Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If you believe in a Free Press and Blogging, stop Bill S. 1959

If you favor your right to dissent, then you must call your Senator and oppose Bill S. 1959. All Bloggers should oppose this Bill whether on the Left or the Right of the political spectrum. Here are some excerpts of the Bill:

" (3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideology based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terror-related propaganda to United States citizens."

"The term 'homegrown terrorism' means to use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segmnet thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

You can see from the above definition, just writing comments against the government can be defined as "homegrown terrorism." We must stop Bill S. 1959 from passage.

If you want to read the entire Bill click here.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What is the Bush legacy?

Assembled here are lists of the "accomplishments" for President George Walker Bush during his 7 years as president. One wonders what his Presidential Library will have as its record of accomplishments. Here's a short list:

* Increased the National debt from $5.9 Trillion to $11.5 Trillion dollars. Biggest spender in history, surprising most Conservatives.

* Devalued the dollar by 76% from Nov. 24th 2001 exchange rate was 1Euro = $0.8382 dollars. Now Nov. 20, 2007 1 Euro = 1.4787 Dollars

* Unemployment rate at the beginning of this Bush's term was 4.0% and at the end of his term it is projected to be 5.0%

* Price of Oil has gone from $22/barrel to $98/barrel. Secretive Energy Policy meeting between VP Cheney and a few select corporate heads, which are still secret today.

* U.S. Military was whole at the end of the Clinton Presidency. Now it is fundamentally broken.

* We had not been attacked on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor 1942. Sept. 11th, 2001 was on the Bush watch and during the first 6 months of his Presidency was warned by Richard Clarke and others about pending attacks on the U.S. by Osama Bin Laden, which were ignored.

* War with Iraq by choice.

* Scooter Libby, under the direction of Vice President Cheney, pushes a campaign to discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson and expose his wife Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA undercover agent. It has now been confirmed by Scott McClelland that President Bush was a part of the cover-up when he told Scott to lie to the public in Press Briefings on the matter, which involved also Karl Rove. (See Scott's upcoming book when it is released in April 2008)

* First mishandling of a major natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, by FEMA and an incompetent head appointed by the President, Michael Brown.

* Allowing for the mismanagement of the Iraq war first by Administrator Paul Bremer and then by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

* An abandonment of the Middle East Peace process fro 7 out of the 8 years of his Presidency, after endorsing a 2 State solution for Israelis and Palestinians early in his presidency.

* Has abused the office of the President by having over 850 Signing statements attached to legislation he disagrees with and has instructional implications for government employees not to follow sections of the law the President disagrees with, similar to a line item veto, except many Constitutional lawyers believe it is unconstitutional.

* Approves the use of Torture for the first time in history as he defines a new term, "enemy combatants" and redefines what is and what isn't torture, which the definition has also been kept secret.

* Abu Grahib prison atrocities, shocking the world but most likely endorsed by Donald Rumsfeld and some would add clearly violations of the Geneva Convention treaty.

* Guantanamo Bay prison camp for enemy combatants and the ending of Habeas Corpus claims for those prisoners and others deemed so by the President.

* Firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys, which appears to be done for Political motives, and politicizing the Justice Dept. under Alberto Gonzales.

* Bedside visit by Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to get John Ashcroft to sign papers for Illegal Wiretapping while Ashcroft was in Intensive care in the hospital.

This is a good first list. With one year left in office, I am sure more will be added. I can't wait to see his Presidential Library of how he sees his own legacy. You know it will be pure fiction and be based upon one common trait he has shown for over 30 years, that of "Denial".

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Monday, November 19, 2007

The Musharraf distraction

Can you believe the world is focused on his clothing and not his actions? We insist he "take off" his Military uniform and put on something like an Armani or a Zegna suit. How about he take off, PERIOD!

There is nothing much dissimilar between Pakistan and the U.S. Pakistan is just further down the road to losing its democracy than we are but similar steps have been taken here, albeit chipping away at our Constitution a little slower than in one fell swoop. But it is happening just enough so that we don't wake up like the Pakistani's have, until it's too late. Oh one other difference, Pakistan Musharraf has been proud to wear his uniform and stay in the Military over the course of many years. President Bush couldn't wait to take his off when he was younger and in the Air National Guard and Vice President Cheney never wanted to wear the Military uniform, favoring Armani or more likely, Brooks Brothers suits instead.

Suggested reading: Naomi Wolf's latest book titled, "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot"

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Who won the debate? The Statesman

CNN's Wolf Blitzer last night "moderated" the Democratic Presidential debate, or so he was suppose to. He apparently lost control in the first 12 minutes as it appeared to be a free for all between the Presidential hopefuls. Much of the focus of attention was on Hillary Clinton and whether she would do better this time over her last performance. She did. Was Barack Obama more present and engaged? He was. Was John Edwards making his case to voters on the difference between the candidates (Hillary) and himself? No, he did himself a disservice last night and if anything, was one of the losers in the debate. He got booed, as they didn't like him attacking Hillary.

But there was more to summarize in this debate than in previous debates. For example, Senator Joe Biden, the Statesman, seemed to have the best answers to solve most of the issues brought up in the debate. He was down to earth, used plain language and was not trying to slam any of the other candidates. He was definitely the most stately candidate and was at his best in this debate.

Also a surprise was Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He was direct, made the differences more apparent between himself and most of the other candidates and in one particular exchange, he noted that most of the candidates had voted for NAFTA, War in Iraq, passed China's admittance into the WTO without restrictions and were responsible for most of the problems facing us today, including passing funding for the War in Iraq and not pursuing Impeachment for Cheney and Bush.

I was surprised how well this debate went and the questions were good. Most candidates were at their best and one thing for sure, any could make a good President, but only one will be. The media seems to influence voters by just speaking of the front 3 candidates and I think the others are short changed. Senator Biden for one and Senator Dodd and Congressman Kucinich as well.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who's in control of Iraq? Gen. Petraeus or Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr? You'll know by April Fools day

The U.S. Military has decided to reduce the number of troops from the "surge" in Iraq, according to news reports. It is expected that 30,000 troops will come home by July of 2008 and leave a remaining force of about 145,000, which does not include contractors. What does this all mean? Will the gains claimed to be the result of the "surge" be won and not prove fleeting? Did the surge really result in the gains or was it the fact that Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked his Militia to stand down on Sept. 1st. We will find out the answers to these questions as the time the militia stood down is going to come to an end, coinciding with Troop withdrawal during the next 6 months. By April 1st (April Fools Day), if Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continues to keep his Militia off the streets, there will continue to be less violence. If he chooses to stir up the ethnic battles with Sunni's, the violence will emerge quickly in April, which will be at least 3 months before the 30,000 troops are totally home.

Watch casualty numbers for the next 5 months, especially Aprils to reflect what choice has been made. Interestingly, it will coincide with the rhetoric leading up to the U.S. Presidential debates between both the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee for President.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where did the first SubPrime loan originate? President Bush!

That's right, when President Bush was an Oilman and was driving his Oil Company into bankruptcy, he was bailed out with the first Sub Prime loan. The banker? The Saudi Royal family who never expected to really get the loan paid back, but wanted the Bush family to "owe them", which they collected on handsomely. Back then Oil was only $19 barrel or cheaper. Saudi Arabia was and is the largest Oil producer in the world with their vast reserves. So think about this a moment, they have something worth $19/barrell safe in the ground. The have maybe several Trillion barrels. They see then VP Bush, George W's father, going to become President after President Reagan leaves office. They see the Soviet Union disintegrating. And they make a very small bet on the Bush family.

This President, George Walker Bush, went bankrupt, bankrupt our country, started a war and overthrew Saddam Hussein, caused more turmoil in the Middle East and has rattled the saber against Iran, coincidently Saudi's enemy, but has repaid his debt to his "Godfather!"

Oil now is just pennies away from $100/barrel.

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Rev. Pat Robertson endorses Rudi. Why?

Why did Pat Robertson endorse Rudi Giuliani for President? It is obviously NOT because Rudi dressed in Drag a few times. It is obviously NOT because of his pro-choice earlier position. So what is it? It's most likely because Rudi is the Warrior candidate of both Political Party's and the one candidate most likely to get us to the great battle of Armageddon, which most Christian Fundamentalist preachers and their flocks want to create, so that they can get to see God sooner. They are the Muslim world's reason for being so radical. They see this as a campaign started by the "Crusaders". And you know what, they are right as these Right Wingnuts are not interested in keeping the world whole, but rather in destroying it for all the evil they see everywhere.

If there ever where a reason NOT to vote for Rudi, we just got it! Do us a favor would you Pat? Stay out of politics with your hypocrisy!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Inciting news or reporting news? A Free Press demands responsible reporting.

As I was watching a news clip from CNN this morning, fresh from Pakistan, I was listening to the announcer and watching the video footage of the "protesters clashing in the streets with police forces who were using tear gas in the Capitol." What I saw in the footage was a crowd of about 50 people. One individual was taunting police who stood behind a barbed wire barrier. The interesting visual here was that there were about 2/3rds of the people had cameras held high in the air to apparently capture the pictures of the taunting. I presume these were journalists for the most part. This begs the question, do the journalists incite the story or report on it. It looked to me that they were inciting the story as they significantly outnumbered protesters. You had to empathize with the police behind the barracade being photographed while being taunted. Ever wonder why violence breaks out in these situations?

Responsible reporting requires less drama seeking and more conscientiousness, as to ensure that reporting is actually done, not inciting the story. With the Freedom of the Press comes responsibility in accord with that privaledge.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

U.S. Fatalities significantly down for 2 consecutive months. Why?

I have been trying to figure out the main cause of the reduction in violence over the past several months. I can think of at least 3 contributing factors. First, there is the "surge" in U.S. forces. Secondly, there was the order that Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked his Militia to stand down for 6 months. Thirdly, there were the Sunni's deciding to work with U.S. forces to rid the area of Al Qaeda. Then there is the fact that President Bush seemed to get his way with the Congress on spending and legislation to support the troops. Lastly, the 3 leading Democratic PresidentiaL candidates, Hillary, Barack and Edwards, have sidestepped the issue of bringing home the troops and stated that they could not guarantee they could bring home the troops by 2013, the end of their first term if they were chosen as President.

Let's take a look at the timeline of these events. Which one or two fit the timeline best?

1. The "Surge"

Dec. 6th, 2006 Iraq Study Group report. Jan. 10th surge announcement by President Bush. Surge started by 82nd Airborne on Jan. 10th. June 17th surge complete. (These dates seem much earlier and one would have to assume it took 2 1/2 months to make things better after all the troops were there. This is possible)

2. Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr 's Militia stops fighting

Sept. 1st. (This seems to fit exactly withing the 2 months and would be a precipitous event. Highly likely)

3. Sunni's decide to work with U.S forces to rid themselves of Al Qaeda

May 1st was the first report of this story. 2nd major story appeared early June. (Again, these dates seem much earlier and one would have to assume it took 2 1/2 months to make things better after the decision was made. This is also possible.)

4. President Bush gets his way with Congress.

February 17th non-binding Iraq Warner/Levin amendment looses, Sept. 26th Kyl-Lieberman amendment with support from Hillary, passes, Oct 1st Senate vote unites Iraqi's in anger over Biden Amendment calling to creat a fedral system of 3 States of Iraq, as Iraqis see this as a threat to their sovereignty. (This might have an effect if Iraqis were watching our news and were united on how to play this to get us to leave. Possible but not probable)

5. Leading Democratic candidates say can't commit to bringing troops home.
August 19, debate in Des Moines, Iowa, then Oct.30th debate in Philadelphia, PA (Possible but not probable)

Many of these dates do coincide with the very significant reduction in U.S. Fatalities for September and October with Oct being the most impressive reductione. But to ascribe a highly proable cause, it is important to understand the chartacter of the war and what was going on in Iraq. Most would agree, both Republican and Democrats alike, that ther fighting in Iraq was mostly between Sunni and Shia's and that it was a Civil War that was going on in Iraq. Therefore this coiupled with the dates leads me to conclude that the standing down of Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Militia is the most probable of reasons that thee has benn a significant reduction in U.S. AND Iraqi casualties. It amkes sense and the dates are closer in proximity than any other dates as one would have to estiamte at how long the effect took to be seen. This would be the case for the Surge and it wouldn't have as much of an effect as one side choosing to stand down in the conflict. That's what I would bet on. How about you? Waht do you think mnakes sense? It could be a single action or one in combination. It doesn't hurt having the troops there trying to keep the peace and it doesn't hurt to have the Militia stand down. That's a win-win.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistan institutes a State of Emergency. It could happen here too!

News item: Pakistan's Musharraf declares emergency. As I saw this on Yahoo News, I wondered why as there didn't appear to be any violence in the streets unless I missed something in the past day or two. It didn't seem justified. Here's a shortened version of the article on Pakistan:

Pakistan's Musharraf declares emergency
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday ahead of a crucial Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election win and amid rising Islamic militant violence.

Eight Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. The government blocked transmissions of private news channels in several cities and telephone services in the capital, Islamabad, were cut.

"The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order," a newscaster on state Pakistan TV said, adding that Musharraf, who took power in 1999 coup, would address the nation later Saturday.

This came as a total surprise to me and caught many off guard. Consider the following, this could happen here while we are sleeping or while our "consciousness" is asleep. The Bush/Cheney Administration has "secret" plans to install a new government should a state of emergency ever be needed for reasons I will leave to your imagination. Musharraf has learned from Bush well. He sees what we citizens allow in our, so called, democracy and beats Bush to the punch.

We have no moral ground to ask Musharraf to do something we wouldn't do, to stand down. Remember as Senator Joe Biden said in the last debate which now appears prophetic, Paraphrasing the good Senator, he said that he was worried more about Pakistan than about Iran. Iran is trying to make 2 Kilo's of enriched nuclear material, Pakistan has made thousands upon thousand of Kilo's of this material and they sit atop Missiles pointed at India and Israel. That's what we should keep our eye on, said Senator Biden. But no, President Bush and Vice President Cheney are still rattling their saber at Iran instead of worrying about Nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda. We took our eye of the war on terrorists for this war in Iraq and we may yet pay the ultimate price as a nation for doing so.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

U.S. Fatalities in Iraq for October, 2007 are the lowest of the war!

For the month of October there were 39 fatalities. In October of 2006 we had 106 U.S. Fatalities in Iraq. This continues to be a major story and does show that the violence is down in Iraq, at least for Americans. It is a substantial reduction from the 106 last year and the lowest month of fatalities since March of 2006 when we had 31 and before that for March 2005 when we had 35.

For the months of October since this war started, these are the numbers of U.S. Fatalities in theater:

Oct. 2003 44
Oct. 2004 64
Oct. 2005 96
Oct. 2006 106
Oct. 2007 39

This is an extraordinary reduction and while they may be many reasons for the reduction such as the surge working, Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr calling off his Army and asking them to stand down, it really doesn't matter. The numbers are drastically lower than the past 5 years of this war.

What I don't understand is why the media isn't making more of these numbers. Look, I'm no fan of this war either, but when there is anything that is positive about this tragedy, it should be reported.

There are now 3,845 U.S. Fatalities, as of the reporting this morning. May they rest in peace and their families healed for their loss.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oct. 30th Democratic Presidential debate: Can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

I watched the last Democratic Presidential debate twice to see where I came out on it. I found John Edwards did a great job of speaking to America and distinguishing his differences with Hillary. In doing, so he elevated all the candidates’ status. Joe Biden was terrific and rightfully discussed Iran and the saber rattling in the context of the much more important issue with Pakistan: having Nuclear Bombs on missiles pointed at India and the instability of Pakistan's President Musharraf's Government. Obama tagged on to Edwards going after Hillary and did OK. But Chris Dodd was also a positive surprise pointing out Hillary's problem with about 50% of the population saying they would never vote for Hillary. All in all, it was the first really good debate. As for the jousting amongst the candidates going after Hillary on her stands and inconsistency over the issues that inspired Gov. Richardson to come to the defense of Hillary, I found it resulted in my ruling out Richardson as a viable candidate. This is the very type of debate we need. It's about issues, political stands and inconsistencies in what the candidates have said in the past, that needs to be debated. As this phrase came from President Truman who is depicted in the picture above, Gov. Richardson, if you can't stand the heat on others, get out of the kitchen!

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