Friday, December 30, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
My family background surrounds me with fellowship, love and joy at this time of year. To read the news, or check the blogs for the latest outrage causes major dissonance in my brain. I feel guilty when I hear that George has uttered more outrage from his podium, and then I head off to a gathering full of laughter and frivolity.
I am overcome with a stubborn need to enjoy my life. Not too much to ask, I hope. I was sitting at a table con primos y otra familia this past weekend and it was fantastic to talk a bunch of crap about memories past that are sure to cause snorting chuckles. I know that our democracy is being destroyed piece-by-piece as I am wiping the happy tears from my eyes, but in order to maintain the energy levels for the fight, I need these moments of bliss.
I find myself torn in half from this disconnect; but at the same time, I recognize that if I don't allow some space for happiness and escape, then I will be worthless for the battles ahead. So my advice to progressives and other sane human beings who are concerned for the well-being of the United States is this:
Enjoy the time you are given to share the best parts of our common humanity; the moments of fellowship, love and joy. It gives us a resurgence of energy that reminds our souls why we fight for the health of our democracy. Sure, the Bush War Council is stinking up the joint, but if you get the chance to enter a room free of the stench, then live it up.
Happy Holidays to you all and may 2006 be full of victory for the forces of equality and diversity.
Crossposted at Booman Tribune
Friday, December 23, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
Dear Senator,Links to an online fax service, contact info for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a big round of thank-you's for this cross-blog protest effort can be found here.
In 1989, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. denounced the high court's decision that year upholding a Watergate-era law that allowed independent counsels to investigate wrongdoing in the White House, arguing that the decision amounted to a ''congressional pilfering" of presidential power.
Speaking at a convention marking an anniversary of the Bill of Rights, Alito endorsed the strong view of presidential power described by Justice Antonin Scalia, the only member of the court to vote against the independent counsel law, calling Scalia's opinion ''a brilliant but very lonely dissent." Scalia argued that no president should be subject to a prosecutor who is not also answerable to that president under the Constitution.
Such remarks are highly alarming in light of the current constitutional crisis faced by the United States, where the President has not only admitted to committing an impeachable offense, but has declared his intention to continue breaking the same law. Furthermore, President Bush has asserted the power to hold prisoners without trial, shield documents, and authorize aggressive interrogations without congressional approval. Because the President has been so openly disdainful of the Constitution and rule of law in this country, I question his choice of nominee for the Supreme Court.
The advice and consent clause of the Constitution gives the Senate the vital role of asking the hard questions and, where necessary, withholding confirmation. Because of his radical right-wing judicial philosophy and the damage that his confirmation could inflict on American citizens for many years to come, I am urging you to oppose the confirmation of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.Sincerely,
Thursday, December 22, 2005
...or as I shall refer to it from now on, the "Racist Piece of Mierda Act of 2005"
It passed the House today on a vote of 239-182. What really puts me in a shitty mood (pun intended) is the fact that 36 Democrats voted for the damn thing and were basically responsible for its passage. What the fuck is the point of belonging to a political party when you consistently screw your base? Huh?
This bill isn't even in the same zip code as "moderate". It seeks to continue to fan the flames of racism in this country and belongs under the category of Officially Sanctioned by the Minutemen and the KKK.
Here are the Dems that caught a one-way ticket to the naughty list for Navidad 2005:
- Davis (TN)
- Larsen (WA)
- Moore (KS)
- Peterson (MN)
- Udall (CO)
From the Booman Tribune
I am writing today to express my displeasure with the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States. As I have reviewed Judge Alito's records of past rulings, it is apparent to me that he consistently puts the needs and interests of corporations over the rights of everyday workers in the United States. He has also shown blatant disrespect for the environment, again siding with business interests.
In the case, Homar v. Gilbert, Judge Alito argued in the minority position that a corporate entity had the right to suspend an employee without a hearing or compensation. This opens the door to strong-arm tactics by corporations that are more concerned with their financial bottom line than the rights of their workers.
Regarding environmental concerns, I was disturbed to read that Judge Alito cast the deciding vote in the 1997 case, Public Interest Research Group v. Magnesium Elektron that basically nullified the Clean Water Act by blocking a lawsuit and fine that was filed for a violation. It should be noted that the Supreme Court later struck down Judge Alito's decision, finding it to be an instance of judicial activism. continued...
Full information on today's action items and contact info can be found here.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I have a special request. I'm sure many of you are currently writing cards to friends and family. If you can, please send an extra one (or 10 or 20) to our American military heroes who are recuperating from wounds this Christmas Season. Please enclose a short note thanking them for their service and personal sacrifice. Your small act of kindness will be greatly appreciated. Here's the address...Yes, please spread the word.A Recovering American SoldierIf you would, please forward this message to your email friends.
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
In the first weeks and months after 9/11, I am told by a very good source, there was a lot of wishing out loud in the White House Situation Room about expanding the National Security AgencyÂs ability to instantly monitor phone calls and e-mails between American callers and possible terror suspects abroad. ÂWe talked a lot about how useful that would be,Â said this source, who was Âin the roomÂ in the critical period after the attacks.Who was the pseudo-priest sprinkling that water? You guessed it, Alberto Gonzales.
Well, as the world now knows, the NSA at the prompting of Vice President Cheney and on official (secret) orders from President Bush Â was doing just that. And yet, as I understand it, many of the people in the White House's own Situation Room including leaders of the national security adviser's top staff and officials of the FBI had no idea that it was happening.
As best I can tell, and this really isn't my beat, the only people who knew about the NSA's new (and now so controversial) warrant-less eavesdropping program early on were Bush, Cheney, NSA chief Michael Hayden, his top deputies, top leaders of the CIA, and lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House counsel's office hurriedly called in to sprinkle holy water on it. (emphasis mine)
This type of nightmare scenario is highly likely when you have a government that is incestuous in the way it operates. Rather than have all the minions in one coven, they have been spread out like a severe outbreak of chlamydia in George's second term--Condoleeza Rice to the State Department, Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank, Alberto Gonzales to Justice, Harriet Miers replacing Alberto Gonzales as White House Counsel and then briefly a Supreme Court nominee...
No wonder there is horror coming from all directions, everyone is sleeping with each other! (metaphorically speaking to the NSA overlords reading this)
So here we are creeping up to the last week of 2005 and the Attorney General of the United States, along with the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and other kool-aide drinking government officials are implicating themselves in multiple impeachable offenses.
I say, bring it on.
From the Booman Tribune
In 1981 President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, honoring his pledge to nominate a woman if given the opportunity.
If you review Justice O'Connor's work experience you will find that upon completing her law degree at Stanford, she was unable to find a job in a law firm. One firm offered her the position of secretary. This was in 1952.
President Bush, speaking about his choice for the Supreme Court, said in September, 2005, "I will pick a person who can do the job. But I am mindful that diversity is one of the strengths of the country."
Now you are being asked to consider Judge O'Connor's replacement, Judge Samuel Alito.When you examine his opinions on the Third Circuit, you will discover in the case Sheridan v. E.I.DuPont de Nemours and Co., that Alito's lone dissent would have prevented a woman claiming gender discrimination from going to trial, even though she had produced evidence. continued...
Full information and contact information for the Senate Judiciary committee can be found here
I'd be glad to answer some questions.I will be blogging lightly over the next several days. I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. How else am I supposed to retain the title of Master Procrastinator?
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Are you going to order a leaks investigation into the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program? And why did you skip the basic safeguard of asking courts for permission for these intercepts?
BUSH: Let me start with the first question.
There's a process that goes on inside the Justice Department about leaks, and I presume that process is moving forward.
My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war.
The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.
You've got to understand, and I hope the American people understand, there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they're very dangerous.
And, you know, the discussion about how we try to find them will enable them to adjust.
Now, I can understand you asking these questions. And if I were you, I'd be asking me these questions too.
Did you catch the first sentence in the article excerpt? Here it is again just to hit home the point on the priorities of the Republican-led Congress:
The measure, the product of a year's labors by the White House and the GOP in Congress, imposes the first restraints in nearly a decade in federal benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans.
"This is the one vote you'll have this year to reduce the rate of growth of the federal government," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, in a final plea for passage.
But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada countered that the GOP was advancing "an ideologically driven, extreme, radical budget. It caters to lobbyists and an elite group of ultraconservative ideologues here in Washington, all at the expense of middle class Americans," he said.
The measure, the product of a year's labors by the White House and the GOP in Congress, imposes the first restraints in nearly a decade in federal benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans.A year's labor. Nice. Can we all agree now that they are leading our country down the crapper?
[UPDATE] Susanhu has much more on today's fight on the Hill, including details of the Democratic-led filibuster on arctic drilling in Alaska.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
(hat tip to LSF for crossposting Kagro X's DKos diary)
What I'm proposing is this: Go into your word processors right now, and type out the word "IMPEACH." Go ahead, use caps. Center it. Bold it. Make it 72 point. Turn the page to landscape if you like, and make it bigger.
You've got a sign. Print it out. Xerox it. Put it up on a lamp post. On a supermarket bulletin board. Inside a newspaper vending machine. Anywhere.
You've joined the movement.
How does it feel? Want more? Would you be willing to spend a little money on it?
Pick up a pack of Avery labels down at the office supply store. Print out a page worth of stickers that say the same thing. IMPEACH.
Not impeach Bush. Not impeach Cheney. Not Chimpeach. Just IMPEACH.
Everyone will know what you're talking about. Everyone will know who you're talking about, even if you're talking about Cheney and not Bush. They'll still get it. Stick those stickers anywhere you like, and that you won't get in trouble for. Go ahead. Anywhere.
- Tuesday, 12/6 - NY Times editorial staff are summoned to the Oval Office for a tongue lashing by George, warning against running a story regarding George's authorization for the NSA to spy on American citizens without a court order.
- Friday, 12/16 - The New York Times decides to publish the story regardless of the reprimand
- Saturday, 12/17 - George gives his weekly radio address and shocks the Beltway Brigade by #1 admitting to the program, and #2 defiantly arguing for it's necessity to protect the country
- Sunday, 12/18-Tuesday, 12/20 - Fallout continues to spread. Examples here and here.
- Monday, 12/19 - Attorney General Abu Gonzales continues the War Council media blitz and defends the program
Smart move by Sen. Rockefeller to cover his tracks on this explosive issue. We are clearly operating under a failed government when one of our elected officials has to handwrite two copies of a letter expressing his concern with the actions of the state--one for the recipient, and one for a secret vault. We have truly entered the Twilight Zone.
But Democrats and some key Republicans on Capitol Hill were unconvinced, and they questioned whether Bush has violated a law intended to prevent the government from spying on its citizens without court approval.
Voicing "grave doubts" over the legality of the National Security Agency program, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he will conduct hearings next month on the issue. To rebut suggestions of congressional acquiescence, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) released a handwritten letter he secretly sent Vice President Cheney in July 2003 objecting to the program.
From the Booman Tribune
The United States Supreme Court has struggled through the decades to live up to the promise that America is a land where "all men are created equal." From an early history that treated African-Americans as property and later allowed for legal segregation, the Court has evolved through the Civil Rights era to support equality for all races in the eyes of the law. We have still not met the full promise of our founding fathers, but the Court has made substantial progress.
In examining the judicial record and personal history of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, I am concerned that he has expressed opinions which would set back much of the progress that has been made by the Court in assuring the equality that should be our highest ideal. My concerns are shared by the 42 House members of the Congressional Black Caucus:"The Congressional Black Caucus, which includes 42 House members... will announce Thursday its opposition to Alito.... 'The members of the CBC are concerned about Judge Alito's opinions, many in dissent, in race cases where his decisions have disproportionately affected African-Americans,' said Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., the caucus chairman. 'We are troubled by what appears to be a very conservative judicial philosophy that seems greatly at odds with much of 20th century constitutional jurisprudence,' Watt said." - Associated Press, December 7, 2005. continued...
Full information on today's action items can be found here.
Monday, December 19, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
Do you remember when you were a kid, and members of the opposite sex had "cooties?" Some boys might have even gone so far as to post a sign like this
on the door of their hang out.
Sadly, some boys never grow up and never want to let the girls (of African-Americans, or Hispanics, etc.) in their club. This brings us to today's installment of keep Alito off the Supreme Court.
In the early 70's, Alito belonged to an organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton(CAP). This article from the Princeton student paper does a good job getting some insight from alumni about CAP
Well you say, that was a long time ago. Even that 1985 job application was 20 years ago. People can change, right? Sure, but let's make sure that our Senators do a good job of finding out if Alito's attitudes have actually changed.
It was the Right's concerns that Harriet Meirs past beliefs and actions meant that she wasn't conservative enough for them. Perhaps, applying the same standards will reveal that Alito is too conservative.
Sample letter to send to the Judiciary Committee and contact info can be found here.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
I was born an American. Among all the blessings of my birth, that one has had the most powerful influence on my life. My parents did their best to educate me in their religion, but as I grew older I came to see that it was a matter of choice. The sacred documents of my country assured me that I was free to develop my own personal version of what God is. I am free to join a church, to worship or not, to pray or not, to believe what I will.
The creeds of America became my religion, I share them with anyone who tries to convert me to his own version of the truth. I have faith that all men are created equal, that we are alike even though each is different.
I am proud to belong to a nation that functions by the rule of law, with nobody above that law. I believe in the concept of fairness, and of opportunity shared by all. I believe that what is between my god and myself is a private matter.
The founders of the United States very deliberately gave us a democratic republic that eliminated class distinction and religion. As Noah Webster told us in 1783 "The very idea of a system of religious principles...is totally repugnant to the spirit of christianity. Every establishment is only a milder term for tyranny... It is an insult to humanity, a solemn mockery of all justice and common sense...."
Full information on scAlito's viewpoints on this issue can be found here.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
Samuel Alito wants to become the fifth Roman Catholic on our Supreme Court. Chosen by a president who believes himself an instrument of God, Alito's ascension to the Supreme Court would jeopardize the predominance of our Constitution.
Threatened by the religious right over his nomination of Harriet Miers, President Bush selected their preferred choice. This nomination has been applauded by Christian fundamentalists who fear a loss of their power.
Pat Robertson said he "can see the majority shifted on the court, instead of 4 to 5 against the Lord, going 5 to 4 in His favor." Television ads placed by religious groups hail Alito as a savior and protector against evil forces such as "The ACLU's attempt to scrub away our religious heritage."
Every decision by Judge Alito has favored the public display and proselytizing of the religious. He has indicated in meetings with Senators that he believes the Court has gone too far in separating church and state. continued...
Information on past rulings by scAlito on this issue, and contact info for the judiciary committee can be found here.
Friday, December 16, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
In 1985 Alito made crystal clear his position concerning Roe v Wade.
Alito's name does not appear on any briefs the Reagan Solicitor General's office filed in abortion-related cases. However, just a few months before Alito wrote his DOJ application letter touting his contribution to cases in which the government argued that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," the Solicitor General's office had filed a brief in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on that very subject. The brief urged that "this Court should overrule" Roe v. Wade. The Court rejected the Solicitor General's arguments, with only two justices agreeing that Roe should be overturned.
T. R. Goldman at law.com Offers this opinion of the upcoming battle:
If Alito's jurisprudential views match those on the Thornburgh brief -- and at least in 1985, Alito indicated that they do -- then the job application provides the Judiciary Committee with the type of window into a future justice's thinking that, since the failed nomination of Robert Bork, has become almost nonexistent.
This is a nomination demanding to be "Borked" into nonexistence. But this still does not give a clear picture of his views on women's rights. Please consider taking and using any or all parts of the following letter and using it to contact your Senators concerning this nomination. Feel free to adapt and edit this letter, or you can just say how you feel about this in your own words. All we ask is that you take action before it is too late.
Congress is expected to act quickly on two stalled defense bills — including a $453 billion must-pass wartime spending measure — now that President Bush has agreed to a proposal to ban cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of terrorism detainees in U.S. custody.As with anything that involves a pledge by George, there is a catch.
In a reversal, the president bowed to pressure from the GOP-controlled Congress and accepted the proposal put forth by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on handling foreign terrorism suspects and limiting interrogation tactics used by American troops.
Bush's endorsement Thursday came after months of opposition that included White House veto threats of any bill that contained the McCain provisions.
link (emphasis mine)
The legislation would prohibit "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. It also would require that service members follow procedures in the Army Field Manual during interrogations of prisoners. (emphasis mine)Can you guess what their next step will be? That's right, modify the Army Field Manual to provide a loophole for the torture exercises they have grown quite too fond of using.
The real test now will be whether the Army Field Manual revisions will be approved. It will provide yet another example of which political party enjoys serving as apologists for torture.
The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.
The addendum provides dozens of examples and goes into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and in what circumstances. Army interrogators have never had a set of such specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.
Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.
What a nightmare.
The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans' privacy, dealing a major defeat to President Bush and Republican leaders.As I mentioned in a comment over at Liberal Street Fighter, the more I learn about Senator Feingold, the more inclined I am to support a 2008 Presidential bid. He is proving to be a master negotiator while at the same time refusing to compromise his values. That takes real leadership, something that has been lacking for the past several years on both sides of the aisle.
In a crucial vote Friday morning as Congress raced toward adjournment, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47
Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and GOP congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.
Making most of the act's provisions permanent was a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
From the Booman Tribune
Dear Senator:The full letter and links to Days 1-3 can be found via this link.
Re: Joseph Alito's Views on Disability Rights, as they pertain to his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court
It appears, from his dissent in Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania (1991), that Judge Alito's view of discrimination against persons with disability is so restrictive that "few if any...cases would survive summary judgment." (ThinkProgress)The Bazelon Center has released "'highlights of a long and troubling record' of disability right cases [including very recent decisions] decided by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito." continued...
President Bush said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has done "a heck of a good job" and there are no plans to replace him.I have to say, George has some pretty big cojones to admit in public that #1 he thinks Rumsfeld is doing a stand-up job as SecDef and #2 that Tom DeLay is innocent. Either these gaffes are further proof of the Bubble Boy Presidency or they are part of a master plan to keep the heat off the Chimperor when the axes fall.
Bush also spoke up for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying he believes DeLay is innocent of money laundering charges and he hopes the Republican congressman will be able to reclaim his leadership post.
Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Rumsfeld's departure from Bush's Cabinet. But the president said in an interview being aired Wednesday on Fox News Channel that the Pentagon chief wasn't leaving anytime soon.
"End of my term is a long time, but I tell you, he's done a heck of a good job," Bush said, "and I have no intention of changing him."
What I would like to know is, how ignorant and out of touch does the President have to act before the vast majority of this country can call him what he is: stupid.
German politicians expressed surprise on Thursday at reported U.S. comments that Washington had apologized and paid money to a German citizen it abducted to Afghanistan and held for months as a terrorist suspect.Can anything be done to restore the credibility of the United States? I'm a practical guy and can recognize the fact that some of these detainees could be lying when they say they have been tortured, but how many stories do we have to hear that have a consistent plot-line to admit that there is a gigantic problem?
The case of Khaled el-Masri, who is suing the Central Intelligence Agency for wrongful imprisonment and torture, took a new twist with comments from Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in parliament on Wednesday.
Schaeuble shed new light on a conversation on May 31, 2004, between his predecessor Otto Schily and then-U.S. ambassador Daniel Coats, at which Coats first told the German government that one of its citizens had been detained.
Coats had said that Masri "had received an apology, agreed to keep quiet and been paid a sum of money," Schaeuble said.
It makes me sick.
I am going to be tinkering with the site template over the next few days. Feedback on the site design is welcomed and encouraged. Keep in mind that I am a n00b when it comes to CSS, so this could be quite interesting.
[cross the fingers]
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Specifically I would like to:
- shrink the text to a pixel size of 12 or 11
- increase the padding of the sidebar
So what do you think so far? Anything too insane that makes it hard to read?
Newspaper columnist Robert Novak is still not naming his source in the Valerie Plame affair, but he says he is pretty sure the name is no mystery to President Bush.Hat tip to Atrios. With much, much more from ReddHedd over at firedoglake.
"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."
"So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' "It was Novak who first revealed that Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA. Wilson had angered the Bush administration when he accused it of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat before the war. (emphasis mine)
From the Booman Tribune:
The following letter is ready to send to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as other Senators. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit. Click here for Senate Judiciary Members and click here for for a list of all Senators.
(Letter follows after the break)
Justice Alito doesn't deserve to be rewarded with an appointment to the Supreme Court for lying to the Senate. Nor does he deserve to be rewarded with that appointment for his repeated violations of the laws and ethical codes that govern the conduct of federal judges.
In 1990, as a nominee seeking appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Alito, recognized that he had inherent conflicts of interest due to his ownership of mutual funds managed by Vanguard, and because of his dealings with the brokerage firm, Smith Barney. He promised that he would recuse himself from hearing any cases involving those two companies. He also promised to recuse himself from any cases involving his sister's law firm. Specifically, in his questionnaire, he stated:
"I would . . . disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies, the brokerage firm of Smith Barney or the First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, N.Y."
Yet in 1996, he participated in a case in which one of the litigants was represented by his sister's law firm, without informing the other parties to the case of his possible conflict of interest. In 1996, he also heard a case involving Smith Barney, without informing the parties of his ongoing relationship with that brokerage firm. In neither case did he disqualify himself.
Full letter and links to Days 1 & 2 can be found here
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
$204.4 billion: The cost to the U.S of the war so far.
2,339: Allied troops killed
15,955: US troops wounded in action
98: U.K troops killed
30,000 : Estimated Iraqi civilian deaths
0: Number of WMDs found
66: Journalists killed in Iraq.
63: Journalists killed during Vietnam war
8: per cent of Iraqi children suffering acute malnutrition
53,470: Iraqi insurgents killed
67: per cent Iraqis who feel less secure because of occupation
$343: Average monthly salary for an Iraqi soldier. Average monthly salary for an American soldier in Iraq: $4,160.75
5: foreign civilians kidnapped per month
47: per cent Iraqis who never have enough electricity
20: casualties per month from unexploded mines
25-40: per cent Estimated unemployment rate, Nov 2005
251: Foreigners kidnapped
70: per cent of Iraqi's whose sewage system rarely works
183,000: British and American troops are still in action in Iraq.
13,000: from other nations
90: Daily attacks by insurgents in Nov '05. In Jun '03: 8
60-80: per cent Iraqis who are "strongly opposed" to presence of coalition troops
The number I highlighted is a ballpark figure because it's hard to determine the true amount of Iraqis killed since the invasion. Whether it's 28,000 or 32,000 or something far greater, there is one thing that I know: it's not a joke. Can someone please clue-in the Emperor to this fact?
Thank you for letting me come. (Applause.)
I thought I might answer some questions. (Laughter.) Yes, ma'am.
Q Since the inception of the Iraqi war, I'd like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis I include civilians, military, police, insurgents, translators.
THE PRESIDENT: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.
Q Mr. President, thank you --
THE PRESIDENT: I'll repeat the question. If I don't like it, I'll make it up. (Laughter and applause.)
What a fucking monster.
In an interview with "NBC Nightly News," Bush said he saw televised pictures showing the government's faltering response to Katrina, and that his first thought was that there was a breakdown of communications between all levels of government after the Aug. 29 hurricane.
"I heard, you know, a couple of people say ... `Bush didn't respond because of race_ because he's a racist,' or alleged that," Bush said. "That is absolutely wrong. And I — I reject that.'
"You can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist. Secondly, this storm hit — all up and down (the Gulf). It hit New Orleans. It hit Mississippi, too."
Now for a dose of reality, I take you back to September 3rd when New Orleans was still suffering from the storm
In conversations at restaurants, homes, offices, on talk radio and online, it's clear that many blacks and whites view the effects of Katrina differently.Stop trying to re-write history, George. Your blathering words only making you look more incredibly incompetent and out-of-touch than your actions have already proven.
Although no group is monolithic in opinion or emotion, many blacks are outraged that so many of their own were left behind in New Orleans with no evacuation plan and no urgent effort to rescue them.
"Black people are mad because they feel the reason for the slow response is because those people are black and they didn't support George Bush," said Ron Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. "And I don't expect that feeling to go away anytime soon."
No one questions that whites have been moved by the suffering of blacks, and vice versa. But amid images of black looters, some sympathy threatens to give way to anger and disdain.
The hurricane's racial conflict took on political overtones Friday, as black leaders blasted the Bush administration's slow response and asked whether race played a part.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson charged that race was "at least a factor" in the slow response.
"We have an amazing tolerance for black pain," he told CNN on Friday. He questioned why the U.S. military couldn't house many of the homeless on unused military airbases, adding that more people will die of starvation and dehydration than from drowning.
From the Booman Tribune
My own "copper coinage" (I have someone here to thank for that phrase): States have rights; people don't. This warped concept is as antebellum as it is evil. Don't be fooled because Alito's bright enough not to snarl; he's as wingnut as they come ... only quieter.
Anyway, please take this letter and adapt as you will. Feel free to use all or in part.
I strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. Appointing Judge Alito will threaten the fundamental rights and basic legal protections for working Americans of all ages. Two areas of particular concern include the rights found under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)--rights that Judge Alito apparently does not believe are granted to Americans or should be exercised by Americans.
The full letter and contact links to the Senate Judiciary Committee can be found here.
Monday, December 12, 2005
On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, the House Judiciary Committee passed along strict party lines the measure by Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). This GOP-sponsored bill, H.R. 4437, would among other things make the crime of being here illegally an "aggravated felony," meaning the entire undocumented population, including 1.6 million children, would be permanently barred from the U.S.
Extreme provisions buried in the bill would target legal immigrants, citizens and those applying for citizenship--taking away basic rights like a day in court and a meaningful defense.
H.R. 4437 subverts America's most deeply held values, including a day in court, checks and balances, and freedom from unjust and arbitrary detention. Instead of fixing our broken immigration system, this bill will make matters worse by turning millions of decent, hard-working people into criminals, driving them further underground and pushing more workers into the black market of smugglers and criminals.
What we need is a system allowing people already here to earn the right to stay by continuing to perform work crucial to the U.S. economy, reforms such as the bipartisan, broadly supported AgJobs bill, cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans.Link to full information as well as sample letters to send to your Representative.
The full House will be voting on this soon. Please take action!
From the Booman Tribune:
Full details on today's action items can be found here
Please feel free to amend, to adapt, to personalize this message.
Three groups to contact:
December 12, 2005
You should be very wary of Judge Samuel Alito. Perhaps afraid is more accurate.
Judge Samuel Alito does not respect the primary role of the Legislative branch of our government. Therefore, he should not be considered acceptable to any member of Congress, particularly true Conservatives, regardless of his opinions on other matters held dear.
Judge Alito is a threat to your role in the structure of our government. You practice the art of politicking, balancing constituents' concerns and needs with those of our society as a whole. Legislation is challenged in court, as it should be when the interpretation of a law is in question. Judge Alito's record suggests he is not a "strict constructionist" of the Constitution.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
Does it have to involve an affinity for apple pie, cheesesteak, football or Jessica Simpson? What if it was flavored by tortillas, chorizo, pan dulce and fiestas, as mine is? Would it be in dispute that I am in fact claiming an American identity?
As a 7th generation Mexican-American I am bi-cultural, and I am not alone. My worldview is a mixture of influences that stretches far back into the 1800s. One of the things that pains me greatly, though, is the fact that I am not fully bilingual in English and Spanish. You see, my parents never spoke Spanish in my house because they grew up in an era when it was considered taboo.
Mis abuelitos (grandparents) on both sides of the family told me stories of getting smacked in the head by teachers when they would speak Spanish. It was considered a hindrance to job success in American society for them to be bilingual. So in that climate of fear and hate, they didn't pass the richness of the Spanish language to their children, my parents.
It appears we are reentering that climate in the 21st century. Meet Zach Rubio:
Most of the time, 16-year-old Zach Rubio converses in clear, unaccented American teen-speak, a form of English in which the three most common words are "like," "whatever" and "totally." But Zach is also fluent in his dad's native language, Spanish -- and that's what got him suspended from school.As I have mentioned before, there are storms of hatred and racism brewing in this country and my fear is that they will flood the nation based upon political calculation and divisiveness.
"It was, like, totally not in the classroom," the high school junior said, recalling the infraction. "We were in the, like, hall or whatever, on restroom break. This kid I know, he's like, 'Me prestas un dolar?' ['Will you lend me a dollar?'] Well, he asked in Spanish; it just seemed natural to answer that way. So I'm like, 'No problema.' "
But that conversation turned out to be a big problem for the staff at the Endeavor Alternative School, a small public high school in an ethnically mixed blue-collar neighborhood. A teacher who overheard the two boys sent Zach to the office, where Principal Jennifer Watts ordered him to call his father and leave the school.
Watts, whom students describe as a disciplinarian, said she can't discuss the case. But in a written "discipline referral" explaining her decision to suspend Zach for 1 1/2 days, she noted: "This is not the first time we have [asked] Zach and others to not speak Spanish at school."
Since then, the suspension of Zach Rubio has become the talk of the town in both English and Spanish newspapers and radio shows. The school district has officially rescinded his punishment and said that speaking a foreign language is not grounds for suspension. Meanwhile, the Rubio family has retained a lawyer, who says a civil rights lawsuit may be in the offing.
To the racist overlords that are trying to steal the bi-cultural identity of Americans like Zach Rubio and myself, I say toma.
The House of Representatives approved a measure extending 56.1 billion dollars tax cuts, by a party line vote of 234 to 197.
The bill would have to be reconciled with a Senate tax cut measure in order to become law.
Republicans in Congress argue that more tax breaks will help keep the economy growing, and credit the tax cuts with creating 4.4 million jobs since their enactment.
Opponents say the stimulative effect of the tax cuts is overrated, and that they benefit the wealthy at the expense of the lower and middle classes. (emphasis mine)
The debt that future generations will inherit will be as a direct result of this fiscal insanity conjured up by the current cabal of Republicans. They are digging an IMMORAL hole of deficit and must be stopped immediately!
Dig Dig Dig
Thursday, December 08, 2005
In a surprise visit, former President Clinton will speak at the annual U.N. climate conference Friday, final day of a contentious two-week meeting, the United Nations confirmed.How's that for nuance?
Bush administration envoys here were said to be displeased at Thursday's news of the unusual appearance — of an ex-president at a critical point in backroom negotiations involving the U.S. delegation.
"They haven't protested formally, but they're annoyed," a source in the Canadian government, the conference host, said of the U.S. delegates. "They're not infuriated, but they're not thrilled."
The wingnuts in power are salivating at the carrot provided to them because they know he will swing the court in their direction of hate. Alito is no centrist, that much is clear; by being nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the court, it is vitally important that the will of the people be heard and the batshit loopy wing of the Republican party is stopped.
The Congressional Black Caucus knows what is at stake. Their voices are important because they are the representative of the voices of those who will be negatively affected the most if this nomination is approved in the Senate. From the AP article:
"The members of the CBC are concerned about Judge Alito's opinions, many in dissent, in race cases where his decisions have disproportionately affected African-Americans," said Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., the caucus chairman.
"We are troubled by what appears to be a very conservative judicial philosophy that seems greatly at odds with much of 20th century constitutional jurisprudence," Watt said.
The White House knows that if Alito's true views on the issues are allowed a full hearing in the public eye, there won't be a chance in Hades that he will get through the process successfully. That is why they are stonewalling, and that is why they are unfit for leadership of this country--they are manipulative, secretive and corrupt
Several bloggers will be spearheading a campaign called the '12 Days for Justice' that will begin on Monday, December 12th, and we need your help. I will be writing more later.
*if you still believe this is true, then I suggest new medication
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I received this today from Julie Smith, a well-known mystery writer from New Orleans and a long-time friend of mine. She has given me permission to share it with you. I'll let Julie talk now.
Dear Friends: We're in a panic down here, the second in three months. (You know what the first one was.) Somehow or other--I really can't think how--aid to Louisiana, rebuilding our levees, treating us like any Americans in trouble has become a political issue. It shouldn't be. Some of us are Democrats and some are Republicans, and we're all in it together. I've just learned the right-wing political pundits have begun taking us on--Rush Limbaugh in particular--with a ton of misinformation and vitriol. On the other side, there was 60 Minutes, with its shocking one-source documentary.Where all that's coming from I really have no idea. I honestly can't believe anyone could question of whether to appropriate money to rebuild our levees (and the rest of the city). We're an American city. We deserve to be treated as such.What makes us different from any other one? Crooked politicians? We've had them in the past, but we don't particularly now. So has your city, whatever it is. If this is what it's about, it's a smokescreen. Oversight can be built in to any spending plan, and it should be. What responsible legislative body wouldn't include it? Or is it about the concern that we just shouldn't have built a city here? Tulsa was flooded and it recovered. Anchorage had an earthquake and it was rebuilt. If The Big One hit San Francisco, there's no doubt in my mind anyone would debate rebuilding. The Times-Picayune wrote "they act as if we wore our skirts too short and invited trouble." That about sums it up. What's happening here? I've never been so bewildered.
The point of this letter is that we need you to write to your Congressmen (and women) to get us help. I'd also like to clear up a little misinformation I understand is circulating. Here are things I keep hearing:
1. New Orleans is a toxic waste dump. It isn't. Some chemicals have been found in some of the soil, but there are no alarming reports.
2. There are plenty of jobs, but no one wants to do them. This one is particularly galling--there's no place for anyone to live! Workers are camping in the parks and living in RV's. Not everyone can do that, and anyway, it's illegal. This is a huge problem, and it's not going to get solved without a lot of help from all branches of government.
3. The state misspent money that was supposed to go to levee repair. But the Corps of Engineers is a federal agency! One variation has it that the money was spent on casinos. The only reason we have casinos is to bring in tax revenue. We don't spend money on casinos--we depend on them for money.
4. Our public officials are so stupid we deserve to be deserted. You know, they're really not--and we don't. They're not Rudy Giuliani, (and don't we wish we had him!)--they're just ordinary people of slightly -above average intelligence from a backwater state, who never in a million years thought they'd be called upon to do this kind of a job. They're overwhelmed. It's too big for them. Would yours be any better? Would Giuliani? Consider this--9/11 knocked out 16 acres. Katrina and Rita together devastated 23,000 square miles. 9/11 was over--even the searching--in the amount of time the government took to even get some rescue units in here. Three months later, we're still a shell of a city. New York didn't lose 80 per cent of its land mass and 85 per cent of its population. Giuliani never had to evacuate an entire city. Who knows if even he would look good in our circumstances. And if you don't personally like our mayor and governor, since when do we punish citizens for making poor choices, anyhow? (Besides, you should have seen the other guys.)
5. Things are not getting back to normal here. Actually, the situation is quite dire. Things aren't bad for us personally, but we still don't have mail service or a landline phone. Try living that way. We don't mind because it's little enough, considering. Most-- not a little, but MOST of the city still has no electricity and no gas. Families are split, there's no place to live, schools haven't reopened. Hardly; anyone's come home because they can't--they have no homes, not even FEMA trailers. and no faith that the levees will be rebuilt,
Please, please take a minute to write your Congressmen and senators. If you can, even send the letter below out to your mailing lists, and ask other people to do it. Your help would be so much appreciated. What follows is a "friends and family letter" (as you can see, I wrote my own.), a letter for lawmakers, and a list of addresses. Many thanks for any help you can offer. Julie Smith
Sample letters and contact information for Congress can be found at Booman Tribune.
...I welcome the controversies this season over Christmas. Every time a school district bans Christmas carols, every time the ACLU dispatches a busload of lawyers to fight a nativity scene, every time the ADL declares the Christian Right "dangerous," it's a reaffirmation that the faith is not dead. Dead religions don't give people the creeps. They don't make atheists mad. They don't keep Alan Dershowitz up at night. But Christianity still does. What a relief. It's nice to see that our faith still scares people.Oh, where to begin. Look Tucker, I'm a Christian too but this has to be the most ridiculous non-war campaign I've encountered in my life. I see that you've received your memo from your compadre Bill O'Liely at Faux and joined the front lines in this battle between "good" and "evil".
You know, I really dislike using those two terms but since you and the rest of your wingnut-minion friends enjoy spending your days dividing and conquering, what the hell. You pissed me off really good, and I have been in a decent mood regardless of any shitstorms I've encountered recently.
Did I just offend you, Tucker, for writing "shitstorm"? My bad. Perhaps now you know exactly how I feel when someone like you celebrates the fact that your strain of Christianity is at its best when it is scaring people.
Newsflash Tucker: you don't scare people, you piss them off. As long as you and the rest of the Bush cult continue to poison the faith you claim to have with hatred and intolerance, a scourge will remain upon your worldview.
Finally, if I may be so bold as to offer you some practical advice: Watch out for those fireballs, I suspect you'll end up getting burned in the end. Happy Holidays!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
I'm tired of being angry, yet there is so much to cause my anger. War, torture, injustice, it seems like everywhere I look there is strife. It's easy to let that consume me, and it has for awhile.
This weekend, however, I saw the good that exists in our common humanity. My family was reunited to celebrate life and the value that is placed in fellowship. My soul was able to smile again for the first time in a while, and it was good for my spiritual health.
The internet can be a kooky place. On the blogs you interact with names and sometimes faces, but there's so much missed in the personal touch. I recommend everyone take regular time to step away from the keyboard and enjoy the freshness that can be found in the open air.
Here's a picture I took a few weeks ago in my hometown. It is part of a 360 degree sight that is breathtaking. There is a reason they are a part of the Superstition Mountains.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
As most of you know, last week several community sites in the lefty blogosphere played host to Operation Yellow Feather. It all started with an idea from BostonJoe and quickly took off through the help of several bloggers.
I have to admit that the results took me by surprise. For three days I had numerous tabs open in my Firefox browser, trying to manage the various posts that I wrote at different sites.
The protest proved to me that we can work together across the blogosphere for a common purpose. I hope that we can apply a similar approach to the upcoming SCOTUS nomination, resulting in the defeat of nomination of Samuel Alito.
My thoughts below the fold, as well as a call to action...
- Brainstorming diaries work, we already have one for the Twelve Days of Alito (i'm partial to The Twelve Days of Justice, but that's just me)
- follow-up diaries are necessary to build anticipation and give clarity to the upcoming campaign. See BostonJoe's OYF examples here and here
- the Master diary should be clear on the campaign's purpose and be a home-base for all the action items. Here was the initial OYF diary
- Coordination is necessary to make sure the DailyKos gets involved. The site has the numbers and exposure necessary to make sure it spreads across to different sites. It is helpful to know when the DKos diary will be posted, and who the author will be (preferably the same as here, but not necessary IMHO)
- Ops Center diaries worked for OYF as a way to organize the actual campaign. Here's an example. It provides a forum for feedback on the campaign logistics, which is different than actually discussing the meat of the protest (in our case, Alito's views on this, that and the other thing).
- Give your participants direct Thank-Yous for their participation. It helps to empower them to continue their assistance, attract new recruits, and genuinely praise their involvement. We're all busy people so any time spent is precious.
- Over-hype the cross-blog participation. Make sure there is a listing of all the blogs participating, as well as links to the diaries. This raises everyone's sitemeter hits and makes for happier hosts. It also helps ease some of the cross-blog sniping that does nothing productive for the progressive community. These types of projects are about collaboration and common ground.
I'll stop my yapping for now, please use this thread as a brainstorming session for the Twelve Days of Alito. Here's a snippet from tampopo's diary to use as a primer:
Adding Alito to the Supreme Court terrifies me.
I feel a need to do something before the judicial hearings begin on January 7th. But what?
Congress returns on December 12th. They will remain in session till their work is concluded.
With a tip of the hat to "Antifa" for a diary written after the first "Fitzmas," I was thinking of following "the Twelve Days of Christmas," as I need something to lighten my fear.
"On their first day back from recess, I protested Alito by..."
December 23rd will be the 12th day. Perhaps a good day to stay home - no shopping.
But I am desperate for ideas. At this point I am not ready to do anything illegal.