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12/30/2004

Democrats and Recounts

I have purposely stayed away from all the conspiracy talk surrounding the Presidential election and specifically the Ohio recount. The fact is, however, that a disturbing trend has taken hold. In many instances election night counts showed Republican candidates winning, then machine recounts narrowing the gap and finally hand recounts showing Democrats to have actually won. In Ohio, Bush apparently still won, but with every recount the margin narrows. I understand it isn't enough to make a difference in the outcome of the election, but why do Republicans always initially win while Democrats are left to fight for elections they have rightly won and come off looking like sore losers? All of this makes me wonder if John Thune actually won in South Dakota, if Richard Burr actually won in North Carolina and frankly it makes me wonder if Bush's father actually beat Dukakis. It seems to me that now is the time for Democrats to start raising money for what are sure to be necessary recounts in 2006 and 2008. Here are some examples: Washington, Montana, Ohio

12/29/2004

Chairman of House Ethics Panel Could Lose Job

Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) who currently chairs the House ethics panel is under fire from House Republicans for actually demanding ethical behavior of House members. Mr. Hefley's panel presided over two committee reports that where critical of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) last fall. Now Republicans are not only threatening to take their ball and go home, but also to change the rules.

From the New York Times
"In the wake of back-to-back ethics slaps at the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, House Republicans are preparing to make it more difficult to initiate ethics investigations and could remove the Republican chairman who presided over the admonishments of Mr. DeLay last fall.

A House leadership aide said a package of rules changes to be presented to the House when Congress convenes on Tuesday could include a plan that would require a majority vote of the ethics panel to pursue a formal investigation. Now, a deadlock on the panel, which is evenly split between parties, keeps a case pending. The possible change, the aide said, would mean that a tie vote would effectively dismiss the case."

Here is the really cute part, "The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a possible replacement for Mr. Hefley would be Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas and a former member of the panel. Mr. Smith this year contributed $5,000 from his campaign account to Mr. DeLay's legal defense."

Isn't this the same bunch of hypocrites that wasted all of that time and money impeaching President Clinton for having sex?

Pfizer Calls Bush and Then Raises Him

President Bush has said the United States will send $35 million to aid Tsunami victims (about the same amount he plans to spend on his inauguration festivities next month). Now drug company Pfizer has matched that pledge, "Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker, is donating $35 million to victims of the weekend's earthquake and tsunami's in Asia, matching the aid the U.S. government has said it will provide. The company said in a statement today it will provide $10 million in cash to relief groups and $25 million more in products, including its Zithromax, Zyvox and Diflucan anti-infectives.

In addition to that Pfizer will also "match U.S. employee contributions to non-profit groups assisting in the relief effort and employees are available to assist relief workers."

I bet Bush might have a couple of armored divisions lying around that he would be willing to send over to see if we can put democracy on the march over there as well. He might even be able to scare up...oh...say $80 billion for something like that.

12/28/2004

Social Security v Private Accounts

To listen to the right-wing blogoshphere one would think that everyone would be millionaires, or multi-millionaires if they invested their Social Security in the stock market instead. Well, one man, an MIT graduate named Stanley Logue, did his own analysis and found that if he had invested his Social Security in the market instead he would be over $5,000 worse off.

"He recorded all the payroll taxes he paid into the system (including the matching amount from his employer), tracked down the return the Social Security Trust Fund earned for each of the 45 years, and then compared the result with what he would have gotten had he been able to invest the same amount of payroll tax money over the same period in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (including dividends).

To his surprise, the Social Security investment won out: $261,372 versus $255,499, a difference of $5,873."

Now there are several reasons for this, "Although Logue started pouring money into Social Security in the 1950s and early 1960s, some of the best years for stocks, he hadn't accumulated a lot of money.

So the gains of his theoretical stock portfolio would have been limited.

By the time he had substantial sums, the market swooned for long periods. From 1965 to 1982, for instance, the DJIA made no progress. Logue retired before the real run-up in stocks in the latter half of the late 1990s.

So the real lesson from his analysis is that any pension plan based on stock investments carries extra risks."

England has a privatized pension system in which, "so many retirees are doing so poorly at this moment that a commission warned this fall that widespread poverty among the elderly may be returning, which could require massive new government spending."


This seems like a good time to remind the right that Social Security was meant to be insurance, a safety net. It was never meant to allow you to retire to Palm Beach and live in luxury. Nobody is stopping you from investing your money in any way you see fit, Social Security is the guaranteed base we all start our retirement funding with, nothing more nothing less and it was never meant to be anything else.

Bastion of Hope for Democrats in Montana?

That's right. The same Montana that is home of Marc Racicot who chaired the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign. The same Montana that has not had a Democrat governor and Democrat control of the state legislature since 1977. The same Montana that voted for Bush overwhelmingly in both 2000 and 2004. The same Montana where until November Democrats held no major positions of power in the state save one United States Senate seat. The Montana Supreme Court today made a ruling that gave the Democrats a 50-50 tie in the state House of Representatives. The state constitution says that the House speaker must come from party of the Governor, who is also a Democrat, the newly elected Brian Schweitzer.

Now outgoing Republican Governor Judy Martz didn't allow the Democrats to take control of the House without trying to cheat. Seems the race was a three way battle between Jeanne Windham, a Democrat; Jack Cross, a Republican; and Rick Jore, of the Constitution Party. After the first count of the ballots Ms. Windam was one vote behind Mr. Jore. The problem was that seven of the ballots that where counted for Jore actually where marked for both Jore and Cross. Martz reasoning for counting the votes for Jore was that if they threw the ballots out then Windham would win and it was clear that none of those votes where for Windham. I know your probably thinking you didn't read that right, so go ahead and read it again, I'll wait for you. Thank goodness the Montana Supreme Court rejected that half-baked argument and award the seat to Ms. Windham.

Montana should serve as model for all Democrats who live in "Red States", don't give up, get involved, you can make a difference. For all Democrats who are ready to right off the West and the South as unwinnable, don't give up, it can be done. Just look at Montana.

12/23/2004

A Festivus For the Rest of Us

"BARTOW, Fla. - When a church group put a nativity scene on public property, officials warned it might open the door to other religious — and not-so-religious — displays. They were right. Since the nativity was erected in Polk County, displays have gone up honoring Zoroastrianism and the fake holiday Festivus, featured on the TV show 'Seinfeld.'"

The Polk county commission voted earlier this week to allow a nativity scene to be placed across the street from the court house with the stipulation that the area be designated a "public forum" available for any type of display as long as the commission receives a written request to have the display remain.

No word on when the airing of grievances and feats of strength are scheduled in the Polk County Festivus celebration.

12/22/2004

Social Security Media Blitz?

From Reuters

"President Bush will spearhead an election-style public relations campaign early next year to try to convince Americans that Social Security is in urgent need of change but will keep dollar and cent details deliberately vague, analysts and officials say."

I can't help but wonder what this media blitz will look like. I don't think Bush really has a plan. He won't even answer questions about it now. The only details, if you want to call them that, are that this is an immediate crisis, we won't cut benefits, we won't raise payroll taxes and we have no plan to pay for the transition costs to partial privatization.

Now make no mistake, this "partial privatization" is really the end of Social Security if it comes to pass. The whole "crisis" is centered on the assertion that the system will run out of money if benefits are not cut or taxes not increased. That being said, how will allowing people to take 2% of what they currently contribute to the system, out of the system, while at the same time not cutting benefits and not raising taxes, fix the problem? Seems to me that will only make the system run out of money faster.

When this media blitz begins, just keep in mind this is not Social Security reform or fixing Social Security, it an end to Social Security.

12/21/2004

Senate Judiciary Committee Goes Radical

Even though "middle of the road" Arlen Specter is the head of the new Senate judiciary committee, there are two new member of the committee who have, shall we say, more extreme views.

First Crazy Tom Coburn from Oklahoma. You remember him don't you? "I favor the
death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life." I wonder if he will have a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees. Meanwhile the NRA can rest well at night with Crazy Tom on the Judiciary, "After the 1999 Columbine massacre, Senator Coburn said he saw nothing wrong with a person owning a BAZOOKA AND USING THEM "IN A LIMITED WAY"

As if that isn't scary enough, Sam Brownback was also named to the Judiciary Committee. Where to start with Sam? How about here? Brownback was co-sponsor of a bill in the Senate (
Senate bill 2082 to be exact) that was "designed to allow federal, state, and local government officials to overrule all other laws by appealing to the "higher source" of all law ("God") and to forbid the Supreme Court from doing anything about it." Brownback also has this theory that same sex couples have caused "child poverty, child abuse, and child developmental problems" those are his own words. At least gays will have someone in there fighting for them on the Judiciary.

I shudder to think about the nominees that could actually get through this group.

12/20/2004

Government Sanctioned Discrimination and Bigotry

The "moral majority" is now in control of the country, and here is what we have to look forward to,

"When a Massachusetts worker in FedEx’s air-delivery unit notified her employer of her same-sex marriage and inquired about health benefits, she received a July memo from the Memphis headquarters saying her spouse would not qualify. ‘‘FedEx is not discriminating against you because of your sexual orientation,’’ FedEd said. ‘‘Rather, the company is following the terms and conditions of its benefit plans’’ under federal law. More

And this,

"Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious."

Here is the really scary part, "The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats. And 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising."
More

Minimum Wage Not Enough For Minimum Needs

"Most Americans who rely on just a full-time job earning the federal minimum wage cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one- or two-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

For a two-bedroom rental alone, the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour — nearly three times the federal minimum wage, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual "Out of Reach" report."

Of course we all know there is no way we can raise minimum wage, but we are waiting breathlessly for the next round of tax cuts for those who can already afford the basics of life. At least the party of "values" is looking out for all of us.

12/17/2004

Number Four...Come On Down...

Daily Caucus reports that Trent Lott (R-MS) was the third GOP Senator to question the conduct of Donald Rumsfeld, now Norm Coleman (R-MN) has become number four.

"Senator Norm Coleman says he's "deeply troubled" about whether the Pentagon has done enough to provide armored vehicles to troops in Iraq.

And the Minnesota Republican says the buck stops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld."

12/16/2004

Our Freedom is Better Than Yours

I'm certainly not advocating Osama bin Laden's tactics in way, but he does raise a good point in his message released today. Part of his message calls for the overthrow of Saudi oppressive government and allowing the Saudi people to pick their own rulers. "The sins the regime committed are great ... it practiced injustices against the people, violating their rights, humiliating their pride," the speaker said. He accused the Saudi royal family of misspending public money while "millions of people are suffering from poverty and deprivation."

This begs the question, why do we get to decide that Iraqi's should get to pick their own leaders while those Saudi Arabia are not allowed to do the same? I think the answer is that none of this is really about freedom, but more about oil. Just a thought.

12/14/2004

American Madrases?

During this Christmas season and in the afterglow of an election that seems to have been decided on moral or more specifically Christian values, there is more and more pressure on public schools and people in general to conform the the teachings of Christ or at least to stay quiet if you don't believe. My purpose in writing this post is to simply point out the dangers of hijacking a religion, any religion, and making it fit certain needs of those in power. Christianity has been hijacked in the past to justify the Salem Witch Trials, slavery in the Old South and even dangerous group think in Nazi Germany (more on this later.) Not only are those in power suppressing critical thought in the name of God and country, but more and more parents are choosing to send their children to Christian schools, creating a whole new generation of group thinkers.

I know I'm probably going to take some heat for comparing Christian schools in America to the madrases in Middle Eastern countries, but I think the comparison is appropriate. The Middle Eastern madrases teach students that Islam is the only correct answer and any other religion or point of view is to be hated and destroyed. I fear more and more children are getting the same teachings in American Christian schools and then having that reinforced by those at the pinnacle of political power. Please understand upfront that I'm not saying in any way that private schools don't have the right to teach their students in this way, they clearly do. And if parents want to spend their hard earned money sending their kids to these schools they are free to do so. My point is two-fold however. First, with enrollment in Christian schools on the rise there will be more and more young adults that have been educated in this way, and that will shape our political future. Second, this is why God, your God, my God any God MUST be left out of public schools. Whatever your faith or lack thereof, you most certainly don't your child exposed to religious teachings that you don't agree with. If public schools allow talk of Christianity, then they must also allow a Mormon teacher to express their beliefs, a Moonie to do likewise and so on. So with that disclaimer, here are some interesting stories about "Christian" teachings in American Madrases.

The Heritage Christian School in Bozeman Montana.
At Heritage students are taught in History class that, "God has blessed America" and that "the truths of the Bible made America the greatest nation on the face of the earth." One can see how maybe a Muslim might be offended by a society teaching their youth that God has chosen a specific nation to be the greatest.

On the subject of other religions, here is an excerpt of a discussion on African religion, "Comparing traditional African religions with Christianity, Kneeland told students that Africans generally believed there were spirits all over the place, who could be tricked or flattered.That is similar to Christianity, one girl said, because there are demons around, and Satan, and angels.Yes, Kneeland said, but we don't believe in tricking or flattering spirits. Witchcraft is not a good thing, she added." Again, some Africans may take offense to children in American being thought that their religion is "witchcraft."

Continuing the discussion of Africa, "What does scripture have to say, Kneeland asked the class, about women in Africa doing virtually all the farm work.One boy quoted from Ephesians, saying that wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord. A girl quoted from the same Bible verse, saying that husbands are supposed to love their wives and help them out. After the class, Kneeland explained that the Bible teaches not that women must submit to men, but that wives should submit to their husbands." Even American women would take offense to that.

Cary Christian School in Cary North Carolina.
I know I covered this one in a previous, but it seems appropriate to cover it again here. Cary Christian is using a booklet entitled "Southern Slavery As It Was." The purpose of the booklet is to "provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren't treated as badly as people think." The principal at Cary Christian says the school uses the book because, "it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery." I would imagine it is.

One of the authors of the booklet is Steve Wilkins who is on the board of directors of the League of the South, which is a group classified as a hate group the the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Here are some excerpts from the booklet,

"To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South." (page 22)

"Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." (page 25)

"Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence." (page 24)

Teaching two sides of an issue is one thing, teaching lies is another. What's next? Teaching that the Jews loved the Nazi's and enjoyed being taken care of by them?

Carson Newman College in Jefferson City Tennessee.
This one troubling on many levels. "Messengers to the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Sevierville asked the education committee of their Executive Board to investigate what is taught at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City. The action came in response to an allegation from Brady Tarr, a current Carson-Newman student, who told messengers some of the college's professors--particularly in the religion and science departments--teach that the Bible has errors and contradictions." Perish the thought that the Bible may have errors and contradictions. The school responded thusly, "Carson-Newman doesn't teach the Bible has errors," the president said. "I believe every single member of the religion department is called by God, and they all believe the Bible." I'm not sure which is more troubling, that a student would "blow the whistle" on professors for bringing up the possibility that the Bible may not be perfect, or the college's president feeling he has to defend his school by saying, in effect, that's not true, we would never challenge these students to think for themselves when the Bible is perfect.

I know the next part of this post is going to rub some people the wrong way as well, so again let me explain before hand. My purpose here is not to compare Republicans to Hitler and the Nazi's in any way other than the fact that both groups favor Christianity in education. My purpose in passing this on is to simply point out the possible perils of allowing religion in public schools and in allowing religion and only religion to guide a nations leaders.

The bulk of the following can be found here in a post by Maureen Farrell.

"I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself" this is from Hitler's writing in Main Kampf but one can easily imagine George W Bush saying it in regards to Iraq.

On the recent rise of "moral" issues in the way people vote Bob Fitrakis wrote, ""When was the last time a Western nation had a leader so obsessed with God and claiming God was on our side? If you answered Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany, you're correct. Nothing can be more misleading than to categorize Hitler as a barbaric pagan or Godless totalitarian, like Stalin."

John Patrick Michael Murphy points out that, "Hitler, like some of the today's politicians and preachers, politicized "family values." He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it."

And then there is this, "Once the mercy of God shown upon us, but we were not worthy of His mercy. Providence withdrew its protection and our people fell, fell as scarcely any other people heretofore. In this deep misery we again learned to pray," Hitler said in 1936, sixty-five years before Falwell and Robertson blamed abortionists and feminists for the tragedies of Sept. 11.

"Speaking in Berlin in March, 1936, Hitler said, 'I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people to be allowed to wage this battle for Germany,' he said, before launching the preventive war heard round the world."

Both Bush and Hitler promised peace while planning a pre-emptive war, "We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended," Bush said, in his State of the Union address in Jan. 2003, two months before launching a preventative war in Iraq. "Never in these long years have we offered any other prayer but this: Lord, grant to our people peace at home, and grant and preserve to them peace from the foreign foe!"Hitler said in Nuremberg on Sept. 13, 1936.

Here is one last quote from Hitler during this time when everyone seems to want Christianity to be a part of public schools, "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith." (The German Churches Under Hitler, p.241)

Again, to clarify, I'm not saying Republicans or George W Bush are as diabolical as Hitler and the Nazi's. I understand that they are not now nor will they ever round up gays and non believers and send the to concentration camps. I do believe, however, that we are in danger in this country of ceasing to participate in critical thought and critical discussions in order to fall in line with the political and religious pressures brought to bear by those in power. While we fight the perversion of Islam around the world, we are allowing a perversion of Christianity right before our eyes.

12/13/2004

And Here's Number Two

Daily Caucus reprinted a post from Kos today under the headline, "First Republican Senator To Lose All Faith in Rumsfeld" That post was about Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

Well that makes
John McCain (R-AZ) the second such Republican Senator, "U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has 'no confidence' in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops."

I guess McCain can expect a call like
Tom Tancredo received from Karl Rove last week. "After dubbing President Bush's 'open door' border policy a threat to national security, Rep. Tom Tancredo says, he got a call from Bush aide Karl Rove proposing that he never again 'darken the doorstep of the White House.'"

The list of Republicans allowed at the White House is getting smaller all the time. Forget strengthening the international coalition in Iraq, Bush can't even manage a coalition of his own party.


Democrats Plan Oversight

"Senate Democrats announced plans yesterday for wide-ranging hearings to examine Bush administration policies and conduct, saying the Republicans who control both houses of Congress have abdicated responsibility for oversight of the GOP administration."

I'm not sure but I think under Bush's definition of "terrorist" this makes the Senate Democrats terrorists. You know, what with that whole "either your with us or against us" stuff.

Be prepared to have John Thune tell every Democrat in the Senate that they are "emboldening the enemy" by actually questioning the authority of the president.

12/12/2004

Active Arrest Warrant Out for Kerik

Amongst the shouts of Republicans in the Senate and the administration's continued push for every single Bush judicial nominee to be confirmed, no matter how crazy, comes word that Bernard Kerik is a wanted man. Of course Kerik was to replace Tom Ridge as Secretary of Homeland Security but withdrew on Friday night because, as the story goes, he may have had an illegal immigrant as a nanny.

According to
Newsweek, that may not have been the only reason. Seems Kerik is wanted in New Jersey. "NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president."

This just proves how little care the Bush administration takes when nominating people for top positions. It also illustrates why some judges have not been given the oft mentioned "up and down vote" in the Senate. If a person is not qualified why should they even be considered, and if the President won't do the research, I guess it falls to the Senate Democrats.

If At First You Don't Secede, Try Try Again

From the glorious Red South we now have a Christian school teaching students that slavery is justified in the bible, and that slaves weren't really treated too badly. Leaders of the Cary Christian School say they are using a booklet called, "Southern Slavery, As It Was," because, "it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery." I wonder why?!

One of the authors of the booklet is Steve Wilkins who is also a member of the board of directors of League of the South, which has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Here are some of the high points of the booklet:

"To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South." (page 22)

"Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence." (page 24) (I especially like this one, mutual affection? Really?)

"Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." (page 25)

"Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South -- and had a much easier existence." (page 30) (Why weren't the poor whites of the South lining up to volunteer as slaves then?)


12/09/2004

Rumsfeld Lies And So Does Bush

This week Rumsfeld told a bunch of National Guardsmen in Kuwait that they weren't getting the armored vehicles they need because the companies producing the armor couldn't keep up with production, "It's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money, it isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

Then today Bush backed up Rumsfeld's lie up by admitting that he lied to the families of those serving in Iraq, "I've told many families I've met with we're doing everything we can to protect your loved ones in a mission that is vital and important."

KGO TV in San Francisco/Oakland found a
different story. Their reporter Mark Matthews took it upon himself to actually talk to the companies that produce the armor in question, something Rumsfeld and Bush apparently haven't done. Here is what Matthews discovered.

"The company that makes armored Humvees says they've already offered to increase production and that it wouldn't cost them any extra. That's something Donald Rumsfeld denied yesterday in talking with National Guard troops in Kuwait. "

"...the Florida company that makes the armor plating both for the Humvees and the Army's bullet proof vests says it told the Pentagon several times it could easily increase production by 22 percent. That's 50 to 100 extra Humvees every month, but so far the Army hasn't responded."

"And a Sacramento company that provides steel panel for door panels told ABC7 they could make more and that it's just a matter of money. The Sierra Army Depot, assembling the Humvee kits, could increase production by 150 percent."

Just remember these are the same people that impeached Bill Clinton for lying about SEX!

12/07/2004

We Don't Understand Our Enemies (Again)

The Pentagon, in a report prepared for Donald Rumsfeld, has concluded that, "Muslims do not 'hate our freedoms', but rather, they hate our policies." Really? I, for one, am shocked. I mean did anyone really believe that they hated us for our freedoms? I mean anyone whose middle initial isn't "W"? If you did, or if you still do, let me ask you this simple question...why did Osama bin Laden hate the Soviets when he fought them in Afghanistan? Was it all the freedom those Soviets enjoyed while under the oppressive thumb of communism? Of course not. He hated the fact that a foreign invader was occupying a Muslim country. This simple fact seems to have escaped our Great Leader.

The report goes on to point out that many Muslims see our attempts to force our style of democracy on them at gunpoint as something less than honest, given our continued support of dictatorial, oppressive governments in place like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Pakistan.

Now either the Bush administration has a very simple view of the Arab world, or they are simply feeding the American people a very simple view of the Arab world, I'm not sure which is worse, but neither is acceptable.

Of course this isn't the first time we have failed to understand our enemy, and with tragic results. The popular view of Ho Chi Minh then and now is that he was a Communist for the sake of being a Communist, that he actually believed in world communist domination. That after a victory in Vietnam he would help the Soviets export communism to the rest of Southeast Asia. The famous (or infamous) domino theory. What was missed then, and to some extent even today, is that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first and simply used communism as a means to that end. He wanted the United States, and before that France, to simply leave his country. He accepted aid from the Soviets because they offered it. He called himself a communist in order to gain the support he needed to drive America out of his country. Of course we clung to the misguided belief that if we lost Vietnam the rest of Southeast Asia would necessarily fall to the communists as well. In the end this was simply not true. Again, we have a fatal flaw when it comes to understanding our enemies. We try to make them fit into a box that we understand, that makes sense to us.

There seems to be a new domino theory now, sort of a reverse domino theory. If we make Iraq a democracy the rest of the Middle East will necessarily follow. It wasn't true of communism in Southeast Asia, so be wary of anyone telling you it will be true of democracy in the Middle East.

12/06/2004

Clear Channel

Here in South Dakota a right wing blogger is on an almost incoherent rant against local newsman Steve Hemmingsen for refusing to denounce local newspaper reporter David Kranz for possibly having been friendly with Senator Tom Daschle when they where in college and then having the audacity to still earn a living. He also likes to keep track of what he calls liberal hypocrisy. I wonder if he will ever denounce Clear Channel Media?

Just to recap, Clear Channel is one of the largest media companies in the country and is home to the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. It seems Clear Channel also owns numerous billboards and if they don't have paying customers for those billboards they see fit to put what they call "political public service message's" on them. You know messages like "George W. Bush - Our Leader." Now at first it may not seem like much, I mean Bush is our leader, but imagine if say Kelo-TV had used some unsold time last March to run a commercial with the message "Tom Daschle - Our Senator" it would have been true and yet it don't think it would have gone un-noticed.

Clear Channel's excuse (if you want to call it that) goes like this, "Clear Channel Outdoor markets are operated locally. Local managers determine what copy to use when a location has time that is not sold to an advertiser." Again, imagine the above Kelo-TV scenario and then imagine CBS saying that essentially they can't control Kelo. Click here for pics of the billboards, scroll down to number 9.

I'm sure this is just a coincidence, but Clear Channel recently announced that Fox News will be their main provider of hourly news updates on their news/talk stations. You know, "Fair and Balanced."

And this. Seems Clear Channel has made the decision to let the FCC run their human resources department. In a self-important press release on their website entitled "Broadcast Decency", the following can be found, "If the FCC accuses us of wrongdoing by issuing a proposed fine, we will take immediate action. We will suspend the DJ in question, and perform a swift investigation. If we or the government ultimately determine the offending broadcast is indecent, the DJ will be terminated without delay." We or the government? Really? I hate to call names, but if the swastika fits...

And then my favorite. An anti-war group called Project Billboard actually purchased space on a Clear Channel billboard in Times Square only to have Clear Channel pull the plug due to the content of the ad. The billboard was to have the inflammatory slogan "Democracy Is Best Taught by Example, Not by War." Damn Left Wing media!

12/03/2004

Even More Social Security

"Calling the current system of Social Security benefits unsustainable, a top economic adviser to President Bush on Thursday strongly implied that any overhaul of the system would have to include major cuts in guaranteed benefits for future retirees."

"Let me state clearly that there are no free lunches here," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at a conference on tax policy here.

"The benefits now scheduled for future generations under current law are not sustainable given the projected path of payroll tax revenue," he added. "They are empty promises." more

So future benefits will have to be cut and the best way to make up for that is to allow people to pay LESS into the system? You decide.

12/02/2004

More Pressing Than Social Security

My last post on privatization of Social Security got such a good response I thought I should throw some more gas on the fire.

While Republican lawmakers and the Bush Administration are sounding alarm bells for Social Security, a program that will run out of money in roughly 40 years, there is a much more pressing issue that nobody wants to deal with. We are 16 years away from an S&L style bailout of bankrupt pension plans.

"The federal agency that insures workers' pensions said this week its deficit for traditional corporate retirement programs doubled to a record $23.3 billion, prompting renewed hand-wringing on Capitol Hill about the sorry state of private retirement plans."

Wait, did they say private retirement plans? As in privatization of Social Security? And yet this fool proof plan is resulting in a record number of pension bankruptcies. And why, you may ask, are these private pension plans failing at a record pace? "Private pensions have been battered by an unstable stock market, soured investments, low interest rates, and a failure of companies to commit enough funding to support weak plans. Those problems show up as a steady rise in the number of newly failed plans, from 92 in 2000 to 192 last year." Did I hear that right? An unstable stock market has caused 100 huge private pensions to go bankrupt in just four years? It's probably just a coincidence that this happened under the watchful eye of George Bush.

As the above quote mentions, there are no laws requiring companies to fully fund their pension plans that their loyal employees count on. Instead of Republicans making corporations step up to meet their obligations, they allow these companies to run to the government for a bailout. The government will in turn run to the taxpayers for a bailout. All the while these corporations and their exorbitantly paid executives are reaping the benefits of the Bush tax plan catered to benefit them. I guess we are still waiting for all that money to "tickle down".

Don't take my word for it, here is what Bernard Wasow a senior fellow and economist at The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institution has to say, "Are Social Security privatization and trouble at the PBGC related? You bet. The trouble at the PBGC illustrates the great risks involved in retirement planning, risks that have swamped enough private pension plans to require a Congressional bailout. Yet the Bush administration is proposing to wind down the only part of retirement income that is secure -- guaranteed against the business cycle, inflation, and corporate malfeasance -- and replace it with risky private accounts, with no guarantees at all."


12/01/2004

Former Bush Campaign Official Indicted

"Internet DoS attacks, which overload a Web site's servers and cause them to be temporarily inaccessible, have targeted everything from Whitehouse.gov to the SCO Group and eBay.
Now James Tobin, who was the top Bush campaign official for New England and formerly the Republican National Committee's regional director, is being accused of mounting a similar kind of attack on the phone networks of five Democratic Party offices during the November 2002 election."
more

Wait...Republican election shenanigans? Surely this is an isolated case.
Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana...I'm sure there's more but it's late and I'm tired.

This Could Be YOUR Retirement

That lovable Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has "lost almost $460,000 in stock market investments since 2000 and now does not have enough to cover a sizable bank loan, according to federal election records and the manager of the Frist account. "

Even as Tom Daschle is leaving office he is still looking out for us. Daschle aid Todd Webster sent out an email raising questions about Republican's plan to allow you to put part your Social Security in the same stock market that Frist lost a half-million dollars in during the last four years. "He still thinks we should put seniors' Social Security funds in the stock market?!"

For everyone that voted for Thune and Bush, be careful, you may just get what you asked for.

Rumsfeld Sued For War Crimes

"US human rights advocates have opened a lawsuit against the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and top-level military officers in the city of Karlsruhe in Germany. The case is for committing war crimes"...more

Later in the story this quote appears, "the existence of 'torture memos' drafted by administration officials and the authorization of techniques that violated humanitarian law by Secretary Rumsfeld, Lt. General Sanchez and others make clear that responsibility for Abu Ghraib and other violations of law reaches all the way to the top."

Of course our new nominee for Attorney General was the man behind those "torture memos". Makes you proud to be an American doesn't it?

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