Royally Kranked

Monday, October 31, 2005

The next level in the GOP's crash & burn

And what Valerie Plame was to hitting the GOP in the White House, Jack Abramoff is to entire GOP power structure directly outside the White House, House of Reps, Senate & Cabinet officials

And according to a story that hit this morning, Abramoff had some SERIOUS pull with this Administration, and at the heart of it all, was Abramoff's client in question the Northern Marianas Islands

What this means is that Abramoff's high-powered status is going to do even more damage to the GOP than thought previously, way too much clout here to just wink off

Abramoff was also a top fund-raiser for President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election, bringing in at least $100,000.


The U.S. Justice Department never acted on a post-Sept. 11 proposal, contested by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, calling for increased federal control over immigration to the Mariana Islands.

The agency reassigned the two officials who produced a 34- page report that contained the proposal, and House members of both parties who oversee the Homeland Security and Justice departments said they were never told about it. The 2002 report, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, warns that continued local control over the Marianas' borders will ``seriously jeopardize the national security'' of the U.S.

Abramoff, whose law firm was paid $3.5 million by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, to lobby between 1998 and 2002, tried to block the report, according to an e-mail released this month by House Democrats.

This is absolutely unreal-Abramoff has enough pull to delay a report that was ordered distributed to High ranking Representatives in both parties, and then apparently can get US Prosecutors reassigned if they're too vigilant regarding Abramoff or his clients & operatives

The report, dated May 6, 2002, was prepared by Robert Meissner, then a regional security specialist for the Justice Department, at the request of Frederick Black, who at the time was the acting United States attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Meissner had jurisdiction over security issues for the commonwealth.


Both men were subsequently transferred to lesser positions. Black is now an assistant U.S. attorney in the Marianas, and Meissner was reassigned from his job reviewing security for the commonwealth and 10 other U.S. attorney's offices and now works in the U.S. attorney's office in northern Virginia. Black and Meissner declined to comment.

Besides his more well known exploits concerning the transfer of HUGE sums of Indian tribal casino gambling revenues into his pockets & those of his fellow operatives & lobbyists, it's the relationship with Factory owners on the Northern Marianas Islands that shows Abramoff at his most ruthless, efficient and powerful, as the pressure he's brought to bear in Congress has killed off numerous attempts to strengthen labor, workplace safety & environmental laws

And this missing report contains red-meat that will infuriate much of his harsher, extremist base, dovetailing two President Jr's most sore points, Immigration & National Security

From Abramoff's perspective, tightening up security & immigration is something he puts a very selfish spin on-I mean astonishingly selfish in that disorienting "up is down" kind of logical thinking, behavior with so many blindingly hypocritical faults & flaws one is almost overwhelmed by the very depth of corruption that emboldened so many of Abramoff's actions

Under a 1976 covenant between the commonwealth and the U.S., immigration laws don't apply to the Marianas ``except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress.''

Abramoff lobbied against efforts to tighten those laws. The islands have 28,717 foreign workers, compared with 6,006 natives, in the labor force, according to Central Intelligence Agency statistics.

Abramoff's outlook is pretty simple actually-if it doesn't enrich hjimself, or funnel movey to other groups & individuals who alll financailly reward each other at every possible opportunity, then it's a waste of time & idle speculation

Indeed, Abramoff fell victim to the same desire to put self ahead of country that Rove & Libby did when they outed valerie Plame, with the main difference being that Abramoff is going for the money while Rove & Libby went for the payback

And in that vein, Abramoff clearly viewed the US DoJ as subordinate to the GOP's political will & cash dispensary, an organization that could only disrupt-even temporarily-the nonstop funding of Abramoff by the Northern Marianas Islands Factory owners, and this is where the selfishness becomes almost overwhelming

In an Oct, 1, 2001, e-mail to the Marianas government, Abramoff said he was alerted to the pending immigration report by the Justice Department chief of staff, whom he hosted in his luxury box at a Washington Redskins football game. He said he would pass on to the government any information he received from the official. At the time, David Ayres was chief of staff.


In the e-mail, Abramoff warned that some ``bad guys'' in Justice had been saying the commonwealth ``if not taken over, will be a major entry point for terrorists. This, of course, is patently ridiculous and we have been working to counter this.''

Notice that first sentence again

Abramoff's clout was such that this report warranted a "Heads Up" from the Justice Dept, by the Chief of Staff in a skybox during a pro football game

And it turns out Abramoff wasn't shy about letting others know about the major clout he wielded with various Bush Jr Adminstrative officials, including Agency heads

Abramoff said he would meet with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. One of Abramoff's associates was Kevin Ring, who joined the firm after serving as counsel to a Judiciary subcommittee that Ashcroft chaired when he served in the U.S. Senate.

``We'll hope the higher ups will take some time to squash this on their own,'' Abramoff wrote.

And what's at risk here is the possibility of another attack reminiscent of Al-Qaeda's bombing of the USS Cole during a brief stopover in Yemen

It appears Abramoff not only had direct ties into the entier GOP apparatus, but also the ability to get direct meetings with the President himself

For example, Abramoff helped get the chief of the Coushatta invited to a meeting with President George W. Bush in early 2001, set up by Grover Norquist, once Abramoff's executive director at the College Republicans and now Washington's pre-eminent conservative lobbyist. It was suggested that a donation to Norquist's think tank, Americans for Tax Reform, might be appreciated. Abramoff pressed the Coushattas. The $25,000 check was sent to ATR.

There's so much to flesh out about Abramoff, but this is clearly NOT the twist the GOP needed to set it's political rudder solidly again

Those hearings on Nov 2 should be about a million times more interesting now

Oh yeah, as a nice wrap up

Government misses dozens of security deadlines since September 11

It's kind of hard not to come to the conclusion that Abramoff's lust for money was responsible for this Administration's shameful & shocking neglect in beefing up security as it relates to another possible terrorist attack of US military personnel on soil of a US protectorate

How many of those other missed deadlines had some kind of financial component to them, and how many people had the ability to stop delivery of a mandated report to the highest ranking Representatives in the House?

This is only going to get MUCH worse for the White House in particular-especially as Rove & Abramoff have ties involving past personnel as well-and the GOP Overall

Sunday, October 30, 2005

One of the best examples of using political office for personal gain is that of former La Rep Billy Tauzin, as he went directly from his elected office to head the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

So the story involves taking huge cuts of the GOP ax to Medicaid while trying to avoid doing the same to Medicare
-a harsh difference to be sure, gutting programs for sick & poor children while avoiding the reaper's scythe to programs whose main adherents actually vote, but then Tauzin makes such an easily debunked point that it's like .......(provide your own metaphor/simile/allegory)

Craig L. Fuller, president of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, a trade group, said he did not understand how House Republicans could cut payments to pharmacies and increase co-payments for poor people without requiring drug manufacturers to make any contribution to the savings......But Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a lobbying organization for brand-name drug companies, said the price concessions required by the Senate bill could hurt Medicaid recipients and other patients by forcing drug makers to "reduce research and development of life-saving medicines."

And if Tauzin's clients didn't spend more on Advertising than Research & Development I'd agree with his unbiased assessment completely


Damn, Big Dog, good job

"You can't say, 'Please don't be mean to me. Please let me win sometimes.' Give me a break here," Clinton said. "If you don't want to fight for the future and you can't figure out how to beat these people then find something else to do.".....Clinton also criticized political reporters and authors for failing to use reason and common sense in their writing and failing to dig deeply into stories. Instead, he said, reporters let officials get away with saying things that aren't true so stories include comment from both sides.

I voted for Nader back in '96 & '00, but I was disappointed-not angry-with Clinton when I voted against him

The fact is, one of the reasons Gore lost the election is because he tried to keep Clinton at farther than arm's length during that '00 campaign

Clinton is about the slickest pure politician I've ever seen, he gets it in a way I've never seen from anyone else, I just wish he would have fought for the right thing much more than he did during his Administration

Fucking religious wingnuts strike again

The school's principal said yesterday he acceded to the complaints of a handful of parents who said that because the school's traditional Halloween celebrations offended their religious beliefs, they would not send their children to school if the revelry continued this year......Castelline, who met yesterday with the Parent Teacher Organization to explain his decision, said three teachers told him they had children in their classes who were not going to come to school if the Halloween celebration was held. The celebration, which has been going on for at least 14 years, involves teachers dressing up and lining the hallways and children making Halloween-related arts and crafts.

Once again, we find the wingnuts major hypocrisy-It's not enough for them to deprive their own children, no, they're not happy unless everyone else is as miserable & narrow minded as they are

It's late notice, but hopefully those parents NOT offended by a holiday are able to organize a REAL Halloween festival, with prizes for the most ghoulish costumes & most creative use of gore through makeup

And might as well come clean on my most interesting halloween

I've never usually had anything to give away on Halloween-mainly because kids don't come around

One year they broke that pattern, I was stunned to hear "Trick or Treat" outside the house, and making the response even goofier than it would have been otherwise was the fact that KC had gotten a bottle of Holiday Spirits-so to speak-and was loaded with holiday cheer

But, there was no candy to pass out to the impatient children, so I reached out for the two groups of items that were on the table by the door

And it was pennies & coathangers dispensed in a weird, yet happy, buzzy, haze to a crew that clearly weren't expecting such items

One of the kids brought a coat hanger up and actually held it back up so it reflected the moonlight back at me, and gave me a look like I was the Thing With Two Heads

When I didn't reply, but just stared off into the distance, after about two minutes, the group finally left

I only dealt with one more pod of Trick & Treaters before word got around to the other scavengers about the crazy, drunk gringo passing out pennies & coathangers

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Forgot to add to the A List of US Hating Patriots

Bill Frist

John Cornyn

Rick Santorum

James Inhofe

Tom DeLay

Sorry for the oversight, & thanks Amy

US Hating Patriots-The A List

President Jr

Dick Cheney

Benedict Rove

Lewis Libby

Donald Rumsfeld

Condoleeza Rice

Colin Powell

Alberto Gonzalez

And Their 4th Estate US Hating Patriotic Lackeys

Rush Limbaugh

Ann Coulter

Michelle Malkin

John Hinderaker

Free Republic

Sean Hannity

Bill O'Reilly

Tucker Carlson

Fred Barnes

Another list to follow soon, don't be shy, throw out names of other US Hating Patriots, it's fun AND therapeutic at the same time

I went with Nader in '96 & '00, but this is still quite a funny punchline

President Jr More Cut Out For "Used Car Salesman" In Terms Of Honesty

Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left office.

Damn, that's funny

Clinton Administration is rightfully seen as upholding a Higher Ethical standard than President Jr & Crew

Damn that stings

Begala Nails It Home Extra-Hard, GrandSlamDunk Style

The Fitzgerald probe, it should be noted, is the first independent investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the Bush White House. And it has hit paydirt. Contrast that with the dry holes of Whitewater, Filegate, the billing records, Vince Foster's suicide, the cattle futures, the Buddhist temple, and all the rest. Good Lord, Congress even spent two years investigating Clinton's Christmas card list. Just to list the trumped-up Clinton "scandals" is to recall how trivial -- and yet how destructive -- they were. Innocent people were impoverished, reputations were damaged, careers derailed. But at least history can give the Clinton team a clean bill of ethical health. No White House was more thoroughly investigated -- and more thoroughly exonerated. But it's telling that the first time anyone had the courage to scratch the surface of Bush, Inc., he found corruption.

And President Jr will be asked one question repeatedly anytime a rreporter's near enough to shout

"Mr President, will you be firing Karl Rove for his role in disclosing Valerie Plame's identity, seeing as how he previously asserted he was in no way involved?"

Yeah, Rove will have NO problem getting back in the swing of things, and he'll stay even MORE laser-like in his ruthless political efficiency as a result of groveling & whimpering to Patrick Fitzgerald

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The ability to find humor in even the most appalling situations is one way to help keep an overall healthy mental perspective, a defense stimulus necessary for those in the law enforcement & medical fields at being overwhelmed by anger, rage & shock, however well justified.

In politics, such laughable strains of the absurd are so much easier to find, blatantly naked in the glare of even a half-way look into the recent past

In a case that some have called a showdown over voting rights, a U.S. appeals court yesterday upheld an injunction barring the state of Georgia from enforcing a law requiring citizens to get government-issued photo identification in order to vote......The ruling allows thousands of Georgians who do not have government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses and passports, to vote in the Nov. 8 municipal elections without obtaining a special digital identification card, which costs $20 for five years. In prior elections, Georgians could use any one of 17 types of identification that show the person's name and address, including a driver's license, utility bill, bank statement or a paycheck, to gain access to a voting booth.

Pretty straightforward, it's nothing more than a GOP attempted end run around the vote-heavy areas more likely to stick with the Dems rather than giving the GOP a shot politically

But where's the humor, where's the laughter shown by a despicable attempt to dilute the strength of the dem vote?

Well, judge for yourselves

Under the Georgia law, residents would need to produce original birth certificates and other documents to get the new digital identification card. The cards could only be obtained at Department of Motor Vehicles offices......Liberal critics compiled statistics showing that far more white residents owned cars than African Americans. The law, they argued, gave an unfair advantage to white people while placing a burden on those who are black.

Now, how did Georgia try to ensure that EVERYONE could register easily at any DMV in the state?

Well,. the state DMV underwent an interestingly timed overhaul, which resulted in, well, read the punchline

After the reorganization, there were no DMV offices in Atlanta, a city with a wide black majority. The closest station is at least nine miles away. Fewer than 60 of the state's 159 counties have DMV offices.

Yes, even though I've never been to Georgia, I find it interesting that the state's largest city now has NO DMV's anywhere within the city limits, meaning all those drivers now have to pollute the countryside getting to the now easier to find-as those offices aren't cluttering up every city block now-DMV's..

Did the state run any impact studies before enhancing the DMV experience for those it said needed documents to vote?

Which, brings us to the last of the punchlines, in which Georgia shows just how far it's willing to go to ensure the Voting Rights Act isn't violated

State officials countered that they were providing a single vehicle, known as the GLOW bus, to traverse the state, providing applications and licenses to those with the proper documents. Critics expressed disbelief that one bus could accommodate the needs of so many potential voters.

Ahh, yes, that GOP outreach to minority voters will undoubtedly sprout wings of gold in ushering a new political paradigm one the bus has crossed the state

Friday, October 28, 2005

Before the celebrating from Rove about dodging a bullet, let's take a quick look at Iraq, that pesky problem that has the ability to get to be a MUCH bigger headache for President jr & Crew depending upon the results of the December 15 elections to elect Irtaq's representatives

Iraq's top Shiite cleric is considering demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops after a democratically elected government takes office next year, according to associates of the Iranian-born cleric......If the Americans and their coalition partners do not comply, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani would use peaceful means such as mass street protests to step up pressure for a pullout schedule, according to two associates of the cleric......He has steadfastly refused to meet with any American officials since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003......But al-Sistani's influence among the majority Shiite community is vast, and a public call for such a timetable would put enormous pressure on Washington to comply......Al-Sistani's influence on Iraq's Shiite community has already forced the United States to make major revisions in its political blueprint for the country. Last year, the Americans agreed to speed up their timetable for handing sovereignty back to the Iraqis and bringing forward the date for last January's election under pressure from al-Sistani......His refusal to meet with U.S. officials has extended even to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghanistan-born Muslim......"He sees U.S. officials as symbols of the occupation," one associate said. "To meet with any of them could be used against him."

Lovely, in allowing glorious freedom for those suicide bombers so ruthlessly suppressed by Saddam Hussein, President Jr's policies are leading to an increasingly deeper alliance between the Mullahs in both Iran & Iraq, with long established secular rights for women chief among the options jettisoned under what's going to be called "Democracy" in Iraq

It's also hard to understand how President Jr can mainatian his focus on Iraq, when every time he's near a reporter, the main question will be one wanting to know how President Jr intends to deal with Karl Rove's treason regarding outing an actual CIA Agent disrupting the sales & transfers of WsMD to rogue regimes, groups & individuals

All those sources Plame built up in her work for the CIA, they've been put at risk for no reason other than the most petty & repulsive of political hardball tactics, which means this crew has blood on it's hands if the US suffers an attack with WsMD on US soil

To condone Rove's unalloyed arrogance is to condone outright treason against the US

Rove should spent the rest of his nasty little life behind bars, permanently disgraced along the lines of another US-Hating "Patriot", Sen Joe McCarthy

Something we haven't considered with Libby's resignation, his replacement, Cheney's Counsel, David Addington.

Addington is a big supporter of allowing the use of torture, and undoubtedly had close discussion with Cheney when drawing up these procedures

Seems to me that since Cheney's view would allow the use of torture to prevent an imminent nuclear explosion, then this is an area that fitzgerald could logically wade into as it relates to motives the Administration had in smearing any critic of the ways President Jr & Cheney deliberately twisted facts to fit the policy

And regarding what's happened with President Jr's personal counsel, does appointing your lawyer as your Chief of Staff seem like the smartest of present political moves?

Just a thought

Pam, you sure dig up the Goofiest stuff

"Shower Jesus has been freed from the wall!"


EJ Dionne

Grand. Slam. Dunk.

This has been a powerfully instructive moment. The willingness of conservatives to abandon what they had once held up as high and unbending principles reveals that this battle over the Supreme Court is, for them, a simple struggle for power. It is thus an unfortunate reminder of the highly unprincipled Supreme Court decision in 2000 that helped put Bush in the White House. Conservatives who had long insisted on deference to states' rights put those commitments aside when doing so would advance the political fortunes of one of their own.

What finally cracked the last of President Jr's crumbling veneer as a supposed "Strong, decisive leader" was his dithering response to ending his month-long vacation while the City of New Orleans drowned after Katrina paid a visit

Of course, "And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" did W no favors is pushing the mindset that the Federal Govt is now BETTER organized to deal with a crisis than it was on September 11

We've seen what happens when political cronies are placed in charge of tasks far too difficult for them to handle successfully or effectively, ala Brownie again

But, more bickering is arising between the GOP at the National Level, and the La Dems, this time over which group-State or FEMA-should be in charge of rounding up the over 1000 dead in La.

Now, notice a common thread FEMA's response seemed slightly obsessed with?

"This issue must be addressed, and frankly, there is operations paralysis at this point," Jordan wrote. "FEMA is pushing state to see what they want to do, and indications are that governor is involved in some of the decisions," especially regarding burial......"Believe organized collection must begin today once morgue is operational or it will become evident to media that plan for collection is not in place," Jordan wrote in the e-mail, which was sent to Brown and Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, the military coordinator for the disaster

Oops, there's that FEMA focus that ensures a prompt & outstanding rescue & relief effort again

"First morgue site is fully operational," Jordan wrote to the Pentagon officials. "...Believe media and family member interest will continue to cause security concerns."

Interesting terminology-the media will enable "Security concerns", perhaps focusing on those dead floating in the water or covered up outside the packed Superdome & Convention Center

Well, while it's true that those "family member interest" may actually "cause security concerns"-say, by yelling themselves hoarse to find out what the hell was going on with their missing loved ones, I don't see what kind of threat, real OR implied, the grieving could have presented to the search, rescue & relief crews at all

Thursday, October 27, 2005

One of my favorite aspects of "Star Wars" was the terminology, in particular a phrase that applies so perfectly to politics & PR Spin these days it's hard to believe "Jedi Mind Trick" hasn't ALWAYS been in the lexicon

It's a tactic President Jr's Administration has become glaringly & jarringly adept at,insisting that, despite signs of complete negative reality to the contrary, such as an increasingly bleak outcome of US efforts in Iraq, "These aren't the droids you're looking for, move along."

Unfortunately, so much of the mass media responded to such blather & bs with a hearty "These aren't the droids we're looking for, move along."

That phrase so adroitly describes efforts that would otherwise still be tagged with the boring "Hypocrite" & "Hypocriticial" monikers that it's the best word turn in describing the NEW Mission of US Intelligence gathering agencies, namely ensuring the growth of "Democracies" in other countries occupies the same US self-interest as reducing & countering terrorism & disrupting the sale/transfer of WsMD to rogue regimes, groups & individuals

Now, that's a wonderful mission, pushing for the spread of political freedoms unrestrained by any thoughts of personal safety for one's own life or the lives of their families, friends & colloeagues, as putting the lives of others around the world on the same level we put ourselves here in the US could, if done seriously & sufficiently, very well do more to undercut historic grudges against past US actions than almost any other policies besides full & sincere apologies for past wrongs & outrages, such as overthrowing the democratically elected Mossadegh & replacing him with the 1953 installation of Shah Reza Pahlavi to the Peacock Throne in Iran

But "these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along," as it's Jedi Mind Trickster John Negroponte in charge of actually implementing this policy of spreading "Democracy" to undercut popular anti US rage around the globe

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Negroponte Unveils Intelligence Strategy
Director Highlights Fostering Growth of Foreign Democracies as a Top U.S. Goal

Negroponte said the strategic mission to "bolster the growth of democracy and sustain peaceful democratic states" is aimed at providing policymakers with information to alert them as to how countries are progressing toward democracy, allowing them to understand the "success or failure to achieve good governance.".....The publication also lays out 10 goals, termed "enterprise objectives," that Negroponte hopes to accomplish as a result of the restructuring and transformation of the agencies that has begun since he took over as President Bush's chief intelligence adviser six months ago. These include many steps recommended by the Sept. 11 commission and the president's intelligence commission such as sharing of intelligence between agencies and creation of uniform security practices.

As it turns out, Jedi Mind Practitioner Negroponte knows all about sharing information & intelligence between agencies & security organizations as shown by his stint as US Ambassador to Honduras during the 1980's

The previous U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Jack Binns, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, made numerous complaints about human rights abuses by the Honduran military and claimed he fully briefed Negroponte on the situation before leaving the post. When the Reagan administration came to power, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has consistently denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Later, the Honduras Commission on Human Rights accused Negroponte himself of human rights violations......Substantial evidence subsequently emerged to support the contention that Negroponte was aware that serious violations of human rights were carried out by the Honduran government, with the support of the CIA, if perhaps not with its direct approval......Among other evidence, Dodd cited a cable sent by Negroponte in 1985 that made it clear that Negroponte was aware of the threat of "future human rights abuses" by "secret operating cells" left over by General Alvarez after his deposition in 1984......In April 2005, as the Senate confirmation hearings for the National Intelligence post took place, hundreds of documents were released by the State Department in response to a FOIA request by the Washington Post. The documents, cables that Negroponte sent to Washington while serving as ambassador to Honduras, indicated that he played a more active role than previously known in managing the US covert war against the Sandinistas.

So Negroponte's going to push for more "Democracy" as he has in the past, with all its attendant thrills & spills experienced by those perhaps not so grateful for his version of it?

"These aren't the droids you're looking for, move along, move along."

I originally posted about this subject much earlier this month

And now we have an ultradespicable update regarding Delphi's attempt to wrangle the most UnGodly cuts in terms of salaries & health care benefits

Delphi's demand: Take $9 an hour

If Delphi Corp. has its way, workers for the nation's largest auto parts supplier would be paid as little as $9 per hour under 65% wage cuts, and be hit with a tenfold increase in health-care costs, no dental and vision care and other sharp reductions in benefits, according to a proposal revealed on the Web site of a UAW local......The cuts are even stiffer than the company's final proposal to the union before it filed for Chapter 11 on Oct. 8, further infuriating workers already angered by the threats to their livelihood....The company wants hourly workers making $25 to $27 an hour to accept wages between $9.50 and $10.50 an hour. Delphi also wants overtime to be accrued after working a full week, as opposed to a full day.

Now, just how much money would Delphi coup if the overtime standard was trashed & recast in this most unlabor friendly policy overhaul, especially in terms or incurring interest on any savings that accrue to the company

And finally, here's the reality of what the financially well-off board of Delphi Directors see as an appropriate benefits accrual to the employees who made the company the biggest auto supply parts dealership in the automotive industry

Out-of-pocket costs for health care would increase to a maximum $5,000 a year for a family or $2,500 annually for an individual. That would compare to the $500 per family and $250 per person workers currently contribute to the company's traditional health care plan......The new wages could put a strain on households dependent on a single breadwinner. At $9 per hour, some Delphi workers would make $18,720 a year under the new proposal. That's more than $600 below the federal poverty line for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Just how are people expected to survive when told to take overly drastic pay cuts or do without completely, and why, considering that President Jr's Chief of Staff Andy Card comes from a background in the detroit Auto Industry, has this Administration been so quiet to assert a fair day's wage for a fair day's work?

Well, THIS could sure could be an interesting strategy to pursue, it has the ability to make the ruckus over Tom DeLay's redistricting ploy sound like the most melodious of perfectly pitched, shiny orchestral triangles

Montgomery eyes revenue from state with a new census

This quiet, riverside town is growing so fast it's costing the village money.

That's why the Village Board this week approved an agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct a special census only a year after completing the last one.

By officially adjusting its population, Montgomery will be able to receive more money from the state's revenue-sharing program.

Seems that a matter of moeny is going to easily trump a matter of redistricting when it comes to ballot issues at election time, and just watch what this will do with the census on a yearly basis as opposed to a once a decade procedure

The village and the Census Bureau are in the process of hiring enumerators to conduct the survey beginning in January. The results are expected before the 2005 fiscal year ends on April 30, and the additional revenue would be available in fiscal year 2006. The village expects to follow through on last year's prediction of annual or biennial censuses in the future.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And so, after President Jackass brayed in the usual ultra-overwrought, bombastic style he's perfected to an art form, about the need to get more US troops & Iraqi citizens killed & maimed to honor those killed & maimed before them, THIS is what W uses as a selling point to try & replenish all that wasted "Political Capital" he "earned" on Election Night 2004

President Jr's REAL Calling As A Top-Notch Fashion Critic

Bush sought to emphasize Iraq's progress in a second event of the day, appearing in the Oval Office beside Massoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The two stood to offer reporters and photographers a view of Barzani's traditional Kurdish outfit — a khaki jacket tucked into matching, loosely pleated pants adorned by a knotted sash at his waist and a red-and-white headdress.

"It wasn't all that long ago if he had of worn this outfit and was captured by
Saddam Hussein's thugs he would have been killed for wearing it," Bush said. "He feels comfortable wearing it here because we're a free land. He feels comfortable wearing it in his home country because Iraq is free."

Wow, watch out Mr Blackwell, you've got some REAL competition who just happens to have access to a fabulous line of nuclear weapons, and a hissy-fit temperment perfect for when you're in that special "launch & light them up" mood

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So much to rant about, it's tough to pick an appropriate starting point

So lets start with bitchslapping a truly loathsome group, one that, when their voice was most needed, decided instead to imitate Marcel Marceau

The National Rifle Association

In an act of political whoredom absolutely no less garish than passing-at a cost to the Financial Services Industries, ESPECIALLY the parasitic Credit Card Industry of $40 Million-the much nastier bankruptcy laws overhaul, the House today voted to give the Gun Industry complete & total immunity from almost any & all lawsuits

Congress gives gun industry a lawsuit shield

Congress gave the gun lobby its top legislative priority Thursday, passing a bill that would protect the firearms industry from massive lawsuits brought by crime victims. The White House says President Bush will sign it into law....Under the measure, about 20 pending lawsuits by local governments against the industry would be dismissed. The Senate passed the bill in July......The bill’s authors say the bill still allows civil suits against individual parties who have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing by the courts.

Yeah, thanks so fucking much for the afterthought

So, if someone I care about is shot by someone wielding a cheap gun designed with no other purpose than to kill, the money needed to take care of any physical damage comes from a shooter who's not made of money either, as opposed to the manufacturers of a very dangerous, malfunctioning weapon, like Saturday Night Specials

Great, makes perfect sense if you're paying off on political legislation brought off by special interests groups & lobbies

And for another knock on this vile "Get Out Of Jail Free" card

But relieved of the threat of lawsuits, the industry will have little incentive to pursue technological innovations that would make its products safer. And the firearms business would have little reason to more tightly control distribution in order to keep guns out of the hands of the unscrupulous and the dangerous.

Had this bill been law before victims of the infamous D.C. snipers settled a lawsuit against the gun shop responsible for the rifle used in those deadly attacks, the victims' families would have been booted out of court. They would have been barred from collecting a dime, even though the gun dealer involved couldn't account for 239 guns that had gone missing from his inventory, one of them the rifle used in the 2002 Washington-area rampage.

But, as far as I can tell, the NRA is VERY selective of who should have the rights to OWN a gun in the first place, and that's the absolute most infuriating aspect of the NRA's ultrablatant hypocrisy, is that its using what should absolutely be its most shameful moment considering their aims, and using it to rally support and new memebers from the very people who should be scourging the group the hardest

Horrific images of people without the protection of public safety in New Orleans made a particular impression on viewers who had never before felt unsafe, according to the gun lobby.

"Americans saw a complete collapse of the government's ability to protect them," said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president.

"That burnt in, those pictures of people standing there defending their lives and defending their property and their family," he added, "where the one source of comfort was a firearm

Actually, 2nd Jerkoff in Command LaPierre vastly understates what was happening in New Orleans at the time

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I know this, because for 4 days, I was the ONLY person-a Liberal no less-who was getting riled up by an order that went out, which was

New Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes

"Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here........No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns, or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.......But that order apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property. The guards, who are civilians working for private security firms like Blackwater, are openly carrying M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons."

I started griping about this on September 8, and then really ratcheted up the kvetching after I saw a video on September 9, in which two burly National Guardsmen physically assaulted-knocked down-an elderly woman whose only protection was a small knife & .22 pistol

She was forcibly disarmed, while the private mercenaries got to openly carry around fully automatic weapons

And for 4 days the NRA stayed silent while poor citizens were forcibly disarmed by their own government-now, why was that exactly?

Geez, the whole race thing wouldn't be playing a part in this treacherous corporate silence now would it?

At the very least, it's obvious that the NRA should never again be accorded ANY legitimacy on the issue of private gun ownership, as when they had the chance to posibly help stop a harsh policy that ended up hitting the poor the hardest, the NRA decided social status mattered more than doing the right thing, and since those who were poor probably couldn't spare the money needed to become a duespaying member of the NRA, then why bother staying ethically consistent and helping out a group dispossessed of all political power

First off, this is not an attack aimed ONLY at the Amish, but rather at those religious zealots who think their theology should be imposed on their own children unchecked by any state responsibility in making sure children are kept safe

Fifth Amish Child in Minnesota Has Polio

State epidemiologist Harry Hull last week said he expects more cases of polio infection to turn up as community members are tested. Most were never vaccinated.

One of my absolutes in this country and in this life is this

If you're an adult and you want to refuse medical or life-saving treatments for yourself, then that decision should be upheld by the Government & society

But that religious freedom does NOT include the right to place childrens lives at risk because of lack of vaccinations or proper medical care & treatments

If that's the case, then the state not only has the right, it has the responsibility to ensure the child is given every fair shot at life

If that means keeping the parents physically apart from the sick child, then the quicker the split, the better chance the child has to live

Obviously, the older the child is, the more weight their beliefs should be given

But I have no patience for those so willing to sacrifice a child's life in the name of their religion or theology, not a bit

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The military rolls a MAJOR snake eyes

Now, I completely agree those in the military are adults able to make their own choices, yet when this temptation is offered, yet can be held against any personnel who tries to get help, then it sure seems likely that the military values profits over it's own personnel

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Temptation Near for Military's Problem Gamblers

Despite research showing that service members are at least as vulnerable to compulsive gambling as civilians - even more vulnerable, some research suggests - the military spends little of its Congressional funding, and none of its gambling profits, on treatment for those whose gambling gets out of control.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report to the Pentagon noted "a general lack of accessible treatment for gambling addiction," but that warning was not included in the Pentagon's final report to Congress.

And of course, as always, it's usually not just the compulsive gambler who has the problem to deal with

"The fact that few treatment options exist for military personnel, their family members" and other personnel at overseas bases "is not disputed," the paper said. "Prior to the start of the present program in Okinawa, no formal overseas treatment options for pathological gambling existed."

The Okinawa program treated 35 patients in 2003. Most cited slot machines as their primary form of gambling, although five said they spent "significant time playing bingo" as well. Seven of them, or 20 percent, said they had considered suicide.

Although its leaders called the Okinawa program "quite promising," it no longer exists, according to a Navy spokesman.

The lure of easy money is what's keeping this gambling going, with no real or effective way to treat those caught up in an insidious web

Today, there are approximately 4,150 modern video slot machines at military bases in nine countries, according to Mr. Isaacs and an Air Force spokesman.


But while Army bingo operations are modest, they are twice as profitable as slot machines and produce an annual profit of about $7 million on revenue of about $45 million. Sixty percent of those bingo programs are small, but 11 of them collect average monthly revenue of more than $100,000. Those include games at some of the giant bases deploying troops to Iraq - Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas.

And there's another problem-The military's own study isn't done annually, and one other issue as well

The methodology in the surveys "is out of date in a big way," Ms. Volberg said. Top military officials "say they have no gambling problem," she said. "But they haven't measured it in a way that's comparable to the way rates are measured in the civilian population."

Moreover, self-reporting surveys are poor tools for measuring behavior, like excessive gambling, that are "essentially criminalized in the military culture," said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Arlington, Va.

To read about the actual human faces behind the dry statistics, check out the article-It doesn't look like a very happy ending for the soldier who's it's focus, as he's in Las Vegas, broke, & considering suicide on a regular basis

Friday, October 14, 2005

For a really good idea of all the sound & fury regarding President Jr's VERY scripted appearance with those troops in Tikrit, Dan Froomkin is definitely the guy to read

Froomkin's columns at the Washington Post are ALWAYS the best to read from us liberals perspectives, the guy just nails it out of the park so often, it's surprising if he stumbles

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Damn, President Jr had delusions of Grandeur going back to January 2003

But, it appears that unlike his public, kissy-face Hold The Leader's Hand For A Stroll Down A Deserted Pathway performance with Saudi Arabia's Head bigshot, President Jr was saying one thing publicly, and another thing privately

George Bush told Tony Blair shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which, he implied, planned to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan," according to a note of a telephone conversation between the two men on January 30 2003.

The note is quoted in the US edition, published next week, of Lawless World, America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by the British international lawyer Philippe Sands. The memo was drawn up by one of the prime minister's foreign policy advisers in Downing Street and passed to the Foreign Office, according to Mr Sands.

In September 2003, the Guardian reported that Saudi Arabia had embarked on a strategic review that included acquiring nuclear weapons. Until then, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella despite the worsening relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

All those dreams of glory, all that chest pounding in an interview with Tim Russert, where President Jr kept spouting off to himself that "I'm a war President", and it turns out that W wanted to hit at countries he later kissed up to for aid in the so-called "War On Terrorists"

This President has shown, once again, that he's NOT trustworthy, not in the least.

Here's my prediction

If Karl Rove is indicted over outing Valerie Plame's identity-which had the effect of putting all those lives at risk of people Plame met with in her job of tracking and disrupting the transfer of WsMD-Lewis Libby will be indicted as well for the same reason

In fact, I'd venture that they will both get hit with the same number of charges IF they're indicted.

With logic like this, is it any damn wonder we're burning through over $6 BILLION a month in Iraq

So, here's the deal/lowdown

The Administration is strenuously arguing against the Guantanamo detainees having any outside contact, like phone calls, with friends or family

And here's the REAL kicker, apparently, there's just not enough in the way of resources to monitor such communicastions

Henry also suggested the government didn't have the resources to monitor detainee phone calls.

Wow, I guess the idea of setting up a schedule so no more than one detainee can use the phone at any time would just throw even MORE money into the Iraq black hole that's already sucked up-with no accounting for or of-over $9 billion

Yep, with the bright lights running the Administration's Iraq meatgrinder crusade, how can we all sleep in anything other than complete comfort?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Where's all your "Political Capital" NOW jerkoff oilboi?

In fact, the near-unanimous backing from the GOP rank-and-file and members of Congress gave Bush a unique second term opportunity. After claiming victory, Bush told reporters he had acquired "political capital, and now I intend to spend it . . . [on] Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.".....Just nine months into his second term, Bush’s political capital is all but spent. If he were a bank, he’d have to declare bankruptcy.

Yep, just like all your other ventures that required capital, you done gone & burned through it all, even with BIGGER majorities in both the House & the Senate, and now what do you have to show for it?

A war that shows you up as the completely miserable fucking failure of a President that us liberals knew all along you were, a bumbling response to Katrina, even though you knew the storm was on it's way, but while New Orleans was drowning, you stayed on your oh-so-precious vacation supposedly clearing brush from the White House's Crawford Branch, a drive to kill off Social Security-the Crowning Achievement of your 2nd term-now lies even more disgraced than the Iraq war, and, to the great delight of so many of us Bush Jr haters, you've got your base tearing at each other's throats

Inb fact, it's definitely worth pointing out what you said during the 2000 campaign, as we can ALWAYS use a good, laugh-based dose of Schadenfreude

This reputation for virtue was a powerful asset that George W. Bush brought into the 2000 campaign following the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Bill Clinton’s impeachment. On the campaign trail, Bush earned standing ovations with these words: "When I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God."

"Honor & Dignity", You, President Jr?!

Man, there's no way to spin that as anything but hysterically funny material coming from the Village's BIGGEST Idiot

An idiocy your base was willing to indulge, but only up to a point-patient as your base is, they're not eternally patient when it comes to insisting on positive results from you and your crew

There is an old rule that says, "How you win determines how you govern." For five years, Bush’s governing base has relied exclusively on GOP support. Now, with mounting deficits, an unpopular war, and Republican Senate candidates struggling in the polls (notably Rick Santorum, Mike DeWine, Jim Talent, and Katherine Harris), that once-firm base of Republican support no longer seems quite so secure. This insecurity is likely to intensify as Democrats widen their lead in the 2006 prospective generic ballot question.

And like the comedian whose lone gimmick, getting hit with a pie, has finally played itself out completely, so has your strongest selling point, protecting the US from terrorism

Then, there is Iraq. As long as George W. Bush could link the deposition of Saddam Hussein to the war on terror, support for the war held firm. Thus, in a March 2003 Pew Research Center poll, 74% believed the U.S. made the right decision to invade Iraq. But the linkage between deposing Hussein and the war on terror has long since frayed. Today, 59% say the U.S. made a mistake sending troops into Iraq (Gallup, September 16-18), and 53% think it was not worth going to war in the first place (Gallup, September 8-11). The Bush Administration’s "slam dunk" assertion that Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction has been upended.

Oh yeah, turns out you're a lousy magician too, unable to keep everyone's attention focused squarely where YOU want

George W. Bush is likely to share the fates of his predecessors for one reason: he can’t change the subject. Bush cannot take the focus away from the aftereffects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; Iraq continues to drain U.S. lives and resources with no end in sight; and (thanks to Iraq and the hurricanes) the fiscal crisis facing the next president has come four years early. Even when Bush has tried to refocus attention elsewhere, voters have answered with a resounding "NO!" For example, a Gallup poll taken in July found 62% saying they disapproved of George W. Bush’s Social Security proposals.

In sum, Iraq, high gas prices, a so-so economy, and the aftereffects of the hurricanes will occupy public attention for the foreseeable future. Even a big news story -- be it the capture of Osama bin Laden, or another terrorist strike --probably won’t help Bush that much. A recent Gallup poll, for example, finds 55% believing Bin Laden will likely be captured or killed. This finding suggests that the public may have already accounted for this event. Still, were this to happen, Bush’s support would rise. Yet, each time something positive has happened to Bush, his opinion "bounce" has gotten smaller. For example, prior to Saddam Hussein’s capture, Bush received 50% approval; afterwards, his support rose to just 55%. Another spectacular terrorist attack is also unlikely to produce a reprise of the post-September 11th "let’s-rally-round-the-president" phenomenon. Rather, any assault would renew cries of the nation’s unpreparedness -- a criticism that has special resonance following Hurricane Katrina.

So enjoy your remaining time in office, as each second will drag and seem longer than the last, and keep telling yourself that the White House is nothing but the happiest place on earth for you & your staff to bunker down in

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And on the heels of that last post's recounting of the legal & ethical quandries currently hammering the GOP's National Leadership comes bad news for the Senate's biggest fraud & quack, Bill Frist

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

And the reading for Quacky gets even worse

The formal request for documents usually presages an acceleration of a federal probe. In Frist's case, regulators had to proceed with caution due to his status in Congress and their mutual desire to avoid triggering constitutional objections to the release of documents. The disclosure of the subpoena comes as Democrats blasted Frist anew for his financial and personal ties to Hospital Corporation of America, a Nashville chain founded in 1968 by his father and his brother, Thomas Frist Jr. Critics yesterday seized on a report that Frist held a substantial amount of his family's hospital stock outside of blind trusts between 1998 and 2002 -- a time when he asserted he did not know how much of the stock he owned......Within days of Frist's July stock sale, HCA warned investors about weaker-than-expected financial performance, which sent the stock price spiraling downward by 9 percent in one day. Frist may have begun the process of selling the stock April 29, months before the company's troubles were clear, according to e-mail messages between the Tennessee Republican, his chief counsel and his personal accountant that were reviewed by The Washington Post.

And why did Frist bludgeon the Senate with his status as it's only surgeon?

Well, perhaps because he helped craft Health Care legislation & policy that directly aided his family's Health Care Titan, HCA

During his decade in the Senate, Frist has been active in shaping health care policy, including creation of a Medicare prescription drug benefit.

I started referring to Frist with the "just funnin' ya" tag of "Quacky" when, during the Terri Schiavo overreach by the GOP & the Modern Day Pharisees-Dobson, Falwell, Terry, et al-Frist diagnosed, via videotape & from the Senate Floor, his medical opinion that Terri Schiavo showed obvious "visual acuity", when we learned later that she was physically blind beyond all doubt

Dang Quacky, looks like Duck season started early on your fowl ass huh?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So, let's review the Downpour of Biblical Proportions God's drenching the GOP with right now

Tom DeLay-3 criminal indictments

Jack Abramoff-1 criminal indictment

Bill Frist-being investigated for Insider Trading, Family's Corporation, Health Care Titan HCA-also under investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission

Karl Rove-under Grand Jury investigation for leaking identity of CIA Operative Valerie Plame

Lewis Libby-Same as Rove

Ohio GOP-virtually entire state leadership of GOP being implicated in widening scandal involving $13 Million in missing rare coins used to finance Ohio Workers Compensation Bureau

President Jr-Public fed up with disastrous Iraq Invasion, public infuriated over lethally slow Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina, faith in cronyism for picking Harriett Miers as Supreme court replacement for Sandra O'Connor splits base, various factions now attacking each other

And now, open rebellion in the House GOP ranks

House Republican leaders have been sparring for most of this year with the conservative wing of the party, but an increasingly restless group of centrists is presenting them with a new headache......One of them — the Gasoline for America’s Security Act — passed 212-210 last week, but only after leaders kept the roll-call vote open for more than 40 minutes as they scrambled for votes. Thirteen Republicans, most of them centrists, opposed the bill.

The kicker?

At the same time the Dems are finally voting as a completely unified block on this issue, GOP members are splitting into competing factions, and the split's getting more brazen

But in a move more telling of angst in the conference, five centrists opposed the rule allowing the measure to be considered on the floor......The rebellion of the five on the gasoline-bill rule was the biggest against any rule in the 109th Congress and the first time that a chairman — Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee — had broken ranks. Most rule votes, even for controversial bills such as the one that called for consideration of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), fall along strict party lines......Boehlert was so opposed to the gasoline measure that he circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter blasting the legislation, saying it would increase the deficit, harm the environment and “give charity to the oil companies while doing virtually nothing to help consumers.”

Apparently, the sensible side of the House GOP is deciding it's FINALLY had enough of the antics of the corrupt, ethically bankrupt vermin like Tom DeLay & superlobbyist Jack Abramoff

Don't expect these five GOP moderates-Boehlert, Castel, Leach, Shays & Johnson to be the last to openly break from the DeLay wing of the House GOP

And for a further hoot, definitely check out Dem Ed Markey's spot-on analysis of how the GOP Leadership is being squeezed-HARD-from all sides

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I don't usually rip off my own posts at the CTV forums, but I make an exception here

I was asked by a very thoughtful poster how I would solve the Iraq problem, and this was my reply in the thread I started

I don't think it matters at this point whether the US pulls out or increases it's troop level, things have gotten away from the US at this point

It's a nasty reality, but I don't see things turning around in a positive way at all now

We've ended up backing factions that are now turning against each other, and we've turned a blind eye to the rights of women when it comes to a new Constitution, as the Administration has backed religious hardliners in an attempt to keep the whole mission from ending in complete failure

One way we could have established much goodwill with the Iraqis was to have repaired the badly damaged infrastructure-in terms of electricity, water purification, sanitation, fuel and, of course, security-right at the start

Unfortunately, there was so little oversight of the money provided for these purposes, with the corruption occurring with both the Iraqi contractors and the US corporations and their no-bid contracts-Halliburton, KBR-that Billions of $$$$$ that could have both aided the Iraqis, undercut the insurgency, and provided a better picture of the US, have instead disappeared in a financial black hole

Another huge problem that's too late to correct-The Administration has tried to wage this war on the cheap, as opposed to aiming for real results that could have provided some justification for the initial US invasion, and nowhere have the results of that disastrous policy shown up more than with our own troops, most notoriously in terms of ineffective or absent body & vehicle armor

Another problem that could have been solved before it became the deadly conundrum it is today-the insurgency is able to use IED's as their weapon of choice in terms of attacks on US troops-And the insurgents were able to get their hands on those huge weapons caches & ammo dumps that were not destroyed in the first US bombing runs of the invasion-a shortsighted decision that has taken far too many lives of US troops & Iraqi civilians in the resulting rigamarole

The other shortsighted policy done on the cheap:

Focusing on-and protecting only-the Oil ministry buildings with the initial invasion while other ministries were looted and destroyed in the orgy of violence that arose in the wake of Saddam Hussein's deposal-When Donald Rumsfeld's comment on the wave of looting that followed Saddam's downfall-most notably with the museums-is essentially a "Ho-hum what's the big fuss here?", the signal sent to the Iraqis was crystal clear-their security mattered not one whit to the Secretary of Defense-Only later was that policy's disastrous effect seen, and then it was too late to counteract

We were told the Oil would help lessen the cost to the US taxpayers-yet, there's less oil pumped & produced now than there was even before the invasion, and a major part of the blame lies in the fact that the various pipelines are not guarded in a way that ensures their viability

Instead, the insurgents target these pipelines at lightly guarded-if guarded at all-key points, resulting in such a shortage of fuel in the country with the world's 2nd largest petroleum reserves, that the result is lines-often miles long-of Iraqis waiting to fuel up their vehicles

And the result of all these stumbles and blown decisions is an increasingly bloody insurgency, a loss of long-established, secularly-protected rights for women, an infrastructure in even worse shape now than before the invasion and a deepening alliance between the ruling mullahs in Iran and their resurgent brethren in Iraq

At this point, I don't see how the US can exert anywhere near enough influence to turn the situation in a positive direction, as these were decisions and financial oversights that should have been established from the outset

That the US launched a pre-emptive invasion without taking these factors into account and planning for their implementation as soon after the initial invasion as possible is nothing short of disastrous as it relates to US policy in both Iraq, and the wider Middle East

As I said, I don't see how the US can influence anything anymore in Iraq, the elections and referendums the Administration has touted at every turn have not undercut the insurgency's support among the Iraqis, especially the Sunnis, and I doubt the big to-do this Saturday will have much positive effect either

I admit, I have no solution that will please anyone in the least, but reality is dictating a far harder picture to deal with in Iraq than our President either cares to admit, or can handle in a positive way.

And the results of this disastrous policy decision will effect the US for decades to come

I hate bullies, absolutely despise them in every way, shape, form & guise, and today's scumsucking bully of the moment is a nasty, goddamned parasite, Rep Mike Pence

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Say Hello to the nice people Mikey

As Hurricane Katrina put the issue of poverty onto the national agenda, many liberal advocates wondered whether the floods offered a glimmer of opportunity. The issues they most cared about - health care, housing, jobs, race - were suddenly staples of the news, with President Bush pledged to "bold action."

But what looked like a chance to talk up new programs is fast becoming a scramble to save the old ones.

Conservatives have already used the storm for causes of their own, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages. And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.

No, really mike, stop playing coy & hard to get

Indeed, even as he was calling for deep spending cuts last week, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, who leads the conservative caucus, called tax reductions for the prosperous a key to fighting poverty.

"Raising taxes in the wake of a national catastrophe would imperil the very economic growth we need to bring the Gulf Coast back," Mr. Pence said. "I'm mindful of what a pipe fitter once said to President Reagan: 'I've never been hired by a poor man.' A growing economy is in the interest of every working American, regardless of their income.

"To allow tax cuts to lapse is a tax increase," Mr. Pence said, "and the economy would suffer."

Just how in the Hell are the poor supposed to lift themselves out of poverty? What these GOP scum are doing is nothing short of obscene, and about as anti-Christian as you can get

I'm guessing these losers and louts calling for this strategy were the bullies in school, the kind who tortured animals just for the thrill of inflicting pain on something else

This scumbag does not give a damn about the poor, unless they're willing to keep themselves in that condition, that hatred of the poor can be the only explanation for cutting the prevailing wage for Gulf Coast reconstruction-Pence would have been right at home on the Plantation, whipping the slaves who thought their lives should have as much of a chance as his own, and talking about how right, fine and dandy it was that the lower classes know their proper place

For Overseer Pence, it's obvious the economy works ONLY when the already well off are getting MORE government handouts, while the poor suffer.

Of course, for Rep Pence, and others of his sick-minded ilk in the Congress, their needs are taken care of by the taxpayers-His medical needs and those of his family, are paid for 100% by the taxpayers

Perhaps his obvious, seething hatred of the poor would have some legitimacy if he actually had to work for a living instead of freeloading at the taxpayers expense

ANY POLITICIAN who feels likes Pence should have to work on those rebuilding projects for $5.00 an hour, they should have to watch their loved ones starve and go without medical care because it's unaffordable

The drag on this economy is NOT the poor, it's the repulsive vile slugs like Overseer Pence who think they have a God Given right to make miserable the lives of those who enrich their employers

Want an interesting statistic that Pence can't just grunt or wish away?

"Economic growth is crucial to reducing poverty, but the effect of tax rates is less clear. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised taxes on upper-income families, the economy boomed and poverty fell for the next seven years. In 2001, President Bush cut taxes deeply, but even with economic growth, the poverty rate has risen every year since......In 2004, about 12.7 percent of the country, or 37 million people, lived below the poverty line, which was about $19,200 for a family of four. The figure was 7.8 percent among whites, 24.7 percent among blacks and 21.9 percent among Hispanics."

The obscenity of cutting already gutted social services to the poor while clamoring to make permanent tax cuts to the already wealthy just cannot be overstated

But these piggish fools seem to forget a lesson we saw back in 1992

The Los Angeles Riots after the "Not Guilty" verdict of the cops who beat Rodney King

The poor can only be pushed so far, can have only so much hope ripped from their hearts, can watch their families go without for only so long before the poor will erupt

These idiots like Overseer Pence seem to think that the poor will be thankful for laws that gut their wages and ruin their ability to put food on the table for their families.

These fools seem to think the Poor will be glad that they can't earn enough $$$$$ to take care of their families medical needs

And these idiots think the Poor will be happy to just die quietly so as not to upset the delicate sensibilities of those like Overseer Pence

If Overseer Pence actually believes in God, then he'd better start making amends for his disgusting "the poor are expendable" attitude, as when he dies and stands in judgement God will slap his face and let him spend an eternity in the miserable Hell Pence is so quick to put upon the poor

The pigs at the trough deserve JUST as much mercy as they're willing to show the poor

In spite of it's overwhelming approval in the Senate, President Jr is threatening to veto the military spending bill if it includes prohibitions on any kinds of torture

Now, maybe for this President, torture means going with an empty shot-glass for all of 30 seconds, but in the real world, REAL torture is something that President Jr will never have to worry about undergoing

The mindset of those who torture, or encourage it's use, is chilling in it's utter lack of empathy for anyone else, an inability to ever see that circumstances have ways of changing in an instant, and an absolute shock when one so all fired up to inflict pain suddenly finds themselves on the sharp end of the blade, the bare end of the electric wires, the slender end of the reed shoved under the nails

Is it all right to torture children if their parents won't or can't provide supposedly legit info?

Is it all right to kill children in front of their parents to get information?

The absolute enthusiasm this Administration shows for allowing and encouraging the deliberate infliction of physical pain on those helpless to resist & defend themselves is nothing short of vile or wretched, and an absolute guarantee that torture WILL be carried out on US troops captured during combat

I have yet to see or learn of an enemy routed on the battlefield via information gleaned under sever physical duress

The ONLY word that applies to those who carry out torture, OR enthusiastically support it's use, is "COWARD"

That President Jr would veto a bill because it doesn't allow torture says far more about the barbaric, animalistic side of President Jr's self-inflated ego than it does about anyone tortured for whatever reason

I'm sure vetoing the bill will go over VERY well in Iraq, and I would like to see President Jr veto the bill in Baghdad, on live tv for the entire Middle East to see for themselves, then, he could bask in the glory & congratulations sure to flow forth from those Iraqis he's liberated from their former torturing OverLord, Saddam Hussein

But that would take a display of true belief that President Jr would NOT have under those circumstances, a wisdom that President Jr will NEVER possess, understand or act on

Monday, October 10, 2005

And what a coinkydink indeed

A watchdog group is calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign to return a $105,000 donation from the insurance industry that came the same day he vetoed a bill the group opposed. A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the timing was a coincidence.

The American Insurance Association donated the money Friday, the day Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have forced insurers to pay medical costs when people covered by Medi-Cal are injured in an accident caused by an insured driver.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said he rejected the bill and a similar one last year because they would encourage litigation and would drive up medical costs.

Gosh, I thought being an ultramultimillionaire meant the Gropenator could focus on governing, and not have to worry about fundraising

Then again, Gropenator advancing himself on the dime of others is nothing new at all

After all, he did wait until Darrell Issa's efforts to get the recall effort against then Gov Gray Davis succeeded, before he publicly declared his intention to run for the office himself

By that time, it's estimated Issa had spent over $8,000,000 of his own money to get that initiative on the ballot, then in an absolutely brilliant tactical & political move, Schwarzenegger jumped in the race after Issa had done the heavy (financial) lifting

With the Gropenator's poll numbers now tanking quickly, I'll bet Issa is enjoying a bit of Schadenfreude at the governor's expense

The real irony will be for Issa to somehow capitalize on the next big day at the voting booth

Nice to know that Bipartisanship does exist, just too damn bad that it's to take the taxpayers for a VERY expensive ride

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Lobbyists Advise Katrina Relief
A Senate bill includes billions of dollars in projects for clients of 'experienced experts.'

The Louisiana Katrina Reconstruction Act — introduced last month by Louisiana Sens. Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican — included billions of dollars' worth of business for clients of those lobbyists and a total price tag estimated as high as $250 billion.

Among the lobby-supported interests with a stake in the relief and recovery bill:

• Energy utilities. Entergy Corp. and Cleco Corp. lobbyists consulted with the senators' staffs. Five days before the bill was introduced, Cleco retained the lobbying services of Lynnel B. Ruckert, Vitter's former deputy campaign manager and the wife of his chief of staff.

In an unusual assist to private utilities, the recovery bill includes $2.5 billion to help Louisiana companies such as Entergy of New Orleans and Cleco of Pineville restore and rebuild their electricity systems and recover losses from sustained power outages.

• Supporters of a controversial industrial canal project serving the Port of New Orleans. Among those serving on advisory panels were two officials of Jones Walker, a New Orleans-based firm that lobbies in Washington for the canal project. One of those officials was Paul F. Cambon, an ex-aide to former House Speaker Bob Livingston (R-La.), whose Livingston Group also is a lobbyist for the canal.

How nice and thoughtful for Louisiana's Senators that, even in their worst moments as public officials, they were able to think of their campaign contributors as it relates to the Katrina recovery effort

So what if every dollar routed to their cronies, lobbyists and campaign contributors could be better spent on actually helping those who have suffered so much, for Landrieu & Vitter, it's the thought that counts

Landrieu and Vitter defend the bill as a necessary response to the region's devastation. The bill's supporters say that Louisiana is crucial to America's energy industry and that the state's ports handle 20% of all U.S. imports and exports each day.

"Key economic sectors took a big hit from the storm," said Landrieu spokesman Adam Sharp. "Standing up the region's economy will help stand up the American economy."

And then, that mean ol' Congress decide4d to throw a real wrench in the works

But the House's decision Friday to attach strings to $750 million in federal loans to cities racked by Hurricane Katrina suggested growing resistance to expensive reconstruction proposals.

And, of course, the Senators are just reciprocating the help they themselves received from the groups that would benefit from the political largesse

Between the 2000 election cycle and Aug. 8, Entergy accounted for about $2.4 million in contributions to all federal parties, candidates and other political committees; Patton Boggs, $2.3 million; the Livingston Group, $656,757; Jones Walker, $632,863; the Alpine Group, $475,060, Adams & Reese, $426,260; and Johnston & Associates, $161,564, according to data compiled by Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a Virginia firm that tracks campaign contributions.

Jones Walker and its employees donated $42,885 to Vitter and $16,250 to Landrieu. Adams & Reese contributed $28,350 to Vitter and $24,250 to Landrieu. Entergy gave $23,300 to Vitter and $18,750 to Landrieu.

The only minor, tiny, trifling, piffle of a complaint I have is this

President Jr signed an executive order allowing an almost 50% cut in the prevailing wage for those hired to rebuild the Gulf coast-whether or not it's Katrina related

Nowhere in the lobbying payback from Landrien & Vitter did I see ANY mention of that executive order, let alone ANY insistence that the executive order be rescinded

It sure would have been nice to ensure that those getting their hands dirty with the manual labor of rebuilding the Gulf Coast & New Orleans were guaranteed a decent paycheck, just like the lobbyists & campaign contributors were with those big federal contracts

Lowlife politicians who still practice cronyism and still guarantee their campaign contributors nice fat Government contracts while not doing a fucking thing to ensure those rewards trickle down to those at the bottom of the ladder-those who do the actual work-should have to do the physical rebuilding with their own two hands, and they shouldn't get one Goddamned penny either

Let Landrieu & Vitter go through exactly what the poorest victims of Katrina & Governmental indifference have gone through, then maybe they'll understand why getting President Jr to scrap his own wage-killing executive order should be their FIRST order of business.

Read the article, there's so much more detail than I could present here

Sunday, October 09, 2005

This has not been the best of years for Detroit's Auto Industry

First, GM & Ford saw their Debt Ratings downgraded to "Junk" status

S&P cuts GM, Ford credit ratings to ‘junk’

"Standard & Poor's Thursday declared billions of dollars of debt owed by General Motors and Ford to be “junk” on Thursday, a significant blow that will increase borrowing costs and limit fund-raising options for the nation’s two biggest automakers......The numbers involved are enormous: GM paid about $12 billion in interest on debt last year and Ford’s tab totaled about $7.1 billion. GM’s consolidated debt as of March 31 was $291.8 billion and Ford’s totaled $161.3 billion, S&P said."


Standard and Poor's downgraded debt ratings for American automakers General Motors and Ford. The lowered credit rating, now at "junk bond" status, is expected to increase borrowing expenses......The stakes for both companies are high. More than 1.1 million Americans make a living off the auto industry, and GM and Ford have more than 45 percent of the American market between them.

Wall Street standing suffers

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. -- with combined 2004 sales of more than $365 billion -- became the biggest companies to have their credit rating downgraded to below investment grade -- or junk status -- by a major rating agency.

Q: Why were the credit ratings of GM and Ford reduced to speculative grade?

A: Standard & Poor's cited deteriorating SUV and pickup sales -- the two companies' most profitable models -- in addition to steady market share losses, lower U.S. sales, weak revenue growth, falling profits and significant obligations for retiree pension and health care coverage.

Q: What does the credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's mean for GM and Ford?

A: Credit ratings are assigned to debt issued by companies and reflect the borrower's ability to repay the debt. So in terms of symbolism for Detroit's two biggest automakers, it's a blow to their reputations and standing on Wall Street. Many investors expected the downgrade.

Q: What does the downgrade mean for GM and Ford shares?

A: Some institutional shareholders -- mutual funds -- and public pension funds are prohibited from investing in speculative securities with credit ratings below investment grade. Those restrictions make GM and Ford less attractive to more investors and could depress the shares over time.

Q: What is the long-term impact of the downgrade?

A: Investors demand higher yields buying debt that is considered riskier. So overtime, a junk rating will make it more expensive for GM and Ford to borrow the billions of dollars they need to fund development of new models. They will also have to pay higher interest rates on the bonds they sell. Last year, GM and its GMAC finance arm spent $11.9 billion on interest payments, up 26 percent from the year before. GM and Ford are already slashing costs where possible by closing some plants and cutting jobs.

Q: GM and Ford are the biggest issuers of corporate bonds in America. What does the downgrade mean for the bond market?

A: The downgrade could cause major disruptions in the junk bond market, partially because many funds that are limited to investment-grade assets will be forced to sell GM and Ford's bonds. The risk is already factored into the price of junk bonds since GM lowered its earnings forecast in mid-March.

Detroit's Woe, America's Worry

General Motors (GM ) shocked the financial world in mid-March when it warned of staggering losses in the first quarter of this year -- $1.1 billion in red ink when the number was announced on Apr. 19. Ford (F ) reported on Apr. 20 that it managed to post a profit of $1.2 billion in the period, but that was a punishing 38% drop from a year ago.

Both companies' stocks have fallen about 40% in the past year, and credit markets are reeling at the potential for credit-rating downgrades. "It's a very sad day here in Detroit," says Gerald Meyers, a professor at the University of Michigan Business School and former chairman of American Motors Corp. Even Chrysler, a division of Germany's DaimlerChrysler (DCX ) that's holding up far better than the other two members of Detroit's Big Three, is worried about what troubles at GM and Ford portend for the U.S. auto industry, says Meyers.

LOST IMPACT. Because of the domestic auto industry's size, its misfortunes have an amplified impact on the overall economy and on family budgets, say economists and industry experts. For example, financial turmoil sparked by a credit downgrade for the car companies could have a direct effect on many Americans' savings and retirement accounts. When debt falls in value, mutual funds and pension funds holding bonds issued by these carmakers fall, too. Rising gas prices only add to consumers' pocketbook misery.

And more search results here

It's worth noting here that the most profitable lines of the US auto industry, the larger vehicles like full size pickup trucks, humvees and SUV's are now starting to lose their luster as the price paid at the gas pumps keeps rising, while it looks like the smaller or more fuel efficient vehicles are experiencing an upsurge

The reason for the history lesson via GM & Ford is because another auto-related business is going through a very rough patch.

Delphi, the largest U.S. auto supplier, files for bankruptcy

Delphi's bankruptcy, which is expected to result in plant closures and layoffs, is one of the largest in U.S. history. The company has 50,000 U.S. employees.....Based in the Detroit suburb of Troy, Delphi has struggled to make a profit since GM spun it off in 1999. It lost $4.8 billion (?3.95 billion) in 2004 and nearly $750 million (?617.59 million) in the first half of this year."

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Auto Supplier Delphi Files for Bankruptcy

When G.M. spun off Delphi in 1999, the automaker agreed to pay health-care and pension benefits for Delphi retirees in the event of a bankruptcy filing within eight years......The company filed in Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy regulations, which provides protection from creditors. Delphi, which employs close to 50,000 Americans and 185,000 people worldwide, has reported losses of $5.5 billion in the last six quarters, and its cash reserves are dwindling. With half of its business coming from G.M., its fortunes have waned along with those of its former parent, and Delphi’s executive suite has been largely purged in the wake of an accounting scandal. The company makes a range of auto parts, from air bags to instrument panels, that are installed in most new cars and trucks sold in the United States."

And of course, Delphi is asking it's employees to take the bullet via their pensions, even though those at the top had their contracts bought out at a very lucrative price

Auto Supplier Delphi Files for Bankruptcy

Delphi and GM have been tightlipped about the negotiations. But a letter sent from UAW leaders to union members in Kokomo, Ind., earlier this week said Delphi asked the UAW to accept wage cuts of more than 50 percent, to $10-$12 an hour, and eliminate the jobs bank. Delphi also called for a reduction in health care benefits and vacation time.

Delphi also has been plagued by an accounting scandal that the FBI and the SEC are now investigating. Six people have resigned because of the investigation, including Delphi's former Chief Financial Officer Alan Dawes.

More Search Results HERE

And now, add an uncomfortable reality to the above financial imbroglios, especially as Ford & GM are the biggest issuers of corporate bonds in the US.

So, with the recipe almost fully set, we need one more ingredient

And Voila,

China Holds Largest Amount Of US Debt

How Scary Is the Deficit?

The U.S. current account deficit -- the gap between what the United States earns abroad and what it spends abroad in a year -- is on track to reach seven percent of GDP in 2005. That figure is unprecedented for a major economy......Recent economic growth has not reduced the budget deficit, but it has increased private demand for scarce savings; the net result has been even more borrowing from abroad. In 2004, foreigners bought an amazing $900 billion in U.S. long-term bonds; the United States exported a dollar of debt for every dollar of goods it sold abroad. Looking ahead, the U.S. debt position will only get worse. As external debt grows, interest payments on the debt will rise. The current account deficit will continue to grow on the back of higher and higher payments on U.S. foreign debt even if the trade deficit stabilizes. That is why sustained trade deficits will set off the kind of explosive debt dynamics that lead to financial crises.....Foreign central banks have financed the United States to keep their export sectors -- heavily dependent on U.S. consumer spending -- humming. But they now must weigh the benefits of providing the United States with such "vendor financing" against the rising costs of keeping the current system going."


Like the aggressive home and car buyers of the 1920s, people of our time have believed it is safe to borrow aggressively to improve their lifestyles, particularly when their homes have risen in value. Higher debt levels in a falling interest rate environment often come with little or no increase in monthly mortgage payments......Consumer spending has shot up also. An important part of that money has circulated out of the US to China and Japan to pay for the imported goods that keep flowing into our country. Fortunately, our new bankers in the Far East also want to keep the big wheel turning, since from their point of view, all those exports to America create jobs back in China and in Japan. They also realise that the competitiveness of their goods in the global market might be endangered, if their currencies were to rise sharply against the dollar. So they have been investing their growing surpluses of dollars back into the US, usually buying Treasury Bonds. And this recycling operation has seemed like a virtuous cycle for the US economy. Strong foreign buying of bonds, have allowed Greenspan to keep both long and short term rates down. Confidence in the momentum of the economy has grown, even though actual job creation has remained anemic, weaker than is normal in a recovery coming out of recession......The net result of the action of Greenspan's money machine is that Debt has grown in the US, while China and Japan have accumulated massive holdings of US debt......By mid-2004, U.S. Household debt had risen to 86% of GNP, up from 64% just ten years earlier, and foreigners hold a majority of US treasury debt, up from almost insignificant amounts in 1994."

What this means is that China has a HELL of a cudgel to bash any US President with, either outright refusing to buy up any more US debt, or even just making a subtle threat, along the lines of "It sure would be a shame if we weren't able to purchase our usual amount of treasury bonds due to unfavorable economic & political realities

With all the problems currently tearing at the GOP on both the state and national levels, the reality of US dependence on the actions/machinations of the world's only other true superpower, China, is a trend that doesn't bode well for the Neocon groupthink about Permanent US Ascendancy & unchallenged political & military domination over the globe

With rising gas prices, massive consumer debt, corporate bankruptcies that also default on their pensions, and a brutal spike upwards for the price of home heating oil this winter, the picture is not one that should reassure would-be investors from the US middle class