Friday, December 21, 2007


It is a spiritual law that in the midst of love, everything that is unlike love, must come up for healing. In other words, all the ugliness we are seeing right now in the world, is erupting in order for it to be purged, healed and done away with.

Despite catastrophic events such as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, civil unrest in nuclear Pakistan and the myriad crimes of the Bush regime — good things are coming, and are actually here. We have to open our eyes and see that in the midst of turmoil, actual change for the good is taking place.

In a diverse society, the only moral tenet we need to practice is the Golden Rule. What if God is simply love and prayer is the invisible transfer of love to another? By taking leaps of faith, I've somehow been able to transform the deadening illusion of "reality" by changing my viewpoint. (Reality is actually beauty, goodness, love, truth, harmony.) We can physically change our experience of the world by changing our view. The key to this is to simply stop rehearsing turbulent thoughts, and to be grateful for the good in our lives. The past two years have been brutal, full of tears and prayers for our dying troops, orphaned Iraqi children, Katrina and Darfur victims. I've succumbed to hopelessness at times. But I've been experimenting with new thought again. For example, whenever I have a fear-based or depressed thought I stop in my tracks and instantly reverse the thought — see the other side. See the beauty in the present moment, relax and realize the sky is not falling. It helps to find humor anywhere you can find it. There is abundant good in the world and it becomes visible the more you choose to see it.

Enigma4Ever at Watergate Summer has an amazing post about Benazir Butto's assassination. What an epic tragedy. Everyone must read Arianna Huffington's post about this amazing woman, head of the debating team at Oxford while Arianna was head of the Cambridge union. Butto managed to be the first woman leader in the Muslim world, while raising three children.

From Arianna at HuffPo:
The world is debating the political fallout from Benazir Bhutto's assassination -- from fear of chaos in Pakistan to the impact of her death in Iowa. There is already no shortage of analysis about the national security implications of her death, but I want to write about the young woman I met in England before she became a player on the world stage.

She was at Oxford. I was at Cambridge. And by a strange coincidence I became president of the Cambridge Union and she became president of the Oxford Union. The anomaly of two foreign women heading the two unions meant that we ended up debating each other around England on topics ranging from British politics to broad generalities about the impact of technological advance on mankind.

When I checked my blackberry this morning at 5:28 am LA time there was an e-mail from our news editor Katherine Zaleski: "Benazir Bhutto killed by bombing." As we found out afterwards she was killed by an assassin's bullet. But just as the news was filled with the details of her death, my mind was filled with how full of life she had been every time I had seen her, including the last time in 1998 when she came to my home in Los Angeles for a dinner (which Harry Shearer, also there, wrote about). She was in exile, her husband in jail, and she was separated from her children. But still, there was an incredible life force about her, a sense that no matter what life brought her way, whether a tough debating argument, or exile, or her father's death by hanging, or the deaths of her two brothers -- she could deal with it, and she would prevail. Until the rally in Rawalpindi.

Watched SICKO again last night. This should be required watching in all schools and universities and for all Americans. France, England, Canada and all civilized nations take care of their citizens. They have a "we" mentality not a greed-based "I" mentality. They make sure everyone is taken care of no matter what income level, class, race, gender or pre-existing condition. (More on Sicko below.)

May all the gifts hidden inside you make their way into the world and may all your dreams come true.

Christmas was very peaceful at our house — except for the kids who woke us up at 5:30 AM screaming, "Hurry, hurry, the living room is full of presents... come on wake up!" A new puppy (a rescue) literally arrived on our doorstep. This is an adorable 3 month old half Shepherd, half Chihauhau. Wait, this isn't possible. Can you imagine a Chihauhau mating with a German Shepherd? Impossible in either combination. We're having the DNA checked. In any case, now our youngest son has the dog he always wanted. Our other dog Chazzie, an imperial Shih-tzu, is thoroughy appalled by the intruder.

We had family and friends over for roast turkey and mounds of chocolate truffles. Our children still retain the magic of faith because we talk to them about the spiritual power they have inside — how the invisible healing forces of love, hope and charity are more powerful than anything in the material world. We try to teach them that no matter what happens in the outside world, no external circumstance must be allowed to upset their internal harmony, or control their life. We can't let ourselves be blown about by the wind. And of course there are always a few mysterious gifts under the tree. No one knows where these gifts come from, but the tags say "North Pole." We allowed them to open one gift every half hour until 7 AM when we joined them. I took pictures of the front yard, where we threw huge amounts of wrapping paper out the door.

MORE ON "SICKO": Stress is the number one cause of all illness; in fact, a genetic scientist once told me that stress and worry are the root cause of more disease than any other factor. It seems these civilized, democratic nations make sure their citizens are stress-free in regards to health care, thereby increasing the productivity and good will of the workforce. In these countries the will of the people is more important than the will of the government. They live longer than we do: they are less sick, less obese and less drug-addicted.

What is amazing is that if you are in an accident or sick, you get full pay, time to heal, preventative care - and help with maternity leave. These are truly democratic nations, in which the PEOPLE RUN THE COUNTRY. The government serves the people. THEY ARE NOT RULED BY A PRIVILEGED ELITE. They are patriotic, productive and happy. THeir children are never denied coverage for life-threatening illnesses as our children in America are. What a difference.

In our country, the managed health care system is rewarded for denying claims for life-saving procedures such as MRIs, brain scans, bone-marrow and liver transplants. In other words, in a country of so-called "family values" we throw away our children, deny them life-sustaining coverage and we have a much higher infant mortality rate.

Some CEOs of these managed health care firms like Kaiser and Cigna are speaking out. They can't live with themselves for denying coverage to people and then finding out they actually "killed" people. They are rewarded with huge pay raises and bonuses for denying coverage to desperate people who actually have health insurance but don't qualify for the procedures they need! One child died because Kaiser wouldn't cover her for antibiotics at a different hospital.

I'm beginning to believe that we are very naive when it comes to Washington, and the hidden secrets of what really makes America run. There are entrenched interests that can only be defeated by very smart, savvy politics. These are not normal people — these neocons who have designed the destruction of America and our constitution. Maybe someone who can walk the razor's edge is really the right choice.

I think there are some things that would chill us to the bone if we really knew the truth, and only a small circle of former White House residents knows these truths.

There is something that we do not know. There is some information told to the president when he takes office, and I believe Hilary, as a former wife, knows this.

There is also a reason Balad Air base is so incredibly large, like a small town with restaurants and golf course, movie theaters and over 20,000 troops who have never met an Iraqi.

We might be in Iraq forever.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANNUKAH, SPLENDID NEW YEAR! Never give up hope. Now is the time to turn it all around.


Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so."
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon


Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

No Santa Claus! Thank God, he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

The New York Sun
September 21, 1897

The following is by Regina Brett The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no ide a what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21 Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life, not suicide.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
34 God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats th e alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion. (Just cuz it's in the Bible, doesn't mean it's crazy. The Bible has immense, transformational wisdom, but needs a spiritual key. The fundamentalists have misinterpreted it. Just cuz atheism has become the new trend, that doesn't mean God is dead. - Lydia)
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywh ere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46 No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

This was our original Christmas photo taken on a trip to Belize last summer. We visited the Mayan ruins and went zip-lining and cave-tubing through the jungle. Happy Holidays!


  1. Lydia asked,

    26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

    Honestly dear lady, I hope not, but I fear that much of what I fret over right now will matter even more by then.

    We must constantly work for change. We must replace the venomous "love" of the "values" scum with the real love that humanity is capable of. That doesn't mean we have to stop and hug each other every time any of us cross paths, but it does mean that we have to adjust our behavior. I must consider how my actions today might affect you tomorrow, and you must do the same for me. The root of our present problems is selfishness, pandered to by perhaps the most selfish bunch ever elevated to Government. Their mindset has to be replaced.

  2. The movie "Idiocracy" is a hilariously perfect example of where America is heading under the corporate monolith.


  3. 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

    Not if your a cockroach.

  4. If at first you don't succeed -- skydiving is not a good idea

  5. MCH, neither is starting a war, but that didn't stop Bush did it?

  6. In the most-anticipated speech of his political career, speaking on “Faith in America” at College Station, Texas, earlier this month, Mitt Romney evoked the strongest of all symbolic claims to civil-rights credentials:

    “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.”

    He has repeated the claim several times to Tim Russert on Meet the Press. While the late George W. Romney, a four-term governor of Michigan, can lay claim to a strong record on civil rights, a tireless investigation by the Phoenix can find no evidence that the senior Romney actually marched with King, nor anything in the public record suggesting that he ever claimed to do so.

    Nor did Mitt Romney ever previously claim that this took place, until long after his father passed away in 1995. Not even when defending accusations of the Mormon church’s discriminatory past during his 1994 Senate campaign.

    Asked about the specifics of George Romney’s march with MLK, Mitt Romney’s campaign told the Phoenix that it took place in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

    But the claim is a lie.

    Martin Luther King Jr. never marched in Grosse Pointe, according to the Grosse Pointe Historical Society. “I’m quite certain of that,” says Suzy Berschback, curator of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

    In fact, King’s only appearance in Grosse Pointe, according to Berschback, took place just three weeks before King was tragically assassinated. But there was no march and George Romney was not there.

    Which begs the question: Is Mitt Romney so desperate to become president that he would make up stuff about his late father in order to curry favor with African Americans voters? Is it not a violation of the Churck of Later Day Saints to lie?

    Or was Mitt Romney just dreaming?

  7. A good question Romney needs to answer,

    Does he agree with the faith of his father which refused African Americans membership in the Mormon Church before 1978,

    YES I said 1978,

    Or was his fathers faith misplaced in a Church which openly discriminated against people based on race?

    He should answer that one if he wants to tout the faith of his fathers religion.

  8. Mitt, like Bush and Hillary, can't tell the truth. It isn't in their DNA.

    They are serial liars.

  9. A quick note to say Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

  10. Thanks Rhea, Jolly Roger, Christopher, Clif, mch, TomCat, Larry, Mike, Bart -- HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND LOTS OF LOVE

  11. Back at you, Lydia. May you and your family have a peaceful and lovely holiday.

  12. Hi Lydia
    Nice picture and great list. I want to say something but I won't, good one. Nice to see you back

  13. Well well, Mitt the Hunter gave Huck even MORE to use on him.

    He must have some kind of self-destruct wish.

  14. I love that list! Thank you for the god-shot! (that's what it is for me, anyhow!) Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the blessings of your beautiful family. That's what I'm doing.

  15. Great holiday post. Merry Christmas.

    Who Hijacked Our Country

  16. Merry Christmakwanzannukah.

  17. BARTLEBEE said...
    Merry Christmakwanzannukah.

    Yeah Happy Saturnalia.........i was going to wish everyone a Happy Saturnalia on the 17 but the blog was down.

  18. After spending the night and the better part of a day in a Missouri hospital complaining of severe headaches and flulike symptoms, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani arrived home in New York late Thursday....

    ...What was wrong? What tests did he get? What was causing such severe pains? Giuliani gave no details. His campaign will not release any concrete medical information to the press -- raising questions about the former New York mayor's health and the transparency of his campaign.

    Those crazy Republicans just looking for the sympathy vote.

  19. With its tawdry plot lines involving corporate skullduggery, a steamy extramarital affair and presidential politics, the legal battle between former publishing doyenne Judith Regan and her ex-employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., seems straight out of a potboiler. Now the tale has taken another intriguing and potentially explosive twist with the sudden emergence of a mysterious tape recording.

    Long a controversial figure in the publishing industry, Regan had run her own imprint at News Corp.'s book publishing arm, HarperCollins, for 13 years before she was fired for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks not long after controversy erupted over O. J. Simpson's book, "If I Did It." Regan had spearheaded the book, which she billed as a confession to the double murder by the disgraced gridiron star. In November, Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit against News Corp., accusing the company of, among other things, making her a scapegoat in the Simpson controversy, targeting her with a "deliberate smear campaign" and illegally firing her.

    But what seemed like a parochial flap within the publishing industry over O. J. Simpson veered off in a sharply different direction with the lawsuit. The latest bombshell: according to media executives familiar with the situation, Regan has a tape recording that presumably helps to buttress her allegations in her suit. The exact contents of the tape remain unknown, as does its origins. No one approached by NEWSWEEK seemed to know of its provenance—or was willing to discuss it.

    But word of the tape's existence, if not the tape itself, has reached the highest levels of News Corp., say four sources who declined to be identified discussing a legally sensitive matter. In fact, the tape may be the catalyst for what publishing executives describe to NEWSWEEK as a recent resumption of negotiations between News Corp. and Regan to settle their battle out of court. News Corp. confirmed that it is again in "conversations" with Regan. Through a spokeswoman, Regan repeatedly declined comment on all aspects of this story.

    Of Regan's many assertions in the 70-page lawsuit, perhaps the most incendiary concerns a scenario that would seem like pulp fiction were it not sprinkled with powerful nonfictional personalities. In addition to Regan and Murdoch, perhaps the world's most influential media mogul, it involves a mystery News Corp. executive, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his one-time police commissioner, Bernard Kerik.

    Kerik was indicted last month on federal corruption charges (he has declared that he is innocent of all charges). In the suit, Regan claims that the News Corp. exec, who isn't identified in court documents, once asked her to "lie to, and to withhold information from" federal investigators who were at the time investigating Kerik. Revealing the information—the executive explained, according to the lawsuit—might damage Giuliani's bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Because of her perceived threat to his political ambitions, she alleges in the lawsuit, News Corp. targeted her. The suit alleges that News Corp. victimized her with a "deliberate smear campaign." (News Corp. has dismissed Regan's allegations as "preposterous.")

    Never underestimate the power of a Scorned Neocon Woman!

  20. When a mayor of New York leaves office, little goes out the door but memories _ unless he's Rudy Giuliani. Government rules discourage the city's most powerful officeholder from departing with more than token gifts collected on the job.

    Ed Koch, mayor from 1978 to 1989, recalls keeping some neckties. His successor, David Dinkins, walked away with knickknacks from his desk, including a crystal tennis ball and a collection of photographs documenting his meetings with celebrities and business icons.

    When Giuliani stepped down, he needed a warehouse.

    Under an unprecedented agreement that didn't become public until after he left office, Giuliani secreted out of City Hall the written, photographic and electronic record of his eight years in office _ more than 2,000 boxes.

    Along with his own files, the trove included the official records of Giuliani's deputy mayors, his chief of staff, his travel office and Gracie Mansion _ the mayor's residence that became a legal battlefront during his caustic divorce.

    The mayor made famous _ and very wealthy _ in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has long described his City Hall as an open book.

    In a Republican presidential candidates' debate last week, Giuliani asserted: "My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. ... I can't think of a public figure that's had a more transparent life than I've had."

    But the public record, as reviewed by The Associated Press, shows a City Hall that had a reputation of resistance _ even hostility _ toward open government, the First Amendment and the public's access to simple facts and figures.

    "He ran a government as closed as he could make it," said attorney Floyd Abrams, a widely recognized First Amendment authority who faced off against city lawyers when Giuliani sought to shut the Brooklyn Museum of Art because the mayor considered a painting sacrilegious.

    Giuliani's decision to commandeer his historical records in late 2001, as he prepared to leave office, was just one of many episodes during his term, both in and out of the courtroom, that demonstrate his efforts to control, withhold or massage information to advance his agenda and hobble critics.

    The litany of questions Giuliani has faced in recent weeks about undisclosed business clients and furtive billing practices for police security during trysts with then-girlfriend Judith Nathan are reminiscent of the dozens of lawsuits filed by news organizations to obtain public records, of the numerous state Freedom of Information Law requests that nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless were forced to file, of access to City Hall steps denied to protesters.

    At times, the number of working water fountains in city parks was hard to ascertain without making a formal request. Under Giuliani, it became more difficult to determine the number of complaints filed against the city's home care program, the number of firearms discharged by police and the number of inspectors in the housing and buildings departments. Even details about the city's recycling program were hard to come by.

    Another coverup by the Republican Mob Linked War Lover.

  21. One year of the Democratic 110th Congress: A record of duplicity, cowardice and political reaction

    The Democratic-controlled US Congress ended its first year in office Wednesday with a record of capitulation to the policies of the Bush administration all down the line. In the main areas where voters expected a change when they brought the Democrats to power in November 2006—the war in Iraq, the deterioration of working class living standards and social services, the mounting attacks on democratic rights—the Democrats have proven to be Bush’s collaborators, not his opponents.

    The last major action of this congressional session was the passage of budget and tax legislation that demonstrates the gaping class divide in American society—and underscores the role of the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, as defenders of the financial aristocracy.

    The $555 billion spending bill funds the budgets of 11 of the 12 federal departments through the end of the fiscal year, next September 30. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday by 76-17, with a large majority of the Democrats joining all the Republicans to back legislation that conformed exactly to White House specifications.

    Funding the war in Iraq

    The Senate voted by 70-25 to add $40 billion in emergency funding for the war in Iraq to the overall spending bill, acting on an amendment introduced by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The Senate rejected, by a 71 to 24 vote, an amendment to set a date for troop withdrawals from Iraq. Five fewer senators voted for the measure than backed a similar amendment last May.

    The resulting bill, funding the war through the first several months of 2008, was approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday by a margin of 272 to 142. Nearly all the Republicans voted for the bill, while a majority of Democrats voted “no” in order to sustain their pretense of being “antiwar.” The support of a large minority of House Democrats, a total of 78, guaranteed final passage of the bill—the outcome desired by the Democratic leadership.

    This week’s voting is at least the third such collapse of the supposed Democratic opposition to the war since the current Congress took office. The House and Senate passed an emergency funding bill pumping $150 billion into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq last May, after months of empty protest were answered by Bush with a steady escalation of US military operations in Iraq (the “surge”).

    The funding bill set a September deadline for a report back to Congress on the surge by top US military and foreign policy officials. Following the testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Senate Democrats held a handful of test votes on antiwar amendments to the defense appropriations bill, lost each vote, and then abandoned the effort.

    Attacks on democratic rights

    The Democrats’ record is no better on the other major political issues that have dominated this year’s congressional session. On democratic rights, the principal concern of the congressional Democratic leadership was that they might be branded as “soft on terrorism” if they opposed the Bush administration’s shredding of the Constitution.

    There was no action to repeal the Patriot Act or to compel the Bush administration to shut down its concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Congress approved interim legislation last August granting the National Security Agency and other intelligence groups vastly wider powers to conduct wiretapping and other forms of domestic electronic surveillance, and the Democrats have promised to take up legislation in January to extend these powers indefinitely.

    The Democrats did nothing to ban the use of torture by US intelligence agencies or to reverse the grossly unconstitutional legislation adopted one year ago that eliminates the right of habeas corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo and at secret US prisons in other overseas locations. The Democratic congressional leadership also caved in to the racist anti-immigrant campaign whipped up through right-wing talk radio, scuttling legislation that, while loaded with reactionary repressive measures, would have provided a path to legalization for some of the millions of undocumented workers now living in the US.

    The Democrats moved aggressively only in their effort to oust Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, brought down by the scandal over the firing of US attorneys who failed to join in his efforts to target Democratic Party officeholders and candidates. But once Gonzales resigned, the congressional Democrats dutifully confirmed Michael Mukasey as his successor, despite Mukasey’s refusal to characterize water-boarding as torture and illegal under US and international law.

    The only legislative “achievement” in the sphere of democratic rights was a retrogression—passage of legislation to enact several of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission which had been opposed by the Bush administration, including beefed up security measures at ports, airports and other transportation hubs, and increased funding of local police.

    As for the Democrats’ claim to defend the socio-economic interests of working people against big business—the traditional basis of their election year demagogy—the sole accomplishment of the 110th Congress was the first increase in the minimum wage in a decade. The Congress failed to override Bush’s veto of an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) or his veto of funding for stem cell research.

    In the omnibus budget bill given final passage this week, the Democrats in both House and Senate abandoned any effort to increase overall spending on government social services beyond the level proposed by the White House last February. In order to meet the Bush ceiling, the Democrats either dropped proposed spending increases or cut some social programs to pay for increases in others.

    So complete was the Democratic collapse that House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, gloated that the spending bill was “better than I’ve seen in my 17 years here”—which includes 12 years when Republicans, not Democrats, controlled Congress.

    While hewing exactly to the dollar amount dictated by Bush on spending, the House and Senate voted an additional $48 billion in tax reductions for middle- and upper-middle-income families being hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax, established in 1969 to target the wealthy, but not indexed for inflation.

    A proposal to finance the tax cut by raising taxes on hedge fund billionaires passed the House, but was blocked after a vigorous lobbying campaign which enlisted the support of such Senate Democratic power brokers as Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee, and Charles Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

    The Senate earlier blocked the tax increase on the hedge fund operators, then voted Tuesday to reject a different version of AMT “patch,” which would have funded the tax cut by closing down offshore tax havens used by hedge funds. The House then voted Wednesday by a margin of 352 to 64 to exempt 22 million families who would have fallen under the AMT this year, without any offsetting revenues, thus increasing the federal deficit and the pressure to cut domestic social spending even further next year.

    In past years, a last-minute “omnibus” spending bill has become the vehicle for Congress to force changes in federal government policies against presidential opposition. This time, however, the congressional Democratic leadership withdrew every measure that drew objection from the White House. These included a repeal in the federal ban on US aid to organizations like Planned Parenthood that support abortion as a birth control measure overseas, an expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires payment of prevailing union wages on federally funded construction projects, and an easing of the US trade embargo against Cuba.

    It is useful to contrast the record of the Democratic Congress in 2007 with that of the new Republican-controlled Congress that took office in 1995. Each newly elected majority confronted a president of the other party. The Republicans, however, proceeded to confront the Clinton White House aggressively. They enacted a budget based on their own priorities, including major cuts in Medicare and other domestic programs, and then, after a series of Clinton vetoes which they failed to override, forced the temporary shutdown of the federal government in an effort to prevail. When Clinton gained politically as a result of the confrontation and won reelection easily in 1996, the congressional Republicans launched a series of investigations, exposures and other legislative attacks that culminated in the impeachment of Clinton in December 1998.

    The Democrats proceeded in a diametrically opposed fashion. Nancy Pelosi announced within days of the Democratic victory in November 2006 that there would be no effort to bring charges against Bush for his illegal war in Iraq or his trampling on the Constitution at home. Impeachment was “off the table,” the Democratic leaders declared.

    Even more significantly, the congressional Democrats forswore the use of the only constitutional means for compelling an end to the war in Iraq—a cutoff of congressional appropriations for the war. Exercising the “power of the purse” did not require overriding a Bush veto or overcoming a filibuster in the Senate, the supposed institutional obstacles that the Democrats cite incessantly today as the excuse for failing to end the war.

    A Congress that was actually determined to end the war would have allowed current appropriations to expire and taken no action to renew them. Authorization to spend money on the war would have expired on September 30, 2007 regardless of any action taken by congressional Republicans or the White House.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer rejected such a course out of hand, even before the Democrats actually took their seats last January. Speaker Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership in the Senate have followed suit, embarking instead on an endless series of protest stunts which accomplished nothing—and which they knew in advance would accomplish nothing. By one count, there have been more than 50 votes on “antiwar” resolutions in the House and Senate this year. But the White House simply ignored these impotent gestures, sending an additional 35,000 troops into Iraq and greatly expanding the scale of the violence.

    After the latest collapse of the Democrats’ antiwar posturing, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois admitted that even with a larger majority the Democrats would have failed to cut off funds for the war. “There are always going to be Democrats who oppose the war but won’t support removing the funding,” he said—inadvertently previewing the conduct of the Democrats under a future Clinton or Obama administration.

    The Washington Post summed up its scathing review of the 110th Congress with the comment, “Efforts to change Bush’s Iraq policies took on the look of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.” The rout was, indeed, of those dimensions, with one difference: the Confederates at Gettysburg were actually trying to win.

    The congressional Democrats came to power because of mass popular opposition to the war in Iraq, but they never genuinely shared in that opposition. The Democratic Party, like the Republican, is an instrument of the American ruling elite which upholds the interests of American imperialism.

    While there are, and remain, sharp divisions within the ruling elite over the Bush administration’s foreign policy, which is widely regarded as both incompetent and reckless, these are divisions over tactics and methods, not principle. A future Democratic administration, should one take office in January 2009, will continue the US occupation of Iraq and the effort to establish US hegemony over the Middle East, including control of the Persian Gulf and its vital oilfields.

    In other words the 110th Congress has done nothing for the people.

  22. Shadow Of The Swastika
    An Open Letter To All Americans

    By R. William Davis

    Documented Evidence of a Secret
    Business and Political Alliance
    Between the U.S. "Establishment"
    and the Nazis - Before, During and
    After World War II - up to the Present.


    Before the Gatewood Galbraith for Governor Campaign in 1991, few Kentuckians knew that the plant that the federal government had demonized for over 50 years as "Marijuana - Assassin of Youth," was, in fact, Cannabis Hemp, the most traded commodity in the world until the mid-1800s, and our state's number one crop, industry, and most important source of revenue, for over 150 years.

    Today, thanks to the efforts of pioneer hemp researchers and public advocates such as Galbraith, Jack Fraizer, Jack Herer, Chris Conrad, Ed Rosenthal, Don Wirtshafter and others, the federal government's unjustifiable suppression of our state's right to develop our most valuable and versatile natural resource, is facing increasing opposition from an informed public. Hemp is now recognized as the number one agriculturally renewable raw material in the world, and perhaps the only crop / industry which can guarantee us industrial and economic independence from the trans-national corporations.

    "Shadow of the Swastika" is a follow-up to my earlier work, "Cannabis Hemp: the Invisible Prohibition Revealed," which I wrote and published in support of the Galbraith Campaign. Since publication of that booklet, there has been growing public acceptance of the evidence that Marijuana Prohibition was created in 1937, not to protect society from the "evils of the drug Marijuana," as the Federal government claimed, but as an act of deliberate economic and industrial sabotage against the re-emerging Industrial Hemp Industry.

    Previous investigations by hemp researchers have been limited to the suppression of free-market competition from the hemp industry, and focused on the activities of three prominent members of America's corporate, industrial and banking establishment during the mid- to late-1930s:

    WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST, the newspaper and magazine tycoon.

    The expected rebirth of cannabis hemp as a less expensive source of pulp for paper meant his millions of acres of prime timberland, and investment in wood pulp papermaking equipment, would soon be worth much less. In the 1920s, about the same time as the equipment was developed to economically mass-produce raw hemp into pulp and fiber for paper, he began the "Reefer Madness" hoax in his newspaper and magazine publications.

    ANDREW MELLON, founder of the Gulf Oil Corporation.

    He knew that cannabis hemp was an alternative industrial raw material for the production of thousands of products, including fuel and plastics, which, if allowed to compete in the free-market, would threaten the future profits of the oil companies. As Secretary of the Treasury he created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and appointed his own future nephew-in-law, Harry Anslinger, as director. Anslinger would later use the sensational, and totally fabricated, articles published by Hearst, to push the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 through Congress, which successfully destroyed the rebirth of the cannabis hemp industry.

    A prominent member of one Congressional subcommittee who voted in favor of this bill was Joseph Guffey of Pennsylvania, an oil tycoon and former business partner of Andrew Mellon in the Spindletop oil fields in Texas.


    which owned the patents on synthetic petrochemicals and industrial processes that promised billions of dollars in future profits from the sale of wood pulp paper, lead additives for gasoline, synthetic fibers and plastics, if hemp could be suppressed. At the time, du Pont family influence in both government and the private sector was unmatched, according to historians and journalists.

    This publication, however, reveals documented historical evidence that the suppression of the hemp industry was only one key part of a much larger conspiracy in the 1930s, not only by the three corporate interests named above, but by many others, as well.

    Congressional records, FBI reports and investigations by the Justice Department, during the 1930s and 1940s, have already documented evidence of this wider plot. A list of the corporations named include Du Pont, Standard Oil, and General Motors, all of which were proven to be conspiring with Nazi industrial cartels to eliminate competition world-wide and divide among themselves the Earth's industrial resources and commercial markets, for profitable exploitation.

    This conspiracy succeeded. It is now obvious that this lack of serious competition in the industrial raw materials market caused our present - and totally contrived - addiction to petrochemicals. Its success is directly responsible for the most troubling problems we now face in the 1990s; serious damage to our environment, concentration of economic and political power into fewer and fewer hands, and the weakening of the rights of individuals and states to determine their own futures.

    It is more and more evident that, given the historical record, the structure of the New World Order is being built upon the Foundation of Marijuana Prohibition, and only the relegalization of free-market hemp competition can save us.

    R. William Davis July 4, 1996 Louisville, Kentucky

    A few years later, World War I would forge an even closer relationship between corporations and government in the United States, as well as around the world. Anthony Sampson, in his book "The Arms Bazaar," notes that "the American companies, led by US Steel and du Pont, were transformed by war orders. US Steel, which had absorbed Carnegie's old steel company, had made average annual profits in the four pre-war years of $105 million, while in the four war years they were $240 million; and du Pont's average profit went up from $6 million to $58 million. . . .

    "Certainly the arms companies had become much richer through the war, and there were widespread suspicions that they were actually trying to prolong it." (9)

    The bottom line is, of course, victory or profit, and in what proportions? To what lengths would this nation's top industrial leaders go to secure their share of the profits before and during the next "war to end all war?"

    The coming days of Bush's America.

  23. Dear Editor:

    I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so."

    Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

    Virginia O'Hanlon


    Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

    No Santa Claus! Thank God, he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

    The New York Sun
    September 21, 1897

  24. Tom Hanks Tells Hollywood Whopper in 'Charlie Wilson's War'

    By Melissa Roddy,

    Hollywood wants to avoid a key truth about 9/11.

    "We just can't deal with this 9/11 thing. Does it have to be so there are true stories, and there are true-ish stories. It is a given that, in creating a film narrative, sometimes the truth gets a little bent, but it's against the rules to change facts that change the outcome of history. When telling the story of Antony and Cleopatra, they gotta die at the end, n'est pas. It's inappropriate, for example, to tell the story of World War II and pretend that, because the United States might have given a box of guns to the French Underground, there was no Holocaust. That's a pretty good analogy for what's been done in Charlie Wilson's War.

    In the latter half of the movie, there is one big lie and one item of anti-Afghan propaganda. The lie is that U.S. support to the mujahiddin went only to the faction led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan leader who was assassinated on Sept. 9, 2001. I spoke with Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Texas, in 2002, at which time he called Massoud "a Russian collaborator." I find it disingenuous that Wilson and his Hollywood biographers now want to throw their arms around him. (Note: George Crile's book does not make this false claim.) Moreover, if this movie succeeds in convincing Americans that the U.S. support went to Ahmad Shah Massoud alone, it will have effectively let the CIA and Wilson off the hook for their contribution to the circumstances leading up to 9/11. During the 1980s, Wilson engineered the appropriation of approximately $3.5 billion to help the Afghans fight the Soviets. According to Milt Bearden, CIA chief of station to Pakistan, Massoud received less than 1 percent of it.

    So, if Massoud was not receiving the $3.5 billion that Congress was sending, who was? There were seven factions based in Pakistan who were the recipients of American largesse, but about 40 percent of it went to a blood-thirsty, fundamentalist, loudly anti-American bastard named Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.

    However, instead of using the resources the United States sent him to fight the Soviets, he frequently used them to fight his mujahiddin allies. It was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar who turned Kabul to rubble -- not the Soviets and not the Taliban. Gulbaddin Hekmatyar regularly rocketed his own capitol during his term of office as prime minister. Hekmatyar is renowned for having killed more Afghans than Soviets. He so habitually attacked his mujahiddin allies that many people suspected he was actually a Soviet agent.

    Not only is Hekmatyar anti-American, but he and another anti-American fundamentalist, Abdul Rasul Sayaf, received lots of support during the 1980s from the Saudis. That support included cash and thousands of Arab volunteers, including a wealthy young engineer named Osama bin Laden. It was Hekmatyar and Sayaf who, with bin Laden, established terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why after 9/11, Wilson went on Fox News and said, "This was as much my fault as anybody's." He understood the link between U.S. support for these thugs and the events of that terrible day. But Wilson's mea culpa is not included in Charlie Wilson's War, nor is there any mention of Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, Abdul Rasul Sayaf or Arab volunteers. Interestingly, Hekmatyar and the Arab volunteers did make an appearance in an earlier draft of the script, making it clear that their absence from the final cut was no oversight on the part of the filmmakers.

    Getting back to Ahmad Shah Massoud ...

    As it so happens, Massoud did not receive any financial support from the Saudis, because they mistakenly thought he was a Shia Muslim. He was Sunni. Nevertheless, he was not altogether displeased with the situation, because it meant he didn't have to deal with the Arab jihadis. This is one of several reasons why, had we actually supported Massoud and not Hekmatyar, there would have been no 9/11. To be sure, there were quite a few people during the 1980s, including several U.S. Senators and various journalists, trying to warn Wilson and the CIA that the consequences of supporting Hekmatyar would be globally catastrophic. In response the CIA would always throw up its hands, exclaiming, 'We have no control over the distribution. It's all handled by Pakistan, and the Pakistanis liked Massoud even less than the Saudis.

    But if, as is pointed out in Charlie Wilson's War, "He who has the gold makes the rules," then the United States had the power to control distribution. The CIA simply refused to exercise that power, and Wilson faithfully accepted their word. Other members of Congress, such as Sens. Gordon Humphrey, Daniel P. Moynihan and Gary Hart, tried and tried to convince the CIA to take control of distribution.

    So, why was so much support funneled to this scumbag, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar? This question leads to the anti-Afghan propaganda part of the movie.

    In the same scene in the movie as the misinformation about Massoud is a propagandistic joke deeply offensive to Afghans. This joke (coupled with the Massoud "inaccuracy") is the reason that the Afghan Embassy is boycotting Charlie Wilson's War.

    The joke is: "When a Tajik man wants to make love to a woman, his first choice is a Pashtun man."

    Why is this propagandistic? Because it supports the idea that Afghans are just too tribal to get along. They've always fought each other. As Wilson once said to me, "You put two Afghans in a room, you end up with seven factions." The trouble with this idea is that Afghanistan has been a cohesive nation for several hundred years.

    So who wants the world to believe that Afghans can't get along? Pakistan. The reason for this is the Durrand Line. The Durrand Line is the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it is not very stable. There are Pashtun tribal regions on both sides of the border, and at some point since the establishment of Pakistan (about 60 years ago), it was suggested that the Pashtuns on both sides of the border should unite to create Pashtunistan. This idea makes the government of Pakistan very nervous. In response, they threw their support to Gulbaddin Hekmatyar in the 1980s, because he agreed not to dispute the border, but also because he was deeply feared and disliked by Afghans, and would thus continue to be reliant on Pakistan as his source of power. Pakistan then convinced the CIA, to the cumulative tune of about $1.5 billion, that Gulbaddin was the guy best suited to whoop-ass against the Soviet Union. Later, during the mid 1990s, when he failed to control Afghanistan on their behalf, Pakistan nurtured the Taliban into power.

    So why were these two offenses included in this movie?

    1. The Massoud "inaccuracy" was included because Tom Hanks "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing"; and because Wilson and Joanne Herring (played by Julia Roberts in the movie) threatened legal action after reading an earlier, more honest, draft of the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Herring was Pakistan's honorary consul to the United States in the 1980s, and as such, enlisted Wilson into supporting the cause of the Afghans. Neither Wilson nor Herring wants history to remember them for their contribution to the events that culminated in 9/11.

    2. The really bad joke was included because, when Wilson retired from the House of Representatives, he was so copasetic to Pakistani views that he went to work for Pakistan as their lobbyist -- at the rate of $360,000 per year. Not bad for an old skirt-chasin' boozer.


    As usual the reichwingers screw everything up, blame it on other people, then try to change the historical record to cover up their crimes,

    like they did in Vietnam since the 1950's,

    and they did in Iran since the 1950's,

    and they did in Chile since the 1960's,

    and how they supported Manuel Noriega until they had to attack Panama and depose him,

    and how they supported and armed Saddam Hussien, until he refused to carry their water in the middle east, so we sent over 500,000 American service personnel to clean up another reichwing created mess.

    George H W Bush, Richard Nixon Henry Kissinger, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alan Dulles, John Foster Dulles, Paul Wolfowitz, Casper Weinburger, George W Bush, all traitors to the real America the founders envisioned and millions of good American people serving in uniform died trying to protect. Little did all those true heroes who were willing to serve in uniform and go into harms way for their country realize, the real enemy of the country would lie and cheat to steal power to destroy the country from the inside for nothing more then their personal greed and a illegitimate ideology which was born while their for runners plotted to over throw FDR (the Smedley affair) and some even served Hitlers aims (like Prescott Bush did) while this country had soldiers and sailors giving their lives trying to stop Hitler and those he represented(Prescott Bush and the industrialists who funded the Smedley coup attempt against a correctly elected US President they didn't like){sort of a forerunner of the supreme court coup of 2000}, too bad the cancer of the reichwing was allowed to live here in America to grow to destroy the US in the last seven years.

    Because the blow back from the last seven years is gonna make the blow back from the stupid reichwing policies of the 50's and 80's look mild by comparison.

  25. Larry,

    Drag queen Ru-Dee was in Rochester, NY last night at a fundraiser at a private home here in the upscale suburb of Brighton.

    The local TV news (WHAM) reported he was scheduled to appear before the bash at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Q in downtown Rochester but he arrived 5 hours late, went straight to the fundraiser where he only stayed for 30 minutes and then departed.

    Some have suggested his behavior doesn't sound like a healthy man able to carry out the rigors of a presidential campaign.

  26. Christopher:

    Maybe that is why Guiliani admitted himself to a St Louis hospital for those "flu like" symptoms.

  27. Larry,

    On the otherhand, maybe Ru-Dee got sick in St. Fluey after he saw the internal poll numbers for Iowa that show it's Obama v. Huckabee?

    Ru-Dee is such a scoundrel.

  28. Christopher:

    It could also be he is hiding out until the settlement between Newscorp and Judith Regan is sealed and his secrets remain hidden.

  29. California nurses group says insurer CIGNA has 'blood on their hands'
    The family of a 17-year-old California girl who died after being initially denied payment for a liver transplant is suing the teen's insurance company, an attorney for the family said Friday.

    Nataline Sarkisyan, who died Thursday night after her family removed her from life support, had been in a vegetative state for weeks due to complications following a bone marrow transplant. Insurer CIGNA HealthCare had first denied a doctor-recommended liver transplant for Nataline, who suffered from leukemia, but had reversed course yesterday in the face of mounting public pressure.

    The girl had been hospitalized since mid-November, but her condition had recently worsened due to a lung condition, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. It was not immediately clear when Nataline entered a vegetative state.

    Noted defense attorney Mark Geragos told reporters at a Friday news conference that the girl's family will file a civil lawsuit against CIGNA, as well as urge a California district attorney to seek either manslaughter or murder charges against the company.

    "CIGNA Health Corporation literally, maliciously killed her...they conciously disregarded her life," Geragos said of CIGNA. "And they did that for one specific reason: they did not want to pay for her after-care."

    Doctors at UCLA determined she needed a transplant and sent a letter to CIGNA on Dec. 11 stating that patients in similar situations who undergo transplants had a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent. The Philadelphia-based health insurance company denied payment for the transplant, saying the procedure was experimental and outside the scope of coverage.

    On Thursday, about 150 teenagers and nurses protested outside CIGNA's office in Glendale, Calif. As the protesters rallied, the company rethought its earlier decision and said it would approve the transplant.

    But the reversal didn't come early enough to help Nataline.

    This is healthcare is Bush's America.

  30. Food banks across the United States are in desperate need of food or else many will go hungry this Holiday season, reports the Jim Lehrer News Hour. Chicago correspondent Elizabeth Brackett visited numerous food pantries throughout the city, all of which are struggling with lack of supplies.

    According to Debra Ocampo, director of the Union Ave. United Methodist Church Pantry, supplies have gone down to about 2/3 of what they were in recent years. These past months have been especially troubling: barely any vegetables or fruit have been donated.

    "From week to week we worry ... are we going to be able to feed the people who come in?" says Ocampo.

    Vicki Escarra of America's Second Harvest estimates that more than 35 million Americans lack access to enough food to stay healthy.

    "This is a really critical time [to turn people away]," she says.

    It's not just the homeless who are affected, but 25 million Americans, including individuals who are unable to work to support themselves: 9 million children and 3 million senior citizens are in need of food.

    "I knew I had to swallow my pride," says David Suarez, a senior citizen recently overwhelmed by medical bills. Suarez and his wife found themselves in want of food for the first time in their lives due to their recent illnesses.

    "I never expected to be 'everybody,'" says Suarez, but adds that the people at the food bank made him feel welcome and "told [him] not to walk around with [his] head down."

    Banks and pantries receive most of their food from government commodities and donations from the food industry, with the rest coming from local donations. Unfortunately, government commodities have decreased to less than half of what they were two years ago, due to a healthy farm economy and higher food prices.

    Additionally, the 140 million dollars allocated for the Government's emergency food assistance program (EFAP) doesn't buy as much food as it did when the program began in 2002. Would the newly proposed farm bill -- which calls for 250 million dollars allocated as well as more money for fruits and vegetables -- help the cause? According to Kate Maehr, president of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the bill, which is currently under danger of presidential veto, would mean that "food would flow out ... all throughout this community."

    Unfortunately, the bill is not a solution for the immediate crisis, and it's not just Government commodities that are in decline. For years, large food companies have donated dented and crunched cans to food banks. But, due to higher efficiency standards and better operating systems, less flawed cans are produced, causing a decline in food industry donations.

    "At the end of the day ... that's part of the changing landscape of being a food bank," says Maehr.

    Now, according to Maehr, food drives are becoming a critical source of food. But, will small, local donations really help the crisis? Maehr says she "couldn't get out of bed in the morning" if she didn't believe individual donations could make up for the decline in government and corporate donations.

    But, without a significant increase in contributions before the end of the year, Maehr feels that "hunger will be a part of far too many Americans' holiday season."

    A record number of Americans are hungry, both adults and children: Only in Bush's America.

  31. Great article, Lydia!

    8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

    It's also a sign of authentic faith.

  32. Turkish warplanes bombed separatist Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Saturday, a statement posted on the military's Web site said.

    The military vowed to continue operations on both sides of Turkish-Iraqi border "no matter how the conditions are."

    Looks like Bush's favorite war has more wanting to join in.

  33. BMW AG said Friday it will cut thousands of jobs next year, three months after incoming CEO Norbert Reithofer said he would focus on increasing the rate of return for the automaker.

    Mathias Schmidt, a spokesman at the Munich-based company, did not say exactly how many thousands of jobs would be cut. The Der Spiegel news magazine Web site put the figure at 8,000.

    Another result of the faltering Bush economy.

  34. "Suppose Iraq invaded America. And an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them, raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that? This is why no Iraqi can accept occupation, and don't be surprised by their reactions," says "The Imam," a young man from a mixed Sunni-Shia family, as he explains the genesis of the insurgency in Iraq and its exponential growth.

    He is one of the protagonists that Meeting Resistance presents as unmistakable evidence that the root cause of the conflict in Iraq is the occupation itself. The film has resistance fighters themselves tell their story.

    Journalists-turned-filmmakers Molly Bingham and Steve Connors were compelled to film this documentary during their early reporting of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. They used the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad to explore and depict an insurgency that has been caricatured by the Bush Administration.

    Bingham, who has reported previously from Rwanda, the Gaza Strip, and Iran, was the official photographer to the Office of the Vice President of the United States from 1998 to 2001. She believes that it is imperative to understand the people within the resistance if the United States is to find a solution to the Iraq quagmire.

    Bingham teamed up with Connors, a photographer who has covered ten conflicts and is a former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. Between the two of them they share thirty-three years of experience in covering conflicts around the globe.

    In August of 2003, they began working on the film. The project kept them in Baghdad for ten months, as Connors filmed and Bingham wrote the script.

    The eighty-five-minute groundbreaking film focuses on ten members of the Iraqi resistance. Interspersed with stunning footage of the aftermath of car bomb attacks, of frightened soldiers aiming their weapons at crowds of Iraqis, and of burning remains of destroyed military vehicles, the meat of the film is the words of the fighters themselves.

    "I felt a fire in my heart," one of them recounts. "When they occupied Iraq, they subjugated me, subjugated my sister, subjugated my mother, subjugated my honor, my homeland. Every time I saw them I felt pain. They pissed me off, so I started working [in the resistance]."

    The complex nature of their lives speaks to the intricacies of the Iraqi resistance.

    "The Teacher," for instance, is married with three children, and always loathed the Ba'ath Party. "The Wife" is a Shiite woman who works as a courier, carrying messages and weapons between groups when she is not watching her two children. Other members, Sunni and Shia alike, work as consultants, weapon producers, and strategists.

    In the spring of 2004, a twenty six-year-old photographer in Baghdad told me in an interview that "this is not a rebellion, this is a resistance against the occupation. The media concentrates on the Americans, and does not care about Iraqis." He had been opposed to the regime of Saddam Hussein, and had even welcomed the U.S. invasion, but had quickly grown weary of watching his fellow countrymen humiliated and killed by the occupiers. Like the people in Meeting Resistance, he had subsequently taken up arms.

    Connors understands this frustration toward Western media coverage of the occupation. "A major weapon in the arsenal of a modern military is the use of information operations," he says. "These operations, which often take the form of misinformation or disinformation, are directed as much at the enemy population as it is at our own population, without whose support the military cannot continue to execute a war."

    He aims to counteract this propaganda.

    "To place an opponent like the Iraqi resistance in the human space of ordinary people defending their right to self-determination is to challenge our view of ourselves as liberators," says Connors.

    While laying bare the motivations of the resistance, the film also does a forceful job of dispelling other myths.

    One of the interviewed, referred to as "The Republican Guard" since he was a career officer in Saddam Hussein's military, is a Sunni married to a Shia woman. "The Sunni and Shia are bound together by blood and family ties," he explains. "I am married to a Shia, my sister is married to a Shia. I can't kill my own children's uncles or kill my wife, the mother of my children."

    One scene includes a butcher hacking away at a side of beef. "Iraq is our homeland, it's our Iraq," he says. "If you don't defend your land, you will not defend your honor."

    The film recognizes that the resistance has the tacit support of a large percentage of the population, even though the Bush Administration doesn't acknowledge this.

    "The Administration chooses to portray people who oppose their will in Iraq as terrorists or extremists who live on the fringes of Iraqi society, isolated from their own countrymen," says Bingham. "Without doubt some individuals involved in attacking U.S. troops are 'extreme' in their beliefs, and they are relentless fighters in the pursuit of their goals, but they are very human and very much part of the social structure of Iraqi society, and move within it. If we removed the context of occupation--in all its forms--from Iraq, most of them would stand down and return to their lives."

    Aside from screenings at international film festivals and numerous private and public shows, Connors and Bingham screened the film at West Point, the U.S. Marine Corps staff college at Quantico, and Baghdad.

    Bingham feels that the film represented a radically different perspective to the military personnel who viewed it.

    "The bulk of the people were taking on new information that was a dramatic paradigm shift for them," she says. "To see their enemy as largely fighting for their homeland because of nationalism and religion, rather than being terrorists, is a big deal."

  35. (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up near an Iraqi police and army checkpoint in western Baghdad on Saturday, killing four people and wounding six, police said.

    Police said one of those killed in the attack in the Ghazaliya district was an Iraqi soldier, while the other three bodies were charred beyond recognition and unidentified.

    Bush's war is still going as planned.

  36. Lawyers Stepping Up:

    Katrina vanden Heuvel: We are lawyers in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law…. We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws…. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight …. Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution…. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. — American Lawyers Defending the Constitution

    Over one thousand lawyers – including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein – have signed onto the above statement demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration.

    In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and winner of the 2007 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, said: “The majority of lawyers in this country understand that the Bush administration has really gone off the page of constitutional rights and off the page of fundamental rights, and is willing to push the Congress to restore those rights.” Ratner said he was “dismayed” that a Democratic majority has failed “to push on key illegalities… the torture program, and now the destruction of the tapes involving the torture program; the warrantless wiretapping, the denial of habeas corpus, the secret sites/rendition program, special trials, and of course what we now know is the firing of US Attorneys scandal…. The minimal that absolutely is needed to get us back on the page of law is to have serious investigative hearings that go up the chain of command and figure out who is responsible for what.”

    Ratner noted that even with regard to the US attorney’s investigations, where Congressional committees held Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove in contempt, leadership has failed to enforce these actions by bringing the resolutions to a vote. “Just announcing that investigations will be held and subpoenas will be issued is terribly insufficient unless Congress is willing to enforce the subpoenas by issuing contempt citations,” Ratner said. “Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee the activities of the executive branch and our entire system of government is threatened when Congress simply folds before an obstinate executive. Issuing contempt citations against Bolten, Miers, and Rove should be Congress’s first order of business in 2008.”

    Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, discussed the administration’s torture program violating three US-ratified treaties and the US torture statute; the illegal War in Iraq violating the US-ratified UN Charter as a war of aggression; and Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s conflict of interest in overseeing investigations into the torture program and the destruction of the CIA interrogations tapes.

    Also speaking with reporters was Jesselyn Raddack, a former Justice Department ethics lawyer who served as an advisor during the interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban”). Raddack said, “My e-mails documented my advice against interrogating Lindh without a lawyer, and concluded that the FBI committed an ethics violation when it did so anyway. Both the CIA videotapes and my e-mails were destroyed, in part, because officials were concerned that they documented controversial interrogation methods that could put agency officials in legal jeopardy…. ” Raddack pointed to the Department of Justice’s investigations of Enron and Arthur Anderson for obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence, and the need for the same aggressive oversight and legal proceedings in these scandals.

    This is a vital effort by those charged with defending our constitution, as Ratner said, “This lawyers’ letter and the growing number of signatures we’ll have on it, and prominent people – it’s a way of saying to Congress, ‘You need some backbone. You need to have a serious investigation, wherever it might go, on these issues that really have taken the United States out of the mainstream of human rights.’ It’s absolutely critical… We’ve opened up the door to illegality…. Unless we have accountability on those illegalities, we’re going to be facing a very bleak future in which fundamental rights will not really be obeyed.”

  37. Delivering the journalistic equivalent of a giant lump of coal three days before Christmas, the Concord Monitor editorial board has leveled an extraordinary broadside against Mitt Romney, declaring in an editorial to be published in Sunday's paper that the former Massachusetts governor "must be stopped" in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

    The Monitor has not yet endorsed in either party's primary. Instead, it chose the Sunday of the Fourth Advent to issue an unusual anti-endorsement dripping with scorn under the headline "Romney should not be the next president."

    The piece begins: "If you were building a Republican presidential candidate from a kit, imagine what pieces you might use: an athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes - plus some new positions for 2008: anti-immigrant rhetoric and a focus on faith.

    Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped."

    It continues: "If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core."

    And it concludes: "When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it.

    Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no."

    The Monitor editorial board leans left, and the paper is often viewed as a liberal counterweight to the conservative Union Leader of Manchester. But with its anti-Romney assault the paper finds itself on the same page as the Union Leader, which has endorsed John McCain for the Republican nomination and followed that up with harsh editorial critiques of Romney. For Romney, this may be a case of familiarity breeding contempt -- while his years as governor in the state next door may benefit him with some voters in New Hampshire, his proximity also means that close observers of his governorship are more aware than most of the discrepancies between his moderate record in Massachusetts and his rightward tilt on the campaign trail.

    Romney's rough handling from the New Hampshire press is coming as he is sees his months-long steady lead in the New Hampshire polls shrinking with the resurgence of McCain in New Hampshire, and the rise of Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

    This weekend's broadside from the Monitor is all the more striking given that Romney appeared to leave a good initial impression in his interview with the editorial board last month. An editorial that followed that meeting declared, under the headline "Romney has good grasp of nation's problems":

    Poor slick neocon can't get a break!

  38. While violence is slowly subsiding in parts of Iraq, living conditions are still deplorable. According to a new U.N. Children's Fund estimate, two million children in Iraq face the “unrelenting threats of poor nutrition, disease and no school.”

    “Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of the conflict this year, with hundreds losing their lives or injured by violence,” the agency said. “Many more had the main wage-earner in their family kidnapped or killed.”

    UNICEF determined that only 28 percent of Iraqi 17-year-olds completed their final school exams this year. As more families sought shelter in safer Iraqi regions or other countries, an average of 25,000 children per month fled their homes this year.

    Security concerns and mass displacement have made it difficult to raise funds and deliver needed aid. UNICEF only received $40 million towards its $144 million appeal for Iraq this year, spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told a news briefing in Geneva. But the U.N. Children's Fund thinks there is a window of opportunity for more aid to reach Iraqi children in 2008.

    "Iraqi children are the foundation for their country's recovery,” said Roger Wright, UNICEF's special representative for Iraq. “We continue to owe them our very best in 2008 and beyond.”

    A BBC clip details this depravity through the stories of two teenage boys. The first is a 13-year old whose growth was stunted by poverty. Instead of attending school, he sells cans of oil on the black market, and has little ambition. The second survived a bombing, but was badly wounded. "This is a glass eye," he says. "I can't see with it. There's still shrapnel in my heart and I have wounds caused by shrapnel all over my body."

    Thus another victory for the Bush War On Humanity!

  39. Joe Wilson's ''Loyal Bushie'' Moment:

    A. Alexander,

    One needn't search long or look far to understand what has gone wrong in today's America. Joe Wilson, outed CIA agent Valerie Plame-Wilson's husband, provided an excellent example of why and how the United States of America came to find itself resting on the precarious precipice of utter ruination. Sadly, like far too many inside-the-beltway junkies, by defending Hillary Clinton's so-called foreign policy credentials and belittling Obama's, Joe Wilson allowed himself to place friendship over substance. It is exactly this kind of dysfunctional behavior that drove the Bush administration's every decision.

    The self-proclaimed 'Loyal Bushies' placed more weight on a potential appointees' political affiliation, voting records, friendships, and religion than they did on the person's ability to do the job that they were being considered to perform. The result has been disastrous! From the Hurricane Katrina 'Heckuva Job' Brownie fiasco to reconstruction in Iraq, the Bush administration's cronyism and desire to promote friends over competent and qualified candidates has led to the most egregious failures imaginable.

    When choosing sides for sandlot football, picking a friend over a truly skilled player is honorable and loyal. When choosing the next leader of one's beloved country, picking a friend over a potentially better qualified candidate is pure lunacy! Yet, Joe Wilson's endorsement of Hillary Clinton is exactly that ... lunacy!

    No one is saying that Barack Obama is the most experienced foreign policy guy in the world, but many people bragged about the fact that George W. Bush's cabinet was supposedly one of the most experienced foreign policy teams ever put together. Look where that crew has gotten the United States. If there is a country on the planet that is still, without qualification, willing to claim America as a friend, feel free to speak up. There isn't one.

    Joe Wilson would prefer that Democratic primary voters believe that Obama just doesn't know anything about foreign policy, and Valerie Plame's husband is welcome to his opinion. One wonders though, if Joe Wilson used to worry about the foreign policy experience of the onetime Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. It is hard to imagine the former Governor of Arkansas had ever been overwhelmed by a tidal wave of complex foreign policy problems. But Joe Wilson probably wasn't too concerned about his buddy Bill's 'foreign policy experience'.

    Perhaps, Wilson's friendship-based support for Hillary wouldn't be so worrisome if he had given sound reasons for choosing to endorse Clinton, while simultaneously attempting to undermine Obama ... but that isn't the case at all. According to Joe Wilson, Hillary Clinton's service as Bill Clinton's wife makes her a foreign policy expert. Really? That's all it takes ... Hillary and Bill made good traveling companions for Wilson on their shared African safari. Wow! Let's elect her President!

    Sadly, this is how Washington operates. If Joe Wilson and Wes Clark want to be part of the Clinton administration, they had better defend Mike Brown ... err ... Heckuva Job Hillary ... aahh ... Clinton now, or she and Crazy James Carville won't consider them for jobs at a later date. But this is sheer Bush-like lunacy!

    Wilson and Democratic voters are perfectly right to endorse and vote as they choose, but the facts are these:

    1. Hillary doesn't have any REAL foreign policy experience

    2. Hillary's foreign policy judgment, as proven by her support for Bush's Iraq invasion and Lieberman's bomb Iran doctrine, isn't exactly stellar

    3. In a general election Hillary really, truly, honestly doesn't stand a chance against the Republican machine. She can barely overcome Obama and he hasn't said anything about ANY of the MANY Clinton-linked scandals ... the Republicans won't be so kind

    The biggest problem with America today, when it comes to assessing qualifications and as proven by the 'Loyal Bushies', is that dysfunctional personal relationships and personal loyalties have replaced leadership, sound judgment and competence. Joe Wilson is welcome to endorse Hillary Clinton, but his contrived and ridiculous rationalizations for doing so, certainly don't reflect well on his character. Seriously, if Joe Wilson is going to consider a shared eleven-day tour of Africa as the basis for his endorsement of Hillary's 'foreign policy experience', then Heckuva Job Brownie's post-Katrina time spent in New Orleans, qualify him as a hurricane expert.

    Joe Wilson: Hillary Lover

  40. Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

    The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

    The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

    As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

    While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it's just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, local housing experts say.

    "They don't hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when they really bottom out."

    Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name, moved to tent city four months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work and said rents are too high.

    "House prices are going down, but the rentals are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go."

    Nationally, foreclosures are at an all-time high. Filings are up nearly 100 percent from a year ago, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. Officials say that as many as half a million people could lose their homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two years.

    California ranks second in the nation for foreclosure filings -- one per 88 households last quarter. Within California, San Bernardino county in the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for every 43 households, according to RealtyTrac.

    Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream house in San Bernardino in 2003 and now risks losing it after falling four months behind on mortgage payments.

    "It's not just us. It's all over," said Hernandez, who lives in a neighborhood where most families are struggling to meet payments and many have lost their homes.

    She has noticed an increase in crime since the foreclosures started. Her house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen and she worries about what type of message empty houses send.

    The pattern is cropping up in communities across the country, like Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire blocks of homes in Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded up.

    "I don't think there are enough police to go after criminals holed up in those houses, squatting or doing drug deals or whatever," Wiseman said.

    "And it's not just a problem of a neighborhood filled with people squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left behind, who have to worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking into your house while you're sleeping."

    Health risks are also on the rise. All those empty swimming pools in California's Inland Empire have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, Riverside County officials say.

    But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA.

    "Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, now can't afford it," said Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect."

    For cities, foreclosures can trigger a range of short-term costs, like added policing, inspection and code enforcement. These expenses can be significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San Bernardino Police Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties lower home values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues.

    And it all comes at a time when municipalities are ill-equipped to respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home values are sapping property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to tackle such problems.

    Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush rolled out a plan to slow foreclosures by freezing the interest rates on some loans. But for many in these parts, the intervention is too little and too late.

    Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said his organization is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle the volume of people seeking help.

    "We feel helpless," said Sawa. "Obviously, it's a local problem because it's in our backyard, but the solution is not local."

    The Bush Economic Plan: Turn America into One Huge "Tent City."

  41. Lydia, just wanted to say Happy Holidays to you all! Best wishes for a great 2008 and let's hope we get a great candidate to TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!

  42. Merry Christmas to you Lydia and your lovely family!


  43. Merry Christmas to Worf, Larry, Carl, Mike, Jolly, Carl, Tomcat, Clif, Jim, Tom, Christopher, and everyone!

    I miss you guys and I'm going to try to visit your blogs more often next year! :)


  45. Suzie-Q (S-Q) said...
    Merry Christmas to Worf, Larry, Carl, Mike, Jolly, Carl, Tomcat, Clif, Jim, Tom, Christopher, and everyone!

    I miss you guys and I'm going to try to visit your blogs more often next year! :)"

    Merry Christmas SQ, i;m going to have to try to make more time to visit your blog next year, i miss you guys as well.

  46. Hey Lydia, your kids are getting big, they look much more grown up and mature.

    BTW, its about time long hair for guys and tight jeans and short dresses for girls came back.

  47. BTW, any one watch hardball yesterday, Andrew Sullivan was ansolutely ripping Ann Coulter.

  48. Nice photo Lydia! Just stopped by to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Have fun with Hubby and the children!

  49. Merry Christmas Lydia, Mike, Larry, Clif, Tomcat, MauiGirl, SuzieQ, AveragePatriot, JollyRoger and everyone else.

  50. Lydia...

    For you and yours...
    Just wanted to wish you a Joyous Holiday Season.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    God Bless.

  51. Merry Christmas Bartlebe!!!!!!

    BTW, i watched a movie called Race Against Time last night and I immediately thought it was something you would like paints a vivid image of where things could go in this country if the corporatists continue transforming our country into a fascist police state and we lose our soul completely it was written to take place in the future which coincidentally is to get to the point if your looking for a DVD to buy i'd give it a try its pretty good.

  52. Just wanted to stop in and wish everybody a very Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate. While I know that I have been difficult from time to time, I want you all to know that I love the blog, the people in it and that I have learned more here than I ever could have dreamed possible.

    With it being my birthday, I traditionally use Christmas as the time when I sit back and evaluate my life and the world I live in. If you will have me, I would love to continue contributing to the blog, reading what you have to say, hopefully develop some friendships, and keep being star-struck by Lydia (you'd think after 7 months I'd get over that but .. nah!)

    Best wishes to all!

    Mike aka MCH

  53. Merry Christmas, Lydia, Tomcat, Larry, SQ, Patriot, Anon Paranoid, Christopher, Jolly Roger, Maui Girl, MCH, Clif, Alicia, Lynne, Sailor Fraud, GEF, Mirth, and Everyone Else!

  54. Happy Birthday MCH............although a Christmas birthday sure sounds coo, i'll bet that kinda sucked when you were a kid and everyone combined both holidays when they got you presents or made a party.

    Glad to have you buddy, you have posted some real good and interesting posts.

    we cant agree about everything, but i think we agree on MOST things.

  55. Happy B-Day MCH.


    You're not Jesus are you?

  56. Ho! Ho!! Ho!!! SantaCat wishes you all a purrrfect Christmas.

    Next year, please leave catnip with the milk and cookies. :-)

  57. Merry Christmas to:

    Tomcat,SQ, Patriot, Anon Paranoid, Christopher, Jolly Roger, Maui Girl, Clif, Alicia, Lynne, Sailor Fraud, GEF, Mirth, Rhea, Sumo, Enigma, Betmo, Holly, Dusty,Kathy,Bartlebee, Brother Tim, Lets'Talk,Two Crows, Phil in NY,Mike, Naj,Anok,Polishifter,Mary Ellen, Carl, Jacq, NY Texan and all the other blogging friends at Lydia's blog.

    Most of all Merry Christmas Lydia!

  58. You're not Jesus are you?

    Um ... I wondered why the first-name slot on my birth certificate read "Anti" rather than "Mike"

  59. Lydia--
    Wally da Weasel and I would like to wish you, Larry, and all the rest, a most Peaceful and Blessed Christmas. The prayers of a righteous man availeth much. With corporate prayer, I believe peace IS attainable. I believe in miracles, as I have been witness to them first-hand, many times.
    Peace and Grace, Sister.

    In regards to the experience thing with Obama: Prostitutes have plenty of experience, but I wouldn't want to marry one and take her home to show mamma.


    2008 is going to be the best year yet.

    God Bless,

  61. Brother Tim, I am compiling a list of miracles. I'd love to hear about yours.

  62. Lydia, when you compile your list of miracles, use your heart as a starting point. :-)

  63. Tomcat - that is so sweet. You are a blessing to everyone.


  64. And we all need to count our blessings. My girlfriend came over for Christmas yesterday, and she is going blind with RP. She lives alone but is somehow able to function by keeping an optimistic spirit (involving a lot of prayer.)

    Prayer is simply letting go and choosing to trust that there is a higher power, a force of love that takes care of us -- that the universe is loving, and that we do not have to struggle.

    Acceptance is the key to serenity. Once you accept your situation and stop fighting everyone and everything, then the answers come. There is always breathing room. Sometimes we need to lose everything to wake up and see that we can still survive.

    When my friend stopped fighting and starting reaching out for help, miracles started to happen. We can't do this life alone. We all need each other. and we need to "cast our burdens" on God, take a leap of faith that there actually might be help out there, and lean on the kindness of strangers.

    My friend never wanted to appear "blind," so she stumbled around and was hit by a car one day. She finally had to let down her pride and use a cane. That's when people started helping her. All sorts of blessings came into her life by merely admitting she needed help.

    I have often tried to go it alone in my career, but I realize I can do nothing alone. Ask and you receive....

    Merry Christmas

  65. Lydia Cornell said...

    2008 is going to be the best year yet.

    God Bless,

    Hey Lydia, do you realize that 2008 will be the 4th year this blog has been around......2005, 2006, 2007, 2008!

  66. That was a good post Lydia.

  67. The résumé factor: Those 2 terms as first lady
    Clinton appeared to learn more through osmosis than decision-making.

    By Patrick Healy

    updated 9:16 p.m. MT, Tues., Dec. 25, 2007
    This is part of a series of articles about the life and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.

    As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jaw-boned the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Roman Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure; one meeting with mutilated Rwandan refugees so unsettled her that she threw up afterward.

    But during those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

    And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.

    Value, depth of experience debated
    In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. But as the junior senator from New York, she has few significant legislative accomplishments to her name. She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her “eight years with a front-row seat on history.”

    Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency. Senator Barack Obama has especially questioned “what experiences she’s claiming” as first lady, noting that the job is not the same as being a cabinet member, much less president.

    And late last week, Mr. Obama suggested that more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration were supporting his candidacy than hers; his campaign released a list naming about 45 of them, and said that others were not ready to go public. Mrs. Clinton quickly put out a list of 80 who were supporting her, and plans to release another 75 names on Wednesday.

    Mrs. Clinton’s role in her most high-profile assignment as first lady, the failed health care initiative of the early 1990s, has been well documented. Yet little has been made public about her involvement in foreign policy and national security as first lady. Documents about her work remain classified at the National Archives. Mrs. Clinton has declined to divulge the private advice she gave her husband.

    An interview with Mrs. Clinton, conversations with 35 Clinton administration officials and a review of books about her White House years suggest that she was more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making, and who grew gradually more comfortable with the use of military power.

    Her time in the White House was a period of transition in foreign policy and national security, with the cold war over and the threat of Islamic terrorism still emerging. As a result, while in the White House, she was never fully a part of either the old school that had been focused on the Soviet Union and the possibility of nuclear war or the more recent strain of national security thinking defined by issues like nonstate threats and the proliferation of nuclear technology.

    Associates from that time said that she was aware of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and what her husband has in recent years characterized as his intense focus on them, but that she made no aggressive independent effort to shape policy or gather information about the threat of terrorism.

    First lady exercised ‘soft power’
    She did not wrestle directly with many of the other challenges the next president will face, including managing a large-scale deployment — or withdrawal — of troops abroad, an overhaul of the intelligence agencies or the effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Most of her exposure to the military has come since she left the White House through her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    When it came to the regional conflicts in the Balkans, she, along with many officials, was cautious at first about supporting American military intervention, though she later backed air strikes against the Serbs and the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
    Her role mostly involved what diplomats call “soft power” — converting cold war foes into friends, supporting nonprofit work and good-will endeavors, and pressing her agenda on women’s rights, human trafficking and the expanded use of microcredits, tiny loans to help individuals in poor countries start small businesses.

    Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics, describing her strategic roles on trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, India, Africa and Latin America.

    Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “The whole unfortunate experience we’ve had with the Bush administration, where they haven’t done what we’ve needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people’s different perspectives — it’s more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests.”
    Crisis at home and terror afar
    There were times, though, when Mrs. Clinton did not appear deeply involved in some of Mr. Clinton’s hardest moments on national security. He faced a major one in 1998 — the bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and subsequently whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan. Just days after he acknowledged to his wife, the public and a grand jury that he had had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on targets suspected to be a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and a chemical weapons factory in Sudan.

    “It was the height of Monica, and they were barely talking to each other, if at all,” said one senior national security official who spoke with both Clintons during that time.

    Asked if she talked to the president about the military choices or advised him, regardless of their personal problems, Mrs. Clinton was elliptical.

    “I was very proud of him, he did what he thought he was supposed to do as president based on the best intelligence he had,” she said. “And he was well aware that there would be those that would certainly criticize him for it.”

    ‘Last court of appeal’
    Friends of Mrs. Clinton say that she acted as adviser, analyst, devil’s advocate, problem-solver and gut check for her husband, and that she has an intuitive sense of how brutal the job can be. What is clear, she and others say, is that Mr. Clinton often consulted her, and that Mrs. Clinton gained experience that Mr. Obama, John Edwards and every other candidate lack — indeed, that most incoming presidents did not have.

    “In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.” (Mr. Clinton declined an interview request.)

    But other administration officials, as well as opponents of Mrs. Clinton, are skeptical that the couple’s conversations and her 79 trips add up to unique experience that voters should reward. She was not independently judging intelligence, for the most part, or mediating the data, egos and agendas of a national security team. And, in the end, she did not feel or process the weight of responsibility.

    Susan Rice, a National Security Council senior aide and State Department official under Mr. Clinton who now advises Mr. Obama, said Mrs. Clinton was not involved in “the heavy lifting of foreign policy.” Ms. Rice also took issue with a recent comment by a Clinton campaign official that Mrs. Clinton was “the face of the administration in foreign affairs.”

    “Making tough decisions, responding to crises, making the bureaucracy implement decisions that they may not want to implement — that’s the hard part of foreign policy,” Ms. Rice said. “That’s not what Mrs. Clinton was asked or expected to do as first lady.”

    Not overstepping her bounds
    Mrs. Clinton said in the interview that she was careful not to overstep her bounds on national security, relying instead on informal access. During the preinaugural transition, for instance, she sat in on some meetings about presidential appointments at the invitation of Warren Christopher, who directed the transition and became secretary of state in the first Clinton term. Participants recalled that she would mostly speak when Mr. Christopher called on her, and tended to make points about placing more women, minority members and allies in key jobs.

    She said she did not attend National Security Council meetings, nor did she have a security clearance — though she was briefed on classified intelligence before going on some important diplomatic trips.

    Asked about her role in Somalia and Haiti, Mr. Christopher said in an interview, “She wasn’t at any of the meetings in the Oval Office or cabinet room, and didn’t take any formal role that I saw.” Mr. Christopher is supporting Mrs. Clinton for president.

    Nor was Mrs. Clinton a memorable player on Rwanda. Former White House officials say that no one — not the national security team, not the president, not the first lady — was seriously pushing for American military intervention to stop or slow the unfolding genocide there; the administration’s focus was on confronting the ethnic bloodshed in the Balkans. Mrs. Clinton declined to comment on Rwanda.

  68. So it appears Hillary Clinton is talking out of one side of her mouth and saying how imortant experience is and how much important experience she has then talking out of the other side of her mouth and trivializing how important that experience is by saying merely being a spouse observing as a third party is ALL thats required to gain experience.

    So by Mrs Clinton;s hippocritical standards World Class Surgeon's wives should be able to jump in and perform Surgery, International Chess Master's wives should be able to jump right in and be competitive with other Grandmasters, and the Wives of top CEO's should just be able to jump right in and hit the ground running and be to CEO's just because they were msarried to one.

    We Know one thing Hillary has fuzzy logic and tells tall tales and pretends to be a tough guy just like our current President............I dont waqnt a President who PRETENDS to be tough I want one who is actually smart and courageous.

  69. Watched SICKO last night on TV. This should be required watching in all schools and universities and for all Americans.

    France, England, Canada and all civilized nations take care of their citizens. It's a "we" mentality not a greed-based "I" mentality. They make sure everyone is taken care of no matter what income level, class, race, gender or pre-existing condition you have. Since stress is the number one cause of all illness (got this info from a genetic scientist who says stress and worry are the root cause of more disease than any other factor) these nations make sure their citizens are stress-free in regards to health care -- thereby increasing the productivity and good will of the workforce. In these countries the will of the people is more important than the will of the government. Everyone lives longer than we do; they are less sick, less obese and less drug-addicted.

    What is amazing is that if you are in an accident or sick, you get full pay, time to heal, preventative care - and help with maternity leave. These are truly democratic nations, in which the PEOPLE RUN THE COUNTRY. The government serves the people. THEY ARE NOT RULED BY A PRIVILEGED ELITE. They are patriotic, productive and happy. THeir children are never denied coverage for life-threatening illnesses as our children in America are. What a difference.

    In our country, the managed health care system is rewarded for denying claims - in other words, in a country of so-called "family values" we throw away our children, deny them life-sustaining coverage and have a much higher infant mortality rate.

    The saddest thing is, some CEOs of these managed health care agencies like Kaiser and Cigna are speaking out. They can't live with themselves for denying coverage to people and then finding out they actually "killed" people. They are rewarded with huge pay raises and bonuses for denying coverage to desperate people who have health insurance. One child was sent away and died because Kaiser wouldn't cover her for antibiotics at a different hospital.


    And it's all because of the greed of the Republican leadership.

    Mike - watch SICKO again and see what they did to Hilary Clinton. I actually think she'd be a good president, as would Obama, Edwards, Kucinich, Dodd, Biden, Gravel, and Richardson. Any Democrat is someone we must support.

    10:32 PM

  70. Lydia said "Mike - watch SICKO again and see what they did to Hilary Clinton. I actually think she'd be a good president, as would Obama, Edwards, Kucinich, Dodd, Biden, Gravel, and Richardson. Any Democrat is someone we must support. "

    I plan on watching Sicko again Lydia, and i'll conceded if we are comparing Hillary to Bush she would be a decent president, but Edwards and Obama would be head and shoulders better than Hillary, i think Hillary is a corporatist Democrat or basically a repug lite.

    For the record Michael Moore Didnt do anything "to" Hillary but tell the truth despite strong arm tactics from one of his top investors a guy from Buffalo that one of my relatives knows who tried to make him leave out the truth to make Hillary look good for the election.

    I think the difference between Progressives and most Conservatives is we deal in facts and truth and they deal in spin, lies and dishonest talking points, most Conservatives would not have a problem using spin or ommission of facts or even lies to bend reality to fit their talking points Michael Moore had too much intergrity for that, i think most of us feel the same way, we are not partisans and idealogoes, if a democrat does something wrong we dont try to attack the victim, lie, spin, or blindly defend them and sweep it under the rug. loyalty to a friend is one thing, loyalty to a criminal or crooked politician betrays the interests of the many for the interests of the privliged few and i think THATS the point Moore was trying to get out, as well as the fact that he is on the side of truth not a particular political party.

  71. Mike, what I meant was, watch how the Repugs destroyed HIlary's health care plan back in the Clinton days. They maligned her and didn't give it a chance and she's been right all along: there is a vast right-wing conspiracy to destroy the working class, the middle class and anyone who wants affordable housing, health care or public education.

    Hilary is an incredible human being and a great woman. She may be smarter than you think: working with the powers that be to get into office, then shoving it in their faces. But who knows? All I know is that we must stop trashing our own side. Anyone on the Democrat ticket would be salvation from annihilation. America will be destroyed and go down the tubes if another Republican is elected.

    Obviously we want the "most electable" candidate and that may not be Hilary since the right wing machine goes full force against her.

    But there are things we don't know. I'm beginning to believe that we are very naive when it comes to Washington, and the hidden secrets of what really makes America run. There are entrenched interests that can only be defeated by very smart, savvy politics. These are not normal people, the neocons who have designed the destruction of America and our constitution. Maybe someone who can walk the razor's edge is really the right choice.

    I think there are some things that would chill us to the bone if we really knew the truth, and only a small circle of former White House residents knows these truths.

    There is something that we do not know. There is some information told to the president when he takes office, and I believe Hilary, as a former wife, knows this.

    There is also a reason Balad Air base is so incredibly large, like a small town with restaurants and golf course, movie theaters and over 20,000 troops who have never met an Iraqi.

    We are in Iraq forever.

  72. Lydia Cornell said...
    Mike, what I meant was, watch how the Repugs destroyed HIlary's health care plan back in the Clinton days. They maligned her and didn't give it a chance and she's been right all along: there is a vast right-wing conspiracy to destroy the working class, the middle class and anyone who wants affordable housing, health care or public education."

    Of that I have no doubt!

  73. I agree, Sicko should be required viewing for as many people as possible.

    Who Hijacked Our Country

  74. Lydia said "Hilary is an incredible human being and a great woman. She may be smarter than you think: working with the powers that be to get into office, then shoving it in their faces. But who knows? All I know is that we must stop trashing our own side. Anyone on the Democrat ticket would be salvation from annihilation. America will be destroyed and go down the tubes if another Republican is elected.

    Obviously we want the "most electable" candidate and that may not be Hilary since the right wing machine goes full force against her."

    Hey i'm not arguing with you here, if Hillary did get the nomination i would support her against whatever repug from the land of misfit toys stepped forward, and you may well be right that she knows more than we do and is just saying and doing what is neccessary to get elected............but dont forget Bush and Cheney have pulled that "we know more than you........just trust us crap" its a classic tactic people in power use to get those subordinate to them not to question what they are doing.

    See I know what you are saying here, but i think Edwards and Obama are the better candidates AND far more electable..........the corporate owned MSM working so frantically to push Hillary and marginalize the others virtually screams this to me.

    I look at it this way comparing a Bush presidency to a Hillary or Edwards one is akin to garbage picking and eating dogfood for 8 years and then eating hamburger sure the hamburger (Hillary Clinton) would seem great in comparison, but the filet mignon and Dom Perignon (Edwards) would be much better.

    I think Edwards would honestly support the working class and oppose the entrenched interests, while Hillary although not an irredeemibly corrupt cronny like Bush co is in the pocket of and a fellow traveler with many of the special interest, although that doesnt mean she wouldnt do some good..........with this rigged system you essentially need to be in league with the entrenched interests to get elected.

    Edwards scares the hell out of the corporate/fascist entrenched interests thats obvious.

  75. Lydia said "But there are things we don't know. I'm beginning to believe that we are very naive when it comes to Washington, and the hidden secrets of what really makes America run. There are entrenched interests that can only be defeated by very smart, savvy politics. These are not normal people, the neocons who have designed the destruction of America and our constitution. Maybe someone who can walk the razor's edge is really the right choice.

    I think there are some things that would chill us to the bone if we really knew the truth, and only a small circle of former White House residents knows these truths."

    I assume you are refering to Skull and Bones and the Trilateral Commission?

    Did you know that Prescott Bush, GWB's grandfather not only supported Hitler and tried to have FDR assassinated to prevent a vast wealth redistribution to stop the ultra wealthy from stealing from the working class and bring us out of the Great Depression, but he also supported Eugenics as did Hitler which is essentially using war and genocide to exterminate the poor and much of the working class, esseentially so they would not be a burden on or consume resources the wealthy wanted for was essentially the Ebeneezer Scrooge doctrine "let the poor die decrease the surplus polulation", that and building lots of prisons, workhouses and concentration camps.

    Looks like GWB and his sidekick picked up where his grandpa left off and are having Haliburton build lotsa new concenration camps.

    To Prescott Hitler was a fellow travelor to GWB and Cheney he was a mentor.

  76. Lydia said"There is also a reason Balad Air base is so incredibly large, like a small town with restaurants and golf course, movie theaters and over 20,000 troops who have never met an Iraqi.

    We are in Iraq forever."

    Unfortunately I agree that, that seems to be the plan...........The Neo Cons want to make Iraq into the "NEW" Saudi Arabia that can pump lots of cheap oil to keep or economy and war machine humming.

    That would also make Saudi Arabia expendable.........they see dominating and controlling the Middle Eastern oil as a way to rule the world with an iron fist, what they dont realize is that desire to create an empire has ALWAYS been the downfall of all great superpowers.

  77. Mike said, "The Neo Cons want to make Iraq into the "NEW" Saudi Arabia that can pump lots of cheap oil to keep or economy and war machine humming."

    I strongly disagree with that, Mike. Oilmen don't get filthy rich pumping MORE oil, they get obscenely wealthy pumping LESS oil. The proof is in the puddin'. We basicly control Iraq's oilfields, yet production is way lower than when Saddam was in control. And he was hamstrung by all the sanctions. Go figure!

  78. Mike and Brother Tim - you both offer good points.

    Mike, I agree that the msm is promoting HIlary but I believe it is for a different reason. I think they WANT Hilary to be the candidate, because they think she is the most "defeatable."

    They know that no one can divide the country like HIlary. They know that Southern men (even blue dog Dems) and racists will never vote for Hilary (or any woman) and they are sure their base will be repelled by her simply because she is a Clinton. They can use this as ammunition.

    If Edwards or Kucinich or Obama get in, there might be a backlash ...

    they are too pure for the oligarchy to withstand. I don't even want to say this, but in light of Butto's assassination....these purist candidates are echos of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  79. In the spring of 2006 we tried in vain to explain to Voltron, freedom fan and tallltexan that Pakistan was the nexus of the fight against the extremists who plague the middle east, but they stuck their fingers in their ears and screeched Iran was the smart move, after the fiasco in Iraq.

    Too bad Central command disagrees with them, (as well as al quada)

    US beefs up Pakistan force

    US Special Forces are to increase their presence in Pakistan amid assessments that the country is to become the central battlefield for al-Qa'ida as it is driven from Iraq.

    "Pakistan should be carefully watched because it could prove to be a significant flashpoint in the coming year," US think tank Strategic Forecasting said in an evaluation of al-Qa'ida's tactics as the Islamist group comes under mounting pressure in Iraq.

    With the "rapid spread of Talibanisation" in Pakistan's insurgent northwest, the country would become "especially important if the trend in Iraq continues to go against the jihadis and they are driven from Iraq", the assessment says.

    The assassination of Benizar Bhutto is another of the al quada-taliban gambit to dominate Pakistan and recapture Afghanistan. (which makes the idiotic invasion of Iraq a security risk Bush never should have made).

    The air base in Balad is necessary to support our moves in Pakistan and Afghanistan now that we have destroyed so much in the middle east the last seven years, and this time it actually doesn't have as much to do with oil as OT losing in Afghanistan, remember we have been there SIX years, only two less then the USSR when they threw in the towel.

    Special Forces to remain on a large scale mission in enemy territory need large amounts of air cover, both close air support, for added fire power and the ability to destroy formations and assets they lack the capability to do so with what they carry, (think the origination of the Afghanistan war where special forces directed air power to the points on the battle field to destroy the Taliban assets). The second need for air power is the need for resupply, and mobility to and from the battle field. A third rising mission is the support needed for unmanned predator drones which are becoming more frequent in Afghanistan, and would be essential in any special forces missions in Pakistan. Both of these countries can be covered from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, but the Ballad base is much, much closer to both Afghanistan and Pakistan then Diego Garcia. One important caveat, to fly from Balad to either country requires over-flight of part of Iran or parts of the former soviet Union.

    In 2008 the problems inside Pakistan and looming fiasco which Afghanistan has become will slowly force most people in Washington to admit Iraq was the greatest strategist mistake the US has ever made. The sooner we leave with our ground forces the sooner we can really fight ramp up against the al quada extremists who NEVER left Pakistan or Afghanistan while bush and the stupid neo-cons took a detour in Iraq.

    Hope freedom fan, Voltron and tallltexan will learn from the mistakes Bush ET AL made and support the democratic president in 2009 while they attempt to undo some of the military and political damage Bush, the neo-cons and republican rubber-stampers have done in the fight against those who attacked us on 9-11.

    Hopefully Bush's blunders won't be as bad as Brezhnev and Andropov's were in in 1979-1982, which doomed the soviet union to the dust bin of history.

  80. Lydia said "If Edwards or Kucinich or Obama get in, there might be a backlash ...

    they are too pure for the oligarchy to withstand. I don't even want to say this, but in light of Butto's assassination....these purist candidates are echos of Martin Luther King, Jr."

    Wow, i cant believe you just said that.........I thought the EXACT same thing, when i heard about the Butto assassination tonight, and for the record i have thought it possible that the Neo Con war mongers/military industrial complex might have Edwards killed just like they did Kennedy if he pushs too hard.

    In fact Edwards makes me think of Kennedy eveytime i see him.

    Its a shame the world has a bunch of thugs running our countries who have less honor than most organized crime bosses......Look at Mushareff in Pakistan, decraring martial law, Putin, seizing companies, having people murdered and seeking perpetual power and Bush and chenet laying the groundwork for martial law, torture, perpetual war etc........that said we cant live in fear and defeat ourselves by saying its TOO good to hope the best candidate will win or that if he does he will only be assassinated by the evil fascists.

    I know many of these people think they are untouchable but dirty tricks like assassinations and false flag wars, only work for so long. I'm sure things seemed bleak in the gilded age and during the Great Depression until FDR gave power, equity and justice back to the working class for 30-40 years, it can happen again, although it appears the fascist residue left over is obseseed with stopping that from happening.........i think GWB's obsession with declaring martial law is based on that premise.

    I have to remain hopeful that things can change, i think if they WERRE truly hopeless the MSM and Bush wouldnt be so scared and obsessed with controlling and manipulating things.

  81. Brother Tim said...
    Mike said, "The Neo Cons want to make Iraq into the "NEW" Saudi Arabia that can pump lots of cheap oil to keep or economy and war machine humming."

    I strongly disagree with that, Mike. Oilmen don't get filthy rich pumping MORE oil, they get obscenely wealthy pumping LESS oil. The proof is in the puddin'. We basicly control Iraq's oilfields, yet production is way lower than when Saddam was in control. And he was hamstrung by all the sanctions. Go figure!"

    Good point Brother Tim, my post was ambiguous, let me clarify it. we are currently near or slightly past peak oil, what this means is that barring a rtecession, or some artificial and temporary increase in producution like the SPR being released or the Saudi's releasing some of their allready recovered reserves to artificiallt increase production demand will exceed supply. this means the the Majors and OPEC can crank the oil spigot at full throttle and still get a decent price for their oil.

    Back in the day when suppy exceeded demand then often even in a high price environment they would limit and sit on reserves to keep prices high or get maximum value its a different environment now.

    Secondly outside of OPEC most oil companies and countries cant even maintain current production levels no less increase production, what this means for resource companies like Exxon whose revenues rely on production capacity is essentially a death sentence, these companies will wither on the vine if they dont find a way to get new reserves and increase or maintain production.............and finding a way to enable the Exxons and other American energy giants that suppoty the ReicH Wing fascist cronnies to get new reserves or develop new reserves is what the invasion of Iraq and Cheney's secret energy task force was all about.

    When I said they wanted to crank up oil productioni didnt mean they cared about cheap oil for our poor or other poor countries, they wanted to crank up production just enough to ensure the economy stays relatively strong and avoids recession or depression they couldnt meaningful lowerr the price of oil even if that was their intent which its not.Their intyent is to line their own pockets and that of their crony friends and produce enough oil to for the wealthy and upper middle class so our way of life doesnt implode they could care less about our poor or the poor in other countries who cant afford oil anymore.

  82. Bhutto's Death Sends Pakistan Into Chaos

    Posted: 2007-12-27 22:14:59
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Dec. 27) - The assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto deals a stunning blow to liberal political forces trying to combat rising Islamic extremism in Pakistan.
    Musharraf called senior staff into an emergency meeting to discuss a response to the killing and whether to postpone the election, an Interior Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. Musharraf also announced three days of mourning for Bhutto, with all businesses, schools and banks to close.

    The assassination quashes hopes of Western governments that the charismatic, two-time former prime minister could team up with Musharraf and galvanize Pakistan's fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants after Jan. 8 elections, which are now themselves in doubt.

    "This assassination is the most serious setback for democracy in Pakistan," said Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at Lahore's University of Management Sciences. "It shows extremists are powerful enough to disrupt the democratic process. Musharraf's major concern now will be to maintain law and order and make sure this does not turn into a major movement against him."

    Bhutto had accused elements in the ruling party of backing militants to kill her - claims that could gain more traction now despite government denials.

    At the very least, the government will appear to be losing its grip over Pakistan.

    "Conditions in the country have reached a point where it is too dangerous for political parties to operate," Masood said.

    He anticipated that Musharraf, who recently suspended the constitution for six weeks, could take drastic steps.

    "It is possible they could declare an emergency again," he said.

  83. A woman is murdered that "CLAIMED" Musharaff's thugs and goons were trying to murder her and whats the first thing out of the little brute of a dictators mouth..........suspending the elections and possibly declaring martial law..........these little dictators are as transparent as can be.

  84. Your ABSOLUTELY right Clif, we all said that Pakistan was the place to worry about not Iran or Iraq but the brainless little trolls just laughed and called names and endlessly parroted their masters delusional talking points to the point of absurdity.

  85. We're in a damned if we do and damned if we don't situation in Pakistan. If open elections bring a radical muslim wing into power then we're in trouble. Once a radical muslim wing, particularly one favorable to Al Quaida takes power, then suddenly the terrorists have nukes.

    Our forces in Afghanistan would be wide open, and neighboring countries would be on the brink. Avoiding all out war with Pakistan will be tricky at that point, and who knows who might jump in at that point.

    On the other hand Musharrif is a dictator and how can we claim to support democracy and still support a dictator?

    Its a connundrum that we wouldn't be facing now if we had reacted differently after 911.

  86. BARTLEBEE said...
    We're in a damned if we do and damned if we don't situation in Pakistan. If open elections bring a radical muslim wing into power then we're in trouble. Once a radical muslim wing, particularly one favorable to Al Quaida takes power, then suddenly the terrorists have nukes.

    Our forces in Afghanistan would be wide open, and neighboring countries would be on the brink. Avoiding all out war with Pakistan will be tricky at that point, and who knows who might jump in at that point.

    On the other hand Musharrif is a dictator and how can we claim to support democracy and still support a dictator?

    Its a connundrum that we wouldn't be facing now if we had reacted differently after 911."


    Bush has squadered our resources, wasted our options and mortgaged our future thats been the story of his entire life.

    You know i was rereading some of our early posts from 2005 and early 2006..............its amazing how right we were about just about everything.

    do you believe 2008 will be the 4th year this blog has been around.........2005, 2006, 2207, and 2008.

  87. To all here, Lydia- thank you for this blog...and all that you write- that you remember things like families and healthcare and democracy and how it is woven into all of our lives, but you also that if we lose our Humanity and Spirit, that we have lost our Path to Democracy, the WE the People part, bless you for that....and to Larry for moderating some of the people and strife that pops up here, but he keeps the news and dialogue afresh, and has a wonderful spirit as he visits blogatopia....

    and to all of the others that visit here mike,barltebee, cliff etc....

    thank you for all that you do and may you have merry holidays...and may joy and peace come to you this year...and may we reclaim our damaged Democracy and bring it back to some kind of We The People footing this year....


  88. clif said,

    Hopefully Bush's blunders won't be as bad as Brezhnev and Andropov's were in in 1979-1982, which doomed the soviet union to the dust bin of history.

    clif, Chimpy's blunders are worse than even Brezhnev's were. People laugh at me when I tell them we're heading down the Soviet highway to the sudden dead-end, but let's see how many people are laughing 5 years from now.

    Advice for those of you living in Bible-belt States: move, or make arrangements to do so, while you still can. Especially if you happen to be gay or a minority.

  89. Enigma - thank you so much for your kind, thoughtful comment. Namaste and Happy New Year.

  90. Bartlebee, Clif and Mike made excellent points.

    I just posted something new on the amazing Benazir Butto - top of this post.

  91. Brother Tim said...
    Mike said, "The Neo Cons want to make Iraq into the "NEW" Saudi Arabia that can pump lots of cheap oil to keep or economy and war machine humming."

    I strongly disagree with that, Mike. Oilmen don't get filthy rich pumping MORE oil, they get obscenely wealthy pumping LESS oil. The proof is in the puddin'. We basicly control Iraq's oilfields, yet production is way lower than when Saddam was in control. And he was hamstrung by all the sanctions. Go figure!"

    Brother Tim, again to summarize when i said "cheap oil", i was refering more to cheap to mine rather than cheap for "US" to buy. Iraq has the cheapest to recover reserves in the entire world right now, their reserves have gone relatively untapped for the last century and can be developed for roughly $10 a barrel but sold for close to $100 on the open market thats why we invaded iraq so the oil companies could make fortunes developing and/or acquiring those vast relatively untapped reserves.

    like i said yesterday its a different ballgame today demand outstrips supply and i think the days of cheap oil are over i dont ever think we will see sub $50 oil again for any sustained time, in fact over the next several years i think $160 oil is far more likely than $40 oil.

  92. Have a Great New Year Enigma, you've wrote some great posts.........try to pop in more often.

  93. Thank you Lydia and Mike...and Lydia thank you for mentioning my blog....and also for your fine tribute to Madama Bhutto, I think many of us are reeling from this tragedy, but it is important that all of acknowledge historically this woman's role in Democracy, but also that we remember her as a Brave Woman, A Mother....and also in some way honor her....thank you for doing that here, by remembering her, but also for the intelligent dialogue ....

    There are many good Blogs asking really Good Questions.. about her death ....( they are on my blogroll)
    (1) BOOMAN TRIBUNE By Larry Johnson, asks some amazing questions about Mushareffs Leaderhip

    (2) Huff Post today has photos and XRAYS that are very important in and need scrutiny, but the posts by Ariana and also Harry Shearer are touching...

    (3) Ramblings : has some wonderful tributes and questions

    (4) Divine Democrat , also is still blogging it...and other facets of it...

    I have been rather shocked how the Media has handled it, I am grateful that Bloggers are once again asking the Pertinent Questions, but also paying tribute to this great woman....To all that come here, thank you for thinking with your heads and Hearts....

    In this coming year it will be up to Bloggers to ask Hard Questions about some pretty Ugly Realities, with Strength and Wisdom....We can make a Difference ....again.

  94. Good Morning/Afternoon Lydia & Everyone:

    I was saddened to hear Benazir Bhutto was murdered. She was a wonderful person who was trying to do good for the people and I'm sure she will be missed!

  95. Happy New Year Suzi!
    Great to hear from you,
    Luv xo

  96. Happy New Year Lydia! :)

    I'm making a New Year's Resolution to visit your blog more frequently! I miss your articles on my blog too! You're such a great writer. :)

  97. Why do America's insurance companies HATE America's children?

    First they deny needed medical treatment for a 17 year old in California until it was too late to save her life;

    and now they want to starve a 3 year old to death.

    Yorktown girl can eat only one thing: costly formula that insurance won't cover

    Three-year-old Hannah Devane is allergic to food. Not the kind that makes kids spit out their broccoli; the kind that can kill.

    The Yorktown preschooler has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, a severe food allergy that causes a type of white blood cell to congregate in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach, damaging the tissue when she eats.

    A doctor-prescribed formula has allowed Hannah to grow to a robust 40 pounds, a normal weight for a child her age. Without it, Hannah could wind up with a feeding tube.

    But the insurance program that covers her family through her father's job as a New York City police lieutenant has stopped paying for the formula, which costs $1,200 a month. Food supplements and other over-the-counter items are not covered under the family's insurance, the prescription plan administrator said.

    Why in a supposed Christian nation is money MORE important then the lives of its children?

    WWJD in this case?

    How will the people who refuse to do that explain it to Jesus when the time comes?

  98. From Buffalobeast:

    The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

    50. Nicole Richie

    Charges: Not a brick house. Not mighty mighty. Vastly easier than Sunday morning. Her criminal exploits, attended by hollow contritions, do inestimable harm to drug legalization efforts; while inexplicably adding nothing to the forced-sterilization debate. Quite possibly a reason the terrorists hate us.

    Exhibit A: "I've just gone through so much in my life that pulling my top up just doesn't seem like that big a deal."

    Sentence: Sealed neck-high in the outhouse foundation of a popular Mexican Spring Break destination. Jaws propped open.

    49. Trent Lott

    Charges: Old school Dixiecrat segregationist who switched parties along with Strom Thurmond back when Democrats decided to be nicer to black people. Retired from the Senate early to dodge a new law that mandates a two-year wait between retiring from congress and becoming a lobbyist. That, and the dirt that Larry Flynt has on him.

    Exhibit A: Was in the "Singing Senators," a closeted a cappella group, with John Ashcroft, Jim Jeffords and Larry Craig -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Sentence: Accidentally lynched by blind neo-Nazis.

    48. Carson Daly

    Charges: Otherwise too banal for derision, Daly, who cut his shmuck-teeth warming musical Similac for tweens on MTV, acted as Writer's Guild strike breaker by returning to air without them.

    Exhibit A: We didn't know his show employed writers.

    Sentence: Forced to appear nightly on The Carson Daly Show.

    47. Mike Huckabee

    Charges: What's worse, a calculating politician pretending to be a devout Christian, or a genuine heartland preacher who didn't come from no monkey? Huckabee is both -- a Southern Baptist who rejects Darwin, wants to give everyone a gun and thinks people with AIDS should be quarantined, and a seedy, corrupt politician who's never seen a payoff so low he won't stoop to pick it up. Democrats see Huckabee as easily defeated in a general election, but they shouldn't be so sure -- Smooth talking preachers tend to do well in this country. Huckabee is well-spoken, kind-faced, and the opposite of wordly -- he's Obama for hicks.

    Exhibit A: "I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives... I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."

    Sentence: Just as he's about to win the GOP nomination, a freak gust of wind catches Huckabee's excess skin and carries him out over the Atlantic, where he drifts for hours before God appears to him, tells him He's a Unitarian, and sends him to hell.

    46. Judith Regan

    Charges: Has done more to debase the written word than Tom Friedman. Defiled an apartment intended to house overworked 9/11 rescuers, just so Bernard Kerik could plumb her putrescent shallows. Contentious working relationship with OJ Simpson ended with her throat disappointingly uncut.

    Exhibit A: ReganBooks' roster of "authors" included Rush Limbaugh, Robert Bork, Jenna Jameson, Jose Canseco, Janice Dickinson, John Gibson and Sean Hannity. Apparently, Dracula and the Wolfman had prior obligations.

    Sentence: Death by a thousand paper cuts.

    45. David Gregory

    Charges: The notion of his insight rests entirely on his striking resemblance to a shrewder, more beloved Dr. Zaius. Starchier than a peep booth wastebasket, Gregory's occasional faux-outraged exchanges with various White House press secretaries have established his reputation as a man unafraid to confront the big scandals -- once they've been well mainstreamed by better reporters. Managed to slip by the Valerie Plame scandal completely unnoticed, though Ari Fleischer testified to leaking Plame's CIA status to Gregory three days before the infamous Novak column ran. His absurd, overcompensatory assurance that he has "no problem with being tough" notwithstanding, his penile-cleft haircut -- much like the warning coloration of venomous reptiles -- betrays his true poisonous nature.

    Exhibit A: No dignified reporter would be so visibly happy filling in for Matt Lauer on The Today Show.

    Sentence: Quartered by horses.

    44. Hugh Hefner

    Charges: Not dating three vacuous sluts for the articles. Brazenly attempting to mainstream necrophilia. An erstwhile icon of virility now forced to marshal every faculty in maneuvering, giraffe-like, his quavering, prehensile lips for contrived smooches with his surgically altered concubines, sharing in common with them only arrested adolescence, and probably some pretty sweet coke.

    Exhibit A: Idles morbidly like an octogenarian Zelig on the periphery of every "Girls Next Door" publicity event, ogling dementedly and trying to suppress the faint horror of his impending incontinence.

    Sentence: Viagra ban.

    43. Sherri Shepherd

    Charges: Perfectly illustrated the Creationist's level of intellect when she declared her disbelief in evolution, and was immediately stumped about the shape of the earth, explaining her ignorance was due to the fact that she was too busy feeding her children to acquire rudimentary knowledge about... well, about anything, presumably. Further compounded her astonishing lack of basic knowledge when she authoritatively declared that Jesus Christ came before the ancient Greeks, and that she didn't think "anything predated Christians." Judging by these statements, Sherri probably thinks there are dragons on the other side of her desk.

    Exhibit A: Accurately reflects the intelligence of her viewing audience.

    Sentence: Pushed off the edge of the earth.

    42. Bud Selig

    Charges: His version of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" is even worse than John Frankenheimer's. The baseball commissioner who succeeded in making football the indisputable, insufferable national pastime. Followed up the fan-alienating cancellation of the 1994 season and World Series -- the first year without since 1904 -- by studiously ignoring (along with the rest of management and tens of thousands of San Franciscans) his players' mutating proportions. A true, blue-blooded hypocrite, Bud reaped undeserved praise for omissive stewardship, and untold profits for his fellow owners, on the back of his grotesquely augmented super-soldiers, and now wants to pretend he's shocked about it.

    Exhibit A: An irretrievable coward, Selig skipped Barry Bonds' record-breaking home run game in San Francisco, "congratulating" the slugger by phone. Fair-skinned Viagra pitchman Rafael Palmeiro remains uncharged for lying to congress about his steroid use.

    Sentence: Designated BP hitting tee for Giants; denied medical attention over 162 games.

    41. Chuck Norris

    Charges: Only famous for knowing Bruce Lee. Churning out puerile "action" bilge for 30 years. Skill as martial artist greatly exaggerated. Kitsch value wearing thin. Total Home Gym®. Walker, Texas Ranger once let a little girl battle armed gangsters, because she had the power of belief in God. Doesn't understand evolution, despite access to mirrors.

    Exhibit A: Campaigning for Mike Huckabee.

    Sentence: Roundhouse kick from Charles Darwin.

    40. Lou Dobbs

    Charges: Obvious, intensifying xenophobia and distrust of the yellow and brown races, possibly exacerbated by Mexican wife. Whatever useful message Dobbs once had about economic populism and the deleterious effects of globalization and cheap labor on American wages has long been tainted by his obvious animosity towards foreigners, specifically Mexicans and the Chinese. Every installment of his hour-long broadcast on CNN is dominated by reports about the "menace" of foreign imports, be they illegal immigrants crossing "our broken borders" to spread disease and rape our women, or poisonous products from "communist China." Proof that Dobbs is a venomous yellow journalist shithead can be seen in his reaction to media criticism of a segment on his show in which it was erroneously reported that there had been a sudden upsurge in leprosy cases, totaling 7,000 in just three years, the source of which was a lawyer who had also said in speeches that Mexican immigrants tend to molest children. In truth, there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the past thirty years. Dobbs was confronted several times with this fact -- first he strongly defended his numbers, then strongly denied ever having used his numbers. A real journalist admits his errors. Dobbs is an ass.

    Exhibit A: Sharply criticized the use of Mexican flags in immigrant demonstrations, then denied the obvious double standard of that comment by going on to say that he would have the same problem with Irish flags at the St. Patrick's Day parade, and, in fact, that he was against St. Patrick's Day. Yeah, sure, Lou.

    Sentence: Stuffed with Green Cards; turned into amnesty pinata.

    39. John Boehner

    Charges: A Tom Delay disciple of shameless hypocrisy, Boehner won't stop weeping openly on the House floor -- real crying, from his tear ducts. It's not passion; it's the pathetic noontime inebriation of an obvious, documented alcoholic. Job title, "Minority Whip," is ironically hilarious. Bound by ideology to destroy nation.

    Exhibit A: His name is Boner.

    Sentence: Afflicted with voodoo hex that makes him cry poisonous spiders.

    38. Steven Moore

    Charges: Mo Rocca's evil twin and founder of the election-law-breaking PAC Club for Growth, Moore's the Wall Street Journal's most brazen corporate apologist and free market sycophant, who's trotted out on TV to manicure the invisible hand every time it chips a nail squashing the poor.

    Exhibit A: "If you don't want to buy a Chinese toy, don't buy it at Wal-Mart. But you know why people buy these things? Because they're cheap and, for the most part, they're pretty good products."

    Sentence: Given low-wage job test-licking all Chinese imports, incurs brain tumor, has epiphany about consumer choice and income, then more brain tumors.

    37. Mitt Romney

    Charges: America's first clip-art presidential candidate, Romney is a strange mixture of game show host looks and android charm. A true flip-flopper, Romney's ability to turn on an ideological dime is unparalleled, but his excuses are so inauthentic that even Republicans have trouble suspending their disbelief.

    Exhibit A: "You can't have freedom without religion, and you can't have religion without freedom."

    Sentence: Strapped to the roof of his family car, which his dog attempts to drive across the country, but crashes horribly (because dogs can't drive, of course). Romney's flesh burns off in the ensuing fire, revealing him to be a standard protocol droid set to world domination mode. Narrowly edged out of primary race by Huckabee.

    36. Master Chief
    Charges: Unquestioning cybernetic super soldier of Halo 3's futuristic virtual dystopia; lacks free will and a face. Feature article treating him as a cultural phenomenon in Time magazine marked a low point for both franchises. Stupid name.

    Exhibit A: Joint-marketed with Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" in a major coup for diabetes industry.

    Sentence: Stop loss, a tour in Iraq.

    35. Tim Russert Charges: Mountainously inert, he explained his failure to verify the Bush administration's prewar claims with other government officials by lamenting, "I wish my phone had rung." Smirks defiantly at his own humorlessness. Has held the most visible and secure seat in political media for over 15 years without once mustering the courage to call his guests liars. Impossible to watch him interview any woman on "Meet the Press" without fearing he'll suddenly waggle his sinewy tongue, Jabba-like, and beslobber her.

    Exhibit A: Self-mythologizing non sequiturs such as "Look, I'm a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are."

    Sentence: Life as an actual blue-collar guy from Buffalo, i.e. a call center drone in North Carolina.

    34. Joe Francis

    Charges: The "brain" behind Girls Gone Wild, a series of videos documenting the decline of American civilization, Francis is the Ray Kroc of tit shots. A whinging, muppet-faced, juvenile smut-peddler who obtusely compares his artless, homogenized flesh surfeit to "European television," he proves daily that alcohol is the original date rape drug, and still the best. Has sapped flashing of its spontaneity, transforming it into merely another sad, numbing cultural reflex. Makes one guiltily long for the days when puritanism forced more gifted pornographers to exercise restraint.

    Exhibit A: Pathologically entrepreneurial, he reputedly exhorts his cameramen by shouting "I want taco!"

    Sentence: Cast as lead in first mass-market snuff film.

    33. John Hagee

    Charges: A fat, submoronic pastor who is literally trying to bring about the end of the world, Hagee is the leader of the peculiar movement of Christian Zionism, whose basic plan is to get Israel full control of Jerusalem, setting the stage for world war and Armageddon, so Hagee and his flock can ascend to heaven while the Jews, Muslims (especially the Muslims) and everyone else can suffer and die in the wreckage. But lest you get the idea Hagee is an earnestly insane man of the cloth, it turns out he's also paid himself in the millions, first from his non-profit TV station, which he cleverly turned into a tax-exempt church. So maybe Hagee is just another charlatan, but his message is still the most dangerous he could possibly preach.

    Exhibit A: "I deserve every dime I'm getting."

    Sentence: Banished to hell for being a shitty tipper.

    32. The Founding Fathers

    Charges: Lionized as moral pillars and demigods ad nauseum without the slightest hint of irony. Can't be judged by today's standards. Electoral College? Dumb fucking idea. Invoked by every asshole in the last two hundred years to support every stupid idea ever. The original liberal elite. Able to withstand lightning strikes and the British military; unable to fathom poor people voting.

    Exhibit A: Owned wigs, Africans.

    Sentence: Depicted as cartoons on rapidly devaluing currency; beaten at effective democracy by former monarchies.

    31. Dana Perino

    Charges: In a nation weary of White House press secretaries who feign ignorance, the Bush administration took an innovative step this year, appointing one who genuinely doesn't know anything. No more lies, America -- Dana Perino really can't answer your questions, honest! This slightly comely, over-promoted office wench not only didn't know what the Cuban missile crisis or the Bay of Pigs even were; she actually thought it was a funny story to tell on NPR.

    Exhibit A: "This is an issue where I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals."

    Sentence: Sent back in time to '62; Strapped to bottom of U2 spy plane for extreme history lesson.

    30. Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman

    Charges: Shocked a handful of innocents and turned into self-recriminating chum for Sean Hannity with the revelation that a redneck bounty hunter is-gasp!-a racist. Looks like an extra from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Married to a silicon-based life form. When a guy's own son intentionally destroys his career, you know he's got to be a singular fuckhead. Played at extraordinary rendition this year; got arrested for trying to physically extradite a Mexican national.

    Exhibit A: "I'm not gonna take a chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for for 30 years because some fucking nigger heard us say nigger and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine." Yeah, 'cause not saying "nigger" is just out of the question.

    Sentence: Neutered, dewormed, given to Michael Vick's buddies for sparring practice.

    29. Dinesh D'Souza

    Charges: Wrote a book blaming 9/11 on -- who else? -- liberals, because if we didn't live in a free society, then fundamentalists wouldn't dislike us so. Even conservative nuts blasted D'Souza's empathy for poor al Qaeda. Lately, he's been engaging prominent atheists in debates, revealing himself to be a pseudointellectual ass, and then declaring victory. D'Souza's master plan for attacking atheism is the ridiculous Pascal's wager: Atheists could be wrong, and then they'd go to hell, but if the religious are wrong, then they suffer no ill effect -- aside from living their lives in delusion, of course. And possibly going to someone else's hell for believing the wrong religion. D'Souza seems to think that if he speaks more loudly and rapidly than his opponent, he is winning, but his arguments are weak and idiotic, and he never even attempts to truly debate the existence of any god, which is the ostensible point of these debates. Instead, he likes to compare body counts -- Stalin and Mao killed more than the religious leaders of their time -- rather than actually debate whether there is a God, or for that matter a Jesus. This, of course, is because there is no case to be made.

    Exhibit A: "[Atheists] are God-haters... I don't believe in unicorns, but then I haven't written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion." But what if everyone you met did believe in unicorns, and not only that, but worshiped a unicorn, held a book about unicorns to be the divine truth of the universe, invoked unicorns in political contexts, and speechified about how non-believers were indecent people waging a war on morality, which could only be predicated on the unquestioning belief in unicorns? Then, maybe, D'Souza would think about writing that book. But of course, that's not really true, because if that was the world we lived in, then Dinesh D'Souza would believe in unicorns.

    Sentence: Spanish inquisition.

    28. The Troops

    Charges: Rubes, the lot of 'em. Come back all fugly. They keep telling John McCain they want to win. They need so much support, it's clingy and sad. Matching outfits? Kind of gay.

    Exhibit A: Too cheap to buy their own body armor.

    Sentence: Walter Reed.

    27. Britney Spears
    Charges: Never was talented; now she's not even pretty. Look, it's okay to say someone's getting chunky when the only reason she was ever famous was her ability to make people horny. Let's face it: fat Britney don't sell units. In the end, it doesn't bother us that Britney is human wreckage, what bothers us is that she is always, always on television being wreckage. What the hell is with this media trend of hounding the sickly until they finally expire? It's not interesting; it's not informative; what it is is a sick shot in the arm for people who hate themselves and revel in the misfortune of others -- and, ahem, that's just not our thing. We don't care if she shaves her head, or shows her snatch, or turns up in a dumpster. It's just too easy to kick this rapidly frumping swamp slut while she's on the nod and not even pretending to care that her kids are being taken from her. In the immortal words of that fucked up youtube queen, Leave Britney alone!

    Exhibit A: And this goes for all you fucked up superstar bimbos: You're rich, bitch! Get a fucking driver! Then you can knock back all the oxy you want and wash it down with Grey Goose, and nobody will arrest you. Get it? Sheesh!

    Sentence: Obscurity, children returned.
    26. William Kristol

    Charges: Bears the burlesque Cheshire grin of a sophist born with a large silver spoon jammed sideways in his mouth. A second generation neocon raised in the tradition of Straussian perception management and myth creation, Kristol is basically lying about everything -- always -- and he knows it. Whether at the helm of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, appearing on Murdoch's Fox News Channel, or co-founding the disastrous Project for a New American Century, Bill is arguably the most egregious media hawk of a generation. Seems to have suffered no ill impact to his career or prestige despite having been completely wrong about everything to do with Iraq and Iran, and actually laughs about it with obnoxious frequency.

    Exhibit A: "First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it's a good idea. I'm happy that the President's willing to do something bad for the kids."

    Sentence: Corners of mouth torn apart by metal hook towing mules and face stomped by high-heeled elephants.

    25. Mormon Jesus

    Charges: Least plausible Jesus. We heard his brother is the devil -- OMG! Won't even let his flock have a cup of coffee in the morning -- what a jerk. As with any celebrity comeback, lacks the oomph of the glory years. Won't stop baptizing dead people from other religions, which they generally don't appreciate as much as he thinks.

    Exhibit A: Loves Mitt Romney, Harry Reid, and Glenn Beck. And magic long johns.

    Sentence: Interrupted during the game by Mormon missionaries.

    24. Deryk Schlessinger

    Charges: As enlistee son of holier-than-thou guru/right-wing physiologist and faux psychologist "Dr." Laura, maintained a MySpace page so clearly venting the kind of homicidal and misogynistic psychopathies of service in Afghanistan that an Army spokesman had to baselessly imply that it was the work of "our enemies" just to slow a well-deserved backlash. An eager war pornographer, he produced and captioned a series of images and cartoons illuminating the disturbing inner viciousness his acting out it is our patriotic duty to ignore.

    Exhibit A: "Yes FUCKING Yes!!!I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic and just overall bad about me and hyperfocuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it..and some that don't."

    Sentence: Simulated drowning, followed by actual drowning.

    23. Bill O'Reilly

    Charges: If judgmentalism were sugar, anyone in the same city as this paragon of intellectual overconfidence would lose their teeth within five minutes. O'Reilly is everything that's wrong with America: Won't ever admit he was wrong about anything (and will lie repeatedly rather than correct himself), accuses all who disagree with him of treason or insanity, attacks all who criticize him, and glories in his own troglodytic bluster. Anoints himself an authority on morals, despite common knowledge that he is a sexual harasser. Pretends to be an "independent" who just happens to look, sound, and act exactly like a Republican. Hasn't engaged in a valid exchange of ideas in his entire career, because he knows he'd be crushed in seconds by an average college freshman. O'Reilly wins by interrupting, shouting, and if all else fails, cutting off his opponent's microphone. A tiny, scared child of a man.

    Exhibit A: "And this is what white America doesn't know, particularly people who don't have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg." Gee Bill, where would they get that idea?

    Sentence: Marinated, barbecued, and served at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, where the blacks eat just like real people.

    22. David Petraeus

    Charges: Two-star schlub elevated to four-star cheerleader, because all the experienced generals retired out of shame or dignity. Under Dave's leadership training Iraqi security forces from 2004-05, the Pentagon lost track of approximately 30% of weapons distributed, including some 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles. "Petraeus Report" rife with statistical manipulations, discounts pre-surge trends, claiming them as its own, and was heavily vetted, if not written entirely, by the White House.

    Exhibit A: Nicknamed "Peaches." Seriously.

    Sentence: Joins Sadr army, betraying us and vindicating Shot in back of head, so his death can't be counted as a casualty.

    21. David Vitter

    Charges: And yet another family values Republican and Clinton-basher gets his glass house blown in. A staunch marriage defender and abstinence promoter who paid $300 an hour for his favorite hooker? The only surprise there is that he's still hanging around the Senate, but then again, he did say he was sorry. Denies evolution, yet was still compelled by his primate DNA to spread his seed far and wide.

    Exhibit A: According to some, Vitter was nicknamed "the shitter" by Canal Street whores for his predilection for diaper play. Wholesome!

    Sentence: Wife follows through on that Lorena Bobbitt comment she made during the Lewinski scandal.

    20. Larry Craig

    Charges: This year's eminent toe-tappin' conservative queen of hypocrisy. Thought the Defense of Marriage Act was FABULOUS! -- because he personally needs legislation to keep him straight. Didn't work. Brought unwanted knowledge of the intricate culture of anonymous gay public restroom sex into America's living rooms. Embodies both the cause and result of faith-based sexual repression. Insists on dragging out the least plausible public denial of buggery since Liberace's, presumably for the benefit of his frozen-smiled, slowly maddening wife.

    Exhibit A: "I am not gay. I never have been gay."

    Sentence: Stoned to death.

    19. Robert E. Murray

    Charges: A modern-day Boss Tweed who saw the Grandall Canyon mine disaster as his own personal tragedy, weeping for the cameras while he tried to cover his ass in the most ridiculous way imaginable, insisting his mine collapsed due to an earthquake that somehow went undetected by seismologists, rather than the corner-cutting, cash-wringing, dangerous practice of retreat mining. This bloated, maniacal jackass is so out of touch that he didn't seem to recognize the horrified disgust on the faces of the miners' families he coddled for the cameras, as if they weren't real people to him, just props in some insane, ego-driven PR campaign to minimize his financial liability. A caricature of industrial greed.

    Exhibit A: Says Al Gore is "more dangerous than global warming."

    Sentence: Buried upside down in anthracite until death, while Donald Trump stands next to his feet and gives hourly speeches about how much he cares about it.

    18. Kevin Martin

    Charges: Before attempting to Chairpig the FCC into a realm of media consolidation that would've made Sylvio Berlusconi blush, Martin served as Deputy General Counsel for the Bush-Cheney 2000 Florida recount team, and prior to that as Ken Starr's assistant and Dick Cheney's lawyer. Judging by his appearance today, he must have passed the bar at twelve. Like a good Bushie, Martin is doing everything he can -- which is a lot -- to increase corporate control of the media, moving to allow newspapers to own radio and TV stations despite constant exhortations from everyone but Rupert Murdoch not to do so.

    Exhibit A: When he's not busy crushing independent media, Martin crusades against America's true enemies: Tits and the word "fuck."

    Sentence: Asphyxiated in cloud of Monsanto-produced poison his Newscorp-owned local news station failed to report. Death also unreported.

    17. Hillary Clinton

    Charges: Began in politics as a teenage Nixon supporter -- that's twisted. Moved on to corporate law, representing Wal-Mart and bravely defending Coca-Cola from disabled employees. Married out of ambition. Failed miserably as the first lady of health care. Has spent whole of senatorial career as a hawk and a panderer. Would have no shot at becoming president if she didn't just happen to be married to one already.

    Exhibit A: Has deftly avoided the flip-flopper label -- by never, ever answering a question directly or committing to a position in the first place.

    Sentence: Victim of vast right wing conspiracy to shove a brick up her ass.

    16. Chris Matthews

    Charges: Calling his show "Hardball" is like rechristening ping-pong "Thermonuclear Warfare." Displays the slurred, unmodulated speech and unfocused antagonism of an aggrieved middle-management drunk. Can read a scurrilous political attack into any paragraph at twenty paces. Continues honing his pointless questions as his guests attempt to answer, cutting them off with an affected imperial weariness when their responses are insufficiently inane. Apparently ignorant of the implications of satellite technology, Matthews shouts louder at geographically more distant guests. Has repeatedly called Ann Coulter "brilliant." Referred to Gerald Ford's yuletide demise as the former president's "Christmas card to the country." Unable to laugh like a normal human, Matthews compensates by simply shouting "ha!"

    Exhibit A: "This country is based on generalizations!"

    Sentence: Hillary's White House Press Secretary and personal toilet steward.

    15. Michael Ledeen

    Charges: Alex Jones with influence. Achieved every pushcart conspiracist's dream, finding a sympathetic ear, over three decades, in the highest echelons of government, for his deranged ambitions of conquest. Hirsute and cockeyed, he still looks like he sleeps in his car. A former Iran-Contra functionary and tied to the Niger yellowcake forgeries which set both the Iraq war and the Valerie Plame debacle in motion, he now has a jingoistic hard-on for Tehran the size of a tactical nuke. One of many who now pretend they didn't advocate invading Iraq, but Ledeen's denial is utterly laughable, as he had been pushing for the invasion vociferously for years.

    Exhibit A: "The only way to achieve peace is through total war."

    Sentence: Let him eat yellowcake.

    14. Glenn Beck

    Crimes: If Fox News isn't quite asinine enough for you, just click on over to Headline News, where the CNN brand is eagerly defiling its vestigial credibility by giving an hour a day to the dumbest dumbfuck in dumbfuckistan, Glenn Beck. A white-knuckle, dry drunk, closet case man-child with apparent xenophobia issues and a penchant for end-times theology, Mormon convert Beck is palpably horny for the apocalypse, passive-aggressively accusing even the world's most benign Muslims of plotting America's destruction and likening withdrawal from Iraq to slavery. Beck's combination of faux everyman persona and deliberate misinformation -- The hottest year on record was 1934 (actually 2005), tax cuts increase revenue (patently false Reaganomic mysticism), Antarctica is cooling, Scooter Libby went to jail -- seems increasingly insane, as his whole persona seems to be a frantic pantomime of how he thinks an even-keeled, "smart" bigot would act. Thinks Al gore is "like Hitler." May actually be in love with the president of Iran.

    Exhibit A: "I don't know if the Muslim community will ever step to the plate like the Japanese-American community did during World War II. You know, it was absolutely disgraceful how we rounded innocent people up then and, sadly, history has a way of repeating itself no matter how grotesque that history might be. The Muslim community can prevent this if they act now."

    Sentence: Anchored to the Florida shore, Beck is forcibly compelled to vigorously deny the gradual rise of water levels around him as boats full of gay, Marxist Muslim illegal immigrants arrive and disembark nearby. Eventually, after two decades, Beck drowns.

    13. Anne Coulter

    Charges: A skeletal freak who hates the world and lives to anger people into buying her books. Says Jews need to be "perfected," as if Christians are in better shape. Is against her own right to vote. Called John Edwards a faggot, when really he's just a little swishy. Is about as sexy as a preying mantis. If Coulter were a man, she'd never be allowed on TV.

    Exhibit A: "Faggot isn't offensive to gays; it's got nothing to do with gays."

    Sentence: Forced marriage to Osama bin Laden.

    12. Michael Vick

    Charges: Abusing, strangling, electrocuting and murdering a promising NFL career -- and some dogs. Reinforces noxious stereotypes about both jocks and black men. Inspired Whoopi Goldberg to express an opinion.

    Exhibit A: Makes millions for throwing ball, decides to invest in gambling on dog fights. How much dumber do people get than this?

    Sentence: Slathered in barbecue sauce and set loose naked in a PETA-operated shelter for vicious dogs.

    11. Harvey Levin

    Charges: Managing leech of, the Time Warner-AOL crap-fest. Slithered over to TV this year-to fill the demand of a culture craven for meaningless celebrity antics and snapper shots. Celebrities aren't the problem; the fact that you know about their daily minutia is. In other words, Levin is the problem.

    Exhibit A: He's rich because you're stupid.

    Sentence: Marriage to non-airbrushed Britney Spears.
    10. Alberto Gonzales

    Crimes: The most truckling, amoral flunky to ever serve as Attorney General. A jurisprudent organelle, he manifests no concept of the law independent of its expediency to the president. Would smilingly accuse himself of providing material support to al Qaeda at President Bush's request, hurriedly plead guilty, sign his own death warrant and flip the switch himself. His testimony before congressional committees is to public service what cholera is to the small intestine. As first Hispanic Attorney General, Gonzo typifies the self-betrayal and ethical compromise necessary for minorities to become successful Republicans. Been felching sweet approval from Bush's lily-white ass since Texas. A conscienceless, memo-drafting, loophole-crafting liar for hire, pushing for all the worst administration policies, including nixing habeas corpus, denying and then defending rendition, torture, political firings, and a ton of other evil stuff. He even visited a seriously ill and disoriented John Ashcroft at the hospital, attempting to coax him into reauthorizing a clearly illegal wiretapping program. The only Attorney General who ever could have made John Ashcroft a sympathetic character by contrast.

    Exhibit A: "The fact that the Constitution -- again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away."

    Sentence: Death by dull guillotine, head bent by Beckham.

    9. You

    Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism -- it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you're going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques." You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well. You're an idiot.

    Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

    Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.

    8. Michael Chertoff
    Charges: Looks and acts like a man who sleeps in a coffin. As the head, or should we say skull, of our latest redundant security bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, Chertoff used 2007 to further Rumsfeld's purportedly defunct policy of "Total Information Awareness," ordering U.S. military satellites be trained on American soil for first time in history. Beyond that, DHS seems to function as a corruption farm, spending billions on programs that either don't work or are never implemented, often lobbied for by former DHS employees. If the terror threat really is as dire as Chertoff says, then he is criminally negligent.

    Exhibit A: Habitually references his "gut feeling" that the next terror attack is imminent.

    Sentence: Gut feeling is actually stomach cancer.
    7. Erik Prince

    Charges: Priming Baghdad's streets for American imperialism by making them pristinely wog-free. Prince's Iraq is one massive free-fire zone for his bullet-sweating mercenaries, a Hogan's Alley in which everyone dusky is blithely expendable, rape is a mischievous dalliance, and accountability an inside joke. Remarkably, enabling the US occupation and simultaneously fomenting destabilizing enmity. Bringing the privatization of warfare to full fruition -- next time, Exxon can just invade a country directly.

    Exhibit A: Blackwater Vice Chairman Cofer Black is Mitt Romney's campaign counterterrorism policy adviser. The company's website also hawks infant onesies.

    Sentence: Tanned and tethered outside Baghdad's Green Zone after curfew. Whatever happens, happens.

    6. Rudy Giuliani

    Charges: 9/11 Tourette's syndrome, compounded by compulsive lying. Despite the '93 WTC bombing, didn't act to put all first responders on the same radio frequency and chose to house his Emergency Command Center on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. Giuliani Partners consulting firm routinely did business with a Qatar ministry run by royal Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, a man whose farm has seen guests the likes of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Osama bin Laden. Wooed mistress and future wife with an NYPD chauffeur and trips to Southampton on NYC taxpayers' dime. Ruined the prospect of a Times Square tug-job.

    Exhibit A: Stages phone calls from his wife during campaign stops-to show 'em he's got family values. Family values apparently do not include rudimentary put-it-on-vibrate cell phone etiquette. Invoked 9/11 to explain this.

    Sentence: Victim of the next 9/11, which consists of two radio-controlled hobby planes smashing into his face.

    5. Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid

    Charges: Graduates of the Neville Chamberlain school of appeasement, the Democratic leadership continues to ignore the constitution-and the American people-by keeping impeachment "off the table" and refusing to defund the war. True pushovers, they're too stupid, cowardly, weak and outmatched politically to accomplish anything substantive, their "strategy" essentially boiling down to whining a lot while handing Bush whatever the hell he wants. There is just no way that appearing this weak and ineffectual could be any better for them politically than impeachment. Everything that the White House gets away with, it gets away with because congress allows it.

    Exhibit A: Failure to woo the two thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto is moot: They could defund the war with a 41-senator budgetary filibuster. But that would take guts and conviction.

    Sentence: 2 cups anthrax bisque.

    4. Seung-Hui Cho

    Charges: A useless fucking nerd who shot a bunch of better people because he couldn't get laid. Take note, all you pent-up losers out there: If you think you're about to go on a murderous rampage, either take up a drug habit, find a hooker, or just kill yourself. Your inability to cope with a comfortable life in a developed nation is nobody else's fault, except maybe your parents. Nothing says "I have a tiny penis" like a douchebag taking pictures of himself with a gun.

    Exhibit A: Cho's infamous "disturbing" stories are only disturbing in how completely terrible they are, but now every kid with an imagination is going to be hauled off to the nuthouse if he expresses himself.

    Sentence: Used as kindling at bonfire kegger for rich, popular kids.

    3. Fred Phelps

    Charges: Leads a picketing campaign so hyperoffensive that his Church is unanimously reviled by queers and Bible thumping homophobes alike. Along with daughter Shirley, will drag hate into the public spotlight wherever it might seem least helpful or appropriate as long as it garners his "cause" attention. Harasses widows of heterosexual soldiers at funerals because their beloved were employed by a government that does not stone fags. Torments loved ones of those murdered in anti-gay violence. Is almost definitely gay himself.

    Exhibit A: He is such an effective, soul-sucking brainwasher that Fred's granddaughter declines relationships because of her delusion that world will end in her lifetime.

    Sentence: Finally comes out of closet and is immediately killed by his followers.

    2. Dick Cheney

    Charges: Worst president ever. So openly horrible, he now makes jokes about being Darth Vader. Unashamedly advocating for executive abuse of power and corporate theft. In and out of public office since his congressional internship during the Nixon Administration. Didn't care about the quagmire he foresaw in '94, because since then he'd deftly maneuvered to profit from it. Polling lower than HPV.

    Exhibit A: His Halliburton stock rose 3000% in 2007. No joke.

    Punishment: Raped by the sun.

    1. George W. Bush

    Charges: Is it a civil rights milestone to have a retarded president? Maybe it would be, if he were ever legitimately elected. You can practically hear the whole nation holding its breath, hoping this guy will just fucking leave come January '09 and not declare martial law. Only supporters left are the ones who would worship a fucking turnip if it promised to kill foreigners. Is so clearly not in charge of his own White House that his feeble attempts to define himself as "decider" or "commander guy" are the equivalent of a five-year-old kid sitting on his dad's Harley and saying "vroom vroom!" Has lost so many disgusted staffers that all he's left with are the kids from Jesus Camp. The first president who is so visibly stupid he can say "I didn't know what was in the National Intelligence Estimate until last week" and sound plausible. Inarguably a major criminal and a much greater threat to the future of America than any Muslim terrorist.

    Exhibit A: "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."

    Sentence: Dismembered, limbs donated to injured veterans.

  99. As she races through Iowa in the days before next week's caucuses, Hillary Clinton is taking few chances. She tells crowds that it's their turn to "pick a president,'' but over the last two days she has not invited them to ask her any questions.

    Before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she's done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A.

    She was no more inviting when a television reporter approached her after a rally on Thursday and asked if she was "moved'' by Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Clinton turned away without answering.

    Hillary Clinton: Running from her phoniness.

  100. 10. Letterman has been a strong supporter. As he said in his last outing before the show went dark, "You think the show's not funny now, wait 'til the writers go on strike. I mean it really won't be funny."

    9. The AMPTP says that we're too crazy, too ideological, too amateurish to make a deal. Oh yeah?

    8. Stupid pet tricks? Somebody wrote that!

    7. The Networks That Are Not CBS will be hard put to justify to their advertisers and stockholders why they're letting the competition have a real late-night show while they go forth with simulacra. (As The Canadian Press put it yesterday, "Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart all plan returns to late-night television over the next two weeks, but aside from their familiar faces, viewers may not recognize much.")

    6. Because it's not plain vanilla, not just an interim deal: this is a deal we can use as a model, with cherries on top.

    5. Cherries, in this case, meaning that the Letterman deal is the full MBA, complete with the New Media proposals we couldn't get the other side to move on at the Big Table. This shows our proposals are affordable. And, perhaps best of all, Worldwide Pants is taking on the liability of our contract provisions, including not only the payment terms, but also the backstop of the fair market valuation test under the MBA.

    4. Like the waiver for the SAG awards, it lets people know that, when we are able to, we reward our friends.

    3. Because in 1988, Letterman called management "money-grubbing scum." Out loud. In public.

    2. Although this will be tough for Leno, Conan, and other fine late-night Guild writers, the wedge that it drives between networks is deeper, sharper than the wedge it drives between writers. While the companies understand ROI, only we understand solidarity.

    1. While the AMPTP has been making great strides of late in terms of web graphics, Worldwide Pants still has the better logo.

  101. Department-store operator Macy's Inc. on Friday said it will shutter nine underperforming stores, which collectively employ nearly 900 staffers, the latest indication of a weak retail environment.

    The department stores are in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah and were all acquired when Macy's bought department-store operator May Co. in 2005.

    Macy's integration of May Co. department stores has been bumpy. The company has faced disappointing sales and resistance from shoppers in some markets where the Macy's name replaced local favorites.

    More results of the Bush faltering economy.

  102. Thank you Enigma, Brother Tim and Suzie for your kind comments.

    I've only been able to post one comment in the past week as I was unable to get on the blog.

  103. Hey Larry...good to see is Saturday night...and I thought I would stop by here on the way to Youtube...( son is gaming- playing something that I don't anyways good to see you back....missed you...thought your were away....hope you had good holidays...and a bit of rest before the Caucus Chaos begins ;-)

    I loved the 50 round up that you found....( I can't believe what a list that is....and it doesn't even cover Everyone...amazing...)

    thanks for coming over to Watergate Summer....

  104. U.S. new-home sales plunge, prices slide

    The United States housing market plunged deeper into despair last month, with sales of new homes plummeting to the lowest level in more than 12 years.

    The slump worsened even more than most analysts expected, heightening fears that the country might be thrust into a recession.

    New-home sales tumbled 9 per cent in November from October to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 647,000, the commerce department said yesterday. That was the worst sales pace since April 1995.

    "It was ugly," said Richard Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research. "It is the one sector of the economy that doesn't show any signs of life. It doesn't look like there is any resuscitation in store for housing over the next year."

    Housing has only just begun to crash ....

    Can you say 1928 redux ....... (read part I also)

    Except this time the energy crisis is worsening,

    Also the population explosion since 1928 (from 2 to 6.8 billion people to feed, over the 80 year period) means with the economic crash combined with the coming energy crash, (read more here)

    The green revolution is also gonna crash,(with out massive injections of petroleum to drive the machinery and NPK fertilizers which are based on natural gas and petroleum driven mining procedures. not to mention the petroleum based transportation system to deliver the basic foods to the local grocers thousands of miles from the fields they originated in)

    Which means the bread lines and unemployed masses are gonna be MUCH larger,(1933 figure 24.9%) and with out any real solutions in the works unless we find a 21st century version of FDR this crisis will linger,

    Not to mention the other countries which are in the hunt for the resources to try to recover from this melting down of the world economy, and aren't probably willing to share from the dead beat country of the planet.

    Who at least don't have a 9 trillion dollar debt, with upwards of 54 billion dollars (page 7) promised that the people who run the show have no clue how to pay except for borrowing from those who probably aren't inclined to pass out money in a severe contraction of both the economy and energy at the same time.

    An quote from a Robert Kennedy speech, some attribute to an ancient Chinese curse is;

    "May you live in interesting times"

    Too bad we might actually live in the most interesting times in the last 1000 years or more ........

  105. Larry, what an amazing list! Is Buffalo Beast getting this list out there, everywhere? It's HILARIOUS and so true.

    I love his description of Hugh Hefner and Harvey Levin (TMZ.)

    Harvy Levin has almost done more to destroy America than Fox (Faux News!)

  106. If it escaped your attention with all the holiday stuff, check out what happened when China did just a wee bit of adjusting to the renmibi.

    The dollar is dead. And there will be no reviving it. When the Chinese finish unpegging, we'll be left with no consumer-goods manufacturing base AND no way to buy anything from abroad. And that time is coming, very soon. Maybe before the election.

  107. Thank you, Lydia. That was most kind of you.

  108. JR, if Bush and the GOP have timed it right, the axe will fall shortly after a Dem takes office in 2009.

  109. I, for one, have missed your comments Larry!

    Good to see you are back! :)

  110. William Kristol is an Intellectual

    The New York Times’ sprint to irrelevancy became complete with the announcement it had hired neoconservative columnist, and the founder of PNAC, William Kristol.

    The once mighty “paper of record,” has watched its reputation deteriorate in recent years after a series of missteps and scandals, beginning with the faux journalist Jason Blair mess, followed by the Judith Miller fracas, and the disasterous fee subscription service.

    Things have become so bad at the Times that according to editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal, the paper has annointed William Kristol “a serious, respected conservative intellectual.”

    Sure Andy, and George W. Bush is Winston Churchill.

  111. Remember how Bush ET AL screeched about how corrupt the Clinton administration was?

    Well with over 1000 separate congressional subpoenas and hundreds of congressional investigations Bill Clinton's administration no where comes close to the Bush Administration corruption


    TPM´s Great List of Scandalized Administration Officials

    Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty

    * Eric G. Andell - deputy undersecretary in charge of newly created Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (previously senior adviser to Secretary of Education Rod Paige) - pleaded guilty to one count of conflict of interest for using government travel for personal causes and was sentenced to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and fined $5,000.

    * Claude Allen - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy- resigned, pled guilty to shoplifting from Target stores.

    * Lester Crawford - Commissioner, FDA - resigned in late September 2005 after only two months on the job. On October 17th, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, making a false writing and conflict of interest. On February 27, 2007, Crawford was sentenced to to three years of probation and was fined $90,000.

    * Brian Doyle - Deputy Press Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - Resigned in wake of child sex scandal. Doyle was arrested on April 4th, 2006 and pleaded no contest on September 19, 2006 to seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and sixteen counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor. On November 17th, 2006 Brian Doyle was sentenced to five years in state prison and ten years of probation. He will also need to register as a sex offender.

    * Steven Griles - Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department - is the highest-ranked administration official yet convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In March 2007, Griles pleaded guilty to lying about his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Sentenced to 10 months incarceration.

    * John T. Korsmo – Chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board from 2002 to 2004 – pleaded guilty in 2005 to lying to the Senate and an inspector general. He swore he had no idea how a list of presidents for FHFB-regulated banks were invited to a fundraiser for his friend's congressional campaign. On the invites, Korsmo was listed as the "Special Guest." Got 18 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.

    * Scooter Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - resigned after being indicted for lying to a grand jury and investigators in connection with the investigation stemming from the leak of Valerie Wilson’s covert CIA operative's identity. Convicted on four of five counts, making him the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-contra scandal. Sentenced to thirty months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. On July 2nd, after a judge decided that Libby would remain in prison during the appeals process, President Bush commuted Libby's sentence by removing the thirty months in prison.

    * David Safavian - former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget - convicted of lying to ethics officials and Senate investigators about his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. On October 27, 2006, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He is currently appealing the ruling.

    * Robert Stein - former comptroller and funding officer for the now disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority, Southern Central Region in Al-Hillah, Iraq - pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, possession of a machine gun, and being a felon in possession of a fire arm. On January 30, 2007 Stein was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.6 million.

    * Roger Stillwell - desk officer, Interior Department - pleaded guilty to failing to report Redskins tickets and free dinners from Jack Abramoff.

    Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety

    * Philip Cooney - chief of staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality - a former oil industry lawyer with no scientific expertise, Cooney resigned after it was revealed he had watered down reports on global warming.

    * George Deutsch - press aide, NASA - resigned amid allegations he prevented the agency's top climate scientist from speaking publicly about global warming.

    * Michael Elston - chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty - announced his resignation on June 15, 2007. Despite allegations that he’d threatened at least four of the eight fired US Attorneys, McNulty said Elston had served the Justice Department "with distinction for nearly eight years."

    * Kyle Dustin “Dusty” Foggo - appointed executive director of the CIA, the agency’s third-highest post, in October 2004 - resigned and was ultimately indicted on bribery charges related to the Duke Cunningham scandal.

    * Alberto Gonzales - former Attorney General - resigned without explanation amidst investigations of the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the politicization of the Justice Department, warrantless surveillance, and the torture and mistreatment of detainees.

    * Monica Goodling - former Justice Department liaison to the White House and senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned on April 7, 2007 amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.

    * Michelle Larson Korsmo - deputy chief of staff, Department of Labor - Helped her husband (see John Korsmo, above) with his donor scam. Quietly left her Labor plum job in February 2004, about two weeks before news broke that she and her husband were the targets of a criminal probe.

    * Howard "Cookie" Krongard - former State Department inspector general -- accused of not properly investigating State Department contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan; of retaliating against whistleblowers in his own office; and of not telling the truth about his knowledge of his brother's ties with Blackwater, a State Department contractor. Faced with a possible perjury investigation, Howard Krongard resigned on December 7, 2007.

    * Julie Macdonald - former deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department - resigned in May 2007 after an "inspector general's report found she had improperly leaked information to private organizations, bullied staff scientists and broken federal rules." The Department of the Interior is investigating many of her decisions regarding endangered species; so far seven have been overturned.

    * Paul McNulty - Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice – resigned, after questions about his involvement in the U.S. attorney firings and his testimony to Congress about the firings.

    * Richard Perle - Chairman, Defense Policy Board - resigned from Pentagon advisory panel amid conflict-of-interest charges.

    * Susan Ralston - assistant, White House - resigned amidst revelations that she had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him, counter to White House ethics rules.

    * Janet Rehnquist - inspector general, Department of Health and Human Services - resigned on June 1, 2003 in the face of an investigation into her alleged efforts to block a politically dangerous probe on behalf of the Bush family.

    * James Roche - secretary, U.S. Air Force - resigned in the wake of the Boeing tanker lease scandal, after it was revealed he had rather crudely pushed for Boeing to win a $23 billion contract.

    * Kyle Sampson -former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.

    * Joseph Schmitz - Inspector General, Defense - Resigned amid charges he personally intervened to protect top political appointees.

    * Bradley Schlozman - resigned from his third and final post with the Justice Department after accusations of actively politicizing the department. He's currently under investigation by the Department's inspector general.

    * Thomas Scully - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - shortly after Scully resigned in 2003, an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that Scully had pressured the agency's actuary to underestimate the full cost of the Medicare reform bill by approximately $100 billion until after Congress passed the bill into law. Scully was also hit with conflict of interest charges by the U.S. attorney's office for billing CMS for expenses incurred during a job search while he still headed the agency. He settled those charges by paying $9,782.

    * David Smith - deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, Interior Department - resigned on July 21, 2006 after shooting a buffalo and accepting its skeletal remains and meat as an illegal gratuity. He eventually paid over $3,000 for the dead buffalo, but only after the internal inquiry had commenced. The Department of Interior inspector general also noted in a May 16, 2006 report that Smith's involvement in the designation of Houston as a port of entry for imported wildlife in order to benefit a friend was inappropriate.

    * John Tanner - Voting Rights Section Chief, Justice Department - resigned in December of 2007 and moved to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices. Already under suspicion for aiding efforts to politicize the voting section, the bumbling proponent of voter identification laws angered lawmakers with his comments that such laws actually discriminate against white voters because "minorities die first". Even more impressive was his apology for the comment. The DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is currently investigating his travel habits and those of his deputy.

    * Sara Taylor - Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs at the White House, where she was Karl Rove´s top aide - resigned amidst the U.S. attorneys investigation and other probes of Rove´s alleged politicization of the government.

    * Ken Tomlinson - Board Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; member, Broadcasting Board of Governors - resigned at the release of an inspector general report concluding he had broken laws in spending CPB money to hire politically connected consultants to search for "bias" without consulting the board. At BBG, a separate investigation found he was running a "horse racing operation" out of his office, and continuing to hire politically-wired individuals to do "consulting" work for him. After being nominated and serving another term, he finally stepped down from that spot earlier this year.

    * Carl Truscott - Director, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau - resigned. A report by the Justice Department's inspector general found that Truscott wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethics rules by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.

    * Paul Wolfowitz - World Bank President - resigned in May 2007 after a committee report found that he broke ethics rules by giving his girlfriend a substantial raise.

    Nomination Failed Due to Scandal

    * Linda Chavez - nominated, Secretary of Labor - withdrew her nomination in January 2001 amidst revelations that an illegal immigrant lived in her home and worked for her in the early 1990s. Chavez blamed what she said were the "search-and-destroy" politics of Washington.

    * Timothy Flanigan - nominated, Deputy Attorney General (also Alberto Gonzales’ top deputy at the White House) - withdrew his nomination in October 2005 amidst revelations that he'd worked closely with lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he was General Counsel for Corporate and International Law at Tyco, which was a client of Abramoff's.

    * Bernard Kerik - nominated, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - withdrew his nomination amidst a host of corruption allegations. Eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor relating to improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a New York City official in the late 1990's. Subsequently, on November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted on sixteen counts for bribery, tax fraud, and false statements with a maximum sentence of 142 years and more than $5 million in fines. Kerik has pleaded not guilty. For a rundown of Kerik's myriad indiscretions, check out TPM's Ultimate Kerik Scandal List!.

    * William Mercer - the former associate deputy attorney general and US Attorney for Montana - withdrew his nomination to be the permanent number three official at the Department of Justice on June 22, 2007 due to his role in the U.S. attorney firings.

    * Hans von Spakovsky - Commissioner, FEC - nomination to another term after his recess appointment failed due to allegations that he'd worked at the Justice Department to suppress minority voter turnout.

    Under Investigation But Still in Office

    * Stuart Bowen - Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) - was once admired for his successes while investigating allegations of waste and fraud in Iraq, but now employee allegations have prompted four government investigations into the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).

    * Lurita Doan - Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration - still in office, despite investigations by both the Office of Special Counsel and the House oversight committee that found that Doan had "crossed the line" by suggesting that the GSA use its resources to help Republicans get elected.

    * Alfonso Jackson - Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - following reports that Jackson told a business group in April 2006 that he once canceled a contract after the contractor criticized President Bush, an investigation by the HUD inspector general found that while Jackson told his deputies to favor Bush supporters, there was "no direct proof that a contract was actually awarded or rescinded because of political affiliation." A second, criminal investigation was triggered in part by Jackson's claim before Congress in May 2007 that "I don't touch contracts." That probe, now before a federal grand jury, has turned up evidence that Jackson may indeed have touched contracts - and steered them towards friends.

    Damn these right wing criminally organized corrupt pigs at the public trough, are approaching the Ulysses S. Grant or Warren G Harding levels of scandal, but then again they were corrupt republicans who put money ahead of the country while in office also.

    Remember Bush ET Al have a year of scandal left to continue destroying America. (And from all I have seen they will continue to try their best to do it).

  112. Even Wikipedia agrees with me;

    Category:Clinton administration controversies

    There are 2 subcategories in this category, which are shown below. More may be shown on subsequent pages.

    [+] Lewinsky scandal figures


    [+] Whitewater figures


    There are 85 pages in this section of this category.

    However when it comes to George W Bush;

    Category:George W. Bush administration controversies

    There are 6 subcategories in this category, which are shown below. More may be shown on subsequent pages.

    [+] Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse


    [+] Causes and prelude of the 2003 Iraq conflict


    [+] Dismissal of United States Attorneys controversy


    [+] Extraordinary rendition program


    [+] Plame affair


    [+] Recess Appointments during the George W. Bush administration


    There are 170 pages in this section of this category.

    However the most interesting part of the wiki articles is this;

    Controversies associated with the U.S. President Bill Clinton and his administration.

    "Controversies" here means allegations of legal or ethical wrongdoing (such as the Whitewater scandal), not policy proposals that people debated heavily and thus were "controversial" (such as the Clinton health care plan). Legal or ethical wrongdoing pages with ref. are not attack pages and should not be deleted, like Lincoln Bedroom controversy & Coffeegate were. Also see|Category : Books about the Clinton administration

    compare it with the same part of the bush page;

    List of controversies associated with the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration.

    Alleged retaliatory acts against opponents

    * Plame affair
    * Al Jazeera bombing memo
    * Bunny Greenhouse

    Controversies surrounding pre-Iraq war intelligence

    * Iraq and weapons of mass destruction
    * Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
    * Office of Special Plans
    * Niger uranium forgeries
    * CIA leak grand jury investigation
    * Downing Street memo
    * Bush-Blair memo

    Controversies surrounding human rights

    * Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
    * Enhanced interrogation
    * Extraordinary rendition
    * Unlawful combatant
    * John Negroponte
    * Elliott Abrams

    Controversies surrounding spying

    * NSA call database
    * NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
    * Spying on the United Nations

    Controversies surrounding propaganda

    * Bush administration payment of columnists
    * Lincoln Group
    * White House Iraq Group
    * Swift Vets and POWs for Truth

    Controversies surrounding obstruction

    * 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal
    * Commutation of Libby's sentence thereby allegedly obstructing an investigation into the possible manipulation of information in support of the invasion of Iraq

    Controversies surrounding response to national crisis

    * Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina
    * Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal

    Controversies involving influence / lobbying

    * Energy Task Force
    * Jack Abramoff lobbying of Interior Dept.

    Controversies involving secrecy / censorship

    * Executive Order 13233
    * State Secrets Privilege
    * Free speech zone
    * EPA 9/11 pollution controversy
    * Misrepresentation of cause of death of Pat Tillman
    * Bush White House e-mail controversy (Use of Republican National Committee servers and private mail systems for Government business)

    Controversies involving business / economics

    * Halliburton
    * Dubai Ports World controversy
    * 2002 United States steel tariff
    * Klamath River

    Controversies surrounding nepotism / cronyism

    * Michael D. Brown
    * Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination
    * Uncle "Bucky"
    * Sam Fox
    * Howard Krongard
    * Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy
    * Commutation of Libby's Sentence

    Controversies surrounding the growth of executive power

    * Unitary executive theory
    * Signing statement
    * Line-item veto
    * Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

    Controversies surrounding criminal acts of Administration officials

    * Brian Doyle
    * Claude Allen
    * David Safavian
    * Larry Franklin
    * Roger Stillwell
    * Frank Figueroa
    * Darleen Druyun
    * Lewis Libby

    Controversies surrounding investigation of Administration officials or nominees

    * Linda Chavez
    * Philip Cooney
    * George Deutsch
    * Lurita Doan
    * Timothy Flanigan
    * Kyle Foggo
    * J. Steven Griles
    * Bernard Kerik
    * Eric Keroack
    * Howard Krongard
    * Richard Perle
    * Janet Rehnquist
    * Susan Ralston
    * James G. Roche
    * Joseph E. Schmitz
    * Kenneth Tomlinson
    * Carl Truscott

    Sorry but me thinks Bush has the most corrupt Administration since WW2 if NOT all time won in only seven of eight years of his stolen terms.

    Where is tallltexan to tell all us that Clinton was really worse?

    Probably still trying to deny he lost a bet before he welshed on it.

  113. Happy New Year to all here!

  114. Happy new year to all,

    the last in the illegal Bush administration, which is something to be happy about.

  115. Clif-
    Thanks for those two very informative comments. It puts together, in one place, the things we all know about. You said, "Happy new year to all,
    the last in the illegal Bush administration, which is something to be happy about."

    I sure hope you're right about that. However, since it IS already illegal, I hope he doesn't decide to make it permanent. He is the 'decider', don't forget.

  116. brother tim, far too many of the reichwingers have moved on;

    some to Ru-die's campaign,

    some to Willard the fraud's campaign,

    some to st johnny the delusional's campaign,

    and the jesusistani's are moving to the husters campaign,

    which means the powers that be in the reichwing party of criminally organized corruption, pedophile protection and fraud on family values, have already decided Bush's time is over, and just like Nixon in 1974 want him gone.

    The powers behind the reichwingers will never allow bush to remain.

    At this time it seems they are trying to get Shillery as a place holder like they got Billery to do so.

  117. Lydia, Larry, Mike, and everyone else I just dropped by to wish you all A Happy New Year!

  118. Happy New Year folks!


    (To Atheists, I define "God" as love, and prayer is the invisible transfer of love to another.)

    2008 is going to be spectacular!!

  120. Happy New Year Everyone!

  121. Patriot, i'll drop by your blog the next day or two, theres a question i've been meaning to ask you.

  122. Hey Lydia, how about a pic from when you hosted Dick Clark's New Years Rockin Eve :D

  123. Obama was the choice of 32 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, up from 28 percent in the Register's last poll in late November, while Clinton, a New York senator, held steady at 25 percent and Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was virtually unchanged at 24 percent.

    The poll reflects continued fluidity in the race even as the end of the yearlong campaign nears. Roughly a third of likely caucusgoers say they could be persuaded to choose someone else before Thursday evening. Six percent were undecided or uncommitted.

  124. Wall Street ended a painful year with another steep loss Monday as investors glumly anticipated that 2008 would bring more of the uncertainty and turbulence of 2007.

    A look at things to come in the faltering Bush economy.

  125. New Years Letter From God
    By Jean Carnahan

    Dear Creation,

    With a New Year just around the corner, I want to clear up some things that have been troubling Me. There is a wicked and blasphemous rumor floating around the Universe that I Am a card-carrying Republican. Finally, I want to settle the question: Who are You?

    I Am a Liberal. I forgot to include it in the Ten Commandments, but I want you to be liberal, too. Liberal with your love . . . liberal with your forgiveness . . . liberal with your tolerance . . . and liberal with your compassion.

    But, I Am also a Conservative. I want you to conserve My Earth -- its water, air, and soil. And while you're at it, I want you to conserve the ancient ideals: mercy, justice, and truth.

    Don't forget to conserve freedom. It was such a great ideas that I implanted it in the heart of anyone who would listen to Me. Just remember, I didn't grant you freewill to give away to some cockamamie preacher or politician. Treasure it as the great gift I intended it to be.

    If you're not too confused by now, let me add that I Am a Centrist, too. My greatest desire is to be in the center of your life and thoughts. Trust Me on this one.

    Many of you continue to bug Me with the age-old question of mankind: "Why am I here on earth?" It's to make Me look good. That's it! The theologian guys say it's "to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." Same thing.

    Do you know who really makes Me look good? Children and puppies. It's their traits of sincerity, simplicity, trust, and joy that please Me most of all.

    On the other hand, hypocrites make Me look bad . . . and feel bad. So it saddens Me that some of you have taken My name, but not My ways. Those self-serving schmucks that you see quoting Me on television or from their pulpits, or during a press conference should be sued for plagiarism and slander. (When I can find a lawyer around this place, I intend to press charges.)

    Just kidding, with the old joke. I really love lawyers. Moses was a lawyer. He was also a great "chiseler." How do you think the two of us got My words carved into those stone tablets?

    I'm sorry I didn't spell out My commandments more clearly on the tablets, but I ran out of space and Moses was getting tired. So permit Me to update Myself. I will refrain from writing in Hebrew, so you have no excuse for misinterpreting My intent.

    Here are a few additional Commandments:

    Eleventh: Power is not a permission slip for lying, prying, outing, smearing, hurting, cheating, or abusing -- no exceptions.

    Twelfth: Torture is an abomination -- what in Heaven's Name ever made you think otherwise!!

    Thirteenth: Forget the poor, the hurting, and the helpless and when you die, the man in the red suit that greets you will not be Santa Claus.

    Got it?

    Despite the mess you have made of My Earth, I have renewed your contract for another year. Frankly, I did it because I need your help to fix the planet. I know that sounds strange coming from the Creator, the Almighty, the Eternal One, but that's the way the Divine Plan is set up.

    So, for God's sake, please help me here, folks. Working together we can make a difference . . . we always have.

    Tell everybody I love them. I'm still around 24/7. So, stay in touch.

    G .

  126. (Bloomberg) -- Defaults on privately insured U.S. mortgages rose 35 percent in November to a record, an industry report today showed, adding to evidence the U.S. housing slump is deepening.

    The number of insured borrowers falling more than 60 days late on payments jumped to 61,033 last month from 45,325 in November 2006, according to data from members of the Washington- based Mortgage Insurance Companies of America. The missed payments, often a prelude to foreclosure, represented a 2.9 percent increase from October.

    ``This is another data point that suggests that the mortgage insurers are in for a tough slog for 2008,'' said David Havens, a credit analyst at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut. ``Continued deterioration is likely to spur higher claims. And higher claims activity may result in some companies needing to raise money.''

    Home prices fell 6.1 percent in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in October, according to S&P/Case-Shiller. Mortgage insurance compensates lenders for losses on bad loans as falling home prices make it harder for borrowers to refinance.

    MGIC Investment Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage insurer, and No. 2 PMI Group Inc. reported losses in the July-through- September period, their first unprofitable quarter as public companies. MGIC sold shares to the public in 1991, PMI in 1995.


    MGIC has said it won't be profitable until 2009. The Milwaukee-based company rose 58 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $22.43 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4:10 p.m. It has lost 64 percent of its market value this year, the ninth-worst performance in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. Walnut Creek, California-based PMI climbed 2 cents to $13.28 and is down 72 percent in 2007.

    Radian Group Inc., the third-largest, slipped 2 cents to $11.68. The Philadelphia-based company is down 78 percent this year.

    Rating companies including Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have lowered their claims- paying ability ratings for mortgage insurers or said they face possible downgrade. Lower ratings may force insurers to add to reserves for claims.

    ``It's a rough world out there,'' said James Brender, an analyst at S&P in New York. ``There's no reason to be optimistic for the first half of 2008. It will be at least 18 months until there's a chance of stabilized ratings on the three we have on negative outlook: Radian, PMI and Republic,'' a unit of Chicago- based Old Republic International Corp.

    Bond Insurers

    Bond insurers including MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. are struggling to maintain credit ratings needed to guarantee debt after losses on mortgage-backed bonds they covered. Fitch has given MBIA and Ambac less than six weeks to each raise $1 billion or face loss of their AAA ratings.

    MBIA on Dec. 10 said it will get $1 billion from private- equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC to bolster its capital and Ambac took out reinsurance on $29 billion of securities it guarantees.

    ``The mortgage insurers can probably attract capital, but it would come at a painful level'' of cost, Havens said.

    Mortgage insurance sales are surging even as claims soar because lenders want to lower their risk and increase their loans' appeal to investors. The association's members issued 153,865 policies to homeowners last month, up 67 percent from a year earlier.

    The trade group's data are drawn from six of the seven biggest U.S. mortgage insurers, excluding only Radian, which isn't a member.

    And Bush says the economy is doing so well.

  127. The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.

    That makes a great year for the bloodthirsty Bush.

  128. Oil prices of near 100 dollars per barrel caused alarm in consuming countries in 2007 and analysts forecast another tense crude market this year with triple-figure records a real prospect.

    Despite a murky outlook for the world economy, crude prices are seen settling at elevated levels, spelling more pain for consumers and a steady flow of petrodollars for the world's oil exporters.

    From a low point of just below 50 dollars per barrel in January, prices doubled in 2007, hitting 99.29 dollars a barrel on November 21, an all-time record.

    Oil forecasting is a notoriously difficult business, but few had expected such a run-up -- besides an analyst at investment bank Goldman Sachs who famously foresaw early in 2005 a "super spike" in prices to 105 dollars.

    At the start of 2008, geopolitical risks, with unrest in Pakistan foremost among them, are driving prices back towards the 100-dollar level, with a colder-than-usual winter in the northern hemisphere another danger.

    "Political unrest around the world has once again become a major factor" for the oil market, said David Johnson, an analyst with Macquarie Securities.

    Tension between the United States and Iran, the second-biggest producer in OPEC, had helped push prices higher in the last two years with traders fearful of US military action against the Islamic republic.

    But Iran was expected to fade as a concern in 2008 after a recent US intelligence assessment said the country had shelved its disputed nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

    Oil prices ended the year Monday with a modest dip on the eve of the New Year's Day market holiday amid concerns about instability in Pakistan after last week's assassination of former Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

    New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February, fell two cents to close at 95.98 dollars, while in London, Brent North Sea crude for February delivery slipped three cents to 93.85 dollars.

    Goldman Sachs, one of the most active banks in the energy market, raised its price forecasts for 2008 by 10 dollars on December 12, with average benchmark US prices now seen at 95 dollars.

    The price could reach 105 dollars by the end of 2008, it said.

    It's the Bush economy.

  129. The International Peace Operations Association, which is the trade association for mercenaries inspired by the efforts of mercenary group Executive Outcomes to end the Sierra Leone Civil War, has parted ways with Blackwater. Apparently Blackwater doesn't want to follow the group's conduct code, the "set of ethical and professional guidelines for companies in the peace and stability operations industry." Initially Blackwater, a member in good standing since 2004, agreed to be reviewed by the group after the accusations that the company killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad last month. Now they don't want to be reviewed.
    I've read a bunch of liberal books recently that touch on mercenaries and their politically threatening overtones: The End of America, Blackwater, and the Shock Doctrine.

    Really, though, it's not too hard to see how private armies that have been deployed both abroad and on American soil with secret government contracts controlled by right-wing Christian donors to the GOP that immunize these firms from liability are probably dangerous.

    The Bush Militia too rough for the average mercenary.

  130. Happy New Year to Tomcat,SQ, Patriot, Anon Paranoid, Christopher, Jolly Roger, Maui Girl, Clif, Alicia, Lynne, Sailor Fraud, GEF, Mirth, Rhea, Sumo, Enigma, Betmo, Holly, Dusty,Kathy,Bartlebee, Brother Tim, Lets'Talk,Two Crows, Phil in NY,Mike, Naj,Anok,Polishifter,Mary Ellen, Carl, Jacq, NY Texan,Tom Harper, Truffle, Mentarch, Pissed Off Patricia and all the other blogging friends at Lydia's blog.

    Most of all Happy New Year Lydia!

  131. Larry said "The Bush Militia too rough for the average mercenary."

    and/or TOO corrupt!!!!!!!

  132. Thats funny you mention atheists Lydia. I spent the last month and a half arguing with two atheists in ThinkProgress about whether or not atheism is a belief system.

    These guys actually tried to claim atheism is not a belief system.

    But it is.

    Atheism is a belief that there is no god, but they have no proof, thus all they have is a belief, just like the religionists.

  133. Anyone interested in this month and a half long debate on atheism as a belief system, can view it here.

  134. I agree Bartlebee. I also think atheism is a reaction to the bizarre new fundamentalism which swept into politics the past few years.

    No one seems to be defining God in the correct way (or at least the ones who are, are not getting any press or national media.) So between two extremes is the truth. Atheism is a rigid belief system that is the polar opposite of fundamentalism. But I don't blame them for strongly clinging to their atheistic beliefs, in light of the violent, militant supremely un-Christian "Christian" fundamentalism...

    Religion sometimes misses the whole point, omitting God's simple command: to love one another.

  135. BARTLEBEE said...
    Thats funny you mention atheists Lydia. I spent the last month and a half arguing with two atheists in ThinkProgress about whether or not atheism is a belief system.

    These guys actually tried to claim atheism is not a belief system.

    But it is.

    Atheism is a belief that there is no god, but they have no proof, thus all they have is a belief, just like the religionists."

    Hey Bart, remember I had like a week long debate with British Gary about the exact same thing............I was also claiming it was a belief system and he had no more proof than the people who did believe in religion...............maybe i'll pop in later tonight, that should be a hoot.

  136. Lydia said "Religion sometimes misses the whole point, omitting God's simple command: to love one another."

    EXCELLENT point I couldnt have summed it up better.

  137. Hey Bart, one thing if those guys over in TP havent realized in over a month that Atheism is a belief system, doncha think your beating your head against a brick wall?

  138. HAPPY and PEACEFUL 2008!


  139. Could Get More Interesting

    Hmmm. From McClatchy ...

    The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in rigging the country's upcoming elections, an aide said Monday.

    Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.

    Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People's Party election monitoring unit, said the report was "very sensitive" and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf.

    --Josh Marshall

    The reichwingers in the Bush administration and RNC teaching others how to lie cheat and steal elections, no wonder Bhutto had to die BEFORE she met Sen Spector ET AL.

    as an aside to this also;

    check this out

  140. Lydia--
    The so-called 'Fundamentalists' are fundamentaly wrong in their thinking.

    I was accused last March, by the Evangelicals, of preaching heresy. I preached a very simple statement: "Scripture is written for those that receive it."

    There in lies the problem. The Old Testament was written for the Jews. Although Christians can use it for history; genealogy; and words of poetry and wisdom, it is NOT the law for Christians. That's the reason they have trouble understanding it, it was not written for them.

    I don't like using the term, as it has grown to have negative connotations, but I am a fundamentalist. I am a New Testament Fundamentalist. There is little in there that is not also in the Qur'an; the Vedas; or any other Apochryphal or Pseudopigraphal Scriptures. The main theme is Love of God and Love of Fellow-man. If those two commandments are adhered to, it is virtually impossible to sin, or commit iniquity.

    Happy New Year, Lydia, and to all here. May your New Year be richly blessed.

    Peace and Grace

  141. From hyperpower to new world disorder

    For the first time since the end of the Cold War, America isn’t alone on top. What’s replacing the unipolar world of the 1990s? A gang of five superpowers: China, Russia, India, the Eurozone and the U.S.

    [thank you geroge w bush and the stupid neo-cons,

    heck of a job ]

    By David Olive
    Feature Writer

    We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of our way."

    Kevin Conrad, delegate from Papua New Guinea, at the Bali summit on climate change earlier this month, to a U.S. delegation that tried to thwart reforms agreed to by the other 185 nations present.

    It became more apparent than ever this year that the U.S. is no longer the world's lone superpower. Instead, there are five superpowers that will define the world for at least the next half-century: the U.S., China, India, Russia and a united Europe.

    The news came home to Americans on Main St. from tainted Chinese products to the fact that practically every toy sold in America comes from Red China. Boston seniors on group tours of the great capitals of Europe were humbled to discover that their greenbacks had shrivelled in value to 60 per cent of the local currency. And New Yorkers were taken aback that the credit crisis arising from cascading defaults on U.S. subprime mortgages had so weakened the balance sheets of leading financial institutions in the Big Apple that the likes of Citigroup and Merrill Lynch had sought bailouts from state-owned investment funds in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

    Canadians felt it, too, in a 15 per cent gain against the greenback.

    That America was not in charge in Iraq was widely known for some time. That American global hegemony had severely dissipated was news. Nor was it of the passing variety, like the 1970s U.S. economic "stagflation" that inflated the German and Swiss currencies; or the Japanese boom a decade later in which Tokyo parking spots fetched $90,000.

    This was different. Mandarins in Brussels now passed judgment on merger proposals between American companies, not hesitating to block them on antitrust grounds. Chinese oil interests in Sudan made Beijing intransigent about Western meddling in Darfur. Russia wouldn't abide Washington's sanctions on Iran. India insisted upon, and received, U.S. support of its nuclear arms program despite predictable outrage from Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the pursuit of Al Qaeda. It was either that or have New Dehli turn to the Russians. To an unprecedented degree, decisions affecting America were being made elsewhere. A mere 16 years after attaining its lone-superpower status, the crown had slipped, and America's destiny is now shaped by a new world disorder of five superpowers.

    All five members of this new quintet are nuclear powers. All but one, India, have veto power at the United Nations. Collectively, the four non-U.S. superpowers have 10 times the population of the U.S. The European economy has eclipsed that of the U.S., and those of China and India will do so by mid-century. The imperial legacy of many EU members and of Russia provide them a lingering influence from Indonesia to Zaire to Brazil that the U.S., whose experiences with colonizing have been reluctant and short-lived, cannot match.

    The resentment of what the French labelled "the U.S. hyper-power" in the 1960s subsided in the 1990s. The Europeans were preoccupied with their unification project. China and India were experimenting with a free-market model to replace sclerotic command economies. And by the early years of this decade, Russian recovery from the upheaval of the Soviet breakup was manifesting itself in a new national pride and respect for a decisive Vladimir Putin.

    The aim of the four new superpowers has been the same: to unleash, under the banner of patriotism, the potential economic prowess of a nation or region, and in doing so to claim a role on the world stage equal to that of the U.S. Here's Tony Blair, who revered Britain's "special relationship" with the U.S. more than most of his predecessors. "A single-power world is inherently unstable," Blair said back in 2005. "That's the rationale for Europe to unite.

    "We are building a new superpower. The European Union is about the projection of collective power, wealth and influence. When we work together, the European Union can stand on par as a superpower and a partner with the U.S."

    The euro has been the world's strongest currency since 2005. But not until this year did everyone from OPEC to the People's Bank of China to rock stars flirt with abandoning the U.S dollar – the world's undisputed reserve currency since the end of World War II – in favour of a euro that has soared to a current $1.48 (U.S.)

    It was a year of new boondoggles coming to light in the U.S. occupation of Iraq; and of U.S. diplomatic setbacks in Pakistan, China, Turkey, Burma, the Middle East – almost everywhere the U.S. has tried to exert influence. But then, America's deficient military and intelligence capabilities have removed the big stick behind diplomatic threats.

    America now is the world's largest borrower, and China the biggest creditor nation.

    Thus china is in the position the US found itself in post WW2]

    As everyone but the White House acknowledges, it's difficult to have much impact in pressuring China on its under-valued currency, its military buildup and its human-rights record when that country is also your biggest banker.

    World leaders have been putting distance between themselves and Washington ever since the U.S. occupation of Iraq, embarked upon with a theological righteousness that alienated the secular Europeans, and based on assumptions seemingly designed to salvage the reputations of Barbara Tuchman's cast of feckless leaders in The March of Folly.

    But this year, world leaders lost their reticence and subjected Washington to a parade of embarrassments. Kevin Rudd, the new Australian PM, isolated the U.S. on global warming by embracing a Kyoto Protocol that incoming U.S. president George W. Bush trashed in 2001. Gordon Brown, the new British PM, used the occasion of his first state visit to Washington to state that Afghanistan, not Iraq, is the central front in the battle against Islamic extremists. Bush watched in stony silence as America's staunchest ally in the Iraq invasion bluntly repudiated an assertion the U.S. president has been making for five years.

    As Russia has slipped into autocracy, and shipped uranium to Iran this fall over U.S. objections, Bush has been reduced to tacitly endorsing Russian actions the U.S. is powerless to control. After his first encounter with the Russian president, Bush famously said he had looked into Putin's heart and found a man he could work with. In an angry Munich speech earlier this year, Bush's soulmate excoriated the U.S. for "an almost uncontained hyper-use of force . . . that is plunging the world into an abyss of conflicts."

    America's foreign policy impotence hit a nadir in Pakistan, where Washington's full-court-press diplomacy failed to prevent the leader of an unreliable but nonetheless vital ally in the struggle against Al Qaeda from imposing martial law and imprisoning his country's supreme court justices. In one go, with its continued support of Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf, America has turned its back on supposed goals of promoting democracy, punishing nuclear proliferators, and taking a hard line against nations harbouring large populations of Al Qaeda operatives.

    "No [U.S.] president will ever have handed over a worse international situation than George W. Bush," says Richard Holbrooke, the former U.N. ambassador in the Clinton administration and adviser to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Which is to suggest that America can reclaim its lone superpower status by simply installing a new president in 2009 who will extricate the U.S. from Iraq and sign Kyoto 2.0, to be negotiated over the next two years.

    America lost its chance at enduring supremacy in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, which coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then-U.S. president George H.W. Bush spoke at the time of creating a "New World Order" of universal peace and mutual prosperity.

    Had it only chosen then to redeploy its massive defence and foreign aid budgets to humanitarian causes, rather than propping up its military allies, America could have secured its new found global supremacy by simply setting a good example.

    Instead, the lone-superpower era began with a unilateral, botched invasion of Somalia
    [thank you georgie's daddy], and ended with the Project For The New American Century [an insane clown posse if there ever was one], a late-1990s doctrine of preserving U.S. hegemony by overthrowing unfriendly regimes – a moronic vision that nonetheless manifested itself in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, with Iran as the regime-changers' next target.

    In the Middle East, which has some of the youngest populations in the world, the past two generations have come of age with the belief that America is antagonistic to Muslims, a proposition reinforced by America`s invasion of two Muslin nations in the space of three years. And a new generation of Europeans – the "E generation," as author T.R. Reid labels it in his bestselling United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy (2005) – has grown up with the isolationism of the 1990s U.S. Republican Congress and the calamitous unilateralism of George W. Bush.

    Plainly, the U.S. has failed to lead on climate change; genocide; nuclear proliferation; human rights; and the other most pressing global concerns for so long it has effectively ceded its claim to the "benign hegemony" that still shapes America's regard of its impact on the world.

    [the reichwingers couldn't figger out how to profit from doing all that]

    And Americans know it, at least in Bill Clinton's view. In the 1990s, then-president Clinton declared that "America is the indispensable nation." In a Charlie Rose interview earlier this month, a Clinton who has grown more internationalist in retirement from the White House, said, "The American people now know something they've never known before. In their bones they know that there's almost no problem we can solve all by ourselves – terror, war and peace, nuclear proliferation, climate change, you name it. They know we have to do this in a co-operative way."

    Gwynne Dyer, heralding the end of America's lone-superpower status, has warned that "Seeing the United States reduced to only one great power among others cannot be a prospect that appeals to American strategic thinkers of a traditional bent – so what is their grand strategy for averting it?

    "They must have one," the London-based global military analyst wrote. "Paramount powers facing relegation always have one, although it rarely stays the same for long and it never, ever works. There is no way of stopping China and India from catching up with the current Lone Superpower without nuking their entire economies."

    Without exception, the emerging superpowers have achieved that status by tending to the home front, where much work remains to be done. China is the world's second-largest CO2 emitter, trailing only the U.S. India has the world's largest population of poor people. Europe has national licence plates, birth certificates and a lottery played from Krakow to Liverpool, but lacks a foreign policy and has a nascent army of just 60,000 troops. Russia's regard for investors, whose property it expropriates on a whim, will have to change for the country's entrepreneurial forces to be fully unleashed.

    The same focus on domestic shortcomings would serve America well. The factors undermining its prosperity and global influence are almost all self-inflicted. There is more at stake here than even the current crop of presidential candidates seem to realize. They all talk of restoring America's respect in the world, with no apparent sense that a big part of the problem is that the world is increasingly less inclined to regard America as "the shining city on the hill" that Ronald Reagan invoked.

    With strikingly little notice, David Walker, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, spoke in August about disturbing parallels between today's America and the decline of the Roman Empire. Among the similarities Walker cited were "declining values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government."

    Even in a world without budding rivals, the American superpower would still be jeopardized by its "unsustainable" disregard for tackling rundown schools and inner-city neighbourhoods, a yawning gap between rich and poor, and a route to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

    Even superpowers are fragile once the rot of complacency sets in. "It's time to learn from history," Walker said, "and take steps to ensure that the American republic is the first to stand the test of time."

    Let the reichwing screeching contest begin .........

    As this process of the US empires fall just like the British Empires fall before it, hopefully rush's head, billo's head, hannity's head, malkin's head, coulterguist's head, billy kristal's head, dead eye's head, leeden's head, the christofascists collective heads, don't all explode, because they finally realize the historical irreversible trends from the idiotic policies they advocated and bush followed ......

    Hopefully they won't,

    but if they do;

    I claim the popcorn concession, because,

    That would be entertainment.

  142. The absolute BEST article to "SEE" the problems we face in Iraq ...... ever.

    Really the BEST EVER.

    Too bad Clinton, Obama, yes even Edwards don't "get it". They can't because they want to be president more then they "want to get it". This is because the MSM don't want people to get it. If any of the democratic candidates tried, the MSM would attack them as they try to tell the truth about the failures in Iraq and what it would really take to solve that situation.

    This is because then the MSM's failure to uphold their legitimacy in the democracy would be exposed for the traitorous actions to the ideals of this democracy, and what a "free press" is supposed to actually do. Just think of who actually OWN the MSM and what they want from their ownership of the supposedly free press, and the truth of our current problems in America should become very apparent.

    Of course the reichwingers running for pResident don't get it, how could the reichwingers running to be Reagan on steroids with a more muscular foreign policy then even Bush ever had, "get it"?

    BTW georgie, dead eye, condi and the neo-cons never will "get it" either. For them to do so would repudiate the last seven years for them, and of course they would have to admit they were WRONG all along.

    The Five Iraqs

    By Scott Ritter

    It has become a mantra of sorts among the faltering Republican candidates: Victory is at hand in Iraq. Mitt Romney, in particular, has taken to so openly embracing the “success” of the U.S. troop “surge” that it has become the centerpiece of his litany of attacks on the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

    “Think of what’s happened this year,” Romney recently implored a crowd in Iowa. “General [David] Petraeus came in to report to Congress and Hillary Clinton said she couldn’t believe him. She said she just couldn’t believe General Petraeus. Now think about that. He’s been proven to be right. He should be on the cover, by the way, of Time magazine, and not Putin.”

    Clinton, for her part, has stood her ground. Addressing a crowd of voters in Iowa, she took a swipe back at Romney: “We all know the Republican candidates are just plain wrong when they declare mission accomplished about the troop surge.” She went on to note that U.S. casualty figures in Iraq for 2007 were at an all-time high, and that for all of the positive reports concerning the surge, Iraq remains a nation on the verge of a civil war, no closer today to a political solution than it was before the escalation. She promised that, if nominated, “I will not hesitate to go toe to toe with Republicans in the debates to end the war as quickly and responsibly as possible.”

    Therein lies the catch. How does Clinton explain her commitment to quick and responsible withdrawal in the context of the short-term reduction of violence in Iraq achieved by the surge? How does she propose to rectify the admitted internal shortcomings inside Iraq, which she likens to near-civil war conditions, with her pledge for a “responsible” withdrawal? If one takes at face value the alleged successes of the surge, it is difficult to justify the embrace of an alternative policy option. Likewise, if one chooses to criticize the surge as all smoke and mirrors, as Clinton has, and yet argues for a quick and responsible end to the war in Iraq without revealing the details of how this would be accomplished, the rhetoric comes across as remarkably shallow.

    I’m not one inclined to speak out in support of Hillary Clinton. She made her bed with Iraq, and she should now be forced to sleep in it. However, she is right that nothing the surge has accomplished so far remotely approaches a solution to these enormously destabilizing realities: a largely disaffected Sunni population which finds the current Shiite-dominated government of Iraq fundamentally unacceptable; a decisively fractured Shiite population torn between an Iranian-dominated government on the one hand (controlled by the political proxies of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, itself an Iranian proxy) or an indigenous firebrand, Muqtada al-Sadr; and a false paradise in Kurdistan, where the dream of an independent Kurdish homeland corrupts a viable Kurdish autonomy and threatens regional instability by provoking Turkish military intervention.

    “Quickly and responsibly”? The problem with Clinton is that when it comes to Iraq, she is as shallow as the next candidate, and once one gets past her flowery rhetoric and protestations of expertise, it becomes crystal clear that she, like almost everyone else in the presidential race from either party, hasn’t a clue about what is really happening on the ground in Iraq.

    There are, in fact, five Iraqs that must be dealt with by a singular American policy. The first is the Iraq of the Green Zone, and by that I mean the Iraqi government brought about by the “purple finger revolution” of January 2005. Those sham elections produced a sham democracy which lacks any viability outside of the never-never land of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. This lack of centralized authority has led some, like Sen. Joe Biden and the U.S. Senate, to advocate the division of Iraq into three de facto states, one Sunni, one Shiite and one Kurdish, lumped together in a loose federation overseen by a weak central authority. Given that the 2005 elections were designed to prevent this very sort of Iraqi breakup to begin with, one can begin to understand the fallacy of any policy that contradicts the very foundation upon which it is built. But this sort of behavior defines the entire Iraq fiasco, one contradiction built upon another, until there has been woven a web of contradictions from which no clarity can ever be found. That, in a sentence, is the reality of the current Iraqi government. It is almost as if by design the Bush administration has cobbled together a wreck incapable of governance. How does Hillary Clinton propose to deal “quickly and responsibly” with such a mess?

    The second Iraq is the one being managed from Tehran. This Iraq, stretching from Basra in the south up into Baghdad, exists outside of the reach of the compromised disaster that is the current government of Iraq, and is instead dominated by SCIRI and its military wing, the Badr Brigade. Here one finds the unvarnished reality of the dream of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiites, those who reached political maturity festering in the anti-Saddam ideology cooked up in the theocracy of Iran. Given the roots of this political movement, bred and paid for by the reactionary mullahs of Iran, the politics of revenge that it embraces should come as no surprise. However, whereas the mullahs in Tehran seek long-term political stability guaranteed by a friendly, compliant government in Baghdad, the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiites seem more focused on rapidly reversing decades of inequities, real and perceived. Revenge is not a policy that breeds stability, and yet it is the politics of revenge that dominates the mind-set of SCIRI.

    Serving as a major domestic counterweight to SCIRI is the indigenous grass-roots Iraqi Shiite movement controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr, the third Iraq. Possessing similar geographic reach as SCIRI, the Iraq of the “Mahdi Army” is one which rejects the SCIRI proxy government operating out of the Green Zone as but a tool of the American occupation, and the SCIRI movement itself as a tool of Iran. While maintaining close relations with Tehran, al-Sadr mocks those who would govern in south Iraq as having Farsi, vice Arabic, as their first tongue. The movement headed by al-Sadr bases its credibility on its pure Iraqi roots, derived as it is from the Shiites of Iraq who actually lived under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Surprisingly, these Shiites are more inclined to find common cause with their fellow Iraqis, including Sunnis who are disaffected with the current government, than with their SCIRI co-religionists. While much has been made of the Sunni-Shiite divide, the fact is that one of the most serious threats to stability in Iraq is the emerging Shiite-versus-Shiite conflict between al-Sadr and SCIRI.

    The fourth Iraq is the Iraq of the Sunni. The first three years of the American occupation were dominated by violence emanating from the Sunni heartland as those elements loyal to Saddam, and those opposed to Shiite domination, worked together to make the American occupation, and any affiliated post-Saddam government derived from the occupation, a failure. To this extent, elements of the Sunni of Iraq, drawn primarily from the intelligence services of the Hussein regime, facilitated the creation and operation of al-Qaida in Iraq. The work of this Iraqi al-Qaida has been successful in destabilizing the country to the point that the United States has been compelled to fund, equip and train Sunni militias in an effort to confront al-Qaida, as well as to make up for the real shortfalls of the central Iraqi government when it comes to security and stability in the Sunni areas. The newfound relationship between the Sunni and the United States, especially in Anbar province, is cited as a major factor in the success of the surge.

    The fifth Iraq is that of the Kurds. Long hailed as a poster child of stability and prosperity, the fundamental problems inherent in post-Saddam Kurdistan are coming to a head. The inherent incompatibility between the “sanctuary” created by the United States through the northern “no-fly zone” and post-Saddam Iraq is more evident today than ever. The Kurds, pleased with their status as a “special case” in the eyes of the Bush administration, have made no honest effort to assimilate into a centralized system of government. Furthermore, the false dream of an independent Kurdish homeland has not only poisoned relations with the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad (witness the conflict over oil deals in Kurdistan and the Iraqi national oil law), but also between the U.S. and its NATO ally, Turkey. The Iraqi Kurds’ ongoing support of Kurdish nationalist groups in Turkey and Iran has led to increased instability, the most current manifestation of which are the ongoing cross-border attacks into Iraqi territory by the Turkish military. And, given the high level of emotion attached to matters pertaining to Kurdish nationalism, the likelihood of the situation de-escalating anytime soon is remote.

    Five Iraqs, and one Iraq policy ill-suited to the reality of any single situation, yet alone the whole. The success of the surge is pure fantasy, a fancy bit of illusion that would do David Copperfield proud, but not the people of Iraq or the United States. The surge addresses events in Iraq based upon short-term objectives (i.e., reducing the immediate level of violence) without resolving any of the deep-seated, long-term issues that promote the violence to begin with. It is like placing a Band-Aid on a gaping chest wound. The pink, frothy blood may not be visible on the surface, but the wound remains as grave as ever, and because it is not being directly attended to, it only gets worse. Eventually the lungs will collapse and the body will die. This is the reality of Iraq today. Thanks to the surge, we do not see the horrific wound that is Iraq for what it truly is. As such, our policies do nothing to cure the problem, and in doing nothing, only make the matter worse.

    History will show that this period of relative “calm” we attribute to the surge is but the pause before the storm. Hillary Clinton is correct to label the surge a failed strategy. But her motivation for doing so rests more with her desire to position herself politically on the domestic front than it is a reflection of a thoughtful Iraq policy. So long as American politicians, regardless of political affiliation, seek to solve the problem of Iraq from a domestic political perspective, then the problem that is Iraq will never be resolved, either “quickly” or “responsibly.” Iraq is an unpopular war. There are, therefore, no “popular” solutions, only realistic ones.

    The five-dimensional problem embodied in post-Saddam Iraq cannot be bundled up into a neat package. America, and its leaders, must do the right thing in Iraq, not for Iraq, but for America, even when doing so requires making some tough decisions. Narrow the problem set from five dimensions to two, and the problem becomes more manageable. For my money, I choose working with the Sunnis and al-Sadr to create a viable coalition, and then cutting a deal with Iran that trades off better relations in exchange for encouraging the current failed Iraqi government to step aside in favor of new elections. And the Kurds? Autonomy or nothing.

    My loyalty is first and foremost to the United States, and when we look at the situation in Iraq from a genuine national security perspective, there is no threat worthy of the continued sacrifice being asked of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. As such, the only policy option worthy of consideration is that which brings our troops home as expeditiously as possible. Politicians who embrace a different policy are simply using the sacrifice of our service members as a shield behind which to hide their ignorance of Iraqi issues, and their personal cowardice, which manifests itself any time brave young men and women are allowed to die in order to preserve someone’s political viability.

    As we in the United States celebrate this holiday season, let us not forget those who serve overseas in uniform, and the sacrifices they make in our name. And as we approach the coming election season, let us never forget those politicians who would have these sacrifices continue in order to safeguard their individual political fortune. This applies to all who seek the nomination for the office of the presidency, even those like Hillary Clinton who claim to embrace an anti-war position but whose words and actions strongly suggest something else.

    Nobody listened to Scott Ritter back in 2002-2003 when he told the truth about Iraq and Saddam. Some even called him a traitor, but history has proved Ritter and those who were saying the same things like Juan Cole RIGHT and their detractors wrong, hello Fox Propaganda (Pravda for Bush) and the AEI inspired noise machine.

    It is time we started to listen to people like Ritter and Cole who seek the truth and then base policy ideas on that and NOT some discredited ideology from some "fooles from the past"* who just wanted to prop up the rich powers that be controlling the USA instead of what the founding fathers really wanted.

    Hopefully before Nov 2008 the American people "get it".

    *think Milton Freidman, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and the Dulles brothers inspired foreign policy fanatics,

  143. Mike said...
    Hey Bart, one thing if those guys over in TP havent realized in over a month that Atheism is a belief system, doncha think your beating your head against a brick wall?

    Well it kind of became a thing where they just wanted the last word to bury my comments and make it look like they won so I stuck it out because I was right and I hate that crap. If I'm wrong I'll drop it, but I was right so I didn't drop it and walk away.

    Anyway TP closed comments on the thread a few days ago so its over for now, but of course they closed it on those illiterate idiots comments, giving them effectively the last word.


    I stuck in there for over a month, and fended off ignorant attacks from half a dozen illiterate idiots who also happened to be atheists.

    Anyway I just thought it was an interesting argument. It really shows that atheists can be just as fanatical and blinded by their commitment to a belief system as a religious person can be.

  144. Lydia Cornell said...
    The movie "Idiocracy" is a hilariously perfect example of where America is heading under the corporate monolith

    You finally saw Idiocracy?

    Remember me posting about it about a year ago? I think that movie contains a lot of truth, unfortunately.

  145. The easiest way any candidate for president wants to show "they get it", is to listen to Scott Ritter, then start talking about what he is saying.

    Throw out the lies of the reichwing since 1980.

    Then change US foreign policy from these fiascos;

    Tell the truth about Iran since the early 1950's.

    Combine that with the truth we all know about Chile,

    Tell the truth about our illegal undemocratic operations in Vietnam,

    The truth about Reagan and Bush Sr propping up dictators like Saddam in Iraq and Noriega in Panama> during the 1980's,

    The real truth about "Charlie Wilson's War"

    Add to that the illegal kidnapping of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by the Bush administration in complete violation of US law and the foundations of the UN.

    That might give them a base from which to correct the US's problem with the rest of the planet.

    maybe, just maybe ......

  146. I thought the "surge" worked?

    Suicide Bomb at Baghdad Funeral Kills 32

    Too bad right wing Washington propaganda isn't being reinforced by the truth in Baghdad ....

  147. Check out the excellent post by Brother Tim at his blog. You will especially like it Lydia:

    Blog of Revelation

  148. Happy New Year Everyone!

    Let's hope 2008 is better for all! :)

  149. Those were some EXCELLENT articles Clif!

  150. Happy Nre Year SQ!

  151. Clif, i read an article last week that was virtually identical to what you just posted saying Prescott was a traitor and Nazi supporter and that he was in on a plot to assassinate FDR.

  152. Mike in a video many people who won't read a 1000+ word essay can get it also.

    Like the two articles i posted under the truth about charlie wilson's war expose a hell of a lot of truth, but many won't read them because they are a little long for the tubes.

    The second show the Taliban was much more destructive to Afghanistan then the Soviets were, especially the sects supported by "Charlie" himself.

  153. A new poll says John Edwards might win big;

    Reallocated Numbers Based on Second Preferences Gives Edwards A Solid Lead

    Edwards: 41%
    Clinton: 34%
    Obama: 25%

    they don't have anything clear about the repubies BTW

  154. Happy New Year, Lydia!

  155. I'm going to send that link to a bunch of people Clif, most people give the Bush name legitimacy and dont realize that Prescott and GWB were traitors to this country.

  156. I think Edwards WILL win big and surprise alot of people, even if he finishes 2nd it will surprise alot of people since the MSM works tirelessly to marginalize him and pretend he doesnt have a chance.

  157. 2008 Predictions from

    January: After paying five billion dollars for The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch will reduce the size of the paper by removing the facts.

    February: Responding to the controversy over the CIAs' waterboarding videotapes, President Bush will reaffirm his administration's opposition to videotaping.

    March: As the writers strike drags on, Paramount will produce the second Transformers film without a script, just like they did with the first one.

    April: Monica Lewinsky will announce her candidacy for President of the United States. She will offer herself as an alternative to Hillary, saying, "It worked before."

    May: Attempting to bolster flagging enlistment rates, the Army will change its recruitment slogan from "Army Strong" to "I Can't Believe It's Not a Civil War."

    June: Population experts will warn that the world's population will soar in 2008, largely due to the Spears sisters.

    July: China will send a new brand of rat poison to the United States under the name "Delicious Cupcakes."

    August: Sen. Edward Kennedy will abandon plans to write his memoirs, explaining, "I can't even remember what I did last night."

    September: At the Republican National Convention, G.O.P. nominee Mike Huckabee will select Jesus Christ as his running mate.

    October: O.J. Simpson will be convicted in Las Vegas, proving that it is easier to get away with murder than stealing sports memorabilia.

    November: President-elect Michael Bloomberg will defend the five-billion-dollar cost of his campaign, arguing, "Rupert Murdoch paid that much for The Wall Street Journal, and I get a whole country."

    And December: In his last official act, President Bush will announce an exit strategy from Iraq. The President will withdraw all U.S. troops - through Iran.

    Andy Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and at his award-winning humor site,

  158. US military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007. Taliban militants killed more than 925 Afghan police.

    Another Bush failure.

  159. Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded 38 at a funeral in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, shattering a New Year's day that had begun with hopeful celebrations of a kind unseen in years.

    Two police sources confirmed the death toll, which would make it the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since September and one of the deadliest anywhere in Iraq for months.

    Another bloodthirsty day for the bloodthirsty Bush.

  160. By Cahal Milmo

    Here comes the world’s newest superpower. The rest of the world is gloomily contemplating economic slowdown and even recession. Not in Beijing. China is set to make 2008 the year it asserts its status as a global colossus by flexing frightening economic muscle on international markets, enjoying unprecedented levels of domestic consumption and showcasing itself to a watching world with a glittering £20bn Olympic Games.

    The world’s most populous nation will mark the next 12 months with a coming-of-age party that will confirm its transformation in three decades from one of the poorest countries of the 20th century into the globe’s third-largest economy, its hungriest (and most polluting) consumer and the engine room of economic growth.

    Once regarded at best as a sporting also-ran, China is widely tipped to top the medals table in the Beijing Olympics in August, an event in which the country’s leadership is investing huge importance and prestige.

    It will be a celebration viewed with consternation by many, as China’s authoritarian regime shows little sign of relaxing its grip on power and continues to expand its influence overseas from the oil fields and metal mines of Africa to the City of London. Appropriately, 2008 marks the Year of the Rat, an animal considered in Chinese folklore to be a harbinger and protector of material prosperity.

    Britain will feel the full power of the new superpower’s confidence. This month, for the first time, China’s state-controlled banks will begin spending some of its $1.33trn (£670bn) in foreign currency reserves on London’s financial markets. Beijing has ruled that Britain should become only the second destination after Hong Kong to be allowed to receive investors’ money via so-called “sovereign funds” – the huge state-controlled surpluses built up by cash-rich economies from Qatar to South Korea. Throw in the biggest round of Chinese art exhibitions ever to tour these islands and the oriental bias to 2008 becomes even more pronounced.

    The UK has made it clear that Beijing’s investment, which could reach as much as £45bn, is welcome and it follows the recent acquisition by Chinese banks of stakes in such blue chip stocks as Barclays and the US private equity firm Blackstone, at a cost of $3bn. The talk in the finance houses is that the label “Made in China” will soon be replaced by one reading “Owned by China”. Takeover speculation has provoked concern in some quarters at the wisdom of selling large assets to organs of a democratically unaccountable state where the financial sector remains underdeveloped.

    China’s trade surplus with the rest of the world will widen from £130bn in 2007 to £145bn this year as it tries to tame its burgeoning economy amid pressure from Washington and Brussels to narrow the trade gap and raise its currency’s value.

    Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, a Sino-British business network, said: “China has become an international player much more quickly than it would have wanted to do, in part to meet its need for natural resources. But I don’t think China has any intention of taking on American power. The West is important to China in this stage of its development as it seeks inward investment. But that is beginning to be much less important and it is looking more to the development of a strong Asia, in which it is one of the strongest players because of its enormous consumer base.”

    But while some may question Beijing’s political motives, there is no doubt that China has arrived as serious power-broker. Last year, it surpassed America as the greatest driver of global economic demand. It is also widely predicted to overtake Germany as the world’s third largest economy this year.

    While nearly all of its success since Premier Deng Xiaoping began China’s economic transformation in 1978 has been driven by producing goods for the outside world, the country has a burgeoning urban middle-class whose insatiable appetite for consumer durables is hoped to put the economy on a more stable footing. One London-based luxury markets analyst said: “The Chinese are waking up to quality brands in a way that is quite exciting. There is a real sense that what the West once kept to itself is now available to them, or at least the urban few who can afford it.”

    The arrival of conspicuous consumption and entry of Shanghai’s sovereign funds into foreign investment markets, with London soon expected to be followed by the US, is symptomatic of a China increasingly willing to assert itself as a political and cultural influence, according to experts.

    From global warming to Darfur and North Korea, the views of Beijing and its willingness to act have become prerequisites to any solution to the world’s most pressing problems.

    The Chinese New Year on 7 February will herald the beginning of the largest-ever festival of China’s culture in Britain with an accent on contemporary artists in fields from video art to neon signs. But others warn 2008 has as much potential to be a disaster as a triumph for Beijing’s attempts to herald its own arrival on the world stage. The Chinese capital will host 31,000 journalists for the Olympics and any sign of protest or an attempt to quell dissent with violence would be catastrophic.

    The drum beat of protectionism is already sounding in America and will only get louder in a presidential election year, putting pressure on both Republican and Democratic candidates to take a “strong” stance on China. In the meantime, Beijing will have to grapple with issues from rising inflation to Taiwan, which holds presidential elections in March, to its status as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and likely role as the largest consumer of primary energy resources.

    Dr Kerry Brown, associate fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: “There are good reasons to feel pretty uncomfortable about 2008 for China. The world will be rightly watching China in August for the Olympics. But it will only take one truncheon blow to turn it away from a story about sport to one about repression.”

    Why does't Bush bomb China?

  161. John McCain's Sleazy Affair With Corporate Lobbyists

    A. Alexander,

    It is hard to imagine a sleazier, slimier, and more disingenuous politician than John McCain. America's corporate-owned press has always labeled him a "maverick," which is a bit like families who refer to the crazy uncle as being "a little eccentric." McCain is after all, a supposed serious presidential candidate who, when asked a question, responded by playing on an old Beach Boy's song and cooed, "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." Knowing that his finger could one day be firmly planted on the nation's nuclear go-button isn't exactly comforting.

    John McCain served his country in Vietnam, which is more than can be said for most Republicans. He should be honored for that. He was tortured by the North Vietnamese and for that, he deserves our empathy. Yet, ironically, that is also exactly the reason why McCain's presence sets off sleaze alarms.

    McCain feigned outrage and continues to do so, at Mister Bush's use of torture. With a straight face and with all the earnestness that he can muster, McCain will look into television cameras and condemn torture. Heck, he even helped write an anti-torture bill that was sent to Bush for the president's signature. Bush signed the bill, which made it appear that McCain had accomplished some great and wonderful "restoring America to the moral high ground" kind of act. Only, with McCain's full knowledge, Mister Bush signed the bill and then wrote a "signing statement" -- which, for the record, is unconstitutional anyway -- that excluded Mister Bush and the CIA from the law that was supposedly designed to prevent both Bush and the CIA from torturing people.

    Follow that? McCain is hoping no one did.

    And to that end, John McCain never said a peep. He simply, in the most sleazy and duplicitous manner imaginable, a man that had been tortured and knows firsthand the inherent evil of the practice, pretended Bush never did what he did. And, of course, John McCain went about the business of bragging about how he heroically, almost single-handedly restored America's honor.

    That sort of behavior sets off sleaze alarms, right?

    Speaking of sleazy and duplicitous .... John McCain has always been a HUGE fan of Mister Bush's Iraq War. Before the war began, General Shinseki had suggested that any invasion of Iraq would require more than 300,000 troops to win the battles and to secure the post-conflict peace. For that, as it wasn't inline with Rumsfeld and the White House's thinking, Shinseki found himself summarily relieved of duty (some called it 'retirement'). As the war dragged on and became more and more bloody and it became all the more obvious that Shinseki was right and as public support for the war plummeted, John McCain, war supporter and Bush policy-lover extraordinaire, began to blame the Generals for the war having gone so badly. It is hard to imagine a slimier or more disingenuous man.

    The term "sleazy" comes to mind, doesn't it?

    One of the -- if not THE -- main reason why America's corporate-owned media likes to label McCain a "maverick," is his supposed stances against lobbying and against corporate influence of the government. To hear him and the corporate-owned media spin the tale, no man has ever stood more firmly and more resolutely against "special interests." Indeed, according to legend, the only thing standing between all-out fascism and America's democracy is the great and wondrous John "The Maverick" McCain. Only ... umm ... that isn't true either.

    According to a report in the Washington Post:

    "It is common for politicians to court big money during a campaign. But private schmooze sessions such as the gathering in Utah pose a particular dilemma for McCain, who has spent a long career decrying 'special interests' and politicians who offer special access to them in order to raise money. As a presidential candidate this year, McCain has found himself assiduously courting both lobbyists and their wealthy clients, offering them private audiences as part of his fundraising. He also counts more than 30 lobbyists among his chief fundraisers, more than any other presidential contender. "

    That really is sleazy, isn't it?

    But why did John McCain feel the need to pretend to be the great protector of "the peoples' government" in the first place? Was his cause the result of John McCain's great personal character? Well, no ... of course not:

    "McCain began his anti-special-interest drive two decades ago after he and four other senators were accused of trying to influence bank regulators on behalf of donor Charles Keating, a savings and loan financier later convicted of securities fraud."

    Just thinking "John McCain" is enough to make one feel a need to shower ... using gasoline and a wire brush. Yuck! The man is just oh-so sleazy ....

    And yet, it seems we've only scratched the surface of McCain's love affair with special interests and lobbyists:

    "[A] recent study by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute and the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen found that McCain has more lobbyists raising funds for his presidential bid than do any of his rivals. He has 32 'bundlers' of donations who are lobbyists. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) is the closest to him with 29 lobbyist bundlers, followed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) with 18."

    ... and, of course, there is more ... :

    "McCain's campaign has also been guided by lobbyists. Davis, the campaign manager, is a former lobbyist who represented major telecommunications companies. The campaign's senior adviser is Charles R. Black Jr., chairman of BKSH & Associates, which represents drug companies, an oil company, an automaker, a telecommunications company, defense contractors and the steel industry, among others.

    "Former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.) was brought in to shore up the campaign's finances and operations yet still maintains his day job as chairman of the Loeffler Group, whose clients include oil, auto and telecommunications companies as well as a tobacco firm and an airline client.

    "Other occasional McCain advisers include the lobbyists Timothy P. McKone of AT&T, Robert S. Aiken of Phoenix-based Pinnacle West Capital, John W. Timmons of the "Cormac Group and John Green of Ogilvy Government Relations. Also at Ogilvy is a major McCain fundraiser, Wayne L. Berman.

    "Their firms' clients have been a significant source of campaign contributions to McCain. Executives for the clients of Ogilvy Government Relations gave at least $271,000 for McCain's presidential bid. Loeffler Group client employees donated $118,500, according to a Washington Post analysis. BKSH clients' executives gave $24,000."

    Yikes! It appears that our hero, John "The Maverick" McCain, champion of the anti-special interest crusade, is swimming in a virtual ocean of lobbyists and special interests. He is in fact, drowning in his own pool of sleaze and slime. If there is a more disingenuous person than John McCain, besides George W. Bush, he or she hasn't been found.

    This drooling old Bush lover is on the take like his hero Bush.

  162. Welcome to Third World, U.S.A.

    Arthur Donner
    Doug Peters

    "What we're seeing (in the U.S.) isn't the rise of a fairly broad class of knowledge workers. Instead, we're seeing the rise of a narrow oligarchy: Income and wealth are becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite ... It's time to face up to the fact that rising inequality is driven by the giant income gains of a tiny elite, not the modest gains of college graduates."

    – Paul Krugman, New York Times, Feb. 27, 2006.

    In the mid-1990s, the Wall Street Journal delivered the classic insult to this nation when it called Canada an honorary Third World country.

    Indeed, at that time Canada's economy was coming out of a period of relative difficulty.

    Our balance of payments was shaky, the federal government had posted a long string of budget deficits and the Canadian dollar was weak.

    Adding to these economic woes, as of the mid-1990s, Canada also had a long history of posting substantially higher inflation rates than in the United States.

    Now, however, the trade and fiscal deficits situation has been turned on its head, with the United States incurring huge fiscal deficits and borrowing enormous amounts of foreign capital to balance its hefty international trade deficit. In fact, in a relatively short time span, the U.S. has become the largest debtor nation in the world.

    And as Paul Krugman and many other economists have pointed out, U.S. income disparity is obscenely large and increasing, while higher education is not overcoming the polarization of income and the shrinking of the middle class.

    The latter point is somewhat surprising, since most Western democracies see the elimination or reduction of economic inequality as a good idea. Indeed, it is a generally accepted principle that the underlying causes of economic inequality based on such non-economic differences as race, gender, or geography should also be minimized or eliminated.

    In other words, there is a strong predilection in most Western countries to level the economic playing field as much as possible. This seems not to be the case in the United States.

    The United Nations publishes a Human Development Index that ranks countries in terms of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living. The latest published data were based on 2005 statistics. The U.S., despite its vast wealth and power, placed only in the 12th position among industrial countries. The top four countries were Iceland, Norway, Australia and Canada. These top four countries still pay some lip service to income distribution as an important economic and social goal.

    Ironically, the U.S. today has many more features in common with Third World status than Canada ever did back in the mid-1990s.

    What is usually meant by a Third World economy? A half-century ago, the term was associated with the economically underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. The common characteristics of these Third World countries were high levels of poverty, income inequality, high birth rates and an economic dependence upon the advanced countries. Third World countries were simply not as industrialized or technologically advanced as Western countries.

    But what are some of the distinguishing characteristics of contemporary Third World countries? They go beyond these nations' fiscal position or undue concentration on natural resource exports.

    The glaring features today include poverty, lack of democratic institutions, controlling oligarchies and the unequal distribution of income and wealth. In other words, the few enjoy a rich lifestyle while the many share subpar incomes and poverty.

    Another characteristic of Third World countries is that a major portion of their fiscal expenditures is allocated to the military. In many Third World countries, the military is controlled by an elite or a small collection of the wealthy.

    Finally, in many Third World countries one finds that leadership is passed from one generation to the next, often via a close relative.

    Guess what country we are talking about now?

  163. What better way to celebrate the New Year than to sock it to grandma and grandpa with big prices increases? That may not have been the exact nature of the conversation at the US insurance companies that participate in the Medicare prescription drug plan, but it sure was the outcome, as premiums are scheduled to rise by an average of almost 25% in 2008. The sharp price hikes for 2008 could mark the beginning of the end of the relatively good news in the plan's first two years of existence.

    The first two years could be viewed as reasonably successful, since most seniors were covered by the plan. According to the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nearly 80% of the eligible population either signed up for the plan directly or are covered indirectly through an employer-sponsored plan. While enrolment is 10% less than had been projected, and many of those enrolled had already been covered by employers or Medicaid, Part D still provided benefits to more than 10 million elderly who previously had to pay for their medicine out of pocket.

    The cost of the plan in the first years has also been somewhat lower than had been projected by either the CMS or the Congressional Budget Office. Based on lower than expected costs, both agencies have revised downward their projections for the program's cost by more than $100bn over its first ten years.

    Of course even this good news is relative. The program still leaves many seniors with hefty drug bills. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that eight per cent of Part D beneficiaries had drug bills of more than $300 a month and nearly one-fifth reported either delaying or not a filling a prescription due to the cost. Among beneficiaries with three or more chronic conditions, nearly a quarter either delayed filling a prescription or did not fill it due to the cost. In other words, for a very substantial portion of the elderly, Medicare Part D is proving insufficient to allow them to get the drugs they need.

    This is especially unfortunate, because the programme could have been far more efficient and effective if Congress had designed it to serve seniors instead of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The whole idea of stand-alone prescription drug insurance is an invention of Congress.

    Stand alone prescription drug insurance is like rear-end accident collision auto insurance. Such policies don't exist in the private sector for an obvious reason: they create needless complications and waste. It was an historic oversight not to have Medicare include prescription drug coverage when it was created in 1965. Congress could rectified this mistake by simply adding the money appropriated for Part D to the existing program and have it now include prescription drugs. The private plans that operate within Medicare could have also received this additional payment.

    However, instead of creating a simple efficient programme, Congress wanted to stack the deck in favor of the insurance industry. Therefore, they required tens of millions of seniors to buy stand-alone drug plans, which would only be offered by the insurance industry, if they wanted assistance in paying for their drugs. This fragmentation process also pleased the drug industry, since it prevented Medicare from using its bargaining power, like the Veterans Health Administration, to push down the cost of drugs. The unnecessary administrative costs, combined with high drug prices, are the reasons that so many seniors still have difficulty paying for their drugs.

    And the situation is about to get worse. It seems that the insurers repeated the bait and switch approach from the mid-1990s. When the Republican Congress created the "Medicare Plus Choice" programme, many insurers entered the Medicare market with low prices in order to capture market share. They soon raised their prices to levels that allowed them to hit profit targets or left the market.

    The same process seems to be taking place with the insurers in the Medicare Part D programme. It is not easy for seniors to change drug plans. In fact, they are locked into a plan for most of the year. They can change plans for the following year, during the last six weeks of the prior year. Most people had difficulty selecting their plan initially, with the typical enrollee taking more than eight hours to choose a plan. It is understandable that most do not want to go through this process again, especially since they cannot be guaranteed that they will end up with a better plan.

    This explains the 25% premium increases that we're seeing for 2008 and which we might see again in future years. Betting that beneficiaries are pretty much stuck with their existing plans, the insurance companies have adopted the "whack granny" strategy. It might not be pretty, but it's healthy for their bottom line. At least someone can look forward to a good year.

    Bush even hates old folks.

  164. And the horses you all rode in on, one at a time, then rotate.

    worth the read.

    actually entertaining, and informative,

    and facts, something "redstate" is not known for.

  165. The 9/11 Commission just stated the White House and CIA obstructed justice during the 9/11 Commission Investigation

  166. A CRIMINAL investigation has just been launched into the destruction of the torture tapes and similar Obstruction of Justice by the CIA and White House..............those treasonous criminals sure are good at obstructing justice.

  167. Mike:

    No matter what the 9/11 commission says, Pelosi and Reid will not allow Bush to go down.

  168. Thanks Larry--
    I was trying to decide how to break the news to Mike, when I read your comment. Investigations are a farce. 'Pliable' Pelosi and 'Stepenfetchit' Reid will NEVER allow it.

  169. This comment has been removed by the author.

  170. I'm well aware this investigation wont go anywhere because the Democrats like Pelosi and Reed wont allow it to have the teerth it should............but this investigation will most likely STILL be going on after the investigation and either the truth of the treason these evil men committed could come out to the less informed sheeple...........or if Bush/Cheney miscalculate and dont pardon themselves for ALL of their many crimes they could still possibly be charged with a criminal offense LATER!

    Wishful thinking I know but we need some hope after the last 7 years!

  171. I meant the investigation will likely still be going on after the election!

  172. Brother Tim:

    The proof is in everything Bush has done since Pelosi and Reid took charge.

  173. I think this election will sweep away MANY of the faux democrats that have been fouling dregs preventing the checks and balances and forces of positive change from functioning.

    A point I raised on New Years eve was that Hillary and MANY of the faux Democrats like Pelosi and Reed think they need to be hawks and/or not cut funding or oppose the war or "Patriot Act" that vehemently or they may pay the price with Independents in the general election..............what these fools FAIL to grasp is that 70%-80% of Americans are against the war and against the direction the country has been going under Bush. Now 70%-80% of repugs STILL support Bush and HIS war, Democrats have been against Bush and the war for what changed to make 70% to 80% of our population turn against Bush and HIS war..........the Independents swung and abandoned the war.

    This couldnt be more obvious to me, Hillary positioned herself on the wrong side of the country on this isssue this is clearly evidenced by Rudy Guliani's scare and fear tactics CLEARLY backfiring, America is clearly ready for a change and wants to heal and move in a NEW direction they have grown wise to the fear mongering demogogery Rove, Cheney and Bush have successfully used ad naseum for the last 6 years......that dishonest Orwellian rhetoric worthy of Gobbels has lost its mesmerizing pied piper like quality and is only a pathetic insult to the common mans intelligence.

  174. Pelosi and Reid grouped with the likes of Hillary are shining examples of what is wrong with the political system in Anerica.

    They have been Republicanized to the point of "whatever will gain them a buck."

  175. WE'll see, if Edwards wins tomorrow it will be a loud and clear message that America is ready for a real change and and sick and tired of the MSM and corporate elitist agenda.

  176. If Hillary wins then it will be a status quo signal of the worse proportions.

  177. I've been reading a lot about how horrible the Iowa caucuses are and how Iowa shouldnt have so much of a say in determining the candidates. One pundit even said that Iowa should take its rightful place at the end of the newscast or the back page of the newspaper.

    Now, I grew up in a small town in Nebraska right across the river from Sioux City, IA. Right now I live in St Louis, Mo, and I say more power to Iowa! So often, the MSM and politicians act as if the country consists of Washington DC, New York, California. Shoot, the winter storms dont even become news until the northeast is affected. Watch the weather on the Today show and you'll see what I mean.

    The Iowa caucuses allows for a state that is most of the time an afterthought an opportunity to say "Hey! We matter too!"


    today is the Iowa Caucus.

    And on our show today we have the Center for American Progress and John Hunt who will walk us through the caucus process...