Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SOTU Address....

First, Cindy Sheehan was arrested prior to the SOTU address, though she was the legal guest of a U. S. Representative:


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Peace activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested Tuesday in the House gallery after refusing to cover up a T-shirt bearing an anti-war slogan before President Bush's State of the Union address.

"She was asked to cover it up. She did not," said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman, adding that Sheehan was arrested for unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, Schneider said.

Schneider said shortly after the State of the Union speech that Sheehan was still being held but should be "out sometime tonight."

An early report from a senior House official indicated that Sheehan was arrested for unfurling an anti-war banner, but that was later found not to be the case. Schneider said she didn't know what Sheehan's T-shirt said.

Sheehan, who became a vocal war opponent after her son was killed in Iraq, was an invited guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-California, who has called for a withdrawal of troops in Iraq and supports legislation for the creation of a Department of Peace.

This made the following statement from his SOTU address very ironic indeed: "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it."
(source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/31/politics/main1264706.shtml)

Yes sir, we'll keep fighting all right...

Some of the best moments of the night came for me when the President started in on his defending his illegal domestic wiretapping (NSA doing warrantless monitoring of calls from U. S. citizens which go overseas):

"It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed."

You should have seen the look on Senator Hillary Clinton's face! She shook her head and had a wide smile as if "I can't believe this!" That was worth 1000 words.

Then when the President said:

"Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security,"

The Democrats gave a standing ovation!!!! I broke into a huge smile.
As was pointed out by the commentators, the partisan divide is huge. And frankly, the Republicans are to blame for their "my way or the highway" tactics. The President went on to talk about health care (savings accounts again), which of course does nothing to help those who are too poor to save (as Senator Obama pointed out).

To the President's credit I thought that the following was ok:

"The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy. We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment , move beyond a petroleum-based economy , and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. "

And I certainly approve of the following:
"First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America'’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources. Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come. Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America'’s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. "

And I welcomed his ideas about how reducing global poverty and increasing global health helps all of us.

Tonight's SOTU

I will be singing this song during today's SOTU address. But, if the previews are correct, I'd agree with his program to research hybrid cars and to recruit more math and science teachers.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (from Monty Python)

Listen: LoFi | Download | Send-Card | Chords
A Faire To Remember

words and music by Eric Idle

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...


Am G
Am G
Am G E7
A7 D7

G E7 Am D7
G E7 A7 D7



This is what yesterday's filibuster attempt was.

How it feels to be a Democrat at times.

Oh my...

This diary in the Daily Kos alerted me to this:

Tasting Victory, Liberals Instead Have a Food Fight

By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; A02

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds congressional Democrats in the best position they've held in 14 years, besting President Bush and Republican lawmakers on Iraq, the economy, health care, immigration, ethics and more.

All of which can mean only one thing: It is time for the Democrats to eat their own.

Right on cue, liberal activists including Cindy Sheehan and Ramsey Clark gathered yesterday at the Busboys & Poets restaurant and bookshop at 14th and V streets NW for what they billed as a forum on "The Impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney." But the participants, while charging the administration with "crimes against humanity," a "war of aggression" and even "the supreme international crime," inevitably turned their wrath on congressional Democrats, whom they regarded as a bunch of wimps.

"Does the Democratic Party want to continue to exist or does it want to ignore what 85 percent of its supporters want?" demanded David Swanson, a labor union official who runs "Impeach PAC" and other efforts to remove Bush from office. Singling out Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev.) for derision, Swanson said that Democrats who do the right thing "are exceptions."

Sheehan, just back from Caracas, where she praised Venezuela's anti-American president, Hugo Chavez, and called Bush a "terrorist," said she expects Democrats will "seriously screw up" the midterm elections in November. Besides, "we can't wait" for the election, said Sheehan, who is mulling a primary challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

"Cindy for the Senate!" called out moderator Kevin Zeese, a Ralph Nader acolyte. "It's important for us to stop thinking as Democrats and Republicans and break out of this two-party straitjacket," argued Zeese, a third-party candidate for Senate in Maryland.

After the participants made their urgent calls for impeachment proceedings, John Bruhns, identifying himself as an antiwar Iraq veteran, rose for a clarification. If Democrats don't first "gain control of one of the houses" of Congress, he wondered, "how else can we impeach this monster?"

Swanson had a ready brushoff for Democrats who won't pursue impeachment because they're in the minority: "Just go home if you're going to talk that way." Offering the lessons of 1994, he said: "The way the Republicans got the majority was not by being scared. . . . It was by going out and speaking on behalf of their base and letting themselves be called radicals."

Bruhns, wearing a crew cut and business suit, disagreed. Somebody in the audience called for him to "shut up."

"They didn't answer my question," Bruhns protested after the exchange ended. "How do you get impeachment if you don't win elections? I'm being practical."

Elected Democrats and their liberal base are in one of their periodic splits between pragmatism and symbolism. Under pressure from blogs and liberal groups, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday attempted an obviously doomed filibuster against the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito -- and Kerry got only 25 votes.

Likewise, the chance of a Republican Congress moving to impeach Bush is close to zero. When one of the impeachment forum's sponsors posted an item on its Web site about news coverage of the event, a reader responded that, without conservative support, "this becomes a cartoon image of the old pinko commie left, and fair game for the wingnuts at Fox."

The lineup of speakers indeed could have been a Bill O'Reilly fantasy: Saddam Hussein's lawyer (Clark), Hugo Chavez's friend (Sheehan) and the man who denied Al Gore the presidency in Florida in 2000 (Ralph Nader).

Nader, as it happens, couldn't make it because of a death in the family. But Fox News was there -- and the other speakers did not disappoint.

Clark, on a stage decorated with portraits of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King Jr., said the administration is "the greatest threat to peace, to human rights, to economic justice worldwide." The former attorney general proposed a 75 percent cut in the military budget and complained that Democrats are just as warmongering as Republicans.

Marcus Raskin, the longtime antiwar activist, compared the Pentagon's "shock and awe" to the Nazis' blitzkrieg. "What we have now is nationalist triumphalism," he said.

Swanson announced that he will be forming a committee to pressure the D.C. Council to "send charges of impeachment to the House of Representatives."

Sheehan, in a sweet voice, condemned the administration's agenda "to spread the cancer of empire."

The first questioner, getting into the spirit of the forum, declared of the administration: "These criminals and gangsters, thugs as I regard them, I believe engineered 9/11."

Many in the crowd applauded. But others were skeptical. "I've heard a lot about accountability" from the panel, said one questioner. "Seems to me the first opportunity we had for accountability was in the last election."

"Elections," moderator Zeese replied, "are not the determining factor."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Head cold...

I am taking a couple of days off of training to recover from a head cold and watery eyes.

So, for your enjoyment, more from the Smirking Chimp (which I will give money to)


Adam McKay: 'False patriotism'
Posted on Tuesday, January 31 @ 09:36:53 EST
This article has been read 170 times. Adam McKay, Yahoo

The other day a friend of mine e-mailed me this exchange he had with his cousin who served in Iraq. I thought it was worth posting. It's yet further evidence that if you want to know what these Republicans are all about, see what they accuse others of being -- anti-American, anti-troops, liars, etc.

And, as always, we thank and honor our troops for their service and sacrifice.

Dear Adam,

My cousin John was in Iraq for a year, in combat near Baghdad. He didn't win the Congressional Medal of Honor or anything (though he did get promoted twice, and ended up a Sgt.). He's been meeting with congress people and the like because he became an anti-war activist when he came back. Just to give you an idea:

The other day I found a news story on a suburban news website. It was about the Bucks County (Pa.) Democratic headquarters. They have a sign in the window that says "We honor our fallen heroes". Beneath it is a running count of the Iraq war death toll. The Young Republicans of Bucks County (I feel queasy just typing that phrase), are protesting the sign, trying to get them to take it down. No, seriously.

The president of the organization was quoted in the article. Don something. I emailed the story to John, because I knew it would interest him. The next day he called Don on the phone, and followed up with this email:


I called you to get some sort of understanding on the reason why you were upset that the Bucks County Democratic Headquarters has posted the death count of US Troops in Iraq outside their office. You had explained to me that you feel the local Democrats are trying to play politics on the issue of the Iraq war. They say they are just trying to honor our fallen troops.

I agree with you that Democrats voted right along side of Republicans to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq. That is an undisputed fact. But in the end it was the decision of the President to take us to war. As a veteran of that war I don't feel that it is wrong to let the public know that troops are dying every day in Iraq. It's not politics it's just plain reality.

This morning you told me that out of your whole organization (Bucks County Young Republicans) only two or three members plan to pursue military service. And at the same time you told me that your organization supports the war in Iraq. If your organization is so supportive of the war maybe more than two or three of your members should volunteer for military service. Believe me those troops in Iraq could use a little extra help. We have soldiers right now that are on their third tour of duty.

When I got home from Iraq after a year long combat tour I attended a Kerry/Edwards rally in Kansas City. At the rally I was confronted by a group of able-bodied males carrying signs that said "Students For Bush." They called me a traitor, a disgrace, and they told me to move to France. They said this because I was going to vote for Senator Kerry. They claim to be so supportive of the troops, but they were not at all supportive of me. I guess that only applies to troops who share their political ideas. I just returned home from a war that they support, but obviously don't have the courage to fight. If they did they would be fighting it. It is much easier to support a war from your office, classroom, or from your cozy living room than from the actual battlefield.

I served with plenty of troops who are pro-Bush and pro-Iraq war. For the most part they were the majority. I had respect for them despiteour disagreements because those troops put their money where their mouth is. They have definitely earned their right to an opinion. Just as I have earned mine.[....]

Now, for today's State of the Union Address, which I will probably at least listen to.

Okay, so when President Bush walks into the chamber Tuesday night, why applaud? Sure stand. Standing when the President of the United States enters a room is a show of respect - not for the man -- but for the office. So by all means stand.

But clap like a trained seal? Why? If Democrats clap what are they clapping for?

If you are a Democrat and you plan on clapping Tuesday night, will you do me a favor today -- put a check mark next to the Bush policies you are approving of:

I am a Democrat and I will clap Tuesday night when Bush walks in because:

* Of the mess Bush has made for us, the Iraqis and the world in Iraq.
* Of the 2250 American soldiers he got killed in a war justified by falsehoods.
* Bush is breaking the law by spying on Americans.
* Bush has added the US to the list of nations that sanction torture.
* Of Bush's systematic gutting of the American working middle class.
* Of the 50 million Americans who can't afford medical insurance.
* Bush is a global warming denier.
* Of record high oil company profits and record heating and gas prices.
* Bush cut taxes for the rich while doubling our national debt.
* High paying jobs have been replaced by lower paying jobs.
* Of Bush's disastrous "democracy" crusade in the Islamic world.
* Of this year's $400 billion deficit, and the many that will follow thanks to his failed trickle down" voodoo economic policies.

Here's what I am asking - and I don't think it's much to ask from those of us out here who hope the Democrats will step up to the plate and begin leading again.

Tuesday night I want House and Senate Democrats to show the Presidency respect by standing when the current occupant of that office enters and leaves the chamber.

What I DON'T want them to do is to clap.

Instead I want them to keep their manicured hands respectfully folded in front of them. Let GOP sycophants on the other side of the aisle clap and hoot all they want.

But I want Democrats to simply stand in respectful silence.

Good luck with that one. Of course they will clap because that is "what you do". If they don't clap, they'll get kudos and support from people like me. If they don't, they will probably lose thousands of "middle of the road, white-bread" type of voters. Don't get your hopes up. But it is nice to daydream.

Now to one of yesterday's articles, as to why some people sometimes embrace foolish positions. I know that I am guilt of "let's get behind our team" type of thinking at times, when it comes to politics.

That is the issue, isn't it. Yes, in an election, I'll choose most "Vichy Democrats" over a right-wing Republican but would do so without much energy and enthusiasism. But, from now on, I'll only give my time and (pitiful amount) of money to those candidates who share my values. The corporate Democrats can get support from Big Money; I'll reward those who have the courage to speak up.


Jon Margolis, Chicago Tribune

The flap over intelligent design poses a special quandary for us Americans. Our puzzlement has nothing to do with the merits of the intelligent design argument. There are none.

Instead, the question is: Why us? What is it about the United States that makes us particularly vulnerable to this particular foolishness?

It is largely an American contretemps. There are little flashes of it elsewhere, but they rarely rise to the level plaguing us here in the good old U.S. of A. Embarking on a trip to Europe recently, the head of the pro-intelligent design C.S. Lewis Society half-seriously described his destination as the "the dark continent," anti-Darwinially speaking.

Surely we are not more ignorant than foreigners. Our engineers come up with at least as many gizmos as Europeans, Asians, Canadians and South Americans. Our scientists win more than their share of prizes. Our universities attract the best and brightest from all over the world.

We do seem to be more religious than the Europeans. But there are lots of devout folks over there, and even more in Latin America, from whence come few debates over intelligent design. Besides, for a century or more, millions of devout church/synagogue/mosque-goers have found their faith untroubled by the reality of evolution.

Happily, we have a possible answer to our puzzle, courtesy of Ted Nugent, the clean-living, outspoken singer-guitarist and hunter.

A recent New York Times story described Nugent holding a bloody liver from a freshly killed deer and proclaiming: "Big bangs don't make this. God made that. Things banging don't make livers."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Putting one's money where their mouth is...

We got 24 Democrats to vote against cloture on the Alito nomination, and one to not vote at all (61 votes are needed for cloture, so a "not voting" is roughly the same as a "no vote".

I'll remember these individuals when it is time to contribute; I probably won't be giving to the DNC for a while. But I'll consider giving to these PAC's and/or campaigns, as well as to local candidates and groups like Democracy For America.

Evan Bayh

Dick Durbin

Hillary Clinton or here.
(unfortunately, HillPac funds some Vichy Democrats.

John Kerry

Barbara Boxer

Barak Obama

Ted Kennedy

Joe Biden

Mark Dayton,

Christopher Dodd,

Russell Feingold, and his PAC

Dianne Feinstein,

Frank Lautenberg,

Patrick Leahy,

Carl Levin,

Robert Menéndez,

Barbara Mikulski,

Patty Murray,

Jack Reed,

Harry Reid,

Paul Sarbanes,

Chuck Schumer,

Debbie Stabenow,

Ron Wyden
Not voting "yea" (no recorded vote)

Tom Harkin

Oh yes, and to all Republicans and DINOS (Democrats in Name Only); that is, anyone who voted for cloture, here is my message to you:

Some Good Kos Diaries

I am trying to let the morning coffee do its work prior to running; I have some sort of a "crud bug"; it is almost like bad allergies. I had it this Saturday and almost skipped my race; nevertheless I ran my fastest 5K in a long time. It helped that my recent 5K's have been slow.

Some recommended "quick reads"

  • Republicans have used the filibuster too, even in "advise and consent" type things:

So don't let this "it is unfair that we don't have an up or down vote stuff" fool you. Remember that Senator Hatch suggested Judge Ginsburg to President Clinton. Senator Reid's "suggestion" of Miers to President Bush was a tongue in cheek gesture.
  • Alito's nomination being filibustered is "too close to call" at this moment.
This diary suggests that we are at 39 names.
I wish I could believe it. My guess is that cloture will "win" somewhere between 35-65 and 37-63. If there is any good to come out of this it is that more people will have more knowledge of how the Senate works.
  • What is the emotional difference between conservatives and liberals? This diary suggests that liberals are driven by empathy (concern of others) whereas conservatives are driven by fear. Of course conservatives won't see it this way; they'll say that they trust people to make good decisions on their own, which, is why I don't understand why they want to regulate so much social behavior (sexual morality, for example). I have to admit that in social policy, I lean libertarian (which is why I am a proud ACLU member and, within the ACLU, I am one of the free speech purists who thinks that, say, the KKK ought to have the same free speech rights as anyone else even though I detest their message).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Too Funny!

From the Smirking Chimp:


From the Department of Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
Posted on Tuesday, January 23 @ 12:32:25 EST
This article has been read 37598 times.

from Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions", published in 1973:

"[Kilgore Trout, the science fiction writer] wrote a story one time about an optimistic chimpanzee who became President of the United States. He called it 'Hail to the Chief.'

The chimpanzee wore a little blue blazer with brass buttons, and with the seal of the President of the United States sewed to the breast pocket....Everywhere he went, bands would play 'Hail to the Chief.' The chimpanzee loved it. He would bounce up and down."

Click to see a larger image.

From Cyberspace:

Some good Sunday reading (opinion). Feel free to send me stuff you think is interesting, including right wing nut-job stuff.

first, a gem from the Daily Kos: the Diarist makes the case that we ought to roll over for the Alito nomination, to "save it" in case the following happens:

Keep Our Powder Dry

Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 08:46:06 PM PDT

Updated for formatting

For once, I'm in agreement with the pragmatists of the Democratic Party. The fight to stop Alito is one that we cannot win. It is better to keep our powder dry. You might respond, "Keep it dry! For what?" Glad you asked. I can think of fights for which we will be glad we kept our powder dry. (a rock solid argument on the flip)

  1. What if a Democrat wins the popular vote in a Presidential election and may have won the Electoral College, but only a hand recount can count all the votes and account for the machines built-in margin of error. I don't know the legal system that well, but I suspect there would be a legal challenge that would go as high as the Supreme Court regarding the legality of the recount. What if SCOTUS voted on partisan lines NOT to count the ballots. As a result, the Republican wins. I know it is hard to imagine, but it could happen. I'm sure that if a subsequent recount did show the Democrat wonCongress would come up with some way to remove the false President, but either way, we should keep our powder dry for this scenario.

  2. Imagine that a catastrophic terrorist attack happens on our shores. The Republican President gives some nice speeches and promises to kick some terrorist ass. He tells us that if anyone could have imagined such an attack he would have done everything possible to protect us. I'm just spinning my wheels here, but what if it later became clear that there was warning of the attack and the President did absolutely nothing to stop it? He was busy doing something ultra-Republican, maybe trying to start a new nuclear missile program -- who knows. At any rate, he ignored the threat and lied about receiving warning. This is a Republican we are talking about; so, he'd probably try to pull some crazy stunt like falsifying an EPA report that states the air at the place struck by the terrorists made the location unsafe. We need to keep our powder dry for this eventuality.

  3. Republicans love war, particularly when they and their families don't have to fight. Terrorists don't really have their own nation, so the President would have to find somewhere to attack and appear "Presidential." It is possible, unlikely, but let me put on my tin-foil hat for a minute, that the President would manufacture reasons to go to war with a nation that was in no way threatening us. He'd probably pick some faltering Middle East country that he felt would be a cakewalk. How would he convince us to fight? Maybe, he'd say something about mushroom clouds and also suggest they were in league with the terrorists. He'd probably try to hint that the country had something to do with the terrorist attack on the US. I'm not sure what else, make a half-ass try at avoiding war through the UN. Sure, millions would see through this and take to the streets in anti-war marches, but we would need our Senators and Representatives to have some dry powder ready to stop the illegal war. At least we know that Republicans are all about integrity and hate "nation-building," so once no weapons are found and the war of choice is exposed, they'd hold the President accountable.

  4. Okay, since I talked about voting once, maybe if the GOP was successful in stealing one election (see scenario 1), they'd try another. I think I read somewhere that a Secretary of State (the person who controls voting in each state) can also be actively campaigning for candidates running in the election. For instance, a Secretary could even chair a party's statewide Presidential campaign. It's hard to imagine that anyone with that much power over the vote would be all that actively involved in supporting a Presidential candidate, but I kid you not, it is perfectly legal. It is possible that the Secretary could control how the votes are counted, even how many machines get to each county and precinct. They could probably even set it up so that voters at Democratic strongholds would have to wait hours in line to vote on barely working machines. I hear some of these new machines don't have any paper trail, so who knows what the GOP could get up to with control of something like that. I'm a crazy Liberal, but I could even imagine the GOP challenging all kinds of voters -- even trying to keep mentally handicapped people from voting. Election fraud and abuse is pretty hard to prove, so we'd really need our powder dry.
These are just a few examples of how things could get much worse. I even dreamt up one scenario where a whole US city is destroyed because of incompetent planning and misplaced priorities. I bet if that happened the GOP would go with the "Nobody could have predicted this" defense. Crazy Wingers. Maybe, they'd out a CIA agent out of political spite, get caught running a bribery ring out of Congress, lose billions in a faraway nation-building scheme to change the world in our image (wait, Wingers don't support nation-building), give massive tax cuts to the rich and cause the deficit to soar.

The crazy rantings of a Northeast Liberal, I know. But who knows what those wacky GOPers could get up to, so let's keep that powder dry for a real fight. The Republicans won the Presidency and Congress fair and square, and vast majority of the country obviously supports them. Let's keep our powder dry and our noses clean for the next election, that's when real change can happen. The last thing people want is an opposition party vigorously opposing things. We have the next election, or the next one after that, or maybe the next one after that...with plenty of dry powder.

Now, from the Smirking Chimp


Paul Craig Roberts: 'Blind ignorance: Polls show many Americans are simply dumber than Bush'
Posted on Sunday, January 29 @ 09:32:41 EST
This article has been read 1118 times.

Two recent polls, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York Times/CBS News poll, indicate why Bush is getting away with impeachable offenses. Half of the US population is incapable of acquiring, processing and understanding information.

Much of the problem is the media itself, which serves as a disinformation agency for the Bush administration. Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio are the worst, but with propagandistic outlets setting the standard for truth and patriotism, all of the media is affected to some degree.

Despite the media's failure, about half the population has managed to discern that the US invasion of Iraq has not made them safer and that the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties is not a necessary component of the war on terror. The problem, thus, lies with the absence of due diligence on the part of the other half of the population.

Consider the New York Times/CBS poll. Sixty-four percent of the respondents have concerns about losing civil liberties as a result of anti-terrorism measures put in place by President Bush. Yet, 53 percent approve of spying without obtaining court warrants "in order to reduce the threat of terrorism."

Why does any American think that spying without a warrant has any more effect in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Bush is disobeying, requires the executive to obtain from a secret panel of federal judges a warrant for spying on Americans. The purpose of the law is to prevent a president from spying for partisan political reasons. The law permits the president to spy first (for 72 hours) and then come to the court for permission. As the court meets in secret, spying without a warrant is no more effective in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant.

Instead of explaining this basic truth, the media has played along with the Bush administration and formulated the question as a trade-off between civil liberties and protection from terrorists. This formulation is false and nonsensical. Why does the media enable the Bush administration to escape accountability for illegal behavior by putting false and misleading choices before the people?

The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has equally striking anomalies. Only 43 percent said they approved of Bush's performance as president. But a majority believe Bush's policies have made the US more secure.

It is extraordinary that anyone would think Americans are safer as a result of Bush invading two Muslim countries and constantly threatening two more with military attack. The invasions and threats have caused a dramatic swing in Muslim sentiment away from the US. Prior to Bush's invasion of Iraq, a large majority of Muslims had a favorable opinion of America. Now only about 5 percent do.

A number of US commanders in Iraq and many Middle East experts have told the American public that the three year-old war in Iraq is serving both to recruit and to train terrorists for al Qaeda, which has grown many times its former size. Moreover, the US military has concluded that al Qaeda has succeeded in having its members elected to the new Iraqi government.

We have seen similar developments both in Egypt and in Pakistan. In the recent Egyptian elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood, despite being suppressed by the Egyptian government, won a large number of seats. In Pakistan elements friendly or neutral toward al Qaeda control about half of the government. In Iraq, Bush's invasion has replaced secular Sunnis with Islamist Shia allied with Iran.

And now with the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian election, we see the total failure of Bush's Middle Eastern policy. Bush has succeeded in displacing secular moderates from Middle Eastern governments and replacing them with Islamic extremists. It boggles the mind that this disastrous result makes Americans feel safer!

What does it say for democracy that half of the American population is unable to draw a rational conclusion from unambiguous facts?

Americans share this disability with the Bush administration. According to news reports, the Bush administration is stunned by the election victory of the radical Islamist Hamas Party, which swept the US-financed Fatah Party from office. Why is the Bush administration astonished?

The Bush administration is astonished because it stupidly believes that hundreds of millions of Muslims should be grateful that the US has interfered in their internal affairs for 60 years, setting up colonies and puppet rulers to suppress their aspirations and to achieve, instead, purposes of the US government.

Americans need desperately to understand that 95 percent of all Muslim terrorists in the world were created in the past three years by Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Americans need desperately to comprehend that if Bush attacks Iran and Syria, as he intends, terrorism will explode, and American civil liberties will disappear into a thirty year war that will bankrupt the United States.

The total lack of rationality and competence in the White House and the inability of half of the US population to acquire and understand information are far larger threats to Americans than terrorism.

America has become a rogue nation, flying blind, guided only by ignorance and hubris. A terrible catastrophe awaits.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com.

Source: CounterPunch

Then Leonard Pitts hits the mark, as usual:

Leonard Pitts Jr.: 'Fear the 9/11 hammer'
Posted on Sunday, January 29 @ 09:28:27 EST
This article has been read 338 times.

Karl Rove said in a recent speech that this year's midterm election will be about security. So you know it will be about fear.

It'd be nice to be able to take President Bush's chief political adviser at his word. Consider where we stand 52 months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Hurricane Katrina has shown that the government could not effectively manage a catastrophe whose place and time it knew "in advance." The same storm revealed that first responders are still unable to communicate because their radios are incompatible, "four years" after the inability of emergency agencies to speak with one another emerged as one of the signature failings of 9/11.

Meanwhile, questions remain about the efficacy of airport security. And just last month, members of the 9/11 commission, five Republicans and five Democrats who were tasked with investigating the tragedy, gave the government failing grades in its response to the terror threat.

So yes, a national conversation about security could hardly be more timely. But it would be naive to think that's what Rove meant when he addressed the Republican National Committee in Washington a week ago last Friday.

Experience tells us that with this crew, "security" is just a code word for fear. So this election will hinge on making people think terrorists are going to get 'em if they don't vote Republican. In a sense, you can't blame Rove. With apologies to Garrett Morris, fear "been beddy beddy good" to the White House. That's why Sept. 11 has become Team Bush's fallback position, its default reply to every hard question.

A ruinous war fought under false pretenses? Sept. 11.

Indefinite detention of alleged terrorists? Sept. 11.

Torture? Sept. 11.

The right of the people to dissent? Sept. 11.

Spying on Americans in violation of federal law? Sept. 11.

A growing record of incompetence and lies? Sept. 11.

Fear is the president's Get out of Jail Free card. It works because panicked people are not thinking people. If you can convince them Osama bin Laden is coming up the driveway and only you can save them, they'll turn a blind eye while you break the law, steal their rights, rape the Constitution itself.

So while this willingness to use fear as a tool of manipulation is distressing, what's more distressing is the willingness of some to be manipulated. Consider the howls of outrage you don't hear as rights are abrogated and laws broken. Fear makes us sheep.

And as the campaign of 2006 begins in earnest, you have to wonder if Democrats will challenge us to be more than that. Or if they will again be caught — as has become their custom in recent years — with their pants down, playing Wile E. Coyote to the GOP's Roadrunner. One recalls 2004 and the neat bit of political jujitsu by which surrogates for the presidential candidate who avoided combat in Vietnam managed to make a political liability of his opponent's voluntary service there, even though said service won him a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

The shamelessness of Team Bush is not to be underestimated.

Ultimately, though, my concern is not the Democrats. Because what is at stake this year is not the fortunes of a party but the character of a nation. The choice is simple: remain true to the ideals that have guided us for 230 years or surrender them on the altar of expedience because we were too scared to live up to them.

Make no mistake: America is not for wimps. It takes guts to be an American in the largest sense of that word, to believe in the rule of law, the freedom of dissent, the dignity of woman and man even when — "especially" when — it is more expedient not to.

To be an American is to commit a daily act of faith.

Or as Colin Powell said, the day after the Sept. 11 attacks, "We're Americans. We don't walk around terrified."

Too bad his own party is so intent on proving him wrong.

©2006, The Miami Herald

Finally, our President: so much power, so little competence:


Philip Gailey: 'Bush is as powerful as he is unpopular'
Posted on Sunday, January 29 @ 09:30:07 EST
This article has been read 321 times.

Republicans are practically dancing in the Senate aisles over the prospect of Samuel Alito joining Chief Justice John Roberts on the Supreme Court, saying these two conservatives will bring some badly needed "judicial restraint" to the court. If only they were as concerned about presidential restraint.

Bush, who is acting more like a monarch than an unpopular president, might as well wear a crown to go with the powers he has claimed. Under his "inherent" authority as commander in chief, Bush says he is free to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, detain anyone suspected of a terrorist connection indefinitely and without due process, ignore the Geneva Conventions against torture and just about any other law or treaty that would limit his expansive executive powers. Even after signing antitorture legislation, Bush made it clear in a "signing statement" that he intends to interpret the new law, which he resisted mightily, to suit his purposes.

If al-Qaida operatives abroad are talking to someone in the United States, Bush says the government needs to know. Of course it does. That's not the issue. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows domestic eavesdropping in national security cases. However, it requires a warrant from a secret court that rarely says no. It even allows the government to eavesdrop first and seek a warrant later.

At his news conference on Thursday, Bush said the surveillance act "was written in 1978" and now "it's a different world" because of terrorism. Bush seemed to be saying the law is outdated. However, he insists that there is no need for Congress to update it. In fact, he said last week that efforts in Congress to rewrite the 1978 law to expressly give the president authority to conduct surveillance without a warrant are unnecessary and even dangerous.

The president doesn't stop there. His administration has asserted that FISA would be unconstitutional if it were read to prevent the president from doing what he has been doing - conducting domestic surveillance without a warrant. In other words, Congress can write laws but Bush will decide what they mean.

What's the public to make of it all?

The president has framed the issue in a way that, at least for now, gives him the political advantage over his critics. The latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows that a majority of Americans approve of warrantless eavesdropping to reduce the threat of terrorism even as they expressed some uneasiness that Bush's antiterrorism measures could diminish civil liberties.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove, the president's unindicted leaker in the CIA leak case, stooped to a new low in suggesting that Democrats still have a "pre-9/11 worldview" when it comes to fighting terrorists. "Let me be as clear as I can be - President Bush believes if al-Qaida is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," Rove told a Republican audience last week. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

What a loathsome insinuation. Some Republicans also have expressed doubt about the legality of Bush's surveillance program. Senate hearings are scheduled next month, but senators probably shouldn't expect much cooperation from an imperial White House that routinely defies congressional investigators.

Last week, the White House stiffed a Senate committee trying to determine why the administration was so unprepared for Hurricane Katrina. Bush to Senate: Drop dead. Citing executive privilege, the president's men have refused to provide the documents and witnesses the committee requested. If only the levees around New Orleans were as formidable as the walls this White House has erected to protect the dirty little secrets of the most secretive administration in modern times. Don't even think about asking the White House to release that photo of Bush and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the latest poster boy for Washington corruption.

Bad news has no place in Bush's world. Neither does reality. To hear the president tell it, everything in Iraq - the war and the reconstruction - is going just fine. The government is doing everything it can for the victims of Katrina. There is nothing wrong with the economy that more tax cuts can't cure. His Medicare drug plan is just what the doctor ordered, even if people are being turned away by their pharmacies because of computer glitches, poor planning by the insurance companies and bureaucratic bungling.

So much executive power, so little competence.

Philip Gailey's e-mail address is gailey@sptimes.com

© 2006 St. Petersburg Times

Local Politics: Challenge to Ray LaHood!

Cross posted at the Peoria County Democrats Site:

I've been snooping around cyberspace this morning and came across some interesting sites of local interest:

This site is written by a young man who is no Ray LaHood fan:


More about Mr. "I am squeaky clean but won't accept too much more from lobbiests":


And the site of the Democratic challenger:


I am going to try to get urls for candidates for the Illinois House and Senate put up here as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What a Real Democrat Sounds Like

Courtesy of the Smirking Chimp
Written by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich.

Note: the comments from the article are interesting. Especially so is the comment that has excerpts from President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, where he beat the drum for the Iraq war. That was the speech that turned me rabidly anti-Bush; the lies and false insinuations contained in it made me ill.

Also good is Bob Burnett's article which says that the American Dream is in fact, out of reach for many Americans who are willing to work hard and "play by the rules."

Dennis J. Kucinich: 'The truth about the state of our union'
Posted on Saturday, January 28 @ 09:36:12 EST

On Tuesday night President Bush will stand before the Congress and the nation to deliver his annual State of the Union address. We are sure to hear a rosy tale of an economy on the rebound, a blossoming democracy in Iraq, a terror network on the run, and a Gulf Coast region rebuilding better and stronger than ever before. As is most often the case with this Administration, the rhetoric does not match reality.

The facts are clear. Our economy is struggling and leaving tens of millions of Americans behind. According to the non-partisan National Journal, since President Bush first stood before Congress and the nation in 2001, the median income in this country has decreased, the jobless rate has jumped from 3.9% to 4.9% and the number of families living in poverty has increased from 8.7% to 10.2%. Our trade deficit has doubled. Inflation has gone up. Personal bankruptcies have gone up. Consumer debt has gone up. College tuition has gone up. And, the price of gas has gone up. All the while, this Administration has turned a $128 billion federal budget surplus into a $319 billion deficit.

Today, almost 6 million more Americans do not have any health insurance than when President Bush took office. In total, over 45.5 million Americans, or over 15% of our total population, have no health care coverage at all.

During his 2003 address, President Bush told the nation that Saddam Hussein "had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax", "materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin", "as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent" and "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents".

Today, almost three years after the start of the President's war of choice, we know Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection to al-Qaeda and posed no threat to our nation. Yet, our armed forces are bogged down in the middle of civil war that our own generals say cannot be won by military force. Our presence in Iraq is counterproductive and has cost the lives of over 2,200 US troops and $250 billion.

President Bush has delivered four State of the Union addresses since the attacks on our nation on 9/11. In four speeches, the President has never once mentioned Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the terror attacks on this nation. The status of the FBI's most wanted man apparently is not important to the state of our union. Yet, in the same four speeches, President Bush has mentioned Saddam Hussein 24 times, and Iraq 78 times.

President Bush used the opening of his 2003 State of the Union to praise the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This year our nation, and the world, saw the result of the failure of this massive reorganization of our government. As Katrina rolled ashore, destroying large cities and small towns in four states, it was FEMA, once an independent cabinet level agency--but now rolled into Department of Homeland Security--that failed to react. The searing image of thousands of Americans stranded without food and water dying on American streets will be the lasting legacy of the Department of Homeland Security, not a reorganized government "mobilizing against the threats of a new era" as the President described in his speech.

In his 2004 and 2005 addresses, the President spent a considerable amount of time advocating policies that would roll back much of the social progress made since the New Deal. In 2004, the President touted a Medicare prescription drug bill that will fatten the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry, endangering the future finances of the entire Medicare program, while leaving seniors confused and empty handed as they try to fill their prescriptions under the new plan. In 2005, the President used his address to promote his plan strip seniors of the guaranteed promise of Social Security, and replace it with a risky scheme to gamble their future in the stock market.

What the President has in store for his message this year is not known yet. But, we do know the President Bush will speak in glowing terms about the state of our union. The truth is the state of our union is in great peril. This Administration is conducting a war with no end in Iraq, illegally spying on Americans at home, overseeing an economy that is increasingly leaving more and more Americans behind and abandoning Gulf in their hour of great need.

If recent history is any precedent, then next week we should see more of the same old dance around reality that has been the hallmark of President Bush's annual address.

Source: Yahoo

Political Contributions

A week ago, I got calls from DFA and from the DNC; they were seeking money (I had given in the past). I also have mailings from Dick Durbin's PAC and Barbara Boxer's PAC. Since I am not wealthy and I give to other causes (small amounts to the DLC, American Red Cross, USO, ACLU, Public TV, as well as larger (but modest) amounts to my church (Universalist Unitarian of Peoria) my university and the Naval Academy Alumni Foundation, I have to think carefully.

I see it this way: it is my money and, from now on, I'll give my political contributions to candidates who represent my values. This means I'll support local progressive candidates with money and "sweat", as well as the more national candidates who represent me and my values.

So, the next time an umbrella organization asks for money, I'll see who they give money to. If they support DINO's (Democrats in Name Only), forget it.

In the recent past, I've given money to Barbara Van Auken, John Kerry, Paul Hackett, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer (all small amounts), as well as to other selected local candidates and I'll probably continue to support these kind of candidates. But, if a candidate says "X" needs funding and "X" is what I consider to be a DINO, then I won't give money to that PAC. An example is my getting an e-mail message from Senator Clinton's PAC asking money to support Senator Byrd's reelection. Forget that; let his "conservative constituents" support him.

Here is a listing of the kind of Senators I would consider supporting:

  1. Barbara Boxer (D- CA)
  2. Dianne Feinstein (D- CA)
  3. Christopher J. Dodd (D- CT)
  4. Richard J. Durbin (D- IL)
  5. John F. Kerry (D- MA)
  6. Edward M. Kennedy (D- MA)
  7. Paul S. Sarbanes (D- MD)
  8. Debbie A. Stabenow (D- MI)
  9. Harry Reid (D- NV)
  10. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY)
  11. Charles Schumer (D- NY)
  12. Ron Wyden (D- OR)
  13. Russell D. Feingold (D- WI)
  14. Barack Obama (D-IL)
    (see update)
  15. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Oh yes, this is a list of senators that plan on joining in on the "no" vote against cloture for the Alito nomination. Senators Harkin and Obama haven't said that they won't support a filibuster, but they have said that the numbers don't look good. I hope that they join in anyway.

Bottom line: I don't have much extra money, so I am going to pay attention to who is goes to.
If there is a progressive Democrat out there who sees that I am being short sighted in this approach, let me know either here (Daily Kos) or at my personal blog http://blueollie.blogspot.com if you are afraid of being "troll rated" at the Kos.

5K Race Report: So close yet so far

This is the first 5K race I've "run" since summer of 2005. My running training has been mostly 5 mile recovery runs between my longer walking workouts, though I've had an 8-10 miler here, and my 20 mile "snow run" (4:53!!!) and 20 miles of a 50K FATASS race (walked the last 11 miles) where I walk/jogged.

So, I was interested to see how it would all work out. It was in the 40's (roughly 7 C) with light drizzle off and on and the course was the Peoria Riverfront Bike path. I went to the race with my buddy Tracy (who won 3'rd in her AG (F 60-65). About the photo: this was from a May, 2004 5K race; it is a nice reminder that warm days aren't that far away!

I admit that it felt weird to race in shorts (long sleeve top plus a Longhorn ball cap) in January in Illinois, but the weather has been strange this winter.

I started off trying to stay steady and was just behind Jack Stone. I made it a point to conserve on the first mile as I wasn't used to faster paced running. Still, the first mile was around 7:15 or so and felt reasonable. I more or less held my place the rest of the way.

I was 11:25 at the turn-around point and thought that sub 23:30 was possible. I kept telling myself to stay upright (I tend to lean forward and push my butt back) and to bend my knees. I am often told that I look as if I am racewalking when I run.

On the way back, I just didn't have that "extra gear" to catch the 4-5 guys I was following . Too bad too, because one of them took 3'rd in my age group! I was at 19:18 with less than 4 minutes left; I was hurting but didn't have that "oompf" to kick it in; hence I got to watch the clock tick just past 23 (23:05). Still, this was my fastest time since August 2004 (23:05 then too) and my last faster 5K was December 2003.

Afterward, we went into a local restaurant for drinks (I got coffee) and then the awards ceremony. We sat at a table of 10, and I was ribbed a bit as I was the only one at the table who didn't get an age group award. I muttered something about this race discriminating against the slow.

Interestingly enough, had I run this type of time in 2002 I would have considered it to be a "bad race", and had I run this in 2001 or 2000, I would have thrown my running shoes in the trash in disgust and vowed never to try to run a race again. But this time, I was happy!

It felt good to dig into those old lungs and "clean them out" after all of these weeks of slow walking and running as I still get more of a "lung burn" running than I do when walking. The only exception to that would be the 1500 meter judged racewalk as my technique is good enough for me to really push for a relatively short distance without worring about being illegal; when I start to tire is when I have to worry.

Update: I found that my place was 25 out of 61 and that the course was actually about 15 seconds too long (about 80 meters). So, I would have been around 22:50 or so. Photos from the race are below; I am wearing the gold longsleeved shirt and Tracy is in the blue. I use look like I am walking; the reason is that I don't have much "knee lift".

Saturday, 28 January

Wife is away again, but has left tons of dirty laundry and dishes. So, I'll have some things to do this afternoon.

Professionally: I am wondering on what software to let my numerical methods students use. Do I use the programs that I have that requires them to understand next to nothing, or do I, gasp, have them use software that might actually require them to write a line of code here or there? My life would be easier to use the former option.

Athletically: I got a scratchy throat that bothers me at night; probably allergies but I am not sure. I am going to try a 5K running race this morning and then try 5-10 more miles of walking.

I've been following the Alito nomination process and hoping that the Democrats can pull off a filibuster. Senator Reid says he is going along with it, as is Senator Clinton. But realistically, we'll probably end up with something like 30-35 votes against cloture.

To show the "other side" of this debate, I'll provide a link to a Daily Kos diary by Flagstaff Hank.
And, just a reminder, Dark Syde contiunes to write good science diaries.

Now for comic relief, more on Ann Coulter. I have to admit that I don't understand why a historically Black college would want her to speak, but evidently they did. I have to admit that I don't read her very much, and if she were plain looking I probably wouldn't have heard of her. Nevertheless, she is a big name and a right wing nut-job and a successful "shock-columnist" so here goes:

Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Justice

Fri Jan 27, 12:00 PM ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, speaking at a traditionally black college, joked that Justice

John Paul Stevens should be poisoned.

Coulter had told the Philander Smith College audience Thursday that more conservative justices were needed on the Supreme Court to change the current law on abortion. Stevens is one of the court's most liberal members.

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."

Coulter has made a career of writing and lecturing on her strongly conservative views.

At one point during her address, which was part of a lecture series, some audience members booed when she cut off two questioners. "I'm not going to be lectured to," Coulter told one man in a raised voice.

She drew more boos when she said the crack cocaine problem "has pretty much gone away."


On the Net: