Saturday, November 24, 2007

11/24/07

*Dishonoring the honorable ~ a national disgrace – KDKA in Pittsburgh is reporting that, “The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments. Why are they unable to serve out their commitments? They have lost an arm or a leg or an eye or hearing or a brain function in combat. These brave American military men and women are maimed for life and they are being asked to return bonuses (or not receive part of the bonus still due). From the outset of the Iraq war our enlisted military have had to deal with insufficient equipment, inadequate training, unconscionably long tours of combat duty, and wanting post-injury medical and psychological treatment. The President and the military hierarchy who have spoken so earnestly about supporting the troops have in fact stood down. Disgrace is their mantle.
~Update – The former soldier that KDKA reported on is Jordan Fox. Just before Mr. Fox was to make an appearance on national television to tell his story the Pentagon announced it was cancelling their $3000 bill back. No mention was made of the unknown number of other military personnel facing similar accounting procedures.

*Forgetful???? – USA Today has found that the U.S. government has not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan at least 20,000 troops with brain injuries. This is over and above the 30,000 wounded officially listed by the Pentagon.” Soldiers and Marines whose wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the official casualty list, says Army Col. Robert Labutta, a neurologist and brain injury consultant for the Pentagon.” Were these statistics “state secrets” or a calculated method to keep the truth from the American people? This administration has never owned up to the damage the Iraq war has had on this country and the military has blindly marched in step. The lessons of Viet Nam have been forgotten!

*Very soft porn - A 101-year-old British pensioner has posed topless for a nude calendar to raise money for a local soccer team. Nora Hardwick will be Miss November in the calendar, aimed at raising money for the Ancaster Athletic team made up of 9 and10 year-olds in her village in Lincolnshire. The first 2 weeks of December had to be omitted since Ms. Hardwick’s breasts are sagging below the fold. A local Vicar said that the calendar will positively impact youth abstinence.

*Taking a sabbatical – Karl Rove says that religious conservatives may stay away from the voting booth in 2008. One may speculate that they have realized the damage their “religious” vote wrought on this country in the person of G.W. Bush. Perhaps they developed an understanding of the concept of separation of church and state. Maybe they realized that their leaders such as Pat Robertson or Gerry Falwell were more interested in enhancing their own power and financial positions than in enhancing the souls of their followers. It could be that they studied history and concluded that theocracies wreak havoc on the populace and that the founders of America were intelligent and insightful.

*Happy Holidays Mr. President – The criticism President Bush has received for avoiding the dictates of the U.S. Constitution may be unfair. I suggest that he never read it. The Center for Constitutional Rights has a solution. They are offering free of charge the opportunity for any individual to send a copy of the Constitution to the president. From the CCR site, “The President needs to be reminded that he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States-his administration has been systematically destroying the Constitution since he took office. With your help, CCR will flood the Oval Office with copies of the Constitution this holiday season”. Get in the holiday/patriotic spirit and join your fellow Americans who are sending Mr. Law and Order this thoughtful gift. I just sent a copy and mine was number 29,201.

*dailykos.com – This is the website that two years ago stimulated my interest to become more active in the political discourse. It is one of the top political sites on the internet. The founder of the site, Markos Moulitsas, co-authored the book “Crashing the Gate” that discussed the need for Democrats to stop doing business as usual by depending upon the same consultants that led them from one defeat to the next. Markos, or Kos as he is known to his huge audience, was just added to Newsweek’s slate of columnists. His first article “Make the Bush Record the Issue” addresses the point that Republican candidates cannot distance themselves from Bush because they are dependent on the (shrinking) Republican base to win the nomination. However, the vast majority of Americans are very aware of the dismal Bush years and they will not have amnesia during the elections of 2008. Moulitsas says, “As long as Democratic candidates remind voters that the Republican platform and Bush's record are one and the same, victory will be assured.” I would like to share this optimism but it must be tempered with the fact that Americans have not paid enough attention to the damage its elected leaders have wrought. Where is the outrage to what has occurred these past 7 years? Shaking one’s head and changing the channel does not make for a responsible and responsive electorate.

*A George Bush dream ~ A George Bush opera – Independent judges on the Supreme Court are removed and hand-picked judges are installed, dismissing legal challenges to his rule. Opposition lawyers, journalists and human rights activists are jailed. The leader of the country says, “The decisions were made in the best interests of the country”. These dictatorial events just occurred in Pakistan. How did Bush respond this week? He said, “The general (Musharraf) "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy." Honestly, really, cross my heart.

*Getting tougher on terror – Last week I criticized Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for waving the false flag of Islamo Facism as an indication that he comprehends Middle Eastern geopolitics and terrorism. Well, Mr. Huckabee just kicked it up a notch. His first television campaign ad features Kung Fu aficionado and B-movie actor Chuck Norris endorsing Huckabee for President. Can Rambo be far behind? This is exactly what America needs - more macho bullshit. Take a look at the ad. It is not Saturday Night Live but it could be.

* Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Expense Trust – Having resigned in disgrace former Attorney General Gonzales is paying the price. Well, actually others are paying the price to hear him speak – something he failed to do when testifying before congress. The University of Florida is paying $40,000 and the University of Washington in St. Louis is paying $30,000 for Gonzales to give a speech. The honorariums are not all gravy for Mr. Gonzales since it has been necessary for him to establish a legal defense fund. He is facing multiple investigations (including perjury and witness tampering) for his actions while head of the Justice Department.

*Rudy is no longer a disingenuous joke ~ He is now a dangerous joke – Most of my remarks about Rudy Giuliani have been in a humorous vein as he lies about his record or argues for Second Amendment gun rights for blind people. There is nothing funny about his most recent remarks. Seeking Federalist Society (an ultra conservative group of lawyers) support, the GOP presidential candidate promises to nominate justices like Scalia and Thomas to the Supreme Court. With more Scalias and Thomases on the bench we would have a group of reactionary activists obliterating the gains made by minorities, women and consumers over the past 75 years.

*Southern conservatives ~ blind ideology – John Aravosis, who writes at americablog.com, provides an interesting commentary about the South: “We've written before about how the South has a reputation for electing far-right Neanderthal politicians who don't care about much beyond God, gays and guns (embracing the former and the latter, and bashing the guy in the middle). And we've written about how the South's biggest problems, like poverty, have little to do with God, gays, guns or the Republican (or far-right Democratic) politicians they elect. It's therefore funny, yet again, that the conservative South is shooting itself in the foot by siding with politicians (that would be Republicans) who deny the existence of global warming. Why? Because according to a new study, America's South will be among the world's regions worst hit by the impact of global warming on local agriculture.” One of the wonderful aspects of a democracy is that it allows for a changing of the guard when it is ineffective. Some folks just don’t get it, y’all.

*Speaking of climate change – The United Nations just completed a rigorous multi-stage review process on climate change that includes 2,500 scientific expert reviewers, 800 contributing authors, and 450 lead authors representing 130 countries. Some conclusions include: “All countries will be affected; it is 90% certain that global warming is man-made; by 2100 temperatures and sea levels will have risen; reduction in greenhouse gasses had to begin immediately to avert a global climate disaster; China and the U.S. must play a more active role.” Not to go unnoticed is the fact that under Bush the White House and the EPA have had a policy of unprecedented obstructionism in addressing global warming. At a time when a proactive stance by our government was desperately required it not only ignored the problem but intensified it. The report concludes that, “effects of climate change are "becoming evident already," and without due action, will be "abrupt or irreversible.” Some folks just don’t get it, y’all.

*Gap for Kids ~ Gap by Kids – You know it as a cute retail store in malls that sells children’s clothes and extends its Gap brand image. That brand image just took a hit. “Apparel retailer Gap is canceling half of its orders with a vendor in India after revelations that some of its clothes were made by children as young as 10. The company has promised to donate $200,000 to improve working conditions in India, and it pledged to tighten its own standards. Gap says it didn't know that its Indian vendor paid a subcontractor who hired children.” I am no longer accepting “we didn’t know” malarkey from American corporations that have outsourced their production and their souls. We heard the same crap from Mattel about their toxic toys made in China. Perhaps the executives of Mattel should be required to have their children play with these toys before the toys are put on the market. Perhaps the executives of Gap should send their children to a factory in India for their summer vacation to learn the business.

*Human Rights for all – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.” HRC has just released “Buying for Equality 2008” listing the major U.S. companies that have achieved high marks for equality in the workplace. When making a purchase you may want to consider supporting these companies.

*What Happened – This is the title of a book to be released in April by Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary. Excerpts from the publisher’s web site: “The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.” There will be many books published about what happened during the Bush presidency. I suspect that most will have a common theme - the 43rd President of the United States, a self-described man of faith, a man who swore to uphold the rule of law in his first inaugural speech, was in word and deed a liar.

*What Happened? – How long has McClellan known that he was lied to by high administration officials? What was his responsibility to tell the truth to the American people when he first knew it? Are we to believe that “integrity” was McClellan’s motivation to reveal the truth or his greed to sell books? It should be remembered that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not closed the case on the Plame leak. Could he subpoena McClellan to determine what he knows under oath? Will a congressional investigative committee do the same?

*You can help ~ Following are excerpts from the letter a reader of SVN sent to the Philadelphia Inquirer. It requests our help. - “I’m one of 5.7 million Americans who suffer from bipolar disorder. If not managed properly, these severe mood swings are devastating to the individual, family and society. ... We do not receive full insurance coverage for our condition. If our liver or kidneys are damaged, insurance will pay. However, unlike Parkinson’s disease, dramatic mood swings are not considered a brain illness even though our tiny brain neurons are flawed. Many of us are forced to pay catastrophically high costs for psychiatric visits, meds or hospitalizations. Fortunately, this may soon change, thanks to the culmination of 2 decades of legislative battles. House Bill 1424 proposes to offer full medical coverage, a bill which recently passed the Senate unanimously. That’s why I urge your readers to call their US Congressmen today and ask them to vote Yes on Bill 1424. What a great Christmas gift this would be. We are, after all, our brothers’ keepers.” (Ruth Z. Deming). At Project Vote Smart the names and contact information of your representatives can easily be obtained.

* “We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)

1 comment:

Ruth Z Deming said...

Excellent, thought-provoking column as always, Stephen.

My favorite nugget was that 2 universities are paying good money to host former atty-general Alberto Gonzales,who will undoubtedly face the hisses & boos of the audience, while grinning & pocketing $30,000.

Ler me know if someone writes a book on the Psychology of the 43rd President and his Loyal Boondoggled Staff. "Have they no decency?"

Thanks also, Stephen, for promoting my Letter to the Editor. Yes, we must always speak our minds because we have that one ineffable quality: Decency.