Monday, July 31, 2006

Changes in Cuba

Whoa. This is too big not to mention briefly.
HAVANA - Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished his presidential powers to his brother Raul on Monday night and told Cubans he underwent surgery.

.The Cuban leader said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, according to the letter read live on television by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga.

"The operation obligates me to undertake several weeks of rest," the letter read, adding that extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure."
The guy is 80 years old. I hope he can hold on for another couple of years. I shudder to think what Bush might do if he dies before the end of the term.
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Down for the count

Well I had the best intentions, and I have a lot to say, but it turned out to be a 15 hour day and it was an especially difficult shift so I'm turning in for the night. I'll be back in the morning. I have some time off for the next few days.
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Ceasefire off to a bad start

I'm working today and it's been a busy one so I won't be doing any real posting until later tonight. I did manage to post a quick dig this morning at my idiot co-blogger at the Detroit News, JD, whose gone from incomprehensible to downright scummy. He's apparently learning the ropes at the feet of the slavering brain dead fans of LGF.

I would have simply ignored him as usual, since generally he's so incoherent, any sane person would discount him out of hand but he actually out right lied in a post and I couldn't let that go without remark.

It's barely worth reading the exchange, but I don't want you folks to miss the link to what I thought was the best editorial I've seen on the Israel-Lebanon debacle, which was written by BuzzFlash. I thought they put the issues into focus really well.

They overcame what has been the most troubling for me, the sense of defending Hezbollah, which I don't want to do, while still making clear why Israel's actions have been unacceptable to a civilized society.
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Great Debate

I'm on a roll at the Detroit News this morning. We're having quite a "discussion" so you might want to start from the top and keep scrolling for the full effect. Or you can catch just my posts through my hopelessly out of date bio.
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The separation of church and hate*

This is my kind of evangelical preacher. Anyone who dares to say this in a "Christian" mega-church is on the right path.
Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
Indeed. Those who profess to be Chrisitans might try to remember that Jesus preached love they neighbor, not hate thy enemy.

*[header ht to Sabin B.]
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Kennedy belatedly blasts Roberts and Alito

Ted Kennedy has had an ephiphany. He now says Roberts and Alito pulled a fast one on the Senate during their nomination hearings, concealing their true agendas with evasive answers and further accuses the GOP of perverting the process by insisting the line of questioning be limited to the "personal qualities" of the candidates rather than the record of their previous works. Excuse me for a moment while I bang my head against the wall...

Ted is just figuring this out? Where the hell was he when the whole of Left Blogtopia was pleading for a filibuster? Oh I remember, he was crawling under his desk with his hands over his head, hiding from the "nuclear option." So now he's raising the questions that should have been asked at the time? Too little, too late Mr. Senator. This kind of talk would helped then, now it just looks like sour grapes. And whining about how the GOP co-opted the process when it's too late to do anything about it just reminds the voters how the Democrats wimped out when we needed you to take a stand.

Update: Avedon takes me to task in comments, pointing out that Kennedy did call for a filibuster and her critique is much more on target. But I still say he came in too late and he did too little to stop it.
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

White House drafts bill to avoid due process

This is scary. The Bush administration continues its relentless assault on our freedom and thumbs its nose at SCOTUS' authority.
WASHINGTON - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill. [...]

Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of terror ties would lose access to a civilian court — and all the rights that come with it. Administration officials have said they want to establish a secret court to try enemy combatants that factor in realities of the battlefield and would protect classified information.

The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.
If that doesn't smack of totalitarianism and fascism, I don't know what does.
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Blogging for Dollars

Well after three years of blogging, I've finally installed the bleg button on the sidebar. I'm such a technodope, I'm not sure I did it right, but then again I don't have any great expectation that anyone who reads me really has any extra cash. But, just in case George Soros or Bill Gates or some other philanthropist types happen to stumble on my humble little place and want to help a blogger out, I figure I'd make it easy for them to donate. I could certainly use a little help right now.
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Blogger promote thyself

I having a hard time figuring out what exactly to blog about over there but my first guest post at Unity O8 is up. I even got a comment. Not that it addressed what I was saying but at least it didn't diss my premise.
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Video of the day

If you missed it, Josh has video of the Bush-Blair press conference in which Bush demonstrates a terrifying lack of understanding about what's really happening on the Middle East. It's worth the five minutes to watch your president spout the same lines -- again -- that bamboozled the public into believing he had an actual plan to "win" the war on terror.

Bush begins his answer thusly, to a question on whether he still believes his Iraq policy was bringing stability, as promised, to the Middle East.
"David, it's an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability.

For a while, American foreign policy was just, Let's hope everything is calm - kind of, managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th."
Note the new meme of "confronting" the problems, not to be confused with solving them because, you know, 9/11 changed everything..... Frightening stuff. Watch the rest for yourself.
The look on Tony Blair's face alone is worth the view.
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Diplomacy is the best policy

Despite initially blaming Hamas and Hezbollah for the current conflict in Lebanon the NYT is now taking a more measured view of the situation in today's editorial and speaks here to the crux of the matter.
There is a difference between justified and smart. Israel’s airstrikes against Hezbollah targets are legitimate so long as Hezbollah wages war against Israel and operates outside the control of the Lebanese government. But the air campaign is now doing Israel more harm than good.
The obvious problem with Israel's current campaign is it no longer looks defensive. Their incursions deep into Lebanese territory, far beyond the staging areas of Hezbollah's inferior weaponry, and their relentless destruction of the infrastructure begins to look in the eyes of the world as patently aggressive and needlessly puntative since it's obvious to all but the most diehard defenders of these tactics that Israel cannot "destroy" Hezbollah with bombs short of killing every single person in Lebanon.

Hezbollah is more than just a militia. It's a political party with strong support among the Lebanese of the south. Wholesale bombing that results in the deaths of women and children who are fleeing the destruction will do nothing to dislodge the support of the political arm of Hezbollah and will only serve, as we have seen in al-Qaeda's latest missive, to bond together extremist groups that normally would be in competition with Hezbollah's militants. One fails to see how this will make the region more stable or Israel (and by extension US interests) more secure. It appears to having rather the opposite effect.

Many scoff at the idea of a ceasefire as an idea that has been tried and failed to secure peace. One might note that bombings and other acts of violence have also regularly been perpetrated by all sides and have failed to resolve the issues that continue to divide the region as well. The longer this current campaign goes on, the more intractable the various factions positions will become and those on the sidelines will be forced to take sides. Again, this is already occurring as the Arab nations begin to line up behind Lebanon.

It well past time for the US to assume its traditional diplomatic role and take the lead in defusing this latest conflict. Surely, even another round of tentative peace is preferable to endless war and much worldwide goodwill that has been lost because of our ill-advised foreign policy blunders, could be regained with a US mediation that leads to a neutral international peacekeeping force. As the Times rightly notes, "If Washington is about to come off the diplomatic sidelines to which it has foolishly consigned itself for the past two weeks, it will discover a real opportunity to help Israel’s security, America’s international image and pro-Western Arab governments."

Indeed, bombs bring only death, diplomacy at least stands a chance of bringing peace to a region that has been at war far too long.
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Honesty is the best policy

It's been a long week and I'm burned out, so I'm cheating with this meme. I like the questions but I'm surprised at the results. I would have thought I would score much higher but I guess I'm only brutally honest about my politics.

You Are 52% Brutally Honest

Honesty is important to you, but generally, you try not to be brutal about it.

You'll sugar coat the truth when you need to... and tell a white lie when necessary.

Shamelessly stolen from here.
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White House asks for mercy on Capitol Hill

Under the heading if they didn't do anything wrong, why are they so nervous, the White House is sending in its minions to plead for after the fact authorization for their illegal acts.
An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees in the terrorism fight, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.

Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks.
Right, a shield, otherwise known as covering our ass for flaunting the laws.

I'm not really a vindictive person. Forgiveness generally comes easily to me, but it would make me very happy to see this entire administration do the fabled frog walk for their war crimes. As the Congress considers this plea for mercy from the administration they might want to remember the administration has relentlessly refused to show any mercy itself, to anyone -- ever.
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Block Bolton

I signed Care2 Connect's petition last night to block John Bolton's permanent appointment to the UN position.

Bolton is a disaster and it's so typical of this White House to sneak these things in when the general public is focused on other bigger snafus of foreign policy. Meanwhile, they're caving left and right inside the Senate, the premise being now that we've managed to turn the Middle East into a roiling snake pit of violence, we need consistency at the UN. But like I said to my two GOP lackeys in the Senate, if you must have a crony in the position, at least get me one that has some diplomatic ability.

We still have time to complain on this one but if you're unlikely to remember to write your Senators, click over and sign the petition. It couldn't hurt.
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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Scientist wants off the no-fry list

Peter Doran, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wants to get off the no-fry list. No, that's not a typo, his research on polar climate has been widely and wrongfully cited by the "skeptics" as "proof" that global warming is a myth born in the fevered imaginations of environmentalists. As he states in an op-ed in the NYT, the global warming skeptics, focused on one small part of his study and have been using it out of context for the last four and half years.
Our results have been misused as “evidence” against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel “State of Fear” and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents — all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that “the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle.” I have never thought such a thing either.
Doran admits that his and a similar study published in Science magazine at the same time have not provided the definitive answer about how global warming will ultimately affect the planet but nothing in his study should be construed to suggest that the planet is cooling rather than warming. He admits that some disagreements exist among scientists over how the phenomenon will play out but in the meantime he would really appreciate it if the skeptics would stop skewing his research for their own purposes. I would respectfully suggest, he not hold his breath waiting.
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Candidate X says it was all all in fun

Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele on Wednesday called President Bush his "homeboy," reversed course on having the president campaign for him and said he was joking when he described his Republican affiliation as a scarlet letter.

I wonder if it had anything to do with this?
At the White House, Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the president understands what politics is about, "and he wants Michael Steele to be elected as senator."

Snow declined to say how the president responded when told what Steele had said. "I could, but I won't," Snow said. But he remarked dryly, "I think the comments have come to his attention."
Looks to me like now that it's become such an issue, Steele will have to allow Bush to campaign for him and Bush will have to do it in order to save face. The whole off the record remarks in the first place was ridiculous but it would be pretty funny if Steele ulimately loses because he was forced to hitch his star to Bush as a result of this ill-advised "joke."
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Save the Starburst flavors....

...and help a blogger out. While I've been whining about my petty little problems over at Last One Speaks, the lovely Maeve has been having a really horrendous week. Besides dealing with an influx of crazy patrons at her bartending gig, she's been in a auto accident and had a SWAT team descend next door to her. But that's not the worst of it. She just found out Starburst is dropping the only two flavors her son likes.

Now this may not seem to be such an earthshaking problem to you, but her son is autistic and Starburst was an extraordinarily effective reward that he responded well to in terms of his therapy -- but only the two dropped flavors worked.. He doesn't like the other flavors at all. Contacting Starburst could help save those flavors -- tropical punch and kiwi strawberry -- from oblivion. Thanks to the ever alert Lisa, here's the link to write to Starburst or if you prefer to call, the number is 1-800-551-0683.

Please take a moment to help this mom and her son and ask Starburst to bring those flavors back.
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Psalms and omens

This little item had me reading the Holy Bible today. A construction worker in Ireland spotted an ancient text while he was digging in a bog. "The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000." Ironically, "the book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel." It's an angry song and asks God to smite the enemies of Israel.

Odd coincidence that, but I'm thinking paper was scarce then and the scribes wrote small so it's likely there's at least four psalms on those two pages. So out of curiousity, I checked the next three. Psalm 84 is "A Psalm of the sons of Korah." It's a song of lament about a man who lives far from the House of the Lord and wishes to be within its hallowed walls.

But Psalm 85 is a song of hope. I liked these passages.
11 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
12 Truth springeth out of the earth; and righteousness hath looked down from heaven.
And Psalm 86 is a song of humility and peace. This passage struck me as apt.
17 Work in my behalf a sign for good; that they that hate me may see it, and be put to shame, because Thou, LORD, hast helped me, and comforted me.
If there is a moral here, I think it's to remember that no one piece solves the entire puzzle.
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Say hello

I found this one in my referral log and I really liked it and not just because they linked to me. I'll be adding this one to the blog roll. Click on over and check out 100 Monkeys Typing.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just call him Candidate X

This is funniest thing I've read all day. A Republican candidate for the Senate that holds a press conference but wants to remain anonymous because he wants to distance himself from the Bush.
The candidate gave the luncheon briefing to nine reporters from newspapers, magazines and networks under the condition that he be identified only as a GOP Senate candidate. When he was pressed to go on the record, his campaign toyed with the idea but got cold feet. He was anxious enough to air his gripes but cautious enough to avoid a public brawl with the White House.
It appears the GOP is planning with go with the Stockholm Syndrome defense on the campaign trail, as in we only pretended to be on board with the White House agenda because we were afraid. The scary thing is it just might work.
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Lebanon's summer surprise

I've done my Lebanon post of the day here at the Detroit News. I don't really want to talk about it any more. I want them to stop this crazy shit before it drives me crazy. It's so senseless and today's justification memes are so irritating. I'll only add to my thoughts at DetNews on blaming the civilians that I'm as surprised as Hezbollah is that Israel would react with extreme aggressiveness to an ordinary skirmish in a long standing conflict over disputed terroritory.

Eugene Robinson, just back from vacation, sums it up well. I'm giving him quote of the day on the situation.
Bush's endorsement of the violence that Israel is inflicting on Lebanon -- a sustained bombing campaign that has killed hundreds of civilians and can only be seen as collective punishment -- is truly astonishing. Of course Israel has the right to defend itself against Hezbollah's rocket attacks. But how can this utterly disproportionate, seemingly indiscriminate carnage be anything but counterproductive?
I can't think of a way but if anyone else can, please leave it in comments.
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Spector to the rescue?

This could be good news. Hot on the heels of the ABA's recommendation that Congress take action to re-clarify the separation of powers as related to the signing statements, Arlen Spector is continuing in his Jekyll and Hyde approach to holding the government accountable and promises to "have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue Bush in federal court."
"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.
I'm not holding my breath on this one, considering Mr. Spector also proposed legislation just last week that would not only make legal the White House's illegal NSA surveillance, but would prevent any meaningful review of its practices. Nonetheless, one can always hope for a common sense breakthrough on Capitol Hill that once again makes accountability mandatory on Pennsylvania Ave.
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Signing statements of the times...

The NYT weighs in on the ABA's proposed resolutions on signing statements. The editorial reminds us that the greatest danger in these statements is not even the perversion of the legislative branch's intent, although that's certainly a concern. It's the advancement of the unitary executive theory. We will certainly rue this down the line, if we allow this theory to become accepted as a standard for government policy, now. There's no easier avenue to some form of fascism.

This theory of course, has been the thrust of the unprecendented use of these signing statements by the Bush administration and the reason all proposed legislation brought forward by the Bush loyalists in the GOP is vetted by Cheney's office. However, I hadn't realized that the White House had the gall to specifically mention unitary executive priviledge as a justification in 82 of the 750+ statements he has inserted into the record. It appears we our rogue president no longer cares about even preserving the facade of following the rule of law, instead claiming sovereign rights to write his own as he, and only he, sees fit -- which doesn't fit any definition of democracy I know.
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Monday, July 24, 2006

Short takes

I don't usually blog about the Israel Palestine issues, mainly out of respect for my many Jewish friends. I'm afraid my opinion of Israel isn't any better than it is of the other militia groups that slaughter innocent civilians in the name of some God driven cause. Nonetheless current events have forced me to weigh in and I've taken up a substantial amount of bandwidth at the Detroit News on that subject and more lately.

On a lighter note, Crooks and Liars has some vintage video of Bush attempting to name the world leaders in 1999. This was part of the reason no one believed he could elected in 2000. Who would vote for a president that was that uninformed? Of course, he wasn't exactly elected either, was he?

And this amused me, since she "represents" me now. It appears Senator Dole is losing her cachet as a moneymaker. I want to see her lose her seat as well. Her and the other useless GOP tool Burr. I should make them the focus of my dump the incumbent campaign.
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The birth of political dirty tricks

An interesting op-ed on just how the politics of fear and derision became rooted in our political process. Here's a clip:
A fateful meeting took place in 1993 when Rove was then special assistant to the Republican National Committee. Bush elder asked Rove to deliver a set of car keys to his son. Just home from Harvard, George W. and the man who was later to catapult him to the presidency had never met. Here is how Rove remembers the fateful meeting: "Huge amounts of charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma, you know? Wow."

Since that fateful day, it's been a long journey for Rove with the man who calls him "Turdblossom." One wonders if the memory of Atwater still lingers. Did he lift a glass to his old mentor and teacher when he "swiftboated" John Kerry?

There was a time in American history when candidates appealed to our hopes and dreams rather than our fears and prejudices, our divisions and hates. As long as winning is achieved through the kind of tactics that Atwater and Rove have honed to perfection, don't expect to see a change.
It's short, read it all for yourself.
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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tax audits are only for the 'little people'

What incredible arrogance. This administration has no shame.
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days.
The logic here is that White House and its lackeys on Capitol Hill managed to slip in enough tax dodges that there is less tax due to collect and thus less need for overview. IRS officials on the administration's take say it's not cost effective to pursue the frauds down to the last dime because they're already making 80% of their recovery on 10% of the audits. But the cheating among those Bush calls "his people" is only increasing.
Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.

The six I.R.S. tax lawyers, some of whom were willing to be named, all said that clear evidence of fraud was pursued vigorously by the agency, but that when audits showed the use of complicated schemes to understate the value of assets, the I.R.S. had become increasingly reluctant to pursue cases.

The lawyers said that the risk analysis system the I.R.S. used to evaluate whether to pursue such cases gave higher-level officials cover to not pursue tax cheats and, in the process, emboldened the most aggressive tax advisers to prepare gift and estate tax returns that shortchanged the government.
So in other words, they're cutting staff to investigate fraud because it will make it easier for the top level bureaucrats to cover for the top tier campaign donors. I feel certain there's a Bushenomic explanation for how this institutionalized fraud somehow contributes to the boom, but the only sound I hear is the squeezing of the middle class to foot the bill.
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ABA takes on the White House over signing statements

This is good news. The ABA is pushing a five resolutions taking on the disportionate use of executive signing statements.

Now, U.S. News has learned, an American Bar Association task force is set to suggest even stronger action. In a report to be released Monday, the task force will recommend that Congress pass legislation providing for some sort of judicial review of the signing statements. Some task force members want to simply give Congress the right to sue over the signing statements; other task force members will not characterize what sort of judicial review might ultimately emerge. [...]

[T]he ABA will review four other resolutions, three directed to the president and one to Congress. The first three ask the president not to use signing statements as a kind of shortcut veto. If the president thinks a bill or part of a bill is unconstitutional, one of these resolution declares, he should feel free to say so—but he should do that before he signs it, not after. The other resolution suggests Congress craft legislation to make signing statements more transparent and more accessible. Currently, signing statements are not sent directly to Congress, and they are often ambiguous in their intent. But a law could require the president to write a report explaining exactly how and why he plans not to enforce a law, if he plans not to enforce it, for every signing statement he issues.
It may not amount to much, but it's a start. Every public entity that stands up for government accountability can only help.
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Got a new gig

I've been invited to guest blog for a couple of months for a new project called Unity08. I accepted even though I have zero free time because, despite some reservations about their approach, it sounds to me like the best solution I've heard to take back our government from the special interests and give it back to the people.

I've already posted an introduction to the project at The Detroit News so I won't repeat the spiel here. I trust you highest common denominator readers to click the link and make your own judgements.

Meanwhile, I'm off to compose my first post. It should be interesting to see how long I last, or if they even acccept my entries. From what I've seen so far, my style is significantly different from the other bloggers and my politics are a lot farther left. Still I'm all about finding consensus, so I'll give a whirl.
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fun with referrals

A lot of people are posting funny search referrals on the weekends, so I decided to check on mine. I found an odd assortment.

Russell Stormer - I had forgotten I posted about the lonely patent guy

bible what does it mean to petition the Lord - I'm #1 hit on this and actually I get a lot of hits from some variation of "petition the Lord with Prayer." I imagine that's okay with the Doors fans but those looking for religious instruction must leave with their eyeballs burning.

leak spin - I'm #1 hit on that search as well. Strikes me as an odd search term but I think I've seen it before.

bush reptilian - I've also seen this search more than once in my referrals. I always wonder if they're looking for confirmation that he really is a snake in the grass.

"breast fondling" AND "New York" AND "strip club" - this is my favorite and I'm #1 on this one once again. I really wonder what they wanted to figure out. And by the way, I did not blog about those things all at the same time but I had the right combo of posts I guess to rate the top slot.
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Let them adopt embryos

Bob Geiger posting at the HuffPo has the best response to the wingnuts objections to "murdering" frozen embryos. He proposes all the anti-stem cell research fanatics adopt the stem cells immediately to prove just how much they value the life of pre-born single cells over the well being of the already living who suffer with life threatening conditions that could be cured by the science.

He rightly suggests all the legislators that voted against the bill and refused to override the veto step up to be first in line. I think he's got something there but what do you want to bet when it comes to putting their adoption papers where their mouth is, these folks "concern" for the unborn would melt about as fast as the snowflakes these "babies" are named after?
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Cheney sings the same old song

Cheney touts the latest hellish conflict in the Middle East as a good reason for "staying the course" and as proof it is vital to keep the GOP in power. Yeah, vote Republican because who doesn't think inciting endless violence is cool and who wouldn't want WWIII to land on our doorstep?
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End of an era

He's said it before but this time I think he means it
. Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue is hanging up up his keyboard and retiring to a quieter life in the hills of Virginny. I'm going to miss him.
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Friday, July 21, 2006

White House not out of the woods on NSA just yet

I'm glad to see this. Spector's Senate NSA surveillance bill faces a fight from some Dems and other critics. Thank G-d somebody is willing to say the stupid bill is a disaster.
Specter's proposal would, among other things, allow the transfer of all pending lawsuits to a secret FISA appeals court that could throw the cases out for "any reason." The bill would also allow -- but not require -- the administration to seek legal approval for the NSA program from another secret court that administers FISA.

The legislation also would lengthen the amount of time the government could spy on alleged terrorism suspects before receiving warrants, and would explicitly affirm the president's "constitutional authority" to conduct spying programs on his own.
In other words, it's a simple rubberstamp for the administration's trampling of the law and the only oversight written into it would be dependent on Bush keeping his word to voluntarily subject his habitual malfeasance to review. As if we can depend on that.
The alternative bills don't appear to be a whole lot better but at least it keeps the debate alive and one can only hope some few courageous legislators will emerge to finally hold the White House accountable for this gross violation of established law.
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Netroots vs centrists? Bah.

I get so sick and tired of hearing about how the netroots are screwing up the Democratic Party. It's time for these people to get a clue. The DLC are not centrists, they're political opportunists whose thinly disguised agenda is to frame themselves as better Republicans. It's embarrassing to see them embracing GOP slogans and positions long after they've become obsolete and in fact have become damaging. Who do they think they're fooling when they paint the progressives as a fringe group of liberal extremists?

They're just a bunch of losers who resent being challenged for their long standing control of the machine to which they feel completely entitled, no matter how badly they fail to do their job.
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Who's out to get Mike Ruppert?

This is pretty horrible. From the Wilderness' Mike Ruppert's home and office were completely trashed. Check out the photos. It's outrageous. He's not speculating on who did it, although he hasn't ruled out our government as the perp.

Meanwhile, Vheadline, out of Caracas reports, "Ruppert is in Caracas and just formalizing an application for political asylum in Venezuela!" --General News Desk

The FTW site is still up but it's been a devastating blow to his entire enterprise. Send him a good thought.
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Tell it like is....

Today's humor thanks to Lester: An unofficial transcript from an amusing call on CSPAN this morning:
"We go to Evans, Georgia. Hello caller."

"Hi I think the Israelis should go to Australia or England or the US. I think that would put a stop to a lot of the conflict."

"So you think they should abandon Israel is what you're saying?"


"Would you like it if someone told you to abandon where you're from, Evans, Georgia?"

"Yeah...I hate it here."
With honesty like that, this guy should be running for office. But probably not for mayor of Evans.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Feel the glory bumps

Well the true believers who are waiting for the second coming are all excited. They are pretty darn sure this is it, the big bang, the whole enchilada served up on the Holy platter. Harpers offers a few choice selections from the Rapture Ready/End Times chat board. My personal favorite:
In another thread, someone brought up the fact that the kidnapping of the first Israeli soldier that started this whole thing was on June 25th and if you count from that day to August is *EXACTLY 40 days!!!!!*

I find that to be a HUGE coincidence.
Boy oh boy, me too. Isn't it usually like 53 days or something?

I know it's not nice but I keep having this recurring vision of all the rapture freaks who talk the talk but don't walk the walk, stepping up to the bench on judgement day and being rejected for being such hypocrites while they let the "heathens" like us in. Ah the wailing and the gnashing of teeth will rise to the heavens, but to no avail.....

[hat tip mcoady]
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Why Kerry shouldn't run

He's just too easy to lampoon. A little Equal Opportunity Humor for my pal Snark. Shamelessly stolen from this guy.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Voter backlash begins

Couldn't have happened to a better guy. Fundie freedom hater Ralph Reed found his connections to the fraud known as the Abramoff bribery scandal couldn't be overcome by the blind faith of his loyal followers. He was forced to concede to his opponent in his bid for the GOP nomination for Lt. Gov. of Georgia.

More surprising to me is that Cynthia McKinney failed to garner more than 50% of the vote in her district and will face a run-off against Hank Johnson, a former county commissioner who seems to have a built in base of supporters in her home territory. Perhaps her little run-in with the Capitol police a few months ago hurt her image more than she might have expected. I thought at the time she had handled it all very badly. I guess I'm not the only one.
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White House doesn't need no stinkin' oversight

In case you missed it, Think Progress has the video of AG Al Gonzalez admitting the president personally blocked investigation into the NSA program by OPR lawyers, by refusing to authorize security clearances.

You have to ask, if the White House is so certain the program is legal, why are they working so hard to prevent it from being reviewed by the appropriate oversight agents?
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Work avoidance made easy

This toy is really way too much fun. I might have to put it on the sidebar so I can play with it anytime I want.
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This just arrived in the inbox. I expect it will be making the rounds but I hadn't seen it yet so I'm posting it in its entirety. It made me laugh but don't read it if you support Bush and you're easily offended.

WASHINGTON, May 11 - President Bush appears to be losing support among
a key group of voters who had hitherto stood firmly with the president
even as his poll numbers among other groups fell dramatically.

A new Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, Bush's approval
rating has fallen below 50% among total fucking morons, and now stands
at 44%. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just
last December, when 62% of total fucking morons expressed support for
the president and his policies.

The current poll, conducted by phone with 1,409 total fucking morons
between May 4 and May 8, reveals that only 44% of those polled believe
the president is doing a good job, while 27% believe he is doing a
poor job and 29% don't understand the question.

The December poll, conducted by phone with 1,530 total fucking morons,
showed 62% approved of the president, 7% disapproved and 31% didn't
understand the question.

Faltering approval ratings for the president among a group once
thought to be a reliable source of loyal support gives Republicans one
more reason to be nervous about the upcoming mid-term elections.
"If we can't depend on the support of total fucking morons," says Sen.
Rick Santorum (R-PA), "then we've got a big problem. They're a key
factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today's
Republican coalition."

"We've taken the total fucking moron vote for granted," says Rep. Tom
Feeney (R-FL), "and now we're paying for it. We've let the Democrats
control the debate lately, and they've dragged discourse back into the
realm of complex, nuanced issues. So your average total fucking moron
turns on his TV and sees his Republican Congressman arguing about
Constitutional law or the complexities of state formation in the
Middle East, and he tunes out. He wants to hear comforting, pandering,
flattering bromides and he doesn't want to hear a logical argument
more complex than what you'd find on a bumper sticker."

For Feeney, the poll is a dire warning that Republicans can ignore
only at their peril. "This should send a signal that we have to regain
control of the debate if we want the support of our key constituencies
in the coming election and beyond. We need to bring public discourse
back into the realm of stupidity and vacuity. We should be talking
about homosexual illegal immigrants burning flags. We should be
talking about the power of pride. We should be talking about freedom
fries. These are the issues that resonate with total fucking morons."

But some total fucking morons say it's too late. Bill Snarpel of Enid,
Oklahoma is a total fucking moron who voted for Bush in both 2000 and
2004. But he says he won't be voting for Bush in 2008. "I don't like
it that he was going to sell our ports to the Arabs. If the Arabs own
the ports then that means they'll let all the Arabs in and then we'll
all be riding camels and wearing towels on our heads. I don't want my
children singing the Star Spangled Banner in Muslim."

Total fucking moron Kurt Meyer of Turlock, California also says his
once solid support for Bush has collapsed. "He invaded Iraq and all
those soldiers died, and for what? We destroyed all their WMDs, but
now their new president is making fun of us and saying he's going to
build nuclear bombs and that we can't stop him. Well, nuclear bombs
are even worse than WMDs, so what did we accomplish?"

Laura McDonald, a total fucking moron from Chandler, Arizona, says she
is disappointed that the president hasn't been a more forceful
advocate of Christian values. "This country was founded on Christian
values," she says, "but you'd never know it looking around and seeing
all the Mexicans running around. I thought Bush was going to bring
Jesus back into the government. Instead, Christians are being
persecuted worse than ever before in history, because all these
Mexicans come here and tell Christians that we have to respect their
religious beliefs. So now it's illegal for children to pray in school.
Soon it will be illegal for them to speak English."

Not all total fucking morons have turned their backs on the president.
Jeb Larkin of Topeka, Kansas says he still fully supports Bush. "He is
doing a great job. He is a great president. He is a great decider. I
have a puppy. His tail sticks straight up and you can see his butthole."

And not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll. Sen.
Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for one, does not find it a cause for anxiety.
While he agrees that his party should not take total fucking morons
for granted, they "really don't have anywhere else to go. They're
never going to be able to understand someone like Al Gore or John
Kerry or anybody intelligent and articulate who wants to talk about
substantive issues. Just try having a conversation with one of them
about global warming. They'll say, 'Oh, but Rush says volcanoes
consume more ozone than humans do.' I mean, they're morons! Total
fucking morons!"

"They've got nowhere else to go," Alexander reaffirms with a smile,
"and they always vote."

[hat tip JZS]
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Bush signs away our democracy

There's a great editorial in the Chicago Tribune on presidential signing statements. Richard A. Epstein notes that while the device is not new, this White House has taken their use to an unprecendented level.
Since he took office, Bush has used this device to object to more than 500 provisions in more than 100 pieces of legislation--nearly as many as the 575 signing statements issued by all of his predecessors combined. In these statements, the president often has claimed that the new laws violate the Constitution and signaled his intention not to enforce certain provisions, despite having signed them into law.
Epstein also notes that the Congress is complicit in the fudging of the legislative record, as evidenced by the recent addition of remarks by a couple of legislators long after debate was closed and everyone else went home. Still, the larger problem is our chief executive ignoring the time honored system of government by the people, for the people with his blatant disregard for the legislative process by voiding hard fought legislative compromise with these statements. The money quote is at the end.
America's greatness is due in no small measure to our system of government, in which power and authority are deliberately divided. The separation of powers is not a mere "technicality." It is the centerpiece of our Constitution. Our freedoms depend upon it in the future, just as they have in the past.
Bush's unapologetic disregard for these safeguards, designed specificially to avoid this sort of abuse of executive power endangers us far more than all the terrorists in the world.
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Four easy pieces

As BuzzFlash points out, this is a no-brainer wedge issue for the Democrats. Let's hope there's still some Dems left in the party with the brains to see that stem cell research is an easy sell. They need to be conspiciously behind this bill and force a White House veto.

Condi finds it grotesque that anyone might suggest the debacle in Iraq has contributed to the rise of violence in the Middle East, (not to mention elsewhere around the world). Think Progress has the video. I find it grotesque that she is still invoking 9/11 as an excuse for every cursed failure of this administration.

On a brighter note, I have figured out the White House meme of the week. Confrontation. I've heard it used a dozen times this week, including remarks by Bush that suggested all this rampant violence in the world was occurring right along but no one noticed until he started "confronting" it.

Maybe they should confront this. A gang of bank robbers who used fully automatic machineguns obtained the weapons from an Iraq vet. This is an inevitable consequence of the lowered standards our military has been forced to accept for enlistment. Just as with drugs, the war zone offers a cheap supply of deadly weapons that can be sold at a tempting profit in the US. As the ranks of our military are being filled with gang members who seek to arm themselves against each other and extremist militia groups who seek to foster violent revolution against society, our personal security is endangered by a whole new class of criminal.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait at the LAT asks the long forgotten question, "Is Bush still too dumb to be president?" Unfortunately, the answer is still yes.
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Progressive Realism

Is it the wave of the future for foreign policy? Beats me, but Robert Wright in the NYT makes a good case for it. [Permanently archived here].The money grafs are at the end.
This immersion in the perspective of the other is sometimes called “moral imagination,” and it is hard. Understanding why some people hate America, and why terrorists kill, is challenging not just intellectually but emotionally. Yet it is crucial and has been lacking in President Bush, who saves time by ascribing behavior that threatens America to the hatred of freedom or (and this is a real time saver) to evil. As Morgenthau saw, exploring the root causes of bad behavior, far from being a sentimentalist weakness, informs the deft use of power. Realpolitik is reality-based.

Is progressive realism salable? The administration’s post-9/11 message may be more viscerally appealing: Rid the world of evil, and do so with bravado and intimidating strength. But this approach has gotten some negative feedback from the real world, and there is a growing desire for America to regain the respect President Bush has squandered. Maybe Americans are ready to meet reality on its own terms.
I don't have much hope that Bush would get the concept, and I think it's a good one, but surely there must be a few courageous politicians who still understand the importance of the long view. If not, we need get some into office that can see past the next election cycle.
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White House is the only winner in the WOT

That sound you hear, like the faint howling of banshees in the distance, is the collective voice of the bloggerati of the right wing screechosphere responding to NYT's editorial this morning. No doubt they're calling for heads to roll in Manhattan. Meaning, of course, that the Times incinerated the administration with its scathing review of the White House's agenda in the "war on terror."

For many of us, this has been apparent from the beginning. As soon as the shock of 9/11 subsided, clues to the administration's true agenda began to emerge for those who weren't too blinded by fear to read. The White House was going for the whole pie -- nothing less than totalitarian control by the executive branch would do and paramont to their plans was to keep control of the White House in their own hands. The same hands who held the government reins through Watergate and Iran-Contra.

They learned their lesson well from those embarrassing debacles. Government oversight, checks and balances, accountability, all conflict with the agenda. So they invented this war on terror, an endless sortie that must be conducted in secret so as not to "tip our hand" to a stateless and faceless enemy with a myriad of names that all conveniently translate to terrorist. The Bush White House has used this imaginary war to justify its every egregious act, from ignoring internationally accepted rules of conduct such as the Geneva Conventions to systematic dismantling our own Bill of Rights. And their manufactured fear of imminent attacks, allowed them to keep control of our government with a false promise to protect us from these boogeymen.

The Screechosphere may wail and rail, but the Times got it right. The White House is not fighting a war a terror. The C.I.A. unit charged with finding Osama bin Laden has been disbanded. The terrorists, heartened by our inability to quell a few thousand insurgents in Iraq, are more emboldened and inspired than ever. Terrorism worldwide has never been more rampant. The greater threats to our national security like North Korea and Iran now feel more secure in seeing our military already stretched to their limits, putting a nuclear holocaust on the world's table that didn't exist before we embarked on this pre-emptive war.

Our troops lose their lives daily to bring freedom in a foreign war theater where the curtain will never close, while the White House makes a mockery of their sacrifice by circumventing or ignoring the common rule of law that has defined our nation and protected our freedoms at home for over two centuries. Worse, it does so with the aid, if not the blessing, of the legislators that are charged with checking executive abuse of power.

The White House now speaks of compromise to the press but behind the scenes seeks a silent coup against the American people, with the assistance of its lackeys in Congress, by negating the Supreme Court and avoiding judicial review of their illegal programs by Congressional fiat. Those who profess to love their country would do well to let their Congresspeople know that it's time to just say no and give the people what we want. Some oversight, damnit.
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Citizens fight for secure vote

More good news on securing the vote. Electronic voting machines under legal attack on many fronts, not just the RFK suit.
Computerized voting was supposed to be the cure for ballot fiascos such as the 2000 presidential election, but activist groups say it has only worsened the problem and they've gone to court across the country to ban the new machines.

Lawsuits have been filed in at least nine states, alleging that the machines are wide open to computer hackers and prone to temperamental fits of technology that have assigned votes to the wrong candidate.

Manufacturers say their machines are more reliable than punch cards and other traditional voting technologies.

But they face a determined opponent in Voter Action, which has filed lawsuits in Colorado, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Similar bans have been sought by voters in Texas, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. On Thursday, a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit in Georgia.
Go Voter Action. I love this surge of civil actions. At last, people are realizing that the problem is on both sides of the fence inside of the beltway and it's up to us to kick them all into action.
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Friday, July 14, 2006

Civil actions of disobedience

It's late and I still have another three days on this shift. I posted on the Plame suit and the RFK suit against the voting machine makers at Detroit News. Civil remedies for government malfeasance and Civil remedies for corporate malfaesance.

I'm about to post about the turtle I saved tonight at Last One Speaks and call it a night.
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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Liberal pride

With all the talk on framing, this article takes a really pragmatic approach on how to combat the right wing spin by focusing on the failures of conservatism. Worth reading in full.
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Time for a performance evaluation on Congress

Remember when we were all obsessing about how many vacations Bush was taking? Was anybody keeping track of Congress? Seems to me they take a lot of breaks too, but they call them recess instead of vacations. They obstensibly go home to connect with the constituents but translate that into full time fundraising. In a year already rife with extended "recesses," they just shaved another week off the work schedule in DC in order to go home and politic. Meaning the nation's business will go unattended from the end of September to the November ballot.

And what have they accomplished in the last year? I can't think of much besides accepting their automatic 2% raise and doing their level best to tilt the Bushenomic factor in favor of the top tier upper class with tax breaks that also happen to benefit the many members of the "Millionaires Club" on Capitol Hill.

One of the things they surely won't have time to address in the intervening few weeks is a raise in the minimum wage, something the working poor have been waiting for, for almost a decade. Our Congresspersons aren't quite ready to bring forward proposals so deeply unpopular with the big businesses that fund their campaigns.

They claim it would it would eliminate jobs and hurt the poor but one might ask how much more the poor can be injured than by this inequity as reported by the NYT.
For a family of three, the minimum wage of $10,700, set in 1997, is now more than $5,000 below the federal definition of poverty. In that same time, a lawmaker’s salary rose $31,600— better than 20 percent — while the purchasing power of a minimum-wage earner deteriorated by 20 percent.
The Congress' failure to rectify this imbalance is inhumane and unconsiounable. Yet they will be descending on their districts in a few weeks to ride the rubber chicken circuit, to collect the cash, to buy the ads, that claim they deserve to keep their job. The job we paid them $168,500+ to do. They may find this time around, that working Americans will be looking at their bank accounts and will remember that a decade of slick campaign promos that promise a better America -- haven't delivered for them.

One can only hope they won't be fooled again.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

News to peruse

I believe I pretty much stole this from Think Progress. I forgot to get the source link. I was going to blog more extensively but it's too late, I have an early call. In any event these links covered the important news of the day.

Prisoners will now be treated in accord with the Geneva conventions. I meant to blog on this earlier. I think it's a good thing but I have no doubt the White House has softened its stance now that the court shot them down and as somebody I read today pointed out, there's no statute of limitations on war crimes.

The Army plans to terminate its open-ended Halliburton contract
. I like the symbolism of that. It's a sign that the GOP is recognizing the population's disgust with corporate crony corruption but I have little hope that the money won't still be going to payola contracts that will eventually end up in the same war profiteers hands. I figure they just formed smaller companies for the PR value. Probably easier to hide the fraud that way.

And here's another quote to refute the Bushenomics boosters bogus claims that the tax cuts are paying for themselves.
Economists and budget analysts outside of the administration have explained that these claims are not supported by data or economic theory.[3] Now a Department of Treasury analysis presented in the Mid-Session Review itself confirms what outside experts have consistently said — tax cuts do not come remotely close to paying for themselves.[4]
They're not doing much for the working Jake either.
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Novak speaks -- says nothing

Shorter Robert Novak column: Fitzgerald says he's done with me so I can speak openly now but I'm not going to tell you anything you didn't already know. And I'm just a non-partisan foot soldier and a nice guy -- really.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Short term tax gain a long term loser

I posted on the "surprise" tax surplus at DetNews yesterday but there's a lot of new material out there worth reading.

The WaPo takes a more tempered view in their coverage, noting "even the White House acknowledges that in the long run, the nation's fiscal outlook remains bleak."

Think Progress notices a pattern.
Bush’s expected announcement today heralding the shrinking budget deficit is full of deception. “This will be the third year in a row that the administration put forth relatively gloomy deficit forecasts early on, only to announce months later that things had turned out better than expected.”
While The Economist's View explains it all, without the rose colored glasses of the Bushenomics believers.

The earlier WaPo piece nails the real issue with this quote.
"This all relates to the widening income disparities between high-income individuals and the rest of the population," said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
A subsequent piece explains how it's the high paid employees benefit from job market and the Bushenomic boom, while the poor benefited the least and in fact lost ground as the gap between the haves and the have nots widens.

Bushenomics is working all right, for the upper class, but the price tag is upward mobility. It's ultimate outcome will be a permanent underclass and the end of the American dream.
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Why the Chicken Crossed the Road

I'm working today so now blogging until this evening but this just arrived in my inbox for your afternoon amusement.

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here.

Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

We have good information that the chicken was crossing into Syria from Iran , and, if so, that would not be particularly helpful.

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road.

MOHAMMED ALDOURI (Iraq ambassador)
The chicken did not cross the road. This is a complete fabrication. We don't even have a chicken.

What chicken? The only chicken of which you speak are the American military agents of Satan who are even now committing suicide in a cowardly fashion. We have no roads for such chickens to cross. The loyal fedayeen will slit the throats of all chickens who attempt to cross our roads.

This crossing of the road was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 5 tons of nerve gas on this mother of all chickens.

The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.

The chicken crossed the road to steal a job from a decent, hard-working American.

I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by tax dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your money - money the government took from you to build roads for chickens to cross.

We are deeply saddened that a hard working chicken would be forced by regressive Republican tax policies to seek a more equitable economic climate on the other side of the road.

It was that self-same chicken which I swerved to avoid that resulted in the unfortunate incident in which my car, through no fault of my own, veered off that bridge. And it was my overriding concern for that chicken which diverted my attention from the woman in my submerged car, and kept my attention diverted until I had contacted my attorney some hours later. But I am happy to report that the chicken was unharmed in the incident and I was never charged with any crime as a result of that mishap.

They are being untruthful! By my count, there were two chickens that crossed the road.

No one called to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the farmer's market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it "the other side."

Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side."

Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, The chicken crossed the road, But why it crossed, I've not been told!

To die In the rain. Alone.

I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

What chicken?

To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

I have just released eChicken 2003, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook
- and, Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.

Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken?
Could you define chicken, please?

I missed one?

Addendum: Lester hates these things but it made me laugh.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Can't keep a good man down

Dan Rather already has a new gig. Just three after he was abruptly dismissed from CBS, Dan has entered into an agreement to launch a new show called "'Dan Rather Presents' on HDNet, the high-definition channel owned by billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban." Cuban described the show as "an opportunity to do news in what I like to call 'fearless mode,' what Dan calls 'with guts.' Go out there and find the stories we think will have impact."

Dan will be trading in the larger audience of the great unwashed masses for a select group of subscribers. I'm betting he'll gain an impressive following in no time. If I had a high-def TV I'd subscribe myself just to get the program.
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Blog hopping

Morning Martini tells us paranoia runs deep in Cheney's twisted mind. Apparently the Veep operates on the 1% theory and we're not talking taxes here. His policies are based on the premise that a 1% chance of threat justifies immediate pre-emptive action. So apparently we went to war in Iraq because there was a 1% chance Saddam acutally owned any functional WMDs. That's like saying there's a 1% chance that the guy sitting at the end of the bar is going to get drunk and smack you, so you might as well just march right over there and punch him out before he gets the chance. Pissed off Patricia has much more to say at the link.

The Great White Snark informs us of the sad news that Cardinal Martini is hanging up his keyboard. I'll believe that when I see it. Many have tried to quit and few have succeeded. His emminence doesn't seem to allow comments that I could find but you can leave a message at The Snarks place for him.

The Heretik apparenty has a new toy. Check out his very own multimedia presentation. It short but way sweet.

Midwestern Progressive has some sharp thoughts on the attempted muzzling of the free press by the White House and its supporters. Worth reading in full. He finds the quote of the day.
Many Americans are so unsophisticated that they refuse to believe anything bad about their country. They regard acceptance of unpalatable truths as disloyalty.
He has this to say about it.
The problem with this philosophy, though, is that is sacrifices America’s honor, and our nation’s right to preach from actual moral high ground, on real-life situations that the nation and the world face today. Those Americans who continue to support the current administration do so out of loyalty to one man, rather than loyalty to America and to the ideals America and Americans stand for.
I don't know if they're unsophisticated so much as brainwashed into believing that to accept uncomfortable and unflattering truths is treasonous in some way. Somehow this administration has managed to make honesty a sin. Pretty frightening.

Heh. The Mayor of Simpleton is winning the astroturf wars. You go, yerhonor.
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Laura Bush 'hearts' good polls

I love this story. Laura Bush Complains "Good Polls" Never Show Up on the Front Page.
NEW YORK: Intrerviewed with her husband on "Larry King Live" on Thursday night, Laura Bush once again charged that "good polls" for the president never end up on the front page. She also said that she did not trust the polls at all, because polls that reveal the president's low approval rating "are not what we we when we travel around the country."
Well Laura, I hate to tell you this but when you hand pick your audiences and don't let any actual regular citizens in, you don't exactly get a true picture of public sentiment.

Bush said he doesn't make decisions according to polls and denied that he has a vendetta going against the NYT. But, "[h]e said it bothered him greatly that 'people go to newspapers with state secrets' which reveal the government's 'game plan' to the enemy." I guess he means us because the American people are the only ones in the dark about these programs. The terrorists already know, it's their job to keep track of these things. But this was the real bombshell.
Asked if the U.S. was ready to shoot down one of the rockets launched by North Korea on July, Bush said, to the surprise, no doubt, of many, "Yes, we have a missile defense system to protect our country."
I guess he missed the news story on how our missle defense system is only about 50% accurate. I'd bet North Korea is better informed. And in other highlights:
--Bush said he felt "great" to be 60.

--He defended the decision to invade Iraq and vowed to stay there until victory was won. This could be a long fight but he said, "I want to remind our citizens that I went with the Japanese prime minister to Graceland -- and we were at war with Japan 60 years ago."

--Asked why the U.S. faced so many problems in the world, Bush said, "The reasons there are problems is because we confronted them."
Yes, this is our president speaking -- one assumes off the cuff. I think he got the meaning of confronted and created mixed up there. How embarrassing. But maybe he can just invite all the rest of the world leaders for a private tour of Graceland, or Disneyland or something and just solve the whole world crisis thing. And I bet Osama would back right off if he got a tour of Dollywood out of the deal.

Maybe he could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony too....
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Take me out to the ball game....

George takes in a Nats game with his girls. It appears he's possibly a ball park jinx. The Nats lost. But personally I think the photo tells the real story. There is something very wrong with that picture. Kind of makes that rumor about Laura moving into a hotel a little more credible...
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Shades of 2000 in Mexico

Voting fraud in not just for Americans anymore. The recent Mexican election has been a nail biter right to the finish with the projected winner changing several times before the political machine candidate was declared the winner. It's very close and the populist candidate, who most definitely is no friend of George Bush, is demanding a hand recount. Change the names and it could be a redux of the 2000 election here. Mysterious discrepancies in the tallies. The "winning" candidate's brother is in charge of the proprietary software that certifies the vote and it looks like the whole mess will end up in the courts and won't be resolved for weeks if not months.

Avedon at the Sideshow has the links to all of today's pertinent coverage but I thought the best piece I've seen on it so far was EJ Dionne's op-ed. It's very clever and hard to tell if he's talking to Mexico or to us. Most likely it's both.
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Saturday, July 08, 2006

More secret White House programs unveiled

Oh great. More revelations of yet unnamed secret domestic surveillance programs being conducted by the administration without any oversight whatsoever. Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) has some pointed words for the White House in a May letter[pdf], basically accusing them of violating the law and warned the Republican faithful will be jumping ship.

I have a post at the DetNews on this, so I'll only add that Hoekstra's motives are no doubt more a desire to distance himself from an unpopular president than they are an interest in restoring the system of checks and balances. I mean where has he been for the last five years? Actually I think I'll add that to the other post too.

Meanwhile, Michael Stickings asks what else Bush might be hiding from Americans? I'm not sure I want to know the answer as I suspect there's all too much more, but it did remind me of this little item that seems to have been lost in the holiday news dump. Murray Waas unloaded this bombshell a few days ago.
President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed Vice President Dick Cheney to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president's interview.

Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.
Putting aside that they purposefully leaked discredited intelligence info in order to make their manufactured case for war, this is clear proof that Bush lied when he told the country he had no idea who leaked the information. How many lies does it take before Americans demand he resign?

The man is unfit to lead our country. But of course we don't want Cheney either. Do you think it's too late to hold a special presidential election in 06?
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The never ending story....

Talk Left has the latest drama being staged at Protein Wisdom. I'm not even going to read the thread. Frankly Jeff's little dramas generally feel so manufactured, they bore me. But I left this comment at TL.
Gee whiz. The blog dramas are taking over Blogtopia. Everywhere I go there are these over the top spitting contests.

I haven't followed this one but I know Goldstein well enough to know he's involved in these ugly imbroglios regularly and he is indeed capable of some vile and violent rhetoric. Wasn't he the guy calling for the immediate execution of whistleblowers and damn the trials? And come to think of it wasn't he just in an ugly exchange with Amanda over laudry baskets or something earlier this week? I believe he not only looks to start trouble but he actively endeavors to escalate it. It pleases his fan base.

I don't condone this other person's conduct and I agree it reflects badly on liberal bloggers, but neither can I excuse Jeff just because he's only making the right wingers look bad.

They both contribute to the gross incivility that is turning Blogtopia into a cesspool. And I'm especially uncomfortable with the publishing of personal information on anyone, no matter how egregious their language, for the sole purpose of encouraging threats and retribution by who knows what kind of nutcases that prowl the internets. That seems to be the right's latest tactic for drawing traffic and it strikes me as childishly vindictive and much more dangerous than overheated rhetoric. If someone is making credible threats then the authorities should be called in, not the keyboard warriors.

I greatly respect your opinion Jeralyn but in this case, I have to condemn them both and frankly I hold Goldstein responsible for creating the environment where that kind of exchange passes for reasoned debate and especially for allowing personal information to be published that endangers another human being just because she pissed him off.
Okay I lied. Having read the highlights since I posted the comment, it's clear this woman is obviously deranged. This shouldn't surprise him. Goldstein writes incendiary posts. He gets a lot of hate mail. It goes with the territory.

Perhaps I misunderstand the situation but from what I read on PW, this woman initially contacted him by email. He chose to post the email instead of contacting the authorities and his readers got all fired up. She then apparently further commented on the thread, if I'm understanding this correctly. My point is he could have avoided the whole circus if he had simply contacted the appropriate law enforcement agency in the first place but he chose instead to bait her publicly on his blog. I have to wonder why.

It should go without saying that any sane person, liberal or conservative would condemn this unknown woman's remarks. I certainly do condemn them, but I don't think it's going to stop those who prefer to paint "the left" with a broad brush from using her as a poster child for what's "wrong" with us, even if every single liberal blogger denounced her in unison.

I only wish there was some magic mantra we could all chant that would restore some civility to the debate. I for one get tired of the hateful rhetoric on both sides of the fence.

And as far as the technotacticians launching the DOS attacks against Goldstien's blog. Cut it out - please. It doesn't accomplish anything and it plays into their whole frame of the unhinged left.

Update: Goldstein admits he encouraged her to "show her ass" for his own amusement. I think this says it all.
update: Thanks to those of you who’ve written, commented, hit the tip jar, etc. If I haven’t dropped you a thank you note, it’s because I’m still not getting all my emails. So for the time being, I ask that you let this generic show of appreciation suffice.
Can you say hit trolling? I knew you could...
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Best intentions...

I started the day with them and have been feeling pretty good for a few days since I dropped the beta blocker but I decided to walk the one block to the store this afternoon and had a godawful dizzy spell on the street. I wasn't sure whether to go home or keep going. I kept going because I figured if I was going to pass out it would be better to do it where there were people around. I had to sit down there for a good few minutes before I could even buy my lottery ticket.

I didn't pass out but I've been feeling really weird since, even after taking a tranq and laying down for an hour. I hope to be back a little later once I'm feeling more myself again. For the moment I think I'll try taking a shower just in case I drop dead. At least I'll be clean with good underwear on.

Sometimes it's scary to live alone...
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Friday, July 07, 2006

Throw all the bums out

Parkway Rest Stop has the on the scene scoop on the joke that is New Jersey. I guess they finally came to some kind of agreement today, but I found Jim's Two Step Solution for fixing what ails his government of greater interest.
Step 1. On Election Day, be sure you know who the incumbent candidate is. The political party doesn’t matter. Just make sure you know who currently holds the office.

Step 2. Vote for the other candidate.
Regular readers know I'm been pushing this meme for months. Throw all the bums out. The problem isn't the government, it's the professional politicians running it. Kick the incumbents out and see if the parties don't get the message that the electorate is pissed off and we're not going to let them play politics as usual anymore.
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The other side of illegal immigration

I'm working again this morning but here's an amusing item that illustrates the problems with trying to "stop" illegal immigration. I missed the Globe piece but according the new blog at my old local rag:
State police had illegal workers cleaning barracks

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Mitt Romney proposed deputizing state troopers, giving them the authority to arrest undocumented immigrants. But state police have for years relied on a cleaning company that is staffed in large part by undocumented immigrants, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

More than 80 percent of the 192 workers at the company, National Facility Services of Boylston, had questionable or illegitimate Social Security numbers listed on 2004 payroll data. The company has also had contracts to clean the state Department of Fish and Game, the state Executive Office of Environmental affairs and other government buildings.
Of course the company claims to be complying with the law -- now -- however "of the 192 workers whose records were reviewed, at least 18 had Social Security numbers of dead people. At least 162 of the workers appeared to have problems with their numbers." And in the understatement of the week, "A spokeswoman for the state police, Lt. Sharon Costine, said if police are using undocumented workers, 'it shouldn't be happening.'"

The inevitable outcome of this story will be that the illegals will be fired, legit workers will have to be hired at reasonable wages which means the cost of the contract will rise, which will mean the state police will need more money and ultimately the taxpayer will pay the bill.

A lot of folks who deride the illegals for costing us so much in social services often miss this other side of the coin. Seems to me either way the taxpayer foots the bill in the end. This is why I think deporting illegals won't be such a panacea that many think it will.
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

I get hate mail

This is my favorite of the week, in response to this post.

Of all the people commenting about hate and credibility, its Libby. Libby, you pompous windbag, you write the most about hating our nation's leaders and its people. Secondly, you should not question these others bloggers credibility when most people who frequent this blog question yours.

Breaker19, , MI
You notice they're always anonymous?
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Blog hits of the day

Well I'm back on the work rotation for a few days starting this afternoon so we're back to evening blogging. Not that I haven't been doing that anyway even when I'm off. So let me send you to a couple of blogs with good posts to hold for the interim.

Sammy Sassendyll is holding down the castle at the Kingdom of Zembla. It's a scroller. Just start at the top and keep reading. Lots of good stuff there you probably missed and I love his wry style.

Another amusing post. It's Steve Audio vs. David Horowitz in an email exchange. Horowitz ends up proving what a small minded, self inflated putz he really is.

Blogenfreude never disappoints at Agitprop. He has more on the wingnuts' insane fatwa against the NYT. He runs down their reaction to the fact that Rummy himself gave permission for the story and the photos. Unsurprisingly they're mostly ignoring it. He also is on the beat tracking the lastest on the vile Ms. Coulter and plagarism problems. Which doesn't seem to be a problem yet but could become one if we give this story some buzz. I know I'm in for that.

And finally I haven't managed to get around to all the posts yet from Glenda's Blog for Peace project but Kvatch at Blognonymous had a really good entry on independence and peace as a state of mind.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ground Zero - what's in a name?

The endless bickering over the 9/11 Memorial is becoming an embarrassment to the memory of the victims. The latest imbroglio is over the placement of the names. It appears the familes are arguing to have the names grouped by company affliation and what floor and what tower they died in and so on. With due respect to grief of the victim's families, this strikes me as odd and elitist. What is it that they want to keep them in their earthly cubicles for? Are they afraid their loved one's name might end up next to a janitor or something?

The NYT gets this one right. These thousands of people died randomly and suddenly without deference to their position. The dead belong to the families but all Americans suffered the horror and in a way the grief belongs to all of us. And collectively the 9/11 dead have been used repeatedly as a symbol by our president to justify his programs and personify his war. Thus have the whole become more important than the individual dead. They must be memoralized with the same disregard to their position. To group by status is to deny the importance of those of less stature who also lost their lives.

A random placement would more accurately reflect the event that changed our world and would honor each victim equally.
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The joke's on Jersey

This is hysterical. I haven't really been following this story but I can't believe that the State of New Jersey is still shut down. They had to shut down the casinos in Atlantic City today. What are they thinking? The state is going to go broke while they're dicking around.

These folks are poster boys for throw all the bums out. I think it's absurd they can't come to some kind of agreement in five days. The blowback on this at the ballot box is likely to blow the state right off the map.
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Love that dirty water.....

The NYT had a good editorial on the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the Clean Water Act. The decision was about as clear as mud. It appears the court rendered three different opinions that say three different things. Congressional intervention seems imminent and necessary.
There is a bill in Congress that would quickly resolve the issue. It is called the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act, and its purpose is to remove any ambiguities in the original law and to reassert, in clear terms, the act's intention to protect all the waters of the United States, large and small, permanent or seasonal, navigable or isolated.

This would also clarify things for the E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers, the regulatory agencies charged with carrying out the law. With the law's scope in doubt, neither agency has known quite how to proceed — some developers received permits to dredge and fill wetlands and small streams, some did not. Congress can make sure that from now on the law is squarely on the side of clean water.
A lot of conservatives and large L Libertarians find the regulations unneccessary and cumbersome, grumbling about anti-business rules and charge that these sort of regs thwart reasonable development. I'm not big on government interference myself, but when it comes to our water, an absolute necessity for the continuation of life, it seems to me to be better to err on the side of caution. Once your aquifers are corrupted, they are not easily restored.
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And I thought I was a technodope....

It being the end of the holiday, I thought I'd post a couple of odd items that I didn't get around to blogging earlier.
Fire Dog Lake has a truly frightening post about Senator Ted Stevens. This quote sums it up.
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?
Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially….
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
As FDL said, "He is in charge of the net neutrality issue in the Senate. In charge." I mean shouldn't there be some kind of competency test, like a guy who doesn't even know the term for email and no understanding of how the internet works should NOT be in charge of such an important issue?

Boggles the mind and worse, it looks like they're going to sell out the internet to the telecoms whether we want them to or not.
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Blogging for Peace

By the time we got to woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

I've been working for peace for as long as I can remember. I remember as a child watching the news with my Dad and every night there would be stories about the Vietnam war. They didn't sanitize the news in those days. They showed you the body bags being loaded on the planes. The network's foreign correspondents weren't kept at an arm's length from the action and many a freelancer talked their way into accompanying the units on their missions. Some died. Those that lived through it came back with Pulitizer prize winning photos and stories that showed war in all it's grimy glory and indescribable horror. We lived that war right alongside our soldiers.

Many Americans believed that war to be a just cause at the time and just as today, those of us who wanted to wage peace were ridiculed and even vilified as unpatriotic. But history proved the hippies and the peaceniks to be right. It was a bad war, poorly planned and basically unwinnable by any definition of victory. Our government lied to us about the dangers - think Gulf of Tonkin, about their operations - think the invasion of Cambodia, and tried to cover up for stressed to the max soldiers who commited war atrocities -- think My Lai. It doesn't really sound so different from Iraq does it?

The big difference is in Vietnam, people cared about the war. We were glued to our TV sets, wanting news. Of course there was a draft so everyone had a stake in it, and the body counts pre-modern technology, were much greater so it touched more families. But the other big difference is the media. Vietnam occurred before the 24/7 news cycle, before infotainment and celebrity obsessions, before cable and satellite and the internets offered a thousand alternate distractions. There weren't video games then that simulated war and violence so well that the line between reality play and real life became so blurred as to become indistinct. Thus we now find ourselves in a war that few pay attention to and even fewer grasp the impact or understand the import of it.

The world was a simpler place when my generation formed the Woodstock nation. In retrospect, it was easy to spread our message, with our clothes, our hair, our VW buses, our flowers and our idealism -- then untainted by the decades that followed. We thought we could build peace by getting back to the land, sharing what we had with each other and cherishing the earth.

But the world is a much different place now. Communal life often turned out to be less than idyllic and the acroutrements of progress caused many to succumb to the rat race after all. We learned to like our stuff. Traded in our Boone's Farm wine for champagne and our brown rice and beans for fancy fusion restaurants. We became as comfortable and complacent as the parents we rebelled against and our message is lost in the garble of a million competing voices.

And so the challenge for those of us who would still wage peace is to not so much to sway our government but to break through the public apathy and convince those who feel no stake in this current war to care enough to read past the misleading soundbites of the war hawks and remember that this is truly a small planet and the brotherhood of man includes everyone, not just Americans. We need to remind our fellow man all over again, that war is not healthy for children and other living things.

Can we do it in an age when consumerism trumps conservation and the prevailing mantra of society seems to be, I got mine -- too bad if you didn't get yours? I don't know. But I do know, we can't stop trying. So today, while we celebrate the freedom our forefathers fought so hard to win for us, with picnics and fireworks, take a moment to reflect on those that sacrificed for the cause before us and as we often said in the 60s --- visualize peace. It couldn't hurt.
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