Thursday, December 20, 2007

12/20/07

*To my Christian readers I wish you a Merry Christmas, Peace and Joy.
To my Jewish readers I wish you Peace and Joy and offer this youtube video Chinese Food on Christmas

*The gelding of Democrats – A gelding is a castrated male horse. It seems an appropriate word to describe Democrats in congress who are giving in to Bush on war funding without troop withdrawals, not holding telecommunication companies accountable for assisting the Bush administration to spy on Americans without a legal warrant, approving an Attorney General that does not oppose torture and is aiding the Bush administration in covering up CIA torture activities and, and and...To Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid I say NEIGH.

*Over-reaching authority meets resistance ~ a refreshing and important development – The Bush administration announced that they will take over control of promotions of military lawyers at Guantanamo Bay. My guess is that the administration is concerned that JAG lawyers know too much about the terrible, disgraceful and probably illegal activities occurring at Guantanamo and it wants to silence this knowledge. “Retired Major General Thomas Romig, the Army's top JAG from 2001 to 2005, called the proposal an attempt "to control the military JAGs" by sending a message that if they want to be promoted, they should be "team players" who "bow to their political masters on legal advice." Even I did not think there was much left for Bush to politicize and place under his control. Like it or not, admit it or not, President Bush’s policies entail the early stages of a fascist state. The saving grace for America is that the outrage and outspokenness many of us have called for from the military and other leadership positions in the country is finally beginning to take place. Following considerable objection to this proposal by a number of retired JAG officials it was announced on Wednesday that the White House backed off from its proposal.

*Bail to the Chief ~ Republican fealty – Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) reminds me a lot of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). They both offer much rhetoric against Bush policy but in the final analysis they support it. Graham has recently had much to say against the use of torture. Last week, “Graham raked Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, over the coals for refusing to call waterboarding torture, even if done by Iranian “secret security agents” on an American pilot.” True to form Graham then puts a hold on a Senate bill that would ban waterboarding. It makes one wonder if Bush threatened to waterboard the South Carolinian.

*Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and grass roots activism – There are many of us who believe that telecommunication companies should be held responsible for illegally aiding Bush to spy on Americans without appropriate warrants (court approval). A Senate bill was proposed that would offer immunity to the telecoms and I say shame on Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for allowing it to happen. However, through Senator Dodd’s threat of a filibuster and through his web site encouraging over 500,000 emails being sent to senators expressing opposition to this legislation the bill was pulled and is pending further negotiations. Dodd is only one example of public interest groups such as the ACLU, People for the American Way, Democracy for America and others who voiced concern that offering immunity for breaking the law is contrary to a democracy. I do not doubt that the Bush administration put a great deal of pressure on Verizon, AT&T and others. However, the law requires warrants to spy on citizens. Over many months we have seen evidence that the administration is using this spying for unauthorized programs beyond preventing terrorist threats. This is why the law requires a warrant and why it would set a terrible precedent to offer retroactive immunity for breaking the law.
~You can read Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) statement as to what is wrong with the pulled FISA legislation at this link.
~As a result of Dodd’s show of strong leadership on the Senate floor there is now a momentum of support calling for him to replace Reid as Majority Leader of the Senate. I strongly support this effort.

*Participating in one’s government – Most of us experience frustration about many laws and decisions made by our elected leaders. Instead of feeling alienated and left behind there are times that one’s voice can be heard. This is especially true with the technology that the internet provides. Below are some instances where, within a couple of minutes (or less), you can tell a senator or representative or government agency or a company how you feel about a specific topic.
~Democracy left behind – As expected this week Bush’s appointees to the Federal Trade Commission voted to allow already large media conglomerates to expand their holdings. This is in direct opposition to the needs of a democracy to have open and varied free speech, opinions and dialogue. Congress has the power to throw out these rules and we have seen that Congress will act if and when the people make their voices heard. You can sign a petition to congress to oppose these new FTC rules at this link.
~General Electric ~ tough choices – “GE is promoting new, energy saving light bulbs known as compact fluorescents, or CFLs. These bulbs last longer and use less energy than the typical incandescent bulbs found in most U.S. homes. GE is asking consumers and its employees to sign a pledge to "go green" and start purchasing the CFL light bulbs, which are imported from China. The problem is that each pledge leads to the loss of jobs in U.S. lighting plants. GE is actually asking workers in its lighting plants to pledge to put themselves out of a job.” While going green is laudable, asking employees to concurrently eliminate their own jobs is senseless. You can sign a petition to GE urging the company to produce CFL light bulbs in the U.S. at this link.
~Don’t ask, don’t tell ~ but speak up – Under current law a gay or lesbian person in the military will be discharged if their sexual preference becomes known. The House of Representatives is considering a new bill, The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246) that would repeal the current law that is discriminatory as well as depriving our military of dedicated service people. I say “dedicated” because these people volunteered to serve their country. If you agree that the law should be changed, you can send a petition to your representative at this link as well as learn more about this issue
~Improving product safety – Over the last six months I have made several observations about the inadequate safety inspection of consumer products before they reach the retail shelves. There is a bill before congress, Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007 that would strengthen the Commission and provide additional resources for ensuring safe products. Under the Bush administration we cannot count on the Commission improving its record but at least the tools will be there when a new president takes over the White House a year from now. Consumers Union is providing a petition to congress urging the passage of this bill at this link.

*Preaching the truth ~ Huckabee style – Mike Huckabee recently said that he was the only Republican presidential candidate with a degree in theology. Well, it appears that the Hucker may have been pumping his resume. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX for one year before dropping out to work for a televangelist – and not earning a degree. I do not know much about the Baptist religion but where I was raised I was taught that it was a sin to tell a lie. Preacher Huckabee must have his own unique set of Commandments.

*Huckabee and the Stepford Wives – I saw this item at americablog.com. “In June 1998, the Southern Baptist convention amended its official statement of beliefs for the first time in 35 years to declare that "a wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." And Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister then serving as governor of Arkansas, signed a full-page ad in USA Today in support of the statement (along with 129 other evangelical leaders).” I am certain that if I had signed this statement, and after my wife recovered from exhaustive laughter, my rear end would find itself sleeping on the back patio.

*Bush’s last day ~ January 20, 2009 – A reader sent me the web site bushslastday.com that celebrates George W. Bush’s last day as president of the U.S. There is a countdown clock, products you can purchase that highlight this theme and organizations that you can support that are working to combat the negative effects of this president from Hell, Texas.

*Every child left behind – Once again our elected leaders genuflect to corporate pressure to the detriment of the citizens they represent. An amendment to the farm bill would have updated nutrition requirements for schools by banning fatty foods and high-calorie beverages at school snack bars, stores and vending machines. “The National School Nutrition Standards Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would have been the first legislation to update the nutrition standards since 1979, a period in which scientific opinion on what foods are appropriate has drastically shifted.” At a time when child obesity and diabetes is growing in epic proportions congressional leadership once again failed us. Reference gelding. Reference the need for public financing of elections. Reference the minuscule approval of Congress.

*Quote of the Week ~ Derriere Orifice Category - Nobody is happy about losing lives but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers."
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican Minority Leader
*Surprise of the week – Two groups that conventional wisdom would expect to be supporting Republicans over Democrats in campaign contributions are the military and the clergy. The leading recipient of contributions from the military is Barack Obama, a Democrat opposed to the Iraq war and calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2008. AND, “Thus far in the ‘08 cycle, 56 percent of religious groups’ and leaders’ donations have gone to Democrats, and 43 percent to Republicans”. Sometimes I imagine that only a small percentage of Americans have a sense of what Bush and the Republicans have wrought on this country. At other times information like this offers me hope that positive change is possible.

*Torture – The U.S. Army manual bans torture. The Army does not want to condone any behavior that could be used on its soldiers. The House of Representatives just passed a law banning torture based on the Army’s manual that would apply to other agencies including the CIA. Guess who said he would veto the ban on torture? Hints: the poster boy for the religious right; the compassionate conservative; the man who said the U.S. does not torture; the leader of the free world with the lying lips. For those 20+% of Americans still voicing approval of the Decider the answer is G.W. Bush.

*A Bush/Republican policy that is working ~ the rich are getting richer faster – From thinkprogress.org: “The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 ($524.8 billion) exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans ($383.4 billion), according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office. “On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by $465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.”

*America’s business plan ~ greed, incompetence and globalization – President Bush and the Republicans continue to tell us to trust in the business community while avoiding any oversight of their actions. This shell game has lead to many of our major financial institutions suffering billions of dollars in losses for making greed-driven stupid lending decisions in what is known as the subprime mortgage fiasco. It has led to untold numbers of people losing their homes and financial havoc within the financial community. It has also led to another piece of America being sold to foreign interests. Last week we learned that a significant percentage of Citibank was sold to Arab interests and this week it was announced that Morgan Stanley has sold a $5 billion interest in its company to China. Also this week, in a close the barn door after the cow has left strategy, the Federal Reserve has proposed tougher restrictions to curb unfair and deceptive mortgage lending practices. These restrictions include: bar lenders from making loans without proof of a borrower’s income; restrict lenders from penalizing subprime borrowers who pay off loans early; require lenders to make sure subprime borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance; prohibit certain types of misleading or deceptive advertising; and require lenders to provide financial disclosures so borrowers could use them while shopping for a mortgage. I wish I was making this crap up. HELLO – now we are requiring sound and ethical business practices of the financial industry and protection for borrowers? And the chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben S. Bernanke does this with a straight face, or two or three.

*Republicans and oil definitely mix – While the Senate passed a bill to raise gas mileage standards at the same time 40 senators (39 are Republican) blocked a provision that would have eliminated $13 billion in tax loopholes and subsidies for big oil companies. Over the last 4 years oil companies contributed a total of $4,097,810 to these senators. Quite a return on investment! The Center for Responsive Politics offers a list of these oily senators and what each has received in campaign contributions at this link. Some prostitution is legal.

*Much ado about little – Can anyone explain to me the hoopla over the just-passed energy bill that raises automobile gas mileage minimums to 35 mpg by the year 2020 – 13 years from now?

*One person, one vote ~ maybe – “All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.” Experts involved in the study were able to pick locks and use hand-held devices to enter false voting data. It would certainly be ironic if the man who has done so much damage to this country was not legitimately elected to be president.

*I don't believe in an afterlife but please don't quote me. I've been wrong before.
Ruth Deming - friend, activist, mental health therapist and advocate, and founder of New Directions (the largest bipolar support group in the Philadelphia area)

1 comment:

Ruth Deming & Scott Sherman said...

January 20, 2009 should be declared a national holiday and YOU, Stephen, should lead the parade!