Monday, July 18, 2005

Staying Away from the "Rove Ship"! GOP Could Learn From Titanic

In 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg creating a very large leak resulting in the sinking of the ship.

Painting of Titanic Sinking

In 2003, Karl Rove participated in creating a leak from the White House about the identity of Valerie Plame, tying her to the CIA.

And now President Bush's "approval rating" is sinking!

Graph of President George W. Bush approval rating.

Being concerned about what one is supposed to do in the event of a ship sinking, I found this:
The first objective is to swim (or paddle) as far as possible away from the ship before it goes under. Ships can suck people under as they sink. Once the ship has sunk, if you are able to swim or paddle back to the wreckage area, you might be able to find many useful things floating around.
As one headline reported:
President unlikely to abandon Rove
Grand jury action could test special relationship to Bush
As the great "Rove Ship" continues to go "down", the President continues to embrace his discredited advisor. Bush has made a point in recent photo-ops to show his closeness to Rove.

Rove and Bush departing the White House this past week

Mr. President it is time to abandon the Rove ship.
Don't hang on!
It will suck you down into the depth of political neverland.
Get onto the lifeboat!
Make haste.
You may survive another day.

Titanic lifeboat

The White House doesn't need this excitement. We don't need an Administration that allows leaks that produce that sinking confidence in our leaders!

America deserves better!


Another White House Leaker!

This is a picture of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.

Photo of Lewis Libby

This is where he works.

Photo of White House

This is who Mr. Libby works for:

Vice-President Cheney

is what he did:
The vice president's chief of staff was a source along with the president's chief political adviser for a Time magazine article that identified a CIA officer, a Time reporter said Sunday.

The disclosure further countered White House claims that neither aide was involved in the leak.
This is the White House Press Secretary:

Photo of McClellan

This is what the White House spokesman has said about Libby:
Oct. 7, 2003

Q. Scott, you have said that you personally went to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliott Abrams to ask them if they were the leakers. Is that what happened? Why did you do that? And can you describe the conversations you had with them? What was the question you asked?

McClellan: Unfortunately, in Washington, D.C., at a time like this there are a lot of rumors and innuendo. There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made. And that's exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They are good individuals. They are important members of our White House team. And that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt with that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did.
This is what all of these White House leakers need to do:

America deserves better!


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Karl Rove: "Do Not Pass 'Go'"

This is Karl Rove:

Photo of Karl Rove

This is a picture of "Yellow Cake" uranium.

This is President Bush delivering the 2003 State of the Union Address:

President Bush delivering 2003 State of the Union

On January 28, 2003, President Bush at the State of the Union Address stated:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
This is Joseph Wilson.

Photo of Joseph Wilson on NBC

This is a map of Niger.

Map of Niger

In February, 2002, Joseph Wilson went to Niger to find out if Iraq was trying to obtain Uranium.

On July 6, 2003, Joseph Wilson wrote in the New York Times about his trip to Niger and his findings:
I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.
This is a photo of Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine after his Grand Jury testimony:

This is what Karl Rove did to Joe Wilson after Wilson contradicted the President; as reported:
White House political aide Karl Rove was the first person to tell a Time magazine reporter that the wife of a prominent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy was a CIA agent, the reporter said in an article.

Magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper said he told a grand jury last week that Mr Rove told him the woman worked at the "agency," or CIA, on weapons of mass destruction issues, and ended the call by saying "I've already said too much".
This is a picture of Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:

Scott McClellan Photo

This is what Scott McClellan said about the White House and the "leaker" on September 29, 2003:
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that suggests White House involvement. There are anonymous reports all the time in the media. The President has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
But now, Mr. McClellan says that Karl Rove has the confidence of the President. As reported on July 13, 2005:
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. He wasn't asked about his support or confidence for Karl. As I indicated yesterday, every person who works here at the White House, including Karl Rove, has the confidence of the President. This was not a question that came up in the Cabinet Room.
Not everyone is fooled.

John W. Dean, one or Richard Nixon's White House lawyers writes about a similar case involving Jonathan Randel, a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst in FindLaw:
Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.

By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count "kitchen sink" indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually, 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. Attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush Administration would handle leakers.
Dean goes on to evaluate the Rove/Plame affair and concludes:
While there are other potential violations of the law that may be involved with the Valerie Plame Wilson case, it would be speculation to consider them. But Karl Rove's leak to Matt Cooper is now an established fact. First, there is Matt Cooper's email record. And Cooper has now confirmed that he has told the grand jury he spoke with Rove. If Rove's leak fails to fall under the statute that was used to prosecute Randel, I do not understand why.
There isn't much to add to this. Karl Rove participated in his usual dirty tricks, outed a CIA agent. He didn't say her name. He just said whose wife she was. He compromised national security with his act, endangering the life of this agent and all of her contacts. He gave aid and assistance to our enemies.

What to do?

I thought of my younger days playing Monopoly, and only one thing came to mind:

Monopoly "Chance" Card

And please, no "get out of jail free" card for Rove!

America deserves better. America deserves a President and his Administration that respects the law, abides by their word, and does not sacrifice national security for the purpose of punishing political opponents.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Protect the Social Security System

I wrote this piece for the "Sitnews" out of Ketchikan, Alaska. You can find the column here.
July 11, 2005

The Social Security system is working. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, I would like to point out that the "death" of Social Security is greatly exaggerated!

I have been very disappointed with the leadership in this nation that undermines the faith of Americans in this key "safety net" for senior citizens since the Great Depression. They seek to change the delivery of benefits by dividing the generations, and encouraging fear and distrust of the United States Government.

President Bush visited the federal facility that houses the special issue Treasury bonds and stated "There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand that future generations will pay -- will pay for either in higher taxes, or reduced benefits, or cuts to other critical government programs," (see from 4/5/05).

Is that the appropriate talk from the President of the United States who denies the very existence of the $1.3 trillion Social Security Trust Fund? Is it appropriate for the President of the United States to undermine the credit-worthiness of the United States Treasury by claiming that they are "just IOU's"? Does the "full faith and credit of the United States" mean nothing to him?

The Republicans go further by trying to divide generations, in a technique that they usually attribute to Democrats, by using "class warfare". That is, they pit the young against the old, by claiming they will protect those born before 1950, but for the rest, they better watch out! What we need is a President who reassures the public that America always makes good on its Treasury Bonds and that Social Security will be there for them.

We all know that Social Security is a "pay as you go" system. That is that current workers are funding the surplus and retirement benefits of current retirees. We all know that as the baby boomers retire that the surplus will be needed as receipts into the Fund will be less than expenses. So how is it that anyone can propose diverting funds from the Social Security Trust Fund Surplus to private accounts without accounting for the increased problems with future benefits that will result?

We have heard that the fund will run out in 2041 if nothing is done. That benefits will need to be cut to 73% of promised after that. But do we ever hear about the assumptions made by this dire prediction? That the exhaustion of the Trust Fund is predicated on 1.8% economic growth. As the Heritage Foundation, the Republican think-tank, itself points out, America's economy has been growing at a historic rate of 3.2% since 1970! ( If the economy continues to grow at this historic rate, there will likely be no shortfall, and the surplus in the Trust Fund will be able to fund Social Security benefits in perpetuity without any changes. On top of this, the $11 trillion shortfall that is debated by those critical of our current system, is based on the "infinite" estimate, an estimate deemed meaningless by actuaries, knowing that economists have it hard enough estimating what will happen in the next month, let alone in an infinite time span.

Furthermore, it is deceiving to say that the Social Security Trust Fund has been "spent" by the government. The Social Security trustees have invested the Trust Fund in interest bearing special issue Treasury Bonds. These are actually better than marketable security because they are redeemable at par, that is they are not subject to market risk that is associated with other marketable bonds that will lose value if interest rates rise.

No matter what anyone invests in, people get "pieces of paper", be it Treasury Bonds, certificates of deposit from a bank, morgage notes, or stock certificates. The value of these papers are not meaningless because they have been printed on something made from pulp. The value is due to the likelihood of being repaid or appreciating. Nobody with any sense of decency could denigrate the United States Treasury.

It is true that the United States may need to roll back some of the tax cuts that were given to the top 1% of earners in America to pay back these Treasury Bonds. (,1413,102~8854~2915642,00.html) But it is also true that Social Security taxation is a regressive tax system that tops out taxes at $90,000. Thus, the workers and middle-class taxpayers of America have been paying into the Federal Government coffers these payroll taxes, that were used irresponsibly by President Bush to cut taxes for the wealthiest members of America. He is crying crocodile tears when he complains about having to raise income taxes to pay back this debt.

In 1935 when FDR was formulating the Social Security plan, he first hand saw the dangers in speculation in the stock market that led to the financial ruin of many Americans. Social Security is about reducing risk for Seniors, keeping them out of poverty, and allowing them to plan their financial futures in confidence. Let us encourage private investments above and beyond Social Security in equities in the form of IRA's, 401K's, 403b's, and 457 programs among other retirement vehicles. But let us protect the Social Security system that has worked for our parents and grandparents, and let us insure that it continues to work for our children and their children as well!

Robert Freedland
Sometime it pays to write in the "main stream media" to get your message out! I am waiting on this Rove fiasco to unfold before writing anything here. Never underestimate Mr. Rove.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Saving the Social Security Surplus for "Lean Years": The Lesson of the Joseph Story!

In 1968, Andrew Lloyd Weber opened Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, the story of the Biblical Joseph who had the keen ability to interpret dreams for the Pharaoh.

The crew of Joseph at a Show

In the Bible, Joseph's big break occurs when he interprets disturbing dreams for the Pharaoh. As it is written in Genesis 41:
17 ¶ And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:
20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.
22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
.23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me. -
.25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. -
.33 ¶ Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
.34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine
Pharaoh made sure his land did not perish by saving the excess during the good years. America could learn a thing or two from this Joseph fellow!

Republicans who are intent upon destroying Social Security are telling America that they wish to "save" the surplus by spending it! They wish to draw down the funds that are being used to fund the excess that is needed as the baby boom generation ages, and give it to the younger workers in the form of "private accounts" depriving Social Security of the needed funds to keep it solvent. This action accelerates the destruction of this great safety net, and does not prepare our nation for the "lean years" to come, when the baby boomers start retiring.

As reported:
The idea of using the surplus to pay for investment accounts has significant political appeal, Republican strategists and lawmakers said. At town hall meetings, in polls and in focus groups, voters, without fully understanding the program, have expressed dismay at the idea that the Social Security surplus is being used to pay for other government programs.
Congressman Paul Ryan, a sponsor of this legislation wrote in USA Today:
Our legislation is guided by three basic principles:

• The Social Security surplus should only be used for Social Security.

• The surplus should not be used to fund other government programs.

• The surplus should not be used to mask the true size of the national debt.

At the very least, the first step in saving Social Security must be to make sure all of Social Security's taxes go to Social Security, rather than to other federal spending. Ultimately, this proposal takes that first step
He then goes on to explain:
We propose giving workers under the age of 55 the choice of having their Social Security surplus distributed to their Social Security Personal Retirement Account (or GROW Account) in the form of risk-free marketable Treasury bonds.
Congressman Ryan continues to misrepresent what happens under the current Social Security system.

He says is is trying to save the surplus for "Social Security", and then goes on to propose funneling it off to a new program for private accounts that will draw funds off of Social Security and threaten its very survival.

He states the surplus "should not be used to fund other government programs". He then goes on to detail how the funds from this "surplus" which as we all know very well is not a surplus at all, as there is a SHORTFALL which everyone is talking about based on current Social Security requirements longterm, and take that "surplus" and have individuals invest it in private accounts in the form of TREASURY BONDS!

My head is spinning! According to the Social Security Trust Fund itself:
As stated in the answer to "What happens to the taxes that go into the trust funds?", most of the money flowing into the trust funds is invested in U. S. Government securities. Because the government spends this borrowed cash, some people see the current increase in the trust fund assets as an accumulation of securities that the government will be unable to make good on in the future. Without legislation to restore long-range solvency of the trust funds, redemption of long-term securities prior to maturity would be necessary.

Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.
In other words, the Social Security Trust Fund invests in Government Bonds. And what do the Republicans propose doing with the surplus, instead of saving it for the lean years ahead? INVESTING IN GOVERNMENT BONDS in INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS. This will in no way change what the government does with the money. They will of course spend it. Social Security didn't spend the money. They INVESTED in Government Bonds, which is exactly what the Republicans suggest placingt in individual accounts!

Congressman Ryan claims to wish to "save Social Security" to make sure that the surplus goes to Social Security rather than to Federal spending. This is two mis-statements wrapped into one! He is TAKING the surplus FROM SOCIAL SECURITY and is doing nothing about denying the government of spending money! He wants to invest in more FEDERAL TREASURY BONDS because they are the safest form of investment available! Even for the Social Security Trust Fund.

I am so sick and tired of the fear-mongering and mis-information spread by Republicans intent on rolling back the New Deal of FDR. They wish to spend the more that $1 trillion in surplus NOW so it isn't available later.

We need to learn the lesson of Joseph from the Bible. We must protect that surplus, keep it safely invested in government securities, and make sure that Social Security survives this attack from the right-wingers who want to tear large holes in this most important safety net! Lean years shall occur in the future, but with careful protection of this Trust Fund, Social Security shall be safe for us, our children and our Children's children.

America deserves better! We need leaders who tell us the truth, offer us solutions without tearing apart our programs. We need leaders who care about keeping Seniors out of poverty and maintaining the DEFINED BENEFIT of the Social Security System.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

O'Connor Retires. Does Anyone Else See the Resemblance?

Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down from the Supreme Court opening up the first opportunity for President Bush to make an appointment.

Photo of Justice O'Connor

George Washington was the first President of the United States.

Does anyone else see the resemblance?

Have a Happy 4th of July!