Sunday, February 17, 2008


Despite Chris Matthew's obnoxious badgering of an Obama supporter on his show, "What legislation has he passed? What legislation has he passed!?" Obama has sponsored some essential legislation in his short time in the Senate. Please read below.

Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation Legislation Signed into Law by the President
Thursday, January 11, 2007

WASHINGTON – President Bush today signed the Lugar-Obama proliferation and threat reduction initiative into law.

Authored by U.S. Sens. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama (D-IL), the Lugar-Obama initiative expands U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also expands the State Department's ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction.

"The United States should do more to eliminate conventional weapons stockpiles and assist other nations in detecting and interdicting weapons of mass destruction. We believe that these functions are underfunded, fragmented and in need of high-level support," said Lugar, Republican leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

About Barack Obama
United States Senator for Illinois

Barack Obama has dedicated his life to public service as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and leader in the Illinois state Senate. Obama now continues his fight for working families following his recent election to the United States Senate.

Sworn into office January 4, 2005, Senator Obama serves on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees our nation’s health care, schools, employment, and retirement programs. He is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which plays a vital role in shaping American policy around the world, including our policy in Iraq. And Senator Obama serves on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which is focused on providing our brave veterans with the care and services they deserve. In 2005 and 2006, he served on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which safeguards our environment and provides funding for our highways.

During his eight years in the Illinois state Senate, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. Obama also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama enlisted the support of law enforcement officials to draft legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

Obama is especially proud of being a husband and father of two daughters, Malia, 9 and Sasha, 6. Obama and his wife, Michelle, married in 1992 and live on Chicago’s South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ.

Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961, in Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983, and moved to Chicago in 1985 to work for a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment. In 1991, Obama graduated from Harvard Law School where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.

From Media Matters: Olbermann awarded Coulter "Worst Person" "bronze" for "B. Hussein Obama" references, and said, "Then we put her on this network today so she could do it again"

Summary: MSNBC host Keith Olbermann awarded right-wing pundit Ann Coulter the "bronze" in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for her repeated references to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as "B. Hussein Obama" and "President Hussein" during an appearance on Fox News' Your World. Referring to an earlier appearance on MSNBC, he also said: "Then we put her on this network today so she could do it again."

On the February 14 edition of MSBNC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann awarded right-wing pundit Ann Coulter the "bronze" in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for her reference to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as "B. Hussein Obama" five separate times and as "President Hussein" during a February 13 appearance on Fox News' Your World, as Media Matters for America documented. Olbermann then stated, "Then we put her on this network today so she could do it again."

Olbermann named Laura Ingraham the "runner-up" for stating on the February 13 edition of her nationally syndicated radio show that President Bush "welcomed [Rev.] Al Sharpton to the White House. I hope they nailed down all the valuables." Olbermann added, referring to Ingraham: "I know you and Coulter think you're satirists, but you do realize that if you're really not racist, you are enabling racism there."

Olbermann named Fox News Radio's Tom Sullivan, host of The Tom Sullivan Show, the "Worst Person" "winner" for playing a "side-by-side comparison" of an Adolf Hitler speech and an Obama speech on his February 11 broadcast.


From the February 14 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: President Bush, sit well back from your TV, please. He's next, but first time for our No. 2 story tonight, Countdown's "Worst Persons in the World."

The bronze to Coultergeist -- went on Fixed News and called Senator Obama, quote, "B. Hussein Obama" five times. The host asked her why she was calling him that, and he mentioned it then a sixth time, then she referred to him as "President Hussein."

Then we put her on this network today so she could do it again. For the record, if you want to try her trick and call her by her first initial and her middle name, it's close. Her middle initial is "H," but she'd only be A. Hart Coulter.

Runner-up, Laura Ingraham. reporting on her radio show that the president had, quote, "welcomed Al Sharpton to the White House. I hope they nailed down all the valuables." And adding, quote, "I can't believe they let him in the front door there at Black History Month." I know you and Coulter think you're satirists, but you do realize that if you're really not racist, you are enabling racism there.

But our winner, Tom Sullivan, who apparently does a show for Fixed Radio. When a caller suggested that Senator Obama's speeches reminded him of the speeches of Adolf Hitler, Sullivan then alternated clips from a Hitler speech and an Obama speech, played them consecutively on national radio. When another caller said it was unacceptable to compare Obama to Hitler, Sullivan said he wasn't, he was just noting, quote, "Adolf Hitler was able to gather a country of people and get them excited about whatever it was that he is talking to them about. He was a very fiery, enigmatic. ... And I asked the guy, I said: 'Are you saying that Obama is like Hitler?' And he said, 'No, it's the speaking style, that's all.' And the speaking style is actually kind of similar."

So, you're not comparing Obama to Hitler, but you are comparing Obama's speaking style to Hitler's speaking style. So, you're insisting you're not comparing them in any way, except when you are comparing them in that way.

Tom Sullivan of Fox Noise Radio, today's "Worst Person in the World."


  1. Let Coulter screech like a retarded idiot.............she is becomming more and more irrelevant and just like Britney Spears she has to be more and more riddiculous to get the attention she pasthologically craves.........what Coulter doesnt realize as she prattles and babbles Obama's name like a retarded 9 year old....amused because it sounds a little like or rhymes with Osama or know the guys GWB either forgot about, doesnt think much about, allowed to escape or waged an illegal war based on lies to murder torture and control his countrys oil.

    See what Coulter, Hannity, Rush, McCain and the other repug ibeciles dont get is that America is sick and tired of the warmongering, fearmongering and the smear and fear politics........they dont realize that America has shifted to the left, the Progressive revolution has started and its bigger than Hannity or Coulter or any of them and if they screech louder and try and resist it will sweep over them like a tsunami.

    Coulter is allready essentially irrelevant and will be completely after this election cycle.......Hannity, O'Liely's and Rush's audience are evaporating fast, while Olbermans audience is growing by leaps and bounds.

    BTW, how many papers have dropped Coulter's idiotic collumn...........pretty soon that idiot will have to go on a drug induced binge and get sent to rehab or even murder someone to get the attention she craves because right now no one wants to listen to her lies, deceptions and rascist, prejudiced vulgarities that spew partisan venom.

  2. Thats not Satire, its veiled rascism..........What she said is a lot worse than what Don Imus said and he got fired and lost his show over it...............Laura Ingram shold be in jail for trying to urge and condone people to jamn voter fraud lines............what she did is no different than urging people to commit murder or some other act of fruad or larceny and the fact that she isnt in jail and that idiots like her and Coulter get away with their obscene behavior shows how deeply the GOP has a stranglehold over our media and how deep the roots of fascism are entrenched in our society due to the ultra Reich Wing's being in bed with the corporatatocracy and the media empires these robber barrons have created due to the lapdogs the Bush cronnies have put in charge of the SEC, FCC, DOJ etc......

  3. Lydia said "So, you're not comparing Obama to Hitler, but you are comparing Obama's speaking style to Hitler's speaking style. So, you're insisting you're not comparing them in any way, except when you are comparing them in that way.

    Tom Sullivan of Fox Noise Radio, today's "Worst Person in the World.""

    Hey, I got an idea lets show clips of GWB's speechs and policies then clips of Obama's speeches and policies and THEN we'll judge which ones look MORE like know things like the Patriot Act, The Spying on American Citizens without warrants, the illegal search and seizures with out warrants, The torture, the allowing Bush to imprison ANY American citizen on a whim without Habeous Corpus, the right to a fair trial, proper representation and rules of evidence etc.........Oh and lets not forget Bush's Obsession with issuing Executive orders to declare martial law or seize American citizens assets on a whim for criticizing his war................I think this isnt a place the little repuggies wanna go.

  4. Oh and lets not forget the war based on lies to keep us safe that Bush borrowed from Hitler..............9/11 was Bush's Reichstag Fire and the Patriot Act was the Enabling pun intended!

    Those clowns dont wqanna start the Hitler comparisons because they wont like where things go...........BTW isnt McCain following in Bush's footsteps with his 100 years in Iraq BS and his Smear and Fear Hitler like fear mongering and war mongering to seize power and scare up votes.

  5. Hi MIke, love your posts!

    I'm watching 60 Minutes on why the Danes are the happiest people on earth. It's because they have free education, free health care, elder care adn subsidized day care. -- they don't have suicidal students on violent rampages with student loans hangin over their heads. They are not seduced by "wanting it all" and the lure of high expectations. We are so unhappy, so miserable because of MATERIALISM -- excess consumerism run amok has to b the cause of more misery.

    Our constant state of yearning and wanting it all has ruined us.

  6. Our country has its values all screwed up. The American Dream is all about "making it" monetarily, but this is so hollow.

    True happiness is in your relationships, friends, family, pets, loves. Not what we value: competition, greed and acquiring more stuff.

  7. What "veiled" racism? The RepubliKlan Party has overtly embraced Klanservatism for years now. Their hatred of anyone not rich and white is no secret at all.

  8. Yeah I know JR........but they are shrieking louder and more shrill than ever now JR because they KNOW they are losing and that the reigns of power are slipping from their grasp possibly for decades just like after the Great Depression!

  9. Mike, that's why they reached for the white sheet in 2004. They have screwed up everything so badly that they had no choice but to play to the racism that is overtly present in every wingtard "family values" group.

    The white sheet may well not be enough this time. Even pandering to the hatreds of the stupid may not suffice when the stupid start to starve.

  10. Economic Woes Reveal a Long-Felt Unease
    Posted: 2008-02-17 23:19:26
    Even when experts were declaring the economy healthy, many Americans voiced a vague, but persistent dissatisfaction. True, jobs were relatively plentiful over the last few years. It was easy to borrow and very cheap. The sharp rise in the value of homes and plentiful credit cards encouraged a nation of consumers to get out and buy. But to many people, something didn't feel right, even if they couldn't quite explain why.

    Now the economic tide is receding, and the undertow that was there all along is getting stronger.

    Take away the easy credit and consumers are left with paychecks that, for most, haven't nearly kept pace with their need and propensity to spend.

    The frustration of $3 gas and $4 milk, the worries about health care costs that have risen four times the rate of pay, become much more real. The retirement security that is only as good as the increasingly volatile stock market seems much less certain.

    Americans' declining confidence in their economy is triggered by a storm of very recent pressures, including plunging home prices, tightening credit, and heavy debt. But it is compounded by anxiety that was there all along, the result of a long, slow drip of worries and vulnerabilities.

    "The economy is currently in recession or arguably close to recession and that's certainly weighing on the collective psyche," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of forecaster Moody's "But ... I do think there is an increasing level of angst that is more fundamental and is not going to go away even when the economy improves."

    Much of that anxiety is the uncomfortable, but expected jolt of the economic roller coaster. During a downturn, people become less confident about keeping their jobs or being able to find new ones, meeting household expenses and about the prospects for the future.

    But there may be more to it than just cyclical ups and downs.

    What does the economic future hold? Many Americans feel increasingly unable to answer that question with assurance, and they appraise it with a sense that they are less in control of the outcome.

    In Westminster, Colo., a Denver suburb, George Apodaca hears that uncertainty from the maintenance workers, drivers and others enrolled in the home budgeting class he teaches. Most have steady jobs, but are just getting by. They talk about challenges like the rising cost of getting to work or medical bills, not as new problems but as a continuing struggle.

    "People in my class, they don't know what a recession means or what a boom means," says Apodaca, a counselor for Colorado Housing Enterprises. "They're worried about buying the groceries, buying the gas."

    A year ago - months before economic alarms went off - nearly two of three Americans polled by The Rockefeller Foundation said that they felt somewhat or a lot less economically secure then they did a decade ago. Half said they expected their children to face an economy even more shaky.

    Other polls have registered similar unease in the past few years, showing large numbers of Americans dissatisfied with the economy, and worried about retirement security, health care costs, and a declining standard of living.

    The surprising thing about many of these readings isn't that they've recently skyrocketed. It's that in recent years they've registered consistently high levels of worry without ever seeming to ease.

    "This has just been a period of great disconnect between what the aggregate economic statistics show and what leading politicians talk about and what ordinary Americans are feeling," said Jacob Hacker, a Yale University professor and author of "The Great Risk Shift," which charts increased economic insecurity. "I think people are saying, where did the gains go? Where did the boom go? And now that it's gone, what are we going to do?"

    Those uncertainties have been submerged for the past few years. The war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism dominated, drawing attention away from day-to-day economic concerns. With employers adding workers, people's appraisal of the economy focused less on jobs, the long-standing measure of financial security.

    Many people gauged their well-being in wealth - looking at the stock market, and much more broadly, the rise of real estate prices, said Susan Sterne, president of Economic Analysis Associates.

    Americans borrowed freely against the value of their homes. But now there is nothing left to shield them from the insecurities rooted in the old measures of economic prosperity.

    Except for the late 1990s, pay has been stagnant for more than a generation, barely keeping pace with inflation. In 1973, the median male worker earned $16.88 an hour, adjusted for inflation. In 2007, he earned $16.85.

    For many families, the stagnation has been moderated by the addition of a second paycheck as more women went to work, and their pay rose over the same period.

    But the largest gains went to workers at the top of the pay scale. Now, economic worries are rising fastest in households with smaller paychecks, and that chasm is widening.

    "Over the past decades, whether inflation was much higher or lower, or incomes grew faster or more slowly, there has never been such a wide divergence in the experiences" separating richer households from poorer ones, Richard Curtin, the director of the University of Michigan's consumer survey said in summing up the most recent figures.

    That insecurity shows in small, but telling ways. Shoppers at drug store chain Walgreens Inc. are increasingly bypassing name-brand cough syrups and pain relievers and choosing cheaper store brands. Wal-Mart Stores Inc noticed that many people who received its gift cards for the holidays used them in January to buy food and other necessities instead of extras.

    The pullback by consumers contrasts with years of continued spending that long seemed to contradict mounting worries.

    Worker optimism, which soared in the late 1990s, never fully rebounded after the last, brief recession. Although jobs again were plentiful, it became clear the new economy's opportunities came with few of the old assurances.

    Rennie Sawade, the son of a Michigan auto worker, majored in computer science because he saw no future on the assembly line. He was rewarded with a job at Oracle Corp., but lost it in late 2005 when the company shifted his department's work to India. Sawade, who lives in Woodinville, Wash. near Seattle, has been unable to find a full-time replacement, instead jumping from contract job to contract job.

    The contractor offers a 401(k), but contributions are entirely up to workers. When Sawade's wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year he missed the equivalent of two weeks work - and pay - to take care of her. The job has health insurance but still left the family with a bill for more than $2,000. Contractors call to offer other jobs, but the pay is frequently disappointing, he says.

    "It was pretty well known when I was working on my bachelor's degree that the auto industry was going to move overseas," he says. "Everybody said get into technology because you'll have a career. Now it looks like the same thing is happening to technology."

    Cutbacks and changes by employers also have pushed heavy responsibilities on to workers, many who find themselves unprepared.

    In the past decade, scores of companies have frozen or eliminated benefit plans providing a guaranteed pension. Many have replaced them with 401(k) plans whose future worth depends on workers' investment skill. Almost half of all households are at risk of coming up short in retirement, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

    Worry also grew about the cost of health care, with good reason. Since 2001, the cost of health insurance has gone up 78 percent - about $1,500 more per year for the average family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Over the same period, wages rose about 19 percent, and inflation about 17 percent. About four in 10 people polled by the group say they are worried about paying more for health care or insurance.

    Even the consumption made possible by easy credit has helped turn up the financial pressure. The number of products - from air conditioners to cell phones - that Americans say they can't live without has grown substantially in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center. About 6 in 10 working Americans polled by the group say they don't earn enough to lead the life they want.

    Economic confidence is, largely, a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more consumers believe the economy is heading downhill, the more likely they'll rein in spending that will contribute to a downturn.

    "I think if people were generally more satisfied and less anxious perhaps they would be more resistant to thinking things were deteriorating rapidly," says Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center.

    Maybe the downturn in optimism is temporary. Americans are voracious consumers and persistent optimists.

    But some believe a fundamental change in behavior and mind-set is taking place. Since the early 1980s, consumers' contribution to the economy has risen from 63 percent, near where it had long hovered, to 70 percent. Baby boomers spent generously on growing families. Interest rates and inflation dropped, making homes and other assets worth more and cutting borrowing costs. The spread of easy credit promoted spending.

    Now, those are drying up and the population is aging. Older households don't spend as much, and often assess the economy more conservatively. Over the next generation, that could drive consumers' contribution to the economy back down to the low-60 percent range, Zandi said.

    "There were tail winds behind" the growth in consumer spending over the last 25 years, he says. "Now there are headwinds."

  11. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday recalled 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is being investigated for mistreating cattle.

    Officials said it was the largest beef recall in the United States, surpassing a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats.

    The federal agency said the recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and to some major fast-food chains.

    Those Texans refuse to enforce safety standards in our nations food supply.

    No wonder Pickles drinks all her meals.

  12. John Edwards and Barack Obama have finally had their private meeting in Chapel Hill:

    Mr. Obama, who canceled an afternoon campaign trip to Wisconsin, flew to Chapel Hill, N.C., to meet with John and Elizabeth Edwards this morning. The meeting was quietly rescheduled after a session Monday with the two men was postponed because too much attention was being paid to it and camera crews were staking out Mr. Edwards' home.

  13. Last Tuesday, CNN fired Chez Pazienza, a producer for American Morning, for maintaining a blog. Yes, that's right. CNN, a leading news channel, sacked one of its journalists for exercising his First Amendment rights. Catch the CNN bosses in the daylight and you know what they'll say. "Of course we believe in freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a pillar of modern society."

    Yeah, right. There was never such a thing as freedom of speech. In order to speak freely you had to have access to a printing press, a newspaper, a radio or a TV station. And everywhere you had to get past the editors. Only an elite ever did -- the articulate and well-behaved representatives of ordinary people. But ordinary people themselves never had a chance to speak publicly.

    Until now. Today the internet revolution -- led by a ragtag army of bloggers -- has given us all a chance to be irreverent, blasphemous and ungrammatical in public. For the first time ever, there are no editorial filters in place. We can all speak freely and to a larger audience than ever before. We can reveal secrets, blow whistles, spill beans, or just make stuff up.

    The reactions of the CNN bosses, and other members of the old elite, reveal their hypocrisy. The people who used to control the editorial filters can't accept that their monopoly now is gone. They saw themselves as the custodians of the public sphere, yet their position rested on nothing more than the existence of a particular kind of technology -- printing presses, radio and TV. Now that there is new technology, the nature of the public sphere is changing and their position of power is undermined. "We were always prepared to die for people's right to disagree with us in public, but you are disagreeing in the wrong way. I'm not dying for you."

    Let me give you another example: my old employer, the London School of Economics. I worked there for 12 years, as a professor in the political science department, but I don't work there anymore. I started a blog, you see, -- "Forget the Footnotes" -- where I among other things discussed the LSE's Director ("an anti-intellectual businessman"), its professors ("a varied bunch, some tipplers, some thinkers, some away on permanent research leave") and the students ("great kids, smart, witty, full of loudmouthed confidence").

    Like Chez, I made few friends among my bosses. The head of my department ordered me to "take down and destroy" my blog and to apologize to a whole slew of people. The statements I made were "enormously damaging to myself and to reputation of the School," he insisted. And the LSE's Director himself - Sir Howard Davies -- concurred. "What about academic freedom?" I protested. "What about that long statement on freedom of speech in the School's handbook?" "Well, that's different," I was told. "Surely, you understand."

    No, I didn't understand and I didn't listen to the head of my department or to the Director, and I didn't destroy my blog. Instead the student newspaper started writing about me and then the British press. The LSE students gave me strong support. Finally, they collectively agreed, there is a professor who calls things the way we see them. Someone who isn't so freakin' self-important. In a matter of days there were 380 signatures on a Facebook group "In Support of Erik Ringmar" started by one of the students, and emails of support poured in from around the globe.

    Why does a leading news channel, and a university famous for its defense of liberal values, start censoring people who use their right to free speech? Partly it's surely vanity. Bosses everywhere hate to have their authority undermined and they hate to be made fun of. They resent the fact that their underlings now have independent means of communicating with each other and with the world.

    But more than anything censorship is driven by a concern for profits. All over the net people are reprimanded, terrorized and sacked for the potential impact our words can have on share-prices, sales figures and quarterly earnings. An undergrad education in Britain used to be free, but in the year I started blogging (2006) a three thousand pound yearly student fee was about to be introduced for the first time. Clearly my LSE bosses were afraid that my freewheeling blogging style was going to be detrimental to student recruitment.

    In this way the imperatives of the market reveal themselves to be our last taboo. The bottom line is today the only thing which is beyond criticism. In a democracy you can offend all you like as long as you don't say anything that has an impact on corporate profits. The market has become a threat to freedom. The market is today the only authority that never needs to justify its power over us.

    We expected this kind of treatment from repressive regimes. But repressive regimes are the easy cases. Repressive regimes make no secret of their secretiveness and their repression. Democracies are supposed to be different, but in practice it is not at always clear where the differences lie. Modern liberal society has revealed a face which very few of us previously have seen.

    Should we be cowered? Should we back down? Hell no! Let's instead call them on their bluff. Let's remind the members of the establishment of the promises they once made us. Let's insist that our societies live up to the principles they profess to embrace.

    Instead of taking down and destroying our blogs we should blog more sneakily, employing well-established guerrilla tactics. We should duck, dive and dodge. Blog dirty, blog anonymously, change items around or claim they never existed; write in code, write in Bahasa Indonesia. Kick your boss once again on the shins, harder this time, and then run like hell. If they come looking for you, hide inconspicuously among ordinary internet users.

    Blogging is the best chance we have had in a while to overturn old hierarchies, giving voices to the voiceless and empowering the powerless. Individual blogs will come and go but the internet revolution will continue apace. Working men of all countries, blog! And working women too, and unemployed bastards, CNN journalists, and disgruntled students and angry wives, and everyone else with a grudge, a bean to spill and a story to tell. You have nothing to lose but your gags.

    CNN: The Neocon News Agency.

  14. You remember the song? "Torn between two lovers, feelin' like a fool. Lovin' both of you is breakin' all the rules."

    Seems particularly apt as we watch the reported inner turmoil John Edwards is having over the endorsement of his two former rivals. Is it just me or is it increasingly unseemly for John Edwards to pretend he doesn't have an opinion on this? Isn't this a perfect example of the "triangulating" that Edwards accused Hillary of engaging in? Coming at an issue from two opposing angles so that you're covered either way?

    Is that the way he would have made decisions if he'd been elected Commander-In-Chief? Seems to me that a president is often forced to make decisions in far less time and with far greater consequence (Katrina, anyone?). Yet after 18 debates he's still not sure?

    Maybe that's because Edwards' endorsement decision is not really about who he thinks should be president. Maybe it's about who he thinks WILL be president. And it may be that Edwards is trying to figure out what's in it for him and in so doing he shows us what he was really in it for. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the politics-as-usual that he claimed to be so far above.

    This is the time for John Edwards to remember his hero JFK's sentiment and ask not what can be done for him but we he can do for us. Can he help unify the party? Can he help unify the country? Obviously, if the people thought he could do those things he'd still be in the race. However, leadership is an internal thing not an external one. It comes from within and in the best of cases it rises up when one is without. In other words, you don't need to be elected a leader in order to act like one.

  15. Basketball legend Charles Barkley appeared on CNN's Late Edition, with Wolf Blitzer, this morning, and made some controversial remarks about Republicans. Barkley, who continues his career in basketball off the court as a TV commentator for the NBA, is supporting Barack Obama for president, and was defending Obama against criticism that he is inexperienced in foreign policy and other areas, when he veered off-course, and began a classic Barkley non-sequitur. Barkley started by saying, as a resident of Arizona, how much he respects John McCain, but then quickly began slamming Republicans and conservatives in general. Barkley said, "Every time I hear the word conservative it makes me sick to my stomach because they're really just fake Christians, as I call them." Blitzer asks Barkley to elaborate a bit on the phrase he used, "fake Christians." Barkley does so, essentially accusing conservatives of being hypocritical. Blitzer warns Barkley that he's probably going to a lot of "feedback" about his harsh criticism of the GOP, but Barkley is unfazed, offering this priceless response: "They can't do anything to me. I don't work for them."

    He must be talking about Bush and his ilk.

  16. A suicide bomber penetrated a crowd watching a dog-fighting competition in the Taliban's former stronghold Sunday, killing up to 80 people in one of the bloodiest bombings since the regime's 2001 ouster.

    The attack follows a year of record violence and predictions that the Afghan conflict could turn even deadlier this year.

    Didn't Bush claim he already won that war?

  17. One of Hillary Clinton’s senior advisers said Saturday on a conference call with reporters that the New York senator would have the nomination “nail(ed) down” after primary season voting ends in June, when Puerto Rico weighs in.

    “At or about, certainly shortly after, the seventh of June, Hillary’s going to nail down this nomination. She’s going to have a majority of the delegates,” Harold Ickes said, thanks to a combination of pledged delegates awarded through primary and caucus votes, and superdelegates – Democratic elected officials and party leaders who are free to choose any candidate they wish. Ickes is himself a superdelegate.

    Obama campaign manager David Plouffe immediately responded to Ickes, saying in a statement the Clinton campaign was “attempting to have superdelegates overturn the will of the Democratic voters, or change the rules they agreed to at the 11th hour in order to seat non-existent delegates from Florida and Michigan.

    “The Clinton campaign should focus on winning pledged delegates as a result of elections, not these say-or-do-anything-to-win tactics that could undermine Democrats’ ability to win the general election,” said Plouffe.

  18. Reuters) - Uninsured Americans and those in a government health program for the poor are far more likely to have advanced diseases when diagnosed with cancer than those with private coverage, researchers said on Sunday.

  19. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the US Central Intelligence Agency set up 12 bogus companies in Europe and other parts of the world in the hope of penetrating Islamic organizations, The Los Angeles Times reported on its website late Saturday.

    But citing current and former CIA officials, the newspaper said the agency had now shut down all but two of them after concluding they were ill-conceived.

    The firms were part of an ambitious plan to increase the number of CIA case officers sent overseas under what is known as "nonofficial cover" in order to increase the agency's potential for penetrating Islamic networks, the report said.

    According to the paper, the agents posed as employees of investment banks, consulting firms or other fictitious enterprises with no apparent ties to the US government.

    But the plan became the source of significant dispute within the agency, The Times noted.

    The CIA-run "companies" were located far from Muslim enclaves in Europe and other targets, and their size raised concerns that one mistake would blow the cover of many agents, the report noted.

    In addition, because businessmen don't usually come into contact with Al-Qaeda operatives, the cover didn't work, The Times said.

    Officials say the CIA's efforts to use corporate disguises have yet to produce a significant penetration of terrorist or weapons proliferation networks, the paper pointed out.

    Those Republicans mismanaged again.

  20. For the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the 2008 Presidential election is about restoring the American dream for America’s workers. UFCW members are energized to seize this opportunity to change America and restore the American Dream for workers and their families.
    The UFCW has a powerful presence and a strong organization in key primary states such as Wisconsin, Hawaii, Texas and Ohio. We are the largest union of young workers with more than forty percent of our members under the age of thirty. Senator Obama’s message of changing hope into reality has inspired our members, particularly our young members, across the country.

    We have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton and her tireless efforts on behalf of working people. And while both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have a vision to change America, we believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to build a movement to unite our country that will deliver the type of change that is needed – for good jobs, affordable health care, retirement security and worker safety.

    Our country requires a change—change that restores America to a place of opportunity and security, where hard work is respected and those who do it are protected.

    Our country requires change that brings the security working people require to improve their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

    Senator Obama understands the needs of working people. As a community organizer, he understands that America must restore the balance between working America and corporate America. He will fight to level the playing field on behalf of workers across our country. He will fight to regain the rights and protections workers have lost after too many years of the Bush Administration.

    UFCW will be mobilizing, organizing and energizing our members, their friends and families to make Senator Obama not just the Democratic nominee, but the next President of the United States.

    We are talking about the dreams of meatpackers and food processors working long hours to ensure that the dreams of their sons and daughters for college and a better life become a reality. We are talking about giving life to the dreams of cashiers and clerks in retail and grocery stores. That is what this election is about. It is about the dreams of hard working people across this country. Men and women who deserve to have their elected officials work as hard as they do.

    It is Senator Obama who is best positioned, and who has the best policies, to make these dreams a reality. Senator Obama is the candidate of the American dream.

  21. No surprise: the members of the WGA voted to pull down their picket signs and go back to work pending a vote on the actual deal. This from today's Los Angeles Times:

    More than 90% of the 3,775 writers who cast ballots in Los Angeles and New York voted to immediately end the work stoppage, capping the entertainment industry's most contentious labor dispute in recent history.

    "Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the WGA, West.

    On Feb. 25, writers are expected to ratify a new three-year contract that ensures them a stake in the revenue generated when their movies, television shows and other creative works are distributed on the Internet. Whether the benefits from the new contract will be enough to offset the income writers and others lost because of the strike is a matter of debate.
    And I agree with this quote:

    "They successfully faced down six multinational media conglomerates and established a beachhead on the Internet," said Jonathan Handel, former associate counsel for the Writers Guild of America, West and an attorney at TroyGould. "When you consider what they were initially offered and the enormous odds they faced, that's quite an achievement."

  22. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign released a 13-page blueprint for fixing the economy Monday, detailing the former first lady's plans to achieve universal health care, address the home foreclosure crisis and develop jobs for the middle class.

    The pamphlet, which will be distributed to voters at campaign events and posted online, outlines many of the ideas she talks about on the campaign trail each day. But by pulling them together, the document resembles a populist manifesto - with Clinton championing the needs of working-class voters over corporate and business interests.

    "Over the past seven years, big corporations and special interests have been given a free pass to profit, often at the expense of the American worker. As President, Hillary will make it a priority to scale back special benefits and subsidies to these corporations and put those resources to work for our economy again," the pamphlet declares.

    Among other things, the document stresses Clinton's plan to freeze home foreclosures and subprime adjustable rate mortgages - a plan some economists believe would raise interest rates on other consumers.

    It also describes Clinton's plan for creating new jobs through investments in infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and levees and "green-collar" jobs that would help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

    The New York senator also details her ideas for improving trade agreements, making college more affordable and expanding family and medical leave programs.

    "Hillary's plan to rein in the special interests will take back at least $55 billion per year from drug companies, oil companies and firms that ship jobs overseas and invest those resources to improve the lives of working families," the pamphlet said.

  23. The nation's foreclosure crisis has led to a painful irony for homeless people: On any given night they are outnumbered in some cities by vacant houses. Some street people are taking advantage of the opportunity by becoming squatters.

    Foreclosed homes often have an advantage over boarded-up and dilapidated houses abandoned because of rundown conditions: Sometimes the heat, lights and water are still working.

    "That's what you call convenient," said James Bertan, 41, an ex-convict and self-described "bando," or someone who lives in abandoned houses.

    While no one keeps numbers of below-the-radar homeless finding shelter in properties left vacant by foreclosure, homeless advocates agree the locations — even with utilities cut off — would be inviting to some. There are risks for squatters, including fires from using candles and confrontations with drug dealers, prostitutes, copper thieves or police.

    "Many homeless people see the foreclosure crisis as an opportunity to find low-cost housing (FREE!) with some privacy," Brian Davis, director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said in the summary of the latest census of homeless sleeping outside in downtown Cleveland.

    The census had dropped from 40 to 17 people. Davis, a board member of the National Coalition for the Homeless, cited factors including the availability of shelter in foreclosed homes, aggressive sidewalk and street cleaning and the relocation of a homeless feeding site. He said there are an average 4,000 homeless in Cleveland on any given night. There are an estimated 15,000 single-family homes vacant due to foreclosure in Cleveland and suburban Cuyahoga County.

    In Texas, Larry James, president and chief executive officer of Central Dallas Ministries, said he wasn't surprised that homeless might be taking advantage of vacant homes in residential neighborhoods beyond the reach of his downtown agency.

    "There are some campgrounds and creek beds and such where people would be tempted to walk across the street or climb out of the creek bed and sneak into a vacant house," he said.

    Bertan, who doesn't like shelters because of the rules, said he has been homeless or in prison for drugs and other charges for the past nine years. He has noticed the increased availability of boarded-up homes amid the foreclosure crisis.

    In search of a ‘fresh building’
    He said a "fresh building" — recently foreclosed — offered the best prospects to squatters.

    "You can be pretty comfortable for a little bit until it gets burned out," he said as he made the rounds of the annual "stand down" where homeless in Cleveland were offered medical checkups, haircuts, a hot meal and self-help information.

    Shelia Wilson, 50, who was homeless for years because of drug abuse problems, also has lived in abandoned homes, and for the same reason as Bertan: She kept getting thrown out of shelters for violating rules. "Every place, I've been kicked out of because of drugs," she said.

    Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, hasn't seen evidence of increased homeless moving into foreclosed homes but isn't surprised. He said anecdotal evidence — candles burning in boarded-up homes, a squatter killed by a fire set to keep warm — shows the determination of the homeless to find shelter.

    Davis said Cleveland's high foreclosure rate and the proximity of downtown shelters to residential neighborhoods has given the city a lead role in the homeless/foreclosure phenomenon.

    Many cities roust homeless from vacant homes, which more typically will be used by drug dealers or prostitutes than a homeless person looking for a place to sleep, Stoops said.

    Police across the country must deal with squatters and vandalism involving vacant homes:

    In suburban Shaker Heights, which has $1 million homes on wide boulevards, poorer neighborhoods with foreclosed homes get extra police attention.
    East of San Francisco, a man was arrested in November on a code violation while living without water service in a vacant home in Manteca, Calif., which has been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.
    In Cape Coral, Fla., a man arrested in September in a foreclosed home said he had been living there since helping a friend move out weeks earlier.
    Bertan and Wilson agreed that squatting in a foreclosed home can be dangerous because the locations can attract drug dealers, prostitutes and, eventually, police.

    William Reed, 64, a homeless man who walks with a cane, thumbed through a shoulder bag holding a blue-bound Bible, notebooks with his pencil drawings and a plastic-wrapped piece of bread as he sat on a retainer wall in the cold outside St. John Cathedral in downtown Cleveland. He's gone inside empty homes but thinks it's too risky to spend the night.

    This is Bush's America.

  24. Many women soldiers hoping to start families face the prospect of missing most of their child's first year. The Army grants six weeks of maternity leave before a new mother must return to her job or training, and four months until she can be sent to a war zone. The Marine Corps and Navy allow from six months to a year before a new mother must deploy.

    And they expect loyalty from this?

  25. A Fort Carson soldier who says he was in treatment at Cedar Springs Hospital for bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse was released early and ordered to deploy to the Middle East with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

    The 28-year-old specialist spent 31 days in Kuwait and was returned to Fort Carson on Dec. 31 after health care professionals in Kuwait concurred that his symptoms met criteria for bipolar disorder and “some paranoia and possible homicidal tendencies,” according to e-mails obtained by The Denver Post.

    The soldier, who asked not to be identified because of the stigma surrounding mental illness and because he will seek employment when he leaves the Army, said he checked himself into Cedar Springs on Nov. 9 or Nov. 10 after he attempted suicide while under the influence of alcohol. He said his treatment was supposed to end Dec. 10 but his commanding officers showed up at the hospital Nov. 29 and ordered him to leave.

    “I was pulled out to deploy,” said the soldier, who has three years in the Army and has served a tour in Iraq.

    Soldiers from Fort Carson and across the country have complained they were sent to combat zones despite medical conditions that should have prevented their deployment.

    Late last year, Fort Carson said it sent 79 soldiers who were considered medical “no-gos” overseas. Officials said the soldiers were placed in light-duty jobs and are receiving treatment there. So far, at least six soldiers have been returned.

    An e-mail sent Jan. 3 by Capt. Scot Tebo, the brigade surgeon, says the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had “been having issues reaching deployable strength” and that some “borderline” soldiers were sent overseas.

    This is the Republican way of supporting the troops.

  26. Republican John McCain says there will be no new taxes during his administration if he is elected president.

    "No new taxes," the likely GOP presidential nominee said during a taped interview broadcast Sunday.

    McCain told ABC's "This Week" that under no circumstances would he increase taxes, and added that he could "see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates," as well as giving people the ability to write off depreciation and eliminating the alternative minimum tax.

    This old delusional luster sounds just like Bush: This is the "straight talk express."

  27. Anger grew on Sunday at an overnight air raid by US forces on a village in central Iraq that a tribal leader said killed three members of an American-backed anti-Qaeda "Awakening" front.

    The helicopter attack on the village of Jurf al-Sakher, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Baghdad, on Saturday provoked furious members of the group to quit en masse, according to their tribal leader Sabah al-Janabi.

    "It was the third incident in a month. We have lost 19 men while 12 have been injured because of coalition attacks," Janabi said.

    "The group, which comprises 110 members, resigned in protest at organised assassinations by the coalition forces," Janabi added.

    A member of the group, Mohammed al-Rariri, 32, vented his anger at the incident.

    "We have been badly affected and are very angry at this aggression," said Rariri. "Whether it was an error or intentional, it proves that the coalition is not worried about the stability of our area."

    Another member, Abdallah al-Janabi, 29, accused the US military of deliberately sowing disorder so that they can stay in Iraq "for as long as possible."

    "They ensure that chaos and terrorism continues by all possible means," he charged. "But we remain vigilant against those who want to kill our children and our families."

    Under the Bush/McCain war plan this forever war will never end.

  28. Lydia unlike the hug you show between the chimp and St Johnny the delusional

    St Johnny don't wanna get caught with the chimp anymore;

    For McCain, a Choice on a Role for Bush

    Senator John McCain’s campaign advisers will ask the White House to deploy President Bush for major Republican fund-raising, but they do not want the president to appear too often at his side, top aides to Mr. McCain said Sunday.

    After a weekend of strategy meetings at Mr. McCain’s Arizona ranch — in a sense, the first Sedona summit of the Republican Party’s new leadership — the advisers said that much remains undecided about coordinating the campaign with the White House and the party apparatus until Mr. McCain wins enough delegates to be the official nominee.

    But even as the consensus was that Mr. McCain needed to “stand in the sun” on his own, as one adviser put it, without the large shadow cast by Mr. Bush, left unsaid was the difficult calculus the McCain campaign faces: Using Mr. Bush enough to try to make the tough sell of Mr. McCain to conservatives but not so much that he will drive away the independents and some moderate Democrats that Mr. McCain is counting on in November.

    Democrats, meanwhile, have been using every opportunity to link Mr. McCain to Mr. Bush, even defining Mr. McCain’s candidacy as part of a “Bush-McCain” ticket that they say will essentially give the president another term.

    There is also the matter of Mr. Bush’s unpopularity — polls show that only about 30 percent of voters approve of the job he is doing as president.

    And though he remains relatively popular among Republicans, even there his approval rating has declined to 66 percent.

    Mr. McCain’s advisers rushed to insist that they were not running away from the president, but rather that they would be reluctant to have any sitting president campaign with Mr. McCain.

    “What an incumbent president can do is help a new nominee with fund-raisers, maybe with unifying the party, maybe with getting out the vote in Republican areas,” said Charles Black, a top adviser to Mr. McCain and an outside adviser to the White House who has been part of every Republican presidential campaign since 1976. “But the important thing to remember is, the nominee is on their own. And no president, no matter how popular and effective politically, can carry somebody.”

    Ed Gillespie, the White House counselor to Mr. Bush and the chairman of the Republican National Committee during Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, echoed Mr. Black. “Senator McCain has his own identity,” Mr. Gillespie said in an interview, “and he’s going to be campaigning as John McCain and the things that John McCain believes in.”

    There is a precedent: President Ronald Reagan campaigned only selectively and made only rare appearances at the side of George Bush in the 1988 campaign, even though Mr. Bush was his vice president.

    So look for Mr. Bush to make solo appearances on behalf of Mr. McCain before evangelicals and in Republican pockets across the country, and to campaign in places where there are important races for the House and Senate, like Idaho and Kansas, which will not be critical destinations for the Republican nominee.

    Definitely look for him on the dais at big Republican fund-raising dinners. In 2004, Mr. Bush led a Republican fund-raising machine that collected $273 million, and his chief fund-raiser, Mercer Reynolds, will be leading Mr. McCain’s effort.

    The weekend at the senator’s ranch came as Mr. McCain was about to receive another lift from the Bush family, this one from the former president, who will endorse him Monday in Texas.

    Those in the strategy sessions with Mr. McCain in Arizona included the senator’s wife, Cindy; Mr. Black; Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager; Mark Salter, a top McCain adviser; Steve Schmidt, an adviser to Mr. McCain and a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney; and Mark McKinnon, a media adviser to Mr. McCain and a former media adviser to Mr. Bush.

    Mr. McKinnon told National Public Radio last week that although he supported Mr. McCain, he would not be part of the senator’s campaign if Senator Barack Obama was the Democratic nominee because he met and likes Mr. Obama and would be uncomfortable in a campaign that would inevitably be attacking him.

    In an interview on Sunday, Mr. McKinnon declined to talk about conversations he had with Mr. McCain on the matter over the weekend, but said he would still support Mr. McCain “100 percent,” even if he was not working for the campaign in the general election.

    Mr. McKinnon, like Mr. Black and Mr. Schmidt, has close ties to the Bush White House, and is part of a continuing conversation between the McCain campaign and the West Wing. There are frequent contacts between Mr. Black and officials at the White House, including Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, and between Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Gillespie, who worked together in the summer of 2005 as strategists directing the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. on Capitol Hill.

    Bush and McCain advisers said they planned to institutionalize contacts between the campaign and the White House once Mr. McCain was the nominee, but that the communication was unlikely to be as formal as the daily 8 a.m. conference call between the Bush campaign and the White House during the 2004 re-election campaign.

    In that call, White House officials assembled in the office of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political strategist, and planned the day’s assault with officials in the office of Ken Mehlman, the campaign manager who was at Bush-Cheney headquarters in Arlington, Va.

    Despite the shared advisers, there has been plenty of bitterness toward the Bush team among other McCain aides, who accused the Bush campaign of spreading rumors during the 2000 South Carolina primary that Mr. McCain had an illegitimate child. But Mr. McCain, who lost the primary and the nomination that year to Mr. Bush, eventually repaired his relationship with the president and campaigned for him in 2004.

    Some of Mr. McCain’s advisers admitted that they were slow to come around. “We were dyspeptic jerks who held grudges,” Mr. Salter said.

    One McCain adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could talk freely about internal campaign deliberations, said Sunday that while there were risks for Mr. McCain to appear with Mr. Bush, it would be a bad idea to keep Mr. Bush entirely at arm’s length. The reason, the adviser said, was that “you don’t leave a president who is popular within his own party out of your campaign activities, because then you’re following the campaign strategy of Al Gore.”

    The adviser was referring to the distance that Mr. Gore kept from President Bill Clinton when Mr. Gore, then vice president, was campaigning for the White House in 2000. Some Democrats have blamed Mr. Gore’s loss in part on his failure to embrace Mr. Clinton, who even as he was mired in scandal remained popular among Democrats.

    Mr. Black also said that much would depend on Mr. Bush. “When the time comes,” he said, “we’ll sit down and see what he’s willing to do.”

    St Johnny wanting to continue the Bush fiasco with out allowing Bush to appear to show how much of the Bush fiasco he really supports.

    I guess it really is just another lying repug running on lies and distortion again even if KKKarl is not up front in this deception campaign.

  29. Cali Wildfire Victims Ask: Where's FEMA?

    Agency Hasn't Kept Promises For Housing And Assistance, Homeowners Say

    Well at least now we know it wasn't just poor people from New Orleans Bush and Chertoff planned on screwing over ...... but everyone who needed FEMA help.

    Hopefully the total disaster that is the Bushco criminal organization pretending to care about America will end soon. (and they take the false GOPers who are hell bent on screwing america over for more money with them).

  30. This excerpt from a George W Bush interview Saturday:

    Frei: The Chinese government has been saying - part in response to this that - "America is [slipping back into] Cold War thinking."

    Mr Bush: Yeah. Well, you know, they're... I think that's just a brush back pitch, as we say in baseball. It's... America is trapped in this notion that we care about human life.

    Poor Bush Feels Trapped Because Americans "Care About Human Life."

    Obviously Bush himself isn't trapped into caring about human life.

  31. Bush Turns US Soldiers into Murderers

    by Robert Parry

    By forcing repeat combat assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan – and by winking at torture and indiscriminate killings – George W. Bush is degrading the reputation of the U.S. military, turning enlisted soldiers and intelligence officers into murderers and sadists.

    For instance, on Feb. 10 at Camp Liberty in Iraq, Army Ranger Sgt. Evan Vela was sentenced by a U.S. military court to 10 years in prison for executing an unarmed Iraqi detainee who – along with his son – had stumbled into a U.S. sniper position last year.

    After letting the 17-year-old son go, Vela’s squad leader, Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley ordered Vela to use a 9-millimeter pistol to shoot the father, Genei Nesir Khudair al-Janabi, in the head, an order that Vela carried out.

    “It was murder, plain and simple,” military prosecutor, Major Charles Kuhfahl, told the court.

    Janabi’s son, Mustafa, was allowed to make a statement, explaining how his father’s death had devastated the family and how one of his four younger brothers now avoids their home because he can’t stand the sight of his father’s empty room.

    “Please don’t forget about us,” Mustafa told the court.

    But Vela’s guilty verdict was a rare case of holding a U.S. soldier accountable in the killing or abusing of an Iraqi. Among the infrequent cases that have been brought, most end in acquittals or convictions only on minor charges.

    Last November, for example, another military jury acquitted Hensley in the same murder of Janabi as well as in the killing of two other Iraqi men south of Baghdad in the early days of Bush’s troop “surge.” That jury ruled that Hensley was following the approved "rules of engagement," though it did convict him of planting an AK-47 on one victim.

    Some of Vela’s military comrades complained that it was unfair to single any of them out for punishment because these killings are so common in Iraq.

    Vela’s former platoon commander, Sgt. First Class Steven Kipling, said that if all U.S. combat soldiers in Iraq were subjected to the same scrutiny applied to Vela, “we would have thousands” of cases. [NYT, Feb. 11, 2008]

    Indeed, the evidence does suggest that the handful of homicide cases from Iraq and Afghanistan that reach military trial represent only a small fraction of the unprovoked killings of locals at the hands of U.S. soldiers.

    Press Attention
    The murder and abuse cases that do result in trials often stem from incidents that get news media attention, like the mass killing of two dozen Iraqis in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, which Time magazine exposed.

    Even more memorable was the case of the sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, mistreatment that was documented with photographs that reached the U.S. news media in 2004.

    President Bush, who then was seeking reelection, joined in denouncing the low-ranking soldiers who had dressed Iraqi men up in women’s underwear or made them pose naked on leashes or in fake sexual positions.

    Bush said he “shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated.” Other senior administration officials called the Abu Ghraib guards – mostly poorly trained reservists – a “few bad apples.”

    Amid the furor, some Abu Ghraib guards claimed they were simply following guidance from intelligence interrogators on techniques to “soften up” detainees. But the Bush administration stuck to its story that the guards were an out-of-control night shift.

    Army Sgt. Sam Provance was the only uniformed military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib to support the guards’ claim that the prisoner abuse was part of the “alternative interrogation techniques” that had made their way from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib.

    Provance, however, was punished for his candor and pushed out of the U.S. military. The Bush administration went ahead with plans to pin the blame on the MPs. [See’s “The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.”]

    Only after Election 2004 did evidence surface revealing that the sexual abuse of the Abu Ghraib prisoners did fit with the broader policy – approved by President Bush and other senior administration officials – to break down prisoners for interrogation.

    For instance, alleged 9/11 plotter Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was sent to Guantanamo in 2002, was subjected to treatment similar to what later occurred at Abu Ghraib. Qahtani was forced to wear a bra, had a thong placed on his head, was paraded naked in front of women and was led around on a leash like a dog, military investigators reported in 2005.

    Nevertheless, at Abu Ghraib, only the guards got serious punishment. Eventually, 11 enlisted soldiers were convicted in courts martial.

    Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. received the harshest sentence – 10 years in prison – while Lynndie England, a 22-year-old single mother who was photographed holding an Iraqi on a leash and pointing at a detainee’s penis, was sentenced to three years in prison. Their superior officers either were cleared of wrongdoing or received mild reprimands.

    Bush continued to treat the Abu Ghraib scandal like a freak incident that the media had blown out of proportion. At a press conference on May 25, 2006, he complained, “We’ve been paying for that for a long period of time.”

    Into the Gutter
    Never has Bush acknowledged that the abusive treatment of detainees – or the killing of unarmed Iraqis and Afghanis – are a natural result of his aggressive war strategies, nor that he is the one primarily responsible for dragging the worldwide reputation of the U.S. military and intelligence services into the gutter.

    In the “war on terror,” Bush has asserted unlimited presidential authority that he claims lets him kill, imprison, spy on and torture anyone anywhere in the world, U.S. citizens and foreigners alike. [See’s “Bush ‘Apex’ of Unlimited Power” or the book, Neck Deep.]

    A former senior administration official told the Washington Post in 2004 that Bush “felt very keenly that his primary responsibility was to do everything within his power to keep the country safe, and he was not concerned with appearances or politics or hiding behind lower-level officials.” [Washington Post, June 9, 2004]

    Bush, however, has hid behind lower-level people, especially the soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have faced multiple assignments to the war zones with relatively brief periods of home leave.

    As one member of Sgt. Vela’s sniper team, Sgt. Anthony Murphy, said: “It’s a terrible war out there. And you have to make tough decisions. This war doesn’t provide that luxury to be perfect.”

    In an e-mail interview with the New York Times, Sgt. Hensley, who gave Vela the order to execute the Iraqi detainee Janabi, complained that he [Hensley] should not have even faced a court martial because he was following guidance from two superior officers who wanted him to boost the unit’s kill count.

    “Every last man we killed was a confirmed terrorist,” Hensley wrote. “We were praised when bad guys died. We were upbraided when bad guys did not die.” [NYT, Nov. 9, 2007]

    In another incident near the town of Iskandariya, Iraq, on April 27, 2007, Army sniper Jorge G. Sandoval Jr. received an order from Sgt. Hensley to kill a man cutting grass with a rusty scythe because he was suspected of being an insurgent posing as a farmer.

    Like Hensley, Sandoval was acquitted because the military jury accepted defense arguments that the killing was within the rules of engagement. (Sandoval was convicted of a lesser charge of planting a coil of copper wire on a slain Iraqi, and was sentenced to five months in prison.)

    The Sandoval case also revealed a classified program in which the Pentagon’s Asymmetric Warfare Group encouraged U.S. military snipers in Iraq to drop “bait” – such as electrical cords and ammunition – and then shoot Iraqis who pick up the items. [Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2007]

    Afghani Shot
    A similar case of authorized murder of an insurgent suspect surfaced at a military court hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in mid-September 2007. Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers took part in the execution of an Afghani who was a suspected leader of an insurgent group.

    Special Forces Capt. Dave Staffel and Sgt. Troy Anderson were leading a team of Afghan soldiers when an informant told them where the suspected insurgent leader was hiding. The U.S.-led contingent found a man believed to be Nawab Buntangyar walking outside his compound near the village of Hasan Kheyl.

    While the Americans kept their distance out of fear the suspect might be wearing a suicide vest, the man was questioned about his name and the Americans checked his description against a list from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan, known as “the kill-or-capture list.”

    Concluding that the man was Nawab Buntangyar, Staffel gave the order to shoot, and Anderson – from a distance of about 100 yards away – fired a bullet through the man’s head, killing him instantly.

    The soldiers viewed the killing as “a textbook example of a classified mission completed in accordance with the American rules of engagement,” the International Herald Tribune reported. “The men said such rules allowed them to kill Buntangyar, whom the American military had designated a terrorist cell leader, once they positively identified him.”

    Staffel’s civilian lawyer Mark Waple said the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command concluded in April that the shooting was “justifiable homicide,” but a two-star general in Afghanistan instigated a murder charge against the two men. That case, however, foundered over accusations that the charge was improperly filed. [IHT, Sept. 17, 2007]

    According to evidence at the Fort Bragg proceedings, the earlier Army investigation had cleared the two soldiers because they had been operating under rules of engagement that empowered them to kill individuals who have been designated “enemy combatants,” even if the targets were unarmed and presented no visible threat.

    In late September 2007, a U.S. military judge dismissed all charges against the two soldiers, ruling it was conceivable that the detained Afghani was wearing a suicide explosive belt, though there was no evidence that he was.

    Loose Rules
    The U.S. counterinsurgency and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been augmented by heavily armed mercenaries, such as the Blackwater “security contractors” who operate outside the law and were accused by Iraqi authorities of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in a shooting incident on Sept. 16, 2007.

    Though most media criticism has focused on trigger-happy Blackwater “security contractors,” Bush’s military strategy has employed its own indiscriminate firepower – from the loose rules of engagement for U.S. troops, to helicopter gun ships firing on crowds, to jet air strikes, to missiles launched from Predator drones.

    For instance, the U.S. military acknowledged on Oct. 23, 2007, that an American helicopter killed 11 people, including women and children, after someone allegedly shot at the helicopter as it flew over the village of Mukaisheefa, north of Baghdad.

    Iraqi police and witnesses said 16 people died, apparently as some rushed to help a wounded man, the New York Times reported. The helicopter gunners presumed the wounded man to be an insurgent and thus opened fire on the locals who came to his aid, according to witnesses.

    “The locals went to check if he was dead and gathered around him,” said Mohanad Hamid Muhsin, a 14-year-old who was shot in the leg. “But the helicopter opened fire again and killed some of the locals and wounded others.”

    When Iraqis carried the wounded into houses to administer first aid, the helicopter fired on the houses, killing and wounding more people, said Muhsin, who added that the dead included two of his brothers and a sister. A local police official said the 16 dead included six women and three children, while 14 other Iraqis were wounded.

    The incident followed on the heels of an Oct. 21 gun battle in which 49 people died when U.S. forces attacked alleged Shiite militiamen in Sadr City, a crowded slum in eastern Baghdad. Local authorities said the dead included innocent bystanders. [NYT, Oct. 24, 2007]

    Another account of the Oct. 23 incident in the Los Angeles Times quoted residents saying the men who were killed were farmers irrigating their fields in the pre-daylight hours.

    Abdul Wahab Ahmed, a neighbor, said the U.S. attack also involved jets that conducted two bombing runs. The dead included two toddlers and four teenagers, he said. [Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2007]

    The U.S. military said one of those killed in the Oct. 23 attack was “a known member of an I.E.D. cell,” referring to improvised explosive devices that Iraqi insurgents have made their weapon of choice in fighting the U.S. occupation.

    The American statement added that four other “military-age males” were killed along with five women and one child. U.S. military spokesmen often justify killings in Iraq and Afghanistan by noting that the dead are military-age males (or MAMs), slain in the vicinity of a firefight.

    Vietnam Echo
    The shoot-to-kill strategy toward MAMs has a resonance back to the Vietnam War when U.S. helicopter-borne troops sometimes would spot a MAM working in a rice paddy, fire a shot near him and then interpret his running as an aggressive act justifying his killing.

    This technique was described approvingly by retired Gen. Colin Powell in his widely praised autobiography, My American Journey.

    “I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age male,” Powell wrote. “If a helo spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him.

    “Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen [West Germany], Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

    While it’s true that combat is brutal and judgments can be clouded by fear, the mowing down of unarmed civilians in cold blood doesn’t constitute combat. Under the laws of war, it is regarded as murder and, indeed, a war crime.

    Neither can the combat death of a fellow soldier be cited as an excuse to murder civilians. [For more on Powell’s justification for war crimes, see Chapter 8 in Neck Deep.]

    In effect, Bush’s “global war on terror” has reestablished what looks like the Vietnam-era Operation Phoenix, a program that assassinated Vietcong cadre, including suspected communist political allies.

    By early 2005, as the Iraqi insurgency grew, the Bush administration reportedly debated a “Salvador option” for Iraq, an apparent reference to the “death squad” operations that decimated the ranks of perceived leftists who were opposed to El Salvador’s right-wing military junta in the early 1980s.

    According to Newsweek magazine, President Bush was contemplating the adoption of that brutal “still-secret strategy” of the Reagan administration as a way to get a handle on the spiraling violence in Iraq.

    “Many U.S. conservatives consider the policy [in El Salvador] to have been a success – despite the deaths of innocent civilians,” Newsweek wrote.

    The magazine also noted that many of Bush’s advisers were leading figures in the Central American operations of the 1980s, including Elliott Abrams, who is now an architect of Middle East policy on the National Security Council.

    Wanton Death
    In Guatemala, about 200,000 people perished, including what a truth commission later termed a genocide against Mayan Indians in the Guatemalan highlands. In El Salvador, about 70,000 died including massacres of whole villages, such as the slaughter committed by a U.S.-trained battalion against hundreds of men, women and children near the town of El Mozote in 1981.

    The Reagan administration’s “Salvador option” also had a domestic component, the so-called “perception management” operation that employed sophisticated propaganda to manipulate the fears of the American people while hiding the ugly reality of the wars. [See Robert Parry's Lost History.]

    Bush has taken the position that he can override both international law and the U.S. Constitution in deciding who gets basic human rights and who doesn’t. He sees himself as the final judge of whether people he deems “bad guys” should live or die, or face indefinite imprisonment and even torture.

    The troubling picture is that the U.S. chain of command, presumably up to Bush, has authorized loose “rules of engagement” that allow targeted killings – as well as other objectionable tactics including arbitrary arrests, “enhanced interrogations,” kidnappings in third countries with “extraordinary renditions” to countries that torture, secret CIA prisons, and detentions without trial.

    This anything-goes approach has been conveyed down to soldiers in the field who believe they have wide discretion to kill Iraqis and Afghanis on the slightest suspicion. With rare exceptions – like the conviction of Sgt. Vela – the U.S. military has become a law onto itself, an extension of President Bush’s megalomania.

  32. Two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday by small-arms fire northeast of Baghdad, the military said.

    Another soldier was wounded in the attack in the volatile Diyala province, according to a brief statement that provided no more details.

    Identities were not released pending notification of relatives.

    The deaths raised to at least 3,963 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

    Are tears being shed within the White House over this: NO!

  33. LIEberman, Shooter, and Chimpy prove that there's nothing worse than a bloodthirsty draft-dodger.Senile former prisoners of war run a close second.

  34. Senator John McCain's campaign advisers will ask the White House to deploy President Bush for major Republican fund-raising, but they do not want the president to appear too often at his side, top aides to Mr. McCain said Sunday.

    It's a little late for this since McCain has had his lips locked on Bush's roids for the past 7 years for all the world to see.

  35. AP

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber targeting a Canadian military convoy killed 37 civilians at a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said.

    It was the second major attack in as many days in Kandahar province, the former stronghold of the hardline Taliban. The death toll from a suicide bombing outside Kandahar city on Sunday rose to more than 100, making it Afghanistan's deadliest bombing since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

    And this is the war Bush claims he won.

  36. Way, way, too funny;

    Shillary was no better prepared for the Texas primaries

    Then the chimperor was for his invasion of Iraq ........

    and they both rely on second rate hacks to make up for their unpreparedness;

    Rummy and Condi meet Mark Penn.

    Hillary Camp Only Recently Learned About Texas Delegate Rules

    While the Hillary Clinton campaign has made the Ohio and Texas contests on March 4 into their new firewall, they have only recently discovered the arcane rules of delegate selection in Texas

    [like Bill never ran there in 1992 or 1996?]

    , which could potentially mean that even a substantial popular win translates into only a slight edge in delegates.

    The Washington Post reports that Hillary strategists learned in a closed-door meeting this month about the Texas contest, which splits delegates among the state Senate districts and also between the primary and a caucus held that night. It's ultimately a commentary on their lack of planning for a race lasting after Super Tuesday — when they thought they'd have the race locked up — that they have only just now learned of delegate rules that were of long-standing public knowledge.

    also check out this blog which discusses it in more detail;

    Senator Clinton Campaign Worried by Texas Primary System

    Read the comments sections of each blog, it is very telling just how unprepared Shillary really is for campaigning because she "thought" she was gonna waltz through the primary season and didn't plan for a long drawn out contest sorta like some stupid idiots did when they invaded Iraq.

    best comment;

    ready on Day One my ass.

    Posted by blackstar
    February 18, 2008 9:49 AM

    That about sums up her problem, she thinks something which reality doesn't show. (Sorta like some repubies we all know).

  37. A barrage of rockets slammed into Baghdad's international airport and an adjoining US military base Monday, killing five civilians and wounding 16, including two US soldiers, officials and witnesses said.

    The deaths and injuries of the civilians occurred when Katyusha rockets crashed into a workers' housing complex within the perimeter of the airport, residents said.

    They said women and children were among the dead and injured. Many houses were damaged.

    "Eight Iraqis, including six children, were taken to a coalition force medical clinic for treatment," the US military said in a statement.

    It said rockets also struck areas of Camp Victory US military base adjoining the airport.

    That "surge" sure is working.

  38. Bush Dismisses Iraq Recession: The War Has ‘Nothing To Do With The Economy’

    This morning on NBC’s Today Show, President Bush denied that the there’s any link between the faltering U.S. economy and $10 billion a month being spent on the Iraq war. In fact, according to Bush, the war is actually helping the economy:

    CURRY: You don’t agree with that? It has nothing do with the economy, the war — spending on the war?

    BUSH: I don’t think so. I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs…because we’re buying equipment, and people are working. I think this economy is down because we built too many houses and the economy’s adjusting.

    Of course we believe this Bush Lie: And his twin daughters aren't vamps, and Pickles isn't a lush.

  39. Larry said...
    Bush Dismisses Iraq Recession: The War Has ‘Nothing To Do With The Economy’

    This morning on NBC’s Today Show, President Bush denied that the there’s any link between the faltering U.S. economy and $10 billion a month being spent on the Iraq war. In fact, according to Bush, the war is actually helping the economy:

    CURRY: You don’t agree with that? It has nothing do with the economy, the war — spending on the war?

    BUSH: I don’t think so. I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs…because we’re buying equipment, and people are working. I think this economy is down because we built too many houses and the economy’s adjusting.

    Of course we believe this Bush Lie: And his twin daughters aren't vamps, and Pickles isn't a lush."

    Larry, check out the following two articles i think this is the type of military keynesianism Bush and the delusional war mongering Neo Cons are referring to.

  40. Trillion Dollar Bush

    The Mogambo Guru

    Christopher Ketcham, in his essay, "Trends for Downsizing the US: The Bright Side of the Panic of '08", notes former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson addressing the "folly" of "military Keynesianism", which is defined as "devotion to militarism, weapons, and warfare as fiscal stimulus."
    I bring this up not because I, as a gun-nut, gold-bug, paranoid lunatic have spent a fortune on weapons but yet am STILL outgunned by the local police and the U.S. military, all thanks to the government's capriciously arbitrary, unwritten "rule" that citizens cannot own nuclear weapons for "home defense", but because President Bush has unveiled his new budget, which is a whopping $3.1 trillion, has $400 billion of deficits from the get-go, and sports some big increases in its purchases of military ordnance.

    Now, add in another $600 billion-or-so of additional federal "emergency appropriations" spending as we go through the coming year, and suddenly we are talking close to $4 trillion!

    Agora Financial's 5-Minute Forecast notes that Bush, "is now responsible for the first $2 trillion (2002) and $3 trillion (2009) government budgets… which is nothing short of incredible. It took his predecessors 200 years to reach the first $1 trillion in 1987."

    They then quote Paul O'Neill, former Treasury Secretary of the United States, saying in their movie, I.O.U.S.A., "These are not insignificant changes. These are monumental changes."

    Oddly, Mr. O'Neill says, "When you're no longer able to service your debt, you're finished." Well, this is true for mere mortals like you and me, but for a government that embraces a fiat currency and a central bank that will multiply money at will, this is not a problem, and it never will be; they can get all the money the need, and all the money they want, anytime they want! Hell, they could pay off the national debt in one day if they wanted to! Hahaha!

    For me, it's all about the money and how all of this spending will be accomplished by a brain-dead Federal Reserve creating the money out of thin air so that the government can borrow it, and how all of this money will drive the national debt up more and devalue the dollar even more, which makes consumer prices go up, and then I have to spend a lot more of my Valuable Mogambo Time (VMT) answering the phone and listening to my brothers and sisters and mom and dad and aunts and uncles wanting to borrow some money from me because prices are so high that they cannot afford any food, and I tell them, "Well, sell some of your gold that I have been yelling at you to buy for years and years!" and they say that they didn't buy any, but they wish they had, and then I tell them, "Well, similarly I am not going to give you any money, but I will wish I had! How about that, moron?"

    But the worse news is that this "military Keynesianism", which is "a policy embraced with equal fervor by both parties in Congress", will not even work. Instead, he figures that it "will speed the country to moral, fiscal and political bankruptcy. To grasp the horror of military Keynesianism, consider this statistic: By 1990, production for the Department of Defense amounted to 83 percent of the value of all manufacturing plants and equipment in the US. Only 17 percent of the US manufacturing base actually made products not meant to kill." Yikes! And that was 18 years ago, during which time it has gotten worse!

    If there is one good thing that could come out of this recession, it is that violence could subside around the world. The way I see it, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so constantly making a fuss these days means that the United States will come waltzing in and give everybody some money, armaments and pretty promises if everyone agrees to make nice, which they promise to do, which makes the USA look good and everybody struts around, and they are nice for about a week until the money and armaments start running low again, and then it will be time to escalate some violence so that the United States will come riding in to give them all some more money and armaments to make nice.

    But with a recession, maybe the United States will finally be forced to say, "Screw that!", and maybe people would stop acting like such murderous, barbaric buttheads and get down to the business of education and creating a real economy…

    …Like that is going to happen! Hahahaha! Ugh.

  41. Going Bankrupt
    Why the Debt Crisis Is Now the Greatest Threat to the American Republic
    By Chalmers Johnson
    The military adventurers of the Bush administration have much in common with the corporate leaders of the defunct energy company Enron. Both groups of men thought that they were the "smartest guys in the room," the title of Alex Gibney's prize-winning film on what went wrong at Enron. The neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon outsmarted themselves. They failed even to address the problem of how to finance their schemes of imperialist wars and global domination.

    As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries. Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay -- or repudiate. This utter fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (such as causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching.

    There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on "defense" projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low levels.

    Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures -- so-called "military Keynesianism," which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.

    Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call "opportunity costs," things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system has deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world's number one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer for civilian needs -- an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing. Let me discuss each of these.

    The Current Fiscal Disaster

    It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense's planned expenditures for fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations' military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China. Defense-related spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The United States has become the largest single salesman of arms and munitions to other nations on Earth. Leaving out of account President Bush's two on-going wars, defense spending has doubled since the mid-1990s. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since World War II.

    Before we try to break down and analyze this gargantuan sum, there is one important caveat. Figures on defense spending are notoriously unreliable. The numbers released by the Congressional Reference Service and the Congressional Budget Office do not agree with each other. Robert Higgs, senior fellow for political economy at the Independent Institute, says: "A well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon's (always well publicized) basic budget total and double it." Even a cursory reading of newspaper articles about the Department of Defense will turn up major differences in statistics about its expenses. Some 30-40% of the defense budget is "black," meaning that these sections contain hidden expenditures for classified projects. There is no possible way to know what they include or whether their total amounts are accurate.

    There are many reasons for this budgetary sleight-of-hand -- including a desire for secrecy on the part of the president, the secretary of defense, and the military-industrial complex -- but the chief one is that members of Congress, who profit enormously from defense jobs and pork-barrel projects in their districts, have a political interest in supporting the Department of Defense. In 1996, in an attempt to bring accounting standards within the executive branch somewhat closer to those of the civilian economy, Congress passed the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. It required all federal agencies to hire outside auditors to review their books and release the results to the public. Neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department of Homeland Security has ever complied. Congress has complained, but not penalized either department for ignoring the law. The result is that all numbers released by the Pentagon should be regarded as suspect.

    In discussing the fiscal 2008 defense budget, as released to the press on February 7, 2007, I have been guided by two experienced and reliable analysts: William D. Hartung of the New America Foundation's Arms and Security Initiative and Fred Kaplan, defense correspondent for They agree that the Department of Defense requested $481.4 billion for salaries, operations (except in Iraq and Afghanistan), and equipment. They also agree on a figure of $141.7 billion for the "supplemental" budget to fight the "global war on terrorism" -- that is, the two on-going wars that the general public may think are actually covered by the basic Pentagon budget. The Department of Defense also asked for an extra $93.4 billion to pay for hitherto unmentioned war costs in the remainder of 2007 and, most creatively, an additional "allowance" (a new term in defense budget documents) of $50 billion to be charged to fiscal year 2009. This comes to a total spending request by the Department of Defense of $766.5 billion.

    But there is much more. In an attempt to disguise the true size of the American military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense. For example, $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy goes toward developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt, and Pakistan). Another $1.03 billion outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and reenlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military itself, up from a mere $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for the long-term care of the grievously injured among the at least 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and another 1,708 in Afghanistan. The amount is universally derided as inadequate. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security.

    Missing as well from this compilation is $1.9 billion to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5 billion to the Department of the Treasury for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6 billion for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays. This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the current fiscal year (2008), conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1 trillion.

    Military Keynesianism

    Such expenditures are not only morally obscene, they are fiscally unsustainable. Many neoconservatives and poorly informed patriotic Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. Unfortunately, that statement is no longer true. The world's richest political entity, according to the CIA's "World Factbook," is the European Union. The EU's 2006 GDP (gross domestic product -- all goods and services produced domestically) was estimated to be slightly larger than that of the U.S. However, China's 2006 GDP was only slightly smaller than that of the U.S., and Japan was the world's fourth richest nation.

    A more telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we're doing can be found among the "current accounts" of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. For example, in order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88 billion per year trade surplus with the United States and enjoys the world's second highest current account balance. (China is number one.) The United States, by contrast, is number 163 -- dead last on the list, worse than countries like Australia and the United Kingdom that also have large trade deficits. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion; second worst was Spain at $106.4 billion. This is what is unsustainable.

    It's not just that our tastes for foreign goods, including imported oil, vastly exceed our ability to pay for them. We are financing them through massive borrowing. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. This was just five weeks after Congress raised the so-called debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by our defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.

    The world's top 10 military spenders and the approximate amounts each country currently budgets for its military establishment are:

    1. United States (FY08 budget), $623 billion
    2. China (2004), $65 billion
    3. Russia, $50 billion
    4. France (2005), $45 billion
    5. United Kingdom, $42.8 billion
    6. Japan (2007), $41.75 billion
    7. Germany (2003), $35.1 billion
    8. Italy (2003), $28.2 billion
    9. South Korea (2003), $21.1 billion
    10. India (2005 est.), $19 billion

    World total military expenditures (2004 est.), $1,100 billion
    World total (minus the United States), $500 billion

    Our excessive military expenditures did not occur over just a few short years or simply because of the Bush administration's policies. They have been going on for a very long time in accordance with a superficially plausible ideology and have now become entrenched in our democratic political system where they are starting to wreak havoc. This ideology I call "military Keynesianism" -- the determination to maintain a permanent war economy and to treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption.

    This ideology goes back to the first years of the Cold War. During the late 1940s, the U.S. was haunted by economic anxieties. The Great Depression of the 1930s had been overcome only by the war production boom of World War II. With peace and demobilization, there was a pervasive fear that the Depression would return. During 1949, alarmed by the Soviet Union's detonation of an atomic bomb, the looming communist victory in the Chinese civil war, a domestic recession, and the lowering of the Iron Curtain around the USSR's European satellites, the U.S. sought to draft basic strategy for the emerging cold war. The result was the militaristic National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) drafted under the supervision of Paul Nitze, then head of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department. Dated April 14, 1950, and signed by President Harry S. Truman on September 30, 1950, it laid out the basic public economic policies that the United States pursues to the present day.

    In its conclusions, NSC-68 asserted: "One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while simultaneously providing a high standard of living."

    With this understanding, American strategists began to build up a massive munitions industry, both to counter the military might of the Soviet Union (which they consistently overstated) and also to maintain full employment as well as ward off a possible return of the Depression. The result was that, under Pentagon leadership, entire new industries were created to manufacture large aircraft, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and surveillance and communications satellites. This led to what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address of February 6, 1961: "The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience" -- that is, the military-industrial complex.

    By 1990, the value of the weapons, equipment, and factories devoted to the Department of Defense was 83% of the value of all plants and equipment in American manufacturing. From 1947 to 1990, the combined U.S. military budgets amounted to $8.7 trillion. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism has, if anything, ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests that have become entrenched around the military establishment. Over time, a commitment to both guns and butter has proven an unstable configuration. Military industries crowd out the civilian economy and lead to severe economic weaknesses. Devotion to military Keynesianism is, in fact, a form of slow economic suicide.

    On May 1, 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Washington, D.C., released a study prepared by the global forecasting company Global Insight on the long-term economic impact of increased military spending. Guided by economist Dean Baker, this research showed that, after an initial demand stimulus, by about the sixth year the effect of increased military spending turns negative. Needless to say, the U.S. economy has had to cope with growing defense spending for more than 60 years. He found that, after 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in a baseline scenario that involved lower defense spending.

    Baker concluded:

    "It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment."
    These are only some of the many deleterious effects of military Keynesianism.

    Hollowing Out the American Economy

    It was believed that the U.S. could afford both a massive military establishment and a high standard of living, and that it needed both to maintain full employment. But it did not work out that way. By the 1960s, it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation's largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all American research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.

    Nuclear weapons furnish a striking illustration of these anomalies. Between the 1940s and 1996, the United States spent at least $5.8 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of nuclear bombs. By 1967, the peak year of its nuclear stockpile, the United States possessed some 32,500 deliverable atomic and hydrogen bombs, none of which, thankfully, was ever used. They perfectly illustrate the Keynesian principle that the government can provide make-work jobs to keep people employed. Nuclear weapons were not just America's secret weapon, but also its secret economic weapon. As of 2006, we still had 9,960 of them. There is today no sane use for them, while the trillions spent on them could have been used to solve the problems of social security and health care, quality education and access to higher education for all, not to speak of the retention of highly skilled jobs within the American economy.

    The pioneer in analyzing what has been lost as a result of military Keynesianism was the late Seymour Melman (1917-2004), a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University. His 1970 book, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, was a prescient analysis of the unintended consequences of the American preoccupation with its armed forces and their weaponry since the onset of the Cold War. Melman wrote (pp. 2-3):

    "From 1946 to 1969, the United States government spent over $1,000 billion on the military, more than half of this under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations -- the period during which the [Pentagon-dominated] state management was established as a formal institution. This sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration."
    In an important exegesis on Melman's relevance to the current American economic situation, Thomas Woods writes:

    "According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation's plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock."
    The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools -- an industry on which Melman was an authority -- are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed (p. 186) "that 64 percent of the metalworking machine tools used in U.S. industry were ten years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States' machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end of the Second World War. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry."

    Nothing has been done in the period since 1968 to reverse these trends and it shows today in our massive imports of equipment -- from medical machines like proton accelerators for radiological therapy (made primarily in Belgium, Germany, and Japan) to cars and trucks.

    Our short tenure as the world's "lone superpower" has come to an end. As Harvard economics professor Benjamin Friedman has written:

    "Again and again it has always been the world's leading lending country that has been the premier country in terms of political influence, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence. It's no accident that we took over the role from the British at the same time that we took over… the job of being the world's leading lending country. Today we are no longer the world's leading lending country. In fact we are now the world's biggest debtor country, and we are continuing to wield influence on the basis of military prowess alone."
    Some of the damage done can never be rectified. There are, however, some steps that this country urgently needs to take. These include reversing Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy, beginning to liquidate our global empire of over 800 military bases, cutting from the defense budget all projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States, and ceasing to use the defense budget as a Keynesian jobs program. If we do these things we have a chance of squeaking by. If we don't, we face probable national insolvency and a long depression.

    Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, just published in paperback. It is the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy, which also includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004).

  42. Lets consider this portion of the previous article in particular "By 1990, production for the Department of Defense amounted to 83 percent of the value of all manufacturing plants and equipment in the US. Only 17 percent of the US manufacturing base actually made products not meant to kill." Yikes! And that was 18 years ago, during which time it has gotten worse!"

    Think about that a minute almost 20 years ago only 17% of our manufacturing was used for non military applications and its gotten worse...........i think it would be fair to speculate that today close to 90% of our manufacturing in this country is for military applications.............think how much better off we would be if we spent 90% of our resources making things to help people rather than kill them.

  43. Those are telling articles Mike and there is no good end in sight regarding either.

  44. Concentration camps in America: The consequences of 40 years of fear

    William John Cox

    Online Journal

    If you type the phrase "concentration camps" into your Internet search engine, you will find page after page of references to martial law and the construction of concentration camps in the United States on behalf of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    A close examination reveals that many of these references lack sufficient facts to support their conclusions; however, taken as a whole, there is an abundance of factual information showing an alarming trend in the deployment of federal and military forces to restrain and detain American citizens.

    Among the Internet sites are those listing between 600 and 800 locations in the United States where the government is establishing "concentration camps." Many of these are former or active military bases; however, several provide detailed information about their location and improvements, including maps, videos, and satellite photographs.

    A former Amtrak facility located in Beech Grove, Indiana, is featured in a widely viewed video on Youtube. From the audio description and video images, it is easy to imagine that the site could be used as a detention facility; however, a telephone call to the desk officer of the Beech Grove Police Department reveals that much of the evidence, including helicopter landing facilities and radio towers, actually belong to the police department that is located adjacent to the now largely abandoned facility. The desk officer, who also happens to be a local city councilman, was unaware of any federal involvement at the location. "It’s a straight facility," he said.

    There are a number of photographs depicting a site in northern Michigan with a double row of chainlink fencing topped with barbwire and elevated guard towers. The area is part of Camp Grayling, the largest installation of the Michigan National Guard, which deploys several military police commands and trains more than 100 law enforcement agencies from Northern Michigan. The photographs clearly show an outdoor detention facility, and recent comments by an undercover observer confirm that it is currently maintained. However, there is an e-mail on the Internet dated January 20, 1999, from a base Deputy Public Affairs Officer who said: "The ‘camps’ you are referring to are used by our Military Police for training. One of their war-time missions is to process and care for prisoners of war (POWs). The photos you saw are of that training site."

    Perhaps the most disturbing images show a Department of Homeland facility known as Swift Luck Green located in Central Wyoming. The five satellite photographs are labeled as having been taken on January 23 and March 24, 2006, by DigitalGlobe and are annotated as "DHS Facility (SLG)." Labels include: prisoner housing, restaurant for DHS personnel; 3-story dormitory for prisoners; guard towers; and prison cells. Various blogs further identify the location as a closed coal mine near Hanna, Wyoming, in Carbon County.

    There is nothing comparable to the photographs visible on GoogleEarth at the listed coordinates, and desk officers at the local sheriff’s office and the police department are unaware of any local DHS or FEMA facilities. An e-mail to DigitalGlobe’s media relations contact about the photographs received this reply: "they were in a report called ‘the hidden gulag,’ a report on secret nk [North Korean] prison camps." The report and original photographs can be viewed at the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea’s website,

    This is what fear has wrought. First, our own government has done everything in its power to make us fearful so we will support its illegal and unconstitutional activities, and then in our fear, we have come to distrust everything our government says and does -- for good reason.

    The facts are undisputed.

    Commencing in the late Sixties, following urban riots in Los Angeles, Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, Seattle, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, and in response to a recommendation of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, the U.S. military initiated plans to assist local and state civil authorities during urban unrest. Collectively, the response was known as "Operation Garden Plot," and each military branch established its own plans, which have evolved over the years.

    In 1984, a military "Disturbance Plan" defined its targets as "disruptive elements, extremists or dissidents perpetrating civil disorder," which in turn is defined as "riot, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, or other disorders prejudicial to public law and order." It concludes, "spontaneous civil disturbances which involve large numbers of persons and/or which continue for a considerable period of time, may exceed the capacity of local civil law enforcement agencies to suppress. Although this type of activity can arise without warning as a result of sudden, unanticipated popular unrest . . . it may result from more prolonged dissidence . . . This would most likely be the outgrowth of serious social, political or economic issues which divide segments of the American population. Such factionalism could manifest itself through repeated demonstrations, protest marches and other forms of legitimate opposition but which would have the potential for erupting into spontaneous violence with little or no warning."

    Dated November 1985, a United States Army field manual entitled, "Civil Disturbances," says, "If there are more detainees than civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the [military] control forces to set up and operate temporary facilities. . . . These temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation or on suitable property under federal control . . . supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced in Army correctional operations."

    At the same time as these plans and manuals were being developed and issued, President Reagan authorized a secret program for the imposition of martial law and massive detentions. First revealed by Oliver North during his congressional testimony, the plan was known as Readiness Exercise 1984, or REX 84. The program was originally intended to confront a "mass exodus" of illegal aliens across the Mexican-U.S. border, and to provide confinement facilities where they could be locked up by FEMA.

    Otherwise known as a continuity of government plan, REX 84 involved an actual civil readiness exercise in April 1984 by FEMA in association with 34 other federal agencies. In a combined exercise with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Night Train 84 involved multi-emergency scenarios at play inside and outside the U.S. Confronted with civil disturbances, major demonstrations and labor strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or resource mobilization, and to fight subversive activities, the military was authorized to arrest as many as 400,000 people and to move them to military facilities for confinement.

    In 1985, FEMA’s director was Louis Giuffrida, who in 1970 had called for the imposition of martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants. He envisioned "assembly centers or relocation camps" for at least 21 million "American Negroes." Regarding martial law, he later wrote, "No constitution, no statute or ordinance can authorize Marital Rule. . . . The significance of Martial Rule in civil disorders is that it shifts control from civilians and to the military completely and without the necessity of a declaration, proclamation or other form of public manifestation. . . . Martial Rule is limited only by the principle of necessary force."

    As reported by the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987, "These camps are to be operated by FEMA should martial law need to be implemented in the United States and all it would take is a presidential signature on a proclamation and the attorney general’s signature on a warrant to which a list of names is attached."

    The Defense Department has developed a "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support" against terrorism that pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the . . . US homeland." The Pentagon is presently collecting files on antiwar protesters and is prepared to maximize "threat awareness" and to seize "the initiative from those who would harm us." The Pentagon’s National Counterterrorism Center’s central repository now includes the names of 325,000 "terrorist" suspects.

    In October 2003, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approved a secret "Information Operations Roadmap" calling for "full spectrum" information operations, including a strategy for seizing the Internet and controlling the flow of information. It views the worldwide web as a potential military adversary and speaks of "fighting the net."

    The U.S. Army Internet website displays information about the Pentagon’s "Civilian Inmate Labor Program," including "policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations." The program underwent a "rapid action revision" on January 14, 2005, to provide a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

    In yet another exercise in September 2005, the Pentagon’s U.S. Northern Command conducted a top secret operation known as Granite Shadow that involved emergency military operations within the continental United States without civilian supervision or control. Under the plan, military special forces units operating under unique rules of engagement involving deadly force were deployed to enforce "unity of command."

    The original mission of FEMA was to assure the survival of the United States government in the case of nuclear attack, with a secondary responsibility to coordinate the federal response to natural disasters. However, FEMA has come to operate as a secret government in waiting, with powers far beyond that of any other federal agency.

    Specific and detailed executive orders now empower FEMA to: take over all transportation, highways and seaports; seize and operate all communications media; take over all electric, gas and petroleum power, fuels and minerals; take over all airports and aircraft; take over all railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities; take over all farms and food resources; register all persons and force civilians into work brigades; take over all health, education and welfare functions; and establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in all U.S. financial institutions.

    Executive Order 11921 provides that, once a state of emergency has been declared by the president, the action cannot be reviewed by Congress for six months.

    The John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 contains a provision entitled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." One effect of the provision is to expand the president’s limited power to deploy the military within the United States only "to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy" to include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident."

    The act authorized the president to assume local authority "if domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order." The president now has the power, without any advance notice to Congress, to declare marital law in any city experiencing a civil disturbance or riot similar to any of those experienced in the past 40 years and to deploy the military, irrespective of the wishes or consent of local and state authorities.

    On May 9, 2007, President Bush signed a "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive" defining the "Catastrophic Emergency" leading to "Continuity of Government coordinated efforts by the Executive Branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed." Such emergencies include "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions." Continuity of Operations includes the continuation of mission-essential functions "during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies."

    In its definition of "Enduring Constitutional Government," the presidential directive envisions a "cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government;" however, it (the effort) is to be "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches . . ." Comity is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as, "Courtesy; complaisance; respect; a willingness to grant a privilege, not as a matter of right, but out of deference and good will." In other words, the "Enduring Constitutional Government" will be run by the president and any "cooperative" role played by Congress and the judiciary will be at his pleasure.

    Even though Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States . . . , " President Bush has, pursuant to his own directives, given himself the unrestrained power to declare whatever he imagines to be an emergency. Once he does so, he alone controls the entire apparatus of government. He will become responsible for arranging for the "orderly succession" and the "appropriate transition of leadership" of the other two branches of government, and he will do all of this with the able assistance of his vice president, who has the primary job of coordinating things.

    Conceivably, at his or her sole discretion, existing and future presidents have the power to use any provocation, including the election of a successor president hostile to his or her existing policies, to declare a state of emergency and to seize and operate the government as a dictatorship for an indefinite period of time.

    More realistically, an increase in street and campus protests against the Iraq War, similar to those of the '60s, could easily lead to the imposition of martial law in the Unites States as an extension of the War on Terrorism. Or, as the current recession deepens into a depression with wide spread unemployment, hunger and civil unrest, martial law could be imposed and military work camps established. Irrespective of how it plays out, every scenario involves mass preventative detentions, without trial, by the military and requires federal confinement facilities.

    Accepting the fact that the president has the power to detain as many American citizens as he chooses, is the government actually building facilities to concentrate them?

    In January 2006, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a $385 million contract to former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) to provide detention centers in the United States to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid deployment of new programs." Unexplained were these "new programs" and why they require a major expansion of detention centers.

    A clue to the definition of "new programs" can be found in President Bush’s claim that "the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield" against terrorism and that he has the power as commander-in-chief to detain indefinitely any American citizen he designates as an enemy combatant. He signed the Military Commissions Act in October 2006 that suspends habeas corpus rights for everyone he deems to be an enemy combatant and allows him to confine them indefinitely without trial or access to counsel. Once detained under the act, "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever. . . ."

    The KBR contract is open-ended and authorizes a payment of up to $385 million per deployment. It is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which envisions the development of at least four detention centers, each detaining up to 5,000 single males and females, families with children, and the sick and criminal. Established at "unused military sites or [leased] temporary structures," each facility will be able to accommodate the sick and criminals for extended detentions and to arrange for the "rendition" of potential terrorists to sites outside the continental United States.

    Cops have an old saying that you’re not paranoid if someone really is following you. We cannot forget that our president has already seized extraordinary dictatorial powers and that he really is spending millions of dollars for the construction of detention facilities to support the "rapid development" of his "new programs." Nor, can we ignore that, contrary to international law, the United States government is in fact detaining hundreds of "unlawful combatants" in prison facilities in Guantanamo Bay and at other secret locations around the world. Finally, we have to accept: that our government is abusing and torturing these detainees to obtain information that will be used against them should they ever come to trial; that they have no access to the federal courts to appeal their detentions; that they cannot consult with counsel without the presence of military monitors, who also read their legal mail; that they cannot review or challenge the "classified" evidence against them; and that they cannot confront or cross examine the witnesses against them.

    There’s another old saying, "If you snooze, you lose." We have a very narrow window of opportunity between the time we recognize a deadly threat and when we do something about it. Given the highly advanced technological age we live in and the ready availability of overwhelming military force, once our freedoms are lost, they will be gone forever, whether or not every single one of us is "bearing arms."

    Two weeks ago, Congress took an important first step in restricting the president’s power by repealing a largely unrecognized section of the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act that, last year, effectively transferred command of the National Guards from state governors to the president. With the unanimous support of the National Governors Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and other law enforcement agencies, Congress restricted the power of the president to order the National Guard of any state to be used within that state or in any other state without the consent of the appropriate state governors.

    We must immediately stop the deployment of National Guard troops to fight the illegal war in Iraq and bring them all home where they belong. Remaining under the control of state governors and given time to rest and the resources to re-equip, a well-trained and properly deployed National Guard, acting in support of local law enforcement, will be able to maintain order in most, if not all, domestic disturbances, natural disasters and terrorists attacks. If we survived the assassinations and riots of the '60s without martial law, we should be able to get by today without military intervention or the president’s help.

    There is no time to lose! Congress must immediately hold hearings on the power of the president to declare martial law, to deploy the military within the United States, and to detain American citizens, without trial or benefit of habeas corpus. Congress must establish the constitutional limits of presidential power by statute, rather than to allow the president to do so by his own executive orders.

    The incursions on civil liberties in the United States in the past 25 years, and particularly since 9-11, are mind-boggling. It matters not whether you are a Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, you have been deprived of substantial freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, unnecessarily, in the War on Terrorism. Fear the loss, perceive the danger, and do something about it!

    The calendar may say 2008, but, increasingly, we’re living in 1984. America may not have concentration camps yet, but we’re sure enough working on ‘em.

  45. Police Atrocities Define the Bush Police State

    Len Hart

    Jack booted thugs can now arrest you without a warrant, without "probable cause" or evidence that you might have committed a crime. Law abiding Americans are victimized by cops gone wild, sadistic hot dogs, mental midgets and Nazi wannabes. They are inspired by the atmosphere of fear and hate. Police atrocities are to be expected.

    The real criminals are in the White House and, so far, they have escaped charges and justice. There is probable cause to try Bush himself for capital crimes --but he is free while millions are brutalized without charges, trial or representation. Now under Bush, jackbooted thugs don't even bother accusing you of a crime. You can be throw in jail upon whim. You don't get to make a phone call. You don't get to call your lawyer. You don't get to call your wife or husband. And you don't get visitors.

    These days –who cares if you are innocent. Bush has assumed the power to 'define' you as a terrorist. Conceivably, you could be locked up in one of Bush's hell-holes for the rest of your life. You may never get your day in court. But if you dare to protest that you are an American citizen, you risk getting kicked in the balls, tasered, strip searched and beaten. In Houston, in the seventies a young Hispanic male was accused of being rowdy in a bar. He was never charged. Rather, Houston cops took him to a secluded part of Buffalo Bayou, beat the crap out of him, and thew him into Buffalo Bayou where he drowned.

    Big Brother Bush spies on you. As early as 2002, Bush secretly ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor, intercept, and keep records on international phone calls and emails. They have simply declared they don't need court orders, they don't need probable cause, they don't need authorization, they don't even need 'reasonable suspicion', Gen. Michael Hayden's fictitious, delusional and non-existent standard. The Constitution requires 'probable cause' but you can forget about that in Bush's dictatorship. As Bush himself put it: "Stop throwing up the Constitution to me. It's just a Goddamned piece of paper" [See: A Goddamned Piece of Paper!]


    If you've ever publicly opposed Bush's war of naked aggression in Iraq, you can bet you're in NSA's database, called, typically of these mentally constipated authoritarians, TALON! How cute! This practice most certainly goes far beyond Nixon's 'enemies list', a sophomoric exercise typical of idiots who take themselves entirely too seriously. No –Bush's database, methods, scope and ruthlessness plops us in Orwellian territory without a Junior Wood Chucks guidebook. In the vernacular, we're fucked! The government has declared war upon us. In the words of Che Guevara "...the peace is already considered to be broken." Let's put it another way. The revolution was begun when George W. Bush declared war upon the people of the United States.

    War protesters, naturally, were the first to wind up in Big Bro's TALON, or database, or, to use the lingo of Bush and Bush-head: al Qaeda, literally, 'the base'. There you have it. Bush can merely define you as an 'enemy combatant' and your name winds up on his list of 'terrorists'. A 'terrorist' is anyone who opposes George W. Bush, tyrant for whom the Constitution is just a "...Goddamned piece of paper!"

    Playlist Includes Michael Moore, a Brutal Strip Search and Houston Cops Running Down and 'Running Over' a Civilian!

    Don't call him "dude" or he may "kill you"

    Is it a man? Is it a dude? No, it's officer Rivieri of the Baltimore Police Department who is the latest small membered thug cop to believe that it is his duty to go around bullying and wrestling discipline into innocent children. Unfortunately for this PC podge, he is also the latest cop caught on camera and made famous by Youtube.

    On the video, the officer, Salvatore Rivieri, puts the boy in a headlock, pushes him to the ground, questions his upbringing, threatens to "smack" him and repeatedly accuses the youngster of showing disrespect because the youth refers to the officer as "man" and "dude." reports the Baltimore Sun.

    Egomaniac Thug Cop Assaults 14 Year Old Kid

    Survival hints that might help keep you alive in the Bush/GOP society of fear and thuggery:

    • Never go out at night alone; always bring a witness!
    • Never go out in the daytime alone!
    • Never go anywhere unless you have back-up following you at 20 paces or so with a camcorder so that when you are assaulted or murdered, there will be a record of it!
    • When COPS are near, try your best to look like a Republican i.e, look stupid!
    • Don't look 'black' even if you are white; don't ever say 'bro!
    • Carry a copy of the Wall St Journal or the Washington Times but don't use it to wrap a cod. It could be mistaken for a .357 with gills.

    Alas, it was Bertrand Russell who foresaw so many issues that now shape our lives, issues contributing to the growing feeling that we, as individuals, now count for very little in the Bush/Neocon/GOP vision of global domination and endless world wars. Whenever the idea that individuals count for little takes hold, brutality against the individual is to be expected.

    "Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do."

    "I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology.... Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called 'education.' Religion plays a part, though a diminishing one; the press, the cinema, and the radio play an increasing part.... It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment."

    "Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen."

  46. Congress's Betrayal of the American Worker

    Richard Backus

    While claiming to be attempting to increase the number of well-paying jobs in the U.S. (having created laws in the past explicitly designed to do this), the Congress has really been following a completely different course. Almost all recently passed laws have done just the opposite.

    The following Acts of congress were ostensible made in order to keep American workers fully employed and to create a healthy economy:

    The Full Employment Bill of 1946 was designed for the federal government to promote "maximum employment, production, and purchasing power". Amendments removed a guarantee by the government to explicitly provide "full" employment, but certainly the intent of the bill was to provide this as indicated by it's title.

    The Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 was designed to attain full employment, growth in production, price stability, and balance of trade and budget. Goals were established including a maximum of 3% to 4% unemployment rate, an attempt to balance the federal budget, and the avoidance of trade deficits. If private business interests did not attain these goals the government was entitled to create a "reservoir of public employment." The Act explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of age as well.. .

    There was no effort to carry out the intent of these Acts. They were passed to create an appearance that these goals were being pursued while congress passed laws which did just the opposite. "Gloabalization" was intended to allow American businessmen to replace American workers with low-priced foreign ones. Since American corporations own much of the foreign manufacturing businesses, a foreign worker is simply an employee of an American firm hired overseas to replace an American worker stateside. The congress threw in an added tax sweetener to further facilitate this giveaway.

    NAFTA and CAFTA had the same intent. So much for "promoting" full employment for U.S. citizens. Immigration policy, legal and illegal as well, was designed to do the same. No real serious efforts were made to stop the border crossings. The proof of this is in the number of illegal immigrants who succeeded. Legal immigration in the high-tech sector was a fraud from the get-go. Businessmen simply wanted younger, less expensive, and more pliable employees. Those older native ones wanted to be fairly treated and paid appropriately for a highly-trained engineer. Again, it was the government that "legally" made this jobs giveaway possible. The age-discrimination laws were ignored and tons of young (inexperienced) but low-salaried foreigners came surging in.

    The immigration laws themselves were violated from the very beginning, proof being that high-tech salary levels immediately took a big dip violating the law's requirement that immigrants were to be paid equal wages. When it was obvious that wages were falling, the congress did nothing.

    The following is a excerpt of the law regarding age discrimination:

    The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
    SEC. 2.
    (a) The Congress hereby finds and declares that:
    (1) in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment ....
    (b) It is therefore the purpose of this Act to "promote" employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment...
    Section 4
    (a) It shall be unlawful for an employer- (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee,because of such individual's age.

    Again the government claimed to be interested in "promoting" employment for this group when it was blatantly passing laws giving away the jobs of these older persons(younger ones as well). No effort was made to modify or reform these immigration laws even after it was obvious that American businessmen were violating them on a massive scale.
    But the primary reason behind these giveaways was really not disclosed. The dollar's exchange rate has been manipulated over the last 30 years in order to suit the wishes of the rich causing American worker's wages to become progressively less and less competitive. This ultimately resulted in American manufacturing wage levels , on average, of ten times those of foreign workers in those less-developed countries which had been perfecting their manufacturing capabilities. Only if an American wage earner agreed to work for $2-$3/hr. would he have been competitive.

    In contrast to this policy of overpricing American workers, Japan has built the world's third largest economy by consistently doing just the opposite. Every time the yen's exchange rate appreciated, causing a potential loss in production(and employment), the Japanese reserve bank acted to lower its exchange rate(simultaneously increasing the dollar's exchange rate). Thailand has recently attempted to do the same when the appreciation of it's currency caused a possible overpricing of the Thai worker's wage levels. Investors reacted negatively but Thai worker's jobs may ultimately prove to have been saved. The U.S. government, by doing just the opposite, has not only caused U.S. jobs to surge to overseas locations, but has resulted in the massive trade deficits which may ultimately threaten a catastrophic fall in the value of the dollar.

    This exchange rate manipulation resulted in the failure of one of the major goals of the aforementioned Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 , a balanced trade. The other goals of that Act, concerning the unemployment level and "balanced budget", have failed as well. Needless to say, an effort to establish a "reservoir of public employment" went nowhere.

    The public's inability or unwillingness to face up these betrayals will result in the destruction of the working class in the U.S. If the public does not protest, they will continue to get a government that no one deserves.

  47. Where Is The Outrage?

    David M. Traversi

    In his recent book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, Lee Iacocca talks about the performance of leaders across society and asks, “Where the hell is our outrage?” And he asks if he’s the only person in the country who’s fed up with what’s happening. Lee, you are not the only one. I am outraged, as are many others, and our expression of it is long overdue. Unless we demand more of our leaders, they will not deliver more, and unless they deliver more, we are collectively a snowball headed for a hot place.

    The traits that a successful leader must have are pretty clear. He or she must be self-defined, forward thinking, courageous, energetic, and curious. She must be focused, organized, and supportive. She must be inspiring, listening deeply to others to find a common purpose and then giving life to her vision by communicating it so that others see themselves in it. Above all, she must be credible – having competency and displaying consistency and wholeness in words and character such that others have a deep confidence in her abilities and character. The functions a leader must perform vary with the specific leadership role. But the one common function is she must move people to produce a positive impact.

    But leaders are increasingly not meeting these standards and the problems of our world are becoming acute. In politics, you don’t need to look any further than the White House. Inspiring? Credible? Positive impact? On each count, Bush and his cronies have been dismal failures. Even conservatives are tripping over themselves to get away from him. If you think Bush rates high for courage, think again. That’s just ignorant swagger. Energetic? Bush has set the all-time record for vacation days taken by a President.

    Looking further in politics, how about the candidates running for president? At a time when leadership may be more needed than any other in history, most candidates refuse to define themselves out of fear they’ll alienate an important component of the electorate. Even deeper into politics, doesn’t it seem that politicians are more concerned about being re-elected than leading effectively? And, by the way, don’t we have a right to politicians who don’t cheat, lie, and consort with prostitutes?

    In the business world, look at the number of corporate leaders who underperform or, worse, plunder their companies and shareholders. Small business leaders fail far more than they succeed, overwhelmed with highly complex, rapidly changing issues in areas like regulation, technology, the Internet, outsourcing and off-shoring, labor, workers compensation, and the “greening” of the workplace. Social leaders can’t find a voice to unite people in the fight against economic inequality and discrimination. Family leaders are losing to divorce, domestic abuse, addictions, and academic underperformance of their children at best and criminal behavior at worst. In academia, leaders face declining funding, overcrowded classrooms, under-disciplined students, overly apathetic parents, and parents on a mission to lay blame. In athletics, they fight with diminishing integrity, performance-enhancing drugs, parental interference at the youth level, and criminal behavior at the adult level.

    Why do our leaders seem to be failing us more now than at any other time in history? Technology. Technology massively increases the amount and velocity of data that data must be processed. As a collective practice, leadership has simply fallen behind the pace of everything else in the world that technology has accelerated and complicated. Leaders are trying to drink out of a fire hose. As a result, fear, stress, resistance, lapses in integrity, inability to focus, lack of personal responsibility, absence of creativity, and most importantly, a lack of positive results are the hallmarks of leadership today.

    The good news is that there are solutions if leaders will pause long enough and open wide enough to recognize them. They are within each leader. They are energies that enable leaders to embody the traits and perform the functions we know are essential for solid leadership but are increasingly difficult to achieve in this highly complex, high velocity world. This is the new paradigm of leadership – drawing on personal energies deep within to effectively manage what has become an overwhelming external environment. For instance, the most progressive leaders today have identified the energy of presence as a powerful grounding force. They are increasingly turning to meditation in an effort to think more clearly and efficiently, feel more courageous, and act with more integrity. They are accessing energies of openness and creativity because they know open source is the prevailing law of the jungle and organizational survival depends upon innovation. They are also finding the energies of intuition, intention, personal responsibility, and deeply connected communication are powerful enablers of success.

    We are in a leadership crisis. The problems we face are worsening by the minute. Our leaders are increasingly impotent. And we should be outraged. They should have seen the challenges developing and led us to solutions. That is the job of a leader. They failed. But now is their chance for redemption. Now is the time for them to dig deep within themselves for energies that will enable them to lead us more effectively than ever and overcome these daunting challenges.

  48. What Do We Stand For?

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    Americans traditionally thought of their country as a "city upon a hill," a "light unto the world." Today only the deluded think that. Polls show that the rest of the world regards the U.S. and Israel as the two greatest threats to peace.

    This is not surprising. In the words of Arthur Silber:

    "The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for."

    Addressing his fellow Americans, Silber asks the paramount question: "why do you support" these horrors?

    His question goes to the heart of the matter. Do we Americans have any honor, any humanity, any integrity, any awareness of the crimes our government is committing in our name? Do we have a moral conscience?

    How can a moral conscience be reconciled with our continuing to tolerate our government which has invaded two countries on the basis of lies and deception, destroyed their civilian infrastructures and murdered hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children?

    The killing and occupation continue even though we now know that the invasions were based on lies and fabricated "evidence." The entire world knows this. Yet Americans continue to act as if the gratuitous invasions, the gratuitous killing, and the gratuitous destruction are justified. There is no end of it in sight.

    If Americans have any honor, how can they betray their Founding Fathers, who gave them liberty, by tolerating a government that claims immunity to law and the Constitution and is erecting a police state in their midst?

    Answers to these questions vary. Some reply that a fearful and deceived American public seeks safety from terrorists in government power.

    Others answer that a majority of Americans finally understand the evil that Bush has set loose and tried to stop him by voting out the Republicans in November 2006 and putting the Democrats in control of Congress – all to no effect – and are now demoralized as neither party gives a hoot for public opinion or has a moral conscience.

    The people ask over and over, "What can we do?"

    Very little when the institutions put in place to protect the people from tyranny fail. In the U.S., the institutions have failed across the board.

    The freedom and independence of the watchdog press was destroyed by the media concentration that was permitted by the Clinton administration and Congress. Americans who rely on traditional print and TV media simply have no idea what is afoot.

    Political competition failed when the opposition party became a "me-too" party. The Democrats even confirmed as attorney general Michael Mukasey, an authoritarian who refuses to condemn torture and whose rulings as a federal judge undermined habeas corpus. Such a person is now the highest law enforcement officer in the United States.

    The judicial system failed when federal judges ruled that "state secrets" and "national security" are more important than government accountability and the rule of law.

    The separation of powers failed when Congress acquiesced to the executive branch's claims of primary power and independence from statutory law and the Constitution.

    It failed again when the Democrats refused to impeach Bush and Cheney, the two greatest criminals in American political history.

    Without the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, America can never recover. The precedents for unaccountable government established by the Bush administration are too great, their damage too lasting. Without impeachment, America will continue to sink into dictatorship in which criticism of the government and appeals to the Constitution are criminalized. We are closer to executive rule than many people know.

    Silber reminds us that America once had leaders, such as Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed and Sen. Robert M. LaFollette Sr., who valued the principles upon which America was based more than they valued their political careers. Perhaps Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are of this ilk, but America has fallen so low that people who stand on principle today are marginalized. They cannot become speaker of the House or a leader in the Senate.

    Today Congress is almost as superfluous as the Roman Senate under the caesars. On Feb. 13 the U.S. Senate barely passed a bill banning torture, and the White House promptly announced that President Bush would veto it. Torture is now the American way. The U.S. Senate was only able to muster 51 votes against torture, an indication that almost a majority of U.S. senators support torture.

    Bush says that his administration does not torture. So why veto a bill prohibiting torture? Bush seems proud to present America to the world as a torturer.

    After years of lying to Americans and the rest of the world that Guantanamo prison contained 774 of "the world's most dangerous terrorists," the Bush regime is bringing six of its victims to trial. The vast majority of the 774 detainees have been quietly released. The U.S. government stole years of life from hundreds of ordinary people who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were captured by warlords and sold to the stupid Americans as "terrorists." Needing terrorists to keep the farce going, the U.S. government dropped leaflets in Afghanistan offering $25,000 a head for "terrorists." Kidnappings ensued until the U.S. government had purchased enough "terrorists" to validate the "terrorist threat."

    The six that the U.S. is bringing to "trial" include two child soldiers for the Taliban and a car-pool driver who allegedly drove bin Laden.

    The Taliban did not attack the U.S. The child soldiers were fighting in an Afghan civil war. The U.S. attacked the Taliban. How does that make Taliban soldiers terrorists who should be locked up and abused in Gitmo and brought before a kangaroo military tribunal? If a terrorist hires a driver or a taxi, does that make the driver a terrorist? What about the pilots of the airliners who brought the alleged 9/11 terrorists to the U.S.? Are they guilty, too?

    The Gitmo trials are show trials. Their only purpose is to create the precedent that the executive branch can ignore the U.S. court system and try people in the same manner that innocent people were tried in Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany. If the Bush regime had any real evidence against the Gitmo detainees, it would have no need for its kangaroo military tribunal.

    If any more proof is needed that Bush has no case against any of the Gitmo detainees, the following AP report, Feb. 14, 2008, should suffice: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to limit judges' authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

    The reason Bush doesn't want judges to see the evidence is that there is no evidence except a few confessions obtained by torture. In the American system of justice, confession obtained by torture is self-incrimination and is impermissible evidence under the U.S. Constitution.

    Andy Worthington's book, The Guantanamo Files, and his online articles make it perfectly clear that the "dangerous terrorists" claim of the Bush administration is just another hoax perpetrated on the inattentive American public.

    Recently the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity issued a report that documents the fact that Bush administration officials made 935 false statements about Iraq to the American people in order to deceive them into going along with Bush's invasion. In recent testimony before Congress, Bush's secretary of state and former national security adviser, Condi Rice, was asked by Rep. Robert Wexler about the 56 false statements she made.

    Rice replied: "[I] take my integrity very seriously, and I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false." Rice blamed "the intelligence assessments" which "were wrong."

    Another Rice lie, like those mushroom clouds that were going to go up over American cities if we didn't invade Iraq. The weapon inspectors told the Bush administration that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as Scott Ritter has reminded us over and over. Every knowledgeable person in the country knew there were no weapons. As the leaked Downing Street memo confirms, the head of British intelligence told the UK cabinet that the Bush administration had already decided to invade Iraq and was making up the intelligence to justify the invasion.

    But let's assume that Rice was fooled by faulty intelligence. If she had any integrity she would have resigned. In the days when American government officials had integrity, they would have resigned in shame from such a disastrous war and terrible destruction based on their mistake. But Condi Rice, like all the Bush (and Clinton) operatives, is too full of American self-righteousness and ambition to have any remorse about her mistake. Condi can still look herself in the mirror despite one million Iraqis dying from her mistake and several million more being homeless refugees, just as Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, can still look herself in the mirror despite sharing responsibility for 500,000 dead Iraqi children.

    There is no one in the Bush administration with enough integrity to resign. It is a government devoid of truth, morality, decency, and honor. The Bush administration is a blight upon America and upon the world.

    Excellent article!

  49. Dems Tied In CNN Poll (2/18): A poll released today finds Hillary Clinton's lead nearly erased in Texas, one of the two states where she is staking her campaign's viability:

    In the survey, out Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters support Clinton as their choice for the party's nominee, with 48 percent backing Obama.
    But taking into account the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 4½ percentage points for Democratic respondents, the race is a virtual tie.

  50. For the first time in a generation, American labor unions increased their share of membership among workers. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 311,000 more union members in 2007, the largest increase since 1983. This reversal is a critical development since a strong labor movement is essential for making a more just society and an important component of a winning progressive coalition. By offering workers a voice inside and outside of the workplace, labor unions benefits members and non-members alike.

    Despite American labor’s long post-World War II decline, the direct economic benefits of unionization are still considerable. According to the Economic Policy Institute unionized workers are paid 20 percent more than non-union workers. When non-cash benefits like health insurance are included union workers enjoy a 28 percent advantage in total compensation over their non-union members. Union workers are more likely than employees who are not in unions to have paid leave and pension plans. Labor unions also raise standards across the board: The average non-union worker in an industry with 25 percent union density was paid 7.5 percent more because of a strong union presence. At a time when corporate profits are reaching record highs while the share of the national income going to wages and salaries has reached record lows, labor unions are an essential corrective to an increasingly unequal economy.

    In addition to the job unions do in the workplace, organized labor has been a major advocate of progressive change in the political arena. Unions have been behind important legislative and regulatory reforms from the minimum wage to the Family and Medical Leave Act which guarantees workers job-protected unpaid leave to care for a new child, a sick family member or their own illness.

  51. Great posts Larry!!!!!!

  52. I am reading this again. I just refuse to believe these idiots are not held accountable for this lying harmful to America childish idiocy. Especially in light of our tenuous situation today. Coulter should be tried for terrorism and convicted for many of the things that come from her gutter mouth!

  53. Martial Law, Concentration Camps, and Fascism: Are These Real Concerns To Americans?

    Within the next two to three weeks, Justanothercoverup will be expanding the category “# S 1959, Endgame, Martial Law, DHS, NSA, Fascism” by adding articles from all over the Internet that present varying thoughts on these subjects as well as the best way to survive a declaration of Martial Law. We also plan to offer specific materials, available from this site, that will be a compilation of facts and hypothesis from the leading authorities who have had the courage to speak-up on this issue. There have always been those who are complacent and “believe it could never happen to us,” but a close reading and analysis of Bush’s recent administrative and executive orders seem to speak otherwise, and for those attempting to survive, it will be our mission to provide the best the Internet has to offer in suggestions, methods, and the actual probabilities of what such an action would entail and how it would manifest itself upon the population.

    We are taking these steps because we have identified a remarkable trend in the composition of visitors that regularly peruse this site. In the last three (3) months, approximately 80% of our visitors have been looking into Senate Bill S 1959, the Senate’s Sister Bill HR1955, which was passed in the House of Representatives and now is in committee, supposedly awaiting Senate (sic) confirmation. Americans appear to be extremely concerned with this odious Bill, the prospect(s) for Martial Law, Concentration Camps that are rapidly being built and maintained in the continental United States, and the general militarization of corporate and local law enforcement agencies. If we couple those facts with NSA turning their spy satellites on US citizens, the situation appears to becoming worse, not better, and millions of Americans are reading-up on the subject and attempting to gauge the severity of the threat if one actually exists - and unfortunately, Martial Law could easily present itself without warning and at any time, today, next year, or never.

    The “Webalizer” program, which is an internal counter program provided by BlueHost indicates that since December of 2007, Justanothercoverup has received 1,723,608 hits which resulted in 245,460 page views conducted by 106,455 visitors. The “AwStats” counter program, also provided by BlueHost indicates that during the same time period, JAC received 1,499,436 Hits which resulted in 212,345 page views by 87,842 visitors. Finally, the StatCounter Program, which is from England, collects a lot of valuable information on where the hits originated from as well as which article the subscriber is reading and how long they visited the site, but doesn’t indicate total number of hits, and the statistics is does count are only those who enter the site with their cookies turned-on; These are the Statcounter statistics for the same time-period: 88,682 Visitors who read 66,675 pages.

    If we take the Statcounter figures, which are the lowest of all, that equates to an average of 29,560 average visitors per month for December, January, and I also counted February - which isn’t even over yet! In consideration that many of these articles have been posted on high-traffic sites throughout the Internet, it stands clear that this is a subject that America is interested in and demands information to prove or disprove its existence. The preponderance of the evidence, including contracts awarded to KBR by FEMA indicate that internment camps are being built, however the exact details of DHS’s “EndGame” remain unclear, and as we approach a Presidential election, it is this author’s opinion that these allegations and facts should be a part of the debate process. If S 1959 isn’t made to be a campaign issue, especially in consideration that many aspects of this program are already being implemented LINK, “we the people” are selling ourselves short and electing an individual that could potentially enslave the country just as the Bush administration can now do with the singular stroke of the pen!

    This is a matter that affects every American in existence yet despite its seriousness and the general interest of the public, there is still a mainstream news media blackout on the issue which was courageously broken on February the 4th, 2008 by the San Francisco Chronicle when they published the story, “Rule by fear or rule by law?”. Many of us had hoped this “crack in the dam” of the MSM might lead to a flood of news coverage and commentary on S 1959 and the prospects of Martial Law, however, as usual, our cowardly and ineffective MSM stood mute in cowardice as the San Francisco Chronicle gave them a lead-in to a story that the bulk of Americans want to hear - IN GREAT DETAIL! I’m sure the SF Chronicle has noted the huge amount of traffic they have received in regard this subject, something the rest of the MSM should take into consideration!

    There is no question or doubt that this is a subject that is arousing the interest of countless millions of Americans. If there wasn’t a press blackout on the issue, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal, however, when our own government won’t address the concerns of millions of curious citizens - it then becomes a matter of interest to all who care about the secretive nature in which our government is currently operating under, and has for the past seven years. President Bush and Congress are not passing these measures because they don’t have anything better to do, and to insult us by stating this program is designed to cope with “illegal immigrants” is a slap in the face of any American that has more than an ounce of intelligence! If illegal immigrants were the issue, the southern border would have been secured long ago and the President wouldn’t be attempting to expand the guest-worker program and further allow America’s farm wages to be driven even lower by foreign labor. LINK

    We have invested in written as well as electronic materials, and after analyzing and perusing all that’s available we hope to offer a meaningful plan of action if martial law becomes a reality and what you can do to insure your family’s survival in times that will fall well within the meaning of chaos and anarchy. Please keep in mind that a declaration of martial law would likely strip stores bare in a matter of hours and would severely disrupt the service sector, a guarantee that food will not reach the grocer’s shelves for a very long time. President Bush’s Executive Orders have granted the military permission to seize all of your food and water, so it won’t be as easy as stocking-up food, but having the wherewithal to hide it where it can’t be easily found. The situation we face is complicated and could be the result of political instability, a terrorist attack, or a severe natural disaster, all of which Bush has cataloged as “reasons” to declare martial law.

    Any author that would like to write on this subject is invited to contact Justanothercoverup and your contribution will be considered, and if it’s appropriate, published with any desired author credits. Contact: These materials are meant to be provided as a public service, and while it’s understandable some of those referenced materials may be proprietary in nature, they will only be selected for inclusion on this site if they are priced in a manner where it’s relatively easy for anyone to afford. Our survival as a people when faced with fascism or a theocratic version thereof cannot be measured in dollars and cents, and like it or not, it is the poor and lower middle-class who shall suffer the worst, so any reference materials contained herein will have to be relatively inexpensive.

    William Cormier

  54. (Reuters) - Banks in the United States have been quietly borrowing "massive amounts" from the U.S. Federal Reserve in recent weeks, using a new measure the Fed introduced two months ago to help ease the credit crunch, according to a report on the web site of The Financial Times.

    The newspaper said the use of the Fed's Term Auction Facility (TAF), which allows banks to borrow at relatively attractive rates against a wide range of their assets, saw borrowing of nearly $50 billion of one-month funds from the Fed by mid-February.

    The Financial Times said the move has sparked unease among some analysts about the stress developing in opaque corners of the U.S. banking system and the banks' growing reliance on indirect forms of government support.

    It's the Bush recession.

  55. As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

    It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system. Or as a campaign finance expert who preferred to remain anonymous told me, referring to the prominent role that lobbyists have as advisers to his campaign, "This places McCain’s grandstanding on public financing in a new light. True reformers believe public financing is a way to replace the lobbyists’ influence, not a slush fund that the lobbyists use to pay off campaign debts."

    Here's the back story. As of December, McCain was still enrolled in the public financing system, but had yet to actually receive any public matching funds. The Federal Election Commission had certified that the campaign would be receiving $5.8 million in public funds. But they wouldn't get that money for a couple more months. In need of even more cash beyond the $3 million loan he'd already secured from a Maryland bank (he'd taken out a life insurance policy as collateral), the McCain campaign was stuck in a bind. They needed more money, but the bank needed collateral.

    The promise of those public matching funds (to the tune of more than $5 million) was the only collateral the campaign could offer. But there was a problem with that. Using that promised money as collateral would have bound McCain to the public financing system, according to FEC rules. And the McCain camp wanted to avoid that, because the system limits campaigns to spending $54 million in the primary (through August). That would mean McCain would get seriously outspent by the Democratic nominee through the summer. (McCain has separately pledged to enroll in the system for the general election; that would give him $85 million in taxpayer funds for use after the party convention through Election Day but bar other contributions.)

    So here's what the McCain campaign did. They struck a deal with the bank that simultaneously allowed his campaign to secure public funds if necessary, but did not compel his campaign to stay in the public system if fundraising went well (i.e. if he won the nomination). As McCain's lawyer told the Post, "We very carefully did not do that."

    He was not promising to remain in the system -- he was promising to drop out of the system, and then opt back in if things went poorly. In that event, the $5.8 million would still be waiting for him. And he'd just hang around to collect it, even if he'd gotten drubbed in New Hampshire and the following states.

    You can see the agreement here. The relevant paragraph is on page two. Sizing it up, Mark Schmitt writes at Tapped:

    What we know is that McCain found a way to use the public funds as an insurance policy: If he did poorly, he would use public funds to pay off his loans. If he did well, he would have the advantage of unlimited spending.
    There's a reason no one's ever done anything like this. It makes a travesty of the choice inherent in voluntary public financing, between public funds and unlimited spending.

    Bait and switch: Typical way the Republicans handle tax payer dollars.

  56. American icon Willie Nelson says he supports efforts to impeach President Bush and "throw the bastards out," adding that the administration will do anything to stay in power, including staging an event to cancel the election.

    In his second appearance this month, Nelson told The Alex Jones Show today that he supported Dennis Kucinich's attempt to impeach Bush, adding, "If you break the law you have to pay for it one way or another and if these guys haven't broke the law nobody has."

    "The deck's been stacked and we need to figure out a way to get a new fresh deck in there in the deal and I don't know how else to do it except throw the bastards out," said Nelson.

    But the award winning star of stage and screen was quick to clarify that he didn't see the Democrats as any kind of viable alternative.

    "We went through a couple of elections now and we didn't do anything, we thought we did but come to find out that the voting machines are crooked, everything's stacked against us, the politicians that we vote for won't stay and fight and they won't count the votes."

    Nelson agreed that an elite cherry picked presidents and leaders to do their bidding against the interests of the people.

    "They find them and they groom them and they put them in office and tell them exactly what to do and you give the speeches will small words and big letters and let them go," said Nelson.

    "I really believe that George Bush believes he's right, he believes what he's saying and that makes it even more pathetic because to have someone that wrong think they're right and have him be the leader of our country - that's a scary thought," he added.

    The star also re-iterated a warning made during his last appearance on the show, that the Bush administration could potentially stage an event to postpone or cancel the presidential election.

    "It could be anything and anything will work because they have everyone scared to death, I just think there are people out there who will do anything to stay in power, anything to keep what they have, they've already proven they'll do anything to keep it," he said.

    "I don't have the ability to remain quiet when all this stuff is going on all around us," he added.

    Nelson clarified his previous comments about Building 7 after the news media attempted to skew his words and claim he said that no planes hit the WTC on 9/11. Nelson made it clear he was talking about WTC 7, which imploded symmetrically within seven seconds on the late afternoon of 9/11 despite the fact that it was only hit by minimal debris from the falling towers and not a commercial airliner.

    "I was talking about the third building that nothing hit and yet it fell as if it was hit the same way, all three buildings fell the same way, but the third building wasn't hit by anything," said the country music star.

    Nelson's contention that the twin towers were deliberately imploded received media attention after his first appearance on the radio show two weeks ago.

  57. The US Federal Reserve is to release its updated economic forecast Wednesday which is likely to show tepid growth for most of 2008 but probably not a recession, thanks to rate cuts and a big stimulus effort.

    The forecast set to be released along with minutes of the Fed's January 30-31 monetary policy meeting is part of a new policy set by chairman Ben Bernanke to provided more frequent economic updates.

    Bernanke told a congressional hearing last week that the forecast would be lower than the forecast released late last year of a range of 1.8 to 2.5 percent growth on average for 2008.

    He told the Senate Banking Committee a 168-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan, which aims to boost consumer and business spending, would help lift growth later this year.

    "At present, my baseline outlook involves a period of sluggish growth, followed by a somewhat stronger pace of growth starting later this year as the effects of monetary and fiscal stimulus begin to be felt," Bernanke said.

    In response to a question, Bernanke said the Fed would release its new economic outlook that "will show lower projections of growth, and they'll be reasonably consistent with what we're seeing with private forecasters."

    Societe Generale economist Stephen Gallagher said he expects a year-over-year growth rate of 1.2 to 1.6 percent for gross domestic product (GDP), which "would be consistent with private forecasts and forecasts of the CBO," or Congressional Budget Office.

    Another result of the growing Bush recession.

  58. (Reuters) - Home prices have plunged by 10 percent or more in some parts of the United States and interest rates on mortgages are at enticing levels, but many potential buyers are waiting for prices to fall further.

    This psychology is helping prevent the hard-hit home market -- suffering one of its worst downturns in history -- from recovering, just as the spring, the peak home buying season, gets underway.

    Rochelle Getzler, a housewife in Nassau County, outside New York city, and her husband, Abraham, have been on the fence for nearly a year, waiting for an opportune time to buy.

    "I think it is too risky to buy right now," she said. "Yes, prices have come down, but they have come down from extremely high levels."

    As is the case with a growing number of Americans, the Getzlers are also feeling the pinch of a weak U.S. economy: Abraham lost his job of over 20 years as a computer technician due to his company's efforts to cut costs.

    Sharply higher gas and oil prices are also taking a toll on their monthly expenses.

    "We have little wiggle room right now," she said.

    But for the Getzlers, patience is a virtue.

    "I think home prices are going to continue falling, so I see no compelling reason to buy a home right now when we can hold off and buy at a lower price later this year or early next year," she said.

    Economists tend to agree. Housing markets in some parts of the country will suffer drops of more than 30 percent before the housing crisis is over, according to a report in December by Moody's

    In Nassau county, where the Getzlers reside, and neighboring Suffolk county, prices peaked in February, 2006, should reach a trough in February, 2009, according to the report. In that time, they are expected to have fallen by 16.4 percent.

    Punta Gorda in Florida and Stockton in California are the hardest-hit markets, with declines from peak-to-trough forecast at 35.3 percent and 31.6 percent, respectively, according to the report.

    In 2008 alone, prices are forecast to drop from 1.2 percent to 7.7 percent, according to a report by Deutsche Bank.

    The report forecast peak-to-trough declines of at least 9.8 percent, and perhaps as much as 29.5 percent, on average for 100 metropolitan areas in the United States.

    Many regions succumbing to lower home prices were the biggest gainers during the housing market's heyday. Home builders overbuilt in these regions and speculators went on a buying frenzy, with lax lending standards stoking the flames.


    Fast-forward to 2008 and the U.S. housing market is now in the midst of one of the worst slumps since World War II.

    New home sales have fallen just over 50 percent from their peak in mid-2005. While that is above the 1987-to-1991 housing cycle downturn of 40 percent, it is slightly below the 1978-to-1981 drop of 56 percent, according to Citigroup.

    The supply of new homes has grown to 9.6 months compared with a peak of 9.4 months in 1991 and 11.3 months in 1981. Existing home sales are currently at 1998 levels, down 30 percent from their peak, but the housing downturn lasting from 1978 to 1981 saw existing home sales fall just over 50 percent, Citigroup said recently.

    "The economic fundamentals in housing are weak and I see no sign of a bottom," said Chris Mayer, director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School in New York.

    "People are also worried about their jobs and the economy, so there is also a psychological factor in play that has them in no rush to buy," he said.

    Another major factor is that potential home buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to get a loan, he said.

    Norman Glickman, a retiree and avid golfer who resides near Miami, Florida, is a fence-sitter. He and his new wife, Rhoda, planned to move to another condominium closer to Norman's favorite golf course, but are unsure if they can sell their current home.

    The region peaked in April, 2006 and won't reach its trough in April, 2009, according to Moody's During this time home prices are predicted to drop by 26.7 percent.

    "There are so many signs up in my neighborhood advertising homes for sale, but they never seem to come down," he said. "When I purchase a home I want it to be a hole-in-one transaction."

  59. Robert A. McKee, a long-serving Republican delegate from Western Maryland, announced his resignation yesterday after authorities, who say they are conducting a child pornography investigation, seized two computers, videotapes and printed materials from his Hagerstown home.

    First elected to the House of Delegates in 1994, McKee was chairman of the Western Maryland delegation and sponsored legislation to protect minors from sexual predators. McKee, 58, also resigned yesterday from his post as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, a child mentorship program where he has worked for 29 years.

    "For me, this is deeply embarrassing," McKee said in a statement. "It reflects poorly on my service to the community.

    Ain't this just like those Republicans.

  60. Presley to star in US dance show

    Priscilla Presley is one 12 stars set to compete
    Actress Priscilla Presley will take part in the next series of Dancing with the Stars, the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing.
    Other celebrities signed up include tennis champion Monica Seles, actor Steve Guttenberg and R&B singer Mario.

    The programme's sixth season begins on March 17.

    Presley played Jenna Wade on Dallas and starred in the Naked Gun film trilogy. She was married to music icon Elvis Presley before divorcing him in 1973.

    The programme, in which six male and six female celebrities are paired with professional dancers, regularly attracts more than 20 million viewers.

    Last season, Spice Girl Mel B come second to Brazilian racing driver Helio Castroneves.

  61. On Feb. 19, 1945, during World War II, some 30,000 United States Marines landed on the Western Pacific island of Iwo Jima, where they encountered ferocious resistance from Japanese forces. The Americans took control of the strategically important island after a month-long battle.

    It's a damned good thing Bush and Rumsfeld weren't in charge, because they would have cut the number of troops, sent them in with WW1 equipment, and then failed to plan for anything but hugs and flowers from the Japanese.

  62. I'm kinda curious as to why Hillary Clinton and the repugs would wear it as some kinda badge of honor that their bases are the uneducated?

    Are they essentially saying that no one that knows better would vote for them.

  63. Oil is fast approaching $100 a barrel and we arent even close to Summer driving season..........can you say $4.50 a gallon this summer?

  64. Mike this just might be part of the problem;

    Bashing private oil companies no longer valid

    Those famous "seven sisters" -- Standard Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Texaco, Chevron, Exxon, and Mobil -- are no longer what they once were. Whereas they once hogged 80 percent of the world's production and reserves of crude oil and natural gas, today they hold less than 10 percent and are just shadows of their former selves.

    They have been replaced by seven other sisters, in this case state-owned enterprises, to which we can attribute the astronomical price of oil and other associated calamities. According to Financial Times, these are the new villains: Saudi ARAMCO (Saudi Arabia), Gazprom (Russia), CNPC (China), NIOC (Iran), PDVSA (Venezuela), Petrobrás (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia).

    People living in countries outside of the good ole USA got tired of the seven sisters making all the profits so they are now cashing in on our addiction to oil.

    As any drug dealer will tell you a long term addict is your best customer.

    The USA is a multi generational oil addict.

    (btw don't mention peak oil and the $100 price .... it sends some into a tizzy,)

    they start screeching about all the oil we could have .... if we could pump the little puddles left after the super giants go into decline .... because like good addicts they never wanna stop their addiction.

  65. Lydia, is Keith a national treasure, or what?

  66. clif said,

    It's a damned good thing Bush and Rumsfeld weren't in charge, because they would have cut the number of troops, sent them in with WW1 equipment, and then failed to plan for anything but hugs and flowers from the Japanese.

    If the moronic monkey and his alcoholic lawyer-shooting buddy had been in charge, there would have been no Iwo Jima. The Japanese would have occupied Hawaii long ago while we were invading Brazil.

  67. By Alec Baldwin

    Watching some Democrats kick around Mrs. Clinton has grown into a sad spectacle.

    Hillary Clinton would make a fine president and I think all reasonable people know that. She would make a better president, offering more constructive policies protecting more Americans, than McCain could ever hope to. Her problem is that Americans, in any given election cycle, can become inflamed with a true passion for change that can only exist in a country like ours. She does not represent that change as well as Mr. Obama does. In spite of her superior capabilities in many areas, Obama would still move into the White House with more foreign policy experience than George Bush had when Bush and his brother stole the election in 2000.

    Americans can put up with a lot. After these past eight years, they have proven that they can put up with more than anyone ever imagined. However, that cannot hold forever.

    What Mrs. Clinton has that Mr. Obama does not have, Mr. Obama can get. What Mr. Obama has that Mrs. Clinton does not have, she can never get.

    Which one is the best hope at defeating McCain, who sounds more like a Bush brother with every passing day?

  68. President Bush is increasingly confident that John McCain, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will be an effective defender of the major Bush policies such as cutting taxes, fighting terrorism, and winning the Iraq war, according to White House aides.

    Standing at an event this morning with former President George H.W. Bush to receive his and Barbara’s endorsement, McCain was asked whether he “would be in effect carrying out a third Bush term.”

    “I’d be honored to have President George Bush’s support, his endorsement,” McCain responded. “And I’d be honored to be anywhere with him under any circumstances.” He added, “I am proud of this president’s strategy in Iraq.”

    This is no surprise. McCain has had his lips locked around the kanoodles of Bush for 7 years.

  69. Reuters) - Iraqi officials said 15 policemen were killed and more than 45 wounded in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday as they tried to defuse rockets that had been prepared for launch from the back of a truck.

    The incident came after rockets were fired at nearby U.S. and Iraqi army bases from the capital's Shi'ite Ubaidi district.

    Police said they discovered a truck from which rockets had been launched. As they tried to deal with them, it exploded.

    Those Iraqi's sure are "standing up so the U.S can stand down."

  70. Oil futures shot higher Tuesday, closing above $100 for the first time as investors bet that crude prices will keep climbing despite evidence of plentiful supplies and falling demand. At the pump, gas prices rose further above $3 a gallon.

    That Iraq war has really brought down oil prices: Another Bush/McCain Lie.

  71. Wall Street banks are bracing for another wave of multibillion-dollar losses as the crisis that began with subprime mortgages spreads through the credit markets.

    In recent weeks one part of the debt market after another has buckled. High-risk loans used to finance corporate buyouts have plummeted in value. Securities backed by commercial real estate mortgages and student loans have fallen sharply. Even auction-rate securities, arcane investments usually considered as safe as cash, have stumbled.

    The breadth and scale of the declines mean more pain for major banks, which have already written off more than $120 billion of losses stemming from bad mortgage-related investments.

    The deepening losses might make banks even more reluctant to make the loans needed to prod the slowing American economy. They also could force some banks to raise more capital to bolster their weakened finances.

    The losses keep piling up. Leading brokerage firms are likely to write down the value of $200 billion of loans they have made to corporate clients by $10 billion to $14 billion during the first quarter of this year, Meredith Whitney, an analyst at Oppenheimer, wrote in a research report last week.

    Those institutions and global banks could suffer an additional $20 billion in losses this year on commercial mortgage-backed securities and other debt instruments tied to commercial mortgages, according to Goldman Sachs, which predicts commercial property prices will decline by as much as 26 percent.

    Analysts at UBS go further, predicting the world’s largest banks could ultimately take $123 billion to $203 billion of additional write-downs on subprime-related securities, structured investment vehicles, leveraged loans and commercial mortgage lending. The higher estimate assumes that the troubled bond insurance companies fail, a possibility that, for now, is relatively remote.

    Such dire predictions underscore how the turmoil in the credit markets is hurting Wall Street even as the Federal Reserve reduces interest rates. Already, once-proud institutions like Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS have gone hat in hand to Middle Eastern and Asian investors to raise capital. “You don’t have a recovery until you have the financial system stabilized,” Ms. Whitney said. “As the banks are trying to recover they will not lend. They are all about self-preservation at this time.”

    One of the latest areas to come under pressure is the leveraged loan market. In recent weeks the market for these corporate loans plummeted, driven by fear that banks have too many loans to manage. Prices have fallen as low as 88 cents on the dollar, levels not seen since 2002, when default rates were more than 8 percent. Loans to some companies, like Univision Communications and Claire’s Stores, are trading in the high 70s, analysts say.

  72. The U.S. military has been stretched dangerously thin by the Iraq war, according to almost 90 percent of retired and current military officers polled on the state of America's armed forces.

    Eighty percent said it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. military to wage another major war successfully at this time, according to the poll by the Center for a New American Security think tank and Foreign Policy magazine.

    More than 3,400 serving and retired officers took part in the poll, organizers said. Around 90 percent were retired officers, a large majority had combat experience and about 10 percent had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Wonder if Bush will call them traitors too?

  73. Men should not smoke, drink or take unnecessary drugs if they are planning to become fathers to avoid causing health problems for their children, a health expert has warned.

    Scientists found that toxic chemicals can damage sperm, which then pass altered genes onto babies. In experiments on rats Matthew Anway of the University of Idaho found that some garden chemicals caused problems such as damaged and overgrown prostates, infertility and kidney problems, all of which were present up to four generations later.

    Cynthia Daniels, of Rutgers University in New York, an expert in the relation between a father and child's health, said: "If I was a young man I would not drink beer, I would not be smoking when I'm trying to conceive a child."

    It is well known that a mother's health is critically important in the resulting health of her baby, but there is now a growing body of evidence from both animal and human studies that paternal exposure to toxins can also adversely effect the development of a foetus, and that this can be passed down the generations.

    Obviously Old Man Bush must had tied it on heavy to sperm out the demon seeds his littered sperm has delivered.

  74. Larry I know you posted about this, but the bottom half of this story is very revealing;

    U.S. military stretched dangerously thin by war: poll

    The U.S. military has been stretched dangerously thin by the Iraq war, according to almost 90 percent of retired and current military officers polled on the state of America's armed forces.

    Eighty percent said it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. military to wage another major war successfully at this time, according to the poll by the Center for a New American Security think tank and Foreign Policy magazine.

    More than 3,400 serving and retired officers took part in the poll, organizers said. Around 90 percent were retired officers, a large majority had combat experience and about 10 percent had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    The findings reflect concerns expressed publicly, although usually in less stark terms, by top U.S. military officers, who say frequent long deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have put great stress on both troops and equipment.

    "We are putting more strains on the all-volunteer force than it was ever designed to bear," Army Lt. Col. John Nagl, a prominent counterinsurgency expert, said at a panel discussion in Washington on Tuesday to announce the results of the survey.

    Eighty-eight percent of respondents said the U.S. military had been stretched dangerously thin by Iraq. Sixty percent said the military was weaker than five years ago, 25 percent said it was stronger and 15 percent said it was about the same.

    But 56 percent of the officers still said the military had not been broken by the war and 64 percent judged morale to be "somewhat high" or "very high."

    The survey also showed sharp disagreements over the use of harsh interrogation techniques by the United States. Fifty-three percent of officers said torture was never acceptable but 44 percent disagreed.

    About 46 percent said waterboarding was torture while 43 percent disagreed.
    Critics worldwide condemn waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, as torture but the Bush administration does not define it as such.

    So in effect they are saying DON"T start another war, because we have more then we can handle right now thanks to Bush and Rumsfeld.

    But more importantly they by a majority are saying torture is unacceptable and water boarding IS TORTURE.

    I wonder if Bush's trained monkey at DOJ has read this from the officers who know a hell of a lot more then he does about this issue. (and I don't mean gonzo),

    I wonder if the gutless reichwing chicken hawks will swift boat these American veterans like they do everyone who disagrees with their childish fairy tales they try to pass off as facts, or even relevant.

  75. The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

    The justices' decision Tuesday includes no comment explaining why they turned down the appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union.

    The ACLU wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the warrantless wiretapping program. An appeals court dismissed the suit because the plaintiffs cannot prove their communications have been monitored.

    The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.

    Did we expect anything else from these worn out old dragons of neoconism.

  76. I wonder if Chelsey feels slighted, but not because her mother is willing to politically pimp her out, but because her mother doesn't think she really works doing what she does;

    Real 'Work'? Clinton Swipes at Chelsea's Profession

    ABC News' Jennifer Parker and Eloise Harper Report: Sen. Hillary Clinton took a swipe at her daughter's profession today at an economic roundtable discussion at a restaurant in Parma, Ohio, suggesting wealthy investment bankers and hedge fund managers on Wall Street aren't doing real 'work.'

    The former first lady's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, works for New York-based hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. She previously worked in New York for McKinsey & Company, her first job after graduating with her master's degree from Oxford University.

    "We also have to reward work more," Clinton told a small group of Ohio residents today. "and by that, I mean, I have people in New York working on Wall Street as investment managers, as hedge fund executives. Under the tax code, they can pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes on $50 million dollars, than a teacher, or a nurse, or a truck driver in Parma pays on $50,000. That's very discouraging to people."

    You just feel like, 'wait a minute. I'm working as hard as I can.' All those people you see in your law office. They're working as hard as they can and they feel like they're just getting further and further behind," Clinton said.

    It's not the first time Clinton has taken a swipe against her daughter's profession. Campaigning in Wisconsin yesterday, Clinton railed against hedge funds as Chelsea sat off to the side.

    "I saw a sign over here - someone has a t-shirt on, tax hedge fund dealers," Clinton said Monday, "well in this economy we are going to have a fair tax system again. A Wall Street investment manager, a hedge fund dealer, should not pay a lower percentage of taxes on his 50 million dollars worth of income.”

    In 2006, Chelsea scolded her mother for telling an audience that young people "think work is a four-letter word." Clinton said daughter Chelsea called her to complain, arguing she does work hard and her friends work hard. Clinton later said she apologized to her daughter.

    The line about investment fund and hedge fund managers has been introduced into Clinton's talking points as she campaigns across the economically struggling state of Ohio. Clinton is focusing her campaign on the delegate-rich states of Ohio and Texas voting March 4.

    BTW does anybody think politicians really work like the rest of this country?

    Somebody should tell Shillary that.

  77. U.S. death rate from cancer has continued a steady decline that began in the early 1990s but it will still kill a projected 565,650 Americans this year, the American Cancer Society said on Wednesday.

  78. The Democratic Party is looking for a few more evangelicals like J.C. Oden.

    For most of his life, Oden said, he was a "hard-core Republican." His parents were Reagan Democrats who switched parties in the 1980s, and when Oden started voting in 1992, he followed their example.

    "If there was an 'R' next to a candidate's name, I voted for them," Oden said.

    Worries about health-care reform persuaded Oden, 34, to vote for Barack Obama in Tennessee's Democratic primary.

    That's good news for Democrats, said Eric Sapp of Common Good Strategies, a consulting firm that helps candidates connect with religious voters.

    Sapp said evangelicals have become the key to Democratic plans to win the White House. All they have to do is chip away at the Republican market share of evangelicals, he said.

    According to a post-election poll sponsored by Faith in Public Life and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 32 percent of Tennessee Democratic primary voters were evangelicals.

    "You take a group that was 45 percent of Bush's vote in 2004 and drop that to 35 percent, and the whole electoral map is rewritten," Sapp said.

    Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he's not surprised to see Democrats targeting evangelicals. He said that for too long, the party was considered "hostile to religion."

    But as long as the Republican Party remains opposed to abortion, he adds, a vast majority of evangelicals will support them.

    "If you take the life issue off the table — and that's a pretty big issue — you give Democrats a license to go hunting for evangelical voters," Land said.

    "But the life issue is going to be very much on the table with John McCain."

    Land added that "McCain is reliably pro-life."

    But James Dobson, another prominent evangelical, is not so sure. In a statement released to radio talk show host Laura Ingram, Dobson said, "I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience."

    "I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are," Dobson said.

    Health care takes priority
    Oden said he began to rethink his political priorities after his wife, Christine, died of cancer, leaving him with two young daughters to raise and "$400,000 in unpaid medical bills."

    Previously, he had worried only about "gay rights and abortion" on election day.

    Now health care has jumped to the top of his list of political issues.

    "I saw that there were a lot more issues to worry about," Oden said.

    He was drawn to Obama's proposals on health care, aimed at helping "people who have fallen through the cracks."

    David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., said evangelicals are expanding their moral agenda to include issues such as poverty and AIDS, along with abortion.

    That's especially true about younger evangelicals, he said.

    "Many of them have been on mission trips to some of the most desperate places in the world," he said, "and for them, poverty has a human face."

    "As these young evangelicals dug wells, handed out food or built schools, their priorities changed," Gushee added.

    Amy Sullivan, author of Faithful Democrats, a new book on faith and politics, said she and other religious Democrats have had to fight an uphill battle to get their party to reach out to evangelicals.

    "For a good 30 years, Democrats wrote them off," she said.

    In a recent piece for Time magazine, she described how in 2004, Terry McAuliffe, then-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, ran into Rick Warren, evangelical pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life, which sold more than 20 million copies in hardback.

    But McAuliffe had no idea who Warren was, Sullivan said, recounting that he greeted the evangelical superstar by saying, "And what do you do?"

    After 2004, she said, Democrats began to see the light — realizing that they could not win the White House without the help of evangelicals. As a result, Sullivan said, Hillary Clinton and Obama are on a first-name basis with Warren.

    Bush has driven off the Robertson/Dobson crowd who once blindly followed the moronic monkey.

  79. Three U.S soldiers were killed in Iraq Tuesday.

    Is the "surge" still working Bush?

  80. Reminder, Carhartt has now removed it's "Made in the USA" items from its website, wonder which inferior labor standard their enterprise has invaded now. A look at the site from 2005 shows that they proudly still had a few "Made in USA" items. Now they have none that proudly proclaim anything other than one pair of $43 jeans, which the Product Description claim's:

    100% Carhartt values! A combination that can't be beat when it comes to a classic like American blue jeans. These are rugged 15-ounce 100% cotton denim. Designed to fit at the natural waist and provide a bit more room in the seat and thigh -- a real plus for easy movement and on-the-job comfort. 17.5-inch leg openings provide plenty of room to slip easily over work boots. Reinforced back pockets, front pocket rivets, and plenty of on-the-job testing all help insure a hard-working, long-wearing, Carhartt-tough USA jean.
    Funny, doesn't say "Made In USA" as it used to back in 2005:

    15-ounce, 100% cotton denim
    Sits at the natural waist
    Relaxed seat and thigh
    Two reinforced back pockets
    Made in the USA
    15 1/4" tapered leg opening
    Also to note that the local store where I used to get work clothes, back in '05, had some Carhartt flannels I was looking through the bunch, and noticed that the 2x-5x were a much thicker material for the same price as the flimsy new ones, then it hit me, I took a look at the tags, it seems that the thicker ones were leftovers from the year before, not only that they were USA made, the newer ones not only were made by cheaper labor standards and cost, they were cheaper materials. So screw Carhartt, they sold out the American worker. Oh, yeah, one more reminder, a year after I got into my union, in around '97 Carhartt was building a new facility with nonunion labor, the entire Building and Construction Trades threw a Boycott on their merchandise. A month later my internationals magazine informed us that the boycott was over, Carhartt agreed to never again build an American textile mill without the use of union construction. Carhartt has kept to that promise. They have never again built a facility in the USA, they have done quite the opposite, they have closed almost all of them.

    A good alternative, while only .5 oz. less material weight, but definitely made 100% in the USA is the carpenter jeans at All American Clothing for $38, thats just $1 more than the foreign made Carhartt straight leg and $2 less than the foreign made carpenter jeans.

    Red Wing Shoes

    The story isn't very clear about Red Wing, while the story is legendary, the best in union construction worker footwear, made 100% union in the Minnesota, USA.

    Well that story has changed, in the 80's the Red Wing factory expanded it's Minnesota facility for the third time as production reached 2 million, they also expanded their catalog to over 150 different styles, thats where their sites history gets very vague, they say they now have 3 facilities, but no mention of where and what products come from what country. Very deceiving to say the least, I made a picture dedicated to Red Wing, while I feel if they have some union made stuff here in the states and the quality is the same as it has always been I will still buy them, but I'm really mad at the way they are handling the global diversity in their merchandise. Damnit! the union workers made the company. They own us an explanation, they owe us in a big way. I feel that if the e-mails that are being sent from other liked minded individuals which aren't being answered, example at the Ed Schultz show message board, that if we do not get an answer from the company, that all union workers should boycott their products. For now simply bitching about it in the stores till you get a bona fide union made pair is a great start, geez, they're only about $10 more. Considering a good pair of work boots is upwards of $200, whats $10 to put food on another union workers table.

    You can send Red Wing an E-Mail at

  81. More hypocrissy from the family values crowd of liars;

    Robert Somma,a Bush-appointed federal judge was in full drag when he was arrested for DUI after rear ending a pickup truck in New Hampshire on February 6th:

    “He had a difficult time locating his license in his purse. He passed over it multiple times before removing it,” officer Paul J. Thompson wrote in his report.

    Local news reports mention that Judge Somma resigned after pleading guilty to drunken driving. Other than the gay press, no one mentioned the black evening gown and fishnet stockings.

    And then there is this gem:

    Robert McKee, a Maryland Republican Delegate, anti-child porn crusader and former bigwig in Mitt Romney’s MD campaign was arrested after police found kiddie porn at his Hagerstown home:

    Law enforcement authorities, both the FBI and county sheriff’s office, who are conducting a child pornography investigation, seized two computers, videotapes and printed materials when they searched the Republican’s home in Hagerstown 2 weeks ago.

    You think? McKee was sponsored Maryland’s Child Protection From Predators Act and a proposal to collect DNA samples from sexual predators. He also sponsored several other sexual offender and child abduction bills in the past. None of the reports coming out of Maryland so far have indicated whether it was little girls or little boys– or both– who the Republican was interested in. He’s been very active in the Little League and, predictably, was a chaplain for the First Christian Church.

    he reichwing hypocrites the gift that keeps on giving.

  82. Elaine Chao’s OSHA - the agency that’s supposed to look out for workers’ safety and health - looks worse and worse every week. The latest lapses involve problems at poultry plants to which Elaine is seemingly turning a blind eye.

    The Charlotte Observer ran a phenomenal exposé on poultry workers in the Carolinas. The investigation focused on House of Raeford, one of the largest poultry producers in the area, and found:

    Its eight plants have been cited for more serious safety violations than all but two other poultry companies in recent years — and more than some companies several times their size.

    Our journalists found evidence that House of Raeford has failed to report serious injuries, including broken bones and carpal tunnel syndrome. They discovered that plant officials often dismissed workers’ requests for medical care that would cost the company money.

    Elaine Chao’s Labor Department doesn’t see a problem, though. Elaine’s OSHA claims poultry plants are “safer than ever,” pointing to supposedly lower rates of reported injuries. The devil’s in the details, though.

    …the Observer found that the official injury statistics aren’t accurate and that the industry is more dangerous than its reports to regulators suggest. Current and former OSHA officials say the agency has made it easier for companies to hide injuries, and has all but abandoned its mission to protect workers.

    Mysteriously, in an industry where musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis are common, a House of Raeford plant’s logs have shown no such injuries. Asked for an explanation, a manager hid behind racial and ethnic prejudice:

    “Hispanics are very good with their hands and working with a knife. We’ve gotten less complaints…It’s more like a natural movement for them.”

    This is just the latest in a nasty history at House of Raeford:

    Acting on a tip that workers were suffering injuries, regulators in 1999 began investigating. They spoke with 40 workers, many of whom complained of throbbing pain in their hands, arms and shoulders. More than a third had been diagnosed with repetitive motion problems. […]

    Inspectors wanted to talk with more workers, but House of Raeford officials repeatedly blocked them — even when they arrived with a warrant. Company officials said the interviews would disrupt operations.

    A career Labor Department official said House of Raeford’s practices are “violating the laws of human decency” and that “he believes his agency has failed to protect poultry workers.”

    In case you’re wondering where Elaine is…

    The U.S. Labor Department didn’t make Secretary Chao available to comment for this story.

  83. Larry one thin g that isn't mentioned in that story is Elaine Chao is married to Mitch McConnell, but uses her maiden name to HIDE that fact, being part of the reichwing family values fraud and all.

  84. Clif the group American Rights At Work have created a website devoted to the misdeeds of Elaine Chao and it is updated regularly.

    Shame on Elaine

  85. By Jamie Johnson

    There may be widespread fears of an impending recession running through the minds of most Americans, but there aren't among the country's richest citizens. Contrary to common assumption, many of the wealthiest Americans aren't worried about the weakening economy at all, they are actually excited about it.

    To them, the crisis in the housing market, the recent slide in stock prices, and the general loss in purchasing power for millions of Americans have resulted in the thinning of the aristocratic ranks, or in other words, have decreased demand for the highest level of luxury living. Ironically, for the mega-rich, recession brings with it the ability to live well at a lower cost and with less of a hassle.

    For the past eight years, I have been chronicling in documentary films the lives of the vastly rich and the role they play in the economy. As a member of the family that founded the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company, I have been given unprecedented access to Whitneys, Vanderbilts, Forbeses, Gateses, Buffetts and Bloombergs. I have seen firsthand how many of these families run their businesses and I have watched them react to sudden shifts in the market and changing economic conditions. And now, with the threat of a recession looming on the horizon, I hear many of them saying-" Thank God, it's about time."

    Paul Orfalea, for example, who is the founder of the Kinkos copy centers and a subject in my current film, The One Percent, used to like to tell me about a jet he owned called a Challenger. According to Paul it was the perfect plane for him, but he never got to use it because every time he tried to make arrangements to travel, he was told that the plane was actually chartered out to someone else. Originally Paul intended to make the plane available for charter only on occasion to help cover annual maintenance expenses, but he soon realized that there was so much demand for the plane and it was booked so far in advance that he was rarely able to fly in it himself. When I asked Paul what he thought the reason was behind the demand for his plane, he only had one culprit to blame -- the surging economy.

    Another subject I recently interviewed blamed what he called mere "centa-millionaires" for the breakdown in exclusivity of his elitist world. For him, the overnight stars of the seven-year bull market not only overcrowded private air travel, but also drove up the price of high-end real estate. Buying a third home in the Hamptons became a burdensome experience for him. As far as he was concerned, there was just too much urgent demand, and although he could easily afford the asking prices, he found the heightened numbers personally offensive. He did assure me at the end of our conversation, however, that as soon as he sees the recession start to hit people, he'll be the first to buy.

    While working on films about the vastly rich, I have seen countless displays of excessive privilege that serve as markers for the staggering inequality that plagues our country. Often times I have imagined that after recording scenes of wealthy prep-school students saying to less fortunate classmates, "Fuck you, I'm from New York. I could buy your family, piss off" that it couldn't get any worse. I believed that the distinction between The Two Americas that people commonly speak of was as pronounced as it could ever be.

    But in recent days, watching the super-rich exuberantly anticipate a recession has forced me to realize that I was wrong to assume that the indicators of inequality wouldn't become more conspicuous. It appears that the opposite is true, that under the threat of hard times the mega-wealthy aren't feeling a greater responsibility to reflect upon the problems surrounding the growing wealth gap; they are, in fact, trying to fatten their wallets and further insulate their lifestyles.

    I had hoped that foreboding economic circumstances would have caused the ultra-rich to think not just of themselves and increasing their own personal affluence. Unfortunately, however, too many of them lack concern and without this concern, the divisive imbalance will only worsen with recession.

    Doesn't this pretty much show the real reason for Recessions!

  86. The reichwing racist machine of Texas just met it's match;

    Thousands of Students March 7 Miles To Vote

    Burnt Orange Report:

    Early voting starts today in Texas. In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location: at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

    Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote. For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas’ historically Black universities. It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county. There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement. There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.

    According to an article in today’s Houston Chronicle:

    Waller County has faced numerous lawsuits involving voting rights in the past 30 years and remains under investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s Office based on complaints by local black leaders. Those allegations, concerning the November 2006 general election, related to voting machine failures, inadequate staffing and long delays for voting results.

    The article adds,

    “I was angry after registering to vote in the 2006 election only to be turned away at the voting booth,” said sophomore Dee Dee Williams.

    So what are the students doing?

    1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today. According to the piece I saw on the news (there’s no video up, so I can’t link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

    I love stories like this. In the face of an obvious ploy to suppress the vote, these young people stood up for their rights and showed that they will not be cowed. Republicans should be worried, because this is a committed electorate.

    The reichwing racist machine of Texas, which for decades have disenfranchised Hispanics and African Americans, should be worried because of the hope Obama inspires .... is very catching and the slimy ways of the reichwing Texas racist machine can't with stand it forever.

    Hope the reichwing racists in Texas like just how well REAL DEMOCRACY works.

  87. Thanks Clif. There's nothing the Reich will not do to disenfranchise the poor and minorities.

  88. Did you know?:

    The eight warmest years on record have all occurred in the last decade.

    For seven of the last eight years, the world has consumed more grain than it produced; grain stocks are now at a historic low.

    One fifth of the U.S. grain harvest is now being turned into fuel ethanol.

    One third of reptile, amphibian, and fish species examined by the World Conservation Union are considered to be threatened with extinction.

    Grain yields increased half as fast in the 1990s as they did in the 1960s.

    Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa today is lower than it was in the late 1980s.

    Today’s economically recoverable reserves of lead, tin, and copper could be depleted within the next 25 years if their extraction expands at current rates.

    Nearly half of the annual global military budget of $1.2 trillion is spent by one country—the United States.

  89. Did St Johnny pull a Clenis?

    For McCain, a Risky Confidence on Ethics

    John McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist underscores a paradox: Even as he embraces high ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity sometimes seems to blind him to potential conflicts of interest.

    Full story here

  90. Georgie sets a record, but NOT one he wants to set;

    George W. Bush is now the most unpopular president in recorded American history

    George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in American Research Group polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.

    Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

    Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove.

    How does Georgie stack up to previous presidents lows?

    Clinton low: 36 percent, May 1993 (early missteps like Zoe Baird)

    George H.W. Bush low: 29 percent, August 1992 (recession)

    Reagan low: 35 percent, January 1983 (recession)

    Carter low: 28 percent, July 1979 (high gas prices)

    Ford low: 37 percent, January 1975 (economy, Nixon pardon)

    Nixon low: 23 percent, January 1974 (Watergate)

    Johnson low: 35 percent, August 1968 (Vietnam)

    Lowest ever? That would be Harry Truman during the Korean War, in February 1952, at 22 percent.

    Lookie, Georgie broke a 56 year old record, sort of like baseball players do sometimes, that should take some of the sting out of it for him, I compared him to a baseball player.

  91. Could this be the unreported political sex scandal that had the blogosphere buzzing late last year?

    The New York Times is detailing explosive charges that Republican presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain had what could be construed as an inappropriate relationship with a Washington lobbyist.

    In an article entitled "For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk," Times reporters write that the lobbyist, named as Vicki Iseman, "had been turning up with [McCain] at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client's corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman's access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity."

    The article continues that when news organizations reported McCain "had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist's clients, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement."

    McCain and Iseman, according to the Times, both say they never had a romantic relationship.

    In a press release at his official campaign website, the McCain campaign issued the following statement:

    "It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

    "Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

    Not long after the NY Times article was published, Iseman's bio was apparently removed from the website of Alcalde & Faye, the firm that employs her. Huffington Post captured a screenshot of the bio.

    Journalist and author Ron Rosenbaum wrote in a blog post from October of last year that he had "run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that 'everyone knows' The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate."

    Now he is denying it Clif, even though they have letters asking for favors for McCain's sweetie.

  92. Worse than Watergate: Bush scores lowest presidential approval rating EVER!

    The 2008 presidential race must be an incredibly welcome development for President Bush and his White House. That's because the American body politic can only really focus on one thing at a time, and so there's little time for anything else aside from the madcap antics of of Gilligan, the Skipper, the Millionaire and his wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann...and the rest. Some liberal blogs and right-wing talk radio are lined up in circular firing squads, and the op-ed columnists have trained their fire on Hillary's lonely teardrops or Barack's Church of the Poison Mind.

    While no one was looking, the economy nosedived, gas prices have soared, the war in Iraq is as unpopular as ever and Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. And so while none of us were paying attention, our 43rd president just hit a major milestone.

    George W. Bush is now the most unpopular president in recorded American history.

    Worse than Richard Nixon in the days before he resigned in disgrace during Watergate, worse than Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis, much worse than Bill Clinton when he was impeached. Just as Roger Bannister raced through what once seemed the unreachable 4-minute mile, Bush has burst through a barrier once also thought impossible, below the 20-percent mark.

    Check this out:

    George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in American Research Group polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.
    Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

    Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove.

    That is just mind-blowing. How does it compare to other presidents? There's no comparison.

    Nixon, as he was hounded out of office in August 1974, never dipped below the mid-20s.

    Here's a pretty good compilation of poll numbers from Roper. To summarize the highlights:

    Clinton low: 36 percent, May 1993 (early missteps like Zoe Baird)

    George H.W. Bush low: 29 percent, August 1992 (recession)

    Reagan low: 35 percent, January 1983 (recession)

    Carter low: 28 percent, July 1979 (high gas prices)

    Ford low: 37 percent, January 1975 (economy, Nixon pardon)

    Nixon low: 23 percent, January 1974 (Watergate)

    Johnson low: 35 percent, August 1968 (Vietnam)

    Lowest ever? That would be Harry Truman during the Korean War, in February 1952, at 22 percent.

    And so now George W. Bush has shattered a record that has stood for 55 long years, and there's not any one reason. It's everything, although I suspect that liberals would more likely say Iraq and torture, conservatives would say immigration and runaway spending, and everyone would now say the economy.

    It takes more than unpopularity to become the worst president ever, but this may be the straw that broke the camel's back on that front. It should remind us all what the 2008 election is all about, and it's not about Hillary's wardrobe or an off-the-cuff remark or who is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan.

    It's only about who can undo the damage of the last eight years. It's amazing so many people wanted such a difficult task.

  93. The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that individual participants in the most common type of retirement plan can sue under a pension protection law to recover their losses.

    The unanimous decision has implications for 50 million workers with $2.7 trillion invested in 401(k) retirement plans.

    James LaRue of Southlake, Texas, said the value of his stock market holdings plunged $150,000 when administrators at his retirement plan failed to follow his instructions to switch to safer investments.

    The issue in the LaRue case was whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits an individual account holder to sue plan administrators for breaching their fiduciary duties.

    The language of the law refers to recovering money for the "plan" rather than for an individual, raising the question of whether a participant can sue solely for himself.

    Justice John Paul Stevens, in his opinion for the court, said that such lawsuits are allowed. "Fiduciary misconduct need not threaten the solvency of the entire plan to reduce benefits below the amount that participants would otherwise receive," Stevens said.

    The decision overturned a ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

    Unlike people enrolled in traditional pension plans, employees in 401(k) plans, which have exploded in number in the past two decades, choose from a menu of options on where to invest their money. That puts workers squarely in the middle of decision-making about their pensions and inevitably leads to the kind of disputes LaRue has with his plan's administrators.

    "Defined contribution plans dominate the retirement plan scene today," unlike when ERISA was enacted in the mid-1970s, Stevens said.

    Many traditional pension plans guaranteeing a fixed monthly benefit have either been frozen or terminated, and 401(k) plans are the main source of retirement income, said the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 60,000 pilots at 41 air carriers.

    The Bush administration argued in support of workers. The government said the appeals court ruling barring LaRue's lawsuit would leave 401(k) participants without a meaningful remedy from any federal, state or local court when plan administrators fail to live up to their duties.

    Business groups supported LaRue's employer. They argued that ERISA is aimed at encouraging employers to set up pension plans, while guarding against administrative abuses involving the plan as a whole. The law doesn't permit individual lawsuits like LaRue's, the business groups said.

    Congress enacted ERISA after some widely publicized failures by companies and labor unions to pay promised pensions. Workers in class-action lawsuits have long relied on the law, most recently in the scandal-ridden collapses of companies like Enron and its 401(k) plan for workers.

    The term 401(k) refers to a section of the Internal Revenue Code.

    Participants in 401(k) plans do not know how much money they will receive in retirement. Employees invest a certain amount each month and how much they get back depends on how well their chosen investments have performed.

    The case is LaRue v. DeWolff, 06-856.

    Corporate America won't like this.

  94. America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

    By Martin Wolf

    “I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

    Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

    Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

    Step one is the worst housing recession in US history. House prices will, he says, fall by 20 to 30 per cent from their peak, which would wipe out between $4,000bn and $6,000bn in household wealth. Ten million households will end up with negative equity and so with a huge incentive to put the house keys in the post and depart for greener fields. Many more home-builders will be bankrupted.

    Step two would be further losses, beyond the $250bn-$300bn now estimated, for subprime mortgages. About 60 per cent of all mortgage origination between 2005 and 2007 had “reckless or toxic features”, argues Prof Roubini. Goldman Sachs estimates mortgage losses at $400bn. But if home prices fell by more than 20 per cent, losses would be bigger. That would further impair the banks’ ability to offer credit.

    Step three would be big losses on unsecured consumer debt: credit cards, auto loans, student loans and so forth. The “credit crunch” would then spread from mortgages to a wide range of consumer credit.

    Step four would be the downgrading of the monoline insurers, which do not deserve the AAA rating on which their business depends. A further $150bn writedown of asset-backed securities would then ensue.

    Step five would be the meltdown of the commercial property market, while step six would be bankruptcy of a large regional or national bank.

    Step seven would be big losses on reckless leveraged buy-outs. Hundreds of billions of dollars of such loans are now stuck on the balance sheets of financial institutions.

    Step eight would be a wave of corporate defaults. On average, US companies are in decent shape, but a “fat tail” of companies has low profitability and heavy debt. Such defaults would spread losses in “credit default swaps”, which insure such debt. The losses could be $250bn. Some insurers might go bankrupt.

    Step nine would be a meltdown in the “shadow financial system”. Dealing with the distress of hedge funds, special investment vehicles and so forth will be made more difficult by the fact that they have no direct access to lending from central banks.

    Step 10 would be a further collapse in stock prices. Failures of hedge funds, margin calls and shorting could lead to cascading falls in prices.

    Step 11 would be a drying-up of liquidity in a range of financial markets, including interbank and money markets. Behind this would be a jump in concerns about solvency.

    Step 12 would be “a vicious circle of losses, capital reduction, credit contraction, forced liquidation and fire sales of assets at below fundamental prices”.

    These, then, are 12 steps to meltdown. In all, argues Prof Roubini: “Total losses in the financial system will add up to more than $1,000bn and the economic recession will become deeper more protracted and severe.” This, he suggests, is the “nightmare scenario” keeping Ben Bernanke and colleagues at the US Federal Reserve awake. It explains why, having failed to appreciate the dangers for so long, the Fed has lowered rates by 200 basis points this year. This is insurance against a financial meltdown.

    Is this kind of scenario at least plausible? It is. Furthermore, we can be confident that it would, if it came to pass, end all stories about “decoupling”. If it lasts six quarters, as Prof Roubini warns, offsetting policy action in the rest of the world would be too little, too late.

    Can the Fed head this danger off? In a subsequent piece, Prof Roubini gives eight reasons why it cannot***. (He really loves lists!) These are, in brief: US monetary easing is constrained by risks to the dollar and inflation; aggressive easing deals only with illiquidity, not insolvency; the monoline insurers will lose their credit ratings, with dire consequences; overall losses will be too large for sovereign wealth funds to deal with; public intervention is too small to stabilise housing losses; the Fed cannot address the problems of the shadow financial system; regulators cannot find a good middle way between transparency over losses and regulatory forbearance, both of which are needed; and, finally, the transactions-oriented financial system is itself in deep crisis.

    The risks are indeed high and the ability of the authorities to deal with them more limited than most people hope. This is not to suggest that there are no ways out. Unfortunately, they are poisonous ones. In the last resort, governments resolve financial crises. This is an iron law. Rescues can occur via overt government assumption of bad debt, inflation, or both. Japan chose the first, much to the distaste of its ministry of finance. But Japan is a creditor country whose savers have complete confidence in the solvency of their government. The US, however, is a debtor. It must keep the trust of foreigners. Should it fail to do so, the inflationary solution becomes probable. This is quite enough to explain why gold costs $920 an ounce.

    The connection between the bursting of the housing bubble and the fragility of the financial system has created huge dangers, for the US and the rest of the world. The US public sector is now coming to the rescue, led by the Fed. In the end, they will succeed. But the journey is likely to be wretchedly uncomfortable.

    The Coming Bush Depression.

  95. Reuters) - Retailer Sharper Image Corp has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing declining sales, three straight years of losses and litigation involving its Ionic Breeze air purifiers.

    The San Francisco-based company filed for protection late Tuesday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware. Sharper Image said it had $251.5 million in assets and $199 million in debt as of January 31, according to the filing. Cash on hand totaled about $700,000.

    Its shares plunged 92 cents, or 64 percent, to 52 cents on Nasdaq.

    "Sharper Image is in a severe liquidity crisis," Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Roedell said in a separate filing.

    She said the company has suffered from increased competition, narrowing margins, litigation, lower consumer and market confidence, tighter credit from suppliers, and poorly performing stores.

    "The foregoing has been compounded by the ever-tightening and volatile credit and financing markets," she added.

    Sharper Image has seen its sales decline steadily since 2004, and has posted net losses in fiscal 2005, 2006, and 2007.

    According to court papers, the electronics retailer also cited "negative publicity" from the litigation involving its Ionic Breeze air purifiers for its falling revenues.

    In October, a federal court denied approval of a settlement of class-action suits related to the efficacy of the air purifiers. The product was sold to 3 million consumers, according to a previous filing.

    Following the ruling, Sharper Image's stock fell 18 percent, weakening support from suppliers and choking working capital as creditors tightened or withdrew credit terms, according to court documents.

    The company deals with about 650 vendors and suppliers on a credit basis, many of whom began to request cash upon delivery, according to court papers.

    Sharper Image is seeking a $60 million loan arranged by Wells Fargo Retail Finance LLC to keep operating, according to the court papers.

    The company said in a separate filing it replaced Chief Executive Steven Lightman with Robert Conway on February 14.

    More fallout from the deepening Bush Recession.

  96. Please read the add-on to the post I just put up tonight about Obama's important antiproliferation legislation.

    Obama has the goods.

  97. One U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded Wednesday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in the northwestern city of Mosul, the military said.

    Are you happy now Bush?

  98. Oil futures rallied again Wednesday, pushing briefly past $101 a barrel after the Federal Reserve lowered its forecast for economic growth this year, convincing energy investors that the central bank will slash interest rates further. At the pump, meanwhile, gas prices rose another 2 cents overnight.

    It's the Bush/Exxon economy.

  99. The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.

    Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November.

    McCain's lawyer, Trevor Potter, said Wednesday evening that McCain has withdrawn from the system and that the FEC can't stop him. Potter said the campaign did not encumber the public funds in any way.

    McCain, a longtime advocate of stricter limits on money in politics, was one of the few leading presidential candidates to seek FEC certification for public money during the primaries. The FEC determined that he was entitled to at least $5.8 million. But McCain did not obtain the money, and he notified the FEC earlier this month that he would bypass the system, freeing him from its spending limits.

    'Not so fast'
    But just as McCain was beginning to turn his attention to a likely Democratic opponent, Mason, a Republican appointee to the commission, essentially said, "Not so fast."

    By accepting the public money, McCain would be limited to spending about $54 million for the primaries, a ceiling his campaign is near. That would significantly hinder his ability to finance his campaign between now and the Republican National Convention in September.

    Complicating the dispute is the FEC's current lack of a quorum. The six-member commission has four vacancies and Senate Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads over how to fill them.

    Mr. Campaign Finance shouldn't have to obey the rules: He is above them.

  100. Reuters) - Finance company GMAC said on Wednesday it would restructure its auto finance unit by eliminating about 930 jobs and closing smaller offices in the face of tighter credit markets and slumping new car sales.

    The job cuts represent about 15 percent of the 6,275 employees in GMAC's auto finance business. GMAC said the layoffs and office closures would take effect this year and prompt a charge of between $65 million and $85 million.

    GMAC also said it would close smaller offices to consolidate its auto finance business into five regional hubs in North America.

    Charges for the restructuring will be taken over the course of 2008, with the majority in the second half, GMAC said. It expected the cuts to produce annual savings of $175 million once fully implemented.

    The move to cut costs in GMAC's core auto finance unit marks a new phase in the restructuring of the privately held finance company's business. It devoted recent quarters to shoring up its mortgage arm Residential Capital LLC, which was pushed into deep losses by the subprime mortgage collapse.

    More fallout from the growing Bush Recession.

  101. Was John McCain Getting 'Lobbied' By A Woman 30 Years His Junior?

    This evening the New York Times posted a 3,000 word takedown of Senator John McCain's ethics—and a possibly inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist—after rival publications became aware of the details of the story, which the newspaper had been holding back.

    Carrying the bylines of Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn W. Thompson, David D. Kirkpatrick, and Stephen Labaton, the article describes the efforts of McCain aides, during his first presidential run eight years ago, to separate the senator from a then-32-year-old lobbyist named Vicki Iseman, who they feared might have started a romantic relationship with McCain. Iseman and McCain both denied such a relationship to the Times. While McCain refused to be interviewed by any of the Times reporters, he did telephone Executive Editor Bill Keller to deny that particular allegation.

    Michael Isikoff of Newsweek and Michael Calderone of Politico were two of the reporters at rival publications who were chasing the Times story. Calderone was particularly well informed about the details of the Times investigation. Marc Santora, who had been covering the McCain campaign for the paper, reportedly left the beat, in part because of McCain's unhappiness with the pursuit of this story by Ruttenberg and his Times colleagues.

    The story also recounts McCain's use of lobbyists in his campaign, and his frequent trips on corporate jets, until the law was changed to prohibit them. (McCain voted for the change in the law.) Keith Olbermann was among the first to discuss the article on MSNBC toight.

  102. Mike, stop by PP when you get a chance. There's something there for you that I think you'll enjoy.

  103. Thanks Tomcat, i'm honored.........i responded on your blog!

  104. BTW, Tomcat just wrote an amazing article on the rigged kangarroo court trials the Bush cronnies are giving the Gitmo people.................I strongly urge everyone to go check it out!

  105. Obama won decisively in my opinion!

  106. One day after The New York Times published an article raising ethical questions about Sen. John McCain's dealings with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, the Arizona senator pushed back today at a press conference in Cleveland, telling reporters, "Vicky Iseman did not force me into any positions."

    Calling suggestions that Ms. Iseman could make him assume a different position "ridiculous," Sen. McCain said, "At my age, I'm not about to try out new positions that I'm uncomfortable with."

    While Mr. McCain was vague about his official dealings with Ms. Iseman, he told reporters, "I would not allow a lobbyist to perform any favor for me unless it felt really, really good."

    The Republican frontrunner said that neither he nor Ms. Iseman had been aware that The New York Times was conducting an investigation into their relationship, adding, "Vicki and I have been in the dark together for a long time."

    But he vehemently defended the lobbyist's professionalism, telling reporters, "Vicki Iseman is an energetic and passionate woman who has bent over backwards to please me."

    Of course the "love slave" of the deranged old slog "bent over backwards to please McCain."

    So much "Sex Inuendo" from the candidate of "family values and morality."

  107. Thanks for the post on Obama and his record...( see now any of us could go on Hardball and be informed).

    thanks for all the news from McCain pain to Coulter pain to 401 pain to economic pain....

  108. Is Anny Tranny having a credit crisis of it's own?


    Ann Coulter suffered a serious embarrassment over the weekend when her credit card was declined in Palm Beach. According to our spy, the nutty arch-conservative was caught at 9:45 p.m. Saturday night in the 10 Items or Less line at the local Publix when her card was rejected. "She was embarrassed but didn't make a scene," our witness said. "She just paid with cash and ran out of there. But at least she's eating."

    Too bad it wouldn't pay it's bills to society and then run away permanently.

  109. Mike said BTW, Tomcat just wrote an amazing article on the rigged kangarroo court trials the Bush cronnies are giving the Gitmo people.................I strongly urge everyone to go check it out!

    Thanks Mike.

    On the debate, I think Hillary's ending helped her recover a lot of ground, because the audience and pundits ate it up. However, she needed to excel sufficiently to halt Obama's momentum, and she fell well short of that. I wrote a complete review of it.

  110. Larry said... Calling suggestions that Ms. Iseman could make him assume a different position "ridiculous," Sen. McCain said, "At my age, I'm not about to try out new positions that I'm uncomfortable with."

    This may be the first time in history Pfizer was able to bribe a candidate with product samples.

  111. Larry, is that an Onion piece or a joke? did McCain really answer in such jest?

  112. From the Fact Check Desk: Obama's Army Anecdote

    by Jake Tapper who is ABC News' Senior National Correspondent based in the network's Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.

    At last night's debate in Texas, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, told an anecdote about an Army captain that is causing a lot of chatter in the political world.

    Obama was making a point about what he called "the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation, whether or not to go to war in Iraq." His point was that in opposing the war he "showed the judgment of a commander in chief. And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that."

    He argued the Iraq war "diverted attention from Afghanistan where Al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001."

    And then he told the following story to argue that Clinton's vote -- and the larger decision to go to war -- had negative consequences.

    "You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," he said. "Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief."

    Asked about the story in the Spin Room last night, Obama strategist David Axelrod told the National Review's Stephen Spruiell, "that was a discussion that a captain in the military had with our staff, and he asked that that be passed along to Senator Obama."

    Conservatives have weighed in on this story, many of them challenging its veracity (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.)

    I called the Obama campaign this morning to chat about this story, and was put in touch with the Army captain in question.

    He told me his story, which I found quite credible, though for obvious reasons he asked that I not mention his name or certain identifying information.

    Short answer: He backs up Obama's story.

    The longer answer is worth telling, though.

    The Army captain, a West Point graduate, did a tour in a hot area of eastern Afghanistan from the Summer of 2003 through Spring 2004.

    Prior to deployment the Captain -- then a Lieutenant -- took command of a rifle platoon at Fort Drum. When he took command, the platoon had 39 members, but -- in ones and twos -- 15 members of the platoon were re-assigned to other units. He knows of 10 of those 15 for sure who went to Iraq, and he suspects the other five did as well.

    The platoon was sent to Afghanistan with 24 men.

    "We should have deployed with 39," he told me, "we should have gotten replacements. But we didn't. And that was pretty consistent across the battalion."

    He adds that maybe a half-dozen of the 15 were replaced by the Fall of 2003, months after they arrived in Afghanistan, but never all 15.

    As for the weapons and humvees, there are two distinct periods in this, as he explains -- before deployment, and afterwards.

    At Fort Drum, in training, "we didn't have access to heavy weapons or the ammunition for the weapons, or humvees to train before we deployed."

    What ammunition?

    40 mm automatic grenade launcher ammunition for the MK-19, and ammunition for the .50 caliber M-2 machine gun ("50 cal.")

    "We weren't able to train in the way we needed to train," he says. When the platoon got to Afghanistan they had three days to learn.

    They also didn't have the humvees they were supposed to have both before deployment and once they were in Afghanistan, the Captain says.

    "We should have had 4 up-armored humvees," he said. "We were supposed to. But at most we had three operable humvees, and it was usually just two."

    So what did they do? "To get the rest of the platoon to the fight," he says, "we would use Toyota Hilux pickup trucks or unarmored flatbed humvees." Sometimes with sandbags, sometimes without.

    Also in Afghanistan they had issues getting parts for their MK-19s and their 50-cals. Getting parts or ammunition for their standard rifles was not a problem.

    "It was very difficult to get any parts in theater," he says, "because parts are prioritized to the theater where they were needed most -- so they were going to Iraq not Afghanistan."

    "The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons," he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or "Dishka") on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.

    The Captain has spoken to Sen. Obama, he says, but this anecdote was relayed to Obama through an Obama staffer.

    I find that Obama's anecdote checks out.

    Some are quibbling about whether or not the "commander in chief" can be held responsible for how well our soldiers are being equipped, since Congress provides the funding for the military, but the Pentagon (and ultimately President Bush) are in charge of the funding mechanism.

    I might suggest those on the blogosphere upset about this story would be better suited directing their ire at those responsible for this problem, which is certainly not new. That is, if they actually care about the men and women bravely serving our country at home and abroad.

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neo-cons screwing over the troops;

    Who'd a thunk it?

    I wonder if the lack of the necessary ammo equipment and supplies lead to the death of Pat Tillman?

    I wonder why the neo-cons think Saddam was so much worse then the guy who attacked us on 9-11, so much so they under cut the fight against him so they could illegally attack Iraq.

    I wonder why so many civilians who had, NO military experience let alone combat experience, rejected the good advice of people who spent their lives learning and DOING things which they knew needed to be done.

    People like Gen Zinni a four star US Marine General who had spent four years with the plans for both Iraq and Afghanistan, or Gen Shinseki, a four star US army General, who told them they weren't using enough troops to "win" the conflict and peace after the end of combat.

    I wonder why they thought it a good idea to under man, equip, supply the sons and daughters of this country when they sent them into battle, especially when the gutless chicken hawks had worked so hard avoiding both combat and for the most part military experience during Vietnam and other US conflicts.

    I wonder why the president, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neo-cons hate the troops SO much.

    Why they sent them to die with such shameless lack of needed equipment and supplies time after time.

    Why do the wing nuts defend the traitors to America and NOT the troops who actually do the defending of America.

    Why do the wing nuts hate America?

  113. "So much "Sex Inuendo" from the candidate of "family values and morality."

    Actually Larry, it's "so much sex inuendo" from a liberal comedian...

  114. Bush Pentagon

    It would appear that we have another case where the Bush Pentagon, particularly the Office of Public Affairs is forcefully inserting itself into the civilian election process. Earlier today I referenced Barack Obama's anecdote from Thursday night's Democratic debate about an Army Captain in Afghanistan who said his unit had had to get from captured Taliban ammunition they weren't able to get quickly enough through standard Army supply channels. ABCNews' Jake Tapper talked to the soldier in question, who confirmed the story he'd told Obama.(see above) Now NBC News also appears to have confirmed the story by talking to the Army Captain in question.

    But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman is telling reporters he doesn't think it's true and that of course they can't confirm it unless the soldier -- still on active duty -- comes forward to discuss the issue with the Pentagon brass, a step that would surely do wonders for his future in the Army.

    I don't know how far this is going to go. Phillip Carter, the military affairs writer who's in the reserves and did a tour in Iraq, says that from his own experience in Iraq and discussions with Afghanistan vets who report doing the same thing as the anonymous captain, he finds the story "eminently believable." But this is becoming a pattern in which political appointees at the Bush Pentagon volubly insert themselves into domestic political debate or even election campaigns.

    Expect this to be a major factor in this year's election campaign.

    --Josh Marshall

    Why does Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the wingnuts hate the troops?

    Why do they send them into combat with out what they need and them tout tax cuts as a major accomplishment during a time of war;

    are tax cuts MORE important then the troops?

    Or are tax cuts all that matters to these clowns?

  115. Superdelegates switching allegiance to Obama
    · Clinton losing support of influential party officials
    · Polls predict close contests in Texas and Ohio votes
    Elana Schor in Washington and Dan Glaister in Austin
    The Guardian,
    Saturday February 23 2008
    Article history ·
    Contact us

    Hillary Clinton is starting to lose her overwhelming lead in superdelegates the Democratic party officials whose votes she is counting on to help he close the gap with Barack Obama. He has received a steady flow of backer in recent days while building a streak of 11 straight primary victories. After onc leading Obama by a 2 to 1 ratio in the superdelegate chase, Clinton now has 241 t his 181, according to the latest Associated Press tally

    Most unnerving for Clinton is the trickle of superdelegates who have defected from her corner to Obama's. The shift comes as she failed to deliver a telling blow on him in their penultimate TV debate before the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4.

    Latest polling shows them separated by two percentage points in Texas, well within the margin of error, and seven points in Ohio. The Clinton campaign had hoped the debate would halt Obama's momentum. Instead she came under fire for allegedly plagiarising part of a speech by former candidate John Edwards. When asked about the potential influence of the superdelegates during Thursday night's debate at the University of Texas in Austin, both candidates appeared to pull back from the brinkmanship that has been developing over the issue.

    "I think that it will sort itself out," Clinton said. "We will have a nominee, and we will have a unified Democratic party, and we will go on to victory in November."

    Obama said that for the nomination to be decided by backroom deals would sully the process. "The American people are tired of politics that is dominated by the powerful, by the connected."

    In New Jersey, where Clinton won by 13 percentage points this month, two superdelegates have shifted to Obama and nine Democratic leaders endorsed him. "Barack can help unite this country and help us embrace our diverse nation," said superdelegate Christine Samuels.

    Superdelegates who represent areas won by Obama face pressure to declare for him. One Clinton superdelegate, Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, said colleagues urged her to support Obama if he wins her district in the primary. But she said: "I want voters to be at ease that their votes truly count. But I also want them to respect each of us [superdelegates] individually for how we have perceived America's future to be."

    More than half of 795 superdelegates had declared as of last week. As about 20% of a total of about 4,000 delegate votes, superdelegates are current or former elected officeholders or party officials; they vote according to their personal view, though they may face pressure to echo some presumed local or national consensus. When the primary delegate totals become evenly split, superdelegates and how they decide to use their vote become proportionately more important - and their choices are increasingly liable to be seen as "backroom deals".

    The debate's most dramatic moment came when Clinton tried to exploit the charge of Obama's plagiarism. "Lifting entire passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in," she said, "it is change you can Xerox." The line was met with boos from the audience.

    Asked about the most testing moment in her life, she said: "Whatever happens we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about." The line is similar to one used by Edwards in December.

  116. Howard dean just about sums up the spin of st johnny the delusional;

    Dean: I have no idea whether the affair story is true or not, and I don’t care. What I do care about is John McCain — and this has been well-documented — is talking all the time about being a reformer and a maverick, and in fact, he has taken thousands of dollars from corporations, ridden on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them and get projects approved. He has tons of lobbyists on his staff. This is a guy who is very close to the lobbyist community, a guy who has been documented again and again by taking contributions and then doing favors for it. This is not a guy who is a reformer. This is a guy who has been in Washington for 25 years and wants to give us four more years of the same, and I don’t think we need that.

    Shorter version;

    I don't know if he is lying about the sex, but he is lying about being a reformer in Washington ......

    but as usual the corporate owned MSM gives another repugnant politician from the reichwing a free pass on the real scandal.

  117. Interesting How the hippocritical Hillary can accuse Obama her opponent of plagerizing the words of someone on his OWN campaign and a close friend in a speech but yet she can parrot the words of John Edwards in her own speech minutes after cririzing Obama for doing the same thing.

    After watching that and watching her smirk and sneer disrespectfully while he spoke as well as flash rage when he dealt in facts and spoke the truth while she repeatedly lied and attempted to misrepresent his positions time after time........I have to conclude Hillary is nothing more than a Democrat in drag.........she's Mitt Romney or John McCain in a dress........and she's all wrong for our country.

  118. Clif all the little repugs care about is stealing from the working class...........I wonder where the repuggies would come down if they had to choose between raising taxes or keeping the war going because we cant keep spending triollions on a war based on lies when our own country is imploding.

    Like I said before we need to make the war funding an on budget item rather than hiding it off budget then we'll see which party is fisacally conservative and which party wants to keep squandering trillions on a war based on lies.

  119. Coburn declines to elaborate on Iraq War statement

    U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's comment that going to war in Iraq was "probably a mistake" represents a significant departure from where the Oklahoma Republican started out on the 5-year-old conflict.

    Coburn's comment came at the beginning of remarks at a weekend town hall meeting in Muskogee.

    "I will tell you personally that I think it was probably a mistake going to Iraq," said the freshman senator, who made it clear he did not believe the U.S. could withdraw but had to stay.

    What was unclear was when exactly Coburn changed his position on the controversial war, what led to that change and why he chose to reveal it at a town hall meeting back in the state as opposed to in front of a wider audience.

    Coburn's comment came less than a week after he returned from his second trip to Iraq since entering the Senate.

    He declined to comment Wednesday.

    Ya thunk?

    He finally figgered it out, attacking a Arab country could only be a mistake unless we had the majority of Arab countries behind us like Bush's poppy did in 1990,

    I wonder what the freak clued this moron in on it being a mistake;

    3970 needless US military deaths,

    over 1000 needless US contractor deaths;

    39,298 wounded or injured military members from Iraq;

    Over 100,000 new cases of PTSD for the country to deal with;

    upwards of 1,000,000 Iraqi murders at the hands of bush with his illegal war;

    3-4,000,000 Iraqi refugees who can't go home.

    I wonder just how much human suffering it took before this clueless idiot discovered it was a enormous mistake.

    BTW wanna bet he still votes to fund what he thinks is a mistake?

    Typical GOP hypocrite in action here folks.

    (I also wonder if dead eye wants to go hunting with the junior senator from Oklahoma?)

  120. What I find laughable is that McCain is linking his campaign's policies to the policies of the worst most unpopular President in our entire history..............and this delusional fool thinks he will get elected when over 80% of our country oppose his war and his violations of the Constitution and human rights..................Obama will dismantle McCain probably worse than he has Clinton in a debate.

  121. Famines May Occur Without Record Crops This Year, Potash Says

    Grain farmers will need to harvest record crops every year to meet increasing global food demand and avoid famine, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Chief Executive Officer William Doyle said.

    People and livestock are consuming more grain than ever, draining world inventories and increasing the likelihood of shortages, Doyle said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Global grain stockpiles fell to about 53 days of supply last year, the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  122. gasoline has gone up roughly 35 cents in the last few weeks..................looks like Bush's stimulous rebates will go to his oil cronnies just like his tax breaks.

  123. Outsourcing Will Ultimately Lead to Fascism in America

    Richard Backus

    The current outsourcing and downsizing of manufacturing in the U.S. will eventually lead to fascism if past history is a dependable predictor of the future. A decrease in the contribution of a country's manufacture to its trade balance will lead to large trade deficits causing a drop in the value of a country's currency. When this occurs, an accompanying decrease in the living standard of its citizens will result in political unrest leading to the establishment of a political state under the control of a powerful ruling class. The U.S. is currently in experiencing the beginning stage of this process.

    Post-war Germany is a good example of what occurs under these conditions. The German people's reparations payments to the victorious Allies after World War I were unsustainable and eventually led to an unwillingness of the working classes to continue their manufacture. The proceeds of almost all their production had been going to foreigners. This discontent and "revolt" of the industrial working classes led to an essential halt in manufacturing. Without production, there were no consumption items available for purchase by foreigners or industries in which to invest. The Reich's mark went into free-fall and hyper-inflation destroyed the wealth of the middle class.

    With a poverty-stricken populace and massive unemployment, the scene was set in Germany for someone who had the will and ability to take control and reestablish prosperity. The public was rightfully interested in a return to prosperity and was unfortunately ready to accept whatever means were necessary to attain it.

    Hitler and the Nazis were the means, backed by what remained of the capitalists, to control the disillusioned citizens (by force if necessary), and to restore production. They accomplished this by establishing public works programs and a resumption of manufacture accompanied by a repudiation of reparation payments. Once the Nazis assumed power there was no chance of a return to a democratic government.

    The history of Italy under Mussolini and Spain under Franco was similar. To control a disgruntled populace believing socialism to be their salvation, these despots were supported by the rich (as well as the church) in the suppression of the people in the presumed interests of all. All these fascist governments ruled by means of intimidation of the populace by the military or paramilitary under their immediate control. They were in turn financially backed and encouraged by the rich who were interested in maintaining social and economic control. Doesn't this sound just a bit like the "law and order" so prized today?

    The U.S. is now approaching the end of the first phase of this process, the ruination of the American working classes by the giveaway of manufacturing to foreign workers. The dollar is just beginning what will be a drastic fall in value. The middle classes will be impoverished by this process causing a political reaction. This will lead to the need for the imprisonment of ever-more citizens and an ever-increasing level of security forces both public and private. The people will demand a more socialistic government and the establishment elites in the U.S. will be frightened into the use of more severe methods of controlling the public, eventually using brute force and intimidation against their own citizens.

    A familiar quote by Huey Long predicted that "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the American flag". You can't get there from here with a socialist government. Fascism can only be established under a democratic form of government by a gradual erosion of rule of law and respect for the rights of the citizens. The Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security may very well be necessary but will need to be carefully monitored in the future.

    In the event that these and similar legislative acts are not carefully controlled, and our production continues to move overseas, there will be no turning back. The establishment will be forced to seize more forceful control of the populace and will ultimately be unable to give it up. Well-paid police forces, both public and private, will be readily available to support them. For all practical purposes, there will be full-blown fascism in the U.S. Unless the public takes the responsibility and has the courage to forced a correction in the direction our economy, we will see fascism in our lifetimes. It will be the inheritance of our children.

  124. Hope is right around the corner. We have to start looking up, and declare that Obama is going to lead our country into recovery from economic hardship. We can very quickly turn our economy around - as Tom Hartmann says -- with the new green industries.

    Our nation will thrive and revive...

  125. Wanna know why Florida has SOOOO much trouble voting?

    Read this and think about it;

    Florida, for the first time in its history, will feature the word “evolution” in its state science standards. The bad news is, the reality-based community in the state had to make a compromise in order to get the word in there.

    Florida’s State Board of Education has voted to use the term “scientific theory of evolution” in new science standards, the first time the word “evolution” has been included.

    Florida’s current standards require the teaching of evolution using code words like “change over time.”

    Adding the term “scientific theory” before the term “evolution” was a modified proposal at least one board member called a compromise, not standards proposed originally to the committee. The option to include “scientific theory” was made late last week.

    The board narrowly passed the proposed change, voting 4-3, after more than an hour of public comment and additional discussion by the board.


    Your freaking kidding right?

    No wonder why they elected Jeb Bush twice and couldn't figger out WTF to do in 2000 .... they still want science based on a 2000 year old story, which they twist far beyond recognition of it's founder.

    They reject the reality based community which science has built it's reputation on.

  126. Just Voted for Obama........I REALLY believe he will win Texas............My only caveat is that i am a little worried the repugs might come out and all vote for Hillary to try and tip it to her............because they are scared of Obama and know the decredpid and Delusional McCain doesnt stand much chance of beating Obama and would MUCH rather face Hillary

  127. Damn mike they can't do that can they? That would be an easy set up.

  128. Unfortunately Patriot......yes they can..........the repug nomination (McCain) is essentially all wrapped the repugs can all vote in the Democratic primary to cause mischief by disenfranchising the REAL choice of the democratic voters from picking their own nominee who they want and who actually has the BEST chance of winning.

  129. mike
    What is that unique to that frigged up State? no that's not true!
    If that was true voting would definitely be a big joke. The entire system could be gamed. I can see Independents but not Republicans. I am going to have to check that out!

  130. repugs can vote in the democrat primary...........THEN still vote for a repug in the general election, so essentially they could rig who our nominee is.

    Trust me i know.........i voted today and the election officials were telling people that,

  131. And yes it is pretty damn screwed up that the opposing party could corrupt the process if their nominee is wrapped up.

    Volt said how the process is unfair as well and he is right we need election reform..........although what he stated wasnt a blatant example of the opposing party corrupting the process.

  132. The Mad, Mad Middle Class

    CAF STAFF By Isaiah J. Poole

    You may not agree, as Sara Robinson provocatively suggests, that the country is primed for revolution. But there is no doubt that large numbers of middle-class people are mad, really mad, about the damage Bush-league conservatism has done to the country and to their futures.

    In fact, comments in a new Democracy Corps report, based on focus groups of Republicans and Democrats in Orlando, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, reveal deep anger and frustration over policies that favor the wealthy and pull the ability to meet their basic aspirations further from their grasp.

    Note comments like these:

    Columbus man: "They talk about the economy as working for the very wealthy and I read in the New York Times that $200,000 per year is the new $100,000 per year in salary…That’s the standard of living to feel like you’ve really made it in America, $200,000 a year. For most people, that’s unattainable. They’ll never see that in two lifetimes. So I think it’s unfortunate that there is one-tenth of one percent of Americans own forty percent of the wealth in this country. That’s an obscene number. It’s a disgusting number."
    Orlando woman: "I don’t like people having like no-bid contracts over there [in Iraq]. I think that has really escalated the cost of the war too. I mean this war is just unbelievable and the cost and the money could be going to help New Orleans, use it on domestic programs and helping other nations."

    Columbus woman: "The war in Iraq, the amount of money being spent over there, and the cost of oil. It’s kind of all tied in. And then all of that filters down eventually to everyday people. And all of those costs eventually fall on our shoulders. On shoulders that are already pretty well packed."

    From the rising costs of fuel to the effects of the mortgage crisis, the Democracy Corps sessions reflect a middle class that feels under siege. And the traditional conservative palliatives, as far as these people are concerned, no longer cut it.

    When the focus groups were presented with two economic messages — one based on Republican stump speeches that focuses on making the 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy permanent and an alternative that emphasized such items as investment projects, extending unemployment insurance and child tax credits, these prospective voters were, in the Democracy Corps words, "overwhelmingly drawn" to the more progressive message.

    Here's how a Columbus participant saw it:

    It sounds like to me that the Republicans want to make the wealthy wealthier. Cut their stock dividend tax, they should have to pay taxes on that. I have to pay taxes if I pull my money out of my 401K. I have to pay a fee. So I think that they should be taxed just like we are, us working class people. The higher end market of people should be taxed just like I am. What taxes I pay, the percentage of the same taxes I pay should be the same taxes they pay for the money that they make.

    And in Orlando...

    You know if we start eliminating all those wonderful tax loopholes for corporations and requiring the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share we are going to have more money. It just makes sense.

    Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who will be a featured speaker at Take Back America 2008, wrote about this middle-class anger almost two years ago in a way that now rings more true than ever. Her point was that "middle class does not equal middle ground":

    Advocating for the middle class isn't inherently some kind of political compromise or centrist bargain, a la the Democratic Leadership Council. Raising the minimum wage is a middle class issue. Progressive immigration policy is a middle class issue. Reining in the power of industries to dictate our economic, energy, and health care policies is a middle class issue. Sound trade policy is a middle class issue. Just because you're talking about the middle class doesn't mean that your policy initiatives must consist only of tax credits and deductions that apply to a narrow income range. Advocating for the strengthening and expansion of our middle class shouldn't just be political code for "I'm inoffensive." It should mean that you're willing to do whatever it takes to create the economic policy that will directly benefit the overwhelming majority of Americans.

    The seduction of Reagan-era sophistry — such as the line brandished by self-proclaimed conservatives campaigning for office that they trust the American people instead of the government, as if they had nothing to do with separating government from its role as an instrument of the people — has some residual strength. So does the conservative tactic of pitting groups against each other — hence the way illegal immigration, rather than bad trade and tax policies, surfaced as a reason why middle-class wage-earners were falling behind.

    Still, the focus group analysis concludes, "voters are starving for a new economic vision that will strengthen the middle class and get our country back on the right track."

    Progressives have the basics for that vision, but the challenges are to color in the details, inject it into the political debate in ways that touch both the anxieties and aspirations of middle-class families, and make sure that middle class voters know that there is an independent political force that will be fighting for their interests — working with the new White House leadership when it can, and confronting it when it must.

    At Take Back America 2008 in March, progressive activists will have a prime opportunity to make that happen.

  133. I have some bad news. Nader just announced his Candidacy. I blogged it here: Please paste the URL in a new tab or window, so you'll still be here when you finish.

  134. We figured Nader's megalomania would cause him to become a Gopper running boy yet again. Our February 1st post was all about his blatherings about 2008.

    I am saddened by this, but it wasn't hard to see coming.

  135. Spreading the good news:

    Chuck Buckley is back! =)

  136. How did this one escape the brain dead MSM?

    Canada, U.S. agree to use each other's troops in civil emergencies

    Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.

    Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.

    The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

    The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.

    The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.

    "It's kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites," said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians.

    Trew said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines.

    "Are we going to see (U.S.) troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?" he asked.

    Trew also noted the U.S. military does not allow its soldiers to operate under foreign command so there are questions about who controls American forces if they are requested for service in Canada. "We don't know the answers because the government doesn't want to even announce the plan," he said.

    But Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to civilian authorities in both countries on whether military assistance is requested or even used.

    He said the agreement is "benign" and simply sets the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve.

    "But there's no agreement to allow troops to come in," he said. "It facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The 'allow' piece is entirely up to the two governments."

    If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military, Scanlon added.

    News of the deal, and the allegation it was kept secret in Canada, is already making the rounds on left-wing blogs and Internet sites as an example of the dangers of the growing integration between the two militaries.

    On right-wing blogs in the U.S. it is being used as evidence of a plan for a "North American union" where foreign troops, not bound by U.S. laws, could be used by the American federal government to override local authorities.

    "Co-operative militaries on Home Soil!" notes one website. "The next time your town has a 'national emergency,' don't be surprised if Canadian soldiers respond. And remember - Canadian military aren't bound by posse comitatus."

    Posse comitatus is a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal troops from conducting law enforcement duties on domestic soil unless approved by Congress.

    Scanlon said there was no intent to keep the agreement secret on the Canadian side of the border. He noted it will be reported on in the Canadian Forces newspaper next week and that publication will be put on the Internet.

    Scanlon said the actual agreement hasn't been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations. That decision has not yet been taken, he added.

    I guess letting the American people know that George W Bush has just signed an agreement where Canadian soldiers can come INTO America and force Americans to do what they tell them to isn't a big deal.

    Their trumped up horse race politics is more important to their advertisers.

    BTW why weren't the American people asked if they want this?

    I guess Bush and the neo-con chicken hawks need extra troops after wasting so many in an illegal war in Iraq, cause those gutless wonders ain't never gonna sign up for active duty......

  137. The Lobbyist, The Drudge, The Times, The Fixer

    Colin McEnroe

    The older I get, the less I want to know about anybody else's sex life. If you put a picture face down in front of me and told me it was Tiger Woods and Lindsay Lohan engaged in an act of lewd and lascivious congress, I would not turn it over.

    I did look at the nude Marilyn Monroe tribute photos of Lohan in the current New York magazine, but not until her mother, Dina, had assured us that they were art. The pictures, I think she meant.

    So I don't much care whether John McCain had an affair with Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist for several telecommunications companies with business before the committee he chaired. The New York Times alleged this on Thursday, and one of the things that the article proved right away was that, although Republicans are deeply divided, the two forces that can unite them are their love of our American freedoms and their hatred of New York Times yuppie scum, they should die like pigs in hell.

    Even Joe Lieberman, who is not a Republican but who often "unites" with them, and sometimes on the first date, accused the Times of "puking" up 8-year-old rumors. That may not sound senatorial to you, but it was in fact a respectful invocation of Sen. Henry Clay's famous 1850 speech about compromise, in which Clay asked: "What if, in the march of this nation to greatness and power, we should be buried beneath the puke that propels it onward?"

    Lieberman had an even more important role to play in convincing us of McCain's innocence. He explained that he and McCain had traveled the world and met many lovely ladies and that he had never seen McCain do anything inappropriate.

    Not that there haven't been some opportunities for those two mack daddies, right? When they hit Abu Dhabi in their Miami Vice unstructured white sports jackets and Don Johnson cheek stubble, it's like ring-a-ding-ding, hey there, you with the stars in your eyes. I'm sure that China doll down in old Hong Kong waits for their return.

    If only they weren't so darned ethical!, say all those beautiful babies whose hearts are breaking. With Joe Lieberman as his wing man, McCain could have sampled the sexual banquet tables of this world, and not just young American lobbyists who look exactly like Amy Poehler impersonating his wife.

    Anyway, my current theory is that McCain, sensing his campaign was in trouble, had one of his most trusted lieutenants, John Weaver, leak this sex scandal to The New York Times, knowing that all Times-hating Republicans would flock to his standard if the story ran.

  138. If you missed this on 60 minutes, watch it here,

    This is just how the KKKarl Rove machine thought it could create a permanent repugnant majority;

    60 Minutes: Is Alabama Governor Siegelman in jail because he’s a democrat?

    Hopefully when the bush criminal enterprise is sent packing, the new AG can investigate KKKarl for Obstruction of justice, and interfering with a criminal investigation.

    And KKarl can sit his sorry ass in jail for the crimes he has committed against the US Constitution and American people.

  139. Lydia, please stop by PP. There is a surprise for you there in today's second article.

  140. Wanna know why reichwingers dislike the CIA and want to make up their own facts?

    because the CIA reports real facts like this;

    Rank Order - Current account balance

    1. China +$363,300,000,000 2007 est.


    163 United States -$747,100,000,000 2007 est.

    BTW there are only 163 countries listed

    The Bush economy at work here.

    Jonathan Alter
    Hillary Should Get Out Now
    Clinton has only one shot—for Obama to trip up so badly that he disqualifies himself.
    Mar 3, 2008 Issue

    If Hillary Clinton wanted a graceful exit, she'd drop out now—before the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries—and endorse Barack Obama. This would be terrible for people like me who have been dreaming of a brokered convention for decades. For selfish reasons, I want the story to stay compelling for as long as possible, which means I'm hoping for a battle into June for every last delegate and a bloody floor fight in late August in Denver. But to withdraw this week would be the best thing imaginable for Hillary's political career. She won't, of course, and for reasons that help explain why she's in so much trouble in the first place.

    Withdrawing would be stupid if Hillary had a reasonable chance to win the nomination, but she doesn't. To win, she would have to do more than reverse the tide in Texas and Ohio, where polls show Obama already even or closing fast. She would have to hold off his surge, then establish her own powerful momentum within three or four days. Without a victory of 20 points or more in both states, the delegate math is forbidding. In Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, the Clinton campaign did not even file full delegate slates. That's how sure they were of putting Obama away on Super Tuesday.

    The much-ballyhooed race for superdelegates is now nearly irrelevant. Some will be needed in Denver to put Obama over the top, just as Walter Mondale had to round up a couple dozen in 1984. But these party leaders won't determine the result. At the Austin, Texas, debate last week, Hillary agreed that the process would "sort itself out" so that the will of the people would not be reversed by superdelegates. Obama has a commanding 159 lead in pledged delegates and a lead of 925,000 in the popular vote (excluding Michigan and Florida, where neither campaigned). Closing that gap would require Hillary to win all the remaining contests by crushing margins. Any takers on her chances of doing so in, say, Mississippi and North Carolina, where African-Americans play a big role?

    The pundit class hasn't been quicker to point all this out because of what happened in New Hampshire. A lot of us looked foolish by all but writing Hillary off when she lost the Iowa caucuses. As we should have known, stuff happens in politics. But that was early. The stuff that would have to happen now would be on a different order of magnitude. It's time to stop overlearning the lesson of New Hampshire.

    Hillary has only one shot—for Obama to trip up so badly that he disqualifies himself. Nothing in the last 14 months suggests he will. He has made plenty of small mistakes, but we're past the point where a "likable enough" comment will turn the tide. When Obama bragged in the Austin debate about how "good" his speeches were, the boast barely registered. He has brought up his game so sharply that even a head cold and losing the health-care portion of the debate on points did nothing to derail him. Hillary's Hail Mary pass—that Obama is a plagiarist—was incomplete.

    So if the Clintonites were assessing with a cold eye, they would know that the odds of Hillary's looking bad on March 4 are high. Even Bill Clinton said last week that Texas and Ohio are must-win states. If she wants to stay in anyway, one way to go is to play through to June so as to give as many people as possible a chance to express their support. While this would be contrary to the long-stated wish of many Democrats (including the Clintons) to avoid a long, divisive primary season, it's perfectly defensible.

    But imagine if, instead of waiting to be marginalized or forced out, Hillary decided to defy the stereotype we have of her family? Imagine if she drew a distinction between "never quit" as it applies to fighting Kenneth Starr and the Republicans on the one hand, and fellow Democrats on the other? Imagine if she had, well, the imagination for a breathtaking act of political theater that would make her seem the epitome of grace and class and party unity, setting herself up perfectly for 2012 if Obama loses?

    The conventional view is that the Clintons approach power the way hard-core gun owners approach a weapon—they'll give it up only when it's wrenched from their cold, dead fingers. When I floated this idea of her quitting, Hillary aides scoffed that it would never happen. Their Pollyanna-ish assessment of the race offered a glimpse inside the bunker. These are the same loyalists who told Hillary that she was inevitable, that experience was a winning theme, that going negative in a nice state like Iowa would work, that all Super Tuesday caucus states could be written off. The Hillary who swallowed all that will never withdraw.

    But in her beautiful closing answer in the Austin debate, I glimpsed a different, more genuine, almost valedictory Hillary Clinton. She talked about the real suffering of Americans and, echoing John Edwards, said, "Whatever happens, we'll be fine." She described what "an honor" it was to be in a campaign with Barack Obama, and seemed to mean it. The choice before her is to go down ugly with a serious risk of humiliation at the polls, or to go down classy, with a real chance of redemption. Why not the latter? Besides, it would wreck the spring of all her critics in the press. If she thinks of it that way, maybe it's not such an outlandish idea after all.

  142. Hey John Good -- nice to hear from you and I'm so glad that Chuck is back!

    tomcat - thank you SO much! I left a post for you at PP.

    New thread is up, about Obama and the swiftboating attacks.

    Please leave comments on new thread.

  143. Lydia, you're most welcome and highly deserving.

  144. You might also enjoy this Mr. Media radio interview with Jonathan Alter from May 19, 2010. He talks about his book, “The Promise,” President Obama, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, FDR, “The Colbert Report,” his wife and even does an imitation of Joe Biden imitating Arkansas Senator John McClellan. Classic stuff!

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