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This Is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
January 31, 2008
Some food for Thought
I received a call today from my health Insurance provider, Horizon Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of New Jersey). They informed me that my HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996) information (info supposedly "protected" by that act), including my family's names, Social Security numbers, telephone numbers, etc, have been stolen and sold by a former employee of Horizon Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of New Jersey.
The good people at Horizon Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of New Jersey have, out good will and their inherent good nature, offered to pay for a credit warning alert service for the period of one year. We, of course, accepted their generous offer.
Last week, the good people of GM MasterCard, my only credit card (other than my American Express card, which I pay, in full, each and every month), informed me that, for some reason, they were increasing my credit card interest rate to nearly 40 percent. I immediately sent them a check for the balance (approximately $800), cut their cards in many, many pieces, and informed them that I would no longer require their services.
Upon hearing of my decision to cut ties with their company they seemed upset, put on their Monty Hall costume, and offered to play "Let's Make a Deal" with me and reduce that rate.
I have to wonder whether someone, somewhere is playing fast-and-loose with my family members' good name a credit ratings.
Only time will tell.
I wonder how much it will cost me and my children to pay for that credit alert service, most likely owned by some bank or insurance company, for the remainder of our lives?
Maybe I'll get lucky and won't live that long.
Some More Food for Thought
If Hillary Clinton were to win the Democratic nomination for President this year, she would have no choice but to choose Barack Obama as her running mate. That being said (or written), If Barack Obama gets the Democratic nod, the one person he could not choose is Senator Clinton. Here is my reasoning:
If Senator Clinton gets the nomination, Barack Obama's inclusion on the ticket brings not only votes, but possibly volunteers in the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaign which the Democrats will have to have to win in November. Obama also brings out the African American voter in the South which might show up in greater numbers with him on the ticket. Realizing that a young man, such as Barack Obama as Vice President, would have a good shot at becoming president in 2016 might get young voters, who otherwise might not show up to vote, to the polls. Just look at how he has got them out in the primaries.
On the other hand, a loss by the leading Hillary Clinton could only diminish her brand. I believe that her inclusion on a Barack-Clinton ticket would be more polarizing than helpful. Vote-wise, a damaged Hilary Clinton wouldn't bring one extra vote for the Democrats in November, but might bring extra votes to the Republican side.
If I were Senator Obama, my choice for VP would be General Wesley Clark. Having a former, successful NATO Commander, Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War Commander, Viet Nam Veteran, valedictorian at West Point, Rhodes Scholar and 34 year military and Department of Defense veteran might go a long way towards showing a military awareness and the foreign policy necessary to win the general election in November.
Even More Food for Thought
Do you wonder why there are virtually no questions on Global Warming? (Since January 2,938 questions, 6 about global warming) ( http://whataretheywaitingfor.com/) Maybe it's because the Coal Industry is advertising on CNN.
Preparation and "Spin"
QUESTION: When is the strongest, most prepared army in the world not the strongest, most prepared army in the world?
ANSWER: When taken over by a President and an administration bent on using it for personal gain and profit.
With all of their yelling and screaming that theirs is the party of National Security - the Republican Party - our nation is no longer ready for a "catastrophic attack" against us.
An independent, non-partisan commission, charged by the US Congress, reported last year that 88 percent of our national Guard and Reserves aren't ready to respond in case we're attacked. Similarly, these commands wouldn't be ready in case of another natural catastrophe as well. In other words, the Bush administration has learned nothing from Hurricane Katrina and its response.
Our government "does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available" to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, "an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk."
-the 400-page commission report
But, at least, Dick Cheney will be okay in his bunker.
"Right now we don't have the forces we need, we don't have them trained, we don't have the equipment... in the world we live in - you're either ready or you're not."
-Commission Chairman Arnold Punaro
And we are not.
In the world we live in today, readiness for military action isn't something which should be done on the fly. We can no longer be a reactionary nation only looking to have a plan of attack "Studied" after the fact. One would think that Iraq has taught us at least that. But in the World in which President Bush lives, being prepared amounts to only one thing - spinning the word so as to appear to be so. And that just won't cut it today.
Prior to George Bush taking the White House, there was a plan of attack prepared by then CENTCOM commander General Anthony Zinni and his staff in case there was a need for an invasion, and occupation of Iraq. It called for an overwhelming force and a list of "what-to-do's" as an occupying force. President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld had Zinni's successor, General Tommy Franks, prepare a much different plan which required a fraction of the fighting force to allow President Bush to claim his now infamous "Mission Accomplished" charade; and had no plan for the ensuing chaos which grips the nation even today.
And this is a President who never learns from his mistakes. after all, when one never perceives committing a mistake, how could one learn from it? Katrina has taught us all that.
Like a cold, wet slap in the face, the Bush administration responded to the commission's claim of un-preparedness. Air Force General Gene Renuart, chief of U.S. Northern command (NORTHCOM) said that the Pentagon is "putting together a specialized military team that would be designed to respond to such catastrophic events," according to the Associate Press.
"The capability for the Defense Department to respond to a chemical, biological event exists now. It, today, is not as robust as we would like because of the demand on the forces that we've placed across the country. ... I can do it today. It would be harder on the (military) services, but I could respond."
"It," a Defense Department response to those cataclysmic attacks which the Bushies, Fox News and the other NeoCon outlet keep warning us is going to happen, becomes even more scary when our top homeland commander refuses to see what everyone else sees: That we are not ready. That and the response he used ("I could respond,") makes the situation even scarier. Have all of the Bushies gone out of their mind to make it appear that it is they, and they alone, who can save us in our time(s) of need? Remember, General Renuart, There is no "I" in TEAM.
What the statement by General Renuart isn't lacking is spin. What it is missing, however, is the truth. Had the good General been truthful, his answer would have included the over-extension of our troops - 15 months at a time - in Iraq and Afghanistan; the pressure put on them when they come home, whether looking for medical care or any kind of support from their President (other than lip-service, that is); and the tension and anxiety which accompanies their every day life knowing that they may have to soon put their lives on hold, again, because those very same leaders can't get it right. What's more, Renuart fails to mention the stress put on the families of our reservists and National Guardsmen (and women) who have to make ends meet without the financial and moral support of, in most cases, their main wage-earner.
How could our nation be prepared when our leaders won't be?
The White House, no doubt, will prepare in their own way, of course. We could look to them saying, in the not-too-distant-future things such as: "The Democratic Congress is helping our enemies by commissioning this report"; or "The Democrats are defeatist"; and possibly even, "The Democrats are traitors!" by the likes of the Fox News Channels, Rush Limbaugh's and other NeoCon mouthpieces of the nation.
After all, "spin" is their only defense to just about everything the Bushies can't kill.
"'NORTHCOM has got to get religion in this area,' said Punaro. He said the military needs to avoid "pickup game" type responses, such as the much-criticized federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and put in place the kind of detailed plans that exist for virtually any international crisis,"
The bottom line is this: We don't have enough active military to spread George Bush's idea of democracy around the world. We should be using our citizen soldiers as they were designed to be used - in emergencies like Hurricane Katrina, helping after a terrorist attack (Oklahoma City; 911); earthquakes; etc. We do need them at home. And as our government puts, finally, says that they're going to protect our borders better than they have since George Bush took office, perhaps we could even use them to help there, as well.
But why both, "Spin" is so much easier.
A Call to Arms
I have great respect and admiration for how much talent and effort and commitment you put into writing your daily blog. Your mind and focus are a brilliant testament to you as an individual, but I feel very strongly about something that's been welling up in me:
I am mightily PISSED that everyone on your blog bitches and moans about the Bush Administration and how God-awful they are and re-hashes all their crimes of the last 7 years, and then (as in today) talks about yet, another signing statement and the Bush "smirk" and then just says "can't wait till he's gone". (Does anyone realize how much DAMAGE Bush and Co. can still wreak in the next 12 months?)
I'm SICK of all the arm-chairing it here, dammit!! How about some real ACTION as a group??!! I mean boots on the GROUND!!
Is this blog just a day to day forum for how much we hate the bastard, gee our poor country, and the wringing of hands! How about actively engaging the contributors to your blog in getting behind Wexler, Kucinich, Conyers, etc., who are trying to get impeachment hearings started in the House Judiciary committee?
A few days ago, I sent you some of my thoughts with an important link about the House Judiciary Committee and impeachment hearings in response to one of you contributors saying (to paraphrase), "Meanie old Bush strikes again, oh, poor us, what can we DO?!!"
You did not include my info in the next day's blog or the day after -- OK fine -- I can live with that.
But believe me -- WAITING BUSH OUT is not the answer -- that is very dangerous, indeed. Even if our next president is a Democrat, THAT president comes into office with all the damage to the Constitution still in place. We gonna trust that he/she and that Congress to undo all that??? That's pretty naive.
IMPEACHMENT hearings beget INVESTIGATIONS and investigations beget INFORMATION that is vital to bringing the SOB's to justice. Contrary to what anyone may hear, you DON'T need a majority to start impeachment hearings -- JUST the willingness of a handful of Judiciary Committee members to move forward on it. So how about all of US as a group organizing to pressure those members to move their butts? (Thousands of grassroots people out there are actively pursuing that right now!)
Once again, can we move as a group toward this end? I can provided links, names, phone #s etc, to anyone interested...
For Christ' sake, we ARE THE MOST VITAL PART OF THIS GOVERNMENT -- so let's act like it!!
And PS - If impeachment does not come to pass, we can all look back and say, "at least we busted our butts and tried!!"
-Ms. Kelly Taylor
In response to, "According to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, in seven of the past twelve months, real wages have gone down from its respective previous month," Robert Scardapane writes:
The period leading up to and including the Great Depression is comparable. Republicans were in charge of the White House back then. Their economic philosophy wasn't all that different than today; de-regulation, low taxes and survival of the fittest.
The big difference is that the nation wasn't in debt back then and international banking organizations like the IMF didn't exist. If our currency continue to devaluate, might we see a day when America asks for an IMF bailout? Once that happens everything is savagely privatized in a way that doesn't take people into account. This is exactly the scenario described by Naomi Klein's theory called the "Shock Doctrine" (http://www.naomiklein.org/main):
According to Naomi Klein, America already experienced this with the hurricane Katrina recovery. Americans may just get the full treatment as did the people in Latin America who are successfully rebelling against it (Hugo Chavez is one example of a backlash).
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