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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I put my trust in God, as many of us do. But, if I were the Secretary of Defense, a position now held by Don Rumsfeld, I would also put some faith in my generals on the grounds. Too bad that's not what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, isn't doing. As a matter of fact, Pace is putting all of his military eggs in "Rummy's" basket, relying on the Defense Secretary's relationship with The Almighty as hs guide.
"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country,"
-Pace on Rumsfeld
If you or I were walking down the street and telling everyone you were talking to God, where do you think he police would put us?
Rumsfeld is "a man whose patriotism focus, energy, drive, is exceeded by no one else I know ... quite simply, he works harder than anybody else in our building,"
I sure hope Pace's lips are big enough to do all that kissing. After all, Rumsfeld is the biggest horse's ass in DC.
I'm reminded of an old story I once hear of two workers. The first was a highly energetic young man who always wanted to please. The second was a little schlep" of a guy who didn't look like much. One day, the owner of this business had a friend come over. When the friend noticed the first worker, he marvelled at how busy the young man always appeared. When he saw the second worke, he was shocked to see the pace a which he worked.
The friend mentioned all of this to the owner who immediately called over the first worker.
"John," he said to the first worker, "I want you to go tell me how many screws we have in stock." A few minutes later, John came back with a figure of 120 gross.
Next the owner asked John to tell him the retail cost of the screws. John came back a few minutes later with the amount of $10.00 per gross.
Finally, the owner asked John to tell him the bin in which these screws were located. John came back a few minutes later and said they were in bin D-9. Then John went off.
The friend told the oner that he was impressed with how John came back each time with the correct information and how quickly he performed his three tasks.
The owner then called to over Joe, the less impressive of the two men. He asked Joe, "I want you to go tell me how many screws we have in stock." Joe came back and told the owner, "We have 120 gross, located in bin D-9 at a retail cost of $10.00 per gross."
It just goes to show you that "hard work", as Pace tells us Rumsfeld puts in, isn't better than good planning.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff's job is to give the president advice on the military. In the past, that advice might have been in contradiction to the Defense Department's advice. After all. there are two sides to every coin. However, General Pace is nothing but a lapdog on Rumsfeld's lap waiting for a bone and a pat on the head. Having but one voice, especially when it is consistently wrong, is not what we need today.
As those in congress who wish to stay in office are pointing out Rumsfeld's faults and telling us all that they have no faith in him. Rumsfeld has put together a gaggle of support from some military lachey's who have already attached themselves to his fading star. And we all know what happens to any military officer who has the audacity to speak the truth with regards to rummy: They sudden;y retire, sometimes at a reduced rank. And those who lay on his lap? Well, they have a better fate:
"He comes to work everyday with a single-minded focus to make this country safe. We're lucky as a nation that he continues to serve with such passion and such integrity and such determination and such brilliance,"
-Navy Admiral James Stavridis, a former senior aide to Rumsfeld, and SOUTHCOM's new commander
Stavridis is replacing General Bantz Craddock at SOUTHCOM, who will no become the new NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Craddock was a Rumsfeld aide prior to his swift rise, as well. It pays to be on the lap.
By the way, Craddock used to oversee Guantanamo and found nothing wrong with it.
Rumsfeld is a politician. Who knows, maybe he has further aspirations for higher office? (President Rummy?) He is looking for ways to rally those who rely on his "generosity" to get out good words for him. And those who oppose him are left out in the cold. The Rumsfeld politics of his own protectionism and reputation are killing American boys and girls, and the president will do nothing to remedy these problems.
Hopefully, in the 110th congress, there will be new accountability and a some real oversight. All the lapdogs in the world won't protect their "master" after that.
Tricky Ricky's Only Able to Sling Mud
So I decided to go to Sen. Rick "Denial is not just a river in Egypt" Santorum's (REPUBLICAN-PA) website to view his campaign ads. But I wanted to do this with a twist. I watched with the sound muted, (Boy, don't you just wish we could do that with every GOP ad?)
The ad that introduces his website starts with a quickie of the senator and his family showing their Senate dental plan teeth for the camera. I about three seconds, a five-pointed American start appears with, what is to be pressumed, the launching of a nuclear (or is that "nukular"?) rocket running upwards throught he star's center. As the camera pans away from the star, we are left with it in a white circle on a red background with North Korea's Kim Jung Il's face slowly appearing on the Right. On the left is a picture of DEMOCRATIC challenger Bob Casey. The caption says "Casey OPPOSES a missile defense program." The ad is now less than seven seconds long.
Next is a full screen explosion of an atomic blast's mushroom cloud. Above it appears the quote, "We shall soon experience a world without the United States," by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. AS the Iranian leader's face, with arms up in a victory pose enter from the Right, Casey enters from the Left. The mushroom clouds stays in the center. The ad is now 16 seconds long.
Next appears an off-shore oil rig with a Communist Chinese flag and a Chinese war plane coming in from the left. On the right comes yet another picture of Casey followed on the extreme right by an American flag. And finally, the Chinese premier appears on the far left, as well. The top caption it reads "Casey OPPOSES" while the caption under the pictures reads "ALLOWING the US to do the same." Is Santorum attempting to say that Bob Casey opposes the American flag and Chinese war planes, too? I guess I neede the sound on for that one, but I refuse to succumb. The ad is now 23 seconds long.
Finally, a graphic of a bunch of, what we assume, are terrorists. "While the terrorists enter our country... Casey supports amnesty for illegal aliens." A large picture of Casey appears at the right. The ad is now 28 seconds long. and it ends with "We can't take a chance on BOB."
Underneath, of course, the obligatory line, "Paid for by Santorum. Sen. Rick Santorum approved this advertisement."
We know that you paid for it, Rick. Who else would?
Endorsing the "Right" Guy
Why the Cincinnati Enquirer is a Joke
"Boehner was elevated to majority leader with a mandate to overhaul lobbying and ethics rules and to restore confidence in a party charred by scandal and painted as insular and out of touch."
But "there's been little progress on lobbying reform. And he's been close to invisible since the eruption of the scandal concerning former Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate communication with House pages. Boehner said he heard the matter was being taken care of by Speaker Dennis Hastert, so he let it go - hardly an example of leadership."
-From the Cincinnati Enquirer's "endorsement" of House Majority Leader John Boehner (REPUBLICAN-OH)
Just to compare, the Enquirer also endorsed Rep. Jean Schmidt (REPUBLICAN-OH). In case you forgot, Ms. Schmidt is the never-been-in-the-service pit-bull of the GOP who called two-war hero Rep. John Murtha (DEMOCRAT-PA) a "coward".
And to go along with their other weird choices, this is what the Enquirer had to say about Ohio's third US congressional District race:
Dick "Chema has run a strong if improvised, short-on-cash campaign, upholding the finest tradition of competitive politics by offering a real choice.
"We applaud him. And we choose his opponent, Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Turner, for our endorsement."
Can anybody take this paper seriously?
In total, the Cincinnati Enquirer offered endorsements for five congressional candidates: Four REPUBLICANS and one DEMOCRAT. They must really hate Rep. Chabot saying "it's time for him to come home".
It's time for Cleveland and Columbus to step up in Ohio and let their sane voices be heard.
The Tip of The "Foley-Berg"
Chip Reed tells us that the Foley/House leadership scandal isn't going away:
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show, NBC Congressional Correspondent Chip Reed dropped a bomb during Matthew's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" segment. "I'm going to be a little cryptic here," Reed began, then added, ""the Mark Foley scandal investigation is going to widen a little bit."
Considering that so far the entire scandal has been completely swept under the Republican rug, I would certainly like to see SOMETHING happen to blow the lid off this particular Republican scandal.
-Submitted and commented by Victoria Brownworth
COUNTDOWN TO CHANGE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
The countdown to change is upon us. In less than a week, midterm elections will be held nationwide and voters will once again have the opportunity to break the stranglehold the Republican Party and the Bush Administration have on Washington and the nation. American voters can present the Bush Administration with a mandate for change–and must. Our nation is in peril from this Administration and every day the evidence grows more stark and more alarming, whether it is on the domestic front or the battlefront.
Don’t think this election is that important?
You could not be more wrong.
Consider the past six years of the Bush presidency and the dangerous mistakes wrought by the President and his Administration on every one of us.
The President has started two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are nearly 200,000 American soldiers in those two arenas, yet there is no control in either country by either U.S. forces or the titular governments there. In Afghanistan, Taliban extremists have regained power and the fighting has been escalating for months. In Iraq, sectarian violence is the worst it has been since the war began in March 2003. In October, more U.S. soldiers were killed and injured than in any other month since the beginning of the war. The U.S. has now been engaged in the war on Iraq as long as it was involved in World War II–but with no D-Day or V-E Day in sight.
Throughout the course of the war on Iraq, President Bush has consistently chanted one mantra: stay the course.
He abandoned that mantra this week. Why? Because there was never a plan for Iraq except to have Saddam Hussein surrender and, as Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated time and again, have the Iraqis “welcome us with flowers and open arms.” Three and a half years into the conflict there have been no flowers, no open arms and no end to this war in sight and even President Bush can see that now.
Last week Bush demanded a time-table from Iraqi President al-Maliki on when his government would be able to function without U.S. troops and U.S. intervention.
Congressional Democrats have been demanding such a timetable for years. When they have done so, the President and the Republicans in Congress have referred to that request–as recently as September–as “cut and run” politics. Democrats have been demonized as unpatriotic and accused of giving in to terrorism.
Yet the President’s own position is now what the Democrats’ has been for years.
Despite the President’s change in attitude, however, campaign ads from Republican candidates still focus on demonizing Democrats for taking a stand against the war which has killed 3,000 Americans, injured and disabled 25,000 others and killed more than a half million Iraqis.
Consider the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania. Sen. Rick Santorum is the third most powerful Republican in Congress. He is also the most extremist member of the Senate. Santorum has equated same-sex marriage with man-dog sex. He wants to outlaw all birth control because he says the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped in its 1965 ruling on Griswold v. Connecticut which legalized birth control. He was the only U.S. senator to intrude at Terri Schiavo’s bedside to make his own political statement about a private family matter that effects thousands of families every day.
His opponent is Bob Casey, Jr., son of the late Pennsylvania governor, Bob Casey, Sr., who was a figurehead in the national Democratic Party, known best for his opposition to abortion and the death penalty. Casey Jr. has strong support in the middle and western parts of Pennsylvania and he has been leading Santorum in the polls for months.
In Casey’s campaign ads, he depicts Santorum as the extremist he is. He points to Santorum’s 98 percent voting record with Bush, his refusal to raise the minimum wage while giving tax cuts to the rich and his support of the war in Iraq. He also notes Santorum’s repeated references to abolishing birth control. (Like his father, Casey opposes abortion and the death penalty, but he supports birth control, civil rights for same-sex couples and stem cell research, all of which Santorum opposes.) The Casey ads are tough, but honest.
In Santorum’s ads, he depicts Casey as a “dangerous liberal,” focusing on Casey’s support of amnesty for illegal immigrants who have worked in the U.S. for more than five years. In his most recent ads, Santorum has juxtaposed Casey’s face with that of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, with missiles in the center. The voice-over notes that Casey is against a missile defense system for the U.S. (Santorum skips the part that no missile defense system has yet been devised that actually works) and that he “welcomes illegal immigrants” into the U.S., “despite the threats of terrorism to the nation.”
Santorum equates illegal immigrants–more than 90 percent of whom come from Latin America–with terrorism. His message of his ad is clear and a total lie: Santorum is saying Casey supports amnesty for terrorists.
This particular ad campaign–the argument that Democrats are soft on terrorism–is being repeated in New Jersey and New York, where tough Senate races divide centrist Democrats from extremist Republicans.
When George Bush took office, there was no deficit. President Bill Clinton had balanced the U.S. budget for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president and there was a budget surplus. President Bush’s policies have led to the largest deficit in U.S. history–which each of us now has to pay for.
Remember when Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility? No more. Under George Bush and the Republicans, it has become a veritable spending spree in Washington. Bush and his team have given away billions of dollars of American taxpayer money to their friends in the big oil companies, to Halliburton–previously run by the Vice President–in no-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the rich in tax breaks. Remember Enron? Some more friends of George Bush who got rich while the people who worked for Enron lost their life savings.
Republicans running for Congress, including many in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, have campaigned on the lie that Democrats will raise taxes. Republican Congressman Curt Weldon–himself now under investigation by the FBI–accuses his Democratic challenger, Joe Sestak, of wanting to raise taxes. Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach, running against former U.S. Attorney Lois Murphy, whom he narrowly defeated in the last race, says the same about her. (The Gerlach ads all refer to “liberal Lois” and say she is supported by “radical” groups like Move-on and the Sierra Club; both groups are well-established and very far from radical.)
The “Democrats will tax the hell out of you” mantra is a theme among Republicans on the East Coast against their Democratic challengers.
But it’s a lie.
Democrats are, across the board, against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy two percent that have contributed immeasurably to the current deficit, but which were a Bush campaign promise to his wealthy base. Taxes for average Americans will not change–even if you were lucky enough to get a tax rebate, that money was taxed to you. You borrowed against your own taxes, unlike the tax cuts for the rich, which came without strings attached.
So when the Republican congressman from your district claims that the Democrat will raise your taxes–it’s a lie. The only taxes that will be raised–rather, *replaced*–will be those for the rich.
Like the estate tax. This is another scare tactic of Republican campaigners. A voice-over intones “Joe Sestak wants to tax you even after you’re dead.” (Lynn Swann’s ads make the same claim of Governor Rendell.) The estate tax has been rolled back six times under Bush–and affects only the wealthiest Americans. The recent effort by Democrats to raise the minimum wage (which would affect close to 30 million people) before the term ended was stymied by Republicans who demanded that the estate tax (effecting fewer than one million Americans) be repealed.
Santorum, Weldon and Gerlach all approved the repeal of the estate tax for the rich and balked at raising the minimum wage for the poor and working poor. (The minimum wage has not been raised since 1997.) Casey, Sestak and Murphy all support minimum wage increases.
The other scare tactic the Republicans are running this election is immigration. I’m not sure when this became such a big issue in this country built by immigrants, but the Bush Administration invented it as a deflection from the war about a year ago and has run with it ever since. Are there undocumented workers in Pennsylvania and every other state? Absolutely. They are hired by employers who want to cut costs and they are paid below minimum wage–and minimum wage is already $8,000 below the poverty standards set for the nation–and do not receive medical or other benefits. Undocumented workers–illegal aliens as the ads call them–are contributing members of American society who have no protections. The U.S. economy benefits from their labor–indeed *needs* their labor–but does not reciprocate with the benefits other workers receive.
The conflation of illegal immigration with terrorism is false and misleading. More than 90 percent of undocumented workers/illegal aliens in the U.S. come from Latin America, mostly Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. These are not terrorists. They are people looking for work and better lives, just like many of our ancestors.
Republicans like Santorum, who suggest that a candidate who supports fair treatment of illegals is supporting terrorism, are attempting to scare voters. It’s a standard of Bush politics: equate everything with terrorism.
But what about the Republican record?
There are no ads–not one in the immediate four-state area–in which a Republican candidate claims his or her solidarity with George Bush or with the policies on Iraq. Rather than running on a record, the ads routinely attack the Democratic challenger. Why? Because there is no record to run on. (Tom Kean, Jr.’s ad in New Jersey, where he is hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez even goes so far as to state he wants immediate firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. That’s how far some candidates are distancing themselves from Bush–if they can.)
Look at some of the Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania, all in tightly contested races that could go either way: Santorum, Weldon, Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick (running against Iraq war vet and former prosecutor, Patrick Murphy) have all voted 98 percent with Bush. All support the war. All support tax cuts for the wealthy and resist raising the minimum wage. All refuse to address health care concerns which Americans cite as the most important issue to them after the war. All are against even the immigration reforms suggested by Bush himself. All voted for wage increases for themselves–seven wage increases in the period when there was not one increase in the minimum wage. (Santorum is even on record as saying that it doesn’t hurt people to struggle a little.) None is interested in dealing with global warming, which is responsible for devastating hurricanes like Katrina which displaced 1.3 million Americans and destroyed several cities on the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, or finding new energy resources to deal with the oil crisis in America.
The right-wing extremists have had the upper hand in Washington for six very long and very dangerous years. The wars the Republicans started in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans in lives, international support and money. Under Republican leadership, torture has become law, despite the U.S. previously having a history of fighting torture. Under Republican leadership, trials without lawyers or habeas corpus have become law, in violation and refutation of hundreds of years of common law.
Under Republican leadership, hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into Iraq while Americans suffer at home. Under Republican leadership, the deficit has gone from zero under Bill Clinton to $8.5 trillion under Bush, as of October 1st. It is the largest national debt in the world.
Americans will have to pay for that debt for decades to come. And as long as the Republicans continue to have the power to hand out our money to their friends, that debt will increase.
Under Republican leadership, 47 million Americans have no health insurance; one in six Americans–up by over ten million since Bush took office. Under Republican leadership, 65 million people are living at or below the poverty level–one in five Americans–up by 15 million since Bush took office.
Under Republican leadership, terrorism is on the increase, global warming is getting worse and our own cities–not just those in Europe, Asia and Africa–are suffering. Under Republican leadership, clean air and water regulations have been subverted as another gift to big corporations and with that, environmental racism has expanded exponentially.
On October 27th, under Republican leadership, the housing market collapsed, meaning that if you own a house, it is now worth a great deal less than it was last month.
The facts speak for themselves: Under the Bush Administration and the Republican-led Congress, the war has escalated, the national debt has exploded, the rich are getting richer while the middle-class and working poor are getting much poorer and fewer Americans have health insurance.
Republican President Ronald Reagan instigated the litmus test for politics by first asking the question: Are you better off now than you were when the last election was held? If the answer is yes, vote to retain the current political party. If the answer is no, vote the bums out.
Unless you are among the wealthy two percent of the nation, making more than a quarter million dollars a year, you are far worse off under Republican leadership today than you were under Democratic leadership.
On election day you have choices. You can sit home and pretend the future of our country–your future and that of your children and grandchildren–doesn’t matter. If you don’t vote, you contribute by your inaction to the war, the poverty, the racism, the classism foisted on America by this Administration.
Or you can go to the polls and make an informed decision based on the facts of the past few years. You can vote to change what is happening in Washington and this nation.
There is a groundswell of opposition to the Bush policies strangling Washington and endangering America. But popular sentiment only translates into change when Americans vote for change. We have the opportunity to break the yoke of oppression the Bush Administration has enslaved us with in recent years by voting for that change on November 7th.
All over the world people are risking their lives for the opportunity to vote, to make a difference, to have choices. People like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy risked–or lost–their lives so that all Americans, men and women, white and of color, could have the right to vote.
You don’t have to risk your life. You just have to walk a few blocks or drive a few minutes. There is nothing more important on November 7th than your vote. There’s nothing more important than saving America.
In response to, "... Like THOMAS KEAN, JUNIOR," Robert Scardapane writes:
Junior Bush, Junior Kean ... their ideas are the same. Junior Kean isn't fooling anyone when he says change the course. He'll do what the GOP tells him to do and that is STAY THE COURSE.
As Jack Murtha says: we stay, we die. That's wrong! It's time to elect Robert Menendez who will get us out of Iraq now.
In response to, "The Pakistan government blew up a Madras (A School of Hate) in Pakistan killing all but three in the building.," Dorothy Schwartz writes:
How can you be so sure of what this Madras was teaching? ( Madras is a city in India). Consider whether you are a victim of U.S. propaganda. I certainly do not know whether whether they were teaching hate and killing in that school. Your comments are tantamount to being judge, jury and executioner all in one.
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