Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bush Asks For Excessive Earmarks

From an article in The Hill:

Bush is criticized for requests from the White House for earmarks to be inserted into legislation. "Legislators say that while Bush has warned them about earmarks, behind the scenes he seeks them just as eagerly as the members of Congress he criticizes."

Bush called out for his earmarks
By Alexander Bolton
June 28, 2007

Democratic and Republican appropriators are accusing President Bush of urging Congress to pack spending bills with pet projects despite his high-profile crackdown on earmarks this year.

A House Appropriations Committee report accompanying legislation funding the Department of the Interior shows that Bush requested 93 of the 321 earmarks in thebill. A panel report for the financial services and general government spending bill showed that Bush requested 17 special projects worth $947 million, more than any single member of Congress.

Senate appropriators have identified
more than 350 earmarks in the military construction spending bill requested by the president. Lawmakers say these lists of earmarks are inconsistent with Bush’s tough talk on earmarks this year...

Read the article here.

While financing an irresponsible and immoral war on the U.S. credit card, he has the nerve to demand earmarks. What Republican party is this? It's a different kind of political animal. Have they shunned the elephant and adopted the pig?

Republicans are Creepy, And I'm Not Voting For Them Anymore

I used to be an independent voter. I'm socially liberal, but do tend to be fiscally conservative favoring smaller government and disciplined spending. In the past, I have voted for Republicans who mirrored those views.

During my drive time, I often listen to Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage. Today, Hannity was conversing with a Senator (didn't catch his name) about immigration. The Senator could not get out a full sentence before Hannity was all over him like a mad dog.

Republicans court these creepy media people. This is their "base". The Ann Coulter/Elizabeth Edwards exchange is the perfect example. Republicans have made this woman wealthy; they invite her to give speeches, buy her books, and hang on her every word. But, hey, it's a free country. So...

They can forget about getting my vote until they clean up their act. If I can't stomach the Democratic or Independent candidates in a particular race, I'll just abstain.

Elizabeth Edwards Vs. Ann Coulter

These observations from Shamanic at Newshog do a great job of illustrating the bulk of the right-wing sponsored content that saturates the air waves.

Illustrating the Obvious

Yesterday I saw this video of Elizabeth Edwards' call to Hardball guest Ann Coulter, which revealed Coulter's inherent, vapid nastiness in all its glory. Chris Matthews kept Coulter's feet to the fire, but the bigger question is why he had her on to begin with, and why anyone should consider his show to be even remotely serious about politics as a result.

I do think the episode is revealing for what it illustrates about the state of partisan politics and the media today. Here's my big-picture take on the exchange:

Democrat: I think we should focus on substantive issues instead of personal attacks.

Republican: What personal attacks? Just because your husband dines on the raw corpses of dead babies and molests little boys doesn't mean I think he's a bad guy.

Democrat: This is the kind of negativity that drives people out of the political process.

Republican: YOU WANT TO CENSOR ME!!!

Democrat: Um, are your pens all filled with bile instead of ink?


Media Guy (doing an excellent impression of a concerned citizen): Why exactly did you say that "The Democratic party works constantly to destroy America, and anyone who votes for a Democrat should be dragged from his house under cover of darkness, hung in the town square, and stoned to death by a grateful community of patriots"?

Republican: Could you read me the sentence?

Next time Chris, instead of asking Coulter questions about the adjectives she uses, invite a real guest on instead. Think of it as donating to charity instead of sending flowers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Iraq Refugee Crisis

The good news is that several million Iraqis have escaped the killing field that is now Iraq.

The bad news:

From the Independent:

UN warns of five million Iraqi refugees
Half of displaced people have no access to food aid
By Patrick Cockburn
June 10, 2007

Across Iraq, millions of people are looking for safer places to live, and not finding them. The United Nations High Commission for Refuge (UNHCR) reported last week that 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced out of their homes.

There are also ominous signs that the four-month-old US security plan for Baghdad is failing to reduce the level of violence despite an extra 17,000 US troops in the capital.

"The situation in Iraq continues to worsen," the UNHCR announced, "with more than two million Iraqis now believed to be displaced inside the country and another 2.2 million sheltering in neighbouring states."

The Iraqi refugee crisis is now surpassing in numbers anything ever seen in the Middle East, including the expulsion or flight of the Palestinians in 1948...

This crisis created by our invasion and continued occupation of Iraq has resulted in a refugee population which now outnumbers those of Darfur. Since half of the refugees have no food aid, it is certain that we will see a humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportions.

George W. Bush, this will be your legacy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

McClatchy Headlines

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau: Some of the best coverage available of the Attorney General and DOJ, and Carl Rove misdeeds.

Justice official accused of blocking suits into alleged violations
By Greg Gordon McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Mon, June 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — A former Justice Department political appointee blocked career lawyers from filing at least three lawsuits charging local and county governments with violating the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, seven former senior department employees charged Monday...

And from yesterday:

Missing White House e-mails may have violated law, panel says
By Ron Hutcheson McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Mon, June 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — Presidential adviser Karl Rove sent more than 140,000 e-mails
through the Republican National Committee's computer system, circumventing a federal law intended to guarantee the preservation of presidential records, House of Representatives investigators have concluded...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

John Perkins' career as an economic hit man (EHM) has taken him all over the globe. He details his activities as an EHM in his best-seller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and in his new book just released, The Secret History of the American Empire.

His job as an EHM was to persuade third world governments to accept huge loans for modernization programs that would supposedly bring prosperity and economic growth. He was employed by a large contracting firm, MAIN, (no longer in business) similar to Haliburton or Bechtel. In essence, his instructions were to present falsified and very rosy statistics to seal the deal. The unstated goal was to set up a sweetheart deal for U.S. contractors and corporations to build the mammoth infrastructure projects and exploit the labor and natural resources of the countries involved.

The EHM worked in concert with the underbelly of the U.S. government to influence governments in these vulnerable third world nations by whatever means necessary.

Perkins joined the Peace Corps fresh out of college and was assigned to work with the indigenous inhabitants of the rain forest in Ecuador. It was a profound experience and one that gave him unique insight into the lives and struggle of exploited peoples in the countries he would later encounter as an EHM.

His seduction by the money, power, beautiful women and prestige he enjoyed as an EHM was never total and complete. His culpability for the exploitation of the people and devastation of the environment that were the end results of his EHM deals weighed on his conscience.

The end result of his EHM successes resulted in the funnelling of vast amounts of wealth to his corporate masters, and to the corrupt and elite people in positions of power in the countries he had signed deals with. Those governments he failed to persuade were targeted for assasinations and coups fomented by the covert operatives he refers to as "jackals".

Eventually, he resigned his EHM job and moved on in life. After expressing his intention to write about the activities of his former profession, he was alternately threatened and bribed to stay silent. After the events of 9/11, John Perkins felt that his story must be told, whatever the personal consequences. He wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man in secret, and after being rejected by every mainstream publisher, finally found a smaller publisher who was willing to risk it.

If you have not read his books, I highly recommend that you do so. The Secret History of the American Empire is just hitting bookstores. It picks up where Confessions left off, and ends on an optimistic note with suggestions about what each of us can do to begin to set things right.

Everyone I know who reads Confessions is profoundly affected to learn of the extent of the global political/corporate corruption described. Most of us sort-of know that the goods we buy at Wal-Mart, other big-box retailers, and malls are produced by people who are little more than virtual slaves working and living in squalid and inhumane conditions, but seldom is anyone in-your-face with proof of it. If this is not a wake-up call, I don't know what will move people to take action, and make changes in their buying habits. The expose of Nike factories is particularly heartbreaking, and they are just an example of the horrendous conditions in most third-world factories producing goods for the U.S. market.

Local blogger Bob Ranney (An Even Keel) has a few observations:

I have recently begun reading a book that will most likely end up next
to "Flyboys" on my list of required reading for all citizens. It is John Perkins', "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man".

In it he describes his recruitment, training and actions as an EHM as he and his colleagues call themselves.

It's worth a read just to learn about the existence and day-to-day doings of these folks, but he also includes a good bit of information about the effects of what they do, and the only conclusion a sane person can draw from it all is that our country has long been embarked on a soulless journey that drags everyone it touches through unnecessary hell. Our politicians spout high and mighty morality stories, but the results of their actions are pure evil.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

"Today we see the results of this system run amok.

Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages to toil under inhuman conditions in Asisan sweatshops.

Oil companies wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killing people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures.

The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of
HIV-infected Africans. Twelve million families in our own United States worry about their next meal.

The energy industry creates an Enron.

The accounting industry creates an Andersen.

The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995.

The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could
provide clean water, adequate diet, sanitation services, and basic education to every person on the planet.

And we wonder why terrorists attack us?

Bob Ranney ends his remarks with a call to conscience for each of us:

"Putting your life on the line so we can rape another country is not patriotism, it is madness. Isn't it time we stopped? If we want to show our patriotism, why not show it to the world and not just to one country? Why not stand up and shout, "Enough?"

I hear you, Bob.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thor Hearne's Ties to ACVR Erased on Wikipedia

From today's Brad Blog:

Wikipedia Entry for GOP 'Voter Fraud' Front Group
Co-Founder, Thor Hearne, Scrubbed of References to ACVR

Latest Edit Performed by Someone at Hearne's Lawfirm, Lathrop & Gage, According to Rick Hasen of
Election Law Blog...

Mark F. "Thor" Hearne must really want to hide something about
his discredited past as the front man for the GOP front group calling themselves the
American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).

In the latest chapter of a string of attempts by Hearne to cleanse his public record as lead snake-oil salesman of the mysteriously-funded "non-partisan" group that he founded to push propaganda about a massive (if non-existent) Democratic 'voter fraud' epidemic, it seems his Wikipedia page has been expurgated of all references to the ACVR...

Read the entire article here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Please Say No To School Vouchers

The Turner Report has given us two recent summaries of Matt Blunt's attempt to load the State Board of Education with voucher supporters, exemplified by his recent nomination to the board of yet another voucher supporter, former state rep, Derio Gambaro.

The governor's resolve to do away with public education in Missouri is fueled by big donations from wealthy supporters of a voucher system. Now that there are no upper limits on campaign donations, their money is filling up Blunt's campaign chest to overflowing.

With a roll-over Republican majority in the state legislature , vouchers could be foisted on the people of Missouri before they can blink an eye.

Concerning Blunt's first appointment to the State Board of Education, Randy Turner has this to say:

Unfortunately, no one put the governor's first board appointment, Debi
Demien of Wentzville, under the microscope. She was promoted as a former public
schoolteacher and director of marketing for Demien Construction. A little bit of
digging would have shown that the Southwest Missouri State University graduate
is far more than that.

It appears all three of the governor's choices are closely in line with his
thinking on vouchers, meaning he most likely has the power to move state
education in whatever direction he wishes.

Mrs. Demien was appointed to the board in March. While it was noted that
she was involved in the family business, Demien Construction, what wasn't noted
is that she is director of marketing for the company's Building God's
Way division, which builds churches and Christian schools
. Any sort of
movement of public money into private schools will obviously benefit Mrs.

Seven years ago, she wrote a book entitled Stealing America, the
National Takeover of the
Economy, Education and State
, which primarily criticizes the school-to-work programs
being used in public schools. She is an outspoken critic of Missouri's A+
program, which allows students involved in the program to receive free schooling
at Missouri community colleges.

Please read The Turner Report articles linked below for his excellent coverage of the voucher issue:

Voucher Supporters Are Blunt's Biggest Contributors (6/11/07)

Blunt Appoints Another Voucher Proponent to State Board of Education (6/08/07)

It Started Before Donayle Whitmore-Smith (12/17/06)

Blunt Appoints Leading Voucher Proponent to State Board of Education (10/26/06)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Al Gore's 'Green' Nashville Home

From Tennessee Guerilla Women :

Here's the photo of the new solar roof on Al Gore's Nashville home.

This is the home that houses the office from which Al Gore runs his world-wide campaign to combat the climate crisis.

the far right Tennessee Center for Policy Research unleashed its attack of lies on Gore, the former Vice President was still petitioning for outdated zoning laws prohibiting the installation of solar panels to be changed. (Apparently, solar panels weren't 'pretty' enough for the neighborhood!)

The zoning laws were finally changed, and once again, Al Gore has helped to bring a little bit of Tennessee out of the 19th century.

Just imagine what Gore could do if he were president.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Al Gore, the environmental activist stung by criticism over his house's energy efficiency, said Friday that renovations are nearly complete to make it a model "green" home.

"This plan has been in the works for a long time," the former vice
president said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The only thing that has changed is that we're more public about it because of the misleading attack by a global-warming denier group."

Gore's renovation project, which he said has been in the works for months, seeks to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The former Vice President picked up another award this week. Gore was awarded Spain's prestigious Principe de Asturias prize for his unprecedented success in raising the global awareness about the climate crisis.

As predicted, Gore's new book -- The Assault on Reason -- is number one on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Next month, NBC and its affiliates will broadcast Gore's Live Earth Concerts to a worldwide audience of some two billion people!

Greenland Provides Clues To Tipping Point In Arctic Meltdown

From the June 9, 2007 Washington Post:

In Arctic Ice, Lessons on Effects of Warming
Researchers Drill, Map, Blast In Greenland in Hunt for Clues

Manhattan floods, it may start here, on an ice field that
stretches in frozen silence to every horizon.

Global warming is working away at the Greenland ice cap. The frozen
interior of the Arctic island is shedding ice much faster than simple melting
should explain...

As ice on glaciers moves over rock, it snags and lurches. That creates
"icequakes" measurable in the same way as earthquakes. In 1993, there were seven such quakes in Greenland. In 2005, as the ice accelerated, there were 32.

"For a long time it was thought that a change of climate could affect
the ice sheets very slowly," said Meredith Nettles, a scientist from
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at
Columbia University, who monitors a large glacier in eastern Greenland. "Now we believe the Greenland ice can respond to changes in climate much more quickly than anyone thought."

In geologic terms, "quickly" still means decades or centuries. But some scientists say the Earth is approaching a point when the process cannot be stopped. Only in recent years did scientists conclude that sea levels are rising twice as fast as they had estimated, said H. Jay Zwally, a senior research scientist from
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"We are seeing things taking place in the ice now that weren't expected, that five years ago we didn't even know about," said Zwally, who will spend his 14th summer on the Greenland ice cap this year. "I think eventually Greenland will reach a point that the change is irreversible in the current climate."

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bushes Missing Simple Wisdom

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Peggy Noonan opines the decline of the GOP's conservative coalition. She presents a harsh analysis of the Bush reign. Both father and son receive a lashing.

...One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked...

...The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and
actually at this point in history we don't need hacks...

Interesting that it should take her so long to reach this conclusion. I had W pegged with the first couple of sentences that I heard come from his mouth.