Friday, June 29, 2007

Bush Presidency Fading Fast

Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida "the main enemy" in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analysts.
In the space of a single short week, Bush was hit with more Republican defections on Iraq, more bad news from the battlefield, more subpoenas from a hostile Congress, a new assault on his signature education plan and embarrassing disclosures about his vice president.

He also found himself in a fight over executive privilege that begs comparisons to Richard Nixon's legal battles during the Watergate scandal.

"It's the incredible shrinking presidency. He's lost battles in the courts. He's lost battles in Iraq. He's lost battles on Capitol Hill," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

"His bank account is empty and there's nowhere to go for more. I think his presidency is essentially over."

Light proposed a headline to sum up the week: "The president loses his legacy."
The President will always have his legacy of a failed war based on lies that killed hundreds of thousands of people. That legacy will remain forever as will the horrible taste in most Americans mouths of a Presidency that will rank as the worst in American history.

5 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq

When will this madness and senseless death end?
A coordinated attack in southern Baghdad killed five American soldiers and wounded seven others, raising the total number of U.S. fatalities in June to 100, the U.S. military said Friday.

The soldiers were on a combat patrol Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded near them. Insurgents quickly followed with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, according to a statement. Of the seven soldiers evacuated to a military hospital, one was able to return to duty. The soldiers' names were withheld until their families could be notified.

The attack pushed the number of American deaths to 100 or more for the third straight month, the deadliest three-month period of the Iraq war for U.S. soldiers, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a website that tracks fatalities.
The only surge that seems to be working is the surge in American deaths. The time has long since past to get out of this civil war. When will the American people take to the streets and demand and end to this madness?

Not One More Roberts Or Alito

Just say no to any more nominees like Roberts or Alito.

High Court to Hear Terror Detainee Case

The Supreme Court said today that it would review the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees to challenge their confinements in federal court, reversing a decision in April not to take up that issue.
The justices did not say what had changed their minds. The Bush administration had praised the court's earlier decision not to review the matter.

At the time, only three of four justices necessary to grant review--David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer--were willing to take the two cases involved, saying "these questions deserve this court's immediate attention.'' Two other justices, John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy, issued a statement saying they might want to hear the issue in the future.

The court consolidated two cases, Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S., and will hear them together sometime after its new term begins next October. In addition, the court said it would consult the findings of the D.C. circuit appeals court in two other pending cases in which detainees challenge the judgment of the military tribunals that determined them to be enemy combatants.

The court has considered the rights of detainees twice in the last three years, ruling both times against the administration.
This is good news from a Court that has recently turned far to the right with the addition of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.

The United States has always stood for freedom and equal justice under the law. How can we just hold people without charge for as long as we want? This sounds more like the tactics of a dictatorship than a democracy. Military tribunals without public oversight is not the image we want to present to the world. If the people being held are terrorists, prove it in a court of law. The first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 resulted in the arrest and convictions of those involved. If we do not return to our democratic roots than the terrorists have won by changing the very definition of what it means to be American. Free and open trials are the backbone of our democracy and if the detainees are truly terrorists then provide the evidence in open court.

Car Bomb Found In London

Police in London say they have deactivated a bomb packed with nails and capable of creating huge casualties, raising renewed fears of a terrorist strike almost two years after the city was hit by deadly suicide bombers.
The device, consisting of 200 liters of fuel, gas cylinders and nails linked to a triggering mechanism, was found in a car in Haymarket, in the city's busy nightclub and theater district shortly before 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Friday.

British police anti-terror chief Peter Clarke said the explosives would have resulted in significant injury and loss of life had they detonated
A stretch of road near Buckingham Palace in London has also been closed due to a suspicious vehicle. there is no word yet if this is another car bomb or a false alarm. I will post more information as it becomes available.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Reason That Nothing Gets Done In Congress

Use of Race in School Placement Curbed

In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.
The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet “their heavy burden” of justifying “the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying upon racial classifications in making school assignments,” as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court.
This ruling can be seen as a direct assault on the Brown vs. Board of education decision in 1954. Is it possible that we will go back to the separate but equal school system that we had without ever having to state that publicly?
The rationale of the chief justice’s opinion relied in part on the historic 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed segregation in public schools — a factor that the dissenters on the court found to be a cruel irony, and which they objected to in emotional terms.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.
That is the most simplistic and idiotic explanation for a ruling that I have ever heard. In what world does Justice Roberts live? If stopping discrimination was that easy we would not have the racial prejudice that exists in this country today.

Will this ruling be used as the legal precedent to get rid of affirmative action? If you listen to Justice Roberts it would appear that is a strong possibility.
Mark Rahdert, a Temple Law School professor and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, said that today’s ruling means that “racial balance” will be “the new catchphrase conservatives will use to attempt to eradicate any form of affirmative action.”

As for Justice Kennedy’s “willingness to leave the door open to some forms of affirmative action,” it will be impossible as a practical matter, Mr. Rahdert said.

The National Urban League issued a statement asserting that today’s decision “could end up legalizing re-segregation nationwide by raising the bar for achieving racial diversity.”
Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer said to an open court "It's not often that so few, have changed so much for so many."

Immigration Legislation Is Dead

President Bush's immigration bill essentially died Thursday in the Senate, when members voted against advancing the controversial legislation.
The tally was 46 to 53, 14 votes shy of the 60 needed to end debate.

The president, who visited the Capitol this month to push hard for the legislation, delivered a brief statement shortly after the vote saying he was "sorry" Congress could not reach agreement, calling its "failure to act" a "disappointment."

"Congress really needs to prove to the American people that it can come together on hard issues," Bush said.

The bill would have provided a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and toughens border security.
the question is now what will happen? Doing nothing is amnesty for both illegal immigrants and those that hire them.

I truly believe the solution is tougher enforcement of the employment laws. If employers who hired illegal immigrants were arrested and jailed it would make the cheap labor much less attractive. There needs to be a national database where employers can check vital statistics of the people applying for jobs. I understand that many people use forged documents or stolen identities to work and a national database would help eliminate this practice.

There also needs to be a concerted government effort to help the countries in the region such as Mexico to improve the economic prospects of its own citizens. As long as it is hard to feed your family in these countries, the immigrants will continue to come by any means necessary.

The status quo is not working.

White House Rejects Subpoenas on Firings of U.S. Prosecutors

The White House asserted executive privilege and rejected two subpoenas from lawmakers probing last year's firings of eight U.S. prosecutors.
"The president has decided to assert executive privilege and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents," White House Counsel Fred Fielding wrote in a letter to Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont and Representative John Conyers of Michigan, chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

The White House resistance is likely to touch off a constitutional showdown over Congress's ability to investigate the firing of prosecutors and the president's ability to obtain frank counsel from advisers.

"The principles at stake here are of the utmost importance," Fielding said in the letter to lawmakers. "Presidents must be able to depend upon their advisers and other executive branch officials speaking candidly and without inhibition while deliberating and working to advise the president."
I thought Dick Cheney was not part of the executive branch? Lets all watch watch while the Republicans, who insisted Bill Clinton testify about a private affair, rally around this decision by the President. This is a criminal administration and needs to be held accountable.

Are The Walls Finally Closing in For Bush on Iraq

With the 2008 elections looming large the White House is having a hard time keeping Republican support for a war that is wildly unpopular.
A majority of senators believe troops should start coming home within the next few months. A new House investigation concluded this week that the Iraqis have little control over an ailing security force. And House Republicans are calling to revive the independent Iraq Study Group to give the nation options.

While the White House thought they had until September to deal with political fallout on the unpopular war, officials may have forgotten another critical date: the upcoming 2008 elections.
The Republicans are more concerned with saving their jobs then they are about the death and destruction that has destroyed Iraq.

The situation has grown progressively worse yet they have stayed with the President. It is only when they see the real possibility of losing their jobs that they decide staying with the President may not be such a smart political move.

Call me cynical but people have been dying in Iraq daily while these people stayed silent. It is only the possibility of losing their day jobs that have moved them to take action. It will be fun to watch as Republicans eat their own in a desperate attempt to distance themselves from this war.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

White House Subpoenaed Over Eavesdropping

The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's warrant-free eavesdropping program.
Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.

The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal disputes within the administration over the legality of the program.

"Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," Leahy said in his cover letters for the subpoenas. "There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."

Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply.

"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

This is a huge issue and will generate a constitutional crisis. The White House will not answer these subpoenas as they have operated as if they are above the law. Could this be the first piece of a puzzle whose ending is impeachment? What about Dick Cheney, will he claim executive privilege after saying he was not part of the executive branch of government?

This is what oversight looks like. The free ride is over for this criminal administration.

Ann Coulter - The Face of The Conservative Movement

This is what Ann Coulter had to say about John Edwards on Monday morning. Please watch this before you go on.

On Tuesday the vicious Coulter was a guest on Hardball with Chris Matthews. During the interview Elizabeth Edwards called in to confront Ann Coulter and asked her to change the dialogue to discuss issues not personal attacks.

Ann Coulter has made jokes about the Edwards son who was killed in a car accident when he was 16 and has called John Edwards a faggot and yesterday said she hoped he was killed in a terrorist attack.

Some notable points from this conversation is the laughing from those behind Ann Coulter who were all there supporting Republican candidates. They seem to think that these types of brutal attacks are funny. This is the next generation of Conservative voters. Ann Coulter is successful because of the parents of those behind her. It is those very parents that will continue the hate and prejudice that allow garbage like Coulter to prosper.

Cheney Expose

I will post a link to the excellent expose done on Dick Cheney. The articles are long but need to be read all the way through to really understand exactly who is occupying the office of Vice President.

This is as close as we have come to a shadow government. The Vice President is a dangerous man exerting entirely too much influence on the President who is "intellectually challenged". This is what happens when you elect "the man you want to have a beer with" instead of the most intelligent and qualified person for the job. Lets not make the same mistake in 2008.

Part 4

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Will The GOP Run From Bush on Iraq?

Yesterday Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana came out against the policy in Iraq.
“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Mr. Lugar said Monday during a 50-minute speech on the Senate floor, which was delivered after nearly everyone in the Capitol had retired for the evening. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Lugar said President Bush had limited time to change the course of the war because of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“We’re heading into a very partisan era,” he said. “The president has the opportunity now to bring about a bipartisan foreign policy. I don’t think he’ll have that option very long.”

Today Senator George Voinovich of Ohio echoed the remarks of Lugar.
“I am also concerned that we are running out of time,” Mr. Voinovich wrote in the letter.
When the Democrats first agreed to keep funding this war I was furious. I thought they were elected to end this war and needed to do everything possible to achieve that goal. I also realized that they did not have the votes to override a Presidential veto. What they did do was compromise and fund the war through September 2007 not March 2008 as was originally intended.

This may now seem like a very forward thinking plan. The Republicans are about to revolt against a policy which will alsmost surely have many of them on the unemployment line come 2008. It is amazing how self preservation will finally get them to act.

Immigration Bill Is Back From The Dead

It appears all the arm twisting has worked as the Senate voted 64-35 to revive the bill.
The Senate action came shortly after President Bush urged lawmakers to support the legislation.

"I view this as an historic opportunity for Congress to act, for Congress to replace a system that is not working with one that we believe will work a lot better," said Mr. Bush.

The measure would tighten border security, create a temporary guest worker program and grant immediate legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States.
I believe that something does need to be done to stop illegal immigration. I am not sure that this bill will do that. I do not agree with a guest worker program unless that program is really limited to jobs that "Americans will not do".

The danger of this program is that companies will use the program to lower wages for all workers especially in higher paying jobs such as construction and meat packing where illegal immigration has forced wages down.

If we are to save the middle class of America, there must be safeguards in any guest worker program. I do not hold out much hope for that when corporate contributions to politicians will trump reasoned debate. The most important part of any bill would need to be border security. Without that what will stop the next wave of illegal immigrants from coming to the country? I completely sympathize with those that feel they must leave their homes and families for the hope of a better life. Lets not use their despair as a way to destroy our own middle class.

Doing nothing is not an option and we need to have thoughtful reasoned debate that is free of prejudice and hatred or what will pass will only make the situation worse. As long as we have what is basically a third world nation on our southern border nothing will truly change. Any bill that passes must address the financial inequities within Mexico and other Central American nations or this whole exercise will be a complete waste of time.

This Is News?

Now we know what Fox News covers instead of covering the War.

New Home Sales Fell 1.6 Percent in May

U.S. new home sales in May fell more than expected while consumer confidence in June fell to a 10-month low amid anxiousness about jobs and the business climate, adding to signs of sluggish economic growth this year.
Sales of new U.S. homes fell 1.6 percent last month to an annual rate of 915,000 from a downwardly revised rate of 930,000 in April, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. Analysts had been looking for May new home sales of 925,000.
The news was not all bad though with home prices inching up 1.5% after a steep decline in April but housing remains a problem for the economy.
"Housing's contribution to (economic) growth will be negative in both the second quarter and the third quarter," said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics in Danville, California.
With nearly $100 billion in subprime mortgages adjusting before the end of the third quarter we could see foreclosures rise even more. That rise would certainly hurt prices and contribute to the consumers unease over the economy.
The Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment fell to 103.9 this month, the weakest since August 2006, from an upwardly revised 108.5 in May. Economists polled by Reuters had been looking for a reading of 105.5.

The data as a whole had little impact on the bond market, but stocks erased early gains on the relatively gloomy economic news.
The most important thing to remember is that consumer spending is two thirds of the economy. If consumers have fear about the future they will pull back on spending and cause the very problems they hope to avoid. I have said for some time that I beleive the U.S. economy will slip into a recession before the end of the year. If that happens it is hard to see how any Republican can win the White House.

Supreme Court Rulings Show New Courts Direction

The Supreme Court on Monday took a sharp turn away from campaign finance regulation, opening a wide exception to the advertising restrictions that it upheld when the McCain-Feingold law first came before it four years ago.
In a splintered 5-to-4 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that as interpreted broadly by federal regulators and the law’s supporters, the restrictions on television advertisements paid for from corporate or union treasuries in the weeks before an election amounted to censorship of core political speech unless those advertisements explicitly urge a vote for or against a particular candidate.

This is a huge loss for the American people. Once again issue advertisements will flood the airwaves. This is the result of the changed court under George W. Bush. Four years ago this law was upheld by a court that included Sandra Day O'Connor, this ruling opens up a huge loophole that will be abused by the special interest groups.
The decision was a reminder of the ways in which the justices appointed by President Bush are moving the court. While Chief Justice Roberts’s predecessor, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, was a dissenter when the court upheld the law four years ago, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was in the 5-to-4 majority. Her successor, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., voted with Chief Justice Roberts on Monday, and in fact was the only justice to join his opinion fully.

Two other closely divided rulings announced on Monday also showed the influence of the new justices. The court limited student speech and ruled that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge the administration’s program of support for social service programs offered by religious institutions.

The next President will almost surely appoint at least one and possibly more justices. Who we elect as President could have far reaching consequences for a generation. The Supreme Court should be one of the major issues in the next campaign.

Iraqi Youth Face Lasting Scars of War

Conflict's Psychological Impact on Children Is Immense, Experts Say
"With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad," said Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country's few child psychiatrists. "This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein's regime."

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands.

This war will lead to the next generation of terrorists. There is almost no treatment for these children as most of the psychiatrists have left the country as did a large majority of the rich and educated.
Short and lean with a square jaw, Abdul Muhsin started to focus on children only last year. Like many of the estimated 60 psychiatrists who remain in Iraq, he treated only adults before the invasion. Back then, he said, children with psychological problems were a rarity.

Inside his bare office at Ibn Rushed Psychiatric Hospital, where armed guards frisk patients at the entrance, he flipped through a thick ledger of patients. In the past six months, he has treated 280 children and teenagers for psychological problems, most ranging in age from 6 to 16. In his private clinic, he has seen more than 650 patients in the past year.

In a World Health Organization survey of 600 children ages 3 to 10 in Baghdad last year, 47 percent said they had been exposed to a major traumatic event over the past two years. Of this group, 14 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a second study of 1,090 adolescents in the northern city of Mosul, 30 percent showed symptoms of the disorder.

Today, toy weapons are among the best-selling items in local markets, and kids play among armored vehicles on streets where pickup trucks filled with masked gunmen are a common sight. On a recent day, a group of children was playing near a camouflage-colored Iraqi Humvee parked in Baghdad's upscale Karrada neighborhood. One boy clutched a thick stick and placed it on his right shoulder, as if he were handling a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. He aimed it at cars passing by, pretending to blow them up. Two soldiers pointed at the children and laughed.

Many of the children Abdul Muhsin treats have witnessed killings. They have anxiety problems and suffer from depression. Some have recurring nightmares and wet their beds. Others have problems learning in school. Iraqi children, he said, show symptoms not unlike children in other war zones such as Lebanon, Sudan and the Palestinian territories.
When you read stories like this it reminds you of the horrible consequences of war. How can anyone still support this war based on lies? We have destroyed a nation and its people and we will be dealing with the aftermath for a generation.

Cheney Expose

I will post a link to the excellent expose done on Dick Cheney. The articles are long but need to be read all the way through to really understand exactly who is occupying the office of Vice President.

This is as close as we have come to a shadow government. The Vice President is a dangerous man exerting entirely too much influence on the President who is "intellectually challenged". This is what happens when you elect "the man you want to have a beer with" instead of the most intelligent and qualified person for the job. Lets not make the same mistake in 2008.

Part 3

Monday, June 25, 2007

Report Blasts U.S. For Failures In Fighting Terrorism

A just-released report slams the federal government for failing to coordinate the work of U.S. law enforcement agencies overseas to fight terrorism.
The Government Accountability Office found that in one country a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have compromised several investigations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities.

The GAO did not name the country in its report.

The White House has long issued directives asking that U.S. law enforcement agencies assist foreign nations' anti-terrorism efforts.

But the report finds that embassy and law enforcement officials told the GAO "they had received little or no guidance" on how to accomplish that.

The issue of roles and responsibilities "remains unresolved and is still subject to ongoing debates within the administration," it said.

The 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism instructed the State Department to develop and coordinate U.S. counterterrorism policy abroad, but the report says that was not done.

The 2004 Intelligence Reform Act shifted that responsibility to the National Counterterrorism Center and, although a general plan has been drafted, it has not yet been implemented.

"As a result of these weaknesses, LEAs [law enforcement agencies], a key element of national power, are not being fully used abroad to protect U.S. citizens and interest from future terrorist attacks," the GAO concluded.

For national security reasons, the GAO did not name the four countries its investigators visited, describing them only as having "key roles in combating terrorism."

In all four there was more U.S. funding devoted to fighting drugs than to fighting terrorism, the report said

In one country, described as an "extremely high terrorist threat to American interests globally," the State Department provided six times more funding to stop illicit drugs and crime than it did for anti-terrorism assistance, the report said.

In another country, an embassy official said most training and assistance funding from the U.S. was dedicated to counter-narcotics efforts "even though drugs were no longer a strategic concern in that country."

Also, the report revealed that information about terrorists is not always shared or acted on.

Generally, embassies retain "pre-9/11 structures" for information-sharing and collaboration, the report said, and have not been reconfigured "in a collective effort to prevent another terrorist attack on the United States or its interests."

An "extremely high terrorist threat," nation had never been asked to try to identify or disrupt any of the terrorists on the most-wanted lists of the departments of State or Defense, or of the foreign nation itself, an FBI official told the GAO.

The agencies involved blamed these discrepancies on shortages in staffing and funding, according to the report.

It has been over 5 years since 9/11 and the same problems still exist. Do you still feel safer?

Giuliani and the Suspected Child Molester

The news regarding Rudy Giuliani just keeps getting worse. Does this man have any judgement at all? Lets look at some of his foibles:

He decided to place the NYC emergency control center in the World Trade Center AFTER it had been bombed once before.

He asked George W. Bush to nominate Bernard Kerik as Secy. of Homeland Security even though Kerik had ties to known mobsters.

Supposedly on 9/11 he told Bernard Kerik "Thank God George W. Bush is our President" (that one made me want to throw up a little in my own mouth)

And now the latest revelation:

Giuliani Employs suspected child molester.
Giuliani employs his childhood friend Monsignor Alan Placa as a consultant at Giuliani Partners despite a 2003 Suffolk County, N.Y., grand jury report that accuses Placa of sexually abusing children, as well as helping cover up the sexual abuse of children by other priests. Placa, who was part of a three-person team that handled allegations of abuse by clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is referred to as Priest F in the grand jury report. The report summarizes the testimony of multiple alleged victims of Priest F, and then notes, "Ironically, Priest F would later become instrumental in the development of Diocesan policy in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests."

Five years after he was suspended from his duties because of the abuse allegations, Placa is currently listed as "priest in residence" at St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck, N.Y., where close friend Brendan Riordan serves as pastor, and officially lives at the rectory there with Riordan. In addition, Placa co-owns a penthouse apartment in Manhattan with Riordan, the latest in a half-dozen properties the two men have owned in common at various times since the late 1980s.

I wonder how the religious right will respond to this revelation? That sound you just heard is the sound of Giuliani's poll numbers hitting the floor.

Weakest Home Sales In 4 Years

Home sales slumped to a four-year low in May as prices slid further and the glut of homes on the market hit a 15-year high, a real estate group said Monday, noting buyers are being scared away by the weak housing market.

"I guess the only silver lining is that it didn't fall even more," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial. "I think it's way too soon to say the housing market has hit bottom, especially with the continued problems in subprime mortgages. The availability of financing is tighter for anything that's not a prime loan, and even with prime loans, mortgage rates are up. The inventory overhang is huge."

The slump in housing has not hit the broad economy but as people realize the equity in their home is no longer as large will they pull back and stop spending? My guess is that they will. With a negative savings rate and exploding consumer debt, history shows us that consumer spending will follow suit. Last quarter growth was nearly flat. A housing report such as this does not bode well for future economic growth.

I have been saying that I believe that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession late this year. If that happens there is no Republican presidential candidate that will be able to win the White House. That is the only silver lining in what may be a bumpy road ahead.

Cheney Expose

I will post a link to the excellent expose done on Dick Cheney. The articles are long but need to be read all the way through to really understand exactly who is occupying the office of Vice President.

This is as close as we have come to a shadow government. The Vice President is a dangerous man exerting entirely too much influence on the President who is "intellectually challenged". This is what happens when you elect "the man you want to have a beer with" instead of the most intelligent and qualified person for the job. Lets not make the same mistake in 2008.

Part One
Part Two

Elizabeth Edwards Supports Gay Marriage

Yesterday was Gay Pride in NY and as usual it was a day filled with friends, fun and the thoughts of political fights won and lost. My first Gay Pride day was probably 20 years ago. It is a day when you reflect on the struggles of those before you and gear up for the fights ahead.

The progress my community has made in those 20 years has been remarkable. Here in NY I can live my life openly and honestly without much worry of the backlash still present in some areas of the nation. The Mayor and many other politicians march in the parade in solidarity with our community. The applause they receive is genuine and heartfelt. It was courageous politicians who helped advance the movement for equal rights. There is still much work to do. Unfortunately you can still turn on the television and see some talking head trying to convince people that there is some special agenda that gays and lesbians are trying to push. I have never understood exactly what is the Gay Agenda but if someone has a copy of it please forward it to me. I guess it would make it easier for me if I knew exactly what I was fighting for.

Gays and lesbians want just one thing and that is to be seen as equal in the eyes of the law. It always makes me laugh when I listen to some blowhard saying how gays and lesbians are entitled to marry as long as they marry the opposite sex. What is it about the gay thing that they don't understand?

I am one that believes you are born Gay but whether it is nature or nurture one thing is clear, it is not going to change. I am proud of who I am and the community which I am a part of. When I accepted myself and decided to live my life honestly I was embraced by a community that showed me love and caring usually reserved for family.

Yesterday Elizabeth Edwards, while attending a Gay Pride event in San Francisco expressed her support for Gay Marriage. I was completely surprised that the wife of a major candidate would do so publicly.
"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me,'' she said. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage.''

She said that she has come to the conclusion that the marriage of another couple "makes no difference to me,'' just as it would make no difference in her views of a neighbor if he painted his house a different color.

"If he's pleasant to me on the street, if his children don't throw things in my yard, then I'm happy,'' she said. "It seems to me we're making issues of things that honestly... don't matter.''
With that simple explanation Elizabth Edwards showed that she gets it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Iran Cracks Down on Dissent

Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks.
The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.

The hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, analysts say, faces rising pressure for failing to deliver on promises of greater prosperity from soaring oil revenue. It has been using American support for a change in government as well as a possible military attack as a pretext to hound his opposition and its sympathizers.

This report shows the extreme strains within Iran. It should be viewed as a good sign by the United States. The worst thing that the United States could do now is attack Iran. It would immediately galvanize the people against the United States and strengthen the current unpopular government of Iran.

The problem is that our foreign policy has been wrong at every turn and it would not surprise me in the least if we used this as reason to start military action. The biggest problem with that decision would be that the middle and upper classes of Iran, who are so disenchanted, would flee as they did in Iraq.
Iran’s sophisticated middle class wants to be connected to the world, and grumbles that the country’s only friends are Syria, Belarus, Venezuela and Cuba. But it might play well with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main constituency.

“They are the poor, the rural,” said Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations. “They don’t travel abroad, they don’t go to conferences. He is trying to undermine the social and political position of his rivals in order to consolidate his own people.”

What would remain in Iran would be loyal to the current government and we would be looking at another Iraq. Another war at this time would most certainly throw the entire region into conflict.

Obama says some have 'hijacked' faith

Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.
"Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.

"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech.

"There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich," Obama said. "I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version."

What Sen. Obama implies so clearly is that the Christian Coalition and other right wing groups do not actually care about the issues that they espouse. This is a way to manipulate the masses. Fear and prejudice have always been tools used to gain control over peoples opinions. The 2008 election will be no different.