Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hillary's Fright Night

Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) got a scare on Halloween eve.... the Democratic presidential debate last night at Drexel University in Philadelphia jarred her inevitability mask as the seven candidates mixed it up, and at times tripped her up.

The bogeymen asking the questions, NBC's Brian Williams and a relentless Tim Russert, delivered one of the liveliest debate forums to date.

Clinton was reduced to sputtering while trying to have it both ways on Russert's question about Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer's proposal to give illegal immigrants a drivers license, and her statement in Nashua, New Hampshire that it makes a lot of sense.

Clinton defended her statement saying, "Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform."

Sen. Chris Dodd (CT) disagreed, "This is a privilege... a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view."

Clinton quickly jumped in, "I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed---"

Dodd didn't let that pass, "Wait a minute. No, no, no. You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it."

Clinton responded, "No, I didn't Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are----"

As Clinton's nose grew, Russert tried to get a straight answer from Clinton... "I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor's plan to give immigrants a driver's license? You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, paper it made a lot of sense..... Do you support his plan?"

Now in full defensive crouch, Clinton responded, "You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense.... Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But I do understand the real sense of desperation.... "

Former senator of North Carolina John Edwards also didn't give Clinton a pass.... "Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes just a few minutes ago and I think this is a real issue for the country.

"I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them. Because what we've had for seven years is double-talk from Bush and from Cheney, and I think America deserves us to be straight."

Sen. Barack Obama (IL) pronounced his confusion at Clinton's answer, "I can't tell whether she was for it or against it, and I do think that is important. You know, one of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face."

But, in the end, Obama agreed with Spitzer's plan leaving Dodd with his most shining moment as the only candidate willing to voice his opposition for Spitzer's dangerous proposal... which opens the floodgates for massive voter fraud by illegal aliens registering to vote using their drivers license for identification. An obvious boon for the Democratic party.

Dodd had other barbs for Clinton. When asked about his statement to an NBC station alluding to problems with Clinton's national electability he didn't dodge. "Well, first of all, I think electability is a very critical issue. Look at the end of this process here, we need to have a Democrat in the White House come January 20th, 2009.... the fact of the matter is.... there are 50 percent of the American public that say they're not going to vote for her."

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson refused to join the haunting of Clinton... "I'm hearing this holier-than-thou attitude toward Senator Clinton.... Yes, we need to point out our differences, and I have big differences with her. Over the war. I would get all our troops out. Over No Child Left Behind. I'd get rid of it.

"I also have differences over Iran. I think that was the wrong vote for her to cast, because I think it was saber-rattling. But I think it's important that we save the ammunition for the Republicans."

Richardson was ready when he was finally asked about one of his best issues, education. He said without equivocation.... "I'd get rid of No Child Left Behind." He would also have 100,000 new science and math teachers and a minimum wage for teachers of $40,000 per year

This is the issue on which Richardson is most passionate, but it's seldom he rises to the occasion on other issues which makes his overall performance unmemorable and reinforces the notion that he is really running for Clinton's Vice President.

While Richardson and Dodd had their moments, Sen. Joe Biden (DE) delivered a strong overall performance, especially on the issues of Iraq and Iran.... of overweening concern to the electorate.

Biden on Iran and the bomb: "The fact of the matter is the Iranians may get 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium; the Pakistanis have hundreds, thousands of kilograms of highly enriched uranium.

"If by attacking Iran to stop them from getting 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, the government in Pakistan falls, who has missiles already deployed, with nuclear weapons on them, that can already reach Israel, already reach India, then that's a bad bargain."

Biden didn't pull his punches with the opposition either.... "Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency.... I mean, think about it, Rudy Giuliani. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11."

Sis-boom! The most memorable line of the evening.

Responding to Richardson's oft made assertion that he's the only one on the stage with negotiating experience, Biden set the record straight.... "I led a delegation of 19 senators negotiating the START agreement with Brezhnev, I was deeply involved in Bosnia.... I'm running to be the leader of this country, to put it back on track..."

On the recent Kyl-Lieberman resolution.... which basically says Iran is a danger to our war in Iraq and the The Decider has enhanced power to act.... Clinton, the only one on the stage who voted for it, said it was because she wanted to "maximize the pressure on Iran."

Edwards response was scathing.... "So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written literally by the neocons? I mean, has anyone read this thing? I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted.

"It didn't just give them what they wanted; they acted on it. a few weeks later, they declared the Iranian Revolutionary guards a terrorist organization and-- this is going to sound very familiar; remember from Iraq, the prelude to Iraq?--proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. The way you put pressure on this administration is you stand up - you say no."

When Biden was asked if he agreed with Sen. Webb that this resolution was de facto a declaration of war.... "I think it can be used as a fact - a declaration" And, that there are other "consequences for what we do -- and it's not even about going to war."

"Let's look at what happened from the moment that vote took place.

"Oil prices went up to $90 a barrel.... Secondly, we have emboldened Bush at a minimum. His talk of World War III, totally irresponsible talk. We've emboldened him....

"Thirdly, this has incredible consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan.... we have now driven underground every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. This literally -- literally -- puts Karzai, as well as Musharraf, in jeopardy.

"The notion here is it plays into this whole urban legend that America is on a crusade against Islam. This was bad policy -- Big nations can't bluff."

When Clinton was pressured about releasing her papers as first lady from the National Archives now, and not as President Clinton requested until 2012, Clinton had the vapours.... why Bill made that decision, these things just take time.

Obama didn't let that go unremarked upon, admonishing her, "We have just gone through one of the most secretive administrations in our history, and not releasing... these records at the same time, Hillary, as you're making the claim that this is the basis for your experience, I think is a problem.

Obama also hit at the reason the GOP candidates are targeting Clinton, because "It's a fight they're comfortable having. One they've been having since the 90s."

Edwards put a different light on the subject... "I mean, another perspective on why the Republicans keep talking about Senator Clinton is -- they may actually want to run against you, and that's the reason they keep bringing you up....

".... I think that voters have to ask themselves, do you believe that the candidate who's raised the most money from Washington lobbyists, Democrat or Republican; the candidate who's raised the most money from the health industry -- drug companies, health insurance companies; the candidate who's raised the most money from the defense industry, Republican or Democrat; -- and the answer to all those questions is, that's Senator Clinton -- will she be the person who brings about change in this country?"

"You know, I believe in Santa Claus, I believe in the Tooth Fairy, but I don't think that's going to happen. I really don't. And I think that if people want the status quo, Senator Clinton's your candidate."

Yes, Clinton's "turn the page" rhetoric was left in tatters. So Williams thought he would lighten things up a bit. He asked Biden if, with the Holiday season nearly here, he would advise Americans against buying imported toys from China in light of the health and safety problems.

Biden took the question head on.... "If I were president, I'd shut down, flat shut down any imports from China, period, in terms of toys -- flat shut it down, number one.

Number two.... they [China] have a mortgage on our house because Bush mortgaged us to a trillion dollars to them. He is responsible for this. This is outrageous."

Obviously, not a subject Biden takes lightly.

But, we did have the impish Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) to bring a smile. He handled well the mild ridicule aimed at him by Russert about his allegation he had seen a UFO.... "I did.... it was an unidentified flying object, okay.... I'm also going to move my campaign office to Roswell."

Ending the debate on a spooky note, Williams asked Obama what he will be for Halloween.... "I am thinking about wearing a Mitt Romney mask, which I think.... has two sides to it."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FEMA... Fake Emergency Media Affairs


This isn't California.

This is Des Moines, Iowa yesterday.

As someone at the scene described the fiery mayhem, "from a distance, it appeared that a volcano had erupted...."

But it wasn't a volcano, it was a raging fire at Barton Solvents, Inc., and fortunately no one was injured. The fire was contained although for hours two Interstate highways were closed as exploding 55-gallon drums of chemicals were launched like missiles, and the black smoke from the billowing fire could be seen from 30 miles away.

Nothing could have brought home more forcefully to those of us far removed from California the devastating force and the sheer magnitude of their wildfires, which as of yesterday had destroyed more than 2,000 homes, killed 14 people and blackened 809 square miles from the Mexican border to Los Angeles. And, six fires are still not contained. Unimaginable.

In both fires, the firefighters performed heroically. And, when it comes to managing large fires, measures in California.... reverse 911 phone system and state and local coordination, communication and planning for fires.... are the Gold Standard. The White House declared a presidential emergency within minutes of receiving the paperwork from FEMA, thus releasing vital recovery funds.

Another thing the California fire brought home, is how the White House.... desperately looking for good news.... elbows their way into a success story.

Last Wednesday The Decider flew to California to take front-and-center bows.... declaring that the people of Southern California "can rest assured that the federal government will do everything we can to help put out these fires."

Actually, FEMA has a "limited role in responding to wildfires." (WaPo)

That's why the fake press conference by FEMA last week as a forum for tooting their tiny tinny horn is so out of place in the face of the professional and heroic performance of the California emergency responders.

This "press conference" was called to update the "media" on FEMA's response to the California wildfires.... but the people asking the softball questions of the deputy administrator were FEMA employees.

"Real reporters, who couldn't get to the news conference because it had been called 15 minutes before it started, telephoned in but were allowed only to listen. No questions." (WaPo)

Of course FEMA's deception was exposed, and there followed a lot of finger pointing, and reprimands are "very probable." Hopefully the media tracks this disgraceful charade down to its author.... but it won't be easy. In this administration the buck stops way down the line.

What is most troubling about this FEMA sham is the glimpse of how we, the hapless electorate consuming the "news," are being managed by the administration. Hopefully the media will take this as a wake-up call, and get behind every "official" story and press briefing issuing from the fetid breath of the White House propaganda machine.

How many more times will we be led down the path of, "Heck of a job, Brownie."

Monday, October 29, 2007

The "Progress" Fairy Tale

Don't expect to hear much about this.... "Bomber Kills 32 Police Recruits North of Baghdad... Also, on Sunday, Gunmen Kidnapped 11 Tribal Leaders Allied with U.S." (WaPo)

It doesn't fit with the rosy rhetoric coming out of the White House and their designated military mouthpieces. Haven't you heard? Why, the surge is working. Peace is breaking out all over Iraq.... so let's set our sights on Iran. That's the administration's fairy tale.

In reality... among the wounded when a bicycle bomber exploded Monday amidst a group of Iraqi police recruits were a woman and child.... and the Iraqi commanding officer said the death toll may rise.

The eleven Shiite and Sunni sheiks who were ambushed and kidnapped are members of the al-Salam Support Council working with U.S. to fight al Qaeda. A spokesman for the mostly Shiite council said the attack was carried out by the Mahdi Army, a militia controlled by the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr... and protected by Bush's man in Baghdad (and ironically Iran's), Prime Minister al-Maliki.

And, a grave containing 15 bodies, mainly female students, was found in an area under the control of al-Qaeda.

All these events are took place in the Diyala province as "violence continued unabated across Iraq."

In Kirkuk, eight people were killed and 25 wounded by a suicide car bomber, and armed men kidnapped the managing editor of the Turkmen magazine al-Akhaa.

Also going nearly unreported was the capture and beheading of three militiamen and a police officer Friday in northwestern Pakistan. After killing the officers, the four severed heads were displayed in Imam Dheri village, an area bordering Afghanistan.

This is a three-day snapshot of what our propagandizing government wants the electorate to believe is "progress" in their war on terror.

According to a piece aired on CBS's 60 Minutes last night, our remote-command bombing in Afghanistan is killing mostly civilians and turning the hearts and minds of the once pro-America Afghans against us.

Afghans say Russia, with whom they were at war for many years, was much kinder and more caring of Afghan civilians than America.... our once-admired America now under the thumb of the reckless, torture-promoting Bush-Cheney cabal.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bush and the French Revolution

Francois Furstenberg in his piece in today's New York Times.... "Bush's Dangerous Liaisons"..... draws fascinating parallels between The Decider's administration and the Jacobins who emerged from the French Revolution of 1789.

Does this sound familiar? An ideology that divides the world between the defenders of liberty versus its enemies... "a crusade for universal liberty." Appropriating the rhetoric of patriotism to promote political programs.... insisting partisan views are identical to the national will and opponents are treasonous. Expansion of government's police powers at the expense of civil liberties because "the homeland was in danger."

It was the French Terror. "No liberty for the enemies of liberty" was the Jacobin battle cry eventually taken as a mantle by a radicalized Robespierre.

So, what became of Robespierre? By July of 1794 personal hostilities and political differences divided members of France's powerful Committees of Public Safety and General Security.

A month before a leading member of the Committee of General Security.... annoyed that Robespierre and his group were abusing their powers.... ridiculed Robespierre's religious views by arresting an eccentric prophetess, Catherine Theot, who proclaimed Robespierre as the new Messiah.

And, Robespierre's virtual assumption of the role of high priest at the Festival of the Supreme Being (I'm not making this up) aggravated several deputies. These disagreements proved fatal to Robespierre's followers who were conquered by the opposition in the Convention on July 28.

It was the Jacobian worldview, their "my way or the highway" mentality, that was responsible for the term "terrorist".... "A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobian leader who ruled France during la Terreur."

Since the members of our current "Convention".... Congress.... seem unable to stop the excesses of the current Jacobinist administration, it will fall to the voters a year from November to end the reign of terror of the enablers of "Supreme Beings" Bush and Cheney and their neocon lackeys.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Iowa's Last To Be First?


Thursday, January 3, 2008 will probably mark the end of an era.

Considering the jumbled musical chairs the primary season has become, it is likely it will be the last time Iowa will hold its caucuses as first in the nation.

Even at that, to be first this time around both the Iowa GOP and Democratic parties have had to push their caucus date forward to New Year's week.... the night of the Orange Bowl game.... January 3.

Other larger and more populous states are throwing elbows, crowding into line.... and really, who can blame them. Every four years the national spotlight falls on Iowa as presidential wanna-bes of both parties travel, spend money.... almost camp out in the state. Other states want part of the action.

In the future, retail politics as practiced in schools, churches, even living rooms of prospective Iowa caucus goers will give way to the realities of the electronic age.... and sadly one-on-one campaigning will fall into the dustbin of history. As quaint as the notion of knowing your neighbor.

Although just four states.... Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.... were designated by the Democratic party to hold their nominating contests pre-February 5, Florida jumped their date ahead forcing South Carolina to hold their primaries earlier, while Michigan set its primary for January 15, a week earlier than the scheduled date for New Hampshire. New Hampshire will undoubtedly nose forward on the calendar.... bumper-car politics.

Hopefully when the primary scheduling traffic jam is addressed for future contests, other common-sense things will be addressed also. Like limiting the length of the campaign season.... and reining in the monstrous cost that increasingly only produces corporate-beholden nominees.

Otherwise, just rearranging the order of the starting lineup won't save the dangerously out-of-control Mad Max race to the White House.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nightmare on "Dream" Street

It's rare WHTMC disagrees with columnist Eugene Robinson, but today we take issue with his "Republican Hot Flashes."

While we can agree that the Republicans on the Hill, Lieberman-Democrats, and the White House are having hot flashes about their current "evil".... Iran.... that isn't the thrust of Robinson's piece.

He's mainly referring to the scuttling of the latest attempt to pass the "Dream Act." This defeated Democratic-supported measure offered illegal immigrants.... who are under 30, brought to this country illegally before they were 16, have been in the U.S. at least five years and graduate from high school.... conditional legal status. After completing two years of college or two years of military service, they would have been eligible for permanent residency.

This is how Robinson describes this Dream.... but the part he left out is a nightmare.

These "Dream Act"-legalized immigrants.... estimated to be at least 2.1 million by the Center for Immigration Studies.... could then sponsor their parents, siblings, spouse and children. This would drastically balloon the impact of this legislation.

And swell our military ranks with illegal aliens.... thus arming lawbreakers whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. The Dream Act would also repeal a 1996 law that bars any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, thereby giving illegal aliens taxpayer-funded educational benefits not available to legal U.S. citizens.

The Bush administration and the GOP in Congress have heard the outrage over amnesty proposals.... and now dismiss the Dream Act as a "preferential path to citizenship for a special class of illegal aliens".... hoping the electorate forgets about their similar legislation offered, and defeated, earlier in the year.

What we have here aren't Republican hot flashes, but an opportunistic shower of cold water on an election hot-button issue.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Iran: Reason and Recklessness

At last, a voice of sanity on the subject of Iran, "Stalin, Mao And... Ahmadinejad?" (Newsweek)

If ever there was a must-read article about the current White House saber-rattling against Iran, it is this one-pager in the current issue of Newsweek.

Written by someone who understands and rejects fear-based policies on terrorism, Fareed Zakaria brings reason to the emotion-charged subject of our danger from oil-rich Iran.

Zakaria, born in India to a Muslim family, has been Newsweek's International editor since 2000 and has a rich grounding in foreign affairs including a PhD in Political Science from Harvard. Soon after the 9/11 attacks he wrote a seminal cover-story essay for Newsweek entitled "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?"

In it, he argued that Islamic terrorism has its roots in the stagnation and dysfunctions of the Arab world with decades of failure under tyrannical regimes who claimed to be Western-style modernizers.

Of course, these regimes only produced violent opposition to those Western values. Since the Mosque is the one place where people can gather in an Arab country, that is where the opposition to these tyrannies grew.

Zakaria, as a political "realist" advocates that the United States should help Arab countries to modernize their economies and societies as the path to liberty rather than forcing elections and democracy.

And, while as a Muslim he has a depth of understanding of the religion and culture, Zakaria's is a political moderate who believes the world needs an open and confident United States.

In this week's article, Zakaria exposes the war-mongering wizard behind the curtain. He points out that Iran has an economy the size of Finland's, while the U.S. has a GDP that is 68 times larger, and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. What's more, Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively already allied against Iran.

But, the most chilling observation Zakaria makes: "We're on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about.... Iran is a black hole to us--- just as Iraq had become in 2003."

Remember the "Alice in Wonderland" prediction last year by Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis.... a close adviser to The Decider and Darth Cheney.... that on August 22, 2006, Iran's President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world.

Well, we're still here. But so are the administration's Middle East ambitions. Secretary of State Rice today breathlessly announced, "U.S. Imposes New Sanctions Against Iran." (WaPo)

Unilateral sanctions.... designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and of the elite Quds Force as a supporter of terrorism.

It's all too terrifyingly familiar....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fighting Them Where?.....

The Decider and his course-whisperer Darth Cheney keep telling us to be very afraid....a Middle Eastern country wants nuclear weapons.... fight Islamic militants there so we don't have to fight them here.

They are describing the next country in their cross hairs, Iran.

But.... Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons, and isn't a base for Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or the Taliban.

What they won't tell you because it doesn't fit their "axis of evil" mentality.... is that arguably the most dangerous country in the world, one "Where the Jihad Lives Now," and, "Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation"....is Pakistan. (Newsweek)

Just ask Benazir Bhutto how dangerous Pakistan is. Upon her return from exile in Dubai last Thursday, suicide bombers unleashed explosions that killed at least 134 bystanders and police, and injured 450 more on her motorcade's parade route in Karachi.

You see, Pakistan created militant Islamist groups for their own purposes.... originally recruited, trained and armed by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.... who have now become a rampaging monster, twice nearly succeeded in assassinating the country's autocratic leader, General Pervez Musharraf.

Al Qaeda doesn't have to look to Iran or any other country for its nuclear bomb, it's right in their Pakistan backyard where the "Taliban and Qaeda elements have now turned much of the country, including some cities, into a base that gives jihadists more room to maneuver, both in Pakistan and beyond."

Dozens of Taliban commanders have moved their wives and children to Pakistan from Afghanistan. Islamist fighters now operate relatively freely in cities like Karachi after lying low in remote mountain villages since 2001. The Taliban work closely with Qaeda leaders in the tribal regions, "planning attacks together and pooling their skills."

Meanwhile.... the dastardly D.C. duo, led by Cheney, are pounding the war drums on Iran, echoing the same drumbeat that justified the attack on Iraq. Sunday Cheney called Tehran, "the world's most active state sponsor of terror" and vowing "serious consequences".... and The Decider uttered the "W" word last week.... WW III.

So while our reckless leaders go charging after old scores to settle in Iran, the deadly jihadist cancer spreads in Pakistan.... nuclear-armed unstable Pakistan.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Revoltin' Bolton

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had a plan.

He tried to wage peace.

But the neocons in the White House, and the political machinations of former U. N. ambassador John Bolton, torpedoed Powell's efforts to forge an agreement with the G-8.... whose members include Britain, France and Germany.... that would have enticed Iran to rein in their nuclear ambitions with a package of "carrots."

Now Bolton is bragging about killing this diplomatic initiative.... in fact he says he used every possible bureaucratic and diplomatic maneuver to kill Powell's plan in his forthcoming book, "Surrender Is Not an Option." (WaPo)

It's thanks to loose cannons like Bolton, and the conniving of shadow president "Darth" Cheney, that we now seem about to hurtle over the precipice of what The Decider recently called World War III.

Bolton's book further proves that the White House neocons' worldview has been criminally reckless.... an arrogant sense of entitlement to squander the lives, treasure and good name of our country.

And what's more, that those who could, and should, have stopped this Constitution-shredding administration, like Powell and Rice, either meekly faded away or became enabling legacy hounds.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dangerous Incompetence

It's not just that the new Super Bug is stalking us that is so scary. The real nightmare on Elm street is that our government is.... er.... masking the problem.... and when finally unmasked offers nothing more than a "boo!"

Take yesterday's headline for instance, "Drug-Resistant Staph Germ's Toll is Higher Than Thought." (WaPo) Why aren't we surprised?

Because, undoubtedly someone you know who has had surgery in the last few years has contracted a serious infection from their stay. The prevalence of new antibiotic resistant infections has been widely reported. That the public is just now being alerted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC).... undoubtedly because it is now increasingly striking our youth....is astounding.

The new Super Bug, referred to as MRSA, is now called "a significant public health problem," by Scott K. Fridkin of the CDC. He adds that "We should be very worried."

Worried for good reason. It now seems that the CDC is just discovering that MRSA has been killing more people than AIDS. Those especially at risk are blacks (67 people per 100,000) and those older than 65 (128 in 100,000). And, it is now spreading to our schools.

Although it is estimated that MRSA is yearly responsible for 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths, "It's really just the tip of the iceberg," according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.... the statistics include only the most serious infections.

As troubling as the CDC's inability to identify widespread MRSA-type of infections is the gaping hole of unaccountability, by not only the CDC, but the department of Homeland Security to spot deadly contagions.

"Man crisscrossed border with TB" (WashingtonTimes) documents the case of a Mexican national infected with a highly contagious, multi-drug resistant form of tuberculosis (MDR-TB) who crossed the U.S. border 76 times and took multiple domestic flights in the past year!

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency warned Homeland Security on April 16 that this frequent traveler was infected, but it took Homeland Security officials more than six weeks to issue a May 31 alert, and then a further week to tell its own Transportation Security Agency!

Finally, on June 7, Homeland Security officials notified the Transportation Security Administration "that a person infected with MDR-TB may be attempting to use the U.S. transportation system."

And, to add real insult to the whole alarming situation, it turns out that the Mexican government had known for more than five years of the condition of their citizen, Amado Isidro Armendariz Amaya, a businessman from Juarez, which is across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Want to know the reaction of Homeland Security in June after they finally got their act together.... their employees were told that they would be fired if the situation went public.

Just where did this Mexican national fly with this deadly form of TB that can be transmitted with a single cough? He flew on Delta Airlines to Atlanta and Salt Lake City, he flew on US Air/AM West to Phoenix during 2006 and January and May of 2007. May of 2007! Weeks after the CBP agency alerted Homeland Security!

Lots of questions come to mind.... why couldn't the CBP just take action on April 16 when they discovered the infected frequent traveler? Why isn't Mexico sharing information about their infected nationals? What are the Iraq-obsessed Bush government and the profit-bloated drug companies doing to develop antibiotics for these monstrous diseases?

And.... why aren't Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security and CDC officials being held accountable?.... people should be fired, starting with Chertoff.

As Allen Greenspan noted in his recently published memoir, Washington is "harboring a dysfunctional government.... Governance has become dangerously dysfunctional." Emphasis on "dangerously."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Even More Power to Media Moguls?

It never stops, the outrageous kowtowing to corporations by the Bush administration. The latest maneuver leaves the country open to serious manipulation of the press.... "Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners." NY Times

Yes, the plan by the Federal Communications Commission is to relax even further media ownership rules, including the repealing of a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Media conglomerate giants like the perniciously-acquisitive Rupert Murdoch are dancing for joy. We've got to stop the music!

As Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said, "This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States."

Amen!

The FCC "was flooded with nearly three million comments against changing the rules, the most it has ever received in a rule-making process." But, public opinion has never stopped the Bush administration from pursuing corporate interests.

The commission that will rule on the measure, perhaps in December, has five members.... and two seem likely to vote against the changes. We need three.

Contact your representatives, (contact information on the left of this page) let them know that pressure must be applied to stop this freedom-risking concentration of media power.

We mustn't stand by and allow the Bush administration to relax the safeguards against the few disseminating news to the many.... because the risk is that the news then becomes just a tool for propaganda.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bush's Reckless Relevance

At any moment today during The Decider's press conference it seemed he would flash double overhead Nixonian Vs and declare.... "I'm not a crook!"

Of course, despite his declaration, President Nixon was a crook and resigned the presidency in disgrace, just one step ahead of slam-dunk impeachment proceedings.

What President Bush did declare today was "I am relevant!"

Which, of course means he's become a cipher, not only irrelevant, but to most of the country an embarrassment too.

Ah.... but The Decider has a way to get our attention, he says, the power of his veto.... "one way to ensure I am relevant."

In the irrelevant race, Bush's 24 percent job approval rating has now tied Nixon's for an all-time low. But the cocky Bush also reminded us that it wasn't just his veto (whose use by Bush is akin to a red-faced tantrum) that makes him relevant.... it's also his "bully pulpit."

Boy, does he have that right! Bush and his bully boys use the force of the executive to gut the Constitution and pervert the rule of law, and then take the pulpit to deny and obfuscate.

Which brings us to another statement made by The Decider today.... "we don't torture."

Department of Justice memos have surfaced recently outlining the administrations "approved" tortures. So, when asked today for his definition of torture, he said "That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture." When asked what that means to him, he said "Whatever the law says." And, of course, Bush directs the writing of the torture guidelines.... the law.

What was torture today was listening to The Decider's grade school intellect.... coupled with his unbounded and unwarranted arrogance.... and then to realize this is the clueless cowboy who has been leading our country for last seven excruciating years, and it's not over yet!

Feeling full of his pulpit-power, Bush didn't want to let the country off of the hook with just his relevance-making veto and tinny bully pulpit, he wanted to instill fear.... the easiest way after all to keep the electorate compliant.... with a red alert warning about his new favorite target, Iran.

".... So I told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them [Iran] from having knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush recklessly lectured.

With trademark Bush barroom delivery and lack of dignity, when asked about the recent tete-a-tete between Russia's President Putin and Iran's President Ahmadinejad in Tehran, and Putin's supportive words to Iranian leaders, Bush poo-poohed the thought that anything was amiss in our... or, as he views it, his.... relationship with "Wily" Putin.

With a wink and a nod he said he would talk to Putin and get the real lowdown on what happened on Putin's visit to Iran. Bet Putin appreciated Bush's public implication that Putin would compromise Iran and tell Buddy Bush the real skinny.

And, aren't you starting to feel a little sorry for Secretary of State Rice and the world perception under which she has to labor. More than once The Decider referred to "Condi" not "Secretary Rice" which would give her much needed stature. His "Condi" reduces her to just one of his stable of unprofessionals.... "Heck of a job, Brownie."

But, the scariest moment of the press conference came with a question about Putin's intent to continue ruling Russia after his term expires next spring, possibly by becoming prime minister.

The Decider was asked if he should get tougher with Putin... "what would it mean for Russian democracy if, when you leave power.... assuming you do in January 2009 (laughter).... that Vladimir Putin is still in power?"

Bush's answer was evasive. But, it was the question that made the blood run cold.... "assuming" Bush leaves power in January 2009. The reporters in the room laughed.... but, to even touch on the possibility really isn't funny at all.

There's that as yet unfocused disquiet.... why is the White House so secretive, and so intent on accumulating so much power.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Where They $tand

Follow the money.... and you may get an idea of what's behind the candidates carefully crafted images and sound-bite personas. Here's a peek at the nominee-making money trail ranked by receipts for the third quarter (Federal Election Commission 3rd Quarter 2007):

1 - HILLARY CLINTON (D-Senator NY): She's rolling in the stuff and must be happily humming in the shower Donald Trump's "Money, Money, Money, Money".... she has more money in the bank for her presidential primary campaign than any of her rivals of either party.

Clinton's numbers may be more interesting because of what she gave back.... $800,000 to about 250 people.... thanks to her association with shady fund-raiser "Ponzi" Hsu, plus $23,000 he raised for her in past years; and, $9,200 from a Virginia couple after the wife told the Wall Street Journal that the donations were reimbursed by her husband's boss. Still, the odor from these cheesy deals didn't clip her wings.... she raised more, $27.89 million, than she spent, $22.6 million, and has cash on hand of $50.5 million. Of that amount she's allowed to spend $35 million on the primaries.

2 - BARACK OBAMA (D-Senator IL): While Obama is making a race of it, he still spent more, $21.5 million, than he raised, $21.3 million, and has less cash on hand than Clinton, $36.1 million, of which he can spend about $32 million on the nomination battle. He spent more than any other Democrat on television ads, airing more than 4,000 spots in Iowa alone, compared to Clinton's 1,600.

3 - MITT ROMNEY (R-former governor MA): This is a little tricky.... Romney is third in "receipts" in the third quarter, $18.4 million, but, of that amount he made a personal loan of $8.5 million, bringing the amount he has put into his campaign from his personal wealth $17.5 million so far. He actually "raised" about $10 million. And, he spent $21.3 million.... more than twice what his campaign "raised"..... leaving him with cash on hand of $9.2 million.

Romney mounted a television ad campaign in an effort to increase his name recognition.... nearly 11,000 spots in four states through October 10.... with more ads in Iowa and New Hampshire than all the other GOP candidates combined.

4 - FRED THOMPSON (R-former TN Senator): Late entry Thompson raised $12.8 million since last June, spent $5.7 million and has cash on hand of $7.1 million. He claims 80,000 donors, with 22,000 from the Internet, although more than a fifth of his contributions have come from his home state of Tennessee, obviously already tapping his core support for cash. His national poll numbers are high even though he ran only 13 ads on cable television, depending in the early months more on the impact of his "Friends of Fred" Internet site.

5 - RUDY GIULIANI (R-former Mayor of NY City): While still having a healthy bank balance, $16.6 million, Giuliani spent more, $13.3 million, than he raised, $11.6 million, in the third quarter. Instead of focusing solely on the four early states, he invested thousands of dollars opening campaign offices in places such as Fargo,ND and Columbia, MO and other February 5 mega-primary states.

Giuliani spent almost nothing on television advertising although he did pay his consulting firm $132,000 for expenses related to his bodyguards and other private security. His spending was elevated at least partly because he traveled in style, using luxury hotels, private jets from corporate sponsors, and also spent $800,000 on charter jet travel. An interesting "six pack" donor was NASCAR, kicking $17,900 to his coffers.

6 - JOHN EDWARDS (D-former NC Senator): Thanks to hefty support from fellow lawyers, Edwards raised $7.2 million, but spent more, $8.3 million, with cash on hand of $12.4 million. Not an impressive showing, just half of his first quarter showing of $14 million. Regardless of the reasons he gave, this slide undoubtedly played a large role in his decision to accept matching funds.

7 - JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ Senator): The spin is that McCain's campaign is reborn, picking up speed.... so how to explain that he raised just $5.7 million in the third quarter, after a showing of $11.6 million in the second quarter and $13.1 million in the first quarter. He spent almost as much as he raised, $5.5 million, and has just $3.5 million on hand. But, with debts of $1.7 million and $1.8 million he can use only if he becomes the nominee, he is actually $94,000 in the red.

8 - BILL RICHARDSON (R-Governor of NM): Richardson raised almost as much as McCain, $5.4 million, but spent more, $6.7 million and has $5.9 million cash on hand. There seems to be no wind under his wings.

9 - RON PAUL (R-TX Representative): The always MSM ignored Paul raised a respectable $5.3 million, spent $2.2 million and has $5.4 million cash on hand. His campaign has no debts, just a loyal and active following. Despite this showing, Paul gets no respect from the GOP or the media kingmakers.

10 - JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE Senator): Still not gaining real traction, Biden raised $1.8 million, spent $2.6 million, and has cash on hand of $1.9 million.

11 - CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT Senator): Lagging Biden in fundraising the third quarter, Dodd raised $1.5 million.... many of the big contributors coming from the financial world reflecting his chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee.... spent $4 million, and has $3.8 million cash on hand.

12 - MIKE HUCKABEE (R-former AR Governor): By coming in at round $1 million raised, spending $819 thousand, with $651 thousand cash on hand, it seems Huckabee's strong showing in the Iowa Straw Poll in August didn't breathe $$$ oxygen into his campaign.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bush's Dirty Bottom Line

It's a small win against the Bush administration's unyielding resistance to improving the quality of the air we breathe.... "Temporary Victory on Clean Air" NYTimes

After having spent eight years fighting a suit brought by the Clinton administration against American Electric Power....the nation's largest utility.... to force them to clean up the dirty air spewing on millions downwind of their plants, there is reason to celebrate.... kind of. AEP was told to clean up its act to the tune of $4.6 billion.

But.... the Clean Air Act has been in Darth Cheney's scope since 2001 and you know about his itchy trigger finger.... he wants to bring it down so his corporate utility buddies won't have to be responsible citizens, so they can continue raking in the cash while fouling the air.

Various courts have upheld the CAA law that says if companies significantly upgrade a plant in order to generate more power they must install state-of-the-art controls to deal with the increased pollution.

But, the utilities have resented and resisted the law and the Bush administration has paid scant attention to its enforcement. Indeed, they are doing everything they can to torpedo the law by administrative means.

Just how is the White House enabling utility companies to sidestep the law?

The administration's latest assault on the rule would "exempt plants from having to install new controls as long as their hourly rate of emissions does not increase as a result of any plant upgrade," even if by running a plant longer and harder emissions skyrocket.

So.... here's the hard reality. How can we, the lowly taxpaying electorate who must breathe the air they regulate, expect any consideration from this White House on anything if their only standard is.... the bottom line. Period.

For the bottom line.... the White House is trashing the air, the water, and our land in the name of profits. They have neglected to regulate the quality of our food, drugs and even the toys of our children.

They have raped the economy and run up deficits and debts our grandchildren will labor to pay while dragging the standard of living down to a third-world oligarchy.... but hey, the Friends of George and Dick are getting rich.

This must end in November 2008.... that's our bottom line.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

GI Benefit Ruse

They are members of the Iowa National Guard's 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry.... heroes who returned last summer from a nearly two-year deployment in Iraq.

They were scheduled to return home earlier in the year, but their tour of duty was extended as part of The Decider's "surge." Soldiers in this battalion have served longer in Iraq than any other U.S. military combat unit.

How did The Decider's administration show their appreciation for their incredible sacrifice? They are trying to shortchange them on their GI Bill education benefits. To receive the full benefit, a soldier must serve on active duty for 730 consecutive days.

Each soldier has individual orders.... and more than 500 of this "Ironman Battalion" Guard had orders for 725 to 729 days of active duty. One to five days short of the qualifying time.

Do you believe for a moment that this is an oversight? Do you think that those cutting the orders don't know about the benefit minimums? And, you can be sure the orders were issued in all haste when asked for so they could prop up our tin-pot Decider and his "surge."

Letters from the governor and legislators have been sent, but don't hold your breath that this will be resolved with equal haste.... Guard officials are hoping the problem can be cleared up in time for the 2008 spring semester.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slouching Toward the Presidency

It was promoted as the much heralded debut of Fred Thompson as the GOP presidential candidates gathered in rust-belt Michigan to debate the economy yesterday.

But, there were no questions on the impact on the economy of the flood of mortgage foreclosures, or the collapse of the housing market bubble.... no questions on the pitiful state of the U.S. dollar....no questions on the ramifications of illegal immigration on Social Security and the economy in general, although Tom Trancedo tried mightily to interject the subject into the debate.

It was an uninspired lobbing of soft balls, and even then, no one knocked a question out of the park.

For the nebulous nine GOP candidates, there were just three solutions to every problem..... cut taxes, cut taxes, and, cut taxes. Oh, and of course cut spending. But, there were no questions asked of any of the candidates on exactly where they would cut spending.... it was just the usual GOP political magic act, voo doo economics.

We were told that Thompson's late entry into the race wouldn't hurt him because he would dazzle us with his charisma and Reaganesque stature. That Fred stayed home. The laconic Fred that showed up was a has-been actor reading his podium notes. John McCain's propped-up Bernie has more pizazz.

But Fred's handlers are selling. Thompson has in his corner hawking his campaign not only former Virginia senator "Macaca" Allen, but Cheney's daughter and Cheney's right-hand-gal.... "Mary, Mary quite contrary" Matalin.

So, listen up. If you loved the Darth Vader hand of Cheney on the Bush presidency you'll love Fred too. The debate yesterday was actually the first real step in the making of the next Cheney presidency. Luckily, the chosen vessel, Freddie the Unready, makes the continuing plague of Cheney upon our country highly unlikely.

The second tier candidates threw off the occasional spark, but it was quickly extinguished by moderators who had no follow ups and seemingly not much interest in the proceedings.

The most the GOP can hope for from this slouch toward the presidency is that not many voters tuned in.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Democrats Cower on Hill

The scurrying squeaks coming out of D.C. are the terrified hiccups of the Democratic party running for the mouse hole of safe political decisions.

The (ha-ha) leadership on the Hill is leading from behind what they think is a safe haven of "don't look at us"... it's not our war, our stripping of civil rights, our torture, our spending, our immigration, our Iran saber-rattling policies.

Oh.... but they are. The very timidity of the Democratic party is allowing The Decider to continue his power-grabbing, ideological rampage, making them complicit by their cowardly inaction, or worse, their enabling support however loudly justified.

The Democratic party seems to forget that those things you aren't against, you are for. Those things you don't stop, you support. They seem to forget why they were handed the reins in January.

The latest abdication of the Democratic leadership's moral bearings and our civil rights is over the concessions they appear ready to make on the Bush administration's broadened eavesdropping powers.... "Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers" New York Times.

The Democrats are described as "nervous" that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on stricter curbs on gathering intelligence. They are also nervous about not giving immunity retroactively to telecommunication utilities who illegally caved to the Bush administration's warrantless demands for private records. The issue isn't settled, but the muted squeaking bodes well for giving the snooping administration and their corporate enablers a pass.

Their case of the nerves will cost the Democratic party dearly at the polls next November. By their very Minnie Mouse approach to curbing the excesses of this administration, they have become what they are most trying to avoid appearing to be..... soft.

By trying to do nothing to lose their majority status in Congress and not standing on principle, the Democratic leadership is leaving the mouse hole wide open for a Reagan-like GOP presidential candidate to pounce on the office with full veto powers.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fred's Debate Debut

His spinners have set the bar so low for Fred Thompson in tomorrow's GOP debate that his performance expectations are below a limbo bar on the final pass. Just showing up is enough.... appearances are more important than substance the whirly-giggers imply....

Really? Do voters really want another dimwitted Cheney pawn leading us down the road to perdition?.... doing Cheney's bidding as in Thompson's role as legal fund cheerleader for Cheney's convicted perjurer chief-of-staff in the "free Scooter" campaign.

It seems Republicans are looking to Thompson as the great caped hope of the GOP and that is why in the Register's recent survey of likely Iowa GOP caucus goers he finished second to the smooth Mitt Romney who has been covering the state like a warm bath.

But, the debate tomorrow night actually sets the bar very high for those looking to Thompson as the savior of the Republican party, a Ronald Reagan on steroids. And, if his performance at his fundraisers is any barometer of the heat Thompson will generate in the debate, his "Law and Order" fans, and those who have only read his press releases, are in for a loooooong night.

So..... wha' happened to allow Thompson to oust Rudy Giuliani and John McCain from the second place tie they held in Iowa last May? McCain is probably the easiest to figure out, his advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform.... amnesty.... hurt him among conservative GOP Iowa voters.

Giuliani's position on abortion makes him unappetizing to these same voters, but the fact that he hasn't campaigned much in Iowa further cools the reception of the used-to-being-wooed caucus goers. Maybe the Judi-pecked Rudy stayed away because he thought cellphone reception wouldn't be up to snuff in rural Iowa...... he might miss a "Yes dear" speech interrupter.

It would appear that the support for Thompson is more a message of "none of the above," and Iowa GOP voters are hoping he will emerge as their go-to guy

If Thompson makes a poor showing in the debate tomorrow this wide but undoubtedly shallow support may leak to Romney or Mike Huckabee who finished second in the Iowa Straw poll in Ames this August.

Forget the spin.... tomorrow's debate performance could make or break Thompson's run for the presidential sun.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

It's the Legacy, Stupid!

When asked about Bush's domestic and foreign policies, the GOP presidential candidates chorus.... "Bush who?" But, like the pesky mutt that won't let go of their pant leg, the Bush bellicose and Constitution shredding policies will be hard to shake

Still, they are hoping to detach themselves from the monstrous ruin wrought by The Decider.... "Looking Past the Elephant in the Room, GOP Contenders Keep Distance From Bush Legacy." (WaPo)

Take GOP candidate Fred Thompson who pines for the good ol' days.... so much so he even thinks there is still a Soviet Union. Like GOP icon Ronald Reagan, he's a little vague on details. But, he knows things used to be better. "I think back to 1994," he rambles, "We need to adhere to the principles that made this party great and that made this country the greatest."

Of course, Democrat Bill Clinton was president in 1994 as the GOP stormed into control of Congress. But Clinton kept a tight rein on that Congress... remember the famous budget standoff that led to the shutdown of government in November 1995?

Clinton refused to sign a bill to keep the government going because it required Medicare recipients to pay more for some premiums. GOP House Speaker Gingrich played chicken with Clinton, thinking Clinton would back down rather than close down government.... and, Gingrich ended up with egg on his face when he had to back down.

Hoping to make a quick getaway from the Bush years, Sen. John McCain is revving his Straight Talk for a more aggressive government. And, Mitt Romney suggests that the GOP has drifted into the embrace of "big government" and must return to acting as "change-Washington Republicans."

Well, actually John and Mitt, the problem is that the Bush administration has been too aggressive with their foreign policy, and the embrace the Bush administration has led us into is "big corporate interests."

The GOP candidates are finding it heavy going, trying to put distance between themselves and the Bush White House. It's like the old golf story about the guy who had a bad round of golf after his buddy passed out on the course... "it's take a shot and drag George."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Override Childish Bush Veto!


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) shouldn't have been surprised. After all, the president told him he was going to veto the children's health insurance reauthorization (SCHIP) even before the bill had been finalized.

One of The Decider's official reasons for the veto ink he relished squirting at flabbergasted legislators.... Congress was trying to "federalize health care," even though it is a state-run program.

Another of his reasons for sticking his veto pen in the heart of health insurance for needy children.... he didn't "want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers" even though the vetoed bill authorizes no such decisions. The program enrolls children in private health insurance.

Completing a perfect triple of untruths about SCHIP, The Decider hurled "This program expands coverage, federal coverage, to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn't sound poor to me." The limit is actually three times the federal poverty limit, or about $60,000 a year for a family of four, most would go to families earning substantially less.

Here's the problem.... The Decider can't present a rational argument because he can't frame his thoughts around complicated issues and merely spews Cheney and staff-ghosted opinions. Even GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT) believed Bush had been given bad advice by his staff.

As Eugene Robinson points out in "Bush's Veto Lies,".... Hatch didn't take the next step and draw what seems the obvious conclusion: "Either Bush didn't understand the bill he vetoed or he's just being petulent".... upset because Congress didn't adopt The Decider's pet idea to tackle the health insurance issue through (drum roll) tax breaks.

Congress was not amused by this unworkable idea and moved ahead on the bipartisan bill reauthorizing an expanded SCHIP program on their own.... so Bush stamped his feet, and wielded his veto pen.

Congress. Do your duty. Override this childishly mean veto.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hedging the Vote$

The article in the New York Times is about the '08 presidential election.... "In Ballot Fight, California Gets a Taste of '08."

It explains there is a statewide ballot initiative to change the winner-take-all 55 electoral vote system and instead to apportion the electoral votes by Congressional district, "potentially giving the 2008 Republican nominee 20" of those votes. And, perhaps the election.

But, let's look at the story behind the story. Statewide California ballot initiative campaigns are very expensive. Who is picking up the tab for each party?

Well, a Republican California lawyer associated with New York's "9-11 Mayor" Rudy Giuliani started the ball rolling for the initiative to move California's electoral-process goal posts. One of Giuliani's top fund-raisers, Paul Singer, a New York City hedge fund executive, ponied-up nearly all the money so far to support the measure.... roughly $170,000.... in order to gather the signatures needed to have it appear on next June's ballot.

The effort to stop the measure in its tracks is being led by the camp of New York Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, with the bulk of the $200,000 in costs being paid by Thomas F. Steyer, a California hedge fund executive.

Are you sensing a trend here? Are hedge fund managers just unusually civic minded, or....

Hedge funds are pools of investment monies for the very wealthy that are relatively unregulated by Uncle Sam. And, the industry wants to keep it that way. So, the successful managers are getting cozy with the political powers through campaign donations and other kissing-the-ring maneuvers.

For example, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards largest donation from a single company was from the employees of Fortress Investment Group.... $167,400 thus far.... a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds. Edwards also "advised" Fortress for a nearly $500,000 fee and had $16 million invested with them as well.

Both Edwards and Fortress are sketchy about what Edwards did for his fee. It might not fit into Edwards campaign mantra decrying the... "two different economies in this country: one for wealthy insiders and then one for everybody else." Edwards definitely isn't everybody else.

But the other presidential candidates have their hedge-hands out also. Christopher Dodd, a Democrat Senator from hedge-fund rich Connecticut, received $175,400 from employees at SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund during the first quarter, also his top source of support from a single company. Dodd as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee has opposed additional hedge fund regulation.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has hedge fund campaign funding help also. Orin Kramer, general partner of Boston Provident Partners hedge fund in New York, although Obama is co-sponsoring legislation to drastically reduce offshore tax havens including offshore hedge funds.... a popular tax dodge.

The $1.4 trillion hedge fund industry can well afford these political investments. During the 2006 midterm elections its executives and employees accounted for $6 million in campaign contributions, while the investment and securities industry as a whole accounted for $65 million in federal political contributions.

One wonders what Founding Father George Washington would make of this government-for-sale hog trough that are our election and legislative processes.

Washington.... who indebted himself in service to the country to secure our freedoms, and had to borrow $100 in order to attend his own inauguration in New York City.... in grief could only ask of our bartered national soul..... "What happened to my country?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blackwater Backwash

Our Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq symbolize the black heart of The Decider's sinister Iraq adventure.

Blackwater, in carrying out their almost $1 billion in U.S. contracts to complement our troops, doesn't answer to the military, the laws of Iraq or even the United States. They don't care about winning hearts and minds. Their desperado recklessness reflects the reckless policies of this administration's pay-any-price occupation of Iraq.

And, Iraqis are mad. In the latest outrage, Blackwater guards killed as many as 17 people and wounded 24 two weeks ago in Baghdad in a take no prisoners rampage .... many charge it is par for the course for these "shoot now, ask questions later" mercenaries.

Contractors in Iraq employed by the Defense Department to perform functions once carried out by the U.S. military according to April 2007 congressional testimony is 127,000.... "Contractors in Iraq Have Become U.S. Crutch."

Labor Department figures show that 1001 civilian contractors had died in Iraq as of June 30, 2007. Deaths not included in the widely published Iraq fatality figures. Many thousands more have been wounded.

And, contrary to the recent defense of Blackwater by the company's chairman, Erik Prince, who told a congressional committee Tuesday that Blackwater guards opened fire on just 195 occasions since 2005, "two former Blackwater security guards said they believed employees fired more often than the company disclosed," with one quoting his 20-man-team averaged "four or five" shootings a week, several times the reported rate. "Guards in Iraq Cite Frequent Shootings" WaPo

Prince was a White House intern under George H.W. and as a Republican financier has made more than $225,000 in political contributions. Federal contracts account for about 90 percent of the revenue of Prince Group holdings of which Blackwater is a subsidiary. Friends of George do very well.

The Decider likes point the finger at the evil ones, the dark face of the extremists, while extolling his "vision" for a better world. But, what the distraught Iraqis see is his distorted reflection in the Blackwater cesspool.