Friday, June 24, 2005

36 Million

And now, this important message from John Edwards:

Dear Friend,

Elizabeth and I believe strongly in the power and dignity of hard work. I remember mornings before school when my dad would sit at the kitchen table worrying over paper work and jotting down notes. It wasn't the family bills; he was trying to improve his math skills by watching public TV programs about probability and statistics. He believed, as we do, that hard work should be the means to a better life in America.

But 36 million Americans are impoverished today - that's 13 million more than there were thirty years ago - and many are hard working men and women who simply cannot work their way out of poverty. No one has all the answers, but one solution is clear: we need to raise the minimum wage in America.

You can tell a lot about a nation's character by how its leadership treats those who are struggling. It's a national disgrace that our minimum wage is so low, and yet President Bush and Republicans in Congress refuse to raise it. I've met single mothers who work full time, some even hold down two jobs - but each month they struggle to pay the bills, and they certainly can't build assets or save up for a family crisis.

One stroke of bad luck could send them and their families over the cliff.

That's why I've been working with grassroots organizations, labor unions, elected officials, and other progressive allies to fight for a higher minimum wage, and that's why I'm asking for your support as we take this issue to the states. Next week we will rally in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Lansing, Cleveland, and Columbus to call for increases in the minimum wage. Please ask your friends
to join us at these upcoming events as we push for a ballot measure on this all-important issue.

The Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress have blocked efforts to raise the federal minimum wage. By taking the issue directly to state ballots, we can go around the Republican stonewall and give greater financial opportunity to millions of working Americans. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have already enacted higher minimum wage rates over the last few years, and Nevadans will vote on a statewide measure in 2006. With your help, we can bring more states along.

Legislators take notice when grassroots organizations and thousands of voters unite behind an issue. Let's make our voices heard: encourage your friends
to join us as we restore dignity and hope to hard working Americans.

Please also
visit our Web site to learn more about the fight for a fair minimum wage, and check back next week to see footage from the events mentioned above.

Your friend,

Signed, An Unpatriotic Liberal

(Oh, and by the way, I want to see our troops get killed...sure I do, Karl.)

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for something a little more "up tempo" in the conspiratorial vein encouraged by Bushco, so here it is (to the tune of "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys - property of Capitol/EMI).

OK, everybody now...

Let's go for a road trip
Into the desert sand
On behalf of the Army
To give our troops a hand
Selective service is awesome
Dubya wants us to go
Hop a transport and join the
Fallujah horror show

We'll all be taking that route
Through Kirkuk we're gonna drive
Sunnis roaming in Baghdad
I hope I come back alive
Waging Shia incursions
Blow each other to bits
Fly in Rummy, coerce the
Troops to all re-enlist
All over in Tikrit
Battles rage for Allah
Where the Bible once called it

So off we go for the oil
And pledge ourselves with aplomb
To up-armor our Humvees
Against a roadside bomb
Just fly my body to Dover
If then my life I forego
It's just the price if I join the
Fallujah horror show

Bring It On, Dubya!

Hmmm...good, honest scorn from the White House. How refreshing for a Friday.

Maybe we Democrats are "puzzled," at the very least, because we don't appreciate it when someone says we support the murder of our own troops.

Oh, and one more thing: I skimmed over the CNN article and saw that Bushco took a swipe at, an organization that I support. I'm tired of wasting my valuable time and energy explaining the misinformation and lies that continue to seep out from this administration and its sycophants, so I'm not going to bother to refute their utter nonsense.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bushco Knows Best

Gee gosh uncle Karl, I don't know if you'll be able to pin this one on the liberals or not (but I'm sure you'll try).

I wouldn't call this a diplomacy challenge, Mr. Ereli. I'd call it a reality challenge.

See Dick Run (From The Truth)

LIE: According to Vice President Dick Cheney, the Iraqi insurgency "is in its last throes".

TRUTH: Gen. John Abizaid painted a very different picture today.

Here are more Dick Cheney lies from last year. Enjoy.

A Good Way to Seize Property?

OK, everyone is weighing in on the story about the Supreme Court ruling that allows local officials to seize personal property for private economic development that you can read about here.

Please allow me to offer a glimmer of hope in all of this.

First, I think it stinks that the New London, CT residents are going to lose their homes and/or businesses. However, I don't believe that the Supremes were ruling on the merits of their case and the legality of "eminent domain". I think they were ruling on who should exercise the authority, local government or the Feds. If they were ruling on "eminent domain" and found it illegal (which they should do), then that would ensue a whole raft of litigation, and they weren't going to let that happen.

The one paragraph in the story that stands out for me is this one:

Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.
That's the good news in all of this as far as I'm concerned (and I'll admit you have to really dig for good news in this story). If someone is going to make a decision about taking over your property, wouldn't you want it to be someone on the local level instead of the feds?

The key to me is who voted the way they did. I think that's what Stevens, Kennedy and the Clinton bunch were going for. I admire what Sandra Day O'Connor said, but though I believe she has stood tall in recent years, I wonder if she was being a bit disingenuous on this one. I think it further proves my theory that the "Stop-The-Gore-Bush-Recount" bunch voted against this, because they wanted more federal control and were in favor of using a ruling in a case like this as justification (again, ironic that judges who typically side with the "party of states rights" would come down this way).

Here's another key paragraph in this story:

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.
Again, I think "eminent domain" stinks, but it wasn't going to go away as a result of this case. As far as I'm concerned, you have a better chance of fighting this out if you're doing so on the local level and not going up against "Uncle Sam" and the full weight and force of the U.S. government.

Update: Please check out this site's 6/26 entry, which adds more information to what I said above.

My Dad Was a Liberal, Karl

This is almost too easy.

From "Blogoland"...

Karl Rove was in Manhattan the other day, and here are some of the delightful things he had to say (from the New York Times):

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
Not red meat enough for you? Wait, there's more!

Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
So there you go. Liberals: their only intent is getting our troops killed.

I don't know whether or not Durbin has actually served, but I do know that his remarks were based on what an FBI agent had seen at Gitmo. I do also know that Rove has not.

Oh, and by the way, here's an update (Bushco are, collectively, a bunch of self-serving, greedhead toads, but Scott McLellan is becoming more and more of a joke every day).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Out of the Past

My dad would have been 86 today.

He served in the 29th infantry in World War II, and he surely would have been in the first wave of the assault on D-Day had he not injured his knee in a jeep accident and required a medical stay. As it was, he went over after Normandy was secured and policed the area, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

I once asked him if he ever shot anybody, and he just kind of rolled his eyes and looked away and changed the subject. I believe his rank was sergeant, but I’m not sure. He later completed a master’s degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. before he became one of the co-founders of the Northeast Philadelphia Internal Revenue Service operations center. It remains then as now a sprawling facility, though I’m quite sure it has grown decrepit with age and will eventually be closed, with all of the personnel planned to move to a facility near 30th and Market Street in the city.

I’m not going to tell you some fairy tale. He had problems, but he was a good man. He smoked Tareyton cigarettes, drank Italian Swiss Colony (ugh) and used to staple together foam tiles for reuse in the drop ceiling of the basement of our home, along with threading wires into fuses for our electrical appliances (though he did many other handywork-related things). He was a provider in the typical fashion for men of his generation.

Part of the reason why I’m thinking of him now is that I am truly glad that he is no longer around to see what is happening to the working middle class that built this country after World War II and subsequent generations. Change was inevitable – we could barely afford The Great Society when it was taking place, and we certainly can’t now, and more fool those of the left who ridiculed it while the unholy alliance between the radical right wing Southerners and Westerners and the pro-business conservatives began to take shape – but the lessons of sacrifice during an earlier era were forgotten by many of the baby boom generation seeking to renounce their youthful indulgence.

The splintering of the Democratic Party into a gaggle of interest groups often competing with themselves to the point where they could not find a consistent, unified voice to summon the country to recall its past has been a tragic development also.

The occasional moments of unification (see Carter, Jimmy and Clinton, Bill) proved to be illusory, as the radical conservatives – ridiculing the Democrats for talking of “class warfare” while they themselves practiced it – found a means to pillage our savings and loan institutions in the 80s, relax corporate regulations at approximately that timeframe also, consolidate power among media outlets in the 90s for the purpose of controlling dissemination of information in the present day, and accelerate the elimination of white-collar professional jobs from 2000 through offshoring and outsourcing.

Also, as we know full well, the individuals running our plutocratic state are not satisfied with the ravages they have wrought to date. In a matter not unlike holding the sails and rigging in place while a ship is violently tossed in a storm at sea, we are fighting to hang onto Social Security, which is truly one of the last safety nets still in existence. Medicaid is in trouble, and thanks to “tort reform”, it is harder to bring class action lawsuits. It is also now harder to file for personal bankruptcy in the event of loss of income due to a catastrophic health care-related development for which insurance does not provide, among other reasons.

All of the safety nets that were provided for us were hard earned by the generation of my parents, and their squandering and neglect from individuals who buy into the jingoistic, aggrandizing half truths and lies of politicians of either party (though primarily the Republicans) without, apparently, the slightest clue about the history of this country over the last 50 or so years fuels my ire which enables me to populate this site with my words which, at times, are admittedly feeble for my purpose.

Despite it all, there is still more right with this country than not, though for my money, the scales are tipping the wrong way more and more every day. I can take some comfort, though, from the fact that this was not the legacy provided for me by the people who built the way of life from which I have benefited over all of these years.

They did their part. It’s time for more, many more of us, to start doing ours.

Today's Bush Bash

God bless Chris Floyd (and God help the rest of us).

Find outrage from somewhere, people. Never give up!

Eat Me

The following are excerpts from the keynote speech of the Honorable James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which he gave to open the BIO Conference recently held in Philadelphia on Monday, June 20th.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for attending this year’s biotechnology conference held in my hometown. For those of you who don’t know this, Philadelphia has been ranked third in a national study measuring the strength and impact of the life sciences industries, behind Boston and the San Francisco Bay area, according to a published report in the Inquirer.

That study originated from the Milken Institute, a non-profit organization headed by a former financier who improperly induced insurance companies to purchase his junk bonds in vast quantities. For those of you who don’t know, junk bonds are speculative finacial instruments that yield a higher rate of return because of a higher default rate. Anyway, when the artificially-inflated junk bond market collapsed in the 1980s, this left policyholders (including employees of many companies who had replaced their pension systems with annuities purchased from the corrupted insurance companies) holding worthless paper.

I realize that what I just said has nothing whatsoever to do with life sciences, but I firmly believe that you can never have too much information.

I think it is commendable that you were able to negotiate your way into this building past the reckless, hedonistic horde of skateboarding, color-coded protestors who blocked your entry. Suffice it to say that we are blazing new trails of entrepreneurial riches while they wish to continue latching onto the government teat and sucking away like your Mom’s broken-down Hoover that’s missing half of its hand-held attachments while it’s trying to ingest the shedded coat of her Springer Spaniel. Un-freaking-believable!

Speaking of animals, I think that ties in nicely to the primary subject I wish to address, and that is the development and maintenance of healthy food sources. We here face, what is in part, a public relations battle to sell the benefits of genetically modified foods. All over the US, UK, and many parts of Europe, people are choosing to avoid the products we are developing for the new century. Boy, talk about head-in-the-sand time!

One of the leading companies developing new food products is Monsanto, which has produced genetically modified potatoes for Russia. However, the yields produced by Russian farmers with these new potatoes have only reached about a third of what the yield would be if the farmers had used real potatoes instead. Hey, go cry in your vodka, comrade! We’re talking a new age of science here!

Oh, and please don’t remind me that Monsanto was also the company that produced the chemical defoliant Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War, which has been linked to chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a disease marked by fatigue, shortness of breath, weight loss, or frequent infections. None of us are virgins here. You read me?

In this country, the McDonald’s Corporation has continued their experiments with synthetic chemicals to produce a chicken that has three breasts instead of two. As a result of this, we can all ingest more genetically modified poultry that contains chicken bums, pee pees and possible excrement and take our chances. And don’t you talk to me about carcinogens. Try proving it, bucko! Hey, we’re talking about birds with boobs big enough to fit into a C cup. Ol’ Mc Donald never had it so good!

In closing, let me say this. I am not a scientist. I am not an investor. I am not a businessman. What I am is a politician who played the game for as many years as I could and put up with all manner of petty day-in-day-out niggling, all in the name of providing constituent service to the eighth congressional district, including all of the whining babies complaining about funding shortfalls for their favorite entitlements, road construction on their streets when it was time to run little Johnny or Jill to soccer practice, or my inability to grant any favor they wanted at a moment’s notice.

However, rest assured that I will use my hard-earned clout in a way that is beneficial to ourselves and our industry. Namely, I will spare no effort on behalf of tort reform that absolves us of any and all liability for our actions.

I now and always pledge my undying gratitude to and toil on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization for their forward-thinking vision, boundless promises of a better tomorrow for one and all, and my $650,000-a-year salary.

Thank you, and I hope you have a great conference.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Glub, Glub...

According to the latest poll results at The Daily Kos, Katherine Harris, in the U.S. Senate election in Florida, appears to be trailing incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson badly in the polls. It sounds like she's "flailing away in the water," so to speak, so as a public service, allow me to toss an anvil or two in her direction (from other blogs).

Apparently, disenfranchising 50,000 voters in order to swing an entire presidential election is considered a "qualification" to the Republican Party. (However), that sounds a lot more like an extraordinary abuse of power.

Remember, this is the same Katherine Harris who was Florida's Secretary of State during the 2000 election debacle and was simultaneously co-chair of George Bush's Florida campaign. It's the same Katherine Harris who ordered the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters - mostly African Americans and Latinos - simply because their names or birthdays were conveniently similar to that of a convicted felon.

What in the world would Katherine Harris have as a campaign platform? Preventing black people, Jews and liberals from voting? That’s the bulk of her experience in public service.

Again and again, Katherine Harris has proved herself to be a faithful servant to Florida’s power elites. Instead of fulfilling the duty inherent to her job as Secretary of State to protect the voting rights of Florida’s citizens, Katherine worked night and day to prevent Floridians’ votes from being counted. Her main priority all along was not to ensure that justice was served, but to serve the ambitions of her boss, Jeb Bush, and his brother George W. Time and time again, Katherine Harris has chosen loyalty to powerful families and financial elites over the needs of Florida’s average citizens.
Personally, Nelson isn't my favorite guy, but consider the alternative.

What Say You Now, Jesse?

Justice of a fashion was administered today, albeit 38 years too late.

I would like to think that this will change the minds of people in that area inclined to do the awful act that Killen did, but somehow I know better.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Seven Percent Solution

Today’s CNN Quick Vote question is as follows:

"If U.S. intelligence officials have an ‘excellent idea’ where Osama bin Laden is, should they go get him?"
The last I checked the results, 93 percent said yes, but 7 percent actually said no. It is mind boggling to me that the numbers aren’t 100 percent yes and 0 percent no instead.

In an attempt to enlighten the seven percent who are actually “on the fence” regarding this matter, allow me to provide my remembrance of a gentleman named Don Havlish, who we frequently ran into in the McCaffrey’s Supermarket. He was a tall, gregarious man who always offered a smile and some friendly words whenever we saw him.

I don’t recall the name of his employer at the World Trade Center, but I believe he worked in the North Tower. Suffice it to say that a femur was his only remains as a result of the attack. All told, Bucks County, PA lost Don Havlish and 18 other people on September 11th.

This is the reason why I don’t want to hear any hand-wringing, equivocating Bushco bullshit from Porter Goss about “a sense of international obligation” and worries about “sanctuaries in sovereign states” when it comes to tracking down bin Laden and slaughtering him like the sick animal that he is. Gee guys, you certainly didn’t worry about these matters when you stormed into Iraq for your illegal war fought for the wrong reasons, did you now?

Of all the epochal failures of the Bush Administration, the inability thus far to apprehend bin Laden is easily the greatest of them all. If we are truly the country we profess to be, then we should enable that to happen with all speed by making a legitimate case to the world community for intervention anywhere that it is necessary and subsequent apprehension. Of course, we squandered so much international good will as a result of Iraq War II that that task will be more difficult than it should be.

The statements of Porter Goss, as far as I’m concerned, is the equivalent of Tom Ridge’s idiotic color-coded security warnings which the White House told him to send out for public consumption just to keep “the faithful” nervous enough to trust everything Bushco did without actually holding up their actions to scrutiny.

If you know where he is, get him. Screw everything else. I don’t want to see bin Laden’s face again unless it’s mounted on a stick with the rest of his severed head (with Al-Zarqawi right behind him in the same disposition) and paraded around the Baghdad town square.

Any Shame in Sight?

I'm continuing to catch up from last week, and in the process, I was alerted to this column from John Grogan, metro columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, that is too good not to include here (property of Knight-Ridder and PNI).

Michael Schiavo, A Man Wronged

The world owes Michael Schiavo an apology. President Bush owes him one. Congress owes him one. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the President's brother, owes him one.

So does House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who shamelessly grandstanded on the Schiavo case to deflect attention from his own ethics scandal, famously declaring that Terri Schiavo "talks and she laughs."

And Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a cardiologist who blithely proclaimed the former Montgomery County woman to be mentally responsive based on his viewing of a family video of her. (Now I know why he's practicing politics instead of medicine.)

And Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum, who turned a fund-raising trip to Florida into an opportunity to pander to his conservative base outside Terri Schiavo's hospice.

In their rush to prolong Terri Schiavo's profoundly compromised life, they not only ran roughshod over states' rights and judicial rights, but over a husband's right to act in what he believed was the best interest of his irreversibly brain-damaged wife.

The antiabortion agitators and end-of-life meddlers and self-righteous pontificators who hijacked an incapacitated woman for their own agendas, turning what always should have been a private family matter into a national circus, owe Michael Schiavo an apology, too.

A reputation trampled

Has any husband ever been so vilified and excoriated, so impugned by innuendo and rumor, simply for trying to honor what he said was his wife's wish?

I owe him an apology, as well.

I allowed myself to be swayed by the relentless whispers and slanders spread by those who made Terri Schiavo's unconscious life their obsession.

The rumors flew through cyberspace, sticking as they went: Just maybe Michael had choked and beaten his wife in a failed murder attempt... Just maybe his violence, not an eating disorder, had caused the brain damage, and now he was trying to cover his tracks by insisting she be allowed to die... Just maybe he wanted the insurance settlement, or to have her out of the way so he could remarry.

I did not advance the rumors as truth, but I did let them color my thinking and lead me to question his motives. Now we know, based on an exhaustive autopsy released Tuesday, that Michael Schiavo was pretty much on target all along.

The autopsy confirmed what Schiavo has long maintained - that his wife was profoundly and irreversibly brain-damaged and no amount of therapy was ever going to change that.

Her brain had atrophied and shrunken to half its normal size. She was blind, dispelling her parents' emotional assertion that their daughter could recognize them and follow a balloon with her eyes.

No signs of foul play

The autopsy also put to rest the ugly rumors. It found no evidence of physical abuse or mistreatment. No strangulation, no broken bones, no poisons, no suspicious marks. So much for all those titillating theories.

We may never know why Terri Schiavo's heart stopped beating in 1990 at the age of 26, but there is no indication the cause was anything but natural. Michael Schiavo was not always his own best advocate. He could come off as abrasive and defensive. But, given the concerted daily attacks on his character, can anyone blame him?

Many Americans were quick to crucify him, and for what? For wanting to let his wife's life end with a shred of dignity after all hope of recovery was gone. For wanting to move on with his own life. For having children with another woman and wanting to remarry.

Spouses die; their survivors move on. But in this long, sad case, the limbo between life and death stretched for 15 interminable years. Michael Schiavo finally deserves peace.

Those who set out to destroy him in a warped effort to preserve a life already gone deserve shame, but I won't hold my breath.

As an unrepentant Randall Terry, the antiabortion protester who interjected himself into the middle of this debacle, told Newsday this week: "Our contention all along is you err on the side of life."

And, oh, how we erred.
Also, E.J. Dionne had some (I believe) appropriate thoughts in a similar vein.