Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bald-Faced Liars

They have the nerve to try to attack Kerry as an overspending liberal, even as they are borrowing from the civil service retirement system in order to keep the government running?

Less than a day after President Bush implied that Senator John Kerry lacked "fiscal sanity," the Bush administration said on Thursday that the federal government had hit the debt ceiling set by Congress and would have to borrow from the civil service retirement system until after the elections.

Federal operations are unlikely to be affected because Congress is certain to raise the debt limit in a lame-duck session in November. Congressional Republicans had wanted to avoid an embarrassing vote to raise the debt ceiling just a few weeks before Election Day.

Since Mr. Bush took office in January 2001, the federal debt has increased about 40 percent, or $2.1 trillion, to $7.4 trillion. Congress has raised the debt ceiling three times in three years, raising it most recently by $984 billion in May 2003.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said that the federal government was about to breach the limit again and would be able to keep operating only if it started tapping money intended for the civil service retirement fund, the pension system for federal workers.


"Safe" Green Zone Attacked

And elections are again in doubt:
Iraq's President Ghazi al-Yawar is warning that escalating security problems in the country could force him to delay the national elections scheduled for January.

Overnight in Baghdad, suicide bombers broke though the supposedly impenetrable Green Zone, the compound where the US and British Embassies and the Iraqi government offices are located, and detonated bombs which killed at least 10 people.

The group led by Jordanian militant Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack and a few hours later US warplanes and helicopters intensified their assault on the city of Fallujah where Al-Zarqawi is thought to be in hiding.

Negotiations with a delegation from Fallujah had broken down a day earlier when the Iraqi government demanded that the people of Fallujah hand over militants or face a military onslaught.

And as the holy month of Ramadan begins in Iraq, there are fears the violence is set to intensify.


Not Ready

November looks to be messy:
The US government is ill-prepared to address allegations of voting fraud should they arise during next month's presidential and legislative elections, a congressional report concluded.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) Congress's independent investigative arm, determined in a 106-page report that the US Justice Department (news - web sites) has not established procedures for documenting voting irregularities or voter intimidation, and has no clearcut policy for responding to such allegations.

Lawmakers who requested the report expressed outrage at the findings.

"It is inexcusable that the Justice Department is not fully prepared to protect the right of all Americans to vote," said Representative Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat from California.

"The Justice Department does not have the systems in place that are necessary to respond to reports of voters being turned away from the polls on Election Day," he said.

Another top Democrat, Representative John Conyers (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan, said the lack of preparedness by Justice Department officials could result in a full-blown post-election crisis.

"In what appears to be another razor-thin election, the Justice Department appears woefully unprepared, and once again has left us vulnerable to another crisis in democracy," he said

"The fundamentals of election protection are clearly not being met," he said.


Light Blogging for the Near Future



Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Worst Policy Since Vietnam

Bush is really racking up superlatives in his administration (as in "most jobs lost since...):
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq (news - web sites) has been the "most misguided" policy since the Vietnam War, according to an open letter signed by some 500 U.S. national-security specialists.

The letter, released Tuesday by a Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy (S3FP), said that the current situation in Iraq could have been much better had the Bush administration heeded the advice of some of its most experienced career military and foreign service officers.

But the administration's failure to do so has actually fueled "the violent opposition to the U.S. military presence," as well as the intervention of terrorists from outside Iraq.

"The results of this policy have been overwhelmingly negative for U.S. interests," according to the group which called for a "fundamental reassessment" in both the U.S. strategy in Iraq and its implementation.

"We're advising the administration, which is already in a deep hole, to stop digging," said Prof. Barry Posen, the Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) (MIT), one of the organizers of S3FP which includes some of the most eminent U.S. experts on both national-security policy and on the Middle East and the Arab world.


Nude Republicans

That's enough to give you the shudders. But I don't begrudge the public nudity; we could use more of that in my opinion, if only because it means fewer places to conceal firearms. I do resent the hypocrisy, of course:
The gloves have come off in the tight election race between two Texas congressmen — and every other article of clothing appears to be fair game as well. Democrats on Monday circulated old newspaper clippings of a 1974 college streaking stunt staged by hundreds of students — including then-18-year-old Pete Sessions — at Southwest Texas State University.

The conservative Republican congressman — who wrote a column condemning Janet Jackson's nude display during her 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance — apparently bared his bottom with about 300 others in a stunt that ended with arrests and a clash with police. Newspapers were filled with nude photos and headlines like: "Dudes, Broads, Bare Bods."


Republican Values

And while we are on the topic of hypocritical Republican men, how about the one who is SHOCKED by Janet Jackson's boob, but who did a bare-ass tear in public way back when.
The gloves have come off in the tight election race between two Texas congressmen — and every other article of clothing appears to be fair game as well. Democrats on Monday circulated old newspaper clippings of a 1974 college streaking stunt staged by hundreds of students — including then-18-year-old Pete Sessions — at Southwest Texas State University.

The conservative Republican congressman — who wrote a column condemning Janet Jackson's nude display during her 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance — apparently bared his bottom with about 300 others in a stunt that ended with arrests and a clash with police. Newspapers were filled with nude photos and headlines like: "Dudes, Broads, Bare Bods."

Gotta love those situational ethics, tnat always seem to favor the GOP types, yes?


Monday, October 11, 2004


While the major networks could not bring themselves to advertise Moore's movie during their news programs, they generally have no problem with something like this:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of the largest chain of television stations in the nation, plans to air a documentary that accuses Sen. John Kerry of betraying American prisoners during the Vietnam War, a newspaper reported Monday.

The reported plan prompted the Democratic National Committee to file a complaint against Sinclair with the Federal Election Commission.

Sinclair has ordered all 62 of its stations to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" without commercials in prime-time next week, the Washington Post reported, just two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.


How Will YOU Vote?

Via The Left End of the Dial.


Propaganda Machine Works On

"I'm not an idiotic Bushite, but I play one on TV":
The Bush administration has promoted its education law with a video that comes across as a news story but fails to make clear the reporter involved was paid with taxpayer money.

The government used a similar approach this year in promoting the new Medicare law and drew a rebuke from the investigative arm of Congress, which found the videos amounted to propaganda in violation of federal law.

The Education Department also has paid for rankings of newspaper coverage of the No Child Left Behind law, a centerpiece of the president's domestic agenda. Points are awarded for stories that say President Bush (news - web sites) and the Republican Party are strong on education, among other factors.

The news ratings also rank individual reporters on how they cover the law, based on the points system set up by Ketchum, a public relations firm hired by the government.

The video and documents emerged through a Freedom of Information Act request by People for the American Way, a liberal group that contends the department is spending public money on a political agenda. The group sought details on a $700,000 contract Ketchum received in 2003 from the Education Department.

One service the company provided was a video news release geared for television stations. The video includes a news story that features Education Secretary Rod Paige and promotes tutoring now offered under law.

The story ends with the voice of a woman saying, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." It does not identify the government as the source of the report. It also fails to make clear the person purporting to be a reporter was someone hired for the promotional video.


Getting Warmer

We may have kick-started something that we can't stop:
The rate at which global warming gases are accumulating in the atmosphere has taken a sharp leap upwards, leading to fears that the devastating effects of climate change may hit the world even sooner than has been predicted.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2 ), the principal greenhouse gas, have made a sudden jump that cannot be explained by any corresponding jump in terrestrial emissions of CO2 from power stations and motor vehicles - because there has been none.

Some scientists think instead that the abrupt speed-up may be evidence of the long-feared climate change "feedback" mechanism, by which global warming causes alterations to the earth's natural systems and then, in turn, causes the warming to increase even more rapidly than before.

Such a development would mean the worldwide droughts, agricultural failure, sea-level rise, increased weather turbulence and flooding all predicted as consequences of climate change would arrive on much shorter time-scales than present scenarios suggest, and the world would have much less time to co-ordinate its response.


Progressive Muslims

Some good news:
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks emboldened many outside the Muslim community to demand Islamic leaders re-examine religious teachings on matters from war to women's rights.

But in the United States, the latest call for reform is coming from within.

On Nov. 15, as the holy month of Ramadan is expected to end, a group of mostly young Muslims plans to launch the Progressive Muslim Union of North America in New York.

As their name suggests, the organization will take positions that conservatives consider objectionable, even heretical: Progressives believe women should have a broader role in mosques; they back gay rights; and they believe Muslims should borrow from traditions as varied as Buddhism and the U.S. civil-rights movement to reshape Islam for modern times.

"When you've been taught ever since you can remember that Islam is a certain thing, especially as women ... you reach a certain point where it's not tenable anymore," said Sarah Eltantawi, 28, one of four founders of the Progressive Union. "People need to feel that there is an alternative Islamic space that has some legitimacy that they can turn to."

The organizers are taking significant risks with their platform.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Frivolous Lawsuits

Whenever the Repubs start spouting their line about "tort reform" and all that, keep the facts in mind:
"We got to do something about these junk and frivolous lawsuits," President Bush said Wednesday about "tort reform." We agree. Let's start with the corporations. According to a new report by Public Citizen, American businesses file four times as many lawsuits as individuals represented by trial lawyers and receive 70 percent more sanctions from judges as a result. Now if only we could throw out the twenty-five year, special-interest-funded smear campaign against trial lawyers backed by Bush.

So, if they really want to fix the system, they should not be focusing on limiting damages awarded to injured individuals, such as the girl Edwards successfully represented, but instead on overzealous corporations.

I'm sure they'll get right on that.


Ghoulish and Inhuman

Because of cost, the victims of 9/11 are headed for the landfill. Wasn't this tragedy supposed to pull us together and change things somehow?
The remains of hundreds of victims of the September 11 attacks are to be permanently buried in the world's largest rubbish dump, to the consternation of their grieving relatives.

In the aftermath of 9/11, more than half a million tons of dust and ashes from the Twin Towers were taken to the sprawling Fresh Kills landfill site on Staten Island.

More than 100 years' worth of refuse from New York City had accumulated at the dump before it was finally closed just six months before the attacks. The rubble from the World Trade Center ended up covering some 48 acres.

Relatives were assured that ashes would be returned after they were sorted, but city authorities have since balked at the estimated $450 million cost of transferring them again. Instead they have promised to lay a 2,200-acre park on top of the dump, whose rotting contents smell strongly of methane, and to erect a memorial to the victims.

Relatives of 1,169 of the 3,000 who died have yet to receive any remains, and many are outraged at the authorities' decision.

Diane Horning, whose son Matthew, 24, died in the North Tower, where he worked for the insurance company Marsh and McLennan, said: "We were promised the remains - any and all remains of the victims - and now we discover that my lost son is to spend eternity in a rubbish dump.

"This is morally reprehensible and emotionally unacceptable, and we are going to fight it all the way."


Unpresidential Debate

I think Moore should agree, but only on the condition that Nader wears the cape:
Ralph Nader today challenged film-maker Michael Moore to debate the question of which Presidential candidate the anti-war movement should support in November.

Nader proposes that the debate with Moore take place in Tempe, AZ, prior to the final Presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 13. "Since Bush and Kerry will not debate a plan to end our involvement in this quagmire, Michael should join me in giving the American people a deep and thoughtful discussion of how to avoid the quagmire that looms before us."


Shocking News: Health Matters

The absolute void of leadership this administration has provided has to be brought front and center. I mean, we've got an aging baby boom generation, right? This is crucial, right?

In recent months, we've seen a full-scale revolt over the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs in this country.

Two weeks ago, a high-level dissident executive from Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, denounced the pharmaceutical industry for resisting legislation that would allow imports of low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Just days later, the City Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, ironically the home of the FDA, added its name to a long list of cities and states that have defied federal law and passed legislation permitting citizens to buy medications in Canada. Moreover, eighteen state attorneys general have written the Bush Administration urging passage of legislation allowing prescription drugs to be imported.

"Stopping good importation bills has a high, high cost not just in money, but in American lives," Dr. Peter Rost, the dissident Pfizer exec, declared at a rally on Capitol Hill in support of legislation that allow imports. "Every day we delay, Americans die because they cannot afford life-saving drugs." (Thomas Ryan, the CEO of the drugstore conglomerate CVS, made a similar concession in May.)