*Breaking News - The U.S. Senate could vote as early as today on a key piece of hate crimes legislation that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from bias-motivated violence. The House of Representatives has already passed this crucial bill — and if the Senate passes the bill, it will mark the first time in history this legislation will have passed both houses of Congress in the same session.
You can call your senators at 202/224-3121 and urge them to vote in favor of the Matthew Shepard Act, S. 1105.
* Life can be so confusing - Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq. On the other hand Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that it was a “stretch” to conclude that Australia’s Iraq involvement was motivated by oil. On the other other hand President Bush says we are in Iraq to promote democracy and protect America from terrorists. Hmmmm.
*Amongst the criticisms aimed at President Bush for commuting Scooter Libby’s prison sentence was a comment by presidential candidate and Senator from Delaware Joe Biden. “This guy is brain dead”. This assessment may have merit but I also understand Bush’s motivation. With Libby about to enter prison there was the chance that he would seek to cut a deal with the prosecutor by offering to tell the truth about the role that V.P. Dick Cheney (and possibly Bush) had in revealing the identity of undercover CIA agent Valery Plame. The “law and order” President could not allow this to happen.
*Who is watching the store? The Washington Post reports, “The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a "gaping hole" in the nation's preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat…” This represents 138 of the top 575 positions. If we are running out of Regent University graduates (a qualifier for working in the Bush administration is to have been inured by the likes of the religious-right Pat Robertson) perhaps we can outsource these positions to Pakistanis. It works for our high-tech industries.
*On February 12, 1999 forty-five Republican Senators voted guilty in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial for obstruction of justice. Twenty-five of those upstanding Senators remain in office and not one has made a public statement criticizing the Bush commutation of Libby. Senators McCain, Voinovich, Hutchinson and Allard were among this group that offered lofty speeches about rule of law in 1999. I expect that this two-faced, blindingly partisan group of 25 will be considerably smaller following the 2008 elections.
*Truth from the White House (this is not a typo) – At a July 5th White House press briefing spokesman Scott Stanzel was asked, “is Scooter Libby getting more than equal justice under the law? Is he getting special treatment?” Mr. Stanzel responded, “Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law."
*The Iraq war was misguidedly begun and continued with too small a force. This was the plan of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and endorsed by Bush and Cheney. Part of the “thinking” was that this war could be prosecuted on the cheap. Within this policy of mirrors we find that many of the jobs and services traditionally performed by military personnel were farmed out to independent contractors at a substantially higher cost. One would not be surprised to learn that the vast majority of these contractors had strong connections to Bush, Cheney and the Republican party. The LA Times reports that the number of U.S.-paid contractors in Iraq (180,000) now exceeds the number of combat troops (160,000). Many of these contractors are being investigated for over-billing, poor performance or non-performance. I expect that the return of oversight to Washington D.C. will reveal a Big Shop of Horrors.
*A progress report on the targets met by the Iraqi government will report that they have met zero, none, zilch and nada. How fitting that they match the legislative achievements of their mentor G.W. Bush.
*Senators Lugar, Domenici, Alexander, Gregg, Warner and Voinovich have joined the list of Republican leaders seeking separation from Bush’s Iraq war. Some are not even up for re-election in the next two years.
*He really said that? National Review Online columnist Jerry Bowyer, while appearing on FOX News’s Neil Cavuto show attacked Michael Moore’s movie Sicko when he said, “Universal healthcare breeds terrorists.” I will forgo relating his “logic” since it causes dizziness. I would caution Mr. Bowyer to read the instruction booklet. Your coffee cup should be placed in the center of the microwave, not your head.
*”Despite overwhelming agreement among top climate scientists, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Science, Fox News continues to claim that global warming doesn't exist, isn't caused by humans, and was created by Al Gore and a hysterical media.” Fox News – take your head out of the microwave or any dark orifice preventing oxygen from reaching your brain.
*At MoveOn.org you can hear each of the eight Democratic presidential candidates’ plan for the climate and even vote for which plan you endorse. The link is: http://pol.moveon.org/townhall/climate/townhall2.html?id=10780-6021600-ceIY7m&t=1
*In the on-lineSunday Times (London) I read the following: The former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces. “I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”
I never had a good feeling about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. But boy did I respect and trust Colin Powell. When he made his presentation to the United Nations pleading the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and putting on a demonstration that Saddam had mobile biological or chemical labs (or both, I do not remember) I said, “Let’s get the bastard”. Mr. Secretary, if you believed that attacking Iraq would be a disaster for America why did you not resign and present your case to the American people? Would it have made a difference? Would we have avoided to date over 3600 U.S. military deaths? Would we have avoided what is approaching 30,000 wounded and maimed men and women serving in the U.S. military? Would we have avoided a strategy that has actually increased the number of terrorists in the world? Would we have been better able to focus our energies and capture bin Laden and secure Afghanistan? Unfortunately, Mr. Secretary, we will never know the answers to these questions because you did not stand up. You waited for Bush the cowboy to dispose of you like a tattered saddle blanket that has lost its usefulness.
*Richard Nixon, get out of the way - In a July 9 op-ed article in The Denver Post, John Koppel, a 25-year veteran in the Dept. of Justice writes, “I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.” Citing issues of civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices Mr. Koppel concludes, “This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.”
*The bible tells us that the lower cannot see the higher. Oh how I envy the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. For 17 years church members have protested across the country at military funerals. Westboro’s message during funeral protests is that the soldier deaths are God’s punishment for the nation accepting homosexuals. What is one’s punishment for accepting the Westboro Baptist Church?
*The only way home - LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
*The English language can be so imprecise – South Dakota state Rep. Joel Dykstra (Republican) and candidate for Senator in 2008 was asked why the state legislature did not include certain exceptions in its 2006 ban on abortion. Mr. Dykstra replied: “I think ‘rape and incest’ is a buzzword. It’s a bit of a throwaway line and not everybody who says that really understands what that means. How are you going to define that?” It makes one wonder if a wife or daughter or sister of Mr. Dykstra will give him a dictionary for his birthday.
*The “I” word. For quite some time I have felt that the only momentum breaker for the Bush/Cheney cabal would be impeachment. The six year rubber stamping by a Republican led congress allowed their unprecedented secrecy, arrogance and ignorance of law and checks and balances. It is likely that Bush’s term will expire before congressional investigations and subpoenas navigate the legal labyrinth presented by Fred Fielding (White House Counsel). However, impeachment sentiment is growing. Retired 3 Star General William Odom, chief of NSA under Regan has called for impeachment proceedings if Iraq war policy does not change. To date 14 members of congress have endorsed H. Res 333, articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. A new poll from American Research Group found that 45% of adults favor impeachment of Bush and 54% favor impeachment of Cheney. In November Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment was not on the table. It may be that the table is about to be reset. You may want to see Robert Greenwald’s new 3 minute video at impeachcheney.org.
*Is it too late for impeachment? Last week at a Philadelphia town meeting for impeachment writer John Nichols addressed this question. “…every 10 minutes, an Iraqi dies in the war. Every 10 hours, someone in the US military is killed. Every 10 days, $2 billion is spent on the war. We have to stop this, and impeachment is our immediate responsibility.”
*I recently came across the following: Daniel Boone, when asked if he’d ever been lost, reputedly said, “No, but I’ve been confused for a few days, sometimes” It impressed me as a metaphor for the United States of America in its nascent years of the 21st Century.
* ”I Dreamed In A Dream”
I dream’d in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dreamed that was the new city of Friends
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest.
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city
And in all their looks and words.
I do not believe that these words by Walt Whitman in 1860 were used to depict his nation’s capitol. I am certain that they do not describe Washington D.C. in the year 2007. Perhaps it would be useful for our society if we identified an ideal that would focus and give purpose to our actions.