Saturday, April 21, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church Makes A Music Video

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas who is responsible for the loving web site God Hates Fags does a cover of the 1985 classic "We Are The World". Remember these people could purchase guns in Virginia. Aren't they delightful? Do any of them own a hairbrush?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Training Iraqi troops no longer driving force in U.S. policy

According to the McClatchy News Service the goal of the American troops is no longer to train the Iraqi forces but to defeat the insurgents and gain control of the troubled areas within Iraq.
Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.

But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.
This would mean that our current strategy of training the Iraqi forces is not working and that Pentagon officials are well aware of this. They will not come out and declare this publicly because they realize if they do Americans, even those that currently support the war, will realize that this situation is no closer to its conclusion than it was when the war first started. How are only 140,000 troops expected to quell an insurgency with a seemingly endless supply of new recruits? The only logical conclusion to make is that the Bush administration realizes all too well that this war is lost but will keep trying new tactics until President Bush leaves office. They are committing more of our troops to death and injury based on a bad policy. As Senator Kerry said so eloquently "Who wants to be the last to die for a mistake". It seems President Bush simply doesn't care who dies as long as he can remain in his delusional state this war was the right choice. It is time for all Americans to realize that this war is lost and no amount of money or death is going to change that.

We Are Getting Tired of Prying Your Guns out of Your Cold Dead Hand

I saw this post from Elayne Boosler over at the Huffington Post:

If 33 people were killed by apples instead of guns at Virginia Tech, there wouldn't be an apple left on the shelves or in the homes of this country until apples could be made safe. Screw your "constitutional right" to have an apple, there is something called the "greater good", and the good of the country takes precedence over your "interpretation" of any amendment in the now defunct anyway constitution. Just ask the spinach growers, and the people who love to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. And why do you always forget the words, "well regulated militia"?

2500 Children Left Behind

If 2500 children under the age of 17 were felled by apples instead of guns every year in America, there wouldn't be a congressman or senator left serving who took one penny from the National Apple Association. The shame and admonishment would be too great. And if there were even incremental steps to take to make apples safer, and even they were fought tooth and nail by your blood money National Apple Association, claiming the straw man of the "slippery slope" to "regulation", America might better see you for the mercenary and shameful organization you truly are.

We are getting tired of prying your guns out of your cold dead hands.

Here's a news flash for you gun waving "real Americans": It's not about guns. It's about money. Follow the money. The NRA raises hundreds of millions of dollars by convincing you they are fighting for your "rights". Wake up. It's a business. Just like any other business, except with the help of their bought off representatives, they are the only UNREGULATED consumer product in America. What do they sell? FEAR. Fear, fake patriotism, and fake bravado, just like their commander in chief, President Custer. You're being played.

With their hundreds of millions of dollars raised on the blood of murdered Americans, they pay themselves, they keep their product manufacturers flush, and they buy their government officials. They exist to convince you you need their product. And when sales slow, they target new markets. They market fear to women, then sell them "feminine little purse guns". They market to children. The cartoon character Joe Camel is banned, but sure shootin' Eddie Eagle is alive and well to shit again on Friday. (He teaches children "gun safety", meaning, he teaches children to use guns.)

We're Number One!!

The number of children under the age of 17 shot by guns in America every year is greater than the gun-related deaths of children in all the industrialized nations of the world COMBINED.

Here is the population of Japan: 127,463,611.

Here is the number of children killed by guns in Japan every year: 0.

A 2001 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that in homicides among intimate partners, women are murdered more with guns than with all other means COMBINED.

In 2004, guns were most commonly used by males to murder their female partners.

A 2003 study found women living with a gun in the home were almost three times more likely to be murdered than women with no gun in the home.

"If we ban handguns only criminals will have guns." Well then let's not have any laws in America at all. No drug laws, no traffic laws, no laws at all, right? Duh.

"Cars kill people!!" Yes, cars kill people when something goes wrong. Guns are MADE to kill people. Handguns have one purpose, to kill people.

Stage Rule: If There is a Gun on the Wall in Act I, It Will Go Off in Act II.

Bush's Unmitigated Gall

I watched President Custer speak at the Virginia Tech memorial yesterday. How dare he "express condolences". How DARE he. Here is how his administration helped kill 33 people at Virginia Tech:

Passage of gun industry immunity bill. That's right, you can sue every industry in America, except gun manufacturers and dealers. Your family gets murdered by a madman? Tough.

Refusal to aid in renewal of federal assault weapons ban, even though the law had already been eviscerated by the gun industry. Get it? INDUSTRY.

Fighting background checks. The Virginia shooter had been committed to a mental institution. In Virginia that means you can't buy a gun. Oh yeah? Thank goodness the gun shop owner who sold it to him can't be sued.

The president does not support the police when citizens can have assault weapons.

The president does not support the police when citizens can have armor piercing bullets.

The president helps the terrorists when anyone can have a shoulder rocket launcher that can take a plane out of the sky. And I'm taking my shoes off at the airport?

The president helps the terrorists when he supports a ban on release of federal crime tracing data necessary to identify patterns in illegal gun trafficking.

The president helps the terrorists when he requires the ATF to immediately destroy gun sales records previously allowed to be kept for 90 days under Brady Bill background check.

We Found the WMD. They Are Here.

Guns are for cowards. You can kill from a distance. You are detached, removed. You don't get your hands dirty. You don't feel the life draining out of another human being in an eye to eye struggle, face to face, with your hands squeezing or beating soft, human, flesh, one on one. We had just as many disturbed, sick citizens in America in the last century as we do in this. The difference now is access to weapons of mass destruction. Anyone can have a gun. Anyone. It did not used to be like this. It's easy to kill now.

The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight

"Two Secret Service officers were injured yesterday after a gun held by another Secret Service officer accidentally fired inside the White House gate. The officers received wounds to face and leg."

"Vice President Cheney shoots hunting companion in the face."

So really, what chance do thousands of children a year have?

3,300 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last four years. 120,000 Americans have been shot to death in America in the last four years. Where is the outrage? If we can elect a new congress based on its commitment to end the war overseas, we can elect a congress committed to end the war here at home. End both wars.

Here's the Punchline

Today the supreme court overturned thirty years of supreme court precedent, and overturned the findings of six federal courts, to declare war on women, their health, their privacy, and their lives, by upholding a ban on dilation and curettage abortion that contains NO exception to preserve the health or SAVE THE LIFE of the woman. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, writing for the four dissenting justices, called the decision "alarming".

Wait for it...

President Custer - "Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America. This affirms the progress my administration has made to defend the "sanctity of life".

Senator Reid - The War Is Lost

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said yesterday that the war is lost and was immediately pounced on by Republicans who said he does not support the troops.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) said Thursday the war in Iraq is "lost," triggering an angry backlash by Republicans, who said the top Democrat had turned his back on the troops. The bleak assessment — the most pointed yet from Reid — came as the House voted 215-199 to uphold legislation ordering troops out of Iraq next year.
The problem for the Republicans is that a majority of Americans share Mr. Reid's view and see further U.S. involvement in Iraq as futile. With increasing violence in Iraq and higher numbers of American casualties, more and more are viewing this war with distain. Most now feel the likelihood of a stable democratic Iraq is gone. It is time to bring our troops home and get other countries in the region to assume responsibility for security in Iraq.

Our invasion has opened up the gates of hell for the population of Iraq and I am not sure they can now be closed.

Gonzales has Little Support

Yesterday's testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did little to help his dwindling support on Capital Hill. Mr. Gonzales who was said to have cleared his schedule for the past week to prepare for his testimony seemed woefully unprepared as he said "I do not recall" over 100 times.
Some Republicans made their disdain for Mr. Gonzales clear by their questions. Just 15 minutes after the attorney general began testifying, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the panel, remarked wryly that Mr. Gonzales had prepared extensively for the appearance. “I prepare for every hearing, senator,” Mr. Gonzales replied.

Mr. Specter seemed to view it as a smart-aleck retort, and the exchange that followed ended poorly for the attorney general. “Let’s move on,” Mr. Specter said sharply. “I don’t think you’re going to win a debate about your preparation, frankly.”

Democrats seemed gleeful as they watched Republicans go after one of their own, even as their central assertion — that the White House had let politics interfere with law enforcement — was subsumed by questions about Mr. Gonzales’s job performance. Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who has been spearheading the inquiry, did not seem to mind.

“I think anyone who’s watched this would say we could do better for attorney general,” Mr. Schumer said during a break. “He seems to be far less qualified than the U.S. attorneys that he’s fired.”
The big questions that remain are how long will Alberto Gonzalez remain the Attorney General and why does everyone in the administration seem willing to fall on their sword for Karl Rove, whose participation in the US Attorney firings is clear.

Read the rest of this article here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's time for a 2nd Amendment Iraq Marshall Plan

I saw this excellent post on AMERICAblog:
Guns don't kill people, evil-doers kill people. That's the theory a lot of Republicans are now promoting about the violence at Virginia Tech. If only those now-dead students had all been armed, the story goes, they'd have been able to start a mass circle of gunfire in the middle of their classroom and kill the shooter (and sure, they'd kill everyone else in the classroom too, but they'd be dead AND exercising their 2nd Amendment rights, so it'd be okay). Anyway, I say the Republicans put their money where their mouths are and establish a 2nd Amendment Marshall Plan (we can call it the LaPierre plan), and ship as many guns and other weapons as possible into the hands of every single Iraqi in order to help them defend themselves (and we could hire Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend to run it - a two-fer!). First off, we'd be guaranteeing the 2nd Amendment rights of every Iraqi, and after all, that's way more important than winning (or even living). And second, if everyone had more weapons, they'd all be able to join in on keeping the peace that much better. While we're at it, why not give em all WMD? Nothing stops a tuhrerist from driving a chlorine truck into a market like knowing that every grandma in that market has her own chlorine truck ready and waiting to drive back into YOUR market.

Yes, weapons for all. The lessons of Virginia Tech live on.
They want everyone in the United States to own guns yet go door to door in Iraq searching for weapons. This post shows the hypocrisy. Great post John.

Gun Statistics in the United States

I found these statistics for Gun Violence in the United States from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

Guns in the United States - Easy Access to Deadly Weapons

• There are approximately 192 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. - 65 million of which are handguns.
• Currently, an estimated 39% of households have a gun, while 24% have a handgun.
• In 1998 alone, licensed firearms dealers sold an estimated 4.4 million guns, 1.7 million of which were handguns. Additionally, it is estimated that 1 to 3 million guns change hands in the secondary market each year, and many of these sales are not regulated.

Gun Deaths and Injury - The United States Leads the World in Firearm Violence

• In 2004, 29,569 people in the United States died from firearm-related deaths – 11,624 (39%) of those were murdered; 16,750 (57%) were suicides; 649 (2.2%) were accidents; and in 235 (.8%) the intent was unknown. In comparison, 33,651 Americans were killed in the Korean War and 58,193 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War.
• For every firearm fatality in the United States in 2005, there were estimated to be more than two non-fatal firearm injuries.
• In 2001, firearms were used to murder 6 people in New Zealand, 56 in Japan, 96 in Great Britain, 168 in Canada, and 331 in Germany. In comparison, firearms were used to murder 11,348 in the United States.
• In 2005, there were only 143 justifiable homicides by private citizens using handguns in the United States.

Gun Violence - Young Lives Cut Short

• In 2004, nearly 8 children and teenagers, ages 19 and under, were killed with guns everyday.
• In 2004, firearm homicide was the second leading cause of injury death for men and women 10-24 years of age - second only to motor vehicle crashes.
• In 2004, firearm homicide was the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-34.
• From 1999 through 2004, an average of 916 children and teenagers took their own lives with guns each year.
• Each year during 1993 through 1997, an average of 1,621 murderers who had not reached their 18th birthdays took someone's life with a gun.

Guns in the Home - A Greater Risk to Family and Friends

• For every time a gun is used in a home in a legally-justifiable shooting there are 22 criminal, unintentional, and suicide-related shootings.
• The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home.
• The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold.

The Economic Costs of Gun Violence - All Americans Pay a High Price

• A study of all direct and indirect costs of gun violence including medical, lost wages, and security costs estimates that gun violence costs the nation $100 billion a year.
• The average total cost of one gun crime can be as high as $1.79 million, including medical treatment and the prosecution and imprisonment of the shooter.
• At least 80 percent of the economic costs of treating firearm injuries are paid for by taxpayer dollars.

Virginia Tech Killer had a History of Unstable Behavior

As more information is learned about the killer it is becoming very obvious that he was suffering from mental illness. There was his violent writings, his imaginary girlfriend and his history of stalking:
THE 23-year-old "loner" responsible for one of the deadliest rampages in US history had an imaginary supermodel girlfriend named "Jelly" and a history of stalking female students after meeting them online.
This is so sad. Read the rest of the article here.

Foreclosures Up 47% From Last Year

The housing market continues to slump with year over year foreclosures up 47% to 149,150 homes going into foreclosure in March. The sub prime mortgage crisis is responsible for a large share of these foreclosures as well as the closure of at least 20 sub prime lenders. This crisis has the potential to drive the United States economy into recession.

Read the article here.

Other Nations Criticize US Gun Laws

In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, editorials throughout the world are critical of the liberal gun laws that most people around the world blame for the excessive gun violence in this country. I have never understood how we as a nation can tolerate so much gun violence when in countries with strict gun laws this is simply not an issue.
Britain's 46 homicides involving firearms last year was the lowest since the late 1980s. New York City, with 8 million people compared to 53 million in England and Wales, recorded 590 homicides last year.
When will parents grow tired of burying their children so young? When will we stand up to groups such as the National Rifle Association and say enough? Of course stricter gun laws will not stop all the killing but if you follow the example of European countries it would most assuredly be significantly lower. It is amazing that our leaders talk about a culture of life while presiding over so much death.

The Surge Is Not Working

Violence throughout Baghdad is now at nearly pre-surge levels. The latest Bush Administration strategy has resulted in more American deaths and is doing nothing to quell the violence.
Three separate explosions rocked Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 33 people and wounding dozens as violence climbed toward levels seen before a U.S.-led surge to pacify the capital.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops killed five suspected insurgents and captured 30 others in a raid in Iraq's western Anbar province, a day after police uncovered 17 decomposing corpses beneath two school yards in the provincial capital.
Iraq is near anarchy and President Bush is responsible. This is what happens when you choose war. Read the rest of this article here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

At Least 32 are Dead in VA Shooting

In what is shaping up to be the worst school shooting in US history, more than 30 people have been shot and killed and over 20 injured at Virginia Tech University. It is believed to be the work of one lone gunman who shot himself at the scene. President Bush is quoted as being "horrified" at this incident.
Witnesses tell Fox News that the gunman entered the school looking for his girlfriend...lined up his victims, then shot them.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

The university reported shootings at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a co-ed residence hall that houses 895 people, and continuing about two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building.
Isn't it time that we reexamine our gun laws? How many shootings will it take to try to find real solutions to America's gun violence?

No one has ever advocated making guns illegal but there are steps that we as a society can and should take to stop this senseless violence. A horrible tragedy like this brings this issue to the forefront but people in the inner cities are living with type of violence daily. It is time that a real dialogue begins to address this growing problem.

President Bush has the opportunity to lead on this debate but I wouldn't hold out much hope that he will. With the National Rifle Association such a huge supporter of the Republican Party and Democrats too afraid to stand up on this issue I am sure no real debate on this issue will occur.

In Rio Death Comes Early

Why would I be posting a story about violence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro on a site dedicated to preserving the American Middle Class? I see many parallels between the growing violence in Rio and the growing violence in our inner cities. My partner is from Brazil and I have been there many times. It is a gorgeous country with many dichotomies. It has an enormous gap between rich and poor and it is this gap that fuels so much of its societies ills. Our own nation is seeing a growing gap between rich and poor as the middle class is being slowly dismantled. We are seeing the increase in street gangs that Rio has been dealing with for years and with this increase comes more violence. How can we expect a different outcome as the gap between rich and poor continues to grow in this nation. What future are we offering our young poor that would turn them away from this type of violence? Do we want our inner cities to become our favelas?

Read the article here.

Sallie Mae to be Sold for 25 Billion

Just yesterday I wrote a post about how student loans were big business. Today it is reported that Sallie Mae, the nations largest lender to college students has been sold for 25 billion to a group that includes JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
For Sallie Mae, which originates nearly 23 percent of student loans, this deal may be a salvation at a time when its business model has been under attack from several directions. All the uncertainty has caused Sallie Mae’s stock to plunge more than 20 percent over the last year, making it a takeover target.
My post yesterday talked about how it is actually more costly to the government to guarantee loans outside the direct loan program. Why would JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America pay such a huge sum of money if it would not translate into profit for them? The loser in this deal will be the college students of America who will undoubtedly pay higher costs for student loans and the American taxpayer who will once again subsidize big business.

Read this article here.

Are Americans Dumb?

The Pew Research Center for the People & The Press released a survey of 1502 adults Sunday. Some of what they found should frighten you. Only 69% knew that Dick Cheney was the Vice President.
A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans' knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989.
One of the things I did not find surprising:
Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly.
How can we ever hope to remain the world's greatest nation when so much of our population doesn't know the basics about its own government? When will Americans finally realize that knowing about their government and the decisions it makes is more important than knowing who won the sporting event from last night. Until we get our priorities straight nothing will change and in fact will get worse. Education has and will always remain the key to passing good public policy.

Read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Student Loans Are Big Business

The government's role as direct lender for student loans is under assault by financial institutions seeking their piece of the pie. Once again what is best for the American taxpayer is second to what is wanted by big business. With most college students requiring student loans to finance their education the profit potential for these institutions is enormous.
In a fierce contest to control the student loan market, the nation’s banks and lenders have for years waged a successful campaign to limit a federal program that was intended to make borrowing less costly by having the government provide loans directly to students.
President Clinton felt having the United States government be the direct lender would result in lower costs to the government since they would be collecting the interest. According to a study by the Bush Administration this is true.
President Bush’s budget reports that in 2006 for every $100 lent by private lenders, the cost to the government of subsidies, defaults and other items was $13.81, while the same amount lent through the direct loan program cost the government $3.85. The battle for dominance in the loan market has escalated as tuitions have soared and students have borrowed more. This is the context for many of the payments to universities and financial aid officials that have come to light as a result of recent investigations into student loan practices.
Since the program is cheaper for the goverment why are the Republicans trying to kill it? When will the Middle Class wake up and realize that the Republican Party does not care about them?

Read the rest of the article here.