Friday, December 14, 2007


Orphans photo

There was an ice storm and massive power outage last weekend, but it's over and our servers are back up. Sorry for being offline for so long.

On Saturday I took my kids and their friends for the second time to volunteer at Hope Gardens, a residence for homeless women and children. It is the partner of the rougher Union Rescue Mission downtown. Hope Gardens is is nestled in the hills, surrounded by trees, flowers and babbling brooks. Bel Air Presbyterian Church has adopted it as a partner, and my kids, who are in middle school, help out and earn community service points. I met two senior citizen women who had been homeless and found themselves living now in paradise. They were so beautiful, maybe in their late 70's or 80's -- but so full of gratitude. You could tell they had suffered major life losses. Maybe the loss of a spouse, a child or job? To be a woman alone with no possibility of making a living, and no family -- is such a tragedy. Women are less employable because an old woman is simply a throw-away. Our society, with its obsessive emphasis on youth, has no use for elderly women or men for that matter. What a world we live in. I pray for the homeless souls on the streets of cities covered in ice and snow this winter. How are people surviving with these power outages?

It is of vital importance that we support comprehensive programs like the Union Rescue Mission’s women and children program in Sylmar. These programs are saving lives....”

–Jan Perry, 9th District Los Angeles Councilwoman

"We won't have to worry about our kids--what they have to see on the street."
-Cheryl, a homeless mother of two

On over 70-acres of land next to the National Forest, Hope Gardens Family Center is a supportive housing
facility where 225 abandoned women and children will get away from the streets of Skid Row.

Families will learn to succeed financially, emotionally, physically, and academically in our 12-36 month program.


  1. What you say is true, and it filters through to ALL aspects of our society.

    My father passed away in 1996, my mother's health is in severe decline, and my wife's grandmother recently passed away. I can tell you without hesitation that Doctors simply do not treat (or listen to) older patients as diligently as they do younger ones.

    Some are going to object to what I said. My response to them would be that I've now seen it too many times.

  2. Thanks JR. How sad. I'm sorry about your dad and your mother's health. What is going on with your mother?

    I lost my brother and father and all grandparents. But my father's brother lives in Australia and his sister's kids live in Vancouver. Their health care systems are more helpful.

    Did you hear AT& T is eliminating the good old telephone booth and pay telephone? What are people to do who can't afford cell phones? Like homeless people.

  3. EVERYONE - VERY SORRY. Blog was down due to massive power outage from ice storm.

    New thread is up.

    Thanks for your patience.


  4. Lydia,

    My mother is nearing the end stages of terminal lung cancer. I sort of shuttle between my house and hers, trying to do what I can to make it easier on her. It hasn't been easy, but she delights in the company of my little girls, and at this stage of her life she needs something to make her smile.

    I believe you when you say that the healthcare systems in other places would be more helpful. What I have seen between dad and mom has convinced me that once the actuaries write you off, so does the medical profession.

  5. Welcome back, Lydia.

    Homelessness in Murika. It became normal and common during Reagan's tenure. Sure, big cities like New York and Los Angeles always had some homelessness but, when Reagan -- the patron saint of the rightwing was president, smaller cities and towns started seeing increases in homelessness.

    Many are veterans. In New York, an estimated 4,000 youth live on the streets -- 2/3rds of them are gay and lesbian, kicked out of their homes by their parents. Imagine doing that to your child just because you learn they are gay? I can't wrap my brain around that level of hatred and cruelty.

    One remedy to sleeping on the streets is the shelter. But, most shelters require the person to leave during the day. This is why we see dishoveled and lost souls on city streets and benches. Women with kids in tow and elderly and disabled people roaming about.

    Homelessness in Murika is a huge and serious problem and virtually nothing has been done to combat it during the 7, long years, Bush has been loitering in the White House.

    Too bad 50% of the monies collected by the IRS and deposited in the US Treasury go to just two things: the military and paying the interest on the debt. It comes down to priorities and Murika's have never been more screwed up.

  6. Ah, but military spending is chock full of no-bid Chimpy crony contracts, and Chimpy's moneyed peers are also collecting a lot of that interest in the national debt. For the people Chimpy serves, it's all good.

  7. Too bad the US House of Representatives, led by Speaker Botox, has yet to tell Bush "No" each time he requests billions and billions more for his precious Iraq war.

    As Pelosi says, "We won't abandon the troops!"

    Yeah, sure Nance. But, you've sure as hell abandoned the American people and the homeless in this country.

  8. Seems to me "Nanny" and Co. have done a pretty damn good job of abandoning the WOUNDED ones.

    In the area I live in, there are already about 50 homeless Iraq war vets. One of those vets sits on a porch and stares at the street all day because he can't get treated by the VA for PTSD yet. I see him, day in and day out, every time I go by where he's staying. Just sitting there. All weather.

  9. Lydia,

    I sent you an important email at AOL. Did you get it?

  10. FCC Approves New Media Ownership Rule

    Posted: 2007-12-18 18:59:16
    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission, overturning a 32-year-old ban, voted Tuesday to allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission's two Democrats voted against it.

    Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the vote.

    At Tuesday's meeting, the chairman described the media ownership proceeding as "the most contentious and divisive issue" to come before the commission.

    That proved true as the two Democrats blasted Martin's plan in unusually strong language for the normally sedate agency.

    Martin said his proposal represented "a relatively minor loosening" of the cross-ownership rule. He noted concern for the steady decline in revenue for newspaper companies and said his proposal "strikes a balance" between the realities of the changing media marketplace and the preservation of diversity and competition in broadcasting.

    As the commission loosened ownership requirements on one industry, it tightened the reins on another by approving a 30 percent national cap on subscribers for cable companies. The move, opposed by cable companies, would prevent a single cable television provider from serving 30 percent or more of the national pay television audience.

    Martin was joined by the two Democrats in voting in favor of the cap while the two Republicans on the commission were opposed.

    While Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein supported Martin on the cable cap, they were bitterly opposed to his media ownership rule.

    The two men criticized Martin for making changes to his proposal "in the dead of night" and just prior to the meeting that they said created new loopholes in the rule instead of closing them, as Martin pledged during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.

    "Anybody who thinks our processes are open, thoughtful or deliberative should think twice in light of these nocturnal escapades," said Adelstein.

    Adelstein said Martin's proposal "will allow for waivers for six new newspaper-broadcast combinations and 36 grandfathered stations."

    In a lengthy statement, Copps described the commission's action as a "terrible decision."

    "In the final analysis, the real winners today are businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what's happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government," he said.

    Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate described the media ownership review process as "transparent and thorough." She said the changes proposed are narrow and noted she favored a greater liberalization of the media ownership rules.

    Fellow Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell also defended the proposal, pointing out the explosion of new media in the modern marketplace and the agency's lengthy review of the issues.

    Martin, addressing Adelstein's comment about new waivers, said the great majority were existing combinations that predated the 1975 ownership ban. The others are stations owned by companies that have yet to renew their licenses and not been forced to comply with the ban.

    According to several sources familiar with the as-yet unreleased final order, the waivers include Phoenix, where Gannett Co. Inc. owns the Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, and several smaller cities with cross-owned properties owned by Media General Inc.

    The cross-ownership ban was approved by the FCC in 1975 to serve "the twin goals of diversity of viewpoints and economic competition." The FCC noted at the time that "it is unrealistic to expect true diversity from a commonly owned station-newspaper combination."

    Opponents of the ban say in the past decade there has been great expansion of news outlets thanks to cable television and the Internet and that such restrictions are no longer necessary. Ban supporters say there may be additional outlets, but there has been no corresponding increase in news gatherers and producers, especially at the local level.

    On Monday, 25 senators, including four Republicans, sent Martin a letter threatening that if he goes ahead with the vote, they will move legislation to revoke the rule and nullify the commission's action.

    But a letter that surfaced later the same day makes it clear that the chairman has the full support of the White House. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Dec. 4 opposing a Senate bill that would have delayed the vote, "or any other attempt to delay or overturn these revised rules by legislative means."

    The agency first tried to loosen the ban in 2003, but the move was rejected by a federal appeals court. Since then, the commissioners have been trying to craft a new set of rules that will survive judicial scrutiny.

    Under Martin's proposal, one entity would be permitted to own a newspaper and one broadcast station in the same market.

    But it must be among the 20 largest media markets in the nation and following the transaction, at least eight independently owned-and-operated media voices must remain. In addition, the television station may not be among the top four in the market.

    Regarding the cable ownership issue, the FCC at one time capped cable subscribership at 30 percent, but the limit was invalidated by a court decision in 2001. The cap will prevent large cable companies like Comcast Corp. from getting larger.

    Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, reported 26.2 million subscribers to the FCC through Sept. 30, for a nationwide market share of pay-television subscribers of 27 percent.

    McDowell said the cap is out of date, bad public policy and will be struck down again in court. He described the rule as "the ghost of Christmas past."

    On the Net:

    Federal Communications Commission:

  11. Kevin Martin needs to go when the Democrats take back the White House we need regulators who look out for the interests of the majority of this country not just the wealthy elite lobbiests and Bush cronnies.

  12. JR said "What you say is true, and it filters through to ALL aspects of our society.

    My father passed away in 1996, my mother's health is in severe decline, and my wife's grandmother recently passed away. I can tell you without hesitation that Doctors simply do not treat (or listen to) older patients as diligently as they do younger ones.

    Some are going to object to what I said. My response to them would be that I've now seen it too many times."

    JR, sorry to hear about your mother, and i agree with what you are saying about doctors..........our medical system is so screwed up its almost beyond repair, we need national health care.

  13. BTW JR, i think what you've been saying about the military commanders not allowing a war has jkust gained credibility...........did you hear Admiral Fallon basically called Cheney and the Neo Con chickenhawks a bunch of crazzies.............its virtually unprescedented for a military commander to refer to the VP and senior officials at the Pentagon as crazies it just shows how discredited this lame duck pack of Neo Con fools has become.

  14. CARL, thank you, yes, finally I am beginning to sift thru all my lost emails.

    Jamie Leigh Jones, the woman who was the victim of a gang-rape coverup by Halliburton -- would be a great guest and thank you for giving us an inside track on getting in touch with her.

    in fact, Doug contacted her when the story broke and just as I received your email, she had responded that yes, she WILL be on our show in january.

    this is a very important story.

    In fact, we need to do a blog about it.

  15. Tomorrow, Christina Pelosi, Nancy's daughter will be a guest on our show. She has a new book called "Campaign Bootcamp"

  16. Schultz unleashes barrage against Clinton when she doesn't appear on show.

    Lamenting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's failure to appear on his radio show, liberal host Ed Shultz said he does not want the former First Lady to get the Democratic nomination because she seems unwilling to talk directly to the party's base.

    Schultz, who bills himself as America's No. 1 progressive talker, said Clinton has complained in private meetings about the dominance of conservative talk radio yet refuses to appear before an audience of liberal likely voters, unlike her closest competitors, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Schultz also called out Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) for not appearing on the show to promote his presidential campaign.

    "I am absolutely perplexed about how Hillary Clinton can stand up and say that 'we're so concerned about the right wing sound machine and Rush Limbaugh and (Sean) Hannity and all these other people with microphones, where’s our people,'" Schultz said. "Well, you know what Hillary? Here we are; here we are."

    The Fargo-based host reaches more than 3 million listeners on over 100 radio stations nationwide. He said there was no excuse for Clinton not agreeing to be a guest, especially after Obama called into the show a day earlier and Edwards agreed to be a guest on Wednesday's show.

    "How many times do we have people call in complaining about the mainstream media not reporting this and not reporting that? We give them a microphone and they don’t even freaking use it," Schultz said Tuesday. "I am done with the Clintons. I’m done with the cheap shots. I’m done with the innuendoes. ... Hillary, I do not want you to be the nominee. Biden, I do not want you to be the nominee."

    On Tuesday, Obama called into Schultz's show from his campaign bus to respond to former President Bill Clinton's criticism of Obama's inexperience on PBS's Charlie Rose show last Friday.

    "The folks who have been there a long time and haven't been able to deliver on these issues they will throw up this argument: 'You need more seasoning. You need to have been in washington longer. You need to know how the game is played.' And I keep telling folks, 'We don't need somebody who knows how to play the game better; we need to put an end to the game-playing," Obama said. "They all thought I was just fine when they were 20 points ahead in the polls, I think they're starting to sweat a little bit and that's OK."

    Schultz's dismay at his inability to score Clinton as a guest came a day after she hit all six broadcast and cable morning news programs, repeating her coup earlier this fall, securing interviews on every Sunday morning show. Aside from such road-block coverage though, Clinton generally maintains an arm's length relationship with the press.

    During his nearly 10-minute diatribe, though Schultz noted that he "carried more water for John Kerry than anybody else on the radio" and would have provided the New York senator with a friendly forum to express herself.

    "Does Hillary Clinton think that I am going to nail her? Does she think that this is some kind of torpedo thing or something?" he asked. "Every time the Bush White House gets in trouble they don’t run, they sprint with a stopwatch to Fox News. They can’t get there fast enough. They call their conservative talk show hosts on the air from the White House demanding access. That my friend is infrastructure. If we are going to build the confidence of progressive listeners, independently minded thinking people in this country ... maybe it would be good to talk to the folks unedited."

    Schultz said President Bush "coddled" right-wing talk-show hosts "right into the White House." While they didn't quite get into the front door, the Bush administration did invite 42 mostly right-leaning hosts to broadcast from the White House lawn last year.

    "That president spent more time with right wing talkers than he does with the families that have served up lives in Iraq," Schultz charged. "They think talking to the American people is important. They think getting their base solidified is huge. Where are you Hillary? You should be on all of these progressive talk shows weekly. All of them. Not mine, all of them, ok?"

    In January, RAW STORY reported on an earlier Schultz tirade directed at the Clinton camp.

    "Cutting to the chase, Hillary's people treat us like dirt," Schultz had complained. "We are constantly disregarded, told things that aren't true, and given speculation an interview might happen someday."
    Ed Schultz rants about Hillary snubbing his show.

  17. U.S. homeowners increasingly failed to keep up with their home loan payments in November, as the number of foreclosure filings surged 68 percent nationwide compared with the same month a year ago, according to a mortgage research company.

    In all, 201,950 foreclosure filings were reported last month, compared with 120,334 in November 2006, Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc. said Wednesday.

    Another Bush result leading to the epidemic of homelessness in America.

  18. You have to love a Big Eddie rant.

    More importantly, he's right. Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes are tops in progressive audience share, and Doug and Lydia are rapidly gaining audience. How can any of the dem candidates afford to ignore the rising force of progressive talk radio?

  19. Coulter's Book Flops

    The latest tome by right-wing scribe Ann Coulter, If Democrats Had Any Brains They'd Be Republicans, hasn't caught fire with book buyers.

    The title spent just four weeks on The New York Times' best-seller list--compared with 12 for her previous book--and has sold 97,000 copies in the last 10 weeks, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70% of the market.

    Finally people are sick of hearing about Coulter.

  20. As the political season reaches its Iowa caucus climax, momentum is building for Sen. Chris Dodd to parlay his presidential campaign into a bid to challenge Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, for Majority Leader.

    Almost all of the support for this effort now comes from the netroots, much of which favors such a move. But talk of Dodd making a run at the post has slowly crept into the corners of Capitol Hill as well.

    Dodd has more spine than Reid.

  21. A three-year-old effort aimed at electing U.S. presidents through a popular vote is entering a critical phase in the coming weeks, with two big states set to possibly endorse the concept.

    The National Popular Vote (NPV) plan passed the New Jersey state Assembly last week and is set for a vote in the state Senate in early January. Around the same time, Illinois is expected to finish work on the bill, which has already passed both chambers there.

    Those backing the measure hope to get states with a majority of the country’s 538 electoral votes to support the plan, which would create a compact between states to cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. If enough states agreed, the plan would kick in and create a de facto popular election for president.

    Illinois, New Jersey and Maryland, which approved the plan in April, comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s electoral votes but are crucial to getting the effort off to a good start in 2008, when the Electoral College will be in focus because of the presidential contest.

    Organizers hope the plan will be implemented by the 2012 election but recognize the magnitude of what they are undertaking. The vote in the New Jersey Senate, which is slated for the first week in January, will provide a big clue as to whether they can be successful, said NPV President Barry Fadem.

    “If we don’t get it done there, that will be a bad signal,” he said.

    In the past two years, the measure has passed in 12 state legislative chambers. Ten states or more could be on the agenda for 2008.

    In addition to New Jersey and Illinois, organizers hope to pass measures in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia, among others.

    The measure has been vetoed after passing both houses in California and Hawaii. In the latter, a veto-proof majority in the House has yet to complete an override.

    Progress has also been made in Arkansas and Montana, but those states won’t be in session again until 2009.

    Tim Storey, an election analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the NPV hasn’t made tremendous tangible progress so far but that the lessons learned during their work could be valuable going forward.

    “The fact that they did get Maryland and a few other chambers to sign on is important, but it’s a big mountain to climb,” Storey said.

    This needs passed but the establishment in both worthless parties will never allow it.

  22. A looming scandal about to drop involving John Edwards.

    Whether it will have any traction or not remains to be seen, but its nature doesn't bode well for him in states like like South Carolina and Florida.

    More later.

  23. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would ban all toys made in China after a series of safety scares, and he called for tougher U.S. inspections of Chinese imports.

    "I would stop the import of all toys from China. Now, I have to say that that's about 80 percent of toys that are being imported right now," the Illinois senator told voters in New Hampshire, which helps kick off the 2008 White House race.

    Many American parents are weighing up the hazards of Chinese products while buying their children toys for Christmas next week, following recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys for lead paint and other hazards such as small magnets.

    Scandals involving imported products ranging from toothpaste to pet food and fish have added to the scrutiny of Chinese goods. Beijing has acknowledged some problems but insists foreign media have hyped the issue.

    "We have the power right now to set up our own inspection systems in China," said Obama, who is in a tight race with Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York according to polls.

    "The Japanese do this on food, they basically say to China, you cannot import food unless you meet our safety inspectors. They sent Japanese inspectors to China, set up the testing system, and oversee and make sure that every single bite of food that is sent into from China has been tested," he said.

    "We don't do that," Obama added at a campaign stop in Concord, capital of New Hampshire, whose January 8 primary vote is the second of the state-by-state battles to pick Democratic and Republican candidates for the election on November 4, 2008.

    A watchdog group, Public Citizen, said in a report on Wednesday that more than 87 percent of U.S. toys are imported, a dramatic shift from the 1970s when almost 90 percent of them were produced domestically.

    Don't stop with toys, ban all products from China.

  24. Christopher:

    Hopefully the scandal will prove to be false, since the National Enquirer is the one releasing it, or is Hillary.

  25. Check out the latest post by Jolly Roger, who is a regular commenter on Lydia's blog as well as having a popular blog of his own.

    It fits with this post by Lydia:


  26. Larry,

    We'll see.

    The woman is no kook. She's a filmmaker whose company was hired by Edwards' One America Committee.

    A friend is saying Hunter Rielle told her she had the affair with Edwards. When she found out that she was pregnant, she said Edwards was the father.

    Rielle is said to love Edwards and will do anything to protect him.

    Including take a DNA test?

  27. Christopher:

    Ccheck out the post by Carl on this. The girl says she never met Edwards, it was Andrew Young, and Young confirms.

    Simply Left Behind

  28. Larry,

    Someone isn't telling the truth.

    If Camp Hillary is pushing it, just as her supplicants keep pushing the "Obama is a doper and a dealer," as well as sending out people like former Sen. John Kerrey to push the "Obama was educated in a radical madrass," shtick, I hope she gets hit with a lawsuit.

    Dirty politics have followed the Clintons around for nearly 30 years.

    It has to stop.

  29. Christopher:

    I think Hillary is trying to derail Edwards in Iowa, since he has taken the lead.

    She is smearing Obama weekly and she is a Clinton, who will stop at nothing.

    I just read the post by Carl, but haven't seen that about Andrew Young anywhere else.

  30. Larry,

    If Hillary keeps it up, the editorial board at the Los Angeles Times may be pushed to publish the piece they have on Hillary.

    She may give them no choice.

  31. I hope they bury her Christopher.

    I don't know if the Edwards story is true or not, but the new poll has Hillary 3rd in Iowa, and she has been smearing Obama for weeks.

  32. 'A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it's going to get.'

    Ian Williams Goddard

  33. The Los Angeles Times is sitting on an article, written and vetted, that details Hillary's relationship with Huma Abedin.

    Nowadays, you always see this gorgeous Indian/Pakistani woman hovering near Hillary. That's Abedin.

    Sources told me Hillary got wind of the LA Times piece and she decided to hide her in plain sight. That way, no GOPer can later say, "Who is this gorgeous babe who spends so much intimate time with Hillary that the Observer called Hillary's "body person"?

    Maybe Gennifer Flowers was right all along about Hillary's sexual preference?

  34. When would Hilary have time to have sex?

  35. Probably whenever Bill's somewhere else.

  36. I wondered what happened to you Lydia, as I was unable to get through on Monday or Tuesday. Glad you're back!

    It's good that we remember people and places like this at this time of year. The next step is to make it a 365 days a year thing.

  37. Lydia said, When would Hilary have time to have sex?

    Time? Dang!! When would she have the opportunity?!!? ;-)

  38. Hillary Launches Obama Attack Websites

    She’s at it again. But this time, Hillary has taken Clintonian dirty politics to a whole new level.

    After trying to smear Barack Obama’s character, imply he’s a drug user and dealer, has ties to radical Islam, and is inexperienced, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has registered the names of two Web sites with the express goal of attacking her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

    It’s the first time this election cycle a presidential campaign has launched a Web site with the express purpose of of launching serious criticisms on a rival. and are domains hosted by the same IP address as official Clinton Web sites, such, which was launched with much fanfare this week.

    The Clinton campaign intends to use these new Web sites to paint Obama as cowardly.

  39. Last Friday, Representative Robert Wexler, along with Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Luis Gutierrez, called for impeachment trials against Vice President Dick Cheney. In that email he announced that he had put up a website to gather signatures.

    "If we can get 50,000 or even more people to sign up in support of this effort I will report back to each and every Democratic colleague of mine the true power that exists behind this movement."

    Well, congrats Congressman. Five days later you have 100,000 signatures. Josh Rogin, your press guy, said that the Congressman was "very surprised, but he knew from traveling around Florida how passionate people were, but [we got to 50,000] faster than imagined."

    He also said 'the MSM is greeting [the press releases] with a yawn.'

    Better gather a few million to impeach Pelosi and Reid, or the
    Cheney signatures will be a waste.

  40. Hillary is a worthless harlot who slithers through the grass of Republicanism, like a vamp slithering through slime.

  41. In a lengthy, rollicking Vanity Fair interview, controversial pornographer and 1st Amendment "hero" Larry Flynt talks about the "progress" made so far on his million dollar campaign to expose "family values" politicians who can't keep their pants on.

    "As you are no doubt well aware, America is enduring yet another election cycle, and Flynt, as he has done sporadically over the last three decades, is working hard to insert himself into the middle of it," Bruce Handy writes for the magazine's website. "What that mostly entails—aside from making calculatedly outrageous statements to Larry King, Geraldo Rivera, and other talk-show hosts—is offering cash bounties to women and men who are willing to dish verifiable dirt on the sort of politician who campaigns on family-values platforms by day and strays from his or her spouse by night. (Or evening, afternoon, or morning.)"

    Flynt dishes on politicians, live and deceased, and some are even named.

    First off, the publisher of Hustler doesn't think top Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is electable.

    In a post on the interview, the website Queerty snipes, "Giuliani’s not electable because he is, quite frankly, not believable.

    Flynt also claims he now has evidence about a closeted gay Republican senator who is not Larry Craig. "The other shoe's going to drop any day," Flynt says. "It'll surprise a lot of people that he's gay. And I'll bet you he resigns the same day and rides off into the sunset."

    "Over the summer, when he began talking to me for this article, he dropped three A-list names—a Republican presidential candidate, a well-known Republican senator, and another prominent conservative official—whose peccadilloes he claimed Hustler was on the verge of exposing, hinting at hooker parties and no-tell-motel liaisons," Handy notes. "When we sit down in the fall, these names are off the table, though investigations are said to be ongoing."

    The magazine's Deputy Editor Handy adds, "But Flynt’s investigation of this second senator is at a tricky pass. 'His boyfriend is in a quandary about selling him out. It’s really somewhat of a pathetic situation. But we also have other boyfriends that he’s been involved with.' These earlier boyfriends are apparently willing to go on the record, and have also supplied Flynt’s investigators with corroborating evidence. 'We got some motel records. We got some photographs. They don’t involve sex, but sort of romantic walks on the beach and that sort of thing.'"

    Then Flynt relates a second-hand tale he supposedly heard about former President Richard Nixon.

    "Certainly Flynt has a lot of sleaze at his fingertips," Handy writes. "He tells a great story about Richard Nixon’s brother Donald sneaking the then president out of the White House in the backseat of a beat-up old Chevy to visit hookers—a story he claims was told to him by someone who had been an adviser to the Nixon White House."

    Flynt mocks Nixon, "And he couldn’t get it up. And that was the same time he was telling Kissinger to bomb Hanoi. I felt there was a little irony in there: He can’t get it up for sex but he can get it up for war."

    But, in a postscript, Handy adds that two journalists are skeptical about the alleged impotence of a former POTUS.

    "Figuring I owed something to the memory of a president who birthed the E.P.A. (when not invading Cambodia or blaming his problems on the Jews), I ran Flynt’s Nixon story by a couple of experts," Handy writes.

    According to Carl Bernstein, one of the investigative reporters who broke the story on Watergate, "It sounds totally incredible."

    "The impression I had was that Nixon pretty much kept it in his pants, that he was a straight arrow, though I suppose where politicians are concerned anything is possible," Robert Dallek, the historian and author of Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, agrees in the Vanity Fair article.

    Flynt is about to expose more "Moral Republicans" including a Republican Presidential Candidate.

  42. By Will Patching

    Dear Mr. President,

    Although I am not an American citizen - a simple fact of genetics and geography for which I apologize, as I know this makes me something of a “non-person” in your eyes - I would ask you to read and reply to this letter.

    Please, if only momentarily, try to respond as you should in your self-proclaimed role as “Leader of the Free World.”

    You see, being British, I consider myself fortunate enough to have been born a citizen of the “Free World” and, as such, although we have never met or debated any major issues of the day, you apparently feel you represent me. Along with several hundred million other people in the “democratic” Free World who did not have an opportunity to vote for you.

    I know it is a bit presumptuous, but on their behalf, I am writing to you as part of your greater constituency to clarify a few things regarding your past, present and future stance on three specific issues that either impact our lives directly, or could do so.


    Contrary to your own mangled vocalisms, the President of Iran’s name is “Ahmadinejad” and not “Arming-a-Jihad” as you seem to think. Unlike you, Sir, he has never invaded another country and is self-professedly anti-war. His stance has been declared to the world numerous times, yet is consistently disputed by the paranoid western media as they are guided by your mendacious Administration.

    Records confirm that he spends less than one percent of the equivalent US military budget on his country’s legitimate defense requirements. Mr. President, I know you struggle with math, but this means he spends about one dollar of his peoples’ money for every one hundred US tax dollars you do.

    More specifically, he has insisted his country is only pursuing nuclear technology to meet future energy requirements rather than to develop nuclear weapons, unlike the US.

    You already have nuclear weapons. Lots of them. So many that you occasionally lose some in transit over your own country and barely notice.

    President Ahmadinejad has never misplaced a single one. Maybe because he has none.
    Because of these simple facts, some of us in the Free World don’t really see him as a threat.

    Apparently, your own advisors know that Iran is not attempting to develop nuclear weapons:

    Your “intelligence” agencies have verified this in the latest National Intelligence Estimate, despite some pressure from your rather aptly named Vice President to change their findings, and your own ongoing assertions to the contrary.

    Please explain to us, your disenfranchised constituents in the Free World, why you perceive Iran as such a grave and immediate threat despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    Or perhaps acknowledge that, as your previous Chairman of the Federal Reserve did regarding the illegal Iraq invasion, any war with Iran will be largely about oil.

    I know such a confession would be difficult enough for you to make to the public, given your family’s vested interests, but many people believe things are rather more complicated than the established media will ever divulge.

    Could there also be a spiritual rationale prompting your aggressive stance? Namely, your religion?


    I am happy that you have found God. I have looked everywhere, but, sadly, never even glimpsed him. Along with Santa Claus, the Boogeyman and the Anti-Christ.

    I am not being facetious.

    Many of us, your secular constituents outside of the USA - people you purport to represent as Leader of the Free World, yet rarely address and never consult - find the whole concept of a mythical, omnificent being, totally unsupportable. We believe that God did not create Man, but that Man invented God.

    Hence, we are worried that our unelected “leader” has some very flawed thinking regarding an ideology that, at heart, has admirable aims, but is easily manipulated by the unscrupulous and powerful to indoctrinate the feeble-minded.

    For instance:

    Is it true that you believe the planet and all the creatures on it were created some four or five thousand years ago by a supreme being, and that the Bible is the literal word of God? If so, one could suggest you are no more advanced in your attitude than a fundamentalist Imam in the Middle East who relies on fourteen hundred year old scriptures to inform his thinking.

    It is difficult for many of us in the Free World to understand how you could hold such beliefs as President of the most technologically advanced nation in the world, especially given all the evidence to the contrary. It could be that we have been wrongly informed.

    I hope so. Perhaps you could also clarify the following:

    Do you believe that the end of the world is soon to be upon us? And that, at such time, the righteous (i.e. you and other professedly Christian people, especially rich American ones) will ascend to heaven while the rest of us are doomed to burn for an eternity in hell?

    If so, can I very politely suggest that many of us would view your position as Commander-in-Chief of the world’s only nuclear superpower - with enough weapons at your disposal to bring about Armageddon a hundred times over - as rather less than comforting?

    Your religious beliefs are particularly pertinent with regard to US Middle East policy, as you may have gathered at Annapolis recently. Like most of the people in the Free World you may not fully grasp the real source of conflict in that troubled part of the world: the simple concept that the Palestinians have legitimate territorial claims over lands they inhabited for much of the last two millennia - homeland that was commandeered by western imperial powers in the aftermath of WWII to create the State of Israel, along with more Palestinian land illegally confiscated during the Zionist expansion during the 1967 war.

    Of course, as President of the United States, you may not feel you need to understand the Arab/Muslim point of view, especially as you apparently believe the Palestinians only get what they deserve: many of them voted to support Hamas, democratically electing a bunch of “terrorists”, after all. Your view on their armed struggle and the complexities of the Middle East situation were summed up with your incisive comment to Mr. Blair when you explained that the Palestinian militants just need “to stop doing this shit and it’s over.”

    Can I ask if your unconditional, blinkered support for nuclear armed Israel stems from your religious beliefs?

    Do you share the Christian extremists’ view that the existence of the Jewish state in the Holy Land remains a prerequisite for the “imminent return” of Jesus Christ?

    Please confirm, Mr. President that, as a sophisticated statesman, you could not be party to such a bigoted fundamentalist illusion.

    These are important questions that are never addressed to you by the western media. Yet many of the people in the Free World are worried that, if you really believe these things, you may represent a greater threat to the future of mankind than any suicidal Islamo-fascist-fundamentalist-terrorist strapping himself to a single nuclear device.

    In fact, I would respectfully suggest they might even consider you as more of a clear and present danger than President Ahmadinejad, and conclude you are supportive of another god in addition to the Christian one you profess. No Sir, I am not talking about your unholy worship of Mammon. I am referring to your infatuation with Mars.


    It could be that I am wrong, but I believe you are on record as telling your “would-be” biographer (Bush family friend Mickey Herskowitz) well before your elevation to your current position, that it was important for you to establish yourself as a “war President,” and that you had already determined Iraq would be your first target.

    This incredible ambition would be appreciated by us, your international constituents, considerably more if you would present yourself on the front line. Although we understand that you would be a distinctive and valuable target for all concerned, surely it is not beyond even your limited wit to don an appropriate disguise. Some face paint and a helmet would do.

    Maybe a few moments on the front line in Iraq might disabuse you of your facile views and seemingly sociopathic willingness to use armed “intervention.” I know your own military history is rather lackluster as you managed to avoid ever getting in harm’s way during the Vietnam War. It is a shame, as, if you had done so, then you might have a very different view of armed conflict.

    Try as you might, you cannot make up for your own psychological deficits by sending hundreds of thousands of your nation’s poor to fight for you in wars you barely comprehend.

    Please stop trying. Please, Mr. President, bring them home now.

    Based on recent polls, I think I speak for the majority of Americans on this last point as well as most of the rest of the Free World. But are you listening?

    Thank you for your kind attention and I look forward to your response.

    Yours sincerely,

    Will Patching
    Free World Citizen

  43. Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life

    by William Blum

    Another peace scare. Boy, that was close.

    The US intelligence community’s new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) — “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” — makes a point of saying up front (in bold type): “This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.” The report goes on to state: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

    Isn’t that good news, that Iran isn’t about to attack the United States or Israel with nuclear weapons? Surely everyone is thrilled that the horror and suffering that such an attack — not to mention an American or Israeli retaliation or pre-emptive attack — would bring to this sad old world. Here are some of the happy reactions from American leaders:

    Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the NIE’s conclusion that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003.[1]

    National Security Adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said: The report “tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.”[2]

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates “argued forcefully at a Persian Gulf security conference … that U.S. intelligence indicates Iran could restart its secret nuclear weapons program ‘at any time’ and remains a major threat to the region.”[3]

    John R. Bolton, President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations and pit bull of the neo-conservatives, dismissed the report with: “I’ve never based my view on this week’s intelligence.”[4]

    And Bush himself added: “Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The NIE says that Iran had a hidden — a covert nuclear weapons program. That’s what it said. What’s to say they couldn’t start another covert nuclear weapons program? … Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, ‘Okay, why don’t we just stop worrying about it?’ Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously. My opinion hasn’t changed.”[5]

    Hmmm. Well, maybe the reaction was more positive in Israel. Here’s a report from Uri Avnery, a leading Israeli columnist: “The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage. … Shouldn’t we be overjoyed? Shouldn’t the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets? After all, we have been saved! … Lo and behold — no bomb and no any-minute-now. The wicked Ahmadinejad can threaten us as much as he wants — he just has not got the means to harm us. Isn’t that a reason for celebration? So why does this feel like a national disaster?”[6]

    We have to keep this in mind — America, like Israel, cherishes its enemies. Without enemies, the United States appears to be a nation without moral purpose and direction. The various managers of the National Security State need enemies to protect their jobs, to justify their swollen budgets, to aggrandize their work, to give themselves a mission, to send truckloads of taxpayer money to the corporations for whom the managers will go to work after leaving government service. And they understand the need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is US Col. Dennis Long, speaking in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War, when he was director of “total armor force readiness” at Fort Knox:

    For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We won’t have his playbook, we won’t know where the stadium is, or how many guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence of your organization and your systems.[7]

    In any event, all of the above is completely irrelevant if Iran has no intention of attacking the United States or Israel, even if they currently possessed a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. As I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Iran have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?

    The crime of GWS: Governing while socialist

    In Chile, during the 1964 presidential election campaign, in which Salvador Allende, a Marxist, was running against two other major candidates much to his right, one radio spot featured the sound of a machine gun, followed by a woman’s cry: “They have killed my child — the communists.” The announcer then added in impassioned tones: “Communism offers only blood and pain. For this not to happen in Chile, we must elect Eduardo Frei president.”[8] Frei was the candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, the majority of whose campaign costs were underwritten by the CIA according to the US Senate.[9] One anti-Allende campaign poster which appeared in the thousands showed children with a hammer and sickle stamped on their foreheads.[10]

    The scare campaign played up to the fact that women in Chile, as elsewhere in Latin America, are traditionally more religious than men, more susceptible to being alarmed by the specter of “godless, atheist communism”.

    Allende lost. He won the men’s vote by 67,000 over Frei (in Chile men and women vote separately), but amongst the women Frei came out ahead by 469,000 … testimony, once again, to the remarkable ease with which the minds of the masses of people can be manipulated, in any and all societies.

    In Venezuela, during the recent campaign concerning the constitutional reforms put forth by Hugo Chávez, the opposition played to the same emotional themes of motherhood and “communist” oppression. (Quite possibly because of the same CIA advice.) “I voted for Chávez for President, but not now. Because they told me that if the reform passes, they’re going to take my son, because he will belong to the state,” said a woman, Gladys Castro, interviewed in Venezuela before the December 2 vote which rejected the reforms; this according to a report of, an English-language news service published by Americans in Caracas. “Gladys is not the only one to believe the false rumors she’s heard,” the report added. “Thousands of Venezuelans, many of them Chávez supporters, have bought the exaggerations and lies about Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform that have been circulating across the country for months. Just a few weeks ago, however, the disinformation campaign ratcheted up various notches as opposition groups and anti-reform coalitions placed large ads in major Venezuelan papers. The most scandalous was … (a) two-page spread in the country’s largest circulation newspaper, Últimas Noticias, which claimed about the Constitutional Reform: ‘If you are a Mother, YOU LOSE! Because you will lose your house, your family and your children. Children will belong to the state’.” This particular ad was placed by a Venezuelan business organization, Cámara Industrial de Carabobo, which has among its members dozens of subsidiaries of the largest US corporations operating in Venezuela.[11]

    Chávez lost the December 2 vote (in part, I believe, because of his unrelenting bravado, which turned off any number of his supporters) but he’s still a marked man in Washington, which can not stomach the prospect of five more years of the man and his policies. It’s not because the United States is looking to grab Venezuela’s oil. It’s because Chávez is completely independent of Washington and has used his oil wealth to become a powerful force in Latin America, inspiring and aiding other independent-minded governments in the region, like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, as well as carrying on close relations with the likes of China, Russia, and Iran. The man does not show proper understanding that he’s living in the Yankee’s back yard; indeed, in the Yankee’s world. The Yankee empire grew to its present size and power precisely because it did not tolerate men like Salvador Allende and Hugo Chávez and their quaint socialist customs. Despite their best efforts, the CIA was unable to prevent Allende from becoming Chile’s president in 1970. When subsequent parliamentary elections made it apparent to the Agency and their Chilean conservative allies that they would not be able to oust the left from power legally, they instigated a successful military coup, in 1973.

    Here for the record is a brief summary of Washington’s charming history in relation to such men, their foreign ideas, and their dubious governments since the end of World War Two:

    ¶ Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected; successful a majority of the time.

    ¶ Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

    ¶ Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

    ¶ Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries.

    ¶ Helped to suppress dozens of populist/nationalist movements.[12]

    Although Chávez has spoken publicly about his being assassinated, and his government has several times uncovered what they perceived to be planned assassination attempts, from both domestic and foreign sources, the Venezuelan president has continued to take repeated flights and attend numerous conferences and meetings all over the world, exposing himself and his airplane again and again. The cases of Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, military leader of Panama, should perhaps be considered. Both were reformers who refused to allow their countries to become client states of Washington or American corporations. Both were firm supporters of the radical Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua; both banned an American missionary group, the Summer Institute of Linguistics — long suspected of CIA ties — because of suspicious political behavior; both died in mysterious plane disasters during the Reagan administration in 1981, Torrijos’ plane exploding in mid-air.[13] Torrijos had earlier been marked for assassination by Richard Nixon.[14]

    Who would have thought? Bush has been vindicated.

    We’re making progress in Iraq! The “surge” is working, we’re told. Never mind that the war is totally and perfectly illegal. Not to mention totally and perfectly, even exquisitely, immoral. It’s making progress. That’s a good thing, is it not? Meanwhile, the al Qaeda types have greatly increased their number all over the Middle East and South Asia, so their surge is making progress too. Good for them. And speaking of progress in the War on Terror, is anyone progressing faster and better than the Taliban?

    The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided — a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who’s keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. (Real Americans don’t do Arab body counts.) A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration’s claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.” The article then continued in the same critical vein.[15]

    To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead or in exile abroad or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons; there must be as well a few million more wounded who are homebound or otherwise physically limited; so the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) — Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down.[16] On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down. Remember that insurgent attacks on American forces is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.

    Oh, did I mention that 2007 has been the deadliest year for US troops since the war began?[17] It’s been the same worst year for American forces in Afghanistan.

    One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that “Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq”; as well as exaggerating “Iraqis’ confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.” The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.[18]

    How long can it be before vacation trips to “Exotic Iraq” are flashed across our TVs? “Baghdad’s Beautiful Beaches Beckon”. Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a “business development/tourism” expert to work in Baghdad, “with a particular focus on tourism and related services.”[19]

    We’ve been told often by American leaders and media that the US forces can’t leave because of the violence, because there would be a bloodbath. Now there’s an alleged significant decrease in the violence. Is that being used as an argument to get out — a golden opportunity for the United States to leave, with head held high? Of course not.

    I almost feel sorry for them. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, accustomed to thinking of themselves as the best, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? At one time or another the can-do boys have tried writing a comprehensive set of laws and regulations, even a constitution, for the country; setting up mini-bases in neighborhoods; building walls to block off areas; training and arming “former” Sunni insurgents to fight Shias and al Qaeda; enlisting Shias to help fight, against whomever; leaving weapons or bomb-making material in public view to see who picks it up, then pouncing on them; futuristic vehicles and machines and electronic devices to destroy roadside bombs; setting up their own Arabic-language media, censoring other media; classes for detainees on anger control, an oath of peace, and the sacredness of life and property; regularly revising the official reason the United States is in the country in the first place … one new tactic after another, and when all else fails they call it a “success” and give it a nice inspiring action name, like “surge” … and nothing helps. They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re totally ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality. They’re can-do Americans, accustomed to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.

    Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is a conspiracy.

    All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided. – Karl Marx [20]

    I believe in conspiracies. So do all of you. American and world history are full of conspiracies. Watergate was a conspiracy. The cover-up of Watergate was a conspiracy. So was Enron. And Iran-Contra. The October Surprise really took place. For a full year, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney conspired to invade Iraq while continually denying that they had made any such decision. The Japanese conspired to attack Pearl Harbor while negotiating with Washington to find peaceful solutions to the issues separating the two governments. There are many people sitting in prison at this very moment in the United States for having been convicted of “conspiracy” to commit this or that crime.

    However, it doesn’t follow that all conspiracy theories are created equal, all to be taken seriously. Many people send me emails which I’m unable to take seriously. Here are a few examples:

    If they try to access my website a few times and keep getting an error message, they ask me if the FBI or Homeland Security or America Online has finally gotten around to shutting me down.

    If they send me an email and it’s returned to them, for whatever reason, they wonder if AOL is blocking their particular mail or perhaps blocking all my mail.

    If they fail to receive a copy of this report, they wonder if AOL or some government agency is blocking it.

    If they come upon a news item on the Internet which exposes really bad behavior of the powers-that-be, they point out how “the mainstream media is completely ignoring this”, even though I may already have read it in the Washington Post or the New York Times. To make the claim that the mainstream media is completely ignoring a particular news item, one would need to have access to the full version of a service like Lexis-Nexis and know how to use it expertly. Google often won’t suffice if the news item has not appeared on the website of any mainstream media even though it may be in print or have been broadcast, although the recent creation of Google News has improved chances of finding an item.

    With every new audiotape or videotape from Osama bin Laden my correspondents are sure to inform me that the man is really dead and that the tape is a CIA fabrication. In January 2006, when bin Laden, on an audiotape, recommended that Americans read my book Rogue State, the mainstream media was eager to interview me. But a number of my correspondents were quick to inform me and the entire Internet that the tape was phony, implying that I was being naive to believe it; this continues to this day. When I ask them why the CIA would want to publicize and enrich a writer like myself, who has been exposing the intelligence agency’s crimes his entire writing life, I get no answer that’s worth remembering, often not even understandable.

    “Why do you bother criticizing Bush? He’s not the real power. He’s just a puppet,” they ask me. The real power behind the throne, I’m told, is [Dick Cheney, David Rockefeller, the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberger Group, the Trilateral Commission, Bohemian Grove, et al.] Why, I wonder, are the annual meetings of the Bilderberger Group, et al., thought to be so vital to their members and so indicative of their power? To the extent that the Bilderbergerites have access to those in power and are able to influence them, they have this access and power all year long, whether or not they gather together in a once-a-year closed meeting. I think their meetings are primarily a social thing. Money and power likes to enjoy cocktails with money and power. Of course many important political and historical events are indeed the result of certain people of money and power talking to each other and secretly deciding what course of action would be most advantageous to their collective interests, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that those who hold public office are merely puppets of these interests. Bush displays his independence every day of the week — independence from Congress, the Constitution, the Republican Party, classic conservative economic policies, the American people, election results, the facts, logic, humanity. George W. is his own [sociopathic] man.

    Finally, there’s September 11, 2001. Amongst those in the “9/11 Truth Movement” I am a sinner because I don’t champion the idea that it was an “inside job”. I think it more likely that some individuals in the Bush administration knew that something was about to happen involving airplanes — perhaps an old fashioned hijacking with political demands — and they let it happen, to make use of it politically, as they certainly have. But I do wish you guys in the 9/11 Truth Movement luck; if you succeed in proving that it was an inside job, that would do more to topple the empire than anything I have ever written.

  44. Iraqi authorities say a suicide bomb attack north of Baghdad has killed at least 14 people, including a U.S. soldier.

    Police and U.S. forces say at least 10 others were wounded when the attacker detonated his explosives in a crowd of people near a security post in the town of Kanaan in Diyala province Thursday.

    Police say the attack was apparently targeted at local Sunni-Arab groups, who have joined U.S.-led coalition forces to fight al-Qaida in Iraq militants.

    Separately today, the U.S. military in Iraq announced its troops recently found the remains of 26 people buried next to what it described as a torture center near the town of Muqdadiyah. The military said troops discovered the mass grave during an operation earlier this month.

    Are you happy today Bush?

  45. A plan to dramatically widen US law enforcement agencies' access to data from powerful spy satellites is moving toward implementation, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expects to finalize a charter for the program this week, according to a new report.

    Chertoff insists the scheme to turn spy satellites -- that were originally designed for foreign surveillance -- on Americans is legal, although a House committee that would approve the program has not been updated on the program for three months.

    "We still haven't seen the legal framework we requested or the standard operation procedures on how the NAO will actually be run," House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson tells the Wall Street Journal. Thompson was referring to the National Applications Office -- a new DHS subset that would coordinate access to spy-satellite data for non-military domestic agencies, including law enforcement.

    Civil liberties concerns delayed the program after lawmakers and outside activists wondered how the program would be structured to protect Americans from unconstitutional surveillance from the powerful satellites, which can see through cloud cover, trees and even concrete buildings.

    The program's charter remains unfinalized, but Chertoff said it will use clear language to explain legal restrictions on the data's use. Warrants will be obtained when required before collecting satellite intelligence, and the program won't use technology to intercept verbal communications, according to the Journal.

    "One lesson I've learned is it's not enough to say we know what we're doing is going to be OK," Chertoff told the paper in an interview. "We've got to really make it clear to the public that we're doing this, but we're not doing that."

    Big Georgie Is Watching You!!!

  46. By Arianna Huffington:

    From the beginning, HuffPost has worked to bring our users the most dynamic mix of breaking news and opinion possible -- and to use the latest technology available to improve the user experience, and to bring you more of what you come here for.

    With this goal in mind, we are rolling out a number of new features that will continue to make HuffPost a go-to web destination for up-to-the-minute news and fresh takes on the stories everyone is talking about.

    For starters, we know that our readers have always loved the rapid updates on HuffPost's front page, so we've switched over to an Ajax interface that lets our stories and images load faster -- making the site more vibrant, and the updates more seamless. No more clicking and waiting for the site to refresh; the latest news stories, blog posts, and comments now automatically appear on the page.

    We've also upgraded our Quick Read feature, which allows you to get the gist of a story without clicking to a new page. Now, when you open a Quick Read box, you are also shown four other stories that your fellow HuffPost readers have been drawn to -- and you can rapidly check out each of those stories without ever leaving the Quick Read box you initially opened. If you've never used the Quick Read feature, give it a try.

    HuffPost's upgraded Quick Read feature

    And we've added a "Most Popular on HuffPost" feature on the right hand side of every section's home page that allows you, at a glance, to see the hottest stories and blog posts from the last few days. It's continually updated and showcases a rotation of the top 12 HuffPost pieces at any given moment. And if you have your own blog site, you can add our Most Popular widget to it.

    The Big Blogs Getting Bigger!

  47. TomCat - great to hear from you.

    New thread is up shortly for the holidays.