Saturday, December 31, 2005

Posts about Tom DeLay are a dime a dozen, in fact I blogged one just last night at Deep Thought.

However, even though this is a few months old, it needs to be brought up, because so few people know about it, and it shows who this man really is: DeLay works to allow sweatshops on U.S. territory.

To grasp the moral bankruptcy of the public Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, you only have to know about Frank Murkowski and Saipan.

Today, Frank Murkowki is the governor of Alaska, but from 1980 to 2002, he was a conservative Republican senator from Alaska.

How conservative? His voting record earned him zero ratings from organized labor's AFL-CIO and the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, and perfect 100s from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Conservative Union.

But as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Frank Murkowski became furious at the abusive sweatshop conditions endured by workers, overwhelmingly immigrants, in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, of which Saipan is the capital.

Because they were produced in a territory of the United States, garments traveled tariff-free and quota-free to the profitable U.S. market and were entitled to display the coveted "Made in the USA" label.

Among the manufacturers that had profited from the un-free labor market on the island were Tommy Hilfiger USA, Gap, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne.

Moved by the sworn testimony of U.S. officials and human-rights advocates that the 91 percent of the workforce who were immigrants -- from China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage and were forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing, work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, without any of the legal protections U.S. workers are guaranteed, Murkowski wrote a bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas.

So compelling was the case for change the Alaska Republican marshaled that in early 2000, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Murkowski worker reform bill.

But one man primarily stopped the U.S. House from even considering that worker-reform bill: then-House Republican Whip Tom DeLay.

According to law firm records recently made public, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, paid millions to stop reform and keep the status quo, met personally at least two dozen times with DeLay on the subject in one two-year period. The DeLay staff was often in daily contact with Abramoff.

DeLay traveled with his family and staff over New Year's of 1997 on an Abramoff scholarship endowed by his client, the government of the territory, to the Marianas, where golf and snorkeling were enjoyed.

DeLay fully approved of the working and living conditions. The Texan's salute to the owners and Abramoff's government clients was recorded by ABC-TV News: "You are a shining light for what is happening to the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America and leading the world in the free-market system"

Later, DeLay would tell The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin that the low-wage, anti-union conditions of the Marianas constituted "a perfect petri dish of capitalism. It's like my Galapagos Island."

That's the Tom DeLay answer to outsourcing. Make things so bad in the United States that it will be profitable for the multinationals to open their factories here.

A Toast for the New Year

It is the last day of the 2005 and I do not want this year to end without me actually getting personal. I wish everyone a healthy and Happy New Year. May there be many indictments and PEACE in 2006.

I just wanted to say THANKS to so many people that have come here to visit, and a special thanks to all those who have contributed to this blog. By no means it this list going to be complete because I would have to probably write until the end of the next year. Although this year has been not the best one politically wise, I have learned so much from so many people. I have come to read so many intelligent and versed bloggers this year, something that would not have happened had I not been bugged into starting this blog. So the first person I wish to thank is Cindy Sheehan, you forced me into starting this blog. Your courage and your speaking out! So on the night of your Vigil, I started my own vigil, small and meek, but always asking for the one thing I wish for on this earth - PEACE!

Jen, you are truly a special person, without your help and dedication I would not be writing this post. Barbi, the Fountain would NEVER be what it is without you! Dors, thank you for being so patient with me about all the dynamics of blogging. Cyn, I am so glad that I got to know you and I thank you so much for all your posts. Chuck, my raving maniac, you are a pleasure to blog with and I hope your have a great Anniversary too. Eli, my mentor, you have taught me so much and I thank you for that. Mack, Bob and Amanda - as I have said to Eli, I now say to you, thank you for teaching me so much, I am so fortunate to have met you all.

But there is a blogsphere far beyond this one and I have come to know some really amazing people, Comandante, you old man ;) thanks for all your assistance and for Cairo. You scared me when you said you were leaving, but you introduced me to the new Agitprop fellow...Blogenfreude, I hope you never give up your war on O'Reilly, although you are exhausted, your sense of humor never fades.

Beautiful Idyllopus, your stories and your style of writing are something I wish to achieve in '06. Fred, at Making Conservatives Cringe, without your help I would have never been noticed by Mike at Crooks and Liars, thank you for noting this blog. FLS aka The Fat Lady Sings, one night I came upon your blog and your personal story and was touched so much by it. And lastly to Joe, the Heretik, for your posts of knowledge of the arts yet connected to current events, you have taught me much.

The Heretik tagged me with 5 Random Facts. I know, surprise, surprise, I don't actually write about myself but here goes:
  1. At the age of 5, a Kindergartener, I kissed a boy in the back of the bus. He was a kindergartner too and the bus driver caught us.
  2. Believe it or not, I can become really irate, especially when I have to deal with a company by phone. Such as MCI, when I call them, the first thing I say is "What country am I talking to?" And then when they tell me India or Manila, I demand to speak to someone in the US. Then I really get mad, telling them how dare they outsource. My daughter is amazed at how angry I can get on the phone, she is happy I am not like that in person.
  3. During snowstorms, I like to watch "Vertical Limit."
  4. With every meal, I always serve a healthy salad. I eat it too.
  5. I was a gymnast. I wore my hair like Olga Korbut too.
So since I have mentioned my five random facts, I now tag the following people: Chuck at Bushmerika, Jen at Donkey O.D., Robot Buddha at Johnny Sutra, Dell at It's Me!, Dianne at Daffodil Lane, Angie at Angie's Weird Ideas and the Bastard at Bring it On!

Fess up guys and Happy New Year!

A toast to my blog family and especially to Chuck and Karen on this, their 26th anniversary:

Observe, when Mother Earth is dry
She drinks the dropping of the sky,
And then the dewy cordial gives
To every thirsty plant that lives.
The vapors which at evening weep
Are beverage to the swelling deep;
And when the rosy sun appears
He drinks the ocean's misty tears.
The moon too quaffs her paly stream
Of luster from the solar beam.
Then hence with your sober thinking!
Since nature's holy law is drinking,
I'll make the law of Nature mine,
And pledge the Universe in wine.

The New Year lies before you
Like a spotless tract of snow,
Be careful how you tread on it
For every mark will show.
~Author Unknown~

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Talking Points When Calling your Representatives and Senators


So I read through his article and put together some really good points that should be brought up to our Senators and Representatives.

1. Is a presidential order to the NSA to eavesdrop on US citizens and legal resident aliens, without any imitations, both legal and constitutional?

Congress should know that the NSA spying on US citizens and legal resident aliens is flatly prohibited without an order from the FISA court.

2. Can the president, adhering to statutory requirements, bypass the FISA court and authorize certain eavesdropping without an order from the FISA court?

Yes, but the statute states that the president and attorney general can only do this so long as they certify that no “United States person” will be a party to the surveillance. “United States” person is defined as any citizen, legal resident alien and various corporate entities.

The president or the attorney general can order the eavesdropping due to a true emergency, HOWEVER they still have to seek a warrant within seventy-two hours from the FISA court.

In all other cases, the definitions contained in the first section of FISA make it mandatory that if a US citizen or legal resident alien is acting as an “agent of a foreign power” within the United States, they must seek a FISA court order prior to beginning such surveillance.

3. Is it a true claim that under the Congressional resolution authorizing the war on terrorism, the words “use of military force” include actions such as the warrantless eavesdropping program?

Not a single member of the Congress has said that they intended the war on terrorism resolution to include the NSA program, or any program to conduct warrantless searches on US citizens and legal resident aliens.

4. Is the claim that as Commander-in-Chief he has inherent authority to suspend the constitution during a time of war true?

Well we all know who tried that...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Hidden State

Jonathon Schell asks a question that every American should be answering as this year comes to an end, in his article "The Hidden State Steps Forward."
Does the Commander in Chief possesses the "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime? And if the President can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President.
The evidence of the President having broken and disregarded the law is clear when they launched illegal wiretapping. The administration in fact did try to get legal wiretaps, however judges told them their applications were no good.

Since the appointment of Bush in 2000, this administration has been used to getting what they want and post 9/11 they have done so with avengence. However when an administration breaks the law by secret wiretapping, then it becomes necessary to expose and to stop it. But if they are exposed and then permitted to continue, then we no longer have a democracy.

  • The absence of judicial oversight represents an indefensible abrogation of the Separation of Powers doctrine and the system of checks and balances that has protected American rights since the birth of the federal government
  • Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds. The administration also feared that by publicly disclosing the existence of the operation, its usefulness in tracking terrorists would end, officials said.
  • The 4th amendment prohibits warrantless searches on PRIVATE AMERICAN CIVILIANS.
It now becomes so important for the American people and Congress to challenge this new type of government that Bush and his administration has created. A government which states that it is above the law.

Members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. They did so once before, when Richard Nixon, who said, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal," posed a similar threat to the Constitution. The only possible answer is to inform Bush forthwith that if he continues in his defiance, he will be impeached.
What Did They Say When Clinton Was Being Impeached?

Top 12 media myths and falsehoods on the Bush administration's spying scandal

Well, Bush can be brought down.

Funny that only now have they 'discovered' this glitch:

Another key to why Republicans are overrepresented politically:

counting inmates transfers voting power.

a glitch in the census that inflates the populations of some state legislative districts - thus exaggerating their voting power - has led to a contemporary version of that problem. It involves counting prison inmates in the district where they are confined rather than where they actually live....

The culprit is a provision in the census that counts prison inmates as "residents" of the institutions where they are held, often for relatively short periods of time. Denied the right to vote in all but 2 of the 50 states, the inmates are nonetheless treated as voters when the State Legislatures draw up legislative districts. This practice mattered little 30 years ago, when the prison population was tiny. But with about 1.4 million people in prison today, it can be used to shift political power from one part of the state to another.

A startling analysis by Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative found seven upstate New York Senate districts meeting the population requirements only because inmates were included in the count. The Republican Party in New York relies on its large upstate delegation for its majority in the State Senate - and for its political power statewide. New York is not alone. The Prison Policy Initiative's researchers found 21 counties nationally where at least 21 percent of so-called residents lived behind bars.

The two states that allow inmates to vote are Maine and Vermont, by the way.

Now, most prisons are located in smaller, largely rural communities. This means that these communities can substantially inflate their population count for the census. That creates smaller districts, or in other words a larger number of rural districts. And, as we know, New York is not at all unusual in terms of having a lot of Republicans living in rural counties.

By counting these nonvoting inmates as residents, the prison counties offend the principle of one person one vote, while siphoning off political power from the home districts to which the inmates will return as soon as they are released. Since inmates are jobless, their presence also allows prison districts to lower their per capita incomes, unfairly increasing their share of federal funds earmarked for the poor.

This is the other side of the coin. A disproportionate share of inmates come from inner city areas. They are not counted where they live, so the population count of these areas goes down. Therefore, the boundaries of urban districts have to be expanded outwards, meaning that there are fewer of them. And as we know, these districts are often more likely to be Democratic. And another result that we see here-- federal and state formulas are set up which cause funds to follow the prisoners. This means that cities are getting the shaft as development, education and other funds which should go there are diverted to those rural areas which have prisons. Now I will concede that this isn't necessarily as much of a windfall as it sounds for the rural districts--- there is a prison in Winslow, for example, and it does attract some people to town (such as families of long term convicts who stay in motels for several weeks at a stretch) who, for want of a better way of putting it, probably require the city to spend more on police and other services. However, if funding is needed to address this issue, then it should be provided up front-- not by stealing it from an inner city.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC)

Real change often requires not only top-down leadership but bottom-up activism. The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC) began in coffee houses, community centers, and union halls with a series of discussions, presentations and lectures about the state of the health care delivery system in both Minnesota and the nation at large. It currently consists of 13 organizations committed to both incremental change in MN and comprehensive reform legislation for the entire state.

Discussions about the rising cost of health care and the growing number of uninsured Americans are replete with policy proposals ranging from "single payer" to "personal health savings accounts" - from tort reform to "patient incentives" (deductibles). To keep things straight, it's helpful to understand that there are three basic models for delivering health care.

  1. Medicare's "fee for service" model.
  2. The Managed Care/Managed Competition (HMO) model.
  3. The high deductible, "defined contribution", libertarian model advanced by the Bush Administration.
Options two and three are based on the premise that the health care delivery system is "overused". In general, managed care advocates believe that doctors "abuse" the system by perscribing more treatment than is necessary which leads to ever increasing health care costs.

"High deductible" advocates believe that the rising cost of health care is due to "over insurance" which encourages over use on the part of patients. This later is referred to in insurance and ecconomics terms as Moral Hazard risk.

"Fee for Service" advocates, which include the proponents of single payer health care believe that the rising cost of health care is due to waste in the system which includes
  • Excessive administration costs.
  • Excessive oversight of doctors by the insurance arms of the HMOs.
  • Under-participation in funding health care represented in part by the uninsured.
  • Un-negotiated equipment and drug prices.
to enumerate a few. The cost of these inefficienies are estimated at anywhere from 15% to 30%. MUHCC estimates that if even 15% of these costs are recaptured, it is enough to fund $-1 benefits ($0 deductible), universal coverage to all citizens of MN plus provide long term care benefits to everyone in the state.

There are both moral and economic arguments for reforming the current health care delivery system. Democrats have done well historically at advocating for broad access to health care and they have done well at articulating the moral argument for universal coverage.

Democrats have done less well at articulating the economic argument. A 1999 KPMG study titled: The Competitive Alternative: A Comparison of Business Costs in North America, Europe, and Japan points out that Canadian-based firms enjoy a 7.8% cost advantage over U.S. based firms measured across nine key industries largely due to Canada's publically funded health care system. It costs U.S. automobile manufacturers, $1,200 more per unit on average to produce a vehicle than it does their counterparts in Canada - largely due to health care costs. And in fact, Ontario now produces and sells as many vehicles in North America as does Detroit.

I'm going to make neither a moral argument nor an economic argument for a publically funded health care system - I'm going to make the case for freedom.

Freedom for a middle-aged couple to pursue a dream of opening their own bed and breakfast in the Redwing Valley of Minnesota without fear of their business being swamped by health care costs.

Freedom for a young cellist to pursue a life of music knowing she can put out a shingle anywhere in the country and have access to affordable health care.

Freedom for a newly married pair of college graduates to work with ex-gang members in Detroit's inner city knowing they won't be bankrupted by medical costs.

Freedom for an engaged Christian to open a ranch in central California that offers a place where kids from LA can spend part of their summer caring for and riding horses without pricing out the people he wants to serve in order to cover health expenses.

I don't accept that freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, I believe it's why we all love this place.

They ask the question. I don't. I wouldn't have titled it that way. And of course, in my opinion, their list doesn't quite cover it all...


By Richard Reeves Fri Dec 2, 8:13 PM ET

PARIS -- President John F. Kennedy was considered a historian because of his book "Profiles in Courage," so he received periodic requests to rate the presidents, those lists that usually begin "1. Lincoln, 2. Washington ..."
But after he actually became president himself, he stopped filling them out.
"No one knows what it's like in this office," he said after being in the job. "Even with poor James Buchanan, you can't understand what he did and why without sitting in his place, looking at the papers that passed on his desk, knowing the people he talked with."

Poor James Buchanan, the 15th president, is generally considered the worst president in history. Ironically, the Pennsylvania Democrat, elected in 1856, was one of the most qualified of the 43 men who have served in the highest office. A lawyer, a self-made man, Buchanan served with some distinction in the House, served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and secretary of state under President James K. Polk. He had a great deal to do with the United States becoming a continental nation -- "Manifest Destiny," war with Mexico, and all that. He was also ambassador to Great Britain and was offered a seat on the Supreme Court three separate times.
But he was a confused, indecisive president, who may have made the Civil War inevitable by trying to appease or negotiate with the South. His most recent biographer, Jean Clark, writing for the prestigious American Presidents Series, concluded this year that his actions probably constituted treason. It also did not help that his administration was as corrupt as any in history, and he was widely believed to be homosexual.

Whatever his sexual preferences, his real failures were in refusing to move after South Carolina announced secession from the Union and attacked Fort Sumter, and in supporting both the legality of the pro-slavery constitution of Kansas and the Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott class declaring that escaped slaves were not people but property.

He was the guy who in 1861 passed on the mess to the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan set the standard, a tough record to beat. But there are serious people who believe that George W. Bush will prove to do that, be worse than Buchanan. I have talked with three significant historians in the past few months who would not say it in public, but who are saying privately that Bush will be remembered as the worst of the presidents.

There are some numbers. The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.

Quite an indictment. It is, of course, too early to evaluate a president. That, historically, takes decades, and views change over times as results and impact become more obvious. Besides, many of the historians note that however bad Bush seems, they have indeed since worse men around the White House. Some say Buchanan. Many say Vice President Dick Cheney.

(which is a yahoo link- notorious for going dead/being replaced without warning)

Bold emphasis and italics are mine. I haven't got a clue as to what the third to the last sentence in the article means. I assume that the word since is a "typo" and should be the word seen.


Thais release lanterns into the night sky during a ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the tsunami on Pak Meng beach in Thailand's Trang province December 26, 2005.

Five thousand floating paper lanterns fill the sky over the Andaman Sea in remembrance of tsunami victims during the one-year Indian Ocean tsunami anniversary in Khao Lak,
Thailand's Phang Nga province.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I got new dishes for Christmas.

My husband and kids bought these nice dishes for me. They said I should stop blogging and start cooking more.

What do you think?

I was hoping I could order out fancy food, serve it up on my new dishes and still blog.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sing hey! Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so, let's all be jolly!
~Author Unknown

Friday, December 23, 2005

Alito Argued to Overturn Roe in 1985 Memo
In a recommendation to the solicitor general on filing a friend-of-court brief, Alito said that the government "should make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled."

Roe vs. Wade is not a piece of legislation. It was a supreme court ruling made in 1972, that made it unconstitutional for state legislatures to outlaw abortion. As such, it cannnot be repealed, but only overturned. That is why appointing winger justices is so important to the fundies.

My New Year's Wish: Oh for pete's sake, he's fleeing the interview! He's fleeing the interview!

Donald Rumsfeld has announced (funny how they always make these announcements in the middle of the night so it will read 'Friday' but still make the headlines in the papers) just a few moments ago that The Bush administration will cut U.S. troop strength in Iraq by as much as 7,000 troops during the spring of 2006.

Now, of course this reduction in force (amounting to about 5% of the overall U.S. force in Iraq) will be touted as a smashing success, as proof that our policies are working, that the country is stabilizing, that the Iraqi army is now ready to take over or some such baloney.

And, I suppose it is good to the extent that there will be 7,000 fewer American soldiers walking around in Iraq as targets for the insurgents to shoot at. I don't mind President Bush taking credit, as long as they are out of there. However, let's call this what it is: a politically motivated stunt that does very little towards actually getting us out of there. 95% of our troops will still be there, inflaming the country and feeding the insurgency as much as they are fighting it.

The Sunni insurgents held their fire so that the elections could take place because they calculated that it would be beneficial for them to do so. They are still going to be, as patriotic Iraqis, attacking Americans so long as America is seen as an occupying force (after all, wouldn't we do the same if a foreign country occupied America-- remember the movie, 'Red Dawn?') Iraq is ultimately not getting any closer to being a Democracy (although one outcome of the elections seems to be that it is much closer to being an Islamic Republic). But there is one thing that we are getting closer to, and that explains the sudden need to reduce troop levels:

The November 2006 elections in the United States.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Just when we'd thought we'd heard the worst about domestic spying

This just in from Truthout:

New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies
By Jim Dwyer
The New York Times

Thursday 22 December 2005

Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

Until Sept. 11, the secret monitoring of events where people expressed their opinions was among the most tightly limited of police powers.

Provided with images from the tape, the Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, did not dispute that they showed officers at work but said that disguised officers had always attended such gatherings - not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech. Activists, however, say that police officers masquerading as protesters and bicycle riders distort their messages and provoke trouble.

The pictures of the undercover officers were culled from an unofficial archive of civilian and police videotapes by Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst who is critical of the tactics. She gave the tapes to The New York Times. Based on what the individuals said, the equipment they carried and their almost immediate release after they had been arrested amid protesters or bicycle riders, The Times concluded that at least 10 officers were incognito at the events.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Now the spirit flew again
and this time he came upon a city
Shining bright in the darkness
So the spirit he set down.

Then he walked among the people
In a fitting earth disguise
So no one recognized him
Though they wondered at his eyes.

And there a girl in desperation
Was searching through the sky
For a star that she could wish upon
But stars were in short supply

And the only light that she could see
There shining all alone
Was a neon sign on an old bar
And so on this,
she wished she was home.

And that is where my posts on this end. These stories were taken from the first CD by Trans Siberian Orchestra. It is entitled Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

With the help of Jen, I was able to upload their song. An Angel Returned.

May there be Peace Soon!

I know many of you probably received this greeting from John Edwards, but wanted to pass it along to those of you that didn't see it. To me, it's simple message is most inspiring.

Happy Winter Solstice!

In the northern hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It's officially the first day of winter and one of the oldest known holidays in human history. Anthropologists believe that solstice celebrations go back at least 30,000 years, before humans even began farming on a large scale. The stone circles of Stonehenge were arranged to receive the first rays of midwinter sun.

Ancient peoples believed that because daylight was waning, it might go away forever, so they lit huge bonfires to tempt the sun to come back. The tradition of decorating our houses and our trees with lights at this time of year is passed down from those ancient bonfires.

In Ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated with the festival of Saturnalia, during which all business transactions and even war were suspended, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.

(from Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac)

[hat tip to Jenny]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Researchers at Arizona State University have narrowed the window in which humans diverged from Chimpanzees-- our closest relatives in the animal world, to between 5 and 7 million years ago, a more precise number than previous estimates of between 3 and 13 million years.

[Sudhir] Kumar’s team used a recently developed method in genetic sequencing to make the most comprehensive comparison to date of genes from humans, chimps, macaque monkeys and rats. They examined the number of mutations in the DNA sequence of each species to estimate its rate of evolutionary change...

"We can conclude that humans and chimpanzees probably last shared a common ancestor between five and seven million years ago," said research team member Blair Hedges, an astrobiologist at Penn State. “Knowing the timescale of human evolution, and how we changed through time in relation to our environment, could provide valuable clues for understanding—in a more general sense—the evolution of intelligent life."

Of course, there are those who don't believe in evolution at all. Now, it isn't a matter of universal religious dogma, as there are certainly many religious people (myself included) who believe in evolution, but the fact is, have you ever seen any Creationist who does not simultaneously belong to a church which denies Darwin?

Of course, we also now have to fight, 'creationism lite,' i.e. the so-called 'theory of Intelligent Design,' which posits that the world and its creatures are part of such a complex and interconnected system that its evolution, if it did evolve, must have been directed by an 'intelligent designer,' (i.e. God). Of course, I am sure that even those who claim to push this theory don't really believe it-- they are really old fashioned creationists, because if they really believed that this was such a perfect inter-connected system that God designed, wouldn't they all be environmentalists? Just wondering, because I can't imagine why a sincere advocate of 'Intelligent Design' WOULDN'T be an environmentalist; if they honestly believe that God made such a perfect creation, wouldn't they believe we should tread lightly upon it?)

Later today, we will see a decision handed down by Judge John E. Jones III in the case, 'Kitzmiller vs. Dover school board,' involving a lawsuit by parents against a local school board which had sought to force Biology teachers to teach I.D. I updated that case on Deep Thought while arguments were being made in Pennsylvania earlier this fall. Then last month, the entire set of eight Republican school board members who had pushed the idea was defeated for re-election in favor of eight Democrats who opposed introducing I.D. into the curriculum. Jones' decision is important, however, in that it will either help put this issue to rest, or set the stage for more school boards forcing their teachers to teach dogma which has no scientific backing.

Now, as a matter of fact, I myself do believe in what might be called, 'Intelligent Design' that is, that God (since I believe He exists) had a hand in evolution. However, that is an opinion (and yes, I'm an environmentalist). It is my own belief. It is not science. Science is what this team did: collected hard data, analyzed it, and came to a conclusion based not on any personal beliefs or pre-conceived notions, but rather only based on the evidence in front of them.

Besides, if you are religious and secure in your beliefs, then why wouldn't you push for scientific inquiry? Science is a method of seeking the truth, which sooner or later gets it right. Therefore, a truly religious person, convinced that their religion holds the key to the truth, should not fear what science might find, but embrace it, and do everything to push it forward. To try and push back science is the hallmark of someone experiencing a nagging fear that their dogma will be proven wrong, and afraid of having to face up to that.

UPDATE: The Kitzmiller decision is in. Good news all the way around. I already went over it at Deep Thought.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program. The limited members who were told of the program were prohibited by the Administration from sharing any information about it with our colleagues, including other members of the Intelligence Committees.

At the time, I expressed my concerns to Vice President Cheney that the limited information provided to Congress was so overly restricted that it prevented members of Congress from conducting meaningful oversight of the legal and operational aspects of the program.

These concerns were never addressed, and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues.

Senator Rockefeller, much like Congresswoman Pelosi, expressed serious concerns about the domestic spy program; he even did so in a hand-written letter to the Vice President the very day he learned of it.

Senator Rockefeller's Hand-Written Letter to Vice President Cheney:

July 17, 2003
Dear Mr. Vice President,

I am writing to reiterate my concern regarding the sensitive intelligence issues we discussed today with the DCI, DIRNSA, and Chairman Roberts and our House Intelligence Committee counterparts.

Clearly the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues. As you know, I am neither a technician or an attorney. Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities.

As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance.

Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or technical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.

I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication.

I appreciate your consideration of my views.

Most respectfully,

Jay Rockefeller

"Twas the Night Before Christmas - Ala John D. Dingell

The House of Representatives recently passed House Resolution 579, which had the title "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected", apparently as a response to Bill O'Reilly's "War on Christmas" (TM).

Representative John D. Dingell (D - MI) recited his answer to the "War on Christmas" (TM) for the House in the form of his very own rendition of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas":

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House
No bills were passed ‘bout which Fox News could grouse;
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;

Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,
While visions of school and home danced in their heads;
In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,
Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;
Americans feared we were on a fast track to…well…
Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;
A fabrication straight from the mouth of O’Reilly

We can pretend that Christmas is under attack
Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger
Wake up Congress, they’re in no danger!

This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,
From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes…even Costco;
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,
When this is the season to unite us with joy

At Christmas time we’re taught to unite,
We don’t need a made-up reason to fight
So on O’Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;
You should just sit back, relax…have a few egg nogs!

‘Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch
With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?

So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,
A merry Christmas to all,
and to Bill O’Reilly…Happy Holidays.

Our neighbors to the South do what we seemingly cannot, which is defeat business-backed candidates. This could domino, if that's a verb. If it ain't, I'm making it one, such is my power.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

You know how right wingers like to call stores saying, 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas,' a "war on Christmas?" Well, here is my definition of a war on Christmas.


When people protesting the commercialization of Christmas all dress up as Santa Claus and run around and beat up security guards, pee on cars and steal beer.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A group of 40 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, many of them drunk, rampaged through New Zealand’s largest city, robbing stores and assaulting security guards, police said Sunday.

The rampage, dubbed “Santarchy” by local newspapers, began early Saturday afternoon when the men, wearing ill-fitting Santa costumes, threw beer bottles and urinated on cars from an Auckland overpass, said Auckland Central Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty.

She said the men then rushed through a central city park, overturning garbage containers, throwing bottles at passing cars and spraying graffiti on buildings....

The remaining Santas entered a downtown convenience store and carried off beer and soft drinks.

“They came in, said ’Merry Christmas’ and then helped themselves,” store owner Changa Manakynda said.

Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said Santarchy was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

The right wingers should be happy, because these Santas were telling people 'Merry Christmas,' instead of 'Happy Holidays' as they stole their beer.

Ho, Ho, (hiccup).

I picked this up from FireDogLake blog and thought it was very, very interesting.

Well well well. What do we have here? George W. Bush has picked new nominees for the FEC. One is a Republican, Hans von Spakovsky, whom Ted Kennedy says "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws." And in an uncharacteristic moment of cheerful bipartisanship, Bush is also appointing a Democrat, Robert D. Lenhard, who was quite helpful to the 1600 Crew as part of the legal team that challenged the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.But there is perhaps another reason why Mr. Lenhard is being rewarded by BushCo. at just this moment. He's the husband of Viveca Novak, whose testimony now provides the foundation for Karl Rove's defense in the CIA leak case.A small but rather key fact that both the Washington Post and the White House Press Release manages to leave out, wouldn't you say? They WaPo is having quite a stint in the GOP stenography department this week, it would seem.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"

"It came with out ribbons! It came with out tags!"
"It came with out packages, boxes or bags!"

And he puzzled three hours, til his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Friday, December 16, 2005

Credit to eaprez at Details for the story.

Apparently, Republicans running the war in Iraq are applying their fiscal conservatism even when it comes to the bodies of soldiers coming home from Iraq, shipping them as freight, in order to save a few dollars.

SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

The bodies of the dead soldiers arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, as they always have. Now from there, it would make sense and be appropriate to place them on a military plane to go home. But they aren't. They are shipped as freight. And if you've ever watched how baggage handlers sometimes throw suitcases onto planes, you know how undignified that is (and one has to wonder, with the extensive baggage searches that have been authorized since 9/11, are the bodies x-rayed? Are the coffins opened and strip searched? Are they sniffed by explosives-trained dogs? How can anyone say with certainty that isn't happening in the post 9/11 environment?)

I guess once you are dead in Iraq, you are a liability to BushCo, and they get rid of you as cheaply as they can.


Now the spirit heard it spoken many times
And he had always paid attention
But this killing of ones neighbor
Was something he had never heard mentioned

But as he neared the earth
Of a recent battleground
From among the ruins
He once more heard the sound

It was a single cello playing
A forgotten Christmas song
And even on that battlefield
The song somehow belonged

And as he flew away
The spirit did take note
That where he found this music played
One always could find hope

He's making a list,
Checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.

Naughty: It seems that TYPEPAD, [naughty naughty] has chopped a whole weeks worth of posts off of any Typepad blog. Hopefully the problem will be mended pronto.

Nice: Agitprop has set up Typepad Refugees

Ever have a right winger give you their best shot, and it turns out to be like spitting gum on your shoe?

As most of you are aware by now, I have, in addition to continuing to be part of this blogging team and maintaining Deep Thought, recently accepted an invitation to also join the team over at The Coalition for a Republican Free America.

So the other day, I put up a post on the current manufactured 'controversy' about how some stores are greeting customers with 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas,' and it got into a discussion of the supposed 'war on Christmas' that the right likes to harp on (the comments are included in the link). Anyway, a rightwinger gave me a link to show how 'extreme' things have gotten in terms of suppressing Christianity. (if you are really curious, the link is


I won't make it a live link because it's not worth my trouble to type in the html language, you can cut and paste it if you want.

In any case, it goes through the travails of some poor fanatical fundie who was fired from a job at a state university for preaching until they fired him, who had taken a second job with similar results, and who the writer was advising to continue, with his group, to prosletyze on campus until they kick them all off (the university allowed them to operate on campus, simply admonishing them to be 'cautious.')

Of course, there are always complaints galore about free speech and the first amendment.

What this means, is that the best case that these people can make, is that some institutions are infringing on their right to be a nuisance.

Apparently, they believe that they have a right to go anywhere (including their place of employment) and preach, even at people who aren't interested. But if they get fired, that is unconstitutional.

No, freedom of speech means they can't be prosecuted criminally. Your employer has every right to set a standard on speech and other acts at work. It is likely that his nonstop preaching was interfering with his own and other people's productivity, possibly costing customers (it doesn't say what his job was) and costing his employer money. Further, as to prosletyzing on campus, the university has every right to tell them to be 'cautious' about it. As I mentioned above, that is not a ban, but an attempt to make sure that people who are at the university for the purpose of getting an education can expect to do so without being harrassed.

Now, I have no problem with a Christian sharing the gospel. I am myself a member of a church and willing to share it with anyone who is interested (L.D.S. church). Now see how easy that is? If someone decides they are interested, they will follow the link. If not, they won't. But once I pursue someone who has told me once they aren't interested, it is no longer a matter of sharing, but a matter of harrassment. There is a saying, 'what part of 'NO' don't you understand?' that should apply here. It certainly does to me.

What I think is that some people, like the person in the link, have a problem. They want to be like the early Christians. And the early Christians were persecuted for being disciples of Christ. They were dragged from their homes, fed to the lions, forced to fight to the death in the Colisseum against barbarians, beasts and professional gladiators, sold into slavery and stoned to death. Their homes were burned and their children were taken and sold as slaves. But now, after about 1800 years in which the main source of persecution of Christians has been other Christians, it can safely be said that as of today, there is no Christian in the United States who is actually persecuted because of his/her religion. So, they have to find examples like this and claim it is religious persecution. Not persecution for being pushy to the point of being a public nuisance, but persecution because of the message (hint: if I took my zeal for being a member of the Democratic party to this kind of extreme and pestered people at work to register as Democrats until they either did or quit just to get away from me, don't you think my employer would fire me? And they would be justified.) Any one with any common sense can distinguish between asking someone a question one time, and harrassing them with the same question to try and wear them down until they do what you want.

And that was the first link the guy popped up with.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


As he flew over Baghdad
There were scars upon the land
There were scars upon the people
It was hard to understand

And the deepest scars of all
Which to humans are unseen
But the spirit could see clearly
Were the scars upon the dreams

And in gardens where the children played
Now soldiers only trod
And stranger still, he heard some say
That they were killing for their god

Thought I did everything correctly, apparently not. I burned my contacts and bookmarks to a disc, yet cannot import them at this time...sigh. So, those of you that know my private email address, please send me an email, so I can update my contacts. Sorry for the trouble. (New computer)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


In the middle of a forest
There's a clearing by a stream
Where a mother holds her newborn
And the child begins to dream

And he dreams of hopes unspoken
When the tears of man will cease
And his mother holds him closer
For he is dreaming of peace

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today, the President of The American Red Cross resigned.

NEW YORK - American Red Cross President Marsha Evans announced her resignation Tuesday because of friction with the board of governors, shortly before witnesses and lawmakers at a congressional hearing assailed the charity's response to Hurricane Katrina...

At the hearing in Washington, lawmakers said the Red Cross's uneven response to Katrina calls for major changes in how the charity coordinates with local groups, handles its finances and distributes aid to the disabled. A Louisiana congressman even suggested the possibility of stripping the Red Cross of its dominant role in major relief campaigns....

A former Navy rear admiral who previously ran the Girl Scouts of the USA, Evans took over at the Red Cross in August 2002 as the organization was shaking off criticism of how it handled some donations sent in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks...

Critics said the Red Cross failed to respond quickly enough in some low-income, minority areas; others faulted it for balking at cooperation with grass-roots organizations even as it collected the bulk of hurricane relief funds — more than $1.8 billion to date....

Evans, 58, acknowledged in September that the organization's response to Katrina and Hurricane Rita had been uneven, saying the destructive power of the storms "eclipsed even our direst, worst-case scenarios."

In recent weeks, the organization has vowed to address some of the criticisms by seeking greater diversity within its ranks and establishing partnerships with local groups.

At the congressional hearing, Rep. Jim McCrery, a Louisiana Republican, called on Congress to reconsider whether to continue giving the Red Cross a lead role in responding to natural disasters. Having such a designation gave the organization a substantial boost in fundraising, absorbing about 60 percent of all donations, he said.

"If it is not the responsibility of the National Red Cross to step in when a Category 4 hurricane decimates a major metropolitan area and overwhelms one of their local chapters, whose responsibility is it?" asked McCrery.

A number of points can be made here:

1. FEMA, after having been downsized to the status of a branch of the Homeland Security Department and given the bumbling party hack, Michael Brown as its head, may have screwed things up royally, but a private charity isn't necessarily any more competent.

2. McCrery said it himself. Read this again:

"If it is not the responsibility of the National Red Cross to step in when a Category 4 hurricane decimates a major metropolitan area and overwhelms one of their local chapters, whose responsibility is it?" asked McCrery.

Precisely. And the same point could be made about the Government.

3. Read this again too: Critics said the Red Cross failed to respond quickly enough in some low-income, minority areas; others faulted it for balking at cooperation with grass-roots organizations even as it collected the bulk of hurricane relief funds — more than $1.8 billion to date. The poor and minorities are always the last in line for everything. Yup, this is America.

Now, I do support reforming the Red Cross, but I don't agree with McCreary's proposal. We already saw how Michael Brown's FEMA tricked people into giving money to Pat Robertson during the worst days of the Katrina disaster, so at the moment I would prefer that the Red Cross still absorb 60% of the donations, because quite frankly I don't trust the people who would likely replace them.

The Progressive has an interview with this man, I suggest all Democrats read it. Strike that, I suggest all AMERICANS read it

Monday, December 12, 2005

As The Nation's editors have written in the lead editorial of this special edition on torture, there is no longer any point in arguing whether US policy condones cruel, degrading and torturous treatment of prisoners.

Practices authorized by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a small scale in Afghanistan have now metastasized to a worldwide network of prisons and detention centers and surrogates ranging from private contractors to foreign authoritarian governments. This wide-ranging conspiracy to facilitate torture has depended on the collusion or complacency of many sectors of American society. [more]

More important articles at the Nation:

The Torture Administration
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Goethe and Beethoven. Would the people of other societies as readily accept tyranny? Sinclair Lewis, in 1935, imagined Americans turning to dictatorship under the pressures of economic distress in the Depression. He called his novel, ironically, It Can't Happen Here.

Torture is about acts: the blow to the head, the scream in the ear, the scar-free injuries whose diagnosis has become an international medical subspecialty. But torture is also very much about words: the whispered or shouted questions of the interrogator; the muddled confession of the prisoner; the too rarely tested language of laws protecting prisoners from "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

School Officials Propose Ban of Whole Milk

Cartons of whole milk would be considered junk food, but baked Cheetos would not, under new rules proposed Friday by Illinois education officials.

The State Board of Education proposed the rules after Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked for a junk food ban in elementary and middle schools. The new rules focus on the nutritional content of foods rather than broad categories of food.

Because of that, the proposed guidelines would allow 1 ounce bags of baked potato chips, even though all chips are now banned under the board's current definition of junk food. Whole milk would also be banned because of its high fat content, school officials said.

Some of the recommended cut-off points: calories from fat exceeding 35 percent (except nuts and seeds), calories from saturated fat exceeding 10 percent, and total calories exceeding 200 for an individual package.

"I think it's more practical," said the board's general counsel, Jonathan Furr. "We're focusing on nutrition, which is the objective to focus on a healthier environment."

This whole concept is like a bad dream. Somewhere, somehow, these so-called "guide lines" have gotten in the way of good old fashioned "common sense". I don't know about the rest of you, but I would rather my grandkids drank whole milk than ate chips or cheetos.

And, if you don't eat enough cheese or drink enough milk, the drug companies are very happy to sell you a calcium substitute.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives...

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a
valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's statement on the partisan USA Patriot Act House-Senate conference report.

President Bush is urging Congress to reach agreement on
reauthorizing the Patriot Act — a law that he says is essential to fighting terrorism, but liberal and conservative critics say is a threat to individual liberties.

"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are
null and void."
--Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174,
176, (1803)

* * *

"The makers of the Constitution conferred, as against
the government, the Right to be let alone; the most
comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by
civilized men."
--United States Supreme Court Justice Brandeis,
Olmstead v. United States
* * *

"An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights;
it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no
office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though
it had never been passed."
--Norton v. Shelby County, 118 US 425 p. 442
* * *

"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved,
there can be no rule making or legislation which would
abrogate them."
--Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491 (1966)
* * *

Section 256, page 177:

"The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute,
though having the form and name of law, is in reality
no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any
purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time
of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the
decision so branding it."

"An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is
as inoperative as if it had never passed. Such a statute
leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it
would be had the statute not been enacted. Such an
unconstitutional law is void, the general principles
follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights,
creates no office, bestows no power or authority on
anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts
performed under it..."

"A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid

"An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede
any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute
runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is
superseded thereby."

"No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and
no courts are bound to enforce it."
* * *

It is not the function of our government to keep the
citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the
Citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
--American Communications Association vs. Douds,
339 U.S. 382, 442

"...So long as the people do not care to exercise their
freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so;

For tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote
themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious
and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men."
--Voltarine de Cleyre

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ever notice how so much of the problems the GOP has today, sooner or later tie back to the Reagan era, leaving no stones untouched?

Margaret Thatcher tied to Abramoff scandal.

The US Justice Department is seeking to question Baroness Thatcher as part of a high-level inquiry into allegations of a "flights-for-favours" corruption scandal at Congress.

Officials have asked the Metropolitan Police to question the former Tory Prime Minister over a meeting she held with leading Republican Tom DeLay in the UK in 2000.

The request, revealed in a leaked Home Office document, forms part of a probe into allegations that congressmen received free foreign holidays from lobby groups in return for influencing legislation.

A spokesman for Lady Thatcher today confirmed that police had contacted her office in order to "clarify" details of a meeting with Mr DeLay in Britain in May 2000

Does this surprise me? Not at all. Reagan was, at least blissfully unaware of all the lies he was telling-- they propped, prepped and plied him well. But Thatcher, her mind was as keen as a knife-- she knew darn well which way was up. And her mind, to all accounts, is still pretty sharp. So does it surprise me that the woman who was so reactionary that she tried to institute a head tax in England, would find a kindred spirit in Tom DeLay? And more than a kindred spirit, if the report bears out:

The leaked document says that the US probe centres on the activities of Jack Abramoff, a film producer and high-profile lobbyist who has raised thousands of dollars for the Republicans.

It says: "US officials are investigating whether Abramoff was involved in obtaining legislative assistance from public officials in exchange for arranging and underwriting trips to the UK.

"One visit to the UK involved a meeting with Mrs Margaret Thatcher, and her evidence is sought about that meeting and her involvement in the alleged deception and violation of US criminal laws."

It added: "It is alleged that Abramoff arranged for his clients to pay for the trips to the UK on the basis that Congressman DeLay would support favourable legislation if they paid for the trip".

Wonder if Ollie North really regrets not being elected to the Senate a few years ago, look at all the fun he's missing out on now.

Good morning starshine, the earth says hello
you twinkle above us, we twinkle below

Friday, December 09, 2005

In polling data out today, the President's approval rating inched up, to 42% approval (and 57% disapproval). While this is up slightly since November (well, there was only so low it even COULD go owing to the zombie factor), and as disasters like Katrina and Social Security reform recede into the past (except, of course, for people who now may never get their homes rebuilt), one likely reason is that even Bush starts to look better compared to the continuing decline in the ratings of the GOP led Congress. According to the same poll, the perception of corruption has overrun Congress is picking up steam.

Sixty-five percent of respondents disapproved of lawmakers’ work in Washington and only 31 percent approved, the worst numbers since AP-Ipsos began asking the question in January.

Several of those interviewed said corruption was endemic to a political system awash in colossal amounts of lobbying money and beset by an insatiable demand for campaign cash...

People questioned in the survey had no trouble reciting the names associated with offenses and inquiries:

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, faces money laundering charges.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is under a federal investigation for a well-timed stock sale.
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in the outing of a CIA officer.

Also, a small but important turnaround: In last months poll, Republicans in Congress actually polled one percent better than Democrats in Congress. In this months poll:

Democrats were considered more ethical by 36 percent, while 33 percent cited Republicans. That difference is within the poll’s 3 percent margin of error.

Some 40 percent of women said Democrats were more ethical than Republicans, while 32 percent of men offered a similar view.

Now, nearly all of the scandals we have seen have involved Republicans, so it is perhaps surprising that the difference is this small, but compared to the past when Republicans polled higher, it is a significant change, and a change which can only get larger as more of this stuff comes out.

We will see how much larger in eleven months.

For your listening pleasure, I am shamelessly promoting my oldest daughter's musical abilities. No politics for this Friday night, just a little music to mellow out with. If you go to the left of the site and click music, you can hear a few tunes. Mariah is my favorite. Enjoy and Happy Friday

Inner Gypsy

Maybe this is our new psych warfare poster to send a 'message' to the Iraqis.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Remembering John Lennon

I wonder how many of the enemy out there will still call me a conspiracy nut. Probably all of them still. I get some satisfaction seeing growing support from time to time for what I've believed all along.

Why does the World Trade Center no longer exist? The "official story" is full of holes. A truly independent investigation is doubtful. The "investigators" that were appointed are wrapping it up and will disband on December 31, 2005. It's all out there to google and we should all be thankful for the internet. Pause and consider what the information about everything would be (was) like without it.

This must not go away until the QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED. But I don't personally think they ever will be. They may be found out, but they'll never be disclosed by the neo-cons. The truth might assure long jail sentences for many of them.

"The official story about the collapse of the WTC is bogus and it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling. It's 'next to impossible' that 19 Arab terrorists alone outfoxed the mighty U.S. military. The scientific conclusions about the WTC collapse may hold the key to the entire mysterious plot behind 9/11.
------------Morgan Reynolds, Ph.D., former Chief Economist under george W. bush's first term

"I just can’t respect a party leadership who doesn’t respect the truth. I guess the real story about 9/11 is about what the people are actually saying. I’ve gotten hundreds of emails in response to my columns and many of them talk about not getting the truth from the government or the media about what really happened at the World Trade Center. I know many qualified engineers and scientists have said the WTC collapsed from explosives. In fact, if you look at the manner in which it fell, you have to give their conclusions credibility."
----------The Honorable Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Sect. of Treasury under Ronald Reagan

"NORAD officials lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 commission to create a false impression of competence, communication and protection of the American people."
---------U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, Minnesota

"For the first year and a half I just accepted the conventional view. When a colleague suggested to me about a year after 9/11 that he was convinced our own government or forces within our own government had arranged it, I didn't accept that. Then several months later another colleague sent me [a link to] a website that had a timeline. Once I started reading that and saw all those stories drawn from mainstream sources that contradicted the official account, I decided I needed to look into it more carefully, and the more I looked, the worse it got. The fact that Building 7 [a 47-story skyscraper in the WTC complex] collapsed when it had not been hit by an airplane, and collapsed in seven or eight seconds, that's a smoking gun. The fact that standard operating procedures were not followed that morning, and we've gotten three different stories now by the U.S. military as to why they did not intercept the planes, that's a smoking gun. There was a Zogby poll in New York. The question asked was, do you believe the government had advance knowledge of the attacks and consciously let them happen? Forty-nine percent in New York City said yes."
--------Professor emeritus, David Ray Griffin, Claremont School of Theology

"Many people are convinced that George W. Bush knew what was going to happen and purposely allowed it to happen so he and his neo-conservative buddies could have the “new Pearl Harbor” they needed to justify their wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Others go further. They are absolutely sure Cheney and company actually planned and carried out the attack. What is so disturbing is that their arguments are quite convincing. If an enormous cloud of suspicion is not to be permanently over the head of our government, the Bush Administration must “come clean,” releasing information thus far withheld from the American people. Why did John Ashcroft and top Pentagon officials cancel plans to fly commercial airlines the morning of 9/11? If they knew what was about to happen, why wasn’t it stopped? Who made all the millions of dollars selling short United and American Airlines [stock] just before 9/11? Why weren’t the hijacked airliners intercepted by jet fighters and shot down before they could fly into the WTC and Pentagon? What did the air traffic controllers say, and to whom? Why did the FBI impound the tapes of those conversations? Why has the public never been told what was on them? Why weren’t the congressional investigators told? If it was just a matter of incompetence or somebody not doing their job, why hasn’t anyone been fired or reprimanded?"
-------Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Head of Advanced Space Programs for DOD

"Catherine Austin Fitts has been a Wall Street executive, a government official, and President of her own investment bank. She is currently the director of Solari. Fitts served as Managing Director and Member of the Board of Directors of the Wall Street investment bank, Dillon, Read & Co., Inc. and also as Assistant Secretary of Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner at HUD in the first Bush Administration...
...From the first, the Bush Administration resisted investigation and disclosure. Families of September 11 victims were forced to lobby the administration and Congress for a full and independent inquiry. They fought for 14 months, blocked every step of the way by the White House. The families demanded a full investigation, posing nearly 400 questions to the Kean Commission. The commissioners said they welcomed these queries. But their final report ignored most of the unanswered questions. Still posted on the website of the September 11 Family Steering Committee, these questions are a stark reminder of the Kean Commission's failures. Until the unanswered questions about 9/11 are laid to rest, by a truly independent investigation that does not declare legitimate avenues of inquiry off-limits, they will continue to haunt our country."
SOURCE w/external hyperlinking

One of the best sites I've found yet on the subject is

From my 9/11/05 blog:

Here are a few very important questions that you should be asking yourself.

1) How did his "handlers" know that he wasn't a target that day?
2) How did they know the children were safe?
3) And if they didn't, isn't that gross incompetence?



In the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, while the airways were still closed to all other flights, Americans couldn't fly into the country but relatives of bin Laden were able to fly out. The Justice Department and the FBI inspector general should investigate why these obvious "persons of interest" were permitted to leave the country without being seriously interrogated.

Why should the American people trust the Bush administration with greater police powers when it refuses to answer questions about the bin Laden family's escape? As Senator Charles Schumer of New York has said, it was too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi and bin Laden relative deserved an "all clear," never to be available for questions again.

The American people deserve answers to these questions:

Whom did the Saudis call to request government approval of the flights?

Who in the government coordinated approval of the flights?

Did the FBI receive any communications from the White House about the urgency of permitting these individuals to leave the country?

Did any Justice Department or FBI officials express reservations or objections to the decisions?

Did any Americans contact the US government to urge approval of the flights?

excerpt from The Boston Globe

"This (9/11) was all planned. This was a government-ordered operation. Bush personally signed the order. He personally authorized the attacks. He is guilty of treason and mass murder."

------------------------------Stanley Hilton
This man was a Senior Advisor to Senator Robert Dole (R), decades long friend of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

A complete Stanley Hilton interview is available on my blog HERE. Also available is "Twenty Things We Now Know Four Years After 9/11"

"My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger...."

The bush junta is unmasked. BUT NOW WHAT???
Here are a few links:





Introducing The New Amazing PENTALAWN!


There's more. A LOT MORE. Just google it.

Sorry. Brevity isn't a strong suit of mine. Once I get rolling on something...

There's much more to see at The Divided States Of bu$hmeriKa

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