifle any possible dissent in these artificially homogeneous crowds. As reported by the Washington Post at one Cheney rally:
The Albuquerque Journal reported on Friday that people seeking tickets to the Cheney event who could not be identified as GOP partisans -- contributors or volunteers -- were told they could not receive tickets unless they signed an endorsement form saying "I, (full name) . . . do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." The form warns that signers "are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

So when 7,000 people turned out at North Dakota State University's Bison Sports Arena to hear their President, you would think all Americans would be invited. He is the great uniter isn't he? Isn't Bush the President of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents? Well, that wasn't how it worked.

As the Washington Post reported today, apparently not all Americans were eligible to attend this speech:
The Fargo Forum reported that a city commissioner, a liberal radio producer, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors were among more than 40 area residents who were barred from attending the Bush event. Their names were on a list supplied to workers at two ticket distribution sites.

And where did the "buck stop" on this travesty of American politics? Well certainly not this President who is never responsible for anything done by his underlings.

As reported:
The White House said the list may have come from volunteers; it did not come from the White House.

And what about John Kerry? Does he believe in these loyalty oaths to attend his political events? As he said in a candid interview with Jon Stewart:
Very smart. Now if-- if someone wants to come to your rally, what kind of loyalty oath do they have to sign?
(LAUGHTER) I saw you-- I actually saw you talking about this. None.
You know what? I--
--I have to say this.

Thank you Senator Kerry. When you leave the door open for 2008, remember to leave the door open for ALL Americans to walk through with you. Unlike the current President, you will be leading an America that works to advance each and every individual and not pit young against old, red state against blue, black against white, and haves against have-nots!

We shall wait for you Senator Kerry! And we shall be here when you need us to help you get to the White House in 2008!


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Reid: End the 'Birth Tax'

Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Leader, responded the President Bush's plan to drain funds from the Social Security Program to establish private investment plans by pointing out:
"Too many of the President's economic policies have left Americans and American companies struggling. And after we worked so hard to eliminate the deficit, his policies have added trillions to the debt - in effect, a 'birth tax' of $36,000 on every child that is born."
For years now, Americans have been hearing the Republicans decry the so-called "death tax" of Estate Taxes. That tax is designed to prevent the development of a plutocracy in America-a nation led by a wealthy class that continues generation after generation.

Senator Reid knows that as I learned years ago, "there is no such thing as a free lunch". The cost to adding private social security accounts will be trillions in additional Federal debt because removing these funds from the Social Security budget only exacerbates an already strained system. As reported:
The costs of the proposal would be substantial. Presumably all of it would be borrowed, vastly increasing a swollen budget deficit.

A senior administration official put the cost from 2009 through 2015 at $754 billion - $664 billion to pay benefits and $90 billion for interest on the money borrowed. Peter R. Orszag, a Social Security expert who served in the Clinton administration, calculated that the program would cost the government over $1 trillion in the first 10 years the accounts were in place would be over $1 trillion and more than $3.5 trillion in the second 10 years.

In the long run, the administration official said, the program would save the government money, but he was unwilling to say how long that would take
The costs of the proposal would be substantial. Presumably all of it would be borrowed, vastly increasing a swollen budget deficit.

Let us protect Social Security and not destroy it. Let us not establish a new "birth tax" upon the youngest members of our society. And above all, let us remember the purpose of Social Security and the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, upon signing the law establishing Social Security had this to say:
Today a hope of many years' standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.

This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.

We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.

This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future Administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.

Senator Kerry, you have a job to do! We have a President who wishes to undo the best of what America has to offer. A President who hates anything the government could do to help the average citizen. Hurry up Senator Kerry, America is waiting!


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Iraq Elections: Deja Vu?

It was with a sense of deja vu that I read today about the problems with the election in Iraq:
In northern Iraq, protests have repeatedly broken out over the last few days in several cities where officials claim that hundreds of thousands of citizens, many of them Kurdish Christians, were not able to vote because balloting materials arrived inexplicably late.

The article continued:
There are also claims that election workers bent the rules to allow unregistered citizens to cast ballots, and one charge that a political party was improperly left off the ballots.

Some of the complaints involve access to the basic tools of voting. "Quite a significant number of Christians in the Mosul area were denied ballot boxes and ballots," Barham Salih, the Iraqi deputy prime minister and a Kurd, said in an interview late Tuesday.

Or how about this complaint:
At the same school, a man and his wife were turned away after, they said, having walked five miles to vote. They were refused because their names did not turn up on voter lists, an example of sticking to the letter of the law, Abdul Rahman, the coordinator of the polling place, said Sunday.

Does all of this sound familiar or what? Is this more like Ohio in 2004 or Florida in 2000? What about the felon lists? Or the long lines for inadequate machines in Ohio?

As reported:
Tales of waiting more than five hours to vote, voter intimidation, under-trained polling-station workers and too few or broken voting machines largely in urban or heavily minority areas were retold Saturday at a public hearing organized by voter-rights groups.

Senator Kerry, the irregular election problem is no longer our problem. It is now the world's problem. Please leave the door open for 2008! I am one of the 55 million who would like to walk through that door with you to the White House!