Saturday, July 7, 2007
The last thing we need is more trade agreements like NAFTA....No American corporation should be able to lift up, go overseas, and hire children or slave labor to do their work. Nobody should do that. It's not only economically unjust, it's not only unfair, it is immoral....for me this is a very personal issue....my father worked in mills his whole life....and I saw what happened to him and the poeple who worked with him...
This guy is not running for the Republican presidential nomination. What a surprise. But this is the guy that the media keeps implying that you shouldn't vote for becuase he has nice hair and gets $400 haircuts. And becuase he was a lawyer from a modest background who got rich suing the big guys on behalf of little people--you know, one of those elitist trial lawyers--and not a lawyer who was working for the big guys to screw the rest of us. Digby describes this phenomenon in a post about yet another article on the Edwards haircut:
Television gasbags have been gleefully recycling this Edwards nonsense all day, based upon the latest Soloman story and treating it like it's news. Matthews said "sometimes small stories can reveal big things." He pretends he's cleverly pointing out that Edwards is a phony populist for getting expensive haircuts but what he's really doing is pushing GOP propaganda that Edwards is effeminate and soft. Like all Democrats.
You see, if you're a Republican and you've spent your life getting rich, or if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, spent your whole life as a miserable failure and had to have everything handed to you becuase you were incapable of making anything of yourself, all you have to do for the media to fall all over you and christen you "a regular guy" is to spend lots of time dressed in jeans while clearing brush at your ranch, get a fucking pathetic education from all the time your rich connections got you at Harvard, and have a stupid, confused look on your face as you mangle your speeches. The media is too busy inspecting the grooming habbits of Democrats to report on the acutal issues. They continue to do this becuase they think the average American is a boob like the "regular guy" Republican image that they mistake for "authentic." They don't grasp the concept that Americans actually care about things like healthcare and trade policy and so they don't report on actual policies and issues.
Once Again, Fuck You King George! You Have Always Been and Always Will Be a Miserable Fucking Failure-At Everything!
We all know all the miserable fuckups the Republicans are responsible for. Yes, they have had some help from Democrats in the past six years; however, Republicans are the ones who have pretty much been in charge for the last six years. And now that the public got disgusted and voted them out of power in the 2006 elections (and while Republicans are still being investigated, indicted and convicted left and right for their crimes and corruption) Bush still has the nerve the chastise the Democrats. Via Digby:
President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Saturday of being unable to live up to their duties, citing Congress' inability to pass legislation to fund the federal government.
"Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This moment is a test."
In the article that Digby excerpts from a spokesman for the White House brings up immigration as one of the Democrats' failures. Of course, the article then goes on to explain that the immigration bill died because of "staunch opposition from Bush's own base--conservatives."
The Democrats can be criticized for many things, as they so often are by their base and by voters in general. However, Republicans, especially the criminals in the Bush White House, have absolutely no right to open their fucking mouths! Robert Borosage reminds us of their continued obstruction and the things the Democrats have been able to accomplish despite these assbags:
Americans elected a new Congress to get things done. But the conservative minority has chosen a strategy of obstruction in the Senate. They have used the threat of a filibuster to delay or block virtually every major initiative. Bills with majority support—raising the minimum wage, ethics reform, a date to remove troops from Iraq, revoking oil subsidies and putting the money into renewable energy, fulfilling the 9/11 commission recommendations on homeland security—get blocked because they can’t garner 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
In its first 40 hours, the new majority of the House of Representatives kept their promise to voters and passed legislation—increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prices on drugs, cutting interest rates on student loans in half, revoking big oil subsidies and using the money to invest in renewable energy—that provided a down payment for a new direction for this country.
These bills are overwhelmingly popular, and are simply common sense reforms. Yet every one of them—and many more—got held up in the U.S. Senate.
Conservatives boast about the “success” of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, “the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”
How is it working? It’s dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving.
This values partisan posturing over reforms vital to the country. It must be challenged.
It’s time to take the gloves off.
It's time to start kicking their obstructionist asses!
Friday, July 6, 2007
Just a thought. Since polls indicate that a sizable majority of Americans want some kind of universal healthcare (in one poll included in this lenghty report, about 70% of Americans believe it should be the government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have health coverage), is Fox news saying that most Americans want us to be more vulnerable to terrorism? Just asking.
And one last thought. When all hell breaks loose in the world's weather patterns and with rising sea levels and Republicans finally wake up and understand that we have a serious global crisis, are they going to attempt to blame these things on the terrorists or will they finally acknowledge the scientific reality of global warming? I'm betting a $100 they blame it on the terrorists? Any takers?
“Homes were bombed, people lived in mud huts and drank water from the mud puddles," Benderman wrote in his conscientious objector application. "I could not ignore the little girl standing by the side of the road with her mother. Her arm was burned to her shoulder, and she cried in pain. To be aware of the mass graves throughout the area that we were in, full of bodies of women and children and men, all who had died by the hand of war, maybe not our war, but war.”
Well, Mr. President of the party of moral values, where was your commutation or pardon for this 10-year Army mechanic and Iraqi veteran? This guy "spent 14 months in prison for filing a conscientious objector application against redeployment to Iraq." According to his wife, it gets worse from there and she's, justifiably, a little pissed off at the President's actions:
"Parole was denied to Kevin because he had not been 'sufficiently rehabilitated.'", she said. "What were they rehabilitating him from? Not wanting to go to war. During those 14 months Kevin would be sitting in a plastic chair getting shouted at; he was denied his mail at times, they tried to prevent his talking to his attorney and our congressperson. Meanwhile, Libby -- who covered up the truth on issues of war that affect the lives of people like my husband -- is going to walk away."
Kevin Benderman is this veteran's name, and I want to know one thing, when is Bush going to pardon Mr. Benderman? Probably never.
An outrage, you say? No, I think we're well beyond the point of outrage.
“I think ‘rape and incest’ is a buzzword. It’s a bit of a throwaway line and not everybody who says that really understands what that means. How are you going to define that?” –South Dakota state Rep. Joel Dykstra (R-Lincoln County) on why the state legislature didn’t include those exceptions in its abortion ban, April 20, 2006.
Mr. Dykstra has entered the race for the Republican nomination to run against South Dakota's Democratic Senator, Tim Johnson.
" Well, I guess I don’t know what you mean by “equal justice under the law.”
Response from Scott Stanzel, one of the White House's propagandists, I mean, spokespersons to this question:
Q: Scott, is Scooter Libby getting more than equal justice under the law? Is he getting special treatment?
Of course you don't know what that phrase means, Scotty, you work for the Bush White House.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
A person making $50,000 a year would pay the following in combined payroll and income tax: (US) $14,445
(UK) $13,916 and (France) 18, 415. The amount this person would pay in France is higher because "the French employee is paying the extra 8% in supplemental insurance so 100% of their medical care is covered." In France "the basic plan... covers 70% of their health care costs, [thus with the basic plan] the payroll tax would only be $6500, and their total taxes would be $14,415." Not only are the discrepencies slight, as Facing South points out, we should "keep in mind that the US employee (and/or his/her employer) still has to pay for health insurance."
This post also has some interesting comparisons on value added taxes, which is similar to sales tax. The post is not very long and is well worth reading. It looks to me like we're pretty much getting screwed.
He is compassionate after all, isn't he? Thirty months is just too excessive. Well, at least when it comes to the right kind of people: He has different plans for everyone else:
The Bush administration is trying to roll back a
Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for
nearly all criminals.
The Justice Department is offering the plan as
an opening salvo in a larger debate about whether sentences for crack cocaine
are unfairly harsh and racially discriminatory.
Republicans are seizing the administration's
crackdown, packaged in legislation to combat violent crime, as a campaign issue
In a speech June 1 to announce the bill,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urged Congress to re-impose mandatory minimum
prison sentences against federal convicts — and not let judges consider such
penalties “merely a suggestion.”
[...] Judges, however, were livid over the proposal to
limit their power.
“This would require one-size-fits-all justice,”
said U.S. District Judge Paul G. Cassell, chairman of the Criminal Law committee
of the Judicial Conference, the judicial branch's policy-making
“The vast majority of the public would like the
judges to make the individualized decisions needed to make these very difficult
sentencing decisions,” Cassell said. “Judges are the ones who look the
defendants in the eyes. They hear from the victims. They hear from the
[...] The Justice Department wants to return to the
old system of mandatory minimum sentences, under which judges could grant
leniency only in special cases. Without those required floors, Justice officials
maintain that different judges could hand out widely varying penalties for the
Justice officials also point to a growing number
of lighter sentences as possible proof that crime is on the rise because
criminals are no longer cowed by strict penalties.
I heard GOP strategist Ed Rollins say earlier that "it's always hard to see a man like this go to jail," which is so true. He's not "one of them" you know. (Like these awful people, for instance.)
So, at the same time that Republicans have been urging Bush to pardon Libby, expressing either silence or approval when Bush commutes his sentence, the Bush Justice Department "wants to return to the old system of mandatory minimum sentences, under which judges could grant leniency only in special cases" as the Bush Administratin is "pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals." And meanwhile, "Republicans are seizing the administration's crackdown, packaged in legislation to combat violent crime, as a campaign issue for 2008."
As if that isn't outrageous enough, this same Justice Department is under congressional investigation and mired in its own scandal. Here is a summary of the current investigations into the activities of the Justice Department and their connection to the Republican party from one of the most reputable sources in the print media:
The investigations into the Bush administration’s decision to fire nine U.S. attorneys have exposed how the administration has eroded the firewall between partisan politics and the Justice Department and compromised the independence of the nation's top law enforcement agency.
As early as 2002, administration policymakers, Republican legislators and GOP party officials began injecting politics into criminal investigations and civil and voting rights enforcement and applying political litmus tests to judges and career lawyers at the Justice Department.
Based on what has come out so far, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Bush Adminstration has politicized a brach of the federal government that has historically been one of the most independent and immune to politicization. What we are learning from the scandal and investigations surrounding the firing of the U.S. Attorneys and politically motivated interferring in prosecutions is profoundly disturbing (but more on that later as it deserves much more attention). This same Justice Department now wants minimum sentencing while Bush commutes the sentence for conviction of obstruction of justice of the former aide to the Vice President.
Repbulicans have gone out of the way to paint themselves as the law and order party, as the party that is tough on crime, all about personal responsibility, dealing with the consequences of one's action etc. The Republican party, in fact, is only about the Republican party, taking care of its own, covering its ass--the rule of law, principles, and broader concerns of justice and fairness be damned.
The phony law and order, tough on crime stance is just a tool to be used, as we see with the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney scandal, against the political opposition and, as we see with Bush's records of pardons, against the poor class of criminals and those deemed "unworthy" of justice and mercy. In pointing this out, Digby mentions Bush's appalling lack of compassion while governor of Texas and Lawyers, Guns, and Money excerpts this letter to the editor of NY Times addressing this as well, and the letter is well worth reading:
To the Editor:
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he presided over more than 150 executions. In more than one-third of the cases — 57 in all — lawyers representing condemned inmates asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of sentence, so that the inmates would serve life in prison rather than face execution.
Some of these inmates had been represented by lawyers who slept during trials. Some were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles at the time they committed the crime for which they were sentenced to death.
In all these cases, Governor Bush refused to commute their sentences, saying that the inmates had had full access to the judicial system.I. Lewis Libby Jr. had the best lawyers money can buy. His crime cannot be attributed to youth or retardation. He has expressed no remorse whatsoever for lying to a grand jury or participating in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the war in Iraq. President Bush’s commutation of Mr. Libby’s sentence is certainly legal, but it just as surely offends the fundamental constitutional value of equality.
Because President Bush signed a commutation, a rich and powerful man will spend not a day in prison, while 57 poor and poorly connected human beings died because Governor Bush refused to lift a pen for them.
David R. DowHouston, July 3, 2007
The writer is a professor at the University of Houston Law Center who represents death row inmates, including several who sought commutation from then-Governor Bush.
Apparently, a draconian view of crime and punishment is reasonable for all but powerfully connected Republicans as Talking Points Memo also reports that Mitt Romney refused to ever issue a commutation or pardon for anyone while governor of Massachusettes making him the first governor in that state's history to hold that title. One such request for a pardon was submitted by a soldier serving in Iraq who was convicted of assault when he was 13 for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB gun and the other boy wasn't even injured. This soldier "worked his way through college, joined the Army National Guard and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq's deadly Sunni triangle." He requested the pardon, while still in Iraq, so that he could continue to serve his community by becoming a police officer after he finished serving his country in Iraq. Mitt, not seeing fit to grant a pardon to someone so obviously deserving for so many reason, believes Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence is "reasonable."
To further illustrate to the slavish devotion to powerful, no matter what their crimes, this was reported yesterday about Fred Thompson, who was also pleased that Libby's sentence was commuted:
The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight -- asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system -- he telephoned Nixon's lawyer.
Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system and would be making the information public... It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson's actions.
"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was."
I believe it would be impossible to find a more glaring example of rank hypocrisy and blatant disregard for the ideal of "justice for all" than that which is exemplified in these stories, all part of a much bigger pictures, that are coming out in the wash, so to speak, as Bush exercises his special powers in favor of little Scooter.
Tom Paine's ghost had been spinning in its grave for years, ever since the Bush administration first began making a mockery of America's noble, founding ideals, in crass service to greedy monopolists whose only allegiance is to the Almighty Dollar.
On the Fourth of July, 2007, after the last fireworks turned to acrid smoke, and patriotic clichés died in the darkness, Old Tom's spirit finally broke free, with a supernatural "Whoosh!" that startled sleeping robins, sending them abruptly into flight.
Not more than two blocks toward his destination, a police car suddenly shot a spotlight on Tom, as a metallic voice ordered him not to move.
He stood straight and faced the menacing beam.
Two officers of the law approached, demanding to know his name and intentions.
"I'm Thomas Paine, author of 'Common Sense' and an enemy of all that defiles democracy, exploits the people, and offends Sweet Providence. I'm off to kick your President's ass."
"So why d'ya wanna whack Bush's behind, Tommy Boy?"
"The reason ought to be plain," Tom replied.
"Not only is he an absolute Tory in inclination and temperament, aligning himself with oppressive, exploitative powers, but he does their bidding by ruling as a virtual king. He doesn't heed the people's contrary will...
"He's corrupted our dear America. A nation intended to set the global standard for liberty and worthy, just purpose has been outrageously transformed into a land of fading freedoms, while its young soldiers are sent to aggress countries abroad without appropriate or honest cause...
"Americans fought a revolutionary war to free themselves from tyranny rooted beyond the sea. Now, under Bush, the United States is the occupying tyrant, forcefully preventing others' sovereign self-determination. Like England in my time, America is the empire-keeper today."
At about 3:30 AM on the Fifth of July, 2007, as George W. Bush lay sleeping on his Presidential Posturepedic, a mighty blow was delivered squarely into Dubya's rear.
"Yeow! What the hell! Jesus, Laura -- ouch, ouch -- cut your damned toenails!"
But Laura was facing the other direction and snoring loudly.
"Our" President will never admit it, but in his night light's glow that morning, he saw a ghostly figure: a barefoot, grinning man, dressed in Colonial clothing, dancing a very spirited jig.
Then the apparition vanished, with a hair-raising, otherworldly "Whoosh!"
Barney still hasn't come out of hiding, and his master will certainly seem even more goofily disconnected than usual for months to come.
Meanwhile, Tom's back beneath the sod, at peace at last, wearing fuzzy slippers he "liberated"from the Bush's bedroom as he departed.
All's well that ends well.
~reported by Dennis Rahkonen
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
The cost to those who fought for democracy
The Declaration of Independence was the logical extension of the Revolution initiated by the Boston Tea Party, and was signed by a group bearing similar diversity to those in the various states who later ratified the Constitution.
A dozen of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were politicians, physicians, or Protestant ministers; 11 were merchants; 9 were farmers. Ben Franklin was hard to define, although at the time he was referred to as a printer and a Renaissance man; another was a musician, and one was a teacher. They ranged in age from their 20s to the octogenarian Franklin, although he was the only one who was truly elderly. Thomas Jefferson, at 33, represented the average age.
These men were the most idealistic and determined among the colonists. While the conservatives of the day argued that America should remain a colony of England forever, these liberal radicals believed in both individual liberty and societal obligations. A nation must care for the lives of its own, guarantee liberty, and ensure its citizens "happiness"--a radical concept that had never before appeared in any nation's founding documents.
....The day they each signed that document, each legally became a traitor and was sentenced to death for treason by the legal government that controlled their lands and their homes. As Ben Franklin pointed out, they stood at a point of no return, and, "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."
....John Hancock, the wealthiest among them, signed his name large enough that the king "could read [Hancock's] name without glasses and could now double the reward," of 500 pounds that had already been put on his head for sedition. Just six months later, Hancock would lose his newborn daughter to complications of childbirth arising from his wife's fleeing the oncoming British army. Although wealthy by the standards of the day, he would hardly qualify as "rich" by today's standards: he founded no dynasty, and no foundations today dispense his money; his legacy was our nation.
....the British...seized [Thomas Nelson's] home and lands. When George Washington attacked the British in Nelson's hometown, Nelson encouraged Washington to attack the Nelson homestead, which the British General Cornwallis had taken as his headquarters, with canons...after the war Nelson, unable to repay loans he'd taken out against it to help finance the Revolution, lost much of his property and died in debt at the age of 50.
The wealthy Philadelphia merchant Robert Morris lost 150 ships at sea in the war, wiping out his small fortune. Signer William Ellery of Rhode Island similarly lost everything, as did Virginia's Benjamin Harrison, Pennsylvania's George Clymer, New York's Philip Livingston, Georgia's Lyman Hall, and New Jersey's Francis Hopkinson.
The British destroyed New York's Francis Lewis's property and threw his wife into such a hellhole of a jail that she died two years later. Three of South Carolina's four signers--Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., and Arthur Middleton--were captured by the British and held in a filthy, unheated prison and brutally tortured for over a year before George Washington freed them in a prisoner exchange.
New Jersey Farmer John Hart's wife died shortly before he signed the Declaration, and his 13 children were scattered among sympathetic families to hide them from the British and conservative loyalists. He never saw them again, dying alone and wracked with grief three years later.
Altogether, 17 of the signers were wiped out by the war they declared.
New Jersey State Supreme Court justice Richard Stockton took his wife and children into hiding after he signed the Declaration, but conservatives loyal to the Crown turned them in. He was so badly beaten and starved in the British prison that he died before the war was over. His home was looted, and his wife and children lived the rest of their lives as paupers.
Altogether, nine of the men in that room died, and four lost their children as a direct result of putting their names to the Declaration of Independence. Every single one had to flee his home, and, after the war, twelve returned to find only rubble.
After the war was over...the survivors of the new American nation met to put into final form the legal structure of the nation they had just birthed. It was not to be a nation of cynical, selfish libertarians who believed the highest value was individual freedom from society, or that the greatest motivator was greed. It was not be a kingdom, ruled by a warlord elite. It was not to be a theocracy, where religious leaders made the rules (as had been several of the states). And it was not to be a feudal nation, ruled by the rich.
As Benjamin Franklin told Philadelphia's Mrs. Powell after she asked him what sort of nation had been conceived in the Constitutional Convention, it was to be, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."
In remembrance of those who lost so much in signing the document that declared our independence from England's King George III, as well as to all those who sacrificed and worked in whatever capacity while securing that independence, I have a few things to say.
Our George has never sacrificed anything for this country. He is the spoiled, arrogant, short-sighted son of a wealthy family who would not serve in Vietnam but sends other Americans' sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors to die in a war to, as he claims, bring democracy to Iraq, while he shows nothing but disdain for democracy in America.
Our George sends these Americans to die in service for their country while members in his administration award no-bid contracts to greedy for profit corporations that steal billions of dollars from the tax payers to return a profit on services that are either deliberately over priced, rendered inadequately or, in some cases, not at all, as billions have literally disappeared in Iraq.
Our George and his enablers rape the treasury to finance a war in which these greedy, war-profiteering bastards short change Americans and the troops serving this country, thus producing a sky rocketing deficit that will leave the next generation saddled with crushing debt, a debt that will ensure that this next generation will face an even greater challenge as they have to rebuild what he, his administration and his enablers have worked diligently to destroy by giving ever more to the private sector and turning ever more government functions into profit making ventures for the greedy.
Our George has ensured that the next generation will be saddled with this debilitating debt while having to deal with the effects of global climate change, a challenge perhaps unprecedented in history, a problem that he has done nothing to address while those whom he has appointed to oversee agencies responsible for addressing this environmental threat impede efforts to mitigate the coming disasters.
Our George, his administration and his enablers watch the national debt spiral ever upward and send others to die and all the while, with the help of his party in congress, he has passed and signed into law tax cuts that benefit only the richest, tiniest percentage of Americans while veterans returning from combat go without the adequate medical care that they deserve and are entitled to.
Our George repeatedly lies to the American public about the war, the actions of those who serve him in his administration and his political sycophants who put into place programs to illegally spy on Americans and infringe on Americans' civil liberties, work to politicize the Justice Department, and attempt to erode the separation of Church and State
Our George secures zones around his public appearances to keep Americans' protests of his actions invisible to him and those around him, repeatedly accuses those who do not support his ill-considered and disastrously executed policies, a group of people that has for a while now included the majority of Americans, of emboldening the terrorists and uses the rhetoric fear and terror as an instrument to suppress and dismiss the legitimate grievances and concerns of Americans and their elected representatives.
Our George clings to his own deluded, self-righteous conviction that he, and the few closest to him that agree with him, are the only ones who have the knowledge and the insight to determine the future course of our nation in Iraq, relying on the self-serving belief that God is the reason that he is president and that God sanctions his convictions and actions, when in fact, the American people are the reason he occupies his position because our will, and only our will, is sovereign in this country. And yet, in his arrogance and moral certitude, he ignores the sovereign will of the people, their wiser and better judgment, and the attempts of those who were elected by the people to exert our will and judgment that we put in place a plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq and bring them home.
Our George questions the will and nerve of the American people to stay the course in Iraq in order to bring democracy to that country while he, his administration and his judicial henchman try to subvert democracy at home by claiming ever expanding executive privileges and prerogatives that undermine the separation of powers and are designed to undermine the power and prerogatives of the people's elected representatives.
Our George has supported and allowed officials in his administration and under his command to engage in torture, to hold people in detention without being charged with a crime and without recourse to a means of challenging that detention, a group of people whom only he as the authority to designate as enemy combatants, a group of people that has included American citizens.
Our George, entrusted with the power to pardon and show mercy as president and while governor of Texas, has refused to even give the slightest consideration to, and in at least one case has mocked, hundreds of convicted criminals for whom he was the last source of human mercy and leniency. Yet, right before Independence Day he renders that power of intervention and consideration to commute the sentence of a man convicted, according to our nation's laws and with every advantange and means to obtain justice within our legal system, of obstruction of justice in an investigation into the outing of a covert CIA agent, an investigation that implicates officials close to him in the White House.
The founders who signed their name to the Declaration of Independence put their lives, their families, and their security in jeopardy in the conviction that "A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." With the consideration of what they declared and the ideas that they sacrificed for, they gave us a constitutional means to remove, through impeachment, any leader from power who would break the laws of our country and hold our system of government and our democracy in contempt. If for some reason we persist through the duration of our George's last term in office without summoning the courage and the will to excercise our right to impeach this would be tyrant and his accomplice in the vice president's office, I only hope that none of George's crimes and outrages is forgotten and that we remember our George as the antithesis of that which our founders sacrificed for.
So, on this 4th of July, 2007 I have one final thing to say in remembrance of the day our country declared its independence and of the sacrifices that the signers of the Declaration of Independence made:
Fuck You King George!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The president himself acknowledged in his statement today that Mr. Libby was guilty of serious crimes, and then he makes himself an accessory to the obstruction of justice by the mere act of commuting the sentence, so that now Mr. Libby—there is under no incentive whatsoever to tell the truth to the prosecutor, to remove that sand that Fitzgerald said that he threw into his eyes, or to do anything to lift the cloud that Mr. Fitzgerald says continues to exist over the office of the vice president.
The most appropriate follow up to Amb. Wilson's statement is that by Special Prosecuter Patrick Fitzgerald, the man who investigated Libby and secured his conviction:
We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.
We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as "excessive." The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
Although the President's decision eliminates Mr. Libby's sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.
On last night's Countdown, Olbermann had this to say regarding Bush's actions:
A president who lied us into a war and, in so doing, needlessly killed 3,584 of our family and friends and neighbors, a president whose administration initially tried to destroy the first man to nail that lie, a president whose henchmen then ruined the career of the intelligence asset that was his wife, when intelligence assets were never more essential to the viability of the Republic, a president like that has tonight freed from the prospect of prison the only man ever to come to trial for one of the component felonies in what may be the greatest crime of this young century.
Along with Amb. Wilson, Olbermann also interviewed John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel, who provided some historical context to Bush's actions:
Well, it‘s certainly in just an internal regulation. It‘s totally within his power to do this. I‘ve been thinking about the historical parallel of this, and it would be like if Richard Nixon, on his way out, or Gerald Ford on his way in, had commuted the sentence of Bob Haldeman, the former chief of staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, or John Ehrlichman, same convictions, or former attorney general John Mitchell. That‘s sort of the parallel.
And that shows the seriousness of it. But Nixon nor Ford was about to touch that.
There have been very strong statements from leading Democrats condemning Bush's actions. But the important thing to remember, as Greenwald reminds us, is that:
The Plame investigation was urged by the Bush CIA and commenced by the Bush DOJ, Libby's conviction pursued by a Bush-appointed federal prosecutor, his jail sentence imposed by a Bush-appointed "tough-on-crime" federal judge, all pursuant to harsh and merciless criminal laws urged on by the "tough-on-crime/no-mercy" GOP. Lewis Libby was sent to prison by the system constructed and desired by the very Republican movement protesting his plight.
Predictably, though, cheerleaders for Libby on the right are no doubt ecstatic today as so many in the conservative movement have been loudly bemoaning Libby's conviction and sentencing. Included amongst those Republicans and conservatives who are quite happy that Bush has intervened on behalf of Libby are the following:
"I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president’s decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." ~Fred Thompson
"After evaluating the facts, the president came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct." ~ Rudy Giuliani.
Meanwhile, editorial pages all over the country are condemning this outrage. As Republicans continue to take care of their own, even somone who was convicted of obstruction of justice in a case that involved serious national security matters, the outing of a covert CIA agent for political purposes, the Washington Post reports:
At a time when his popularity is as low as any president's in modern history, Bush's action also defied public opinion. Shortly after Libby was convicted in March, three national public opinion polls found that seven in 10 Americans said they would oppose a pardon of Libby.
Not only is this inexcusable from the perspective of the broader principles of justice and what is good for the nation's national security interests, it is politcially damaging as well. As John Dean stated in last night's interview with Olbermann:
Keith, the public‘s very savvy about this kind of issue. This isn‘t a question of who leaked what and why and what the statute said. This is a question of somebody who lied before a grand jury. The American public understands that. The right is trying to spin this that there was no underlying crime. The public gets it, though, that the man lied in front of a grand jury and was prosecuted and found guilty beyond a reasonable of a doubt.
The president has short-circuited that. He‘s tried to say that the sentence was too great. I don‘t think the public‘s going to buy it. So I think we‘ve just heard a little bit of what‘s an ongoing story.
And yet, you have prominent conservatives all over the place cheering Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence and candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination approving Bush's actions. Republicans have in few other instances illustrated quite so well their disdain for the public's opinion and desires when those views undercut loyalty to the Republican party and the Republican cause, not to mention the disdain for the rule of law and common decency that has come to characterize the Republican party.
Monday, July 2, 2007
One writer, Mark Steyn, who contributes to the National Review Online's Corner blog, posted an e-mail he received in order to identify the connection between Moore's Sicko and the British terrorists.
"'Would these be Doctors who work for the U.K. health care system so lavishly praised by Michael Moore? ...Perhaps they are not Jihadists at all but simply men driven insane by their employer? Maybe Michael Moore has spawned an entirely new breed of suicide bomber — the alienated UK health care worker'" Steyn quotes from one e-mail, after noting "I've been getting more than a few letters along these lines."
He also posted a second e-mail, and observed, "Now that Dr Mohammed Asha has been arrested in the Glasgow/London terrorist investigation, several readers have noticed that this artfully combines Michael Moore's two most recent enthusiasms, 'insurgents' and socialized health care." Steyn, however adds, "Mr Moore has yet to call these medico-jihadists 'Minutemen.'"
The National Review's The Corner was not the only leading conservative website to try to link Moore with the British attacks.
Incidentally, I stopped writing for the (New York) Times a few years ago because their fanatical "fact-checking" copy-editors edited my copy into unreadable sludge.
Yes, it was the facts that made it "unreadable sludge."
Oh well, the following are related to those paragons of morality, the candiates for the Republican presidential nomination, and their campaigns:
So, not only did Giuliani's SC campaign chairman have to quit the Rudy team when he was indicted on charges related to cocaine, it seems that Mr. Giuliani decided to replace the guy with a guy who called the NAACP the "National Association for Retarded People." Classy.
In addition to this, it seems that Mitt Romney has managed to anger many people, especially people who own dogs or at least would never think of doing this to any sentient being:
The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus’s rather visceral protest.
And if that is not repulsive enough, there's Republican nominee, Sen. Sam Brownback, who tells the National Catholic Men's Conference that a woman who has been raped and becomes pregnant should have to carry the child to term b/c, as the saying goes, "two wrongs don't make a right." Indeed. Brownback's speech apparently elicited a standing ovation in support of encouraging (forcing) rape victims to carry the child of their rapists.
And a couple more:
This from a Republican congressman who not too long ago talked about running for president. This guy lied to the folks at the local animal shelter when he told them he was adpoting those cats as pets when he was, in fact, using them to practice his skills as a surgeon while in medical school.
If this story was in any way a factor in his decision not to run, well, if he only knew then what we all know now...
And the last one from one of the Republicans' favorite allies on the relious right, Dr. Dobson:
When I returned I held up the belt and again told my angry dog to get into his bed. He stood his ground, so I gave him a firm swat across the rear end and he tried to bite the belt. The tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast… I eventually got him to bed, but only because I outwieighed him 200 to 12.
I am, as always, rendered speechless by the glowing example of morality, virtue and compassion that those in the Republican party display as examples of the moral values that they insist all other Americans practice.
that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts we spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film....Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world's best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37.
CNN does helpfully point out that, "Sicko" also ignores a handful of good things about the American system. Believe it or not, the United States does rank highest in the patient satisfaction category. Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair."
But that's not really the point of the movie, nor does it seem very comforting given the facts and the horror stories that I have read about in reviews of the film. Can't wait to see it!
In his July 16, review of Sicko, Christopher Hayes explains why Moore's latest documentary may resonate with a more widespread audience that is not usually receptive to his work and is sometimes downright hostile to Moore himself:
...unlike in his previous film Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore focuses relatively little attention on the villains in his story, choosing instead simply to allow their victims to tell their tales. It's a montage of hard luck and innocence. [Moore introduces] us to the horror stories all too typical among even the 250 million Americans fortunate enough to have health insurance....In what may be a tacit acknowledgment of this unfortunate fact, Sicko is different from Moore's last two efforts. Not just because of an absence of gimmicky gotcha moments, or a reduction in screen time for Moore himself, but because its topic isn't fundamentally polarizing in the way his previous works were. There's a whole lot of Americans who love their guns, and in 2004 there were a lot of Americans who loved their President, but it's pretty hard to find anyone who loves their health insurance company.
(Emphasis mine) It seems Moore might have hit upon something that will allow him to reach the audience he has wanted to connect with, the "blue-collar factory workers and members of the working class" that has been largely hostile to Moore, as well as the vast majority of the middle class, as this film is about the working and middle classes who do have insurance and the hell that they often expereince at the hands of their, as I like to call them, homicidal HMOs.
Hayes points out the irony in the fact that the group of Americans that Moore has always wanted to speak to, the "elusive Reagan Democrat--the heartland-dwelling, beer-drinking, blue-collar guy (or gal) who bowls on the weekend, loves his country and is fighting to stay afloat in winner-take-all America" is the group that Moore has so often angered and alienated in the past because, despite his "accesible, populist voaculary, his public image is that of an ideologue, a lighting rod, a polarizing figure: more Barry Goldwater than Ronald Reagan."
The reason Moore has been unable to connect with his target audiene may have as much to do with the overall political climate of the past few decades than Moore himself. Hayes' recounts an interesting story from the last chapter in Moore's book, Downsize This!:
Moore spends the final chapter of his first book...talking to Norman Olson, a co-founder of the Michigan Militia: "You know, you guys were right in the sixties," Olson tells him. "The government lied to us.... So when we finally wised up in the nineties after all these jobs were lost, where were you liberals when we needed your help?" Writing in this magazine in November 1997, in an article titled "Is the Left Nuts? (Or Is It Me?)," Moore asked a variation of the same question, "just who the hell is reading this? Who is the Nation readership? Is it my brother-in-law, Tony, back in Flint, who last night was installing furnace ducts until 9 o'clock?"
(Emphasis mine) Although the tone of this documentary is different than Moore's past works, according to the reviews that I've read, Moore does provide a context for the healthcare crisis in America. In doing so, he brings up Regan, which I hope, if Moore's target audience actually watches this film, will at least trigger some doubt with more people that a lot of what they have been fed by the right in the past few decades is pretty much bullshit. As Hayes points out:
It's a little-studied chapter of Reagan's career, but perhaps the most formative. As chronicled in Thomas Evans's The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism, Reagan was employed by GE first as a spokesman and later as a kind of employer-to-employee ambassador. With management facing a restive labor force, an obscure PR guru named Lemuel Boulware hatched the idea of using the emerging techniques of public relations to turn factory-line workers against their own unions. Reagan would be the vessel for this message, and it was in the hours he spent propagandizing the working class about the benefits of free markets that he forged the distinctive Reagan appeal: hard-right economics delivered in the sunny cadence of an amiable uncle.
So as momentum for national, universal healthcare built during the Truman Administration, foes such as the American Medical Association sought to build grassroots opposition. In an ingenious stroke, as Moore reports in Sicko, it organized thousands of coffee klatches across the country where suburban housewives could sip coffee, gossip and listen to a special recorded message about the evils of socialized medicine, a message delivered by the one and only Ronald Reagan.
(Emphasis mine) Maybe there is reason for hope...