Friday, February 29, 2008
Top Ten Moments in the Race for "Pastor-in-Chief"
10. Mitt Romney is asked if he believes "every word" of the Bible (CNN/You Tube debate (11-28-07).
9. CNN's Soledad O'Brien asks John Edwards to "name his greatest sin"
(CNN/Sojourners town hall 6-26-07).
8. James Dobson tells a reporter he does not think that Fred Thompson is a Christian (3-27-07).
7. Barack Obama distributes a campaign flier describing himself as a "Committed Christian" (1-21-08).
All of that borrowing is coming home to roost. The value of the dollar around the world is dropping like a lead balloon - nobody wants our dollars anymore - they would much prefer to be paid in Euros. This is causing the spike in gas prices. At home, lenders aren't collecting on the poor loans they offered and their liquidity is drying up. People are over-leveraged and have no cash to spend. And now we're going to borrow another $150 billion to pay for an economic stimulus package that will probably do nothing more than encourage people to borrow even more.
This is not going to be an easy recession.
And the cause of it all are the policies of President George W. Bush.
In my not so humble opinion, what we need to do right now is to bite the bullet, accept the recession it will exacerbate, and get the damn federal budget balanced. Today. Raise taxes. Cut spending. Begin bringing the troops home from Iraq. This will hurt for a while - it will increase the pain of the recession. But if we don't get a handle on this, and soon, we will pay for it for decades to come.
The following is from The Guardian...
In 2005, a Nobel prize-winning economist began the painstaking process of calculating the true cost of the Iraq war. In his new book, he reveals how short-sighted budget decisions, cover-ups and a war fought in bad faith will affect us all for decades to come. Aida Edemariam meets Joseph Stiglitz...
Some time in 2005, Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, who also served as an economic adviser under Clinton, noted that the official Congressional Budget Office estimate for the cost of the war so far was of the order of $500bn. The figure was so low, they didn't believe it, and decided to investigate. The paper they wrote together, and published in January 2006, revised the figure sharply upwards, to between $1 and $2 trillion. Even that, Stiglitz says now, was deliberately conservative: "We didn't want to sound outlandish."
So what did the Republicans say? "They had two reactions," Stiglitz says wearily. "One was Bush saying, 'We don't go to war on the calculations of green eye-shaded accountants or economists.' And our response was, 'No, you don't decide to fight a response to Pearl Harbour on the basis of that, but when there's a war of choice, you at least use it to make sure your timing is right, that you've done the preparation. And you really ought to do the calculations to see if there are alternative ways that are more effective at getting your objectives. The second criticism - which we admit - was that we only look at the costs, not the benefits. Now, we couldn't see any benefits. From our point of view we weren't sure what those were."
This all sounds great on paper - and it was the backbone of Ronald Reagan's term in office. This conservative view of government is based on the premise that the private sector does a more efficient job than does the bureaucracy. In reality this program has proven to be a boon for the private contractors who are lining their pockets with huge wads of cash.
Instead of hiring a skilled government employee at a salary of $100,000 per year, we outsource the job at $400 per hour - that's $16,000 per week and $832,000 per year. That's your taxpayer dollars going to the Republican party's rich friends.
In keeping with this "privatization" theory under the Republican administration, Medicare has been outsourcing some of its coverage to private HMO's. An elderly patient, instead of finding a doctor or hospital which will take Medicare, joins an HMO (fee paid by his/her Medicare plan) and then must go to a doctor and/or hospital covered by the HMO. Once again, the philosophy is that the private sector is much more efficient than the Government at running a health care program. But - the truth of the matter is - the programs are designed by Republicans to get more of your tax dollars into the hands of their rich friends.
From the New York Times...
Private Medicare plans often cost beneficiaries more than the traditional government-run Medicare program, Congressional investigators say.
Many private plans advertise extra benefits and low costs. But in a report to be issued Thursday, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, says that many people in private plans face higher costs for home health care, nursing homes and some hospital stays.
About one-fifth of the 44 million Medicare beneficiaries — 9 million people — are in private plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans.
The report says, “Medicare spends more per beneficiary in Medicare Advantage than it does for beneficiaries in the original Medicare fee-for-service program, at an estimated additional cost to Medicare of $54 billion from 2009 through 2012.”
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
known unknowns (n.) Things one claims one knows one doesn't know; see ABU GHRAIB TORTURE POLICY.
Related term; UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS (n.) Things one doesn't know diddly about; see PAUL WOLFOWITZ, IRAQ WAR CASUALTIES
-From The Dictionary Of Republicanisms:
The Indispensable Guide To What They Really Mean
When They Say What They Think You Want To Hear
Saudi Arabia is a country we have to cozy up to for our energy needs, but it is not a nation that we should be providing arms to, as some day we will wind up fighting against our own technology.
If you need convincing, beyond the fact that 19 of the 20 terrorists who attacked the US on 9/11 were Saudis, that much of Saudi Arabia is not a civilized nation, read the following.
From Boing Boing...
The Saudi government is set to execute an illiterate woman for the crime of "witchcraft." She "confessed" to the crime after being beaten by the religious police and then fingerprinting a confession she could not read. The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read. Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent...
When an appeal court decided she should not be executed, the law courts imposed the death sentence again, arguing that it would be in the public interest.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
From Reuters - click the link to read more...
Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Renzi of Arizona, a state co-chair for Sen. John McCain 's presidential campaign, was indicted on corruption charges stemming from land deals in his state, Justice Department officials said on Friday.
The 35-count indictment stemmed from plans by Renzi and a business associate, a real estate investor, to benefit from a land-exchange deal in Arizona in return for Renzi's support for necessary federal legislation, according to court documents.
McCain, who faced new scrutiny about his ethics this week, reacted to Renzi's indictment and told reporters in Indianapolis, "I'm sorry. I feel for the family. As you know he has 12 children."
Saturday, February 23, 2008
---George W, Bush, Washington, D.C., December 11,2002
1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.
2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can't afford shoes.
3. You have more wives than teeth.
4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon "unclean."
5. You think vests come in two styles: bulletproof and suicide.
6. You can't think of anyone you HAVEN'T declared Jihad against.
7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.
8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.
9. You've ever uttered the phrase, "I love what you've done with your cave."
10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.
11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.
12. You've ever had a crush on your neighbor's goat.
From the website for Reading is FUNdamental (click the link to read more)...
"President Bush's proposed budget calling for the elimination of Reading Is Fundamental's (RIF) Inexpensive Book Distribution program would be devastating to the 4.6 million children and their families who receive free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 20,000 locations throughout the U.S.
This is a good post from Daily Kos - I've just posted a snipet - click the link to read the rest of the post...
Dan Kurtzman, who keeps the political snark fires burning over at About.com wrote a terrific piece for his recent book "How to Win a Fight with a Conservative." We present it here with the author's kind permission:
Liberals believe in clean air, diplomacy, stem cells, living wages,
body armor for our troops, government accountability, and that exercising the right to dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Liberals believe in reading actual books, going to war as a last resort, separating church and hate, and doing what Jesus would actually do, instead of lobbying for upper-class tax cuts and fantasizing about the apocalypse.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Visit his blog by clicking here...
from Jesus' General by Gen. JC Christian, Patriot
Conservatism's First Article of Faith states:
Inasmuch as the profit motive is the most basic, most efficient, and most noble of all the conditions that combine to form the human character, we believe that the corporation is far better suited than government to meeting the needs of the People.
We've seen the truth of this born out many times from the swift response of FEMA contractors to the compassionate service provided by the pharmaceutical industry and the efficient health care management of this nation's insurers. But no private endeavor for the public good has been as gratifying to true patriots than the wiretapping of our citizenry by the telecoms.
A recent cover story in The Economist, titled “The New Wars of Religion,” proclaimed, “Faith will unsettle politics everywhere this century.” Some scholars of religion have found new sport in predicting which religions will gain the most adherents (and upset the most applecarts) during the coming decades. Pentecostalism is one favorite candidate; it is sweeping through Latin America and Africa, already claiming some half-billion followers around the world. Catholicism is vying for the same conservative turf; Pope Benedict XVI’s insistence on stricter religious teachings, though not likely to grow the Church in Boston, appears intended to win more souls in Bogotá and Brazzaville. Islam claims a fifth of the world’s population, and its share is climbing quickly; it is only a matter of time, many believe, before it surpasses Christianity, which is embraced by a third of the world’s population, to become the predominant faith. Hindus and Buddhists together make up 20 percent of the world’s people, and high birthrates in the countries in which they are dominant suggest that this proportion will grow. ...
A lot rides on which of these predictions turn out to be true, and on how and where different religions bump up against one another. A common worry is that intense competition for souls could produce another era in which religious conflict leads to religious war—only this time with nuclear weapons. If we are really in for anything like the kind of zeal that accompanied earlier periods of religious expansion, we might as well say goodbye to the Enlightenment and its principles of tolerance.
From Information Clearing House...
It is impossible to keep up with all the Bush regime’s lies. There are simply too many. Among the recent crop, one of the biggest is that the “surge” is working.
Launched last year, the "surge" was the extra 20,000-30,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq. These few extra troops, Americans were told, would finally supply the necessary forces to pacify Iraq.
This claim never made any sense. The extra troops didn't raise the total number of U.S. soldiers to more than one-third the number every expert has said is necessary in order to successfully occupy Iraq.
The real purpose of the "surge" was to hide another deception. The Bush regime is paying Sunni insurgents $800,000 a day not to attack U.S. forces. That's right, 80,000 members of an "Awakening group," the "Sons of Iraq," a newly formed "U.S.-allied security force" consisting of Sunni insurgents, are being paid $10 a day each not to attack U.S. troops. Allegedly, the Sons of Iraq are now at work fighting al-Qaeda.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
---George W. Bush
---April 11, 2001
---From a speech at the Concord Middle School in Concord, North Carolina.
From the Daily Mail...
British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China's appalling human rights record – or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.
The move – which raises the spectre of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 – immediately provoked a storm of protest. The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes' contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.
From American Progress' Progress Report...
In October 2006, President Bush authorized the construction of a 700-mile border fence between the United States and Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is facing strong opposition from Texans who don't want the fence cutting through their land . Unfortunately for these homeowners, DHS gave them only "30 days to change their mind or face legal action," and now U.S. attorneys "have begun filing lawsuits against the holdouts." While DHS has no problem pursuing elderly and struggling homeowners, it will conveniently leave
untouched the border property of Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt. In 2000, Hunt was a Bush-Cheney "Pioneer ," and more recently, he "donated $35 million to Southern Methodist University to help build Bush's presidential library." Daniel Garza, a 76-year old man who might lose his home to the border fence's intrusion, noted, "I don't see why they have to destroy my home, my land, and let the wall end there." Pointing across the street to Hunt's land, he added, "How will that stop illegal immigration ?"
The bartender says, "Yep, that's them."
So the guy walks over and says, "Wow, this is a real honor. What are you guys doing in here?"
Bush says, "We're planning WW III."
And the guy says, "Really? What's going to happen?"
Bush says, "Well, we're going to kill 40 million Iranians this time and one beautiful blonde."
The guy exclaimed, "A good-looking blonde? Why kill the blonde?"
Bush turns to Powell, punches him on the shoulder and says, "See, smart ass! I told you no one would worry about the 40 million Iranians!"
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
---George W. Bush, after visiting with wounded veterans from the Amputee Care Center of Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, January 1,2006
"I trust God speaks through me. Without that I couldn't do my job."
---President George W. Bush, July, 2004
Now I’m reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and it is giving me even more grave misgivings about these political/religious leaders. If they are so deluded as to believe God is telling them how to run the country, how do we control their delusions? How can we trust that the God they believe in is the kind, benevolent God of some preachers and not the murderous, evil SOB that Adolph Hitler believed in?
It seems to me that among believers, there is great diversity – people seem to make of God what they wish. Some believe you must live by the Bible (though they pick and choose which parts of the Bible they mean) and some believe God tells them to murder people. Some (Catholics at the least) believe in worshiping lesser Gods, virgins, angels and perhaps dozens of other religious forms, while other religions do not allow it. Some believe the Sabbath is Saturday, others believe the Sabbath is Sunday. Which truth is it? It certainly appears that the nature of God is of our (each individual) own choosing – we see Him as who – or whatever – we want.
If there were a “real” God – if in fact you were He – and You wanted everyone to worship You so that they could gain entry into Your Kingdom – would You not at least let them know what You stood for? Who You were? What Your governing principals were so that all might know together, not each picking out his/her own rules?
In “The God Delusion” Dawkins talks about the fact that there is quite a bit of evidence supporting the theory that those who believe most sincerely in God are also, on average, more poorly educated and learned than those who are atheists. The following paragraph caught my eye and seems to explain a lot – at least to me.
“That scientifically savvy philosopher Daniel Dennett pointed out that evolution counters one of the oldest ideas we have: ‘the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You’ll never see a spear making a spear maker. You’ll never see a horseshoe making a blacksmith. You’ll never see a pot making a potter.’ Darwin’s discovery of a workable process that does that very counter-intuitive thing is what makes his contribution to human thought so revolutionary and so loaded with the power to raise consciousness.”
The reluctance of so many Americans to give up their reliance on God, I am sure, is in no small part related to their experiences in life with just such a trickle-down theory. Conservatives, strongly tied to their religious beliefs, also believe in the trickle-down economic theory. That is, they believe that the universe (or the world) needs a big daddy to take care of them. I think I begin to understand, that at least for a significant number of conservatives, they feel small and unworthy. They are looking for a protector, someone of a higher order, be it God or the corporate captain, to watch over them and provide for them. This is their comfort in life and they are unwilling to give it up.
Thanks, Richard, your book is explaining a lot to me.
In a move that could endanger Florida's flaky backwater reputation, the state Board of Education is poised to endorse the teaching of evolution as a science.
This is a dangerous idea -- not the presentation of Darwinism in schools, but the presentation of Florida as a place of progressive
In recent weeks, the Board of Education has been swamped by e-mails and letters from religious conservatives who advocate teaching creationism or intelligent design, and who believe evolution should be discussed strictly as a ``theory.''
For those who wish to see Florida standing still, if not sinking, this is a fantastic strategy. In fact, it could be expanded to revise other educational doctrines.Let's start teaching gravity as a ''theory,'' too. And don't forget the solar system -- what proof do we really have, besides a bunch of fuzzy, fake-looking photos, that Mars really
But it all turns out that our worst enemy might be us. Surprise, surprise.
From ABC News - click the link to read more...
When it comes to fears about a terrorist attack, people in the U.S. usually focus on Osama bin Laden and foreign-based radical groups. Yet researchers say domestic extremists who commit violence in the name of their cause, abortion or the environment for example, account for most of the damage from such incidents in this country.
These homegrown groups are seven times more likely than overseas groups to commit some kind of violence in the United States, a panel reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
---George W. Bush area June 2000
After seeming confused when asked a question about the Taliban, Governor Bush responded after being prompted by the reporter ("Repression of women in Afghanistan?")
The following little bit came from Time Magazine, 1/21/2008, and I think it says a lot about what is happening to the US under the Bush administration. So many of our resources are going into fighting a stupid war and into rewarding citizens who are already rich that we're losing ground for the average Joe.
(Time) The United Kingodm's gross domestic product figures for 2007 reveal that the average Brit made $46,380 - that's $500 per year MORE than the average US citizen made. This is the first time since the 19th century (that's the 1800's, folks) that the average person in Britain will make more than someone in the US.
Bush's policies are hurting us badly. Maybe it's time to rething all of our trade agreements that allow US businesses to move their manufacturing to other nations, then reimport the production to the US at no cost and without trade protections. Let's bring some American jobs back home.
Below - I'm not sure who this "People's Cube" is - but they are prolific. I'm seeing a lot of their stuff around the web. On the other hand, it could be just one guy (girl) who's not too bright. The stuff is not logical - (he/she/they) certainly don't understand the social security issue. But still, the People's Cube stuff helps to prove my point that a lot of conservatives are not well learned.
Below - What? That he dropped out?
The business I am talking about is the "church" business. In order to maintain a separation of church and state, the government does not tax this huge business and it puts a hurt on all of the rest of us. As I understand it, the Catholic church is the largest landowner in the US and when you exempt all of their property, as well as all of the other religious properties in a city, town or state, it takes a tremendous percentage of land off of the property tax roles. Now consider that the income they generate, the salaries they pay, and the things that they purchase are all exempt from income and sales taxes, and we're talking some major, major dollars here folks. The rest of us must pay more because of these exemptions.
(Another problem with this whole process however, is that it puts Government in the role of certifying churches. In order to protect itself from crackpots [normal people who want, more than most, to get out of paying taxes], the IRS must certify that a religion is legitimate, thus denying the principal that government stays out of the religion buisiness. Seems to me if we taxed churches the way we tax everyone else, THAT separates church from state.)
One of the trade offs for religious leaders and "tax leniency) is that they may not use their organizations or leaders to endorse or work for political candidates. Except they can - and do. The Federal Government often looks the other way.
Are things about to change? Might the Government finally put it's foot down and begin to tax churches and religious organizations who endorse, campaign for and even contribute money to political candidates? I sure hope so - it's only right.
From Breitbart.com - click on the link to read more...
Southern Baptist pastor Wiley Drake said Wednesday that he is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for his endorsement of GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in a press release written on church stationery. Under federal tax law, church officials may legally discuss politics, but they cannot endorse candidates or parties without putting their tax-exempt status at risk. Most who do so receive only a warning.
Drake, a prominent pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention, said he received a 14-page letter from the IRS on Feb. 7.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
From the Washington Post - click the link to read more.
Several years ago, state attorneys general and others involved in consumer protection began to notice a marked increase in a range of predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. Some were misrepresenting the terms of loans, making loans without regard to consumers' ability to repay, making loans with deceptive "teaser" rates that later ballooned astronomically, packing loans with undisclosed charges and fees, or even paying illegal kickbacks. These and other practices, we noticed, were having a devastating effect on home buyers. In addition, the widespread nature of these practices, if left unchecked, threatened our financial markets.
Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing
to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.
Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.
What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.
Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.
Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool
Saturday, February 16, 2008
---George W. Bush March 6,2001
---Speaking in Chicago, Illinois