Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

Thank you to my stepdad who served on the U.S.S. Fred T. Berry:

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Fred T. Berry, DD 858, completion photo, outer harbor, San Pedro, California, 25 May 1945.

and thank you to my father-in-law who served in WWII:

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and thank you to the thousands of veterans who have sacrificed for their country.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

good news

Court of Appeals upholds unconstitutionality of Patriot Act's National Security Letter provision

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday on two challenges to the National Security Letter provision of the USA Patriot Act filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Two different lower courts found the provision to be unconstitutional, and the ACLU argued that recent amendments to the law have made it even less democratic. - link

I still find it amazing that any Democrats voted for this stalinesque bill.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

finally the answer(s)

Friday, May 26, 2006

criminals

It seems that the crimes of Lay and his cronies were only the tip of the iceberg. Greg Palast is all over it:
Don't kid yourself. If you think the conviction of Ken Lay means that George Bush is serious about going after corporate bad guys, think again.

First, Lay got away with murder -- or at least grand larceny. Like Al Capone convicted of failing to file his taxes, Ken Lay, though found guilty of stock fraud, is totally off the hook for his BIG crime: taking down California and Texas consumers for billions through fraud on the power markets.
[snip]

Lay, co-convict Jeff Skilling and Enron did not act alone. They connived with half a dozen other power companies and a dozen investment banks to manipulate both the stock market and the electricity market. And though their co-conspirators have now paid $3 billion to settle civil claims, the executives of these other corporations and banks get a walk on criminal charges.

Furthermore, to protect our President's boardroom buddies from any further discomforts, the Bush Justice Department, just days ago, indicted Milberg, Weiss, the law firm that nailed Enron's finance industry partners-in-crime. The timing of the bust of this, the top corporation-battling law firm, smacks of political prosecution -- and a signal to Big Business that it's business as usual. - link

full smirk ahead

Just in case anyone thought for one second that Bush was being sincere at his news conference yesterday, the one that Chris Matthews thought was so wonderful, this'll change their mind.
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letter to tweety

Dear Mr. Mathews,

Here's a little advice, free of charge, to help you get your pathetic ratings back up.

Things Americans care, and are concerned about about. The devastatingly stupid war in
Iraq, Supreme Courts deciding presidental elections, an A.G. that threatens to arrest
journalists, an insane Defense Secretary, immoral budjet deficits, marginalizing
immigrants, voting machines with no paper trail, the Republican "culture of corruption," upcoming (nuclear?) war with Iran, why Congress continues to cow tow to a president with a 30% approval rating, the extreme incompetence in all levels of the executive branch, why Dick Cheny didn't have to talk to law enforcement officers until 14 hours after he shot a man in the face, gas prices, outsourcing of the American middle class, global warming, the amassing of unprecedented power in the Unitary Executive, the outing of a CIA agent that was working to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons in the middle east......just to name a few.

Things Americans don't care about. Hilary and Bill's personal lives. We know how you and your "cocktail weenie" buddies play your little game. The N.Y Times sends out a reporter (Patrick Healy) with a dubious past to write a gossip column about the Clintons, to start this little theme about all the public interest in the Clinton's private live's. Then David (panty sniffer) Broder and you jump on board claiming somehow that this is "news."
Your questioning of Howard Dean on this subject was embarrassing. The fact that this
subject excites you is hilarious, because we really don't care, we don't care about the Clinton's private lives any more than we care about who's leg it was that you had your hand on when you were in your drunken stupor, in that little story you told to President Bush, and we really don't care what kind of bars you used to frequent, really, seriously, we don't.

Do us all a favor, concentrate on issues that affect us, and are important, stop trying to trivialize the Democrats, and we'll do you a favor, we'll start watching you again.

Thank You

Thursday, May 25, 2006

oh happy day

With the "faith in justice" restoring conviction of Ken Lay today, it might be a good time to remember the special relationship between Bush and "Kennyboy" Lay. When the trouble for Lay first started, Bush tried to distance himself from Lay.

From a 2002 Salon article:
As Washington became engulfed in the Enron firestorm Thursday, President Bush made what may be the biggest misstep of his year-old presidency -- attempting to distance himself from Enron and its former chairman and CEO, Ken Lay, even though the company and its executives have given more than $550,000 to Bush during his short political career.

"He was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994," Bush said of Lay, "and she named him the head of the Governor's Business Council. And I decided to leave him in place, just for the sake of continuity. And that's when I first got to know Ken, and worked with Ken, and he supported my candidacy."
But later in the same article we find that Lay was a big supporter of Bush:
According to records provided by Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group that monitors political giving in Texas, Bush received $25,000 from Lay by the end of 1993. Throughout his run for governor in 1994, Bush received more than $146,000 from the Lay family and other Enron execs. Ken and Linda Lay contributed $47,500 to the Bush campaign ($10,000 of that money came on Dec. 1, 1994, after Bush was already elected); the Enron political action committee (PAC) chipped in another $20,000, and other Enron executives gave Bush $79,000.
The Smoking Gun has a collection of letters between these good buddies:
The Bush-Lay Letters
Correspondence suggests chummy President-Enron boss relationship

JULY 8--With the FBI slapping handcuffs on Kenneth Lay this morning, let's take a stroll down memory lane, when the disgraced former Enron boss wasn't under indictment and had a cozy pen pal relationship with George W. Bush. Below you'll find an assortment of correspondence exchanged during the years Bush was governor of Texas and Lay ran the Houston-based energy giant. The letters, released by the Texas state archives in response to Freedom of Information requests, touch on personal matters like Bush's knee surgery, Christmas gifts, birthday greetings, and even a Lay heads-up regarding a Thomas Friedman story about globalization. Enron, in case anyone forgot, was Bush's biggest Lone Star political contributor. (8 pages)
This has got to be a happy day for many ex-Enron employees. Ken Lay should always be referred to as "Bush supporter Ken Lay" or "Bush's best friend Ken Lay."

living with war

So you thought protest songs were a thing of the past? Throw this cd on and you'll swear your back in a different era. It's not a polished, studio album, it's just plain old raw rock and roll. IMHO this is the best Neil Young album yet. Guitar rifts are great and the lyrics are a thing of beauty (a few examples):

"Won't need no strong man
Walkin' through the night
To live a weak man's day
Won't need no sunshine
Won't need no purple haze
After the garden is gone
After the garden is gone
After the garden is gone Where will people go?



"Don't take no tidal wave
Don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun
To show how the west was won"



"The people have heard the news
The people have spoken
You may not like what they said But they weren't jokin'
Way out on the desert sands Lies a desperate lover They call her "Queen of Oil"
So much to discover
Don't need no ad machine Telling me what I need
Don't need no Madison Avenue War
Don't need no more boxes I can't see Covered in flags but I can't see them on TV
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies"



"Let's impeach the president for lyin'
Misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
Who's the man who hired all the criminals
The white house shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new story Of why we have to send our men to war"

you can listen to it here -

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jason Altmire is piling up the endorsements

From his website:

Endorsements

Newspapers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Organizations
Allegheny County Democratic Committee
American Federation of Teachers
Beaver County Democratic Committee
Firearms Owners Against Crime
National Education Association
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Teamsters Local 30
United Mine Workers of America
Western Pennsylvania Building Trades Unions


Elected Officials
Hon. Thomas Amundsen, Mercer County Controller
Hon. Brian Beader, Mercer County Commissioner
Hon. Janice Jeschke Beall, Beaver County Recorder of Deeds
Hon. Vince Biancucci, State Representative (PA-15)
Hon. Dorothy Colella, Beaver County Jury Commissioner
Hon. Frank Dermody, State Representative (PA-33)
Hon. Dan Donatella, Beaver County Commissioner
Hon. John DeFazio, Pennsylvania Steelworkers President
Hon. Anthony M. DeLuca, State Representative (PA-32)
Hon. Felix DeLuca, Beaver County Sheriff
Hon. Judy Enslen, Beaver County Clerk of Courts
Hon. Louis Falconi, Farrell Councilman and Deputy Mayor
Hon. Carol Fiorucci, Beaver County Register of Wills
Hon. Dale Fouse, Beaver County District Attorney
Hon. Connie Javens, Beaver County Treasurer
Hon. Kathleen Kloos, Mercer County Clerk of Courts & Register of Wills
Hon. Olivia Lazor, Mercer County Commissioner
Hon. John Murtha, United States Representative (PA-12)

Hon. John E. Pallone, State Representative (PA-54)

Hon. Sean Ramaley, State Representative (PA-16)
Hon. Joe Spanik, Beaver County Commissioner
Hon. Rick Towcimak, Beaver County Controller
Hon. Jack Wagner, Pennsylvania Auditor General
Hon. Nancy Werme, Beaver County Prothonotary




I think I'm going to be sick

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee today approved General Michael Hayden's nomination to head the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The committee backed Hayden, who is now deputy director for national intelligence, by a vote of 12-3, according to Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who chairs the panel. The vote was taken in secret and Roberts refused to name the three senators who opposed the nomination. -link

Is there anybody the senate Dems would filibuster, I swear Bush could nominate Satan for a high ranking position in this administration and he would be confirmed? Hayden knowingly broke the law, lied about it, doesn't know the 4th amendment from his ass and is a Bush sycophant. His most popular answer in his conformation hearings was, "I'll answer that in closed secession." You've got to wonder what was really said in that closed session, for the Dems to roll over so easy, maybe Hayden let them peruse some private data he's been collecting on them, or maybe they've just forgotten that they're the, "opposition party." Someone needs to remind them of the oath they took when they accepted their position,
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."


Do your damn jobs, nobody said it would be easy. (notice Bush eyeing up that bald head)

public campaign financing - an answer to corporatism?

Did you know that we could have elections, free of corporate dollars, in this country, for about six dollars a person. Imagine all candidiates on a level playing field, not owing their votes to Wallmart or Exxon?

Sound too good to be true? Read this, from just6dollars.org/

Congress would only have to spend $6 per citizen per year to publicly fund each and every election for the House, the Senate and the White House. When you consider that "pork barrel" projects cost every one of us more than $200 last year alone, it’s no contest.

Think of it. With public funding, wealthy special interests and their hired lobbyists would no longer have a commanding influence over our politics and government. Instead of begging for campaign donations, candidates would spend their time communicating with voters. Once elected, our leaders would be free to focus on our nation's challenges rather than having to worry about financing their next campaign. And there's no doubt that more of our most able leaders would run for federal office when the ability to finance a campaign isn't such a daunting obstacle.

Americans for Campaign Reform is building a nonpartisan grassroots movement of citizens who support voluntary public funding and want Congress to act now. We can make this happen. Public funding is already working in Arizona and Maine, and was just passed by the Connecticut legislature.

As citizens we can complain about the corrosive influence of our election finance system, or we can do something about it. With your help, we can mobilize citizens across the country and put pressure on Congress to enact real reform.
It's getting rave reviews, where it's been enacted: (from yubanet.com)
The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) released Keeping It Clean: Public Financing in American Elections, the first comprehensive effort to analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of state and local public campaign financing systems in the United States. As corruption scandals envelope candidates and public officials at all levels of government, frustrated members of the public are seeking ways to reduce the role that private money plays in the political process. This major new report concludes that public campaign financing can resolve many of the campaign finance and electoral problems that currently plague the political process.

[snip]

Keeping It Clean details the positive effects of public campaign financing programs in numerous jurisdictions: more candidates, more competition, more voter participation and less influence-peddling. With a spate of political scandals at the federal, state and local levels, the trend toward more jurisdictions adopting public financing is growing. "We are currently in the ‘decade of public financing’," states Bob Stern, CGS President. "More jurisdictions across the nation are considering adopting or improving public campaign financing systems than ever before."
If it gets corporate money out of politics, I'm all for it. We need this now more than ever.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

we have a winner

Congratulations to Jason Altmire, (from the Pgh Post Gazette):

U.S. House races: Altmire wins right to face Hart in fall

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Democrat Jason Altmire, a former congressional aide, will try to take a higher position in the Capitol by challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart in the fall.

Mr. Altmire, of McCandless, bested businesswoman Georgia Berner in yesterday's Democratic primary largely on the basis of strong support from the northern Allegheny County portion of the 4th Congressional District. Ms. Hart, who is from Bradford Woods, in the same section of the broad district, faced no Republican opposition in seeking a fourth term. - link

Can he beat Melissa Hart?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stupid Question

Stupid question by CNN (but what else would you expect, from a network that employs Wolf Blitzer?)

Your call: Should the NSA look at phone records?

Some of the best responses:

[Should the government monitor phone records?] Absolutely not. They should have to uphold the Constitution. Who is Bush to be above the law? He and the NSA should get a court order. There is no privacy with him in office. Shame on the Congress and Senate.
Peggy, Haworth, New Jersey

Large amount of resources to track and analyze a huge volume of calls, with a tiny minority of them used by terrorists. Besides privacy, resource usage, and agreed-upon patterns to be used issues, since this information is public, all terrorists have to do is use public phone boxes and telephone cards to ensure anonymity and bypass the database searches.
Richard Millham, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I am not sure where to direct my outrage. Should it be at the NSA, the Bush Administration and my soon-to-be ex-phone company for spying on me without a warrant? Should it be Congress for claiming it might be legal and doing nothing to pass laws that would make it illegal? Or should it be my fellow Americans which, some polls say, don't care if they are spied upon?
Jeannine Meyers, Lebanon, Tennessee

More and more our intelligence services are taking on the characteristics of the former KGB. It is exceedingly difficult to understand what my calls to Home Depot, Spiegel, Macy's, and my doctor could possibly do to enhance our national security. Next it will be necessary to monitor our credit card purchases. Billions are being spent on new database technology -- for what? It's time we woke up and let our government know that they have to do more than play the terrorism card whenever they want to erode our way of life. No, the government should not monitor domestic telephone call records -- not unless they have a specific target, approved by our judicial branch.
Stephen Evans, Reno, Nevada

Then you have assholes like this:

Unless your phone call is to a suspicious person, I wouldn't worry about being eavesdropped on. And if it a suspicious call at first, it is likely they will stop listening after awhile because I doubt the government cares to hear about your cousin's gastric bypass surgery.
Jason, Plant City, Florida

From my understanding, what's being archived is basically "who called who" and not the contents of the conversation (e.g., tapping of the phone lines). Putting such archiving in the context of the post 9/11 U.S.A., it seems logical to do such a thing. However, I doubt that's the real cause for all the ruckus. What's really going on here is anti-Bush citizens and those naive souls unwilling/unable to critically approach these activities jumping on a bandwagon of popular rhetoric. Grow up, people.
Chionesu George, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

My response:

FUCK NO! In the first place it's unconstitutional, and in the second place why would you trust this lying pack of idiots to do anything for the good of the country, you know whatever they're up to is political or corrupt.