Sen.Obama's huge win in Mississippi eliminated the popular vote gain Hillary Clinton made in Texas. He again leads by some 700,000 votes. He again proved capable of a huge win in a smaller state that swamped Clinton's victory margin in a larger state. Had the Clinton team had the money and strategic smarts to hold their defeats in the Potomac Primaries to margins of even 15%, this would be an entirely different campaign. However, when Obama wins states, Clinton also often loses them. Should Sen. Obama win this nomination, the Potomac Primaries will be remembered as the turning point.
The question, now, is whether Sen. Clinton can make up that 700,000 popular vote deficit, in order to have any credible claim to the nomination. The polls in Pennsylvania continue to give her a wide lead, and the state is even more demographically favorable to her than was Ohio; and given that, her ten-point win in Ohio was worth a popular vote gain of nearly 230,000 votes, a similar win in Pennsylvania would be worth even more. A margin of 300,000 seems very possible. Her only chance of overcoming that final 400,000 would seem to reside in her breaking roughly even in the remaining scheduled states, while winning big in Florida and Michigan revotes. As has been clear for some time, her only chance to take a credible popular vote lead depends on Florida and Michigan. The previous votes in those states will never be considered credible. Revotes are the only answer.
The Obama camp is hedging on revotes. In fact, they are now resorting to legal arguments, and very understandably would prefer that the delegate slates be simply split between the two candidates. The latter will not happen. The Clinton camp would prefer the previous elections be validated, but they are open to revotes, as an alternative. The former will not happen. So, the only fair resolution being revotes, we now see the campaigns articulating clear stances: Clinton would prefer that there be no revotes, but is open to the idea; Obama would prefer that there be no revotes, and seems willing to try to block them. As Big Tent Democrat makes clear, that position will be hard to defend. Were I as manipulative as some big name bloggers on some big name sites, I would claim that Obama doesn't think Florida and Michigan voters are relevant; but of course, he does think they're relevant, he's just worried about the results of their votes. This is nothing more than politics-as-usual, and it should not be spun as anything else.
Should Florida revote, it is likely that Clinton will match or beat her previous victory margin, thus slicing Obama's popular vote lead to roughly 100,000 votes. The question would then be whether she could win Michigan by that much. Her huge margin in the previous vote cannot be taken as measure, and the only recent poll, by Rasmussen, shows Clinton and Obama tied. Many, however, feel the demographics would favor Clinton. Nevertheless, would they favor her enough to give her a margin that would put her over the top, in total popular votes? There is only one way to find out.
Of course, none of this may matter. Clinton may win by such large margins in Pennsylvania and Florida that all she will need is a slight win in Michigan. Obama may close in those two states, and make it impossible for the Michigan margin to matter. He might clean up in Indiana and some of the other remaining states, also making his popular vote lead unassailable. On the other hand, she might do well in the remaining states. However, what is still clear and obvious is the necessity of resolving Florida and Michigan. Clinton is not going to get the current delegate slates. Obama cannot block revotes without blowing his chances of winning in November. A revote plan is being developed, and it should be implemented.
I just would like to inform my colleagues at Journal Home and all visitors that I have improved my website with new software. First from Sunlight Labs, I have added Popup Politicians™. You may notice after a politician’s name you will see a sun logo if you bring your cursor over it a small popup with the congressperson's or Senator’s bio and you will have links that will provide a wealth of information on that particular politician mentioned. I just thought it was a useful tool to help my visitors be well informed on political candidates and better able to have valuable information on a particular candidate they plan to vote for.
Here is an example Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama Where you see the Sun Logo Rep. Nancy Pelosi just put your cursor over it.
The second feature I added is from answers.com if you doubleclick on any word it will open a mini popup box and provide spelling, meaning and word etmology, for a proper place or thing or famous person it will provide a bio.
In any event I hope you enjoy the newly added features to make visiting my site a rewarding and pleasant experience. Also I added many interesting interactive features on the right side of my blog site please feel free to enjoy and comment on them if you so choose.
Barack Obama speaks eloquently of change. Nowhere is change more needed than in healthcare. By 2017, one dollar out of every five spent in America will go toward healthcare costs according to a report in Health Affairs.
For this high cost, surely Americans are getting excellent quality, are they not? Sadly, the answer is no. By any one of many measures of quality, the US healthcare system is not performing well. A recent study from the Commonwealth Foundation found,
"The US healthcare system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives."
This wildly expanding cost is unsustainable. Likewise, it is an international embarrassment to spend so much and yet perform so poorly on basic health scores. Everyone agrees that something has to be done but the real question is what?
One wonders what Barack Obama might do to meet this crisis. He claims that his plan will increase quality; provide coverage for everyone, and save money. Sounds like a classic case of having your cake and eating it, too. Looking closer, maybe he has uncovered some previously overlooked principles that might be used to untie this Gordian knot. So what specifically is he proposing to do?
Unfortunately, his healthcare plan is strong on vision but light on specific details. The best that can be discerned is a general outline that offers much promise but does not deal with any prickly details that might offend voters. By connecting the dots we can start to see what Obama is likely to do for healthcare. Looking at the different components of his plan, we can postulate an answer to the feasibility of his plan.
The one element of Obama's plan that is crystal clear is his call for major expansion of the government's role in controlling healthcare. The central proposition he makes is that the government can intervene to improve the quality of healthcare provided in the US. Clearly, quality improvement should be a major goal for healthcare reform. Obama's plan does not disappoint on this promise. He claims that he will improve patient care by requiring doctors and hospitals to prove they provide quality care. His plan would link payment with reported quality. This implies that poor quality must be the provider's fault.
To implement this plan, an army of new bureaucrats must be hired by the government to keep a watchful eye on the doctors and hospitals to ensure quality. Healthcare providers will have to hire larger staffs to collect and report this data adding more cost to the system. As these new structures evolve, the law of averages will prevail and the actual care will migrate to a median level of quality. The net result will be little improvement in care, and significant increase in the cost. High administrative overhead already is a major problem in our current system. A New England Journal of Medicinearticle stated that U.S. healthcare administrative overhead is twice that of the Canadian system. These researchers found that 31% of health care expenditures in the US went for administrative costs. Obama advocates that we increase this overhead further with no clear indication that quality will improve.
Obama's plan also calls for a ten billion dollar federal investment in healthcare information technology over five years. He purports this will improve quality and save money. Will it? The data suggests otherwise. A study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine showed information technology did not make a quality difference. Comparing practices that used an electronic medical record with those that did not, investigators found no difference in 14 quality measures, improvement in 2 outcome measures, and a worse outcome on 1 measure. This is hardly a sweeping endorsement. Incorporating such expensive and unproven methods within his plan is flippant. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the issue at hand.
The Obama healthcare plan also calls for expansion of the number of American people with health insurance coverage. While certainly a laudable goal, he does not explain how to pay for this. He also claims to offer solutions to the broken health insurance industry by limiting catastrophic losses and lowering insurance costs through competition. To quote Obama's website:
"His plan will force insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profits and administration. His new National Health Exchange will help increase competition by insurers."
To sum up this part of Obama's plan, he intends to create another bureaucracy to regulate the health insurance industry. The language used here is particularly interesting. He will force insurance companies to use more premiums for patient care. How will a for-profit corporation respond to such heavy-handed coercion from the federal government?
Barack Obama talks a lot about change in his campaign. Healthcare reform offers him the chance to put that rhetoric into action. Unfortunately, all his plan does is offer empty talk and shallow ideas. Senator Obama, are you serious about change? If so, please show us some substance in your healthcare plan
After watching debates, hearing his speeches, and reading Obama's policy visions, many questions remain about how he'd change America. We'd like to see some shot-from-the-hip questions with a few straight answers before we commit to all that hope from a mere mortal, and all that hazy change. Here are just six questions for Obama we hope the MSM will ask him, for a change.
Issue 1: New Brand of Politics
Senator Obama, you promise a new brand of politics to replace the old politics of special interests and lobbyists. One step to fulfill that pledge would be to complete the 2008 Political Courage Test offered by Project Vote Smart, a lengthy questionnaire that asks you to formally state your precise positions on many national issues of the utmost concern to voters. Yet, according to the Project Vote Smart website,
"Senator Barack H. Obama Jr. repeatedly refused to provide any responses to citizens on the issues through the 2008 Political Courage Test when asked to do so by national leaders of the political parties, prominent members of the media, Project Vote Smart President Richard Kimball, and Project Vote Smart staff."
Project Vote Smart and its Political Courage Test exemplify the type of bipartisan effort that you claim to support. According to the organization's history:
"We are scrupulously non-partisan -- our founding board, headed by former presidents Carter and [until his death] Ford, is carefully balanced, and we do not lobby, support or oppose any candidate, issue or cause. To protect the independence and integrity of this Voter's Self-Defense System of information, Project Vote Smart does not accept funding from government or corporate sources, or any special interest group that lobbies. Our sources of support are entirely individual memberships and foundation grants."
Why would Americans trust someone who promises "change," but who does not trust Americans enough to tell them exactly to what kind of change he is committed?
Issue 2: Education
One goal of your comprehensive education plan for Pre-K to 12 is to "recruit, support, and reward teachers and principals to ensure that every school in America is filled with outstanding educators." You advocate "paying teachers as professionals." According to the National Education Association (NEA) the average teacher's salary in 2005-2006 was $49,026; California has the highest pay at $59,825.
What will be the role, and cost, of the Federal Government's new direct and indirect involvement in recruiting teachers?
What do you propose be the new, elevated national average teacher's salary?
What will be the proportional funding of that increase as sustained by local, country, state, and federal taxing entities?
What will be the expected increase in federal employment headcount required to establish and maintain the new educational initiatives you propose?
Issue 3: National Defense
Senator Obama, as you know, providing for the common defense of the United States is one of the very few Constitutional requirements placed upon the federal government. Yet, in your Blueprint for Change, out of a list of 15 separate campaign pledges, you list "foreign policy" and "veterans" at the very bottom of the list. At the top of your list, you include "ethics," "healthcare," "seniors," "women," "poverty," and "service," among others. Yet, none of these items can be found in our Constitution.
Do you intend, if you are elected President, to protect and defend these United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic?
If your answer is, "yes," will you conscientiously follow your own Blueprint, which implies that you sincerely believe diplomacy to be the best tool for our national defense?
You have said, "The United States is trapped by the Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we don't like. Not talking doesn't make us look tough - it makes us look arrogant." Is it your contention, Senator Obama, that the only possible valid reason our current President could have for not sitting down and talking with the Iranians is that we don't like them?
Issue 4: Afghanistan
In the Ohio debate, you stated , "I have been very clear in talking to the American people about what I would do with respect to Afghanistan. I think we have to have more troops there to bolster the NATO effort." You also stated that, "...Secretary Gates, our current Defense secretary, indicated that we are getting resistance from our allies to put more troops into Afghanistan because they continue to believe that we made a blunder in Iraq." Yet, in a January 19, 2007 speech, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, speaking about the NATO mission in Afghanistan, said,
"The Afghan National Army is doing better and better. As we speak four million refugees have gone back to Afghanistan. Health care is up. Child mortality is down. Two-thirds of the villages in Afghanistan have received development projects worth up to $50,000. The average income of the Afghan has doubled since 2001. The currency is stable. Fourteen new banks are competing with each other. Three million Afghans have mobile phones. Forty percent of the Afghan land seeded with mines has been brought back into use. In other words, if you look at 2001 and if you look at the beginning of 2008 a lot has happened and a lot of progress has been made...The problem is that we, the international community, we have no patience."
In addition, Scheffer recently noted that NATO sent an additional 8,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2007. In fact, France and Norway are reported preparing to send troops to participate more aggressively in the NATO mission.
If you're elected President, how may more U.S. troops will you send to Afghanistan?
At the tactical level, you were against the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq. Today, though, you favor a surge in Afghanistan for a similar tactical mission. Is this a contradiction?
In the Ohio debate you acknowledged that, as chairman of Senate subcommittee dealing with Afghanistan since the beginning of 2007, you have not yet called an oversight hearing. If this issue is so important, how do you justify that?
Issue 5: Abortion
Senator Obama, you've told church audiences that you're personally opposed to abortion on religious grounds, but that you feel the necessity, within a pluralistic society, of supporting the legality of a "woman's right to choose." However, on the 35th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade decision, you issued a statement, which seems to promise more enthusiastic action regarding abortion. In this statement, you boast that you have been a "consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL."
You call a woman's access to abortion-on-demand, including partial-birth abortions, a "fundamental right" that is part and parcel of your plans for "justice." And, you promise that as President, you will "pass the Freedom of Choice Act," which enshrines into law absolute access to all abortions up to the moment of live delivery. You've even opposed Infants Born Alive legislation in Illinois that would protect the life of an infant born breathing, despite the efforts to murder him.
Do you not consider Planned Parenthood, the number one provider of abortions in the United States, and also a recipient of millions of tax dollars every year, to be a "special-interest lobby" of the very kind which you consistently denounce?
If you are personally opposed to abortion, why do you feel it necessary to promise to bolster and fight for what you term, "reproductive justice"?
How does our failure as a society to protect the life of an innocent, even one born "inadvertently," define any sort of justice at all?
Issue 6: Poverty
Part of your Plan to Combat Poverty is to "create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in cities across the nation that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement." You cite the Harlem's Children's Zone (HCZ) as the model. In a 2006 interview aired on CBS News, HCZ's founder, Geoffrey Canada (watch his Oprah interview here) described how the HCZ educates 10,000 children on an annual budget of $36 million, of which a third comes from government and the rest from private donations. In the CBS interview, Canada stated that, "We could not run a school under the current rules and regulations with the unions. It's impossible. It's just impossible. You can't fire teachers. Look, we fired three teachers last year. We fired more teachers than the whole island of Manhattan in all the public schools." Clearly, the HCZ is an example of what one highly-motivated entrepreneur can accomplish with private donations supplemented by government assistance.
Your plan calls for the federal government to initiate similar "zones" and provide half of the funding, with the rest coming from philanthropies and businesses. Isn't this a fundamentally different model than the HCZ?
Canada is outspoken about how teacher unions are a hindrance to the type of inner city approach to education that makes the HCZ successful. How would you overcome that hindrance?
How would your administration convince philanthropies and businesses that investing in a government social program would be as cost effective and offer the same accountability as investing in a NGO?
It's time to ratchet up the intensity level of media questions to Senator Obama. The MSM inquiry has, to date, been more like a Miss America Contest interview than the thorough vetting of a presidential candidate. His puffy responses to debate questions have been accepted at face value. And, among the remaining presidential candidates, he has been the least accessible to the press corps. It's time, now, for reporters to start asking Obama serious questions, as befits serious journalists. I am so outta here...later! Feel free to comment if you so desire.
A couple days ago, I wrote over at SG about the Women's Campaign Foundation study (.pdf) that found that women donate 25% of the political money that men do. You can see what I had to say about it over there: the upshot was GET OUT THE CHECKBOOKS, CHICKS.
I hereby pledge to shoot at least $300 towards women's PACs or women candidates this year. Probably I'll donate more than that. Next year I'll chunk another bunch of money at women's PACs, the Democratic candidate, and local/state stuff.
Today's SG post explains one good reason why. Here it is. The statements by Bush's former Surgeon General deserve to be front-page news all over the country: Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues, including the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration’s embrace of “abstinence-only” sex education. . . . He said most of the public debate over the matter has been driven by political, ideological or theological motivations. Yep. But try to point this out and you get accused of discriminating against Christians, being intolerant of religious freedom, hating men, or being "too ideological" your own damn self. Gaaaaah.
You can see video of part of Carmona's testimony here:
Watch it: it's just breathtaking how appalling his admissions are. We have never seen it as partisan, as malicious, as vindictive, as mean-spirited as it is today. [By the way, this video is from Nancy Pelosi's YouTube channel, which is worth keeping an eye on.]
There really truly is an executive office and Republican party conspiracy to control women's reproductive decision-making. That they're also trying to control a bunch of other things do not change that fact. That so few people are willing to stand up and say that this is so is part of a broader problem with folks not seeing women's rights, specifically women's reproductive rights, as an important and fundamental civil liberties issue for Americans as a whole.
Which it darn well is, not only because women are slightly more than half of all Americans, but also because women are the mothers of every American, are the un- or underpaid labor force that does the vast majority of the important work that upholds the social and public health of the country, and because our rights (or lack thereof) can and will serve as wedges to limit the rights of you men. Wait and see.
Or, if you'd rather not, again: send some money to Emily's List. Because it should be *obvious* that supporting pro-choice women candidates is one of the most direct and most effective ways of getting these boneheads out of power.
Addendum: If Emily's List isn't your style--which I personally think is nuts, but hey--there's also the Women's Campaign Fund, which supports women candidates without the "pro-choice" requirement, or NOW PACs. Or feel free to link to your favorite women's PACs or candidates in comments
I hope the Obama supporters are paying attention. The media is finally starting to scrutinize him and I hope it is not too little too late. First off, there are his ties to the Nation of Islam leader, Farrakhan In the debate last week he was asked if he would reject Farrakhan's endorsement. Barack tried to skirt the issue by saying he repudiated Farrakhan's anti-Semitic stance. He did not take a real stand on this until Hillary pushed the issue. This should be disconcerting to any American. Farrakhan is racist against the entire White race. Why Barack did not take an instantaneous stand when given the chance is reason for concern. If you look at the transcript of the debate, you will see how long he tried to skirt the issue and not consign to totally rejecting this racist. Second, in trying to boast his experience he mentioned that he was on the subcommittee for examining what can be done regarding Afghanistan. He continues to use this in reference to his experience and even has the audacity to publicize it in his new ad. Hillary pointed out that although He did head the committee he had not held one meeting on that committee in the 13 months he has been on it. His answer was, He was too busy running for the nomination. He said in clear terms, he was too busy running for a new position to fulfill the obligation of a current position. That also should be troubling. Then there are his ties to Rezko who donated money to his campaign helped him buy his home and all the while this man was under investigation and Obama knew this. This man is now in jail waiting to stand trial. These are just a few of the issues that if you are an Obama supporter you should be taking into consideration. Remember Obama says he is the candidate of integrity, and hope and change. I think it is very scary that we are just starting to get information about his background this far into the Presidential Primary.
People who have no information to share just seem to sling insults or make things up.
During the Clinton Administration, 80 Million dollars in taxpayer money spent by Ken Starr to investigate the Clintons. All they could find to try to get him out of the white house was Monica Lewinsky... I think that all of this just goes to show that the Clintons have been under attack by the Republican Party for a very long time and yet after 80 Million dollars all they could finally do was try to destroy them based on a very personal problem, which had nothing to do with his performance as our President.
Think about this, If we spend 80 Million dollars of taxpayer money to investigate Barack Obama, what might we find out?
I am not ready to take a chance handing over the Countries highest office to a man we know so little about.
I read this article and thought it was extremely informative.
Remember Barack Obama says he will be different.
From Boston.com By Scott Helman, Globe Staff | August 9, 2007
But behind Obama's campaign rhetoric, about taking on special interests, lies a more complicated truth. A Globe review of Obama's campaign finance records shows that he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs as a state legislator in Illinois, a US senator, and a presidential aspirant. In Obama's eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns -- $296,000 of $461,000 -- came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show. Obama's US Senate campaign committee, starting with his successful run in 2004, has collected $128,000 from lobbyists and $1.3 million from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. His $1.3 million from PACs represents 8 percent of what he has raised overall. Clinton's Senate committee, by comparison, has raised $3 million from PACs, 4 percent of her total amount raised, the group said. In addition, Obama's own federal PAC, Hopefund, took in $115,000 from 56 PACs in the 2005-2006 election cycle out of $4.4 million the PAC raised, according to CQ MoneyLine, which collects Federal Election Commission data. Obama then used those PAC contributions -- including thousands from defense contractors, law firms, and the securities and insurance industries -- to build support for his presidential run by donating to Democratic Party organizations and candidates around the country.
Can we all wake up about the little known messiah Obama?
This was the entrance of television into the political arena. It was quite literally the dawn of a new era where politics and pop culture seemingly merged into one. The presidents that followed would be actors (Ronald Regan), cowboys (George W. Bush [so he claims]), and lady’s men (William Jefferson Clinton). They were all, for the most part: good looking, svelte, and commanding. Since 1960, the media, specifically television, has gone from being a part of the political conversation to moderating it. News has gone from being broadcast three times a day to 24 hours a day, and the American public’s appetite for the sensational story has grown even as our need to be entertained has become more sophisticated. Now, enter Obama and Hillary.
However, after the first vote in Iowa, Hillary was not the frontrunner, consequently the media declared a new one " Sen. Barack Obama. Since Iowa, Obama’s momentum has been building. However, momentum relies on media presence. Moreover, right now the media favors Obama. Every major Texas newspaper endorses him and his picture seems permanently plastered to the front page. In an effort to make up for their prior, apparently incorrect, prediction that Hillary was the presumptive nominee, newspapers are rushing to criticize her and falling over backwards to praise him. It is as if we are expected to forget that in January Hillary won the endorsements of media giants like the Des Moines Register and the New York Times.
Of course, Obama has had his share of negative coverage (See: http://mediamatters.org/items/200802190002, where during a February 18 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball a picture of Osama Bin Laden appeared while host Chris Matthews was discussing Sen. Barack Obama ) " no politician is immune. Nevertheless, the attacks against Hillary Clinton seem much more personal.
Perhaps it’s because our society doesn’t value the beauty of women over a certain age. How many major male news anchors over 50 can you name? Now name the women. (Can you name any major female news anchors, at all?) In their book, Social Problems 9th ed.(2003), sociologists D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn point-out that women only hold 15 percent of the executive positions at U.S. newspapers despite comprising one-third of the workforce. They also point to the fact that in “1998 women only reported 19 percent of all stories on network evening news programs”(Eitzen & Zinn, 258).
And what of the critique of Hillary’s facial expressions? Men are not criticized on such grounds , but it’s not because they don’t make funny faces. I have been less than 5ft away from Obama, taking pictures during one of his speeches, and let me tell you, he makes some ridiculous facial expressions.
Ours is an age where a politician’s cleavage is still an appropriate headline. Take the Washington Post’s July 20, 2007 article which discussed a black v-neck top Hillary had worn on the Senate floor. The headline read: “Hillary Clinton’s Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory”.
“HARWOOD: I’m going to defend that column too. When you look at the calculation that goes into everything that Hillary Clinton does, for her to argue that she was not aware of what she was communicating by her dress is like Barry Bonds saying he thought he was rubbing down with
Ours is an age where Virginia women I’ve spoken with state to me that they refuse to vote for Hillary because “she couldn’t hold onto her man”. Where the President of NBC News asks if it seems like “Chelsea [Clinton] is being “pimped out” and an age where, during Imus In The Morning, it is suggested that she [Chelsea Clinton]“have sex with” delegates to aid her mother’s campaign.
Ours is an age where people like Rush Limbaugh use name-calling and cruel taunting to punish women who’ve suffered the tragedy of their husband’s affairs, like when Limbaugh called Hillary “the most cheated-on woman in the world”. (See: http://mediamatters.org/items/200801240014). Ours is an ageThese comments by the media, paired with the daily visual reminders of “young, tall, handsome”; compared to “old, shrill, shrewd” have made this campaign a competition for who looks more presidential " and in that competition a man will always win.
It seems likely that the media based Hillary’s former “front-runner” status on her record, which boasts far more experience than Sen. Obama’s, and didn’t factor into their polling the notion that voting for a woman is a hypothetical until the ballots are cast. In order for Americans to have a real shot at electing the best candidate, as opposed to the candidate that looks the most presidential, the media must stop calling attention to sexist (and racist) stereotypes and start focusing on platforms and voting records. Let the televised charisma monopolize our hearts, but let the media remind our minds that there is more to being a president than words and bringing people together.
One more item I would like to touch on as being unfair to Senator Hillary Clinton is that when she may be behind Obama in a state poll but within the margin of error, it is always referred to as a lead for Senator Obama. When Senator Obama trails Senator Clinton but within the margin of error it is always referred to as a statistical dead heat, if that alone does not point out just how biased the media is in favor of Senator Obama then I don’t know what will
Well this is just the tip of the iceberg of whats in store if Obama get the nomination. The Republican shredding machine will use Rovian-Atwater tactics that will must likely tear appart Obama's campaign.
He is not vetted and experienced in running campaigns against extreme right wing Republicans the way Hillary Clinton is, she is tried, tested and successful
I embedded this video just as an example as to whats to come, trust me it is going to be ugly
The Republicans will not treat Obama with the velvet gloves that Hillary and the Democrats have. Obama has little experience in running a major campaign against a serious Republican candidat
His opponent for the Senate was Alan Keys whose claim to fame was losing every elected office he ever ran for. The Democratic Party may be suffering "Caveat Emptor" when the general election gets into gear hoping that they had nominated Hillary Clinton. I suppose only time will tell, but I am going by all my political experience and basic common sense. Watch this video and come to your own conclusions...
The only change that Obama is capable of producing is his own chameleon behavior. The speed and agility with which he shifts into channeling past Presidents and other political leaders is truly breathtaking. "Change" would indeed be the mantra of such a chameleon figure. Obama is a narcissistic charismatic -- the quintissential con man. He sucks up information about the people around him and then adapts himself to be that onto which their ideals can be projected. One thing charismatic con men are good at is studying and channeling other Influentials People.
Another thing about Michelle Obama's senior thesis on politico.com: it was badly written. Her punctuation, use of commas to break up sentence structure and use of language is on par with that of a high school student, not a senior at Princeton. She got into Princeton with grades and test scores that were lower than their average freshman, as an affirmative action admission, which were handed out to very under-qualified minorities back when she was a kid. Her writing was literate but very unskilled, not like a college grad from a decent school. Moreover, the thesis itself was unsuccessful in proving or even making its point.
I posted earlier how it shows she was racist and separatist (implying that blacks who are "integrationist / assimilationist" and integrate into white communities lose their black identity). But I forgot to post that it was just poor work, in terms of writing or reasoning or proving something.
For those of you who want to call Clinton just a wife of an ex-President, go read Clinton's senior thesis from Wellesley. Clinton's work at a college senior blows away Michelle Obama's.
The Obamas are, sadly, products of the aggressive affirmative-action era. This helps explain Obama's sparse record, his lack of distinction as an Illinois senator or U.S. senator, and why he didn't make partner as a lawyer at his law firm out of Harvard and drifted into politics with his charm and charisma. He is in politics, but doesn't actually do much, himself.
It's sad because there are so many top, qualified and excellent black professionals out there now. But these Clarence Thomas types are going to start popping up a lot now, because there's a whole generation of less-talented blacks who got into and through school on affirmative action and then rise to the top, not on talent but in politics. Affirmative action does a real disservice to the really brilliant members of a minority.
Great, the Democrats are going to nominate a liberal Clarence Thomas as a Presidential Candidate and we'll have to listen to his dominating, racist, anti-white wife all year. A politician who offers politics-as-entertainment and politics-as-religious-revival.
Meet the Press: Ralph Nader and a roundtable with New York Times' David Brooks, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, NPR's Michele Norris, and NBC's Chuck Todd.
Face the Nation: McCain senior advisor Charles Black, Clinton surrogate Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Obama surrogate Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.) and Politico Executive Editor Jim Vandehei.
This Week: Sen. Joe Biden and a roundtable with Peggy Noonan, Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, Cokie Roberts, and George Will.
Fox News Sunday: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Rick Davis, McCain Campaign Manager and a panel with Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.
Chris Matthews Show: Dan Rather of HD Net; Gloria Borger of U.S. News; Howard Fineman of Newsweek; and Norah O'Donnell of NBC News.
Bloomberg's Political Capital with Al Hunt: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
Tim Russert: Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, The New Republic's Michael Crowley, and MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell.
This is America: Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
CN8's Roll Call TV with Robert Traynham: Roll Call Reporters Erin Billings, David Drucker and Emily Heil.
Let’s get to the truth about Barack Obama and beyond this silly preposterous Obama mania that’s going on and see the man, the presidential candidate for who he really is…a dangerous left wing radical extremist that in my opinion would not make a good president.
It’s a fact that Barack Obama has close ties to Bill Ayers, and for those that not familiar with whom he is, he was a former member of the radical criminal anti war group “The Weather Underground” and they were best known for planting bombs one of which “accidently” went off exploding and taking three lives of other members of the Weather Underground whereupon Ayers went underground as a fugitive from justice bombing federal buildings with the FBI in hot pursuit of them.
Eventually he and the remaining members of the Weather Underground turned themselves in where many of the charges were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct which I do not buy, most likely it was because daddy was CEO of Commonwealth Edison with deep pockets and political influence.
There has been some questioning about the relationship between Senator Obama and Ayers as they served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago and attended a “political event” at the home of Ayers and his partner in crime and wife Bernadine Dohrn.
To be fair to Sen. Obama he has publically condemned the violence of the radical criminal acts of the Weathermen and claims Ayers has no role in the campaign which I find difficult to believe when you consider that Ayres wife Bernadine Dohrn holds a BA degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago and a graduate of Chicago Law School and serves as associate professor of law at Northwestern University and adjunct professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
You just have to enjoy the irony of criminals serving as professors teaching law at our colleges. As far as I am concerned they should both be rotting in jail for murder and subversion and crimes against our government.
I find it deeply disturbing that Senator Obama has any dealings with these people whatsoever. Why hasn’t the media picked up on this, why haven’t moderators during the debates questioned him on this issue?
Instead the New York Times is too busy running garbage about non existent affairs with Senator McCain, Why is the media so afraid of being critical of Senator Obama? They are certainly having no fear of being critical of Senator Clinton, do I detect hypocrisy here?
Earlier in the week the media made a big stink about Michelle Obama’s remark [“for the first time in my adult lifetime I am proud to be an American.”] Many have widely criticized her for that remark wondering why she was not grateful for being an American in her adult life, but upon further inspection one can see why she made that remark and has those feelings.
When we see this fuzzy relationship that Senator Obama has with ‘60’s radical criminal group the Underground Weathermen one cannot feel surprised of her feelings and there is a disturbing pattern here you couple the aforementioned issues with the fact that Sen. Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance and refuses to wear the symbolic flag pin that all congressmen and congresswomen wear since 911.
Senator Obama says he has better ways of displaying his patriotism, I have yet to see any patriotism from this man, just extreme leftist psychobabble. It is dreadful how we have lowered the bar that a presidential candidate can be chummy with a woman at one time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list Feel free to weigh in with your comments
This video was making the rounds yesterday and I was just outraged! Honestly I don't what is wrong with our law enforcement, it seems as though they have become misogynistic Nazi tormenters that are brutally bullying and beating female suspects, I find this appaling and disgusting.
Somehow to my shock there is precious little outrage about this, women's groups especially N.O.W. has been silent on this issue the ACLU nothing! You need not even be a woman to be disgusted by this, what's even worse is the cover-up of all this and the police rallying to protect their own and adding salt to the wound by offering a lame excuse that "she fell " Honestly when you see the results of her injury there can be no way you can sustain these injuries by just "falling " as the police dept. claims she did. Do you honestly wany me to believe that the officer could not have just restrained her without violence; and this mysterious gap in the video that stops and upon resumption this poor woman is lying in a pool of blood and she sustained those injuries by just falling on that bare floor, I'm sorry its just too difficult for me to believe!
I desperately wish to see a full scale investigation on this incident, when I saw the results of her injury it deeply saddened me and brought up awful memories to the days when I worked at a battered women's shelter and female victims were brought in battered and beaten by husbands, boyfriends and strange men in general.
I urge you to please watch this video and please tell me your opinion as to whether you believe the police dept. statement that she "just fell " defense and feel free to express your feelings as well
New York Times for shoddy journalism and assassination of character against John McCain alluding to an affair of Sen. John McCain and Vicki Iseman.
For the New York Times to print a major article that has such tremendous capacity to affect on our electoral process not to mention John McCain's character, his wife and their children not to mention American citizens whose judgment and decision may be affected at the polls.
At college I was taught in my journalism class that you never allow an article to go to press without having two confirmed sources who are willing to go on record as sources, in addition to physical proof i.e. photos receipt where one room was shared by both parties or if one of the parties involved admits to an affair, in this situation the New York Times had neither.
Their source was two 'nameless' disgruntled former employees nothing more and their accusations were so broad and vague one wonders if they weighed the probative value vs. the value of hurting the character and perhaps reputation of an innocent party or parties.
It may seem odd to my colleagues that I as a Progressive Democrat would defend the Conservative Republican Sen. John McCain, its simple when I see a wrong being committed I have to speak out and correct it, and by all that I was taught in my journalism classes, and by my professor and proper journalistic ethics then I had to defend Sen. John McCain; besides its not all that difficult to do since even though I disagree with many of his policies I admire and respect his character and his Naval Service and the years he suffered terribly as a POW in Vietnam.
Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday that as president he would spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries, as he tried to win over economically struggling voters. Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Sixty-billion dollars would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama estimated that could generate nearly 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry that's been hit by the housing crisis.
"This agenda is paid for," Obama said as the Republican National Committee promoted an "Obama Spend-O-Meter" online to track his proposals and portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal. Obama explained that the money for his spending proposals will come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high income earners.
Neera Tanden, Hillary Rodham Clinton's policy director, said Obama was offering ideas Clinton proposed months ago. "Voters may ask themselves that if Senator Obama cannot produce his own ideas on the campaign trail, how will he solve new problems as president?" Tanden said in a memo e-mailed to reporters.
Obama, who has faced criticism that he doesn't have enough policy specifics, asked autoworkers at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., to "bear with me" as his began a policy speech that he said would be unlike his typical rousing addresses. He read from a TelePrompTer in an industrial training room, flanked by sparkling new vehicles and a large American flag.
"Today I want to take it down a notch," Obama said. "This is going to be a speech that's a little more detailed. It's going to be a little bit longer, not as many applause lines." Obama pointedly did not include one of his biggest applause lines, that he would require vehicle manufacturers to raise fuel economy standards. Obama often points out that he delivered that message straight to the automakers during a speech last year in Detroit. But he didn't mention it on the plant visit that came a day after GM reported the largest annual loss ever for an American automaker"$38.7 billion in 2007.
"I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday," Obama said. "I also know how much progress you've made, how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you're churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to retool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years."
Obama heads into Tuesday's Wisconsin primary as the favorite in the state and the front-runner for the nomination. His victories in the last eight contests have put him ahead of Clinton in the delegate chase. But Obama did not pursue the front-runner strategy of ignoring rivals. He repeatedly criticized Clinton in an effort to beat back the challenge she still poses to him.
He tied her to likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain for their shared vote to authorize the war in Iraq. He lumped her with President Bush for offering an economic recovery plan that didn't include immediate relief, without mentioning that both the president and Clinton quickly adopted tax rebates. Obama's appearance in Janesville was part of a strategy to reach out to voters who might be struggling in the economy and who have supported Clinton in most contests so far. Combining exit polls from 19 states that had competitive Democratic primaries before Tuesday, Clinton had a 49 percent to 46 percent edge over Obama with voters who named the economy as the No. 1 problem.
But Obama seemed to be turning that around in his most recent victories Tuesday. In Virginia and Maryland, Obama dominated among the one-half of Democratic voters who named the economy as their chief concern. In both states, about six in 10 Democrats who cited the economy voted for Obama, just makes me wonder i'm so outta here---
Today I was browsing the online Washington Post and Newsweek and came across a terrific article written by Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post, I thought I would reprint here just in case my colleagues here at JH do not think I am the only one critical of Barack Obama, here is a reprint of his brilliant article:
February 20, 2008 The Obama Delusion By Robert Samuelson WASHINGTON -- It's hard not to be dazzled by Barack Obama. At the 2004 Democratic convention, he visited with Newsweek reporters and editors, including me. I came away deeply impressed by his intelligence, his forceful language and his apparent willingness to take positions that seemed to rise above narrow partisanship. Obama has become the Democratic presidential front-runner, precisely because countless millions have formed a similar opinion. It is, I now think, mistaken.
As a journalist, I harbor serious doubt about each of the likely nominees. But with Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain, I feel that I'm dealing with known quantities. They've been in the public arena for years; their views, values and temperaments have received enormous scrutiny. By contrast, newcomer Obama is largely a stage presence defined mostly by his powerful rhetoric. The trouble, at least for me, is the huge and deceptive gap between his captivating oratory and his actual views.
The subtext of Obama's campaign is that his own life narrative -- to become the first African-American president, a huge milestone in the nation's journey from slavery -- can serve as a metaphor for other political stalemates. Great impasses can be broken with sufficient good will, intelligence and energy. "It's not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white," he says. Along with millions of others, I find this a powerful appeal.
But on inspection, the metaphor is a mirage. Repudiating racism is not a magic cure-all for the nation's ills. It requires independent ideas, and Obama has few. If you examine his agenda, it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.
By Obama's own moral standards, Obama fails. Americans "are tired of hearing promises made and 10-point plans proposed in the heat of a campaign only to have nothing change," he recently said. Shortly thereafter, he outlined an economic plan of at least 12 points that, among other things, would:
-- Provide a $1,000 tax cut for most two-earner families ($500 for singles).
-- Create a $4,000 refundable tuition tax credit for every year of college.
-- Expand the child care tax credit for people earning less than $50,000 and "double spending on quality after-school programs."
-- Enact an "energy plan" that would invest $150 billion in 10 years to create a "green energy sector."
Whatever one thinks of these ideas, they're standard goodie-bag politics: something for everyone. They're so similar to many Clinton proposals that her campaign put out a news release accusing him of plagiarizing. With existing budget deficits and the costs of Obama's "universal health plan," the odds of enacting his full package are slim.
A favorite Obama line is that he will tell "the American people not just what they want to hear, but what we need to know." Well, he hasn't so far.
Consider the retiring baby boomers. A truth-telling Obama might say: "Spending for retirees -- mainly Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- is already nearly half the federal budget. Unless we curb these rising costs, we will crush our children with higher taxes. Reflecting longer life expectancies, we should gradually raise the eligibility ages for these programs and trim benefits for wealthier retirees. Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for inaction. Waiting longer will only worsen the problem."
Instead, Obama pledges not to raise the retirement age and to "protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries." This isn't "change"; it's sanctification of the status quo. He would also exempt all retirees making less than $50,000 annually from income tax. By his math, that would provide average tax relief of $1,400 to 7 million retirees -- shifting more of the tax burden onto younger workers. Obama's main proposal for Social Security is to raise the payroll tax beyond the present $102,000 ceiling.
Political candidates routinely indulge in exaggeration, pandering, inconsistency and self-serving obscurity. Clinton and McCain do. The reason for holding Obama to a higher standard is that it's his standard and also his campaign's central theme. He has run on the vague promise of "change," but on issue after issue -- immigration, the economy, global warming -- he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.
The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the press corps -- preoccupied with the political "horse race" -- has treated his invocation of "change" as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't.
Well now that all the euphoria has subsided from Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary one factor remains and that is basically most of the extreme liberals in the Democratic Party have no comprehension of politics as they once again voted for the wrong candidate and it follows a central theme that it has in previous primaries and caucuses.
Most responses have been that Obama preaches the politics of hope and “change” but yet then cannot accurately define what that so called hope or change is, and it’s certainly not by accident that they have the inability to do so. Sen. Obama deliberately loves to talk in abstract terms of his vision of change and hope, rarely does he ever talk in specifics about his policies for the future and specifically how to pay for them; the reason for that is simple because once he defines his policies, what they entail and where he will get the money to pay for them he is no longer Obama the immortal, instead he becomes Obama the mortal, and all his “12 point plans” are the politics as usual and he is no longer a Washington outsider.
Obama is being too clever by half. The Democrats voting and backing him are fools, and far worse hurting their own party and for what? Because of emotionalism he is such a great orator Because when we listen to his preaching we get goose bumps and feel good and after all we want and need a candidate that makes us feel good. Are we that insecure about ourselves that we need a candidate that makes us feel good? Have we as a nation become that pathetic?
What I would love to know is the justification for a freshman U.S. Senator from Illinois who has not even completed his contract to complete his first term as senator to run for POTUS, is it asking that much to serve a term or two and serve on a major committee i.e. Armed Forces Senate Intelligence Committee building a resume for the presidency the proper way.
Lately all I hear from the media is bashing of Hillary on every single issue yet the media gleefully gives Obama a free pass on almost everything nothing he has said on stump speeches or campaign adds has the media held him to account, I’d love to know why.
Yesterday the usually timid Chris Matthews showed a tiny bit of courage when he asked a local Texas State Senator Kirk Watson if he could name some of Obama’s legislative accomplishments and he said he could not name any legislative accomplishments all he could say is he inspires people and attracts huge crowds and for that we must elect Obama president. I want to know have the democrats gone truly insane, where is the sanity and common sense in the Democratic Party?
I cannot say that I was suprised yesterday at Michelle Obama's huge gaffe in her stump speech yesterday in Madison WI. where she said:
"For the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country"
That is an exact quote of what she said yesterday; let me tell putting gender aside I as an american was deeply offended by that remark, bear in mind that I take into account that she is a minority and had struggles and challenges in life that most white americans do not have to endure, having prefaced that I still take issue with that comment
My belief is that we should all be proud to be americans I am proud to be an american, now having said that, are there things wrong with America that need to be improved upon? Yes there is. There are also many acomplishments during Michelle Obama's lifetime that would make any american regardless of gender, race, creed color or economic status proud to be an american, there are many americans that have greatly suffered yet are still proud to be and call themselves americans. She says that its not just because her husband is doing well in the primaries yet she never fully described what has made her proud other then broad abstract idealism. This sort of gaffe is great fodder for the Republicans and Mccain and do not doubt that the conservatives will make great hay with this, it has already started this afternoon in "fixed news" aka Fox News.
I see a common thread in the Obama campaign, that being that both he and his wife seem to be embarassed of patriotism yesterday it was Michelle Obama's speech, before that it was Obama's refusal to say the Pledge of Allegence, and the refusal to wear the flag pin that is worn by all U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen and U.S. Senators symbolic of 911 and its victims, its this and many other things that deeply disturb me about the obama campaign I simply see this as Jessie Jacksonism reinvented, a mission is social jihadism, Michelle calls for and mentions change...but change to what to hope well Ms. Obama define that hope for us please and please stop defining it in abstract terms, for once can you and your husband go on the record for something and define yourselves in specifics and not generalities. Somehow I think they are afraid to because if they do they are afraid they will lose the nomination.These are just a few of the reasons that I personally think Hillary Clinton will make a far more difficult candidate to defeat in the general election against McCain as opposed to Barack Obama...feel free to weigh in with your comments.
Well, it seems like Castro's long reign of power has come to an end....well sort of...Fidel Castro will formally retire and transfer power over to his brother Raul Castro.
Castro, in my humble opinion could have gone out in style by allowing democratic and free election reforms at least trying to make ammends for his long reign of terror, death squads, communism and depriving the cuban citizens the free exercise of religion, but no no no Castro chose to remain as arrogant at 81 as he was in his 30's when he took power
Ironically, Castro wasn't always a bad person, although born out of wedlock and not being formally baptized until the age 8 years old which in those days was sort of a social stigma, he went on to attend and graduate Catholic School run by the Jesuits as an intellectually gifted student , went on to attend the University of Havanna, where he majored in law and getting politically active in activist groups
Castro went on to abandon his law practice and joined the death squads and opposition groups that were engaging in guerilla war against then dictator Fulgencio Batista
In my humble opinion Castro could have greatly improved his legacy, knowing his days are shortly numbered, by calling for democratic reforms, setting loose political prisoners, and allowing and calling for truly free elections, and most importantly the free exercise of religion, and making peace with his God. It is sad that Castro has chosen to be resillient to change and despite his ill health that it has done precious little guide him on a path toward humility and civility to his Cuban citizens, what a tragic waste.
I have always been an ardent admirer and defender of Chelsea Clinton, even from the early years of the Clinton Presidency when she suffered dreadful insults at the hand of extremist right wing ideologues that would verbally castigate her for her physical appearance calling her ugly and far worse. Well now Chelsea has the last laugh as she has blossomed into a beautiful swan that most men would give their right arm to marry, both for her intellect and for her beauty.
I think she has really blossomed and at 27 years old she has her whole future ahead of her and in my opinion Hillary and Bill Clinton have done a teriffic job slowly allowing Chelsea to intergate herself in the public sector, the highest praise I can give to Chelsea is that I hope my daughter turns out as well as Chelsea
I posted one of the rare vidoes of her on the campagin trail for her mom and I was thoroughly impressed, she has the poise of her mom and the charisma and easy talking style and personality of her dad. She still needs a little polishing around the edges she is still slightly awkward starting out and a little shy, but thats normal as the natual maturation process will kick in as she becomes more comfortable speaking in public
It is my sincerest hop that one day Ms. Chelsea Clinton runs for office, I do think she certainly has the intelligence and personality going for her and I honestly believe that society would greatly benefit if she ever did decide to run for office, in the mean time I will look forward to seeing her speak and do stump speeches on the campaign trail for her mom
Bill and Hillary are to be congratulated for doing a great job raising Chelsea and the protection they have given her from the media. Chelsea keep up the good work! You go girl!
The typical conservative leans back on his couch, meditatively stirs his Chivas and water with a pinkie and declares (with some considerable justification) "Well, it’s their own damned fault if they got in over their head. What the hell were they thinking?"
People are indeed responsible for their own actions. But when you take advantage of the ignorant and the dirt poor, it’s not only disingenuous to hold them to middle class standards, it’s very, very dangerous. A number of the ‘brightest and best’ in Congress went through a little experiment a couple years back, trying to live just one month on minimum wage.
Not many of them made it, but that didn’t blast loose the minimum wage laws. Like water-boarding Navy Seals to show how tough they are, the Congressmen knew they weren’t going to drown in debt. Knowing you’re not going to drown changes the game. Who among us in legislative control of our neighbors’ financial destiny has ever been truly poor?
Take a walk on the have-not side sometime, it’s not all that dangerous. Price a used car (or a new one), a loaf of bread, a TV or an apartment over on the seedier side of whatever town you live in and see how much more costly it is to live there. What’s the interest rate on your credit card, 10%? Try 28% and see how easy it is to pay off. 0% financing on a new car? Not on this side of the tracks. Try 24% and watch what happens to monthly payments, the years necessary to pay off a 6-year-old car and the total cost to buy a beater. Warrantee? Get Serioius.
Vincent Humphries needed a computer when his old one died? We’ve all had that happen. Vincent needs his because he does a little freelance programming to subsidize his $875 social security. A little background on Vince; he’s not a bad guy, but it’s been a hard life and he’s not all that well educated. (Business Week; The Poverty Business) Raised in Detroit and now living in Atlanta, he never got past high school. He started work in the early 1960s at Ford Motor Co.'s hulking Rouge plant outside Detroit for a little over $2 an hour. Later he did construction, rarely earning more than $25,000 a year while supporting five children from two marriages. A masonry business he financed on credit cards collapsed. None of his children have attended college, and all hold what he calls "dead-end jobs."
Whether some lives are hard life is not the point. Whether they are unnecessarily expensive is very much the point. We don't expect that. Most of us don't even know it. Vince always worked hard and was never jobless, but it’s expensive raising five kids on $25 grand and somehow they all missed out on college, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.
When his computer broke down in 2005, Humphries fretted that he would never be able to afford a new one. A solution appeared one night in a TV ad for a company with a catchy name. BlueHippo offered "top-of-the-line" PCs, no credit check necessary. He telephoned the next day.
He remembers the woman on the other end describing the computer in vague terms, but she was emphatic about getting his checking account information. She said BlueHippo would debit the account for $124, and Humphries then would owe 17 payments of $71.98 every other week. At the time, $800 would have bought a faster computer at Circuit City Stores, (CC ) but he didn't have the cash.
It wasn't until a week after placing his order that he realized that BlueHippo's terms meant he would pay $1,347.66 over nine months, Humphries says. He called to cancel. The company told him that would take as many as 10 days, he says. When he called again, a week later, a customer-service representative said cancellation would take an additional 15 days. "I sensed then that I had my hand in the lion's mouth," Humphries says. During his next call, a phone rep told him BlueHippo had a no-refund policy. He would lose his $124, even though he had never received a computer.
Blue Hippo is run by a crook by the name of Joseph K. Rensin. If you live in the Baltimore area, Joe may be a member of your country club. It’s possible he has a trophy wife and a Mercedes, even probable, but he’s still a crook.
The attorneys general of New York and West Virginia are investigating the company, and the Illinois AG has filed a consumer-protection suit in that state. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by BusinessWeek, the Federal Trade Commission says it has accumulated 8,000 pages of consumer complaints about BlueHippo. The FTC is investigating whether the company has engaged in deceptive practices.
Eight thousand pages of complaints. Way to go, Joe. Who goes to the bother of an FTC complaint? Ten percent? Two percent? What we have here is perhaps a world-record in the cheating-the-poor department.
BlueHippo sells well-known brands such as Apple Inc. (AAPL ) computers and Sony Corp. (SNE ) televisions. Gateway Inc. (GTW) became a major supplier in December, 2003. "We've clearly been aware of their business model from the get-go," says Gateway spokesman David Hallisey. More recently, Gateway became troubled by customer complaints and decided earlier this year to sever ties with BlueHippo. Given its knowledge all along about BlueHippo's methods, why did the separation occur only this year? Hallisey explains: "We're publicly traded and trying to make a profit, so that's a consideration."
Well now, with a spokesman like that, who needs PR?--publicly traded and trying to make a profit answers it all. That’s essentially the same thing the bums and thieves in the sub-prime fraud were doing, fishing in the same puddle of the poor, it seems.
Interestingly, where credit-cards are involved, a cloud three times as dark as the sub-prime fraud is rapidly forming on the horizon. And for the same reason; everyone's publicly traded and trying to make a profit. There are all these poor and desperate and uneducated customers out there. We can preach the gospel of it being all right to join the consumer hallelujah chorus. In this newly invented consumer economy, you don't have to worry about whether the poor bastard can ever pay off--his debt has been sliced and diced and passed off to others.
A victimless crime.
A few months after his BlueHippo experience, Humphries did buy a new computer. He borrowed $400 from a friend and bought a General Quality PC from Fry's Electronics, a retail chain. The loan covered the purchase of a 17-inch flat-screen monitor, a DVD burner, and a desktop computer with a 40-gigabyte hard drive. Humphries tightened his belt and paid his friend back in $100 installments over four months, interest-free.
Micro-loans to each other. The way families and tribes and even kids trying to buy their first car used to get along. Life before the credit-card. Life before strangers took over and turned us all into statistics.
So, Vince got a better computer at less than one third of what Joe Rensin was going to lay off on him, but the key is that he had a friend to help out. The poor have lots of friends. That’s one thing about being poor is that you understand and appreciate the plight of your neighbors. But not many are able to help, at least not out of their own pocket.
When the poor form their own credit-unions, they’ll begin to get out of the crack they’re in. The local credit-union can explain about those flashy late-night BlueHippo ads and offer alternatives before the axe falls. Credit unions might actually keep the axe from falling, which is why so many banks hate them.
Rather than a complaint about how we treat our poor in this country, this is a cautionary tale about the next big explosion in consumer finance fraud. The same gamers are guilty of predatory lending and the house of (credit) cards they’ve built is about to tumble.
The numbers, when they begin to unravel, are three times what's at stake in sub-prime mortgages. Government hasn’t the foggiest notion of what to do.
Ben Bernanke is soiling his pants and the best Henry Paulson can come up with is to give us each $600 to go out and spend. Which is akin to buying your alcohol-addicted uncle a bottle of Jack Daniels.
The problem I see with Hillary is that she lacks true emotion in her stump speeches, no I'm not talking about the whining or pouting, I am talking about true passion or true grit, she needs to excite people. How does she do this? Simple...
She needs to go into what I call Sally Field or Norma Rae mode, if anyone saw that scene with Sally Field as she rang that bell at the textile mill it was a powerful moment the people rallied and related to that scene, and no I do not mean the characters in the movie, but the viewers in the audience, she has to have that defining moment, that moment of true grit that can difine a candidate for an entire election, that’s what Obama has and she needs to develop hers, her inner woman spirit as Obama found his ethnic spirit.
She has become too wooden to monotone, show passion, show anger, show frustration show hope, a new vision in the future, Sen. Clinton has to be that shining star, that "bridge over troubled waters, 'that friend' that if you need a friend I’m sailing right behind"
She needs to be that amplifier that amplifies human emotions that leads them to strive and believe that Sen. Clinton can provide a better world for them and their children.
Yes I know that this may sound over the top but before being too judgmental or critical of me suffice to say it has worked for Sen. Obama, if she can combine that with her skills at conveying policy issues, she just may have a chance at turning back Obama's momentum and win the nomination. Now granted Hillary is not an actress at least not in the Hollywood sense, but then again neither is Barrack Obama; since we all are capable of human emotions and displaying them, I humbly have suggested to her as much, which is to say that is much as a strategist can do, the rest is up to the candidate, you can only lead in this case a candidate to water. Feel free to weigh in with your comments.
Well at the risk of sounding like a broken record I need to further express my anger at the media in general and MSNBC in particular for all this anti-Clinton nonsense and this ongoing Obama kiss ass tour that they are on.
What offends me most is this pervasive sexism that seems to be ubiquitous on MSNBC as a woman I find it abhorrently offensive and I hope every woman here at JH feels the same way. It's a double edged sword because not only is it a woman's rights issue but it's all the more important because it's relevant to who wins the Democratic nomination.
It's a intellectual con game the media is playing; they actually feel that they can influence an election by the way they cover the candidates, and its exactly what they are trying to do, its blatantly obvious to me as I think it would be to most women, we tend to be more intuitive then men on average. If one goes to Media Matters they will see that Hillary Clinton receives a far higher percentage of negative coverage from the media then Barack Obama does.
One example was last night on the Dan Abrams Program near the end of the show he had to bash Bill Clinton over something so silly and trite it left me totally bewildered; Dan Abrams felt it necessary to mention that Bill Clinton lost some stupid meaningless Grammy to Barack Obama just to add salt to the wound and another lame excuse to bash the Clintons, I just find it infuriating. Another clever con game being played by Abrams is this super delegate psychobabble he is trying to push. It seems Dan Abrams wants to tell these super delegates how to vote, by that I mean that he erroneously makes the assessment that they should not go against the pledge delegates and all these extreme left wingers that control these political caucuses which Obama literally bought but the media tends to ignore that! The fact is that super delegates have no and I repeat no moral obligation to vote the same way the pledge delegates did. But Dan Abrams and the rest of the MSNBC's jerky journalists are going to browbeat these super delegates into submission and guilt that they cannot vote for the horrible Clintons sorry but you need to vote in favor of Barrack Obama…Well I am sorry but this Irish Gal has got her Irish Mick up, if I were a super delegate I'd vote my will and my conscience and if it differs from the majority of pledge delegates then so be it!
In the New York Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote an excellent article titled "Hate Springs Eternal" in which he justifiably says he sees
"venom coming from Obama supporters".
Do you think he could possibly think he is talking about his colleagues in the media? MSNBC, Chris, Joe, Mica, David, Tucker…do you think he could possibly be referring to you?
To all Sen. Hillary Clinton supporters I ask that you please stay the course, don't waver and hang on until March 5 when Texas and Ohio come into play and Sen. Hillary Clinton can and will regain lost ground. I'm outta here
Keith Olbermann spoke up last night on David Shuster’s shameful and appalling comment about Chelsea Clinton. Olbermann not only condemned his fellow MSNBC journalist’s disgusting remark, but also apologized on behalf of the network, with far more class and dignity than Shuster himself. Watch it here:
H/T to Taylor. Howard Kurtz noted today, “In case there was any doubt, using a prostitution metaphor for the daughter of a presidential candidate is not a good career move.”
I have always liked Obermann he was probably the only good reason to tune into MSNBC.
As For David Shuster I have no idea why he made such an offending remark, its positively sexist, rude, and assination of Chelsea's good name and good character and to add insult to injury in the begining David Shuster refused to apologize as as original transcript between Shuster and a long time Clinton aide...
-----Original Message----- From: Philippe Reines To: David Shuster Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 7:14 p.m.
David - how hard is it for someone, anyone, in the vast MS/NBC universe to contact any one of us at the campaign for comment about Chelsea before going on air and saying that she is being "pimped out" ? It's absurdly offensive. And what the hell does that even mean?
I just don't get MSNBC - does GE not allow you to make toll calls? What's the problem.
Philippe Reines Press Secretary Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
-----Original Message----- From: David Shuster To: Philippe Reines Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 8:51 p.m.
Nice to hear from you, philippe.
It is a fact that chelsea has made calls to superdelegates, as your campaign colleagues have acknowledged. It is also a fact that the campaign has reacted quite harshly to any media who have sought to interview chelsea. That was the point. By slamming any reporter who seeks to chat with chelsea while simultaneously having chelsea do campaign tasks such as trying to convince super delegates to support her mom, that's the reference.
Chelsea is polite and does a fine job of saying "I don't want to talk.". But for campaign staff to then jump down the throat of a reporter who seeks to talk to chelsea...that's an issue.
-------------------------- Sent using BlackBerry
-----Original Message----- From: Philippe Reines To: David Shuster Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:00 p.m.
Since you guys asked for the transcript - here specifically is what David said on air:
SHUSTER: "But doesn't it seem like she's being--but doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
I have a hunch that such offensive and unacceptable language was never used on MSNBC's air about Karenna Gore, the Bush twins, Venessa & Alex Kerry, Kate Edwards, the Romney sons - or any other adult offspring who chose to campaign on behalf of a parent.
-----Original Message----- From: Philippe Reines To: David Shuster Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:16: p.m.
David - I want to make sure I'm crystal clear here - you're saying that because she doesn't grant interviews and makes calls on behalf of her mother, you are right to say that she is being pimped out?
I don't need to read a the whole transcript for context, you were way out of line. Nobody's jumping down your throat about asking for an interview or talking about calls she made. And you know it.
There is simply no excuse for being so offensive.
By actually rationalizing your behavior rather than accepting responsibility and apologizing, you become the poster child for everything wrong with tv journalism, and it's a shame your NBC colleagues have to be associated with this (expletive).
-----Original Message----- From: David Shuster To: Philippe Reines Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:29 p.m.
No. That's not what I'm saying. And if you bothered to look at the transcript and saw all of the glowing things I said about chelsea and the way she was raised, you would know that.
The issue is not her making calls. As + said on the air, I have no problems with that what so ever. The issue is not her refusing interviews. The issue is that the campaign has come down hard on reporters who merely sought to ask chelsea questions. You can't have it both ways. Reporters have long respected the clintons desire that we avoid chelsea and let her have her space. But to get angry at reporters seeking to talk to her now is patently unfair. And you know that.
-------------------------- Sent using BlackBerry
-----Original Message----- From: Philippe Reines To: David Shuster Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:49 p.m.
I think we've each said what we have to say on this matter. Based on this email exchange, we're assuming two things:
1) You are not disputing that you said on air: "But doesn't it seem like she's being--but doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
2) You have no intention of apologizing for the above.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An early version of this story included a truncated copy of the Shuster-Reines correspondence. This version reflects the full exchange
Hillary Clinton blasted MSNBC’s David Shuster today for his “incredibly offensive” on air remarks about Chelsea Clinton. Shuster, as noted here has apologized and even Keith Olbermann stepped up to the plate an issued his onw apology on behalf of the network last night.
But, Hillary Clinton spoke up today on the issue, telling reporters in Bangor, Maine, “I found the remarks incredibly offensive.”
Clinton also “she sent a letter to NBC brass that called for swift action against Shuster, who was suspended Friday by MSNBC.”
“Nothing justifiesthe kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient,” Clinton wrote to NBC News President Steve Capus, who apparently had already called Clinton to personally apologize.
“I would urge you to look at the pattern of behavior on your network that seems to repeatedly lead to this sort of degrading language,” Clinton wrote. “There’s a lot at stake for our country in this election. Surely, you can do your jobs as journalists and commentators and still keep the discourse civil and appropriate.”
The full text of Hillary Clinton’s letter is here.
Clinton also said in the letter, “I became Chelsea’s mother long before I ran for any office and I will always be a mom first and a public official second.”
Both of those statements really say it all, don’t they. The ever acid tongued Hart Williams who used to write here at the Dem Daily, apparently thinks my comment in an earlier post about this subject was shrill, because I said, “I know I sure as hell would be outraged if someone said something like that about my daughter, and anyone who thought Hillary Clinton and her campaign would sit back and let Shuster get away with this was dreaming.”
I used to expect from from Williams on subjects like this, as one of his favorite things to do in the blogosphere has been to rip the media a new one on issues like this. But now instead, a woman on the campaign trail should not defend her daughter and likewise other women who are mothers should not be outraged. Give me break. All women with children (young or fully grown) are mothers first. And that includes Hillary Clinton and me.
Quite frankly, I don’t think Obama would have stood for it and I know damn well John Kerry never would have stood for Shuster making a remark like about one of his daughters in ‘04. Frankly, as I said here last night, I am appalled that members of the party did not speak up. Appalled and disgusted. But that’s sexism for you, isn’t. The good old boys have rallied about Obama, and in their fight to put him in the White House, it’s anything goes against Hillary Clinton and her daughter. Shame on them Once again MSNBC Shows It's lack of class and a total lack of professional journalism just gonzo tabloid mentality ughhhhhhhh! I'm outta here!
In terms of sheer depravity, I can't think of a better analogy to describe what has happened to the media during the Democratic primary other than the media's and particularly Fox News' worship of George Bush not too long ago (the comparison may even be somewhatapt it seems). But MSNBC takes the cake. Now, Chris Matthews - a long-time Clinton/Gore hater and all-round fraudster - has always been a third-rate journalist and sexist hack. He's like the kind of rougish boor you wouldn't want to even accidentally step on with your dirtiest shoes - the male version of fluff piece queen Maureen Dowd. What is interesting is Keith Olbermann - whom I have great respect and admiration for, and who usually has an abundance of integrity compared to other broadcasters - has been competing with Chris Matthews to see who could possibly behave more unprofessionally and act more servile to Sen. Obama. At one level, this doesn't really surprise me one bit because Olbermann had cultivated his audience (i.e., $$$) from progressive blogs like Daily Kos. Once blogs like Daily Kos became Obama strongholds, and when Chris Matthews' shilling for Obama and hatred for Clinton became Olbermann's daily inspiration, I can see why he sacrificed what little principles and professionalism he might have had. Considering that Sen. Obama's website has a supporter-created section for Olbermann fans, I figure Olbermann might as well move his show to Sen. Obama's campaign website.
Sad to say, David Shuster is also in a race to the bottom - why wouldn't he be when his role models are Matthews and Olbermann? Anyway, there aren't enough unpleasant words in the dictionary to describe the god-awful nonsense from Shuster captured in this video - embedded below (via Masslib1 at MyDD). This is scumbaggery at its worst - the kind of stuff that one usually sees from the deranged fringe like Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage - and Taylor Marsh MSNBC has just constantly demonstrated why they will never be considered respectable in journalism its just tabloid mentality at its worsthas a lot more on this. Here's the money quote from Shuster:
[SHUSTER]: Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?
Credit goes to Bill Press for expressing his disgust at Shuster's comment.
[PRESS] No! [...] If she didn't wanna be there, she wouldn't be there....Give Chelsea a break!
I generally don't like to use the blog to point people to the fundraising websites of political campaigns, but this is the kind of s*** that makes me mad enough that I'm going to make an exception.
As for MSNBC, naturally, this is not the first time that Shuster has behaved like a moron. Media Matters has another example and contact information on the as you scroll down. If I were you I'd be civil, polite, courteous and post-partisan when you write to them. (More from Big Tent Democrat
Sometimes I get so frustrated and wind up in a complete state of perplexity, its like I want to pull my hair out by the roots! I have always said that I believed that women are their own worst enemies, and I honestly believe this is true.
Women always complain about the glass ceiling, lack of equal pay between men and women, many laws that do not apply equally between the sexes, I can go on and on.
Now it just so happens that there is a female candidate running in Hillary Clinton a champion of feminist causes and women in general, having prefaced that, you would think all these female liberal feminists would get with the program and support her right? Sadly that is not the case, all these fake feminists have deserted her big time, all this talk all these demonstrations, all the psa adds are all for nothing!
It seems all the big name feminists in Hollyweird have deserted Hillary a Woman and a Lady for Obama a man. I can understand the Speilberg's, Geffen's, Newman's Katzenberg's and Clooney's supporting Obama, but what I cannot and refuse to accept is the selling out by big name talkers like Susan Sarandon, Scarlett Johansen, Roseanna Arquette, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah "bigmouth" Winfrey, Arianna Huffington , Sharon Stone, etc have all sold Hillary out for Obama
It just confounds me! I want to scream, yell jump up and down, literally have a temper tantrum, yet I manage to keep myself composed. Its not just the desertion, its the stupidity of it all, did these bimbos in hollyweird do any research on policy issues? Not even close. The fact is that Obama is short on policy and short on experience, its like the old Burger King commercial a few year back with the lovable Clara Peller Saying "Where's the beef" thats how I feel looking at Obama's policies and experience, where is it? Please tell me in Obama's years as a state Senator and US Senator where is his resume on feminist issues? The fact is he has none!
Hillary has a whole list as long as the Mississippi River serving feminist causes, pro choice, domestic violence, daycare, work force issues, yet what does the female elitist left do despite all this....yes they abandon her for some charming pied piper named Barack Obama. Its always the same song and dance with women, they bitch and moan about not being treated fairly by men to their feminist sisters yet at the end of the day they will sell out their fellow feminist sisters for the first charming gigolo that comes along as they go goo goo gaa gaa giggly goo and when he mistreats her its back to crying to their feminist sisters
Women have a real oppurtunity to make a real statement here, to stick with and stand by Hillary and make a bold statement to a patriarchal based government that this is the dawning of a new and exciting era for women, the question is, will they squander it and throw it away? I sincerely hope not!
On Monday, Jan. 25, 2008, President Bush released a signing statement claiming the right to violate four sections of H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which he had just signed into law. These four sections: 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, Bush announced, would be "construed" in a manner "consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."
Among the measures Bush's latest signing statement declares the right to violate are: the establishment of a commission to investigate U.S. contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expansion of whistleblower protections, a requirement that U.S. intelligence agencies respond to congressional requests for documents, a ban on funding permanent bases in Iraq, and a ban on funding any actions that exercise U.S. control over Iraq's oil money.
Over the past seven years, the same language used by Bush on Monday, usually attributed to Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff David Addington, has been the precursor to numerous violations of law by his administration, including sections of law banning the use of torture and banning the use of funds to construct permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. The president has signed laws blocking funding for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq six times, but never stopped the construction.
In January 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Bush's use of signing statements at which Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Elwood claimed that the president is free to violate any laws until the Supreme Court rules otherwise. Following this hearing, the Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of Bush's signing statements and found that in a significant percentage of cases his administration was, in fact, violating the sections of law he had claimed the right to "interpret."
The U.S. Constitution requires that the president "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Article I, Section 7, says that:
"every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law."
"The rule of law established by the Constitution has been undermind in an almost unnoticed revolution," said Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). "The Constitution allows the president to veto bills or sign and enforce them, not to rewrite them or to disobey them. The same document that gives the Congress the power to make every law, gives it the sole power to raise and spend money, and the sole power to declare war. The people's representatives in Congress are losing all of these powers through their failure to act on the remedy provided for precisely this situation: impeachment."
According to the U.S. State Department, 65% of Iraqis favor a withdrawal of U.S. troops. In fact, neither the Iraqi people nor the people of this country have ever supported a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, and the U.S. Congress has never approved one.
"The sooner all the troops and military contractors are home," said Cagan, "the sooner rebuilding can begin for the Iraqi nation and for our democracy."
I wholeheartedly ask members of JH and visitors here to speak with the media about this matter and to phone the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951 to request that it begin impeachment hearings.
I listened intently to President Bush's State of the Union speech. Frankly, I had a hard time understanding what country he was talking about, what reality he was talking about. Certainly, if the "state of the union" refers to what is happening to the shrinking middle class of this country, and how we as a people are doing, the president had almost nothing to say that rang true. In fact, the speech just reminds us once again how far removed from the reality of ordinary life this president is, and how little he and his administration know about what is going on with the vast majority of Americans.
The president said that "in the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth." I wish that was true. Unfortunately, Since President Bush has been in office it is important to understand that:
-Nearly five million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and into poverty. Amazingly, the poverty rate is higher today than it was during the last recession in 2001.
-Median household income for working-age Americans has declined by almost $2,500; and overall median household income has gone down by nearly $1,000.
-8.6 million Americans have lost their health insurance.
-Over three million manufacturing jobs have been lost, including more than 10,000 in my State of Vermont.
-Three million workers have lost their pensions, and about half of American workers in the private sector have no pension coverage whatsoever.
-The annual trade deficit has more than doubled, and the national debt has gone up by $3 trillion.
-Health care premiums have increased 78 percent; the prices of gas and heating oil have more than doubled; and college education costs have increased by over 60 percent.
In addition, to those statistics, let me just mention a few more:
-Last November, the personal savings rate was below zero, something that up until 2005 hasn't happened since the Great Depression.
-According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 35.5 million Americans struggled to put food on the table last year and the number of the hungriest Americans keeps going up.
-The average college student has racked up nearly $20,000 in debt upon graduation and some 400,000 qualified high school students don't go to college in the first place because they can't afford it.
-Home foreclosures are the highest on record turning the American dream of homeownership into an American nightmare for millions of Americans.
-The number of working families paying more than half of their incomes on housing has increased by 72 percent over the past decade.
-The United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty, the highest infant mortality rate, the highest overall poverty rate, the largest gap between the rich and the poor the largest incarceration rate and is the only country not to have a national health care program of any major developed country on earth.
-And, the number of college graduates earning poverty level wages has more than doubled over the past 15 years.
In other words, not only is the middle class being squeezed by skyrocketing prices; the middle class is actually shrinking and poverty is increasing.
Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in our society have not had it so good since the 1920s.
Income inequality is on the rise. According to the latest figures from the IRS, the top 1 percent earned more income in 2005 than the bottom 50 percent, and the national share of income going to the wealthiest Americans is higher than at any time since 1929.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the unequal distribution of wealth.
According to Forbes magazine, the collective net worth of the wealthiest 400 Americans increased by $290 billion last year to $1.54 trillion. In addition, the top one percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
What are the super-wealthy doing with their money?
As Robert Frank of The Wall Street Journal has pointed out in his book Richistan, the super wealthy, those worth between $100 million to $1 billion, spent an average of $182,000 on wrist watches; $311,000 on automobiles; $397,000 on jewelry; and $169,000 on spa services last year alone.
The middle class is shrinking, poverty is increasing, and the wealthiest Americans have not had it so good since the 1920s. That is the state of our economy.
I order to protect the interests of the sinking middle class the federal government needs a change in direction in almost every area of public policy.
We must start by passing an economic stimulus package as soon as possible.
Now, I am pleased that the leadership in the House was able to negotiate an economic stimulus package with the White House. I am also pleased that the Senate Finance Committee will be marking-up a different economic stimulus bill that improves the House version by including unemployment insurance; tax rebates to senior citizens; and equal rebates for Americans paying payroll taxes.
These are all good and important steps to be taking. I commend Majority Leader Reid, Finance Chairman Baucus and Speaker Pelosi for their outstanding work on this issue.
But, this package could and should be improved even more.
In my opinion, for an economic stimulus package to be most successful, we must do three things:
1) We must provide help to those most in need, particularly senior citizens on fixed incomes, low-income families with children and persons with disabilities;
2) We must strengthen the middle class; and
3) We must put Americans back to work at good paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure: our roads, bridges, schools, homes, health centers, sewers, and other important needs.
If we fail to pass an economic stimulus package that does not accomplish all three of these goals, we will have missed out on an important opportunity to strengthen our economy.
Here is what I believe we should do.
First, I would increase the economic stimulus package from $150 billion to $175 billion.
The next thing we should do is to reduce the business tax breaks on equipment purchases by 50 percent or roughly $25 billion. These tax breaks are referred to as bonus depreciation. It has been argued that businesses need these tax breaks to buy more equipment, but the experts tell us that businesses will be buying this equipment regardless of whether these tax breaks are signed into law or not. According to Mark Zandi with Moody's, for every $1 the government provides for bonus depreciation, it would only add 27 cents to GDP. In other words, it would provide very little stimulus.
If we did these two things: increase the overall economic stimulus package by $25 billion; and cut the bonus depreciation tax break by 50 percent, that would leave us with about $50 billion.
What could we do with this $50 billion? We could complete the picture. We could put Americans to work at decent paying jobs; we could help those most in need; and we could strengthen the middle class. Those are the three pillars I believe should be included in any economic stimulus package.
Specifically, I believe we should provide $5 billion for an expansion of the Food Stamp program. The Congressional Budget Office and other experts have indicated that such an increase would be one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy. For every $1.00 invested in the Food Stamp Program, we would add $1.73 to GDP. More importantly, these benefits would go to the Americans who have been hit the hardest in our economy.
What else could we do?
We could provide $3.62 billion in home heating assistance for senior citizens on fixed incomes, low-income families with children and persons with disabilities through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The price of energy is skyrocketing. People in my State of Vermont and all over this country are paying record prices to heat their homes this winter. In the richest country on the face of the earth, we must ensure that no-one goes cold this winter.
Including Food Stamps, LIHEAP and unemployment benefits in the economic stimulus package is not only the right thing to do in terms of stimulating the economy, it is the moral thing to do. We cannot turn a blind eye to those most in need.
In addition, with unemployment rising and our infrastructure crumbling, we could address both of these concerns by providing $16 billion to repair our schools, bridges, roads, sewers, rails, ports and airports. We could also put people to work weatherizing nearly 100,000 homes; expand our health delivery system by increasing funding for Community Health Centers, and help veterans with disabilities retrofit their cars and refurbish their homes.
States, localities, economists and other experts have identified thousands of projects throughout the country that could not only use this money, but spend it quickly.
Last year, about 200,000 construction workers lost their jobs. We could and should put many of these Americans back to work through this economic stimulus package.
In addition, let me give you two examples of investments we could be making that would have a tremendous economic impact on the lives of Americans.
If we just provided $148 million for an expansion of Community Health Centers, that would be enough to create 227 new health centers throughout the country; provide health care services to an additional 1.4 million previously unserved Americans; lead to the creation of 15,000 new jobs, and provide a total economic benefit of $1.25 billion.
For those that question the appropriateness of including an expansion of community health centers into an economic stimulus package, I would say to my colleagues that this is exactly what we did during the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan. It worked. If it worked in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, it will work today.
Another important investment that we should make is to provide at least $200 million for the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program. Not only could the program easily absorb this level of funding and create additional construction and retrofitting jobs, but it also would save millions of dollars for low-income people who are struggling with higher energy costs by weatherizing an additional 75,000 homes.
In 2001, I was an early backer of tax rebates. I support tax rebates for the middle class, for low-income families with children, and for persons with disabilities. I also believe that senior citizens who don't pay income taxes should be receiving this assistance as well through a bonus in their Social Security checks.
But giving someone $300 or $600 or $1,200 alone will not fix the economic situations facing millions of Americans. Putting Americans to work at decent paying jobs and helping those most in need would do much more to strengthen the middle class and reduce the poverty rate than simply sending rebate checks and bonus depreciation tax breaks.
Let's pass an economic stimulus package quickly, but let's make sure we get it right. Let's help those most in need. Let's put Americans to work at good paying jobs. And, let's repair our crumbling infrastructure.
Thank You Senator Sanders...Lets echo this from mountaintop to mountaintop
I'm really busy at work this week and have little time to write. But, I still have time every now and then to read. If you do too, then please feel free to read and comment on any of my blogs.
I'd love to hear how Obama would answer an abundance of questions I have for him especially Healthcare, he seems to be long on passion and short on policy and substance. I compared his plan on Healthcare to Edwards and its not even close to being as good, also, Obama with all his passion and emotion gives precious little lip service to the poor and the empassioned fight and zeal against corporatism that Sen. Edwards did . Unfortunately, I think all I'd hear was a bunch of Hope Yadda Yadda Change Yadda Yadda Can't We All Just Get Along Yadda Yadda Sisboombah.
We have a lot of things to fix in the country! Um, pretty much everything! And nothing's going to get done by sitting around holding hands and singing Kum Bah Yadda Yadda Yah!
And while I'm ranting and raving here. Could anyone have been more passionless than Gov. Kathleen Sebelius last night when she was responding to Bush's speech?I mean talk about a Stepford Wife she was the perfect example in her Democratic Response, how embarassing.
If the Democrats can't muster more passion than that at this moment in time -- of all moments in time -- after what we've lived through the last seven years -- we're doomed!
I want passion and substance. Shouldn't be too much to ask! I am sooooooo outta here....Later!
I don’t want to listen to the creep, mind you, especially since I have yet to recover completely from my migraine. But since this is the last State of the Union speech he’s going to give I thought it might have some comic moments.
FYI, if you’re watching on C-SPAN, stay tuned after the speech ends to listen for Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla. She should be giving her comments about 10:30.
9:00. The Cabinet is shuffling in. Tweety is gushing about how much everybody loves Condi Rice. He thinks she’ll be a veep candidate. Please.
9:05. Apparently some people actually want to be seen with the Creep on national television. No shame.
9:07. Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama are sitting together.
9:09. OK, here we go.
He’s calling for bipartisanship. This is like Heidi Fleiss calling for chastity. He admits there is short-term concern about the economy. Now he’s talking about the worthless stimulus package and saying that the Senate had better pass it as is and not tweak it.
9:13. Tax relief. Tax relief. He told a joke on people who say they don’t mind their taxes rising. The Dems sit on their hands. Make the tax relief permanent, he says. Standing ovation from Republicans, stone silence from Dems.
He promises to veto any bill that raises taxes.
He says that the government should spend tax dollars wisely. Iraq, anyone? Balance the budget? What a joke.
9:16. Earmarks. Where did I read today that Bush’s earmark policy is a scam? Here it is.
9:19. Health care reform by “expanding consumer choice.”
I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This one reform would put private coverage within reach for millions, and I call on the Congress to pass it this year.
What bias? I deduct all of the cost of my health insurance from my taxes.
9:20. He’s claiming that No Child Left Behind has been a success. Is Bush snorting coke as he speaks? Hello knock knock unBush's ahemmmm brain Its a failure thanks to you!
9:22. Oh, I like this. He wants to give Pell grants to primary and secondary students to go to private schools. The debts they graduate from college with aren’t high enough, try free college education moron!
If we fail to pass this agreement, we will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere.
Look in a mirror, chimpy.
Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.
Education for jobs that don’t exist please do not make me piss my panties.
9:26. Now he’s talking about the environment. Bush talking about the enviorment is like Jesica Simpson discussing the theory of relativity.
I saw a couple of Democrats clapping. Somebody take their names.
So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.
But don’t raise taxes to pay for it, lets just tap into the republican lobbyist fund to pay for it or hell Romney casn call his candidacy quits and ante up the 60 mill he was going to spend on the election to as dubya put it "the physical sciences"
9:29. Embryonic stems cells. Keep ‘em frozen.
On matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our Founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says.
Like Karl Rove and Alberto Go Go Gonzalez, etc.
9:31. Volunteers for America! Cause the Gubmint won’t help you!
Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I am pleased to announce that in April we will host this year’s North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans.
Now he’s going to call on Congress to save Social Security and Medicare. Republicans applaud. Two Dem programs the Republicans want to destroy.
Secure the border. Guest workers. Tepid applause.
Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace.
And we’ve seen to it they don’t get that chance.
In the last 7 years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. We have seen citizens in Georgia and Ukraine stand up for their right to free and fair elections.
Well, send the Republican Party over there. That’ll stop those free and fair elections, heven knows the republicans have made voter caging and Black American voter repression an art form in our country
Since September 11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to the enemies of America.
Running out of time, dude.
9:38. We’re spreading the hope of freedom, he says. He’s adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan. A bit late; people have been asking for this for years.
He’s talking about Iraq. And, y’know, there’s nothing on television at all tonight. There’s a Law and Order rerun on TNT, but that’s about it.
There’s wrestling on USA. A guy in blue trunks just jumped all the way over a guy in brown trunks.
9:44. Chimpy is saying al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq. Except the al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same al Qaeda that hit us on 9/11. He always fails to mention that.
9:46. Nancy Pelosi looks as if she’s struggling to stay awake, been there heard all this b.s. before.
9:47. 20,000 troops are coming home, he says. Biggest applause of the night.
9:49. Commercials on USA. I wanted to see what the wrestlers were doing, omg Shawn Michaels sexy and buff as ever! *sigh*.
9:50. He says he’s not going to rest. He must have lost his pet pillow.
9:51. He’s calling for a Palestinian state by the end of this year. Like nobody ever thought of that before.
9:52. He’s past the halfway point in the speech, but unless he starts reading real fast he’s not going to be done by 10:00.
9:54. I’ll say one thing; he’s only mentioned 9/11 about three times, I believe.
9:56. Back to USA. A big guy in red trunks with “Samoa” written across his belly is about to take on two other guys. This could be fun.
9:58. Bush has five more paragraphs to get through.
10:00. Animal Precinct! New York City! 8 million People! 5 million Pets! (Animal Planet)
10:02. He’s on the last paragraph. It’s almost over.
He’s done. Keith Olbermann is saying the SOTU was all about Bush’s unfinished business; oldies but moldies, Yay Keith, the lone oasis of liberal sensibility among a sea of crap on MSNBC . This thing’s going to be torn apart.
I guess I missed the part in which he called on Iran to stop its nuclear program. I thought we’d been through that already.
Well, I may comment further, or not. As I said, I’m still recovering from a headache and the nausea Bush gave me to go with it... Bush can nauseate one very quickly. I need an Alleve. I'm outta here...later
I wish to weigh in on the economic stimulus packages being offered by the Democratic candidates, I have visited their websites and have surveyed them, as well as republican ones and after thoroughly evaluating them, they are useless, simply because they are for the short term and that means they will have virtually no effect on this economic recession.
The stimulus plan that is needed is for the long term, the Bush tax cuts for the yacht club crowd needs to be repealed immediately, minimum wage needs to increase to at least $15 an hour. The war in Iraq must end, money from the war must be diverted to infrastructure, we need to have protectionist tariffs to protect us from being flooded by foreign imports, we must also change from a globalist economy to a more nationalist economy, national companies that move their headquarters and manufacturing to foreign countries she have substantial financial penalties levied against them. Also profit sharing for employees should be mandatory for companies, laws should be passed by state and federal legislatures that protect retirement and health packages to prevent loss of health coverage until universal healthcare its ratified and becomes the law of the land.
There are more technical policies I can go into at a later date but at least this is a beginning step that the actual layperson can understand. Infrastructure is perhaps the most important, I say that because it is falling apart as of this typing, our roads and our rapid transit is rapidly becoming similar to that of a third world nation, our public school system much like President Bush has become a national ignominy, 34% of our public school system has to make a choice with their energy, heat or use it for the school computer classes, many students having to wear their overcoats in classes, many liberal arts classes canceled, many public school buildings that are not up to code, teacher’s that are embarrassingly underpaid.
Libraries that are under funded and understaffed and are not able to afford the latest technological advances unable to afford computers, new books, additional staff etc. Our streets and highways, interstates etc desperately need modernization, the same goes for our rapid transit. Our air traffic system is dangerously in need of a major technological overhaul.
Much of what I have mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done. Investing in our nation’s infrastructure long term will pay dividends for future generations and reinvigorate our nation’s economy, if we invest in guns, bombs, and war that will not help our economic growth whatsoever. It’s a vision like this that I would hope our democratic candidates would espouse as candidates and enact once elected. Lets not repeat the mistakes and failure of the Bush administration
The battle for the Presidency has captivated America as it always has, from the time of Washington’s oath of inauguration to the present day. Americans read about the candidates and their message and yearn for a leader that will unite the country and solve our differences. We might be Republicans, Democrats or Independents but party is not the overriding concern of the majority of Americans, it is the message of each candidate that drives us to the polling booths. The message and the small glimmer of hope that is held out to each and every one of us that longs for something better, something that can unite us and help us to overcome the many problems we face as a nation.
This election is no different. It seems that no matter how many times we have believed in one politician or another, only to find that we have been deceived again, in four short years we again grasp the mantle of hope and find ourselves again passionately supporting another “agent of change” that will right the wrongs and bring a balance to domestic and foreign policy that lives up to the ideals that we all believe America stands for, only to be let down with a crashing thud as we see the partisan bickering and the negative “spin” put on all of the ideas that we had supported just months before. This election of 2008 is no different than any other election before it.
While the problems that confront us as a nation have grown to a point in our history that almost dwarfs the problems that came before this election, the individuals that have surfaced to lead us in perhaps one of the most troubling times of American history, are mediocre at best. The ideas that they have presented us with are lackluster and offer no true vision. The ideas that have been presented for American consumption offer no new ways to bring us together, nor do they offer salient ideas of how to fix a system that has shown itself to be incompetent and deadlocked in partisan bickering. The new America that so many Americans yearn for has not found a champion in those that are now vying for the Presidency. Here are five categories that no major candidates have addressed specifically. The five categories listed have been the subject of numerous articles written by people from all walks of life. While we are in the heat of the Primary season in the Presidential campaigns, I believe it is important not to overlook these issues. This may be our only opportunity to get the right person for the job of President before we lose our representative republic forever.
1. The corporate hold on the American political system.
While some candidates decry the way that corporations have managed to control who gets nominated and thus elected, there is no candidate that speaks about how this nation can rid itself from corporate influence. Some candidates allude to the fact that corporate forces including the mainstream media that is owned by a small number of individuals and corporations including General Electric and Westinghouse as well as individuals such as Rupert Murdock and corporatists such as Mitt Romney (Whose company owns a controlling interest in Clear Channel Communications), they have not proposed anything to rectify the situation. The corporate PAC’s and the corporate donations through “bundling” have a stranglehold on Congress that has become accustomed to relying on this money to fund their multi-million dollar campaigns. Between controlling the media and the purse strings for campaign money, they have effectively become the deciding arbiter of who runs for office and who doesn’t. Meanwhile there isn’t a candidate that has proposed anything to stop the corporate excesses from continuing.
2. The erosion of our civil liberties.
In this particular area of American life, nothing has been as dramatic as our loss of civil liberties. We have had a President in office that has thought nothing of using electronic surveillance on American citizens without going through a secret FISA Court that was expressly set up so that the Federal Government could monitor conversations that could affect our national security as long as the government requested a warrant 90 days after the fact! Yet this President could not even do that and Congress still has failed to address this issue. Not one of the candidates has decried the use of electronic “eavesdropping” on American citizens. This isn’t the only case of our civil liberties being usurped. A National ID Card is scheduled to be implemented in May of this year. Now, as Americans we must prove to any government official that we are American citizens and that we have a right to be here. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 takes away the writ of Habeas Corpus from any individual suspected of being a terrorist. The Patriot Act allows the home of anyone suspected of being a terrorist to be searched without the presence of the occupant and without even telling the occupant that their home was searched. The Warner Defense Bill (The revamped Insurrection Act) takes the power of the States National Guards away from the Governors of the States by the President to be used as law enforcement in violation of posse comitatus, thereby letting the National Guards of each State to be used against the people in the event of martial law. Presidential Signing Statements in which the President has the ability to only follow those bills in which he signs into law that he agrees with. First Amendment Zones that are roped of or fenced areas that people are allowed to demonstrate in that are mostly away from sight of the media or the participants of the event that is being demonstrated against, effectively muzzling Americans First Amendment rights.
3. The Military Industrial Complex
The point here is not to blame everything on the MIC, but to take a good look at how much this nation chooses to spend on its military. When we spend 51% of our budget on military expenditures (this does not include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), we must also look at what we are sacrificing in other areas to compete with the two closest nations as it comes to military spending, Russia and China that spend 6% of the money that we do on their defense capabilities.* Click Here
The only candidates that address this issue are Paul, Gravel and Kuchinich. Where are the other candidates on this issue? If you listen to the Republican field of Presidential contenders, they call for more spending on our military. How can the candidates fund health insurance for all and better schools and better pay for teachers when fully half of our budget goes to military procurement? Who are we defending this nation from that we would sacrifice 50 cents out of every dollar? This is happening as the number of people in uniform gets smaller every year. How do we defend this massive spending to the other nations on earth? Since when is the way we manage our budget not part of the election rhetoric?
4. The Crimes committed by the Bush Administration.
This is not an attack section of this article. The facts are that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have repeatedly lied about issues that led us into a war with Iraq. They have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, they have condoned the use of torture on suspected terrorists and they have engaged in a practice called “extraordinary rendition” in which suspected terrorists have been put on an aircraft and delivered to countries that practice torture to gain information. Where is the outrage on this issue by any of the leading candidates? I could go on at length but I choose only to bring up those things that have been proven. Before I leave this particular subject however, I would also like to hear any of the candidates’ views on Administration officials that expose a covert CIA Officer’s cover.
5. The Truth about September 11th, 2001.
Some polls show that over 50% of the American people do not believe that the official report by the 9/11 Commission answered all the questions that have been asked about 9/11. There are many engineers and other professional people that believe that the timeline and the consequences of two jetliners crashing into The World Trade Center are flawed. There are many unsolved puzzles as to why people took out “puts” on the airlines the next day and made extraordinary amounts of money. There are also questions as to why the Bin Laden family was given preferential treatment to get them out of the country when all other aircraft were grounded. I will not get into any conspiracy theories but only wonder why these things that are known facts were not investigated. The Presidential candidates ask none of these questions and I wonder if when one of them takes office will these questions remain forever unanswered?
Most of the candidates speak of “change”. My question is change to what? This nation certainly needs change, not to become something new, but to regain what seems to have been lost. We need to regain our sense of purpose, to allow America to become once again the shining light of opportunity. We need to see integrity in our elected officials. Instead of doing what is best for the party they belong to, to do the best for the American people. We need to return to the rule of law, not only for the citizens to follow, but also for government officials to follow. We need to help Americans at home instead of spending taxpayer’s money to ensure that everyone in the world thinks and acts as we do. We need to see the lock on public office that the two-party system has in place broken so that party politics will not override the will of the people. We need to stop the mega-wealthy and trans-national corporations from using loophole in the tax code to hide money in offshore accounts. We need regulation of trade so that huge monopolies such as the one that controls our mass media doesn’t take place again. We need to stop giving tax-breaks and subsidies to the oil companies such as Exxon/Mobile that posted the largest corporate profits in history this year.
These are just some of the changes we need. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone by putting too much confusing information in one article. There is so much more to say and I will be saying it. That’s the way I see it.
With all this Obama melodrama mania going on people are not getting the true facts about Barak Obama, the fact is that he is "not all that" , even though the media is getting carried way proclaiming him as the "next RFK" I'm sorry but I just cannot go along with all this Obama mania, the fact is he is no better or worse than any other Democratic candidate, but you would never know that from the political pundits who are simply lavishing false praise on Sen. Obama to promote their own self interests. One major example is that the media has constantly trumpeted that Obama is for change and that they majority of people that wanted change voted for Obama and those that were more concerned with experience voted for Hillary in the Iowa Caucus. That's simply a lie perpetrated by the media that's doing a disservice to the American citizens, the fact is that many of Obama's policies are for that status quo and not necessarily for change, which dictates that they American people are being mislead not only by Sen. Obama but by the media as well. Allow me to point out some examples: Let's take Sen. Obama's stand healthcare.
Since his days in the Illinois state legislature Barack Obama's position on health care has consistently regressed. Once a bold champion of medical care as a human right, Senator and presidential candidate Obama has become a timid advocate of failed "market-based" health care solutions, taking his lead from the private health insurance industry, and unwilling or unable to expose even the most transparently fraudulent policies and claims perpetrated on behalf of his campaign contributors. Rather than educating us on the issues, American political campaigns are run on themes, images, and messages which are evocative, but content-free sound bytes. Think of Bush's "war on terrorism." Think of Clinton's "it's the economy, stupid." In a political culture so suffused with lies, where legislative leaders get their jobs based on who gets the most corporate campaign donations, and bait-and-switch is the norm the only sane response on the part of citizens is a big dose of skepticism toward whatever our elite media and politicians tell us.
Two of the new-style "universal health care" proposals favored by many Democrats and Republicans have recently been enacted in Massachusetts and California. These advanced and civilized commonwealths have both solved the problem of millions of of uninsured poor by requiring the poor to buy their own health insurance from private vendors. If they don't the uninsured face draconian fines and tax penalties amounting to thousands of dollars a year per person, including the loss of one's personal exemption on state income tax.
"The core idea,"explained Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a practicing physician in Boston and co-founder of Physicians For A National Health Care Plan in a January 11 interview on Doug Henwood's Behind the News radio show, "is the uninsured are going to have to buy their way out of their predicament. The (California and Massachusetts) bills contain a so-called 'individual mandate' which says to uninsured families 'you must go buy health insurance, and if you make more than a certain amount of money we're not even going to help you. We're not even going to subsidize you'....
"We're talking about someone who earns $25 thousand a year being mandated, forced by law to go out and purchase private health insurance without any real help from the state. The average individual policy in... Massachusetts is about $6 thousand dollars per person, in California it's at least $5 thousand per person. So I just don't think you're going to see a lot of new health care, much new health insurance by telling someone who only earns $25 thousand that they have to take that kind of money out of their pocket.
"It's a little like Marie Antoinette" quipped Dr. Woolhandler, "The poor have no health insurance. So let them buy health insurance. People simply don't have the money. That's why they're uninsured in the first place. Most people would greatly prefer to have health care coverage. People are not uninsured by choice... But these plans have tremendous appeal to Republican types because they use the language of individual responsibility. But they also do the equivalent of placing a big tax on the uninsured people themselves. ...if you say to someone earning $30 thousand a year OK, you didn't buy health insurance, we're taxing you $3 thousand dollars, you're penalizing them $3000. That's a new tax revenue that's very regressive because it goes against the middle income families who can't afford insurance.
"..it's called an 'individual mandate', but in order to enforce the 'individual mandate' the government is using the tax code...to say...that you have to go out and give your money to a private health insurance firm.. to place huge tax penalties on people unless they hand over their money to a private, often investor owned profit seeking entity."
Many near-poor and middle class families will pay more than the average cost per individual - the uninsured with chronic illnesses, those with children, those in their forties and fifties. Unsurprisingly, this car insurance approach to health care reform is touted with a straight face as innovative and a giant step toward "universal health care" by a large number of establishment politicians including Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Barack Obama of Illinois.
"The poor have no health insurance. So let them buy health insurance. People simply don't have the money. That's why they're uninsured in the first place."
Last week, the media breathlessly announced that presidential aspirant Obama had delivered the first significant health care speech of his campaign, one in which he endorsed the principle of universal health care for all. This is what he had to say about the car insurance model of health care reform.
"..we have to start looking at some of the interesting ideas on comprehensive reform that are coming out of states like Maine and Illinois and California, to see what we can replicate on a national scale and what will move us toward that goal of universal coverage for all."
To be fair, Obama didn't specifically endorse the car insurance model, he only pronounced it "interesting." But it speaks volumes about the "leadership" style of this elite politician that he made no attempt either to educate the public on this "interesting" stuff, though he's certainly aware that its details are neither well known nor widely understood or to denounce it as a bad idea. However short Obama may have been on elucidations of proposed and actual policies, though he was long and strong on the rhetoric. Summoning the ghosts of Harry Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson to his side, candidate Obama thundered that it was "time to act" on health care. But aside from putting all medical records online, he brought forth no new suggestions, and recommended no precise action.
"...one out of every four health care dollars - is spent on non-medical costs; mostly bills and paperwork. And we also know that this is completely unnecessary. Almost every other industry in the world has saved billions on these administrative costs by doing it all online....
"But because we haven't updated technology in the rest of the health care industry, a single transaction still costs up to twenty-five dollars - not one dime of which goes toward improving the quality of our health care...
"...if we brought our entire health care system online, something everyone from Ted Kennedy to neoconsthat believe we should do, we'd already be saving over $600 million a year on health care costs."
"Rather than ‘moving the conversation' on health care toward any practical solution, Senator Obama seems intent on keeping it vague and unfocused."
In the realm of public policy, this kind of pap is to real advocacy is like the fistful of meat-flavored bread enclosing the postage-stamp burgers at White Castle: lots of flavor concealing a lack of substance. Obama's suggestion if that computers do away with the "paperwork" the savings will show up in more health care is inane and misleading. Obama's neighbor, Dr. Quentin Young, an eminent Chicago physician, a past president of the American Public Health Association, and another co-founder of Physicians For a National Health Care Plan offers a more honest and complete assessment of where health care dollars go. Young has pointed out many times in recent years that a quarter of every U.S. medical care dollar ends up as the administrative overhead, including billing, advertising, shareholder returns and profit for the private insurance industry.
Computerizing the records won't make that go away, and Obama knows it. Only a "single payer" system of national health insurance, under which a governmental or quasi-governmental agency takes the place of greedy, profit-driven insurers and dispenses medical care as a human right instead of a commodity, can do that. But an honest national debate on the merits of single payer is the last thing candidate Obama and his backers in the private insurance industry want.
"We need national health insurance," explained Dr. Woolhandler in her Doug Henwood interview. "Every other developed country has some form of national health insurance and every other developed country spends less [per capita on health care] than we do. In fact the average among developed nations is that they only spend about half as much as we do, despite having universal coverage. So the national health insurance is a much more efficient way of covering everyone. You do get rid of all of the insurance overhead. Typical private insurance in this country is about 13%, but some of the HMOs go up to 20, even 25% overhead. 25% overhead means that the premium payer puts in a dollar but only 75 cents would ever come out for doctors, nurses, hospitals medications , the rest stays right there with the HMO...."
What neither Barack Obama nor the mainstream media will tell us is that most of the "paperwork" burden in U.S. medical care is generated by the for-profit insurance industry. By comparison, single payer health care systems in the developed industrial economies of Canada and Europe, as well as Medicare in the U.S. generate only 1% to 3% administrative overhead, according to many authoritative sources.
"One of the reasons we don't have national health insurance here," offers Dr. Woolhandler, "is because the opponents of national health insurance keep it off
the agenda with piles of misinformation, by suppressing debate... the foes really are the private insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industries and they use their immense political and monetary power to try to prevent debate."
Whenever the outlines of various health care schemes are briefly and clearly explained to voters, the single payer or Medicare-for-all solution to the health care crisis emerges as the favored choice, as in Frank Russo's summary of the findings of a recent California poll by the Public Policy Institute of California:
"...by a two-to-one margin, most prefer 'a universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by the taxpayers' nationally to 'the current health insurance system in the United States, in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance.' The preference here is a descriptor of what is known as 'single payer.'"
Barack Obama is quite familiar with the concepts and the specific merits of single payer. Back in the late 1990s, when he was an Illinois State Senator representing a mostly black district on the south side of Chicago, he took pains to consistently identify himself publicly with his neighbor Dr. Quentin Young. He signed on as co-sponsor of the Bernardin Amendment, named after Chicago's late Catholic Archbishop, who championed the public policy idea that medical care was a human right, not a commodity. At that time, when it was to his political advantage, Obama didn't mind at all being perceived as an advocate of single payer.
"During his days in the Illinois State Senate, Obama was an advocate of universal medical coverage as a human right. But as Senator and presidential candidate Obama has devolved into the timid and calculating creature we see today."
By June 2003, when Obama was a candidate for his current job in the Illinois Democrat primary, we were impolite enough to ask him a direct question about whether he'd support single payer legislation if elected to the U.S. Senate. We asked him: "Do you favor the adoption of a single payer system of universal health care to extend the availability of quality health care to all persons in this country? Will you in the Senate introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end?" Obama's answer was:
"I favor universal health care for all Americans, and intend to introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end in the U.S. Senate, just as I have at the state level."
Already Obama's position on health care had markedly deteriorated. By the following year, Obama was newly elected to the U.S. Senate, and in an interview with BAR's Glen Ford he was asked whether he planned to sponsor the kind of single payer legislation he'd been identified with as a state senator.
Glen Ford: "Are you going to introduce single payer legislation?"
Barack Obama: "No, I am not. Which isn't to say that I'm not interested in the conversation about moving in a direction that expands affordability and accessibility. But my point is that, along that spectrum there are many points that people may arrive at, all of whom affirm the notion that we have a health care crisis that hits our communities much harder than anybody's, but it's everybody's crisis, and we've got to have an agenda in terms of both general health care issues as well as issues like AIDS that are ravaging the African American community."
George Bush would probably never sign a single payer bill into law, if it did pass the House and Senate. But change rarely comes from the top. In Canada, the first single payer health care law was enacted in Saskatchewan, which had a left wing local government. With millions of people benefiting from it, Big Pharma and Big Insurance were no longer able to suppress critical examination of single payer's success in delivering health care to all the province's citizens. The following year, the neighboring province of British Columbia, with a conservative government, adopted a similar plan. The year after that, single payer became law nationwide in Canada.
Rather than "moving the conversation" on health care toward any practical solution, Senator Obama seems intent on keeping it vague and unfocused. Just as he won't denounce the "interesting" car insurance model of health care reform, he refuses to discuss the merits of single payer anyplace voters might hear it. He has no plans to introduce a Senate version of HR 697, the single payer bill introduced in the House of Representatives by John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich. His complicit silence on the issue lets him take full advantage of mainstream media's purposeful silence on the issue of single payer, despite widespread public support for it. Thus, candidate Obama affords himself maximal weasel room in which to pose as a media-anointed leader endorsing "universal health care" without having to educate the public on, or even discuss the only proven solution to delivering real universal health care in an advanced industrial society.
During his days in the Illinois State Senate, Obama was an advocate of universal medical coverage as a human right. But as U.S. senator and presidential candidate Obama has devolved into the timid, dissembling and calculating creature we see today, a man who dares not criticize clearly fraudulent measures offered in the name of health care for all. A candidate who studiously avoids discussion of single payer, and who summons the ghosts of dead presidents to sell us "market-based" health care reform.
Next I'd like to discuss this hypocrisy of change that Sen. Obama speaks of and the irresponsibility and hypocracy of the media....
The media has heretofore treated Senator Barack Obama with kid gloves. He has enjoyed an immunity from political attacks from enthralled journalists who have put their critical faculties on hold or have refused to employ their investigatory powers to delve into Obama's past and his record.
The well-regarded Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote a column just yesterday exploring this dynamic and bringing to light several examples of double standards that have served to benefit Obama. As if on cue, today's news bring just two examples that reveal to the reading public (if they know where to look) that there is much less than meets the eye when one looks beyond the klieg lights. The New York Times has a front-page article noting Obama's pattern of voting "present" when bills came before the Illinois State Senate when he served there (just a few short years ago) . His refusal to take a stand perplexed his fellow State Senators.
The other article looks into Obama's campaign payroll and discovers that three political aides are REGISTERED LOBBYISTS FOR DOZENS OF CORPORATIONS (including Democratic punching bag WAL-MART).
The New York Times looks back into Obama's history as a State Senator in Illinois and it is a history notably lacking in leadership. His record of voting present-refusing to take a stand on a variety of issues-appears to be the "work product" of political calculation and cynicism. The Times
In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois legislature " to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate.
In the end, Mr. Obama chose neither to vote for nor against the bill. He voted “present,” effectively sidestepping the issue, an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator. In Illinois, political experts say voting present is a relatively common way for lawmakers to express disapproval of a measure. It can at times help avoid running the risks of voting no, they add.
“If you are worried about your next election, the present vote gives you political cover,” said Kent D. Redfield, a professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “This is an option that does not exist in every state and reflects Illinois political culture.”
He even voted present over popular measures supported by the vast majority of his fellow legislators:
“Voting present was a way to satisfy those two competing interests,” Ms. Radogno said in a telephone interview.
Thom Mannard, director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said political calculation could have figured in that vote. “If he voted a flat-out no,” Mr. Mannard said, “somebody down the road could say Obama took this vote and was soft on crime.” And he even voted present on these two common-sense measures:
Mr. Obama was also the sole present vote on a bill that easily passed the Senate that would require teaching respect for others in schools. He also voted present on a measure to prohibit sex-related shops from opening near schools or places of worship. It passed the Senate.
Was Obama just a placeholder in the Illinois State Senate as his vision extended beyond Springfield? Did he neglect his duties as a State legislator? If so, history seems to be repeating itself. He has been criticized for missing a string of votes in the United States Senate as he barnstorms around the nation to bolster his Presidential campaign (his absence on key votes in the Senate has become a source of consternation and has played a part in the inability of Senate Democrats to push their agenda). If Obama cannot take a stand when delaing with comparatively trivial state issues how will he perform as a President when dealing with decisions with a wordlwide impact? Will he freeze then? Will he be neglecting the need to take steps to benefit America because he is entranced with the possibility of winning the Nobel Peace Prize?
Political calculation is not a hallmark of Presidential leadership. Refusing to take a stand is not a profile in courage-a particularly apt comparison since so many view Barack Obama as John F. Kennedy's heir apparent (including Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen who has signed onto Obama's campaign and is following him around on the hustings).
The well-regarded The Hill newspaper also has an article today that reveals Obama's hypocrisy After campaigning on the theme that he will bring lobbyists to heel comes the disclosure that three political aides on Obama's campaign payroll are registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations..including those of British Petroleum, Wal-Mart, and Lockheed Martin. These three corporation, by the way, could fairly be considered by Democrats as the "unholy trinity" of corporate America.
Wal-Mart has been routinely bashed by underpaying its workers-refusing to pay fair wages and provide health care coverage-as well as exploiting low-wage laborers in overseas markets that provide its stores with goods. Lockheed Martin is a defense contractor-otherwise known as a "war profiteer" by Democrats. British Petroleum is a carbon emitter who is polluting the planet, while raping it of its resources and reaping outsized profits by exploiting the public.
As the Hill notes:
The presence of political operatives with long client lists on Obama’s campaign contrasts with his long-held stand of campaigning against the influence of special interests. Obama has even refused to accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).
The Hill forgets to note that Obama accepted money from lobbyists as a State Senator and has found convenient loopholes to do so again as a United States Senator.
What do these articles reveal? That Obama's front-runner status will invite inquiries into his record. However, it reveals much more. The candidate who campaigns on "leadership" and "clean government" may very offer neither. The charges of cynicism and hypocrisy that Obama routinely charges others with may merely be a smoke screen to cover up his own flaws. The man who can project his voice so well in an auditorium may also be demonstrating projection-the defensive mechanism at work when one attributes one's own unacceptable attributes to others.
The third thing I'd like to point out is the media hypocrisy and distortion especially on MSNBC whih has practically appointed Sen. Obama President Elect the nonsense that I heard from beltway bozos like alleged plagiarist Mike Barnicle of Boston Globe fame and now substitute host for Chris Matthews on Hardball ranting and raving and overhyping the Obama enthusism and saying that you should not go negative on Sen Obama as Sen Obama is more than a candidate he represents an idea. He is the "JFK" of his generation.... Spare Me!I'm sorry, but he is not even close to JFK, when Sen. Kennedy ran for president he was a veteran of the senate, authored Bills was a comendated war veteran and and engaged in combat, I'm sorry Senator Obama you are no John Kennedy!
As for "mascara for brains" Andrea Mitchell who is married to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan who is old enough to be her daddy, but hey nothing like marrying a former Fed chairman to advance your dying journalistic career so you can easily gain access to washington beltway information. She had to make the most stupid remark I ever heard any journalist make, and i'm paraphrsing here, but it was on MSNBC during the "Morning Joe" the discussion was on a possible Michael Bloomberg [Mayor of NYC] run for the presidency as an "Independent", to which she replied: if Sen. Obama were the Democratic Nominee that he most likely would not run because in her opinion he would not want to be the one preventing the first African American to be President of the United States. Excuse me Andrea but since when is the presidency awarded because of the color of ones skin?
Oh I'm African American and all you whites need to step out of the way so I can create history of being the first African American in history to become president.... I'm Sorry Sen. Obama I don't think so besides Sen Obama don't you think people appreciate things more that are fought for and earned, rather then just given things simply for the color of ones skin? I rest my case. I know this is a controversial subject and I encourage responses I just ask politeness...Thank you
I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance as a young girl in school. I didn’t fully understand what some of these concepts referred to: the words “liberty” and “justice”, for example, are very abstract ideas for a small girl. But I had a warm feeling swearing my loyalty to the United States, to God, to liberty and justice.
Now, many years later, I know what liberty and justice are. I have come to see how important -- and rare -- those ideals are.
And I have learned the entire history of the U.S., both good and bad. I have learned of her honorable and selfless actions. I have also learned about her brutally deceitful and murderous actions, including the frequent use by our government of false flag terror.
But even after learning of all of the deceit and murder committed by our government, I still have strong positive feelings for the United States. My forefathers fought and died for liberty. My ancestors struggled to deliver a nation ruled by laws and justice, instead of by the whims of men. My people gave their blood, sweat and tears to throw off the yoke of the British monarchy and to defeat the ambitions of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito in World War II.
And so " even after the Iraq war, and the destruction of New Orleans, and the spying and torture scandals, and the vote fraud, and 9/11 and all of the other false flag attacks carried out by by the government over the years - I am willing to pledge my allegiance to the United States of America. Because - as sick and twisted and amoral as she may have become in recent years - I still hold out hope that we may again decide to get back to the great work at hand, the “grand experiment” of self-government and democracy.
Better Forms of Government
Why not support some other form of government, you might ask? Well, no matter what “ism” one tries - socialism, communism, etc. - the government will only be as good or as bad as the people that run it, and their adherence to the ideals upon which it is founded. For example, I personally think any Americans still calling themselves communists are ridiculous, because that whole form of government has been tried and it failed miserably: its leaders were corrupt and brutally repressive (Russia's Stalin and the current Chinese leadership, for example, are some of the worst the world has seen).
And the American system is clearly imperfect, even on paper. For example, I believe that European-style proportional representation would be better than the current winner-take-all system, since it allows third parties to have some seats in Congress, and thus breaks the 2-party monopoly we see in the U.S. I also believe that, when the Founding Fathers adopted the idea of separation of powers from the Iroquois constitution, they forgot some of the most important parts. But the Constitutional system we have in America is basically a good system, and " as shown by the recent shenanigans by those currently in the White House and Congress - any system, no matter how good it looks on paper, can be subverted by bad people.
The U.S. system is as good a starting point as any. And - with good leadership - it has at times been a great system. And it could be again.
So I WILL pledge my allegiance to the ideals of the United States of America.
Commander in Chief
But I will not pledge my allegiance to George W. Bush and his band of truly un-American wanna-be fascists. These people want to trash the Constitution which they are sworn to uphold and defend. These people want to defile the graves of the Founding Fathers in order to destroy our democratic republic, and turn America into a tin-pot dictatorship. Leaders are only as good as the faithfulness with which they follow their nation's common ideals. These people do not pledge their allegiance to America, and so I do not pledge my allegiance to them.
I call on all Americans to pledge their allegiance to the Constitution, but not to the usurpers and pretenders who are hell-bent on destroying it.
I also remind the good and honorable people in the military remember -- especially those in leadership positions and also those who come from military families -- that they have sworn an oath to protect and defend the U.S. from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I pray that they remember that they have sworn their allegiance to the ideals of the Constitutional form of government which their ancestors fought so hard - and, in many cases, made the ultimate sacrifice - to defend. If those who never served a day in the military - the people who got us into the messes in Vietnam and Iraq, who have destroyed the reputation of the U.S., and who have created many more terrorists than they have killed - are calling on you to do something which will fundamentally weaken the security of the United States, such as invading a foreign country which has not attacked the U.S. first, or helping to carry out a false flag attack on Americans, then you must decide whether such act is contrary to your solemn oaths. If you decide that it is (and how can you not?), then you must act appropriately.
Similarly, if you are asked to torture an American citizen solely because he or she is criticizing the current administration or its policies or working for liberty and justice, you must ask yourself whether you wish to be a good little soldier "just following orders", like the Nazi police did.
"Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct."
According to a Yale law professor, "The [torture] legislation....authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights
According to the New York Times, the legislation introduced, "A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted."
And according to another law school professor, "Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush's list of 'terrorist' organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies could be declared an 'unlawful enemy combatant' and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens."
And given that the White House's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism labels "conspiracy theorists" as terrorist recruiters, just about anyone who says that 2 or more people within the Bush administration have done anything wrong could conceivably be labelled an enemy combatant.
And that's all before even discussing the "Homegrown Terrorism" act.
It is time for all of us, civilian and military, to remember that our pledge of allegiance, our sworn oath, is to the Constitution, and not to the Commander in Chief and his compadres. The Commander in Chief is only legitimate to the extent that he follows the Constitution. His orders must be disobeyed to the extent that they are contrary to the Constitution, and certainly if they will undermine the security and defense of the country in the short or long-run. And when the President has breached his allegiance and duty to the United States, when he is acting like a domestic enemy of the Constitution, then he should be given about as much legitimacy as Pol Pot, Idi Amin, or Saddam Hussein would be given if they ran for President of the United States of America.
It is time to remember the pledge of allegiance, and to reflect on its true meaning. And then to act to uphold our pledge and sworn oath, and to save the United States of American from its so-called leaders.
This affects every one of you in the 49 states that are "not Iowa" because what happens in Iowa will play a major role in which presidential candidates you get to vote for.
Please distribute this to every single person you know in Iowa. Black Box Voting does not have many Iowa members, and needs your help to get this information where it needs to go.
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES WITH THE IOWA CAUCUSES - AND WHAT EVERY IOWAN CAN DO
Black Box Voting needs live IOWA CITIZEN REPORTS on Jan. 3. Note that the Iowa caucuses must allow observers and must allow both video and photography, as long as you do not disrupt the proceedings. You do not need to be a member of the party to observe or videotape (but you must be registered for that party if you want to participate in the caucus).
In some locations, there will be a Republican caucus AND a Democratic caucus in the same building, giving observers the opportunity to capture evidence in both parties' caucuses.
Below is an update on election integrity problems with both Republican and Democratic caucuses, in addition to info on how to find your local caucuses.
REPUBLICAN CAUCUS PROBLEMS AND ISSUES:
The Republicans are running such an opaque dog and pony show that, unless they correct procedural issues, citizens nationwide should demand that Iowa lose its "first in the nation" status. Here are the issues for Republican caucuses:
1) Black Box Voting has received unofficial reports that political operatives have urged citizens NOT to ask too many questions and NOT to take photos or video of precinct caucus results, warning them that only "conspiracy theorists" would want to independently confirm the announced results.
It is your DUTY as a citizen to oversee your governmental processes. Because Iowa caucus procedures lack basic checks and balances, such as posting the precinct caucus results at the precinct caucus location for the public to examine, it is actually very important for members of the public to take video and photographs and share them.
WHAT TO DO: If you see or hear anyone ridiculing, name calling, or implying that citizen oversight actions will cause "blowback" on their candidate, please REPORT THIS to Black Box Voting, via e-mail or online, live-time forum reports in the IOWA FORUMS section at Black Box Voting.
2) The Iowa Republicans have NOT publicly agreed to promptly release precinct results for the Jan. 3 caucus. Instead, we are seeing bait and switch tactics, as they emphasize to caucus participants that the counting will be done in public at the precinct. While they keep your eye focused on the front end, a switch can take place at the back end. When they release a total result to the media without releasing the individual precinct results at the same time, there is no way at all for citizens to confirm that their precinct results added up to the announced total.
Please CONTACT both the Iowa Republican Party and the Iowa Secretary of State to tell them you expect to see those precinct results published at the SAME time they announce the statewide total. Iowa Republican Party: (515) 282-8105 Iowa Secretary of State: 515-281-0145 515-281-7142 (Fax) firstname.lastname@example.org
(But aren't caucuses "owned" by the parties and not the Secretary of State? It's like this: If Iowa wants to position itself as the first in the nation for caucuses, perhaps the ONLY possible influx of mass tourist dollars in January in Iowa, they need to run transparent caucuses with proper checks and balances. If they don't citizens nationwide should recommend dropping the Iowa First in the Nation concept).
3) One thing the Republican Party of Iowa has done RIGHT is making caucus locations transparent. All you have to do is go to http://www.iowagop.org and click the map to find every Republican caucus location in a county. Not so for the Democrats, who are making it harder to get a complete listing!
4) We have received conflicting reports as to the procedures at the Republican caucus. A spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa told Black Box Voting that the votes would be written on paper and counted in front of candidate representatives and observers, then signed off on by precinct captains or whoever they've got in charge. WHAT TO DO: If that's the case, get a photo of the signed results and e-mail it to Black Box Voting - or upload it directly to the IOWA FORUM section of this Web site.
Another report says the vote will be by a show of hands, then the winner announced. In that case, it will be important to come equipped with a video camera to capture the show of hands!
In either case, at the end it all goes into a black hole. Party officials dial a result into a cell phone, which goes we don't know where, following a telecommunications routing that is unspecified, and is totalled up in a central tabulation program made by a vendor no one knows the name of, programmed by we don't know who, and voila! The result is announced.
Understand something simple here: Entering data into a cell phone, from whence it is automatically tabulated and then announced, is just a cell phone-initiated form of central tabulation. It's computerized, someone wrote the program, we have no way of knowing whether that program accurately tabulates or not.
And the county convention delegates don't act as a valid check and balance, because candidates have dropped out by then (the conventions aren't until more than a month after Super Tuesday, which itself is more than a month after the Iowa caucus.) The delegates are changed at the county convention to reflect the new candidate selections.
WHAT TO DO: Get video and photos. Anecdotes don't do diddly. Report to Black Box Voting any efforts to tell citizens they are "conspiracy theorists" or "hurting their candidate" if they take photos and/or video.
IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUSES - ISSUES AND POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:
1) The overcomplexified, overcomputerized:
Again, we see the Amazing Randi in action -- look here, don't look there. Your attention will be drawn to the transparent "count the warm bodies" procedure at the precinct, with no explanation of exactly how the results were arrived at on the other end, after they go into a computerized central tabulation black hole.
Here, in part due to pressure from Black Box Voting, the Iowa Democratic Party says it is at least making an attempt to publicly and promptly release the precinct results. But then comes the overcomputerized, unexplained, overcomplexified process that is front-loaded with reasons it might not happen.
The concept here is simple: THE PUBLIC needs to be able to see the precinct results before they leave the precinct and after they are accumulated into the total. The precinct results BEFORE should match the precinct numbers AFTER, and all of these should match the final total.
WHAT TO DO: Encourage your local county Democratic Party to add the simple step of posting a copy of the signed precinct results at each location.
2) About the results web site: the Democrats are saying there will be a special Web site that precinct totals will be posted on. The catch? They have yet to publicly announce the name of the Web site or even confirm publicly that this will happen. There has been some talk of using a password only for the media and/or caucus attendees to be able to see, which would be inappropriate. The public needs to see.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IF THE PRECINCT RESULTS ARE POSTED PROMPTLY: Get screen captures of any wandering tallies or changes in figures during the tally process.
IT MIGHT NOT BE PUBLIC: Look for a rationale in the form of "overloading the Web server."
And realize that there is NO REASON to withhold precinct results from the public because you are creating an automated special program that may get overloaded. Let's think about this:
The results can be extracted as a simple spreadsheet and posted as a PDF file that is only about 25 pages long. There is no earthly reason for the simple uploading of precinct results to become a techno-extravaganza, nor to give out special passwords just for the press or for caucus attendees. It needs to be made available to everyone.
3) WE DON'T REALLY KNOW: How this computerized tabulation will occur. Who is the vendor? Who programmed it? Who owns the server?
The Iowa Democratic Party has a bit of a black hole as well, with an automated cell phone-initiated computer tabulation. In 2004, this was handled by a fellow named David Vogelaar and his colleague, Andrew Brown. We don't know if they are the ones writing the program this time, but regardless -- any time data goes through this kind of process, questions arise as to how the program works, whether citizens can check what went in to compare with what came out, and so forth.
WHAT TO DO: Get photos of the results sheets, which are supposed to be signed off on by precinct leaders. E-mail the photos to Black Box Voting. Do not interfere with any of the goings-on. Get video if you can. Upload the video to youtube.com and e-mail a link to Black Box Voting or post it directly in the IOWA FORUM at Black Box Voting.
4) THE LAST CONCERN: This brings us to the last concern regarding the Democratic Party caucus procedures. For both parties, the telecommunications routing of the data enroute from the precincts to the final announced totals is important. Who has access to this along the way?
There is an interesting situation with the Iowa Democratic Party's official caucus site. It is called "iowafirstcaucus.org" -- http://www.iowafirstcaucus.org -- and this is not actually owned by the Democrats, but the site says it is "paid for" by them.
The domain name and the server for iowacaucusfirst.org appear to be owned by The Forbin Project (weird and creepy science fiction name, Google it) -- maybe someone's idea of a joke. The Forbin Project is part of VGM, and the principals of VGM/Forbin seem to be big Republican donors, and very vested in privatized national healthcare providers. What I found interesting was the candidates they have chosen to donate to -- like Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego (why were these Iowa guys supporting him?) and George Voinovich, and another fellow who's under investigation in Iowa named Nussle.
The Iowafirstcaucus server provides the location mapping for the precinct caucus locations. In fact, to find out where to go if you want to observe or participate in Democratic caucuses, go to http://www.iowafirstcaucus.org.
THE ACTUAL OWNERSHIP OF THE SERVER WILL BE IMPORTANT IF: If for some reason the computerized central tabulation and results server is routed through or sitting on iowafirstcaucus.org, that's a conflict of interest problem, in my book.
AREN'T THESE JUST "UNOFFICIAL RESULTS"?
This argument has actually been used to float the idea that rigging the Iowa caucus results for the media might not actually be an election crime. Hmm.
Look, the results in Iowa officially do one thing: They impact which candidates every American can vote for, through a disproportionate influence on "candidate viability." Because Iowa has the very first presidential preference contest in the nation, Iowa makes or breaks candidate fundraising and the positioning granted them in television coverage.
ONE LAST THING...
As I searched for expenditures on the disclosure forms for the Iowa Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa, I found that these forms are missing from the state Web site. After much searching, which involved locating archived backup copies on another Web site, I did find the 2004 expenditures for the Iowa Democratic Party. Each party is required to file a report of each expenditure each year on Jan. 19. Where are these forms? Why are they not online at the state reporting site where they belong?
Questions we should be looking at include who's paying for all the public facilities used for the caucus. If the parties are not being charged rent, an argument can be made that the caucuses are actually quasi-public events that should be subject to public records requests. If the space is donated, it should appear as an in kind donation. We should be able to see on the expenditure forms who they get their cell phones from, what web sites and internet servers they are using, who's paying the programmers, whether they use any other vendors.
I just wanted to post this video to help voters to understand the importance of losing their civil liberties in this upcoming 2008 presidential election year, and to vote for those candidates that uphold and defend our civil liberties and not use fear mongering to create a sense of despair in the American citizens to such a extent that in order to feel "safe" american people will resign themselves to sacrifice their civil liberties that our American Constitution affords each and every American citizen
Once you lose these rights you will lose them permenantly, never to receive them again. The most dangerous thing a democracy can suffer is a central government that has become too powerful.
Lord Acton once said in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton..."Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it" That is certainly the case with President Bush and the Bush Administration as well as Republican extremist Neocons
Rep.John Conyers is not waffling about impeachment. He is being arm-twisted. He needs to hear from the public“. Those were the words of an Aide at my U.S. Representative’s office. I wanted to weigh that talking point in. Because the truth is, the more signatures a congressman can wave in front of his face, the more calls he gets, the more public input to strengthen his position with Congress, the better the chances of winning an argument on the Congressional floor. Last but not least, sometimes politicians need to be encouraged. Sometimes they fight against great odds, and other times they are up against matters behind the scenes which we know nothing about, etc. We don’t know what the pressures are on politicians behind the scenes, so it may be best not to judge. The more public participation, the better. This will offer our politicians encouragement and strength of character they need to do whatever it is that needs to be done, especially if they are under adversarial pressure. Rep. Robert Wexler said in his Florida Progressive Radio speech on Thursday, December 20th that first of all, it is not impeachment per se that he is advocating: Instead, it’s about impeachment hearings. There’s a big difference. Also, he said that as long as the process was done in a professional and fair spirit, the country would not be as divided as it was when Clinton was impeached. Another important talking point is that Kucinich has pointed out on his campaign trail that due process of law for an American citizen is at stake under this current Administration. To uphold, protect and defend the Constitution is a core issue and time is of the essence. One look at the ACLU's website statistics will provide mountains of evidence to support that statement. The impeachment movement is gathering steam, and rapidly too. click here A November 13 impeachment poll done by the American Research Group interviewed a cross-sector of Democratic, Republican and Independent constituents. Of these, more than 70% agreed that Bush and Cheney had committed high crimes or abused their power, 43% favored impeachment of Cheney even this late into the game, and 34% favored impeaching Bush. Those figures come before impeachment hearings have even begun: As hearings commence, it is extremely likely and even almost a certainty that those figures would climb. The figures would also be bound to climb if the public understands correctly what the term “high crimes” means: Far from being some sort of violent felony, “high crimes” refers to crimes against the Constitution and Congress. (Petit crimes refers to crimes against the people). With that understanding in mind, the numbers of people chiming in their “yes” to impeachment would probably be even greater. The fact that Wexler got 120,000 signatures in a 5-day period favoring impeachment hearings for Cheney, without so much as one mainstream newspaper publicizing the cause, speaks miles about the public sentiment and how much this movement is gaining steam. We should be encouraged, not discouraged! Let’s add to the movement and let a wave gather to become a tidal wave! Please write to John Conyers, Nancy Pelosi and your own U.S. Representative telling them we favor impeachment. When enough people weigh in, they can’t use the lame old argument that the country will be divided by impeachment, because the numbers of calls and letters will prove otherwise. Please also remind them that: A) It is not about partisan politics, but about upholding the Constitution itself. This is a very serious matter. B) A precedent is set for future presidents to believe that they, too, can literally get away with murder if the current Congress does not put a “check” on the Executive Branch’s run-away power-grabbing. C) The country already is divided just by virtue of Bush and Cheney’s presence in office. Professionally-conducted hearings done in a fair and balanced way will avert the nation-wide division of the people. (And so will their stopping the passage of S. 1959, which itself is a legislative attempt to divide the country. Lt's call the Representatives on their act when claiming to be concerned about the division in the country!) D) Last but not least, please remind the Congress members that we pay them taxes to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution: They work for us, not the other way around! As for Nancy Pelosi, I suggest to send her a get-well card written "To the US Constitution in care of Nancy Pelosi" and wish the Constitution a get-well message. Nancy Pelosi herself perhaps may respond to a card saying "We're thinking of you.... and hoping you are putting impeachment back on the table". Or "we're thinking of you...and hoping you will reconsider your decision to obstruct justice. Put impeachment on the table". Perhaps obstruction of justice is a good talking point, wherever any Congressperson is blocking impeachment. I suspect that Congress is putting a lid on impeachment because they are scared that their own complicity in many crimes to be uncovered by impeachment hearings will come to public light. Their votes to undermine our civil liberties are no small part in this "game". But of course it's their responsibility too if it comes back to haunt them. What the solution is to their dodging and covering up their act is an unknown to me: Any suggestions readers may have, please post them below! (Except, of course, "obstruction of justice" which is a legally-binding phrase, and is really the truth). Please write your friendly underground editors (because the mainstream has blocked this matter, and in so doing are obstructing justice: Let's get 'em for it!) and use any talking points above you find helpful. In that letter be sure to request that readers call John Conyers’s office and their U.S. Representative to weigh in about impeachment. The most important thing we ever could do to stop the wars of aggression, preserve our freedom, bring our budget back to some semblance of progress toward the goal of balance, prevent The Great Depression from revisiting us anew, get child healthcare and stop global warming is to oust the enemies of all the causes above: Cheney and Bush. Let’s focus in on this as a matter of first priority. Our children will thank us, and frankly so will I personally. How about ten minutes a day to help impeachment along? Thank you all and very best wishes to everyone!
In this issue’s cover piece, Eric Umansky points out that journalists not only seek to publicize truths but also help determine which truths count. A story’s tone, its placement, and whether it gets followed up all have something to do with whether it is perceived by the public as a big deal. Sometimes the press seems leery of making that determination. The possibility of manipulation of the vote in national elections is that kind of story. It’s as if we don’t want to go there. Consider the battleground state of Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. As in Florida in 2000 " when Katherine Harris was both secretary of state and co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee " Ohio’s secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, was also co-chair of Bush’s re-election campaign in Ohio. And as in Florida, there was controversy. But it didn’t get too much mileage. For one thing, unlike Florida’s razor-thin 537-vote margin in 2000, Bush officially carried Ohio by some 136,000 votes. Tales of vote manipulation were generally covered either as small potatoes or as squawks from the loony left (which some were). The story never quite went away " The Washington Post and The Columbus Dispatch dipped in, among other papers, as did Vanity Fair, Harper’s, The American Prospect, and a couple of books. When the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers Jr., issued a measured but blistering report that found “numerous serious election irregularities . . . which affected hundreds of thousands of votes,” Ohio got another few minutes in the spotlight. Ohio popped up again in a June 15 piece in Rolling Stone by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The headline asked, “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” Kennedy thought so. But most of the media yawned. The New York Times, typically strong on voting controversy, dealt with the Rolling Stone story in its abysmal Sunday Styles section with a profile of Kennedy that managed to mention the drug problem he had some twenty years ago, but not to fairly present his argument. One outlet that did not ignore the piece was Salon, where the staff writer Farhad Manjoo asserts that he takes Kennedy’s argument apart, but, upon close inspection, much of the Rolling Stone analysis survives. And Manjoo does not address a lot of what went wrong in Ohio. There were barriers to registration, such as Blackwell’s insistence that registration forms had to be a particular weight of paper, thus blocking many prospective voters. There were purges of voting rolls, such as an arbitrary implementation " just before the election " of an Ohio law that invalidated voters’ registrations if they had failed to vote in the previous two elections, as well as the use of an illegal mailing tactic called “caging” to strike voters from the rolls if they failed to respond in time to a letter to their address of record. There was extremely poor distribution of voting machines in heavily Democratic urban areas. In his recent book, Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, Spencer Overton points out that in our country the will of the people is channeled through a matrix of rules and regulations that can “filter out certain citizens from voting.” And that in our closely divided political environment, that can make all the difference. We’re not making the case that the election of 2004 was stolen, and we’d rather look ahead than back. But we are arguing that intolerable things happened in Ohio that merited more sustained attention from the national press. And that targeting particular groups for vote suppression is reprehensible, yet effective, and will continue unless challenged. (In late August, Salon named six states that appear ripe for trouble.) Guarding the democratic process is part of the journalistic mission, and with another election approaching, now is the time to think about that. Suppressing democracy is, yes, a big deal
THE POLITICAL PROCESS is antithetical to real, beneficial progress, and yet the same issues that cause problems in government"selfishness, greed, bickering, lust for power"can creep into your culture and interfere with productivity. You must keep a sharp eye out for such political problems in your people and in yourself. What’s the cure for the politically driven"or politically hampered"organization? No fail-safe cure exists, because human beings will always be, well, human. But your best bet is to become a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Organization"a culture in which politics can’t take hold and thrive. VEOs are comprised of people who feel that elusive sense of ownership that drives them to innovate constantly, execute relentlessly, and work with passion to stay ahead of the competition. Before you can become a VEO, you need to recognize the warning signs of an overly political organization. Nine Symptoms Here are nine symptoms to look for, along with some remedies: 1. Gridlock. Your company is at a standstill because no one can agree on what to do. Remedy: Get the top leaders to agree on the common goals and hold people accountable to following guidelines during discussion and decision-making. This include: providing each person a chance to contribute and to describe why they feel strongly about an idea, listening to others’ opinions before responding, and trying to find common elements among the ideas. Leaders can also try and test some ideas for long-term use. 2. Bureaucracy. People are bogged down in paperwork, red tape, and stifling rules that hinder their progress. Remedy: Clarify those decisions that individuals can make on their own, those that they need to get input on, and those that they need to defer to others. You might also formulate task teams to streamline processes. Often people just go through the motions without considering the option of changing a process or procedure. 3. Grandstanding (Brown-nosing). People pay lip service to leaders’ ideas to flatter and curry favor, but have no real commitment to implementing them. Remedy: Hold people accountable for following through on assigned actions. Insist on a detailed action plan with hard due dates and specific people charged with getting specific things done following each planning and update meeting. Action plans help to capture commitments and serve as an accountability record for meetings . When people are held accountable for getting things done"and reporting on progress"they are more committed to follow through. 4. The two-faced twostep. People talk out of both sides of their mouths, saying what they think the people they’re talking to at the moment want to hear. Remedy: Leaders set the stage for employees to be upfront and honest. Encourage employees to share bad news as well as good news. If they give you a compliment, ask them what you can do differently. If they describe the good points of a plan, ask them what could go wrong. And don’t kill the messenger" make sure you aren’t punishing people for bringing up bad news or offering constructive criticism. Encourage open, honest feedback and thank people for their opinions. 5. Passing the buck. No one takes responsibility for anything; people are always shifting blame to someone else. Remedy: Realize that chronic blameshifting is often a signal that employees operate in silos. Consider jobshadowing or an orientation to expose people to other parts of the business. For example, marketing reps can ride with salespeople on their calls. Make every manager answer customer service calls at least once a month. Help people connect the dots"to understand how their job affects others. Ask people in different departments to share their goals and what they need from each other. 6. Laziness, clockwatching, and low work ethic. People have a sense of entitlement; they’re just “putting in face time” until they can go home. Remedy: Find out about employees’ likes, dislikes, interests, talents, hopes, and dreams. Take a personal interest in them as people and share your enthusiasm and vision with them. Set realistic but challenging goals related to their areas of interest and skills. And coach them"provide ongoing feedback on what they do well and ask them for ideas on how things could be done better. Build in small rewards for goal attainment, change, and innovation. 7. Indirect communication. Instead of talking to coworkers directly when they have a problem, employees complain to supervisors and talk about people behind their backs. Remedy: Become transparent. Encourage individuals to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Gossip, rumors, and backbiting thrive in a closed-door environment. When there are no secrets or off-limit conversations, the rumor mill dissipates. Communicate your intolerance for gossip and rumors. Participate in open forums, and emphasize that you’re always accessible. 8. Pork-barreling. Influential employees push through expensive projects that serve only one small part of the company. Remedy: Leaders must communicate the vision and goals, and provide criteria for budget allotments and selection of projects: for example, contribution to goals, support for the vision and values, and estimated ROI. When everyone is clear on what the company is working toward, pork-barreling is curtailed. 9. Corruption. People are embezzling, fudging reports, and engaging in other unethical or illegal behavior. Remedy: Upholding ethical standards is a “must-do.” Leaders state the ethical code and hold people accountable to it. Leaders also model behaviors that they want to see in others. Provide a forum for “whistle-blowers” to report unethical behavior without repercussions. Punish ethics violations and promote a zero-tolerance culture. When you address these problems, your culture begins to shift because the steps you take to defuse the political environment are the same ones that make your company more successful.
Oh my my my do you remember at the begining at the Iraq war one of the excuses our idiot in chief used to sell his phoney war in Iraq was to use the excuse that Saddam was receiving kickbacks from the Iraqi Food for Oil Program. Well now in todays Financial Times Chevron agreed to a $30 million settlement the second largest US oil company, on Wednesday agreed to pay a $30m (€20m, £15m) settlement after acknowledging bribes were paid for oil it obtained under the United Nations oil-for-food programme to Iraq. Isn't it amazing none of the major U.S. cable or standard TV news networks have picked up on this? At the begining of the Iraq war all you heard was the talking heads on all the major news networks parroting the Bush mantra that Saddam was an evil man and abusing the Oil for Food program, and yet the corporate media remains silent Bush remains silent and this tip of the iceberg of Chevron abusing the Iraqi program. Wake up America how much more do you need to witness to see that Bush and his bullshit war are just that bullshit!
Idiot In Chief George W Bush today warned that world leaders risk helping bring about "World War Three" unless they do more to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.Comment: It's laughably obvious that Bush and Cheney are out of their minds. And that the "opposition party" in America won't do diddlysquat to stop his armageddon games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has given Iran's leaders a public morale boost in their nuclear dispute with the West by issuing a veiled warning to the US not to resort to military strikes over the issue.Mr Putin called on Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Iran not to allow an outside power to use their territories to launch an attack on another member of the group.Comment: So if we go through with our plans to attack Iran, which we would allegedly do in order to protect our country from a completely imaginary nuclear arsenal, we risk retaliation from a country who we know for sure has the second-biggest nuclear stockpile on the planet. This is what's known to sane, logical people as counter-productive. But if anyone thinks this will slow down the Neocon nihilists in the White House, think again. Instead, look for them to do the same thing they did in Iraq: combine ever-shifting justifications for war (they've already ramped up the lies about Iran attacking our troops in Iraq) with lots of violent, tough-guy, apocalypse-y rhetoric (like Bush's comments this week about starting World War III). Can you say 1-800-impeach-bush
For those of you not following the FISA debate in Congress, House Republicans have tried to derail the bill by putting a poison pill amendment in the legislation. They've been successful, as today House Democrats were forced to withdraw the bill. Over at Talking Points Memo, Greg Sargent has the details.
House Democrats have pulled the FISA bill. They are so desperately against allowing our intelligence agencies to fight OBL and AQ, that they pulled the entire bill to prevent a vote.
Yes, you read the correctly. Rep. Cantor, whose a member of the GOP House leadership believes that the House Democrats are desperately against fighting Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Rep. Cantor seems to be arguing that Democrats are not only giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but that they are siding with the Islamic terrorists who want to attack and kill Americans.
"Bush lies" doesn't cut it anymore. It's time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.
Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: "This government does not torture people." Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of "torture" is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.
By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America's "enhanced interrogation" techniques have a grotesque provenance: "Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the 'third degree.' It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation."
Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled "politics." We turn the page.
There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.
The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina. This is a plot out of "Syriana" by way of "Chinatown." There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.
We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of Iraq -- and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts, issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.
I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press -- the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration's case -- failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.
As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.
In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this year, four years after the war's first casualties, did a Washington Post investigation finally focus the country's attention on the shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.
We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength, we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties are kept off the books.
It was always the White House's plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there's no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.
Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military's holes. With the war's entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.
We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of the war's failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors. Contractors remain a bellwether of the war's progress today. When Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge's great "success" in bringing security to Baghdad.
Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply "drop their guns and go home." Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those "who deliver their bullets and beans."
This potential scenario is just one example of why it's in our national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.
Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after "Mission Accomplished," for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that "America will not abandon the Iraqi people," he has yet to address or intervene decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.
Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America's recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.
"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he "never laid hands on anyone" in his many interrogations, adding, "I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."
Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those "good Germans" who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It's up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war's last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country's good name.
As people across the country are mobilizing and pressuring Congress to overturn President Bush's veto of SCHIP, the program that provides health insurance for low-income children, many are scratching their heads as to why Bush is against the program at all.
Presidents might veto legislation that is costly, ill conceived, or ineffective, but in this case, most people agree that SCHIP is a very successful program. And therein lies the problem.
"The reason that Bush is so opposed to SCHIP is the same reason he was so determined to privatize Social Security, which is that they're both programs that work," said economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a recent BuzzFlash interview. "You have to understand, that is the point of view of somebody who really wants to undo the New Deal -- and if possible ... get things back to the way they were before Teddy Roosevelt and the 'Socialists' came in.
"The worst thing is a government program that actually does help people," Krugman continued. "So the SCHIP is a really bad thing, from Bush's point of view, because it works so well. It might lead people to say, well, if we can do this for lower-income children, why can't we do it for lots of other people who need guaranteed health care? So it's the determination, on his part, to do this veto, even though there's a short-term political cost, because they're deathly afraid that people will look at SCHIP and say, gee, actually the government can do some good."
The battle of SCHIP is really a battle about the role of government. Despite large numbers of Americans who support government-funded programs to keep people healthy, like Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP, Bush represents a radical anti-government position that demonstrates how a narrow number of lawmakers -- little more than a third of Congress voted against SCHIP -- are willing to deny other families the same level of quality, government-financed health care that Congress, the military, most federal agencies, and even the President himself, enjoy.
In the run up to his veto, and in the days since, Bush has continually preyed upon people's fears of socialized medicine, saying that SCHIP is a slippery slope toward universal, government-sponsored health care.
He told the Washington Post in July that his "concern is that ... you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government." And Bush later hammered the point home, telling the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce that "I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system."
The White House resource site for health care describes SCHIP as "[A]n incremental step toward the Democrats' goal of a government-run health care system."
That anti-government mentality explains why so many conservatives came out swinging when Graeme Frost, a 12-year-old boy who received government-sponsored health services after barely surviving a car crash in 2004, filed a formal objection to the children's health scandal and later delivered a radio address for the Democrats, saying, "If it weren't for CHIP, I might not be here today."
Graeme spent a week in a coma and, three years later, still has a paralyzed vocal cord. His sister Gemma, who was also in the car, sustained severe brain damage.
But that didn't stop Republicans and media outlets alike from swiftboating the Frost family. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, for example, accused them of being well-heeled freeloaders. When that theory turned out to be a lie, it didn't really matter. Malkin and other right-wingers simply moved their baseless smear campaign to another SCHIP recipient: Bethany Wilkerson, a two-year-old who was born with a serious heart problem. (Click the video above to learn more about Bethany and how you can help defeat Bush's SCHIP veto.)
In short, Bush rejected an expansion of a program that could have insured millions of children for five years on less than what it costs to spend another four months in Iraq. Given that Bush has only vetoed four bills in his two terms in office, never questioning outrageous earmarks on bloated spending bills, the stubborn illogic of his maneuvering is stunning.
Which brings us to the here and now. The House will vote again tomorrow (Thursday) on a SCHIP veto override, and you can lean on lawmakers to help make it happen. While the Senate approved the insurance bill by a large enough margin to defeat Bush's veto, at 265-159, the House fell short by some two dozen votes. Now, groups across ideological lines and tax brackets are banding together like rarely before to put pressure on some key House Republican -- and Democrat -- holdouts to cross over. In fact, according to FireDogLake, at least two already have: Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.).
If you're interested in getting involved in the debate, here are some places you could place your well-deserved outrage, starting with the holdouts themselves, whose contact information is clickable above. You can also join any number of efforts, from protests to vigils to television ads, now underway in hopes of overriding Bush's veto.
So far, many of the efforts are showing promise. Grassroots organizer Adrian Russell-Falla, a volunteer for MoveOn's Portland Council, says the willingness he has seen from local residents to get behind the override effort is unprecedented.
"We have never been involved in calling this successful -- anytime, anywhere," said Russell-Falla, referring to the strategy of asking community members to flood their representative's office with calls in support of SCHIP.
With the vote a day away, it's not too late for you to take action too. Here are a few ways how:
Click here to join the American Medical Association's veto override campaign
Click here to get behind Catholics United's advertising campaign pressuring the Republican holdouts
Click here to host a MoveOn.Org SCHIP vigil in your town
Click here to join Ben and Jerry's TrueMajorityAction.Org advertising campaign
Click here to view and share Americans United for Change's ad campaign, as well as those from the SEIU, the AFSCME and more
Click here to contact a SCHIP program in your state to find out what you can do locally to help
I just wish to tell everyone I am back and my deepest apologies for being away for so long.
Its just been a combination of minor setbacks and working hard and devoting much free time politically, to causes that are important to me and women and the poor, and college age women, and trying to support and pass the S-chip program that this idiot in chief we call a president from destroying.
I just want to say I miss all my friends here at Jornal Home you were always in my thoughts, my heart and my prayers and I have not forgotten or abandoned you, especially my closest friends and Florent who does a great job here. I had a few setbacks that I have recovered from and won't bore you guys with all the details I just want to be upbeat and continue the good fight against Idiot Bush and his neocon trolls. I want to express my gratitude to Florrent for his emails and concern and Dutchboy for his compliment on my background and hugs to Dawnie, Fightingfemale, Shannon, Florent, Dutchboy and all my good friends, I love and miss yoiu all!
The US Supreme Court upheld for the first time a ban on abortion that does not allow doctors to consider a woman's health needs. As Nancy Keenan wrote at NARAL's website:
The Court has disregarded the medical opinion of leading doctors who oppose the ban. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists"which represents 90 percent of the OB GYNs in this country" says the ban is harmful to women's health and interferes with medical decision making.
Ann at Feministing quotes Justice Ginsburg's moving dissent. One critical point: Ginsburg notes that the decision "blurs the line, firmly drawn in Casey, between previability and postviability abortions."
The Court has given god damn anti-choice state lawmakers the green light to open the flood gates and launch additional attacks on safe, legal abortion, without any regard for women's health."
There are many female readers here at JH who will applaud this decision, believing that there is no difference between pre- and post-viability abortions. There are others who believe that as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, her life and well-being are superceded by a fetus's inalienable right to life. Their personal, deeply held religious convictions guide them to this answer. Meaning: pregrant women lose their right to make decisions for themselves because others ake fanatical extremist christians know what is better for them. Since almost every woman of reproductive age can become pregnant any time they have sex, this includes almost all women of child-bearing age.
Each of those people has the right to follow her conviction. However, this is not what I believe. In the same way that I would never force a woman to have an abortion to save her life or preserve her health, I deeply resent that others now can put my or any woman's life and health in jeopardy because their god damn religion says it must be so, the irony here is that the religious fundamentalists avail themselves of the abortion process when the pregnancy hits home. This is the most heinous violation of a separation between church (which here is dictating policy) and state, and a violation of my full rights as a human being and an independent woman to make decisions that affect primarily me. The slope to eradicating self-autonomy is a slippery one. We just took the first step down.
OK, so working moms typically work like dogs at home, making meals, doing laundry, etc. And they typically work like dogs at work. If youre up late one night, until 2:30 a.m. to be exact, because your son took a spill off his bicycle and you end up in the ER, and you have big work meetings in New York the next day you have to attend you become a walking zombie. Balancing work and family is tough.
What woman wouldnt dream about getting a part time gig so she has more time to sleep?
Among working mothers with minor children (ages 17 and under), just one-in-five (21%) say full-time work is the ideal situation for them, down from the 32% who said this back in 1997, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Fully six-in-ten (up from 48% in 1997) of todays working mothers say part-time work would be their ideal, and another one-in-five (19%) say she would prefer not working at all outside the home.
People, its hard out there. Life isnt easy. What do you think overworked women would say when asked such a question? Everyone is coming out of the woodwork, pointing to this study as more proof that women really all want to stay home and have their kids suckling off their teat 24 hours a day.
On the contrary, these studies point to frustrated moms who are sick of banging their heads against the wall of Corporate America. They want the work-life understanding so many HR managers tout but rarely seem to deliver on.
Come on everyone. This should be our battle cry to ask for more from our employers. And Im talking moms and dads. We wont get it if we dont demand it. And we definitely wont get it, and our daughters and sons wont get it, if we banish ourselves from the workplace.
Having been a journalist for basically my whole adult life I never saw anything wrong with discussing the political landscape at work. It was just a matter of life in a newsroom. The news was happening and we talked about it. Whether it be presidential candidates or political scandals.
It seems such talk does happen in other industries. About one fourth of workers say their top managers openly talk about their political preferences at work, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for The Marlin Company, a workplace consulting firm. And apparently many of you dont like what you hear.
"Over a quarter (26%) of those polled said they do not fit in with their companys culture in terms of politics. However, men were more likely to say they fit in the company culture, with 75% indicating so, compared to 64% of women," according to the study.
It looks like the older you are the more such talk gets under your skin. "Younger employees (age 18 to 34) were more likely to be comfortable sharing their political views (76%), compared to 64% of those age 50 or older. Younger employees were also more likely (84%) than older workers (68%) to say they were comfortable telling their boss which candidates they support."
I think we all have to stop getting uptight about political speech in the office. If managers arent threatening you with termination if you dare to vote for someone other than their favorite candidate then whats the big deal?
We need serious discourse in this country about the issues and candidates if we are ever going to make a difference.
Impeachment of the worst White House administration in history comes upeveryday in the blogosphere -- and not without itsskeptics. I've been rather skeptical about it all myself. What with how the Republicans trivialized impeachment in the '90s, it's hard to take impeachment with any sort of Constitutional seriousness. (And do we really want to follow their lead, anyway?)
However, it took a Republican to convince me that the question is not at all trivial. Especially not today.
Well, this is an unusual affair of president/vice-president, where the vice-president is de facto president most of the time. And that's why most of people recognize that these decisions, especially when it comes to overreaching with executive power, are the product of Dick Cheney and his aide, David Addington, not George Bush and Alberto Gonzalez or Harriet Miers, who don't have the cerebral capacity to think of these devilish ideas. And for that reason, they equate the administration more with Dick Cheney than with George Bush....
...It means asserting powers and claiming that there are no other branches that have the authority to question it. Take, for instance, the assertion that he's made that when he is out to collect foreign intelligence, no other branch can tell him what to do. That means he can intercept your e-mails, your phone calls, open your regular mail, he can break and enter your home. He can even kidnap you, claiming I am seeking foreign intelligence and there's no other branch Congress can't say it's illegal--judges can't say this is illegal. I can do anything I want. That is overreaching. When he says that all of the world, all of the United States is a military battlefield because Osama bin Laden says he wants to kill us there, and I can then use the military to go into your homes and kill anyone there who I think is al-Qaeda or drop a rocket, that is overreaching. That is a claim even King George III didn't make--
....Opening your mail, your e-mails, your phone calls. Breaking and entering your homes. Creating a pall of fear and intimidation if you say anything against the president you may find retaliation very quickly. We're claiming he's setting precedents that will lie around like loaded weapons anytime there's another 9/11.
Right now the victims are people whose names most Americans can't pronounce. And that's why they're not so concerned. They will start being Browns and Jones and Smiths. And that precedent is being set right now. And one of the dangers that I see is it's not just President Bush but the presidential candidates for 2008 aren't standing up and saying--
--"If I'm president, I won't imitate George Bush." That shows me that this is a far deeper problem than Mr. Bush and Cheney.
A deeper problem.
[The Democrats in Congress] have basically renounced-- walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It's not an option. It's an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I think the reason why this is. They do not have convictions about the importance of the Constitution. It's what in politics you would call the scientific method of discovering political truths and of preventing excesses because you require through the processes of review and vetting one individual's perception to be checked and-- counterbalanced by another's. And when you abandon that process, you abandon the ship of state basically and it's going to capsize....
...This is something that needs to set a precedent, whoever occupies the White House in 2009. You do not want to have that occupant, whether it's John McCain or Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani or John Edwards to have this authority to go outside the law and say, "I am the law. I do what I want. No one else's view matters."
What about Bush's claim that these are extraordinary times?
Cheney and Bush have shown that these measures are optical. Take, for instance, these military conditions that combine judge, jury, and prosecutors. What have they done? They tried the same offenses that are tried in civilian courts. American Taliban John Walker Lindh got 20 years in the civilian courts. And then we have the same offense, David Hicks, he gets nine months in military prison. Why are you creating these extraordinary measures? They aren't needed....
...They're trying to create the appearance that they're tougher than all of their opponents 'cause they're willing to violate the law, even though the violations have nothing to do with actually defeating the terrorism. And we have instances where the president now for years has flouted the Foreign Intelligence Act. He's never said why the act has ever inhibited anybody....
...Certainly in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we were in a fog. There could have been hundreds of thousands terrorist cells. You could understand the president, "I've got to take any action I need right now to uncover a possible second edition of 9/11." And, of course, as soon as I do that, I will go to Congress as soon as possible. I will seek ratification. That's an immediate aftermath of 9/11. We know a lot more in 2007, in July. We know this is not 100 or 1,000 terrorist cells.
We know this is not the danger of the Soviet Union or Hirohito or the Third Reich. And yet the president continues to insist. That's why we need military commissions. We need to say you're an enemy combatant and stick you in prison forever without any judicial review and otherwise.That is a total distortion of what the genuine nature of the problem is and our ability to fight and defeat these terrorists with ordinary civil-- the criminal proceedings....
...But it's saying no, it's the Constitution that's more important than your aggrandizing of power. And not just for you because the precedent that would be set would bind every successor in the presidency as well, no matter Republican, Democrat, Independent, or otherwise
I have suspeneded my blog site I may come back to it at a later date I am sorry that my blogs and site were not appreciated and lacked participation It just seems like my JH Colleagues have little interest in this format I have to devote my time and energy where it is appreciated It seems thats not the case here. I wish JH and My Colleagues here well...Love and blessings to all
Click Videoplayer Below
This Clip Is From Youtube...Rarely shown on mainstream news
A delightful version of
the real warm loving Hillary,
not the "monster" media portrays
I am not Neocon or Republican, not "liberal but progressive"Rather, I like to say "progressive Independent" and independent of ideology, which really means: I think for myself.
My goal is to vanquish Neocons / Bush from this Land near and far... To make women wake up, get angry, protest and act! Aw come on . . . it shouldn't be that hard!......
Reminder. Please Feel Free To Take Part Due to lack of participation My blog site will be suspended indefinately My Time is too valuable to devote to futile causes farewell all Sincerely, Heather Thanks