Wednesday, August 22, 2007


*Even as the dollar sinks relative to the Euro it still can buy a lot domestically - Compliments to Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama for refusing campaign contributions from lobbyists and political action committees. A concern I have about Sen. Hillary Clinton is her ties to big money special interests. Experience has demonstrated that such influence rarely serves the interests of the majority of Americans.

*The American worker; with friends like these… - The Washington Post reports that, “Two years ago President Bush and Republicans in congress passed a one-time tax amnesty for U.S corporations to encourage their bringing home off-shore profits with the justification that it would create more jobs. Drug makers were the biggest beneficiaries of the amnesty program, repatriating about $100 billion in foreign profits and paying only minimal taxes. Since then drug companies have laid off tens of thousands of workers in this country”. I find it interesting that in their concern for the American worker Bush and the GOP opposed the first raise in the minimum wage in ten years that went into effect this month ($.70 per hour). Bush policies do help workers. Unfortunately, they live in India, Mexico, China and Viet Nam.

*Give breast cancer the finger – Most days I visit and then click on Fund Free Mammograms. There is no cost to me and each daily visit results in a donation by site advertisers to fight breast cancer. There is also the opportunity do the same for five other worthy causes. I click on all six and the entire process takes about 20 seconds. Got a minute?

*Water, water everywhere – The organization asks the question, “Do you know where bottled water comes from?” They go on to say, “Bottled water giants like Coke, Pepsi and NestlĂ© don’t readily disclose the sites and sources of the water that’s bottled.” An example is Pepsi’s Aquafina brand. On the bottle is depicted an image of a snow-capped mountain despite the fact that the content is processed tap water. Bottled water companies spent $158 million on advertising last year, in part attempting to undermine our confidence in public water systems (where 25% of bottled water sold in the U.S. is sourced). An environmental group (I do not recall which one) recently raised the issues of the energy costs of producing the untold millions of bottles containing water as well as disposing of these bottles. These are issues we may not thirst for but ones we will be dealing with.

-Update – A result of the above organization’s national day of action on July 25th Pepsi has agreed to state on Aquafina’s label “Public Water Source”.

*More on recycling – In a little reported meeting in mid-July Henry Kissinger led a very high level U.S. delegation to Russia for negotiations with Vladimir Putin and his senior officials. It has not been revealed what was discussed but I do have questions. Is Dr. Kissinger in the category of the best and the brightest to represent our country’s interests? Does Kissinger’s failed foreign policies of 30 years ago qualify him to have his passport revoked? We learned from Bob Woodward’s recent book that Kissinger has been secretly advising President Bush. Enough said.

*No joy in Mudville – Regardless of one’s political point of view there can be no joy watching the complete disintegration of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ credibility. He is the highest law enforcement officer in the U.S. Under his watch the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice has been neutered. He has allowed Bush administration political operatives to infiltrate and inundate his department, he has replaced prosecutors for highly political Karl Rovian objectives and he has provided cover for every legally questionable action by this White House. Gonzales’ pathetic testimony before congressional investigative committees is only exceeded by his pathetic performance as Attorney General. A league of his own.

Update – On Fox News Sunday morning Newt Gingrich refused to defend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against accusations that he may have perjured himself before Congress. “It’s very damaging…we badly need an attorney general who is above any question,”
Later in the show, host Chris Wallace revealed that no conservative would willingly defend Gonzales on Fox. “By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales,” said Wallace. “We had no takers.”
-The NY Times writes that if Solicitor General Paul Clement fails to appoint a special counsel to look into Gonzales’ “words and deeds,” Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.
*Numbing numbers:
-From 1999 to 2005 the USDA paid $1,100,000,000 to families or companies of deceased farmers. Yet this administration refuses to insure the health of living children.
-A federal oversight agency has found that of 2,797 re-building projects in Iraq, costing U.S. taxpayers $5.8 billion, the Iraqi national government has agreed to take over only 435. The balance are turned over to local Iraqis who lack the training and resources to maintain them. Many of the projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative. Stay the course.
- # 1position at the Justice Department, mental sabbatical; #2 vacant, resigned; #3 vacant, resigned, 24 of the 93 regional posts for US attorneys are vacant. Rule of law.
-The FBI to pay $102 million to 4 men (or their families since 2 died in prison) for their wrongful conviction of a mob hit in 1965. It was revealed that the FBI had secret memos that proved these men innocent. Trust – sung to the tune “Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song”.

*You can’t fool all of the people all of the time - Well-respected pollster Rasmussen did a survey of Americans in July. The question asked, “Which party do voters trust on these issues?” National Security, Taxes, Education, Abortion, Immigration, Economy, War in Iraq, Social Security, Ethics and Healthcare. On all 10 issues Democrats were trusted over Republicans.

*Hear no evil, see no evil… - The U.S. Pollution Prosecution Act of 1990 requires the EPA to employ at least 200 criminal investigators to investigate the most serious environmental polluters. The number of investigators has dropped to 174. Investigations have dropped. It must be due to budget cuts. Not really. EPA's overall criminal enforcement budget rose nearly 25 percent over three years to $48 million. It appears that the sanctity of business trumps the sanctity of life.

*Did I do that, again? – Senator Arlen Specter, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (from 2000 to 2006) offered little resistance to the Bush agenda. Questionable and legally questionable policies were fast-tracked. Once these policies were in place Mr. Specter would often begin questioning their appropriateness and sometimes their legality. Deja vu. Sen. Specter is rethinking his support for the confirmation of Justices Roberts and Alito. He feels that their recent rulings indicate that they are not honoring their pledges made during confirmation hearings. They are reversing long-standing precedents. Senator Specter, if you run for office again I will support your opponent (unless it is Rick Santorum). I promise.

*Text messaging while driving is as dumb as … - If you anticipated that congress would act responsibly by reducing our dependence on foreign oil prepare for disappointment. Although the Senate passed an energy bill that would have raised auto fuel efficiency requirements for the first time in 30 years, the House version does not include such a provision.

However, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune writes that fuel-economy laws won’t help. He offers some compelling research that concludes that the more immediate benefit and long-term solution is a carbon tax or higher gasoline tax. It would encourage every motorist (not just those with higher fuel efficiency vehicles) to burn less fuel. It would encourage car-pooling and expansion of public transportation. I suggest that it may not be an either/or but a both.

*I can see! No, I’m blind! No, I can see! - Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri has been one of Bush’s most loyal supporters (translation - senatorial servants). In a letter to the NY Times about Iraq he writes, “While I agree that we had the wrong plan for three years, we now have the right one, and the right man to lead it.” All I can say is Eureka!

*Flexibility is a virtue – You may recall that Republican Senator David Vitter was recently exposed for patronizing prostitutes. It was especially embarrassing because his speeches and campaigns stressed family values and traditional marriage. At a recent policy lunch he told his colleagues that Senate conservatives should “re-brand” themselves “by reclaiming the fiscal conservative mantle.” Let’s try to follow this. Mr. Vitter is implying that while he and members of his party preached morality they financially bankrupted our country. After a number of them then manifested moral bankruptcy it was a perfect time to return to fiscal responsibility. If this pattern continues people like Mrs. Vitter will be relieved. There will a good chance that Mr. Vitter will Crazy Glue his fly.

*Clean elections will help clear the air - If you believe as I do that public financing of federal elections would improve today’s political process you can read more about the subject as well as tell your Senator to support this legislation at the following link:

*Diversity and the Ku Klux Klan – Our Klan of the 21st Century is not limiting its hate to Blacks and Jews. Their reptilian adaptation now embraces anti-immigrant violence. For decades the Southern Poverty Law Center has done an outstanding job opposing hate crimes in America. They are addressing this latest KKK abomination. A visit to their website and offering support would be a deed of value.

*Who can blame them? - Aviation Week & Space Technology, a weekly trade journal, reports that an independent health panel studying NASA astronauts found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch. The committee found that on at least two occasions, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk. It seems that DUI checkpoints were not available for corroboration.

*What do Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The Spirit, The Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Captain America have in common? They were all created by Jewish writers. In an interesting interview with the author of a book on comic book superheroes in Wired Magazine the question was posed, “How do you think the lives of Jewish comics creators influenced the fictional worlds they created?” Danny Fingeroth replied, “You had a bunch of young men whose parents were immigrants, writing stories about a very idealized world, where force is wielded wisely and people are judged by their individual character, not by who they are or who their parents were. For the guys who made the comics, it was a way to transcend who you were and become locked into and involved with the American mainstream, to blend in.” Now we know why Clark would not eat Mrs. Kent’s pork chops.

*Who wudda thought? – Republicans are holding up an open government bill that seeks to reform the Freedom of Information Act and end delays in government compliance with requests for information. The current administration’s responsiveness is the worst of any administration in the four decades that the Act has been law.

*If God loves all of us is She a Democrat? – The Human Rights Campaign ( has announced that on August 9 it will be co-hosting the first ever televised presidential forum dedicated solely to questions about GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender) issues. Presidential candidates attending the forum are Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Richardson, Gravel, Obama and Kucinich.

* “Fly Me To The Moon” (tempo: allegro) - PBS aired a program about the birth process. They observed that the journey a spermatozoon takes to reach the ovum to achieve fertility, given its relatively small size, is the equivalent of a man traveling to the moon. In layman’s terms, it is called a miracle.

*The power of perspective – In a Phila. Inquirer letter to the editor Nancy Florin writes: “I caught a glimpse of Tammy Faye Baker Messner on TV the other night. It took me a while to erase her image from my mind. But when I did I replaced it with another face of cancer. My own and the millions of cancer survivors in the world. . Look at us smile and don’t be afraid.”
To that I would add an Amen.

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