Picks Commentary

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is the glass half full? What glass?

Lewis Lapham measures Bush for an orange jumpsuit

If you don't subscribe to Harper's, go to the library and read "The Case for Impeachment" in the March , 2006 issue. here's a taste:

" . . . I don't know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal -- known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. Under the three-strike rule available to the courts in California, judges sentence people to life in jail for having stolen from Wal-Mart a set of golf clubs or a child's tricycle. Who then calls strike on President Bush, and how many more does he get before being sent down on waivers to one of the Texas Prison Leagues?"

The impetus for Lapham's article comes from the John Conyer's report: "The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War" ( pdf or html ). This report would be an excellent American history text. Lapham says it best of the report, " . . . the Conyers report examines the administration's chronic abuse of power from more angles than can be explored within the compass of a single essay. The nature of the administration's criminal DNA and modus operandi, however, shows up in a usefully robust specimen of its characteristic dishonesty."

George Bush has indeed set a new tone for 'Merica; criminal behavior is a virtue. The Bush Crime Family has placed its imprimatur on evil doing, establishing the lowest form of behavioral standards.

My Canadian friend, Ian, recently wrote this while in a state of self reflection: "When we were travelling in SA someone we ran into told us that one of his operating principles is that you should allow each of your friends to have three faults before jettisoning them. It sounded wise at the time but I have no idea in hindsight what it means." Having been friends with Ian for nearly 41 years, if I may speak for him, it means, I believe, having the grace to overlook the sins and omissions of another, especially when the upside negates the downside.

Ian went on to speak of his state of angst, something he and I share at the moment, and he said, in part, "Or it could be about the dismal state of the world and our lemming like stampede as a culture to end it all." I responded to Ian about how his views resonated for me, and I gave a short, and inadequate, description of a troubling moment I had while waiting for a friend in a clinic.

I was thumbing through a National Geographic and came upon a disturbingly vivid photo of a life and death struggle. A lion had surprised a hyena at a waterhole. The hyena was covered in mud but on its feet and defiant. Its eyes glistened and its teeth were bared in perhaps the most menacing way I've seen. The hyena knew it was going to die, and the lion knew it would win.

The image stayed with me through that day and into the next. It's obviously with me now. This segue may be weak, but for me it's valid. We all cope. Things may be going to hell in Iraq, Darfur, Louisiana, next door, but we adjust our focus and live out the day. But if you're someone like Ian, who once risked his life to get school equipment and supplies to El Salvador, you have a sense about the pulse of the planet. You're the kind of person who, like Einstein, believes the most important question to be answered is, "Is the universe a friendly place?" Is it? Well, the soon to pass hyena wouldn't think so. Nor would the tame quail The Dick likes to gun down for sport and amusement.

Years ago, I reviewed a book by the nun featured in the film, The Nun's Story. I can't remember the nun's name or the name of the book I reviewed. And I didn't connect with the book, but one sentence has stayed with me. The sister was on a photo safari in Africa, and she had a close (benign) encounter with a lion. As she looked into the eyes of the lion, she was reminded of something the mystic Gurdjief had said. She felt the lion was communicating it to her at some primal level, "The animals are waiting for us to move up." They are waiting for us to evolve.

I don't know if I speak for Ian, but with the likes of BushCo, quite a lid has been placed upon human progress. At the present rate of decline, how long will it be before we're all in the mud again, snarling at one another?

Bush's house of cards is collapsing

"Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were not only aware that the identity of an undercover CIA operative was leaked, we now are learning they ordered the treasonous deed themselves. Oh, yes, another eyewitness account provides the testimony."

An upside-down media

"The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day."

Bush's house of cards may be collapsing, but how many people realize it?

America abandoned

"These obvious falsehoods are directed to the administration’s political base, which either doesn't realize this, or doesn’t care. A few examples of very significant deceptions are in order."

US Congress prepares legal sanction for spying program

"Among the various proposals that are being put forward in the Senate and House, no major figure in either political party is calling for an end to the National Security Agency program, the existence of which was first revealed in December. Rather, the discussion is over what mechanism would be best suited to give it a greater legal sanction. The acceptance that the program is necessary and must continue comes in spite of the fact that the White House has refused to reveal any details about what exactly the program is and what information is being collected."

Why the government spying is illegal: a reply to the US Department of Justice

"Government spying on US citizens and legal residents violates the constitutional right of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment, because it involves the intercept of private communications between people who wish to engage in protected free speech. The spying program authorises the NSA to intercept the private communications of whomever the government decides to spy upon, without first obtaining a warrant or any prior judicial approval. Journalists, scholars, lawyers and cultural and political organisations have all undoubtedly been subject to government surveillance. Furthermore, the operation has clearly been so massive that it has had a chilling effect on people’s right to communicate freely."

Privacy guardian is still a paper tiger

"On Thursday, after months of delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a first step toward standing up the fledgling watchdog, approving the two lawyers Bush nominated to lead the panel. But it may take months before the board is up and running and doing much serious work."

Rumsfeld's pet tyrants

"But a closer look at how North African regimes have dealt with Islamic fundamentalism gives pause for thought. Long before the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11 alerted the Bush administration to the political advantages of declaring a global war on terrorism, North African governments had discovered that they could use the struggle against terrorism and Islamic extremism as a pretext to justify cancelling elections, neutering opposition, locking up political opponents, closing down political debate, and securing Western economic and military assistance."

NSC, Cheney aides conspired to out CIA operative

"The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson is heating up. Evidence is mounting that senior officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council conspired to unmask Plame Wilson's identity to reporters in an effort to stop her husband from publicly criticizing the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence, according to sources close to the two-year-old probe."

White House 'discovers' 250 emails related to Plame leak

"The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said."

VP accident tale filled with discrepancies

"Initial reports had him treated at the scene, then taken by ambulance to the hospital, where in no time he was cracking jokes with the nurses. It turned out that after being taken to the emergency room of a local, small hospital, he was flown by helicopter to the intensive care unit of the larger hospital in Corpus Christi."

Silence the war drums

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran.

"Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjà vu. In many cases one can just substitute 'Iraq' for 'Iran' in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon."

It didn't work by William F. Buckley

"The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are 'Zionists.' It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats."

Influential Iraqi cleric Sadr rejects constitution

"Influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said he rejects the Iraqi constitution backed by his partners in the biggest parliamentary bloc, threatening to reignite one of the country's most explosive issues."

Civil war in Iraq: Murtha told us so

"He's a truthteller. He wasn't reading the political tea leaves, he was reading the facts on the ground (and listening to what his wide range of military sources were telling him)."

On the brink in Iraq

"With Iraq perched at the very precipice of an ethnic and sectarian holocaust, the utter failure of the Bush administration’s policy is revealed with starkest clarity. Iraq may or may not fall into the abyss in the next few days and weeks, but what is no longer in doubt is who is to blame: If Iraq is engulfed in civil war then Americans, Iraqis and the international community must hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney responsible for the destruction of Iraq."

Sectarian violence stalks Iraq on holy day

"The United States joined Iraqi leaders in urging calm, and despite Sunni Arabs boycotting talks on a new unity government, an American envoy said he is confident the tensions will pass."

Put on a happy face!

Memos detail 74 CIA landings in Canada

"CIA planes have landed in Canada 74 times since the 9/11 terror attacks, underscoring fears that the United States is ferrying suspected terrorists through its neighboring country en route to foreign prisons for torture, according to newly declassified government documents."

Shame on Canada

Death in US custody

"A major human rights advocacy group is charging that of the 98 detainees who have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, 34 are suspected or confirmed homicides, another 11 suggest that death was a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions, but only 12 deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any US official."

Bush's mysterious 'new programs'

"But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy."

What sort of national emergency requires detention centers?

"What sort of national emergency requires detention centers? America has plenty of prisons. More of our population is behind bars than in any country on earth. There are detention centers for immigration in existence already. As for helping in case of a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina proved that saving American lives is not on the Bush agenda."

IRS finds sharp increase in illegal political activity

"The I.R.S. said yesterday that it saw a sharp increase in prohibited political activity by charities and churches in the last election cycle, a trend that it aims to reverse as the country heads into the midterm elections."

Someone accessed 40 Palm Beach County voting machines Nov 2004

"After investing over $7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting discovered that the voting machine logs contained approximately 100,000 errors. According to voting machine assignment logs, Palm Beach County used 4,313 machines in the Nov. 2004 election. During election day, 1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote."

Imminent failure for US's campaign to isolate Hamas

"But what Rice fails to recognise is that the Arabs view their support for the Palestinians as a major regional cause. Her efforts to persuade governments to support Washington’s campaign aimed at isolating the new PA will be considered hurting their neighbors in the occupied territories."

Saudis reject US request to cut off aid to Hamas

"Saudi Arabia on Wednesday joined the list of Arab countries that said they were unwilling to cut off money to Hamas, as the United States has requested."

UAE gave $1 million to Bush library

"A sheik from the United Arab Emirates contributed at least $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station."

A Bush library? Oxymoronic, so to speak.

UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

"A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported."

It's the corporation stupid: The government is willing to outsource American jobs for the holy grail of free trade. Why is it surprising that national security is ditto?

"'Balance' is the arresting word here -- keep your eye on 'balance.' We have an administration that is absolutely wedded to corporate interests, both American and global. It honestly believes that 'free trade' is more important than the environment and more important than the people. It has repeatedly demonstrated it is willing to let both go in order to foster free trade."

Heard a great line from Howard Fineman on Countdown. It went something like this, for the president to say he didn't know what was going on re: the port deal will work, because for the president, "ignorance is a credible defense."

A half-dozen questions about 9/11 they don't want you to ask

"The anthrax attacks were the most anomalous terrorist attacks in history: clever, successful, unpunished, causing five deaths and a billion dollars' damage. Yet never repeated. This alone makes them remarkable in the annals of criminal activity, but there is more--the intended victims (at least those with an official position) were warned in writing of their peril in sufficient detail that they could take steps to administer an antidote. Is this characteristic of terrorist attacks by 'al Qaeda,' or by any known Middle Eastern terrorist group?"

Tollbooths on the Internet highway

When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't.

US concludes 'Cyber Storm' mock attacks

"The government concluded its 'Cyber Storm' wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.


Justice Dept rejects Google's privacy issues

"Google Inc.'s concerns that a Bush administration demand to examine millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted, the Justice Department said Friday in a court filing."

A Goebels moment.

Orders to US factories for manufactured goods fall by largest amount in 5.5 years

"Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell by the largest amount in 5.5 years in January as demand for commercial aircraft suffered the biggest setback in seven years, the government reported today."

5.5 years, what does that coincide with? Hmmmm?

Norwegian bourse director wants oil bourse priced in euros
"'We have performed market studies and both Russia, which is a large oil exporter, as well as the countries of the Middle East have large parts of their economies in Euros. They would be able to view such a bourse as a contribution to balancing their economies in a better manner than at present, where their products are traded solely in dollars,' says Andersen."

Quotes from www.bartcop.com and others:

"We shouldn't be discouraged about setbacks, short term setbacks, or the enemy's capacity to take innocent life, because we've seen democracy change the world in the past."
-- Monkey, who has no idea what he's saying, speaking to another private audience, Link

"Mr. Bush spoke before a friendly audience and took questions after his prepared remarks. The first questioner said the nation was blessed to have Bush as president. The next questioner referred to Jeb as 'your great brother.'"
-- AWP, Link

"They will come up with excuse after excuse as to how and why he did not know me. I could have spent four months alone with him in Bolivia and he would not know me."
-- Jack Abramoff, on Dubya, Link

"Who needs sophomoric cartoons to inflame the Muslim world when you've got Bush's prison system? One reason the White House is so helpless against the violence spawned by those Danish cartoons is that it has squandered so much of its moral standing at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib."
-- NYW Times Editorial, in a rare critical look at their Boy George, Link

"I look at the assets Hillary brings to bear, and the conventional wisdom. Do I need $40 million, like they're saying? How do I get there? And if the mood of the party is so far left, then possibly that's death for me."
-- Bush's best friend (behind Joe Lieberman) Joe Biden in the upcoming GQ.

"Cheney is violating the basic "first do no harm" commandment for Vice Presidents. This shooting incident, the Libby indictment, and the Libby admission that he leaked classified documents at the VP's instructions are all unnecessarily embarrassing to Bush. Cheney is getting to be a liability."
-- Dick Morris, sucker of prostitutes' toes, Link

"I have to admit that I turned away from the Olympics yesterday. Fox had a more exciting event: Softball with Dick Cheney and Britt Hume. I don't want to say Fox News was lenient, but the first question they asked was, 'Who do you like on American Idol?'"
-- Jay Leno
"Cheney sat down for a one-on-one with Fox News. Very bold. Cheney sitting down with Fox News is like Mrs. Butterworth sitting down with the Pancake Channel."
-- Jimmy Kimmel

"On Meet the Whore, Mary Matalin claimed that the public should be "presuming what we all know, that Cheney doesn’t drink." I don't think we should presume that about anyone who has already admitted to drinking before the hunting accident in question. Plus, Cheney has been convicted twice of drinking and driving."
-- David Sirota, Link

"Bush hasn't vetoed a bill in five years. Turns out his line in the sand can be found in the deserts of the UAE."
-- Arianna Huffington, on his veto threat, Link

"Bush is now saying he'll veto any legislation that stops the UAE from taking over US seaports. Bush is choosing sides, and he's choosing an Arab oil country over our national security interests."
-- John Aravosis, Link

"We now have Bob Dole being hired as a lobbyist to influence - who? - HIS OWN WIFE. Yes, Bob Dole's wife, the Bag O' Hairspray is a senator from Carolina. How much sleazier can you get than Dole being paid by a foreign government to lobby his own wife?"
-- John Aravosis, Link

"Expecting politically smart, brave behavior from Democrats could easily be classified as aneurosis, even a psychosis. There is no depth to which Demcorats will plummet a soul into screaming horror as their manifest incompetence trashes the republic. Biden? Bayh? Lieberman? Rockefeller? I'm surprised these guys can find their dicks in the morning, let alone show up for work."
--paradox, speaking the plain truth, Link

"If the United States wants to survive as a country - $450 billion mistakes like Iraq and obviating the rule of law will take anyone down - Bush, Cheney and the Republicans have to be stopped in 2006 by Democrats taking Congress. Our elected Democrats have a unique, historical duty to save the country or be forever, irrevocably known as the clueless clowns who stood there and let it happen."
-- paradox, Link

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hypocrisy 101

Hypocrisy 101

Early in the week I was watching some of the posturing regarding a congressional resolution against Iran for its nuclear ambitions. Under Bush the Lesser, which is saying something given the benchmark, the US has resumed creating nuclear weapons and is poised to resume nuclear testing. The US is the only nation having used nuclear weapons in anger. Arguably, Israel is the second most likely nation to use them again. In any event, here we go again, the drumbeat for a war against Iran is building.

The preemptive, illegal invasion of Iraq has seriously destabilized the Middle East and the world by creating enemies faster than the US can kill them. Democracy, and peace, begin at home. By our actions they will know us, in other words. Unfortunately they do, thanks to BushCo.

How much worse can it get? We're about to find out, I'm afraid.

* * * *

The other night, we went to some friends' home for a monthly film viewing. Our hosts selected "Butterfly", a Spanish film about life in a village just prior to the Spanish Civil War in the 30's. In most ways it was a beautiful and pleasant story about people living and working harmoniously, enjoying life.

While most of history's focus on pre-WWII Europe's fascist landscape deals with Germany and its Brownshirts, the film reminded me that Italy had its Blackshirts, and Spain, unknown to me, had its, what I would call, Purpleshirts. Hard for me to identify the hue accurately. My first thought, when the lights came on, was the US version would doubtless be Redwhiteandblueshirts. It wouldn't, however, roll off the tongue.

Global Eye

"But a militarist state must have war: to justify its draconian rule (and those $550 billion 'defense' budgets), to find new fields for dominion and swag, and to seal with blood its illegitimate compact with the people, seeking to make them complicit in its crimes, which are committed in their name, for their 'security.' Fortunately for the militarists, Bush has promised war in abundance. Just this month, the Pentagon released its new strategy, heralding the newly dubbed 'Long War' against terrorism, where U.S. forces will be deployed, openly and covertly, 'in dozens of countries simultaneously' for decades to come. The plan is designed to 'ensure that no foreign power can dictate the terms of regional or global security'-- except, of course, for the dictatorial foreign power emanating from the Potomac."

We must defend our nation's principles

"What is most troubling about this is that it is not an isolated incident. We see the same pattern reflected in the president's decision, in the same stroke of the pen, as he signed Senator John McCain's amendment outlawing torture - to reserve the right to ignore Congress and authorize torture of people, if he sees fit. What is troubling is not merely the spying or the torture. Rather, by claiming to be above the law, President Bush is undermining the very thing that distinguishes us from our terrorist enemies."

The trust gap

"We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less."

Is the president above the law?

"Roberts later said he believed the President's authority was 'above laws passed by Congress.' In other words, George W. Bush is a dictator with absolute authority and no one, not the law and certainly not Congress, has the power to question or override that authority."

Harper's Weekly Review

Iraq war vet abandons Ohio political bid

"National Democratic leaders, especially Sen. Charles Schumer, added to that pressure by telling his top fundraisers to stop sending money, Hackett said."

This is a huge story showing the lack of significant differences between the Repugs and Dems. Factor in Hackett's disdain for Smirk's war for oil and Schumer's pro Israeli bent, and it's clear that "Merica's best interests are minor considerations compared to the needs of special interest groups and big money.

Bush's priorities: Found in translation

"In a speech last week to the Business and Industry Association for New Hampshire, President Bush explained his mindset when determining how to spend American taxpayer dollars. 'Of course, you'd like to take a vacation every week, you know, some exotic place -- but you've got to set your priorities -- you can't do that. You want do this or do that, go to a fancy restaurant every night, but that's not setting priorities.' Given the make-up of his budget, President Bush apparently thinks that funding priorities like education, veterans' health, and a strong defense is akin to buying a cruise to Tahiti. Below, we've translated some other Bush's other priorities, as evidenced in his proposed 2007 budget. (For the best coverage of the latest budget news, visit American Progress' new Budget Blog.)"

President wants to end seniors' food program

"Now President Bush wants to eliminate the program, one of 141 federal initiatives that his proposed new budget would scrap or cut dramatically. He is proposing to shift people in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program over to food stamps."

Bush administration spent over $1.6 billion on advertising and public relations contracts since 2003, GAO finds

"Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, and other senior Democrats released a new Government Accountability Office report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts in a two and a half year span."

Well, eh, eh, we got ta have our, you know, priorities. A priority, by the way, is when you believe one thing's more important than another. That's why I'm president . . . eh, eh.

How governments, bankers, seccret lodges, the Vatican and thr Mafia impacted international politics in the 1970s and 1980s

"Italian politics have not fundamentally changed course since the corrupt and conspiratorial 1970s; on the contrary, social and economic conditions have driven the entire elite to the right. The country is presided over by the most right-wing figure in postwar history, an individual who has almost complete control over the media (as the head of the executive, Berlusconi oversees the public RAI radio-TV network, in addition to owning the largest private network)."

This isn't mainstream by any means, but it supports the idea of a global right-wing conspiracy.

Pentagon prepares for military strikes against Iran

"An article in last weekend’s edition of the Sunday Telegraph in Britain confirms that the US is drawing up plans for air and missile strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Long-distance B2 bombers, each carrying up to 20 tonnes of precision bombs and flying from bases in the US, would 'most likely' be involved."

H. Con. Res. 341: Condemning the government of Iran for violating its international nuclear nonproliferation . . .

"Passed: On Agreeing to the Resolution: H CON RES 341 Condemning the Government of Iran for violating its international nuclear nonproliferation obligations and expressing support for efforts to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council"
Deja vu.

Bush administration seeks funds for regime change in Iran

"Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that the US would 'actively confront' Iran and called for an extra $75 million to fund anti-Tehran propaganda and to support opposition groups inside and outside the country. Last year just $10 million was allocated to such activities."

I wonder if the budget includes sending Karen Hughes and Kindasleezy into Iran to personally help establish democracy.

Lab officials excited by new H-bomb project

"For the first time in more than 20 years, U.S. nuclear-weapons scientists are designing a new H-bomb, the first of probably several new nuclear explosives on the drawing boards.

"If they succeed, in perhaps 20 or 25 more years, the United States would have an entirely new nuclear arsenal, and a highly automated factory capable of turning out more warheads as needed, as well as new kinds of warheads."

Selling war against Iran: Propaganda campaign portrays Iran as a pariah state

While U.S. forces and their allies are continuing the destruction of Iraq and sadistic torture of Iraqi civilians, the phantom of Iran 'threat' is being amplified across the world. Speculations about possible U.S.-Israel attacks on Iran have reached a stage of war propaganda by Western media and Western pundits. The aims are: to demonise Iran and keep the public in state of war, and create a smokescreen to divert the public from greater war crimes in Iraq and Palestine."

WWIII or bust: Implications of a US attack on Iran

"Witnessing the Bush administration's drive for an attack on Iran is like being a passenger in a car with a raving drunk at the wheel. Reports of impending doom surfaced a year ago, but now it's official: under orders from Vice President Cheney's office, the Pentagon has developed 'last resort' aerial-assault plans using long-distance B2 bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles with both conventional and nuclear weapons."

Martial law here soon to follow.

China rushes to complete $100B deal with Iran

"China is hastening to complete a deal worth as much as $100 billion that would allow a Chinese state-owned energy firm to take a leading role in developing a vast oil field in Iran, complicating the Bush administration's efforts to isolate the Middle Eastern nation and roll back its nuclear development plans, according to published reports."

How dare the yellow bastids! That's our oil.

The Pentagon's war on the Internet

"The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information. The plan appears in a recently declassified document, 'The Information Operations Roadmap', which was provided under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and revealed in an article by the BBC.

"The Pentagon sees the internet in terms of a military adversary that poses a vital threat to its stated mission of global domination. This explains the confrontational language in the document which speaks of 'fighting the net'; implying that the internet is the equivalent of 'an enemy weapons system.'"

Operation "1984".

Senate panel decides against eavesdropping inquiry, for now

"Earlier today, the Senate handed the administration a victory as it voted, 96 to 3, not to hold up the Patriot Act to incorporate changes urged by Senator Russell D. Feingold, the act's most persistent critic."

Police state.

Patriot Act moves closer to renewal

"Feingold, who is considering seeking his party's presidential nomination, plans to make the Senate spend several more days on the bill. He complained that Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had used procedural maneuvers to prevent him from trying to add more protections for people investigated by the government."

Feingold (D-cajones) a patriot against the "Patriot Act" may make a good president.

Doing the president's dirty work

"Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?"

No. Hard to determine which of the many GOP senators or representatives are the scummiest; however, Roberts would make the top ten list.

Surgery before diagnosis

"In an attempt to head off a congressional investigation into President Bush's illegal domestic spying program, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) announced yesterday that he had reached an agreement with the White House to 'fix' the National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping program. Roberts did not give any specifics about the agreement. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, a dispute broke out among conservative members of the House Intelligence Committee over the scope of their own inquiry into the surveillance program, with Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) pushing for a more limited inquiry. The developments yesterday indicate the success of Vice President Dick Cheney's closed-door cajoling of lawmakers in his own party, having convinced them for the time being not to launch a full-scale investigation into the administration's intelligence-gathering activities. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), ranking member of the intelligence panel, explained the meaning of the most recent developments. 'It is apparent to me that the White House has applied heavy pressure in recent weeks to prevent the committee from doing its job. Although some members of this committee indicate they need more time to decide on what action to take, I believe this is another stalling tactic.'"

Names on US terror list quadruple

"The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of alleged international terrorism suspects or people who aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials."

Advise and assent

"THAT THE UNITED STATES Senate has a body called the Intelligence Committee is an irony George Orwell would have truly appreciated. In a world without Doublespeak, the panel, chaired by GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, would be known by a more appropriate name — the Senate Coverup Committee."

A surge in whistle-blowing and reprisals

"Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the number of insiders alleging wrongdoing in government - either through whistle-blower channels or directly to the press - has surged, as have reprisals against them."

Whistleblower says NSA violations bigger

"A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights."

Senators push probe of claims against FBI

"Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged the Justice Department's inspector general to determine whether the FBI denied a promotion to agent Bassem Youssef after Youssef complained about FBI management to another member of Congress, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va."

Whistleblowers are more patriotic than the patriots pushing the Patriot Act.

Who will blow the whistle before we attack Iran?

"Let's see if we cannot do better this time than we did on Iraq. Patriotic truth tellers, we need you! In an interview last year with US News and World Report, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said that on Iraq, 'The White House is completely disconnected from reality ... It's like they're just making it up as they go along.'"

Judge orders action on spying documents

"A federal judge dealt a setback to the Bush administration on its warrantless surveillance program, ordering the Justice Department on Thursday to release documents about the highly classified effort within 20 days or compile a list of what it is withholding."

Lawyers group slams Bush on eavesdropping

"The American Bar Association told President George W. Bush on Monday to either stop domestic eavesdropping without a warrant or get the law changed to make it legal."

'The Americans are breaking international law . . . it is a society heading towards Animal Farm' - Archbishop Sentamu on Guantanamo

"Dr Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to take legal action against the US - through the US courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague - should it fail to respond to a report, by five UN inspectors, advising that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay should be shut immediately because prisoners there are being tortured."

US rejects UN report on Gitmo

"'These are dangerous terrorists that we're talking about that are there,' spokesman Scott McClellan said."

The Pillsbury Doughboy speaks.

US pursues "inoculation" strategy to curb Chavez

"In what she termed an 'inoculation'' strategy, Rice said she had sought support from Europe and other Latin American nations to highlight U.S. charges that the populist Chavez abuses his power to target political opponents and business leaders."

Those damned foreign democracies are unAmerican.and need to be stopped.

Chavez threatens to cut off oil to US if it 'crosses the line'

"Chavez, who did not clarify how Washington might incur such a sanction, apparently was reacting to Thursday’s call by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice for an international 'united front' against Venezuela."

US and Israel deny plans to drive Hamas from power

"American and Israeli officials warned again Tuesday that they would cut off aid and transfers of tax receipts to a Hamas-led Palestinian government if it did not renounce violence and recognize Israel. They said, however, that they had no plans to oust such a government."

Israeli cabinet oks economic sanctions

"The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a halt in monthly transfers of tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinians, in the first response to Hamas taking control of the Palestinian parliament."

Palestinians ordered to return US aid

The United States has asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million in US aid because Washington does not want a Hamas-led government to have the funds.

Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US

"Syria has switched all of the state's foreign currency transactions to euros from dollars amid a political confrontation with the United States, the head of state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria said on Monday."

War threats follow countries dumping US dollar: Countries dump dollar in dealings for oil, dumping the dollar - Syria, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela

" . . . on the one hand there is the Iranian decision of opening the first oil bourse priced in Euros on March 20th, 2006 in Teheran, available to all oil producers of the region . . . ."

Does this mean Iran will be bombed before March 20th?

Iraq economy falls below pre-war levels

"The Bush administration on Thursday conceded that key sectors of the Iraqi economy had fallen below pre-war levels because of the insurgency, but insisted it was making enough progress on the political and security fronts to press ahead with reductions in US forces.

Iraq and the US share common ground.

Iraq: What Cheney truly has to answer for

"'Violence, police corruption and the blurry lines of guerrilla warfare are clouding any hopes of victory. ‘It's apocalyptic out there. Life has definitely gotten worse for’ Iraqis, said Maj. Curtis Strange, 36, of Mobile, Ala., who works with Iraqi troops in Samarra. ‘You see Samarra and you almost want to build a new city and move all these people there.’"

US has royalty plan to give windfall to oil companies

"The government is on the verge of one of the biggest oil and gas giveaways in U.S. history, some $7 billion over five years."

Audits show millions in Katrina aid wasted

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency recognizes it 'made many, many mistakes,' and is working on improvement, said Homeland Security inspector general Richard Skinner. 'But they're not where they should be. In some cases, the government will have little legal recourse to recoup payments to contractors for payments.'"

Billions wasted in Iraq?

"Billions of dollars are unaccounted for, and there are widespread allegations of waste, fraud and war profiteering. So far only one case, the subject of a civil lawsuit that goes to trial this week, has been unsealed. It involves a company called Custer Battles, and as 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft reports, the lawsuit provides a window into the chaos of those early days in Iraq."

Is BushCo setting a record for graft and corruption? Rhetorical question.

Bush budget would cut popular health programs

"President Bush has requested billions more to prepare for potential disasters such as a biological attack or an influenza epidemic, but his proposed budget for next year would zero out popular health projects that supporters say target more mundane, but more certain, killers."

Bush's policies don't promote growth: The economic evidence is clear - the president's tax changes have not worked to improve the health of the economy.

"The economic evidence is clear: the president’s tax changes have not worked to improve the health of the economy. Business investment, employment, and wages have all underperformed past recoveries. Furthermore, the choices made in the president’s budget put at risk the future health of the nation by running massive deficits and by cutting back on important national investments in education, science, and energy."

Can a finite system (earth) with limited resources survive the aim for infinite growth by a species that does not control its population nor its desire for the satisfaction of unlimited wants?

US gov't $25 mln from debt ceiling

"The Treasury said its total public debt subject to the statutory debt limit rose $10.03 billion on Thursday to $8,183,975,000,000."

Quotes from http://www.bartcop.com/ and others:


In Judaism, it is said that all of Torah is summarized by "Torah on one foot" -- the Golden Rule -- "Don't do to others what is hateful to you. The rest is commentary; go and study." This Golden Rule stated "in the negative" is required to stop violence, vengeance, and chains of abuse dead in their tracks.In Christianity, the Golden Rule is also supreme: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The Golden Rule is central to every spiritual tradition.The Golden Rule is also central to the "theory of mind" that makes us human. (This "objective" rational validation has been discussed by arch-skeptic, scholar, and scientist, Michael Shermer, in his columns in Scientific American, and in interviews and discussions on PBS.) The public idiom also includes the centrality of the Golden Rule, because everyone -- everyone indeed -- knows that "What goes around comes around." (Except, it seems sometimes, overly fervent "politicians". )

Religious people bemoan the secularization and bowdlerization of our society, and long for the teaching of their tradition's spiritual rules so as to bring a semblance of peace and sanity that is lacking in the exploitive, commercial (read "ungodly") world. Secularists and people who believe that religion is best served when it's kept completely separate from the state, also bemoan what's happening to our society. However, they refuse to impose one group's religious beliefs on another in response, because they know that this would be counterproductive, and lead only to more strife.The fact is that fervent advocates of their own faith (or politics) are not following the Golden Rule, because they certainly would not want themselves or their children to be subject to such advocacy in turn. In other words, fervent proselytization rejects the understanding that it's a law of nature that "what goes around comes around".

The Golden Rule tells us that those selling one faith will find themselves and their children sold another._Proselytization of the Golden Rule itself_ -- the root principle of _all_ our faiths and sciences -- leads to respect for each and every one of us, and for each and every faith and tradition.The world has never been, and certainly is not now, a monoculture.---Except in one regard: We all believe -- religious people and secular people alike, scientists and scholars alike, capitalists and socialists alike -- the Golden Rule. This is because, while it is our religious traditions who have most voiced this teaching, its original source is in all of us. All but the most unintelligent primate knows that others have feelings, and deserve the same respect and treatment that they wish for themselves. So, here's my proposal. Public schools (such as those in the US, where this is a current issue) should not teach the particular principles of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism (other than to mature students in comparative religion classes). Instead, they should teach the root principle underlying all of these traditions, and the traditions of skepticism, science, and scholarship as well. We don't teach the Ten Commandments; we teach that people who believe in the Ten Commandments should be respected by people who do not, and vice-versa -- because this is the Golden Rule. As a side-benefit, as it turns out, the Ten Commandments and the great principles of the other faiths of the world can be logically derived from the Golden Rule. It's not the gilded, greed-driven "invisible hand" of Adam Smith that guides the affairs of mice and men, but rather, the Golden Rule from the Hand of God and the mind of man coequally, that is the natural "temple" of intelligent and caring people. This, we can teach ourselves and our children. This is the idea that changed the world: "I speak for myself by what I do."

Stan Tenen Sharon, MA31 Jan 2006

Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill

Verbatim Quote Submitted on 2005-12-13 16:35:14

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?'

Verbatim response:

PRESIDENT BUSH: "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would > help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

You would not expect this from the mouths of children, so why ...

Surgeons Talk

Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. The first surgeon says "I like to see accountants on my operating table because when you open them up everything inside is numbered."

The second responds "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded."

The third surgeon says "No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order."

The fourth surgeon chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers. Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would."

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the ass are interchangeable."

Squared away marine

As Vice-President Cheney returned to the White House from his recent hunting trip to take his medicine from the President, he descended from the helicopter onto the lawn. He is carrying a baby pig under each arm.The squared away Marine guard snaps to attention, salutes, and says: "Nice pigs, sir."

The Vice-President replies: "These are not ordinary pigs, these are pot-bellied pigs that make nice pets. I got one for George and one for Laura.”

The squared away Marine again snaps to attention, salutes, and says, "Nice trade, sir."

Associated Free Press and Globe – February 17, 2006(Cheyenne, Wyo.) Vice-President, Dick Cheney, was in Wyoming today addressing the Wyoming Legislature. Cheney at one time was a resident of Wyoming, before relocating to Texas in the early 90’s. He then became the Vice-Presidential nominee in 1999. His nomination raised some eyebrows, because the Constitution prohibits both the President and Vice-President being from the same state. He smoothed over this controversy by claiming still to be a resident of Wyoming, and the furor subsided.

On this most recent trip to Wyoming the Vice-President was there to smooth over his latest difficulties. The Legislative body welcomed him warmly, and when introduced, he was told, “We’ll always consider you a native son, no matter where you reside.”

Mr. Cheney then delivered his speech to explain his actions surrounding his hunting accident, where he accidentally shot his hunting companion. He was on a quail hunting trip in Southern Texas, and then failed to report shooting his companion for some time. After the speech the Legislators gave him a standing ovation and patted him on the back.

Afterwards, some of the Legislators questioned Mr. Cheney about the lukewarm support of the President in his press release about the incident. Several of them suggested that the President would better understand how these accidents can happen, if Mr. Cheney would take Mr. Bush quail hunting with him more frequently."

"'Go F**k yourself, America?' Is that what Cheney was thinking? Maybe he figured, 'if it was good enough retort for Pat Leahy, it is good enough to tryout on America.'"
-- Larry Johnson, Link

"There was so much snow in Washington, D.C., Dick Cheney shot a fat guy thinking he was a polar bear."
-- Leno

"Can you imagine the outcry from the right wingers if Al Gore shot a guy? Rush Limbaugh, et al, saw scandal and conspiracy when the Clintons went to church. Republicans would have been calling for congressional hearings. The cable whores would have had special graphics in place, and ominous theme music playing every time they went to a commercial."
-- JBK, Link

"Who's calling the shots at the White House? Dick Cheney, of course. There are lots of lessons to be learned from the Cheney shooting and the ensuing press blackout. But the evidence suggests that Cheney isn't interested in learning any of them. Instead, the public is getting an opportunity to learn some lessons about Cheney. And lesson number one is that Cheney gets his way."
-- Dan Froomkin, Link

"The reason they didn't release the facts about the Cheney shooting right away is they said "We had to get the facts right." That's never stopped them in the past."
-- Craig Ferguson

"Moms, dads, do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulations they're trying to get lifted -- it's just not worth it."
-- Jon Stewart

"Did you know that Dick Cheney tortured the guy for a half hour before he shot him?"
-- Jay Leno

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him."
-- James Brady, Link

"All kidding aside, in fairness to Cheney, every five years he has to shed innocent blood or he violates his deal with the devil."
-- Jimmy Kimmel, forgetting about Iraq,

"The general rolling over on the part of the American press allowed the war to happen. The press is extremely chastened by that. I think we all know how bad it was."
-- Daniel Okrent, pretending the press now gets it Link

"It is an outrage that the Democratic Party has forced Paul Hackett out of the race for U.S. Senate. Hackett brought credibility on the number one issue facing the nation - the war in Iraq. The Democratic Party loses credibility on that issue because they had a hand in his decision."
-- Jon Stoltz, director of Veterans Political Action Committee Link

"Blind faith in Bush is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him "to do good" on behalf of all of us. And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin and Jonah Goldberg are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to Bush. The rage-based reverence for Bush -- and the creepy, blind faith vested in his goodness -- is not a movement I recognize as being conservative or even American."
-- Glenn Greenwald, Link

"American conservatives have watched dumbfounded as their Republican Congress and Bush engineered the largest expansion of the federal government in modern history."
-- Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Link

"It's time for an award to John Boehner. Mr. Boehner was elected to reform House Republicans, who are feeling the heat from lobbyist scandals. Well, he rents his apartment from a lobbyist who had clients who had interests in legislation that Boehner sponsored. And for that, Mr. Boehner, you've just won a pair of Stephen Colbert's big brass balls."
-- Stephen Colbert,

"All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran, where the president can do anything he wants."
-- Howard Dean, being mean to the self-appointed Emperor, King

"From a short item inside the Times' business section Sunday: 'War always has winners and losers -- on both sides.' Some 'indisputable winners' so far? Defense contractors. Courtesy of the Times, we find Halliburton's profits are up 292 percent.'"
-- Tim Grieve, Link

"Barack Obama is the Donovan McNabb of the Senate."
-- Rush the vulgar Pigboy, reminding us why football fired his racist ass, Link

"During my stewardship here, I'm going to put everybody under oath when we have testimony, as we do on confirmation hearings."
- Judi Chair Arlen Specter, April 5, 2005 Link

"It is my judgment that it is unnecessary to swear Alberto Gonzales."
- Judi Chair Arlen Specter, Feb 6, 2006 Link

"Saint King Dumbf**k could: stumble to the podium at his next PC drunk, blow a .30 on a breathalyzer, take a dump on stage, perform a public abortion, behead his wife, blow Cheney, sell Michigan to the Chinese for a pound of noodles, light a few farts, boil a few bunnies - and he would not be impeached."
-- jtree, who knows the Democrats pretty well, Link

"Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood... It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes."
-- Sen. George McGovern, Sept 1, 1970, Link

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A conspiracy of silence

This past week, I've been reading James Risen's State of War. On Thursday or Friday, NOW on PBS had an interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin "Lawn Jockey" Powell's coach for the pack of lies speech to the UN building up to the illegal invasion of Iraq. If a person did no more than read Risen's book and watch Wilkerson, he would know without question that BushCo is guilty of treason for misleading the US into war at the cost of thousands of lives and billions (trillions) of dollars.

The century is still young, but BushCo has pulled off, and is getting away with, the crime of the century. And 'Mericans are, for the most part, going along with it. We are complicit to the extent we remain silent and accepting of war crimes.

The state of the union speech was unbearable. After 40 minutes in, I counted off 124 lies, misleasing statements, etc. At that point I switched from paying attention to Smirk to focussing upon maragaritas.

Picks of the week:

Harper's Weekly Review

By the time you get this, you'll find the Review in the left hand column "Weekly Review Most Recent".

Powell's former chief of staff Larence Wilkerson calls pre-war intelligence a 'hoax on the American people' tonight on PBS 'NOW'

"'I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council,' says Wilkerson, who helped prepare the address."

Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo

"A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme."

Bush: 'Letat, c'est moi'

"We are now learning what President Bush considers to be the limits of his power -- nothing."

Can the president order a killing on US soil?

" . . . California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances."

Gonzales is challenged on wiretaps

"Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens."

Lying is a job requirement in BushCo.

Surveillance net yields few suspects

"Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause."

Snooping docs during Ford's administration released

"Former president George Bush, current Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney are cited in the documents. The roughly 200 pages of historic records reflect a remarkably similar dispute between the White House and Congress fully three decades before President George W. Bush's acknowledgment he authorized wiretaps without warrants of some Americans in terrorism investigations."

Alito filibuster and word games

"The so-called 'strategic vote' on Alito amounted to Democrats conceding defeat on his nomination but then having most Democrats vote against him. That supposedly would permit Democrats to say 'I told you so' when the negative consequences of Alito’s confirmation become apparent to the American people.

"But that sort of ineffectual opposition is less 'strategic' than it is 'symbolic.' It amounts to surrendering to George W. Bush and the Republicans, even when important constitutional issues are at stake, and then briefly showing the flag to appease an angry Democratic base. It’s 'strategic' like Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was."

Bush tried to gag environmental expert

"The clamp-down followed a lecture he gave last month calling for emission reductions, a move the White House refuses to support. 'They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public,' said Mr Hansen, who is ignoring the restrictions placed on him."

Two top papers ask: Is the earth heading for doom?

"One story raises a nightmare global warming scenario for the end of the world, at least as we know it, while the other suggests that the Bush administration doesn't want anyone to know about that."

Where's the budget outrage?

"But there is an uncomfortable bit of business left over from the Republican disaster year of 2005 that will test the seriousness of the party's supposed commitment to change. The cut-the-poor, help-the-big-interests federal budget passed last year needs final ratification in the House. The vote could take place as soon as tomorrow.

"Let's be clear: Anyone who votes for this fiscal mess will be standing for the bad old ways of doing business in Washington. Those who do so will have no claim to being 'reformers.'"

Budget to hurt people on Medicaid, report says

"Millions of low-income people would have to pay more for health care under a bill worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report."

US savings rate sinks to lowest since Great Depression

"Americans spent $42bn (£24bn) more than they earned last year, turning the annual US savings ratio negative for the first time since the Great Depression."

Tax breaks for the wealthy

"On January 1, Congress allowed two tax breaks that benefit the wealthy to become effective. The cuts eliminated current provisions of the tax code that limits the amount of personal exemptions and itemized deductions that Americans with high incomes can take. Over the course of the next five years the tax cuts will cost approximately $27 billion, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Ironically, Republicans in Congress, only two weeks before the cuts took effect, voted to reduce domestic spending on programs affecting the poor and the middle class by $39 billion over the next five years."

Exxon Mobil posts largest annual report for US company

"Exxon Mobil, the nation's largest energy company, today reported a 27 percent surge in profits for the fourth quarter as elevated fuel prices gave rise to the most lucrative year ever for an American company, with profits in 2005 reaching $36.13 billion and revenue $371 billion."

Oil execs refuse to testify at Senate hearings

"Officials from six major oil companies have refused to testify this week at a Senate hearing looking into whether oil industry mergers in recent years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump."

Halliburton swings to $1.1 billion profit

"Oilfield services conglomerate Halliburton Co. swung to a profit in its fourth quarter on robust sales and increased rig activity, and called last year the best in its 86-year history."

Quotes from www.Bartcop.com and others:

"I know the law, and I know about people's rights."
-- Saddam, the former Butcher of Baghdad, sounding like Bush, the current Butcher of Baghdad Link

"ABC News/WaHoPo poll shows Bush's pre-SOTU approval at 42%, down from 46% earlier in the month. Disapproval is currently at 56%."
-- Wake-Up Call, Link

Tonight, the lying bastard is going to tell us how great the economy is, how great the bloody quagmire is going, and how he's cleaned up Clinton's "peace and prosperity" mess, and the networks will all agree with him.

"He's a coward. He's supposed to be this macho guy. He'll take on Osama bin Laden, but he won't take me on."
-- Helen Thomas, on Dubya avoiding her Link

"We'll continue to work with the folks down there. But I want to remind the people in that part of the world, 85 billion dollars is a lot."
-- Der Monkey, talking about the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, Link

Monkey, how much of that $85B will go in to your pocket?

"Hard to believe that in my life I've had four presidents stolen from me. John Kennedy, assassinated by bullet. Robert Kennedy, who would have won, assassinated by bullet. Gore, politically assassinated by the Supreme Court. Kerry, politically assassinated by Diebold."
--Straight Shooter, Link

"Kidnapping innocent women and children in order to put pressure on their husbands or relatives. In Rumsfeld's military, the United States now uses the tactic. Sure, it's against the Geneva Conventions. But King George doesn't have to obey the law; and his military can do anything they want."
-- Andrew Sullivan, losing faith in his uber hero Godly Bush, Link

"When opportunity knocks, the Democrats can't even find the door, let alone answer it."
-- CNN's Jack Cafferty, getting one right, Link

"While we say goodbye to Mrs. King today, we must honor her life by working toward the shared vision of an American society that values individual freedom, equality and content of character above all else."
-- Bill Frist, the racist bastard who refused to comdemn lynchings of black people Link

"Clinton tried to lie his way out of a blow job, failed, and you treat him as though he were the Second Coming of Lucifer. Meanwhile, Bush lies about the reasons for going to war, killing 2,240 US soldiers so far, destroying any ounce of credibility, respect, and most importantly, support that we had from our neighbors. So he's a hero? He's got backbone? Doubtful. But let history judge his hubris, and may God forgive him in ways that I cannot."
-- Mike Ely, Link

If only Democrats could remember that oral sex is not as bad as killing 2243 brave soldiers. But they can't muster the courage to speak the obvious - and they continue to lose.

"The lobbyists got their way on an energy bill that gave oil companies more subsidies while doing nothing about high gas prices and home heating; a prescription drug bill that helped the drug companies but gave seniors higher prices and confused plans; and in Iraq, no-bid contracts for Halliburton, fined millions for overcharging the military, costing billions in wasted spending. The Republicans are at the center of a lobbying scandal in Washington that has hurt average Americans."
-- talking points in a memo from James Carville that the Dems will ignore/forget, Link

"In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect - and I will do my part. And if you don't agree with me, you can go f**k yourself."
-- Dubya, in the SOTU, Link

This puts a new spin on no child left behind!

On his trip to Great Britain, George Bush had a meeting with Queen Elizabeth. He asked her, "How does one manage to run a country so smoothly?"

"That`s easy," she replied, "You surround yourself with intelligent ministers and advisors."

"But how can I tell whether they are intelligent or not?" he inquired.

"You ask them a riddle," she replied, and with that she pressed a button and said, "Would you please send Tony Blair in."

When Blair arrived, the Queen said, "I have a riddle for you to answer for me. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was this child ?"

Blair replied, "That`s easy. The child was me."

"Very good," said the Queen, "You may go, now."

So President Bush went back to Washington and called in his chief of staff, Karl Rove. He said to him, "I have a riddle for you, and the answer is very important. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was this child ?"

Rove replied, "Yes, it is clearly very important that we determine the answer, as no child must be left behind. Can I deliberate on this for a while?"

"Yes," said Bush, "I'll give you four hours to come up with the answer."

So Rove went and called a meeting of the White House Staff, and asked them the riddle. But after much discussion and many suggestions, none of them had a satisfactory answer. So he was quite upset, not knowing what he would tell the President.As Rove was walking back to the Oval Office, he saw former Secretary of State Colin Powell approaching him. So he said, "Mr Secretary, can you answer this riddle for me. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was the child?"

"That's easy," said Powell, "The child was me."

"Oh thank you," said Rove, "You may just have saved me my job!" So Rove went in to the Oval Office and said to President Bush, "I think I know the answer to your riddle. The child was Colin Powell!"

"No, you idiot!" shouted Bush, "The child was Tony Blair!"

Grounbdhog Day and SOTU:

Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address this year are VERY close on the calendar. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."