Today's Note from a Madman
Monday, December 19, 2005
Bush Forgets - There IS a Constitution
Has no member of Congress or attorney not noticed that President Bush is misstating the oath of office? Here is the text from Article II of the Constitution:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Please tell me where, in that oath, the president swears to protect the people of the United States. In fact, the president takes no such oath. Indeed, our system of government values principle over everything else, including life. For example, if a criminal conviction is obtained in violation of the Constitution, it is set aside, even though the person may clearly be guilty as indicated by other evidence. As a nation, we value adherence to the Constitution, its provisions and its principles, over imprisoning a person who has violated the law. There are other examples of situations in which the nation has chosen the Constitution, indeed, chosen the Constitution over life itself. I would argue, in fact, that if faced with a choice between preserving the life of any number of Americans and, on the other hand, defending the Constitution, the president is obliged by an oath to defend the Constitution. The president is sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and that is the only oath of office that he takes. His priorities before God, in Whose name he took the oath, are very clear.
Round Three - The Press Conference
Spying on Americans Citizens is "a necessary part of my job to protect" American citizens from attack.
-"G"lobal "W"arming bush from his press conference today
You just gotta love circular logic. Pretending to be the strict parent, GW says that the people of the United States just can't be trusted, and the Constitution, a document that has outlived 2 Red Scares, a Civil War and an unwanted occupier is outdated or obsolete or just plain a waste of time.
I guess as long as I am not the one who is a target (or anyone in my circle of friends), then it's okay to spy on my fellow Americans. After all, that guy with the big moustache down the block looks a little "different", doesn't he? Maybe we can all start reporting our neighbors to the FBI. I saw that guy with the adopted kid from some Commie Country ordered some Korean food the other day. I wonder if it was NORTH Korean food.
By now, most of US
have heard the story about the UMASS Dartmouth senior who was "visited" by
the FBI after checking out a Mao Tse Tung's book from the library for a paper he
was writing. Does anyone else remember the "Library Detective" episode of
Seinfeld? If it wasn't so scary, it would be funny.
''for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens,'
GW, regarding how long he will continue breaking the law and have the NSA spy on his felloe Americans
''I just described limits on this particular program, and that's what's important for the American people to understand,"
This is "Back-peddling Bush." He says stuff like this when he, and his cohorts realize that they said something they shouldn't have and now it's time to tap-dance a little.
''I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why these cities are safer'' without the extension.
As someone who lived in New York , Central New Jersey and someone who has worked in New York for most of his adult life, I can honestly say that I have never felt less safe than under the administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush while living here in Metropolis. (Superman, where are you when we need you?) It wasn't Diane Feinstein (D-CA) or Harry Reid (D-NV) or Hillary Clinton (D-NY) who make me feel less safe. In fact it is their opposition to the "corporations first" philosophy and the "hail to the buck" attitude that the Bushies value and prioritize that gives me hope. I thank those California, Nevada and New York senators that Bush noted, along with the Republicans in the Senate who sided with them, to make a bad law a better law. If the bill gets a Bush veto, its death will be on his head.
''People will say, if we're trying to make the case on Iran, 'Well, if the intelligence failed in Iraq, therefore, how can we trust the intelligence on Iran?'''
Let's remember that it was YOUR cherry-picking of the intelligence that screwed up Iraq. YOU and your cohorts decided the ends and then created the means to justify them. When you point to the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) and "inform: US that the senate and house leaders had the "same intelligence" that you and Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney were given you are simply LYING! The NIE was a summary. YOU gave our other elected officials just what you wanted them to have. Saddam was a horror to his people but could do nothing to US here in the United States. YOU made Iraq a terrorists' haven and training ground.
''It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy,"
And what about the outing of Valerie Plame? Was the loss of her expertise in the arena of WMD's not an "important program in a time of war"? What of her informants and contacts? Do you think that they feel "safer" since you, or Cheney or Libby betrayed her, them and US?
"I swore to uphold the laws. Legal authority is derived from the Constitution,"
You swore to uphold the laws, but you must have had your fingers crossed at the time. You just can't cherry pick the laws you want to uphold nor the intelligence you want to see (too late on that last one).
''One of the most hurtful things I can hear is, you know, 'Bush doesn't care about African-Americans.' First of all, it's not true. And secondly, I am -- I believe that -- obviously, I've got to do a better job of communicating, I guess, to certain folks.''
Why, I thought Bush was going to follow that up with "Some of my best friends are African-American."
But my favorite part of the news conference (What! No Jeff Gannon?) was when Bush made a Freudian slip and called Saddam Hussein Osama bin-Laden before catching himself, It was the only time that Bush had mentioned bin-Laden in quite awhile. By the way, Osama bin-Laden is still out there and he IS a REAL danger.
"The president's job is to do what he thinks is right"
-GW obviously forgetting about the house and the senate's jobs. What about "advise and consent", GW? You don't want any of the "advice" and you don't bother with "consent". This isn't a dictatorship, although at one time you did say "a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Well it appears that you have been giving that a shot for about five years now. This isn't a monarchy, GW. That idea died when Alexander Hamilton took a bullet in the side from Aaron Burr a little over 200 years ago on the New Jersey Palisades.
I do believe that the moniker of "King George" suits you, GW. It doesn't suit US.
I have resisted the inclination to be one of the early voices for impeachment. But I will certainly join in as an early member of the chorus. The President of the United States broke the law, by his own admission. He's got to go.
Mike Ferguson's Office Refuses To Comment
Blue 7th PAC member Kathy called Congressman Mike Ferguson's (R-NJ) office to get an answer from them about why he voted to, once again, drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They wouldn't comment:
I just called his office in DC and the person who answered said he could not comment on this. Or if Ferguson was going to return any money that DeLay gave him. And if Ferguson was going to be a real patriot and work to find out why Bush is spying on US citizens illegally.
So these are three questions Ferguson refuses to answer:
-Why did you vote to drill in ANWR
-Are you going to return the $54,413 you received from Tom DeLay?
-Are you going to call for hearings into the Bush administration spying on American citizens without warrants or court orders?
POVERTY CANCELS THE HOLIDAYS
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005, Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are just days away. As the holidays approach most of us are doing last-minute shopping, buying gifts for family and friends. TV commercials tout the latest gadgets for holiday gift-giving. All the cars with big red ribbons, iPods, portable DVD players and other big-ticket items on display lead one to think that all Americans have huge disposable incomes, that each of us has a checkbook like Paris Hilton's.
During this, the season of giving, we often forget how little many Americans do have. The Bush Administration spin about how grand the economy is leads many to forget just how many Americans are living in poverty or near-poverty.
The poverty rate in the U.S. has gotten worse in each of the past four years after a steady decline during the Clinton Administration. The 2004 U.S. Census noted that 37 million people, or 12.7 percent of Americans live below the poverty level. Another 52 million are hovering around the poverty level–the so-called "working poor," those who do not receive government benefits like welfare, Medicare or food stamps, yet who are struggling to survive on minimum wage salaries.
The Department of Health and Human Services sets the poverty guidelines. In 2005 HHS guidelines were as stringent: for one person, $10,000; two people, $13,000; a family of four, $20,000. Philadelphia ranks in the top ten poorest cities in the U.S.: more than a third of Philadelphians live at or below the poverty level.
There are many causes of poverty and currently, no clear solutions.
About half of all people living in poverty in the U.S. were born into it. African Americans are the most likely to live in poverty; just over 20 percent of all African American children lives below the poverty level. Being born into poverty makes it far more likely that you will never get out of poverty, particularly now, as the majority of anti-poverty programs in the U.S. have been cut during the past four years of the Bush Administration.
Another huge percentage of people in poverty is elderly; half of all Americans over 65 live below the poverty level.
Illness plays another role in poverty. Catastrophic or chronic illness is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. Yet this fact left Congress and the President unmoved earlier this year when stringent rules for declaring bankruptcy were instituted, putting an even greater burden on the poor and giving the credit card companies (which already charge usurious rates to the poor and working poor) yet another benefit at the expense of the poor.
Drug and alcohol addiction are another, although much smaller contributing factor to poverty.
You are most likely to be poor if you are a child, elderly or sick. And if you are in one of those demographics, you have no hope of getting out of poverty unless someone else helps you out.
During the Great Depression, more than half of Americans lived at or below the poverty level. There were so many poor and struggling Americans, in fact, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself from a wealthy family, determined that the government needed to intervene to help people. Welfare and Social Security programs were instituted, as were food stamps and medical treatment for the uninsured.
But now nearly 30 percent of Americans are living at or below the poverty level. And as was the case during the Great Depression, there is little hope of those people rising above that economic status without government intervention.
More than 45 million Americans have no health insurance. This is another co-factor of poverty. It means that every time a poor person without insurance is sick, he or she or their children end up in a hospital emergency room. Sometimes these visits are for serious things like heart attacks or accidents or life-threatening illness. But mostly these visits are for the common illness of childhood and adulthood: viruses with vomiting and diarrhea, earaches, fevers, falls and the like. Nothing life-threatening, but things that require being seen by a doctor. If one has no health insurance, one has no doctor. Hospitals have doctors, thus the poor are forced to act as if hospital ERs are their private physicians.
And that costs money. Lots and lots of money.
The Bush Administration has taken the attitude that poverty is someone else's problem–mostly the problem of the poor themselves, as if people living in poverty haven't ever considered that it might be better to be middle class or rich. But poverty impacts everyone, whether they want it to or not. You can ignore the homeless people on the streets and decide not to think about those who are struggling to put food on the table, but poverty brings other problems with it, and all of them are grim.
For example, if one in six Americans doesn't have health insurance, everyone else has to pay for it, regardless. Paying higher insurance fees and hospital fees is necessary because of all those visits to the ER for earaches and fevers by poor people without doctors. Health insurance companies and hospitals will raise their rates for people *with* insurance to balance out the costs of treating those without insurance–not just for the earaches and fevers, but the exponential costs for patients with cancer or AIDS and no health insurance.
Americans also pay for the poor through crime. It is no coincidence that many of America's most dangerous cities, like Camden, Detroit, Indianapolis and New Orleans are also the poorest cities in America. Poverty breeds crime through drug addiction, theft, burglary and prostitution because poverty breeds desperation: many people will do anything to try and break the cycle of grinding misery that is poverty. Poverty also breeds extremes of frustration resulting in domestic violence crimes of child and spousal abuse.
With poverty levels rising, what is government doing to make things better? Recently Philadelphia Mayor John Street stated that he was determined to "end homelessness" in Philadelphia. An admirable goal, but homelessness is just the obvious tip of the poverty iceberg: We can see the homeless. What we can't see are all those people living without heat in the winter *indoors* and all those children going without supper not because they are being punished, but because there just isn't any food.
Republicans in Washington–the President and the Republican Congress–have instituted the obverse of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty of the 1960s. Instead of creating programs like Head Start, they have slashed them. Rather than a War on Poverty, it is a War on the Poor.
And, alas, Democrats, who know better, are doing no better.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, the much-touted candidate for the 2008 presidential run was once a stalwart proponent of health care for all. In fact her determination to give all Americans health care back in 1993 was what prompted then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to rally Republicans against the "socialist" Hillary and the Democrats in Washington and vote them out.
Where does Sen. Clinton stand on health care today? We haven't heard much from her on that issue, but she did co-sponsor a bill two weeks ago with an arch-conservative republican senator against flag burning, as if flags are being burned in the streets hourly, rather than small children literally dying of poverty on the streets of America.
Of course Sen. Clinton is not to blame for the catastrophic poverty America is facing. But Democrats are supposed to be the party of and for the people. Republicans make no pretense of caring for the poor and the destitute: their concerns lie with tax cuts for the rich (which of course eviscerate programs for the poor, thus creating more poor Americans) and tax breaks for the rich.
This is the season of giving. We are supposed to be thinking not of the car with the red ribbon or the nano-iPod, but of all those people–89 million–in this country who are struggling to survive every day, living *without* the basics, let alone the exciting gifts of the holiday season.
You may not be able to do a lot individually for the poor in America–although everyone can certainly afford to donate one or two toys for needy children–but you can definitely write, call or email your congresspersons and tell them 2006 is an election year and if they want your vote, they need to put poverty and health care on the table. Now.
As you celebrate your holidays this weekend, please consider all those people who have nothing, for whom Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa are just dates on a calendar, not something to revel in and enjoy. Be grateful for what you have and please–share some of your good fortune and good will with those who have so little.
The SBA's version of Mike Brown
The Washington Post had a good editorial today hammering the Small Business Administration for its ridiculous performance, particularly in response to disaster loans. There was just one thing the Post missed.
At a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Hector Barreto, Bush's hand-picked man to head the SBA, didn't reassure lawmakers that he knows what he's doing.
The committee chairwoman, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), began the session by pointing out that the Small Business Administration had, at that time, processed only 10 percent of 28,540 applications for disaster loans from small businesses in the Gulf Coast area and had approved only 3 percent of them. Mr. Barreto responded with a long and self-pitying description of how difficult things remain in the Gulf, how emergencies are not really his responsibility and how much his agency's performance had improved lately.
Unfortunately, "improvement" isn't the first word that comes to mind when the SBA's loan records are examined a month after that hearing. As of Tuesday, the SBA had received 37,214 applications for disaster business loans. Of those, 2,127 have been approved. Meanwhile, Mr. Barreto and his agency are still resisting the committee's proposal to give the SBA funding to make short-term "bridge loans" similar to those set up to help businesses affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks (loans that the affected states were making before they ran out of funding), arguing that the same needs are met through other SBA programs. This may well represent the first time a government agency has resisted a congressional attempt to give it more money. It may also help explain why economic recovery in Louisiana is going so slowly.
Indeed, the Small Business Administration's apparent inability to process Katrina and Rita-related loans has been embarrassing for a while. So, what's the unstated tidbit? Hector Barreto is a former Republican fundraiser (read: inexperienced hack) who has no business running the SBA.
No one can accuse Hector Barreto of being unfamiliar with small business. His Los Angeles firm, Barreto Insurance &Financial Services Company, had only ten employees. Alas, now that he is in charge of a bigger operation — the Small Business Administration (SBA) has over 3,000 employees, a budget of about $600 million, and a portfolio of loans totaling $45 billion — Barreto is struggling.
Last year, the SBA failed to notify Congress that it needed additional funding for its largest and most popular loan program and was forced to temporarily shutter it because, as Barreto's spokesperson explained, it was "out of money." Meanwhile, the SBA was doing such a poor job managing the $5 billion in loans the government set aside to help small businesses recover from September 11 that, according to an Associated Press investigation, the vast majority of the money went to businesses not affected by the terrorist attacks — including a South Dakota country radio station, a Utah dog boutique, and more than 100 Dunkin' Donuts and Subway sandwich shops.
I sometimes wonder which is worse with the Bush administration — the corruption or the incompetence. It's a close call, isn't it?
-Forwarded from a post by Carpetbagger and commented by Victoria Brownworth
No Justice at Justice
Just in case the Bush agenda wasn't spelled out clearly enough, here's another clarifier.
“The Justice Department has barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics.”
Call it the department of injustice, perhaps?
In response to "What Senator Graham, a Republican, wants to know is simple. Just what gives you the right, President Bush, to go outside of the law when specific laws exist. Lindsey Graham was a lawyer. He was also a lawyer while in the US Navy. Sen. Graham is what most intelligent people would consider to be, an expert in legal matters. He asked, on CBS' morning question and answer program that the president bring forth the legal experts who told him that it was within his rights as president to break the law. He asked that President Bush show US, the people of the United States, the legal statutes of the US Constitution that gives him such rights," Rhian writes:
It was most likely Alberto Gonzales who gave the president permission to act illegally. After all, they do it in Mexico all the time, so it must be okay here, because Mexico is practically a part of the US, as is apparent by the influx of illegals over the border, without hindrance by Federal law Enforcement. Which border state did you use Gonzales, to get into the country illegally? Oh yeah... Texas... Makes sense.
"It's insufficient to simply take at face value the president's claim that these people under surveillance by the N.S.A. had known links to terrorism. This entire program makes a mockery of our system of checks and balances."
-Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
Sometimes I have to remind myself why I joined the ACLU. Statements like this help me remember.
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