Tuesday, January 31, 2006

this was sent to DNC

Dear Dems,
Please post the following announcement for the
NJVETCAUCUS that had come into existence to elect Gov.
Corzine.

NJVet Caucus

HAVE ARGUMENTS WILL TRAVEL!

If you fight for your country once, you can never
stop. America as a democracy and as a safe, prosperous
and moral nation is now very much at risk. The
election of GW Bush is more of a threat to America's
future than binLaden because President Bush seeks to
govern with his eyes closed. He also makes policies
with his mind closed. He is therefore running on
EMPTY...How long can he keep going that way without
wrecking what the Founding fathers and all the heroes
that followed painstakingly built for us?

We have Democrats, Republicans and Independents who
did their duty as Americans and thus did their
homework. We studied long and hard how America could
have gotten in the mess it is now in.

Above all else we realized that while power corrupts,
ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.

Whatever our political part affiliation, each and
everyone of us is dedicated to fighting the good fight
to-- at the very least-- win one House of Congress for
the Democratic Party. That is the only way in which
the corruption can be stopped, the viciousness can be
ended and the constructive bi-partisanship can begin.

When an Iraq War Veteran took on Mr. Bush as the
Democratic candidate for Congress in a solid
Republican district of rural Ohio he almost won. That
is because he was not mincing words. He was fighting
Rove lies the way he fought terrorists in Iraq: WITH
TRUTH!

We are ready to go and make the case that Iraq Vet
started. We must make sure that by November all
Americans enter the voting booth knowledgeable on the
policies that so endangered America. We will travel
and we will make the case.

Because we believe in MEANINGFUL DIALOG, we prefer to
debate. But we are also ready to explain to anyone why
the Democrats must win at least one House of Congress
in 2006.

Try us, invite us to address your group or to debate
your local Republican friends. Now is the time to
focus on issues, before the focus on candidates. If
you need reinforcements call on us. We have arguments
and will travel!

write to us at:

njvetcaucus@yahoo.com

and check out our BLOG at:

http://njvetcaucus.blogspot.com/

__________________________________________________
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Confessions of a Conservative Republican on drinking the Cool-aid

It seems to be a ubiquitous Bush Administration excuse
for everything that hurts that we're in a war. But, in
fact, we are acting as if we are at war with a global
system akin to Communism. The threat to our survival
is an"axis of evil," the thesis goes, serving
"Islamofascism," to use Frank Gafney's favorite word.
Our lone outpost status is invoked by many neocon
think-tanks, insisting that so far we lost Europe to
""Islamrope"" so it is imperative that we and Israel
win in the Middle East.

I can imagine that President Bush will refer to Iraq
aplenty in his State of the Union address tonight and
will seek to deflect despair by pointing to our
success in Afghanistan as lodestar to our prospective
success in Iraq only if we persevere. If he does, I
recommend that he pass out the Cool-aid so we too can
wash that down, lest we be unable to swallow his
Afghan-Iraqi analysis. At the Defense Dept. it is said
of military men who spout the Rumsfeld-Cheney line
that they "drank the Cool-aid." Surely many did. As
one begins to hallucinate one finds one's self thus
earning another star before retiring.

A Democrat, today, would be jubilant. Mr. Bush seems
to be stuck at a 39% approval rating for two months
now-- both cover his speech-making blitz-- and the
sticking point, according to the pollsters, seems to
be Iraq. While no one could rejoice at the sad fate of
Iraqis, American soldiers and international relations
in general as a result of Mr. Bush following his gut--
he now denies that he ever invoked God as his guiding
policy voice-- one can take some small comfort in the
obvious fact that the American people were not take in
by his word-smiths' efforts to make him seem, "in
charge." White House Assistant Dan Bartlett had said
on PBS, last month, that the American people expect
President Bush to prove that-- his words-- he "can
walk and chew gum" at the same time. Apparently, he
could not convince more that 39% of us. More
interesting, when asked who should lead America in a
new direction, only 25% said Mr. Bush but 52% said
Congress!

To understand how this came about, though in its last
term Congress was notorious for little more that
outrageous pork bills and is awaiting anxiously for
the Abramoff revelations, we should really take note
of how the Bush Administration, led by a self- avowed
"war president," handles war. A good insight comes
from the court scribe, of all people, Bod Woodard. His
two books, "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack"
dubiously place the President in the middle of things,
making decisions, but clearly the National Security
Council therein flies by the seat of its pants as if
he were not there. We now also have a number of other
books from officials that add to the story
confirmation of at least my worst nightmares that led
me to rue by heart and soul support for Mr. Bush.

But, all the deceptions and untruths aside, the one
big question the Bush Administration never answered is
why did we thin out in Afghanistan without finishing
it off and proceeded to Iraq, where we've been stuck
in a tar pit, losing blood and money, only to be now
pulling out empty-handed?

In the meantime, Afghanistan looks more and more like
a place where the Taliban decided to come back, stand
and fight, according to TERRORISM MONITOR of the most
reliable Jamestown Foundation. And Iraq looks more and
more like a place where we may be forced to choose
between Iran and alQaeda.

I would argue that Mr. Bush unashamedly took the
policies John Kerry and the Democrats advocated during
the 2004 campaign and made them his own. But by then
the patient had already long been in the intensive
care unit misattended. What might have turned a crash
by the seat of Uncle Sam's pants a soaring flight into
success in 2004, in 2006, may just be too little too
late. It thus seems that the Bush Administration seeks
to recapture public approval by November by simply
bringing back of a lot of the troops, period-- mission
UN-accomplished.

Back in 2003, I marveled at the yeoman's job the media
was doing exposing the current battered condition of
the Bush ship of state. What had from the start seemed
like a hermetically sealed vessel suddenly sprang
leaks at the waterline as middle level apolitic career
bureaucrats in government felt honor bound to let the
American people know what kind of people are in charge
and what they are doing.

But after the 2004 election, Karl Rove decided to
spend Mr. Bush's "political capital" playing hardball.
Instead of just selectively giving "inside dope" to
favorite journalists, as LBJ used to do, Rove
threatened them all with loss of access if they do not
cooperate. In these days of 24/7 TV news, that's the
professional reporter's kiss of death. So the second
term saw many leaks unreported. Seymour Hersh, the
most prolific digger-upper journalist, recently
expressed utter despair at how the stories disappeared
from the media though the leaks are running as fast as
ever. But there is no need to despair. For, since the
leak to British media of utterly embarrassing
information about how the Blair Cabinet functions and
then the Downing Street Memos, the British side of the
alliance in Iraq has been running like a facet fully
open and in print.

I was one of the early young conservatives there when
Bill Buckley started Young Americans for Freedom and
during the Goldwater Campaign. Together with the Cal
Conservatives for Political Action I helped take back
the UC Berkeley campus from the New Left in the 1960s.
I was also at one time the New Jersey Chairman of YAF.
But while there were many young conservative activists
and intellectuals back then that I will always admire,
I do recall that many were self-serving opportunists
who thought that the only way to succeed was to "think
outside of the box" and do things the opposition would
never think of. Mr. Abramoff and the K Street Project
indicate what "thinking outside the box" really means.
Corruption, graft and pork in Congress know no party
bounds. But what makes the K Street Project unique, it
seems, is that it takes the graft and spends it to
make a giant edifice, an institutionalized exclusive
Republican graft and influence peddling factory. On
the other side of the ledger, where one would hope
there would be ideas, national institutions and
policies that benefit America, Americans and the
globalized world, we get only the equivalent of toxic
brain damage from overindulging in Cool-aid. Such
incompetence I had never seen in US government. If one
were to drive a car with such reckless abandon, one
would be arrested for negligent homicide. And yet,
though it was THEIR sons and daughters that died or
were mutilated in Iraq (I won't mention the hundreds
of thousands of Iraqis) the American people did not
face-up to that reckless incompetence until it hit
close to home with the assault on America by Hurricane
Katrina.

At this point, no one-- no matter how much one might
despise Bush and the people around him-- can possibly
want an American defeat in Iraq. The cost to mankind,
the Iraqis and we Americans is incalculable; such
madness institutionalized suicide-murder and terror as
the best and cheapest way to overwhelm America's
power.
Now things are desperate, somehow we must all
contribute to, in some way, finding a way out that
does the maximum good for Iraq and world security and
the minimum good for the terrorists.

In Mr. Bush's first term, he was desperately seeking
advice from academia, professionals and the public.
After 9/11, that despair became hysterical; yet, many
said: no way, you stole the election, now sink as
president. But the Ship of State, for better or worse,
is the ship we are all on. It sinks, we sink. That is
why Prof. Juan Cole and other academic colleagues in
social sciences, some experts on Eastern Europe,
sought to form bodies that remove from the president's
eyes the veil of ignorance. Alas, by the time their
scholars' operation got going, the Bush Administration
was already usurped by the Cheney- Rumsfeld
axis-of-utterly-incompetent-evil. Lies and idiocy
alternated, dragging America down, down, down. At
first there was hope in Mr. Bush's second term, for he
had locked Cheney in the basement and turned to Condi
Rice to lead him out of his blindness. In Iraq, she
let loose Amb. Kalilzad, who may yet make the best of
a bad situation. Academia should contact her and offer
her all the help it can to regain global alliances
lost to mindless hubris.

But the biggest danger now is that Bush was right
when, called on to think of how he will be viewed by
history, he simply said: who cares, by then we'll all
be dead. None of us will be dead by this November,
hopefully. And, if the Democrats take at least one
House of Congress, there is much hope that the public
will be treated to numerous investigations that today
are suppressed by a Republican majority of the types
setting the record straight on things like Congressman
Cunningham's criminal thinking "out of the box" and
getting caught.

I was, am and will remain a Republican. A life as a
refugee from Communism taught me how to hope. But I
realize that the dream I dared dream of-- Republican
control of both the Executive and Congress-- is as
close as you can get to Fascism, ie. incompetence
covered by lies, covered by incompetence, covered by
lies....with power maintained by erosion of power from
where it ultimately belongs, in the hands of the
citizens. If we as a nation are lucky and survive this
vicious cycle of incompetence and deception protected
by erosion of citizen power, one more repeat of such a
Bush Era and we will not survive as a free nation.
Whether it be Republican or Democrat, we need to raise
much higher the bar on the minimal cognitive ability
and statesmanship skills required. The Bush
Administration cannot be allowed to remain as a lesson
unlearned about intellectual and administrative
corruption and incompetence.

The REAL problem is that the facts were always out
there for us to imbibe. Thus, those who don't know,
don't know only because they don't want to know. With
a Democrat Congress two things will happen: (1) the
foibles and failures of this Administration totally
drunk of Cool-aid will be paraded before the voters.
(2) They will thus have to face what was done in their
name and at their responsibility. Perhaps then, they
might realize that alQaeda came no where near at
killing American democracy as we came at killing it
ourselves.

The Bush Administration can only serve as a sort flu
vaccine if we treat it as a history we must all learn
in detail. In truth, the Bush mantra-- getting them
there so they don't get us here-- was a lie, campaign
gimmick that goes with the self-anointed title "war
president." In truth, Pogo said it: we have met the
enemy and he is us.

Daniel E. Teodoru

__________________________________________________
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Veterans March

Department of Veterans Affairs "Status" in State of the Union Addresses

Over the past two decades since the VA was elevated to Cabinet Level, the American people have not received any information on the State of this Department.

 For some unknown reason, information regarding this cabinet level function has NEVER been included in any State of the Union Address.

 The American people are entitled to know the condition of this very important department.

Why not mention the VA Department’s administration of their veterans, especially during a time when our Armed Forces are at war?

 

Since the VA Department is not incorporated into the President’s State of the Union Address, please visit “Operation Firing for Effect” and the Veterans March for the latest State of Affairs on our veterans and the VA Department’s administration over them:

 

The Veterans March 2006
"Operation Firing for Effect"


 “Support Your Troops by Supporting this March

 

American Citizens,

 

Please visit:   http://www.VetMarch2006.com    

 

Note that the videos on this web page show how our troops must fight to get benefits that the government promised them when they joined the military.

 

I would like people to see that veterans do not have support from the lawmakers in Washington D.C. when it comes time to provide promised health care and other benefits.

 

As you will read, on the below web page links, every year the Veteran Department does not have enough money to properly budget for our military veterans and it’s always an issue in Congress, each and every year.

 

Disabled veterans that become more disabled, i.e. 50% to 100% should receive the extra disability benefit within a few months because they can no longer work and support their families, but the government may take years to approve the funds for these individuals, some never get approved because they have died awaiting for a “piece of paper”  and these benefits should have been approved within a few months but instead lawmakers save money by taking their time approving these disability claims because many of these veterans die in the meantime. 

 

Additionally, the VA will not approve many of the claims even though they are legitimate claims with legitimate justifications.    

 

 

I would like individuals to write, email or call their elected officials and asked that legislation for “Mandatory Funding for VA Health Care” be enacted and that all benefits that are promised to our Troops are giving to them when the time comes for them to receive them.

 

Click here to: EMAIL YOUR CONGRESSMEN 

Click here to: EMAIL YOUR SENATORS

 

Sincerely,

 

MSgt James T. North         

U.S. Marines, Retired

Retained, Fleet Marine Corps Reserve

Category II, Deployable

Cell 586 909-5971

Veterans@VetMarch2006.com   

Webmaster:  www.vetmarch2006.com

   In order for us to get the word out on the broadcast media, we need to generate funds!

It costs thousands of dollars to organize and broadcast this event. We are asking for a $10.00 donation from individuals and larger donations from organizations to help us defray the costs of this mission.  Please submit donations as soon as possible.  See www.vetmarch2006.com for donation details.

 

All donations are tax deductible.

 

Please pass this email along…

 

Monday, January 30, 2006

Vets state of the Union

VETERANS' STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE -- FROM REP. LANE

EVANS (D-IL), RANKING DEMOCRATIC MEMBER, HOUSE COMMITTEE

ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS -- THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S

RECORD OF SHORTCHANGING VETERANS

The facts speak for themselves. Read below:

---------------

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2006
NEWS RELEASE

The Bush Administration's Record of Shortchanging Veterans:
The Real State of the Union

Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL)
Ranking Democratic Member
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

When President Bush delivers his annual State of the Union address on
Tuesday he
no doubt will claim credit for a great many things. But as so often
happens with
this Administration, the rhetoric is contradicted by reality - what you
see and hear
is not always what you get.

The President likely will tell us the economy is doing well, even though
we know
that many of our fellow citizens are working harder and harder trying
just to keep
up. The President's economic plan will consist of more of the same - tax
cuts for
his rich friends and associates and fewer opportunities for average
Americans.

I expect he will present Americans with more misguided legislative
proposals and
skewed budget priorities that will mean more deep cuts to the programs the
American people need and care about. America's veterans should be spared
from
these false choices - unfortunately the record of this President does
not give me
cause to expect it.

Last year, the President did not once mention the word "veteran" during
the course
of his State of the Union address. I wonder if he will discuss veterans
this year;
they and their families represent more than a quarter of the U.S.
population. No
one, after all, has sacrificed more in the course of sewing our nation.
Surely he
can find space in his message to acknowledge and thank them.

But more important than merely mentioning veterans is what his
Administration
should do for veterans and their families. Has this President heard the
voices of
veterans across our land, voices demanding adequate health care funding?
Has he
heard from veterans who deserve accurate and timely decisions on claims for
earned benefits? Has he heard veterans pleading for more resources and
creative
initiatives in order to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
and the plague
of homelessness? Sadly, the evidence shows he has not.

Since fiscal year 2002, which marks the first budget submitted by his
Administration, the President has requested an average annual increase
of only 3.4
percent in appropriated dollars for VA health care. In fact, for this
current fiscal
year, the President initially requested an increase in appropriated
dollars of only
0.4 percent. Congress has provided an average annual increase of 7.9
percent.

Although this average increase of 7.9 percent is over twice as much as the
President has requested, it has not been sufficient to meet the needs of
the Nation's
veterans. The VA itself testified that it requires a 13 to 14 percent
annual increase
just to keep up. The President wishes to take full credit for a funding
job less than
half-done, while his Administration stands by and watches the care gap
widen.

Moreover, the President is quick to point out that he has signed into
law bills that
benefit veterans, again masking the complete truth - his Administration
waged
unsuccessful battles against the very legislation to which the President
affixed his
signature. A case in point is the White House claim that "President Bush
twice
signed legislation effectively providing 'concurrent receipt' of both
military retired
pay and VA disability compensation for those regular military retirees most
deserving - combat-injured and highly disabled veterans - reversing a
century-old
law preventing concurrent receipt." However, the statement fails to
acknowledge
that the President early on signaled his adamant opposition to such
legislation,
vigorously fighting against its passage and vowing to veto it if it
reached his desk.

Further, more work remains to fully repeal the Disabled Veterans' Tax,
as disabled
veterans rated at 40 percent or below - roughly two-thirds of all
disabled veterans
- continue to wait for their earned benefits, including elderly World
War I1 and
Korean War era veterans.

The President's claims of providing greater funding than he has
requested and
taking credit for new laws he did not initially support, even fought
against, belies
the appalling record of an Administration that has not only given
veterans' needs
short shrift but has, in fact, actively sought to diminish VA's mission:

The President's budget requests have not kept pace with health
care demand,
as evidenced in part by continuing unacceptably long waiting times for
thousands of veterans to receive a medical appointment;

The President denied access to more than 260,000 veterans who
sought VA
care in fiscal year 2005 and upwards of a half million in the last two
years,
solely as a cost-cutting measure;

The President's budget includes years of purported savings due to
"management efficiencies" in his VA budget submissions. In reality this
budget gimmick equals millions of dollars in claimed phantom savings that
he uses to short change real financial needs for veterans' health care.
There
is no convincing justification or true accounting for these "efficiencies,"
which serve as nothing more than a diversion to conceal the fact that the
White House wants to ration health care to veterans;

The President clearly believes that veterans do not pay enough
for health
care, and that some veterans should pay for the health care services
provided
to other veterans, as exhibited by his persistent call for user fees and
startling
increases in prescription co-payments - increases repeatedly rejected by the
Congress. The President's cost-shifting proposals seek to suppress demand,
further deterring veterans from even seeking health care that they have
earned through their service;

The President has sought to devastate long-term care services,
just as we are
experiencing a peak in the aging veteran population. He called for cuts in
VA's nursing home program that would drop its average daily census
drastically below the capacity mandated by federal law and which would
effectively end the highly successful state veterans' home program;

The President's pattern and practice of shortchanging veterans
led to a fiscal
year 2005 VA health care shortfall of $1.5 billion and fiscal year 2006
budget shortfall of $1.97 billion. After months of repeated warnings by
Democrats and veterans' advocates that the VA faced a dangerous funding
shortfall, the Administration during the summer of 2005 begrudgingly
acknowledged that these warnings were accurate and that it lacked the finds
to adequately meet the health care needs of our veterans;

The President had rejected two earlier attempts to add funding
through
supplemental budget requests and, in fact, directed delivery of a
statement of
position to Capitol Hill "strongly" opposing Congressional efforts to add
$1.3 billion for veterans' health care in the fiscal year 2004 Emergency
Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Bill;

The President sought deep cuts in VA's cutting-edge research
program, and
recommended insufficient resources in the VA construction program to
modernize and replace VA medical facilities;

Data indicate that 1 out of 4 returning servicemembers from Iraq and
Afghanistan experience physical and mental stress symptoms, and many are
suffering from PTSD. The Administration has refused to increase staff to
help the families of veterans with PTSD, even though veterans with PTSD
are at risk of divorce and relationship problems. The Administration
targeted many severely-disabled veterans suffering with mental health
problems by seeking review of their benefits, subjecting them to the trauma
of re-documenting their claims even though the errors that prompted the
review were the result of administrative mistakes and not fraud, as the
Administration implied. The Administration has also halted a
congressionally mandated study to examine the long-term health effects of
PTSD on Vietnam veterans;

Recommendations arising from evaluations of VA programs have gone
ignored or unimplemented, such as:

o Increasing benefits to surviving spouses with children
whose veteran
spouses died as the result of service to our Nation;

o Increasing funds for maintenance of cemeteries as
national shrines;

o Reducing premiums paid for government life insurance by
severely
disabled veterans;

o Increasing pension benefits for low-income wartime
veterans and their
survivors.

The number of staff at VA regional benefits offices has dropped from 7,053
as of September 30, 2002, to 6,880 as of September 30, 2005. During the
same period, VA experienced a significant increase in the number of claims
filed for benefits, such as service-connected compensation, pensions and
survivor benefits. Partly because of veterans returning from our recent wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 50,000 additional compensation claims
were filed in 2005 than in 2002. The backlog has increased and more
veterans are waiting over six months for a decision on their claims. As of
January 21, 2006, more than a half million claimants were awaiting a
decision, including 368,000 who were seeking a decision on a disability
rating. More than 151,000 veterans had appeals pending at VA regional
benefits offices. Without resources that match the need for services, the
backlog can be expected to grow, yet the President refuses to recognize
these
issues as a continuing cost of his war.

The Administration illegally used scarce resources, originally specified for
veterans' health care services, to pursue pet projects within the
President's
Management Agenda. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office
has found that VA violated federal law by wrongly using such funds for
unauthorized purposes. The Administration characteristically disavows any
wrongdoing.

It is disgraceful that year after year veterans, hats in hand, must beg
for an
adequate budget from the White House and GOP-controlled Congress. As the
past
year's $1.5 billion shortfall in veterans' health care demonstrated,
veterans have
not been unreasonable in their call for adequate funding for the agency
that was
established to care for them. But instead of stepping forward and
legitimately
addressing veterans' concerns, the President's response is to brazenly
take credit
where credit is not due and then further diminish veterans' benefits and
services.

So as he addresses the Nation on Tuesday, and as he submits his new
budget on
February 6, I will be hoping that the President will do right by
veterans. I hope
that the President will own up to the shortcomings of his Administration and
finally address the problems faced by our veterans and returning
servicemembers.

It is time for him to step up to his responsibility - America's
responsibility - and
work to reverse a misguided philosophy and extraordinary failures in the
veterans'
benefits and health care arena.

Tomorrow is too late

Use this link to contact the entire Senate. Implore them to filibuster
Alito. Here's my message to them: Filibuster Alito or remain
marginalized. Those who don't stand for something will fall for anything.
http://capwiz.com/thedeanpeople/mailapp/

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The road to oblivion

Polls Show Many Americans are Simply Dumber Than Bush

By Paul Craig Roberts

01/29/06 "
ICH" -- -- Two recent polls, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York Times/CBS News poll, indicate why Bush is getting away with impeachable offenses. Half of the US population is incapable of acquiring, processing and understanding information.

Much of the problem is the media itself, which serves as a disinformation agency for the Bush administration. Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio are the worst, but with propagandistic outlets setting the standard for truth and patriotism, all of the media is affected to some degree.

Despite the media's failure, about half the population has managed to discern that the US invasion of Iraq has not made them safer and that the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties is not a necessary component of the war on terror. The problem, thus, lies with the absence of due diligence on the part of the other half of the population.

Consider the New York Times/CBS poll. Sixty-four percent of the respondents have concerns about losing civil liberties as a result of anti-terrorism measures put in place by President Bush. Yet, 53
percent approve of spying without obtaining court warrants "in order to reduce the threat of terrorism."

Why does any American think that spying without a warrant has any more effect in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Bush is disobeying, requires the executive to obtain from a secret panel of federal judges a warrant for spying on Americans. The purpose of the law is to prevent a president from spying for partisan political reasons. The law permits the president to spy first (for 72 hours) and then come to the court for permission. As the court meets in secret, spying without a warrant is no more effective in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant.

Instead of explaining this basic truth, the media has played along with the Bush administration and formulated the question as a trade-off between civil liberties and protection from terrorists. This formulation is false and nonsensical. Why does the media enable the Bush administration to escape accountability for illegal behavior by putting false and misleading choices before the people?

The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has equally striking anomalies. Only 43 percent said they approved of Bush's performance as president. But a majority believe Bush's policies have made the US more secure.

It is extraordinary that anyone would think Americans are safer as a result of Bush invading two Muslim countries and constantly threatening two more with military attack. The invasions and threats have caused a dramatic swing in Muslim sentiment away from the US.
Prior to Bush's invasion of Iraq, a large majority of Muslims had a favorable opinion of America. Now only about 5 percent do.

A number of US commanders in Iraq and many Middle East experts have told the American public that the three year-old war in Iraq is serving both to recruit and to train terrorists for al Qaeda, which has grown many times its former size. Moreover, the US military has concluded that al Qaeda has succeeded in having its members elected to the new Iraqi government.

We have seen similar developments both in Egypt and in Pakistan. In the recent Egyptian elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood, despite being suppressed by the Egyptian government, won a large number of seats. In Pakistan elements friendly or neutral toward al Qaeda control about half of the government. In Iraq, Bush's invasion has replaced secular Sunnis with Islamist Shia allied with Iran.

And now with the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian election, we see the total failure of Bush's Middle Eastern policy. Bush has succeeded in displacing secular moderates from Middle Eastern governments and replacing them with Islamic extremists. It boggles the mind that this disastrous result makes Americans feel safer!

What does it say for democracy that half of the American population is unable to draw a rational conclusion from unambiguous facts?

Americans share this disability with the Bush administration.
According to news reports, the Bush administration is stunned by the election victory of the radical Islamist Hamas Party, which swept the US-financed Fatah Party from office. Why is the Bush administration astonished?

The Bush administration is astonished because it stupidly believes that hundreds of millions of Muslims should be grateful that the US has interfered in their internal affairs for 60 years, setting up colonies and puppet rulers to suppress their aspirations and to achieve, instead, purposes of the US government.

Americans need desperately to understand that 95 percent of all Muslim terrorists in the world were created in the past three years by Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Americans need desperately to comprehend that if Bush attacks Iran and Syria, as he intends, terrorism will explode, and American civil liberties will disappear into a thirty year war that will bankrupt the United States.

The total lack of rationality and competence in the White House and the inability of half of the US population to acquire and understand information are far larger threats to Americans than terrorism.

America has become a rogue nation, flying blind, guided only by ignorance and hubris. A terrible catastrophe awaits.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

Friday, January 27, 2006

Irony

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fell on
the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic
juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a
creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other
involves a groundhog.

pull on this tread

The following is a thread to pull on that may unravel the past three rigged elections: 2000, 2002 2004. Remember, the Republicans are known as the Party of Dirty Tricks because of activities during the Nixon Administration. This goes back to some of the same actors in the effort to circumvent representative democracy.
UPDATED 1/26 5:48 p.m.: Convicted of 23 felonies for computer crimes(1), Jeffrey Dean was sent to prison for four years. Shortly after his release from incarceration, his company was awarded a massive ballot printing contract.

In a 2003 deposition, Dean says he was a scapegoat(2), left holding the bag in a series of unapproved payments from the politically connected Culp, Guterson & Grader law firm.

One of this firm's partners at the time was Egil "Bud" Krogh, who headed the White House "plumbers" unit under Richard Nixon. Krogh, who was made a partner of Culp Guterson & Grader in 1984, ordered a burglary of private documents from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg during the Nixon administration.(3)

During an investigation of Dean's assets in unrelated litigation (2003),(4) he claimed that other persons from Culp Guterson & Grader were involved in a scheme,(5) and upon discovery of illicit payments (averaging $14,000/month)(6) he was made to take the blame.

Jeffrey Dean has told many conflicting stories about his legal troubles, and we are unaware of any evidence that anyone at Culp Guterson & Grader was in fact involved. Black Box Voting is looking into Dean's circle of contacts because of his meteoric rise as an insider in U.S. elections immediately after getting out of prison -- gaining lucrative government contracts from King County (WA) and British Columbia that would certainly be facilitated by political clout.

One of the characters in Dean's perimeter was Bud Krogh. He was made partner of Culp, Guterson & Grader in 1984 -- some accounts say 1980 -- and reportedly became a managing partner of the firm at some point. The period while Dean was receiving illicit payments was 1985 through 1987.

Like Jeffrey Dean, Krogh did time in prison -- four months for Watergate-related crimes. He was disbarred, but after a fight from a Culp Guterson & Grader attorney, his credentials were restored. At the time, the firm was called "Culp Dwyer Guterson & Grader." Black Box Voting is not aware of any evidence that Krogh managed Jeffrey Dean or that he has been involved in anything inappropriate since Watergate, however.

'He [Krogh] was hired on the merits of his character, intelligence and skills as a lawyer,'' said William L. Dwyer, the firm's senior partner, who had represented Mr. Krogh in his disbarment fight. Dwyer became a U.S. district judge. (According to the New York Times, July 13, 1986 "The Success of the President's Men")

Another attorney for King County-based Culp Guterson & Grader was a former King County deputy prosecutor and had been legal counsel for a King County mayor. With such egregious infractions against a politically connected King County firm, it is surprising that an embezzler of Culp Guterson & Grader would become a key insider for the King County ballot printing, absentee handling and voting system programming -- especially since Culp Guterson & Grader was seeking restitution from him at the time.

This would be a comedy if it wasn't so serious: While the King County prosecutor was supposedly seeking Jeffrey Dean for failure to make restitution, Dean was working in the same building programming voting systems. One wonders how often Dean shared the elevator with those who were seeking him, and why no one at Culp Guterson & Grader nudged any of their friends in King County politics to go take a look at the 1992 Seattle Times article about Jeffrey Dean's conviction on 23 counts of theft.

DEAN BECOMES A BALLOT PRINTER

Jeffrey Dean was released from prison in Aug. 1995. Not long afterward, a company owned by his wife (but run by Jeffrey Dean) was awarded a massive ballot-printing contract and lucrative election-programming deals that ultimately made the Deans millionaires. In SEC documents, this company (Spectrum Print & Mail Ltd.) lists assets located in the Seattle area, British Columbia, San Francisco and in the Norwalk (CA) location that houses the Los Angeles County Elections Division.(7)

continued here
http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/17305.html

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Do not ignore

Dear Citizen

You think the Internet will always be the great freewheeling information
superhighway you've grown to love? Well, think again. Media giants
want to privatize our Internet.

AT&T Devil <http://www.commoncause.org/HandsOffMyInternet>
Telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress
for the right to control where you go on the Internet, how fast you get
there, and how much you pay for the service.

Go here <http://www.commoncause.org/HandsOffMyInternet> to see what some
brazen telecom execs had to say, and to send them a message
<http://www.commoncause.org/HandsOffMyInternet> about how you feel about
the Internet. Please forward this message to friends and family. If we
generate heat at this stage in the debate, it could really pay off as
telecom legislation works its way through Congress.

Verizon Devil <http://www.commoncause.org/HandsOffMyInternet>If
successful in Congress, these companies would open the door to violate
what techies call "net neutrality." It is the principle that Internet
users should be able to access any web content they want, post their own
content, and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or
limitations imposed by their Internet service providers (ISPs).

Net neutrality is the reason this democratic medium has grown
exponentially, fueled innovation and altered how we communicate. We
must make certain that for-profit interests do not destroy the
democratic culture of the web.

But some big telecommunications executives just don't get it. For them
it is all about their bottom lines. They already charge us higher prices
for slower connections than their counterparts in other parts of the
world.*
<mailbox:///C%7C/DOCUMENTS%20AND%20SETTINGS/HIGH%20MYSTIC%20RULER/APPLICATION%20DATA/Mozilla/Profiles/default/4l7bwma5.slt/Mail/incoming.verizon-1.net/Inbox?number=168918071#Salon>
Now they say that they should get to double-charge for Internet access -
collecting fees not just from us, but also from websites like Google and
Yahoo.

And what about websites like CommonCause.org or your favorite blog that
can't afford to pay up? They might be left in the slow lane of the
information superhighway.

Common Cause is ready - with your help - to fight the telcom giants in
the halls of Congress. A major rewrite of telecommunications law is on
the agenda this spring. We need to push back hard at the telecom
lobbyists who want to write Internet freedom out of the law.

Our first step is to send a strong message now to the big industry
execs. Tell them that the principle of net neutrality needs to be
honored, and that Internet service providers (ISPs) should not play
gatekeepers.

http://www.commoncause.org/HandsOffMyInternet

Thank you for all you do for Common Cause.

Sincerely,

Lauren Coletta
Director of Campaigns, Common Cause

on behalf of Celia, Lauren and Dawn,
the Common Cause Media & Democracy Team

* See this article: "Free American Broadband!
<http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2005/10/18/broadband/index_np.html>" in
Salon

Tell me what Democracy looks like

Source: democraticunderground.com
To be clear, Senators, what you have to lose by not filibustering:
Posted by bleever
Added to homepage Thu Jan 26th 2006, 06:57 AM ET

There's an axiom in marketing that it's the "Enthusiasts" who drive sales and innovation. The notion of what is worthy of attention or even excitement (when it comes from the customer base, and not fabricated by some ad writer) comes from the people most passionately involved, whether it be bicycling, shoes, or high-fiber breakfast cereals.

What the party has to lose by not filibustering is the opportunity to call the Bush's bluff on the limitlessness of his power. To say, "I call, and I raise." In other words, to show up and do the work of being a real opposition party, towards which Democrats have been working with increasing skill and intelligence for the last five years. This is the moment we've been working for.

To pass on this opportunity is to release the very carefully built-up steam out of the pushback against creeping anti-Constitutionalism, and to misuse one of the party's crucial assets: their passionate citizen base, especially on the internet, and perhaps most especially DU (though I don't want to debate the size of DU's share of the blogospheric credit/blame).

Yeah, we'll still show up and vote for them. But how hot will the fire burn amongst their supporters (especially the "enthusiasts") to feel like real winners, who can promote a message that sells itself, when it comes time to mobilize every possible occasional voter?


And to be completely honest, my own preference would be to filibuster IN ORDER TO trigger the nuclear option. Then walk out of the State of the Union speech. Tell the American people:

"We didn't do this to break the government. We did this because the government is already broken, and it's broken because that's what the Republicans have been trying to do. Cut the minority completely out of the picture, disable the two party system, and let the 'tyranny of the majority' that our founding fathers feared take over. Disable the checks and balances of the three branches of government, first by gaining and holding controlling majorities in both houses of Congress by whatever means necessary, regardless of established ethics, and also by creating a Supreme Court that is reluctant to question the Executive branch. And finally, to change the historic rules of the Senate, the world's greatest deliberative body, so that by getting just a single vote over 50%, they can force a choice onto 100% of the American people.

"It is time to stand up to these anti-Constitutional tendencies and say, No. We believe in the wisdom of the Constitution, with its three equal branches of government, and will not let them be undone. To say, No, never before in American history has fear caused us to turn our back on the Constitution, and we will not let it be done now.

"President Bush has his opportunity tonight to tell the American people what he sees as the state of our union. We want it to be clear to the American people that no man, no president, can use the threats that face America to say that we should weaken essential American liberties. Because anyone who believes that threats justify weakening our liberties, in the end only weakens America. If fact, America is strongest when it stays true to itself. To its liberties, to its founders' vision, and to its innate ability to withstand any attack or foe, without flinching."

Seize the moment, or be seized by it. We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rumsfeld's Pentagon: wouldn't you know it!

Subscribe to free Military Insider Newsletter

Halliburton Cited in Iraq Contamination
Associated Press | January 23, 2006
WASHINGTON - Troops and civilians at a U.S. military
base in Iraq were exposed to contaminated water last
year and employees for the responsible contractor,
Halliburton, couldn't get their company to inform camp
residents, according to interviews and internal
company documents.

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice
President Dick Cheney, disputes the allegations about
water problems at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi, even
though they were made by its own employees and
documented in company e-mails.

"We exposed a base camp population (military and
civilian) to a water source that was not treated,"
said a July 15, 2005, memo written by William Granger,
the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was
in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.

"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal
contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates
River," Granger wrote in one of several documents. The
Associated Press obtained the documents from Senate
Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the
allegations Monday.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who will chair the session,
held a number of similar inquiries last year on
contracting abuses in Iraq. He said Democrats were
acting on their own because they had not been able to
persuade Republican committee chairmen to investigate.

The company's former water treatment expert at Camp
Junction City said that he discovered the problem last
March, a statement confirmed by his e-mail the day
after he tested the water.

While bottled water was available for drinking, the
contaminated water was used for virtually everything
else, including handwashing, laundry, bathing and
making coffee, said water expert Ben Carter of Cedar
City, Utah.

Another former Halliburton employee who worked at the
base, Ken May of Louisville, said there were numerous
instances of diarrhea and stomach cramps - problems he
also suffered.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton said its own inspection
found neither contaminated water nor medical evidence
to substantiate reports of illnesses at the base. The
company now operates its own water treatment plant
there, spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said.

A military medical unit that visited Camp Ramadi in
mid-April found nothing out of the ordinary in terms
of water quality, said Marine Corps Maj. Tim Keefe, a
military spokesman. Water-quality testing records from
May 23 show the water within normal parameters, he
said.

"The allegations appear not to have merit," Keefe
said.

Halliburton has contracts to provide a number of
services to U.S. forces in Iraq and was responsible
for the water quality at the base in Ramadi.

Granger's July 15 memo said the exposure had gone on
for "possibly a year" and added, "I am not sure if any
attempt to notify the exposed population was ever
made."

The first memo on the problem - written by Carter to
Halliburton officials on March 24, 2005 - was an
"incident report" from tests Carter performed the
previous day.

"It is my opinion that the water source is without
question contaminated with numerous micro-organisms,
including Coliform bacteria," Carter wrote. "There is
little doubt that raw sewage is routinely dumped
upstream of intake much less than the required 2 mile
distance.

"Therefore, it is my conclusion that chlorination of
our water tanks while certainly beneficial is not
sufficient protection from parasitic exposure."

Carter said he resigned in early April after
Halliburton officials did not take any action to
inform the camp population.

The water expert said he told company officials at the
base that they would have to notify the military.
"They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my
mouth shut," he said.

On at least one occasion, Carter said, he spoke to the
chief military surgeon at the base, asking him whether
he was aware of stomach problems afflicting people. He
said the surgeon told him he would look into it.

"They brushed it under the carpet," Carter said. "I
told everyone, 'Don't take showers, use bottled
water."

A July 14, 2005, memo showed that Halliburton's public
relations department knew of the problem.

"I don't want to turn it into a big issue right now,"
staff member Jennifer Dellinger wrote in the memo,
"but if we end up getting some media calls I want to
make sure we have all the facts so we are ready to
respond."

Halliburton's performance in Iraq has been criticized
in a number of military audits, and congressional
Democrats have contended that the Bush administration
has favored the company with noncompetitive contracts.


__________________________________________________
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

media conspiracy

Evidence? We Don't Want
Your Stinkin' Evidence!

January 24, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers


Like biologists with evolution and atmospheric scientists with global climate change, those who warn us that our elections have been stolen and will be stolen again must now be wondering, "just how much evidence must it take to make our case and to convince enough of the public to force reform and secure our ballots?"

The answer, apparently, is no amount - no amount, that is, until more minds are opened. And that is more than a question of evidence, it is a question of collective sanity.

In his new book Fooled Again, Mark Crispin Miller not only presents abundant evidence that the 2004 election was stolen, but in addition he examines the political, social, and media environment which made this theft possible.

When I first read the book immediately after its publication, I confess that I was a bit disappointed. What I had hoped to find was a compendium of evidence, from front to back. To be sure, Miller gives us plenty of evidence, meticulously documented. But evidence tells us that the election was stolen. Miller goes beyond that to explain how and why it was stolen, and how the culprits have managed, so far, to get away with it.

So on second reading, I find that it was my expectation and not Miller's book that was flawed. We have evidence aplenty, to be found in John Conyers' report, and the new book by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, in addition to the Black Box Voting website among numerous others. Soon to be added is Prof. Steven Freeman's book on the statistical evidence of election fraud. What we don't gain from these sources is an understanding and appreciation of the context in which this crime was committed. This we learn from reading Miller's book.

If, in fact, the last two presidential elections have been stolen, and if in addition there is a preponderance of evidence to support this claim, then this is the most significant political news in the 230 year history of our republic.

So what is the response of the allegedly "opposing" party to the issue of election fraud? Virtual silence. And of the news media? More silence. Case in point: the media response to Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again. As he reports: "There have been no national reviews of Fooled Again. No network or cable TV show would have the author on to talk about the book. NPR has refused to have him on... Only one daily newspaper – the Florida Sun-Sentinel – has published a review."

Force the question of election fraud and demand an answer, and the most likely response will be a string of ad hominem insults – "sore losers," "paranoid," "conspiracy theorists" - attacks on the messenger and a dismissal of the message. We've heard them, many times over.

Persist, and you might get as a reply, not evidence that the elections were honest and valid (there is very little of that), but rather some rhetorical questions as to the attitudes and motives of the alleged perpetrators and to the practical difficulties of their successfully accomplishing a stolen national election. Questions such as these:

  • How could the GOP campaign managers believe that they could get away with a stolen election?

  • Why would they dare risk failure, and the subsequent criminal indictments and dissolution of their party?

  • What could possibly motivate them to subvert the foundations of our democracy?

The answer to the first two questions is essentially the same: they believed and they dared because they controlled the media and thus the message. Miller's sub-text throughout his book is that the great electoral hijack has been accomplished with the cooperation, one might even say the connivance, of the mainstream media, without which the crime could never have succeeded.

continued here
http://www.democraticunderground.com/crisis/06/045_ep.html

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I feel safe now


U.S. accused of spying on those who disagree with Bush policies

BY WILLIAM E. GIBSON

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

WASHINGTON - While the White House defended domestic surveillance as a
safeguard against terrorism, a Florida peace activist and several
Democrats in Congress accused the Bush administration on Friday of
spying on Americans who disagree with President Bush's policies.

Richard Hersh, of Boca Raton, Fla., director of Truth Project Inc. of
Palm Beach County, told an ad hoc panel of House Democrats that his
group and others in South Florida have been infiltrated and spied upon
despite having no connections to terrorists.

"Agents rummaged through the trash, snooped into e-mails, packed Web
sites and listened in on phone conversations," Hersh charged. "We know
that address books and activist meeting lists have disappeared."

The Truth Project gained national attention when NBC News reported last
month that it was described as a "credible threat" in a database of
suspicious activity compiled by the Pentagon's Talon program. The
listing cited the group's gathering a year ago at a Quaker meeting house
in Lake Worth, Fla., to talk about ways to counter military recruitment
at high schools.

Talon is separate from the controversial domestic-surveillance program
conducted by the National Security Agency. Bush has acknowledged signing
orders that allow the NSA to eavesdrop without the usual court warrants,
prompting an outcry from many in Congress.

Bush plans to tour the NSA on Wednesday as part of a campaign to defend
his handling of the program.

"This is a critical tool that helps us save lives and prevent attacks,"
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Friday. "It is limited and
targeted to al-Qaida communications, with the focus being on detection
and prevention."

The Defense Department's Talon program collects data from a wide variety
of sources, including military personnel and private citizens, Pentagon
spokesman Greg Hicks said.

"They are unfiltered dots of information about perceived threats," Hicks
said. "An analyst will look at that information. And what we are trying
to do is connect the dots before the next major attack."

To Hersh and some members of Congress, the warrant-less surveillance and
Talon are all a part of domestic-spying operations that threaten civil
liberties of average Americans and put dissenters under a cloud of
suspicion.

"Neither you nor anybody in that (Quaker) church had anything to do with
terrorism," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. "The fact is, the Truth
Project may have a philosophy that is adverse to the political
philosophy and goals of the president of the United States. And as a
result of that different philosophy, the president and the secretary of
defense ordered that your group be spied upon.

"There should not be a single American who today remains confident that
it couldn't happen to them."

email this
<http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/politics/13675006.htm?template=contentModules/emailstory.jsp>
<http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/politics/13675006.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp>

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Unitary Executive

"There must be no decisions by majority, but only responsible persons,
and the word 'council' is once more reduced to its original meaning. At
every man's side there stand councillors, indeed, but one man decides."

Source: MEIN KAMPF

Friday, January 20, 2006

Evidence of a Stolen Election by Paul Craig Roberts

A Reagan Administration official, Roberts clearly explains election
fraud 2004. Everything the Bush Administration does is illegal.
A return to paper ballots will restore democracy. The day Antonin Scalia
used our Constitution as toilet paper and stopped the Florida recount
was the day all enemies of freedom and democracy succeeded.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts140.html
PS: If you can, read Igor Bobrowsky's letter in today's Star-Ledger

Letter to the editor

The Swift Boat attacks against Representative John Murtha are yet
another example of liberal media bias.
The questions raised by an Internet news outlet with ties to the RNC
regarding the validity of Congressman Murtha's are
reminiscent of what happened to John Kerry. The media coverage of
innuendo regarding these veterans' medals is reported as if there was
something behind the stories. The Swift Boat character assassins get
reported as if they are unbiased and factual.
On the other hand, when CBS reported that George W. Bush's National
Guard duty was questionable the liberal media immediately went into
attack mode to not only discredit the story, but the reporter as well.
To date, no one has stepped forward verify George W. Bush's service
regarding the gap in his record in spite of the reward for anyone who
could prove Bush's service.
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American
people.

media observations

"Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they
ought to have."
-- Richard Salent, Former President CBS News.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"News is what someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising".
former NBC news President Rubin Frank

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club in
1880, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff at the New York Times,
made this candid confession [it's worth noting that Swinton was called
"The Dean of His Profession" by other newsmen, who admired him greatly]:

" There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, as an
independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you
who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know
beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for
keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others
of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who
would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the
streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper,
before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of
the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to
vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his
daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting
an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men
behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and
we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the
property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. "

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Understanding new Medicare drug benefits

Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill --  
 Verbatim  Quote 
> Submitted on 2005-12-13 16:35:14 > > WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't  really understand. How is the new plan   
going 
> to fix the problem?' > > Verbatim response: PRESIDENT BUSH: > > 'Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big   
cost 
> drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on   
the 
> table. > Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price   
increases. 
> There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered.   
And 
> when > you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those --    
changing 
> those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been   
promised 
> more > likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised.  Does   
that 
> make > any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series  of   
things 
> that > cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based  upon   
the 
> increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have > suggested that we > calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation,  supposed to   
wage 
> increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if  that   
were 
> put > into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast  the   
promised 
> benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will  help   
on the 
> red.' > > > Forward this to others --  so they, too, can understand   

COST OF WAR: Suicide Isn't Painless..."


http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002293.htm

You are invited

Veteran March on Washington DC -- 25 and 26 April 2006

<http://pdfserver.prweb.com/pdfdownload/333744/pr.pdf> Download this
press release as an Adobe PDF document.
<http://pdfserver.prweb.com/pdfdownload/333744/pr.pdf>

This march will inform the lawmakers in Washington DC and the American
Public about the lack of adequate VA Funding, VA Performance and Veteran
Benefits in General. All military veterans are encouraged to attend.
Additionally, this March is opened to the Public and they are all invited.

(PRWEB) January 18, 2006 -- The purpose of this march is to bring to
light the deep concern the veteran's community has regarding the
consistent under funding of the Veterans Affairs Health Care system.

Veterans have carried the message over and over to veteran's
organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States,
Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Purple Heart Association
and many others. Over the years, these organizations have been
instrumental in gaining small changes and each year they are required to
readdress the same.

The march will address the specific legislation requirements the
veteran's of this great country are planning to voice to the government.
This will be conveyed by an organized march on the nation's capital,
Washington DC on April 25, 2006. On April 26, all supporters are
encouraged to return to meet with march organizers' at the Capitol as we
speak to our nation's representatives, concerning veterans' issues.

It is the veterans' intention to insure that the Congress, Senate and
members of the Executive Branch hear them loud and clear. They no longer
wish to tolerate the continued under funding of the VA Health Care
system from this day forward.

This country owes veterans of the past, those who are serving now and
those who will serve in the future, the very best of care.

Veterans and their supporters will ask the government to stop balancing
the budget on the backs of veterans.

See you in DC!

www.VetMarch2006.com <http://www.VetMarch2006.com>

Gene D. Simes, Veterans for Veteran Connection (VFVC)
Coordinator and Chairman, of Operation Firing for Effect
The Veterans March 2006
1700 Waterford Road
Walworth, NY 14568
Office: 315 986-7322 Cell: 585 329-4711
http://www.vfvc.net

On Equality and morals

Stolen from democraticunderground.com
The overwhelming trend in American history is toward increased equality,
equal treatment under the law, and equal treatment in every sphere of
life: in the workplace, in schools, in politics, in the military, AND in
marriage. At one time, black citizens were deemed to be 2/3rds of a
human being. Even though many Americans--quite possibly a
majority--believed that blacks were less than human, it was unamerican.
At one time, women were considered unfit to be voters. That was
unamerican--doesn't matter what the numbers were. At one time, the law
winked at wife-beating, and made divorce nearly impossible, and always
blamed bad marriages on the woman. That was unamerican. The list is very
long of groups of citizens who were considered less than equal, with
white male propertied citizens being the standard for "most equal" and
every other group taking hits of bigotry and unfairness. And the bigots
OFTEN used FALSE "Christian" beliefs--false because, if there ever was a
true egalitarian, it was Jesus--to support white male propertied
privilege, and to treat other human beings as less than human.

The gay marriage debate is no different than any of these other debates.
To deny equal rights to gay citizens is unamerican. It doesn't matter
how many people voted for it. They are wrong.

Each time an excluded group has asserted its right to be treated
equally, it was a new thing. It was disturbing to some people. It
challenged their settled beliefs on who "deserved" equal rights. But
America is a REVOLUTIONARY country. As a nation, we asserted the
REVOLUTIONARY principle that "all men are created equal"--a principle
that overturned ten thousand years of rule by kings, emperors and
nobles. The principle was righteous--AND it was CHRISTIAN (real
Christianity, based on Jesus' own words and life example)--but
government and society, being imperfect, the principle was imperfectly
applied at the time of the Founders--only to POOR white men (making them
equal with rich white men)--and has undergone a CONTINUING REVOLUTIONARY
PROCESS toward more and more perfect application, of which the Founders
would be very proud, indeed.

Thomas Jefferson, for instance, tried to include an anti-slavery plank
in the Declaration of Independence--and knew that slavery had to
end--but was overruled by his southern colleagues. He foresaw that it
WOULD BE ended, and HAD TO BE ended eventually, if "all men are created
equal" was not to be just words. The American Revolution was INTENDED TO
BE an on-going revolution.

Those who use "Christianity" to STOP this revolution are WRONG. They are
un-American--AND un-Christian.

Jesus was more revolutionary than any other person in the history of
western civilization. Love thine enemy. Turn the other cheek. "He who
casts the first stone..." Give all you have to the poor. Those are words
that overturned the established order, just as surely as the American
revolutionaries overturned rule by kings. They asserted the equality of
poor fishermen, and even common whores, with the kings of Israel and the
emperors of Rome. And, if you read "Jefferson's Bible," you know that
this second revolution was based on the first. Christianity in Europe
had gone far, far astray from Jesus' revolutionary message--into
ASSOCIATION with the rich and powerful, into Church acquisition of vast
properties, into male domination, into persecution of women and others,
and into bloody warfare with OTHER Christians and with non-Christians.
The American revolution was the remedy: adoption of JESUS' principle of
equality, and SEPARATION from the gross errors of religious warfare by
making all CHURCHES and all religions EQUAL. The Constitution ELIMINATED
religious warfare, and enshrined the principle of equality in the Bill
of Rights.

It never has been important HOW MANY people reject the equal rights of
scapegoated groups. Even if 99% of the American people supported
slavery, it would still be wrong. Even if 99% of the American people
opposed equal rights for gays, they would be wrong. They would be
unamerican. And they would not be Christians in any true sense of the word.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bush Crosses the Rubicon


http://www.counterpunch.com/roberts01162006.html

Monday, January 16, 2006

Big Brother Republicans

The unitary executive:
Is the doctrine behind the Bush presidency consistent with a democratic state?

By Jennifer Van Bergen
FindLaw's Writ
January 9, 2006

WHEN GEORGE BUSH signed the new law, sponsored by Senator John McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.

This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.

And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.

All these declarations echo the refrain Bush has been asserting from the outset of his presidency. That refrain is simple: Presidential power must be unilateral, and unchecked.

But the most recent and blatant presidential intrusions on the law and Constitution supply the verse to that refrain. They not only claim unilateral executive power, but also supply the train of the President's thinking, the texture of his motivations, and the root of his intentions.

They make clear, for instance, that the phrase "unitary executive" is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power. Bush has used the doctrine in his signing statements to quietly expand presidential authority.

In this column, I will consider the meaning of the unitary executive doctrine within a democratic government that respects the separation of powers. I will ask: Can our government remain true to its nature, yet also embrace this doctrine?

I will also consider what the President and his legal advisers mean by applying the unitary executive doctrine. And I will argue that the doctrine violates basic tenets of our system of checks and balances, quietly crossing longstanding legal and moral boundaries that are essential to a democratic society.

Bush's Aggressive Use of Presidential Signing Statements

Bush has used presidential "signing statements" -- statements issued by the President upon signing a bill into law -- to expand his power. Each of his signing statements says that he will interpret the law in question "in a manner consistent with his constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch."

Presidential signing statements have gotten very little media attention. They are, however, highly important documents that define how the President interprets the laws he signs. Presidents use such statements to protects the prerogative of their office and ensure control over the executive branch functions.

Presidents since Ronald Reagan also have used such statements to create a kind of alternative legislative history. Attorney General Ed Meese explained that in 1986:

"To make sure that the President's own understanding of what's in a bill is the same . . . is given consideration at the time of statutory construction later on by a court, we have now arranged with West Publishing Company that the presidential statement on the signing of a bill will accompany the legislative history from Congress so that all can be available to the court for future construction of what that statute really means."

The alternative legislative history would, according to Dr. Christopher S. Kelley, professor of political science at the Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, "contain certain policy or principles that the administration had lost in its negotiations" with Congress.

The Supreme Court has paid close attention to presidential signing statements. Indeed, in two important decisions -- the Chadha and Bowsher decisions -- the Court relied in part on president signing statements in interpreting laws. Other federal courts, sources show, have taken note of them too.

Bush has used presidential signing statements more than any previous president. From James Monroe's administration (1817-25) to the Jimmy Carter administration (1977-81), the executive branch issued a total of 75 signing statements to protect presidential prerogatives. From Ronald Reagan's administration through Bill Clinton's, the total number of signing statements ever issued, by all presidents, rose to a total 322.

In striking contrast to his predecessors, Bush issued at least 435 signing statements in his first term alone. And, in these statements and in his executive orders, Bush used the term "unitary executive" 95 times. It is important, therefore, to understand what this doctrine means.

What Does the Administration Mean When It Refers to the "Unitary Executive"?

Dr. Kelley notes that the unitary executive doctrine arose as the result of the twin circumstances of Vietnam and Watergate. Kelley asserts that "the faith and trust placed into the presidency was broken as a result of the lies of Vietnam and Watergate," which resulted in a congressional assault on presidential prerogatives.

For example, consider the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which Bush evaded when authorizing the NSA to tap without warrants -- even those issued by the FISA court. FISA was enacted after the fall of Nixon with the precise intention of curbing unchecked executive branch surveillance. (Indeed, Nixon's improper use of domestic surveillance was included in Article 2 paragraph (2) of the impeachment articles against him.)

According to Kelley, these congressional limits on the presidency, in turn, led "some very creative people" in the White House and the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to fight back, in an attempt to foil or blunt these limits. In their view, these laws were legislative attempts to strip the president of his rightful powers. Prominent among those in the movement to preserve presidential power and champion the unitary executive doctrine were the founding members of the Federalist Society, nearly all of whom worked in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan White Houses.

The unitary executive doctrine arises out of a theory called "departmentalism," or "coordinate construction." According to legal scholars Christopher Yoo, Steven Calabresi, and Anthony Colangelo, the coordinate construction approach "holds that all three branches of the federal government have the power and duty to interpret the Constitution." According to this theory, the president may (and indeed, must) interpret laws, equally as much as the courts.

The Unitary Executive Versus Judicial Supremacy

The coordinate construction theory counters the long-standing notion of "judicial supremacy," articulated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, in the famous case of Marbury v. Madison, which held that the Court is the final arbiter of what is and is not the law. Marshall famously wrote there: "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is."

Of course, the President has a duty not to undermine his own office, as University of Miami law professor A. Michael Froomkin notes. And, as Kelley points out, the President is bound by his oath of office and the "Take Care clause" to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and to "take care" that the laws are faithfully executed. And those duties require, in turn, that the President interpret what is, and is not constitutional, at least when overseeing the actions of executive agencies.

However, Bush's recent actions make it clear that he interprets the coordinate construction approach extremely aggressively. In his view, and the view of his Administration, that doctrine gives him license to overrule and bypass Congress or the courts, based on his own interpretations of the Constitution -- even where that violates long-established laws and treaties, counters recent legislation that he has himself signed, or (as shown by recent developments in the Padilla case) involves offering a federal court contradictory justifications for a detention.

This is a form of presidential rebellion against Congress and the courts, and possibly a violation of George Bush's oath of office, as well.

After all, can it be possible that that oath means that the President must uphold the Constitution only as he construes it -- and not as the federal courts do?

And can it be possible that the oath means that the President need not uphold laws he simply doesn't like -- even though they were validly passed by Congress and signed into law by him?

Analyzing Bush's Disturbing Signing Statement for the McCain Anti-Torture Bill

Let's take a close look at Bush's most recent signing statement on the torture bill. It says:

"The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

In this signing statement, Bush asserts not only his authority to internally supervise the "unitary executive branch," but also his power as Commander-in-Chief, as the basis for his interpretation of the law -- which observers have noted allows Bush to create a loophole to permit the use of torture when he wants.

Clearly, Bush believes he can ignore the intentions of Congress. Not only that but by this statement, he has evinced his intent to do so, if he so chooses.

On top of this, Bush asserts that the law must be consistent with "constitutional limitations on judicial power." But what about presidential power? Does Bush see any constitutional or statutory limitations on that? And does this mean that Bush will ignore the courts, too, if he chooses - as he attempted, recently, to do in the Padilla case?

The Unitary Executive Doctrine Violates the Separation of Powers

As Findlaw columnist Edward Lazarus recently showed, the President does not have unlimited executive authority, not even as Commander-in-Chief of the military. Our government was purposely created with power split between three branches, not concentrated in one.

Separation of powers, then, is not simply a talisman: It is the foundation of our system. James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, No. 47, that:

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Another early American, George Nicholas, eloquently articulated the concept of "power divided" in one of his letters:

"The most effectual guard which has yet been discovered against the abuse of power, is the division of it. It is our happiness to have a constitution which contains within it a sufficient limitation to the power granted by it, and also a proper division of that power. But no constitution affords any real security to liberty unless it is considered as sacred and preserved inviolate; because that security can only arise from an actual and not from a nominal limitation and division of power."

Yet it seems a nominal limitation and division of power - with real power concentrated solely in the "unitary executive" -- is exactly what George Bush seeks. His signing statements make the point quite clearly, and his overt refusal to follow the laws illustrates that point: In Bush's view, there is no actual limitation or division of power; it all resides in the executive.

Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense:

"In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other."

The unitary executive doctrine conflicts with Paine's principle -- one that is fundamental to our constitutional system. If Bush can ignore or evade laws, then the law is no longer king. Americans need to decide whether we are still a country of laws -- and if we are, we need to decide whether a President who has determined to ignore or evade the law has not acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government.

Jennifer Van Bergen, a journalist with a law degree, is the author of THE TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACY: THE BUSH PLAN FOR AMERICA (Common Courage Press, 2004). She writes frequently on civil liberties, human rights, and international law. Her book, ARCHETYPES FOR WRITERS, about the characterization method she developed and taught at the New School University, will be out in 2006. She can be reached at jvbxyz@earthlink.net.