Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jill Carroll, American journalist in Iraq, released by her captors

A very happy Journalist, Jill Carroll, former American hostage held in Iraq, after her release by her captors. Joe Gandelman of the Moderate Voice has a good post that summarizes various newspaper pieces. Click here to read Joe's post.

Sen. Biden's silence speaks volumes on the Illegal Immigration issue!

Senator Joe Biden has been conspicuously absent from the discourse on Illegal Immigrants, all while the Judiciary Committee, which he belongs to, has sent from Committee a proposal to deal with this issue. Sen. Biden, a Presidential hopeful for the 2008 election and often an outspoken critic of the Administration, has not been seen or heard from. As you know, I have been an ardent supporter of Sen. Biden. If he wants to get a shot at being the nominee in 2008, he must wade into emotional topics such as Illegal Immigration, and voice his preferences on the topic. This is no time to be silent. He is acting too political and tackling only safe topics and we deserve more from him. Come on Senator, speak your mind and let the chips fall where they may!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Illegal Immigrants- A chance to solve the problem for once and for all

This is a very complex issue and the issue itself can put different family members on opposite sides of the issue. So what do we have as choices as a country? I have listed many below. Let me know which you favor and any new ones I can add. Some are harsh and some not possible but we need to start somewhere so here's a list:
1) Do nothing
2) Build a secure fence on all our Borders with Mexico.
3) Enforce existing laws and send as many illegal immigrants back to Mexico or their country of origin.
4) Give amnesty for those already here and allow them to get right with the law by registering their family.
5) Open our Borders to the South and allow any who choose to come here to come legally.
6) Start an initiative to change the tax code from an Income Tax to a Consumption Tax to capture revenue lost from illegal immigrants to pay for Social and Medical Services.
7) Increase the use of Technology i.e. cameras, electronic eavesdropping equipment, etc. to assist in monitoring our Borders and capturing those entering illegally.
8) Provide Billions in aid to help develop Mexico's business community and create many new jobs in Mexico, making it more desirable to stay in Mexico.
9) Insist Mexico's policy on illegal immigrants from their southern border be the same policy they support from the U.S. on the Northern border as well.
10) Create more tourism in Mexico to help increase businesses.
11) Support an increase in Minimum wages in Mexico to improve the lives of Mexicans
12) Use the demonstrations currently in various cities to help identify those here illegally by establishing various areas where INS officials and police ask demonstrators for proper identification
13) Your ideas!?

I personally like the idea of changing the Tax code from an Income Tax system to a Consumption system as a start. I would also have a special Luxury Tax for large ticket items to help tax the wealthiest Americans. I think if they felt people were paying for their fair share of the burden on Education, Social Services and Medical Services, certainly I would. Another idea I like is to provide $Billions in aid to Mexico with strings attached to raise the minimum wage, and providing support to guard the borders and intervene for those trying to cross the border. If Mexico were to provide more opportunities for their people they wouldn't be so interested in leaving their families in Mexico to come here and be exploited by the Agriculture Industry.

These people are a real value add to America in so many ways. Their sense of family being the most important value they have, should resonate with us. We should set conditions that make us want to embrace them here not reject them. Come on folks, how about some creative new ideas to do this.

UPDATE: March 28, 2006
After listening to all the "conversations" in the media about this problem I am starting to form a more hard line position on the issue. I would love to solve the problem for the future but we have to address the problem now. Therefore, without something approved by the Congress and Senate to secure the borders, I can not support any provision regarding the estimated 11-20 million illegals here now. If we don't secure the borders this truly will encourage more to be illegal in hopes of becoming legal at some future point in time.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Start of the Iditarod Race in Anchorage, Alaska

This is a personal post, which brings back great memories for me, as I once raced sled dogs in the Northeast, as a member of the oldest dog sled club in America, the New England Dog Sled Club. This is a video clip of the start of the beginning of the Iditarod, the Last Great Race on Earth. Enjoy watching the dogs! I miss the sport and the colleagues but most of all, the dogs.

No-Bid contracts and the Bush/Cheney legacy

Taxes were cut for the wealthiest Americans back in the early years of this Administration. Next, the debt started to accumulate and because the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has been very costly, this Administration has created the highest debt burden in history, and our children and grandchildren will have to pay it off. If that isn't bad enough, some of the debt incurred was done with no-bid contracts.

From Terri Shaw, Jan. 28, 2004 and the Center for American Progress on Prescription Drug Prices: "The Medicare prescription drug benefit that the President signed into law in 2003 and lauded in his State of the Union speech in January 2004 omitted any effective mechanisms to lower prescription drug prices. Instead, the President and Congressional leaders drafted the law with the intent of emulating the private market practices that have brought us to where we are today – exploding prescription drug costs that are increasingly borne by patients due to health insurers’ restructuring of drug benefits. Even if the Medicare program experiences similarly unsustainable costs, the new law expressly forbids the secretary of Health and Human Services from acting to ensure reasonable prices under the drug benefit." Over 51% of Seniors have not signed up for this program to date because they are unsure about the costs, and the plan is very complex for people with Advanced degrees to understand, let alone seniors in their late 80's and 90's.

Just as Bush had previously bankrupt his own oil company, he has now bankrupt America. And who benefits from this? Bush, Cheney and their cronies have, that’s who! And who is going to pay for all of this? I’ll tell you: the Middle Class! And who will pay for all the Medical bills and Social Services for all the illegal immigrants who need these services and by the way, who do not pay taxes? Again: the Middle Class! After having created this huge mess, how can Bush and Cheney act so indifferent and scold us for questioning their decisions? Have they no shame, no conscience? Where are their deeply held religious convictions we have been hearing about these past 6 plus years? What became of the "compassionate conservative" Bush?

Here are some recent excerpts on the topic of No-Bid contracts that benefit their friends and them:

-FEMA Abandons Pledge on 4 No-Bid Contracts
By HOPE YEN Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — FEMA has broken its promise to reopen four multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work, including three that federal auditors say wasted significant amounts of money.

A review by the Government Accountability Office of 13 major contracts said last week the government had wasted millions of dollars, due mostly to poor planning by FEMA. Among the 13 were three of the four no-bid contracts for temporary housing, worth up to $500 million each, that went to three major firms with extensive government ties.

-February 27, 2006
Bush Administration To Pay Disputed Halliburton Costs

From the DNC:

Washington, DC – Today, despite admitting numerous problems with a contract with a Halliburton subsidiary, including disputed costs, overcharging and questionable business practices, the Bush Administration announced that they will pay "nearly all" of the disputed costs, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The disputed charges are part of a multi-billion dollar, no-bid contract awarded to a firm formerly run by Vice President Cheney.
"The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified."

-All In The Family
Sept. 21, 2003
Vice President Dick Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton. (AP / CBS)


Halliburton nearly doubled the value of federal contracts it received – from $1.2 to $2.3 billion – during the five years Cheney was its CEO.

Even before the first shots were fired in Iraq, the Pentagon had secretly awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root a two-year, no-bid contract to put out oil well fires and to handle other unspecified duties involving war damage to the country’s petroleum industry. It is worth up to $7 billion.

“They basically told us that there wasn't going to be any oil well fires.”
Grace showed 60 Minutes a letter from the Department of Defense saying: "The department is aware of a broad range of well firefighting capabilities and techniques available. However, we believe it is too early to speculate what might happen in the event that war breaks out in the region."

It was dated Dec. 30, 2002, more than a month after the Army Corps of Engineers began talking to Halliburton about putting out oil well fires in Iraq.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bush & Putin Alliance- Has it paid off?

The latest released information, on the beginning of the Iraq war 3 years ago, shows that the Russian Ambassador to Baghdad was disclosing our military positions, in advance of their deployment, to Saddam Hussein. Fortunately for us, Saddam didn't believe him and we rapidly marched our way all the way to Baghdad. Do you now remember that famous quote that was made early in President Bush's term about Vladimir Putin? In the midst of concerns about Putin by Western pundits, President Bush in attempting to ease those concerns said, "I trust Putin; I can see into his soul!" So that's one more blunder to add to this President's legacy for historians to record. I feel badly for his proud parents having to read all this stuff. I can see the yet to be written book title now in the NY Times Best Seller list by Michael Beschloss, "History of a Loser, the life story of George Walker Bush, the 43rd non-elected President of the United States!" So has President Bush's alliance with Mr. Putin paid off? It sure has- FOR PUTIN!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Biden blasts Chertoff on Chemical Plant Security

Sen. Joe Biden has put a much needed focus on Chemical Plant Security after Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, announced that safeguarding chemical plants will be the responsibility of the chemical industry, not Homeland Security. To read all of Sen. Biden's comments click here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Feinstein vs Bush- new approach or stay the course?

My Senator, Dianne Feinstein, called for a fresh start in Iraq yesterday first by removing Sec. of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and then by initiating a diplomatic solution in the region. This call for a more dramatic action is new for our Senator and a breathe of fresh air from her moderate, measured stance on Iraq and her questioning of the Administration's Plan or lack thereof, over the past year or so. There is no question in my mind that, unlike Senator Barbara Boxer, she hasn't needed to play to her base, as she is very well respected here in California. In my view, this pronouncement is not motivated because of wanting to appease her base. It comes from the deep conviction she has that this is the time for a fresh start in Iraq. I spent several trips seated next to her flying back and forth to Dulles Airport 6 years ago. She is smart, compassionate, studies the issues from all perspectives and is one of the brightest centrist Democrats in the Senate today, and she is a woman, all very attractive attributes. So when she says it's time for a change, it's time for a change! Between her and Sen. Joe Biden reasonable voices are raising the ante for change from the President and this Administration. However, taking notice from the President's Press Conference yesterday, their calls for a fresh approach are falling on deaf ears. The President is repeating the same mistakes he has made in the past. He is driving this business of governing into the ground, just as he drove his own oil business into bankruptcy. He "stayed the course" there too.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sen. Biden and Lugar- from CNN Late Edition

Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. Lugar were on CNN Late Edition this morning. As usual both Senators have it right on Iraq. Sen. Biden has given some really good suggestions over the past 3 years to this Administration. He has proposed a regional conference of neighbors to Iraq put together a comprehensive Peace plan for Iraq, Biden looks more and more Presidential and instead of just complaining about what is wrong with the Administration, he offers some worthy while suggestions as to how to solve the problems in Iraq. He could have just remained silent but he hasn't. He has nothing to gain politically if the Bush Administration took his ideas seriously and implemented them. Joe would then not have much to run on in the 2008 elections except to say they were his ideas. But Sen. Biden wants to see a victory for the USA as it is too important to lose, as he has stated many times. This is the kind of unselfish advice I wish more would offer this President from the Republican side. Instead they seem to want to let the President and VP run this game without their two cents of advice included. That way, they can say it was a failure of the President and not theirs. Where's the accountability! We need more candidates like Senator Biden running for every available seat in Congress and the Senate. Notice I said candidates, not Democrats nor Republicans. This country needs true Patriots and unselfish non-politicians to help change this country back to where it once was; respected across the world!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dare I speak the unspeakable on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld!

Dare I write the unspeakable here. I have been very troubled lately by the actions of the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Here's what has been bouncing around the infinite space of my tiny brain.

The flashbacks of the early days of this Presidency, where the arrogance of President Bush and Vice President Cheney seemed to be our only problems and those were just personality disorders. Then came 911 and the President and the Nation came together along with the sympathies of the rest of the world. We were one then and anyone half alive could feel it. The outpouring of support by both friend and foe alike to help on this new War on Terror was remarkable, reassuring of mankind itself and comforting that we wouldn't be alone in this pursuit. Then the switches of manipulation, arrogance and anger swept the idealogues to consider using this event to go forth with their master plan to repay Saddam and correct the perceived errors made by the former Bush Administration and George W.'s father. People like former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neil, was the first to shed some light on this in his interviews and later in his book. Rumors were everywhere about Colin Powell and how he was at odds with the Administration and portrayed as a weakling. Powell never abandoned his boss, the President, in public and was a good soldier externally but we all knew something wasn't right in the White House and with this Administration.

Then came the use of language trickery to confuse the American public to believe that Iraq was somehow connected to 911, the resistance to go along with the creation of a special 911 Commission, the abandonment of enforcing Environmental laws, the abandonment of the Kyoto Treaty early in the Administration and the resignation of former NJ Gov., Todd Whitman, as head of the EPA. Then the resignation of Paul O'Neil, all while the intelligence was being cherry picked to justify going into Iraq. We were being drawn in methodically by the silencing of any voices of dissent left within the Administration. The press let us down too, as they were afraid of Bush and Cheney and the power they saw amassed after 911 through fear and intimidation.

Then the refusal by this Administration to abide by International laws citing our right for pre-emptive strikes against anyone at anytime of our choosing. Refusal to allow anyone connected to the invasion of Iraq to fall under any jurisdiction of the World Court and International laws. Then General Counsel Alberto Gonzalles endorses the idea that somehow we had a right to torture in this unconventional War on Terror, which now was being blended into the war in Iraq. Later came Abu Ghraib prison pictures and assurances that we weren't torturing even though it was obvious to all of us that this had been well planned out within the Dept of Defense and authorized by both the Vice President and President under the new interpretation of the law on treating prisoners.

So where am I going with all this. Put aside for a moment the abuse of power by these individuals within the borders of our country. These are such things as Wire-Tapping without the authority of the FISA Court, the incompetence of this Administration in handling the Katrina tragedy, the refusal to protect our Borders from illegal aliens, the leaking of the name of a CIA operative by VP Cheney for the purpose of silencing a critic. These are enough (and I have more if you like) to impeach both President Bush and Vice President Cheney but there is more we should do as their crimes are against humanity. (Now here comes the unspeakable part.)

As a country, when all of this is over and they have left power, dare we consider turning them and Rumsfeld over to the International Court at the Hague to stand trial for War Crimes. One could make a legitimate case that it is warranted for the seriousness of their crimes. Of course we would never do this nor should we. But it is worth considering what they have done in the world from the perspective of a person not living in the USA. Someone from a country that is not Iraq nor Afghanistan. How must Europeans look at us? How about Japanese, Chinese, Australians? As a people, WeThePeople need to be willing to look at issues from a different perspective. It is very difficult to do when it is the water we drink every day and the air we breathe from our media and this Administrations manipulation of the truth. We are no better than any other human on this planet but we have been blessed to have been lucky enough to have been born here. We have had our chance to help save lives in the Darfur region of Sudan. Seems like we would prefer to kill people than save people as a country sometimes. When are we going to realize that and rejoin humanity? I'll tell you when, when you wake up and speak out, especially when you are afraid to! We were all one after 911. We squandered the good will of the world. It will take decades to regain it, if we are lucky to live that long.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sen. Russ Feingold- Censure proposal

I know all the people frustrated with President Bush want to jump on this censure movement, but I will tell you why it's not a good idea. First of all, if Bush broke the law and continues to break the law, then the appropriate punishment is impeachment. And by the way, I think it was illegal and is illegal and fits the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" defined in the Constitution. But now here's the dilemma, if we go for impeachment we will lose because the Republicans own all branches of government. But let's assume that there would be enough Republicans facing reelection that joined the Democrats. Then what? Well, if they were successful and Bush were impeached and replaced, VP Cheney would assume the Presidency. Noone really wants that do we. But that would galvanize the Republicans and the Democrats would lose 2006 election and possibly 2008. The only acceptable strategy for winning back Congress is patience, speaking out on issues like Wire Tapping, UAE Port deal and other missteps like Katrina. Believe me, there will be many more missteps before the 2006 elections and for sure the 2008 elections. As my mother use to tell me, "Patience is a Virtue!" The Democrats and the rest of America that is in the 59% Dissaproval rating of Bush will need plenty of patience but it is the only choice now.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dr. Wafu Sultan on the Hijacking of a people by Islam Fundamentalist Clerics

A very brave woman named Dr. Wafa Sultan, is the subject of an article in the New York Times today by John Broder. Dr. Sultan has shown to be a courageous Muslim woman who has challenged the Islamic Clerics for hijacking Islam and deserves to be heard. Many have condemned her, especially for her comments regarding how the Jews dealt with the holocaust. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

I strongly recommend reading this piece, and you must listen for yourself to the video of her interview on Al Jazeera by clicking here. This is must viewing for all who want to hear clarity and an Americanize Muslim woman stand up and put her male counterparts to shame here and around the world, for her passion and courage on this cause she has embarked. Bravo, Bravo!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Gen. Wesley Clark - On engaging Iran and politics in Iraq

Former NATO Supreme Commander and retired General, Wesley Clark, had it right this morning when he spoke on ABC's, This Week, with George Stephanopoulos when he said the best we can hope for in Iraq is a "C-" grade and if we don't use the full force and power of the US in Iraq we may get an "F" grade when this is all over. His call to engage Iran directly was courageous and unique in the voices being heard on the issue, although Sen. Biden has called for similar action by the Administration in engaging Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. He is correct when he says "jawboning" the politicians elected in Iraq won't work without more military pressure being applied. In my opinion, the more we won't have direct contact with Iran, the more the situation will spiral out of control until we do. This Administration has tried similar moves with North Korea as a strategy. But with respect to that issue, at least we have engaged the Chinese, Russians and the Europeans to help the talks go forward. We don't have any talks with Iran and we should. What can we lose talking.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

US Troops say end the War in Iraq in 2006!!

"The Zogby Poll of 944 soldiers, randomly sampled at several locations throughout the country, showed that 72% think the U.S. should exit Iraq in the next 12 months. It was the most controversial finding in the survey, and has been interpreted differently by different people across the nation, depending in part on their points of view on the war." That's the headline of the latest findings which show that now even our soldiers don't think we should be there any longer.

To quote Zogby, "The poll was conducted in conjunction with the Center for Peace and Global Studies at Le Moyne College, a Catholic school in Syracuse, New York. While the center promotes the study of conflict around the world, it is not an anti-war organization."

Here are some other findings that give additional insight about how some of our troops feel:

* Just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay as long as they are needed”
* While 58% say mission is clear, 42% U.S. role is hazy
*• Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
* Almost 90% think war is retaliation for SaddamÂ’s role in 9/11, most don'’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
* Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation
* Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment.

Congresman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, knows the heart of our troops and their commanders as well and when he said on Meet the Press on Sunday, Nov.20th, that the best strategy in Iraq is to leave, believe him, as he does care so much about all of them. We must bring home a significant number of troops in 2006 and the remainder in 2007 if we want to do what's best for Iraq and what's best for America. Right now I find myself caring only about what's best for America because I believe this Administration under Bush and Cheney have their own private war being played out. If they want to continue it, I say let them fight it themselves. Heck, I'll even pay their airfare to go over there.

Administration Tries to Evade Torture Ban (Again)

Jeremy, over at Chargingrino, has a great post dated Friday, March 3rd, I highly recommend reading, titled, "Administration Tries to Evade Torture Ban (Again)". Jeremy truly is a Centrist and is a great resource on current political happenings. Visit him frequently and your time will be well spent. I do.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Katrina and the incompetency of our President!

What seems clear now that the AP tape and transcript has surfaced is that the President was fully briefed on the magnitude of Katrina the day prior to the tragedy unfolding contrary to his public statements to all of us that he wasn't briefed.

I just thought this Administration was incredibly incompetent. Now I am convinced that so is this President. The story states that during the briefing the President didn't ask one question. Surprise, surprise! This comes from the President that sat reading a book to elementary school children during the 911 attack and defended his lack of action on the fact much was going on behind the scene and his Administration was well in charge of the situation. God help all those that died unnecessarily in New Orleans. What we saw from Bush in that famous scene of him reading to schoolchildren, was the real Bush; ineffectual, indifferent and frozen like a deer in headlights. He did nothing then and he did nothing to help the Katrina victims. He has blood now on his hands too.

Wake up America and impeach this President and Vice President for the abuse of power they wield under the guise of patriotism. There is no patriotism here. See it for what it is: Gross negligence and incompetence and surely a crime against humanity.


"Brownie, you've done a heck of a job!" said President Bush during the Katrina aftermath. Well, Michael Brown has had the courage to face the American people and give us some facts that have been shown to be true after all. He has been on Hardball with Chris Mathews, CNN with Wolf Blitzer and last night on Real Time with Bill Maher. As we have seen, the President knew and was briefed about the situation in New Orleans, but now Brownie has his sights on Homeland Security Chief, Chertoff, for his complicity in the negligence. I say go for it Brownie. The more incompetent folks that we get rid of in this Administration, the better. It should be an interesting talk show Sunday, especially with the reports of how Bush had to sneak into Pakistan in the middle of the night with window shades down and the lights off for landing Airforce One. Many jokes going around that this is the way he will have to sneak back into the USA with all that has been going wrong for him.
Technorati Profile